Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW 80: “A Huckleberry Above a Persimmon”

After my wee rough patch earlier this week, things have gone much, much more smoothly.  A huge thanks to everyone who offered advice and suggestions for how to unstick myself at the last check-in.  It was a lovely reminder of why community is important; without all of you, I would’ve ended up sitting alone and feeling very sorry for myself, convinced that my rough patch was a sign of complete and utter failure. Instead, I managed to pick up the pieces and move on. Thanks, all!

A brief update on my goals:

Writing: tell me no lies is coming along quite well, and I’ve been keeping up with my Camp NaNoWriMo daily goals (roughly 1500 words/day).  The MS is a little over 13.5K long (!). In the week to come, my major goal is to sketch a skeleton outline of the plot, just so I can have a roadmap of what’s to come.

Thesis: Work on the final section of my results and analysis begins on Monday, and I’m actually excited to get started.  I’ve got good feelings about finishing up this project, and I can’t wait to dig in.

Blogging: One of my goals for this round of ROW80 has been to consider ways to give my blog a bit of structure.  I’ve decided on attempting theme days that allow me to talk about a range of topics, from my WIPs and the research I’m doing for my thesis, to book reviews and other fun things.  Here’s the tentative line-up:

  • Monday Inspirations: A peek at the various elements that I’m drawing upon as I explore my WIPs.
  • Things I Love Tuesday: Fun posts about my current obsessions and things that make my smile.
  • Thesis Thursday: Little blurbs about my MA thesis (a textual analysis of 1920s wedding etiquette), including a look at primary sources, short bios on the authors in my study, and other fun historical tidbits from the period.
  • Friday Free-for-All: Anything goes here — flash fiction, book reviews, cocktail recipes, random youtube videos…. I gave the Free-for-All a try the other day with a silly post about my favorite actor ever, Hugh Jackman, which was way too much fun to write.

One of the things that I love about working on tell me no lies is the ability to utilize 19th century American slang.  Colloquialisms from the period involved incredibly vivid imagery and metaphors, like the one that I’ve used for the title of this post: “A huckleberry above a persimmon,” which is the rough approximate of “a cut above the rest.”  While steampunk worlds don’t require strict historical adherence, I think my tale (and my MC’s voice) will gain a bit of life and vivacity.

Some of my favorite phrases:

  • “biggest toad in the puddle”: most important person in a group
  • “cap the climax”: to beat all; to surpass everything
  • “to see the elephant”: to see it all; to experience everything
  • “to fix one’s flint”: to settle a matter
  • “little end of the horn”: the short end of the stick
  • “savage as a meat axe”: extremely savage
  • “one’s weight in wild cats”: to defeat a powerful opponent

For anyone interested, there are some great resources that I’ve found online, including Craig Hadley’s Dictionary of 19th Century Slang (I love this one because it includes dates and examples from literature) and John Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms (originally published in 1848).

Another great source is Walt Whitman’s essay, “Slang in America.” It’s a wonderful discussion of how languages evolve and change through the emergence of colloquialisms.  As he writes, slang is “the wholesome fermentation or eructation of those processes eternally active in language, by which froth and specks are thrown up, mostly to pass away; though occasionally to settle and permanently chrystallize.”

That’s all from me for the moment.  Hop on over to the other wonderful writers sharing their ROW80 progress and cheer them on!


  1. Glad to see you recovered, Jamila! The new “themed” days is a great idea (highly recommended by Kristen Lamb). Best of luck with the thesis.

    Hope the coming week is a great one 🙂

  2. Glad things have been going better for you this week and sounds you are very much on track! Theme days seem like a good idea and I look forward to reading your posts. Hugh Jackman, sigh.

    Have a great week. I am going to try and use ‘biggest toad in the puddle’ in conversation this week!

  3. Glad you’re back on track and your blog themes sound like great fun. Good for you on capping the climax during your rough patch.

  4. Great job Jamila! You’re rockin’ in now. That’s what this community is all about. Helping each other out when things aren’t so rosy. It’s a great group. Thanks for the slang links too. That’s some good stuff.

    • I’m SO glad I stumbled onto ROW80, because my writing productivity has really sky-rocketed. It’s definitely one of the best things that’s happened to my writing life in a while. 😀

      Hope you have a wonderful week!

  5. I love slang and considering how colloquialisms change with the times! That’s the kind of research for a novel that tends to make it all the more fun! I tend to be partial to a lot of 1930s slang, myself, but “to see the elephant” in 19th Century context has always been one of my favourites, too.

    Good luck on everything! I’m slowly building myself up to visiting and getting to know other RoWers, and so I’m excited to keep an eye out for your themed posts now.

    • Oooh, 1930s slang sounds fantastic! I’ve been thinking about working on a book set in the 1920s once I’m through with this one, and I’m SO excited to poke at flapper-era language.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. I love the slang! I enjoy being completely transported when I read and I think slang can really help that.

  7. I’m so glad you are past the rough patch! I love the themes–I’ve been considering it myself (thanks to Kristen Lamb!)–but haven’t come up with anything else.

    Great news on the thesis–yay!

    • Thanks, Nancy! It definitely took a bit of thinking for me to come up with the themes. I like them because they feel pretty flexible, and allow me to encompass a wide range of things that I’m interested in.

      Have a great week!

  8. Great job! Sounds like things are really rolling along. Lol, my favorite is “one’s weight in wild cats.”

  9. I super love the 19th century slang. I may have to start inserting those into every day conversation, weird looks be damned!

    (Glad to hear you are past your rough patch)

    • Yes, I love it! Integrating these phrases into everyday talk is definitely going to be a goal of mine as well. What’s hilarious is that after I finish my daily writing, I wander off and continue to speak in my MC’s voice, which has been confusing for friends and family. :p

      Have a great week!

  10. Sounds good. Love the themes. And the slang is very interesting. Good work all around!

  11. It sounds like Kristen Lamb hit the mark with her post on setting up structure within our blog pages. I think it would help to get posts lined up. When you get a great idea, you can add it into one of your catagories for a future post. I usually only post on Wednesdays and Sundays, and I leave little things that may be interesting (at least from my perspective) because if I included everything that grabbed my attention, the darned post would go on way too long! Sorting it all out beforehand is a much better idea!
    Have a great week. ~ Nadja
    * I enjoyed your favorite slang sayings….almost as much as those mug shots! Ha!

    • Kristen is TOTALLY my guru when it comes to all things social media. I wasn’t too sure about theme days at first, but I do think it’ll make ideas and topics a lot easier to manage, as you’ve pointed out. I’ve got a pretty long list of topics that I can draw from, so we’ll see how it goes.

  12. Love the slang! You should look up Canting Dictionary. I think it’s a little before 19th cent. maybe at the same time but there are some good ones in there. Now, to remember these to use in every day talk…

  13. Love the slang phrases, Jamila! Keep up the good work. I think slumps are part of the package; good to hear you didn’t let it get you down!

    Have a great week.

  14. Glad things are looking up and you are doing well with camp nanowrimo. Love the themes and will be fun to read. Interested in following how your thesis works out.

    • Thanks so much, Robin! I’m really excited to start the thesis posts — I’ve run across so many interesting things during the research process, and I’m excited to share them, especially since the likelihood of anyone besides my committee actually reading my thesis is pretty slim.

      Have a great week!

  15. Totally understand the getting put off your goals for whatever reason. Good luck going forward!

  16. good week – I have to use toad in puddle – love it! themes sounds interesting will enjoy reading them – all the best for this week

  17. Wow girl – look at all that you accomplished! Super uber congrats to you 🙂 Friendly support and people cheering you on can do so much to turn things around. And you are definitely not alone!

    Great pics. I love all the different steampunk fashions out there – especially the DIY outfits. I will definitely keep checking in on you sweets 🙂 *hugs*


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