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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Samantha Says + Giveaway


by Samantha Grace

Book signing at Anaheim, CA
I’ve always loved sayings. I used to work with a guy that was full of them. My favorite one he used to say isn’t fit for the blog, but my second favorite was, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” I’ve always wondered if someone actually had to try it once to realize that’s not possible.

One of the more enjoyable parts of historical writing is searching for the origins of certain sayings. Anachronisms are bad, even if the modern reader knows exactly what you’re trying to say. Don’t ask me why. Just take my word for it. People’s heads start spinning, and well, it gets ugly at that point. (wink)

I’ve discovered a few sayings I never knew existed while searching for the origin of another phrase, and they have been perfect for the situation. But one thing that surprised me when searching for phrases for my latest release, MISS LAVIGNE’S LITTLE WHITE LIE, were how many sayings we still use today that came from the age of wooden ships. Here are just a few and what they originally meant:

Over a barrel – Ship captains had the last word aboard ship and doled out punishment as readily as Mr. Grey and his twitchy palm. The most common punishment for not following the rules was flogging. The rule breaker was often draped over a barrel and secured with ropes to receive his punishment. Now when someone says, “He has me over a barrel” it means he is at the other person’s mercy.

Son of a gun – When in port, crewmembers were often restricted to the ship for long periods of time, so wives and prostitutes were allowed to visit and sometimes live on the ship. Every once in a while, a pregnant woman would go into labor and have her baby while on the ship. (Gives a new meaning to the sign Baby On Board.) A convenient place to deliver the baby was the space between the guns on the gun deck. If the baby’s daddy was unknown, the baby would be listed in the ship’s log as “son of a gun”. I’m assuming that was just for male babies. Otherwise, that makes no sense.

Beat a dead horse – The British crews had a ceremony after they had been at sea for four months and had worked off their initial advance. The ceremony was called a dead horse. (We usually just have cake at our work gatherings.) The term ‘beating a dead horse’ referred to how difficult it was to get any extra work from the crew after the ceremony, because the men felt like they were working for nothing at that point. Who knew writers and sailors had more in common than salty language?

Let the cat out of the bag – As mentioned before, the most common punishment doled out was flogging. This was done with a cat ‘o nine tails, which I’m just now realizing must have gotten its name from having nine strips at the end of the whip. The whip was kept in a bag and ‘let out’ when someone was about to be over a barrel. I’ve always thought letting the cat out of the bag meant spoiling a surprise, but I’m not sure that’s a surprise anyone wants. Kind of like a jack-in-the-box.

I think the reason I like sayings is because many remind me of my Southern roots and my granny. Her favorite saying was “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I wanted that same sense of being influenced by past generations in MISS LAVIGNE’S LITTLE WHITE LIE, so the story opens up with what has become one of my favorite lines: 

Grandmamma had always said nothing good happened under the cloak of darkness.

For me, it creates the setting and tone. There’s a touch of darkness and danger in this story, but it’s also a wonderful romance between two very distinct characters. I loved writing this story and I’m thrilled to have the chance to share it with readers. In fact, I’m so eager to share it, I’m going to give away a copy today. Just answer the following question and leave your email address to be entered into the drawing.

What is an old saying you remember hearing growing up, or one you hear a lot?  



To learn about more MISS LAVIGNE’S LITTLE WHITE LIE and future releases, visit me at any of the following:



If you’d like to see the site where I found the nautical phrases, visit http://www.dauntlessprivateers.org/nautical_sayings.htm.
  

49 comments:

  1. A stitch in time says nine is one that my mother always said and Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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    1. Debby,
      I've heard a stitch in time saves nine, but I'm not sure what it means. Well, I get that it means to do something correctly the first time. At least I think that is the meaning. But I don't really understand a stitch in time. Hmm...

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    2. Take care of something when it is only a minor problem, and you'll save yourself a boatload of work later on down the road. If you put in a stitch when the shirt only needs ONE stitch, then the whole won't widen and need NINE stitches later. :)

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    3. Granted, the grammarian/punctuation lover in me wants to fix it so it makes more sense for more people. It should be: A stitch, in time, saves nine.

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    4. Aha! I should have known you would have a good answer, Catherine. :)

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  2. 'A watched pot never boils', usually when we were all getting under my mother's feet wanting to know "How much longer?" or "Is it time yet?" :)

    yvonnedvn[at]yahoo[dot]ie

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    1. Beebs,
      I grew up hearing that one, too. Part of me must have taken it literally, because I'll often remind myself not to watch the pot if I'm waiting for water to boil. LOL

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  3. I don't remember my parents saying any saying s like the ones above. My mom would say quit your crying or I would give you something to cry about. I know, not the greatest saying.

    countessofmar(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Melody,
      Hahahaha... I think a lot of us heard this one growing up. I know I often heard "Find something to do or I'll find something for you". It never was anything fun. :)

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  4. Living in the south, I grew up with a lot of sayings. The strangest however comes from my BFF's father. He was overheard many a time saying "I'm so broke I couldn't buy a piss-ant a wrestling jacket." Now, I don't know why piss-ants need wrestling jackets or why they're so expensive. But I've giggled every time I heard him say that.

    A favorite of one of my old co-workers is "I'd rather hold up a dead horse in the rain." Although, if I don't want to do something, I say "I'd rather eat broken glass." (I've said that one a lot lately.)

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    1. Ava,
      The wrestling jacket one was so unexpected and strange that I burst out laughing and startled my son this morning. LOL

      Now, the broken glass one I've heard, but the dead horse??? Does the rain make it that much worse? ;D

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    2. LOL. DId you hear the broken glass one from me recently? ;)

      As for the dead horse in the rain... maybe the ground gets slippery and it's that much harder to hold up the dead horse? Or maybe the person saying it doesn't like singing, dancing or holding things up in the rain...?

      Hopefully your son recovered from your early morning laughter. I still to this day don't get the wrestling jacket thing.

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    3. Yeah, I don't get it either. I thought wrestlers wore unitards. :)

      I don't think I heard the broken glass from you, but I suppose it's possible. And the wet ground makes perfect sense now, although I don't know why anyone would need to hold up a dead horse. But at least now I know who to call if the need arises. LOL

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    4. Or maybe the horse gets slippery once it is covered in rainwater.

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  5. Oh, my grandpa is full of these! One of my faves is somewhat indelicate... "He's as useless as teats on a boar hog!" Always said with great disgust. But really, he had a million of them! We loved hearing them all as kids. :-)

    Good luck with Miss Lavigne!

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    1. Thank you, Deb!

      LOL. For some reason, that made me think of one I'd forgotten. "Busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest." I want to start using that one when people ask how work is going. :)

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  6. My mom had some doozies. Our favorite: "She thinks she looks just great." Her polite way of saying someone looked awful. Or "That's why God made apples and oranges" when two people disagreed about something. Or "That's why they put rings around spitoons," when something wasn't perfect. Yep, my mom's a character.

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    1. Samantha,
      Your mom sounds like a character! These are great. I especially like the one about apples and oranges. Very wise! And I hope she never sees me and says "She thinks she looks just great." LOL

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  7. I don't remember any particular sayings, though it is early here! My mom did use to always ask my brother and I if we thought money grew on trees.

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    1. Julie,
      I think that's a saying. We heard it a lot at our house, too. :)

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  8. My gramma always said "Cripes old fish hooks!" If you can analyze that one, I would love to know its meaning. And one my dad used for all my woes "You have more problems than Carter has beans."
    Hmmmmm???? I never did know who Carter was.

    rolfpac@charter.net

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    1. Cripes old fish hooks sounds like a Norwegian thing to me. I don't understand half of what they say. Uffda! ;D

      I've heard that about Carter, too, and I have no idea who he is either. LOL

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  9. When I was a teenager, an old boyfriend of mine asked me if I fancied "a bit of slap and tickle". I politely declined his offer, but still chuckle when I think about it.

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    1. LOL. That's hilarious! I can see why you declined his offer, but funny, funny!

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  10. My mom likes to say, "She's lying like a heifer." I have NO clue what that means other than the lying part. LOL!

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    1. I didn't realize cows were known for their prevarications. ;)

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    2. I've heard people called lying heifers before, so there must be more going on with cows than we ever realized. :D

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  11. When my Mom would get irritated with us, she would say, "When you grow up, I hope you have ten children just like you and don't call me to babysit!" That used to shock me. How could Mom not want to babysit her grandchildren? Bless her heart, she only said that to get our attention. Unfortunately, she passed away before she got a chance to know all of her grandchildren. Had she lived, she would have loved spending lots of time with them.

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    1. Connie,
      I bet all moms think that at least once. I have a bone to pick with my mother-in-law, however. She once wished my husband would have kids just like him that would never give up and badger him until he was ready to lose his mind. Well, it came true, and I ask you, what did I ever do to deserve it? ;)

      I'm sorry your mom didn't get a chance to know all of her grandchildren. It sounds like she was well loved by you and your family. I'm sure you miss her.

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  12. My grandpa always told me (all of us, actually) to put our noses to the grindstone. That sounds painful, but he never did stop saying it.

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    1. I agree! That sounds very painful. Fortunately, they've made lots of improvements in rhinoplasty since the stone ages. ;-)

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  13. Oh, and another saying that has always driven me crazy is head over heels. I mean, come on. We're human. Our heads are naturally over our heels. And the British version of it that was in use during the Regency? Head over ears. UM????? What? LOL.

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    1. Seriously!!! That one is so bizarre! LOL

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  14. I don't remember a lot of sayings from growing up. But the one saying that sticks in my head is from my husband. I'd known him for over 4 years by this point and he'd never really talked like a Southern boy. Then we were at a family function and in a southern drawl he said, "Knee high to a grasshopper."

    I just looked at him like he was crazy. Aside from an unnatural liking of guns (my relatives hunt with bows and arrows), it was the first time I realized that yes, I was going to marry a Southern boy.

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    1. Aw, the Southern always comes out eventually. LOL. Yeah, I heard that one a lot growing up. :)

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  15. My dad's absolute favorite two sayings:
    That's finer than frog's hair!
    It's colder than a well-digger's butt in the Klondike! (Thought Deb might get a kick out of that one ;))

    Can you tell I was raised by a southerner?

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    1. Colder than a well-digger's butt in the Klondike? LOL. That's a classic! Now all I hear playing in my head is "What would you do for a Klondike bar?" I know it's not the same, but...

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    2. I just hop outside and ask the well diggers what they think! :-)

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  16. Hi Samantha!

    My favorite saying comes from my days in Latin class back in High School (which was so long ago it was actually a "required" course at the time!) and is De gustibus non est disputandum.

    It's a Latin maxim meaning "In matters of taste" which means there can be no disputes but I can still remember the entire class laughing when our teacher told us that loosely translated it means "Everyone to their own fancy said Nancy as she kissed the cow"!

    When my sons were young, particularly during their High School years, whenever they disagreed I use to use that saying and found that over the years it proved to be true time after time!

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    1. LOL! Jeanne, that's the best. Funny and true! :D

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. It's costs an arm and a leg

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. I love this one, because it really gets the point across that it's very expensive. :)

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  19. I love "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and I think of it all the time when I think I need to eat more fruit. :D
    Here's a couple more favorites: Good things come when you least expect them. Once bitten, twice shy.

    Oh, and the one about "You have more trouble than Carter's has beans" is more commonly "than Carter's has pills." Apparently there were Carter's Little Liver Pills sold at one time and there was quite a bit of advertising so it came to mean you had a lot of something.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

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    1. Oh! Thanks, Barb. Now that you say "pills", I remember hearing it as pills. :)

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  20. I'm extremely accident prone; I've been in 3 major car accidents, always to one breaking plates, dishes & glasses at home. My mum consoles me with a Chinese saying (we're Asian) that roughly means "A small disaster to avert a huge catastrophe".

    thumbelinda03@yahoo.com

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    1. Linda,
      That's an interesting saying. Is there a similar saying in China about bad things happening in threes?

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  21. i remember my auntie always said to and open my eyes widely or carefully when choosing man as my couple :)

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