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Word of the Week: Halcyon

Word: halcyon

Pronunciation: HAL-see-ən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

I recently revisited the 100 most beautiful words in English for vocabulary inspiration, and after this one jumped out at me, I knew I had to write about it next. Although every story must have conflict to move forward, writers still find plenty of use for adjectives to describe times of peace and happiness. When writing about past times of idyllic tranquility, you can hardly get more poetic than “halcyon”!

“Halcyon” refers to a past time period that was idyllically peaceful and happy. The word arose in late Middle English and traces back through the Latin noun alcyon to the Greek noun alkuōn, meaning “kingfisher”. This noun is thought to be derived from two roots: the noun háls “sea” and the verb kuōn “to conceive”.

If you’re curious why the Greek word for “halcyon” means “kingfisher“, it’s because the word derives from the name of Alcyone in Greek mythology: after she threw herself into the sea to be reunited with her husband Ceyx in death, the gods took pity on the tragic couple and turned them both into “halcyon” birds, otherwise known as kingfishers. It’s from this story of Alcyone and Ceyx that the phrase “halcyon days” derives, denoting the calm period in winter when no storms occur. As you’d likely expect, “halcyon” also works as a noun, either as another word for a kingfisher of the genus Halcyon or the mythical bird that, according to ancient writers, had the power to calm the wind and waves. If you write stories that mention the peaceful days of the past or the creatures of Greek mythology, “halcyon” is an interesting word to include in your writing!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

In The Mirror

I used to hate the reflection in my bedroom mirror.

I wanted to be loved, but I’d always failed.

Until I learned to see past the face.

From that day on, my life changed.

Other’s opinions no longer meant anything.

I’d found a true love.

And she was beautiful.

Nobody else mattered.

Only her.


This piece is based on What If? Exercise 93: “Ten to One”. The exercise is to write a 55-word story in which the first sentence has ten words, the second has nine, etc., until the last sentence has only one word. The objective is to show that precision and thrift in writing can produce surprisingly powerful results. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

Beta Reader Feedback: Update on the Dragon Story Experiment

It’s been a month since I called for beta readers for my short stories about dragons. (Calls are still open, by the way! If you’re interested, check out my original post here.)

After sharing what my self-publishing experiment is all about, now is a good time for an update on my stories and the feedback I’ve received from beta readers so far! So how have my stories been faring?

Short Story #1: “Defender”

The first story I lined up for my beta readers is “Defender”, a story about a battle between a dragon and a knight as told from the dragon’s point of view. This one is the most recent of the three; I first published this story on my blog in January 2017. It started as a simple 1000-word story, but after expanding on the action during editing, it doubled in length to 2000 words!

Of my three dragon stories, this one may be my favorite. The feedback on this story has been overwhelmingly positive so far! Obviously, the exclusively positive comments have come from family and friends, but I did receive some constructive feedback from a couple of readers, which was great! I’ll definitely be sure to consider their notes for the final edit!

Short Story #2: “Beastly Pains”

My second story is “Beastly Pains”, a story about a boy who is cornered by a dragon and has to negotiate his way out of being eaten. This one is the oldest of my three stories; I first shared it in a writing community in early 2014. It started at about 2000 words long, but after editing, it grew to around 2200 words.

This one took me over a week longer than I expected to edit, mostly because my writing has greatly improved over the last few years, so there was a lot to delete and change! I sent it out to my beta readers at the end of last week, so I’ve only received constructive feedback from one reader so far (again, family and friends don’t count). Her notes were very helpful and I look forward to using them to improve the final draft of the story!

Short Story #3: “The Silver Queen”

My third story is “The Silver Queen”, a story about an outcast dragon looking for a way to fit in. I’m particularly proud of this story because it won an honorable mention in a short story contest back in 2014. It’s currently sitting at about 2000 words but may end up slightly longer in the final beta draft.

I’m still editing this one (thanks to the delay with “Beastly Pains”), so I haven’t yet sent it out to my beta readers. Though I have no feedback to report right now, I am confident it will be well received, if for no other reason than I was definitely inspired when I wrote it! I plan to send it out within the next week. Hopefully my beta readers will like it!

To those of you who have been beta reading my stories this month, thank you so much for your time and feedback! You’re awesome!

Not my beta reader yet but interested in being one? Sign up for my beta readers’ list!

Word of the Week: Gourmandize

Word: gourmandize

Pronunciation: GOR-mən-dyz

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: indulge in good eating; eat greedily

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Here’s another word I learned from the Association game in the Elevate – Brain Training app. This word came up in a set containing the verb “eat”, and though I had never seen it before, it shouldn’t have been too hard to guess the correct answer, since it so closely resembles another word related to food. When presented with gourmet cuisine, one can’t help but to “gourmandize”!

To “gourmandize” is to indulge in good eating, typically in excess. The word arose in late Middle English and comes from the French noun gourmandise, meaning “gluttony”. This noun stems from the noun gourmand, which means “glutton”.

Even if you’ve never heard this word before, its meaning should be easy to remember by its connection to the word “gourmet”. Like “gourmand”, “gourmet” can function as a noun to mean “a connoisseur of good food”, but only the former implies overeating. Aside from its main use as a verb, “gourmandize” is also a noun meaning “the action of indulging in or being a connoisseur of good food”. If you write stories about characters who love food and often eat too much, you may get plenty of use out of the word “gourmandize”!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Ode to My Greatest Supporter

Of all the men I’ve held dear in my heart,
Who’ve seen me at my best and at my worst,
You’re still the one who always tops the chart
Because you were the one to love me first.

Your words of wisdom taught me what was right.
Your humor made me laugh throughout the years.
Your discipline served as a guiding light
To chase my dreams and conquer all my fears.

And when I think of everything you’ve done
To help me find success in all I do,
I’m grateful to have always had someone
As loving and as generous as you.

To the best father any girl has had:
I hope you have a Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday to my awesome father! Thank you for always supporting my dream to be a writer! I love you!

About J.C. Wolfe

J.C. Wolfe is a fiction writer, biologist, and aspiring novelist of science fantasy and romance. A natural-born American and graduate in Marine Ecology from a university in Brazil, J.C. now writes for a living in California while spending free time blogging and penning stories and poetry.

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