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#5 Manuscript Update: “Cool Words” and Research

My March certainly came like a lion and went like a lamb, but not in context to the weather. (On that front, the weather here has been pretty cold, snowy, and dreary—still awaiting Springtime’s lamb.)

I had a nasty stomach bug earlier this month. It took two weeks to fully regain my energy and get back into the swing of things. All of that to say I didn’t spend much time growing my manuscript’s word count. It’s tempting to feel down about it, even though I know I had opportunities to sit at my desk and carve out some progress post-illness. But then I’m reminded that progress takes many forms, and that sometimes we’re at the mercy of our circumstances.

Due to the funkiness I was feeling, I spent a lot of time this month reading and growing my “Cool Words” document—a list of words I stumble upon that I’d like to learn and incorporate into my own stories. These words tend to have a medieval theme. (I’m writing a medieval fantasy, and I’m eager to grow my knowledge about medieval infrastructure, society, and day-to-day life.) I just finished George R.R. Martin’s “A Clash of Kings” this morning, so currently most of my words come from his references.

I use the Libby app to read and absolutely love how effortless it is to highlight and define unknown words. Then, usually once a month, I go into my Libby history and gather all the words I highlighted, copy them into my “cool words” document, and spend some time scribbling down basic definitions. I color coordinate the words into a few categories, such as by animal, adjectives that describe people, military terminology, etc. This way I can refer to my own curated list of awesome words when I’m stuck, rather than scouring the internet for the “perfect word”.

Plus, sometimes a word will spark my curiosity and point me in the right direction regarding my research. This process has me learning more about how people made ink, the minerals that seep through stones in underground crypts, different classes of horses and their respective services, medieval boats and longships, etc. So far this research is both immersive and inspiring to me—it’s fun! Which encourages me that I’m on the right track, pouring energy (albeit rather slowly) into a project that’s in alignment with my passions and longterm goals.

This may be a long shot, but would anyone else enjoy skimming a list of words such as “bole”, “lintel”, “obsequious”, and “rheumy”? If so, I’ll happily share my Cool Words list as it grows. Please let me know if this speaks to you, and we can geek out over old-timey vocab together, ha!

Ohh but I digress…

I said it last month, but I’ll say it again (without pressure)—this is the month I make forward strides on growing the word count for my manuscript. I managed just a few hundred words in March, but can feel it; April will be a time for forward action. It’s time to leave my mental playground and put fingers to keyboard. As my two-year-old would so enthusiastically chant with a firm fist, “let’s do this!”.

Thank you for coming along on this sometimes stagnant road. Sending you my very best wishes for your own endeavours and adventures!

See you again soon!

Photo Credit: My image.


  • Nicole Smith
    April 3, 2023 at 11:33 am

    I’m glad you are feeling better. Good luck this month.

    • Samantha Burgett
      April 3, 2023 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks Nicole! Wishing you a good April as well. 🙏🏻

  • Michele Lee
    April 3, 2023 at 11:32 pm

    That is a cool list! Nice work color-coding and categorizing. 😁 I receive “Word of the Day” emails, but I am not as organized or as ambitious as you. Certainly not as cool! 😎 Glad you’re feeling better. You’ve got this! One page at a time. 🙌🏻

    • Samantha Burgett
      April 4, 2023 at 11:56 am

      Haha thanks for the encouragements and well wishes! And in reality I suppose the words I’m interested in can’t really be used in everyday conversation—there’s not much practical use for “caltrop” or “barbican” in everyday life. 😂 But oh! I should sign up for “Word of the Day” emails too—what a great idea! Thanks for your feedback Michele. 😁

      • Michele Lee
        April 4, 2023 at 2:01 pm

        You are welcome, Samantha. I enjoyed your post and reading over your word list. haha True. A shame really – life would be more interesting if we used words like that! 😁 “Word of the Day” is a mixture of known and discovered gems. Whatever the source, there is never a shortage of words to learn! 🤓

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