Favorite Words for the New Year

I’m a the Debutante Ball today, blogging about the New Year.

I’m also delighted to host a guest blog from my friend and critique partner DeAnn Smith, a fellow author of historical fiction. And so, with no further ado, here’s DeAnn:

13A DeAnn Smith headshot

My favorite word: Annie

My sincere thank you to my dear friend, mentor, incredible cheerleader and author extraordinaire Susan Spann for offering to let me post on her fabulous website until I get mine up and (hopefully) soaring come this spring.

Hugs and love!

She issued a challenge that perplexed me and flummoxed me for days.

Write about my favorite word. Not words, oh no, that would be too simple. Word.


Words that immediately came to mind included love, sweet, and hope. I’m partial to the words fascinating and interesting. (Eyes glazing over in a conversation? Just repeatedly murmur, “How interesting!” They think you care while you stay true to yourself).

All those words seemed way too easy. Her challenge was a Rubik’s Cube I mulled repeatedly during my daily commutes to work.

And then I thought I had the oh-so-obvious choice. Pepper. It had to be pepper. What an incredibly versatile world. The humble word functions as noun, adjective and verb.

If I tell you that Thomas Howard, the earl of Surrey, had salt-and-pepper hair, you can immediately visualize it. If I tell you the dish had more than a dash of pepper, your tongue can almost taste it. I love to pepper politicians with questions. See? Pepper. Great word.

But my *favorite?* I wasn’t completely sold until the proverbial light bulb flashed in my mind.

Schadenfreude. Tis not exactly the best side of myself, but, wow, I love that word. I love the way it rolls off my tongue and what it means. It makes me snicker (another great word).

While zipping along Interstate 70 one morning contemplating why schadenfreude was the word and how to write that it won the Academy of Word Awards, the word came to me like a lightning bolt.The choice was so simple and so easy that it was really laughable how long it took me to realize that fact.


My beloved Nannie always called me Annie. I was her Annie, and that became my family nickname fondly used by my nearest and dearest when I was a little girl. I lost my Nannie in 2002, but I can still hear her beautiful voice calling, “Yoo hoo! Annie!”

It’s six simple letters, but to me Annie means unconditional love by the one person who always saw the best in me. She was my Nannie and I was her Annie.

I am writing a historical novel about Anne of York, middle daughter of Edward IV, and a fresh take on the fate of her brothers, who you likely know as the “Princes in the Tower.” And just like “Annie” gave me a special bond with my beloved grandmother, Annie is what those closest to Anne of York called her. Her beloved brother summoned her to her dying father’s bedside by whispering, “Annie,” which let her know just how serious their father’s illness is. Only those who love her the best and the most call her Annie.

A short little proper noun, but it has such a powerful impact. Annie means family and unconditional love by those nearest and dearest to both me and my fictional heroine. My Annie would give her life just to hear her father and brothers one more time call her Annie and say how proud of her they are and how much they love her.

An incredible woman, Lura Brown, was born on New Year’s Day 1911, so it seemed totally appropriate to write this homage to my Nannie on this day of all days. Just hearing the word comforts me, makes me smile and brings a lump to my throat as I remember my Nannie. I would give most of my worldly possessions just to hear her one more time call me Annie and tell her how much she loves me.

I love and miss you Nannie.

Your Annie.

8 thoughts on “Favorite Words for the New Year

  • January 3, 2013 at 6:26 am

    That is so sweet, DeAnn!! I can see how much you miss her. 🙂 And I’m certain she misses you, and is proud of you!!

  • January 3, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I’m looking forward to your blog launch this spring. And as for your runner-up word choice, I LOVE schadenfreude. It sums up an entire aspect of human nature that I find sad and somewhat appalling, but fascinating nonetheless. Beautiful post!

  • January 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

    How lovely! The emotion just sings through your writing – cant wait til your blog launches!

  • January 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Great post DeAnn! Thank you for letting me host it – it’s my honor to be able to share you with the world!

  • January 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Oh, this made me tear up. And brought back wonderful memories of my own grandmother and the special bond we shared. {{{hugs}}}

  • January 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Beautiful post, DeAnn! Thank you for sharing your special bond with your grandmother.

  • January 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Wonderful post, DeAnn! As a true southern gal, my grandmother was also “Nanny.” And she was so very special. Looking forward to your future blog posts!

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