Inquiring Minds want to Know . . .

Who Put the Butter in Butterfly? a book that survived my Great Book Purge of 2016, was a birthday gift from the Dean of Liberal Arts at my college in 1993. It is billed ascompulsive reading for anyone incurably curious about the idiosyncrasies of the language.”


  1. Why is a woman’s private stash of cash called pin money? Early pins were made of silver and thus very expensive. “In divorce suits in England, women often sued to collect one year’s pin money, as much as two-hundred pounds a year.” However, over the years, pins have undergone great deflation. Thus, “pin money” doesn’t amount to very much these days.
  1. How did the zipper get its name?  “Zip was … taken from the sound made by the fastener, a word trademarked by B. F. Goodrich in 1925.” Since then the zipper became so popular that it has become a generic term, like the brand “Kleenex” today.
  1. Who put the butter in butterfly?  “Samuel Johnson claimed that the season when butterflies first appear (spring) was when butter was also first churned . . . . Medieval folklore tales included the myth that witches and fairies would fly and steal butter at night—in the form of butterflies.”


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Writers’ Etiquette

Gisela Hausmann, born in Vienna, got laid off from a construction company in 2008, at the onset of the Great Recession, she admits. A widowed mother of two youngsters, she focused on her strongest skill, communication, which launched her writing career.

In her Little Blue Books Series, she whispers (and sometimes, yells) advice that other writers may not have the courage to tell you. Some nuggets:

  1. “You owe it to yourself to not publish unedited work.”
  2. “Read the most acclaimed works from your book’s genre . . . “
  3. Know that Amazon controls two thirds of the online book market.
  4. Social media: Watch out for scam artists on Facebook. “Thousands of scam artists, from African princes to widowed four-star generals who seek new love, roam Facebook . . . . !”
  5. “Even the most influential people seek comments and input.” (Roz Chast from The New Yorker and Laura Schroff, author of The Invisible Thread, responded to my email messages when I sent them my blog links, here and here.)

Both authors float in much bigger ponds than I, but they took the time to respond with a thoughtful email message, which made my day. They may not read my forth-coming book (then again, they might!), but I have made a connection I value.


Other etiquette advice for published authors

  • Never badmouth a reviewer in public, including on social media platforms. “If you must vent, rant to your best friend or spouse; in person, not in public.”
  • Don’t lie or brag. (Promoting your book sensibly is not bragging, in my view.)
  • “Similarly, don’t tell ‘everybody’ information they don’t need to know. Once, I saw a posting in an authors’ group, Amazon just deleted sixteen of my book’s reviews. Dear, You just gave everybody a reason not to read and review your book.”




Your turn: 

Any additions to “our illogical language” segment?

Your reaction to tips for authors . . . any you would add?