Found the Perfect Giveaway!

‘Tis the gift giving season and it’s sometimes harder to think our way through a shopping list than it is to plot a 120,000 word novel. It’s tough! We all forget people we shouldn’t forget (that’s what that stash of scratch-off lottery tickets is for), and we realize that the people we didn’t forget, simply have everything. It’s a dilemma. What to buy, what to buy?

Okay, admit it, we all re-gift and we all do it for various reasons. Sometimes I get a gift that simply doesn’t fit. But hey, my work friend is three sizes smaller and she’ll love it so ….  Sometimes the gift is not my taste, but my son loves alternative rock ‘n roll so he gets the disc. Sometimes I already have one of those and don’t feel like doing the whole exchange thing, but oh yes, my neighbor would love a Tupperware salad crisper. Re-gifting just happens.

I take re-gifting a little further. For years I was involved with Native American studies and one of the most special parts of a ceremony is the “giveaway”. The original concept of the giveaway was designed to move the wealth around the community. To offer what you have and receive something in return. It also held a lot of spiritual importance, as it passed along the energy of the original owner to the new owner. For example, in today’s giveaways, many women pass on pieces of jewelry or a favorite shawl. Men will giveaway good serviceable tools or leather coats. The heart of this practice is beautiful and more giving than when a person simply popped in at J.C. Penny’s and picked up a sweater or wallet for you.

The giveaway touches on the spirit of the giving person it came from. It’s hard to part with things sometime, but I believe that if you listen hard enough, that item will tell you when it’s time to move on. I’ve tried to institute the practice often, especially when I have to give a gift to someone I don’t know very well. It’s an opportunity to explain the lovely meaning of the giveaway, what they’re getting, why I felt the need to give it to them, and what the item had meant to me.

I wish the Holidays would be more like Giveaways.

But, among my closest friends they all know they’ll get something odd, strange and interesting from me. I may spice the item with something small from the store, but the guts of it is always deeply personal from me to them. Today as I did my annual search, I found something entertaining and fun to share with you, my fellow writers. I only wish I had a million of these to pass around, but instead, I’ll just give you bits and pieces right here in the blog.

In the many still sealed boxes I never got to after moving 3,000 miles to Los Angeles a few years ago, I found a little treasure that made me laugh. The book is entitled “Words that Sell”. It was published in 1984 by Asher-Gallant Press and written by Richard Bayan. It’s a cool little book that boasts being “A Ultimate Thesaurus to Help Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas”  I can’t recall if I ever used the book but exploring through it made me laugh and made me think. It also surprised me that there really are a few things in here that can be super helpful for writers. For example: the “Puffspeak – And Its Alternative” chapter. Check this out.


access (used as verb)  –   obtain

at this point in time  –  now

continuum  –  link

counterproductive  –  futile

finalize  –  finish

impact (used as a verb)  –  affect

inoperative  –  doesn’t work

interface  –  meet, work with

macro-anything –  big

mainstreaming  –  rejoining

mega-anything  –  big

optimize  –  improve

parameters  –  limits

parenting  –  raising kids

pursuant to  –  according to

ramifications  –  consequences

stonewalling  – lying

viable  –  workable

Now this wasn’t all of them listed but reading through the list, I realized that not only do writers use a lot of Puffspeak where they shouldn’t, but they probably forget to use it where they should. Cool, huh?

Anther section in that chapter has the header of “Wordy Expressions”. Now here’s a good way to pare down those manuscripts!


at the present time  –  now

at this point in time  –  now

as of this date  –  now

during that time  –  when

at which time  –  when

on the occasion of  –  when

on the grounds that  –  because

as a result of  –  because

owing to the fact that  –  because

by virtue of the fact that  –  because

with reference to  –  about

pertaining to  –  about

in the event that  –  if

came to a decision as to  –  decide

reached a conclusion as to  –  decide

make use of  –  use

in close proximity of  –  near

as it is often the case  –  often

he is a man who  –  he

Hahaha, I love those! Why do we all get so damn wordy? This book also includes lists on commonly confused words like accede and exceed, on commonly misspelled words, and a cool chapter on “Grabbers”. Under descriptions there’s a category of “Romantic”. Check this out. This was the ultimate in word collections and quick reference when computers were just a new nuisance we knew we’d eventually have to figure out. Please tell me that these days we do better than this under the “romantic” category, LOL.






a storybook world

surrender to the spell of






So funny! I think we’ve come a long way since 1984 but of course, there’s always something to learn from the past and from other parts of the communication world. I always listen to complex symphony when I’m preparing to plot a novel. I always look at old magazines and movies when developing character. I always check out the way I used to think to develop a new way of thinking.

“Words That Sell” was my giveaway little Holiday gift to you!

About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

4 responses to “Found the Perfect Giveaway!

  • yearzerowriters


    at the present time – now

    at this point in time – now

    as of this date – now

    during that time – when

    at which time – when

    on the occasion of – when

    on the grounds that – because

    as a result of – because

    owing to the fact that – because

    by virtue of the fact that – because

    with reference to – about

    pertaining to – about

    in the event that – if

    came to a decision as to – decide

    reached a conclusion as to – decide

    make use of – use

    in close proximity of – near

    as it is often the case – often

    he is a man who – he


    Have a good festive period. Me I’ll be curmudgeonly as per usual.

  • Carol Silvis

    Thanks for the treat, Debbie. Have a wonderful holiday!

  • Kayelle Allen

    What a great giveaway! When my kids were little, to help them understand the spiritual aspect of the holiday, we’d have a birthday cake on Christmas Day and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. The kids loved it, and my daughter continues the tradition with her children.

    One year, we presented each other with a gift that we prayed over, expressing to God our desire for it to bless the recipient in a particular way. I still have the gift tag my middle child had attached to his. The gift was a poster he’d drawn for me. But that little tag means as much as the gift. He wrote, “May you cherish this gift as I cherish you with love.” I carried it in my wallet for *years* and only recently retired it to a safer place. The bracelet my youngest son made for me broke, but its pieces still have a regal place in my jewelry box. 🙂

    Probably one of the best giveaways I ever had was at lunch with my daughter and her two daughters (her baby boy was asleep beside her). I gave the girls a small jewelry case, each drawer holding a piece of costume jewelry their mother had worn while playing dress-up as a girl herself. There were also two pins that I’d received on different Mother’s Days, each with the word Mother on it and a phrase like #1, and so on. I explained to them about their mother giving them to me, and how proud it had made me feel to wear them. I asked them to keep the pins safe and each time they saw them to remember how much I loved the girls and their mother. The tears in my daughter’s eyes and the amazed look on her face expressed all the thanks I needed.

    Thank you for sharing this tradition. It brought back wonderful memories. May your holidays be blessed, safe, and bring you great joy.

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