Monday, April 12, 2010

Southernisms; Ain't them the berries!

As an author, you have to try to give your characters different "voices." If they're distinctive enough, you don't even have to use a dialog tag to know who's speaking. Well, I'm Northern through and through--born and raised in New England--but the funny expressions I heard from my midwestern mother added color to our conversations.

At the moment, I'm working on the 3rd book in the Strange Neighbors series. Gwyneth is a young southern woman who moved to Boston to help out her cousin. I thought writing her character would be a lot of fun, but didn't know if I could do it. Turns out it's as easy as sliding off a greasy log backward!

Now keep in mind this is book #3 and I still don't know exactly where she's from. Could be the moutains of Carolina or West Virginie. Don't make no nevermind to me. She's a great secondary character that I know y'all will love.

I gathered some of her saying from lists on the Internet. I asked friends who live in the South (or did at one time.) I asked my fans to contribute to her repertoire, And well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit, I wound up with quite a list!

So, just for fun, I'll share the ones I'd never heard before that made me smile.


He who laughs last probably doesn’t understand the joke.

Slicker than a harpooned hippo on a banana tree.

If everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane!

If I want your opinion, I’ll ask you to fill out the necessary form.

Don’t worry too much about it. Just do all you can do and let the rough end drag.

If rabbits feet are so lucky, what happened to the rabbit?

Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

If the Lord had meant us to fly, He would have given us aluminum skin.

If you lie to the computer, it will get you.

You couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle.

If you see an onion ring - answer it!

I’d rather jump barefoot off a 6-foot step ladder into a
5 gallon bucket full of porcupines than…

She’s wound up tighter than the girdle of a baptist minister’s
wife at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.

My sister is soooooo ugly, we had to tie a pork chop around her
neck to get the dogs to play with her.

Her ass was so big, it looked like two Buicks fighting for a parking place.

It’s colder than a mother-in-law’s love.

She’s uglier than a bucket full of armpits. Bless her heart.

He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

Ain’t no point in beatin’ a dead horse…’course, can’t hurt none either.

He’s so stupid, he couldn’t find his ass with both hands.

And my all time favorite: I's so poor, I can't even pay attention!

Well, I hope people will pay attention while reading my books. It seems as if they already are... I received an awesome review in Publisher's Weekly, which caught the attention of a Hollywood producer! Yup, she's talkin' to my agent--well, I'll be! But I'm tryin' not to let the tail wag the dog.

Yesterday I received the nicest letter from a bookseller in LA. She said it had been a long time since she'd read a book that made her laugh out loud...she ordered several copies of Strange Neighbors and is already talking it up! Suddenly I DO feel like everything's coming my way, and I hope I'm in the right lane!


  1. Woohoo, congrats, Ash! Good luck with the movie producer!!!

  2. Congratulations! Best of luck with Hollywood!

    I was born and raised in Virginia. My mother was a Virginian, and my father was a Tennessean. Being from the Southeast, my Southern culture is quite varied from the Deep South. We do all say "y'all". Here are some other good ole Southernisms:

    Snap Granny's Garters (what a surprise)

    Jarred My Preserves (shook me up)

    Like Two Cats In A Sack (can't get along)

    Green As A Gourd (a real novice)

    Gully-Washer (torrential rain)

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  3. Congrats on the Hollywood interest!

    And my favorite Southern-ism is the "Bless her heart." Man, that can say soooooo much and really knife you in the back at times. LOL

  4. LOL! I love those, Virginia!!!


  5. Great post, and good luck in Hollywood!
    The one I hear most around here is "God love her/him," which usually follows something like, "He's/She's too stupid to live" or something of that nature. But being from Louisville, I'm one of the few people in the state of Indiana who says "y'all". Which, as far as I'm concerned, has the local word choice of "you-uns" beat all to hell and back.

  6. Well, I'm from Texas and have heard a lot of funny expressions but not all of these. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh man, this is great! My dad is from the Deep South, as in the Gulf of MS south, so I know how colorful the language can be! Thanks for a wonderful laugh before I head off to bed for my sleep. Sweet dreams to be sure. :)

  8. I did use "Bless her heart" in my book, Judi. It fell right into place there.

    I used to say it, meaning it in the nice way, until a friend who used to live in N. Carolina corrected me.

    Now I just say, "Bless you." Is that okay to say?


  9. I'm from North Carolina, born and bred. I've heard many of those expressions but had no idea some of them were specific to the South!

    For the WIP I'm collecting Southern medical terms.

    "Went into a decline" isn't used much any more , though old folks sometimes say it.

    "Fell out" means to have lost consciousness, though it can mean to have become weak as in "I bout fell out laughing."

    "Sinking spells" are fairly common and rarely serious among women, but a cause for alarm in a man.

    "Sweating like a pig." Pigs don't sweat, except when being roasted.

    "So pale, she looked like she'd been drinking Clorox."

    If anyone can think of other medial parlance peculiar to the South, let me know.

  10. Those are great, MM!

    I'm a nurse and know medical terminology, but didn't realize there was the Southern version. (grin) Well, maybe I've heard "She's feelin' poorly." But I like yours.


  11. Huge congrats on the great reviews and nice letter!

    One of my critique partners hails from rural south Georgia, while I'm a third-generation Oregon girl. Suffice it to say, it's sometimes like talking to someone from another planet, but the perspective we bring to each other's critiques is invaluable.


  12. Enjoyed the post and congratulations on the reviews. Keeping my fingers crossed for the Hollywood break. Being a "good ole Southern" girl myself, there are way too many phrases to share. Just remember to listen to Jeff Foxworthy (the guy knows his phrases). Loved all the ones you have here.

    Thoughts in Progress

  13. Some of those lines I'd never seen before - thanks for the laugh! Good luck with the movie deal!!

  14. Sorry I missed all of the fun yesterday--these are hilarious and great way to start the day!

  15. Congratulations on the success of your book, Ash! Wishing you many more sales!