What goes into true research

I have been involved in doing research and publishing my results for the past thirty plus years. The purpose and goal of meaningful researchers is to find and publish new truth. I admire those who are able to accomplish this, and a lot of them are my friends.

About ten years ago I began researching origins and meanings meanings of English phrases and sayings because I found so much inaccurate information in both printed works and online. The results have been rewarding to me and obviously to thousands of others who have purchased my books in either paperback or Kindle e-book format. I have been fortunate to have some intelligent, educated people give me rave reviews.

90% of the ones posted on Amazon have been 5 stars on my most popular volume, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, original book. My work has been selected by several college and university libraries, as well as public and school libraries, and numerous authors and professors. It has been used to teach English as a second language and as a reference work for obtaining a doctorate degree at a leading University.

But there will still be some who ‘just don’t get it,’  and that’s okay. But when I am able to uncover information regarding a figurative expression which has not been previously published, I feel that I am still making headway in the education of others.

Of course I’m not perfect, and sometimes miss the mark a bit, but I truly try. Thousands of hours have been put into my work, and I have proven some popular sources to be wrong about the dates or coining of some popular phrases. I now have two different volumes of this book in print, and am well into the final Volume III, due out next spring. Once this book has been released, the set will contain over 3, 800 sayings. After that, I plan on doing an alphabetical order index book which will list all entries for the three volumes and where to find them. Just this morning I made a new discovery which may tell how a phrase went from literal to figurative. The possible original source, to my knowledge, has never before been linked in any other book of this type. Here is that entry. This will serve as a copyright on this information:

Playing for keeps

This is an idiom for doing something seriously rather than just for fun. It originated in the 19th century in the game of marbles, which is played by drawing a circle on the ground and each player placing a set number of marbles in the circle, then taking turns shooting another marble into the circle to try to knock out the opponent’s marbles. The term ‘playing for keeps’ was coined to mean that the marbles knocked out of the circle would become the property of the player who knocked them out. ‘Playing for fun’ meant that the original owner retained the marbles brought into play.  By the early 20th century, playing for keeps came to be applied to any matter which became serious. One of the very first figurative examples, newly discovered in the writing of this book, and possibly even the coining, came in Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucky, May 24, 1901, page 4, column 3, under the heading, ‘Playing for Keeps’:

“I know a whole lot of boys, some of them living in Massachusetts today, who are playing for keeps, but instead of marbles, they are using wheat or corn, or railroad stocks.”


Busier than a one-armed paper hanger

One of the cliches in my popular book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions is “Busier than a one-armed paper hanger. The entry reads like this:

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger

This humorous analogy has been in common use in the U.S. since at least the early twentieth century. Sometimes it is expanded to say, ‘with hives’ or ‘on a windy day.’ The meaning is clear, too busy for one’s own good. Despite the fact that someone who writes useless checks is also known as a ‘paper hanger,’ this applies to the obvious—hanging wallpaper—a task which requires both hands to perform properly.

An early example is found in St. Nicholas, an illustrated magazine for boys and girls, Volume 45, Part 2 by Mary Maples Dodge, in a section called Daddy Pat’s Letters from the Front, 1919:

“Daddy has been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger, and it has been awful hard to find time to write.” 

Well, as of late it seems that I have been about that busy, and unable to “get my head together” to do regular entries.

I am currently working on three books from three different authors and expecting more. Add to that other obligations what is coming up like a class reunion in North Carolina, and vacation and research in New England for the book series, Exploring Our Exciting World, well…this is going to get worse. Then I will be having surgery and be incapacitated for several weeks. Oh well, that’s life, and I enjoy mine immensely.

In the meantime, visit our website at http://stclairpublications.com and order a great book. You can also find them at all Amazon sites around the world, or order them from your favorite book retailer.

My best to all!.


You never miss your water till the well runs dry

Last Wednesday night it was raining lightly at the St. Clair home. Our  Russian Blue Kitty, Fonzie, had been attempting to play roughly with our older feline, Shia. When this happens, our little doggy, Brody, defends Shia. That evening it wasn’t fazing Fonzie, and we scolded him harshly and drove him off. Fonzie must have felt that ‘the odds were stacked against him’ having any fun. At about 10:00 PM I opened the front door to see if it was still raining, and Fonzie ‘made a beeline’ for the great unknow. It being pitch dark and gloomy. I was unable to see him, and shut the door. Once before he had gone out at night and was waiting on our back stoop the next morning.

Well, morning dawned and no Fonzie. We searched everywhere to no avail over the next two days. I even printed out posters and took them to neighbors. Then, ‘lo and behold,’ Yesterday morning Rhonda heard a meow at our front door–the one at which he had made his getaway. She opened it and Fonzie came dashing in, looking gant and seeming to proclaim sorrow for his transgression.

Since then it seemed that his personality had done a 180. He has not attacked Shiah anymore. He has not tried to dash out. Before that he seemed to be looking for trouble behind every door. He has somehow seemed to realize how good he has it with us as his guardians. I guess even with cats, the old adage ‘rings true,’ “You don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.” This expression has been with us from the seventeenth century and was first recorded in Scotland, the land of my direct male ancestry.

In this entry, I have also included four other figurative expressions, All of these may be found in my popular book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and FIgurative Expressions, which has received rave reviews on Amazon. It wiil make a nice Christmas present for that inquisitive special person in your life who would like to know the true origins of their favorite expressions. Something about which there is much misinformation. Check it out today, and tell your friends if you like it.

I could never imagine

When I began the long years I was to expend researching cliches, proverbs, and figures of speech I did not imagine that I would, indeed, eventually be viewed as an expert in this field. Granted, I did a most careful and deep study of this fascinating field. The more I delved into it, the more I realized just how much information had not been uncovered by others in printed books. I found that so many of our common catchphrases were misquotes, either phrased wrongly or accredited to an individual who was merely passing it down from others. Other expressions were misunderstood or incorrectly placed in time of their genesis. Another shortcoming of most phrase dictionaries is the fact that they attempt to identify the time of origin with no definitive specific early citations. This plunged me onward to a more precise understanding of the true origins of phrases and old sayings which are so utilized that we never think about how they got started.

My initial offering was On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms, which was published in September, 2011. Over the past year and a half, that volume often ranked number three on Amazon of ‘cliche origin books.’ Then in 2012 I released a second volume of this title with all new phrases. Still, my research took no vacation, for I was woefully short in identifying expressions which needed to be included.

Then only recently, after many months of additional research, i took the entries of both books, and more than doubled this amount, enlarging the physical size from 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches to 6 X 9, making the font smaller and the margins wider, and removing personal references and illustrations, and with my wife and eldest son’s edits, and my good friend and associate, Kent Hesselbein creating a masterpiece cover, came up with a 710 page tome that served to provide my ultimate in this genre. Though it would take a library to hold all of our English catchphrases, this one is as close as one could come in this size volume when considering the average length of entry.

What amazed me is that not only is this book taking off in sales, even the first book is still selling. The final product is titled, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions. Own it today in paperback or Kindle.

Setting the Standard in a Genre

Watching the Golden Globes and other such award shows gives me a prospective of what is relavent in a particular marketplace and enriches my personal understanding of the various categories being judged.

Most motion pictures are based on books, of course, and only those catching the eye of producers are considered for such distinction. Then only the best of the best are the recipients of awards.

In not only writing, but publishing books, I understand more than the average person, that quality and desirability of a certain book is imperative in order for it to sell. At St. Clair Publications it is our desire to publish books, both in hard copies and e books, which will be appreciated and purchased by a fair share of individuals who are interested in or have need for that subject matter.

Our variety of genres runs a large gammet. We publish anything from poetry to sci-fi; from romance and time travel to religious publications and self-improvement; from true crime to dictionaries.

It is our desire to set the standard, which is not that easy in today’s wide market. And speaking of dictionaries, my phrase origin books have been some of the best-selling ones online. On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms with its quirky style of humor, has been near the top of Amazon’s best-selling cliche origin books for the last two Christmas seasons since it was released in September, 2011. The second volume of this is On the Origin of the Cliches, All New, Volume Two. It has held it’s own as well. But my ultimate and final effort in this field is now nearing publication. It is called Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions. It takes out the humor and competes with the dictionaries produced by the major New York companies in this field. In fact, in it I prove many of the earliest citations and some very origins of phrases published previously to be incorrect. In short, It is almost 800 pages in small print, and I plan on setting a new and impressive industry standard. It is due out this spring.

If you have a manuscript which you feel can set a standard in its genre, please contact me at stan@stclair.net . Of course, we reserve the right of rejecting any manuscript. But you never know till you try… and you may be pleasantly surprised.

(St. Clair Publications is a POD publisher)

In Pursuit of Excellence

It is my personal goal to make every book published by St. Clair Publications the best it can be. Much time goes into quality conrtrol; editing and proofing.

My best-selling book online, by far, is On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms. While continuing my painstaking work on the ultimate tome on phrase origins, one which will hopefully set the standard in this genre for the Englsh-speaking world, I have made improvements on this original title several times since it was released just over a year ago. As new facts become evident I have made updates to the master file and submitted them to our printer so that future copies ordered will reflect these changes. That is what pursuit of excellence entails. And that is one great feature about our method of publication. Of the thousands of books that we have sold, every copy ordered was printed on demand.

If you are considering publishing a worthy book, contact me at stan@stclair.net. I still review every submission and make a decision as to its publication–why? Because I want our new authors to be successful, and I want to select those which I feel will return the author a notable profit. However, if you don’t want to write and publish a book, you likely have a loved one who would enjoy receiving a HIGH QUALITY paperback–one which has acid-free heavy-bond pages and is perfectly bound for lasting pleasure. Visit our website and set up an account or go to any Amazon store in the US, UK, continental Europe or India. You’ll like what you see! Christmas will be here ‘before you can say Jack Robinson.’

A place for everything and everything in its place

I have been expending so much time in research on my upcoming comprehensive dictionary of proverbial, figurative and curious phrase origins that I have had few additional posts on the blog of late.

One recent item I felt compelled to post. Have you ever heard the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place”? Well, it kind of reminds me of the ”Odd Couple,” which went from a major motion picture to a popular TV series. Those of you old enough to recall Felix and Oscar are aware that Felix was a ‘neat freak’ while Oscar was much the opposite, and living together after they both split from their wives drove them both crazy.

Here’s what I discovered about the origins of this proverbial saying:

This quote, indicating that being well-organized is important, is attributed often to The Book of Household Management by Isabella Mary Beeton, 1861. But it was around before Ms. Beeton’s book. It was most likely a quote from Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790), but the earliest printed nod for his coining the proverb seems to be on page 2 of Niles Weekly Register, Baltimore, 5 February 1820. The first known reference to the actual saying is from a book published by the Religious Tract Society in 1799 titled The Naughty Girl Won:

“Before, however, Lucy had been an hour in the house she has contrived a place for everything and put everything in its place.”

A number of publications contained the proverb in the nineteenth century and then in 1857 a book titled A Place for Every Thing; and Every Thing in Its Place was published in New York by Alice Bradley Haven.

In Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Science, Volume 33, by Sir William Crookes, 1876, page 38, it has exact wording and calls this a ‘good old motto’:

“The pervading idea of these tabular studies is the good old motto — ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place’ but it is extremely difficult to construct any.”

 This is only one of many hundreds of sayings which will be in this 800 page tome scheduled for publication next year.

Indian giver

Have you ever wondered where phrases came from? I have, as mentioned in earlier posts, been researching and recording this information for the past two years and have published two books on my findings. But sometime in 2013 I plan to publish a definitive work from this indepth research. One recent listing for the new book hit me as something many might want to know now, so I’m using it in today’s post. It’s ‘Indian giver.’ Here’s what I learned:

Indian giver

The figurative definition is a person who gives something then takes it back. The term evolved from ‘Indian gift’ which was first coined by Massachusetts Loyalist politician, Thomas Hutchinson, in 1765 during American colonization when Natives gave gifts to the white Europeans in anticipation of receiving a gift in return.

In 1848 historian and linguist John Russell Bartlett published his Dictionary of Americanisms which first cited the phrase ‘Indian giver’:

“INDIAN GIVER. When an Indian gives anything, he expects an equivalent in return, or that the same thing may be given back to him. This term is applied by children in New York and the vicinity to a child who, after having given away a thing, wishes to have it back again.”

Note the figurative application already existed by 1848. It is likely that some Europeans accepted gifts from Natives who expected something in trade, and when nothing was received, demanded the return of the gift. 

But many hundred other cliches, idioms, and catch phrases are in my first two volumes: On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms, and On the Origin of the Cliches. All New Book II. Hope you get them either in paperback or on Kindle ebook format.