Swag. Odd word that. All that promotional material you get at conferences, races, fairs, trade shows, and business meetings—pens, magnets, sticky notes, calendars and so on—with your car dealer’s name, dentist’s address, or running show company’s logo is swag. Writers have to bring their swag as well.

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Swag from a writers’ conferences–Roddy’s swag of inspiration

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When asked to bring my swag, I know what was meant, but the word intrigued me. so of course I had to look it up. I came away bemused. Among the definitions:

  • Loot, booty, word used by thieves to describe their take.
  • Hence goods and valuables.
  • Or a travelers bundle of goods such as a tramp or hobo —or swagman— might sling over his shoulder
  • Any free stuff—products given away free

Of course, the history of a word is always most interesting. The earliest meaning (Sixteenth century) was to swing or sway, which led to swagger which meant to boast or brag. Someone might be a swaggering fool for example. “Sway” led to meanings regarding drapery, “swagger” to boast-worthy loot. The urban dictionary defines swag closer to swagger, as a street term to describe someone who carries himself with confidence who is said to have “killer swag.” The guy in the picture has all sorts of swag.

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You’ve probably guessed by now swag is on my mind for a reason. Next week I’m off to Romancing Williamsburg, a fun reader/writer get together for those of us who love historical romance and swag will be expected. A writer has to rack her brain for swag that a) won’t bankrupt b) make your name memorable and c) relate somehow to romance, to history, or to writing. Whew. So this time I lucked onto this little item. My characters travel the world, and this little brass compass just tickled me. I hope the folks love it. It will go in goody bags with perhaps a few left for folks who stop by the book signing Saturday, March 16. There’ll be more swag at the signing—bookmarks, buttons, candy–but these are cool.

It will be a busy week with packing, an unexpected guest, and preparing for some heavy duty remolding—especially since I need to keep meeting my writing goals on The Price of Glory. I’m on it. But first, coffee!

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