Scents, Aromas, & Emotions

Yesterday I finished up my container of Jergens Lotion. It was the kind with Shea Butter, super good for dry skin and has a nice scent. It’s a large container as you can see, and I’ve used it for a long time.


When I reached under the sink to see what else was there, I pulled out the Jergens with the original scent. I slathered it on my legs and arms.

And I was instantly back in my mother’s bathroom. Now she’s been gone for over 14 years, but that scent said MOTHER in all capital letters. My mother was never a “little old lady.” In fact, when she was in the retirement center, she worried about the “little old ladies” who didn’t have someone to speak up for them.

Isn’t it interesting how an aroma or scent can do that? Old Spice makes me think of my father. The smell of Popcorn also makes think of my dad. I grew up eating it and later popping it for my family.

I use scents in my writing, trying to capture that emotion that we connect with certain things in our past like….

Fireplaces. I LOVE the smell of wood burning in a fireplace. It makes me feel safe and cozy. Sometimes I have word burning fireplaces in my books and sometimes gas ones. Depends on what the characters and story needs. In one book  I created two fireplaces. 🙂


Smells can also be bad, the dead skunk that you pass on the highway, rotten eggs, throw-up. Sorry, but it’s that smell that makes others throw up. Likewise, dirty diapers.  I’ll be happy to never smell that again. LOL

So, what are some smells that move you emotionally? What food smells make you hungry. Authors, what scents do you use in your writing? Love to hear from you.

And sense I won’t be posting here again until after my favorite holiday, let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and good food. Blog  @marsharwest

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. vicki says:

    Hi, Marsha! I love the smell of Italian food-the garlic, tomatoes, yeast. Now, I’m hungry!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. marsharwest says:

    Hey, Vicki. Yes I hear you. Or would that be smell? My daughter’s Pilates Studio is right next to an Italian restaurant and sometimes the aromas make us ravenous. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Marsha, I love the smell of Italian and Greek food. So many robust flavors to enjoy! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. marsharwest says:

      Hey, Joanne, I guess there must be some folks who don’t like that kind of food, but hard to imagine. Such good comfort food. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Kathryn Jane says:

    Hi Marsha! I am extremely scent driven and have so many favorites, like the one that washes over me when I step into the livestock barn at the local fair, that mix of cows, horses, goats, sheep and pigs takes me right back to the wonderful time spent showing my horse there, and having such a feeling of belonging with all the other like-minded teens caring for their animals… Then there are the favorite food smells, like pineapple upside down cake baking in the oven, (which meant my mother was in a particularly good mood), or fresh cut lawn/grass, or the briny smell of the ocean (that scent crawls inside me and I swear it permeates every cell of me). I could go on for hours!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. marsharwest says:

      Hey, Kathryn. Wow! Such great descriptions of how the emotions get tied up with our memories of aromas.–“that scent crawls inside me and I swear it permeates every cell of me.” Super great line! Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Marsha. Great post. Smells are important in writing. You might find this hard to believe, but I took a romance writing class from Lori Wilde and smells were a big part of her lessons.

    I do write about smells in my mysteries. They usually pertain to food….Sweet Marissa’s Patisserie, Italian meals with the garlic and olive oil, etc. I put a homemade pizza in the oven a few days ago and only after a couple of minutes, Bill came into the kitchen and mentioned about the wonderful smell. It’s an important sense.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Marsha and to everyone in the Sisterhood of Suspense!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. marsharwest says:

      Hey, Susan. Love that you took a class from Lori Wilde. I got most of my info on emotions and the senses from Margie Lawson. Still I struggle to get that stuff in, mostly layering it in after writing the story. Well, as long as it gets there. Love hearing about all the cooking you and Bill do. It’s quite commendable in this day when we can so easily go buy ready made food that is almost fresh. But I’d never thought about how you miss the smell of the cooking. One of the reasons I enjoy winter so much is the chance to cook homemade soup. Now that is some good smells. My family is coming to our lakehouse for the day. My favorite holiday! Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Enjoyed this post, Marsha. My dad used Old Spice, too!
    I love the scent of my grandson fresh from his bath, a mix of strawberry and sweet little boy.
    I love the salty, slightly pungent scent of the ocean beaches.
    The smell of frying onions.
    Okay, I’m hungry now, lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. marsharwest says:

      Hey, Jacquie. How cool our fathers used Old Spice! Oh, you named some great scents. Onions cooked in a bit of oil on the stove, and it smells like you’ve really been cooking. Even if you don’t make anything else. LOL Bacon and steak grilling! Ummmmm yum! Just driving by a restaurant that grills steaks and my stomach will growl. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. This was almost too weird. I love the original Jergens because it reminds me of my mother. I guess it’s not just me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. marsharwest says:

      Hey, McKenna. Very cool. Like minded spirits, I guess. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


  8. Helena says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I really enjoyed reading all your posts and thought to myself – maybe I can borrow all
    these wonderful descriptions and use them in my writing(?) You see I’m one of those
    fairly uncommon individuals who has an extremely limited sense of smell: garlic, lemons,
    Estee Lauder’s Cinnabar perfume – for about 40 seconds, crushed dill or mint. That’s
    about it. I frequently ask my close friends to describe a scent to me. And before you ask,
    yes, I can taste okay, I think, but I have no standard of comparison 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Helena. How sad. You miss out on a wood fire and popcorn. Garlic and lemon are super though. Can you smell meat grilling outside? That’s an awesome aroma and always makes my mouth water. I’m glad you can taste, but surprised because I’d always heard the two senses were connected. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


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