Word of the Week – Competence and ROW80 update

‘Money can only give happiness  where there is nothing else to give it.  Beyond a competence it can afford no real satisfaction as far as self is concerned. ‘

Sense and Sensibility.

Here a competence means enough money.  I discovered this by reading What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullan.  The chapter on money has been really useful in giving another dimension to one of my opera cape twirling bad guys.

He’s a younger son living of half army pay.  He needs to get money through marriage. Until he secures himself a rich bride, gambling is the principle way he supplements his income.

This realisation helped give him a goal as he’s been bought up in wealth and now forced to try and make his own way in a world where respectable methods of earning money or making name for himself are drastically limited.  Of course he is still self-interested, rather too fond of his own reflection and deluded about his own worth, but I know what truly makes him tick much better now. Essentially he’s a pretty, delicate, incredibly useless piece of decoration and he finds that frustrating.

I’ve also managed to finish the short story I mentioned on Sunday, so no more excuses for avoiding what I should be writing.

How’s everyone else doing?







Word of the Week – Gothic

From now until the end of March the regular Word of the Week slot is sharing space with the Wednesday Round of Words in 80 Days update.

This week’s Word of the Week is Gothic. And as this is a writer’s blog, I’m going to waffle about it in literature. In its first incarnation ‘My Book’ was called A Little Light Gothic. The word, a little bit like ‘witch’, is one that is a slippery as oil as it is constantly be redefined.

The grandaddy of Gothic Romance is The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764). A better known example may be Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho which, along with The Monk by Matthew Lewis, are mentioned in Northanger Abbey.

They are great books because they are full of horror and spookiness, sexiness and remote locations. They constantly have innocent young women in peril and ‘tache twirling baddies. In some cases there are also holes in the narrative so big that you could easily lose an elephant down one, but please don’t let that put you off. They are amazingly good fun.

There are more modern examples of Gothic fiction, but they are slightly different type of Gothic to the older works. They do, however, still walk that dangerous edge of the unknown and illicit.

This is a huge subject. A subject that people disagree on passionately. Therefore my best advice to you is to put Gothic Horror or Gothic Romance in to Google and go nuts.

In an effort to explore the genre for the purposes of finishing the current draft of ‘My Book’ I went on an exploration of the word with some coloured pens. The evidence of which is below.


I don’t expect you to read my writing, but this was great fun to do. It also gave me a sense of focus regarding the sort of overall atmosphere I’m gunning for as I haggle with myself over word choice. It was a good start for Day 1.



Are there any other ROW80 writer’s out there? How are you getting on?

A Round of Words in 80 Days – Round 1

For more information go here, but essentially you have 80 days starting from the 7th January and ending on 28th March to complete a writing goal you have set for yourself.

Sometimes you stumble across something just as the time you need it!

Right at the top of my To Do List are the words, ‘Finish current draft of My Book by the end of March’.

Previous to this it said, ‘Finish current draft of my book before Christmas’, and then, even more ambitiously, ‘Finish current draft of my book over Christmas.’

So, my goal for Round one of Round of Words is to finish the current draft of my novel.  If I pull my finger out this should be more than doable.  Especially given the recent Epiphany which I’ll be blogging about on 11th of January.

By the 28th of March it will still be far from perfect, but all the major revisions will be done and I’ll have something to send off to critique partner. Either that or I’ll be able to clearly tell that it needs to go in the bottom of my drawer while I write something else.

Update posts will appear on Sundays and Wednesdays, but I’ll still be incorporating the Word of the Week in to the Wednesday updates.







Word of the Week – Jabberwocky

A browse on http://www.jacanaent.com/Library/Unusual%20Words/IntWords.htm revealed that Jabberwocky has actually entered the English Language.   It can be found on the Free Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary.

It’s even in the online Oxford Dictionary and means a nonsense or meaningless language

The definition varies considerably but the word is there.

Apparently, if you trust Wikipedia, then Lewis Carroll is responsible for ‘chortled’ too.


The Next Big Thing

This week a change from our scheduled programme. I’ve been tagged by Coreena at  to take part in In The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

I owe her some thanks and an apology. Due to unforeseen circumstances  most of this week has been spent packing boxes as I need to move house again. Therefore I haven’t managed to track down 5 people to tag in turn.

Eventually, after a deep breath,  my answers are getting posted anyway. Rather then let the blog hop die here I thought I’d see if there are five (or four, or three, or two…) lovely people out there who’d like to answer questions about their own work in progress? If so, leave a link/email address below and I’ll pass on the rules.

This week’s word of the week is therefore, ‘cheat’.


What is the working title of your book?

In the Eye of the Gods

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Reading too much history and feeling angry on behalf of the little people. And Tibet.

3. What genre does your book fall under

Fantasy adventure

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d really like to see Benedict Cumberbatch swagger about as the Captain. And as Emma Watson is hot at the moment it’d be fun to see her play the king’s sister Thorn. She can do the strong but vulnerable thing really well.  And it’d be brilliant to see her get really mentally angry and throw things.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sun is forced to embark on a journey that will liberate her country but destroy the only home she has left.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

At the moment, self-published. I’m currently too chicken to query agents.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s this years NaNo book, so it will be finished on 31st November.  Oh, yes it will.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. In my dreams. It won’t be that cynical, smart or gritty, but it’s something to aspire too, right? And, although not a book,  there’s something distinctly Firefly about this story that I can’t seem to shake off.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The guys on Fictionpress who gave good feedback when this was just a collection of short stories.  And Terry Pratchett.  The fact that I spend so much time in front of a computer is so his fault.

10. What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?

There’s dragons in it. And pirates.


Thanks guys.

Word of the Week – Equivocator

Knock, knock! Who’s there, in the other
devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could
swear in both the scales against either scale, who com-
mitted treason enough for God’s sake, yet could
not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.

                           Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 3

File:Macbeth and Banquo with the witches JHF.jpg

I first came across this word when watching James Shapiro’s The King and the Playwright on BBC 4.

In 1605 a group of Catholics tried to kill James I by blowing up The Houses of Parliament. For the ins and outs of this see here.

The use of equivocator in Macbeth is likely to be a reference to Jesuit Henry Garnet, a man who was tried and executed for his role in the Gunpowder Plot.  Henry Garnet wrote the “Treatise on Equivocation.”  This document encouraged Catholics to “equivocate”, or speak ambiguously, when they were being questioned by Protestant inquisitors. A ploy used by Garnet at his own trial.

This is a really, really cool word (because I am a geek) but it’s rarely used in my writing as it’s one of those archaic sounded words that I thought had fallen out of use.  Not so. The other day “equivocation” was used in a program on Radio 4 (referring to politicians, aptly.)

unfortunately I was reversing around a corner at the time so the exact context escaped me. Even so, the word lives. Equivocate away.

Word of the Week – Hallow

For those of you who know this word courtesy of J.K. Rowling, this in an interesting article.

And does anyone else remember Ethel Hallow, Mildred Hubble’s Draco Malfoy in the Worst Witch Books? And I mean back in the day when Tim Curry was in the film that was played every Halloween?

More commonly it’s chanted in assemblies across the country as part of the Lord’s Prayer. God’s name is hallowed.  Despite the association with witches, wizards and warlocks the ‘hallowed be thy name’ line comes closest to the meaning of the word. It means to revere or consider holy. Origins are from the Middle English halwen.

So, yes, Halloween is sacred or holy evening.  Now, I’m off to carve a pumpkin.

In praise of words

Not so long ago I had a comment on one of my stories which criticised my use of too many posh words.  At first I wasn’t sure how to react. Exactly which words were the issue weren’t pointed out but I was aware of using ‘azure’ instead of ‘blue.’ Did that seem pretentious? Or equally devastating had my word choice made my prose completely incomprehensible?

A slight over reaction, maybe. But I do want my work to be accessible and am now torn between incorporating new words into my work or shying away from them if I feel they are too highbrow.

I do love words though, and I do get a thrill whenever I learn a new one or discover a titbits of history about one I already know.  While I’m trying to work out this latest conundrum, and in a venture to make my updates more regular, I’m going to start having a word of the week. And to stay with alliteration it’s going to be every Wednesday.

This week I’m celebrating where the problem started…


  1. A deep blue, occasionally somewhat purple, similar to the colour of a clear blue sky.

From Old French azur, asur. Taken from the Arabic (al)-lazaward “lapis lazuli,” from the Persian Pers. lajward, from Lajward, a place in Turkestan, mentioned by Marco Polo, where the stone was collected (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=azure)

In Medieval Latin azzurum.  Used for blue in heraldry.

Does anyone else have a favourite word? Leave a comment and share.