Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Substantial means, of considerable importance, size or value. It also describes something strongly built or made (in the case of my cakes sometimes both meanings apply!) Another meaning is concerning the substantial points of something.

Substantially either means to a great extent, or for the most part.

To say that the substance of my substantial (100,000 words!) novel, Paint Me a Picture, concerns Mavis's relationships with her family and colleagues is substantially correct.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


Maybe you've heard, or even used, the phrase 'verbal diarrehoea' for someone who talks too much? Logorrhoea is actually the correct word to use as it means an excessive flow of words. It's prononunced log-oh-ree-a.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


A blurb is a short description of a book or film for promotional purposes. They're devilishly difficult to write (though not as bad as a synopsis!)

Talking of blurbs here's the one for my new romantic comedy, Firestarter, which is available to 'pre-order' now and will be released on 5th November.

Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest Show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish's invitation.

Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions.

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

And talking of promotion ... you can find all the details of my blog tour here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Evince means to reveal the presence of a quality or feeling, or to make clear and plain. I believe this photo of our front garden evinces my love of flowers.

Evincing is also a word, evinced by its presence in my dictionary.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Rich means having lots of money, or other items of value. It can mean splendid, costly or elaborate eg richly decorated or patterned. Alternatively it's used to describe abundance. eg My mind contains a rich supply of story ideas.

Soil which is rich contains plenty of nutrients and is very fertile. Richness in our own food comes from fat or spices. Engines can have too rich a fuel and air mix.

Sounds, scents and colours are often described as rich when they're heavy, full or deep.

The phrase that's rich is sometimes used to convey the idea something is considered outrageous, ludicrous or extremely amusing.

Do you have any riches?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


An idyll is a simple, happy and peaceful situation or period of time, or picturesque scene or incident. Often they're rustic, rural or romantic (or all three). It can also mean a poem or other artwork which describes something so idyllic. Some of the places we visit with our van are idyllically suited to my becoming an idyllist.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Brand new

OK, brand new is a phrase and not a word and this may be more of a rant than an explanation*, but this has been bothering me for a while ... Why do people (particularly those in marketing) say something is brand new? The only definition I've been able to find is 'completely new'. But new is like pregnant, dead or unique - either you are or you're not. You can't be slightly pregnant or fairly unique and an object can't be just a little bit new.

While I'm ranting, semi-naked is just as bad. There's no such thing. A person may not be wearing many clothes, but saying someone who's removed their shirt is semi-naked is like referring to someone as mildly dead. (Unlike the people who built the spynx who are really, totally and absolutely completely dead)

Are there any redundant or illogical expressions which annoy you?

*See the comments for that.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Travail, or travails, is a situation involving a lot of hard work or difficulty. Eg the travails of book promotion. Apparently just bunging up a link and hoping people will buy it isn't enough. (But I'm going to try that anyway.)

Here's where you can buy my book!

Travels is something different altogether - I hope if you have any trips planned they don't involve any travail.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


Consign either means to deliver something to someone (or arrange for that to be done) or to put a person or object in a place in order to be rid of them. Eg the editor consigned the manuscript to the return envelope.

A consignment is a group of items which are to be, or have been, consigned.

Con sign is a cheating or misleading sign which doesn't live up to what's written on it. Eg those which say 'up to half price sale' when in reality it's the discount which will be up to 50%, not the sale price.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Hydrochory is passive dispersal by water. Plant seeds being carried downstream, fruit swept by tides and currents to a distant shore, writers drifting round a pool on a lilo, that sort of thing.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


A monolgue is is either a long speech by one person, a dramatic work for one performer or a scene within a longer piece where just one person speaks. I'm not sure if that means anyone who talks to themselves is a monologist whose monological habits cause them to monogolize from time to time, but I expect it's something like that.

I tried chatting to this chap, but that turned into a monologue.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Carking cares

Cark is the harsh noise made by a carrion crow. They do sound as though they have a lot on their minds, maybe that's why cark also means burden.

Carking is an archaic term for something worrisome. I hope nothing happens today to carken you with carking doubts.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Parergon is work that's subsidiary to your main employment, or an ornamental accessory. Parerega is the plural in either case.

As a parergon to writing, I act as a photographic assistant (and I like to think I'm Gary's parergon, although I'm usually more wondswept than ornamental)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


A gaff can be either one of two horrible sounding fishing implements, or a slang term for a person's home. Gaff can also mean a plan or secret, most often used in the phrase 'don't blow the gaff' which is similar to not letting the cat out of the bag. (English is fun, isn't it?)

Don't make the gaffe of adding an e - that's a different word.

Threave castle was once the gaff of Archibald the grim. (Upsetting him was way more than a gaffe)

I wonder if he used a gaff to catch fish in his moat?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


A pie is a baked dish with pastry on the top and bottom (just on the bottom is a tart, just on the top is a gastro pub cheat). Easy as pie means very easy (so why can't those over-priced pubs get it right?). A pie chart is a representative circle divided into sections.

Pie in the sky* is unrealistic expectations or promises (possibly made when pie-eyed which means drunk) A pie can also be a piebald (black and white) animal or bird, a chaotic mess of printers' type or a former currency unit in India.

*Not to be confused with pie in Skye which is a picnic on a Scottish island.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


Quadrifid means to have four divisions or lobes. This akebia quinata has three parts to the flowers and five to the leaves - so that averages out right.

It also smells quite nice and grows like a triffid.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


A couloir is a steep, narrow gully on a mountainside. It's also a marvellous excuse to post yet another picture fro my Scotland trip (only 7,346 to go and you'll have seen them all)

It might not actually be of a couloir, but it's definitely a mountainside. Or a hill. Anyway, there was steepness involved.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


A while ago I wanted a one word alternative to 'only child' and my friend Hannah discovered monogene for me. The word isn't in my dictionary and doesn't seem to have one clear definition, but being the only begotten child is one alternative. It can also mean unique, special and one of a kind.

Much as I love my brother now, there were times whilst growing up when I'd have preferred to be a monogene. (I can't give examples as he's got as much on me as I have on him!)

Monogenesis is in my dictionary. It refers to the theory that all living things developed from a single cell. Apparently it was a bacteria like thingamy*. Monogeny is an alternative term as is monogenetics.

*sorry for the technical jargon!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


An alpinist is a climber of high mountains (generally, but not neccessarily the Alps). I'm not an alpinist.

I don't know if there's a word for climbers of not very high mountains, only when it's sunny, the path doesn't look too treacherous and regular stops are permitted, but if there is, I'm one of them.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


Specious means either misleadingly attractive or superficially plausible, but actually wrong.

Custard made with salt instead of sugar would add speciosity to your trifle. An example of speciousness is the specious claim that as chocolate is dervived from plants, a family sized bar of Aero counts as one of your five a day. That's only true if you choose the orange flavoured one (she adds speciously*)

*mint's a plant, so the green ones are OK too.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


A monticule is a small hill. Sounds rather friendly, doesn't it? The sort of place you'd walk up to enjoy a picnic involving ginger beer and home made cake. A monticule can also be a mini mound caused by a volcano.

Here's the view from a hill (quite a big one) I climbed up last summer. Recognise it?

Clue ... instead of climbing up, you could just swan about down the bottom.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Umbriferous means providing shade.

The depth of Lydford Gorge would make it a pleasantly shady place to walk in summer, even without the umbriferous canopy of vegetation.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


I hope to keep this post compendious, that is comprehensive yet fairly brief. To write so compendiously would demonstrate my compendiousness, which would be nice.

Cakes are also nice (and round here they're comprehensively dealt with in a very brief time)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Fatalism can mean either a submissive attitude to events as being inevitable, or the belief that everything is predetermined and that we have no influence over anything which may happen. A fatalist is a person who thinks fatalistically.

I'm not a fatalist. Some things are out of our control, and luck plays a part, but I believe that it's generally possible for us to influence the future.

What about you?

Sunday, 12 April 2015


Rollick means to behave in a carefree, boisterous manner or to have a frolicksome adventure.

I often have a rollicking good time on our campervan adventures (I'll spare you the details of any frolicking which may occur)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


An aardwolf is a grey and black stripy, African animal, related to hyenas. It eats insects (up to 250 termites per sitting) and is nocturnal. They're rather cute. I'm sorry I don't have a picture - next time I'm wandering the scrublands of Easterm Africa at night, I'll be sure to put that right.

I mention them because stories, amongst other things, are often listed alphabetically and being near the top can be an advantage in some situations and aardvarks have been overused for that purpose.

Three points are on offer to the first person to write a story titled, 'Adam the Aardwolf's Amazing Adventures Amongst the Agave in Aberystwyth.'

btw, it's #writing chat again tonight. The topic is genre. Do join us on twitter from 8 to 9 UK time, by tweeting using the hashtag.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Lugubrious means, doleful, mornful or dismal. It sounds as though it should be something fun, doesn't it?

As far as I can recall I've only ever come across it in relation to speech, but characters needn't just speak lugubriously, the could show their inner lugubriousness through a sad expression and dejected manner.

Much as I like the sound of foghorns, I think it would be fair to describe the noise they make as lugubrious.

Thanks to Beatrice!!!!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


According to my dictionary, hyperbole (pronounced hyperbollee) is 'an exaggerated statement not meant to be taken literally'. I wish someone would tell the media (especially the local news) and marketeers that.

People are never a bit upset and mildly inconvenienced when a bus service changes or the lift is out of order, they're devastated, trapped and stranded. When there's a mistake on their gas bill they're not a bit surprised and then glad when it's sorted out, they're shocked, dismayed and horrified then hugely relieved.

Food manufacturers don't release a new flavour, instead it's an exciting new recipe or unique taste sensation. Products are never quite a good idea which might be useful, they're innovative and life changing.

TV programmes are never quite amusing, they're always hilarious and slide-splittingly funny. Presumably 'they' watch the director's cut, leaving me with the version which got slightly lost in translation ... either that or I'm just a complete and total misery. Yeah, could be that.

Here's a picture of a deadly poisonous fungi I risked life and limb to photograph for you. Or, without the hyperbole, here's a fungi which might not be good to eat and which was growing on a slope of wet grass, meaning that had I not been careful I could have slipped a bit as I walked up to it.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


A stopple is a stopper or plug, usually for a bottle. We seem to have quite a few. I've no idea if they work - once our wine is open, we drink it rather than go round stoppling it.

Actually stopple is the verb as well as the noun, but however you say it, it seems an odd thing to do.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


I'm sure you all know that a calendar is the kind of chart thingy with the days and months of the year divided up. You're probably also aware that it's very easy to type calender instead (you will be if you've read any of my drafts as I'm always doing it)

Did you know a calender is a real thing? I didn't until Christine pointed it out to me after reading one of my drafts in which the fire service produced a calendar of scantily clad firemen. My mc Handsome Hamish is Mr May and featured rescuing a kitten, but I digress ...

A calender is machine which uses rollers to press paper or cloth into smooth sheets.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


A tribute is a thing said, done or given as a mark of respect or affection. Followed by 'to' it's an indication of a praiseworthy quality (as an example, my dictionary gives 'their success is a tribute to their perseverance' which I particularly like). A tribute used to be how miners pay was calculated and could also mean a payment made by one state or ruler to another.

Tribute is also the make of our van (or do I mean model?)

Don't forget #writingchat tonight. The theme is 'what do you write?' and 'why?'

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


A pipedream is an unattainable or purely fanciful hope or idea. You know, like the hope that when you upgrade one thing on your computer you won't discover your printer, working practices, hair colour and country of residence are all incompatable and need to be changed before you can do so much as open an email.

Compared with that, becoming a successful novelist seems a perfectly reasonable plan.

I did know the meaning of the word pipedream, but not its origin. It comes from the visions or hallucinations experienced by people smoking opium pipes. Obvious when I think about it - presumably I never had before.

Here's an opium poppy, I grew this year. Even without smoking them they raise my spirits.

Do you have any pipedreams, or perefectly reasonable plans, you'd like to share?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Slight means of little consequence, barely perceptible or scanty. If a person is described as slight they'll be slender or frail looking. If you refer to someone slightingly you'll be treating them as though they're insignificant. I think that's more than slightly rude.

Historically castles were slighted to make them useless for military purposes. This kind of damage can be seen at Kenilworth. (There are more shots of the castle and it's grounds on my gardening blog)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Mutable doesn't mean 'able to be muted' which would have been my guess. It actually means liable to change or fickle. The meaning of words can change (wicked, gay, nice) so if mutable is a word which exhibits mutability, I might eventually be right.

Tulip flowers are mutable; often changing colour as they age or 'breaking' into intricate patterns as a reaction to a virus.