Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Misused Words 2

"Haloed" by the setting sun - Venice Fishing Pier, Venice, FL - Susie in hat, Mike behind

Followed by another gorgeous Gulf Coast sunset

Although Connecticut is still "home," 25 years in Venice makes it my second home - an ideal location with constant seabreeze, boutique shopping, and "jungle" hiking that makes it a great place to visit as well. And doing a workshop for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers gave me an opportunity to do so. Plus we timed the trip for the Venice Sun Fiesta, always a high-old-time for music, food, and unique crafts before the onslaught of tourists arrives for the "Season." Icing on the cake - our favorite waterfront restaurant had added a gourmet-style second story, and we managed to get outdoor seating overlooking sand, dune grass, and the Gulf - at night with the stars coming out. Wow! (It's so fancy it even had an elevator. In Venice, yet!)

And, yes, if my Romantic Suspense/Mystery readers are wondering . . . Venice is the deep dark secret behind my "Golden Beach" books. (Why a secret? Because the number of residents triples each Season, and the year-round residents really, really don't want that to increase to "quadruple"!)


lead (pronounced "leed") - a noun meaning forefront; also, as a verb, the present tense of led.  She seized the lead in the race.  No matter where he leads, she follows.
lead (pronounced "led") - a metal. Ancient alchemists kept trying to turn lead into gold.
led -  guided; past tense of lead. He led the hikers along the path. 

lightening - growing lighter. The sun is rising; the sky is lightening. 
lightning - the bright burst of electricity before the thunder crashes. The eastern sky was filled with jagged streaks of lightning.

maize - corn. The Spanish may have called this Native American plant maiz, but today's North Americans call it corn.
maze -  labyrinth. A cornfield maze can be almost as hard to navigate as a maze of classic yew hedges. 

marquee - a canopy; also, the projection in front of a theater. Most outdoor weddings are held under some sort of marquee.
marquis - a noble title just beneath the rank of duke. The eldest sons of dukes often have the title of marquis. 

muscle - a part of the body many people, particularly men, attempt to enhance.  Three teenage girls admired the lifeguard's muscles.
mussel - a blue crustacean some people enjoy eating. My grandchildren actually like to eat mussels!

 Here are two examples of three words pronounced exactly alike but with wildly different meanings:

pair - two of a kind. A pair of twins.
pare - to peel. It takes a while to pare a potato or an apple, while scraping carrots is fast and easy.
pear - a fruit. Pears are very tasty.

peak - top of a mountain. It was a long hike, but I finally reached the peak.
peek - to glance (usually surreptitiously). The lady peeked over her fan at the handsome gentleman.
pique - to excite (interest/attention), to be intrigued. The girl in the string bikini piqued his interest.

perpetrate - to commit, as in perpetrate a crime. This word is the origin of the police term, "perp."
perpetuate - to prolong. Some tall tales are perpetuated long beyond their time.

principal - head of a school; something of importance; primary. The castle was the duke's principal residence.
principle - an important belief. In spite of threats from all sides, he stuck to his principles.
Another threesome:

rain - what falls from the sky. The TV weatherman tries to predict when it is going to rain.
reign - to rule. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for a long time.
rein - what you use to guide a horse.  Don't drop your reins!

regardless - in spite of. Regardless of all the people who advised him not to, he dropped out of college.
irregardless - NO SUCH WORD EXISTS!   

shear - to cut.  In Australia they shear a lot of sheep.
sheer - transparent.  Her nightgown was so sheer it left little to the imagination.

stationary - fixed in one place.  That heavy machine remained stationary. It was much too hard to move.
stationery - something we write on. The desk drawer held a box of elegant stationery.

The following two words are pronounced exactly alike, although "suite" is badly mangled in some parts of the country.

suite - connected rooms, often used in the address of an apartment or office space; also used to describe a set of coordinated furniture. Mary's new bedroom suite is in the French Provincial style.
sweet - sugary, good-natured, kind. Sweet is both a taste and a personality trait.

Another trio of tricky words:

their - a possessive pronoun. Their uniforms are red with white piping.
there - a location (not where you are at the moment). See that house over there? That's where the Spauldings live.
they're - a contraction. Use only when what you want to say can be translated as "they are." They're a really good football team.

vain - used to describe someone overly obsessive about his/her appearance. Lady Anabelle was so vain, it was difficult for anyone to like her.
vane - a blade moved by the wind. Ancient windmills had four vanes; 19th c. mid-western windmills had as many as thirty vanes; modern wind machines have only three.
vein - the many vessels inside your body that carry blood.  A nurse has to pierce a vein with a needle in order to get a blood sample from a patient.

We'll end with a pair of words that are mostly abused by people who know better - but somehow the darn words insist on popping up in the wrong place. Our fingers stubbornly type one thing when we mean another. They're almost as bad as "its" and "it's"!

who's - use this contraction only when you mean "who is."  Who's going to the movies tonight?
whose - a possessive.  Whose books are scattered all over the couch?

Last-minute addition:

My eyes popped last night as I read a book by a highly talented author, who made an error that just goes to prove how easy it is for our fingers to type a sound-alike word and for it to go unnoticed, even by the eagle-eyes of both author and the copy editor of a major New York publisher. So I'm adding below two words it never occurred to me could be misused.

sextant - a navigational instrument once used by ships at sea.  The captain of the clipper ship used his sextant to plot a course.
sexton - the person who maintains a church building and its contents. When everyone had gone home, the sexton made sure the church was locked up tight.

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Thanks for stopping by.


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

More Cruising

Incredible as it may seem, Tuesday's Orlando Sentinel announced that the quarterback for the University of Florida has been suspended from the team after accusations of rape. No, this is not the same Florida quarterback previously mentioned. This is another one. The reaction, however, has been vastly different from the reaction to the accusation against Jameis Winston. Evidently universities are finally becoming more sensitized to the issue of rape by athletes. A move in the right direction, but this is a problem which has a long way to go.  
Update, Friday. The QB is back on the team. The girl dropped the charges. Can't help but wonder what threats, or cash, were used to do the trick. (Jameis Winston's accuser felt so threatened she quit school. Sigh.) Also in the Sentinel today - over the past two years there have been 55 accusations of rape against sports figures in Florida's state universities. Not one conviction. For a moment, a glimmer of hope . . . quickly quashed.

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Returning to our August cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas . . .

Yes, that's Hailey ice-skating, deep down on Deck 3!
I know it's hard to believe, but our ship had an ice-skating rink - and professional skaters who put on a spectacular show. Amazing!

Hailey & Cassidy participating in the ice show - to Riley's disgust.

One of the towel animals cruise ships are famous for.

Guest auctioneers at the Art Auction - Riley gets to shine, calling numbers!

As we approached St. Thomas, I went out on deck to experiment with my new Samsung smartphone. It was so windy I never got near the rail, settling for steadying myself against something solid just outside the door. I was concentrating on working with my new "camera" and never noticed the photobomb I captured until I was looking through my photos to select shots for this blog. (I think - I hope - that's a bathing suit!)

Beautiful St. Thomas - alas, it was a slightly hazy morning

If you look closely dead center, you'll see an ancient stone fort. And the reflection of our ship in the water - looking like a submarine!


A view of the capital, Charlotte Amalie, from high above the city

Three cruise ships in port, including ours
View from a delightful jungle-surrounded restaurant
After thirty years in Florida, it was an amazing experience to be climbing hills again, plunging down precipitous roads and around sharp bends - the kind that use mirrors or require a honk! At times I felt almost like I was back in Peru riding the twists and turns of the Hiram Bingham road to Machu Picchu.

Fountain at the restaurant

Rock garden & waterfall at the restaurant

A couple of special notes before we say goodbye to St. Thomas . . .

I arrived at our island tour site early and had time to chat with one of the drivers. She told me they had had a 4.6 earthquake the night before. Surprise. Though why I was surprised after what happened in Haiti, I don't know. I guess I always think of St. Thomas as idyllic.

There was another surprise when we stopped at a beach to let some of the passengers off for swimming. While sitting in the open-sided tour vehicle, I noticed an odd-looking creature scampering across the parking lot. A mongoose, the driver told us. A mongoose? Really? It shot into the woods before I could even raise my camera, so no photo. But it seems they were imported back in colonial times to help with the snake problem. We also caught glimpses of iguanas sunning themselves in people's driveways, but since we have those in Florida, they weren't such a startling sight.

A final array of tour photos will finish out our Freedom of the Seas cruise later this fall.

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Next blog - probably more Misused Words - October 25

Thanks for stopping by.


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Misused Words

Photo nostalgia - would you believe the solemn "boy" in the middle is the Girl Scout Pageant 1st Runner-up - below?
(And thank you, Dr. Seuss!)

Riley, September 2014
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I wince every time I hear people who should know better - TV news anchors, for example - misuse certain "soundalike" words. I have the same reaction when I read books where authors have put similar errors into print. Yes, we've all had occasions when our brains are thinking one word and our fingers type another, but here we go again, folks. Edit, edit, edit! For a TV announcer the moment is fleeting. For an author those words lie there forever, kicking and screaming against all proper English language usage.

And then, alas, there are the mistakes because the author simply doesn't know any better. Sigh. Those are a lot harder to fix, for the simple reason, no matter how many times you read them, you don't know you've made a mistake. So I jotted down some of the "soundalikes" I see or hear abused most frequently, and then I went through a formal list and picked the ones that jumped out at me as those I've seen misused most in books I've read. 

Words most frequently misused:

imminent - something that is about to happen. The storm is imminent.
eminent - distinguished.  Dr. Elias Swellhead, the eminent professor of physics 

here - a geographical location - wherever you are at the moment
hear - the physical act of hearing a sound, as in the expression, "Hear, hear," presumed to be a shortening of the ancient town cryer's call, "Hear ye, hear ye."

farther - a measurement of physical distance - an inch, a foot, a mile, etc. New York City is farther from Miami than from Philadelphia.
further - distance that cannot be measured in physical inches. He did not pursue his studies any further. John's finished model could not possibly be any further from his original drawing.

it's - if you cannot substitute "it is" for this contraction, then it's wrong! The ONLY time you may use "it's" (with an apostrophe) is when you are saying "it is."  It's a beautiful day today.
its - this is a possessive. (Referring to a box): I have no idea of its contents.  (Referring to the moon): Its surface is sharply clear tonight.

foreword - the introduction to a book, most often a work of non-fiction
forward - to move, or look, ahead  The soldiers marched forward.  Miss Dawes is a remarkably forward-looking teacher.

lay - to put something down  Past tense: laid
lie - to put yourself down (recline)  Past tense: lay*
   *and therein lies some of the confusion!

Present tense: I lay the book on the table. Past tense: I laid the book on the table.

Present tense: I wanted to lie down, but the dog was in the middle of the bed.
Past tense: I lay down on top of the dog.

Special addendum:
Though not soundalikes, I see the verb "may" mangled so frequently I want to include it here. (And, yes, I checked a recent dictionary to make sure usage hadn't changed since I first learned the rules way back in the Dark Ages.)
may - PRESENT tense
might - PAST tense

So, unless you're writing a book in Present Tense - common in today's YA - you use "might." "May" can, however, be used in dialogue. For example: "Mama, may I go riding in the park today?" Yet countless times - mostly in the last five years - I have edited or read books that were entirely in past tense but switched to "may" instead of "might" at inopportune moments. So, FIXIT, please!

More tricky words coming up at a later date.

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FYI, I will be presenting my 2-hour workshop, "A Wise Author's Approach to Writing a Book," for the Southwest Florida Romance Writers on Saturday, October 18, 1-3. Guests are welcome. For the SWFRW website, click here.

Thanks for stopping by.


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.