Bookmash — What is it?

bookmashWords are so much fun.  I even listen to podcasts about words as I do my almost-daily walk.

One of my favorite podcast shows is A Way With Words.  Recently, the two hosts discussed a term called “bookmash.”  I think in some places it is bookmash and in others it is book mash.

The term describes a fun activity where  you grab some of the books off your bookshelf or nightstand. Turn the stack on its side and read the titles. Sometimes they flow into a kind of poetic statement.

The Way With Words podcast referenced  Stan Carey’s blog Sentence First. His bookmash example was: Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes / Bugs / Creatures of The Earth / In The Shadow of Man

I had to try this. The bookshelf over my writing desk books that I own that have been signed by the author.

Here is my bookmash (without even rearranging the books):

The Ledge/The Thing/The A.M. God/Absent Memories/My Wish

Now you can try this fun exercise.



Discretely discreet

Ok, I admit it—I have been spelling a word incorrectly.  For most of my life, it discrete_vs_discreetseems I have used the word discrete inappropriately.

So you don’t make the same spelling error, here are the definitions for discreet and discrete.

In my defense, both words come from the same Latin word—discretus.

Discreet–the one with double letter e in the middle means

  • Under the radar, doing something carefully or on the down low. It can also mean cautious, reserved or modest when it relates to speech.

The other discreet means

  • to be politely private about something. If you are discreet, you know of the consequences if someone finds out what you are doing or saying.

Discrete remains closer to its roots, meaning individual, detached, separated:

Remember that the “ee’s” in discreet hide together in the middle of the word, but the “t” in discrete separates them.

I’m glad they sound the same so people were not aware of my faux pas.

Name that name

last names that are occupations

An aptronym (also: aptonym) or charactonym is a name aptly suited to its owner.

For example, I bet you know someone named Baker, Brewer or Shoemaker. Guess where these names came from.

Some last names that are descriptive of jobs past of present are much more obscure.  I will write more on this late

A foul fowl?

foul_vs_fowlEnglish words can be confusing.  Maybe sound the same but have different spellings. These words are called homophones.

One of the people on my writers’ critique group shared a homophone story regarding her eight-year-old daughter.

Here is what the mom said about the incident with her young daughter:

She played her recorder for talent show tryouts today. I asked her how it went, and she said she had some foul notes. I asked her if she knew what foul meant. She said she kinda did, so I told her the word actually has a few meanings. I said it could be “fowl” meaning bird. It could mean something that stank or was rotting, and it is also what you call a ball that is hit out of bounds in baseball. She thought about it, and told me that some of her notes went out of bounds. Hahahaha!

I publish lots of things that are from the internet, but I especially like this one since I know both of the people involved.

What homophones give you trouble?

Resume humor


Resumes can contain humor.

I think the people required to read stacks of resumes might like a break once in a while, so why not.

I recently saw a bio from a resume that made me laugh.

The creator of the resume had a bio and a “short bio.”

The short bio, meant to be tongue-in-cheek, says:

“My photography background is the same as a prostitute. It started as curiosity, continued as a fun thing that I did for friends, then I did it for money.”

This gentleman who created this is very talented and retired but I love the humor if this statement. I think you could put any word in place of photography.



A peek at pique

peek_pique_peakRecently, I was in the middle of writing an article for the Berthoud Surveyor newspaper.  I wanted to point out that someone was strongly interested in a topic.  I thought I wanted to say that his interest was peeked—or is it peaked—or is it piqued.

Time to look up the right word.

Peak is the topmost point of something.  In Colorado we talk about the peaks that are “14-teeners.”  This means their altitude is 14,000 feet-plus. It also can be used for the peak of a career.

A peek on the other hand is a glance or a quick look. Some would even say a furtive look is a peek.

Lastly, there is pique. I wanted this word. This word is used for someone who is excited or curious about something .


Autobiography or memoir — which is it?


Autobiography or memoir? This question arose at a recent writers’ critique group I belong to.

When do you use autobiography and when do you call your work a memoir?

Autobiographies tend to cover the author’s life completely offering one’s life history. They tend to be factual using the who, what, when, where, etc. template.

Memoirs tend to focus on a point in a person’s life. The style of writing is usual more literary and creative.

The word “‘memoir” is used in the sense of remembrance or reminiscence. In both cases, the stories are true.

The above information was gleaned from websites. One of our writers’ critique group posed the question about autobiographies and memoirs to a noted writer at a recent Northern Colorado Writers conference.

Chuck Sambuchino, writer/editor at Writer Digest Books had a slightly different view of autobiographies and memoirs. Sambuchino said:

An autobiography is reserved for someone famous like a President, movie star, athlete, etc. and is about his/her whole life from childhood to whenever he/she became famous or his/her whole life if it’s someone like Ronald Reagan who has passed away.

A memoir could be someone famous, but doesn’t have to be and it’s about a short period in their life.  For example, someone could write a memoir about being prisoner in Africa or time spent in Africa, etc.