Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Oh, My Word! (Sisters, Not Twins)

Posted on Jan 31, 2018 by Lisa Ricard Claro   22 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

A couple weeks ago I took you on a journey through the Unicorn Forest, a trek undertaken by those seeking to publish a novel  ( One thing mentioned was the difference between the words writing and publishing. The words are sisters, but not twins, and that got me thinking of other words that are often used in a synonymous fashion when, in reality, they aren’t the same. Here are a few:

Motivation vs. Discipline: You may be motivated to lose weight but lack the discipline to stick to a diet and exercise program. You may be motivated to write a novel while lacking the discipline to sit in a chair and complete the work. Motivation feels good and will get you going, but it is discipline that keeps your nose to the grindstone and gets the job done. For my money, I’ll choose discipline over motivation every day of the week.

Love vs. Lust: This is a big one. Intellectually, we all know the difference, but because lust is often the precursor to love, people often paint these words with the same colors. They are different, though, no matter how often fiction rolls them into the same sleeping bag. In my novel, LOVE TO WIN, Brenna, the heroine, asks her brother Sean, a lawyer, for advice on this subject:

“So, is it the real deal? Or am I just . . .”


Brenna glared at him. “I’m serious, Sean.”

“So am I. It’s not always easy to separate love from lust. Why do you think so many people get married and divorced?”

I worked with a young lady once who was going through a divorce. There was no animosity between her and her ex, just resignation. “We thought we were in love,” she told me, “but we were only in lust. Turns out that isn’t enough.”

Religious vs. Spiritual: There are those who recite their church doctrines with ease but nary a prayer, and those who pray daily without ever attending a formal church service. And then there are those who embrace and meld the religious and the spiritual in wonderful ways. Some novels have characters that do a good job of showing all of this. PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett is the first that comes to my mind. Perhaps you know of others.

Ocean vs. Sea: Nope, these are not the same. The National Ocean Service explains, “Seas are smaller than oceans and are usually located where the land and ocean meet. Typically, seas are partially enclosed by land.” A gulf, such as the Gulf of Mexico, is a different matter altogether. It is a large body of water surrounded on three sides by land. While writing THE WRITE MAN, I had to be careful to never refer to the Gulf of Mexico as the sea or the ocean as neither is correct. Although it seems like a detail that most people would forgive, it isn’t. Proper reference is key to building a believable world, even in fiction. It isn’t always easy, but it is always necessary.

(Last year I edited a novel in which the author referenced a real Atlanta restaurant. She placed this restaurant at the ground level of a hotel when it is, in fact, a rotating restaurant located at the top of the hotel. Anyone familiar with the city would be hard pressed to find her world believable after a mistake like that one. Details do matter, even in fiction.)

Novel vs. Book: Color me—and probably you, too—guilty of misrepresenting this one at some point. In colloquial terms, people use these words as synonyms all the time. But from a strict definition standpoint, these are not always the same. For starters, a book can be fiction or nonfiction. A book can be comprised of a single story or of multiple stories. A novel, however, is a work of fiction—which is why saying “fictional” novel is redundant, because there is no other kind. Also, a novel is a work over 40,000 words. A word count of less is a novella or short story. So a novel may be a book, but a book might not be a novel. Will anyone notice if you get it wrong? Eh . . . probably not. 🙂

Wordsmithing is my gig, so I’m careful with word choices and how the meanings of words are shaded. I’m also certain I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I’ll see a familiar word used in an unfamiliar way and will dig into the definition only to find I’ve had it wrong. It sucks when that happens, but I’m also grateful, because it prevents further misuse. One word I misused for years was “moot.” I thought it meant “no longer an issue” or “no longer necessary.” Nope. It means debatable. Gak. I wonder how many times I screwed up before I figured it out?

What word(s) have you misused before learning the correct definition? Can you think of other word pairings that might be included on the above list? If you’re a writer, are you careful to check definitions and not just run with what’s listed in your thesaurus? And if you’re a reader, does it bother you when an author misuses a word, or do you gloss over it and keep on reading?

Hey, before I say goodbye, I’d like to leave you with an audio clip of LOVE TO WIN, soon to be released on Audible. Yet again, narrator Pam Dougherty has outdone herself. I’m so excited for this upcoming release! Let me know if you’d like an Audible promo code to download the audiobook when it’s ready. I’m happy to provide one in exchange for an honest review. In the meantime, have a listen:

Thanks for hanging with me. See you next week!

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print just click the book cover on this blog’s sidebar. Autographed copies are available for purchase on my HOME page. 🙂  The audio versions of Love Built to Last and Love to Believe are available HERE now!

22 Responses to "Oh, My Word! (Sisters, Not Twins)"

  1. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    January 31, 2018 at 11:32 am  

    You’ve taught me things again today! I’ve been misusing “moot” forever and yet if I thought about “moot court,” a term I’m familiar with, I should have realized what the meaning was. You also educated me on ocean, sea, novel and book!

    I can’t wait for Love to Believe in Audio. While I almost never take time to re-read books (too many books I want to read), I really enjoy listening to the audio of a book that I loved when reading it. Listening to your books has been a real pleasure. Love to Believe was in an email I got from Audiobook BOOM recently. I hope it gets you lots of new listeners.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 31, 2018 at 5:44 pm  

      That “moot” is something, isn’t it? I hear it misused all the time, now that I know what it really means. lol I think you mean you can’t wait for Love to Win, and I’m right there with you. Pam is knocking it out of the park!

      • Comment by ButtonsMom2003
        January 31, 2018 at 10:39 pm  

        Of course I meant Love to Win – what was I thinking! 🙂

        • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
          February 1, 2018 at 7:46 am  

          Probably about your next cruise! 😉

  2. Comment by Lisa Carpenter
    January 31, 2018 at 12:57 pm  

    Yep, I’m guilty of moot misuse.
    Spiritual and religious? I do my best to be both (but will choose spirituality over religion if pressed).
    Thought-provoking post! Thanks!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 31, 2018 at 5:44 pm  

      Thanks for the comment, Lisa!

  3. Comment by Pat Wahler
    January 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm  

    I’m sure there are words I’ve misused. I tend to plow along with it until somebody corrects me.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 31, 2018 at 5:46 pm  

      I do the same thing, Pat. A lot of times I get the wrong idea about a word through reading. I make assumptions (yeah, I know . . . never supposed to do that) based on the usage when I should, instead, look it up in Merriam-Webster.

  4. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    January 31, 2018 at 5:44 pm  

    I found this to be a very interesting post, Lisa. So often we use words without really thinking what they mean. I didn’t know the different between novel and book, and now I’m going to pause and think about it any time I want to use either one. I think it’s worth making sure you know your definitions – even if you have to google them first! 🙂 When I read a misused word it really distracts me, and like you mentioned, steals a little credibility from the writer. Just another reason to have a second or third set of eyeballs on my work! Congratulations on your audio release! So exciting and I loved hearing the blurb!

    • Comment by Debra Mayhew
      January 31, 2018 at 5:45 pm  

      And now I just reread that and found my mistake. 🙂

      • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
        February 1, 2018 at 7:50 am  

        An “oopsie” is never so apparent as AFTER we click the “publish” button. Ha, ha! I do it on blog comments all the time, more when on my phone which is why I stopped using my cell for anything like that. I’ve had to delete more FB posts than I can count for just that reason, too. And you’re just like me, calling yourself out on it the second you see it. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 1, 2018 at 7:54 am  

      We take words for granted so much, don’t we? You’re right when you say we use words without really thinking about what they mean. An interesting confession coming from us, since we’re both writers and editors! lol

  5. Comment by Cathy C Hall
    January 31, 2018 at 10:31 pm  

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found out the meaning and/or usage of a word and realized that I’ve been using it incorrectly. But like a lot of word geeks, I would find a word or hear a word I loved without understanding how to use it correctly. Which is all to say, I give a lot of leeway to the writer who uses a word incorrectly. There but for the grace of someone older and wiser (usually it was my mom), go I. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 1, 2018 at 7:57 am  

      “Word geek.” I like it! 🙂 When I was in school listening to a lecture, when the teacher used an interesting word I’d whisper it under my breath over and over to feel it roll off my tongue. I did this when I should’ve been taking notes, so my notes weren’t always complete, but my vocabulary improved. 🙂

  6. Comment by Cathy C Hall
    January 31, 2018 at 10:32 pm  

    I should add that grammar’s totally different. I’m pretty snooty about grammar mistakes. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 1, 2018 at 7:58 am  

      Yep. I hear that. CMOS is never far from my grubby little hands.

  7. Comment by Sioux
    February 1, 2018 at 6:47 am  

    Lisa–I’m with Cathy. Grammar screw-ups, errors with there/they’re/their, too/to/two (when it comes to adults), people who say, “I could care less” when they need to insert the word “not” to make it correct–that makes me cringe.

    And I’ve been screwing up “moot” for years. Thanks for the informative post.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 1, 2018 at 8:02 am  

      Right there with you, Sioux. There have been hilarious memes on FB that I haven’t shared because they contained blatant spelling/grammatical oopsies and I just couldn’t bring myself to promulgate the error. The only one I recall giving a pass to was one with the word shenanigans (whoever wrote the meme misspelled it), and I LOVE that word. Shenanigans. The meme was a riot and would have been PERFECT but for the misspelling. I shared it anyway because it was just so funny. Not funny enough to remember now, apparently. *sigh*

  8. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    February 1, 2018 at 6:56 am  

    I always find nuggets of wisdom in your posts. Guilty of MOOT, too. Fannie Flagg wrote a story about the Arch in our town being built years before it actually was. I knew better because i watched it being built.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 1, 2018 at 8:04 am  

      That’s a big error for an author of her caliber to make. I wonder if it was ever brought up in the editing phase and if she decided to take literary license. I don’t like errors of that nature when I catch them in a novel because it zips me right out of the story.

      • Comment by ButtonsMom2003
        February 1, 2018 at 4:51 pm  

        This reminds me of something I saw in a movie. I’m pretty sure it was in Jersey Boys… there was a scene putting the Ohio State Fair in Cleveland. The Ohio State Fair has been held in Columbus since 1886 (according to That scene took me right out of the movie – at least for a few minutes. 🙂

        • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
          February 9, 2018 at 10:46 am  

          Oh, gosh, movies and TV shows do that kind of thing routinely. When we lived in Vegas we used to roll our eyes all the time. A character would walk out of a downtown casino, cross the street, and miraculously be on the Strip. Downtown Las Vegas and the Strip aren’t even within walking distance of each other.

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