Daily Prompt: Dictionary, Shmictionary (it’s time to ‘fess up)

Two daily posts in a row? Wow, that’s a whole new thing here on the Portia Adams Blog!

“Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).”


This is a sad story: I wrote a lovely book in 2012, it went on to get published and then a few of my readers

1) noticed there were errors in the published book, and
2) gave me bad reviews as a result.

Actually, I should put in here that at least three of these lovely fans identified the errors in their reviews and gave me four-star reviews DESPITE that, so a special thank-you to them!

Regardless, I am here to admit that YES I have used words incorrectly in my novels. One of my kinder detractors was clever enough to include in her review this gif image from The Princess Bride so I’m stealing it for emphasis.

THIS is an armoire
THIS is an armoire

One of the mistakes in Jewel of the Thames (if you haven’t caught it) was that I used the word ‘reticule’ incorrectly. For some reason in my head it meant an armoire – the kind with glass doors where you might store chachkas or medicines (see right image).

Yeah, I have no idea why that was what I thought it was, but it got all the way past my fabulous editor and into the book.

Suffice to say we have since corrected it in the newest print run AND the digital copies of Jewel, but it continues to haunt me and cause some upsetting reviews.

All I can say (fans and not-so-fans) is that I’m sorry; mistakes happen and this was one of mine.

I have found errors in books I have read and never really thought too hard about it, nor have I posted about the errors in my reviews. I guess as a fellow-human I can understand how mistakes can happen, and usually the mistakes don’t stop me from enjoying the book.

How about you guys? Do you get distracted by errors and review the books poorly as a result?

Author: Angela Misri

Novelist, Digital Strategist & Journalist http://angelamisri.com

14 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Dictionary, Shmictionary (it’s time to ‘fess up)”

  1. Thank you! You win the prize! Seriously, i have been waiting for someone to use the Princess Bride gif since I saw the prompt for today. It makes me laugh every time 😀

  2. I think because it’s so much easier for us random ordinary people to POST reviews, it’s also easier for us to be critical. My one published book, Trees in the Pavement, has a few typos as well (some of which I’m not convinced originated with me!), and there’s one section which a reader/friend of mine pointed out about two years post-publication, where I switch POV randomly. It has niggled at me ever since. Given the fact that so few of the printed copies have been purchased, and digital ones don’t exist, there is little to no chance of that ever being rectified, so I’m trying to think of it as a charming first-book-quirk. 😉 Also, no one else has ever pointed it out.

    1. It really gets under your skin doesn’t it Jenn? Aargh! Ok, I too will try to think of it as a ‘charming first-book-quirk!’ – and hope I don’t repeat it in book 2!

  3. From the context of the sentence, it seemed to me that “retable” was what you might have meant, even if you have no conscious memory of your having encountered that term for a kind of highly decorative shelving for lights and ornaments. For me, “retable,” especially when combined with the “matching screen,” would have evoked a collection of unusual foreign antiques in the antechamber. Retables are associated with altars and religious ornamentation, and a small one might have had enclosed niches with locking doors, to serve as a portable shrine. In times past many people displayed such icons in their homes, and collectors often acquired religious accoutrements from defunct houses of worship. In the early 20th century, it still would have been common to find that kind of display in a dwelling, for religious or artistic reasons.

    An excess of vocabulary faux pas and other research failures will knock points off a book that I’m reviewing, and I may mention such glitches in generalized terms, but it’s not my practice to embarrass an author by enumerating them. Writing a book is a big job, and good writers strive to avoid mistakes, so if an editor was involved, it’s a poor mark for that person’s professionalism, for failing to catch what fell through the cracks.

  4. I wonder if that was it Christine… oh I’d like to think so because ‘reticule’ is pretty far away from ‘armoire’ ! I would never blame my editor, I’m too hard on myself for introducing the error into the manuscript in the first place!

  5. Minor errors like that never really bother me when reading a book, and I would never base a review of an entire book on tiny mistakes. For me books are about the story! 🙂

  6. I occasionally notice typos or other minor errors, and I’m always surprised because I guess I think of books as being “perfect”, but I still don’t make much of it.

    One example which sticks with me, though, is American Psycho. The book is packed with dense detailed descriptions of music and fashion and food, as Patrick Bateman details and evaluates those around him. Most of it was out of my area of knowledge so I assumed it was all accurate, but in those 400 pages there were a few things stated as fact which I knew were wrong. To this day I haven’t figured out whether they were research snafus, or if the whole point was that the character thought he knew what he was talking about but was actually clueless.

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