It Didn’t Cost Me a Thing

hl gibson, author

I remember how much a loaf of bread cost the year my husband and I married. I remember the price of a gallon of gas the year I started driving. I also remember the hourly rate a teenage girl could make babysitting in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, I have never written about any of these things in my novels or short stories.

When I need to know how much something costs for the year during which my story takes place, I can usually find it by Googling. But every now and then, I use an inflation calculator to go backward or forward in time and come up with a price.

Most often, the US Inflation Calculator, which works for prices between the years of 1913 and 2018 (updates to current year), is my go-to source for pricing. In the event I need to tiptoe farther into the past (1800)…

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Homophones Hurt Your Writing Peak, Peek, Peke, and Pique

Welcome to this edition of Homophones Hurt Your Writing. Like many of the previous blogs we are looking at homophones. Words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

I understand how important it is to have an error-free manuscript. With over 40 years of experience, I have found that homophones give almost every writer fits and hitches.  The correctly spelled word in the wrong context will not be flagged by most spell-checkers.

Word Refiner is dedicated to uprooting all of these hidden errors and providing the document free of spelling errors that you want and deserve.

Now, onto today’s episode, number 6 in the series of Quadruple Homophones!


These four words present an interesting group. They are related by sound only, true homophones. Two are English and one has multiple meanings, one is Oriental, and one is French. They are all from the last half of the previous millennia, and two have been in use in the English language for less than 200 years.

Peak is a widely used word, it functions as a noun, verb and an adjective. It has a history going back several hundred years in the English language. It is also an archaic word with a rather startling twist, as we shall see later.  At the core, it means top or point, like a mountain or a graph. It also can refer to a person’s or group’s abilities or popularity. It has many synonyms such as summit, climax, acme, and zenith to name a few. It can refer to facial features such as a widow’s peak or the peak of a beard.

In the United Kingdom it can mean the stiff brim of a cap. It can also refer to an extension of a sail on a sailing vessel.

In one sense perhaps, peak is its own antonym, an opposite meaning in health. In the early 17th century it was part of a phrase “peak and pine” that meant to shrivel or waste away. We have William Shakespeare to thank for that. Perhaps, he was making a joke, and we are simply too removed in space, time and culture to appreciate it.

Peek has a similar multi-century history as part of the English language, as does the previous word. It is a slightly sneaky word, it means to take a quick or furtive look. We can peek around a tree, we can peek into someone’s background (the internet has made that easier than ever in a number of ways) and play peek-a-boo with a child. It is a singular word in usage and definition.

Peke is our word from the Orient, it is the youngest word of this group in the English language. It is an abbreviation of Pekingese, a small dog with long hair, short legs and a pushed in nose. This lapdog was introduced in the 1860’s to Europe from Pekin, China; now known as Beijing. It was a very popular dog with the aristocracy of both civilizations. It is common for Pekes to have difficulties with breathing.

Pique is one of many words that have dual citizenship in both the English and French language. It actually has a split personality because it can be pronounced two different ways, more on that later. Primarily, from the middle of the 16th century, it means to feel resentful or irritated because of a perceived insult. Some synonyms are petulance, indignation and vexation. It can also be a verb and means to stimulate or irritate, it can be either positive or negative.

The second pronunciation is not a homophone to the others: “peekay”. It is from the same time approximately as Pekingese, and it means a stiff fabric woven in a raised or ribbed pattern. The literal translation of the French is “backstitched”.


There they are, four words with identical sounds, an entangled history and rather unrelated definitions.  If you choose the wrong word the reader will feel like they hit a speed bump and might drive off your road.  Do all in your power to prevent that from happening.  Use Word Refiner, beta readers, critique partners, proofreaders and editors to ensure that your work is error free.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this issue of Homophones Hurt Your Writing.  Follow us on twitter: @wordrefiner  for more alerts about hazardous homonyms #HomophonesHurtYourWriting.

Don’t forget the free offer for writers under the “Learn More” tab on 

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Words have meaning and spelling makes a difference

How to Optimise your Amazon Page for Conversions


Hedgehog reading

I’ve mentioned before the importance of setting readers’ expectations as part of my article on how I review books. This is a companion article for indie publishers and authors, about what you can do to make sure that your book hits the right target audience, for best reception.

First for foremost, it should be absolutely clear that no book is ever for every reader. Don’t believe me? Just pick a book you cherish, and go to Amazon to read all the 1-star reviews. 40,000 people thought The Lord of the Rings was such a snooze-fest, that they felt compelled to say so on Goodreads. Thousands of people think Harry Potter is juvenile trite. Don’t even start looking at less popular classics, acknowledged as influencing modern literature. Your brain will cringe.

So with this understanding, we can realise also that in order for a book to be well-received it needs…

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Who’s Your Momma?

hl gibson, author

Shirley Tedesco has her hands full with eight children ranging in age from five to sixteen, but she loves being a mother. She’s also very practical about the whole endeavor and readily distributes hugs or spanks as needed to keep her brood of eight angels/hoodlums in line. In the chapter of my novel, The Tedescos, titled “Soul Food,” Shirley is feeling like less of a mother than she normally does. Her husband, Joe, knows she’s experiencing a bout of the blues, and his heart breaks for her. Joe springs into action with a Mother’s Day celebration sure to lift Shirley’s spirits and quite possibly earn him some points.

While writing, I knew that Mother’s Day had been established long before the year during which my novel took place, but the research provided some interesting history with which I’d like to honor mothers everywhere.

One of the earliest example of…

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10 Writing Things That Took Awhile To Learn

Some really good advice here! I agree with all of it.

Brain Clutter Blogs

These are some of the things that I’ve learned over the years, a lot of them things that I probably should have known, and that maybe you need to know, too. Some are more important than others, but they aren’t in any particular order. Let’s jump right in!

#1: Don’t Publish Right Away

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, like Revision & Editing: Not Optional, than you know I can really close to publishing my first draft. Got proof copies and everything. But, you aren’t supposed to publish as soon as you finish your first draft. You need to go through developmental editing, but even after that’s done, and you have your nice, formatted and covered book, you still won’t want to publish right away. You want to give yourself time to order and review proofs, promote and build hype for your book (with ARCs and presale…

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