Tag Archives: Oxford English Dictionary

Hoary Tales

I feel naked without my online Oxford English Dictionary, but at $19.99US a month, I had to let it go. That leaves me with relying on free internet resources when searching the etymology of words. I still use my beautiful, hoary glue-bound 1977 copy of The Living Webster for my definitions, but the OED was handy for finding out where and when words originated and when they came into common usage. Bear with me then as we navigate the world of free sources together.


Today’s magical word is hoar: whitish grey; venerable, ancient, or old; white or grey, often referring to age. I particularly like hoarfrost, which is a whitish mist. The hoary old mule lazed about the meadow. The poor young thing is always surrounded by a horde of hoary men.

From what I can piece together, the word first appeared in the 1200s. It was in common usage by the 1500s. These dates make it a perfect word to include in my Avelynn series.
Bertram was certainly a hoary character. He might even be the hoariest in the cast of characters floating around in my head. He was an ancient druid, and he had long white hair, both particularly hoary details. I liked Bertram. He was a kind-hearted soul but had a mysterious edge about him. He walked a fine line between politics, religion, and familial obligations.

(If you haven’t read the first book in the series, you may want to skip this next paragraph)

We lose touch with Bertram and many of the characters from the first book as Avelynn’s journey pulls her elsewhere. In the second book, Avelynn finds herself in Wales and becomes embroiled in one of the hoariest of human conflicts: politics and power, not to mention another hoary issue: desire and deception. We get to meet an entire cast of new characters, each with their own agendas and goals. Despite the current predicament Avelynn sees herself in, she still yearns to solve problems and conflicts created in the first book. Home is never far from her mind.

Stay tuned to the series for all the thrilling details from the hoary ninth century.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo


Embrangle The Latest Word is: Embrangle: To entangle, confuse, perplex.

The Oxford English Dictionary has embrangle coming into common usage in the 1600s but its etymology dates back to the early 1500s with brangle, which, I’ve decided, is a cool word all on its own and may have to write a post on it, too—when we come back around to B. 😀

Here’s how we use it:

They were embrangled in the nets.

I am embrangled and torn between conflicting difficulties.

I like this word. So similar to the physical act of entanglement but with the added definition of a mental struggle. This is a word that even upon first glance, the reader should be able to determine its meaning based on its use in the sentence, even if they’d never happened upon the word before in their life (which I hadn’t until I read the entry).

Characters are often embrangled within their plot lines, and as an author, I am often embrangled in the plot itself. I have a rough outline, but as I write the story, it fleshes itself out and twists and turns and takes new and unexpected forks in the road—some of which are entirely pointless and must be deleted. And far too often, half way through the story, in the murky, messy middle, all the plot holes and character motivational misfires start to rear their ugly heads. This is because I am a pantser—someone who basically flies by the seat of their pants when writing—as opposed to a plotter who meticulously plots out every scene, every arc, every development BEFORE they add a single word to the story. There is something to be said about plotting, and I’m going to try and write my next book with this approach because I am convinced, after Avelynn #2, that pantsing is NOT an efficient way to write a book!

In the murky, messy, pantser middle, I am often embrangled. Big time. The second book in the Avelynn series was very difficult to fix. I wrote 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (a monthly writing challenge that takes place every November whereby we write 50,000 words in 30 days) most of which steered me off coarse and embrangled me in plot snares and character black holes that were almost impossible to recover from. The novel followed so many divergent threads, that I got to the point where I wasn’t sure what the premise was, or even what the main point was anymore!

With characters, to embrangle them in messy plot choices and make them clamber out of the carnage is what makes a story great. We can’t have characters riding along on sunshine and roses, we have to make the struggle, we need to throw story curves and plot bombs in their path and make them dodge or take a hit and recover. That’s what’s so fun about writing books. Creating conflict and fascinating surprises and developments that seem to come out of the blue, or that have been building for chapters and acts. To embrangle is to drive the story forward, and there’s a satisfying almost sadistic glee to the whole thing. ;D

I’ve finished the first draft of Avelynn #2 and am currently working on fixing up the wayward threads as I work my way through my round of edits. Hopefully, the embranglement from this point forward will be limited to what I’ve created for my characters and the rest of the edits flow smoothly. Cross your fingers for me. 🙂

In gratitude,

Marissa xo