Feeling under the weather this week…
It feels like the flu.
Do you have rituals when you’re feeling bad that make you feel better almost immediately? Certain robe? Orange juice and ice chips? I Love Lucy reruns?
For now, for me, it’s back to bed…
This reader question and answer originally ran in my April newsletter. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, and get all the posts mailed directly to you, sign up here. We do monthly giveaways and have “sneak peeks” at chapters from upcoming books.
This question is from my book club friend (and also new beta reader) MaryAnn Perdue:
Q: Is there a special process you use to name your characters?
A: I get all my names from a baby name book by Laura Wattenberg called “The Baby Name Wizard.” It not only gives a list of hundreds of names, but adds nicknames, variations in spelling, possible brother and sister names (which I use!), what eras the name was popular (you can’t give a born-in-the-80s, 30-year-old hero a popular 2014 name!), etc. It’s such a fun book.
My heroines’ names were all predetermined years ago (because they are sisters and mentioned in each other’s books — I said somewhere that their mother loved France, and that she gave her daughters all French-sounding names — Giselle, Lia and Noelle).
But my heroes’ names I come up with for each book, based on the personality I want them to convey. “Fin” was a strange choice, I must admit, but it suited the quiet hero I had in mind for The Red Bikini. “Evan” is a name I always liked, and had the sharp “v” in there that sounds tough to me, so it worked for my tough, cranky sea captain in Ten Good Reasons. I’m currently writing my first “nerd hero” for Book 3 and named him “Elliott.”
Secondary characters are actually a little harder. You don’t necessarily need a name you “like.” You simply need a name that can convey quite a bit about the character simply by the name. Since you have so few words to develop secondary characters, names go a long way. The name might signify the era the character was born, the probable social status of the character, the region of the world the character was born, etc. For secondary characters, sometimes names just jump out at me. “Fox” and “Tamara” in The Red Bikini did; “Kyle” and “Dennis” in Ten Good Reasons did. But other names — like “Rabbit” and his real name “Henry” in The Red Bikini and like “Cora” in Ten Good Reasons — take me some time. For those, I usually pour a tall glass of wine and flip through my Baby Name Wizard book (sometimes several nights in a row) until I land on a name that sounds right for the person I’m picturing.
So far I haven’t worked my way through all my favorite names, but I’ll probably come to readers for advice in a few more books!
I also wrote this post in 2011 called How To Find Good Names for a Character that gives actual tips, if you’re writing your own book!
Have a question? Send to email@example.com. It’ll probably be featured in the next newsletter!
The winner of “The Red Bikini Book Club” door prize is …
Congrats, Phyllis! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail-mail address, and I’ll get that out to you!
I had a great time at my first-ever online book club! I’m not sure how long the event page will stay live, but for now, if you want to scroll through some of the fun answers, it should be here.
I feel like the roller coaster known as “Summer of 2014″ just screeched to a halt, and I’m getting off now, holding my stomach, calming my jittery nerves, squinting into the sunlight, and thinking, Damn! What a ride!
It was fun and exhilarating; wild and exhausting; but nervewracking, busy, frantic.
And it all flew by in a blur.
The wildness of the summer started in May, was punctuated by a multitude of milestone birthdays and events, and ran all the way to Labor Day. Here are the highlights:
Maybe that’s why I’m so happy about September.
I’d love for you all to join me for a fun online event Friday, Sept. 19 — a book-club discussion of “The Red Bikini”! I’ll ask you questions about the book (from “What do you think all the strawberries meant?” to fun things like “What was your favorite line of Fin’s?” or “Who could play him in a movie?”), and you can ask me anything you want about writing it.
Come see what others answer and ask!
This event is two weeks away, so you have plenty of time to read the book, re-read the book, or get a friend to read the book and join us. I can’t wait to chat with you all!
P.S. The event goes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but you don’t have to be available the whole time — just come jump in any time you like, even if only for 15 minutes!
P.P.S. If you can’t attend the event at all on Friday, but you’re interested in what everyone says, click “join” anyway, and you’ll still get all the questions with links to the answers, which you can then peruse later in your own time.
To join and get more info, click here.
(And thank you to Carli Krueger for the adorable event graphic! — Isn’t it cute?)