You Name It!

Your Next Bad A__ CharacterCharacter names are the topic of today’s post, for both readers and writers, so jump right in! The other day, I was given the option to check out yet another free book and being the cover whore that I am, I couldn’t pass it up. I skipped the blurb and went right for the “Look Inside” feature. I made it through a good portion of the beginning, before I was even given the young woman’s name.

It was my mom’s name. 😐

Not a popular girl’s name in this day and age, especially for an 18 year old – but there it was. Glaring at me. I instantly started picturing my mom in what I knew to be an Erotic Romance novel and hit the back-button so fast my mouse filed an L&I claim.

As a Reader

I understand that this awkward situation depends largely on your genre of choice. I read a variety, but mostly Erotic Romance. So, there are definite names that will immediately turn me off to a book. Main Characters who have the same name as:

  • Any of my parents (I have 4)
  • My Kids
  • One of my ex’s that I cannot stand
  • A real life arch-nemesis – though I love it when they’re the antagonist!
  • And, depending on the circumstances, my nieces and nephews

That’s a lot of names when you think about it. Which, is why I usually feel fortunate and grateful that writers can be so creative with names!

Both of my kids have uncommon names. It’s very rare that I pick up a book and see my oldest son’s name. I have never seen my youngest son’s name used… as a first name… so it doesn’t have the same ‘scarred for life’ affect.

The rest of my family all have more common names. In the case of one niece and nephew, though, their names are sooooooooooo ridiculously common, that I know a dozen other people by their names and for some reason that makes it a non-issue. It’s like I have mental blockers for them, rather than the names, themselves. (Yeah, I’m a little weird).

More often than not, it’s that one ex-boyfriend situation that I run up against. I can’t even stomach seeing his name in print, let alone spend 1 to 300 pages reading it over and over again, picturing him in my mind, instead of the character I’m supposed to be seeing. A hero with his name is the last guy I’d ever root for, no matter what amazing qualities he supposedly has.

Just. Ain’t. Happening.

I’m probably missing out on some really great stories, but it’s not worth the nausea. Am I alone in this? Are you able to overlook these situations?

As a Writer

When I started writing in my teen years, I used names I wished I had, or that I could see myself naming my kids one day. Now that I have kids, I know better – especially with the kind of books I read and write! o_O

Typically, there are 3 different ways my characters can get their names:

1) It just comes to me and it fits. It might even come to me before the actual plot.

2) I get an idea for a story, and as I sketch that out a little more the character names start coming to me, usually as I imagine them be spoken aloud in dialogue. Actually, some of my ideas begin as dialogue, but that’s a whole other post!

3) The character is from another country and I research names until I find a combination that I like or feels the most fitting. I also do this with foreign sub-characters. Sometimes, it’s just their surname, because their first name has already made itself known.

With my Dark Day Isle series, Tessa’s first name came to me easily, then I had to wait for her last name, but I had to research to find Felix’s whole name.

The name Felix, itself, has been around long enough to have a very wide reach. However, in these modern times, it’s more commonly found in and around the kingdom of Luxembourg. My character happens to hail from Metz, which is nearby and politically linked to Luxembourg. I was excited when I came across the name during my research, and knew I’d found the perfect fit. Yes, I love Felix the Cat, too – stop aging us, gaw! 😀

While there’s no rule against using any name you want, it can be really useful to run a deeper search into a country’s various regions, for they each have their own unique traditional and modern list of names. Just searching for “French boy names” never would’ve given me Felix as an option. It only takes a few extra minutes of research, if you’re looking for something more authentic.

Of course, I’ve had characters whose names came to me first and only afterward revealed that they were of a certain heritage. For example: The main male character in my upcoming novel, Hearthstone Alpha (June 1st!) is Corbyn Bruschard. I didn’t choose his name – he did. I think I gave him a duck face, but he was 100% set on it and since he’s presumably ‘the boss’, I was in no position to argue. [insert exaggerated eye roll here].

Bruschard doesn’t even exist in Google’s world. At least not that I have found. Corbyn and his, ahem–pack–of guys, are Scandinavian, so I apologize profusely if Corbyn Bruschard is like the exact opposite of anything viking – you can take it up with the boss. Personally, I’d just let it go… I’ve met his cranky side. 🐺

Readers: Have you ever found yourself unable to read a book–no matter how enticing the blurb–simply because of one of the character’s names?

Writers: How do you come up with your character names? Is it different for each book? Do you have names before anything else, or do you have to flesh your characters out a bit first before their names come to you?

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Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

IndependentHappy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans! The perfect day to get back on track with my Indie posts. 🙂 The last you heard from me, I talked about the importance of Beta Readers and all of the steps that will help you during your Post-Rough Draft, Pre-Publication process. I’m going to pick right up where I left off and move into possibly the most difficult step you’ll ever face in your journey: Dealing with constructive criticism.

First, it’s important to understand what a Beta Reader is, what they do and what you’re essentially asking them to do when you request their help. The easiest comparison is:

You’re the CEO of your own company (Author Name) looking to market a new product (Your Book) and Beta Readers are your test subjects. They’re trying your book out for size and filling out a customer survey (Beta Read Questionnaire) at the end.

Beta Readers are usually experienced and know what to look for, what critiques will help polish your book. Some are more thorough than others, but they’re looking at some or all of these points: Character development, sentence structure, plot holes, flow, grammar, punctuation, style and overall enjoyment. They can be a lot like editors, only from a readership point of view.

Now, that you’ve gotten the results back, your first reactions and questions may be along the lines of:

  • What? They didn’t like it? But how can anyone think poorly about the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put into this precious new creation? Easy. They didn’t put any blood, sweat and tears into it. They are not emotionally invested in the story, the characters or even the success of the finished, published product. Therefore, their opinions and suggestions are unbiased, clear-headed and unfettered. As much as you might loathe or even downright despite them, this collection of outside feedback is crucial to your book’s success.
  • But, I chose to publish independently so that I could write what I want – or – because none of the publishers or literary agents were interested, despite the fact that I know it’s good! – Yes, but now you have the opportunity to make it even better. To polish your story to the point where it’s no longer good, but phenomenal! [insert flashing text and raining glitter here].
  • All of my friends and family love my book just the way it is! – No, they’re either afraid of hurting your feelings or they really do love it, because they don’t know any better. By that, I mean, they’re not familiar with your specific genre, or they aren’t aware of those critical points I listed above (character development, etc.) and therefore have no way of critiquing those things for you.

The important question you should be asking yourself is this: Wouldn’t you rather know these opinions now, rather than in bad reviews after it’s already published?

I completely understand your desire to hold fast and try to protect your hard work. We inherently possess a knee-jerk reaction that sends us right into defensive mode whenever our work is criticized. It’s natural, and it’s okay to feel (not to act on). However, I also know from experience that it’s counterproductive to stay in that mode for too long.

So, how can you get past it and turn all of the criticism into something useful? By remembering that you’re a CEO of a company looking to market a new product. It’s as easy, and as difficult as that. Allow yourself to have your initial, natural reactions – but then step back from the personal, emotional hold of it and put it into a business perspective.

The worst possible feedback you can ever get is “OMG, I loved it!” and nothing else – In no way does that help you. It’s flattering, yes, and we all love to hear that kind of praise, but that sentence alone is not going to help you sell any books. Besides, that’s more of a Review than a Beta Read (we’ll cover Reviews later on).

The best feedback will be a combination of positive and negative points. Most (not all) beta readers like to highlight the things they loved about your book, just as much as it’s their job to point out all of the things that didn’t work well for them. It should be a balance, but you have to keep in mind that beta reading is time consuming, so there may be those who only give you back the critiques without any praise – that doesn’t mean they didn’t like anything, though.

By turning the negative feedback into the positive tools they really are, it will help soften the blow, but I won’t promise it will be easy. Remember that each opinion and suggestion are the necessary bolts and screws that are going to make your book stronger for the marketplace. The fruits and veggies your story is going to need in order to flourish. Call it tough love, if you will, but when you trick your mind into a more positive, constructive and essentially productive perspective regarding your beta reads, you’ll be able move past it faster and get onto the next step you need to take.

Okay, so what step is that? Hopefully, you’ve already shopped around and decided on a professional editor, but if you haven’t, now would be the time. Most editors are willing to do a sample edit for you, so that you can see how thorough they are. They’re usually able to give you a time frame of how long it will take them to get the first pass back to you, as well. Choose the best editor for your needs and send your MS off to them.

Congratulations! You’re now halfway through your self-publishing journey! Take a moment to celebrate and pat yourself on the back for such a job well done! Especially, for managing to get through your first collection of criticism – it never completely goes away, but it might get easier for you over time.

Next week, I’m going to cover some optional pre-marketing steps you can take while you’re waiting for your edits to come back that might save wear in tear in your floors from pacing! 🙂

Weekly Accomplishment: I’m happy to announce that this week, I’ve finished the 3rd Chapter for Scavenger, book 2 of the Dark Day Isle series and have moved into the 4th. Hint: When Master Felix orders extra pineapple, things are bound to get a little… messy. 😉 What are you drooling… er…cheering over this week? Please share with us in the comments below!

 

8th Annual Summer/Winter Sale!

Collar_Me_Foxy_Final-chained_JPEGHi everyone! I’m back… kinda. I’ll be here a little more often, at least. Starting today and going all through July, Collar Me Foxy will be FREE on Smashwords! So, tell all of your friends, family and even your frenemies (I’m not biased). 😀

This is a major event with LOTS of participating authors, so make sure you also check out their promotional page HERE and get busy supporting your Indie Authors while collecting a ton of FREE and discounted books!

Have a Safe & Awesome 4th of July weekend!

Cover Reveal ♥ Collar Me Foxy!

Cover Reveal Banner(1)

Collar_Me_Foxy_Final-chained

Blurb

Tessa Fauns has but one dream: Move to France and never leave.
So when she’s offered the chance to get enough money, while putting her bilingual skills to use, how can she possibly say no?
The fact that it requires her to join a select group of Club Vitalz submissives for a week-long kinkfest in paradise is just the icing on the cake!

Unless, it’s too good to be true…

Despite all of her experience in the BDSM lifestyle, Tessa isn’t prepared for the extravagant activities their mysterious host has planned—nor the clash of unexpected emotions her new temporary Dom awaken inside of her.
Can a lifelong dream be enough to keep this little fox on her leash,
or will the truth behind her Master’s desires have
Tessa rethinking her place on Dark Day Isle altogether?

Want to download a sample of Collar Me Foxy? Follow the link below to make it happen!

SMASHWORDS PRE-ORDER PAGE