What’s in a name?

(Paraphrasing from Shakespeare: ‘Would a Rose sound as sweet.’)

With eight published novels, (number nine is at the editing stage and number ten is in embryonic form), and five short stories…finding names for characters is becoming something of an art form.

I now have a spreadsheet with all the names I’ve used. I don’t like to use the same name twice, particularly for the main protagonists. For the benefit of readers as well as myself, it’s good to have different names in each book to keep track of who’s who.

I did have to change one character’s name in Christmas at Winterbourne. The backstory for that novel was written many years before and not published. One of the main characters was called Jamie – a name I like. But then I used it in The Circle Dance as it seemed to fit the personality of that particular person.

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Can you guess which character’s name I changed in Christmas at Winterbourne?

Sometimes I’ll change a name during the editing stage. Usually only when there are two names that look or sound similar, or even just start with the same letter. Less confusion all round.

Another thing I’ve learned to watch out for is avoiding names that are easy to trip over when reading aloud. There’s a character called Laurel in The Circle Dance. That shouldn’t be too hard to say, you would think. However, I wished I’d used Laura instead as I kept stumbling over it.

In Changing Perspectives, I deliberately chose Camila with this spelling as I wanted her name to have a Spanish pronunciation…Ca-mee-ya. Again, when it came to doing a podcast, I thought maybe should have stuck with the English version and I suspect readers will be interpreting it as Ca-mill-a (as in the Duchess of Cornwall) anyway.

The other thing I’ve noticed about my naming convention, if I can call it that, is the tendency to use androgynous names for butch characters and more feminine ones for femmes. So it’s a bit of clue for readers if a couple gets together and the names don’t match this way. For example: in Running From Love, Lydia and Beth clearly aren’t going to make it in a long-term relationship. So is Beth going to end up with Jordan or Sam?

It’s also a good idea to be flexible. Sometimes halfway through a novel, I’ll think a name isn’t working, as the character develops and grows into the story. Or I see two names starting with the same letter or sound, so I’ll change one of them.

I do enjoy the process of naming. All part of the fun starting a new book and finding out who these people are whose stories are going to be revealed. (I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, so that’s always a mystery until about half way in.)


On another note:

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My publisher, Affinity Rainbow Publications, is doing flash sales every month from their back catalogue of books by their authors. Sign up for the Affinity newsletter to receive notifications of these bargain prices, plus upcoming releases and author news. (October newsletter)

The site also offers a selection of free ebooks including my first ever published short story, There Was A Time.

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Happy reading!


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Buying links:

Calling Home is available from Affinity Rainbow Publications, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Barnes & Noble, Bella Books, Smashwords, and Apple iTunes.

Changing Perspectives: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

 

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy Omnibus edition: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


 

Anniversaries

It’s quickly coming up to the anniversary of the release of my first ever published story.

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There Was A Time was published on 1 September 2014 by Affinity eBooks – now Affinity Rainbow Publications. (It is still available as a FREE ebook on their website.)

In 2014 I was very new to the publishing scene and recall my first Skype meeting with my publisher – it was a four-way conversation with JM Dragon in New Zealand, Erin O’Reilly and Nancy Kaufman in Texas, and me in the UK. Working out a time was hard enough. Anyway, I had a shower and wore a decent t-shirt, even though we wouldn’t be able to see each other. It felt like a job interview. I guess I must have done okay as they have published six of my novels so far, with number seven due out in November.

But back then; after they had accepted my debut novel for publication, Starting Over, I couldn’t quite believe I was going to become a published author.

When I received an email from Nancy with TWAT in the subject line, I wondered what I’d done wrong. Then I realised this was the acronym for my short story which was being published on their website ahead of the release of my novel. She told me later that she laughed when she typed it, imagining my reaction no doubt. Ever since, I’ve been more aware of acronyms in titles.

The blurb for the story:

Darts night at the Golden Dragon and Fin’s life is about to change forever.

Living in a small seaside resort she thought she was doing fine. Summer flings were great and winter evenings behind the bar were whiled away dreaming of the next conquest in the dunes.

Then in walked the stranger and Fin fell in love.

So, this very week, three years ago I was finalising edits for Starting Over, checking the blurb, approving a cover, and anxiously awaiting the release of my first story, There Was A Time. How would it be received?

What a great relief it was then to read the first review for the short story from Terry Baker. “This is the first thing I’ve read by Jen Silver. I know she has a full-length book due out soon, and if this story is anything to go by, I’m going to be first in line to read it.”

Whew!

But, of course, that was just the beginning. As every published author knows, it doesn’t really get easier. Each time there is the wait…after the months of writing, editing, proofreading, agonising over blurbs, deciding on covers…wondering if anyone will want to read this. And if they do, what will they think of it?

I feel incredibly blessed that readers, for the most part, have enjoyed my books. And I’m always thankful that the team at Affinity was willing to take a chance on a novice writer three years ago.

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Meeting some of the Affinity team in at GCLS 2015 in New Orleans: Erin O’Reilly, Annette Mori, and Ali Spooner

It’s been a wonderful journey of discovery and it’s not over yet. (Very deep that – a metaphor for life, perhaps.)

Another anniversary: I may have mentioned this before – this year my wife and I are celebrating 30 years together. That has also been an amazing journey.


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Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes