Life has taken on a new kind of normal. As many of you know, Mr. Nina and I have been bumping around the northeast, hoping life–and more specifically, the healthcare field–would settle down enough that would could set down some new roots ourselves. Well, it’s finally happening and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track with our career goals. And for me, that means finding my way back to writing.
One of my goals for the last couple of years is to find my way back to my SHIFTING BONDS series. And I’m excited to say it’s finally heppening. Yay Me! I’m stepping back into the books cautiously, but optimistically. Hopefully the end of 2018 into the beginning of 2019 will see these sexy shifters back out in the world!
In the meantime, I thought I’d share how I came about finding the names of my main characters in this sexy erotic suspense novel.
Being the visual person that I am, I can’t even get one sentence down without knowing exactly who my characters are. And it’s not so much who they are and where they came from, as a pantser that stuff just sort of unravels itself while I write. Nope, I’m talking about their names.
That’s right. You should see what I go through to discover who my characters are. I start with the site Baby Names. I usually have an idea of at least a letter which helps with my search. And some names are easy to eliminate. I mean you don’t want an hero named Edwin or Arthur. Neither of those names conjure up a sexy alpha hero capable of being both commanding and gentle. (But Cole … there’s a name can work with!)
The same is true when it comes to naming your heroine. Hester, Evelyn and Ruth bring to mind grandmothers, not kickass women ready to save the world. That doesn’t mean that in certain situations the name doesn’t work. I’m just talking generalities.
If baby names doesn’t work for me, I use Random Name Generator. What I like about this site is I can decide how obscure I’d like to make the name. And if that doesn’t work, I end up rifling through the phone book.
Once I have their full name and I’ve got an idea what the character looks like in my mind. I go to Female Celebrities and List of Male Actors and search out famous people who most closely fit my vision. I like to choose people in the media because I can google their images and find a couple of pictures that I can put on my character profile. But sometimes, like in A TOUCH OF LILLY, which has a very sexy alien, sometimes only the talent of my cover artist captures the character.
Once I have the pictures of my characters I put them in a document and make lists of eye color, hair descriptions and body characteristics (like tattoos) as I’m writing. Often times the characters quirky habits or their childhood backgrounds are added to the list as well. The nice thing about all of this is that I often don’t intend to write series stories, but inevitably, I fall in love with characters and want to continue their story. These photos then can be used when the characters decide I haven’t quite finished telling their story.
Probably more information than you ever wanted to know about all the hoops I jump through to meet my characters and begin writing a story, but there you have it. 😀
Over the years I’ve had numerous jobs. And when I say numerous … I mean like over 50. Really. I’m the female version of George Plimpton. (Only he was into sports. And a writer. And he made TONS of money … but you know… kinda like him.)
Anyway, I started working when I was 15 at the local Micky D’s. This was the beginning of drive-throughs and when we used to make shakes the old-fashioned way, with a mixer. A squirt of flavoring and ice cream, then blend. That stupid machine and I didn’t get along. I can’t tell you how many times it exploded all over me. But my most memorable moment was when a container of strawberry topping slipped from my hand to the floor. It hit the tiles flat on it’s bottom which caused the most interesting eruption of strawberry sauce, easily 5 feet in the air. How do I know this? When it was done, it was dripping off my face and the brim of my hat, and down the front of my uniform. And all of this happened in slow motion in front of a lobby filled with the lunch crowd. FULL! Oh, yeah, that was a fun job.
Let’s see, I’ve worked at a jean store, a mortgage company, an aquarium, a frame store, a processing plant, an overnight summer camp, and a daycare. I’ve been a waitress, a “gofer” for a game warden, a science teacher, a lab assistant, a janitor, an ed tech, a tutor, a resident assistant, a substitute teacher, and a secretary at a job recruiter and a real estate office.
Some of those jobs I didn’t really like. Being a janitor in a girls’ dormitory wasn’t really something I enjoyed. I’m not even going into the whole bathroom situation. Nor the job working second shift at a processing plant for computer components. I spent the summer straightening wire leads with plyers and boiling components in oil to watch for bubbles. *shudders* Those were long days. But the summer I worked on an island off the coast of Maine at an overnight camp was awesome. Working as a lab assistant, teaching physics labs in college was pretty cool as well. And I didn’t really suffer when I worked as a waitress. All those people to visit with … yeah, it was fun.
This is our new bundle of joy … Indiana Jones, Indie for short. It took us a couple of days to name this little guy, but after watching him bounce around the house and fly (yes, that’s the right word) off the furniture we figured his name fit his adventuresome nature.
This little guy was the runt of the litter, but what he didn’t get in size he more than makes up for in spirit. He has learned to scale a human (back or front) in 2 seconds flat (a bad habit that we can’t stop at the moment because it’s too darn cute). He can jump at least three feet both vertically and horizontally to reach sleeping spots. And has no problem taking on our older cat (who is easily five times his size) in knock-down-drag-out wrestling matches that make me wonder if he has all his marbles. And he has most definitely wiggled his way into our hearts.
And just watching him has made me think about how I approach life and more specifically, my writing. There are so many new things Indie encounters every day, yet I haven’t seen him shy away from any of them. He fearlessly goes through his day with a cocky arrogance that makes me laugh … and I totally admire. Which made me think that I should approach my writing that way.
When I first began this adventure I didn’t know enough to stop my muse from playing gleefully. We romped around wherever the spirit led us. But then I learned some “rules” and well … started to worry more about whether the story I was writing would be good enough. And the more I write and learn, the more cautious I become. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve floundered because I was overthinking a particular scene, too worried about how the readers (and reviewers) might not like a particular approach.
I want to boldly write my book and shut off my internal editor. I’d love to jump into scenes with both feet, eyes closed and land where I may. I keep working on it. Perhaps some day I’ll be able to achieve that goal and get back to when writing was a joyfully journey into new settings and characters.
How about you? How do you approach life? Do you feel (like me) that more experiences seem to make you more cautious … in everything.
Hello, my name is Nina. I am the world’s worst speller. I will be suffering from this until the day I die … or stop writing … whichever comes first. My family thinks it’s hysterical that I went into this line of work.
But that’s not what this post is about.
When I was in 7th grade we had an assignment to make a list of as many homonyms as we could discover. (Words that sound alike, but are spelled differently). I am a competitive cuss and I went through the dictionary scouring for words that sounded the same. I had a reeeeally long list when I went into school the next morning proudly passing in my homework, confident I’d have the most. But it wasn’t to be … David Zobel had the most! How dare he? Of course he was the state spelling bee champion that year, perhaps that had something to do with it. He had a humungus vocabulary. I came in second. Man, did that stick in my craw!
I’m going to admit that I haven’t done many things that are “typical”. I didn’t pretend not to be smart just to impress a boy. I didn’t sneak makeup in my book bag and put it on at school. And I never pilfered romance novels from my mother’s nightstand.
The first one no doubt had to do with being a middle child and always trying to prove myself to my older siblings. There was no way I was ever going to look dumb in front of them. And the second two things on the list were definitely influenced by Mom herself. My mom’s really pretty and I don’t remember her wearing makeup. So the whole thing was a non-issue in my house. There was no one saying I could or I couldn’t, so why rebel? The whole makeup thing seemed like a huge hassle in my opinion. And then there are the books. My mom was a reader. She took 4 and 5 books out of our little library every week and carried them home. She was pleased as punch when we picked one up and thumbed through it. I can’t say for sure when my love of reading began, but by the time I hit middle school I was reading adult books … including romances.
Every author knows how important it is not only to set the stage of their scene, but to describe the characters in their story. The fact is, there’s a way to do this that works and there’s the method of blending the description into your story where the reader is barely aware you’ve thrown it in there.
*deep calming breath* Really, I feel like I’m treading through molasses and not getting anywhere … fast! I know I’m not any different than every other writer out there trying to balance their real life with the world their building in their books. But sometimes life stuff just tumbles on top of itself and I get rolled up in the whole big mess.
I’ve not hidden the fact that the last 5 1/2 years have been a total clusterf**k for Mr. Nina and I. We moved from northern Maine where’d been living for over 20 years … which I was quite happy to do … to Rhode Island when Mr. Nina lost his job in hospital administration. Little did we realize what a rollercoaster we’d climbed up on! Well, 4 moves and 6 jobs later–we’re still trying to find our footing. Writing has taken a backseat to all of the turmoil. But even when I do have the mindset to sit down and start pounding out words, there seems to be other pressing issues.
I’m talking time management. This is as much for me as it is for those of you out in cyberland thinking you’ll never have time to finish that novel or short story you’ve promised yourself you’ll get to.
With the changing face of publishing it seems books are going through fewer and fewer edits these days. Print publishing houses are cutting back on staff to save costs from submission to publication. Some digital publishing houses are pushing books through to keep up with the high demand of their readers. And authors are now going the self-publishing route and may not have the financial resources to send a book through several sets of edits.
So what does this mean for a reader? That more and more books are making it to publication with errors. No one is immune. From the USA Bestseller to the self-pubbed author, more and more books we pick up have at least one error. And let me just tell you from an author’s perspective … it’s not at all because we don’t care. Unfortunately, even several pairs of eyes on the same manuscript can miss an error.
I’ve just passed my 10th anniversary. Oh, not of my marriage. 10 years ago this past June I broke my chalk and picked up a keyboard. Yep — I became a fulltime writer. And it’s amazing to me how things have changed in my life.
The first year it was me and the computer. Simple. I got up I figured out where my story was going and I wrote. Family members were my beta readers. They read. They critiqued. I adjusted. What a simple life of writing. And one that made me very happy.
Worth it… oh yeah!
Often the first question asked of a writer… “Where do the stories come from?”
For a long time I couldn’t answer that question. Mostly because I felt silly telling people that I simply wrote romances I’d like to read. It wasn’t the book of my dreams or a story that had been nagging me to be told. It just was…