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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Day 23 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: What’s Your Creative Outlet?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Congratulations to Joyce Ward, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Joyce to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

Today I wanted to talk about creativity. Everyone has a creative outlet. It’s the way we play, what we do to relax. Maybe you paint or knit or sew, sing in the church choir, cook, bake, quilt, dance, garden… There are dozens and dozens of methods to express creativity.

Obviously my method is writing. I am never happier than when I am lost in my own mind, playing pretend. I once had to have an MRI done, and I was in this tube with no music, no TV, nothing. You can’t bring metal into an MRI machine (magnetic!), and since you have to stay very still for them to get the scan, you can’t even bring a book to read. It’s boring! The only thing that saved my sanity was plotting novels in my head. I was able to completely forget where I was and get lost in my imagination.

My husband is a singer who performs in an a cappella group. My sister is a singer, too, but she sang for NJ Performing Arts Center and got to perform at Carnegie Hall once (as part of the chorus, but still…). I have another sister who is an artist. She paints portraits from pictures. People commission these from her, usually around the holidays. My mom used to make our clothes when we were little. My aunt made Christmas ornaments for us kids every year (I still have mine on my tree). I have a friend who bakes delicious treats and another who knits these amazing blankets using a photograph as the template. Another friend makes chocolate candies.

I’d love to make my living by writing, but for the moment I still work a day job. As does my husband and my sisters and all the people I mentioned above. I know lots of writers, of course, and most of them have day jobs, too. As much as I’d like to make my creative outlet my full time career, the mundane world can be unforgiving, and the artistic one sometimes fleeting. The mortgage has to be paid and people have to eat.

But I dream of it. I fantasize about where I would live and how my day would go. No more clocking in and out, no more 30-minute lunch. I could set my own hours. If I need to go to the doctor, I can adjust my schedule as necessary. If I want to go on vacation, I could just go without worrying about whether or not I would be allowed the days off. Ah, the life I could lead.

What about you? What’s your creative outlet? And do you ever daydream about what it would be like to do that for a living? Comment to be included in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Third Post in the 31 Day Book Giveaway: Hero Names

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Congratulations to  Yati Hadi, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Yati to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

I thought I’d take a break from the seriousness of goal setting and talk about something completely different. Today’s topic is Hero Names.

When creating a hero, an author needs to name the character correctly in order to get the right image for him. For instance, you’d have different first impressions of a hero named Kade vs. one named Oscar.

Different things have to be considered when naming your hero. In my case, I think about things like ethnicity, religious background and where he is from. These are all things that affect how people name their children. Also time period. Is this a historical hero, a contemporary hero or one from the future or another world entirely?

I once gave a hero the wrong name. The hero of DONOVAN’S BED, my first Western historical, was originally named Donovan Cain. This guy is the son of a saloon girl. He doesn’t know who his father is, and at age 16 he tracked down his mother’s killer and accidentally killed him. This is how he got into bounty hunting. When we meet Donovan, it’s fifteen years later, and he’s retired from bounty hunting to a small town where he’s trying to settle down and leave his past behind.

This is a guy who never had a real home, never learned a lot about manners and never really socialized with people. Yet every time he opened his mouth on the page, he sounded like he’d been raised in high society and gone to some fancy schools. This is when I realized I had the wrong name.

The name of the book is DONOVAN’S BED, and I wanted to keep that. So I changed his name to Jack Donovan.

Immediately I had a different character. I have no trouble believing that the guy with the simple name of Jack is someone who never had fancy schooling. The harsh J and K sounds in his name give you a sense of hardness that make you think this guy is tough, a guy who doesn’t require much in the way of material possessions. And that’s what I wanted. Though his first name is Jack, the other men call him Donovan. This was very common in the Old West.

In my book THREE NIGHTS, the hero Lucien’s mother was French. He was illegitimate, so he took her last name: DuFeron. Later, his father the duke recognized him as his son, but Lucien kept his mother’s name. I picked Lucien because this is a wicked hero, and it sounds like Lucifer. I picked DuFeron because, loosely translated, it means “made of iron” and gives you that fire and brimstone essence. Lucien hangs out with a guy named Dante in the book, and together they are called Hell’s Brethren.

In my recent paranormal, PRODIGAL SON, the hero’s last name is Montana. I decided that it is a variation of montaña, which is Spanish for ‘mountain’ and could be a place name. My hero is part Spanish and part Native American with ancestors from Atlantis. His first name is Rafe, because I wanted something wicked sounding. This brother is the wild child of the three Montana siblings.

One person who succeeds in using names most people wouldn’t consider heroic with remarkable success is Jayne Anne Krentz. Some of her heroes’ names are Baxter, Matthias, Harry, Joel, and Mack. I bet she could even make Oscar work. 🙂

What are your thoughts on hero names? Are some overused? Overlooked? Do some need to be retired? Comment and get your name in a drawing for a paperback book from my backlist!