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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!

Second Post in the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: Take Action

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Congratulations to Maria Stefanopoulos, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Maria to get her address and her choice of book.

Yesterday’s discussion on how to achieve big goals has inspired me. To that end, I have a couple of goals I’m going to set right now. And then it’s time to Take Action. Taking action is the next step to setting goals. I mean, we could set as many goals as we want, but we’re never going to get there if we don’t Take Action. Here are my goals:

Goal 1 – Finish one paranormal book and one historical book in 2014

Goal 2 – Begin a new eating regimen on Sunday and stay on it for at least 3 weeks

I know I can achieve at least part of Goal 1. I have a third paranormal romance due to my publisher in 2014, and nothing sets a fire under me like a contract deadline. But the second half, finishing a historical, is harder because there is no contract. I have several projects started, and I keep hopping from one to the other, never finishing any of them. In order to achieve the second part of Goal 1, I need to create a realistic, self-imposed deadline for a historical and stick to it. If that means doing page breakdowns on my calendar like I do when I am working on a contract deadline, so be it. I have to treat a deadline for myself as seriously as I treat a deadline for a publisher.

For Goal 2, I have all the tools to begin my weight loss journey, but I wasn’t about to set myself up for failure by trying to start during the holidays! Now that life is settling down again, I can focus on the changes I need to make. I heard it takes doing something for at least three weeks to make it a new habit, so that’s my first goal: start a plan and stay on it for three weeks. I’ll check back with you guys around January 25 to let you know how I did.

Have you been thinking about your goals for this year? Do you want to set one and check back at the end of the month to see how well you did?

If one of your goals is to win a free book, please leave a comment to be entered in today’s drawing. Good luck!


Goal Setting in 2014 and the First Post of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Oh, come on. It’s New Year’s Day, and you really thought we’d get away with not talking about setting goals?

All those years ago, back in the previous century, if I hadn’t set my sights on publication and decided on a road to get there, I’d still be dreaming about seeing my name on a book cover some day. But because I set goals, I did get there. And you can, too—whatever your goals may be.

This is a poster of the cover of Donovan’s Bed, one of my favorite books. It hangs on the wall of my office to remind me that I can get where I’m going, as long as I set a path and follow it.


Setting goals is a good thing. Really, it is. It promotes discipline and helps us achieve things. For instance, when I’m on deadline, I set a goal to get a specific number of pages written per day. If I didn’t do that, my deadline would come along and I’d have no book!

The number of pages I set fluctuates each day, depending on what I have going on. If it’s a day where I have to work (yes, I still have a full time day job), then I will set my goal for less pages than, say, a Saturday where I don’t have to go anywhere. This is one of the most important things to remember about goals: You have to make them realistic. Sure, I could set a goal to write 20 pages on a Tuesday. Heck, I can set any goal I want. But is that a realistic goal? Not with an 8-hour commitment to my day job, it isn’t. On a Tuesday, a goal of 4-5 pages, which takes me 1-2 hours to write, is realistic. On that Saturday where I don’t have anything else on the schedule? Then yes, 20 pages is realistic. It takes me all day, but I’ve done that in the past when I needed to get a book in. I know I can do it, because I already have. So it’s realistic.

Books aside, if you’re like me, maybe you have some health goals in mind for January. I need to lose weight, which is hard because it means unlearning bad habits and replacing them with good habits. That takes time and concentration. And I’m not talking about dropping ten pounds; I need to lose a considerable amount of weight. The idea of tackling such a huge goal intimidates me. Can I do it? Maybe. It’s kind of scary to think about it. But if I look at the weight I need to lose and compare it to writing a 375-page book, then it gets less scary.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Those of you who are not writers may think writing a 375-page book is a huge undertaking. And it is. It’s a Big Goal. However, I’ve already done it fifteen times by breaking that big number into a smaller one that I tackle each day. Maybe if I do something similar with my weight loss, I’ll have more success. What do you think? How do you think you can accomplish big goals? Sound off in the comments!

Reminder: Anyone who comments gets put in a drawing to win a free paperback copy of one of my backlist titles!

The 31 Days of Books Giveaway!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

My very first book, ONCE A MISTRESS, was published in January 1999, which means January 2014 marks my fifteenth anniversary as a published author. In that fifteen years I’ve written fifteen books–14 currently available and one in production, due out sometime in 2014. Ever since I can remember, getting published was my dream. To celebrate, I’ve decided to give away a book every day in the month of January.

Here’s how it works:

– I’m giving away a paperback copy of one of my backlist titles each day.  (No e-books)

– To be eligible to win, all you need to do is comment on that day’s blog. Everyone who comments gets entered into that day’s drawing.

– I will select one winner a day and email you to request your mailing address.

– The drawing pool starts all over again each day with each new blog topic.

– You may only win twice during the month before being entered in the Hall of Fame, which means you can’t win anymore. 🙂

First blog goes up on January 1. This ought to be fun!