Sunday, November 6, 2016

Choosing Names #PNIWritingChallenge Day 19

I've come up with a lot of names over the years - for fictional places as well as characters. 

In the Color of Thunder, I had a lot of characters to name. This is a passage from the book that explains the names of four of the main characters.

When I’d asked Mama once how she and Daddy had chosen names for their children, she’d explained that in the Bible the book of Luke had been written to give a reliable and precise record of Jesus Christ’s life. Luke was nothing if not reliable and precise.

I’d been named Faith because I’d been born at a time when the world was at war with itself. My parents thought that faith was what was needed for everyone to get through it and out the other side again.

When their third child was born, she was called Hope. Daddy claimed that my sister's name had been chosen because he’d been hoping for another boy, but Mama shook her head in disagreement. Later she told me that the war had ended right when her second daughter had been born and our nation was celebrating victory and a renewed hope. 

After a long and arduous labor, the fourth and littlest Linsey arrived. Both Mama and her small, sickly child survived the delivery by the grace of God.

All four of us Linsey children, in the end, had been named well I thought, and as I held my own child who had been named after Mama on my lap, I knew he, too had been named well.

None of the places I wrote about - at least states, cities or towns - for this book were fabricated.

When I began writing Alabama Skye, though, I wanted part of it to take place in a town a lot like Gulf Shores, Alabama, but I wanted it to be smaller - so I made one up. My cousin, Laura, helped me with this, although this will be the first time she hears of it.

I've always loved the name Shelby. Laura is from Texas, and she had her two oldest boys at the same time I had my two kids. Once, while she was here for a visit, we got to talking about baby names and I mentioned to her my fondness for Shelby. She laughed and said, "I like it, too, but it sounds different in Texas than it does in Colorado." She said it in her Texas drawl and I loved it. When I was trying to come up with the name of my southern town, it was her voice that popped into my head saying "Shelby" in her wonderful way. There happens to be a Shelby county in Alabama, so I changed it to Kelby. I can't say or write the name without thinking of Laura.

For The Gannon Family series, I wanted some Scottish names for some of my characters. I have a great baby name book that I got for free from a bin of books at the library on the Vogelweh base in Germany. It's broken down by both girls and boys names, but there is also a large section that helps you find Scottish, English, Greek, Arabic names ... so on and so forth. Finlay, Una, Cheney, Greer and Keene were found that way. I can't tell you why I chose Noah. I just loved it. Sometimes names just come to you - you don't know how, but they strike a chord and you know they're keepers.

My lovely friend and PA gave me the name Jamie for A Skye Full of Stars. I was struggling with a name for Greer and Jimmy's son. I had one, but it was too similar to another character and my beta's informed me that they were tripping over it. Samantha chose it because of Jamie Dornan. I decided to use it because it made sense that this character would be named after his father. It's nice when things like that happen. Now Samantha will always be a part of that book for me.

I wish I could tell you how I came up with the names I used in Dead Beat Dates & Deities but I really don't know. Frank (Frances) was always Frank from the second the story idea hit me. I'd written 37,000 words of the story before Eros even became a character - and his 'mortal world name' is just a play on who he actually is. Archer just fit. And it made me smile. That's always a bonus.

As for the town they live in - Sparrow - well, Sparrows are little birds. Their town is a little town. It just sounded right. I could come up with an elaborate story for this - but I'm taking cold medicine right now and I'm a little too fuzzy to be creative. Give me a week or so ... I might be able to cook up something much more exciting.

I did find something really fun I want to share with you. It's an online name generator. I use this sometimes. Be careful, though. Once you start it's hard to stop. There's something surprisingly addictive about it. If you're ever looking for a name, I hope you find this helpful.

You might find it entertaining even if you aren't in search of a specific name. Enjoy yourself. I'm not here to judge.