Tag Archives: novels

Name-Calling

People with names like Gay Barr or Harry Dyck probably have a keen appreciation for the importance of names, but I was lucky that my parents chose baby names devoid of unfortunate double entendres.

Like proud parents, some authors agonize for days over the perfect name for their characters.  I’d like to say that I choose my characters’ names with equal care, but the truth is I don’t.  It’s lucky I never had children – I’d probably have named them Bradley Ulysses Martin or Alexander Steven Steadman and doomed them to eternal taunting when the other kids learned their initials.

The only character name I really researched was Aydan Kelly (the main character in the Never Say Spy series).  I spent hours searching for the perfect Irish name, because her Irish heritage was going to be an important subtext in the story.  I finally settled on Aydan, which is Gaelic for “little fire”.

If you’ve read the series, you’re probably thinking, “Um… what?”

Yeah, you’re right.  Not only did Aydan’s heritage turn out to be completely irrelevant to the story; but I also unwittingly selected a spelling that isn’t even Irish – a while ago, a lovely Turkish reader named Aydan wrote to me, curious about how I’d come to select her quintessentially Turkish name for my “Irish” character.  Oops.

I may be casual about naming most of my characters, but I always worry a bit when I’m choosing a name for a villain.  I can only imagine what it must be like for a reader to discover that a vile sociopath is named after them.  (Though I will admit there’s a certain passive-aggressive satisfaction in naming an unsavoury character after someone who screwed me over in real life.  Not that I’ve ever done that.  Much.)

Bad associations aside, some names give me a completely illogical visceral reaction.  “Alicia” feels cold, controlling, and uptight to me, and I have no idea why.  I’m sure there are thousands of loving, warm, funny Alicias in the world (and if you’re an Alicia reading this, I apologize – I’m sure you’re a very nice person).  But I’ve never met an Alicia, so my oddball bias remains.

And some names give me warm fuzzies for no apparent reason.  I’m sentimentally saving “Joy” for an extra-special character because if I’d ever had a daughter, that would have been her name.

What names give you a visceral reaction (good or bad)?  Or just for fun, run your least favourite non-friend’s initials through the Bad-Guy Hippie Name Generator and share, share, share!

Book 14 update:  It was another good writing week!  I just hit Chapter 33 and Hellhound is being himself – I was laughing out loud while I wrote last night.  I love my job!

43 Comments

Filed under Writing

…And That’s My Cover Story

Woohoo! The cover art and blurb for Book 11 are finished! As with any process where I’m involved, there have been some giggles along the way.

Rick Hand of Hand Crafted Images always makes it fun to shoot the cover photo, and luckily he’s got a great sense of humour. He needs it when he’s working with a so-called model like me.

I’ve mentioned my uncanny knack for twisting my face into the world’s goofiest expression at the precise moment the camera clicks. (At least I prefer to think I only look goofy for that instant. If it’s all the time, please don’t tell me – I prefer to cling to my illusions.)

But apparently I also have a gift for twisting my body into poses that make a photographer (and everybody else) go “WTF?!?”

For example, Rick was testing the lighting levels when I did this:

I don’t know what the hell I was thinking but apparently it was something like, “‘Scuse me while I stick this cardboard gun up my own ass. And if I place my left hand just so, it’ll look like a giant schlong hanging out the front of my jeans.

Yep, I’ve got a real gift for modelling.  It’s a lucky thing Rick’s good at arranging me because my sole talent is holding still once he’s got me in place.

Moving on to the title selection:

You probably already know that my geeky OCD personality requires spreadsheets for everything, including titles. I’ve itemized every word that rhymes with ‘spy’, along with a list of common phrases that include those words. So when it’s title time, I consider the themes in the book I’ve just written and try to match up a phrase that works.

But apparently there’s an easier way:  An app at portent.com generates titles automatically based on user-supplied keywords. So I entered ‘female spy’ and sat back to wait for the perfect title for Book 11.

Here are the contenders:

“How Female Spies Make You A Better Lover”: I do my best to make my sex scenes hot, but I didn’t realize I was providing such a valuable service to society. Go, me! *buffs fingernails against shirt and looks smug*

“Doing Female Spies The Right Way”: Is it me, or does Portent seem to have a one-track mind?

“True Facts About Justin Bieber’s Love For Female Spies”: Okay, now they’re just scaring me.

“The 12 Biggest Female Spies Blunders”: This one’s pretty appropriate since Aydan does tend to blunder into situations, but it’s not really the catchy title I had in mind.

“Why Female Spies Are The 51st Shade Of Grey”: Why Portent, you kinky thing! You’ve been peeking through my blinds again, haven’t you?

“Why Female Spies Are Scarier Than Dating Taylor Swift”: I’m not sure what level of fear we’re talking about here. It seems reasonable to be more afraid of female spies, but then again I don’t know Taylor Swift.

“Shocking Ways Female Spies Will Make You Better In Bed”: I’m sensing a theme here…

“How To Fight Lex Luthor Using Only Female Spies”: Superman, are you paying attention?

“How Female Spies Killed Kenny”: I’ve never watched an episode of South Park but apparently Kenny has died in all sorts of creative ways, so this seems plausible.

But I guess I’m just set in my ways. Despite the stellar appeal of Portent’s shortlist, I decided to stick with my spreadsheet even though one of the above titles could probably have made me famous. (Or infamous. It’s a fine line.) So voilà, Book 11:

Secret agent Aydan Kelly is hoping to resume her peaceful life as a bookkeeper, until her director issues an ultimatum: Go undercover as an arms dealer or go to jail for life. But when Aydan realizes her co-worker’s son has been taken by a serial killer, she defies orders in an attempt to save the child.

Neglecting her undercover assignment may cost more than just her freedom. When the gunrunner she’s been baiting threatens her loved ones, Aydan must choose between protecting them herself or entrusting their safety to geriatric amateur vigilantes while she closes in on the killer.

How much will she risk for a child who may already be dead?

* * *

The release date is March 18, 2016, and The Spies That Bind will be available for pre-order in about a week. If you’d like to receive an email notification when it’s available, please click here to sign up for my New Book Notification List.

47 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Season’s Greetings!

I finished the final draft of Book 9, SPY HIGH, on Sunday and the first beta reader is already finished – woohoo!  Now I’m looking forward to a week of family, food, and festivities.  Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and general merriness to you if you don’t!

snowscape

29 Comments

Filed under Life, Writing