Showing posts with label character names. Show all posts
Showing posts with label character names. Show all posts

13 March 2017

What's In a Name




by Jan Grape

Naming characters can be easy or difficult depending on your own method of writing. Again, I have to say, every writer does things different. Every book or story can be totally different. That's what makes the good book even better. Naming the characters might not seem too important to readers but if a character lives in your mind forever, then you have to admit, naming them can be important.

Sam Spade, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Scarlett O'Hara, Atticus Finch, V.I Warshawski, Phillip Marlowe, Jack Reacher, Harry Bosch, Sharon McCone, Kinsey Millhone, Rick Blaine, Charlie Allnut, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. All memorable characters that seem so real in our minds.

I decided to ask writers on Facebook to tell me how they choose a character name. Here are responses:

  • EllaDaye Flowers: You name then after your friends… LOL (I used EllaDay's name in a story that never got finished or published. I love her beautiful but unusual name. JG)
  • Jill D'Aubery: They usually tell me their names.
  • Joan Hall Hovey: Yes, I agree with Jill. They tell me their names; I just need to listen, If I've got it wrong, they let me know.
  • Orania Papazoglou: Weirdly enough, with me, the name often comes first. It's as if names have characters attached to them.
  • Janet Christian: Sometimes I mix and match the first/last names of people I've known. If the name is important to the "theme" of the character, I search by culture, history, time period and even actual meaning. In one novel, I gave a character an unusual name that had the meaning of "death." Guess what ultimately happened to him? The site I search is: www.meaning of names.com/
  • Kris Neri: Mostly, characters tell me their names. But when the right name doesn't come, I have some go-to techniques to stimulate name thought. I have a "name notebook" that I've built up for years. When I get a play program for instance, that credits lots of people by name, I rip out those pages with names and put them into the notebook. Anything that lists lots of names, goes into the notebook. I also look at TV credits at the end of shows or movies. Or read the white pages of phone directories. Once at the airport, I heard two names paged and I put parts of each of those together to form one name. Names are everywhere.
  • Lisa McClendon: All of the above for names of characters set in my own country. The book I'm working on now is set in France so I use a site that generates French Names...I just tap through the names until I find one I like. I try to never have similar names which is a challenge at times. At a minimum the top ten characters need to have names that start with different letters and do not sound alike.
  • Les Roberts: I try to use names that are not completely ordinary. Looking back on my third book (the first Milan Jacovich), I could kick myself in the butt for naming the romantic interest "Mary." It's a fine name, and I know many lovely people named Mary, but since then I've tried to name differently. In the book I'm writing now I got the first and last name from a young woman who is the cashier at my local Honda dealer. I'm not going to tell you what it is here, though because it's almost impossible not to steal.
  • Donnie Price: I was writing a short story with my then five year old daughter. I was stuck on naming the characters-she pointed at a phone book and said, "There is a whole book full of names, Dad."
  • Angela Crider Neary: The name of my cats. Of course my characters are cats, so that helps.
  • Jeff Baker: I've scrambled up names from football players in games that were on while I was writing. Then sometimes, I use names that are appropriate, a story I'm working on now has a sweet old lady who practices magic. Her name? Ellie Faye Morgan, a scrambled up version of Morgainne Le Fae... I read once that Eddie Murphy complained that white writers couldn't name black characters, so he renamed characters he played after friends he'd gone to school with (last names anyway.)
  • Jerry Kennealy: Pick an actor you like for his role - check him out on Google IMBD for the roles he's played - pick one of the names from his films.
  • Denise Dietz: For the villain I use names of people who have "done me wrong." Like Kris, most characters tell me their names, but if I'm really stuck I look at the cast and crew of a classic movie.
  • Terrie Moran: Usually the characters tell me what they want to be named. When they don't, I open an old phone book and pick a first name from one page and the last name from another. If the character isn't happy he lets me know and we change. Quite often the phone book name sticks.
  • Dona L. Watts: You can use mine anytime you want, hint hint...lol. (Dona is my niece. JG)
  • Jeff Cohen: Honestly I go by sound. I hate naming characters and wish I could change everyone I've ever written. But I wouldn't come up with anything I liked better and would end up changing them all again.
  • Susan P. Baker: Sometimes from a baby name book. Sometimes from the obits, if I see an interesting name, I save it. When writing about a particular geographical area, then by who lives there. With my mystery novel set in Fredericksburg, TX, I have mostly German and Spanish last names and some first names, too, like Rufina Gonzales is the defendant.
  • Gary Warner Kent: I go back to my high school and college yearbooks, then play with combinations, esthetics, sounds...the worst and best were one and the same. "Hyman Fartzenberry." True name.
  • B.K. Stevens: I taught for many, many years and never threw a grade book away. When I need a name that sounds real, I reach for a grade book. I also have a dictionary of names that I use when I want a name with a particular meaning. Some character names are allusions to literary works with similar themes for plots.
  • Eve Fisher: I do what B.K. does. Use old student lists. Also the SSA has the post popular names for every year for decades.
  • Leigh Lundin: I use a combination of techniques, often going by sound, but especially relying upon the meaning of names. For example, Linda and Belle mean beautiful, Morse and Morris mean dark. I used the Hopi name Chu’si, meaning ‘snake flower’, because a dangerous woman had qualities of both. I named a team of Zimbabwean/Rhodesian bad guys according to their ethnic backgrounds, Afrikaner, Zulu, etc. Both words of a Shona name, Magondo Svitsi, represent two different ways of saying ‘hyena’. (I actually built a database of names, their origins and meanings. Deborah Elliott-Upton tapped me a couple of times to dredge up names for her.)

Great information everyone. Thanks. Most ideas I use myself but the one about looking at credits of movies and TV shows is a great idea that I never have thought of and certainly plan to in the future. I used a grocery cashiers first name once, It was Dwanna. And in a western story I wrote the town I used was a real town between here and Austin called "Nameless." When they first named their town they first sent "Sandy," into USPS service. USPS wrote back and said, "No. There is already a Sandy." This went on for two or three other names the town council tried. Finally, they just said, "Well, dang it, we'll just call it Nameless" and that one passed the USPS. I drove out there to get a feeling for the town which really was only a community now. I wound up walking around in the cemetery and writing down names on the tombstones to use for character names.

I think character names are interesting and fun. You just never know when a name will become famous, like Jan Grape, for instance.

Additional Comment: you never know when something you wrote for SleuthSayers is read by a person who you don't know, but they were touched by what you wrote. I received a sweet note from a young woman who had been surfing around for information on her grandfather, Clark Howard who had passed away the first of Oct. 2016. I wrote a tribute to Clark back in October for SleuthSayers. Amanda Howard wanted to thank me for the nice things I said about Clark. Her grandparents had raised her and Clark's wife Judith had passed away in 2004 and she was Clark's caregiver until the end. I friended her on Facebook and told her I had known Clark and Judith when they lived in Houston, and thought so much of both of them. She was surprised yet pleased to learn I had known them way back that long ago. She is 27 now so she had not even been born then. Sometimes we forget how much good FB can do. And how much good SleuthSayers can do. We are lucky to have this, my friends. Thanks to all who make it possible.

01 November 2014

Name That Crook




by John M. Floyd



I like books about writing. I buy a lot of them, and I always seem to learn more from them than I expect to. These "how-to-create-good-fiction" authors sometimes differ on their views of what's good and what isn't, and what works and what doesn't--but now and then, like a family driving away from the Honda dealership, they are all in one Accord. (Sorry--I couldn't resist.)

One piece of writing advice that they all seem to agree on is that we talespinners should spend at least as much time on our villains as we do on our heroes. The point, there, is that the character who actually propels the action forward in a story or novel is the antagonist, not the protagonist. A wimpy bad guy just won't do. As I heard someplace, Jack the Giant Killer needs a giant to kill.

Another good move is to come up with suitable names for our villains. I once said, in a previous column, that I couldn't imagine 007 introducing himself as "Dinkins. Wilbur Dinkins." Well, the same goes for Bond's adversaries. Arnold Goldpinkie probably wouldn't have presented much of a threat to the world, or Doctor Yessiree.

Along these lines, here are a few fictional baddies whose names I especially like. (I can almost picture the sudden smiles on the writers' faces when these popped into their heads.)

Seriously evil dudes:

Hans Gruber, Die Hard
Noah Cross, Chinatown
Percy Wetmore, The Green Mile
Vince Stone, The Big Heat (Lee Marvin played baddies and goodies equally well)
Amon Goeth, Schindler's List
Morgan Sloate, The Talisman
Roy Batty, Blade Runner
Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men 
Voldemort, Harry Potter series
Stuntman Mike, Death Proof
Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
Randall Flagg, The Stand
Little Bill Daggett, Unforgiven
Sauron, Lord of the Rings
Max Cady, Cape Fear
Oddjob, Goldfinger
Freddy Kreuger, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Dr. Szell, Marathon Man
Bill Cutting, Gangs of New York
Dean Wormer, Animal House
Emilio Largo, Thunderball
Cicero Grimes, Hombre (Richard Boone was always a convincing villain)
Tommy Udo, Kiss of Death 
Commodus, Gladiator (what could be worse? Toiletus?)
Miles Quaritch, Avatar
Leatherface, Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Francis Dolarhyde, Red Dragon
Lex Luthor, Superman

Seriously evil dudettes:

Irma Bunt, On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Cersei Baratheon, Game of Thrones
Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada
The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz
Phyllis Dietrichson, Double Indemnity
Cruella de Vil (cruel devil?), 101 Dalmations
Mallory Knox, Natural Born Killers
Santanico Pandemonium, From Dusk Till Dawn
Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty
Elle Driver, Kill Bill (Daryl Hannah, of all people)
Miss Havisham, Great Expectations
Mama Fratelli, The Goonies
Alex Forrest, Fatal Attraction (Play Misty for Me, Part 2?)
Aileen Wuornos, Monster
Nurse Ratched (wretched?), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Catherine Tramell, Basic Instinct
The White Witch, The Chronicles of Narnia (who better than Tilda Swinton, for this?)
Rosa Klebb, From Russia With Love

Asides and exceptions

I should pause here to admit that some of the best literary and cinematic villains had normal, plain, believable names: Michael Myers (Halloween), Annie Wilkes (Misery), Frank Booth (Blue Velvet), Norman Bates (Psycho), Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca), Ben Wade (3:10 to Yuma), Tom (The Talented Mr.) Ripley, George Harvey (The Lovely Bones), Reverend Harry Powell (The Night of the Hunter), Jack Wilson (Shane), and so on. But who's to say that they wouldn't have been even more ominous if their names had been ominous as well?

By the way, all baddies are not truly evil. Some--Mrs. Robinson (The Graduate), Lt. Gerard (The Fugitive), Major Henry Terrill (The Big Country), Ed Rooney (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Headmaster Nolan (Dead Poet's Society), etc.--are just unpleasant people who get in the way of the protagonists' needs and goals. I'll always like the name of Milo Minderbinder, the sneaky opportunist and profiteer from Catch-22--and even though his actions unknowingly caused death and disaster, he was more of an antagonist than a villain.

And some villains are so terrifying they have no names at all. In The Village, the creatures in the surrounding woods were whisperingly called Those We Don't Speak Of.

In closing, here are my Top 10 favorite names for bad guys:

Gordon Gekko, Wall Street
Ernst Stavro Blofeld, You Only Live Twice
Lars Thorwald, Rear Window
Liberty Vallance, as in The Man Who Shot
Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter series
Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs
Apollo Creed, Rocky
Darth Vader, Star Wars
Hugo Drax, Moonraker
Uriah Heep, David Copperfield


Sigh. I wish I were the one who came up with those . . .




05 January 2014

What's in a Name?


by Leigh Lundin

Many common names today have their roots in long ago medieval trades. This is true of non-English names including French, Germanic, and Jewish names. They’re called occupational names and English examples include:

Bailey
Baker
Barber
Butcher
Butler
Carter
Carver
Chandler
Coleman
Collier
Cooper
Dexter
Dyer
Farmer
Fisher
Fletcher
Forester
Harper
Hooper
Hunter
Mason
Miller
Palmer
Rider
Sawyer
Shepard
Shoemaker
Singer
Skyler
Smith
Spenser
Steward
Tanner
Taylor
Thatcher
Tucker
Turner
Tyler
Weaver
Wheeler

Aptonyms

Many years ago, a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel published what he called ‘aptonyms’, unintentional and usually ironic names that matched (more or less) their occupations, such as Butcher’s Mortuary in Knightstown, Indiana, or Brownie’s Septic Service here in Orlando. In googling today, I see this term has been picked up by others. In fact, there was a Canadian Aptonym Centre. Remember, these few examples are real people and real occupations.

Alex Woodhouse
Brian Coates
Chad Hacker, Jr
Cherish Hart
Chris Fotos
Dan Langstaff
Darin Speed
David Bird
Debi Humann
Dr. Knapp
Dr. Robert Scarr
Ellen Fair
Helen Painter
Janet Moo
Jardin Wood
Jeff Kitchen
Jennifer English
Jessi Bloom
Jim Lawless
Jim Playfair
Joanie Hemm
Joe Puetz
architectural designer
paint company manager
IT professional
American Heart Association
owner of portrait studio
district court bailiff
vintage Mustangs collector
ornithologist
human resources director
anesthesiologist
internal medicine physician
county superior court judge
artist
stockyard packer accountant
arborist for tree care
chef and caterer
H.S. English teacher
landscaping company owner
assistant police chief
hockey coach
leader of sewing program
golf pro

Karl Bench
Kestrel Skyhawk
Kevin Sill
Linda Savage
Lorraine Read
Marvin Lawless
Matt Drumm
Michael Laws
Mike Blackbird
Mike Inks
Nita House
Norm Mannhalter
Penny Coyne
Randall Sinn
Raymond Strike
Robert Marshall
Roch Player
Sandi Cash
Scott Constable
Sonia Shears
Travis Hots
Tyce Tallman
county judge
wildlife center educator
window shop owner
etiquette specialist
bookstore owner
undersheriff
professional percussionist
lawyer
Audubon Society officer
graphic designer
real estate agent
security supervisor
United Way
pastor for Lutheran church
union leader
fire marshal
geotechnical engineer
accountant
policeman
hairdresser
fire department chief
basketball player

Buffoonery

I pay a lot of attention to the names of my characters, origin, ethnicity, sound, and especially meaning. James Lincoln Warren took note of this in my short story ‘English’. I even developed tools to harvest name information from the web and built a database to help pick names.

At one time, I considered writing a childish farce with comedic names. This sort of thing has to be done adeptly because it’s too easy to overshadow the story with distraction. Ian Fleming barely got away with some of his names like Pussy Galore, which easily could be mistaken for a porn star. And the porn industry is quite a catchall for such monikers like Seymour Butts.

A couple of names work best together, e.g, Willie Maquette, Betty Woant. Others sound like someone might unwisely use them in real life, i.e, Sam's Peck 'n' Paw pet shop.

Names and occupations I’ve considered are:

Al Dente
Ben Dover
Billy Reuben
Blanche Nutt
Claude Butts
Jean Poole
Jerry Manders
Kerry de le Gaj
chef
proctologist
has a lot of gall
flapper girl
lion tamer
biologist
politician
concierge

Lotta Goode
Miss Pickle
Papa Bennett
Patty Cache
Percy Flage
Polly Esther
Ruby Lith
Willie Evalurn
charity worker
spinster poisoner
suffers Peyronie's syndrome
clerk
English vaudeville comedian
seamstress
graphic arts designer
incompetent recidivist

In a similar vein, Cate Dowse suggested a pair of kneecapping mob enforcers might be called the Patella brothers. I should explain the underlying words for a few of the above names are rubylith (masking film), persiflage (mocking banter), and mispickel (the mineral arsenic is obtained from).

Following are more I didn’t originate, but with my own thoughts on occupations:

Andover Hand
Anita Job
Ann Thracks
Arthur Itis
Bill Jerome Home
N. Buddy Holme
Faye Slift
Frances Lovely
Helen Earth
Howard I. Kno
Ima Dubble
Jim Nasium
Kareem O’Wheat
Kurt Repligh
mountain climber
headhunter
femme fatale
old codger
contractor
Jehovah’s Witness
model
travel agent
untamed shrew
clueless
twin
fitness trainer
Irish/Muslim cook
radio host

Leah Tard
Lucy Lastick
Lynn O’Leum
M. T. Wurds
Nora Lender Bee
Ollie Luya
Russell Leeves
Scott Linyard
Sid Downe
Sue Flay
Teresa Green
Tobias A. Pigg
Warren Pease
Wayne Dwops
ballerina
lingerie model
flooring salesgirl
salesman
not a borrower
choir singer
landscaper
detective
and shuddup
sous-chef
another landscaper
marketing guru
author
weatherman

What are your names and occupations?

06 July 2013

For Your Amusement Only


by John M. Floyd

Just over a year ago, Rob Lopresti's story "Shanks Commences" appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Besides being a delightful whodunit, Rob's story was even more fun for those of us who were once his co-columnists at the Criminal Brief mystery blog. Why? Because we were characters in his story.

If you didn't see that story, let me explain: Rob gave our names to seven of the main characters in his mystery. He probably enjoyed writing it that way, and we darn sure enjoyed reading it. (Thankfully, the guy with my name didn't turn out to be the murderer.)

This was of course not the first time an author has included friends, family, colleagues, or others in his or her fiction. Bestsellers Nelson DeMille and Elmore Leonard have even turned it into a way to raise money for noble causes. DeMille's most recent novels featured characters with the full names of dozens of real people who, in return for the honor of seeing themselves in his books, made generous donations to charity. Leonard's fans have done the same via auctions.

Namedropping

The first time I used a real person's name for a fictional character was in a story in AHMM called "The Bomb Squad," years ago. At the time I was working with a consultant named Dan Wellborn on a project at a local bank. Dan and I both enjoyed books and movies, and since we had probably spent as much time talking about fictional matters as about work-related matters, I allowed a police chief named Wellborn to head up the city's PD in that story. I got a chuckle out of it, Dan liked it, and I suspect that no one else noticed or cared. It was just an easy way to surprise (and amuse, I hope) a fellow mystery reader.

A few months ago, I needed a name for a fictional island in a story which is featured in the current issue of The Strand Magazine. (Or at least it's supposed to be; I haven't seen the issue yet.) My fellow writer Larry Chavis came to mind, so the boat on which my two main characters meet became the Chavis Island Ferry. I went on to mention the name several more times in the story, even though--once again--I doubt anyone noticed. But I had a good time with it, mostly because it was just fun to insert something real into something imaginary. And to those who might know Larry and know about our friendship, I hope it served as sort of a private joke, a signal that fiction is not, after all, something to be taken too seriously. Like Hitchcock and his cameos.

Even more recently, I included in a Woman's World story an English teacher named Teresa Garver, who is a real person and a good friend although she lives a thousand miles away. Teresa is not really an English teacher but she is an avid fan of WW mysteries--she e-mailed me afterward to say that discovering her part in the story delighted her. (I think she told everyone she knew to go out and buy a copy of the magazine.) The fact that it pleased her made it worth the effort.

For friends' eyes only

Have any of you been the subject of this approach to naming characters or places? Do you approve of it? Have any of you writers used the names of relatives or acquaintances in this way? If so, what were the reactions of the real-life people who experienced the "identity theft"? 

There are probably writers and readers who feel that doing this is silly at best and unprofessional at worst. Their argument would be that it might "suspend disbelief" a bit too much, and distract the reader from the story. That is indeed a risk--but I don't think it's a big one. It's especially harmless if the name you use isn't well known, and/or if the author using it (like me) isn't well known, and/or if the reference is not too obvious, and/or if the story's mood is lighthearted anyway.

On a larger scale . . .

As I'm sure you know, movies and TV shows do this kind of thing all the time, usually as an in-joke. Examples:

- In the recent film Jack Reacher, the cop who gives Reacher back his personal belongings when he gets out of jail is his creator: author Lee Child.

- The seaplane that rescues Indiana Jones from the headhunters in Raiders of the Lost Ark (three years after Star Wars) has the letters OB-CPO printed on its side.


- Sean Connery delivers the very same reply ("But of course you are") in three different movies: Diamonds Are ForeverRising Sun, and The Rock.

- A small replica of R2D2 can be seen welded to the back of the mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

- The teddy bear that Alec Baldwin is holding near the end of The Hunt for Red October (a film by John McTiernan) is the same one that Bruce Willis is holding at the beginning of Die Hard (the next film by John McTiernan).

- In the Bond movie Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan is seen browsing through a book called Birds of the West Indies, which was written by ornithologist James Bond (and which Ian Fleming said was the source of his secret agent's name).

- In an episode of The Avengers shortly after the release of Goldfinger, John Steed receives a postcard from his former colleague Cathy Gale (played by Honor Blackman, who later played Pussy Galore). The postcard is from Fort Knox.

- When the kid in Home Alone 2 walks into the Plaza Hotel, the person he asks for directions is Donald Trump.

- In His Girl Friday, Cary Grant mentions a guy named Archie Leach, which was Grant's real name.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom begins in a Japanese nightspot called Club Obi-Wan.

- In The Last Stand, when sheriff Arnold Schwarzenegger's group is gathering weapons from an armory to confront the bad guys, one of his deputies holds up the same broad sword that Ahhhnald used in Conan the Barbarian.

- The keypad on the laboratory's door lock in Moonraker plays the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

- Danny Glover appears for a moment as a bank robber in the movie Maverick, and he and Mel Gibson exchange a surprised look before the film continues.


I can't speak for all moviegoers, but I love it when things like that happen (which is often), and when I'm alert enough to catch them (which is not often). There are of course many such examples, and I'd like to hear from you about others.

Guilty pleasures

As for stories and novels, the fact that I can occasionally use something that's real and outside the bounds of the story in a piece of fiction that I create . . . well, at times the temptation can be hard to resist. At the very least, it's a way that I can fool myself into thinking I'm doing something subtle and playful and clever.

It's also another way to keep this whole writing thing from being boring--to the reader or the writer.

Anybody out there want to be in my next story?

08 January 2013

What's In A Name?


by David Dean

"What's in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (as if I needed to tell you that).

Easy for Juliet to have said, after all who doesn't know her name?  I often think when I'm writing that all the good names have been taken.  If there's one thing I find vexatious when conjuring up characters it's the naming of them.  I blame Shakespeare and Dickens mostly.  They got all the good ones.  Let's face it, how are you going to top names like Romeo?  You can hardly think of young love and lovers without it popping unbidden into your brain.  As for villainy, how about Iago, or better yet in my book, the obsequious and insinuating Uriah Heep of David Copperfield?  If you give a thought to pick-pockets what name jumps up at you?  The Artful Dodger, perchance?  Indecisiveness--Hamlet, anyone?  Decay and bitterness?  Need I say Miss Havisham?  Need I go on?  Those two guys used up all the good names!  Never mind that they actually had to think them up.  I'm sure any of us could have done it given enough time.

I'm seldom satisfied with the character names I come up with, they're all so ordinary and common.  No Prosperos or Micawbers amongst them.  I blame my generation.  We all had common, ordinary names, nothing special to distinguish us.  Every kid I knew was named David, Ricky, Susan, Rita, Mary, Tommy, Terry, Steve, Laura, Keith.  Of course this was in the era before color was introduced into the world.  Everything was in black and white, so our names had to be suitably bland as well.  We didn't know any better during that gray time and thought it was just fine.  As a result we are name-challenged...or at least I am.

I've tried different tactics with only low levels of success.  In the beginning I worked the names of family into my stories.  It was sort of an inside joke and they seem to get a kick out of it.  But sometimes a name borrowed from one of my kids didn't fit the character I was creating.  Then I was thrown back on my own creativity--not a happy place for me when it comes to names.  So I would sit in front of my computer listlessly staring at a cursor pulsating with impatience for the "name".  Lacking true inspiration I fell into lifting names from the authors of the books stacked up on my desktop.  I would mix and match them.  Clever, no?  No...not particularly.  None of them rose to "Ebenezer Scrooge" status and distinction.  When I penned the suspense-filled actioner, "Tomorrow's Dead", the best name I could come up with for it's rugged protagonist was Byron.  Byron?  I ask ya.  Not even a second cousin to a Mike Hammer, or a Sam Spade.

Mostly, I just stick with the near-generic names of my youth and experience.  A story due out this year features a Terry, another a Helen.  You can see my problem here.  I did kinda go out on a limb with "Mariel" in a recent work--downright exotic for me.  One of the few times I thought I got the name just right for the character.

So these are my trials and travails when it comes to the damnable name game.  Don't even get me started on the more minor characters!  I'm considering going to numerical designations when it comes to them, sort of like the bad guys in a 60's Bond film.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject, as I know from reading many of my fellow SleuthSayers works, no one has this problem but me.  Everyone else is clever at naming.  How about a little support? 

Brother, can you spare a name?  Got some loose monikers on ya?  Hey, don't walk away from me...I know you got a few extra handles in your pocket!

03 December 2012

Cure the Common Cold??


Jan Grape
by Jan Grape

Okay, I guess I really can't complain, I haven't had a cold in ages. Don't even remember the last time. I've made up for it by having a doozy. On Thanksgiving Day I went to the University of Texas football game where there were thousands and thousands of people. However, my interacting with people was limited to the people in the UT Club, courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law who are members. Then it was even more limited to the people who were partaking of the fabulous buffet. But there were still a large number of people any number of whom could have been sharing their cold germs. By last Saturday night, less than 48 hours later my throat was getting sore. Just a little mind you but by Sunday night the throat was raw and the head was stopped up. I had a couple of degrees of fever and felt what could only be described as yucky.

I doctored myself with all my home remedies, Airborne drinks, salt water gargle, sinus medicine, extra vitamin C and by Wednesday the fever was gone and the throat was better and I was on the recovery road. I didn't go out of the house for anything or anyone. Just rested and took care of me. On Thursday evening I needed to go help decorate for a charity event that I'd been involved in since last July. The event was scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30th and was to raise money for the Andy Roddick Foundation. Yes, that super tennis player who lives in Austin. His foundation is building tennis centers for school children and one of the locations is in a small town a few miles down the road from me, but it includes all the small towns and elementary schools in the Hill Country area. Our committee was decorating for a Casino Night Gala to be held in the Lakeside Pavilion in Marble Falls only five miles from my house.

We all worked Thursday evening and knew we need to be back at the pavilion by noon on Friday. On Thursday night late, I realized my cold had moved down to my chest. I wasn't coughing much but just enough to know I probably was losing ground. I ignored it all, could NOT not go help finish the decorations...this was a huge project. And we only had a small number of worker bees. On Friday afternoon I worked as late as I could then rushed home to rest for 15 minutes, then hopped up and dressed in my thirties gun moll best and head over to the gala. It looked fabulous.

We had hired a company who brings roulette, poker and blackjack tables, slot machines and a craps table with all the equipment and dealers and pit bosses needed. We had a silent auction going on with some wonderful items donated for people to bid on and door prizes and donated food and drinks including alcohol. One of our major features besides the gambling was the wonderful musician/singer/songwriter john Arthur martinez and his fantastic Tex-Americana-Mexican-Bluegrass Band. john came in second at the Nashville Star TV show a few years ago. Miranda Lambert, a big country star married recently to another big star, Blake Shelton, came in third. So that lets you know what good company he was in. The winner was a guy named Buddy Jewel.

I helped at the sign-in table taking tickets, greeting the close to two hundred people who attended the $100 per ticket crowd. The tickets included a gaming chip worth $10,000 (only at this event not at any place else.) Then the chips you won you traded in at the end of the evening for tickets which  then were drawn for prizes. The ticket also included all the food and drink, you could also dance or listen to the music, visit with people and bid on the silent auction items, all of which were great items. I made two lovely baskets with copies of my books, 2 small bottles of wine, a package of hot chocolate, a sack of chocolate gold coins and a purple Christmas ornament and donated those for the auction. I also did something this group had never heard of, but authors do it a mystery conventions all the time. I auctioned the right to be named a character in my work in progress. It was a hit and we got a nice price for it.

By the end of the night however I was exhausted and my cold was dragging me down. Still no fever or cough so am hoping I didn't share. I stayed afterwards, helping clean up for as long as I could, and happy because our event was a success and everyone had a good time. Got home and went to bed and stayed there for twelve hours. Didn't sleep solid that  time but slept as much as I could and got some needed rest.

Yet my cold is still with me, I tried not to share it with anyone all week so am still hoping I'll get better soon. I got some new medicine and a refill of another one today. BUT why oh why can't someone come up with a cure for the common cold? Maybe some company needs to offer a ten million dollar prize to the person who cures the cold. If I were rich I'd offer it. If I were a scientist I'd go for it. Until then, try to stay away from germs...they are unhealthy.



ONE FINAL BIG NOTE: Congratulations to our own Robert Lopresti for winning the 2012 Black Orchid's Novella award. Way to go, Rob!!