Thursday, May 31, 2018

Unusual Character Names~~Shake Your Family Tree by Ann Everett

What's in a name? Read on and let Ann's post entertain you. Then leave a comment and maybe you'll score a book. Please welcome our guest, Ann Everett.

Nobody works harder at coming up with unusual names than famous people.  Other than celebrities, who names their kids, Heiress, Audio, Rocket, and Honeyblossom? Weird, right? And—unforgettable.

As authors, we, too, strive to have memorable characters. Not just their personalities, but also monikers. Who can forget Ebenezer, Sherlock, Katniss, and Scout? Granted, those are from super-famous books, but still, we want the names we choose to stand-out—just in case our story hits the big-time.

There are tons of name generator sites. All you have to do is type in (your genre) name generator and Google will show you the way. Need the most popular boy or girl names for a particular year? There are plenty of those on the internet. I have a writer friend who uses dog and cat sites to find bizarre names. I suppose Fleur, Caramel, Magness, and Ammo will work for humans as well as pets.

However, a bit of family research may be all you need to find the perfect name. In my 2011 debut novel, Laid Out and Candle Lit, Saint, Pattiecake, Sugarpie, Synola, and Tizzy are just a few of the characters gracing the pages. One reviewer commented how stupid those names sounded. Guess what? They are all real family members!! Yes, Saint was in my family long before Kim and Kanye came up with it.

Other than checking my heritage, I have two favorite places for reference. Obituaries and cemeteries! Call me morbid, but those sources have a treasure trove of uncommon names. Here are just a few I have in my notebook: (men) Jap, Clete, Early, Tarlton, and Oochie. (Women) Aslin, Nelia, Kelby, Meade, and Swinn.

In my current WIP, Swan and True, take center stage. They aren’t family members, but women I know. They are much, much older than my characters, but their names are timeless. 

Chirp by Ann Everett
A woman hiding from her future…..
Heiress to the largest steel company in America, twenty-year-old, socially awkward Blaze Bledsoe hides out at Dessie Bishop’s farm. For the last three years, Blaze has eluded one investigator after another, but just when she thinks she’s safe, a PI closes in. Her luck is about to run out in more ways than one.
A man running from his past….
Rance Keller, a tough, hard-living ex-con, fresh out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit, arrives to claim the house his grandmother left him. Finding a strange girl living there, his plans for a solitary life take a turn. Her lack of modesty, no filter, and word of the day fetish baffles him, but those big green eyes and sweet mouth have him losing sleep.
Welcome to Bluebird, Texas
Where two damaged people with secrets, discover trust can lead to passion.

Blaze reached room three and referred to the next list: Blue eye shadow. Black mascara. Mauve lip gloss. Enhance beauty mark at corner of mouth.
Only thirty-nine years old, Ginny Elliott had met her demise when her biker boyfriend failed to negotiate a turn. Thank goodness she’d worn a helmet. Camouflaging a mangled face presented a challenge. Being tossed ten feet into the air before landing on the hard pavement had proved too much for the rest of her bones.
Ginny was dressed in a leather jacket and low-cut tank, her voluptuous breasts swelling over the top. Nothing like formaldehyde to pump up a woman’s upper thorax. Blaze tugged at her own T-shirt, conscious of the small boobs she’d been blessed with. Removing the pencil from behind her ear, she scratched out part of the note and made changes.
Proper shading and contouring made women appear pounds lighter and years younger. Once Blaze had finished, Ginny looked like a Harley Harlot. Blaze always regretted the client couldn’t witness the magic. She jotted another message, tucked it into Motorcycle Momma’s pocket, and zipped it. “When you get to heaven, give this to Larkin Montgomery. You’ll recognize her because we look alike.” With only a few pictures for comparison, she wasn’t sure about that. The older she got, the less she remembered about her mother.
With her supplies back in place, Blaze peeked into the hallway. The coast appeared clear. No Cameron waiting to walk her out. Maybe she’d finally been rude enough for him to get the message.
Outside, a sharp February breeze cut at her face, but spring hid right around the corner. Almost time to break up the garden spot. Even though she liked living alone, she missed Dessie. The sweet woman had left the place to her only grandson, but Blaze would never meet him.
Since he was serving a fifteen-year prison sentence. She’d be long gone by the time he showed up. 

Rance stepped outside and followed the aroma of bacon to Bubba’s Diner. Just what he needed after going heels to Jesus all night. He removed his last cigarette and tossed the package into the blue trash barrel at the corner of the building. Really should give up the bad habit, and he would. Later.
It occurred to him, last night’s tag-team event with the BFFs, had fulfilled his goal—fifty-two women in fifty-two weeks. No more pressure. With an early start and few stops, he could make it to Bluebird in one day. Grab a quick breakfast. Crank up the Harley. Hit the road. Couldn’t wait to see the place again. Enjoy the seclusion and relax in his grandmother’s old claw-foot tub. That’s what he loved about the little country town.
Everything remained the same. Never any surprises.

 ****I will be happy to gift a digital copy of “Chirp” to TWO lucky readers who leave a comment.

Are character names important? If so, how do you choose them?


Leah St. James said...

Welcome, Ann! I love your family names! Are you (or is your family) from the south by any chance? Since moving from Jersey to Virginia almost 11 years ago now, I've encountered way more interesting names, both first and last. When I'm reading, I get annoyed at names I have to work at to pronounce, so when selecting character names, I try to make them easy to read. :-) Sometimes they just pop into my head out of nowhere, and I think, Where did that come from?! Other times I scour lists of names by country of origin and find something that means something, or maybe I just like the sound. I've never thought about looking through cemeteries though...great idea! Loved your blurb and excerpt! And the cover is fantastic. Wishing you much success!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Great timing, Ann. I'm revising a book from under my bed and my old character names are milquetoast. I love names you've chosen. I admit one of my novels is full of family names...a Scandinavian setting, Petersburg, Alaska, allowed me to do it. Mallen, Ivar, Harriet, Aage. Loved using them. Thanks for the inspiring post. I've lived with an unusual name...Rolynn...a wild ride.

Jannine Gallant said...

I'd advise odd names in moderation (one or two per book) or you risk comments like the one your reader made. I use an old baby name book, but after over 20 stories, I'm running out of names! I like to play with variations of popular names to make them a little different. Best of luck with your latest book!

Vonnie Davis said...

As a writer, I use the same name generators and web sites you do. Sometimes my editor makes me change them--too old, too odd. As a reader, I don't like to read names I can't pronounce, or don't know how they should be pronounced. They make me stumble every time I come to them and I lose the rhythm of the story. Welcome to the Roses of Prose, by the way. Good luck in this crazy world of writing.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Ann, your ideas for finding names are great. I always picture the character in my head and a name usually comes to me. I once tried to use my son's name, Lance. It really fit my hero. But when the first love scene started, the ick factor exploded. I changed it to Chance. I've regretted some of the blah names I've given a bit player when in another book they become hero or heroine. Your teaser has me hooked!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Character names are as important to a story as setting. Yours are definitely unique. Just be sure you don’t stop the reader. Nice to have you with us at Roses of Prose. Best of luck with your stories.

Diane Burton said...

Welcome. Your post is so interesting. In my mystery series that takes place in west Michigan (where many from The Netherlands settled in the 1800s, I use Dutch last names from my family tree. I combine with with other more familiar first names. I've used many of the baby name sites. Didn't know about the name generator. I could use that for my sci-fi romances. Thanks.