Monday, July 17, 2017

What's In a Name?: How to Come Up with the Perfect Name for Your Character

Indiana Jones. Bilbo Baggins. Mary Poppins. Victor Frankenstein.

Now, do you think their stories would be quite as grand if their names were Robert Jones or Mary Smith? Maybe… but I bet you wouldn’t remember those characters quite as clearly.

Particularly when you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi, naming your character is paramount. This is something, I’ll admit, I harp upon when acting as a beta reader. So, I’d like to formally apologize for any vicious tirades on which I may have gone concerning poorly-chosen character names:




Right, now that that’s out of the way…

Your characters are your babies. People agonize over what they’re going to name their child. Such care should go into naming your characters, as well, and yes: I mean every character.

Someone asked me recently how I named my characters, and the question stuck with me so much, that I decided I needed to write a whole post on the topic. There are a few things I take into consideration.



1. The character’s personality. This one is obvious, but I think it’s one of those things that’s so obvious that people sometimes overlook it. A character’s name is an extension of their personality.  It helps cement the character in the reader’s mind. So, the first thing I do is look at the character’s personality. Let’s use Iago Wick as an example (because he so loves being the center of attention).

“Iago” comes from Shakespeare’s villain in Othello, of course. I found that appropriate since Iago spends his days tempting humans and manipulating them. His last name references a candle wick, in addition to the word “wicked” but it's also a very quick and biting word. The word "wick" is sharp with a percussive final consonant. That reflects Iago’s quick wit and rather sharp nature. His name conveys a lot about him through literary allusions and overall sound—almost like a little mini biography.

2. The tone of the story. If you’re Terry Pratchett and you’re writing a Discworld novel, then a clockmaker named Jeremy Clockson (a nod, of course, to British personality Jeremy Clarkson) is a great idea. If you’re writing a particularly humorous tale and you want to name your hunky love interest Matt Goodflesh, then, more power to you. However, punny names can hurt your character if you’re writing something a little more serious. I always take the tone of the piece into mind when naming characters.

3. Say it out loud—over and over again. When you’re writing, you may be months into a project before you ever actually say a word about it. Sure, you think and write and type every day, but your character’s name has to look good on paper AND sound good out loud. So, say it out loud. Some of my personal rules (feel free to break these for your own purpose—this is just me):

- Nothing that rhymes too much.

- Nothing that’s too close to another character’s name.

- Must have nice prosody—that is the rhythm and musicality of the name.

- If I mess up saying it more than three times, it’s out. If you can’t say your character’s name, how is your reader going to say it? Don’t get too complicated.

4. Part of your world. When you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy, you may be writing about other worlds and perhaps those worlds have their own language or idea of aesthetic. Always take that into account. It’s going to stand out like a sore thumb if you’ve crafted this beautiful otherworldly language… and then your otherworldly main character is named Mike. Really put some thought into what certain words and syllables mean in your world. What makes a name beautiful? What makes a name suitable for a villain? I love getting into the linguistics, and it will give your readers a richer experience, too.

I often use old and underused names in The Lovelace & Wick Series. It adds flavor but also keeps us firmly rooted in the pseudo-steampunk 1890s world in which the stories take place.

5. Don’t rely too much on name meaning sites. I mean this. Seriously. I’ve seen people spend HOURS of precious writing time on name meaning sites and still come up with only an average name for their character. (If they come up with a name at all! Sometimes the name meaning site—bloated with questionable ads and pop-ups—swallows the poor author whole and we never see them again.)

Honestly, though, the meaning of the name can be flavor, but I wouldn’t go in too deep. This is mostly because the average reader doesn’t know the meaning of the name Kate or Allie or Jeffrey or Quentin. While it might mean something to you, that’s not being conveyed to the reader, and at the end of the day, the reader’s perception is paramount.

A character’s name is precious. It’s a key part of them, and you love your characters, right? Well, do them a favor and give them a name that will make them proud! Shout it from the rooftops! (Maybe not. Don’t want to alarm the public officials.)

What about you, writers? How do you name your characters? And readers: what makes a good character name in your eyes? What’s your favorite?

Cheers!
Jenny

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen comes out August 4th... but you can get it now for FREE

Greetings, everyone!

The last few weeks have truly taught me the meaning of the phrase "keep on truckin'."

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I found myself suddenly needing to move the second week of June. A move? I thought. Now? Fortunately (and thanks to the help of some great people), I found a beautiful apartment that was close to work. My boyfriend and I could not be happier with the place (oh, I cannot wait to share images of my new writing space), but it was still quite a haul to move one town over on such short notice!

The last few days, with a holiday on the horizon, have been dedicated to getting back into my writing rituals. I'm about 85% of the way through the first edit of Binding Dante Lovelace, the second book in The Lovelace & Wick series...

...but fortunately, dear readers, you don't have to wait for another adventure with Mr. Wick and Mr. Lovelace.

"Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen," a Lovelace & Wick Short Story, will be released officially on August 4th, but you can get it now for FREE here at Instafreebie.


As a demon, Iago Wick has made quite a career out of conjuring mischief and mayhem in the name of Hell, but this time, perhaps he’s gone a bit too far.

After deliberately foiling the plans of a spoiled vampire—all in the name of fun, really!—Iago discovers that the vampire in question is no ordinary bloodsucker. She’s the newly-appointed matriarch of one of the oldest vampire families in America, and she’s very angry.

Soon, Iago is caught in a war with the vampires and their cyborg servants. Will he settle his score with the clan of bloodsuckers or will Iago find himself at the mercy of the Vampire Queen? What precisely is the matter with those strange cybernetic servants, anyway? And most importantly, will Iago ever get the smell of garlic out of his clothes?

So, grab it while you can. It will be available until July 31st!

A very happy holiday to my American readers,
Jenny

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cover & Blurb Reveal: Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen



As a demon, Iago Wick has made quite a career out of conjuring mischief and mayhem in the name of Hell, but this time, perhaps he’s gone a bit too far.

After deliberately foiling the plans of a spoiled vampire—all in the name of fun, really!—Iago discovers that the vampire in question is no ordinary bloodsucker. She’s the newly-appointed matriarch of one of the oldest vampire families in America, and she’s very angry.

Soon, Iago is caught in a war with the vampires and their cyborg servants. Will he settle his score with the clan of bloodsuckers or will Iago find himself at the mercy of the Vampire Queen? What precisely is the matter with those strange cybernetic servants, anyway? And most importantly, will Iago ever get the smell of garlic out of his clothes?

Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen is a 17,500-word short story prequel to The Lovelace & Wick Series.

--

I'm positively delighted to present the cover and blurb for Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen! Those who follow my newsletter, Of Demons & Discourse, have already seen it, but this is its official reveal to the rest of the world.

Stay tuned for the official release date--those who follow Of Demons & Discourse will receive the short story for free.

Until next time!
Jenny


Friday, May 26, 2017

Of Demons and Discourse (and Bigfoot?)

Last weekend, I attended The Ohio Bigfoot Conference.

To answer the question that is, without a doubt, on your mind: no, I didn't see him.

I did, however, get to spend the night at the gorgeous Salt Fork Lodge. This was my view from the room's balcony:



See? Not a single sasquatch, bigfoot, grass man or skunk ape in sight! (I did see a drone spying on me, at one point, but no hairy ape men.) However, it did lend some fantastic scenery to Sunday's early morning writing session.

Besides sitting in on lectures about Bigfoot, I've been hard at work promoting The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, preparing a short story, Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen, for a summer release and writing the second draft of the next book in the series, Binding Dante Lovelace. (Occasionally, I find time to sleep.) I'm discovering that Mr. Wick and Mr. Lovelace still have quite a lot to say. Their adventures will soon take them beyond Marlowe, Massachusetts. Much to Mr. Wick's chagrin, there will be witches.

If you'd like to stay up to date on my writing, and receive exclusive info, book recommendations, freebies and other assorted bits and bobs, be sure to sign up for Of Demons & Discourse, my official newsletter. The first issue will be out in June.


Until next time!

Jenny




Thursday, April 13, 2017

Demons and vampires and cyborgs, oh my!

Oooh, look! A fancy title card.
The Last Temptations of Iago Wick has been released for a little over a month now. Thank you to everyone who has supported the book so far.

So, to answer question number one (because I've gotten this several times now!): YES, Iago Wick is the first book in a series. This series will not only include other books, but short stories. I've been calling it The Lovelace & Wick Series, since those gentleman demons will be the focus of each installment. These characters have really taken me by surprise. They have so much to say! (Iago, in particular, truly does not know when to shut up.)

I'm taking this opportunity to announce the next publication, a long-short story/short novella, titled Iago Wick and The Vampire Queen. Yes, we're pairing demons with vampires because that always ends spectacularly, right? This story has been an absolute blast to write. It takes place just months before The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, and it's been a joy to further explore Marlowe, Massachusetts. I won't say too much yet, but I will say this: there are cyborgs.

Also, I've completed a draft of the next novel in the series. This novel will focus more upon Iago's partner in crime, Dante Lovelace and sees Dante and Iago teaming up with a crafty witch named Beatrice (much to Mr. Wick's chagrin).

Keep an eye out for the cover reveal of Iago Wick and The Vampire Queen soon. In the meantime, if you haven't picked up The Last Temptations of Iago Wick yet, it's only 99 cents on Amazon.

Cheers!
Jenny

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pinterest + Writing: Aesthetic Boards

I must confess, I have a Pinterest addiction.

Of course, I use the site to track recipes and fashion and vacation ideas, but I also adore using it to create boards for my books.







The Beldam's Eye deals with ghost hunters in rural Ohio, cursed objects and the spirits tied to those objects. One of my favorite things to do is to explore the haunted places in the state of Ohio, and so it's been fun to pin some of the places I've actually visited before! Key scenes also take place in the Hocking Hills region of the state, so I've added a few pictures from those trails. This board makes me want to travel every time I look at it! In these photos, you can see an eerie passageway from Old Man's Cave and also Moonville Tunnel (bottom right, second image), which has been featured on some television shows. My understanding is that the scariest thing at Moonville Tunnel is actually the number of copperhead snakes you'll encounter, but I've never been brave enough to trek out there!







Meanwhile, The Last Temptations of Iago Wick is the story of a demon in late 19th century Massachusetts. There are some Gothic and Lovecraftian elements to the book, and so a lot of my pins for this board convey that sort of atmosphere. There are also some elements of Steampunk in the book, and I've had fun incorporating that into the board, as well. So, why the cake? Well, Iago Wick likes cake. It is one of the few human indulgences he allows himself, so this board doubles as a place to collect cake recipes, both modern and period-appropriate!

But I haven't even mentioned my favorite part of the Iago Wick board...



The clothing! Mr. Wick is a very snazzy and theatrical dresser, but I've had so much fun finding clothing inspiration for all of the characters.

So, how about you, gentle reader? Do you make aesthetic boards for your favorite books or WIPs? Let's chat in the comments! And you can check out the aforementioned boards by clicking on the title links above.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Last Temptations of Iago Wick is now available!


Just a quick note today! The Last Temptations of Iago Wick is now available for Kindle and Paperback. You can buy it here:



Summary:

For centuries, Iago Wick has meddled in the affairs of Man for the benefit of Hell—and had a damnably good time doing it. As one of two resident demons in eerie Marlowe, Massachusetts, he’s claimed some of the foulest souls for Hell’s legions. Now, with the twentieth century approaching, Iago is ending his tenure as a master of temptation and mischief. His final assignment pits him against The Fraternal Order of the Scarab, a society as secret as it is exceptionally unpleasant.

Enter Thomas Atchison, the mysterious and ruthless inventor-turned-demon hunter with a burning desire to obliterate Iago—how charming. They are quickly thrown into an exciting game of cat and mouse. With the help of his partner, Dante Lovelace, Iago endeavors to topple The Order and unlock the secrets of Atchison’s shadowy past. 

What is Thomas Atchison hiding behind that frigid exterior? Will Iago succeed, or will Atchison conquer clever Mr. Wick?