Friday, January 25, 2013

Naming Characters

Naming characters is so much fun!  Except when it's not!  

Sometimes names just appear on the page, as if by magic.  They're perfect.  And by 'perfect' I mean they're appropriately lyrical and hopefully flush with meaning, and also good in bed.  You know, for shouting out while in bed.  

You'd be surprised how many names this eliminates. 

Or heck, I don't know you. Maybe you wouldn't be surprised at all.  That's good with me.

First names are most important, first names and nicknames.  Last names matter less, especially in the middle ages.   For me, last names are like a frame for a picture.  They can do good work--enhance and and highlight and, well, frame--but they're not the work.

One thing I sometimes do when the perfect name doesn't magically appear on the page, is come up with words that are "flush with meaning," but would sound silly in English--like liar or sexy or magic or shapeshifter--then find translations of those words in different languages. 

This can be especially lucrative for last names and nicknames.  Yep, 'lucrative,' because the right name is wealth, isn't it?  As a reader you know that.  The perfect name is worth its weight in gold.

Can you guess which names in any of my books that appeared like magic, and which I had to work at?    
What names of fictional characters have you loved?  Any you hated?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unnecessary Research

I have way too much unnecessary research going on.  And I love it.  Sadly.

I'm working on a couple contemporary novellas, which are a blast, but somehow, I keep finding myself on websites for medieval spice trade, or with a book open that discusses smuggling in the 17th century.

These are not useful research topics for a contemporary story, not unless a character in the books happens to be studying the spice trade or the history of smuggling.  Which my hero and heroine are not.  Although. . . .

Today, I've been researching Elizabethan inventions.   Right?  What am I doing, you ask, wasting precious writing time researching topics for a story I'm not even actively working on right now?  What is wrong with me??

Sadly, I'll know what's wrong with me--I love this stuff.  :)

Stoneware bottle 1830s-1840
Did you know bottled beer was already used by the late 16th century?  They even used expensive glass to do so, although stoneware was also used, and of course, got better and better at the craft.   By the early 1600's century, the practice of bottling beer was already well-established, and the debate was on: which is better, bottled beer of beer from a keg?

Me, I'll drink it all.  

Replica of German pocket watch, 1580
Also, pocket watches.  Need I say more?  Okay, I will.

Sweet, gorgeous, etched and carved pocket watches--with alarms!  The hero in CLAIMING HER so has a pocket watch, and impresses the heroine with it. 

Katarina has been stuck out in her lonely castle beyond The Pale, and did not expect this barbaric Irishman to upend her world, to bring her etched silver and bottles of beer and news from men he called friends, who spoke of reflecting glasses that could see miles away, and the terrifying, exciting notion that God's stars are not fixed in the sky.

So, I guess this is why I waste my time.  Because it lights my fire.

Which maybe doesn't count as wasted time after all.  

Do you have interests that make you "waste your time"?  Spill!

(Note: the pocket watch image above is from:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Excerpt - Deception

As I mention on the website, my most recent release, Deception, isn't what you might expect going into a medieval romance.  It's more suspense-y and thriller-y (I hope!)

It's less about knights and chases across the countryside, and more about cons.  And dirty money.  And the powerful men who want it, and the lengths they'll go to get it.

And of course, the person who will risk everything to stop them.

I thought you might enjoy a little excerpt!


The hero, Kier, has returned to his lodgings after a meeting that set his plans of revenge in motion, a sword fight with a brigand who stole an important piece of documentation, and an unexpected, heart-stopping encounter with Sophia, the woman he once loved, then abandoned, many years ago.  She was not happy to see him. 

 Suffice it to say, he's had a bad day. 

He's back in his rooms, about to undress and fall into bed, when he realizes Sophia is here, in the shadows of his bedroom. 

She's got a blade in her hand and the devil in her eye, and she wants something Kier has no intention of giving: into his schemes.


Excerpt (c)

"...let us be clear, Kier," she added in a low voice.  "You did not find the ledger. I did."
            He leaned back and interlaced his fingers, considering her. "Now that is indeed a thing of note, Sophia.  You went directly to the coffer where [your father's old] ledger was housed.  The question is: how?
            She leaned forward, the yellow silk pressing atop the dark wood [of the table.]  "How badly do you want to know?"
            He shifted his gaze away, to the dark night outside the window.  Still, from the corner of his eye, she glowed at him, yellow silk and burnished hair. 
            "Are you offering me something Sophia?" he asked in a slow drawl, but his body was hardening, readying.  For a battle, for trickery, for passion, it hardly mattered; Sophia was all those things.  He was readying for her.
            "I am offering to help, Kieran," she replied, rounding his name as no one else in England did, as no one had for years--CiarĂ¡n--and in it he heard wild, sea-sprayed lands he'd not seen for half his life. He pushed it away with an almost physical shove.
            "No."  He shook his head.  "Sophia, even if you once had some useful knowledge about the [Darnly] ledger, you no longer do."
            "And thus, I am of no use to you," she said, her voice cold and brittle.
            "None at all," he agreed, ignoring the way he had to force his mouth to form the words.  It was like chewing sap.
            They stared at each other down the length of the table.
            "That is unfortunate, Kier, for I am not leaving."  She made an impatient gesture.  The blade tip swiped through the air. He watched its wild arc.  She was getting careless.  Reckless. Angry.
            "Perhaps you should set down the blade, Sophia."
            She narrowed her eyes.  "No."
            He pushed to his feet.  She scrambled up too, so quickly she sent the bench skidding backward.  He started down the length of the table toward her.  She skirted around the far end.
            "We are finished here, Sophia," he announced, coming after her.
            "But Kier, you have not considered--"
            "I have considered everything."  She slid up the length of the other side of the table, staying exactly opposite him.  "You do not have the ledger.  You have no money, no useful information, and furthermore, you have been seen."
            "As have you."
            He stopped short. "Pardon?"
            "I have seen you."
            He blinked at the veiled...threat?  Was she threatening him?
            He flushed cheeks reflected candlelight but her fierce eyes did not waver.  "I have seen you, Kier," she repeated softly.  "How much do you think such knowledge would be worth to the men who you betrayed?  To the king?"
            “You would not,” he said slowly.
            She nodded, just as slowly.  “I most certainly would.”
            They stared across the table at each other.  He waited.  And waited.  Waited until her arm wavered, lowered the slightest inch.  Then he leapt atop the table, grabbed hold of her wrist and yanked the blade, with her arm attached, halfway across the table to him.           
            She lay there, chest across the polished tabletop, hair scattered in sprays of dark fire, their mouth inches apart.
            “Ever were you my sinking ship, Sophia,” he growled.
            Her green eyes were fierce and bright.  “And ever were you the rocks upon which we crashed.”
            A knock hammered at the door..........


Hope you enjoyed!

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