Book four in my Silver Linings romance series is now available! Here are the links:
I was scrolling Instagram the other day and came across a post about choosing character names. There are many ways to go about choosing character names. Often, a writer wants the name to represent a certain type of personality or specific personality traits. Sometimes it’s about name origin and keeping all of the names within the same one. Or the name needs to fit in a genre (this is very common in fantasy works) or time period. Sometimes a name is simply one the writer likes. I could go on and on.
That post got me thinking about the names of my characters. I’ve been writing since I was a kid so I have used various reasons/methods for picking a name for a specific character. In this post, I’m going to focus on my main characters for my current contemporary romance series to illustrate the importance of character names.
Full disclosure: I did not choose any of my characters’ names in the Silver Linings series. The characters chose them themselves. (Yes, that happens too!) The only request I had was the name had to begin with a specific letter.
Since I didn’t choose them myself and gave absolutely no thought to them, I decided to look up their meanings. I was pretty shocked to find they are pretty much all on point. I guess my characters know what they’re doing.
Here’s what I found:
Dylan = ‘son of the sea.’ My thoughts: Poor Dylan. His path is definitely a stormy one that is easily affected by outside forces. When things are going great, he floats along happily. When things get a little rough, he has to swim a little harder against the currents. Unfortunately, sometimes he finds himself getting sucked under and life threatens to drown him. (Keep swimming, D, you got this.)
Erin = ‘green water.’ My thoughts: Water again? Interesting, especially since she and Dylan both battle depression. I don’t know what to make of ‘green’ though. Maybe because her depression isn’t as bad as Dylan’s and therefore, has more algae because of more sunlight? Haha. That is probably reaching but hey, it sounds somewhat plausible, doesn’t it?
I decided to go a little deeper and look up the meaning of the color green: life, renewal, energy, growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility. Now that changes things a bit, doesn’t it? Erin yearns to bring the Sexton brothers back together, to help them become a family again. She also gives them new purpose, the ‘energy’ if you will, to overcome their struggles. She’s given them a ‘life’ again. She continues to help them ‘grow’ every day.
Spencer = dispenser of provisions, a butler. My thoughts: A butler is a type of servant. Spencer has been a ‘servant’ of sorts for both the Mitchell and the Cisco families. He made both families a lot of money, as well as carried out other orders (we don’t know much about this because the details of his involvement with Kyle haven’t been discussed). Spencer also arrived in Lakeford when Erin needed his help battling depression after her parents died. Again, he was ‘serving’ someone else’s needs.
Amber = amber. My thoughts: Let’s think about how amber is formed. Basically, amber is a fossilized form of tree resin hardened by high pressure and temperature over time. Character-wise, Amber starts out as soft and kind of going with the flow until BAM! She finds herself under a lot of stress and forced to become ‘hardened’ to the pressures of life. Sounds pretty accurate to me. Amber is definitely a lot tougher than when we originally met her.
Carolyn = strength. My thoughts: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, someone has to be strong to survive the Mitchell family, right? Not to mention she’s somehow managed to make the best of her life after being abandoned by her father.
Not only is Carolyn strong for herself but she makes her friends stronger. She encourages them, supports them, and even gives them the push that they need sometimes. It’s this quality/energy that draws people to her.
Eli = ascent, uplifted, high. My thoughts: Okay, whenever I think of ascension, I can’t help but think of God or other celestial beings. This is kind of fitting because Eli seems (so far) to be all-knowing. He always seems to have the best advice and has all the answers to everyone’s troubles. I wouldn’t go as far to call him God-like exactly, but he does have similar qualities. Maybe it would be more fitting to think of him as an angel? A guardian angel who has been assigned with the task of watching over the Sexton brothers perhaps?
Trevor = homestead, settlement. My thoughts: Oh, wow. Trevor is the main reason Dylan settled down! This kid is Dylan’s anchor. Dylan is no longer just drifting through life. This doesn’t just apply to Dylan but Spencer as well. Trevor helped bring the two brothers together by making them a family again and giving them a home again as well. (Man, I do love this kid.)
Lindsay = a lake; a place of linden trees. My thoughts: Water again. (I’m going to come back to this later.) But not just water, a lake. A lake is calming and steady. Lindsay represents stability. She’s calm and collected, perfect traits for someone working in the mental health field. She provides both Spencer and Evan with stability when their lives are spinning out of control around them. But under that calm exterior are unknown depths.
A Linden tree is a type of lime tree. In many mythologies, it is considered sacred and is a meeting place for the community to get together to discuss issues and make important decisions. Lindsay leads several group therapy sessions for addicts. (Again, this was not planned!! I was as shocked as you probably are right now.)
The linden tree has been linked to the Goddess of Fate and also Freya, the Goddess of Love and Truth.
(Wow. I was speechless. Lindsay knew what she was doing when she chose her name.)
Okay, moving on …
Nicholas = victory of the people. My thoughts: Nick is always trying to look out for those he cares about. His main goal in life is to protect. His methods might be questionable at times, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family and friends safe. When someone he cares about is threatened, he doesn’t hesitate to bend/break rules or toss his morals aside. He is willing to become a monster to save others. [Side note: I didn’t want him to be Nicholas but he demanded it. I tried to talk him into Nathaniel but he shot that down within seconds. By the way, Nathaniel means ‘god’ or ‘gift of God.’]
Evan = young warrior; right-handed. My thoughts: Well, he is right-handed. (Haha.) He is also the second born and second in command at the family company, which could make him Nick’s right-hand man?
When I first saw the words ‘young warrior’ I legit snorted. Young warrior? Evan? Whatever. He has spent his whole life being complacent. There is no way he is warrior material. But then I made myself really think about his journey. In actuality, we only get to the beginning it in Fool’s Paradise. I can’t go into much detail because the book hasn’t been released yet, but I can say this: Evan still has a long fight ahead of him, one I’m not sure will ever end. So maybe he is a warrior after all. (I humbly stand corrected.)
Rebecca = to tie firmly, snare, noose, beautifully ensnaring. My thoughts: This one could not be more perfect! Rebecca uses her beauty to ‘ensnare’ men. This name meaning is especially fitting when it comes to her relationship with Spencer. She ‘ties’ him to his past, keeping him from being able to move on or grow. Rebecca also keeps her brothers ‘tied’ together in their need to protect her. She is the only girl and they work together to keep her safe. [Side note: I tried to convince her to be Rachel but like her brother, she was not having it. Rachel means ‘sheep’, by the way.]
Kyle = a narrow, straight channel. My thoughts: When I think of ‘narrow’ and ‘straight’, I think of perfect lines. There is nothing linear about Kyle Mitchell. Nothing. Honestly, I had to take a day or say to think about this one. Surely there was some reason he insisted on this name, right? There had to be more to it. There’s always more to Kyle than meets the eye. And then I realized that’s exactly the point. Kyle is the opposite of linear. He’s all over the place. You never know what to expect from him. He likes to keep everyone guessing. Maybe he wanted this name to try to confuse everyone and throw people off?
And then I realized that at his core, Kyle is very ‘narrow’ minded. Once he gets an idea into his head that is all he can think about. There is no changing his mind. In addition, his way of thinking, his driving force is one thing. One. You can’t get much narrower than that, I don’t think.
Okay, now back to the whole water thing. First of all, let’s stop and think about the setting of the first book. Lakeford, Virginia. What is a lake made out of? Water. I swear I did not even make the connection until I was halfway through writing this post. Three of my main characters have names meaning water. What?! How did that even happen? Wait, it gets better. Second, think about those characters: Dylan, Erin, and Lindsay. What do those three characters have in common? Spencer. (Again, this was completely unintentional on my part. And seeing it now is kind of blowing my mind.) Spencer has essentially surrounded himself with people who represent water. Hmm, what does this mean?
Let’s take a look at the symbolism of water. Water can represent many things to different cultures and religions but here is a short list: life, motion, renewal, blessing, intuition, reflection, subconscious, fertilization, purification, and transformation.
In regards to Spencer, several of these stand out to me. Life, motion, renewal, reflection, purification, and transformation. He desperately needs all of these in his life. He wants to start over and leave his past behind (renewal and transformation). He needs to keep fighting his addiction (motion, reflection, purification). Dylan is his example that it is possible to overcome the struggles life has given him (reflection).
I could go on and on about this but I think you get the picture. I find it fascinating that the three people he relies on during various times of his life (usually the most tumultuous) all represent water. And he continues to rely on them for strength and to help him grow into the person he wants to be. (Let’s face it, Spencer is probably the most immature character out of the entire line up. He has a lot of growing up to do still. What helps things grow? Water. Just saying.)
One more note because I have to point it out. Purification. Spencer wants desperately to cleanse himself of his past and the mistakes he’s made. He turns to his brother, a friend, and a mental health counselor for that. (He’s trying, God love him. He’s trying. We’re supporting you, Spence!)
Okay, I’m done with the whole water thing now.
I hope I haven’t bored you with all of this. I know sometimes I find things interesting that others don’t, and I can get a little wordy at times. But I guess if you’re still reading you must have found this whole naming thing somewhat intriguing.
Feel free to comment with your own opinions about character names.
Now I will let you get back to your lives. Thanks for reading!
Silver Linings is now available in paperback on Amazon. Click on the link below to order your copy today!
Spencer watched from the corner of the room as Erin moved from person to person refilling their glasses as needed along the way. Her smile brightened even more when Dylan hugged her around the waist and whispered in her ear. All around them their friends and family, dressed in festive green and red, mingled and laughed. Spencer hadn’t realized how much he’d missed being able to celebrate the holidays with his brother. It felt good. Normal.
His eyes found Amber, and he smiled. Almost instantly, she looked up and met his eyes across the room. Tilting her head slightly, her eyes silently asked him if everything was okay. He knew she still worried about his drinking whenever they were at gatherings like this. His smile broadened and he sent her a reassuring wink.
“Hey there, brother,” Dylan said, appearing at his side. “How’s it going?”
“I’m good. This is nice.”
With a nod, Dylan looked around the room at all of their friends and family. “Do you ever wonder where we would be right now if we hadn’t come here?”
“Hell no,” he scoffed. “I don’t even want to think about that. I know I didn’t exactly make it easy for you when we first moved, but I’m glad you forced me to come here.” Smiling, he turned and elbowed Dylan in the ribs. “Thank you.”
Returning the playful jab, Dylan chuckled. “You’re welcome. Sometimes I know what I’m doing I guess.”
“Don’t sell yourself so short. You’re better at this parenting thing than you think.”
Dylan smirked. “You wouldn’t have said that a couple of years ago.”
“Maybe not out loud.” He grinned. “You’re welcome, by the way.”
He pointed to Trevor, who was currently engaged in an empty wrapping paper tube sword fight with Rick. “Helping to prepare you for when that one becomes an angsty teenager.”
Dylan groaned. “What have I gotten myself into?”
Spencer shrugged. “You think that’s bad, wait until you and Erin have a kid? Can you imagine how stubborn that kid will be, especially a girl?”
Eyes wide, his brother looked at him. “Oh, god. I’m not going to survive this am I?”
“Sure you are.” He draped his arm across Dylan’s shoulders. “I’ll be here to help you out.”
Returning the gesture, Dylan smiled, “You’d better be.”
“Nowhere else I’d rather be. Merry Christmas, brother.”
“Merry Christmas, Spence.”
-Carolyn concentrated on squeezing out just the right amount of icing for the gingerbread cookie she was decorating. This batch was going to be her contribution to Dylan and Erin’s upcoming Christmas party, so she wanted them to be perfect.
Footsteps alerted her to someone entering the kitchen. She knew it was Jared. He always showed up when she was baking. Without looking away from her task, she said, “Don’t you dare.”
“What?” he asked innocently.
“You know what. These are for the party.”
“Oh, come on,” he whined, reminding her of how he used to beg his mom for cookies as a kid. “Just one. They won’t even know.”
Biting back a smile, she focused on creating a smooth, even line. “There!” She smiled brightly as she stood up. “That’s the last one.”
When she looked at him triumphantly, she saw he was chewing. “Jared Benjamin Grayson! What did I say?”
“What?” he mumbled around the mouthful of cookie. “It was an ugly one.”
“Excuse you. None of my cookies are ugly.”
He shrugged a shoulder. “I just wanted to make sure they taste good.”
Crossing her arms, she shook her head. Some things never changed. Sighing, she said, “You’re supposed to be shopping today.”
His face scrunched into a grimace. “I need your help.”
Of course he did. Every year was the same. He always came to her for help buying Erin’s gift. As she untied her apron, she sighed. “You know, one day you’re going to have to do this on your own. She’s your sister. How hard can it be to find something she likes?”
They both knew she was going to give in and help him. She always did. Shopping together for Erin had become their tradition. They’d been doing it since they were kids, and she secretly looked forward to it every year. But she had to keep up the annoyed act. It was part of the tradition.
“I just want it to be special,” he grumbled, his mouth turning down in a pout.
“Fine,” she said. “I have to put these cookies away, but they need time to set first.”
His face brightened. “Thanks, Care, you’re the best.” He wandered over to the kitchen table and opened a tin. “Hah! Found it!”
She chuckled as she watched him bite into a piece of tiger butter fudge. Knowing it was his favorite thing his mother used to make for him, she made a point to make it every year.
When he turned to her, his eyes were glassy. “Thank you, Care.”
The emotion in his voice caused her own throat to thicken. She nodded. “You’re welcome.”-
-Partially covered by a blanket, Erin was stretched out on the sofa with a book resting on her chest. One slender hand held the book, while the other rested on the sofa’s arm behind her dark head. She was so engrossed in the story, she didn’t notice him.
Dylan paused, leaning against the doorframe, to appreciate the sight of her simply being here. His throat thickened as he thought about just how lucky he was to be loved by her. He’d struck gold with her. Hell, platinum even. He didn’t deserve her, not by a long shot, yet here she was. There was still a part of him that thought she could do better, but for whatever reason she’d chosen him. That fact still amazed him every single day.
She shifted, turning her head so her mocha eyes found him. “What are you doing?”
He smiled. “Just standing here loving you.”
Heat crept into her cheeks as she rolled her eyes. “Get over here, stalker, so I can love you back.”
Grinning now, he pushed away from the doorframe and moved to join her on the sofa. Plucking the book from her hand, he tossed it to the floor.
“Hey!” she protested.
He quieted her with a kiss.-
Silver Linings Book 4: I still haven’t decided on a title just yet, but I am looking at about 55,000 words so far. It’s getting there! I just need to get the ending right. Everything I’ve tried hasn’t quite fit, and let me tell you, when you delete 15,000+ words over and over again it takes a toll on you. It has been very disheartening, but I know it will get there. Right now, Evan Mitchell is not cooperating. (Go figure, right? He is a Mitchell after all.) My goal is to get this one to you early-ish in the upcoming year.
New Standalone: This is a friends to lovers story. Since it is still a very rough, incomplete draft, I don’t want to give out too many details. Everything could change A LOT before its release. I can tell you it is sitting at about 60,000 words so far and I have a working title. This one has been draining. In fact, I had recently decided to scrap the whole thing. (Gasp!) Yesterday, the characters and I had a heart-to-heart and they convinced me not to give up on them just yet. (Whew!) I’m not sure when I will get this one to you yet. It needs a lot of work still.
Silver Linings Book 5: (Say what?) Don’t ask my how it happened, but I’ve actually written several chapters for this one already. Some characters are impatient and don’t know how to wait their turn I guess. Although I must admit that I’m anxious for them to finally get their happy ending. (And I’m pretty sure you are, too.)
Of course I have multiple ideas jotted down for future stories, but I need to finish these first. I am hoping 2019 will be better for me, writing wise. This past year was a whirlwind and I honestly have no idea where the time went!
March 5th – 11th is Read an E-book Week at Smashwords.com! For this week only, Smashwords is offering discounts on e-books published on their website.
During this promotion, Silver Linings and Catch Perfect are FREE and Masquerade is 50% OFF! Visit my Smashwords page now to take advantage of this opportunity now! Enter promo code SFREE at checkout to get Silver Linings and Catch Perfect for FREE! Enter promo code RAE50 at checkout to get Masquerade for 50% OFF.
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Happy reading everyone!
Some writers create lists and outlines before they start writing, so they know exactly what is going to happen and when in their story. Then there are those who start writing with only a general idea of what they want to happen.
I am the latter, the writer who gets an idea and runs with it without much preparation at all. Don’t get me wrong, I have a rough timeline of events to follow (mainly in my head), but for the most part I fly by the seat of my pants. In the writing world, I am what you would call a pantser.
I wish I could be a plotter (aka a planner). A plotter gets an idea for a book, sits down and starts jotting down his or her thoughts and ideas. These thoughts are then organized into a timeline of events that eventually develops into an organized outline. Voila! The entire plot is planned out.
When I see pictures of these outlines on writing blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. I am envious. I wish I could do that. I want to do that. I love lists! I use a bullet journal to plan out my days, so using an outline should be natural for me, right? So when it was time to work on my new book, I decided to try it.
As I pumped myself up, I sat down and created an outline. I planned everything out from beginning to end. Ideas flowed effortlessly from pen to paper. Yes! I was doing it. I was being a plotter! It was great.
Until I finished.
After hours of hard work late into the night and early morning, the whole story was all laid out in front of me. I was so proud of myself I gave myself a few days to bask in the glory of my completed outline. Most of the hard work was already done, I thought. Filling in the rest would be easy, I thought. But when I finally sat down at my computer to get started, I hit a wall. Hard. I’m talking about what-is-happening-who-am-I-what-are-words hard.
I was blocked.
[Insert whiny toddler voice here] But why? I had an outline. Everything was right there! Unfortunately, all motivation to write the story was gone. In my mind, it was already written. Although it was it outline form, every twist and turn stared up at me from the page. I knew how, when, and where everything was going to happen. Which was a good thing! At least this is what I told myself.
After yet another pep talk, I forced myself to sit down and write. It was hard. For months I struggled. So much so that I had to put it on the back burner and work on something else for a bit. When I came back to it, I continued to struggle, but I was not going to give up.
Things got a little bit better as I adjusted to following a written timeline of events. I could do this. Then another problem arose. A big one. The story kept veering away from the original plot. Now, as a panster, I would just roll with it and see where the story ended up, but I wasn’t writing like a pantser this time. No detours, I lectured myself. Follow the plan.
So I did. At least I tried. [Again, insert whiny voice.] It was so hard! And it only became more and more difficult to stay the course as my characters began to develop.
Okay fine. The story could change a little, and I would simply modify the outline as this happened. No big deal. A little change here, a minor tweak there. Enter the snowball effect. Suddenly everything was changing, which meant I was spending just as much time on revising the outline as I was actually writing. I was doing double the work! That’s exactly what it felt like, too. Work. Frustration set in. I was tired of it all. I didn’t want to do it anymore.
It was time to admit this wasn’t working, but I’m hard headed. I wanted this to work. I spent so much time working on this outline I had to use it! Not ready to give up, I trudged along, trying to make it work, but finally conceded. I ditched the outline, scrapped the almost 20,000 words I’d written, and started from scratch, this time letting the story come naturally. Instead of resisting the sudden detours from the original plan, I embraced them.
Bingo. The words were flowing, the characters were evolving, and things were happening, expected and unexpected. It was wonderful. It felt natural. It was fun again.
I’m a panster. I enjoy seeing where the story will go once the characters come to life and take control. I like not knowing exactly how they are going to get from point A to point B to point C in the plot. I want to be just as surprised, worried, etc. as my readers. It might not work for everyone, but it works for me.
Am I upset that I wasted so much trying to be something I’m not? No. Okay, maybe a little, but I’m glad I tried being plotter because it reaffirmed who I really am. A fly by the seat of her pants kind of gal. And I’m okay with that.
Whether you’re a panster, plotter, or a bit of both doesn’t really matter. (Who needs labels anyway?) What matters is that you are writing. But don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know when trying something new might make things easier. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to admit and change it again. Just keep writing.