Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Name Game -- Why Should I Care?

As a fiction writer you must think about character names. For me sometimes it's easy. The name just sticks, it's perfect. In other instances I change names numerous times before the final draft. Even after I see it in print, I may say to myself, "did I choose the right one?". And rarely, after constant frustration, I'll throw up my hands and shout, "who cares?". 

Well, take note. There are lots of reasons to care. Just search for the articles. Dozens and hundreds of them, studies, research, you'll find them. Names matter. Okay, so I'm probably getting carried away. Fiction is, well, fiction. Not real life, no importance to the serious issues of anyone. However, the names authors choose can influence the names parents choose. Remember the explosion of the Twilight series and movies? Isabella or Bella became a number one choice in baby names for girls after that. 

Popularity of names aside, there are other particulars to mention, which are totally irrelevant to why authors should care but none the less interesting and fitting for this post. For instance, studies have shown that names may predict a person's future profession. Yes, I know what you're thinking. How silly is that? Hey, I'm just the messenger, reporting what I've found. Take it or leave it. Now, professions. How about women with more masculine names or gender neutral ones like Cameron or Ryan become more successful lawyers than those with more feminine names? Or take a look at the study about "nominative determinism" or in Latin, "nomen est omen" where one's name matches one's profession. Ridiculous theory? Then how do you explain: singer Bill Medley or poet William Wordsworth or race driver Scott Speed? Maybe those and other examples are mere coincidence. That almost seems a more rational explanation, doesn't it? I'm not done. There are other articles which go so far as to imply that subconsciously people choose a profession that matches letters in their names. Denise, Dwayne, and Debra will become dentists and Laura, Louis, and Larry will be lawyers. Huh. Guess I should've named my lawyer in A Deadly Deed Grows Laura instead of Mira. Then there's the conclusion made that those students whose names begin with the letters C and D will achieve low grades compared to their classmates with names like Alice and Bruce. Oh, boy. My report card was full of A's and B's, but my name starts with a K. Explain that one, you theory folks!

I drive myself crazy with all this insane or maybe not so insane information. So, I'm going to stop stressing or over-thinking the subject. Instead, I'll remember the line by Shakespeare: "a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet". Maybe I'll name my next hero Romeo. It's a thought.

P.S. If you're curious. There is a link I'm posting to an excel document. It's a naming game where you type your name and get the profession that matches. Only in fun, but entertaining just the same. And hilarious. Stephen King should've been a stand-up comedian. George Washington? The village idiot. Charles Dickens? Wait for it ... a porn star! Yes, silly, entertaining fun. Hey, my name turns up big game hunter. Too bad I am not inclined to pick up a rifle and shoot. Heck, I won't even kill a bug if I can avoid it. Geesh!

Anyway, here's the link: 

Happy reading and writing, all!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Decisions, Decisions ... Make Up Your Mind!

Well, here's a writer's quandary, you could even call it an occupational disease. The limbo state of being. Yes, it's real. It's not fun. It's sometimes painful. It's never easy. At least for me it's not. I'm referring to the time between novels. All of you writers feel this from time to time. In fact, readers may experience it. It's when I don't know what to write next. There. I've said it. I'm like a kid in the candy store, my sweet tooth is crying out to grab one of EVERYTHING! I want to write one of EVERYTHING!

Ideas keep bouncing around in my head. I'd love to write a book about pirates and sunken treasure, aye, aye, matey. Or puzzles. I love mysteries with puzzles in them. Secret codes, ciphers, oodles and oodles of conundrums. You must solve the puzzle or die!!! And then there's history. How about an archaeologist, a female Indiana Jones who's discovered the remains of an ancient civilization, or a priceless artifact that opens the portal to another world. Oh boy, here's venturing into fantasy. Or maybe I'll write a psychological thriller. Woman goes mad, can't remember who she is, and the one who helps her? Well, he's already dead, but she doesn't know. Ergh! It's insane. And of course the list keeps piling up!

But I can't stop there. Oh, no. I worry about what will work. What am I most passionate about? What will keep me up nights? Writing, thinking, plotting. I want to know! I think about what will readers enjoy reading. Yeah, yeah. I hear you. All those who say I shouldn't care so much about what readers are reading and what sells. But come on! Get real. You can't really take that detail out of the equation. Sharing the stories you write is part of the joy in writing. It is very much to me. 

So, what will I do, which will I choose? Maybe I need to think about it a bit longer. And while I'm deciding I have to pay attention to what I do have in print. Yes. A marketing I will go ... author visits, promotions, social media, on and on. So many hats, so, so many.  

Bottom line? I'll take it. The worries, the headache of indecision, the sleepless nights planning and plotting, the endless task of promoting. I'll take it all because I LOVE it. I love what I do.

Eh-hem. Speaking of promotion, if anyone reading this is interested in winning a free hardback copy of Dean Koontz' latest thriller, Ashley Bell, go visit my author website and either register or click on the guestbook page and leave a comment. I will add you to the list of entries. My way of saying thanks to all the wonderful readers out there!

Here's the link:  Kathryn Long Author 

Happy reading and writing, all!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Searching For Childhood Book on Secret Codes, i.e. Ways to Procrastinate in Writing

You know, I am the supreme master of procrastination. Ask anyone who knows me. It's no secret, and I don't claim that lightly. Add my dorky behavior and undying curiosity to the mix, and you get a typical day like this .... 

3:00 pm: I wanted to continue my work in progress this afternoon. That was the plan. It's a mystery and just so happens to involve a secret code. I LOVE secret codes. (Insert matching character detail -- quirky, dorky, or anything synonymous.) So, I was about to write when a thought came to me. I remember I had a book as a kid called Codes & Secret Writing (see photo). I bought it through our class Scholastic book program. Oh, how I loved those fliers! Full of wonderful books, I wanted to buy them all. My parents had other ideas. Anyway, I thought about that book. It was such a fun book. I'd spend hours using those codes to write secret messages. (Yes, I know. Dork.) I decided about then to go look for that book. I saved ALL my books, much to my hubby's disappointment. I even have a rather large collection of Nancy Drew Mysteries, if you ever stop by and want to take a look. 

Now, where was I? Yes, finding that code book. I searched my toy chest (kept that, too) and found lots of goodies, including a Chatty Cathy, Tiny Tears, and Barbie along with her friends and family. That took me about an hour, ooing and ahing over all of them. But no book. 

4:00 pm: I never was one to give up, however I ran out of hiding places for the moment. So,  it was on to the internet, a true cornucopia of information. Several minutes later and ta da! There it was. The cover image had been carved, burned, etched into my brain. How could I ever forget? That beautiful cover, belonging to my my childhood memory, and I found it on a vintage book website. Easy peasy!

Of course, after all that I needed to process my thoughts, and I came up with this perhaps obvious takeaway -- Childhood can be a wonderful thing, and evidently memories over a lifetime may trigger an idea or two, which may become a part of a writer's story. It has for mine. I'd like to think my stories are made of all the details of my life experience. Each and every day, from small ones to big ones, those moments are connected, linked like DNA to form my imagination. Yeah, underneath it all, sometimes in a small way or even big, it's where I believe the story starts, with my building blocks of memories.

5:00 pm: Oh, and one more thing ... after all the reminiscing and searching? I decided to write this post. Ugh. Procrastination. Now, if I can just stay away from Facebook, Twitter, and all things cyber-like, maybe I could finish that chapter ;-)

Happy writing and reading, all!