Monthly Archives: April 2012

What’s in a Name?

Yeah, yeah, we know, Will.

When it comes to naming your characters, will any old moniker do the trick? How do you decide what to name your characters?

Years ago, I bought a variety of baby name books that I thought might help me come up with fitting names for my characters. I looked up American Indian names, Jewish names, Spanish names, girls’ names, boys’ names, even ancient names.

In the main, this was a complete waste of time and money. Only one character in any of my stories got his name from a baby name book.

Now, of course, you can look these things up online, but to me, virtually the only value baby name lists have is either the name’s origin or the name’s meaning. It’s fun to look up the name’s meaning or origins and see if it fits.

I believe that, rather than surfing lists of names to hang, willy-nilly, on your characters, you should let the character tell you their names themselves. There, I said it, and I don’t care if it sounds crazy. Almost all of the characters in every story I’ve written revealed their names to me, not vice versa.

A friend asked me long ago why I chose to name an important secondary character in Memory’s Child something so “obviously contrived” as Fellon. He’s a thief and plunderer (they’re called Sackers in MC), so hence, Fellon, i.e. felon, right?

Nope. I didn’t notice the Fellon-felon thing for several pages. Fellon is simply his name. Any resemblance to crooks at any time in the history or future of mankind is purely coincidental. Or at least, deeply subconscious.

My skeptical friend gave it some thought and then opined that most readers wouldn’t notice the Fellon-felon similarity, anyway.

But the name fits his character, whether the sound resonates in your mind with images of burglars and jewel thieves or not.

There is a story behind the name of Shelana’s mother, Memory. I once met a woman whose name was Memory. Fascinated, I naturally asked why her parents named her that. Although I can’t remember her answer, I decided on the spot that someday, I’d write a character named Memory. Fortunately, this unusual — but very real — name worked out exceedingly well in the book.

Not all of the characters in your stories may reveal their names. Minor characters might not, and for the most part, who cares?

A minor character does give you the opportunity to play with names, though. How about a petty thief named Guy Purloyne? An acquaintance named Misty whose brief cameo in the story is purely to muddle the mystery? A bodybuilder nicknamed Tank, a dedicated jogger named Fleet, a banker named Coyne. All fun ways to play with minor characters’ identities. Poor things.

Over the course of writing a couple million words of fiction (most of which will never be seen by any eyes but mine), only one major character has given me trouble. He’s the one whose name came from a baby name book. The meaning of the name fits him, but he doesn’t like it. He prefers a name I don’t want to let him use. We’re still fighting over that.

Idea Germ: Where are They Now?

I love books and movies about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I’m no scholar on the legend, by any means, just a reader and movie-watcher (I never go, I watch only what I can rent to see at home).

The Sword in the Stone (1963) may have been my first experience with movie versions of the Arthurian legends. I have never seen the Monty Python’s cinematic quest for the Holy Grail, but loved the musical, Camelot. And what a delicious movie First Night was, with Sean Connery and Richard Gere. Talk about a feast for the eyes.

Sam Neill was the penultimate Merlin, as far as I’m concerned.

If the legend of Arthur has any truth at all, the Knights of the Round Table almost certainly had children, who had children, who had children….

Where might they be now? Scattered around the globe, no doubt. But what if, by chance, some descendants of these original knights happened to meet? While it’s possible that some family secret regarding their heritage may have been passed down through the centuries by one or two knight families, most of these modern-day scions would know nothing of their family history that far back.

What if the meeting sets off some reawakening? A disturbance somewhere, perhaps dealing with Excalibur or Merlin, causes the descendants to experience vague disquiet or bad dreams. Or what if this chance meeting brings one descendant of each of the original KOTRT together in one place and something explosive happens? Merlin awakens, Excalibur appears, the Lady in the Lake swims ashore — something major. The fate of their beloved Britain, or maybe even the world, depends on them understanding who and what they really are and acting accordingly.

I’m going to let that idea germ stew on the back burner for now. I hope it will produce something worthwhile eventually.

After Action Report

It’s Thursday, and my free weekend event ended on Sunday. The final free download count is 1197, which isn’t too shabby for a new author, I think.

Since Memory’s Child went back to its usual sale price of $3.99 for the e-book (I’m still working on getting it into print form), I’ve sold 12. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a lot in less than one week, again, because this is a first book from a new author.

I’m happy with the step-up in sales and of course, I hope sales continue to grow exponentially.

Now, if only some of those 1200 freebie and purchased copies generate reviews, I’ll be ecstatic.

14 Tips to Marketing and Promoting on a Shoestring

14 Tips to Marketing and Promoting on a Shoestring.

Excellent advice from Stephannie Beman.

Who Knew?

Really, who knew that giving away free e-books was so time-consuming?

It’s not like I actually have to do anything to give away free copies of Memory’s Child. Amazon takes care of all that for me. So why, you ask, does having a freebie weekend take up so much of my time and attention?

Honestly, a giveaway that doesn’t require me to do anything shouldn’t take any time at all. The problem is, I can’t stop checking the reports on my Amazon account to see how many copies of MC have been downloaded so far.

I’m obsessed. I check darned near every waking hour, and sometimes more than once an hour. Part of this unexpected compulsion is fascination with the whole freebie thing. But mostly, I want to know how many potential readers are taking me up on this deal. I say potential readers because not everyone who downloads Memory’s Child will ever get around to reading it. I know. I have several freebies on my Kindle that I may never get to.

So my shot-in-the-dark assessment so far is: about 90 percent of those who download Memory’s Child will actually begin reading it. About 70 percent of those will read the whole thing. I mean, face it. Sci-fi isn’t everyone’s favorite genre, and my style and voice isn’t likely to appeal to every reader, either.

Downloads are at 950 right this moment. Apparently, at least one of the sites that promote freebies did, in fact, promote MC. I don’t have that many friends and family.

Yet another part of my obsession is anxiety. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they write a review, and if they do, will it be a good review or will they trash my work?

The free download ends at midnight tonight. I want to stand outside and yell, “Get yer MC! Get yer hot, fresh MC e-book! Hurry, before they’re all gone!”

My friend, author Lauren Clark, said her sales increased after she gave her e-book away late last year. We’ll have to wait and see if promoting Memory’s Child has a positive impact on sales once the weekend is over.

Weekend Freebie Stats

Click on the book cover to go to Amazon.com and download your copy of Memory's Child.

“Wow,” is all I can think of to say. Memory’s Child is closing in on 500 downloads since the free weekend began Friday.

I’m thrilled to know so many people will be reading MC, and utterly terrified that some won’t like it. That is a “heart” thing. My brain knows perfectly well that you can’t enthrall all the readers all the time, of course. My heart just keeps saying, “Why not?” Stupid heart.

Making Memory’s Child free for the whole weekend was a good idea, I think, though many indie authors will disagree. I want more than anything to tell a story, and why write a story if nobody is going to read it? So I’m happy to know that many pairs of eyes will read the story.

I also anticipate that at least a few of those new readers will take the time to rate and post a review of MC on Amazon. All good reviews, I hope!

Personally, I think Memory’s Child would make a wonderful movie….

Get Memory’s Child on Your Kindle for Zero Dollars all Weekend. Priceless!

If you’ve been meaning to download Memory’s Child to your Kindle or Kindle for PC reader, wait no longer!

Memory’s Child is free from April 20-22, exclusively on Amazon. Click here to go to the product page. The link will open in a new tab in your browser.

Here’s the summary from the product page:

Shelana is a genius with a lot to learn. A descendant of genetically enhanced humans known as Preservationists, Shelana roams a landscape devoid of civilization in a world that long ago managed to advance itself right back to the Stone Age.

Presers have only one lifetask: to pass on to their children the knowledge stored in their enhanced memories so that eventually, when mankind is ready to use it wisely, civilization may be restored.

The tragedy that leaves Shelana on her own too soon also sets her on a second path that threatens to end her life before her lifetask is complete. To make matters worse, she faces a constant battle against prejudice directed not at race, religion or means, but at intelligence.

Fomenting and spreading this prejudice is the powerful, mysterious and bloodthirsty group known as Myths. Vernon, leader of the Myths, is determined to wipe out the Preservationists and control the redevelopment of civilization. Vernon has made one mistake that may ruin his plans and cost him his life, a mistake the Myth leader doesn’t even remember he made. But Shelana does.

I hope everyone who downloads and reads Memory’s Child will love it, of course. Please give the book a rating and a brief review, if you have the time. Amazon only requires a 20-word minimum for reviews. If you’re on Facebook, you can “like” MC on the product page, too.

At present, I only have five reviews, but they are wonderful. You can find them on the product page, as well.

So go on, give MC a shot this weekend. What have you got to lose, right? Leave me a comment here, if you like, or on my Facebook page and tell me what you think of the book.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007DQ4WHQ/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

Memory's Child is free for your Kindle all weekend! Click on the book cover to go to the product page on Amazon.

Happy reading!