Naming characters, fictionalized towns, ranches, and businesses is a daunting task for me with every story I write. In my current project, Aiming for His Heart, Book 10 in the Pink Pistol Sisterhood Series, (I’m so excited to finally be able to say that!!!) my hero Dalton walks into the town’s main restaurant after an incident makes him become the town’s latest gossip victim. Frustrated, he calls for everyone’s attention to set the record straight. Goodness, I’m still working on naming all the folks in that scene! (Because of course, even the cooks come out to hear this juicy news!) Since he’s grown up in the town, when he enters the restaurant, I can’t refer to someone as the waitress or the bartender because he knows everyone from the owner to the cooks and thinks of them by name. (How on earth do authors of 50 plus books name new characters after creating thousands of characters?!)
Often, I asked for help. Once when my youngest son, Nathan and I were driving from Dallas to Clovis, New Mexico, to visit my oldest son, to stay sane and awake on the long stretch of nothingness road through west Texas, we brainstormed names for businesses for my Wishing Texas Series. That task proved extra daunting because Wishing was known for its wishing well, and all the business chose names that had dreams, wishing, or fit in with that theme.
Because of this and that I write at a certain well known chain coffee shop, Nathan sent me a post he’d seen. It’s from @byalexcrespo and reads, “writing at coffee shops is great bc every time I need to add in a minor side character I just steal the name and essence of whoever is picking up their order from the barista in that moment. Enjoy your cappuccino Isaac you are about to die to advance the plot.” My son then asked if I did that. While I have killed off people before the story opens, like Cassie’s sister and brother-in-law in To Love a Texas Cowboy, I don’t do that in the stories. However, I told my son I would definitely use that technique to name characters from now on.
I’ve also discovered another strategy. Yesterday when I needed a last name for my hero’s best friend’s first love, I scrolled through my contacts on my phone for one. Oooh, my FB friends could also be a good source. Yippee, another strategy! And then I realized yet another one. You wonderful readers! But don’t panic. Since you’re all so sweet and wonderful, I’d never give a grumpy character part of your name. ? But you’re warned. Don’t be surprised if your first or last name shows up in one of my books.
Giveaway: To be entered in my two random giveaways this month, tell me what’s the craziest, funniest, or most confusing business or town name you’ve heard of. If you haven’t heard of anything with a crazy name, what’s the wildest one you can think of for a town or business? And don’t forget to tell me what the business is or does.