Sunday, April 27, 2014

For your consideration: Olympians!

I've never had a problem naming my protagonists or main characters. If a name doesn't come to me, I'll scroll through a baby name website, click on "similars" and eventually find the "ah" moment. But it's harder for those peripheral characters. I want something memorable, but nothing that sounds too close to the main character, and it needs to be authentic.

When I started my work-in-progress, an MG contemporary fantasy with a cast of characters from around the world, I knew I needed help. What are some popular, but not too popular, Norwegian names? Chinese? And not just first names--I need surnames too. The baby name sites can be great in identifying a name's origin, but I need to make sure it's current. It's be great if there was a way to peruse a bunch of names quickly.

Behold the 2014 Olympics! With a click of a button, I can see the Norwegian ski team, Chinese speed skating team, Russian bobsled team, etc. Mixing and matching first names and last names, I assembled my cast, and I know they sound realistic. If you're looking for a resource, give it a shot!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pitch Slam

Another day, another pitch contest!

April is the month for query/pitch contests. First came #nestpitch, then #LV14, and today #PitchSlam. What's interesting about each of these is that they don't focus on the dreaded query letter, but rather on your novel's pitch--a 35-word hook that summarizes the main plot, gives a peek at your protagonist, AND, most importantly, gives the stakes of the novel.

If you think it would be hard to do all of that in 35 words in a way that entices the reader to want to read more, you would be correct. If you think it's more difficult that writing a query letter, Congrats! You've won the parlay (gambling/betting term for all you innocents out there).

But the fun thing is all of these contests have a theme, and PitchSlam's is music. A battle of the bands, so to speak, where in addition to your entry you have to provide the name of a song that best describes your story.

Mine? Badlands by Bruce Springsteen from Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

In a battle for the kingdom's throne, how can you not appreciate:

Poor man wanna be rich,
Rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain't satisfied 
Till he rules everything

Trying to realize your dreams? How about:

Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don't come
Don't waste your time waiting

Right? Judging from the #PitchSlam hashtag, there's been a bunch of great entries and interesting song choices. The contest is running all week, so if you get a chance, check it out!

Friday, April 18, 2014


Hi Everyone! I've been meaning to start a blog for a while now, and since I'm part of the Like a Virgin 2014 contest by the great Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez, let's start!

And without further delay, let's get the answers to those questions!

How do you remember your first kiss?

With satisfaction. I was in kindergarten and chased him between the monkey bars--he had nowhere to run to avoid my determined peck.

What was your first favorite love song?

I was a big country music fan in my pre-teen years. Probably Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle's You and I.

What's the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

Turn off the TV and/or radio. Yeah, I know! There was a time I had to have the radio or TV on to study or write, but at some point in my 30s I found I work a hundred times more efficiently in silence. And time flies!

Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Stephen King in my youth. Terry Brooks a few years ago.

Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

Nope! Chapter Two is now Chapter One.

For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

Setting, then characters, and then plot, although it all kind of came together pretty quickly. Plot changed as I wrote it, but from the start it was always a sibling-oriented novel.

What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

A smile, a nod, along with a Yes.

End of my first post! Please make sure to check out the contest on Twitter via #LV14 and visit Rhiann and Kristina's blog.