Saturday, April 26, 2014

Naming Characters Guest blog and Giveaway with Claire Ashgrove

What makes you think of a character’s name?  Does it come from their personality, or vice versa, or just what came to you that morning? Is it a hard thing to do?

Good morning, readers!  Thanks for letting me stop in today to share my Urban Fantasy release, Before the Storm, with you!

One of the things I had the most difficulty with, when starting Before the Storm, was what in the world to name the heroine who had this weird magical gift.  I pondered and pondered, polled critique partners, came up empty every time.  Then, I asked a friend.  She asked for parameters, and Halle came to be.

But that got me thinking – what is in a character’s name?

With almost everything except my contemporary stories, I put a great deal of thought into the key characters names.  In this case, Halle came from Halle’s Comet (pronunciation Hal-Leigh).  There’s a certain mystery about the comet, a certain magical property, and Halle can control the elements to a degree.  Add in the fact that the person who helped with her name knew another person a long time ago, who had pretty much Halle’s attitude (and was named Halle), and it all fit together. 

If you consider my Templar series, the knights all originate in the 10th or 11th century.  Their names are all historical in the sense that:  They are fashioned in historical fashion (surname originating from place of birth / landed title / profession).  The names themselves are appropriate for the era of their birth.  And they all also have meaning that fits the role the particular knight plays.  An example:  Caradoc of Asterleigh.  There’s no surname there.  Instead, he is “of” a place that existed in the era the character would have been born, but has been lost to time now.  Merrick du Loire – Merrick of Loire (The Loire valley in France).

When it comes to contemporary characters I prefer strong names that are “modern”.  Names people can relate to, without being the current trend that would likely date the manuscript.  I like rather simple, alpha (powerful) sounding male names, and female names that hold a bit of softness – if only around the edges.  Callie, Alyssa, Maddie.  And so forth.

Sometimes a name demands a specific ethnicity or regionalism – my Black Opals series depends heavily on that, and in particular, Russian names. I research not only the names I like, but their translated meaning.  It may never appear in the manuscript, but it helps me identify the character.

What about you?  Do you have strong reactions to a name?  Or does the name really not stand out?  If you’re an author, do you put much thought into the name, or just write what comes to you?

Thanks again for letting me drop in!  I hope you’ll take some time to check out Before the Storm.  It’s currently available at an introductory rate of only .99 cents.  No better time than now to give it a try!

Thanks for having me here today.  

To celebrate Before the Storm’s release, I’m sponsoring  a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon Gift Certificate, randomly chosen from commenters throughout the tour.  

And I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to win free copies and more gift certificates.  

To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the BeforeThe Storm Tour Schedule!

Tag Line: She held no faith in magic.  Now, fate is calling her…

Book Description:

Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift--she can kill with the fury of the storm.  

She should have known that kind of power wouldn't go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She's a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret.  With necromancers hunting her and Halle's closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.  
But accepting her destiny is altogether different.  For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.  

Amazon US                 Amazon UK                         Amazon CA

Amazon AU                Barnes and Noble                Print Version


Rustling in the trees lifted the fine hairs on the back of my neck. I told myself not to listen, that it was probably a deer or some other woodland creature. Probably seeking the same creek I was looking for.

The sounds grew louder. My pulse jumped several beats. Now I could see branches moving with the lumbering footsteps. Footsteps that were too clunky to belong to a graceful deer. Too heavy to belong to a smaller animal like a squirrel.

Please, please don’t let it be one of those things.

Chills broke over my skin, and my heart felt like it might pound right through my ribs. Instinct demanded I run. And yet, I forced myself to move at an even pace, knowing that bolting ahead blindly would only accomplish getting me further lost.

Damn that Kale. If he hadn’t shown up tonight, I wouldn’t be in this dark, creepy place, stumbling around like a drunk in a carnival house.

Scanning the overhead trees again, I muttered beneath my breath. Where in the hell were the radio tower lights? I had to find them, before whatever was following found me.

A brittle, high-pitched screech broke over the snap and crackle of twigs and dried leaves.

Before my brain logically connected the chilling call with an owl, I was already running hell-bent for leather in the opposite direction, back to where I’d left Kale behind. “Kale! Wait!”

He stepped out from behind a tree, right into my path. I dug my heels in to keep from jamming my nose into his chest. But momentum shoved me forward, denying me any small shred of dignity.

Kale caught me by both elbows, bringing me to a stop even as he drew me closer into his body. Enticing spice, blended with something distinctly outdoorsy filled my nose. His body heat warmed my cheek.

Oh wow. How had I failed to notice he smelled so good? I could fall into him…

None of that, Halle. I jerked upright with a slight cough.

But upright wasn’t far enough. The top of my head fell level with his chin, and as I lifted my eyes, his gaze connected with mine. For the span of one prolonged heartbeat, I looked up at a man who outclassed every male I had ever met. He was bigger than me. Stronger in physical strength, magical ability, and maybe even his will. Nothing I had done all night had intimidated him. Yet there was a softness in his expression, a tenderness I couldn’t quite define that seemed both out of place and wholly natural all at once.

Until a slow smirk took up residence on his gorgeous mouth.

About the Author

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.

In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.  She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

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OK I have to read this book simply because the main character shares my last name ;-)


Victoria said...

Love your post. I always wonder how you authors come up with names. Thank you.

Shar Simms said...

Look forward to reading this book!

Rafflecopter name: april b

MsAwesome said...

Intriguing excerpt. Names are really not that important but I don't like it when authors try to be so different that they come up with silly or almost unpronounceable names (do you say it like this or that??) But you gave me a very good insight of how some of you do take your time and do research when picking names. Thank you!

Dalene Rodman said...

Thank you for the guest blog and excerpt both were great. I put this book on my tbr list.

Keisha Talley said...

Great excerpt have to add the book to my tbr list.