Today I’ve got my wonderful friend Em Petrova stopping. She’s going to talk about character naming and her new book.
When you read a book or even a description of a book, what’s one of the first things you notice? That’s right—the character’s name. Names are important things to humans. We agonize over what to call our offspring, and whether or not they’ll have strange rhymes made up about them or if their initials spell something bad.
As an author, naming our characters is no different. We don’t want to call our dark, tortured hero a spunky name like Biff. It just doesn’t work. But call that same man Rafe and you’ve got a brooding guy that lives up to his description.
Character names, in my opinion, can also get too involved. If you can’t pronounce the name or the unusual spelling makes reading difficult, it defeats the purpose.
Everyone remembers Elizabeth Bennett or Jane Eyre. Elizabeth and Jane are popular and common names even in this generation. But what if Jane’s last name had been Brown? Would we think of her the same? Something about her name is a little offbeat, just like the Gothic novel. And Elizabeth’s name feels good on the tongue.
However, names that are opposite of the character’s appearance can lend to his appeal. What if we had a biker in black leather? His appearance might have nicknamed him the name “Bear”, since he wears black, and is big and muscled. He might even show his claws at the beginning of the story but later his cuddly, playful side shines through. Suddenly he’s a teddy “bear”.
When reading—or writing—your next book, think about the names of the characters and how those enhance or detract from the book. I think you’ll be surprised by how much influence the characters really have over the entire story.
Thanks for stopping by and thank you to Lindsay for hosting me. Read on for an excerpt of my brand new release UNTOUCHED—Rough Boys book 2—about a hunky logger and a single mom with a secret she’s keeping from him.
Mason choked the engine of his chainsaw and adjusted it until it was purring. Much like Eva last night.
The vibrations of the saw ran up his arms and through his shoulders. He squinted up at the treetop, assessing it once more. Never could be too careful. Loggers died every year. Even those with a ton of experience like him had accidents.
He tried to shift his night with Eva from his mind so he could focus on bringing down this white oak. The top was heavy on the right side but he didn’t want it to fall that direction. If it did, it would take out a solid thirty-incher that could be cut in a second wave.
He wanted this particular tree to shoot the gap he’d cleared to the left, which meant some fancy saw work was needed.
The wind was nonexistent and the air still after his regular faller, Tommy Cook, had just felled a tree. Two hundred yards away, he was busy select cutting too.
Mason approached the tree and set his saw blade at an angle. The teeth cut through the thick bark and wood like a hot knife through butter. He pulled the blade back and dug in again, drawing the saw upward to cut a wedge from the trunk. Wood dust showered his arms and coated the backs of his gloves. It burned his nose and he sniffed deeply, loving the scents of the sap and the pull of exertion in his veins.
Using the point of his saw, he tapped the notch he’d cut. It dropped to the forest floor soundlessly, disappearing into the shallow drift of snow around the trunk. Circling the tree, Mason set his boots precisely, prepared to jump back in the event that the log kicked out.
Then, glancing around quickly to ensure no one was within distance of this tree, he set the blade at an angle on the backside of the cut. As the trunk was severed in two, it tipped. Cracking and popping noises sounded even through his hearing protection. He felt the smile of satisfaction spread across his face.
With a scream, the white oak plummeted, the top branches ripping through the limbs of other trees, brushing them in farewell. It slammed to earth with a resounding wallop.
A cheer went up from across the clear-cut. Mason looked up to find Tommy sending him a wave of camaraderie. He cut the power on his saw and thwacked his hands against his thigh to dislodge the sawdust from his gloves. The cracked brown leather gloves had been his father’s and one of the only things Mason had saved of the man’s personal possessions.
He’d found them on a high shelf in the entryway. Drawing them down, he’d brought them to his nose and inhaled the tang of leather and sawdust. Both scents he associated with his dad.
He set his saw on the fallen trunk and pulled off his glove. A shock tore through him as the sweet aroma of Eva’s arousal struck him. He’d spent all night loving her. Even this morning he’d fingered her to completion before allowing her to climb from his bed. Christ, he could hardly wait to get home to see if his sheets smelled of her.
He’d barely kept himself from begging her to stay longer. Returning her to Osborn’s house to pick up her little car had spurred that deep possessiveness in him again. Osborn had come outside to harass them about where they’d gone. Mason had put a stop to it, but not before Eva was as flushed as a Christmas rose.
He brought his fingers to his nose and inhaled. His balls clenched instantly at the scent of her he caught there. He’d promised to call her later tonight, but he felt like a goddamn teenager, dying to pick up the cell and call her now. Immediately.
What was she doing? Now that he knew she had a child to care for, he envisioned her in several different scenarios—the boy nestled on her lap as she read a story or seated on the floor building a block tower with him.
Why hadn’t he seen it before? She wore her motherhood like she displayed her femininity. She was always caring for people. Even hand-feeding Osborn a tartlet last night.
Mason wanted to jump in his truck and race to her house right now, and that scared the hell out of him. He’d never known such longing, even with his ex-wife. Eva and his ex were like heartwood and rotted wood though. One was strong and beautiful, something wood connoisseurs prized. Mason knew heartwood when he saw it.
Trouble was, he wasn’t going to stick around Salzburg Springs for long. He’d already contacted the company he’d left when his dad died a year ago and been told he always had a job with them. In fact, they wanted him as soon as possible. His roots weren’t firmly entrenched in western Pennsylvania, but they were plunging deeper after last night.
He mentally kicked himself. He never should have toyed with Eva. She deserved much more than a bachelor with a bent for rough play in bed.
Fires flared in him at the memory of her response to that heavy hand. She’d come unglued when he pinched her nipples so hard. And her skin had lifted to him when he tugged on her hair. How far could he push her?