#GuestPost Lizzie Lamb @lizzie_lamb What’s in a (Location)? #BurnsNight special. #IARTG

Thank you for joining me on Burns Night 2020 for a very special guest post from one of my favourite uplifting romance novelists LIZZIE LAMB

Location. Location. Location.

genius loci, the spirit of the place

Many thanks to Samantha for hosting me on her blog and giving me an opportunity to share my novels with you. Readers have told me that they love my descriptions of Scotland, Norfolk and Wisconsin. And, I must admit, a location is often the starting place for my novels and then the characters appear in my head, crowding in and demanding that I write down their story. I hope these examples make you want to read more. I’m going to kick off with the Scottish novels – but make sure you read Boot Camp Bride because Sam won a paperback copy in the prize draw for Deborah Miles’s #DecTheShelves promo on Twitter last month.

A heads up – each hyperlink takes you to the relevant Amazon page where you can – read a FREE extract in kindle/share/buy

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Girl in the Castle – journey across the loch and fall in love

Henri gazed out across the loch, shrouded in a shifting veil of low-lying mist. The castle appeared to float above it and the world beyond seemed unreal, until she spotted Lachlan piloting his boat towards Tèarmannair. His head and shoulders visible above the swirling fog. A heron skimmed over the shifting mist, its spindly limbs trailing behind it as it hunted for breakfast.

At night, it was easy to imagine the castle was a ship sailing untroubled across a wide ocean, the only light visible the beacon on the jetty at the far side of the loch.

Trees on the margin of the loch were reflected as a perfect mirror image of themselves, in ochre, vermillion and acid yellow. Pushing her reading glasses on top of her head, Henri focused on the middle distance where two small islands, topped by scrubby vegetation and gnarled trees bent over by the prevailing wind, gave perspective to the view. Beyond that, round, green hills rose towards the sky, and beyond them were craggy mountains with snow on the peaks.

Castle Stalker

Screenshot 2019-02-02 18.37.13

Scotch on the Rocks – travel to a Scottish island for fun, capers and romance

The Narrows were calm, reflecting the harbour cottages of Jamestoun on their glassy surface and making the fishing port seem twice as big as in reality. Issy loved the red tiled roofs, the whitewashed walls and the three-storey granite building which had formerly housed the local Customs and Excise. She could picture the old railway lines which dissected the cobbled road. Back in the day, when Jamestoun had been a thriving fishing port, langoustines were landed first thing in the morning, packed onto ice and sent down to London, via Oban, to grace the dinner plates in swanky hotels. Now the harbour was mostly filled with private yachts and the occasional fishing boat which took tourists out to the bird colonies in high summer. The brown hills beyond the harbour could look bleak in the winter, but today the sun warmed them, picking out the old fort (now almost covered in vegetation), built after the ’45 Rebellion to quell the unruly Scots.

The road swung inland where, in Victorian times, it had been blasted through a small mountain. ‘The Faerie Falls,’ Issy said, nodding towards it with her head towards a torrent of brown, peaty water cascading over rocks. ‘They say that the wee folk live behind its waters, but I’ve never seen them.’

Scotch on the Rocks

Tall, Dark and Kilted – Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen

The music hit Fliss as she rounded the corner of Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill. The sugared almond pink and yellow houses almost vibrating in the late May evening as I Predict a Riot blasted out from an open window half way down the street.

From their vantage point, the mountains were hidden by trees and Fliss could see soft, rounded hills which swept all the way down to a large loch. The colours were dazzling; the green of the hills and trees, the blue sky reflected in the deeper blue of the loch and the ochre of the sandy beach which gave way to paler sand near a pebble path. The shoreline dipped in and out of the expanse of water and in the distance, at vanishing point, the opposing shores appeared to link hands, cutting the loch off from the sea.

And, way below them, nestled in the trees with a wide lawn leading down to the waters’ edge where it became a beach, sat TighnaLocha. Solid, ancient, a slice of Scottish history complete with white painted turrets and stepped gables, and with a look of permanency that said: ‘I’ve been here for a thousand years. Wha’ dares challenge me?’

TDKScreenshot 2019-02-02 18.37.13

Boot Camp Bride – a hilarious laugh out loud marriage of convenience romance

Charlee glanced over the low hedges and dun-coloured fields stretching towards the salt marshes where the sea was a black line on the horizon. There was a stripped back beauty to the place and the flocks of birds heading for the feeding grounds down by the shoreline ensured the view was an ever-changing tapestry. Perhaps, here on the salt marsh, where the wind sighed through the reeds and stirred the dried pods of the alexanders, they could be honest with one another. Confront those feelings which had been simmering beneath the surface since the book launch. Playing his pretend fiancée wasn’t easy; the pretence was beginning to feel more real than the life Charlee had left behind

Camper Van BCB

Norfolk - thornham (2)

Screenshot 2019-02-02 18.37.13

Take Me, I’m Yours – a small town romance full of love and passion

Closing the door behind her, India sank down on the padded window seat and, drawing her knees up, pulled a cushion towards her, hugging it for comfort. Resting her head back against the heavy shutters she looked out into a vermilion and gold sunset where islands and peninsulas jutted out into the bay. However, the beauty of the scene was lost. All she could think of was how different the sunset must look from MacFarlane’s beach hut, thousands of miles away. Cool air blew off the lake and through the open window, stirring the muslin draping her cast iron four poster bed. Getting up to wipe her eyes on the corner of her pashmina, she caught sight of herself in the cheval mirror. Backlit by the sunset, with filmy drapes billowing around her, she seemed as unsubstantial as a ghost. A mere shadow of her former self. Dark circles under her eyes, skin without its youthful luminescence, violet eyes huge in her pale face. How had this come to pass?

Wisconsin

 

I hope you have enjoyed these extracts and the photos which accompany them. If you’d like to learn more about me and my novels, do get in touch via the links at the end of this post.

Author bio with links –

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has co-hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie latest romance Take Me, I’m Yours is set in Wisconsin, a part of the USA which she adores. This novel also achieved BEST SELLER status >travel>USA. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and spends most of the summer touring the Scottish Highlands researching men in kilts. What’s not to like? As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste. She is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish a debut novel. She is currently working on #6 – a road trip ‘movie’ where two warring guardians are forced to join forces and set off in hot pursuit after two runaway teenagers.  Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

Lizzie’s Links

https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb

www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

website: www.lizzielamb.co.uk

https://twitter.com/lizzie_lamb

Newsletter – http://tinyurl.com/ELNL-2016

Linked in: uk.linkedin.com/pub/lizzie-lamb/18/194/202/

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/cbla48d

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzielamb/

LIZZIE LAMB NEW EMAIL SIGNATURE 300pxIMG_7639(Edited)Thank you so much Lizzie for appearing on my little blog. I am looking forward to reading your next book.

Join me in two weeks when Yawatta Hosby will be telling us how she chooses names for her horror novels.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

#GuestPost Preview! Make sure you read this blog on Saturday (BURNS NIGHT) for a special treat from @lizzie_lamb #IARTG

Hi Everyone! The special treat is that best-selling uplifting romantic novelist Lizzie Lamb has agreed to guest post on my ‘What’s in a (Character) Name?’ Regular blog post. When Lizzie put her post together, the focus was on location – particularly because of the three HIGHLAND BRIDES NOVELS

Scotch on the RocksSo, before Saturday – when I expect you will be all reading Robert Burns’ poetry, wearing a kilt and eating haggis, I thought I would treat everyone to a snippet of Lizzie’s post before the big event – Burns night.

download Castle Stalker Castle Stalker (Photo from Lizzie Lamb – more of this on Saturday).

Here is a bit of Lizzie’s guest post –

Take Me, I’m Yours – a small town romance full of love and passion

Closing the door behind her, India sank down on the padded window seat and, drawing her knees up, pulled a cushion towards her, hugging it for comfort. Resting her head back against the heavy shutters she looked out into a vermilion and gold sunset where islands and peninsulas jutted out into the bay. However, the beauty of the scene was lost. All she could think of was how different the sunset must look from MacFarlane’s beach hut, thousands of miles away. Cool air blew off the lake and through the open window, stirring the muslin draping her cast iron four poster bed. Getting up to wipe her eyes on the corner of her pashmina, she caught sight of herself in the cheval mirror. Backlit by the sunset, with filmy drapes billowing around her, she seemed as unsubstantial as a ghost. A mere shadow of her former self. Dark circles under her eyes, skin without its youthful luminescence, violet eyes huge in her pale face. How had this come to pass?

Boot Camp Bridea hilarious laugh out loud marriage of convenience romance

Charlee glanced over the low hedges and dun-coloured fields stretching towards the salt marshes where the sea was a black line on the horizon. There was a stripped back beauty to the place and the flocks of birds heading for the feeding grounds down by the shoreline ensured the view was an ever-changing tapestry. Perhaps, here on the salt marsh, where the wind sighed through the reeds and stirred the dried pods of the alexanders, they could be honest with one another. Confront those feelings which had been simmering beneath the surface since the book launch. Playing his pretend fiancée wasn’t easy; the pretence was beginning to feel more real than the life Charlee had left behind.

Camper Van BCB

I have read four of Lizzie’s books. The fifth is waiting for me on my Kindle as a special treat.

 

 Lizzie Lamb’s bio with links –

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has co-hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie latest romance Take Me, I’m Yours is set in Wisconsin, a part of the USA which she adores. This novel also achieved BEST SELLER status >travel>USA. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and spends most of the summer touring the Scottish Highlands researching men in kilts. What’s not to like? As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste. She is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish a debut novel. She is currently working on #6 – a road trip ‘movie’ where two warring guardians are forced to join forces and set off in hot pursuit after two runaway teenagers.  Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

Lizzie’s Links

https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb

www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

website: www.lizzielamb.co.uk

https://twitter.com/lizzie_lamb

Newsletter – http://tinyurl.com/ELNL-2016

Linked in: uk.linkedin.com/pub/lizzie-lamb/18/194/202/

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/cbla48d

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzielamb/

LIZZIE LAMB NEW EMAIL SIGNATURE 300px

Don’t forget to read Lizzie’s full guest post, especially changed to Saturday for Burns night. See you then, Samantha xx

 

What’s in a (Character) Name? #GuestPost William B. Taylor and Helen Gerrard @pegasuspublish @WilliamBTaylor5

William B. Taylor shares his character names with Samantha Henthorn

Thank you for joining me for my very first ‘writerly rambling’ post of 2020. Today I am talking about a bit of local book networking. Some of my favourite people are four friends of mine that happen to be sisters. Their dear mother was one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. She had a friend, Helen who all four sisters would often say to me – with widened eyes ‘You’ve got to get in touch with Helen! She’s got a book out!’ Well, don’t let me tell you, here is William B. Taylor to tell us how he and Helen Gerrard came up with their character names and book…

What’s in a Character Name? Guest blog by William B. Taylor.

Being both absent minded and often quite lazy, I have never really analysed my writing process, so I’d like to start this blog by thanking Sam for offering me this opportunity to actually think about what I do and why I do it when it comes to this particular aspect of my writing process.

Author photo

 

My wife, Helen Gerrard, awoke one morning in 2018 with an idea – The Bee Polisher. By the time I dragged my lazy self out of bed and downstairs in search of a cup of tea (and a reason to have bothered to wake up that day), Helen had already written out a story on a sheet of A4, and drawn a sketch of the title character.

1561630467184c1e82edfdd2145ac67b171da1b202 Available to buy here

 

I read it with my cup of tea, and thought it was a weird and wonderful idea. Grabbing the remote control and switching off the Jeremy Kyle Show, I turned to my laptop and began to type. Little could we have known in those early days, that these innocent actions would eventually lead to us being offered a publishing contract by Pegasus Publishers for our first book, The Bee Polisher.

 

Character names:

 

Helen’s original story only contained two character names, The Bee Polisher, and Old Fred the farmer. The Queen was just “the Queen”, or “the wicked Queen”. I decided to create a realm in which these characters could live, alongside other characters that would appear in the later story. Fortunately it was a children’s fairy tale set in a fantasy kingdom, so I had the freedom to be able to invent new and unusual names that would hopefully appeal to that audience. I’ll go through the characters in the order they appear in the book.

 

King Garold is the kindly old ruler of Bumblonia at the start of the book. His name came to me quite easily. At college I had a good friend, Gary Graham, who for no particular reason other than it sounded a bit silly, I liked to call Garold. This name jumped into my head and I thought it sounded suitably regal – especially with the word “King” in front of it.

01 King Garold (1)

 

Next in line to the throne is Barold, the king’s free spirited son. When I lived in the wilderness of the north, in a bleak and remote village called Carlisle, I had a friend called Barry Cox. If my memory serves me true (it often doesn’t), Barry lived in a cottage in the woods under a bridge. For some reason the character of Barold reminded me of him. I reasoned if Gary could become Garold, then Barry could likewise become Barold. The fact the names Garold and Barold rhyme helps to create the feeling of the royal family line.

02 Barold

 

The next character to appear is Malicia, an ignorant and unlikable figure who has grown up in the city kingdom of Shmogg and knows nothing of rural life. I decided she needed a name that in some way reflected her unpleasant personality, while sounding realistic enough as a name in itself. Her character is both militant and malicious so I blended these two unpleasant words to fit.

13 Malicia

 

Lord Shmuck is Malicia’s father. He is fueled by a sense of duty, which is fueled by a desperate fear of otherwise being poor. I chose Shmuck in the hope that the connotations of the word would help the reader come to an idea of his character.

Old Fred the farmer was Helen’s original idea for the “hero” character, the protagonist from whose perspective most of the story is written. I did not change Helen’s idea because I value my marriage, and because I liked the use of alliteration between the character’s name and their job. This use of alliteration was then applied to the names of all the other Bumblonian villagers, for example Young Bill the butcher’s boy, Frankie the fishmonger and Mary the miller’s wife. This felt like a simple (or lazy) way of naming the minor characters.

10 Old Freds Market stall

Young Bill and Frankie

05 Young Bill and Frankie

The only animal to be named in the book is Old Fred’s beloved cow, Milky Joe. Helen suggested this as she is a fan of the TV series The Mighty Boosh, and Milky Joe is the name of a character that appears in one episode. One of my proof readers raised the point that Joe is a boy’s name and that is strange for a cow. I agreed, but kept the name as it was anyway.

 

The rest of the characters to appear are not named and are referred to by their job titles. These include the Archbishop, the Captain of the Guards, The Bee Polisher and the Friendly Local Bee Collection Officer.

 

Place names:

 

I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled with the place names almost as much as I struggled to write the blurb for the back cover of the book. I have no idea why, but they just didn’t come to me easily at all. I begged a friend to write the blurb for me, which I tweaked a bit to make it sound more like me before sending to the publishers. Likewise, I turned to the charity of others for help when coming up with the place names in The Bee Polisher.

 

I am an avid reader myself, with a particular love of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I have been told this can bee seen in my writing style, which is a compliment indeed. On the internet there are many groups of similar-minded Pratchett fans, a couple of which I am a member of. In my desperation I turned to the other members, saying I was writing a children’s book about bees, and requesting any ideas they might have. They didn’t let me down.

 

The Kingdom of Bumblonia was a lovely name for the land in which the bee-related tale unfolds. King Garold lived in a castle called The Royal Twill (that took a couple of moments for me to realise was an anagram of my own name, Will Taylor). Old Fred lives on Hunningbie Farm near the village of Coombe.

 

The Kingdom of Shmogg was my idea, I’m pleased to say. I wanted a name that showed the contrast between the city and the clean, fresh countryside. I thought about the characteristics of cities and as soon as I thought about smog I knew I had the perfect name.

 

And that’s it. That’s how I came up with most of the names in The Bee Polisher. It was a mixture of names from my past, a bit of wordplay and help from others. I hope you have found this blog helpful, interesting, or at least fun to read.

 

I’d like to thank Sam once again for asking me to write this blog. Now I suppose I had better crack on with the next book!

 

About William B. Taylor

 

William Taylor was born long ago, near the sleepy village of Manchester, in the land of England.

He was born in the traditional manner – naked in a room full of strangers. Before long, he was educated – and very quickly learned the basics of tying both shoelaces and a tie.

He became a man and took himself a wife (he didn’t steal one, he got married). Now he likes to write down his silly thoughts and musings, occasionally wondering what happened to the boy he once was…

Links to buy The Bee Polisher by William B.Taylor and Helen Gerrard 

Amazon UK

Waterstones

WHSmith

Amazon US

Trailer ^

 

WOW! 

What a lovely story Will and Helen, the story of your book and how you created it. Great names too – and I loved your place names. Wishing you every success with your next book. I wouldn’t have had this blog post if it wasn’t for my friends that are four sisters xx

Join me on January 22nd (Just before Burns Night) when Lizzie Lamb shares her character names. (Can’t wait!)

Happy reading! Samantha xx

 

What’s in a (Character) Name? #Guestpost #Reblog @DeborahMiles7 #IARTG #Indieauthor #Readingthrillers #AgainsttheFlowPress

Got to share this again, Deborah J Miles’ book Orchard View still sends the literary shivers when I think about the character Etta Franklin’s story… I am not so secretly hoping that Deborah writes another book, but I know that a lot of her time is taken up with her fantastic blog Against the Flow Press. Deborah is a supporter of indie authors like me and has just worked super hard on the #DecTheShelves promotion that took over Twitter during the Christmas run-up.

Orchard View also made it on to my Christmas gift list this year – Father-in-Law is a big reader.

36290599._SY475_

I will shut up now and let Deborah J. Miles tell you about her character names:

I ‘accidently’ wrote my novel while I was taking an online writing course through FutureLearn. A friend and I were doing the course together, really for something to occupy us while she was recovering from surgery. During one of the exercises in the course, the whole story just came to me. I kept it in my head and typed out chapter after chapter.

Bill Maynard was my first character. The name just seemed right for the character. I needed something short and to the point as a first name, hence ‘Bill’, and somehow ‘Maynard’ followed. It occurred to me after I’d finished writing that ‘Maynard’ is a surname which appears on my family tree, and ‘Bill Maynard’ was also the name of an actor.

My second character was the house itself, Orchard View. House names often refer to their location or history, such as Sea View, Hilltop, The Old Rectory, and The Old School House. The house was so named because it once overlooked an orchard.

My next character, Etta Franklin, was created by borrowing the name of a lovely lady I knew as a child. I loved the sound of the name ‘Etta’ which I realised must have been the shortened form of Henrietta. Etta needed to have standing, so ‘Henrietta’ was a suitable name, but she also needed to be likeable, and ‘Etta’, to my mind, is a much friendlier name. I used the phone book to choose her surname. I opened it at random, and pointed to a line on the open page, which as it turned out, contained the surname ‘Franklin’.

Norma Parker is the street busybody or Nosy Parker. I thought it apt that she should be called ‘Parker’. Her first name, ‘Norma’, was the name of an acquaintance from many moons ago who had some of the attributes I wanted for my character. Her nosy ways have her labelled as the ‘Neighbourhood Witch’.

As the story developed, and I added new characters, I found that if I could imagine the character, their size, stature, traits and personality, then a name would occur to me. I suppose I am drawing on memories I have tucked away about people I have known in one capacity or another, such as from family history research, celebrities, friends etc… There was only one I changed; Maeve became Mae because I felt Maeve didn’t convey the softness I was looking for in this character. Mae seems to be a favourite with my readers too.

https://www.futurelearn.com

Deborah J Miles
Deborah Miles is married with three grown-up children and lives in Kent.

She has worked in banking, tourism, education and social services, and has hosted international students for over 30 years.

Her interests include: genealogy, self-improvement, home computing, web design, D.I.Y/gardening, pen friends and writing.

Deborah is independently published and created the imprint Against the Flow Press for her first novel, Orchard View.

Blog: http://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @DeborahMiles7,

blog: https://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deborah_j_miles/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/

Think I put Deborah’s blog on twice… make sure you don’t miss it!

Links to buy Orchard View :

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Well, that was awesome, big thanks to Deborah J Miles for guesting on my last post of 2019. It’s been a blast!

Onwards!

See you next time, when William B. Taylor and Helen Gerrard tell us about their illustrated children’s book The Bee Polisher.

Happy New Year, reading, writing, and everything love Samantha xx

What’s in a (Character) Name? #GuestPost @janeholland1 #IARTG

Thank you for joining me for my end of the year ‘writerly rambling’ posts. Today, I am overwhelmed… My indie author buddy and advanced league blogger of Against The Flow Press had a word with today’s guest about this blog… Drum roll, please… Today, I have been joined by Jane Holland – the award-winning author and poet with six pseudonyms (what a coincidence for a character naming blog post) and her own Wikipedia page. This has never happened before. Now, over to Jane Holland while I go and read her latest book The Hive which I have been ‘saving as a special treat’ (I’m such a geek).

Jane Holland

CHOOSING NAMES IN FICTION — Jane Holland

I write across a range of genres from action thrillers to women’s fiction and romance. So, when choosing character names, I look for a name that will fit both the character and the genre. (And I even write those different genres under separate pen-names myself, with most pen-names reflecting the genre.)

 

Names, like any word, possess emotional resonance. As novelists, we ignore that at our peril. Some names suggest warmth, trust and approachability, such as Hannah, Faith, Marcus, Nathan.Others feel somewhat cooler and more stand-offish, such as Sonia, Chloe, Fabian, Leopold.Some names feel strong and bold, like Jackie, Rowena, Ryan, Tyrell, while others are more exotic or inspirational, such as Gloria and Orlando.

 

Character names project a certain impression on a book overall; sometimes, this can be essential to the proper working of the plot. Chuck and Demelza sound an unlikely couple for a romance, while Bill or Sharon would make improbable villains in an international thriller. The wrong names strike the wrong note. Of course, if you’re trying to make a point, or write in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek manner, or perhaps conceal your villain until the last possible moment, misdirecting a reader could be useful. But on the whole, readers are likely to feel confused and uncertain with a poor name choice, and nothing makes them put a book down sooner than the fear that the author in question doesn’t know their business.

 

I tend to pick whichever name springs to mind while I’m working on my synopsis prior to starting to write (I’m a planner, not a pantser). That probably sounds quite casual, but I’ve written over forty novels and dozens of novellas, and my brain automatically selects names in the right ballpark for the story.

 

If I need to strike a particular note, or avoid clashing with other characters in the book – too many names beginning with the same letter, for example, or ending the same way, like Lucy/Tracy, may confuse readers – I do an internet search. Back in the day, a book of ‘baby names’ was on every writer’s bookshelf. Today, you can search in a few seconds among thousands of names, not just arranged alphabetically, but names from a certain part of the world, or associated with particular languages, age groups, or historical eras. The perfect name is out there somewhere!

 

For my latest thriller, THE HIVE, I chose Charlotte for my heroine: it had to be quite a posh name, but traditional and not stand-offish. Her boyfriend’s name is Russian (because he is!). Saying more about other characters’ names would, sadly, give away some of the twist, so I shall have to leave it there.

 

I chose the title THE HIVE after writing the book. The provisional title was THE BEE BOX, named after an object in the book. I knew right from the earliest planning stages that bees would be an integral part of the book, and even the way the book is structured follows that theme. So the title was always going to be bee-related, and ‘hive’ also suggests the busy – or buzzing – metropolitan setting of the novel in London, a metaphor that also plays a role in the story.

The Hive: A dark, spine-chilling thriller to keep you turning pages Kindle EditionForget Her Name: A gripping thriller with a twist you won't see coming Kindle EditionLock the Door: A psychological thriller full of suspense Kindle EditionUnder An Evil Star (Stella Penhaligon Thrillers Book 1) Kindle EditionThe Tenth House Murders (Stella Penhaligon Thrillers Book 2) Kindle EditionGirl Number One: A gripping page-turner with a twist Kindle EditionAll Your Secrets: A taut psychological thriller with a NAILBITING finale Kindle EditionWriting Prompts for Thriller Writers Paperback

Above are just a few of Jane’s books, worth taking a look at her Amazon page click this pink link

I was so interested (me, Samantha Henthorn – back again) to read about how Jane chooses her character names depending on which genre she is writing in. Totally have not had that valuable information during my creative writing degree. (So far!) Jane Holland also changes her author name, depending on which genre she is writing in. Here are some book covers from her pseudonyms:

The Oddest Little Mistletoe Shop: a sparkly romcom for all year round Kindle EditionThe Oddest Little Cornish Tea Shop: A feel-good summer read! Kindle EditionThe Queen's Secret (Lucy Morgan Book 1) Kindle EditionWolf Bride (Lust in the Tudor court - Book One) (Lust in the Tudor Court 1) PaperbackThe Uncatchable Miss Faversham (Regency Romance) Kindle Edition

I could be here all day adding book covers! Jane Holland has written over forty books (that I can count). Do check out the links I have added above and do what I’m going to do, start with her most recent books:

The Hive available HERE UK and HERE US

In High Places (as JJ Holland) HERE UK  and HERE US

Twitter: Jane Holland loves #Christmas 🏳️‍🌈 (@janeholland1) | Twitter

 

Jane Holland is a Gregory Award-winning poet and bestselling novelist. Her thriller GIRL NUMBER ONE hit #1 in the UK Kindle store in 2015, and again in 2018. Her latest book is IN HIGH PLACES, an action thriller written as JJ Holland. Also just out is THE HIVE, a dark thriller. You can find her on Twitter as @janeholland1

Her first novel KISSING THE PINK (Sceptre) was based on the women’s Pro Snooker circuit, where she herself was a champion player ranked 24th in the world before being banned for life for ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. Since turning from sport to writing, she’s published dozens of novels with major publishing houses under various pseudonyms, including: Beth Good, Victoria Lamb, Elizabeth Moss, Hannah Coates, and JJ Holland.

She also writes practical writing manuals such as Writing Prompts for Thriller Writers, along with a sister book for Romance Writers, and other non-fiction books, including a new ‘Dreams Journal’ for complex dream interpretation.

Elizabeth Moss

 

Totally star-struck. Thank you so much, Jane (where’s that ‘blushing’ emoji?)

Happy reading everyone! See you tomorrow when we re-visit Deborah J Mile’s character naming post,

Samantha xx

 

What’s in a (Character) Name? #GuestPost -Deborah J Miles Orchard View. #CharacterNamingPosts

Samantha Henthorn Author has called upon author colleagues to tell us all how they came up with their character names and titles. Here’s Deborah J Miles and her women’s crime fiction novel Orchard View: (Which is on a FREE Kindle download 22nd-24th PDT October 2019.

#GuestPost

Thank you for joining me for this month’s ‘writerly rambling’ post. As I am working hard on my degree, I have called upon my author colleagues to tell us all how they came up with their character names and titles. Here’s Deborah J Miles and her women’s crime fiction novel Orchard View: (Which is on a FREE Kindle download 22nd-24th PDT October 2019.

I ‘accidentally’ wrote my novel while I was taking an online writing course through FutureLearn. A friend and I were doing the course together, really for something to occupy us while she was recovering from surgery. During one of the exercises in the course, the whole story just came to me. I kept it in my head and typed out chapter after chapter.

Bill Maynard was my first character. The name just seemed right for the character. I needed something short and to the point as a first name, hence ‘Bill’, and somehow ‘Maynard’ followed. It occurred to me after I’d finished writing that ‘Maynard’ is a surname which appears on my family tree, and ‘Bill Maynard’ was also the name of an actor.

My second character was the house itself, Orchard View. House names often refer to their location or history, such as Sea View, Hilltop, The Old Rectory, and The Old School House. The house was so named because it once overlooked an orchard.

My next character, Etta Franklin, was created by borrowing the name of a lovely lady I knew as a child. I loved the sound of the name ‘Etta’ which I realised must have been the shortened form of Henrietta. Etta needed to have standing, so ‘Henrietta’ was a suitable name, but she also needed to be likeable, and ‘Etta’, to my mind, is a much friendlier name. I used the phone book to choose her surname. I opened it at random, and pointed to a line on the open page, which as it turned out, contained the surname ‘Franklin’.

Norma Parker is the street busybody or Nosy Parker. I thought it apt that she should be called ‘Parker’. Her first name, ‘Norma’, was the name of an acquaintance from many moons ago who had some of the attributes I wanted for my character. Her nosy ways have her labelled as the ‘Neighbourhood Witch’.

As the story developed, and I added new characters, I found that if I could imagine the character, their size, stature, traits and personality, then a name would occur to me. I suppose I am drawing on memories I have tucked away about people I have known in one capacity or another, such as from family history research, celebrities, friends etc… There was only one I changed; Maeve became Mae because I felt Maeve didn’t convey the softness I was looking for in this character. Mae seems to be a favourite with my readers too.

https://www.futurelearn.com

 

Wow! What an insight! I read Orchard View (women’s crime fiction) earlier this year and loved it, I smiled today when I was reminded of Bill Maynard and Etta. (This is me again, Samantha chipping in) Here are the links so that you can get yourself a copy:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17177377.Deborah_J_Miles

Deborah J. Miles
Deborah Miles is married with three grown-up children and lives in Kent.

She has worked in banking, tourism, education and social services, and has hosted international students for over 30 years.

Her interests include: genealogy, self-improvement, home computing, web design, D.I.Y/gardening, pen friends and writing.

Deborah is independently published and created the imprint Against the Flow Press for her first novel, Orchard View.

Blog: http://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter @DeborahMiles7,

blog: https://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deborah_j_miles/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/

Think I put Deborah’s blog on twice… make sure you don’t miss it!

 

Thank you so much Deborah J Miles!  Join me next month when we find out about Ahava Trivedi’s YA Fantasy character names. 

Happy reading, Samantha xx

Book review: Lizzie Lamb’s Three Contemporary Romances Set in The Highlands of Scotland

Thank you for joining me in this month’s what Samantha read next.

When I was a little girl, my mum used to watch a programme set in Scotland called Take the High Road. I remember very little about the programme apart from the warm Scottish accents. In 2014, I was introduced to the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. And, one day, several years ago, when visiting my Northumberland based in-laws we walked over a bridge, and Father-in-law said ‘WE’RE IN SCOTLAND NOW!’

I’m just setting the scene of how Scotland to me, as a proud Mancunian is a place of romance and comfort. I’ve always held this romantic view – then I read three of Lizzie Lamb’s books… sigh… The three books I will mention here have confirmed my idealised view of a romantic Scotland and I recommend you read them all, especially if you’re all heart. Put the kettle on, sit in your favourite comfy chair and put these three on your reading list immediately!

Scotch on the Rocks: A contemporary romance set in the highlands of Scotland

The blurb:


Where men are men and women are glad of it!

ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.
Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast – where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.
In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?
As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .

 

My review:

*****

‘Where the men wear kilts and the women are glad of it!’ Well, with a tagline like that, I just had to read it. The book made me (temporarily) wish I was Scottish. I really enjoyed the plot, Issy does not like Brodie… at first… She’s got a lot on, heartbreak, bereavement, loss of job enter hero in a kilt (with an American accent)… I don’t think anyone needs to read my review to want to read this. How romantic! Sigh…

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25849896-scotch-on-the-rocks

Girl in the Castle: Henriette's Highland Hideaway

The blurb:

Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird’s mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie. Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who – with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on. However – will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?

My review: *****

Oh my goodness! I read this book to myself with a Scottish accent (I’m from Manchester). What a great setting, a castle with its own moat, Henriette is a historian with a doctorate using all her girl power to rebuild her career and reputation following a misunderstanding with a hockey stick. Enter hero Keir, the heir of the castle. Initially, Henri was warned off him by a potential bride he was promised to. Henri was not bothered at the time, she was too busy being good at her job in the library. Will romance get the better of her? Any more would be a spoiler. Like I said, great setting, Scottish dialogue feeds into the castle image. I enjoyed it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34950267-girl-in-the-castle

Tall, Dark and Kilted

The blurb: Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen . . . Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it her dream of one day being her own boss. When she’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, she grabs it with both hands. But there’s a catch – the centre lies five hundred miles away – in Wester Ross, Scotland. Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by hunky Men in Kilts is soon shattered when she has an up close and very personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate – starting with Fliss. Faced with the dole queue once more, Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out the dysfunctional Urquhart family. Will Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves? Read Tall, Dark and Kilted to find out . ..

My review: *****

I am recommending this book for those of you who enjoy an uplifting romance. Fliss’ story is the type of thing that gives hope. We meet Cat and Isla in their swanky home in Notting Hill – they are so young and so naughty, Fliss is caught in the middle. During a party, Fliss gets to speak to their older brother – enter Ruairi (which I read as being pronounced ‘Rory’ – hope that’s correct). The story unfolds into a plot involving Fliss being asked to work at their family castle in Scotland. This is a romance novel, but I won’t spoil it for you! There is something so heartwarming about the setting, sigh!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18884924-tall-dark-and-kilted

 

A lot of heart warmed sighs went on when I was reading those books, so it seems!

Here’s Lizzie Lamb’s blog: https://lizzielamb.co.uk/

Thank you for reading this month, join me at the same time next month when I may just share what I have been reading for my creative writing degree module ‘The Novel and Beyond’. It’s all getting serious on my bookshelf.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

Guest Post by Ahava Trivedi; an interview with the Hopeless Husband: John Webb!

The Hopeless Husband Series (4 Book Series) by  Ahava TrivediI have enjoyed Ahava Trivedi’s Hopeless Husband series so much, I asked her if she could ‘get hold’ of her protagonist, John Webb and interview him… The results have just come in, and they are hilarious!

John Webb

John Webb is constantly looking to escape the perceived monotony of his life. He’s always getting hung up on random and strange preoccupations which become his raison d’etre until his ‘real-life’ begins as a world-famous author. All these goals are a way to inspire more self-pity as that is what gets the old man’s juices flowing to write his somewhat distorted musings about himself and his thriving victim complex.

Colleagues lament him, his wife tolerates him but as far as he’s concerned, he’s the bee’s knees. Here is your chance to decide as this week, we have an exclusive interview with the hopeless husband himself.

Hi John Webb, thanks for being with us today! I’m afraid there’s a burning question I must ask as I get the feeling it’s what we’re all thinking. What do you say about being described by some, as a hopeless husband?

JW:I say that people in this world don’t value kind and unique souls enough. Most of all, they don’t know the value of dreams, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once again. I am a dreamer and that doesn’t make me hopeless at all – in fact it makes me a beacon of the hope that is often so missing in this weary world.

But surely, you must realize that being married, your dream has to be one that includes the other person or at least values them as an individual with their own dreams?

JW: Sure, why not?

And – would you say your dream does include Franny?

JW: Well, the written word has always been a pursuit of solitude. It’s the melding of one’s inner world with the outer. I’m actually very talented when it comes to bringing life to the world within me, especially as my writing is primarily about me.

There you go again. I didn’t see any mention of your poor wife or her dreams!

JW: That’s because you asked me about writing, which as I already outlined, is a job for a lone wolf like me. And, if you must know, Franny fully supports my writing. Each day after work, I go straight upstairs and reflect back on the hours at school and the oppression they wrought. If anything stands out, I extricate that pearl of wisdom and immediately put pen to paper.

Okay, then. And what are Franny’s dreams and ambitions?

JW: She loves having a family, if that counts as an ambition. Oh, and she’s very much into the arts and crafts. And for reasons beyond my well-developed grasp, she enjoys spending her time teaching those sods.

That’s because she’s a teacher.

JW: It goes far beyond that. The woman even invests her personal time into doing it for free. Every Thursday evening, while I’m putting my own time towards a more impressive cause, Franny chooses to stay behind at school – even when she doesn’t have to! – so she can spend yet more time cooped up with those stupid kids.

If anything, she’s always had lady luck smiling upon her, she gets to live her dreams on a daily basis and be married to a precious and rare gem like me at the same time.

Okay, then. Wow, I’m actually thinking, we should get Franny to come in and talk to us.

JW: Oh, really? Why? There’s nothing she could tell you about me that I can’t tell you about myself.

That’s precisely it. I’d like to know what she feels about all this.

JW: All what?

You! Your arrogance, your utter cluelessness about anything and anyone who’s not you! I’m not your wife and yet I feel if I was, I’d punch you!

JW: Well, that’s not very fair. If you got to know me, I swear you’d love me. That, or be insanely jealous of me. It usually only goes two ways, from my experience.

Okay, I’ve interviewed hundreds, if not thousands of people in my career and I’ve never asked any of my guests to do this before, but I really want to…how do I say this? I really want to come away liking you so why don’t you try redeeming yourself? Tell us something you’ve done for someone else. It can be absolutely anything in the world.

JW: Okay, hmm, let’s see, our wedding anniversary is coming up soon, mine and Franny’s that is, and we’ll be celebrating twenty-five years of matrimonialdelight.

Alright, now we’re getting somewhere…

JW: For our anniversary, I’m going to be treating my beloved to a present she’ll never forget.

That does sound rather nice, unlike some of the things I’ve heard about you. What is it?

JW: That would be telling! All I’ll say, is it’ll involve the help of many talented people to bring it all into existence. And, use of my endless wit and cunning to keep a secret until just the right moment.

Alright,I have to say I’m very curious…

JW: Let’s just say, Franny will thank her lucky stars that she married me!

That sounds fantastic. You know, John, I have to say, I feel like I’ve judged you incorrectly.

JW: It’s the peril of being me. so much grandeur that people are often intimidated.

Right…And that’s all we have time for this week folks! To find out more about John Webb, you can follow his series.

The Hopeless Husband series is available via the following links :

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads (which will have links to everywhere).

Ahava Trivedi is a skilled writer, I believe her main focus is YA Fantasy literature, but this tangent into comedy-drama (my genre) has been wonderful. Thanks for the guest post, Ahava, and thank you for writing these fab books!

 

The Anniversary (The Hopeless Husband Series, #1)

Ahava Trivedi

Ahava Trivedi grew up in the south of England and almost on a whim one day, decided to up and move to Toronto, Canada with her sister. She is mostly a fiction author who, similar to her hasty move across the pond, likes to explore different genres that interest her by diving headlong into them first and figuring out her story as she goes along.

Ahava is currently writing some humorous reads that have taken shape as The Hopeless Husband Series. The first book in the series, ‘The Anniversary’, is out now and the next ones will be available very soon!

If you’d like to get an email whenever Ahava releases a new title or decides to give books away for free (she does this from time to time!), sign up for exclusive updates at http://www.ahavatrivedi.com

If you’d like to contact Ahava, she’d love to hear from you! Here are some ways to get in touch:

The Twitter-verse: @Ahava_Tee

The Facebook Page: Ahava Trivedi Author

Telepathy: Hey, why not? Give it a try – you can do it if you believe you can!

Thank you for reading, and join me same time next week when Book Two of Curmudgeon Avenue The Harold and Edith Adventures starts!
Happy reading, Samantha xx

Book Review Earthbound (Jim Stone series #1&#2 Mass Exodus) by Paul Falk

Thank you for joining me on this month’s what Samantha read next. 

Climate change is all over the news – and rightly so. Now, these two books that I have read recently by Paul Falk are not directly about climate change but they sort of are. An asteroid is hurtling towards the earth and it is not going to end well. These books have haunted me, the end of the world could happen – and it will happen (although I haven’t read book 3 yet – I presume/hope it is being written). Here are my reviews:

Earthbound (Jim Stone, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46834504-earthbound

Oh! I just had to read this immediately, a book about one of my worst (probably unfounded) fears, an asteroid colliding with earth. Honestly, I used to have a recurring dream about this kind of thing and I know I’m not alone. Nightmares or not, this is a gripping read, an alternative to the Brexit story, thirty-two days until the big event plastered all over the news for 24 hours a day, except in this novel, the characters are more likeable and agreeable. Jim Stone is a proper hero, gathering his family and friends around him as the local community collapses. Set in California, many of the residents own guns, this and the hunter-gatherer instinct does not bode well for the people of Jim Stone’s neighbourhood. Eventually, the army gets involved. There’s a transatlantic political alliance and a standoff providing a nice bit of foreshadowing. But what is going to happen with this asteroid hurtling its way towards the earth? This novel has an abrupt ending, leaving the reader wondering – has it landed? No, there’s more to come.

The blurb:

The world reels in shock upon the discovery of a huge asteroid on a collision course with Earth. No one ever thought the day would come. Only thirty-two days remain until impact. Pandemonium and mayhem have inundated cities, suburbs – the world. Overnight, societal values vanished from the face of the earth.

Government intervention took a barbaric turn for the worst with billions of lives hanging in the balance. Jim Stone decides to take drastic measures into his own hands. A man on a mission, he had no idea what he would be getting himself into. No matter what happens, there would be no turning back.

 

2.

EARTHBOUND: MASS EXODUS

*****

Continuing the descent into chaos. Book two of the Earthbound series sees Jim Stone recalled to the navy and even though an asteroid is hurtling towards the earth, human nature takes over and brings out the worst in international relations. Pay attention! This is not an easy read it’s not supposed to be! Tense and thought-provoking.

 

The blurb: With a huge asteroid bearing down on planet Earth, time was quickly running out. A mass exodus had begun from all corners of the globe. Anywhere within 4,000 miles from point of impact was deemed the dead zone. Millions of people from around the world were on the run.
After Jim Stone’s standoff at the airport, the population in the Orient had set their sights on San Diego, a sanctuary city. Now the problem was what to do with the endless onslaught of refugees.

 

Join me at the same time next month to find out what happened when I read Lizzie Lamb’s books set in Scotland. Happy reading, Samantha xx

‘Write What You Know’ Doesn’t mean ‘Write What You Know’ (and I’m over the moon about this)

The above is actual footage of me losing it during medication time in my old job when I was a ward sister (or deputy ward manager in the modern naughties) on a psychiatric ward. Not really! The photo is from the WordPress free photo library (thank you).

Ever since I had to give up nursing (sad face) and start writing (YAY!), there are certain phrases, questions and instructions that us writers often hear. And when I say hear, I mean roll our eyes and get bored with.

So that’s what I’m going to talk about this month, in my writerly ramblings post. Thank you for joining me, and yes, I know I made that word up…

WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW?’ 

Me: ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!

Fortunately, my mature student adventure of my Creative Writing degree has taught me that when ‘they’ ask ‘Why don’t you write what you know?’ In true expert literary terms does not mean ‘Write what you know about (in the sense of I used to be a nurse, so write about nursing)’ No, this means, write about what you know as a human being, use your senses, your imagination and your memory. This will help you with your descriptions, your characters, everything. I mean what you can see, taste, feel… what you can create.

THE ABOVE IS WHAT YOU KNOW AS A WRITER.

THRILLER WRITERS HAVE NOT COMMITED MURDER IN ORDER TO WRITE ABOUT IT.

HILARY MANTEL WAS NOT ALIVE DURING TUDOR TIMES YET SHE WAS ABLE TO IMAGINE ENOUGH TO EXPERTLY WRITE ABOUT THEM.

RICHARD ADAMS WAS NOT A RABBIT, YET IF YOU’VE READ WATERSHIP DOWN YOU WILL HAVE FELT LIKE YOU’VE LIVED IN A WARREN. 

I do hope that has cleared things up for those of you who insist on asking those questions to myself and other writers.

This is not to say that I may have drawn on my experiences of psychiatric nursing to write a short story for my degree (one that I got 92% for btw)

Happy writing, Samantha xx

PS Join me next month for my writerly rambling about character names – I feel a guest post series coming on!