Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Twelve Tips for Choosing Character Names

with guest Keli Gwyn 

Names are special, aren’t they? Some names just make you smile, such as those in this meme I created especially for the Seekers.

To see how much a name matters, imagine this: you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed and see a friend’s baby or grandbaby announcement. If you’re like me, the first things you do—after oohing and ahing over the adorable baby pictures—are assure yourself that the mom and little one are both doing well and that the predicted gender was correct.

The next question that comes to my mind is, “What’s the baby’s name?” I feel shortchanged if it’s not mentioned. I must resort to referring to the baby as “your little princess” or “your handsome fellow” in my comment instead of using the carefully selected name given by a couple of understandably proud parents.

Because names are so important, moms and dads put a great deal of effort into choosing them. Authors do the same. We’re supposed to anyhow, but I’ve been known to pick names that are problematic. Thankfully I have a savvy editor who looks out for me.

In order to choose names that work well, I keep the following twelve tips in mind. You can catch the highlights in the infographic below or read on to learn more about each of the suggestions. And they’re just that—suggestions. I’m sure you have some tips of your own. Feel free to share them in the comments. For now, here are mine…

1) Give strong main characters strong names.

Certain names evoke strength, which is what we want our main characters to exhibit. A man named Miles, Spencer, James or Flynt—the names of the heroes in my published novels—is likely to be perceived differently than a man named Egbert, Odell, Llewellyn or Ignatius. The latter names could be fun for eccentric secondary characters in a historical, though.

2) Clarify gender with distinct names.

I gave the heroine of my August release, Make-Believe Beau, the name Jessica Sinclair, but early in the story she tells the hero that everyone calls her Jessie. Her real name, Jessica, is what you’ll see in the back cover blurb, though. The reason is that Jessie could be confused with Jesse, and my publisher doesn’t want any confusion. The hero and heroine of a romance need to be clearly identifiable.

3) Portray personalities with characterizing names.

In my second Love Inspired Historical, A Home of Her Own, I wanted the hero to have a past sweetheart who was a socialite. I chose the name Sophronia Wannamaker. Without even hearing a description of her, readers can tell she’s a woman who has an elevated opinion of herself. I even worked in a subtle hint about her desire to turn her future husband into a gentleman she felt was worthy of her by choosing the last name Wannamaker. (Think “want to make ’er” man a success.)

4) Bear the characters’ initials in mind.

Chip and Callie are the hero and heroine of Make-Believe Beau. They first appeared in my previous book, so their names were set. It wasn’t until I submitted the proposal for my March 2017 release, Her Motherhood Wish, that my editor taught me another tip. To help readers keep the main characters straight, especially in a romance where there are a hero and heroine who spend a great deal of time on the page together, it’s best not to have their first names begin with the same letter. Lesson learned.

5) Use names to reflect nationality or region.

The hero of A Home of Her Own, James, is a first-generation American who is the son of an Irish father and a German mother. Since his heritage comes into play in the story, I chose O’Brien for his last name. I gave him a more traditional first name that sounds “American,” since his immigrant parents were eager for him to fit in.

My first novella, “A Love Returned,” in the Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection to be released this coming December, takes place in Texas. I wanted to show that the heroine’s father is a Texan to the core, so I chose name with a Southern feel: Beauregard Culpepper.

6) Know how to use nicknames effectively.

In the first version of A Home of Her Own that I sent my editor, the hero’s mother insisted on calling the heroine Rebecca, but the hero opted to called her Becky. My editor said this could be confusing to readers. I could see her point, since the names begin with different letters. My solution was to have everyone call her Becky.

The heroine of A Bride Opens Shop is named Elenora, but the hero calls her Ellie. At first she’s irked by his use of the unaccustomed nickname, but as the story progresses, she grows to accept it. Her gradual acceptance of the name shows her gradual acceptance of Miles, thus making the nickname a useful tool. In this case, the two names worked because the initial is the same.

7) Keep a lookout for cutesy names.

In my first Love Inspired Historical, Family of Her Dreams, the heroine’s best friend, Polly, has a two-year-old daughter, Abby. I have a hard time remembering the little girl’s name because before the story went through revisions, her name was Anna. My savvy editor had me change it because she thought having Polly and Anna was too much. As many times as I’d read the story, I’d missed the Pollyanna connection. See why I’m so grateful for my wonderful editor?

8) See if someone famous—or infamous—has the name.

When I created the doctor who first appears in A Home of Her Own, I named him Matthew Brady. For some reason, the names just sounded good together. The name also sounded somewhat familiar. I popped it into Google and found out why. Matthew Brady was the famous Civil War photographer who was alive at the same time my story took place. I quickly changed the doctor’s named to Matthew Wright. (I played with that name, since, in that story, Mr. Wright is really Mr. Wrong. Sneaky, aren’t I?)

A famous name can be used intentionally. In “A Love Returned,” each of the seven Hart brothers bears the name of a famous Texan. My brother’s full name is Sam Houston Hart, but like his brothers, he goes by his middle name. Houston’s famous name is essential to the story.

9) Test first and last names together.

It’s important to have a character’s Christian and surnames be a pleasing combination. To check for this, I say the two names out loud. They might look good on paper, but listening to them is a surefire test of how well they go together.

When writing a romance, be sure to try out the heroine’s first name with the hero’s last name. As she becomes more and more enamored of the hero, she certainly will.  

10) Shy away from the tricky S ending.

I learned this lesson the hard way. The heroine of Family of Her Dreams is named Tess. The possessive form of her name makes me sound like I’m hissing when I say it: Tess’s. Despite the awkwardness, the name was an integral part of the story, so I used it anyhow. I was careful to avoid using the possessive form any more than absolutely necessary, though.

11) Stick with standard spellings to keep things simple.

Unique spellings can be challenging, so we have to bear that in mind when using one. We can tweak the traditional as long as the spelling doesn’t confuse readers. We don’t want them to stop and scratch their heads as they figure out how to pronounce a character’s name.

Writers of contemporaries or fantasy would likely have more leeway than I do as a historical author, but I did make a small change from the usual in my August release. The hero of Make-Believe Beau is Flynt Kavanaugh. I got his first name off the back of the historic cardboard-mounted photograph of the gentleman I used as the model for the character. The name Flynt was written in faded ink. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to use it, spelled just that way. Since the name is pronounced the same whether it’s Flint or Flynt, my editor let the variant spelling fly.


12) Make names memorable whenever possible.

The best way to ensure that our character’s names will stick in our readers’ minds is to create characters who are so well developed and well-liked by readers that they’re worthy of the names we give them. The Seekers do this all the time.



I’m sure if I asked you to list the names of Seekers’ characters that you remember, you would be able to come up with plenty. Actually, listing beloved characters created by Seeker authors sounds like fun, so feel free to give a shout out to those characters and their creators by name in the comments today.

Phew! You made it through all that, so I think you deserve a reward. Instead of offering one copy of Make-Believe Beau for today’s giveaway, I’m going to offer a print copy to three different winners, so your chance of winning just tripled. How’s that for sweetening the pot, er, Seekerville cat dish? (Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.)

Questions for You

Many names have stories behind them. What’s the story behind yours?

I love my uniquely spelled name, even though it’s written incorrectly at times. When combined with my equally unique last name, I’m the only Keli Gwyn in cyberspace, which is way cool. Do you love your name? Why, or why not?

Make-Believe Beau


The Courtship Charade 

As a draftswoman in a man’s world, Jessica Sinclair causes a stir as her new male colleagues vie for her attention. And the company manager has an ultimatum: fake a courtship with her boss, Flynt Kavanaugh…or lose her job. But pretending to be smitten with the handsome engineer unleashes a real, complicated attraction—and could reveal the past she hoped to keep hidden.

Jessica is certainly the best person for the job. But as their make-believe romance escalates, Flynt knows that’s not the only reason he wants her on his team. However, with his past shrouded by a shameful secret, Flynt has always focused his ambitions on building a career, not a family. Now he has designs on Jessica’s heart, but can they trust each other with the truth?


Award-winning author Keli Gwyn, a native Californian, transports readers to the early days of the Golden State. She and her husband live in the heart of California’s Gold Country. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, historical museums and other Gold Rush-era towns. Keli loves hearing from readers and invites you to visit her Victorian-style cyber home at www.keligwyn.com, where you’ll find her contact information.

214 comments :

  1. Hi Keli!!!! What a lovely post about names :-) As you know, I too, have a unique name and it does have a story behind it. You see, my full legal first & middle name is Trixianne Marie, but I go by Trixi. As my mom tells me, she wanted to name me Anne Marie after the famous actress (which I have no clue who that is) but my dad wanted to put something before the Anne, thus the name Trixi was born! Don't ask me how that one came about though, lol! I used to hate my name as a kid because I got made fun of a lot for it, but now I love it. I think it fits my unique personality :-)

    No need to enter my name since I recently won and received this book in the mail; it's now sitting pretty with the other two just waiting for me to pick them up! (Which I hope will be really soon!) :-)

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  2. My mother simply liked my first name, Melissa, but my middle name is her two friends from high school, Mary and Jo--when I saw my birth certificate for the first time as a young teen, MARYJO was in all caps. I asked my mom if I was supposed to capitalize the J or not and she said she had no opinion. So that was fun, I had a bit of input into my own name and chose not to capitalize the J.

    I am the only Melissa Jagears in the world I believe, mainly because there are very few of the Jagears clan that spell their last name that way, they split during the civil war and hubby's family's side did less of the "be fruitful and multiply" command than the other.

    As to the cautionary tale of check if your characters are "famous" I turned in my newest novella, Engaging the Competition, with the bully named Forrest Whitaker. I figured those two names had to be uncommon enough...yeah, my editor told me that I should change it so no one would think I was saying the actor was a huge bully. Sometimes having no television and being pretty much pop culture unsavvy for a near decade can put some crimps in your style....which crimps would be really good if it were the 80s though, and I rocked the crimping iron. I found one at a yard sale last year in hopes for an 80s party I can utilize it for!

    Bullies to crimping irons....yep, that's how my conversations go.

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  3. Keli!

    Excellent post!

    The story I am working on, I had to change the heroine's name three times because the sound was not working in possessive or with her last name. Finding the perfect name is work.

    I am Tina Marie, by the way.

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  4. Great post! I always say my characters names out loud. It definitely helps you decide on a first and last name combo.

    I'm not the only Terri Weldon out there. Thankfully my domain name became available when I needed it.

    I'm the seventh child and never heard any great stories about my name. My mom just said if they were going to call me Terri then they had to name me Terri and not Teresa.

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  5. Trixi- when your said Anne Marie I immediately thought of the character Marlo Thomas played in the 60's sitcom That Girl.

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  6. What a fantastic post. It's very important as a reader that the name is a very good fit for a character.

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  7. Terri, that's what I thought of.

    Anne Marie from That Girl.

    Here father was Lou Marie.

    I Googled to see if there was something else out there but there isn't.

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  8. Trixi, I like your name! Trixianne is pretty, too. When I see your name, I often think of the main character from a series of children's mysteries I read: Trixi Beldon. I wondered if you were named after her. Now I see that you weren't.

    I don't know who Anne Marie the actress is (or was.) I did a quick search and found out that Briget Bardot's middle name is Anne-Marie. I do remember the show That Girl, but I couldn't remember the name of the character Marlo Thomas played. I remember Marlo's big hair, though. Hers had so much body; mine has next to none. Must be why that stood out.

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  9. Melissa, how fun that you got to decide whether or not to capitalize the J in Maryjo. It's interesting the name was recorded in ALL CAPS, but that worked out well for you.

    Don't tell anyone, but I had no idea who Forrest Whitaker was either. I had to go to Google. You did spell Forrest differently. I love the double-R spelling of that name. Great choice! Did you keep that part of your character's name?

    I didn't use a crimping iron. I had no use for a straightening iron. My curling iron was my friend, though. However, I was too OC about it, and my too-perfect curls made me look even more uptight than I was. LOL If you saw my hair now after helping our daughter with her move all day, you'd know I've gotten over that. My hair was so bad earlier that my husband actually suggested I straighten it up a bit before he snapped a picture of me sharing our daughter's first meal in her new place.

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  10. Tina, thanks so much for inviting me to guest blog. I love spending time with all of the Seekers and Seekervillagers.

    Coming up with a character's name that works can be work, can't it?

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  11. Terri, I'm glad you were able to grab your domain name when you wanted it.

    I have a good friend named Terri. She leads the Bible Study I'm in. I'll have to ask her if her Terri is short for anything else.

    Wow! One of seven children. Your house must have been a lively place. I'm one of four, and my siblings and I managed to make plenty of noise.

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  12. Mary, I like your name. When I was a girl, I dreamed of having twins, a boy and a girl. I was going to name the girl Mary Ann.

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  13. Wonderful tips! Thank you. :)

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  14. J, I'm glad you found the post helpful.

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  15. Hi Keli! Thank you for the great post. I know sometimes when I read a book I wonder why the author chose a certain name. I can't remember the name of the book, but a couple years ago I read a book where the heroine's name was so distasteful on my tongue that I created my own name for her and it made reading the book more enjoyable for me.

    I love my first name, Cindy. However, many people try calling me Cynthia and that is not my name. I am Cindy. My middle name isn't one I favor (maybe because when I was in trouble as a little kid Cindy Irene wasn't a happy sound to my ears).

    I would love to have my name tossed into the dish to win one of the copies of your book. Thank you for your generosity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  16. Great to see you, Keli! Thank you for sharing your tips on naming our characters. While out shopping, I'll eyeball employee name tags for unusual names.
    As for my name, Jill, it's just Jill. People often ask if it's short for Jillian. I have many nicknames, but my favorite is Jilly Bean.

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  17. Oh, I LOVE picking character names. I have huge lists of names that I want to put in books some day, and most of the time I'm thinking about just writing a story to fit the name I always wanted to use. :O

    Such a great list of tips, like the beginning letter. In my fifth (and last) Cane River book, I had several characters from different books interacting and realized that I had three people with A names in one room. UGH. It didn't seem like much spread over five books, but in one room it was very obvious.

    Flynt is a really cool name. I've never heard that one. I know a little boy named Granite, though. ;)

    I also notice when an author introduces a character with an oddly spelled name and there's no explanation or clarification of the spelling. How does the deep POV character know that their new friend is named Alyx or Gennie? Know what I mean? They would only hear "Alice" or "Jenny". That always brings me out of the story. It's easier when the character sees it on paper, maybe in a letter or something.

    I'm just fascinated by names, the way people react to names, the nicknames they choose for themselves and others, etc. Your story of the heroine accepting the nickname corresponding with her acceptance of the hero is so romantic. I've had a hero use a childhood nickname for a heroine and it was something special between the two of them. I've also had a heroine running (literally sometimes) from her childhood nickname and hating when the hero finally heard it ("Cupcake"). I've also had a heroine change her name from her birth name because she hated the meaning it held and wanted to start fresh. It was so much fun writing the scene where her family learns to accept her "new name" because they learn to accept her independence in the process.

    Anyway, great post on one of my favorite topics!! I could talk names all day!

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  18. Oh, I see we were supposed to talk about our own names. In my family, all four of us had our first name as our patron saint, and our second was after a favorite author. I have no idea why. For example, my brother Dennis Conrad= St. Dennis and Joseph Conrad.

    And to be more complicated, we were never called by our first names. Handy for spam calls and such, since if someone asks for Mary, I know they don't really know me. :)

    But I refused to put my kids through such a hassle! They have great names (in my opinion) but aside from being bilingual, they're pretty standard, and we use those first names!

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  19. What a fun post! Please throw my name in for your book.
    I inherited my middle name,Dawn, from my grandmother who was born in the early Dawn. That's why they called her Early Dawn. I'm using the name Early in my historical WIP.

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  20. Hi Keli,

    I love your post. Once I had a man tell me I wasn't pronouncing my last name correctly. It's Layton. Really? How can there be but one way to pronounce it? Ha!

    Names are so interesting, and I try to put some serious thought into picking a name. I even Google it to make sure there's no famous person with the same name.

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  21. Gwynster, I love it when you come to Seekerville! You have so much common sense and the strength to be gentle as you teach/demonstrate/counsel.

    This is a rare trait, my darling, and you never sound like a preach-a-holic. (I believe this counter-balances me nicely, my friend.)

    This is a wonderful post not only for obvious reasons, but because names are important in multiple ways. I'm using first names of fallen officers from 2014 in my Grace Haven series, and I've had to choose carefully to make the book sound authentic, and to honor those who gave their lives keeping us safe.

    And for my historical series I've used surnames from my husband's German family and my son-in-law's Minnesota connection because they work for the time period, and then went with Biblical first names...

    Matching Celtic first names with a Celtic surname can work... but a lot of current American families are mixing and matching, so that's a newer trend.

    Thank you for this post, and for being here.

    I brought fresh coffee for all.

    Because it's an amazing thing!

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    1. Ruthy, I LOVE that you honor the fallen officers in your Grace Haven series!

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  22. KELI, Welcome!! Thanks for the excellent post and your adorable meme of Seeker names. :-) One of your tips that I struggle with is choosing names that end with s. The possessive is tricky. I'm working on that tendency. I actually love choosing the names of my characters. My latest heroine and hero are Lily and Clay. I love the contrast and the hint of who they are--or aren't--that the names give.

    Janet

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  23. Okay, my name... My original name was Mavourneen. When I was born, my mother named me Mavourneen Marie. I had that name for two whole days. I was her "Irish darling"...

    Well, my father came into the hospital that night and said "Change her name or we won't be bringing her home..."

    Which of course hurt my mother's feelings, because she'd always wanted a little girl named Mavourneen and (her story) was that her mother-in-law hated her Irish mother back in NYC and balked at Irish girl names... And they all lived together, so peace and harmony was clutch.

    My father and my oldest sister decided on Ruth Marie. So that's how I got to be Ruthy...

    I love Ruth's story in the Bible, so I've learned to appreciate my name, but I've often wondered what changes I'd have seen or faced as "Mavourneen". And knowing my own mother didn't get to name me is kind of weird... But an interesting story to pass around the holiday table. :)

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  24. KELI, it's weird that I mistype my name all the time and have to fix it. Some names are harder to hit the right key. Maybe we should test how easy they are to type when we're choosing names. :-)

    Janet

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  25. Good morning, Keli! Love your photo! :) And what a "spot on" post about character naming! Sometimes when I start writing the names come "out of the blue" for a character and stick with them (I, too, look them up on line to see if the name might have an association I don't want). Other times a name doesn't have quite the "ring" or image I'm looking for and it changes. But those changes happen early on as I write those opening pages--I don't think I've ever changed a hero or heroine name mid-book or after I've written the book. Secondary characters, sometimes, yes.

    Thanks for the KEEPER post, Keli!

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  26. Hi Trixi:

    As soon as you mentioned, "Anne Marie", I visualized Anna Maria Alberghetti. She was part of Italy's big three: Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Anna Maria Alberghetti. Those were the days! : )

    Also Trixie brings back fond memories of the Honeymooners.

    Names can carry a lot baggage. I agree they should be chosen very carefully.

    Vince

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  27. Keli, good morning.

    I have a character in my western named Doak Coley. I remember the name of an older football player name Doak Walker and thought it sounded so cowboyish. But when you say "Doak" out loud, it sounds like "Dope." I used the name anyway.

    I also have a heroine that stars in a geek-to-sophisticated story. Her real name was Marti Akins, but when she played her new role, she became America Huntington. American Huntington. I love that name.

    This is a fun post!!!

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  28. Hi Keli:

    What a great post!
    I think my biggest pet peeve in fiction are names that keep pulling me out of the story. The points you made in this post make a great start in creating more enjoyable fiction.

    I would also add names that have common meanings. One name that drove me nuts was 'Colt' because it was a western and there were Colt guns and colt horses. The Colt gun is even capitalized. I don't think authors think twice about names that have common meanings yet some sentences will make perfect sense using the common meaning!

    I also find names with classic stories behind them distracting unless they fit the character's personality. For example, Cassandra. The gods gave her the power to see the future but also added the stipulation that no one would ever believe her. Phoenix is another such name. The Phoenix burned into ashes only to rise arise again. I think many readers will think the classic name will fit into the story and when it does not, I at least, find it disappointing.

    Brutus, Judas, and Jezebel should probably never be used.

    BTW: Are you a plotter or pantser? I've found that plotters seem to have more freedom in picking names while pantsers will sometimes claim that their characters pick their own names and the author better not try to change them.

    Vince

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  29. Thank you for such an informative post, Keli! I love how you came across the name Flynt - very cool!

    My French-Canadian parents named me Marie-Josée because my mom knew a girl with the name and at the age of 11 decided her first born daughter would bear it also. When my parents immigrated to the US, my father was adamant that they drop "Marie" and the accent and just go with Josee. He said "Americans are crazy about nicknames and they'll call her Mary-Jo in no time."

    Ironically my childhood babysitter, who lived across the street was "Mary-Jo" and most of my friends growing up called me Jo or Jos.

    I've always loved my name, but more so "en français" than in English.

    Have you ever written an entire book and then gone back afterwards and changed the main character's name?

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  30. I do like my name, I would have liked it to be spelled with a capitol A though - DeAnna :)
    toss me into your drawing please..

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  31. I looked up my name. Janet is a form of Jane, which is the feminine form of John and means God is gracious. I'm grateful that He has been gracious to me.

    Janet

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  32. Love this, Keli. My name is Shelli Ann, though I just go by Shelli ... my mother named me after Shelley Fabares because my parents were crazy about Elvis, and Shelley had starred in a movie with him, I believe. I like my name's unique spelling. Just yesterday, I saw my name in my mom's phone, and she had the whole thing spelled out--Shelli Ann Littleton. Made me smile. My main characters in my first manuscript have my grandparents' last names ... those names are special to me.

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  33. I've used several family and friends' names in my books, which is always fun. Upon occasion I like to use names that fit an occupation, as I did when I named a doctor David Wellman. In another story, the physician hero was Luke, going back to the Bible's Dr. Luke. If possible, I like the hero to call the heroine by a nickname that no one else uses. Sometimes a name just grabs me as Carly did when I met a woman by that name. I named my heroine Carly Richards in the Bounty Hunter's Redemption. Names are really fun to play with. Thanks for bringing this topic to Seekerville, KELI!

    Janet

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  35. Fun post, Keli! I immediately identified with #8, See if someone famous—or infamous—has the name. In The Sweetest Rain, one of the secondary characters gives birth to a son, and to honor her brother and also the elderly man who helped her during a difficult time, she gives the baby both their names. I never noticed that combining George and Michael would turn out to be the same name as a contemporary pop singer, but thankfully my editor caught it!

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  36. I was named Leslie after my mom's favorite character on "The Young and The Restless" :) Growing up, I hated my name because I didn't know anyone else with that name, and I could never find my name on any of those "touristy" things you find in gas stations, etc. However, as I got older, I enjoyed the fact that no one I knew had my name. Then, when I got to college, I found another "Leslie" (and her mailbox was right beside mine!), and I have found quite a few others over the years. Most of them are of a similar age. I now wish I could go back to not knowing anyone else with my name :)

    Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

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  37. Keli, what a great post! I've had to make name changes for just the reasons you gave.

    My name is actually Melissa. My mom said she chose it from a favorite comic strip character. :)

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  38. I love my name, which is good! :D I'm named for Mom's penpal in England, which is why it's spelled with an "o" instead of an "a." (She was returning the favor, as her friend had named her daughter for Mom.)

    Your article is spot on! I love choosing names for characters, and always have. I remember being very careful choosing names for my science fiction characters, back in grade school. (Wish I still had those early stories.) The hero of my current Revise & Resubmit is named Chance, which fits him well, as he's a former spy. :D The heroine's name is Ginny (and she featured in the first book, so, as you said, set in stone!)

    Please enter me in the drawing, too! Thanks!

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  39. Great Tips! I'm having a blast picking names for my characters. It's a tricky business to encapsulate everything into one little name! But FUN!

    I'm Jana- "God Graciously Gives" (My mom overheard it in the beauty shop!!)
    Lou- "Woman Warrior!"

    THANK YOU! Please put me in the drawing!

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  40. Names are so much fun! Thank you for this post Keli, it's great information. Finding character names is harder than I thought it would be. I keep a baby book of names on my desk along with my 101 google searches for first and last names through the years. Always gotta know the meaning behind them, as I would hate to give a character a name that means something horrid, especially if it's the hero.

    I have never personally liked my name and up until the last ten years, had never even heard anyone else with the same name. I've seen the meaning listed as French for darling and American as flat clearing. I think I prefer the darling version. :) It rhymes with MARIE but folks call me SHERRY all the time. My older sister named me and talked my mother out of calling me Consuela (she loved a character with that name on the Marcus Welby show)

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  41. Good morning, Seekerville! It's 7:45 am here in California, and I'm up. Not an easy feat considering night owl me was still awake at 1 am, but I woke feeling excited that I get to spend the day with all of you.

    I don't know about you, but I could use something sweet to get my day going. I've stopped by a local business housed in one of the historic Victorian homes downtown. Sweetie Pies makes the best cinnamon rolls. They're HUGE and taste oh, so good. I've got several platters with them, some with nuts and some without, so help yourselves. They'll go nicely with the coffee Ruthy brought. For those like me, who don't care for it, I'm adding a large hot water dispenser and a choice of herbal teas with sugar and honey handy. (I would add artificial sweetenner, but since this is virtual fare, we can live on the edge, right? =)

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  42. I know the feeling. I just got up after going to bed at two. LOL.

    Cinnamon Rolls. Bless You!

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  43. I was just struggling last night for a name for my male character in a New YA I'm working on. This was so helpful. I love names I'm always very thoughtful when I name anything. I actually like my name because its unique for a girl and my dad named me after his best friend. I always joke that I"m glad his friend wasn't named Herbert.Have a great day Seekers!

    Jeri

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  44. I'm an only and real name is Jacqueline. My Mom declared I would never be called anything else...lol...but all my friends have called me Jackie!
    I am so excited about your newest book....thanks for your generous giveaway and count me in, please.

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  45. Morning Keli and welcome to Seekerville today. What fun. You really have picked some unusual names. chuckle. But you are so right. Names are important. Thanks for the list.

    I especially like the advice about not using names that end in S. That one rule will save me lots of grammatical headaches and keep me out of trouble with the Grammar Queen.

    Thanks again for posting with us. Have fun today.

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  46. Oh yes, thanks for the Sweetie Pie cinnamon rolls. They hit the spot.

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  47. Well my actual name is Danielle Nicole, and there's not some great story behind it. My dad just liked how my name sounded on the tongue (even if my mom wasn't particularly fond of the name Danielle). I got my author name Nicki Chapelway off of my middle name and the street I live on, though I think it does have a rather nice ring to it.

    While there are a lot of Danielles and Daniels and even Dannys I go by Dani and have yet to meet another person who goes by that name with that spelling- though I do know there is an author, Dani Petri, and I met someone who commented of knowing another Dani. If I try to spell my name on the internet spell check goes nuts! Then again it also goes nuts for my last name too...

    Please enter my name for your book!

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  48. Cindy, I've run across names I didn't care for, and they do make it challenging for me when I read a story. Oftentimes it's my association with a name. If I encounter the name of a girl who teased me when I was young, a boyfriend who dumped me when I was in my teens or an overly strict college professor, I can't help but thinking of those people when I see characters with the same names.

    I can see why people would assume that Cindy is a nickname. I've had friends with shortened versions of a longer name who've dealt with the same thing. It must get frustrating after a while. I can imagine a character named something like Joe whose sweet, elderly neighbor lady insisted on calling him Joseph and how frustrated it would make him on the inside but how he would graciously bear it for her sake.

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  49. Jill, I'm sure Cindy (from my previous comment) can empathize with you on having a shortened version of a longer name and having to tell people it's "just (insert name)." I feel for you.

    I love the nickname Jilly Bean. How did it come about? Did a friend or relative bestow it on you?

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  50. Mary Jane (or do you go by Mary without the Jane?), choosing names can be such fun, can't it? I understand about feeling the need to create a main character who lives up to a good, strong name.

    I can relate to the challenge you faced when having characters from multiple books encounter one another. I have an idea for a series with six sisters. My daughter helped me choose names for all of them and their fellows in advance so we don't reuse a first letter. I learned my lesson with Chip and Callie from my upcoming March 2017 LIH, Her Motherhood Wish.

    I'm glad you like Flynt's name. I read it and knew I had to use it. Talk about a name a character needed to live up to. =) Since his name is spelled differently, I made sure to have him mention it when he and Jessie first meet so she knows he's "Flynt with a Y," as she playfully replies.

    I love the way you've made special use of characters' name in your stories. How our characters respond to their names or nicknames can reveal a lot about them.

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  51. Jane, (if I read things right, that's what you go by =), I like the way your parents used a formula to come up with your name and those of your siblings. In your case, is the Mary for Jesus' mother? Which actress would the Jane be for, if you care to tell us?

    We gave our daughter a bilingual name: Adriana, which is pronounced with the soft European A: Ah dree awn uh. We were living in Germany when she was born, and my husband found it in a German baby name book. We fell in love with it. It comes from the Adriatic Sea. Our gal loves her name, but it's misspelled and mispronounced all the time. Her nickname, Adri, is even worse on those counts. It's pronounced Audrey like Audrey Hepburn, whom she loves, which makes it hard on those who see it before having heard it. Adri thinks the unique spelling is fun and loves it, which is a good thing since she has to correct people on the pronunciation and spelling quite often.

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  52. Bettie, the name Dawn is pretty. I like the fact that you share it with your grandmother. Early Dawn is a great nickname. Did she like it?

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  53. Jackie, names are interesting, as are people's reactions to them. I can just see having someone tell a character they aren't pronouncing his name correctly. If he was an easygoing guy, he might just laugh it off. If he were more serious (or, dare I say, uptight), he could experience a flash of anger. Our names are so personal, and we have a lot of emotion tied up with them, don't we?

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  54. Keli, an infographic??? Way cool!!! Such good points.

    When I was growing up, there were only three Megans/Meghans in my hometown of 40,000, and I was the only one with an h. I loved it! Then, when I was in my 20's, the name exploded in popularity. Everywhere I went, mothers were calling for their Megans. To tell the absolute truth, it was a little disappointing that suddenly everyone had my name.

    I'm having fun naming characters because I finally get to use all those baby names that my husband didn't want to use for our children. :-)

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  55. Generally I choose my character's names based on their personalities and appearances. For instance you cannot name a girl Autumn and have her be a blonde, or a boy Edgar and expect him to have light hair. Sometimes if I really like a name I name the character that and choose their features and personalities to go with the name. For instance with my newest character Sadie I chose her name and suddenly I knew what she looked like and how she acted, it was only after her name was affirmed in my mind that I realized that Sadie was a common nickname for Sarah which means princess and Sadie is technically a princess (if you count being the daughter of a tyrant in a dystopian universe a princess).

    I also often use a name book to name my characters, which I find helps a lot. Generally when I am naming a character I have a certain letter I want it to start with so I check that letter's section in the book until I find a perfect match.

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  56. KELI,
    Good advice on not ending names in S. I'm off it, probably forever.
    I do historicals so I have to be careful. Even within the historical genre, we have to be careful. "Doris" and "Gladys" are fine for the 1940s or 50s, not so good for the American Revolution!
    I have Caroline Pierce O'Leary and Michael Moriarty as my H and H in my first Oregon Trail book. Caroline came from an Eastern shipping family and married an Irishman and Michael was, well, Irish. The scout on the wagon train is Pace Williams, a name he adopted when he took to the road at the age of 11. His romantic interest and the heroine of the second book is Michael's sister, Oona Cathleen Moriarty. I know there's an actor named Michael Moriarty, but he's not famous like Brad Pitt, so I'm holding off changing it. Maybe I'll just change the Moriarty part -- this guy is crying out to be a Michael.
    I recently changed a Susan to an Olive -- she was a minor character but had a role to play, and I didn't want her to get lost.
    I haven't done too much with the meaning of names, yet, but it would be a fun way to approach my next set of characters.
    Does anybody still use "What to Name Your Baby"?

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  57. Keli, my uncle was the first to call me, Jilly Bean. Then in college, a good friend came up with the nickname too. I'm also, Jillow, Jilly McFilly, Jbean, Jillster...I'll pretty much answer to anything. :)

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  58. WOW, KEL ... the only Keli Gwyn in cyberspace??? That's pretty impressive!

    LOL ... Wannamaker and Polly Anna ... what a hoot!! :)

    And I hear you on the name, Tess, which is main character in my new contemporary family saga, but I SO loved the name, that I don't mind the hissing ... ;)

    Nicknames are tricky, I agree, but you know what? I get so down and personal with my characters that I just HAVE to have a nickname I can go to in times of teasing or to show close friendship. As a result, I always make sure to pick a name I can make a nickname out of, such as in my latest book, Isle of Hope. The heroine's name is Lacey Carmichael, but I have the hero call her "Lace" a lot and then "Mike" when he's teasing her or is angry with her because he knows she doesn't like it. I know it's confusing to some (including my editor at times), but it gives me more leeway as far as conveying the emotion I want to convey.

    You asked: Many names have stories behind them. What’s the story behind yours?

    I am from a Catholic family of thirteen kids, and my mom had a deep reverence for Mary, the mother of Jesus, so she added the name "Mary" to every one of her ten daughters'names, either in the first name or in the middle name or the confirmation name. For instance, my one sister was Margaret Mary, and I believe her confirmation name was also Mary. Well, she goes by Mary, so in essence, she is Mary Mary Mary Schmidt. ;)

    Fun post today, Kel!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  59. Ruthy, are you feeling well, my friend? Your comment began with the loveliest, most sincere compliments. Not that I'm complaining, but I was prepared for some well-intentioned teasing. Perhaps you're cutting me slack since it's still somewhat early here in California and I'm operating on so little sleep? Whatever the reason, I do appreciate your kind words. =)

    I love that you're honoring fallen officers by using their first names in your series. I'm sure you feel a compelling need to have the characters live up to those names. Did you let their families know that you're honoring their loved ones in this way?

    German names make their way into my stories quite often. I think that comes from having lived in Germany for four and a half years early in our marriage. I loved writing the hero's German mother in A Home of Her Own. I gave her the name of our sweet landlady. She would have liked that.

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  60. Well, I forgot to sign that one, good thing I updated my photo.
    Name trends are interesting. At my church we went through the "sounds like a law firm" phase with both sexes being named Addison, Madison, Colby, Emery and Brooks.
    Then we went through the lace-doily phase with Clara, Eleanor, Ella, Emma, Sarah and Emily. I can't wait to see what's next. One of our young church moms named her daughter "Pemberley" after her favorite Jane Austen book. Nobody "got it" except me.
    When I was editing the birth announcements for a newspaper, oh, decades ago, we got one for a boy named Peyton Chance Catalano. I have often wondered what soap his mother watched.
    My pseudonym, should I ever get big enough to need one, is Melinda St. Botolph, so there's that.
    KB

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  61. Janet, I'm glad you like the meme. Those thirteen names belong to thirteen wonderful women who have blessed me in countless ways since my first appearance as a Seekerville guest back in 2008.

    Lily and Clay are great names. Both lend themselves well to stories. Lilies signify many things: spring, rebirth, purity to name a few. Clay makes me think of a man God is going to mold and shape in unexpected ways.

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  62. Ruthy, what a fascinating story behind your "almost" name. It is interesting that your father intervened the way he did. I'm sure that was an interesting conversation.

    My mother named me after my great grandmother. Her name was Applona Kelly. (I'm guessing at the spellings since I never saw her written. She was Grammy to me.) Two of my mom's cousins had been named after her, Mary Lona and Lona Faye, so my mom didn't want to add another Lona in the family. I'm glad she went with the Kelly instead--with her altered spelling so it wouldn't look like a boy's name. I used to wonder what it would have been like if she'd named me Applona. I could just hear the teasing in school with Apple as a nickname. =)

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  63. Janet, I understand about names that don't flow out of the fingertips as well as others. I lost track of the number of times I typed Chop instead of Chip in the story I just finished.

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  64. What a fun post, Keli! I hadn't thought to run my names through Google to see if there are others (famous or infamous) with my characters' names. That's a great idea.

    I love that your name is unique.There may be other "Jeanne's" in cyberspace, and in the writing realm, but I'm pretty sure there aren't many Takenaka's to contend with (at least, not her in the US).

    Thanks for your great tips!

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  65. Fun post, Keli. I love working with names. You made a lot of good points. I usually try to avoid using the same first letter for character names. I also agree about the unusual spelling of names. I recently read a book where the main character's name had an unusual spelling and I was wishing there had been an explanation of why it was spelled that way.

    Another name issue that bothers me in a book is when a name is given to a character who would have been born in a time when that name would have been very rare or probably not used at all. In my comments yesterday I mentioned the website I like to use to show the popularity of names since the 1880's. It is http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=&sw=both&exact=false. I recently read a book set in the 1950's that used a lot of names that are trendy today but wouldn't have been in the 50's.

    My name is Sandra Jean. I guess my parents just liked Sandra but Jean is my mom's middle name. My nickname is Sandy. When I was young I thought the spelling Sandi looked like a cooler name. I asked my mom about it and she said since Sandy wasn't my legal name I could spell it however I wanted. But I didn't really want to change it. As for my last name, that is a different story. How wonderful for you, Keli, that you have a unique name. My last name is Smith but my maiden name was Johnson. So I have had a generic name my whole life!

    Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

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  66. These are great things to keep in mind as we name our characters! My mom had the mistaken belief that God would only give her 4 sons, and she stuck to it so strongly that when they had 3 girls, my parents had no girl's names picked out. Mom wanted to call me "Leslie" but I had an uncle Leslie and my dad said I wasn't going to be named after a man. After a couple of days they settled on Laurie Jean and my dad wanted to hyphenate them but mom was argumentative (smarting from not getting her desired boy!) and said no. Dad put it on my birth certificate anyway although i've always been called plain Laurie. It took days to name my sister's too, all because mom refused to pick out names ahead of time, she was SO sure God would only give her boys! We named our daughter Milena - MI (short i) -lay -nah after a lovely song about a Milena who was executed by firing squad in Argentina during the war because she brought orphans to safety through enemy lines. It's actually a Greek name meaning "dark-haired one". I've named my heroine in my current WIP Kiera Summers after my niece Kiera who's getting married this summer, as a tribute to her. Names are fun :)

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  67. Glynna, thanks for the kind words about my new author photo. A dear friend of mine who is a professional photographer gifted me the photo shoot. She knows how much I like purple, so we went to a local iris farm when the lovely flowers were at their peak.

    Getting a main character's name right can take time, can't it? I didn't include it in the post, but I have to like the names I choose and they have to feel right to me. If they don't, I can't connect with the characters.

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  68. I'm named for both my grandmother's Mary and Anne. I know that the reason my parents made it into one name was because they didn't want either mother to be offended!☺️ And they both agreed to the name, so there's no middle name. Why they chose the I instead of the Y? I have no ide. I do know that when Mom gripes about odd sounding names with weird spellings (she's 90, and still comments on what her father in law said when they heard of a girl named Vicky) I tell her I always have to spell my name as everyone wants to spell it whith a y, two names, or something else.
    My nickname is Mitzi. My maternal grandmother called me Mary in the Dutch language which was close to Mitzi. The name still sticks. And I actually love it. When someone comments about it I say my friends call me Mitzi. (Yes, Sandra and TINA. I'll answer to it.
    I have a rather funny story about that. My friend's father could be a bit snobbish at times and told me Mitzi was only for young girls. I told him that was fine by me, my friends call me Mitzi. He left, but a few days later he came back and asked if he could call me Mitzi. By that I figured he wanted to be my friend, which I gladly consented to!
    My friend just got engaged to a man named Glyn!
    Sometimes characters with names too similar can pull me out of a story...As I check back to see who they were.
    Thanks for a great post...and the chance to win!

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  69. Connie, it sounds like you have fun choosing your characters' names. I've never heard the name Doak. I'm assuming it rhymes with oak. Am I right?

    I'm sure Marti Akins undergoes quite a transformation as she takes on the name America Huntington. Those names do a great job of showing the two different traits: shy vs. sophisticated. If I saw the names Marti Akins and America Huntington in a story, I would envision two very different people.

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  70. Vince, you bring up an interesting point about using names that have common meanings. The hero in my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California (try saying that three times fast. =) had a best friend named Will. Spellcheck liked to tell me I was writing my sentences incorrectly since it believed I was using a verb where there shouldn't be one. I had to be careful to avoid sentences such as "Will will be there soon."

    There are certain names I wouldn't use due to their historic significance. You listed some good (or would that be bad?) examples.

    To answer your question, I used to be a pantser, but then I learned the rules, got an agent and underwent a brutal rewrite of the story that became my debut novel (had to delete and rewrite the final three-quarters of the story--75,000 words!) After that experience, I went in the other direction, but not so far as to call myself a plotter. I like to have a good idea where a story is going but allow for some fun and surprises along the way. These days I call myself a planster.

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  71. Plantsers UNITE!!!

    Me too!

    We could get t-shirts and mugs.

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  72. Keli, your twelve tips are great! Thanks for the infographic which I've already *pinned*!

    A character named Hope was problematic for me. Many times I caught myself writing "Hope hoped."

    Finally I have come to appreciate my unique first name, which is from a romance novel. For years I wanted something simple which could be easily pronounced and found on souvenir trinkets, but now I appreciate being different. There is another Sherida Stewart...a nurse, I believe. It would be fun to meet her someday.

    Don't put my name in the cat dish. I'm reading Make-Believe Beau right now. What an intriguing story with draftswoman Jessica and how she handles her working-in-a-man's-world situations....and what secrets both Jessie and Flynt are concealing! Interesting! Thank you and congratulations on your newest book!

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  73. Josee, I love your name and the story behind it. I would say your father made a good call. We Americans do seem to embrace the use of nicknames. Mary Jo lacks the lovely sound of Marie-Josée. My daughter lived in France for a year, and we got to visit her. I can imagine her dear French friends saying your name in their beautiful language. It's fun that you ended up having a babysitter names Mary-Jo.

    In answer to your question about going back and changing a character's name after I'd written a story, the answer is yes. The heroine of my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California was named Elenora Watkins, but she started out as Elenora Perkins. Her last name just wasn't working for me, so I found something I liked better. I ended up happy with the change. At one point in the story, which is about the competition between the hero and heroine who own mercantiles across the street from each other, one of the hero's friends jokingly refers to Ellie's store, Watkins General Merchandise, as Watkins Wonder Wares. That worked because of the name change.

    The other time I had to change the name was the shift from Rebecca to Becky in A Home of Her Own, which I mentioned in the post. I'd written the first draft of that story over five years before I sold it, so changing Rebecca Donnelly to Becky Martin was hard. Both are her names, as is pointed out in the story itself, but she had to change her name to help her hide from her brother, who was bent of pinning his crime on her.

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  74. Deanna, your name is lovely. Is there a reason you couldn't change the spelling to DeAnna, not legally perhaps, but in general use? I've known people who made small changes to their names like that.

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  75. Yes, I'm having an HTML-challenged day. Your name was supposed to be in bold, Deanna. Sorry.

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  76. Good to see you here, Keli. I chuckled reading through your examples because I can relate. I had to create a database of names after Deena and Simon appeared in Where Hearts Meet. Dahlia and Sloan were published two years earlier in A Blessed Blue Christmas. Names do have stories. My mother named me Loree (rhymes with Marie), but kids in school didn't get it. So I went by "Lori" until after my mother passed. I capitalized the R to draw attention and corrected people's pronunciation. An aunt and my youngest brother still call my Loree after thirty-odd years.

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  77. Janet, I love that your name means God is gracious. You brought up a good point about the meaning of a person's name. I've been known to search name meanings when choosing a character's name to see if I could match a name to a character's trait.

    Keli (or Kelly) means warrior. I don't see myself as one, but I can fight for what I believe in or for my loved ones. You should have seen me when our daughter was learning to drive and other drivers would cut her off, honk at her, etc. I earned my name at those times.

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  78. Keli, as a reader I'm amazed at the names author have for their characters. Such creativity.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    Have a TERRIFIC TUESDAY!

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  79. Shelli, I like that although your parents named you after Shelley Fabares, they spelled the name differently. That way your name is just for you. It is a lovely spelling. I'm partial to the L-I ending, myself. =)

    How special to have honored your grandparents by using their surnames in your first story. It's fun to be able to include the names of loved ones, isn't it?

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  80. Janet, I like how you worked to have your characters' names align with their professions. In an early version of the post, that was one of my tips. =) The names Luke and Wellman are perfect names for doctors.

    I love having a hero give a heroine a special nickname, but my LIH editor doesn't care for that as much as I do, so I haven't been able to do so in my LIHs. At least not yet. Maybe I'll try again one day. =)

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  81. Myra, I'm so thankful for my editors. They're looking out for me in all aspects of my stories, including the names.

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  82. Leslie, I remember watching the very first season of The Young and the Restless. I was babysitting that summer, and that's what I did while the kids were down for their naps. That's the only time I watched a daytime soap opera. It's interesting how a name becomes popular and then fades, isn't it?

    I can relate to having trouble finding my name spelled correctly on key rings, mugs, etc. It wasn't until I went to Hawaii that I found my name on something. Later on in life, we lived in Germany and visited Austria where there is a soda company called Keli. Our daughter lived in Austria the past two years before returning to the States, and she surprised me with a set of Keli drinking glasses. I love them!

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  83. Missy, I wondered if Missy was a nickname. I had a friend in high school who was named Melissa but went by Missy. =)

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  84. Those were great tips on putting names in stories. All so true.

    My name is Rebecca, and I go by Becky. I am not sure there is a great story,but I do like my name.

    Our kid's names all have at least 3 syllables. Kind of funny since we have 7 kids. All my kids but one go by their full name. All of their names are Hebrew.

    I would love to win a copy of your new book. Great picture of you.
    Becky

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  85. Marion, I'm glad your mom's penpal has such a pretty name since it was destined to become yours. What a special friendship they must have shared to use the other's name for her own daughter.

    I like the name Chance. It sounds like it's a good fit for your character.

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  86. Jana, I love the meaning of your name. Did your mom know the meaning when she chose it?

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  87. Sharee, I love your name. When I saw the spelling, I was guessing at the pronunciation. I got it right! I'm with you. The darling meaning is the best. I'm curious. Are you grateful to your older sister for talking your mom out of the name Consuela?

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  88. Tina, you mentioned that you were up until 2 am. I'm not surprised that you were up so late since I've often "seen" you online in the wee hours. What I am surprised about is that you do actually sleep. With as much as you accomplish each day (and night), I wondered if you'd given up sleep. =)

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  89. Hi Keli!

    For my Amish novels, I have an Amish name generator that I use. Since I write in different historical periods, I've compiled a list of names that I've found in my research for each period. Names also vary by location, so I've added that little detail, too. And then I have a list of last names (there really aren't that many Amish last names). When it's time to name a character, I select a name from the list.

    And since many Amish families have a LOT of children, that's a lot of names to come up with sometimes!

    But the most interesting story about naming characters is from the one western I've written, A Home for his Family. I had an older couple that I named Margaret and James. Before I got very far into the book, that "James" name was driving me crazy whenever I needed to make it a possessive (no more "s" names for me!). I tried to change the name, but I couldn't. No other name fit. So I worked around it.

    After the book came out, my good friend Marge came up to me and thanked me for naming that older couple after her and her husband, Jim. I had never thought that Marge's and Jim's full names were Margaret and James. Even though she knew I hadn't done it on purpose, she was just tickled. :)

    Thanks for the great post!

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  90. Jeri, I love your name and the cute feminine spelling of it. From what you said about Jerry being the name of your dad's best friend, I'm guessing it's just Jeri and isn't short for Geraldine or anything else. Am I right?

    My brother-in-law was named after two of his parents' best friends. The poor guy didn't fare well in the name department. When he got older, he shortened his middle name to get something he could live with. My in-laws did a better job on my husband's name, but it was hard to date a man named Carl since that was my dad's name. I'm used to Carl's name now, but it was hard at first.

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  91. Jackie, I love the name Jacqueline, especially when it's pronounced the way Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis did hers. It seems no matter how hard a parents tries to have people call a child by her full name, people will shorten it anyway. Seem to be a losing battle.

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  92. Sandra, I like to use unusual names when I can, but I try not to make the spellings too hard on people. My husband and I did that in real life when we chose to name our one and only Adriana and call her Adri for short. I'm glad she likes her unusual name.

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  93. Dani aka Nicky, I like the nickname Dani for Danielle. I'm all for cute spellings in real life. I've just learned to avoid them in my historical romances since they weren't in vogue yet.

    Nicky Chapelway is a great name. I like how you came up with it.

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  94. Love your post, Keli! As an editor it's amazing how many authors give their characters names ending in "s"...and then scatter possessives throughout their manuscripts. Nightmare city!

    My mother named me Barbara after the actress Barbara Stanwyck. My maiden surname was Stowell. I like my married name Barbara Scott, but there are a zillion of us out there. In fact, there's another Barbara Scott a couple blocks away on our street. The letter carrier used to mix up our mail all the time. And try and get a website with a common name. The best I could do was BarbaraJScott.com. But most people can never remember to include my middle initial. Hmmm. Maybe I should switch back to my maiden name. :-)

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  95. Love your post, Keli! As an editor it's amazing how many authors give their characters names ending in "s"...and then scatter possessives throughout their manuscripts. Nightmare city!

    My mother named me Barbara after the actress Barbara Stanwyck. My maiden surname was Stowell. I like my married name Barbara Scott, but there are a zillion of us out there. In fact, there's another Barbara Scott a couple blocks away on our street. The letter carrier used to mix up our mail all the time. And try and get a website with a common name. The best I could do was BarbaraJScott.com. But most people can never remember to include my middle initial. Hmmm. Maybe I should switch back to my maiden name. :-)

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  96. Meghan, I'm glad you like the infographic. That was my first attempt at creating one. It took me far longer than I care to admit, but when I'm invited to guest post at Seekerville, I'm more than willing to put forth the effort and s-t-r-e-t-c-h myself.

    I like your name. My husband and I lost a baby at ten weeks into our first pregnancy. If she'd been a girl, we were going to name her Megan Elizabeth. Her initials would have been MEG. Not long after we'd picked the name, I saw the explosion in its popularity that you witnessed. Suddenly there were Megans everywhere.

    What fun to use favorite names your husband nixed for your own kids in your stories.

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  97. Nicky, taking a character's personality and appearance into consideration when choosing a name is wise. Your Autumn example shows how important the connection can be. Like you, until I have the name down, it's hard for me to really visualize the character and personality.

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  98. Kaybee, you obviously put a lot of thought into the names you give your characters. I like the name Pace, although I haven't come across it in a story before. Oona is totally new to me. How is it pronounced? Whenever I hear Moriarity, I think of Sherlock Holme's rival. =)

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  99. Jill, what fun to have your uncle bestow the nickname Jilly Bean on you. You have some other fun nicknames, too. I like Jillow and Jilly McFilly.

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  100. Hi Keli:


    You made a very interesting comment when you wrote:

    "I’m sure if I asked you to list the names of Seekers’ characters that you remember, you would be able to come up with plenty."

    Well, not quite. While I remember many of my favorite characters, and could tell you their stories, I can't remember their names -- except in very rare circumstances. I don't even remember Hemingway's characters and I've read his books many times.

    Do we really need to remember characters' names as long as we remember the characters themselves? My favorite hero is Sterling something in the "Price of Victory". I just loved "Red Kettle Christmas". I was on location when this story happened in 1947 but I can't name a single character in it. "The Lawman's Second Chance" is one of my all time favorite romances, but again, I can't name a single character it in.

    I wonder if even the authors can name their major characters once they've written five books or more. Of course, I remember Faith, Charity, (even Hope who died before the saga opens), Patrick and Marcy, but then those seven books together were about 3000 pages long. I hope the names would have sunk in by then.

    It seems to me that character names follow the advise given doctors:

    "First do no harm".

    A poor name choice can damage the reading enjoyment of a story but a good name need not make the story more memorable.

    Is it just me or is it typical for readers to not remember the names of the characters that they find memorable?

    Vince

    P.S.
    The most memorable character name that I've read by a Seeker is "Cody the Coyote". And I'm not kidding!

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  101. Julie, when I performed the first Google search of my name back in 2008 and saw that I was the only Keli Gwyn in cyberspace, I was surprised and pleased. So far, I'm still the only one, as far as I know. =)

    I'm excited that the famous Julie Lessman will have a character named Tess, too, hissing S's and all. Like you, I couldn't let pass up using the name on that account. It was perfect for my character and comes into play in a not-so-nice taunt from her childhood.

    I love giving characters nicknames, which I did in my debut novel (the story that bears your fingerprints in the opening chapter thanks to the critique I won in a contest). Sadly, my editor isn't as fond of them. Maybe when I'm a bestselling, award-winning beloved author like you, I'll have more leeway in that regard. I can hope, anyway. =)

    Wow, Julie, I didn't realize you're one of thirteen children. How did I miss that? So, are your Julie Mary, or did your mom ever go with Marie instead of Mary?

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  102. Kaybee, it's interesting to watch the popularity of certain names ebb and flow. I'm a 70's gal and have lots of Susans, Debbies and Lindas among my friends.

    What's the story behind your pen name: Melinda St. Botolph?

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  103. Jeanne, with your last name, I wouldn't be surprised if you're the only Jeanne Takenaka in cyberspace. That's the upside of having an unusually spelled name, isn't it? =)

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  104. Keli, YES I'm eternally grateful that my sister talked my mother out of Consuela...I just don't think it's me. Although for those Friends fans I could be like Phoebe and call myself Princess Consuela BananaHammock. (am I allowed to say that stuff on Seekerville?) Giggle.

    I promised myself I'd never name my kids anything they couldn't find on a coffee cup or pencil and then named my girls after Russian princesses. Tatiana and Anastayzha.

    Hi LoRee!! Great to see you here!

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  105. Great post, Keli! I've had a pet peeve about names in books for a long time! I hope I don't offend any authors here but it seems like there are SO many books whose hero and heroines have the names Luke, Jake, Olivia and Kate! I've talked to the many other readers also, and we are quite tired of those names! They are very nice names but it just seems that they are very overused! We'd like to see a little more variety! I have always wondered where authors get their "inspiration" about naming their characters!

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  106. Sandy, like you, I prefer it when characters have names that fit the period. I also like to know the story behind any unusual names or spellings for characters names. I'm just as curious about real people's names.

    Thanks for sharing the Baby Name Wizard site. It's fun to see the popularity of names over time. Some ebb and flow. I didn't realize Tess, the name of the heroine in Family of Her Dreams, was so popular now. However, Elenora, the heroine of my debut novel, isn't used anymore, according to the site.

    I think it's nice that your share your mother's middle name. We gave our daughter my middle name, Kristine, but sadly she doesn't care for it. Adriana's due date was December 21, but she was in no hurry to get here and kept us waiting until January 1. Because she was supposed to be a Christmas baby, we had the middle name Noelle picked out. Since she ended up arriving after Christmas, we didn't want to use that name after all. The trouble was, we didn't have an alternative. Since I'd had a Cesarean and wasn't feeling all that creative right after her birth, we went with my middle name, to her dismay. She loves Christmas and wishes we'd stuck to our original plan.

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  107. Laurie, your mother sounds like a woman with strong views on things, especially baby names. It must have been hard for your parents to come up with girls names at the last minute so many times.

    Milena is a pretty name. I hadn't heard it before.

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  108. Marianne, thanks for sharing the story behind your name. I'm sure your two grandmothers were honored to have a granddaughter named after them. It's nice that there names work together so well. I like the I in the middle. It makes your name more unique and more yours.

    Mitzi is a fun nickname. How special that one of the grandmothers whose names you bear gave it to you.

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  109. Tina, how cool that you're a planster, too. I'm all for mugs and T-shirts. =)

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  110. Sherida, thanks for pinning the infographic. I'm honored. I'm also happy since I spent much more time creating it than I care to admit. Yes, I'm a wee bit of a perfectionist. =)

    Your "Hope hoped" comment made me smile. Sounds like she needed to be a pessimist. I had a Will as a secondary character in my debut novel and had to avoid having other characters ask if "Will Will" do something.

    I love your name because it's both pretty and unique. I hope you do "meet" the other Sherida Stewart. I befriended a Kelly Gwyn on Facebook.

    Thanks for the kind words about Make-Believe Beau. I'm glad you're enjoying Flynt and Jessie's story.

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  111. LoRee, I wonder if we writers tend to gravitate to names beginning with certain letters. In my case, I find myself using the I (or Y) E-sound ending like my name has. In my published books, I have an Ellie, a Becky and a Jessie. The heroine of His Motherhood Wish, my March 2017 LIH that I just finished writing, is Callie.

    I've wondered how your name is pronounced. If I read your comment correctly, the accent is on the second syllable rather than the first. Is that right?

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  112. Caryl, it's nice to know that readers appreciate the thought we writers put into our stories. There's so much more to think about than I realized when I first dreamed of being a writer as a young girl, that's for sure. =)

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  113. My name (Jordan) came from some sci-fi show or movie that I can never for the life of me remember the name of, because there was a young girl on it with that name and my mom just loved it; thought it would be really unique. Unfortunately, so did lots of other moms apparently. Especially moms of little boys.

    My first name in my pen name (Jes Drew) came from my birth name- my parents named me with my initials spelling Jes because they wanted to be able to call me that as a nickname, but it never stuck and I just went as Jordan (I think it's an oldest child thing, but that might just me. Does anyone know any oldest children who go by nicknames?)

    Anyway, when it comes to names, I think you got all the necessary methods except possibly one: the names you randomly run into and love so much you decide to use it sometime on either a character or even your child when the next/right opportunity arises.

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  114. Becky, I like your name, too. Rebecca/Becky is the name I chose for the heroine of the second story I wrote after I started writing back in 2006. That story (in an oft-revised form) went on to become my second LIH and my third published novel, A Home of Her Own.

    Did you set out to give all of your seven children (an impressive number, btw) three-syllable names, or did it just work out that way? I'm guessing it's the former. They must like their names if only one of them has opted to use a shorter version.

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  115. If you really want to have some fun, set up a Google alert for your name! I'm always discovering "Myra Johnson" died or got arrested or something else not exactly flattering! (There are a few upstanding and successful "Myra Johnsons" out there, too, thankfully!)

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  116. Jan, it sounds like you have a great system for keeping track of the Amish names you use. I'd wondered if they were somewhat limited since I see the same ones used in many of the blurbs I see. I can imagine that with the large families they have, you would have to come up with lots of names.

    Like you, I dealt with a hero named James. He appeared in my second LIH, A Home of Her Own. He wasn't a Jim or a Jimmy, either, but a James. His older sister was the only one who could get away with calling him Jimmy. That meant I had to deal with the S-ending. Not fun, as you well know. I just avoided the possessive as much as possible. How fun that your friend Marge enjoyed the fact that your hero and heroine in that story share the names she and her husband have.

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  117. Keli, blame it on low blood sugar or something like that.

    I can't believe I was so lame and nice.

    I AM LOSING MY EDGE!!!!!

    Oy.

    I'm doing the 12 hour daily fasting "diet" which really isn't a diet because you can eat whatever you want, you just don't eat for a 12 hour period overnight. And it works fine because I don't ever eat breakfast, but when I hop into Seekerville early I am possibly STARVED and out of my head.

    I'm trying to wrap my head around being out of my head.

    I'm still laughing over the things I'm not supposed to say in a historical which I do believe makes me even more of a rule-breaker!

    Ay yi yi... But I was NICE TO THE GWYNSTER.

    Clearly I'm getting lax.

    NOTE TO SELF: Must take snark pills earlier.

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  118. Keli, I think Kristine is a beautiful middle name. That's too bad your daughter doesn't like it.

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  119. Barbara, I remember Barbara Stanwyck in the show The Big Valley. She had such a commanding presence and made an excellent matriarch.

    Although I can't relate, it must be hard having a name so common that there are two of you in your mail carrier's route. I'm sure the URL for your name was taken years ago. The good news is that when I type "Barbara Scott agent" in the Google search bar, you are the #1 hit. =)

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  120. My name is Deborah Ann, apparently I was named after Debbie Reynolds because that was my Father's favorite actress at the time I was born. Actually, I'm adopted and found out from my birth mom that she had named me Laura Lynn. Since there's more than one Deborah Weimer (maiden name) and Deborah Harkness (married), I've decided I may use a variant of Laura Lynn for my pen name (especially since there's already a pubbed Deborah Harkness who writes paranormal stuff - witch stories mostly).

    I named my son Nathaniel because it means Gift of God (I'm a late in life mommy who figured motherhood had passed me by). Daddy and mommy are scuba divers, however, so the little man acquired the nickname Guppy while still in the womb. Everyone said Daddy was the big fish (diver) so of course, his progeny would be the little fish and little fish are called guppies so...

    Little man broke his arm second day of kindergarten. His dominant hand, poor kid. A few days later he came home from school and asked if it was okay if he went by Nate. I told him if he was fine with kids calling him that, I was okay with it too. He'd already figured out it was much easier to write NATE with a cast than the longer NATHANIEL. Smart kid. ;)

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  121. Oh, duh...
    would love to have my name put in the draw for your book. forgot to mention that...

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  122. Vince, while I don't remember most characters names, one or two stand out. I think few of us actually remember the names. We remember the stories, the characters and how much we enjoyed both. I just figured that if anyone wrote stories with characters so memorable that their names stay with us, it would be our wonderful Seeker friends. =)

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  123. Sharee, I don't think I've ever watched an episode of Friends, but then, my husband and I don't watch much TV. We get DVDs of whatever show we've chosen from Netflix and enjoy one episode an evening.

    Your daughter's names are lovely. I'm sure they have to spell and pronounce them quite often, though. As far as personalized items, it's easy to find companies online that will put our names on whatever we want. =)

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  124. Valri, it does seem that just as names achieve popularity in the real world, they do the same in our fiction. I remember reading an agent's post or tweet a number of years ago about the preponderance of the name Addie. She was seeing it everywhere.Guess what the heroine of the story I was writing at the time was called? Yup. Addie! That story didn't sell, so at least I didn't add to the glut of Addie books.

    It can be hard to come up with unique names for those of us writing historicals. The Victorians weren't known for outside-the-envelope names, but I still opt for lesser used names when I can.

    As to inspiration for names, it can come from anywhere. I've used the names from Victorian name websites, old books, friends, relatives, ancestors, old newspapers, a directory of businessmen in my historic hometown and more. For a writer, any source works. Perhaps you'd be willing to tell us what names you'd like to see. Hint, hint. =)

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  125. Names! Hubby and I were determined to chose 'grown-up' names for our kids. Then we found out we were having girl/boy twins. No problem. I delivered planned girl (Katherine Elizabeth) and unplanned girl (Ryan Edward?)! Long story short they are: Katherine Nicole and Margaret Elizabeth!

    They were tiny babies with big names...so we called them Katy and Megan. Then added the German last name no one can spell or pronounce: Trietsch.

    Best intentions! I do keep a running list of names I like for my characters and I read somewhere to not start names with the same letter to cut down on confusion.

    I love the name Keli! My best friend growing up spelled hers the same and throughout our many moves I've become good friends with several more!

    Stephanie

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  126. Jordan, it seems a number of parents choose names for their children from stories, movies, TV shows, etc. that they've enjoyed. Since authors gather names from those they read or hear, it makes sense parents do the same thing.

    I can relate to having an androgynous or unisex name. When I was a girl, there were a number of boys named Kelly. There are still a few. My husband and I watched Chicago Fire. One of the lieutenants is named Kelly Severide. He's as manly as they come, but he shares my name. My mom spelled my name the way she did so it wouldn't look like a boy's name. It's not fun getting mail to Mr. Keli Gwyn, but it's happened, albeit less now than when I was younger. It seems many of the male Kellys have chosen to change their names, or so it seems, since I rarely meet one these days.

    You're right about certain names just grabbing us. We like them so much that we feel compelled to use them. The nice things is that we writers can create new stories and use the names. It's not as easy for parents. LOL

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  127. Myra, I set up a Google alert for my name years ago, but since I'm the only Keli Gwyn in cyberspace, I only hear about myself. That's one of the upsides of having two unusually spelled names. =)

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  128. Ruthy, I knew there had to be a reason you were so cordial. Being on a diet--any kind of a diet--will do strange things to a person. That's why I have a package of Nutter Butters nearby. =)

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  129. Sandy, thanks for the kind words about my middle name. I've always like all my names. I wish our daughter liked Kristine, but at least she loves her first name.

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  130. Hand over the Nutter Butters and no one gets hurt, Gwyn.

    Don't toy with me.

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  131. Great points about names! I have a daughter and son. We named our daughter Kimberly Anne - and our son - Anthony Kyle. KA and AK. It was years before we realized they had the same initials, only backwards.

    My current books (yes, I'm writing 2 and yes, I know I have to choose which one to finish first) my main characters are Ian and Maggie--guess what nationality they are and in the other book Isabella and Johnathan. Now if I just don't write about the couples in the wrong books...

    Please enter my name in the drawing!

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  132. Deb, how special to have two names, each given you by people who dearly love you. I like the idea of you using Laura Lynn (or some variant) as your pen name. That way your books will still bear one of your real names on them.

    I love the nickname you gave your later-in-life blessing. Guppy is so fitting for a boy born to scuba divers.

    I'm so sorry your son broke his arm when he's just started Kinder. I broke my right/dominant arm in first grade. It's tough to deal with, but he'll survive. And he's gotten a nickname he likes out of the ordeal. I do hope his arm heals up quickly. Casts aren't fun. I remember how light my arm felt when mine came off. It kept floating up. At least it felt like that to six-year-old me.

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  133. Stephanie, I love the names you chose for your twin girls. They have a Victorian feel to them. I'm partial to that era, as you might have figured out. =)

    I think nicknames are fun. I didn't realize Megan was short for Margaret, though. Megan is a name my husband and I considered when we first looked into baby names.

    I can see why your last name would be hard to pronounce. I studied German in school, and my husband and I lived in Germany for four and a half years early in our marriage. Because of that, I could do a better job than some of pronouncing it, but the SCH at the end could be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the language.

    What fun that your best friend from childhood was a K-E-L-I Keli. I was in my thirties before I met another person with my name spelled my way.

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  134. Ruthy, since you were nice to me this morning and since your diet allows you to eat anything you want, I'll share the Nutter Butters.

    Come to think of it, we could use some sustenance. I've ordered big platters of Subway sandwiches, so help yourselves, everyone.

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  135. Edwina, I love that your children ended up with mirror image initials without it even being planned. Such fun!

    Wow! Writing two books at once takes talent. I'm guessing Ian and Maggie just might be Irish. I don't know where Isabella and Johnathan hail from. I'm not used to that spelling of Jonathan. Is that a clue? If I were going on Isabella's name alone, I would lean toward Italian. Am I close?

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  136. What a wonderful post, Keli. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Naming characters is one of my favorite parts about being a writer. And I had a similar problem that you had. I wrote an Indie book where the heroine's name was Tess. Boy did that drive me crazy. I haven't made that mistake since. Thanks for the great post. Blessings.

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  137. KELI, you did a fabulous job nailing the characters' arc through the meaning of their names. Amazing! Thanks!

    Janet

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  138. I can see your fan club has eaten there way through the snacks. Time to call in the afternoon reserves..

    (What are good names for Italian Chefs??)

    Mario and Pasquale are here with the antipasta! And dessert cannolis.

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  139. Belle, what fun that you, Julie and I have all had characters named Tess--and survived all those hissing possessives. LOL

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  140. KELI, I don't see you as a warrior unless you defeat the enemy with kindness. :-) But it's fun to think of you as a mother bear. :-)

    Janet

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  141. TINA, yum! Thanks for the great Italian food. The best part, the pasta doesn't go to the hips.

    Janet

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  142. KELI,
    "Melinda St. Botolph" just sounded elegant and ritzy. I picture her as having loing talon fingernails, streaked and blown-out hair, and traveling with a masseuse, a nutritionist and one of those little yapping dogs in a basket. None of which I do.
    KB

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  143. KELI....yes Trixie Beldon is a very famous (before my time) mystery solving young lady in books. I've not had the pleasure of reading any of them, though! I know Kav likes (obsessives over?)her books :-) Also, her name ends in an "e" whereas mine doesn't. My sister's name is Melani...again no "e" at the end. I wonder if my mom had a phobia with the letter E?? Also, my last name is German; Oberembt. Did you know there's a town (province?) named that? My husband's descendants on his dad's side immigrated from Germany, don't know from which area though. Would be cool to trace it down!

    VINCE & the others....though I don't know the actress Anne Marie, I'm guessing all your guesses are correct for who she was. And yes, I've seen re-runs of the Honeymooners and knew about that show and the actress playing Trixi (e?) :-) To the moon, Alice, to the moon...lol...such classic comedy!

    I guess I'm going to have to ask my mom who the actress was and why she choose that particular name. I also know that my name is a variation of Beatrice or Beatrix; meaning "she who pleases" or "she who brings pleasure". I'd like to think I rather live up to my name :-) I love to see people smiling & bring them laughter or somehow bring joy to their day.

    I'm loving coming back and reading the various comments :-)

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  144. I used to consider my last name something of a burden because NOBODY PRONOUNCES IT RIGHT AN NOBODY SPELLS IT RIGHT.

    But when it came time to get a domain name for Mary Connealy ... it was unclaimed. So I've switched over to liking it.

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  145. Keli, so good to have you with us today. Sorry, I'm so late!!! I was working on graphics for tomorrow's blog. And trying to learn two new programs. I did succeed...but there was nothing speedy about my progress. Thus, the reason I'm so tardy!!!

    Great post! I love naming characters and have made a number of the mistakes you mentioned.

    Someone asked if anyone had changed a character's name at the completion of their story. I've had to twice, although they were secondary characters.

    For some reason, I work harder to come up with my heroes' names. Usually naming the heroine is a fairly easy process, although like Tina, I did have one heroine who never fit her name. Finally, at almost the end of the story, she revealed who she really was and what she wanted to be called. :)

    Before I met you in person, I pronounced your name Key-Lee. Then I learned it's Kelly, but with a different spelling. I still catch myself at times going back to Key-Lee! :)

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  146. DebH...I'm a Deborah Ann too! Same spelling! :)

    Hugs!

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  147. Subway.

    I'm in.

    And I brought chocolate chip cookies because I had a sudden penchant to be nice AGAIN.

    Whoa.

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  148. Wow look at all the comments. I wanted to chime in this morning but ran out of time before the dentist and all the exciting drama that ensued with this appointment and the vertigo that is super extreme today. The Lord is so good and so faithful.

    Now to the details of my name. I was born in Hiawassee, Georgia. For my parents first anniversary they went to Cherokee North Carolina where they went to the outdoor pageant they have every year. The hero for the Cherokee people was Tsali who gave his life so the Cherokees could remain in NC. His wife's name was Wilani so they decided they loved that name so when I was born a year and a half later that was what they did. My middle name is Lee. I don't know of any significance for it.

    In the legend Tsali and Wilani have a daughter named Nundayelli and I always loved that name and said I was going to name a daughter that. Of course having never married or had children that did not happen. My dad would call me Nundayelli as a special nick name.

    I have always been fascinated by this legend. I have not been able to find any information on the original Wilani so years ago the thought of one day I should write my own story. I am hoping to begin the writing for this in November.

    My family is not Cherokee, but Dad pastored a church in old Cherokee territory where I was born. Most people think the name is Hawaiian but that is not the case. I have always loved my name.

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  149. I've got a real strong tendency to name male characters with one syllable names with a long vowel. I especially lean toward long A sounds. Gabe, Gage, Wade, Clay, Rafe, Trace. Then I go for one syllable names with a DIFFERENT long vowel sound.

    Kyle, Mike, Heath, Luke.

    But I try to knock myself out of that rut occasionally. Tom, Silas, Ethan, Red, Seth, Daniel, Wyatt, Grant.

    But I always want to go back to those one syllable, long A names and any time I see one in another book, I grab it.

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  150. Can you believe there are other Debby Giustis in the world?

    BTW: Think of JUICE and TEA to remember me! JUICE + TEA = GIUSTI

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  151. Waving to Jan and agreeing that Amish characters can be challenging due to the small name bank.

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  152. Keli, where did you live in Germany? We were in Aschaffenburg for three years. It's an hour south-east of Frankfurt...and about 30 minutes from Rothenburg, if you ever toured that delightful medieval city.

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  153. Great post, Keli! Thanks for all the tips on choosing names.

    Just home from a family reunion...Southern Ozark heritage...talk about names...what a hoot!! My cousins and I had such fun deciphering how one might pronounce a name written on the back of an old photo. Since no one had heard it, we made up our own pronunciation! Some we knew...like an uncle name Elda, but we heard our grandparents call him Uncle Eldee. And our great-grandmother was a twin...her name was Ma Dora (Ma pronounced Muh) and her twin was, La ( pronounced Luh) Nora. Usually, everyone went by their middle name, like our cousin, Sondra Doraleen or they were called by both names as if it were one name, like Lloyd Joe or Melba Jean or Johnnie Sue. We had such a LOT of fun! And, those delightful old photos full of rich details! Love those family times!!

    My daddy gave me my first name, Kathryn, which I love! My momma gave me my middle name after her mother, Delores. I've gone by almost all the variations of Kathryn...Kate, Katie, Kay, Katrine, Katrina, Kathy, and after the Hunger Games, my writer friends started calling me Kateness.

    Thanks for a delightful discussion of names! Please throw my name in kitty bowl if not too late! Take care!!

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  154. Keli, Great post! Very interesting! I saw that you think my name is pretty but I've never liked it. (Sorry Mom if you're reading this but I think you knew that.) My mom said she picked it because she liked it. I know she was/is a Four Seasons fan and their song "Dawn (Go Away)" did come out that year. I do like the idea that I was named after a song even if I wasn't really. I don't like my name because:
    * my name is frequently mispronounced as "Don",
    * no one can usually spell it when I try to leave my name at a restaurant or for an order on the phone,
    * if people tell me they like my name, the next question is generally what's your middle name or they comment "I know someone named Dawn and her middle name is Marie". My middle name does start with an M but is not "Marie". Sometimes when I explain that, people look at me like "why" as if the only possible middle name to go with Dawn is Marie.
    * and I could never have a nickname. When I named my kids, that was a requirement.

    Your comment about nicknames in books reminded me of a book I read LAST year. I don't remember the book or the author (so I hope it wasn't a Seeker or someone on this thread). Everything was pretty good with the book until page 100 when all of a sudden the author started using a nickname for one of the secondary characters. It wasn't used in conversation between the characters but in a description of action. For example, one sentence was "William moved the basket from the table to the car." and the next was "Billy rearranged the contents of the car." This went on for several pages then I think it stopped or showed up at random times. I don't recall any of the characters using the nickname when speaking. I totally thought it was odd and obviously it has stuck with me. Because it was so random and showed up 100 pages into the book, I thought maybe it was a new character. But that didn't make sense because why would you have two names that could get mixed up. I tried reaching out to the author to try find out why she did it. Her response was that Billy was a nickname for William and that's why she used it. It totally affected the story for me because I still can't forget it. It affected my review - in fact, I may have decided not to do one. (If I can't give a 3 or higher, I usually don't bother. One exception is if it was awful and I feel the need to warn people.) I do not recommend that any author do this.

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  155. Keli, could you put my name in the cat dish? I've love to win a copy of your book.

    Tina, Are there any cinnamon rolls left? If so, please pass one my way.

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  156. Dawn, you will have to enlighten me about how your name is pronounced. You said most people pronounce it "Don." I suppose I would be one of them as to me they sound exactly the same. How would they be pronounced differently?

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  157. Names are so fun! I think I scared my mom a bit with how much time I spent on behindthenames.com as a teenager... but it was for character names, I promise!

    But then eventually I did have real babies and we put a lot of thought into the meanings of their names: Josephine Anneliese (God will add abundant grace) and Solomon Augustine (peaceful might) and oh my goodness do their names fit them perfectly!

    On another note, I've been developing a story concept (well, mulling over) for a couple of years now and CANNOT figure out the right name for my heroine! The name I keep settling on is just not a strong enough name... *sigh* Hopefully I'll figure it out soon... it's the next project I want to work on when I finish my current WIP!

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  158. Oh! I forgot to answer the question about my own name! My parents picked "Megan" because they had never heard it before and thought it was pretty... and then 5 other Megans were born in the same hospital the same day :O

    And my middle name, Lindsay, is a family name - from the Lindsay clan, like the clan in Scotland. So I've always been very interested in the Scots!

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  159. Good news is, Keli has been the hostess with the mostess. Bad news is we had to pull in two more cats dishes for prize entries!!! Find out Saturday who are the lucky commenters to win a copy of Make-Believe Beau!

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  160. The name story I'll never forget is a real one. For my son's middle name, we chose a less familiar spelling of a name to make it unique (as if also giving our kid a Japanese name wasn't unique enough). The hospital thought we had spelled it wrong and decided to correct it for us. For parents who have children in Oregon, the state of Oregon provides a birth certificate that is so nice it is frame-worthy. When they have to issue a correction, the correction isn't that impressive.

    On a related issue, giving a child a Japanese name increase the likelihood that it will be mispronounced by a pastor during a Baptism.

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  161. Actually, it's two names.

    1) Younger son. His middle name is "Edisen." The hospital spelled it "Edison." His Japanese name is Koh. This is fairly easy to pronounce, for someone whose first language is English. For my son's baseball coach, a native Spanish speaker, it took two baseball seasons.

    2) Older son. His Japanese name is Ryou. At the Baptism, the pastor pronounced it "Rye - Oh" That wasn't it. :-)

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  162. Yeah, I can see where that would be problematic. I can't even get people to spell Radcliffe right.

    Nice Japanese epic romance novel hero names, btw.

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  163. Great post, Keli! (Sorry I'm sooo late stopping by - - not sure where this day went, LOL)

    My Mother's best friend was Irish and had the maiden name of Patrick. That's why I was named Patti (I'm so glad Mama spelled my name with an "I" although it often gets spelled with a Y or IE). I am not a Patricia - - just Patti. :) The Jo is a family name - - my precious grandmother and aunt were both named Josephine, but my aunt went by "Jo" so Mama named me after her. Patti Jo, a true southern name! ;)

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  164. Dawn, that is an odd tale.


    Are you kidding about the cinnamon roles. Once Mary Connealy, pronounced, KUKNEELIE or CON-A-LEE?? I just call her Mary. Anyhow she ate them all.

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  165. What history your name has, Patti Jo. Love it!!!

    What? Did you come without peach something???????

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  166. Ease of pronunciation is helpful for Japanese names for heroes (and heroines), but I can only use the name "Ichiro Suzuki" so many times.

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  167. Sandy Smith, I pronounce my name "Duh-awn" (rhymes with Shawn). An online dictionary has it as (dôn) - the sound thing on the dictionary sounds right especially with a British accent.

    Mary Connealy, I can't believe you ate ALL the cinnamon rolls. I knew there was only a slight chance of any being left at the end of the day but I'm surprised you ate them all. Good thing I was able to snag one of Keli's Subway sandwiches and Ruthy's Chocolate chip cookies. Thanks Keli and Ruthy!

    Thanks Keli for having 3 cat dishes! I haven't been to Seekerville often - your post definitely got lots of great responses. I'll be back again soon.

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  168. I'm sorry I disappeared. Earlier this summer our daughter returned from three living and working in years in Europe. She's in the process of moving into her first apartment in a nearby town. I'm helping her, and I was called on to do just that this afternoon and evening. It's wonderful to see our gal's new place filling up with her things, but it's weird not to have any of them in our house. Her room is so empty now that it echoes in there.

    I'll respond to the comments I missed with my apologies for my tardiness.

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  169. I'd pronounced Dawn as Dorn rather than Don, although that might still be the New Zealand accent coming through.

    I'm Iola (pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola) Goulton ... as if Iola wasn't unusual enough. It's Welsh, and I like it.

    I laughed at your comments about initials. I once read a novel with a main character named Paul Ignatius Greatoreaux (sp?), and he was a bit of a PIG. Funnier still, I read a review of the novel written by a Paul Ignatius Greatoreaux - he'd read the book on the basis of the character's name!

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  170. Tina, thanks for the delicious Italian food you brought. It's my second favorite, coming in right after Mexican. I'm helping myself to a late night snack.

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  171. Kaybee, your other self sounds fascinating. I'd love to have a masseuse travel with me. After three days spent hauling boxes and furniture for our daughter's move, I could use a massage.

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  172. Trixi, I prefer your spelling of your name. After all, my Keli ends with just a cute little I, too. I like the spelling of your sister Melani's name, too.

    If the Oberembt you're referring to is up by Cologne (Köln), Germany, my husband and I were fairly close to it once when we visited the famous Cologne cathedral back in the days when we lived in Germany. It would be fun to see which part of Germany your husband's family came from.

    And as for living up to your wonderful name, you most certainly do. You've added pleasure to many of my days.



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  173. Mary, there is something to be said for distinctive names, isn't there? And just so's I don't join the many who mispronounce Connealy, could you remind me of the correct way to say it? My guess is Cun-knee-lee with the accent on the first syllable. Am I close?

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  174. Debby, Debby, I hear you on learning new programs. I spent plenty of time learning how to create the infographic I used in the post. I could have used the time for other things, but I reminded myself that mastering new technologies is supposed to help us remain mentally sharp.

    I'm glad your reticent character finally let you know who she was and what she wanted her name to be. It's tough when a heroine withholds that info.

    I smiled at your admission that you thought my name was pronounced Key-Lee. I had a number of teachers through the years call me that on the first day of school, and I endured the resulting snickers and giggles of those who knew me.

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  175. Debby, I don't know why I stuttered on your name. I'm going to blame it on fatigue. This mom is mighty tired after helping her gal move into her first apartment. Sorry about my goof.

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  176. Ruthy, chocolate chip cookies are wonderful. Thanks for those you brought. I have a soft spot for them. Gwynly and I met over a plate of chocolate chip cookies that he'd brought to a singles group function at church. =)

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  177. Wilani, I'm sorry you were dealing with some mighty pesky vertigo today. Couple that with a less than enjoyable dental appointment, and it's a recipe for a rough day. I hope tomorrow is better.

    I love the story of how your name came to be. Your parents obviously put a lot of thought into it. It's sweet that your dad had that special nickname for you.

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  178. Mary, it sounds like your formula for coming up with heroes' names works well for you. There are some nice strong manly names in your comment. I have a great nephew named Gage. =)

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  179. Debby, we lived in Fürth by Nürnberg. Actually we were in a teeny tiny village called Flexdorf. It was so small that our big claim to fame was that we had a German Post mail collection box!

    We visited Rothenburg a number of times. I love that historic town with its picturesque square, big Käthe Wohlfahrt year 'round Christmas store and snowball pastries. Ah, the memories!

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  180. Kathryn, I'm glad you had such a great time at your family reunion. What great names some of your ancestors had. My mom grew up in Texas, and her first and middle names were run together back then: Patsy Ann.

    How special that your parents each chose one of your names. I love all the variation so Kathryn that you've gone by. Your friend's recent nickname of Kateness is my favorite.

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  181. Dawn, I'm sorry you don't care for your name. Sadly, that happens sometimes. As parents, it's hard to pick names our children will like. We hope they do, but that isn't always the case.

    As I've mentioned in earlier comments today, our daughter loves her first name but doesn't like her middle name. That makes me sad since she and I share the same middle name, but I don't make a big deal about it. One day she could face the difficult task of choosing names for my future grandchildren, and then she'll understand both the excitement and the uncertainty that go into the task. This just shows how much our names matter to us.

    I'm sorry you encountered a book with an unexplained nickname that you found confusing. I think that's why my editor cautions me against using multiple names for one character. If I do, I make sure the reader understands when and why the nickname came into play. Confused readers are not happy readers.

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  182. Megan, choosing names for a child is a weighty responsibility, isn't it? I think you did a great job with those you and your husband chose for your children.

    I wish you well as you search for just the right name for your new character. Perhaps she'll finally let you know what she'd like to be called, the stubborn gal. =)

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  183. Megan, others have alluded to the sudden popularity of the name Megan in the comments today. It's interesting how a certain name will come into vogue like that, isn't it?

    I like how your middle name reflects your family heritage.

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  184. Walt, it's sad that the hospital staff tried to "help" you out by "correcting" the spelling of your own son's name. I'm sure they meant well, but it does seem presumptuous of them.

    We experienced a name correction of sorts when our daughter was born. We were living in Germany at the time, where Carl was a teacher with the Department of Defense Dependents School, a civilian position. That meant we didn't get military hospital privileges, which was fine with us. We wanted to use the German system anyhow, which we did.

    Our daughter was born in a German hospital a block from the one-thousand-year-old Nürnberg castle. When the nurse wheeled in our gal's little baby bed for the first time, Carl noticed that the nurse had put a cute name card in teh slot with our daughter's name spelled Adriana, which was the German spelling. We'd planned to use a more phonetic American spelling so people would know how to pronounce it: Audrianna. When we saw the other spelling, we liked it so much that we changed it, a decision our daughter is very glad we made. Sometimes so-called mistakes actually work out. =)

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  185. Patti Jo, your name suits you so well. You exude Southern hospitality and charm. I like the way your name is spelled, too. I'm a real fan of I endings. They beat IE, Y, or EY in my book. Yes, I'm a wee bit biased. =)The other endings are nice, but mine fits me as yours does you.

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  186. Iola, I'm glad you shared the pronunciation of your name. I had it in mind the wrong way. My last name is Welsh, so I understand how different Welsh names can be, especially those with only a Y for a vowel. I've heard Gwyn pronounced many ways over the years. It's said like the girl's name Gwen. When I tell people that, they usually get it.

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  187. What a great post, Keli. Thank you for sharing such valuable information.

    In my first novel, I went with any names that "sounded right." Talk about a lesson learned. That wasn't always the 'right' thing to do. Oops!

    For my second, my friend's daughter Emma once told me she wished her name was Emily but I thought she'd said Emma Leigh. The name stuck with me. In the story, her nickname is Emi (pronounced Em-ee) and is used throughout. When I selecting the surname Roberts, the actress Emma Roberts never came to mind. Double Oops!! By the time it did, I decided to keep it since I never use EMMA ROBERTS. It's always Emi or, when Dad's upset he uses all three names. Again, though, good lesson learned.

    There is a slew of Renee Blanchard (maiden name) in the world. But it looks like I'm the only Renee-Ann Giggie (married name, usually mispronounced, it's like Giggle with an I instead of an L, and YES, I've been called Mrs. Giggle!).

    In our family, it is customary for a child to bear his/her godparent's name as a middle name. My parents gave me the first Renee. My godmother forbade them to give me her name - Esmeralda - as a middle so they chose Anne. In my teens I dropped the E and hyphenated them together, thus Renee-Ann. I used Esmeralda as a secondary character in my first novel.

    Would love to win a copy of your book if there's still time to enter! :D

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  188. Keli,

    Great tips!

    I was supposed to be "Edward, Jr." but it didn't work out quite that way! My parents were so hopeful for a boy (my mom had been told by her doctor that there would be no more pregnancies) they had only picked out a boy's name. So the nurse suggested "Edwina" which is the feminine version of Edward. When I was a child, I really did not like my name - it was mispronounced frequently and it was so unusual. It is still mispronounced and unusual - I've only heard of 4 other people named Edwina. But I love my name now. My dad was a wonderful Christian man and I'm proud to carry his name.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

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  189. Hi Keli,this was such good information. I am positively obsessed with names. I strive for ease of use, the historical value and meanings, and--especially--Biblical perspectives. As for characters, my police chief has his name crest on the wall behind his desk. It's all those touches that make the names--both first name and last--add depth of character. Many thanks for the great topic!

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  190. Wow! all that just to pick names.. Very interesting, I see why some authors ask for name ideas in my FB groups..
    toss me in the hat please :)

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  191. Dawn, thank you for the clarification of your name. I think the way certain words are pronounced is a difference in dialect. I have to tell you that in my way of speaking Shawn and Don also rhyme. Another one of those words that has a dialect difference is cot and caught and I say them exactly the same way. So I can see why that is hard for you when people like me can't hear the difference!

    Keli, I'm glad you explained how your last name is pronounced. I figured it was a short i sound. I'm sure you do get it mispronounced all the time.

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  192. KELI ASKED: "Wow, Julie, I didn't realize you're one of thirteen children. How did I miss that? So, are your Julie Mary, or did your mom ever go with Marie instead of Mary?"

    LOL ... I'm Julie Asumpta Mary Winterer, the 2nd name in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  193. I love meeting new authors through Seekerville! I am now following you on Goodreads and have added your books to my wishlist!

    I'm not sure that there is a unique story behind my name, my Mom just liked it. My middle name, Elizabeth, is after her favorite aunt. I like my name because it's simple and not widely used, although can still be misspelled. I'm glad my Mom kept the spelling classic--even if I am named for a prickly bush with poisonous red berries. lol

    I'm looking forward to reading your book, Keli, whether I win a copy or not! But thanks for entering me in the drawing. :)

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  194. My middle name is Elizabeth too, though like your first name, only because my mother thought it was pretty. And put a vowel in the middle of my initials. I really like my middle name too- especially the classic version (which even I would have to be careful not to misspell when I was little!)

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  195. My dad loved the song "Linda" when it came out. As the first daughter, I inherited the name, and he would sing the song to me. Talk about feeling like Daddy's little princess! My middle name, Carole, is for my mother's favorite cousin. My married last name has a good story behind it. Legally, it's Samaritoni, but when the family entered Ellis Island, the name was Sammaritani. American agents changed it. As a pen name, I have chosen Sammaritan. I'm sure Sammaritani had something to do with the Good Samaritan, so I feel like it's a great name to use as an author of Christian books.

    Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

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  196. Hi, Keli!!

    Such an interesting post on character names - thank you!!

    I'm satisfied with my name - there may be names I feel are more intriguing or prettier, but also those that are much worse.

    I'd love to read 'Make Believe Beau' - please drop my name in the drawing. Thank you so much!!

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