Archive for the character names Category

New Name Winners!

Thank you, everyone, for participating! I love your enthusiasm for this. After 15 novels that require about 50 names each—if you throw in all the witnesses, family members, and casual mentions—I really appreciate your help with this. On my own, I end up thumbing through the phone book, the only reason I keep one around, but getting your input is definitely more fun.

But choosing winners is always a tough call. Debra, I love the name Octavious, and I will use it in this story. Probably not for a name that appears over and over, because it’s three syllables, but I’ll find just the minor character for it.

The suggestions for the twins were all good, but in the end I liked Stephanie’s suggestion of Henry and Jacob Lowe. My only concern is that some readers may think I’ve taken the name association too far by calling homeless men Lowe (low), so I may keep Harvick, but I’ll use Henry and Jacob. And in case you’re wondering, the characters are based on real people here in Eugene.

Such great name suggestions for the young activist. Jane, I loved the name Kara Walsh, but Jackson’s girlfriend is Kera, so it’s too close. Darn! Otherwise, Eden, Sydney, and Caprice were my favorites, and I finally had to ask my husband to pick one because I couldn’t make up my mind. He liked Sydney Willow, so congratulations to Susan!

The police officer is most important, so it was the hardest decision. Especially since most of his fellow officers refer to him by his last name, but Detective Schakowski (who’s his cousin) refers to him by his first name. So both names have to be just right. I liked Chet Harris (from John), and Pete McCaughey (from Risa), and Brent Scully (from Ann).

But after much consideration, I went with Daniel Thompson. It’s strong, yet friendly, and Schak, who grew up with him, calls him Danny. Congratulations to Steve, who submitted by email.

I’ll try to contact everyone about their free ebook, but if you don’t hear from me, please send me an email so I can get a copy of The Target to you. If you’ve already read it and liked it, please leave me a review on  Amazon. And if you’ve read it, I can put on a list for a free ebook of my next Dallas thriller instead.

Thanks again for playing!

One More Time for Character Names

Believe or not, I’m writing my tenth Jackson story! I’m getting excited about this one. The action is intense, the emotions run high, and the body count is a little freaky. But right now the manuscript is full of places where I’ve typed XXX, instead of a name. Because I didn’t want to slow down the flow of the scene to come up with the right moniker.

So once again I’m asking for your help. Even the names you submit that I don’t chose for the main characters, I’ll try to use for the many small-part characters—as I always have. I’m sure many of you have seen your own names in my books, along with your other suggestions.

First up, I have homeless male twins in their mid-thirties, who end up as suspects. Their temporary names are Dustin and Josh Harvick but I think we can do better, at least on the first names. I’d like to avoid names that are too similar (ie., Zeke and Zack), because readers might get confused.

There’s also a young female activist, who is a crusader for the rights of the homeless. I’ve called her Willow, because that fits Eugene, but it may not be strong enough for her. Give me your best suggestions, and we’ll see.

And the story opens with a male, 40-something police officer, a really good guy, whose name I’ve changed three times already. So it’s time to throw that one to my creative readers and see what you come up with.

I’ll give free ebooks of The Target (Agent Dallas #2) to everyone who participates, and a couple of printed copies to the grand winners.

Thanks for your input, as always!

New Character Name Winners!

Thanks for participating! As always, people made creative suggestions. Most readers also submitted several names, so I have plenty to use for minor characters as well. So chances are, you’ll see all these names pop up in the next Agent Dallas story. As info, I received lots of submissions via email—in response to my blog going out that way—so many of the names and winners here don’t show up in the comments of the original post. Here’s how it went for choosing the winners.

For the actor/victim, I was torn between Richard King (submitted by Dani at Blog Book Tours) and James Avery, submitted by John Kurtze. Both names have the sophisticated tone I was looking for. In the end, I chose James Avery, so congratulations, John.

There were plenty of great names offered for the male CEO too, such as William Grissom, Malone William, and Michael Pence. See the  pattern? Most of you were on the same page with an upscale, old-world kind of name. But this CEO is a little more new age, with a technology background, so my favorite offering was the first name Max, submitted by Marvene Carroll. And I think I’ll use Grissom as his last name. So Stephanie Grissom, who submitted her own full name, wins an ebook too.

As for the young Hispanic detective: I liked the suggestion Raul Acosta. But I’m leery of using three-syllable names for main/POV characters because I worry they’re too much work for readers. I also liked Jose Cortez, submitted by Susan Mobley, but I think too many people will mispronounce or stumble over his first name. So I combined the two suggestions and named the detective Raul Cortez. So both participants get an ebook. (I reserve the right to change my mind about this if the possessive version (Cortez’s) starts become problematic.)

The toughest choice was the female CEO. I loved the names Veronica, Madeline, and Adrianna. But this character is a little more aggressive than those names imply. Because several people submitted Theresa, with Risa as a shortened version in one case, I thought I would use it. Then I remembered that I have another prominent character with a similar sounding name that I didn’t want to give up. Bummer. But I still like the name Risa, submitted by Risa Rispoli, do I’ll use her whole name as a minor character, probably a reporter. At the last minute, someone submitted Cherryl, and it grabbed me. The name is strong and easy to pronounce. So I combined it with the placeholder name I was already using, Decker, and the female CEO will be called Cherryl Decker. Congratulations to Cherryl Thomson, who submitted her own name and also to Risa, who wins an ebook as well.

But the grand-prize winner was an unexpected name for a minor character I mentioned in passing. Betty Weaver submitted the name Grumpy for the detective’s pet, a pot-bellied pig. I loved it, so Betty wins a print book of her choice. Thanks, Betty, for making the effort!

Everyone else with winning submissions gets a free ebook of their choice. Or if you’ve already read everything I’ve written, I can gift an ebook to someone else for you, or I can send you an early copy of my next book (Agent Dallas #2). Thanks again for participating! You make this part of the planning fun for me.

More Character Names, Please!

Book one of the Agent Dallas series, The Trigger, has finally launched, and I’m working on book two. I have a title idea, but I’m waiting to share it until I have the cover ready. In the meantime, I’d like your help with names again. And I’m giving away ebooks of The Trigger (or ebook of your choice) to all the winners of the names I choose, and a print book of your choice to whoever submits my favorite name of the bunch.

In this new story, Agent Dallas infiltrates a medical technology company suspected of corporate sabotage and terrorism. She doesn’t know who is responsible for the attacks, but the company is headed by a male CEO and a female COO, both in their forties. The male executive has a business/technology background and the female has a business/biology background. They’re both ambitious and demand absolute loyalty from their employees.

I also need the name of male victim. He’s a new type for me: a fifty-something famous actor—a bachelor with a big heart (think George Clooney) who seems to have died of an overdose, but whose body show signs of bondage.

The detective who investigates his death is an early-thirties male who lives in San Diego and has a mixed Latino/Anglo heritage. He’s tough and eager to prove himself, but also has a soft spot for Hollywood stars, ballroom dancing, and an aging pot-bellied pig.

That should keep you busy—and possibly confused!

Don’t worry that most of these characters are men. There are plenty of women in the story, but two of the main protagonists—Agent Dallas and Agent River—are already established from previous books.

As always, I will use as many of the submitted, non-winning names as I can for minor characters such as witnesses, suspects, and family members. Feel free to submit your own!

Post your name submissions in the comments or email me. Thanks for your participation!

Name a Character—Win A Book

I’m going gangbusters on my new Jackson novel (#9), but I keep getting stuck trying to decide names. So I often throw something in—so I can keep writing—and tell myself I’ll think of the right name later.

Well, 20,000 words in, it’s time to settle on some names. And readers are always so helpful, I’m asking everyone to pitch in again. I’ll make it worth your while, of course, by giving away a print copy of Crimes of Memory, Jackson #8 to my favorite submission, or if you prefer, an ebook when it’s released on Oct. 15. I also have print and ebook ARCs of The Trigger, a standalone thriller coming out January 1 for other entries I like. Winners get to chose their prize.

In this new (nameless) story, Jackson investigates the death of a young woman who works as a caregiver but has a shadowy existence and no connections to anyone. I need a name for her and her three-year-old son, who becomes quite attached to Jackson.

My first thought for the boy was Cory, but I already have too many K sounds in Jackson’s personal world (Katie and Kera). So I switched his name to Milo, which I really like, but sadly, I decided the name is too much like Micah (Kera’s grandson). I try not to confuse readers. So I’m looking for something sweet—for the boy, that is. (I’m personally trying to give up sugar…again.)

In addition, one of the suspects is a fourteen-year-old who lives next door, a skater who claims to hate guns and violence, yet has a collection of knives He needs a more compelling name than Josh, the placeholder I’m using.

And being one of my complex mysteries, there’s a second victim, a star UO football player, a quarterback with emotional baggage that I really can’t reveal. So I need three young male names of varying ages.

Feel free to submit for all, or just one…if it seems perfect. You can leave a comment or email me with your submissions. Thanks for participating.

New Contest Winners!

Thanks, everyone, for participating! And for making several suggestions each.

Yyonne, I love all your hacker nicknames: Zero Byte, Reaper, Troller. How fun. In fact, I’m going with Greg “Reaper” Rafferty. So you’re the first winner.

And Betsy, as soon as I saw the name Grace, I knew it was perfect for the engineer character. I may use Lopez as her last name too. If not, something very similar. Thank you! Let me know which book you want.

Melinda, I really appreciate your faithful support of my writing and my blog. And I love the name Caleb McCullen for the male FBI agent. So you’re the third winner. I suspect you’ve read all my Jackson books, but I have three standalone thrillers to choose from.

Thanks again, loyal readers! Click here to email me.

Wanted: More Character Names

Yes, it’s that time again! I’m writing another standalone thriller and I need character names. You readers are so good at coming up with interesting monikers that I had to get your help again.

This thriller features FBI agent Jamie Dallas, whom I introduced in Jackson #8—which you haven’t read because it won’t be released until the first of next year. Or that’s what I hear. I’m still hoping for an earlier publication date.

But first, THANK YOU for your support of Rules of Crime. It’s currently #25 in the whole Kindle store! Very exciting. I couldn’t do this without you.

In this new book, Agent Dallas goes undercover again, this time in an isolated community near Redding, California. I’d love to tell you more about the group and the plot, but I feel proprietary about the theme. I worry that another writer will grab the idea and self-publish a similar story before I can get mine released through Thomas & Mercer.

I’m a third of the way into the novel, and I’ve already decided the names of the main antagonists, but I need names for other members of the community. For example, a female engineer who’s in her forties and ex-military. And a young male hacker, who’s not a very nice guy.

And maybe a male FBI agent. I’m currently calling him Garret McCully, but if you want to suggest something else, feel free. He’s 32 and an outdoorsman.

I’m no longer able to give away ebooks, but for the winners, I have a couple print copies of Rules of Crime (or any other Jackson book you prefer). I’ll soon have copies of the new versions of my standalone thrillers too. So if you don’t mind waiting, those are winner options as well.

And as usual, I’ll try to use as many of the names you submit for other people who pop up in the story.

Let’s see what you’ve got. Thanks for participating!

Winners & Rules of Crime Excerpt

Thanks again for all who participated in the contest. It’s so fun seeing the creative names everyone comes up with, and I look forward to finding a spot for most of them in this new story.

Here are some of my favorites that I’ll use (but didn’t win for complex reasons): Adam Greene for the eco-terrorist. But the book has more than one such bad guy, so I’ll definitely work him in. And I loved Thistle Caruthers, but my FBI agent is a woman, so he’ll have to be a witness or suspect. Charlotte Fitzroy is a great name, and so is Preston Walker, but I’ve used that first and last name in recent stories.

And Fiona Beatrix Ingram for the FBI agent? Awesome! Thanks, Dani. My character will probably use it as her alias. We’ll see what my editor thinks and how the story progresses.

For now, I’ve picked Russell Crowder for the main eco-terrorist (aggressive tone!), and Jamie Barnes (easy for readers) for the young female FBI agent. But I used Jamie in Secrets to Die For so my editor might veto it. I’ll try to contact everyone individually, but if you don’t hear from me, please contact me and let me know which ebook you want in in which format.

And because I can’t wait, I’m posting an excerpt of the first chapter of Rules of Crime, which will be released in late February.

____________________________________________

Saturday, January 7, 4:35 p.m.

Renee Jackson slipped out of the AA meeting a little early. She felt queasy and didn’t want to talk to anyone after it adjourned. She shouldn’t have come. The secret drinking had been going on for weeks and the meetings weren’t helping. It was time to check herself into rehab, but she couldn’t bear the thought of her daughter knowing she’d relapsed again.

Renee zipped her jacket against the cold, shuddering at the gray sky that seemed to swoop down and smother her. Christ, it was getting dark already.

Could she get away with one more shot of vodka without Ivan or anyone noticing? Probably. She kept a thermos in her car, along with a bottle of mouthwash. Her ex-husband Wade, the detective, would know as soon as she spent five minutes with him. So far she’d managed to avoid him.

She waited for the traffic to pass, then trotted across the street to her car, pumps clicking on the asphalt. She’d parked in the alley next to the vegan restaurant, not wanting anyone to see her Acura RDX near the Jesco building. Not that anyone she knew would be in the Whitaker neighborhood. If Eugene, Oregon had a slum, this would be it.

As she entered the alley, two men stepped out from behind a large dumpster. Renee took in the details in a quick painful breath. Baggy jeans, heavy jackets, and tattooed necks. Gang members.

Her heart skipped a beat. Could she make it to her car, get in, and lock the door? Or should she turn and run? She froze, paralyzed with fear. Too late to dash to her car. Renee spun and started back toward the Jesco building. She wanted to run but was afraid to, feeling like she had a predatory animal behind her that would only be excited by the chase.

Then she saw Dave, the meeting leader, hurrying across the street toward her. Thank god. A car barreled past just as he stepped onto the sidewalk.

“Renee, I wanted to talk.” He smiled but his tone was serious as he reached for her arm.

She glanced over her shoulder. The gang members turned and headed back down the alley. Had they ever been a threat? Was the alcohol making her paranoid already? It usually took years.

“I’m sorry, Dave, but I don’t have time. That’s why I left early.”

“I know you’re drinking, Renee. Can I do anything to help?”

It took every ounce of self-control she had not to burst into tears. God, she hated herself. “I’ve got it under control. Thanks, though.”

She spun and trotted to her car, unlocking it with her clicker. Guilt made the sick feeling in her gut worse. Dave was a good guy, but she wasn’t ready to talk about her drinking. Her fiancé, Ivan, was a casual drinker and she knew she had to make an impossible choice. Renee started the car and backed toward the street. In the growing darkness, she heard the rumble of an engine. Was it the thugs’ car? She peered down the alley, framed by thick shrubs on one side and the backside of the restaurant on the other. Headlights came on.

Renee glanced back at Blair Boulevard, saw no traffic, and gunned her car into the street. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Dave head into the Jesco building. He glanced back at the revved sound of her car and Renee looked away. She raced to the first stoplight and grabbed the thermos of Vodka from under her car seat. After a quick sip, she shoved the metal container back. Her chest warmed and her panic subsided.

An engine rumbled behind her. Definitely not a new-model car. The same sound she’d heard in the alley. She glanced in her rearview mirror. A red low-rider, idled behind her. The driver wore a heavy dark jacket and had a shaved head. Why were they following her?

Renee jumped on the green light and sped through the intersection. To go home, she needed to turn right, cross downtown, and head south. She’d moved in with Ivan a month ago, giving up her apartment by the park to live in his plush, oversized home in the foothills. She wasn’t ready to face him, but had no idea where she was headed. Was she ready to quit drinking? Damn! How had she let herself get into this mode again? Would the cycle ever stop?

Instinctively, she drove toward the university area.

A quick glance in the rearview mirror told her the low-rider was still back there, but not directly behind her anymore. She gave a little sigh of relief. They were just going in the same direction. It happened all the time.

She kept driving, not knowing where, not making conscious decisions. Ten minutes later, she parked a half block from Serenity Lane, an in-patient rehab center for drugs and alcohol that was tucked into a quiet residential area near the campus. The site of the building made her cringe. Renee reached for the thermos and took a long slow belt of vodka. She’d never make it through the door this sober. Grabbing her phone from the seat, she started to text Katie, but couldn’t do it. Not yet. She’d call her daughter later, after she checked in.

Renee clutched her purse and stepped from the car. Would three times be the charm? Would this be her last in-patient stay? Fortunately, she ran her own publicity business now and didn’t have to explain to her boss why she needed a month off. One foot in front of the other, she forced herself to start down the sidewalk, toward the building with the glass door she knew so well.

The low-rider was suddenly there, only five feet away on the street. In the twilight, she felt, as much as saw, two guys burst from the car. Renee screamed and started to run. Her heel snapped and she stumbled. From behind, a thick hand slammed over her mouth and yanked sideways. Another pair of arms wrapped around her torso and dragged her into the back of the car.

In six seconds, she’d disappeared off the sidewalk. Had anyone witnessed it? A student bicycling to class?

The car raced forward, away from the rehab building and student housing. Renee struggled but the alcohol made her weak and the man shoved her to the floor. Strong, thick fingers dug into her flesh and quickly bound her hands and mouth with duct tape. She kicked wildly, panic driving her. She connected with a shin, and the man backhanded her across the face, a stinging blow. She choked on her cry and hot tears filled her eyes.

A knife was suddenly in his hand and her heart missed a beat. She screamed into the duct tape but only made a gurgling sound. The man cut her purse strap from her shoulder, then rummaged through her pockets until he found her cell phone. He shoved her last little hope into his jacket pocket and taped her ankles together. Oh god, what did they want with her? Panic exploded in painful shards in her lungs and she couldn’t think straight.

A few minutes later, the car star stopped in an alley between two buildings. The sun had nearly set and Renee had no idea where she was. The men dragged her from the floor of the back seat and shoved her into the trunk. They slammed down the lid and left her alone in the small dark space, trussed like an animal on its way to slaughter.

Heart pounding, all she could think was: I wish I’d finished the thermos.

 

New Name Contest…FBI Mystery/Thriller

After taking some time in August to ride my bike, work in my yard, and hang out with my granddaughter, I’m busy writing my eighth Detective Jackson novel. It seems a little unreal, like only a few years ago, I was writing Thrilled to Death, the third story, and wondering if the series would ever have enough readers to make it financially worthwhile. But I love writing these stories, so it’s been emotionally rewarding all along, and I’m very grateful for the readers who support me.

And I love getting readers involved in the creativity, even if only to provide many of the names I’ll use. So here’s another chance to get a name of your choice into my next  Jackson story.

For this one, I need the name of an eco-terrorist, a man dedicated to environmental issues, but misguided about how to accomplish his goals. And I need a name for a young female FBI agent who goes undercover to stop him.

What does all this have to do with Jackson? You’ll see! As usual, I’m writing a complex story with multiple crimes and multiple points of view. And I’m trying to give readers something new in every story, so I’m branching out and including broader investigations and more action.

The book I just finished, Rules of Crime, which you helped me find great names for, will be released in late February. It features Jackson, Lara Evans, and Agent Carla River, and some of my beta readers say it’s my best work yet. I hope so! (I hope to have a cover soon too.)

I plan to have this new story submitted to my editor by the end of the year, so hopefully, Amazon will release it mid-2013, a few months after Rules of Crime.

Everyone who submits a name wins a free ebook of their choice, and the people who submit the winning names for my characters win an ebook of their choice AND a print copy of The Baby Thief…if they want it.

As always, I’ll try to use many of the names submitted in other roles: witnesses, family members, etc. Thanks for participating! I can’t wait to see what you have for me this time.

Nickname Winner: Roadie

Thanks to everyone who submitted nicknames. It was interesting to see the final collection. Each one was different from the those on the short list I’d created in my first effort, so I was happy to see the variation.

Sells and Win were great confidence boosters, and Smitty and Ziggy were both fun. I liked Mac and Micky a lot too, but I worried that they had both been used too often before in other detective series. A special thanks to Eileen and Brenda, who both submitted seven entries, and to Teri, who submitted ten. I would have never come up with all these on my own. And I’ve also made a list of all the great last names for future use.

Teri also submitted the one I finally chose as my  favorite: Roadie. It has a nice two-syllable sound and lots of subtle implications. So congratulations to Teri! I’ll put your print book in the mail Monday. Everyone who participated, or even left a comment, gets a free ebook. I’ll try to  track you all down and ask your preferences, but if you don’t hear from me, please click this link and email me. Let me know which ebook you want and which format: Kindle (mobi) or epub.

Thanks again! Happy Summer!

 

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