Tag Archives: names

Authors Answer 81 – Google Search Visibility

Google, the most important search engine on the entire internet, and authors want to be on it. They want to be the first search item listed when their name is searched. The number one link should be an author’s website or blog. But sometimes, names aren’t exclusive to the author. They’re not always unique. Sometimes they’re surprising.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 81 – Have you ever Googled your name? What did you find that surprised you?

Jean Davis

There are a lot of people named Jean Davis, and many of them have obituaries. At least I show up on page one as my author self. Yay for Google.

H. Anthe Davis

Going by my real name, I can’t find myself at all — there are too many of me.  Going by my pen name (which is just an adaptation of my real name), I only find my works and the blogs I’ve posted on, because it’s unique enough to not show up elsewhere.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

A while back I Googled my name and was quite surprised to see that pretty much the entire first page of results were of various pages on my blog. Today I Googled it again, out of curiosity, and I was pretty surprised to see that the ENTIRE first page of results is all me (assuming that you use my full name – Tracey Lynn Tobin). The top results were the blog and my Goodreads Author account, followed by a few pictures of me (and one of the kid and hubby), followed by the Nowhere to Hide Amazon page, my Facebook Author page, my bio on Self Publishers Showcase, a review of Nowhere to Hide on that same site, spotlights I did on two fellow bloggers’ sites, and finally my YouTube channel. Pretty amusing!

Sidenote: very recently one of my coworkers was Googling the camp where we stay when we’re at work to show his wife what it looks like, and as he was scrolling down on Google Images a picture of me came up. It was my blog’s user image, and it got linked there because of a post I’d done on the camp a few years back. It gave me a good chuckle! XD

S. R. Carrillo

I have! Mostly, to make sure my “platform” was solid enough. The most surprising thing I found were random men named Sr Carrillo somewhere overseas. Not really all that shocking, but, for the most part, searches of me lead back to me. ^_^

Paul B. Spence

I have. I didn’t find anything that surprised me. Lots of links to the various books I’ve written, fiction and non-fiction. Shrug. Was I supposed to be surprised?

D. T. Nova

I searched for my name when trying to decide whether or not to write under a pseudonym.

My real last name is mispronounced or misspelled often enough that I’ve always assumed it was rare, so I was surprised that there was anyone else with the same full name as me at all.

Allen Tiffany

Funny question. Yes. I have. It used to be that a lot of pictures of young women would come up (“Tiffany Allen”). Some of the young ladies were wearing only their birthday suits. More recently, my blog has been showing up at the top of the page as my page rank has been creeping up.

Eric Wood

I did. It turns out I’m a 6’3″, 310 pound right offensive guard for the Buffalo Bills. And all this time I thought I was only 5’6″, 145 pounds and a teacher.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I found some others with my name, but thankfully none of them are exceptionally famous. Unfortunately some of them are also writers and have books listed on Goodreads, and thanks to listing errors they get lumped on to my profile sometimes. Makes me look more prolific than I really am.

Gregory S. Close

Yes, I Google my name to check on reviews and copyright stuff at least once/month.  Not much to see there.  What surprises me most is how many pirated copies of my book are online at various sites, and then also how many overpriced paperbacks are available from one source or another.  One site had it going for 5 times it’s listed value, for no discernible reason.

Linda G. Hill

The first time I googled my name I discovered a lawyer, an author (that wasn’t me) and a porn star. That was before I had my blog. Now when I google myself, mostly I come up with my blog. I have to wonder if google gives me that result first since I spend so much time on it. If anyone out reading this (who doesn’t spend a lot of time on my blog) would google me and let me know in the comments what you find, that would be awesome. 😀 I’ll be glad to reciprocate!

Jay Dee Archer

These days, the entire first page of my Google search is me! First is my official website, then my Twitter profile. Then it’s YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a few random things. Funny thing is the Google image search. There’s someone there that isn’t me! Some research led to something interesting. There is a guy out there with the same name as me from the US that has been convicted several times. Wonderful.

How about you?

When you do a Google search on your name, what does it come up with? Is it you? Anything surprising? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 77 – Naming Characters

Names are important, especially in fiction. They need to be memorable. They need to stand out. They shouldn’t be boring or forgettable. But it’s not the easiest thing to do. Some names are overused, some names sound cheesy. What’s the best way to choose a name?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 77 – How do you choose character names?

Paul B. Spence

For main characters, they are just there when I create the concept. For others, I glance through name books and pick combinations that I like. Sometimes I work the name of an author from my bookshelf into secondary characters’ names.

Gregory S. Close

A few names come unbidden through the ether and pop into my brain.  Other names have been carefully sourced and researched based on some imagined criteria I’ve come up with – based on Celtic or Native American roots etc.  Baby name websites can be handy, especially if they provide meanings and allow you to sort by derivation.

And… Some names come from stereo components.

Allen Tiffany

Mostly they just come to me. The main characters, anyway. I’ve been told I should pick names with subtle meaning and clever references, which I do for the secondary characters. But the MCs always just show up with their names already figured out. When I do think about names, I often conclude I think about it too much and make a hash out of it.

Linda G. Hill

I have the hardest time with character names! Once in a while they just come to me and I know beyond a doubt that I’ve plucked the character, name and all, from the universe. But most of the time I drive myself nuts with the decision.

D. T. Nova

I use a combination of the name’s meaning, its sound, and other connotations it may have from other uses.

I also sometimes use theme naming for characters associated with each other.

Jean Davis

I’m really exact about character names. I spend hours researching meanings until I find just the right one. And no, not really. Names either come to me in the moment or I mash keys until one happens. I’ve also been known to turn to someone and say, “Give me a name” and there it is.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For me it actually depends on the individual stories. If I’m writing a drabble or a little flash fiction piece I’ll usually only use first names, and I’ll snatch those names at random from the long list of people I’ve met or worked with. I honestly won’t think about it too much; I’ll just pick the first name I think of that sounds okay.

With “Nowhere to Hide”, however, I was a lot pickier about my character names. Since it was my first horror novel, and I had every intention of it being published, I wanted to use the opportunity to pay homage to other horror names who have influenced me. My main character, for example, is Nancy King. “Nancy” is for the main character from the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, and “King” is for, of course, Mr Stephen King.

With “The Other World” it was a much sillier process that brought my characters their names. For the purposes of a later plot point I definitely wanted my main character’s name to be Victoria, but I didn’t want to be calling her that all the time so I nicknamed her “Tori”. Since the first letter of her name matched mine I chose her last name from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. Then, on a whim (since I’d already built her name, in a way, from my own) I named her love interest and best friend to match my husband and beset friend…thus Jacob was born from Jason and Kaima was born from Kelly. In retrospect it seems rather a childish way to name my characters, but I’ve grown into the names and love them now, so they’re here to stay.

Eric Wood

I ask my wife. Or I ask my friends. Or I’ll just grab a name that I like. There is usually very little thought to it.

H. Anthe Davis

Starting in middle school, I kept a list of interesting-sounding names that I either thought up randomly or found elsewhere, and would tweak them until they became something that fit a character.  As I built my story-world more, though, I started reverse-deriving some of the names to build the vocabulary in my fake language, and then branched out to defining naming-conventions for the various kingdoms and territories.  So these days, I check the naming conventions first, and then the language dictionary, and tack something together from those — but most of my long-running characters have names from before that age, so might stand out a bit from the rest of the pack, who knows.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I use a generator for most of my names, usually the Quick Character Namer on Seventh Sanctum. I don’t put too much stock in picking the “perfect” name for a character, but I do need to know what to call a character before I can continue. I don’t want a repeat of the placeholder name I mentioned in the last Authors Answer.

S. R. Carrillo

They often jump out at me. Back in the day, my character names were not uncommonly the fourth or fifth round of a name changed from its original version. For instance, Ero’s name used to be Samore Edorelo (don’t ask), which then became Relo for short and then Ero – at one point, it was going to be Aeiro, but thank God that one didn’t stick.

Other times, it’s a process of elimination – often, when I’m working on a project with someone else. We bounce a series of names back and forth until we find something that fits the idea of the people we both have in mind.

It’s really that simple – and complicated. ;]

Jay Dee Archer

I use a variety of methods. Mostly, for my science fiction books, I search online for names depending on the country or culture the character is from. That’s the simplest method. But for main characters, I look for meaning. For Ariadne, the main character of the first book is a girl named Solona. I searched for names of various cultural backgrounds that mean “wise.” One that caught my eye was the Greek name Solona. And that’s how her name was chosen.

For fantasy, I’m likely to make things up for given names, but family names may be based on geography, birthplace, family history, jobs, or any other appropriate category. I have yet to create any names for fantasy, though.

How about you?

If you write, how do you choose names for your characters? Let us know in the comments below.

What’s In a Family Name?

Family names are interesting. In many cultures, they tell a story about your family history. In Japan, they often refer to where your family comes from, rather than a job. In England, it tells about your ancestor’s job. But what about other countries?

If I look at my family name, I can tell that someone in my family’s history was an archer. Someone used a bow and arrow. I don’t know when it happened, but that’s where the name originates from.

So, if you’re willing to disclose your family name, what country is it from, and what’s the story behind it? Let’s discuss this in the comments below.

Using Languages in Fiction – Place Names

When you read fantasy and science fiction, you often notice that there are place names that are not in your native language. They may be in another language or an entirely fictional language. But let’s take a look at how we can make place names by looking at other languages.

Case 1: Black River

I’ll look at a few different languages for this. I wonder what sounds good.

  • Japanese: Kurokawa
  • Portuguese: Rio Preto
  • Somali: Webiga Madow
  • Arabic: Alnnahr al’Aswad
  • Chinese: Hēihé
  • Greek: Mávro Potámi
  • Hindi: Kālī Nadī
  • Irish: Abhainn Dubh
  • Mongolian: Khar Golyn
  • Welsh: Afon Du

Case 2: Cedar Hills

  • Japanese: Suginooka
  • Portuguese: Colinas do Cedro
  • Somali: Buuraha Lahaa Kedar Ah
  • Arabic: Tlal al’Arz
  • Chinese: Xī dá xī ěr sī
  • Greek: Kédros Lófous
  • Hindi: Dēvadāra Pahāṛiyōṁ
  • Irish: Cnoic Cedar
  • Mongolian: Khush Tolgod
  • Welsh: Bryniau Cedrwydd

Case 3: Horse Valley

  • Japanese: Umanotani
  • Portuguese: Vale Cavalo
  • Somali: Dooxada Faras
  • Arabic: Wadi Alhisan
  • Chinese: Mǎ gǔ
  • Greek: Koiláda Alogo
  • Hindi: Ghōṛā Ghāṭī
  • Irish: Gleann Capall
  • Mongolian: Mori Khöndii
  • Welsh: Dyffryn Ceffyl

So, we get some pretty interesting names. I quite like the sound of some of the Irish, Mongolian, and Welsh names, as well as Arabic and Greek. What do you think? Which names sound the best to you?

But That’s Not My Name

My name is not very common. Jay Dee Archer.  Well, there is an American who’s been in trouble with the law, but I think his name is hyphenated.  But aside from him, I don’t think you’ll find anyone with the same name as me.

It seems everyone gets my name wrong when they first meet me.  In elementary school, I always had to correct the teacher. It’s not Jay, it’s Jay Dee. This continued all through junior high school and high school.

Then I come to Japan. I’ve been called Dee Jay, Joy, Jamie, Joy Dee, you name it.  Many thought Dee was my last name.  As a foreigner in Japan, it’s also not easy to convey the pronunciation of my name to others.  Typed out in Japanese, it’s アーチャー ジェイディー, or Archer Jay Dee.  But today, I went to get my annual health checkup done, and they had my name as アーチャー ジェイビー, or Archer Jay Bee. They kept calling me Jay Bee.

But I guess my name is unique enough to attract some attention. Think it’s good for an author’s name? Or do I need a pen name?

Does anyone get your name wrong?

Ariadne Worldbuilding: Naming the Continents

Ariadne is a big world.  It’s slightly larger than Earth, but it only has four continents.  The continents originally had rather unimaginative names, like Northern Continent, Equatorial Continent, and so on.  Well, I changed that tonight.

This is the ecosystems map, but you can see country borders in it.
The ecosystems map of Ariadne.

As you can see in the map above, there’s a very large continent on the left, with two smaller continents on the right.  In the south, there’s a polar continent with some portions that reach far enough north that they’re livable.

As Ariadne has its roots in Greek mythology, I decided to stay with the Greek language in naming the continents.  The names are quite simple, as they’re the direct translations of words I’ve already mentioned.  The large continent is where the colonists first settle.  It is simply known as the continent, or Ipeiros in Greek.  The northern continent is the Greek word for north, or Voreios.  Similarly, the equatorial continent is now known as Tropikos, which is Greek for tropical. Finally, the southern polar continent is now called Notos, or south in Greek.

Not everything is going to be Greek, though.  A lot of the country names will come from English or notable people’s names.  More to come in the future.  I hope to have a list of country names to start off the Ariadne Encyclopedia.

Questions and comments are always welcome, so please leave a comment below.

The Perils of Worldbuilding: What Was I Thinking When I Named that Country?

I’ve been looking back over the countries I created for Ariadne, and I’ve come to a conclusion: either I was out of my mind when I named some of those countries or I can see the future.

stupid_namesSometimes, when naming fictional countries, we think, Oh, that sounds good.  Then go back to it fourteen years later, and I’m thinking What the f@$%????  I really have no idea what I was thinking when I made some of those names.  Of course, I’m going to keep the majority of them, as many were named after important people.  But a large number of them are totally made up words with no thought toward etymology. Considering the countries were mostly named within a couple hundred years of colonisation, I would assume that there wasn’t much in the way of language drift.  Maybe a thousand years later, I can have unusual sounding names for countries.

Let me give you a couple examples of country names I rediscovered as I look through the information I wrote out fourteen years ago.  First is a country called Caprica.  Not a bad name, to be honest, if it hadn’t been used by Battlestar Galactica and Caprica.  That’s going to have to change.  The other one just completely baffles me.  It’s Rihana.  Too close to Rihanna, if you ask me.  When I named the country, Rihanna was only 13 years old and not at all famous.  But I’m going to change it.

There are many others that just seem absolutely silly sounding to me now.  They’re going to change.  But I’ll tell you the names of the two original colony countries and their capital cities.  These are not changing, except the spelling of one.  The original colony site is the city of New Athens, in honour of Athens, of course.  It’s the seat of democracy, and that’s why it was chosen.  The country’s name is Colonia, though I will change that to Kolonia to reflect the Greek spelling of “colony.”  It also honours where the colonists come from, which is Hellas City in the Hellas Basin on Mars.  Hellas is the Greek name for Greece.  So, the colony is all Greek, at least in terms of names.

As for the second city and country, this is in honour of the leader of the Ariadne Project, Paolo Fernandes, who is a major character in Journey to Ariadne.  That country is named Amazonia with the capital New Brasilia.  He’s from Brazil.  He was also a dedicated environmentalist before leaving Earth to move to Mars.  He was working hard to save what was left of the Amazon.

So, that’s a little information about my worldbuilding (and character building) process.  I thought you’d be interested in seeing a little bit of what’s going on behind the scenes.

What’s coming in the future is a full list of all the countries on Ariadne, after I’ve gone through and determined the origins of the names, and rename quite a few of them.  I’ll be writing out physical geography for each one, and as the stories advance, I will be adding more information to each country as the world’s history advances.  Look for some of this to come soon.

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Choosing Character Names

One of the more difficult aspects of writing fiction is choosing character names.  It’s easy to choose a common name.  It’s difficult to choose a good name.

I recently chose the first name of the protagonist of Ariadne: Origins Book 1, and I like it.  I didn’t want something common, so I did some searching for names based on the meaning.  I found one I liked, and it turns out it’s a Greek name.  Sometimes I look for meaning in main characters’ names, but not always.

When it comes to fantasy, it’s quite likely you may want to make up something completely original.  Or you may choose a more classic name that was used long ago.

How do you choose character names?

Names, titles, writing, and websites

As the title suggests, this post is about many things.  I have a few things going around in my head right now, and I may as well get them all out in one post.

First of all, I’ve been doing some outlining work on my upcoming short story, and I finally have a main character name.  In fact, I’ve thought of names for most of the main characters.  I while back, I posted about how difficult it is to choose names.  For my main character, I already had a last name.  It was the first name that I had difficulty with.  But after a bit of research through name databases and checking with name meanings, I came up with a good one that’s appropriate for the character.

However, coming up with a title is even more difficult.  In fact, I’ve been having trouble with coming up with a name for the world.  I have an idea, but I’ll have it figured out soon, I hope.  The title, as well.

Earlier this summer, I posted about a writing challenge, to write scenes for various landmarks around the world.  I haven’t started yet, but I do plan to do this.  It may give me some inspiration.

Finally, websites.  This is a big thing.  I’m going to begin developing a homepage for myself, also with WordPress.  It’ll be my official author page, and won’t be updated like a blog.  However, it’ll have links to my various blogs, so anyone can see what I’m up to.  On that website, I will post updates on my writing process, as well as develop a kind of reference guide for the world I’ve created.  This blog will continue as always.

Comments are always welcome!

The difficulty with names

I find that the general story idea is easy to think of. I have many ideas I want to write about. The setting has been easy to think of, as well. I also have no difficulty thinking of characters. What I do find hard is the names. Character names and book title are very difficult for me.

Characters need names that fit them. They need names that sound good, are memorable, and aren’t too common or generic. John Smith is too ordinary. While it’s possible to use that name, I don’t want to. But I’m interested in fantasy and science fiction. Science fiction names can be familiar, but names change over centuries. More unique names appear over time. But as for fantasy, originality is good. To emphasize a completely different world and culture, exotic names are the best. But they are so difficult to think of! Even more contemporary names are difficult to create. I don’t want them to sound like they’re from Middle Earth, Vulcan, or some awful vampire novel. I think the names should be eye-catching and memorable.

What I’d like to know is how you choose names. If you write books, any genre, do you have any special ways to create names?