The Name Game

This week we found out the gender of our baby. It’s a boy! All kinds of emotions ensued, one of which is confusion. Because while we’d zeroed in on a girl’s name, it wasn’t so much that way with a boy’s name. So I’ve been going through baby names all week because I tend to get obsessive and, also, I really like name hunting.

So I thought I’d share some of my naming resources with you lovely readers! Because I know someone out there has to love names as much as I do (riiiiight?). I’ve long had a “future baby names list”–since about high school or so. And in the last few years I’ve also started a list of possible character names. These lists rarely intersect, as I usually jot down names for characters that I find to be very evocative in one way or another. Of course, now that I’m going to start writing high fantasy, I need to learn how to make up names. Blech! BUT, I’ll probably still go to international name lists for inspriation.

Anyhow! My tried-and-true go-to for years now has been babynames.com. Not only do they have an EXTENSIVE list, but it’s also organized the best of any website I’ve seen. And you can run fun searches, with filters like gender (boy, girl, and unisex), number of syllables, origin, starts/ends with, and meaning. They have a few pre-made lists as well, like Shakespeare names and even Twilight names. They also have Top 100 Names lists for years and years back. When it comes to less-familiar origin-language names (does that make sense? So Korean instead of French), I tend to use it as a jumping off point, before diving into further research (the Koreans have quite a complicated naming system!). But I’ve returned to this site over and over and over again for YEARS. I just love it.

The other two are recent finds, but so awesome that I have to include them. The first is babynamewizard.com. You can plug-in a certain name, and it will give you some kind of interesting tidbit (if it’s not too obscure of a name), and it will also give you all kinds of popularity data: when it peaked (starting in the 1880s), how popular it was, how popular it is now in the US and around the world, a graph showing its trend over the years, and a map of the US showing where it’s most popular (if it’s in the top 100 currently). This can be a great resource if you want to see if a name–say, Jennifer–was popular in the 1980s (dur, of course). This site also has a powerful search feature, with unique searches like Jewish, Muslim, Esoteric/HIGHLY unusual, and Prominent Namesake (to name a few). You can narrow these down by popularity. AND you can search by “MUST/CAN’T end/start with,” max and min length, max and min number of syllables, and even “must contain this letter sequence.” Pretty specific! So if you’re looking for an international name of middling popularity that can’t start with k, this is a great place to go.

The last is the Baby Names area at babycenter.com. This site offers popularity data as well, although it’s not as thorough as Baby Name Wizard. But it has its own unique features. One is Name Webs for each name. You can build one for suggested names, sibling names, and similar-sounding names. Then you can include more or fewer names, and highlight either the unique names or the popular names. These webs are clickable, so if you see a name you like on here, just click on it to pull up the page on that name. (Although, this site seems to think that every boy’s name in the world is similar to Griffin, Bryce, and Parker. Kinda annoying, but I usually highlight the unique names anyway.) The other feature I LOVE about this site is their Name Ideas section, which contains TONS of really fun names lists. Hipster baby names, baby names inspired by popular songs, baby names inspired by Nobel laureates, and elegant baby names, to name a few. Seriously, I love these lists. In fact, I was talking about naming chars with a CP this week, and she said she got a bunch of name possibilities for this one char from the hipster baby names lists. Hah!

So there are some resources to help you on your character naming journeys. And you know, as soon as you re-name one char in a story, that often starts a chain reaction that turns into re-naming ten other chars (at least, it does for me). For instance, FRACTURED RADIANCE’s protag was original named Vi, but I changed it to Melia, though she goes by Lia. So then I had to change her brother’s name from Liam to Asher. But Melia was too similar to her best friend’s name, Moira, so Moira got changed to Astrid. And then Astrid was too similar to Asher, so Asher became Gavin. See what I mean? Luckily, I love names, so it wasn’t too painful.

What are some of your go-to resources for naming your chars?

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On a More Serious Note

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. I was afraid to write it because it’s just so serious but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it? (I dunno, I kinda like pictures of dinosaurs myself.)

So I have  a confession: whenever I read about someone down here in the trenches with us getting a really awesome publishing deal, a little piece of me dies temporarily.

Why the hoo-hey is that?

It really made me feel guilty for a while. It wasn’t out of jealousy. Not in the way that I would take their success from them. That’s not fair, and I’ve really come to cheer on and support my fellow bloggers. I didn’t know exactly what it was until last week. Thursday night I was cleaning the kitchen. Mr. Atkins was nearby, and all these thoughts I’d been stewing over finally broke free. I rambled on to him about this strange reaction, and it turned into a helpful conversation. But here’s how it first went:

I confessed my temporary inner-death at someone else’s book(s) announcement. Then I went on to say how this publishing industry is just. so. scary. It’s not like if you get one book, you’re guaranteed a second. I’ve always had it in my head that I will continue to write even if I never get published. But if I could earn money for my writing, then it could be my job, and it wouldn’t have to be my hobby that would sometimes get pushed to the side for the more demanding things like a job and a family (I’m not sure if that makes sense?). (I think at this point Mr. Atkins stopped trying to offer suggestions/comments and decided listening was the best course of action.) I know, I know, if it’s important enough, you’ll make time for it. BUT. Life happens. Kids will happen sometime in the future. And our hot water heater will break. And we’ll have to go to the hospital. And we’ll have dance recitals to attend. And family dinner to make every. single. night. I’m excited for these things, but I’m so afraid my hobbies, my passions, my interests will fall to the wayside. I can’t let that happen, obviously. Which is why I’m working so hard now to ensure that writing is something I cannot be happy without!

After talking too quickly for too long, it dawned on me why I get so disheartened at publishing announcements: they remind me how very far I am from that possibility. I have two books in the works: one I’m on the second draft, the other the first. I have another idea that is clamoring to be written, but it needs to kindly wait its turn, thankyouverymuch. Sparks (as it is currently titled) will need more than two drafts, obviously. And when I finally feel like it’s ready, I’ll have to write a query letter and try to perfect that. And continue doing research on agents to stalk query. And then, if I land an agent, going on submission, and from there, and so on, and on and on, etc., ad infinitum.

It can sound overwhelming, all strung out like that. I can’t think about it that way, not all the time. If I break it into bites-sized morsels (bitter or sweet, depending on the day), I breathe easier and know that I can, in fact, do this.

So I need a plan! I need a goal. I’m making one now:

I, KRIS ATKINS, DECLARE THAT I HAVE A GOAL TO QUERY AGENTS IN 2012.

There you have it. My goal. Polish a manuscript to where I feel it’s ready, and throw it out into the world. Well, to carefully selected agents’ hands.

I feel better already!

Dance party at my place!

 

What about this publishing industry most scares you, and what are you doing to defeat it?

That’s Why They Call Them Business … Cards

Because it’s business time!

Click for 2 minutes in heaven (it's better than 1 minute in heaven)

 

I declared to my fellow writing group member David Boop that I’m ready to “CON IT UP, BABY!” (I may have left out the baby, I can’t be sure.) He was very excited about this news, since he’s been trying to get me and the other aspiring YA author in the group, the fabulous Amanda, to start networking. He said I needed to be sure I had some business cards.

I have an awesome friend who sent me a template. I’ve been playing around with layouts. At first, I was thinking having my title line list my genres, so “young adult | urban fantasy” but Dave mentioned that I should add little one-liners about my WIPs on the back of my card. So, then I was thinking of just putting “young adult author” on the front, and the back would explain what genres I’m currently working on. That way, if my next WIP is a paranormal romance (which is just may or may not be…), I don’t have to print up new cards. I’m currently leaning towards the second option.

SO! What say ye, tomodachi?

Behind Curtain One!

OR

Curtain Number Dos!

 

I absolutely love how the cards are relatively simple yet still visually catching and, of course, PINK CHEVRON!