Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's In A Name?

Well, I wanted to talk about names today, and how to come up with names for things in novels, because that's the absolute hardest part of the whole thing for me. I could easily spend days looking for just the right name for my characters. But it's not just characters that you have to name - it's everything from businesses to locales to towns and cities.

So choosing the right name is important. It has to ring true to you. But it's SOOO difficult. When I was writing my novel Fallenwood, I took days to find the name Hieropraxis - the name of my bad-guy sorcerer. It's a name that means "sacred knowledge put into practice".

In the course of my searchings, I've discovered some things about names. Coming up with names for my main characters is always more difficult than the sideline character names. Personally, since I write fantasy, I wanted my novel to be different, so I didn't go with the traditional hard-to-pronounce things. I absolutely hate it in a fantasy novel when I get to sentences like, "And then the son of Turithal-et-Nijja went to the Tower of Kaliaili with the sword of Ru-dan-nita in the country of Baliahkkahtra" because it not only slows down the story, but (to me, anyway) renders it silly. So I decided to go with names that are relatively easy to say and pronounce.

For my main characters, I chose names that I really, really liked - Ash, Will, Greymalkin, Edward - names that just seemed to stick in my memory. Terces was a bit harder - he's my jester character. For his name, I jotted down any words I could think of that might be close to a jester's name - like free writing, and then messed with the words and turned them backwards and combined them and just generally played with the words until I got to the word "secret" and flipped it backwards - Terces was born.

For a lot of the minor characters that showed up, I inserted the names of my friends. The names Aaron, Lee, Ian, Becca, Amber, and Sarah show all show up in the novel and those are friends of mine.

I like to consult baby name books if I absolutely can't think of a name for a person, but I usually don't find names I like there. I seem to have better luck with just observing names that I really like or ideas that seem to stick with me.

For place names, I had read somewhere that if you get stuck on these, you should read the names on a real map. So that's what I did for a lot of the place names, is took names of real places and mixed them around until I got something pleasing.. However, I got stuck when it came to naming the small towns that my group went to on their journeys. For this, I used a little-known secret of the world wide web - a gem that is to be pulled out only in case of emergencies where you're hopelessly stuck and need a quick name - Yes, I'm talking about the Rinkworks Fantasy Name Generator -

I've found that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to naming things in fiction. As with all else in life, you have to make your own rules to go by. But I hope this provides some examples of how it can be done.

If you're a fan of fantasy, be sure to check out my novel Fallenwood, soon to release from Decadent Publishing!

Fallenwood—a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. When 23-year-old Ash is thrust into the middle of Fallenwood’s power struggles, she is also forced to face her own inner battles. Life on Earth was hard enough on Ash, who is locked in grief for her stepfather. Now, the fate of Fallenwood rests on her shoulders. She must destroy the Great Crystal—the catalyst for all the land’s magic. As the kingdoms prepare for war, Ash must look inside to find the power to save the world, and herself.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First I should say that in general I dislike time travel stories. They always seem to have some sort of cheat in their resolution. I also am not a big fan of WWII fiction. That being said I completely enjoyed Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis. These books tale place in the same universe as her earlier time travel novel Doomsday Book

Willlis is a brilliant writer. She is one of the most award winning SF Writers of all time. One of her strengths is writing novels and stories that both SF fans and the general public enjoy. She has done it again with these books.

Blackout and All Clear follow a handful of Time traveling Historians who are all observing England during WWII. They are looking into several different key events, The Blitz, Dunkirk, and the VI and V2 attacks. Things are going well at first, then suddenly they all find out that their drop windows won't open and they can't get home, and things seem to be happening is slightly different order than history believes. Time travel theory says this can't happen. A historian can't be trapped in time, and history can't be changed. Historians can only go back in time to a time an place they can't change. If there is a possibility the could change things the time drop will not open and let them go back in time.

As time moves forward the various historians path's cross. The plot moves between their day to day cover lives in wartime London, where they walk a fine line between being observers and being participants in what is going on around them, and Oxford in the future where their colleges are trying to find out why they have not come home.

There is a slight cheat at the end of the story, but the plot and characters are so good that I didn't care.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: A Family For Faith by Missy Tippens

A Family for Faith
by Missy Tippens

Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Love Inspired
Cost: $5.50

What I Liked:
Well, it's easy to figure out where I should start with this review: what I liked the best. Gabe. Wow. I've read several of Missy Tippens' books (I think everything she has out, now), and I know she writes good heroes. But none of them have been quite like Gabe. ::sigh:: This is the kind of man I think we all long to meet, if we're single and Christian.

Of course, the book itself was excellent, as well. Faith is a great heroine, and her journey as a character is fulfilling and engaing. But the highlight of this book is Gabe. Ahhh, Gabe. ::sigh:: If you're a Harlequin fan, a series romance fan, a Missy Tippens fan, an inspirational romance fan... or just a fan of really amazing heroes, you have to go read this guy. You will absolutely fall in love with him from the first page, with his protective care of his daughter and his hurting heart that wants to open to love. I love it when authors break the rules (starting off in the hero's pov, no meet-cute on the first page) and it works. This one works. Phenomenally.

Go forth, do likewise. Or just buy the book and read it. :) This man is worth knowing. Excellent work, Missy Tippens. As usual, another home run!

Book Blurb:
When Faith Hagin sees widower cop Gabe Reynolds every day in her coffee shop, she can't help but feel for the struggling single dad. She's raised a teenager of her own—and sadly, knows what not to do. But thanks to his matchmaking preteen daughter, Chelsea, the whole town's praying for Gabe to find a wife! Even though Faith thinks she's content being just friends, spending time with him and Chelsea starts to feel like a fresh start at having a family. And their love may be the answer to everyone's prayers.

~ Rebecca Lynn

Another Blog Buddy is a Debut Author!

I am so proud to announce that yet another one of my blog buddies has had her first novel published.  Heather Massey has run The Galaxy Express for a while now.  I first remember running into her at  Alien Romances.   After singing the praises of other Science Fiction Romance novels, she now has her own.

Visit Heather Massey to learn more about her book!
Once Upon a Time has an erotic Heat Level, so Mfitz's review of it will be posted on our sister-blog  Enduring Romance & General Naughtiness which is for adults-only.  We'll let you know and link to it when the time comes.

New One from Linda Lael Miller

It's out today!
Linda Lael Miller

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Imprisoned in Time by Laura Gay, translated by Federica Pibiri

January 2011,
196 pages, Paperback (mine was PDF)

Time travel, and sort of a historical romance

Blurb from the book
Elisa is a high school student, with all the usual concerns of all girls of her age: family, boyfriends, school. One day, though, she finds herself in an entirely different time: the Rome of the Borgias, and she has to learn how to survive in a world which is completely different from her own. While desperately seeking a solution to go back to her time, two young men fight for her love: the charming but wicked Cesare Borgia and Cristiano, honest and loyal. The former is ready to kill to have her, while the latter would give his own life for her. Who will conquer her heart? In a crescendo of action this story will charm you from the first page to the last.

*smiles* I'm really in love with historicals at the moment, predominantly for the range of costumes, and this book doesn't disappoint me. Elisa definitely wears the costumes of the era she finds herself in - she'd stick out like a sore thumb if she stayed in her jeans. She manages to stick out enough just by what she says (a few profanities) and her modern mannerisms. Even when it is explained to her how she should act, she doesn't find it easy to stick to the social rules. These are rules which the nobility seem to bend and break whenever they please. First there is the family incest that Elisa unravels - not her family. That was a little weird to stomach, but upon reflection that did happen more in the past than it does now. Then there is the cruelty that those in power inflict on mere servants - or anyone who displeases them.

Elisa both sees and suffers some of this punishment. As a reader I knew she was in a precarious position and her life wasn't secured, but Elisa only truly realises this when it happens before her very eyes. Up until then, I did like her, although she felt so naive by claiming to be in love with every man she was with, and then putting them aside for another. She had enough wits to remain fixed on her goal to get home. I enjoyed watching some of those around her become her genuine friends. They really pull out all the stops for her when they learn she's in trouble. As for her enemies - Cesare was a brute. He was definitely wrong in the head. It was fortunate for Elisa that he became so besotted with her. I know that caused her lots of problems, but equally it saved her from some hardship. She was particularly brave at the end in the huge plot to free herself from Cesare.

There are a few spelling mistakes, and sometimes the sentences don't quite flow or the wrong words are used. One small issue which was solved at the end, was that the characters sound as though they would belong in the modern world. Laura notes that she is not writing a historical per se. There are parts of it based on fact, and other areas are fiction. I would like to make it clear that the flow of the story didn't suffer for the spelling/flow - it is such an engaging story, with lots of tense moments and uncertainty that although I registered the errors, it didn't pull me out from the story itself. Content wise, there are a few strong profanities, and it's sensual to highly sensual in places.

I definitely recommend this book, and I wish I could read Italian, since some subtleties are lost in translation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge by Lynn Raye Harris

Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge
by Lynn Raye Harris

Genre: Contemporary Series Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Cost: $3.40

What I Liked:
Well, I adored Lynn Raye Harris's first book I read (The Prince's Royal Concubine), so I naturally had high expectations for this book when I picked it up. And while I did like TPRC better (but seriously, it's like a gold medal in Harlequin romance for me) I really loved this book. This one will also be a keeper.

It helped that the heroine shared my name. Oh, and also that the hero would often say her name. That was a nice fantasy. The hero was hot, the plot was fast-moving and engaging. The characters made me want to keep reading the story. And I liked the heroine. I felt for her, I wanted her to end up with him.

Lynn Raye Harris has a great voice. I have a feeling I'm always going to enjoy her books. I'm looking forward to reading the one that's out that I still haven't read. But I'm MORE excited for her to have a new release, because based on what I've seen so far, her writing just keeps getting better and better!!

Book Blurb:
Nobody messes with Alejandro de Ramirez. He doesn't suffer fools, and certainly has no time for manipulative wantons. Rebecca Layton was both. Five years later, Alejandro's life is still in turmoil--and he's more merciless than ever. The Spanish magnate wants retribution....

Unusually, and frustratingly for Alejandro, his plan doesn't go smoothly. Surely Rebecca wasn't this alluring before. And did his body always respond in this way--with such passionate fury? This is no longer just revenge...this is red-hot and dangerous!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chapter Four of CON & CONJURE by Lisa Shearin

Chapter 4

I thought I would be the one sharing Rache’s crosshairs with Prince Chigaru.

I was wrong.

We searched the building Rache had used for a killing perch, which conveniently for my homicidal ex was a Conclave office building that was being renovated, so there were no occupants who would have been very much-needed witnesses. Even more frustrating, the workmen who were there had been on the lower floors and hadn’t seen anyone.

Right now I didn’t know if someone had paid Rache to kill Mychael, or if he was making this hit a personal vendetta. The potential who, why, and how much didn’t matter. The bottom line was that Rache wanted Mychael dead, and if no one was paying him that meant that in some twisted way, it was my fault.

To make the situation worse—if that was even possible—I hadn’t known he was there until his bolt hit Mychael’s armor. That meant a veil of some kind. Rache didn’t have magical talent, but it was possible that his employer had given him an amulet personally keyed to him whose purpose was to veil his presence. I’d encountered them before, but they were obscenely expensive. But if Taltek Balmorlan could afford to fund the start of a war and retain Rache’s services to help that war happen, he could certainly afford a custom-made magical trinket.

We were walking quickly back to the Greyhound Hotel. Mychael had set the fast pace. He wasn’t trying to put distance between him and the man who tried to turn him into roadkill, Mychael wanted to get back to the scene of what he considered the bigger crime and Prince Chigaru as quickly as possible. There were plenty of Guardians there, and a senior knight to act in Mychael’s stead, but when a hopefully future head of state was poisoned, shot, and nearly blown up, that was a situation that needed to be handled by the paladin himself.

Mychael’s scowl mirrored my own. We’d chased Rache halfway across town, and now we were coming back empty handed. Mychael took that personally.

So did I.

Rache had gotten away from me twice in one day, and that pissed me off. Though Rache had missed his target twice, and I knew that would piss him off. Rache didn’t miss.

Though what bothered me the most was that for all intents and purposes, Mychael completely blew off the fact that Rache Kai had just tried to kill him. And Vegard and the other Guardians didn’t seem all that bent out of shape about it, either.

I nearly had to run to keep up with Mychael’s long strides. “So world-class assassins take shots at you every day?” I snapped.


“Rache just tried to skewer you and you don’t care.”

“Trust me, I care.”

“You don’t act like it.”

“Because I have a worse situation on the waterfront and at the Greyhound. We didn’t catch Rache, and my time was wasted.”

“And your life was damned near ended.”

“Damned near. I won’t forget the attempt, but it was just that, an attempt.”

“So you’re not concerned?”

“At the moment, I’m more concerned with keeping Prince Chigaru alive. And with three assassination attempts before he even set foot on dry land, I think we can count on everyone who tried before trying again. That concerns me.”

We went around the next corner and the voices coming from the waterfront was like a solid wall of sound. That was one of the things you could always count from a crowd that’s just seen a big explosion—the smart ones had gotten the hell away, leaving the morbidly curious and the brainless gawkers, and the only thing either group did was get in everyone’s way who was trying to clean up the literal and political mess.

Mychael apparently trusted his men to deal with it all. He didn’t even pause, but headed straight for the Greyhound Hotel.

Prince Chigaru Mal’Salin had reserved nearly the entire hotel—a palatial structure in the center of the Judicial District built to accommodate visiting dignitaries and obscenely wealthy mages and student parents. I was used to inns where the smoke was as thick as the coffee. In my opinion, all the polished marble and gilded woodwork was a bit much, but I wasn’t the one footing the bill.

What I saw filling the entire wall behind the registration desk caused a twitch to take up residence in my right eyelid.

A mirror.

I looked around the room. More mirrors, ridiculously large and abundant mirrors.

Some people were content to merely ask for trouble; the hotel’s owner was on his knees begging for it. All kind of nastiness could get into a room through a mirror. Assassins, spies, black mages, demons. Prince Chigaru had dodged death three times already, and it wasn’t even lunchtime.

I couldn’t believe this. “Who the hell thought those were a good idea?” I asked Mychael.

He looked where I was looking. “I’m not fond of them, myself.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Not fond? They’re unwarded mirrors. What kind of lunatic would—”

“I had my best mirror mages check them. They’re completely warded.”

“But they aren’t all . . .” I made a wavy motion with my hand, “nauseatingly rippley.”

Warded mirrors rippled, rippling mirrors would make a lot of hotel guests sick. I could see where that would be bad for business.

“It’s a special kind of warding,” Mychael said. “I had a mirror mage friend of mine check them again last night. He assures me that nothing’s coming in that way.”

Imala was waiting for us in the lobby, though waiting normally implied patient and calm. Imala was neither. The head of the goblin secret service was pacing, and judging from the floor space available all around her, her people were very smart.

They were staying out of her way.

She spotted us and closed the distance. “Well?”

“He tried to kill Mychael, too,” I told her.

Imala’s expression didn’t change. “And?”

I didn’t think anyone could be less concerned than Mychael about Rache’s second target, but I was wrong.

“And we didn’t get the bastard,” I told her.

Imala didn’t say a word; instead she closed her eyes and inhaled slowly. Yep, the lady was frustrated to the point of violence. We had three assassins and only one of them was in something resembling custody. Imala’s day was far from over.

“Raine, I know you did your best,” she told me.

I was sure Imala meant it, but what she said wasn’t what I heard. “You did your best” ranked right up there with “I’m disappointed” as far as I was concerned. Both sounded nice enough, but it didn’t make me feel any better about failing. You couldn’t sugarcoat failure. The only thing that would cure that was having Rache trussed at my feet. Feet that would kick him a few times before anyone official could haul his sorry ass away.

“And it wasn’t good enough.” I paused. “I know him, Imala. I’ll find him.”


I told her exactly how well I knew Rache Kai.

She laughed, and a few of her people backed away even further. “For many goblins, such a relationship would be cause for boasting, not shame.”

“What have you found out from the healer?” Mychael asked her.

“That he’s telling the truth; or at least he thinks he is.”


“Chatar was with the other four mages attempting to push the boat away—”

I started to explain that I didn’t shove the boat into the yacht, but Imala held up her hand.

“Tam told me what truly happened. Thank you for your attempt. You risked much to make it. Our mages misunderstood what they saw and counteracted your efforts.”

“The mage was telling the truth . . .” Mychael prompted, encouraging Imala to continue.

“I have witnesses,” Imala said, “the trustworthy kind, who say that Chatar was on the stern of the yacht with the other four mages. However, I also have equally reliable witnesses who place Chatar near the prince when the attack came.”

“So who’s lying?” I asked.

“Neither. All honestly believe that they are telling the truth. Tam and I have questioned them ourselves. Both of us are quite adept at discerning falsehood.”

“Any magical hanky-panky with your reliable witnesses’ minds?”

“None that we can discern.”

“Did you find the weapon?” Mychael asked.

Imala shook her head. “Nothing was found on Chatar’s person or in his cabin.” She shrugged. “But that means little considering it could have been easily disposed of in the harbor following the explosion.”

“Where is Chatar now?” I asked.

“In his room. He’s being guarded, but for the moment, that is all.” Imala smiled, very slightly. “He claims you accused him because he and the other mages stopped you from assassinating the prince.”

I snorted. “And what about his own colleagues pointing the finger at him?”

“He says he was framed by rivals.”

“So, let me get this straight. Everyone on that yacht considers themselves to be loyal to the prince, yet there are rivalries strong enough that they’d frame each other for murder?”

“These are goblin courtiers, Raine. Rivalries start in the crib. Intrigues begin when we can walk.”


She shrugged. “It’s the way of our people.”

“It’s a wonder anyone sleeps at night.”

“We sleep mostly during the day.” Imala’s smile broadened until her dimple showed. “And then we find it advantageous to be light sleepers.”


Mychael needed to see Prince Chigaru—and Chigaru wanted to see me.

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better.

Imala escorted us up to the prince’s suite herself. It was protocol and polite, but mainly it kept two elves from being met with drawn steel and bad attitudes. Imala knew at least I would respond accordingly. That was what she really didn’t want—any of her people to get themselves permanently dead because they were momentarily cocky.

Tam met us in the sitting room in the prince’s suite. He was dry and once again perfectly groomed. His robes were mostly raw black silk with velvet trim. They swept the floor but were slit up the sides to show fitted leather trousers and boots. Tam shared my opinion about robes—they were fashionable deathtraps. Trying to fight or run away from someone or something bent on killing you was best done with unencumbered legs. I’d imagine that was ten times as true in the goblin court. Tam’s hair fell in an ebony sheet down his back, and was held away from his face by a silver circlet set with a single ruby. A silver chain of office was draped over his broad shoulders.

We told him what happened with Rache, what nearly happened with Mychael—but most importantly, what didn’t happen. No Rache Kai in chains. Tam hissed a particularly descriptive obscenity in Goblin.

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” I told him.
To learn more about Lisa's awesome books, please visit her website-  Lisa Shearin
Also, you can read my reviews of Lisa's other books by clicking on her tag at the bottom of this post.