What’s in a Name? – The Star Host, Character Names

whatsyournameman

If you are as into the Broadway show Hamilton as I am, you know the next lyric is “Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton.” And it’s the perfect intro for this amazing character and show. You can’t get more dramatic than that.

Of course, when Lin Manuel Miranda was creating and drafting the songs and the show, he already had all his character names.

If you ask any author, other than thinking of the title for their works, naming characters is up there on the list of both hardest things to do and favorite things to do. And one of my favorite questions I’ve received about THE STAR HOST is how I came up with character names. Well here are your answers. (Note: All answers eventually lead back to my college days which I find hilarious.)

Asher – This is probably my favorite story. One of my favorite movies of all time is Army of Darkness starring Bruce Campbell. When I was a freshmen in college and I had joined The Sci-Fi and Fantasy club (Skiffy from here on out) one of the first movies we watched as club that year was Army of Darkness. I had heard all the jokes about boomsticks, but I hadn’t seen the movie. And all I knew of Bruce Campbell was Brisco County Jr. (Seriously, great show. ahead of it’s time. go watch it.) So when the movie was voted in for viewing, I stayed to watch. IT WAS AMAZING. And the first line of the film is, “My name is Ash, and I am a slave.”

Fast forward to 2015 when I’m plotting and writing THE STAR HOST. I know that the second main character would be introduced in a dungeon and would basically be a political prisoner. And I thought of that line from Army of Darkness. And I immediately knew I had to name the character Ash. Instead of naming him Ashley, like from AoD, I went with Asher. And while Asher never says he is a slave, every time of think of that intro, I laugh.

Ren – Ren’s name came from a bunch of different places. I knew I wanted a short name and I was stuck on names that began with “R” for a while. There’s a terrific series from the UK called In The Flesh and there is a character named Kieren – but one of the other characters calls him Ren. And I loved it. It showed an intimacy to their relationship, so that name had been floating around in my mind for a while. But before I began writing, I was pregnant with my third baby – a boy. My husband and I had kicked around a few names and I kept returning to Ren, Renny, Emerson etc as potential names. My husband vetoed all of them and we ended up going with Remy. Which I love. But Ren was still kind of there in my head. So when I sat down to start writing, the name was there, and originally it was a placeholder name, but I grew to love it so much. To me – Ren could be a nickname from his brother, or a family name, or anything honestly. And I thought it fit his simple duster life.

Rowan – Again, a college name. I first encountered this name as the first name of one of my professors. And I loved it. I thought it was so unique. The first time I even thought of her as more than “Asher’s sister” was when I was already about halfway through writing the novel. I wanted to give her a strong name but also something unique and also would complement her brother’s name.

They have the last name of Morgan. Which is also something that makes me laugh when I refer to Rowan as Captain.

These are just three of several characters who appear in THE STAR HOST. If you’ve read the book, who is your favorite? Or which name would you like to know more about? If you are a writer, how do you come up with the names for your characters?

 

Advanced Review!

I have to thank Christin aka beenwandering so much for the animated cover she made for The Star Host. It’s beautiful!

animatedcover

Also, she gave the novel a lovely review which you can read here.

Here is an excerpt:

Absolutely the best part for me about scifi is getting to delve into a brand new world. Spacers, dusters, drifts; all of it creates a new setting that’s balanced with characters and circumstances that are relatable. Also? The pacing is perfect. I was interested and focused the whole time. I especially liked how it built the world and the plot together, rather than dumping information on and expecting me to remember it later.

Of course a great aspect of this book is the diverse cast. LGBTQ main characters, PoC, and women in power. The Star Host is a young adult book and I love that it’s written exactly like any other young adult book – without the heteronormativity. It’s just a kid trying to figure out himself, trying to figure out love, and trying to survive in a messed up world. In space.

You can pre-order The Star Host via Interlude Press or Amazon.

Author Discussion with FT and Michelle – part 2

Hi readers. I’ve invited fellow 2016 debut author Michelle Osgood to come and chat with me about the publishing process!  We are both new authors with Interlude Press, having submitted our novels during their Open Submission period in June of last year, and this post will focus on how we navigated our first time through seeing a book from submission to final product. We’ve already discussed a bit about developing our novels and submitting in the previous post on Michelle’s blog and now we’re going to focus on the editing, publishing, and preparing to launch a book out into the world.

FT:  Michelle, what was the most difficult part of the editing process for you?  I think the hardest part for me was entering back into the world of The Star Host after having a long break from it. I submitted it in June and I think I received my first edits around November. That was a long time for me. And in those months, I had worked on other projects. Delving back into the world of the novel, and getting back into the character’s heads took a few re-reads. Now, however, after all the editing and reading, I can quote portions of the story in my sleep.

Michelle: Oh yeah, the break between submitting and editing was tough.  For me, I’d never worked with Track Changes on Word before, preferring in the past to edit off of handwritten notes.  Getting used to having the notes on screen, especially when it got to the point that there were about four different colours of notes and edits, was tricky!  Thankfully it didn’t take too long to master.

Michelle:  I had to add a few extra scenes into The Better to Kiss You With that weren’t in my original manuscript.  At first I was a bit intimidated, but once I got into the writing I found that it was super fun–and actually felt a bit like writing fanfic to me!  I knew the characters so well because I’d spent so many months with them that it was exciting to be able to jump back into that world.  FT, was there anything you found surprisingly easy or fun about your edits?

FT:  Oh, I had to write a few additional scenes myself. And that was a fun break, actually writing instead of editing. I think the most fun was seeing all the comments within the manuscript and the reactions of the editors. Yes, I had plenty of comments on things to change, but I also had fun little notes about dialogue someone liked or a piece of description they enjoyed. Having that mixed in with the edits was like a small surprise each time I found one.

Michelle:  I love that we both are writing Scifi/Fantasy stories. The Star Host is so clearly scifi, a fact that is beautifully illustrated by the cover, by the way.  What drew you to that genre, and how conscious were you of writing Young Adult science fiction?

FT:  To make an epic answer short, I’ve always loved sci-fi. I am a long time member of my college’s Science Fiction and Fantasy club (Skiffy) and in fact, the book is dedicated to that group. But even before college, I loved sci-fi in all it’s forms – movies, books, tv. I loved being able to travel and experience different worlds, be it an alternate past or a far flung future. When I sat down to plot The Star Host, I knew it was going to be sci-fi. The young adult part came at the very end of the plotting process. Around that time, I made the decision to age my two main characters down a few years. I made that decision because I knew my protagonist, Ren, was bisexual, and I decided that the representation of a bisexual teen on a space adventure was important to the young adult world.

Michelle: As for me, I’ve always enjoyed reading paranormal fiction, and one of the things I like most about it is how contemporary a lot of works in that genre are.  I find it fascinating to explore the collision of the paranormal, something that always feels ancient and enduring, with the relatively new technology of today.  In the world of smartphones and mobile games and the Internet how do supernatural creatures fit in?  Do they embrace it or abhor it?

FT:  And lastly, is there anything you want your future readers to know about your work? For me, I hope that I can instill a love of science fiction to the next generation of readers and I hope they take away something from the novel that inspires them.

Michelle:  I want my readers to know that my choice of bad guy was very deliberate.  For the majority of The Better to Kiss You With, Deanna is harassed and stalked online by an anonymous person, known only as “crywolf”.  He terrorizes her without ever needing to be in the same room as her.  I think that now, especially in light of Zoe Quinn dropping her case against her abusive ex because the harassment only worsened for herself and her family, it’s important to acknowledge that online stalking and harassment is violence.  And it’s overwhelmingly violence against women.  And that is not acceptable.  Something needs to change, and in order for that change to happen we need to start taking online threats and harassment seriously.

FT:  What was has been your favorite part of the creative process thus far?

Michelle:  Working with editors was wonderful.  It was such a positive experience for me to see my story become that much better with the help of several amazing women.  It really felt like we were a part of a team, and I knew that each of us only had the story’s best interests at heart.  Having never gone through formal edits before I hadn’t been sure what to expect, but it wound up being so much fun.

FT: I did not expect that answer because editing is my least favorite part. LOL! I think my favorite part of the process is yet to come. I can’t wait to share the novel with everyone. I hope the readers have as much fun experiencing the world of The Star Host as I did creating it.

Michelle:  I can’t wait to read it!

The Star Host is a young adult sci-fi adventure novel, featuring a M/M romance and a bisexual protagonist. It comes out NEXT WEEK on March 3, 2016 and is now available for pre-order. You can follow me, FT, on Tumblr, Twitter, Goodreads.

The Better to Kiss You With is a new adult paranormal romance with queer girls, werewolves, and gaming. It comes out April 21, 2016 and is up for pre-order! You can find Michelle on Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

The Star Host – Inspiration #1

I tweeted a few days ago some teasers of inspiration for my upcoming release The Star Host. And now it’s time to expand on those little snippets and talk about what inspired me to write not only a young adult, science-fiction novel, but this particular novel.

The main character, Ren, is a dreamer. He is a duster (planet born) and he hopes to one day leave his small village on Erden and explore the world of the drifts in space. He believes in the stories his mother has told him, including the myths of the star hosts, ever since he was a child.

“We’re not meant to be planet bound. We’re part of them, you know.”
“You’re not seriously quoting the bedtime story Mom always told us.”
Ren elbowed Liam in the ribs and earned a grunt. “It’s not a story. It’s a legend.”
“It’s fiction.”
“Legends have truth in them.”
Liam sat up, brushed away the sand clinging to his arms. “You honestly believe we’re made of stardust?”
“It’s better than believing we’re made of dirt.”

This exchange highlights a dichotomy in Ren’s and Liam’s ways of thinking. The phrase “made of dirt” is alluding to the creation story where man was made of dirt/clay which is the belief of most dusters. Ren, however, believes man is made of stardust. An idea supported by the video below.

“Look up at the night sky. We are part of it. The universe itself exists within us.”

Isn’t that an amazing thought? We are made of stardust.

When I saw this video years ago, it struck a nerve with me. And I knew I had to write a story incorporating this notion that humans are intrinsically connected to the stars. That we are more than we ever thought we were.

There are several key phrases from this video that shaped the universe that Ren inhabits, including the myths of the star hosts. For Ren, this video is affirmation for what he believes. He yearns to be in space, amid the stars, on the drifts.

What he doesn’t know when his adventure begins is how much stardust is actually within him. (More on that later 😉 )

I’ll be posting more on the inspiration for The Star Host over the next several weeks. Feel free to drop me a line and ask questions. Or let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to know about my upcoming release. I’d love to hear from you.

If you haven’t yet, you can enter to win a copy of The Star Host at Goodreads.

 

When do you have time to write?

This is a question I am asked at least once a day. When I tell my friends or acquaintances that I have a book coming out in March, they always raise their eyebrows and tilt their heads and squint. Inevitably, the next thing out of their mouths is – “When did you write a novel?”

The incredulity isn’t that I wrote a book, at least, I don’t think it is. It’s more born of the fact that looking in from the outside I lead a busy life. And that’s not wrong.

I work a full-time day job. Monday through Friday. 8:30 to 5:00 or whenever the job is done. I am married and have three kids. Two school aged (9 and 7) and one baby. My oldest is a special needs child and my youngest just turned one last month. My husband is a nurse who works nights at the hospital so we see each other in passing the majority of the week. Between work and kids’ homework and doctor visits and school events, I sometimes don’t have time to sit down. Not to mention that my husband and I do have hobbies – we both attend Taekwondo classes and play on a local softball team. I crochet when I can and read before bed.

I know this looks like a lot. Believe me, it feels like a lot.

So when do I have time to write?

Honest answer: I don’t have time. I make time.

A long time ago, after I had graduated with my first degree, I decided to take a writing class through a community college. I didn’t get a chance to take one during the four years at my university and it was something I wanted to do. And I’ll never forget what the professor said one day in class.

If you wait for time to do something, you will never do it. If you’re passionate about writing, you’ll find a way to get the words in.

When Interlude Press announced they would be open for submissions in June 2015, I knew I wanted to have something to submit. I have been writing in fan communities since I was a teenager so I had some experience with crafting a story and writing it down. So I sat down in March and wrote the first 15k of The Star Host. Then in April, I wrote the next 35k. In May I wrote another 20k and I finished it up in June.

So when do I make time to write?

In that hour after putting the kids on the bus and before I start getting ready for work. In that time between getting home and dinner. Between diaper changes and during naps. After the kids go to bed until the wee hours to turn around drag myself out of bed at 6am. On Saturdays, secluded in my bedroom. On Sunday afternoons, after softball games, when I am sore and tired and dirty and waiting for the shower.

The point of this post isn’t to toot my own horn. The point is that there are a lot of authors in my same boat– who scrape time up from lost moments and make them productive. Who stay up late and subsist on caffeine to make it through the next work day.

And to those who are like me and have to make time, I raise my Darth Maul coffee cup to you. Because those late nights and early mornings, and those minutes hunched over a notebook in the car while you’re in between appointments, are worth it.

They are so worth it.

So fellow writers/authors when do you write? What’s the best time of day for you to get your words down? Any tips/tricks to share? (because I need them!)

Stay tuned for content about THE STAR HOST, my upcoming novel. Preorder your copy now!

The Blurb…

I think it’s about high time I share with you the blurb for my upcoming release – The Star Host.

It is a young adult, science fiction/fantasy novel and I’m very excited to share it with everyone.

Ren grew up listening to his mother tell stories about the Star Hosts – a mythical group of people possessed by the power of the stars. The stories were the most exciting part of Ren’s life, and he often dreamed about leaving his backwater planet and finding his place among the neighboring drifts. When Ren is captured by soldiers and taken from his home, his dream slips further out of his grasp. Now a slave of a despotic Baron, Ren must remain inconspicuous while plotting his escape. It’s a challenge since the general of the Baron’s army is convinced Ren is something out of one of his mother’s stories.

Ren finds companionship in the occupant of the cell next to his, a drifter named Asher. A member of the Phoenix Corps, Asher is mysterious, charming, and exactly the person Ren needs to anchor him as his sudden technopathic ability threatens to consume him. Ren doesn’t mean to become attached, but after a daring escape, a trek across the planet, and an eventful ride on a merchant ship, Asher is the only thing that reminds Ren of home. Together, they must warn the drifts of the Baron’s plans, master Ren’s growing power, and try to save their friends while navigating the growing attraction between them.

As the release date (March 3!) draws closer, I’ll be sharing more about the universe, the writing process, and answering questions.