Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How do YOU choose names for your characters?

What you are about to read is a true story.

It is a fundamental tenet of a writer's life that one must always be writing new material. When one project is complete, it goes into the proverbial drawer for a few weeks or a month. This is to allow oneself to forget what one has written, so that after a few weeks or a month has passed, one may look at one's work with the objective eye required to evaluate the work in progress.

During this cooling-off period, one must be writing new material.

This also applies during the editing/polishing phase in which a manuscript is perfected prior to publication.

To that end, while I am polishing Book 6 of THE GO-KIDS, I am two chapters into a new science fiction novel (the title of which shall remain secret for the time being).

While making a fourth pass through Chapter 1 of this new novel, I decided to go ahead and name the two male characters featured in the scene. They stand on a street corner in Santa Monica, California, on their way back to the office after their lunch break. One of the men becomes impatient while waiting for the crosswalk computer to indicate when it is safe to cross the street.

I decided this man's name is Rory. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. My only answer is that 'Rory' was the first name which popped into my mind as I sat pondering who this person is. (The other man is Tim, though for the time being we shall focus on Rory.)

I finished proofing the chapter, sifting through the dialogue between Rory and Tim, tweaking the tense here and there as Tim regales Rory with an elaborate tail of a friend-of-a-friend who ate some bad Japanese food and had what turned out to be an expensive accident an hour later.

I then sat pondering the blank chasm that is Chapter 2, thinking, "Shit. Now what?" Then I was saved by the HooteSuite alert. So I defied all conventional writerly wisdom and checked in on HooteSuite, and then Gmail. In my inbox I found I had a new Twitter follower. I clicked on the profile in order to better gauge the merit of this person, lest he or she be a spammer, guru, or porn-vending pseudo-slut boasting nefarious links to dubious, virus-laden material unfit for public consumption.

This is what I found:

Her name is Carmen Mismit. She follows 984, has 4338 followers, but only 3 tweets, the most recent of which is what concerns us. This tweet dates all the way back to April 12, 2011. See for yourself:
You'll notice the highlighted blue tweet says simply: RORY.

I about fell out of my chair.

A mere five minutes or so had elapsed between the moment I named Rory in Chapter 1 and when I saw this tweet from CarmenMismit.

How do YOU explain it?

I explain it as confirmation from God/The Angels/The Universe that Rory is indeed the proper name.

So 'Rory' it is!

When selecting a name for a new character, I will sometimes consult my Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, the purple edition with the blue spine, which I've had for years and which has served me well. According to said tome, 'Rory' is Gaelic for 'ruddy;' Irish for 'red;' and Teutonic for 'famous ruler.'


Often, a character name simply appears, without consulting any books, as was the case with Rory.

How do YOU choose the names for YOUR characters?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Owls Are Flying!

In case you've not yet heard, and are waiting for your Pottermore beta email, or know someone who is, has posted some new information regarding owls and early entry into Pottermore. They've also answered some questions from fans. See below for more.

As you know, we’re using the Pottermore Beta period to make sure that Pottermore is the best it can be before it opens to all in October but we’ve noted some important questions cropping up …

‘Dear Pottermore. I'm taking the time to write this to remind you that I am not a squib. I want my letter now, please.’ [sic]

‘… I really think you should have sent another owl with my letter ... Errol really isn't up for long flights anymore.’

We know that you’re all checking your inboxes every time we send an update announcing that Welcome emails have gone out.

As you’ll remember from our previous Insider post, we need to start the Beta with a very small number of people in order to properly test Pottermore and collect feedback.

We know that waiting can be frustrating but the good news is that, as the Beta progresses, we’ll be increasing the number of emails we send out at any one time.

‘… Will you at least put up a schedule to let us know when the next batch of Welcome mails come out for us still waiting?’
Beta phases are fluid and it’s important to watch and see how a site reacts to increasing amounts of users and activity.

Every time more people are added to Pottermore, we take a pause and look at how the site is responding to see if everything is working as we expect it to and whether we need to make changes before we let more people into Pottermore.

We are planning on giving more people early access over the next week or so and then we will pause sending Welcome emails for a while so that we can see how things are going.

Unfortunately, we can’t create a schedule to share, as we need to respond to what we learn with each group of new users. That’s also why there are gaps between the batches of Welcome emails; it all depends on what we’re learning from those who are currently on the site.

‘… Is it only when you send a batch out that we have the potential to receive an email? Or are there always emails being sent out?’
We always announce on the Insider and @Pottermore when Welcome emails are sent out, but sometimes these can take a while to arrive in your inbox, so you might get yours after the announced time. It’s always best to wait for your email to arrive before you try to log in.

‘… I've been hearing this rumour that if you haven't received your welcome letter yet and someone who has adds you as a friend on Pottermore, you may get in faster. Is there any evidence that this is true?’[sic]
Chip Davis
We aren’t quite sure where this rumour started but, no, it isn’t true.

‘What was the point of scrambling for early Pottermore registration if not all of those would get in to the beta? This process is weird.’ [sic]
The Magical Quill campaign identified who would have access to the Beta. Everyone who found the Magical Quill will get the chance to give us their feedback on Pottermore.

‘… how can I make #PottermoreArt if I haven't seen the site?’
We know that many fans have been creating Harry Potter based artwork for years and Pottermore will be another place for them to share this. While you can’t upload videos and music files to Pottermore, you can post original drawings and sketches.

There are also lots of fans out there who aren’t part of the Beta, and fans who are creating songs and videos; we want to give these people a place to show what that they’ve been creating, too.

Posted by Pottermore Editor at 19:18 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pottermore Welcome Letter . . . At Last!

Caution: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have not yet received your welcome letter, you may not want to see this.

The owl arrived today, at 1:26 p.m. PST.

I was rather surprised, because entry was to be first-come, first-served. At least, this was what was advertised on the Pottermore website during the seven days of early registration mania.

But when the first batch of owls arrived with welcome letters (on Monday August 15), people who had registered on Day 7 were being granted entry.

It was puzzling for everyone.

Nevertheless, it is nice to finally have received the letter.

Also interesting is the fact that this welcome letter is for the first Pottermore account I registered, the one which "failed" the registration when I tried the link they'd sent me in the confirmation email. I had therefore registered again, also on Day 1. I shall likely deactivate this one.

I shall begin exploring Pottermore and will report back with my findings.

Finally, here is the latest image from the blog as well as their latest update on the owls.
The Great Hall
There's Albus up there at the head table. Hi, Headmaster!
Image copyright/property of Pottermore LLC

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pottermore Beta Testing Has Begun

UPDATE Monday August 15, 2011:
You may have noticed the Log In button is back on Pottermore. . . . It seems the owls are flying and people are being granted admission to Pottermore.

One point of particular interest is that as Pottermore Beta Testers, our time spent there is not all fun and games; there is work to be done! But it's fun work, for there is a feedback button located in the bottom right-hand corner of every Pottermore page. It looks like this:
So any time you experience difficulty or confusion or encounter something which outright doesn't work, click away! This is how we will improve the Pottermore experience for all come October.

Read the latest from the blog for more details.

I'm being told that people on Facebook are saying Pottermore registrants from all 7 Clue Days are already being let in to begin testing. This seems to defy the "First-Come, First-Served" methodology stated by the Pottermore folks, but oh well.

If you have received your third email from Pottermore and are inside testing (and if you are, why are you out here reading this instead of inside Pottermore doing the testing?!), please leave a comment in the comments section stating which Clue Day # you registered for Pottermore.

In the meantime, keep an eye on your inbox for your official welcome email!
*   *   *

To read a real-time, day-by-day account of the Pottermore Beta Test registration period, visit my previous Pottermore blog posts HERE.

Martin King's 100 Blogs in 30 Days!

Martin King, author of various novels, including 
Jack Hunter - Secret of the King

is doing a special "100-Blogs-In-30-Days" challenge.

He is visiting my blog today, as Day 16 and Blog #41 out of the 100. For each of the 100 blogs, Martin is recounting an experience from his childhood. The following is his entry for my blog:

Have you ever found something amazing and yet didn’t really know what to do with it?

I have! And after reading all my true stories so far, I bet you are wondering what other amazing thing
could possibly have happened to this young boy. It is almost impossible. Well let me tell you it’s not.
I’ve watched all the Harry Potter films and the way he’s always right at the place where something
happens every single time, my life is a lot less ordinary.

But on this day, I was digging in the back garden when I found something. Do you want to know
what it is, or shall I keep you in suspense a little longer. OK, I shall tell you, I found a gun! Yes a real
live gun.

Now let’s look at the dates first of all. The house I lived in was built roundabout the time of the
Second World War. So it is quite feasible to think that it could have been lost during the building
process and remained untouched until a little boy came along and played digging holes.

My digging holes game didn’t last very long because I was off playing armies with my new toy! From
how I remember the pistol, it looks very similar to those carried by the Germans, you know that
square clunky type you see in those old fashioned war movies.

I don’t know what happened to that gun, but imagine the news today it a kid found a real pistol from
the war in their back garden?

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow
this link to find the next blog in the series: