Creating Character Names - Ol’Whatshisname!

by Valerie Allen

When naming your characters it’s tempting to give your friends, family, or coworkers a chance for their 15 minutes of fame. Before indulging in the name game consider the the following implications that names reveal about characters.

1. Names have implications such as: status, education, religion, place of birth, heritage, culture,  sex, age, etc..

2. Short names with hard sounds such as Max, Kurt, Nick, and Zena are often used for the bad guys (or gals).

3. Two syllable names and two part names are typically used for children or to portray child like qualities: Bobby, Cathy, Jimmy, Lulu; Sally-Jean, Bobbi-Jo, Jimmy-Ray

4. Single names, multiple names, hyphenated names, and initials imply importance: Cher, Madonna, John Philip Sousa, Frank Lloyd Wright, Gertrude Hart-Taylor, Charles Miller-Wright, FDR, JFK, MLK

5. Names can indicate ethnicity:  Maria, Juan, Collin, Eileen, Anthony, Lisa, Nigel, Gretchen, Vijay, or Abdul

6. The spelling of a name can imply age or character traits: Smith vs Smyth, Elizabeth vs Lizabeth, Rose Ann vs Rosanne, Lisa vs Liza vs Lissa, Carl vs Karl

7. Names must fit the theme or time period of your story, such as, biblical, Civil War era, Native American, science fiction, European, aristocratic, etc.

8. Names often reflect popular public figures or famous families during specific time periods: Franklin or Eleanor, Elvis, Shirley (Temple), Douglas (MacArthur), Amy (Carter), Chelsea (Clinton).

9. Nicknames are typically used for extroverted characters: Barb, Liz, Bill, Joe, Rick. They can also be used to reveal characterization:  Shorty, Babe, Honey, Slim, Hot Stuff, Tex.

10. Use only one common name (Jim Jones) and only one exotic name (Theodora Ginasia-Peacock) per story.

11. Use unique names for each character, not: Jack, Jim, Jon, or John in the same story, nor Mary, Marie, Maria, Marla, Maureen.

12. Last names follow the same rule, do not have: Jamison, Johnson, Jenson, Jepson in the same story.

13. Use caution with names that have special significance such as, grandfather/father/son, Sr./Jr., The III, use of family names as a first name (Fulbright, Hathaway), unisex names (Taylor, Parker, Madison), flowers (Azalea, Buttercup, Lily), gems(Ruby, Pearl),  and nature (Summer, River, Plum)

Helpful resources for character names are The World of Baby Names, Character Naming Sourcebook, and the US Census of Common Names.

Readers make associations with names based on their unique experiences, however, stereotyping is alive and well. Who do you picture when you hear the name Bertha?

Valerie Allen writes fiction, nonfiction, short stories and children's books. ( She assists writers with marketing via Authors For Authors  in warm and sunny Florida. Meet the Authors Book Fair in the Fall and the Writers' Conference: Write, Publish, Sell! in the Spring. Vendor tables and presentations encourage networking and marketing to increase book sales. Book Display options are available for authors throughout the USA. Valerie loves to hear from readers and writers! Contact her at: and


The Lazy Way to Be a Great Writer

Developing Dialogue

Avoid These Common Mistakes in Creating Characters for Your Story

A Few of My Favorite Ways to Make at Least $100 a Day as a Writer

When I tell people they can make real money as a writer, I'm not talking about a mere $100 a day!

But you've got to start somewhere!

So today I'd like to list some of my favorite ways to make at least $100 a day as a writer.

Once you're earning $100 a day as a writer, there'll be no stopping you!

You can go on to earn the income you've always dreamed of earning as a writer.

But again, the key is to just get started!

Too many writers wait for something that will have them instantly earning thousands of dollars a day.

But that isn't the way it usually works.

Writing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme.

It's a skill and a business that takes time to develop, just like any other skill and business.

Okay, so here goes. Let's get started!

1. Search the online job boards and locate at least one assignment that pays $100 and that can be done quickly - in a few hours.

Apply for the assignment, get it, finish it, invoice the client for it.

Do this on a regular basis.

Each morning, get up and search for assignments that pay at least $100.

If you start doing this on a regular basis, after awhile you'll also stumble into some bigger, better paying gigs, too!

They key is to simply get started and do this consistently - day in and day out!

You'll build your confidence and your skills as you build your income!

2. Create information products and sell them online.

It doesn't take many of these products to earn $100 a day.

It just takes a few that sell well.

An information product can be an e-book, an e-course, a special report, etc.

Pick a target market and find out what they WANT to know.

Then package this information so they can easily purchase it online from you.

Another option would be to create information products for others - ghostwrite these products.

3. Develop a teleclass and charge for the class.

If you develop weekly teleclasses, you can charge a weekly or monthly membership fee that will give you regular income.

What do you know a lot about?

It doesn't need to be about writing.

Are you an expert about traveling with kids?

Do you know a lot about fishing?

Do people admire the way you decorate your house without spending a fortune?

Turn your expertise into cash!

4. Promote/sell affiliate products in an ezine and at a website or blog.

Simply monetize your site by offering affiliate products that appeal to your target market.

Many writers make big money doing this.

But they learn all the "tricks of the trade" to make the big money.

Still, you can make $100 a day without knowing everything there is to know about affiliate marketing.

Again, just get started, and be consistent at it.

Write reviews and other information about affiliate products on a regular basis.

5. Write for magazines or other publications on a regular basis.

First, you need to break in with a few publications, of course.

But once you do, keep submitting ideas to the editors.

Even if they don't use your ideas, they may continue to hire you to write articles they need writers for.

It takes a while to break in with major magazines.

But, once you do, you'll earn significant money this way if you write for these publications on a regular basis.

6. Create a live workshop or course and charge for it.

Do this on a regular basis to supplement your writing income.

You can offer the workshop at a local coffeeshop, community center, or even a bookstore or restaurant - or, in good weather, at the park.

7. Create a product, service, or training program for businesses, then promote regularly to these businesses to make regular sales.

Do a little research to determine what writing services, products, or training programs local businesses need.

Then submit a proposal to a few businesses offering your services, products, or programs.

Once you sell your products and services to a few of these businesses, gather some testimonials that will help you sell to other businesses.

8. Write books for publishers who need authors for upcoming titles.

Many freelance writers write several books a year this way.

After awhile, they have ongoing royalties from many, many books and these royalties add up to a nice income.

9. Develop a few services that you love to provide for clients, and focus on acquiring many clients for just these services.

For example, if you're good at writing press releases/media releases and you enjoy this type of writing, make this your speciality and promote it big time!

You can easily earn $100 for a single press release.

And you can write a press release in just a few hours at the most.

You'll have a thriving business if you write just a few press releases every day!

You can spend the rest of each day working on your novel or something else to earn even more money!

Those are just a few of my favorite ways for earning at least $100 a day.'s your turn.

What's your favorite way to earn at least $100 a day as a writer?

Share your way here in a comment.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books and a writing coach.

Visit her website at for more articles and resources about writing.

And, for more money making tips for writers, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Writing Fun 101

When was the last time you wrote something because you wanted to? Usually on the priority scale, things tend to get done because it's deadline or time-sensitive, client work, a long-delayed project you had to wrap up, and in some cases all of the above. 

If you don't know the answer off the top of your head, then it has been way too long.

It summertime! And, while there is always work to be done, that shouldn't stop you from having fun ... both in real life and with your writing.

So, here is your assignment. Pick one of the following:

1. Have an adventure and write about it. It can be as simple as people watching or a fun afternoon out.
2. Start a new journal. How awesome is book full of fresh paper just waiting for you to fill it with words?
3. Write a pitch, essay, poem, song, or quick article.
4. Start a new long-form project, such as a book, novel, or screenplay.
5. Do anything you want. Haven't you been paying attention? This is your project. Your decision.

Now comes the fun part...

After you finish reading this article, stop what you are doing, set a timer for 15 minutes, and start writing one of the above. If you can't freeze time right now, that's fine. You may do it later today ... or if necessary within the next 24 hours. Then schedule at least two 15-minute appointments each week to work on it. 

The point is this. You will always have things to do, deadlines, and other responsibilities. Yet, on most days 15 minutes is totally doable. Take time for yourself and your passion projects, in small increments of time. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you prioritize the things you enjoy. Oh, and bonus: you will likely be happier too!

What fun thing will you write today or this week? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

5 Etiquette Tips to Make You a Rock Star at Your Next Book Event

Have you ever been to a book fair and your table mate or book neighbor (author at the table next to you) did something that really irked you?

Yea, well, you’re not alone. Sometimes people don’t realize how their actions affect their book neighbors at a book event. Everyone has shelled out money to be there and is eager to connect with new readers.

So, here to help you be a rock star with your neighbors at your next book event are 5 etiquette tips.

Usually the organizers request authors to come 1-2 hours to get set up before the event. When you do that, you have ample time to set up and follow these tips!

1. When you have finished setting up your table, take a moment to introduce yourself to your table mate/book neighbor. Offer to take a picture of them at their table. Often authors come to events without a helper and that makes it difficult to take pictures of themselves. This will earn you good points with your book neighbor.

2. Once you have networked with the authors around you, you will know about their genre. Help your neighbor once the event begins by suggesting their books to a customer who doesn’t fit your genre. This will win you huge points with your book neighbor.

3. If you are chatting with your table mate/book neighbor and a customer walks up to their table, quickly stop the conversation so they can attend to the customer. Do not keep talking to them and cause them to lose a potential customer. This is rude and will lose you points with your neighbor. You may even say something before the event like, “If a customer comes up while we’re talking, I’ll stop talking so you can talk to them and then we can pick up where we left off afterwards.” This helps your neighbor know that you care about them and are not being rude when you cut off your conversation with them.

4. If your table mate/book neighbor has a customer at their table, do not start talking to that customer unless you are telling them how great that author’s book is. It is rude to talk to a customer at another author’s table and pull them away from their table to yours. You can speak to the customer after they have made their decision to purchase or not from that author. One thing you can do is offer to take a picture of the customer holding the book with the author. This will also earn you huge points with your neighbor because they may not have thought to do that or have no one who could do that for them.

5. Lastly, offer to cover your neighbor’s table if they need to use the restroom or need to purchase food or drink. It’s usually a long day at these events and most authors don’t have a helper to cover their table. After listening to them talk to their customers, you will know what to say to someone who comes to their table. If you make a sale for them, you will truly be a rock star!

Overall, bring your best, most positive energy to these events. This helps with your connection with potential readers as well as your neighbors.

I hope you have learned something from today’s post and will think about how you can be a good neighbor at your next event.

If someone doesn’t follow this tips at an event, feel free to print this off and give it to them. Most likely, they just didn’t know.

I would also love to hear any other tips you may have discovered from your events.

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). A former National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral. She belongs to the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 23 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at and follow her on Facebook at

Q&As and How To Take Control of Your Own Submissions

Upping Your Chances for Publication In MY Newsletter—and Most Everywhere Else!

I have been publishing SWW (SharingwithWriters) newsletter since 2003, and though it’s sporadic (it must take a back seat to the traveling I do!), it is long and full of tons of tips and resources. I also encourage subscriber participation through several of its features including one of my favorite formats, the Q&A.

When I was a young staff writer at The Salt Lake Tribuneback—well, way too long ago to mention—I was sometimes assigned the job of making Ann Landers ground-breaking self-help columns fit into the allotted editorial space once the advertising department had set up all the stuff a paper needs to survive—that would be stuff people and businesses pay a newspaper to publish. I became addicted both personally and as a nonfiction writer.

Q&As are easy ways for people to learn new information and to apply it to real lives, maybe even their own. Below is one of my favorites from my newsletter. Q&As a la Ann Landers solve a problem for me. They make it easier for me to handle submissions and allowing me to continue to offer my newsletter free—or to offer it at all!

QUESTION: Thank you for your offer to run an announcement of my newest “Author Success.” Please just extract what you need from the press release I attached.

ANSWER: I would love to run your success, Annie.  But here’s the thing. I don’t like to work this way.

I live in fear that I'll make a mistake or leave something out and it is very timing consuming to extract from a release when you can tell your own story much better and faster.

Dan Poynter used to always make the point of saying submissions to him should be ready for him to cut-and-paste.  His heart was always with us.  He wanted to help but could help more of his contributors if he could get them to make it easy on him! 

There is another aspect to my being so picky!  I don't know if you have a copy of my The Frugal Book Promoter, but because I wrote it to help authors get more free media exposure, I consider it my job to set an example for my authors and readers.  In this case--specifically—to encourage you to submit the way you 'd like to see your information in print while taking in consideration the editor's submission guidelines to the style of the journal etc.  Doing so gives you an edge for promotion because editors are busy. 

A story that is not as good may get the exposure while your media release or submission gets ignored or lost. Another may get preference over yours because the editor or other gatekeeper is so short on time.  The author who submits according to a gatekeeper’s guidelines benefits by having more control over what is said. The author has more control of the details selected for the story when he or she doesn’t expect the feature editor, newsletter editor, business editor, or other gatekeeper to do all the work.

So, here are my SWW guidelines:

1.     Send your information in the body of an e-mail. You’ll find all the reasons why this is important for almost all gatekeepers including the biggies like large media organizations and academic institutions in The Frugal Book Promoter!

2.     Put clear, concise information in the subject line: “Author Success [or tip or letter-to-the-editor] for Sharing with Writers.

3.     For Author Successes, give me one paragraph that includes author name, title, short pitch for the book, link, and an image of your book cover in jpeg.

4.     For other features like “Opportunities,” read a past issue or two and submit information similar to what you see there. You have probably seen literary review journals give you the same advice. There is no point in submitting poetry to them if they only publish short stories, or experimental fiction if they only publish another genre. Generally speaking, I try to make each story useful to my audience (as do most media folks!) and my audience is mostly writers like you.

5.     Be prepared. I will probably just copy and paste but may edit for style or space.

6.     In your media kit include a media release, a first-person essay, a related article, and an interview that includes a note that the author gives permission for it to be reprinted and that the author (or publicist) may be contacted for other articles, blog posts, essays, etc.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoterand The Frugal Editorwon awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethicallyis the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
You can find all Howard-Johnson's books at:


Plot and Your Story - Four Formats

The Promodoro Technique for Getting Your Writing Done

Developing Dialogue

SEO for Authors Part9 – Duplicate Content

Some bloggers (book marketers) are under the misconception that having their article reprinted on another website is a problem. They fear Google will penalize them.

This is NOT true. And, this comes from expert advice.

But, first let’s understand what duplicate content is. It’s when the identical or near-duplicate content appears on more than one webpage.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s on your own website or whether you have a guest post on another website, or whether a scraper site steals your article and posts it.

Scraped content is when a site takes your content and posts it on their own site without permission. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this, but you don’t have to worry about being penalized for it.

Allowing Reprints or Syndication of Your Blog Posts

According to Moz, Google understands syndication. What will possibly happen is the duplicate content (reprint) “will be filtered out of search results.”

I use guest posts on my site because it adds value to my readers. It brings a wider perspective and hopefully more information on a topic. So, I’m not concerned about it being in search results for the content.

On the flipside, I allow my articles to be reprinted because it broadens my visibility. The hosting site has its own readers and visitors who will possibly see my content for the first time.

This is a win-win for me and the hosting site. I broaden my marketing reach and the hosting site gets fresh content that will hopefully help its readers.

To further emphasis the myth of duplicate content, Neil Patel says:

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

Playing It Safe and Being Ethical

Syndication can be a valuable marketing tool and it’s definitely a legitimate strategy, but to play it safe and give credit where it’s due (for Google’s sake), always reference the original content link.

You might be saying, “But, I allow the author a tag or bio that links back to their website.”

While this may be true, it has nothing to do with Google.

You want to let Google know that the content you're reprinting originated from another webpage. Again, your blog post may not be put in the search results, but you’ll be playing the game right.

I try to always reference the original URL of a guest post I use. I say “try” because sometimes I’m in a rush and forget to do it even though it’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten. I do have to try harder.

What Google Says on the Matter

Did you know that Google has a page just about duplicate content. Below is what it says about allowing reprints or syndication of your content:

If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.

If you have a question related to this post, just enter it in the comments. I’ll try my best to answer it.

To read the previous articles in this SEO for Authors series, go to:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you need help with your author platform, check out Karen's e-classes through WOW:


Importance of Email Signatures

Reasons Why to Self-Publish Your Nonfiction Book

Book Marketing – To Give or Not To Give

Tips from Lisa Cron's Book, Story Genius

Forty-three note cards for forty-three chapters completed the template from Cron's book
As SCBWI meetings, critique group sessions, and so much more offered by our local New Mexico chapter go, the subjects at two recent meetings couldn’t have been more helpful. This month’s post offers highlights from a meeting that presented and discussed Lisa Cron’s book, Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere. Have you been there? This author must confess that I have, in spades. Next month, watch for highlights from a workshop on Author Visits, presented by Caroline Starr Rose, author of  May B., Blue Birds, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine, Ride On, Will Cody! and more.

The Third Rail
Cron begins in the Introduction, by explaining what it takes for a ms to succeed and why so many fail.

“The reason that the majority of ms’s are rejected—either by publishers or readers—is because they do not have a third rail . . . And so they write and rewrite and polish an impressive stack of pages in which a bunch of things happen, but none of it really matters because that’s all it is—a bunch of external things that the reader has no particular reason to care about.

Story is about an internal struggle, not an external one. It’s about what the protagonist has to learn, to overcome, to deal with internally in order to solve the problem that the external plot poses.”

The Third Rail drives your story, and the presenters at the meeting stressed, can save you lots of drafts. Some major Third Rail points:
  • The point of your book comes from the protagonist’s struggle—why it matters to him/her.
  • The protagonist pursues a difficult goal—how does this pursuit change her internally? What’s the point? Your book must come from this.
  • Each scene has to hit the third rail.
  • Nail your point—what do you want the reader to walk away with?

Two Weeks Well Spent
My WIP, a MG mystery and my first book, has been held up due to editing and revisions I've continued to make for over a year after I thought it was “ready.” This is after the ms had been reviewed by three professional editors, in various stages (I had a lot to learn). In past posts, I’ve emphasized making sure your ms is “ready” before submitting, and one way to make sure is to have a professional editor review it. So, when I made the acceptable changes suggested by my editors, the ms should have been ready. I had to go with my gut, though. I knew it wasn’t.

Fast forward to a year later—to NOW. When I went to the SCBWI meeting, I had planned to submit my ms that week. But after hearing what the presenters had to say about Cron’s book and taking a peek at my ms, I knew I had more work to do. It took two weeks.

My two-week revision started by using a handout provided by the presenters taken from the Story Genius book, "Plotting: Scene Card Template: What is the Point?" I made a copy of the template and stapled it onto a card, as it appears here:

On 3x5 cards, I made a note in each section of the template from each chapter, using the template as a guide. Conclusion? The story didn’t change, but my mc’s inner struggle strengthened, which made the story richer, explained the plot better, and helped clarify vague parts.

Worth the Time and Effort
Story Genius offers much more than could be covered in this post. I plan to use the ideas offered to begin writing Book Two in my MG mystery series and believe it will save months of edits and revisions. I recommend this book as an important addition to your bookshelf.

My writing buddies, Sweet Pea & Peanut
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at