Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What Hank's Writing: Naming Names!


-->
HANK PHILLIPPPI RYAN: What are the two scariest words in an author’s lexicon? Oh, trust me (those aren’t the ones) there are plenty of scary words. No thanks. Next time. So sorry.

For me right now, the scary words are: Chapter One. Which I typed, four-thousand-one-hundred-fourteen words ago. And yet again, I’m having the moment of feeling what it’s like to write a book. Terrified.

From scratch. Ish. Yes, I’d sent a proposal to my editor, and yes, she loved it, and all good. I just finished the edits of THE MURDER LIST, all good. But now, I actually have to write the new book. I'm so happy about that. Still. Terrified.

So if you ask: what’re you writing, Hank? Who are the main characters? What're their names?  I’d say—that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

There’s a main character: MAYBE her name is Ellie. Maybe.

There’s a love interest. He’s so unformed as yet that honestly, his name is now “Guy.” It’ll be hilarious if it stays that way.

There’s a foil--is she good or bad? Whose name started out as Amy, but because there are too many Amys, changed to Hannah, but turned out she’s not one bit Hannah. As she proved in about one paragraph. So she’s now Andrea.  Andrea Westin. For the time being.

There’s a mystery woman, Nora. Maybe Nora. Nora seems to be working for her, so I’m counting my name blessings.

Doctor Lorcan Elliott became Doctor Elliott Lorcan and then that all had to be scrapped because you can’t have Ellie and Elliott. Now he’s Glenn Something. (He’s in is sixties, so Glenn works.)

I’ve auctioned off naming rights for charity, and I adore doing that. I have four of those for this book, now, from separate places.  However. Three of them have the same initials, first name C, Last name P. Argh. That is not gonna work.  

 Thing is, and it’s kind of magical, you can’t just slap a name on someone and have it work. I am so fascinated by this, and persevere because I know once I get the name, the personality emerges. (Writers, has this happened to you?)

Yes yes. I hear you.  Go to phone books, cemeteries, name generators, yearbooks, you’ll suggest. Done that. I mine the credits in TV shows. One Sunday, I contemplated whether I could make every man in the book have the name of a professional football player. I didn’t do it, but it would have been funny. (Just what I’m goin’ for, funny.)  

Seriously, I went through the entire list of the people owed money in the Mass State Treasurer’s unclaimed money fund, thousands upon thousands of people’s names, and I could not find one name I could use. 

Because the person’s name already exists, you just have to unearth it.

In Trust Me, Ashlyn Bryant began her book-life as Corrinne Briody. Every single time I wrote her name, I spelled it a different way. Big red flag. Plus, she wasn’t “being” anyone. She had no goals, and no attitude, and no personality. Probably because she couldn’t remember how to spell her name.  

I thought and thought, and went through every darn list you can imagine. Crystal, Tiffany—too on the nose for this character. Tasha, no. (But she became someone else.) Nicole? ::Shaking head:: 

But when I typed Ashlyn Bryant? It was—amazing. She sat up and looked at me. Ashlyn she was. I had found her.

And in The Murder List, a main character was law student Gianna Delaney. I loved that name, what a great name! But she apparently, hated it. Hated. It. And sat there, a lump, a limp puppet, a sullen block of wood.

Okay, I said. How about Rachel? Rachel North.

Bingo. Her eyes sparkled and she looked like someone who has a secret or two. Which, as you will soon see, indeed she does.

(The MURDER LIST comes out August 20! And way more to come on that. Trust me.)

 So here I am with all these naming opportunities again. It’s daunting, really, and superly fun, not so much “naming” a character but discovering what their name really is.

But maybe there’s one way you can help me.  Ellie has a cat. I think it’s a female. Calico, because it’s fun to say calico. The cat’s name has been Tinker, Tinka, Blinker, Blinka, Trudy, Scooter, Ibsen, Kafka and Wally. None of those works, exactly. Her person is a reporter, kind of, and has a…past. Which I can’t tell you. 

 So—what would a wholesome fresh-faced determined young woman name a cat these days?

Maybe you’ll be able to discover who this one really is. And if we discover it together right here on Jungle Red? I’ll send you a copy of the absolutely gorgeous new trade paperback of TRUST ME.

It’s an Agatha nominee, did I mention that? I probably did.

So, here, kitty kitty. What’s your name?


185 comments:

  1. I imagine the difficulty with naming names in your stories is akin to the sort of difficulty parents have naming babies, mostly because it seems as if they’re both about finding just the right name for that new person, be he/she a baby or a grown-up character. In any event, I’m really looking forward to discovering Rachel’s secrets.

    As for the cat, I think I’d go with something very un-cat-like. Missy, perhaps. Or Callie. Or Butterscotch . . . .

    Congratulations on the Agatha nomination for “Trust Me” . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear Joan! Very exciting. Callie and Ellie? Is either impossible or perfect. You see my situation...

      Delete
  2. I'm hearing a lot about authors having trouble naming characters this week. There is something going around, I guess.

    Good luck coming up with the perfect names. I've always been partial to Mark Baker. Just saying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark, when my youngest sibling (of eight) was due, my mom gave us naming rights--we gave her a short list of male and female names. And, Mark he is today! Can't imagine him as any of the other names on that list.

      Delete
    2. Baker is kind of a cute cat name! How would you feel about that?

      Delete
    3. I like "Baker". It's much better than what I was thinking.

      Delete
    4. I wouldn't complain at all. :)

      Delete
  3. A friend’s family had a cat named...Cat. They couldn’t agree on a name, so he was forever called Cat. (Now I’m trying to remember if they spelled it Kat, or maybe Catt?)

    I’ve thought that if I get a cat I might call it Pooch.

    (So what’s happening with our beloved Jane and Jake? I miss them!)

    DebRo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cat and Guy! DO you think that would be too transparent? Pooch--for someone who really wanted a dog. And aw, thank you--well, there's another Jake and Jane under contract! SO it's all about the timing.

      Delete
  4. What fun reading about your character naming, Hank. I have heard so many authors speak of getting the right name before the character will reveal her/himself. I sometimes see a name and think what an interesting name it would be for a character. I should start writing those down, and when one of my favorite authors needs a name, seeing if it would work. Like Mark, I've seen more than one post lately of an author wanting name suggestions. Catriona McPherson was needing a female Scottish name today.

    The cat's name? Hmm. I'd say Nellie after Nellie Bly, but that's too rhyming with Ellie. Maybe Bly?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, maybe i should read what Catriona is doing. Maybe that's a good name. Nelllie Bly is great, but you have put your paw on the problem. N-B. Enbie? Hmm.

      Delete
  5. Cat’s name is Bernstein...or Bernie after she discovers “he” is a “she”. Or if she’s a society type reporter rather than hard news, what about Abby? Good luck... for me, naming characters would be the fun part of writing....I’m a reader not a writer....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is GREAT. Except, and here's the hilarious part, Ellie's last name might be Berenson. Which, though, is pretty funny. Bernstein Berenson. ANd you THINK the fun part is naming, but...well, it IS, but only when it really works.

      Delete
    2. Bernstein Berenson? The musical member of the bear family?

      Delete
  6. I think Agatha is an excellent cat name: dignified, aloof, a bit mysterious.

    When I was rotating rescue dogs through here on a regular basis, I had to come up with names our group hadn't used before. Since we'd rescued more than a thousand dogs, this was a challenge. We kept a spreadsheet of names that were already taken, if not overused. We couldn't call every dog Jake or Maggie, after all. I started naming mine after the towns they came from: Haskell, Celine, Boone. It worked pretty well, so now, when I need a name, I pull up a map.

    ReplyDelete
  7. mrrrh? said Kitsune, the long haired calico with a tail like a fox. (kitsune = Japanese for fox).
    Over the years, I gave myself nick names for my various roles or personas. Beatrice Shagnasty , and Prudence Irongirdle from the 60's, Grizzly Bear Mom,POD (poor old dear) the in 70's, and from the 90's on Chicpanda (screen name).

    When I worked in the libraries, I saw a lot of names. To amuse myself, I collected them. My 2 favorites were Queen Elizabeth McDonald and Thomas Citizen. Mr Citizen is the descendant of an immigrant who was assigned his name by a burned out immigration agent.

    Names have power, have at it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are brilliant, Coralee! Absolutely Dickensian. (oh, Dickens?) Hmmm....

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. That's so funny, Edith. WInking back. Jinx is pretty great, too.

      Delete
  9. A friend's cat, who loved me so much, the person most allergic to him, was named after his original owner's alma mater: Baylor. It was a perfect cat name. Baylor taught me that ignoring cats was the best way to keep them from jumping on your lap. Any eye contact at all is a direct challenge.

    Another friend had a cat named Bilbo. Obviously, they were Tolkien fans. Frodo would work, too.

    Coralee, Prudence Irongirdle is hysterically funny!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, my cat Lola absolutely knew Jonathan was deadly allergic. She worshipped him.

      Baylor is a great name. Bay. Very good for nicknames, too. Hmm..

      Delete
  10. I always wonder how authors choose the names of their characters, so this was a really fun read, Hank. I had no idea such agony was involved!

    For fun, here are some famous female reporters' or newspaper related names that might, in one form or another, work for a cat: Babs (Barbara Walters). Kat (Katherine Graham). Dot (Dorothy Thompson). Anna (Anna Politkovskaya). Maggie (Margaret Bourke-White).

    My own cat is Holly, and she'd be miffed if I didn't include her name as an option, also...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great reporter names! Love that! But what if she's not so devoted a reporter...you all are such sweethearts, deciding off the bat that a character is good. But you have me thinking! And that's always good..

      Delete
  11. I'm rather fascinated with the whole struggle you mention to 'name' the characters, including the cat. As a reader, I just read along and rarely think about the names unless one seems especially unique or apt. Love all the suggestions here for kitty-kitty - some good ones. We always named pets with human names. Our last cat (and believe me this name fit her very well) was Xena. She was indeed a 'warrior princess'. Good luck and I'm definitely looking forward to The Murder List and also the book with the 'unnamed'. Ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kay! I had a pal who named her german shepherd Xena. And that dog was a PROBLEM. What an unfriendly dog. I guess that was the warrior part. But an x name is a good idea, since it's so differentiated. xxx

      Delete
    2. This reminds me of a friend who named her cat Demon. The cat was very naughty so the cat was named Demon. LOL

      Diana

      Delete
    3. Rembrandt. Some of the paintings done by this artist featured cats. The name Rembrandt also sounds like remnant. Susan Laurel-Guarente from Facebook page.

      Delete
  12. I knew a cat named Professor Minerva McGonagle, but it was hard to call her/talk to her with that mouthful, so we called her Midge. How about famous women authors: Flannery O'Connor, Maya Angelou, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, etc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the author names! Virginia Woof :-) would be good for a dog :-)

      Delete
    2. Virginia Woof would be a great name for a dog ;-)

      Delete
  13. Ah Hank, I had no idea that coming up with character names was so difficult, but I do get it.

    My current cat is Eliot, with one L. It's a convenient name because we can call her Hellicat, Allicat, all sorts of things. She came to us with 2 Ls, a victim of gender dysphoria, but we had her spayed and removed one L at that time, a la George Eliot, who I think had similar issues.

    My all time favorite cat name is Mehitabel. And I've had an Archie too, cat not cockroach. (Tipping hat to Don Marquis)

    Recently I got to name one of Jess Lourey's rescues. I chose Lila, because I once had a Lila that I adored.

    Lila, by the way, is a Hindu concept. It involves the gods sitting on high, looking down at us, and moving us around in our lives like pawns on a chessboard. It is all for their amusement. Cats are a bit like that I think, playing with us and tolerating us only for meals and amusement. Think about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The name morphing is SO important! We had Lola, who became Lolacat, Lolita. Lolita Burrito, Burrito, and The Burrito.

      Delete
  14. When I have a story going on in my head, it never seems to make sense until the characters find their name. So, I understand what you said!
    I have always loved the name Agatha. My Agatha loved sitting on the back of my chair when I was reading and would politely place her paw on my book when she wanted me to turn the page!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! And your Agatha sounds very dear and perfect. Awww. I'm not sure this character is as nice as you are. xoox

      Delete
  15. I must say, Karen in Ohio's Bilbo or Frodo sound pretty good to me! Prior to reading that, however, I was going to share that the only calico cat of my personal acquaintance belonged to my roommate in an off-campus apartment in college. His name was "Pretty Kitty," which I found unspeakably cloying. Please DO NOT take that as a suggestion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, our oldest female is named...Pretty Kitty. Her first name was 'Mort', but he turned out to be a she, so other nephew claimed naming rights. I call her PK.

      Delete
    2. Yes, PK is good! (we had a Mrs. Purdy, because she was ..purdy. Pretty and purry and pretty with a drawl is purdy. Dumbest name in the universe.)

      Delete
  16. All those cultures where names have power--your true name is not bandied about lightly or shared. So too for characters, names have the power to bring a character to life for us--I've a read a book or two where a character's name was so jarring that the whole book felt 'wrong'. As for a cat name, I like Delaney. That's a cat who knows her worth and doesn't suffer fools gladly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed about the jarring! Completely! See? My brain wanted Delaney, but it just put it in the wrong place. Hmmm. xoxoo

      Delete
  17. Ooooh, a new book! That is fabulous. GO HANK!
    Names - so far sounds like you're in great shape. I'm not great at naming cats; We named our first one Eloise and she turned out to be a he. But if you've got a calico, then it's got to be a she, right? So first obstacle overcome.
    How about Bernice? My daughter just lost a wonderful cat named Bernice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, gotta be female. Bernice, aw. What a sweetie. My character is not a fabulous as your daughter, nor as lovely. Maybe--Brenda?

      Delete
    2. Brenda: forever and always THE CLOSER
      (She did have a cat)

      Delete
  18. We have a friend with a dog named Pup. They just never got around to giving him a name.
    I have always liked Cleo for a cat name. She was a queen after all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cleo, love it. But there's a character in the Murder List called Clea. See how difficult this is?????

      Delete
  19. I have to imagine that names are very hard because not only do they have to work for the person, but they also can't clash with the other names in the book. It's interesting that this is a Fiction issue, when in life I don't think we ever think - "Oh I can't be friends with Mary, I'm already friends with two Mary's, Marion, and Margaret. Too bad, she was such a nice woman." LOL.

    As for the cat - how about Gypsy? (evokes wandering, secrecy, and mystery)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is SO interesting, Kristopher! And I have my producer Mary, a publicist Mary, and graphics person Mary-Liz. And it all works. But--as you so wisely say--not in a book.

      Gypsy? Hmm... I'd be singing all the time..xoox

      Delete
    2. Kristopher, have you read much Michener? So many of his novels have generations of same-named characters, it's so hard to keep track of, and distracting. He often included family trees, but that means flipping back to check, which takes you right out of the story.

      Delete
    3. Oh, yeah, it's the good news and the bad news. Or the Russian novels, where the same person has a million names.

      Delete
    4. Karen, it's been years since I read Michener, but I did love those epics. I miss the days when a book came with a family tree. LOL. As for the Russians, Hank. Don't get me started. As much as I loved Anna Karenina is school, figuring out how each person was addressed by every other person was a task.

      Delete
    5. Exactly! But then, we all have a million nicknames for each other, and that all works. But they're in English, I suppose...

      Delete
  20. I am sitting at my desk, which is piled with a million overdue things, digging through college names and maps because I love those as name ideas. I do think the name morphing thing is a very big deal with pets. Our dog Ruby becomes Ruby Tuesday, Ruby Doobie, Rubes, etc. We also have four cats, all with interesting shelter bestowed names. My favorite is TC so I'm wondering if initials might work for you. Our TC was left in a Trash Can before being rescued. He is however, Top Cat, Totally Crazy, and so forth.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Karen, I am laughing because for me, ignoring cats has not kept them from hopping onto my lap and staring into my face.

    DebRo

    ReplyDelete
  22. My female cats have been Lizzie (the current queen of the house), Gracie, Cleo and Mouse. Mouse didn't meow when she was a kitten, but squeaked. It seemed appropriate. A friend of mine had a cat named Trouble - how about that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mouse! aww..so cute! Mousie. Trouble. Trubs, Dubs, Double. Hmmm...xooxo

      Delete
  23. Sidney is the perfect name for a (boy or girl) cat! And I'm not just saying that because my cat's name is Sidney.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I once had a cat that was mostly a greyish tabby but the paws were all black on the bottoms and sides, so named "Newsprint". Good name for a journalist's cat, well, maybe more before clicks became more important than copies sold.

    ReplyDelete
  25. My most favorite girl kitties were Leah and Madelon. Leah was a dilute calico and Madelon was a tuxedo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love those. SO evocative! Oh, evoCATive. I think I need more coffee.

      Delete
  26. I love southern names for cats. How about Miss Purr?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hank, this happens to me all the time. Every single book I gave a character a name, the story seems to be going slowly and one day the character says to me, "why do you keep calling me a Richard when my name is Robert?" And so I change the name and the story gallops ahead. But uding names from auctions is always a problem!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly what happens! Isn't that funny? And as for auction names, luckily I often have jurors, so that makes it a bit more seamless. A few have turned into recurring characters, though Katharine McMahan MD, the medical examiner was so perfect. And Lewis Millin is a detective in the Murder List-such a terrific name!

      Delete
    2. Rhys, I love the names that you give your characters.

      Diana

      Delete
  28. When my son was very small and he was at that half-babble, half-words stage of learning to talk, we got a kitten. It was a beautiful charcoal gray color and so we named him "Smoky". WE brought the kitten home and made it through the first night. The next morning when my son got up his first word of the day was "Keedo?" Cat was never called Smoky again and remained Keedo for 12 years.

    ReplyDelete
  29. A friend had a female cat named Patience. Another had a female cat named Mrs. B. There was no Mrs. B in her life, but she thought of the name. The friend with Patience had a male cat named Chaos. We are dog people, but I thought those were really cool names. I kind of like Esmeralda, though it is kind of long. Dora. Geneva (have no idea where that one came from, but I like it, LOL).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can easily picture a cat named Mrs. B. Very proper and confident and set in her ways. Ezzie or Essie for Esmeralda? But there's my Ellie already. hmm...

      Delete
  30. I was thinking Autumn, because a calico has all the colors of Autumn and it sounds like the sophisticated name your protagonist might use!
    Best,
    Stacy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful! But you'd wind up calling her Tummy, right? Which is pretty cute...

      Delete
  31. My law school roommate had a cat named Maya. She was a bit of a diva but she had a warm heart once she got to know you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great name.. ! (Was it the roommate or the cat who had the warm heart?? :-) Probably both.)

      Delete
  32. Forgot to say "Thanks" for the publish date on Murder List. I'm taking my vacation in August. I'm taking Hallie's latest with me and now I'm taking you along too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, hurray! Nothing could make me happier!!! Thank you! Very excited.

      Delete
  33. If I had a cat, I would name her Mia or Lola. We also used to have a cat named TC (terrific cat) ~ I can't wait to read Trust Me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I love Lola--and had a Lola for 20 years! (Because whatever she wanted, she got. ) The most perfect of cats. And I love Mia, too, but hat's my husband's law partner, so not sure she'd be thrilled...xoo

      Delete
  34. As a subplot all its own, have a gender-neutral name for the cat to keep your readers guessing. A unisex name might also add some levity as you peel off clues. Examples: Charlie, Frankie, Robin, Salem, Reilly, Storm, Chandler, or if you want to be all meta, Hank (wink)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about META?? But I love Reilly, or Riley, or Rilly. Stormcat does sound like it has an origin story attached..hmm. Thank you!

      Delete
  35. So my great cat names. How about the name of my friend's calico, Treacle. Or perhaps Sadie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both of those are wonderful. Treak. Treaky. Hmm. Sadie is for a nicer person...right?

      Delete
  36. My calico was named Lizzy (for Lizzy Borden). Torties were/are Emma (Peel), Lydia (the Tattooed Lady), and Letty (Letitia). My white and black cat was Millie (Vanilli).

    Avis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO wonderful! I love how your mind works... Millie is instantly funny.

      Delete
  37. We had a calico we named Periwinkle because of her blue eyes (which later turned brown). We called her Winkle for short, since Periwinkle proved to be too many syllables. Winkle was the first of three cats of about the same age that were our furbabies. Our previous cat had been gone for a year, and when our next-door neighbor brought over a basket of kitties born under her house and we saw this adorable kitten, we were goners. She was also the last of the three to go, living to be almost 20 years old, assisted by our giving her subcutaneous fluids for her last 3 years (my job was to hold her while my husband did the "needle work"). Shortly after her death, she visited one of my grown sons in a dream, from which he awoke crying--he tells me now he had a special bond with her. We miss you, Winkle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the syllable thing is a critical point. Perry would have been good, too! And hm, that might work!

      Okay, now listen. My cat Lola did exactly the same thing, came to me in a dream after she died (at 20!), she talked, and I woke up crying. I'm truly thinking about this now.

      Delete
  38. If Ellie is a reporter, how about a cat named Ida B. Wells, for the famous black journalist/publisher/activist? "Ida B." strikes me as a great cat name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ida B is fabulous. For SO many reasons. Hmm. Hmm hmm hmm.

      Delete
  39. Anyone remember Uncle Elizabeth? He was the cat in Cheaper by the Dozen, first thought to be a female.

    And my other fav cat names are Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy. For they shall follow you all the days of your life.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hank, I understand. When my critique partners say, "That name is too much like this one" I groan. Usually I can't fix it until the draft is done - both because I'll confuse them and because I just haven't found a name yet.

    Aislyn McAllister started out as Tabitha. But then I introduced a character with another "T" name. Fortunately, nothing had been published yet, so I was able to go back and change McAllister because, as you said, the other person's name was so perfect. And Aislyn turned out to be much happier, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And Aislyn and Tabitha as SO different. Good work! xooxo It's often so surprising, isn't it, how the puzzle pieces start to fit?

      Delete
  41. Hank, our "cat of great character", a little tabby whose tail was crushed and so was amputated by the rescue vet, is called Yasu. It means peaceful in Japanese. Ha ha ha.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hank, you are so right about the names! So many things have to be considered. For every book I make a list of all my continuing characters on one side of the page, and all the potential characters on the other side, because it's easier to see if you've got too many of the same sound and/or same initials. But then I have to think about whether I've used the name in a previous book. And then it has to fit the character... And still, with my continuing characters, I ended up with Duncan, Doug, and Denis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YUP! and I think--HOW did that happen??? (once I almost had Lanna and Zanna. Seriously.) And the worst of the worst--Jane Ryland. What a PERECT name, I thought. Then, maybe a YEAR later, someone asked me: why did you give her a name just like your own? And I said--huh? Then...oh.

      Delete
  43. I had a calico named Cali. (Yeah, original. Hey, I also had a long-haired tuxedo cat named...wait for it...Fluffy.

    Kensi is a calico and would love it if you named your fictional feline after her. Just sayin'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very clever!! (We had an Irish Setter named Rusty...) Oh, Kensi is an icon..there is only one. !!

      Delete
    2. Well, two actually. I named her after Kensi Bligh from NCIS: Los Angeles!

      Delete
  44. Perhaps T.S. Eliot could help with cat names, though he suggests three.
    I used to keep phone books and baby name books in my classroom to help students come up with names.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ineffable inscrutable singular name...or something like that.

      Delete
  45. Calico cats are almost always female, due to the color coding on X and Y genes. So, if it's a Calico, you've probably got a girl. Calico's are tri-color cats and are also called Tortiseshell or "Torties". So, you could name her Tortie, or "Turtle" for something cute and atypical. ( And yes, I know that there's a difference between a turtle and a tortoise, but..they are close. You could also name her something that refers to the three- color mix, like "Trio", or "Trilogy", maybe "Harmony" ( as in 3-part Harmony)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or Tree! But torties have no white, isn't that the deal? And calicos do?

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure who makes the rules, but I've heard them both used for 3-color cats. Anyway - my favorite of the above is "Harmony".

      Jane S.

      Delete
  46. Love the conversation about names. When I had a Siamese cat, I named her after a dancer that I saw in a movie because when my cat walked, she looked like she was dancing.

    Speaking of names, I love the creative names that different authors give. Shakespeare and PD Wodehouse were very creative with names. There was a recent author who gave the villian the name Nick Machiavelli. I had read The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli in college and I got the reference. LOL

    Catriona was asking about Scottish names on Facebook and I came up with several possible Scottish names. We will see what happens.

    Wonder how authors create names? Baby name books? Or a name from a song?

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it all depends! Sometimes the character appears fully named. Sometimes I think and think. Sometimes I see a name, and hold onto it until it fits someone. What usually does not work is looking for a name. Scouting lists of names-- although it feels like it should work, most often in my experience does not.

      Delete
  47. I adopted two male cats and I named one Hamilton and the other one Jefferson. I had a hard time picking out names for them, but their names really fit their personality. Hamilton is very outgoing and into everything and Jefferson is an orange tabby and very shy and a one person cat. Good luck on choosing the right name for your cat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO fun. And yes, maybe I have to see the cat more clearly.

      Delete
  48. I named my siamese X Slartibartfast- Bart for short.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Virtually all calico cats are female. Let's see...Paisley, Bumper, Amaryllis, Floofball, Ingrid, Miss Kitty, Molly, Sasha, Imogene, Marzipan, Dixie, Felicia, Gemma, Henrietta, Lexie, Zelda, Samantha... Are any of those your cat?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bumper. Hmm. Lexie. Lexa? We had a cat Zelda! (She was one of the kittens from our cat Rosemary. Zelda and F. Scott were Rosemary's Babies. :-) )

      Delete
    2. My current cat is Foxy Roxy Underfoot Murphy. It fits her. My previous cat was Hatikvah (Tiki). She was also called Kabooti or Kabooti Tooti. Or Tim. Or Tiki Wiki. Or Tiki Wiki.

      Delete
    3. That's supposed to be "Tik" not "Tim".

      Delete
    4. Before I was born, my parents had cats named Pattycake and Tommy Tucker. And and Irish wolfhound named Zinnia. I believe she was part of a package deal when they purchased the farm.

      Delete
    5. I don't know why my replies show as "unknown". It's me, Ginie

      Delete
  50. I've never had a cat; we're dog people, BUT how about Miz Mauser? And no, that is not a misspelling. I figure Miz M is a deadly hunter.

    ReplyDelete
  51. For a boy, I like Franklin (for Ben Franklin) or Romeo. For a girl, I like Liza or Bronte. Of course, Agatha is always a great choice, too! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You all are TOO NICE! Tell me a sinister name, a subtly sinister name. Bron, though, maybe. Romy. xoxoxo

      Delete
    2. A calico with a sinister name ?

      Sneaky
      Sly
      Shifty
      Foxy

      Delete
  52. My sister has had cats named Ralph (emphasis on the R), Fred, and Pouncer Pathetico.
    Libby Dodd

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can hear that! Rrrrrrralph. ANd Pouncer Pathetico is hilarious.

      Delete
  53. This post is SO on point. Naming characters is critical for me to get their story right. Can't wait for The Murder List!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you! And crossing fingers, yeesh. Almost time. xooxo

      Delete
  54. From the song by Tom Jones, "My my my Delilah."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, noooo....now I am singing! But that would be great...hmm.

      Delete
  55. Well, Hank. First of all, 128 comments in 14 hours, including overnight. YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!! OK, we all knew that. Regarding names, I have a Richard in my first book. He's a 20-something minor character. My all-female critique group hated the name. I think they never actually met a Richard. I stuck to my guns. Told them it's a family name (of his). I have one cat in the book. His person is a woman, West Point grad, combat veteran. She calls him Sarge. Everyone loves it. Finally, half my book takes place in Afghanistan, so I needed about a dozen Afghan names. No so many of them on the State Treasurer's list! But Afghans turn out to have kind of dynamic sounding names: Faraz, Zahir, Karch, Balaa and Ibn Jihad, among others. You're right. It seems naming shouldn't be so hard or so significant, but it is. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but who wants a dozen radishes for Valentines Day? ;) <3 P.S. Big news coming soon re my book. OMG, OMG, OMG!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops. Didn't mean to be Unknown. Will my name show now??? It's Al Pessin in Delray.

      Delete
    2. A dozen radishes! And there you have stated the whole situation perfectly: red, and in a bunch, with green leaves, and appreciated..but not quite right.
      Eager to hear your news!

      Delete
  56. It's fun, trying to name a fictitious cat. All my cats have been named after fictional characters. ( From TV, Books, Movies)

    ReplyDelete
  57. Replies
    1. Patches! Patchie. (Penelope was a character name..one of my faves..)

      Delete
  58. Someone else mentioned Mouse. I knew someone with a cat named Mouse--and she turned out to be huge! But that gets my vote. And didn't Cully Barnaby have a Killmouski on Midsomer Murders? I believe she passed him along to Tom and Joyce before she left on an acting assignment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kilmouski, that is adorable. Don't you bet that's from a real cat?

      Delete
  59. Sabrina? Sabrina the teen-aged witch may have been on during your characters chikdhood.
    My favorite cat of all time was named Samantha.
    Hopefully kitty will reveal her name to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Sammy Cat is just great. And sigh, my fictional kitty is being very catlike about this all. She's enjoying the, um cat and mouse game too much. She knows she has just a tiny role, so she's lapping up this limelight.

      Delete
  60. Hazel. The exact opposite kind of name vs. Ellie, and if Ellie's last name remains Berenson then calling her "Hazel B" fits right in. If you want her to be a bit cute, then Hazey. After all, she was named after a dear old woman from Ellie's troubled past and Hazel B has not turned out to be quite as sweet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hazey is great. And isn't "The future looks hazy" a Magic 8 Ball thing?

      Delete
  61. You could go to any animal shelter or pet adoption/ rescue website, and see a lot of different cats, and the creative names assigned by the shelter staff. Maybe you will see a cat that looks like the one you have in mind, and like its name. I can send you some links.
    ( Jane S)

    ReplyDelete
  62. Just finished Trust Me I couldn’t put it down . Great read!Hope to see u In Raynham in April for the book discussion at RPL. I like the name Kitty Cat. Cat for short like in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, how fabulous! YAY! Yes, Trust Me is the town read--isn't that so cool? What an honor. And I do hope to see you there. And by then, the cat will have a name.

      Delete
  63. Just googled "ancient witch names" - my favorite is Tamsin.

    ReplyDelete
  64. For the kitty. how about Winchell - (Winnie for short?). And as a bonus for you - last name for Dr. Glenn - how about Hammond! suepete12 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Winchell is a great idea. Great. ANd ooh, his last name is Hawkins. Isn't that a coincidence??

      Delete
  65. We called our Calico cat Pirate Jenny (thinking of the wonderful Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill song -- as sung by Judy Collins of course). That was a mouthful so unless we were talking about her, we called her Jenny. We rescued her from the street and she was definitely a scrapper who knew how to look out for herself -- the name fit. Don't know if she grew to fit the name or we just managed to hit it right. But it was a very apt name.
    Helen Nelson (I couldn't seem to make it pick me for the comment as)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that's the feeling you get when it's just right.. xox

      Delete
  66. We have a Calico too. She was part of a group that was rescued as kittens. She is one of my lap cats; you can still work on a computer while she is sitting on you too. She is friendly to family, but not so much to the other cats. She is good with my daughter's dog who is a little too friendly in sniffing the other cat's rear ends. I named her Abbey after the character on NCIS because the person that played Abbey was an animal lover too. I would be happy to share the name with your cat too. : )

    ReplyDelete
  67. Proper name ... Agatha Christie ... called Aggie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love that! Aggie is great...xoox . (And you know Agatha is my total FAVE.)

      Delete
  68. Hank ~ Calico cats are always girl cats... but you knew that. Looks like LOTS of people want to name that cat. I am not entering this contest, because we already have a beautiful trade paperback of Trust Me. But, yeah, Aggie is great. But then there's Pansy-face. Or Peaches. There's something addictive about thinking of cat names. I've always wanted to name one Claudia (Clawdia)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the perfect name is just out of the human reach... TS Eliot knew that . Xxxxxx
      And aw, thank you ! Xxxx

      Delete
  69. We had a cat for fifteen years whose name was "Kitty" because when she arrived my mom swore we weren't keeping her, so "don't get too attached, don't name her", hence her name was "Kitty". So...if your character feigns indifference toward her pet, Kitty might be an option. Or, I've always thought that people who give virtue names to pets reveal things about themselves. Faith, Hope, etc. Might be a way to flesh her out, or add a little back story.

    ReplyDelete
  70. When you hinted that she might not be so...upright, Natasha (of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame) came immediately to mind. Perhaps just aloof enough for a cat.

    ReplyDelete
  71. AND THE WINNERS ARE: Too hard to pick a cat name! So THREE winners, because you are all fabulous: Kay, Rickie (for Trusty) and Andrea. Email me via my website (just click on contact) and I will send you TRUST ME!
    (And you will be the first to know what I choose--a or when the kitty tells me what SHE chooses...)

    ReplyDelete
  72. Oh. Maybe she's not calico, and that's the problem. Hmm hmmm hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  73. A friend in France had a goofy white male cat named Tamino.

    ReplyDelete