Choosing Character Names by Mae Clair

Naming characters is a topic that gets a lot of attention. It’s been blogged about many times. I’m sure I’ve written posts in the past, too. Okay, I know I’ve written posts, but let’s face it—we love our characters and we love talking about them.

Last week, I started a new short story for a future writing project. As usual, when I begin something new, I start by creating characters and deciding on names. Plot comes later.  In this case, the two leads are brothers Conner and Dorian Ash. Yeah, I know…there I go with that family thing again, but I can’t help myself. I like the dynamics of family relationships.

Anyway, after selecting the names, I realized my attachment to the hard “c” sound. It continues to creep up over and over in my character names. Take a look at the evidence:

Young woman looking up and thinking with thought bubbles above her head. Bubbles contain character names that start with the letter C

  • My lead in Weathering Rock is Caleb DeCardian
  • Twelfth Sun has Reagan Cassidy
  • Eclipse Lake, Dane, Jesse, and Jonah Carlisle 
  • Solstice Island, Riley Carswell 
  • Myth and Magic, Caith Breckwood
  • A Thousand Yesteryears, Caden Flynn
  • I’ve even got a trunk novel called The River’s Secret I’ve considered polishing up, in which the lead is Chris Carrister

Seriously. What’s up with me and the “c” sound? Looking back on it, Food for Poe is the only story I’ve written in which the main characters escaped my obsession.

I don’t think I intentionally zero in on the letter C. I collect names (male, female and last) and keep them in an app on my iPhone. Whenever I need one, I hop over to see what I’ve got saved.

I also use online baby naming sites, which I think is pretty common for most authors. In the old days, I used to flop open a phone book, but they’ve become dinosaurs.

How do you choose names, and do you have any ongoing preferences? Is there a particular letter that continually crops up among your character names, or am I the only one who unconsciously gravitates to a certain sound and/or letter?

When Characters take Control by Mae Clair

I’ve been thinking about my characters a lot lately and how more than a few have surprised me. For the most part these are secondary characters who demand a bigger role or—at the very least—venture beyond the part I intended for them.

In my first novel, WEATHERING ROCK, it was Rick Rothrock who turned out quite different than planned. If I ever get back to that series, I still owe him a prequel story. He earned it.

In TWELFTH SUN, my characters all behaved and played their roles. Maybe because there were so many, and they are such an eclectic bunch. If you’ve read the book (I won’t spoil it) you’ll understand the tongue-in-cheek reference in this paragraph.😀

TWELFTH SUN has always been a pretty steady seller for me despite the fact it’s several years old, and only has twenty-three reviews. I can’t pinpoint a breakout character, but that’s probably because my lead, Dr. Elijah Cross, stole the show.
If I had to pick one book that was pure fun to write, it’s this one. If you’re looking for something breezy and adventurous to read this summer, give it a try. As a reader, you get to solve clues along with the characters.

An owl with glasses is reading a book in the woods ECLIPSE LAKE rolled around and I encountered my first incredibly demanding character—Jesse Carlisle. Originally slated as a secondary character Jesse evolved into one of the four leads of the novel. Yeah, four. Count ‘em. Interesting thing about Jesse…I wasn’t the only one he captivated with his personality. I’ve had multiple readers tell me he needs his own book. It’s on my list.

In MYTH AND MAGIC one of Caith’s brothers insisted on his own book. I actually started that story before succumbing to the call of the Mothman in A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS.

Which brings me to Mr. Evening who has conveniently taken on the role of my muse. He crops up in A COLD TOMORROW, book two of my Point Pleasant series. When I did a rough synopsis to send to my publisher, his role was pretty minimal. Well, give a muse control and…:)

Mr. Evening decided to expand his part, evolving his character into one far more complex than I’d envisioned. We squabbled a bit, but in the end I went back and rewove two plot threads to accommodate him.

But it didn’t end there.

He’s now worked things to ensure he’ll be back for book three and is beginning to whisper about becoming a continuing character outside of the series. He’s conveniently pointed out how nicely that would dovetail with some of the ideas I have percolating on the back burner. Grandiose plans, but he’s got me thinking maybe, just maybe…

Which of your characters has taken control?

Where does time go? by Mae Clair

Spiraling image of a clock face with big bold numbers reducing in size Wow, where does time go? I’ve been off the radar for a while, but have had a lot going on behind the scenes. I thought I’d share a project update with you, just so you know I didn’t get snatched away by the Mothman.😀

Here goes…

I was able to meet my March 31 deadline and send A COLD TOMORROW, the second book of my Point Pleasant series, to my editor—on March 31. Talk about down to the wire! A huge shout-out to my critique partner for working so tirelessly the last week of March and quickly turning chapters around so I could meet that deadline. You rock, lady!

The beginning of April, I participated in an author event at my area library. Forty-one local authors were represented. I only sold four books but I got to network with so many authors, both new and aspiring. I also did a fifteen minute presentation on the importance of social media branding for authors. That was fun and my small audience asked good questions.

Table display for author book signing by Mae Clair

Rave Reviews Book Club picked MYTH AND MAGIC as an April book of the month selection, and Twitter has been exploding with Tweets. I intend to blog on the whole experience in the near future, but in the interim, I have to say I’m overwhelmed by the attention this novel has received from RRBC.

On the writing front my publisher sent me the blurb for A COLD TOMORROW and I LOVE it! No cover yet, but I’ll probably be sharing the blurb in the near future. I also finally decided on a title for the third and final book. Thanks to everyone who responded when I did a post asking for title help some time ago. I’ll toss the title out there when I share the blurb for book two. I like it!🙂

I’ve already received the first round of edits for A COLD TOMORROW and need to get them back to my editor by next Wednesday. I foresee a lack of sleep in the near future, LOL.

I’ve also been invited to participate in an anthology of short stories that will be offered for free on Amazon in hopes of exposing the work of the contributing authors to a wider audience. That deadline is April 30 and the theme is western. I’m polishing up something old I wrote years ago and reworking it as a quasi-mystery. I’m about halfway through on that one.

I also finished eight posts for a blog tour on A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS I have kicking off May 2. I still owe blog posts to a number of friends who said they would be happy to promote the book on their blogs. Any shout-outs on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ would be greatly appreciated come release day, April 26.

novel by Mae Clair shows young attractive couple kissing and ocean settingFinally, my publisher has reduced the price on TWELFTH SUN, a romantic mystery set at a lavish seaside estate. I’m not sure how long the reduced price will hold, but for now you can grab a copy for $1.99.

Reviewers have compared the book to Clue (the board game) and an Agatha Christie ensemble. The plot involves a younger man, older woman and an eclectic assortment of characters all engaged in a treasure hunt for a marine artifact. There are clues to solve along the way and a mysterious host orchestrating the whole thing. I’ll close by sharing the cover, blurb and purchase links. This is a fun, breezy read perfect for warm weather. I hope you enjoy!


Reagan Cassidy is settled in her life. She has a thriving interior design firm, an upscale condo, two cats, and a goldfish. As a favor to her uncle, she agrees to team up with his marine archeologist friend to validate and retrieve a nineteenth-century journal, reputedly that of a passenger aboard the doomed schooner Twelfth Sun. Finding a hunky twenty-five-year-old coming out of the shower in her hotel room wasn’t part of the deal, but it’s hard to complain…

Dr. Elijah Cross is cocky and he knows it. He enjoys trading barbs with the lovely Reagan. Barbs, and some innuendo. He can tell she’d rather get back home to her business than stick around for the extended treasure hunt they’ve been talked into, but he’s fine with the situation. At least, until the “clues” start getting personal.

Reagan finds Dr. Gorgeous is as skilled in matters of the heart as he is behind the lectern. Throw in a series of clues which mean more to Elijah than he’ll explain, several odd-ball competitors out to win the journal, a saboteur, and a lavish seaside mansion, and Reagan has enough trouble keeping her head straight, let alone her heart.

WARNING: Younger man, older woman, nautical riddles and romance.

Barnes and Noble

WIP Progress, Books, and Something Weird by Mae Clair

It’s the start of a new week, and I’m happy to say I had a productive weekend. Which is a good thing as I’m starting to feel the pressure of a looming deadline. I’ve got two months until the contract deadline for my current WIP, A COLD TOMORROW.

An open tablet, pen, and a pair of glassesI’ve never written on proposal before. In the past, I always had a complete manuscript which I sent to my publisher for acceptance. When I started my POINT PLEASANT SERIES, I submitted book one, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. Books two and three were just vague ideas at that point. When the series was accepted, I suddenly had deadlines to produce both of those books. Do you know how hard it is to write a blurb and a synopsis of a book that is only a germ of an idea in your head?

Needless to say, the whole thing has been a challenge. I’m now writing on PROPOSAL instead of a completed manuscript, and I have concrete deadlines. I’ve been way behind with book two of the series, A COLD TOMORROW, but this weekend I put my nose to the grindstone and added 8200 words. Can we say jazzed? If I can keep up a similar word count for the next few weeks, I’ll finish the novel, then have a whole month of editing before having to submit the completed manuscript.

TOMORROW is a suspense/mystery just like the first book in the series, but it’s turning out to have a strong speculative/science fiction slant, which is something new for me. I’m enjoying hitting that angle, and most especially, feeling like I’ve stepped up to the plate with building suspense throughout the story. YESTERYEARS is a strong tale, but I feel like I’ve crossed a line I’ve been flirting with for a long time through TOMORROW. It’s even more exciting because the stuff I’m writing about has a basis in fact or folklore. Cross your fingers and wish me luck on my goals.

Book cover, Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper by J.L.BryanAside from writing, I’ve discovered a very cool new series that has cemented my reading attention. I strongly believe Stephen King’s philosophy that if you’re going to be a writer, you have to spend a great deal of time reading. I’m one of those people who devour books, one immediately after another. Currently, I’m engrossed in my ninth title of the year, the fourth book in the Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper series. I picked the first book up as a free read several months ago (it’s still free, so go grab it), and found it interesting. I won’t say it was over-the-top-stellar (I gave it a four-star review), but the characters were intriguing and the plot was interesting enough that months later I sought out book two. Since then each has gotten progressively better, and I’m already adding other books by author, J.L. Bryan to my Kindle library. If you like mystery, detective fiction, and the paranormal blended into one, I highly recommend the series.

Finally, something weird has been happening over the last few days. As many of you know, I have a newsletter. I normally get a handful of new sign-ups a month but over the last few days I’ve gotten four to five each day. The names are all women, first names only with email addresses. Names like Loretta, Carrie and Margarita. I’d love to think they’re all legit, but when I normally only get a handful a month and suddenly I’m getting that many in one day, I’m suspicious. And what are the odds that they’d all only give me their first name?

I don’t know if some “club” has suddenly discovered me or if a bot has found my sign-up form. I’m torn on whether I should add the names to my mailing list or not. Any opinions?

In any event, here’s wishing all of you productive writing (and reading) time, Cross your fingers that I can finish A COLD TOMORROW by the end of February. I’ve made it my new goal!

Title Trauma by Mae Clair

As I post this, I’m knee deep in writing the second book of my Point Pleasant series. That means it’s time to start thinking about the third novel. I’ve got a general idea what that book is about—the legendary curse of Chief Cornstalk on the town of Point Pleasant. I even have my character backgrounds and a (highly) sketchy outline.

What I don’t have is a title.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with titles. On rare occasions, I have one before I start writing. That was the case for WEATHERING ROCK, TWELFTH SUN, and A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. Other times, once I sit down and dwell on the key points of a story, a title magically appears. Ta-da! That’s what happened with my current WIP, A COLD TOMORROW. The title is a perfect fit.

And then there are the problem children like FOOD FOR POE, SOLSTICE ISLAND, and ECLIPSE LAKE. All of those went through title trauma before I arrived at the final product. In the case of SOLSTICE ISLAND, I even ran a poll on my blog asking readers to choose between several.  So, guess what this post is about?🙂

A black cat sitting on a sidewalk, looking toward the camera

Yep, book three of the Point Pleasant series needs a title. It has to be three words, start with an “A” and relate to time I some manner.

Book 3: *crickets* Please help!🙂

Since the title for book one references the past and book two the future, I initially wanted book three to have a title related to the present. But everything I tossed around (today, now, present) all seem clumsy in a title.  Ugh!  I’ve since moved past that concept, but if anyone has an idea, I’m open to suggestions.

What I’ve focused on now is a phrase that will play a key part toward the end of book two. I want that phrase to become the title of book three. As I haven’t written the ending yet, the phrase is still up for grabs. These are a few I’ve been kicking around:

A fractured moment (or hour)
A broken moment (or hour)
A shattered moment (or hour)

An untitled book coverWhat am I missing? Are there other elements of time I could be using? Do any of these resonate with you as a title? For the record, I think A BROKEN HOUR is kind of clumsy when it rolls off the tongue. Right now I’m leaning toward the last one…A SHATTERED MOMENT or A SHATTERED HOUR. There is, however, a novel already out there with the title A SHATTERED MOMENT, so that probably squashes the idea. I try not to duplicate titles so my books are easier to find. I mean who the heck calls a book TWELFTH SUN?

What do you think? Do you like any of the above? Do have any other ideas? Should I draw the winner out of a hat, consult a Magic 8-Ball, or flip a coin?

Ooo, I just had a thought (inspiration strike! Thank you, Mr. E!). What about A CURSED MOMENT or A CURSED HOUR? The book is about a curse, so that kind of plays into the plot. I just checked Amazon and no other authors have used it. See what writing this post has done?😀

What do you think?

How many tasks can a writer juggle? by Mae Clair

I’ve decided that among the obvious word talent that writers possess, we’re also expert jugglers. Writing, editing, promotion, social media, giveaways…you get the idea.

Stressed woman with pink note surrounded by colorful post-it remindersLately, I’ve been doing a lot of juggling. Post-it note reminders have mutated are taking over my office. Here’s a glimpse of what I currently have going on:

I finished the content edits on A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, book 1 of my Point Pleasant Series. My editor was pretty tough this go-round and pointed out a few things I hadn’t picked up on in the initial draft (like my fondness for the word “surely.” Note to self: add to my list of words to avoid). Next up, copy edits, which I imagine will arrive any day.

I put together a book cover for FOOD FOR POE, my paranormal/Christmas novella, and hope to reveal it once all of the Halloween/October excitement quiets down. October is going to be a busy month for me. MYTH AND MAGIC is currently on sale for $.99 and I’ve got several posts, a short blog tour, and a blog hop lined up to promote it. Like I said—juggling.

I started formatting FOOD FOR POE (an indie release) and am pleased at how smoothly that’s progressing so far. *fingers crossed*

ECLIPSE LAKE, my full-length mystery indie release has been doing extremely well. A local book club even picked it up as their read of the month. That prompted me to enter it into a contest Shelf Unbound magazine runs for indie releases. I can’t imagine actually winning, but it would be nice to get an honorable mention and expose the story to a new audience. The freebie promo I ran on Amazon has really paid off, so I’m planning another after the first of the year.

I’ll be sending out my first newsletter tomorrow. A new venture that I’m super excited about.  If you haven’t signed up and would like to, please click here to ensure you receive my debut edition. Wait until you see my Halloween header. I just love it!🙂

I’m still trying to arrange a book signing with two other local authors. I tried to set something up with BAM, but it didn’t work out. Even though our books are available in POD format through BAM’s online store, titles have to be available through Ingram and returnable. No such luck, so we’re attempting to arrange something with an independent bookstore. Still hoping for the month of October to take advantage of MYTH AND MAGIC’s Halloween theme. *fingers crossed again*

Craig Boyack’s wonderful THE EXPERIMENTAL NOTEBOOK OF C.S. BOYACK has me enamored of short stories and micro fic all over again (if you haven’t picked up his book, grab a copy. It’s only $.99 and contains a treasure-trove of short reads). I’ve got a bunch of shorts sitting around begging attention and currently behaving like guppies at the top of a water line—Feed me! Feed me! To top it off, I got hit with several ideas for new stories the other night. *more balls in the air* It’s crazy to even consider, but I’m thinking about trying to squeeze an indie release of shorts in next fall. In the meantime, I’m working on A COLD TOMORROW, book 2 of my Point Pleasant series. Like I said—writers are expert jugglers.

I’m often reminded of Bilbo Baggins in the LORD OF THE RINGS when he says “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

Yep. Been having a lot of days like that lately. Tell me about yours. What tasks are you juggling?

Announcing A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair

I’m hijacking Mythical Monday again this week because I’ve got news I’m anxious to share. And in many ways, it relates to my love of folklore, mythology, and urban legends. In fact, it all started with a Mythical Monday post in 2013.

Densley wooded area with an old barrier blocking an overgrown path

A shot taken within the TNT, an old WWII munitions site the Mothman was rumored to haunt

Many of you know I’ve been working on a novel that utilizes the legend of the Mothman. I submitted that book, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, to my editor the end of March. She got back to me in good time and suggested a few changes. I took care of those and returned it to her in mid April, after which it was sent up the line to a senior editor for final approval. That’s when things got a little nerve-wracking.

Would he like it? Would he reject it? I hated the thought of having to submit elsewhere, but Kensington Publishing is a quality house, and I knew if I wanted to publish with them this was the process I needed to go through. I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind, fully aware it would be several months until I heard anything one way or the other.

Since A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is the first novel in my Point Pleasant Series, I dove into research for book two and even took a trip to the town, which is located in West Virginia. Two days before I was scheduled to leave I received news that the manuscript had been accepted. YES!!  And not only that, but Kensington Publishing agreed to give me a 3-book contract for all the novels in the series. SQUEEEEE!!

It has been exceptionally hard sitting on that news. I wanted so badly to share it, but I’m superstitious at heart, so I decided to wait until contracts had been received and signed. That’s all been done now, and I’m over-the-top delighted to announce the Point Pleasant series. Here’s the release schedule:

Book 1, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS will be released April of 2016

Book 2, A COLD TOMORROW will be released December of 2016

Book 3, (Untitled at this point), will be released August of 2017

In the past, my imprint with Kensington has been Lyrical Press. Moving forward with this series, the books will be released through their brand new sub imprint dedicated to suspense, mystery, romantic suspense, and thrillers—Lyrical Underground. I’m highly jazzed about that, because, although there is still a romantic suspense theme in all three novels, the mystery angle is far stronger than anything I’ve done in the past.

When I think back, this entire series started with a Mythical Monday post I wrote on February 4, 2013. At that time, I knew about the Mothman, but only that the creature was a winged humanoid with glowing red eyes. After writing that post, I really wanted to write a novel playing off the mythology of the legend. It’s interesting how even the blog comments reflect that. If you’re curious about the post that started the whole thing, you can find it here.

Now, I need to get cracking writing books two and three. Here’s a brief overview of the whole series. Note that the blurb for book 1 is not official at this point, and for books 2 and 3 I’ve only done short teasers:



Sometimes silence is the same as murder

On a cold December night in 1967, the Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio unexpectedly collapsed during the peak of rush hour traffic claiming forty-six lives, many perishing in the frigid waters of the Ohio River.

Just a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn. Now, fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Much has changed about the once thriving river community. The ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as does the legend of a giant winged creature known as the Mothman, said to haunt an abandoned WWII munitions site.

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware there are darker emotions than grief tangled up in the Silver Bridge tragedy.

Eve’s arrival triggers the unraveling of a fifteen-year-old secret that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of danger.  A secret more terrifying than the bridge collapse and the frightful legend of the Mothman.

A murderer stalks the streets of Point Pleasant.


When Katie Lynch stops to help a disabled motorist, she unwittingly finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue involving flying saucers, mysterious men in black, animal mutilations, and the Mothman. Together with Officer Ryan Flynn, Katie attempts to decipher a coded message that points to the arrival of an extraterrestrial visitor.

Untitled, Book 3

To placate his sister who believes their family’s history of misfortune is tied to a centuries old curse, Quentin Marsh travels to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, hoping to uncover the truth about an Indian chief’s brutal murder. Did his ancestor participate in the ugly execution of Shawnee Chief Cornstalk, and how is the Mothman, a flying humanoid that has haunted the area for decades connected? Does local history buff, Sarah Sherman, hold the answer to breaking his family’s curse?


So what do you think? Do I have you intrigued?