A Rose by Any Other Name
Names are funny things. We all have them, and some of us like our names more than others do. My name is Carolyn, which some people misread as Caroline. Nope. It’s Carolyn. L-Y-N. It’s funny how many people seem to think that means it needs to be said as Caroline. Nope. That L-Y-N at the end? Yeah, it’s pronounced Lyn, not Line.
At times I’ve wondered if it’s American versus Australian language thing (I’m an Aussie in case you didn’t know), because some names tend to be pronounced slightly differently. Like Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan. Here in Australia most of us would pronounce that as Mee-gan. But in the US it seems to be pronounced as Megg-en. But hey, the spelling is pretty similar. Not like ‘Lyn’ versus ‘Line’. That’s spelled different enough to be said differently, right?
Not that I’m ever wanting to be rude about it. If you call me Caroline I won’t ignore you. But I may get a little cranky if I’ve explained many times how to say my name and you still refuse to listen. Because names are important. Remembering someone’s name suggests you care about them. Getting someone’s name wrong (all the time!) suggests you don’t.
As someone who has written over a dozen historical stories, I’m pretty fussy about what kind of names I use. My stories, set in England 200 years ago, need to be ‘Regency appropriate’ – which means names like Shania or Kylie or Beyonce just won’t cut it. I use a master list based on birth records from that era, so my ladies tend to be called names more like Charlotte, Serena, Julia, Cecilia, and Mary. I don’t have any men called Drake or Ridge or Thorne either. Because men in that era in England tended to be called names more like David, Adam, George or James. Think Bible names, not TV soaps. Of course, there are some names that – to my way of thinking – don’t scream alpha male hero types, so I haven’t called any or my heroes Peregrine or Hildebrand (although I did call one of my heroes Erasmus, although he preferred to go by his second name Gideon J).
Names have meanings. Do you know the meaning of your name? Apparently my name Carolyn means ‘Little Womanly One.’ Other times I’ve seen it as a variant of Caroline, which can itself be a feminized version of Charles, which means ‘Free Man.’ Caroline can also mean ‘Free/beautiful Woman.’ I guess the moral of this is that there can be variations in meanings of course, so if you find a meaning you like then own it.
Names in books need to sound right, too, especially in combination with a last name. Want a strong, action-oriented hero type? His name probably won’t be Percival Netherbottom or Jeremiah Bullfrog, and may instead tend to something like Nick Stamford or Jack Reacher (single syllable first names can be popular). And beware the names with other connotations. My kids went to school with both a Grace Kelly and a Ned Kelly (yes, those kids are from the same family, and no, my kids are not that old). For those who don’t know, Ned Kelly is Australia’s most famous bushranger, so while I can understand the aspirational aspect of naming your daughter after one of the silver screen’s most beautiful women, I’m not so sure about naming a child after a notorious criminal from the 1870s.
Names are important. Authors can spend a long time trying to find just the right name for a character. And then, just when all the characters are named perfectly, find they have to change it, because one name sounds too similar to another, or because another book had recently released with a similarly named character, or because a real person with that name has suddenly become infamous. Just as expectant parents usually take quite a bit of time to pick the perfect name for their child, so do authors consider the selection of the names of their characters. Because while a Rose by any other name may smell as sweet, it might not sound quite so appealing as a character should her name be (the Regency appropriate) Uriana.
Facts Make Fiction Really Real
Fiction, by definition, is not real; it describes imagined events and people. I write fiction, praying my story gives God glory! Most all of my stories have a bit (or a lot) of romance and adventures—natural disasters and man-made horrors—all fiction. Yet so many reviewers have appreciated my research and historical accuracy—the truth in my fabricated stories.
Now my latest title, KENTUCKY BRIDE is book eight of a multi-author project, North & South: Civil War Brides, so just my title caused me to run to Google! Though fiction, false, faux, readers will expect to find out what really did happen in Kentucky in 1861, I guarantee! And though fictional characters will live through just that on my pages, the facts will be there.
Using the correct generals’ names and the dates of the event; sometimes even the weather that particular day comes into play. My story adheres to all of those truths and those facts make my story more real. That’s what every author is trying to do—make their stories real enough to suspend the readers’ disbelief long enough for them to have a few hours of entertainment.
Another real aspect of my fictitious story deals with the Texas Rangers. I needed a hero after, someone to fall in love with the KENTUCKY BRIDE, right? So, who is a bigger and braver than a Texas Ranger? (God doesn’t count—that’s a given!) With a little researching, we discovered that a whole company of Texas Ranger voted on what to do together, regarding the war. They even chose their own commanding officers.
It thrilled me! My hero, Ephraim, though not in agreement, rode with those Rangers to join a Kentucky general’s efforts as a cavalry division. Now it’s 1861. If Ephraim was a Ranger, he would have certainly known and had dealings with the two famous Rangers in my Texas Romance Family Saga, Levi Baylor and his sidekick, Wallace Rusk. (HEARTS STOLEN, book 2 of the series).
So . . . I did what I love to do and brought up those two famous Rangers and their ‘adopted’ father and patriarch General Henry Buckmeyer (books one through eight; JUST KIN, book six is Civil War period). It won’t mean anything to readers who haven’t read the Texas Romance Family Saga, but those who have should love it to my way of thinking.
Ephraim, of course, have also crossed paths with the dime novelist May Meriwether (HOPE REBORN, book three of the Texas Romance Family Saga). Doesn’t doing stuff like that make that fictitious story more real?
As Ron and I write, we keep a calendar from the year we’re setting the story in right there in front of us so it’s easy to mark off the days and know which day of the week October 17th fell on in 1860. Keeping it real, we sometimes look up new moons and full moons, so we can know that it was a bright night. Once I discovered there was actually a super moon back a certain year!
Now right there is a fun bit of fact to work into our fiction. We are that careful to have our facts straight and true in our fictitious world we’ve populated and built from facts swirled into fiction to fit the story.
Once upon a time, I read a story and the couple goes to Dallas and while they’re there, they get in a car chase and are flying up the mountain with its dangerous turns.
That writer just lost me because, folks. There are no mountains in Dallas, Texas. Why would I quit reading her book? Why should I? I mean she’s writing a fictitious story, one that isn’t advertised to be real. Just the opposite in fact. By genre, the work is not true.
But Dallas doesn’t have mountains. That’s just ridiculous. My disbelief is no longer suspended because that’s just wrong. Writers walk a precarious tightrope, don’t we then? But the balance pole will be steady if we do our research to know the facts and then work them in naturally to our fiction story.
Because Fiction is really more real with a few right facts. Truth is important—always—even in fiction! That’s really, really true.
Deception causes four Tennessee families to lose it all and journey by covered wagon to Texas, seeking free land and a new beginning. Fall in love with the characters, and you have three more books ready to read with book five launching in September 2020!
And here’s the jacket copy for my KENTUCKY and a little about it. From the back cover:
In 1861, a tragic war fell upon America’s United States, dividing them North against South. Some might say a young woman can’t be too fussy when almost every unattached young man is off fighting, but that shouldn’t mean the daughter of a Union man has any excuse for canoodling with a Rebel.
Still, eighteen-year-old Gigi longs for true love, and the dashing Texas Ranger turned Confederate vies for her heart. How will they overcome the odds and a war to be together?
A Civil War indeed! Such an oxymoron!
God Doesn’t Listen to Experts
Do you have a dream you would love more than anything to realize? Do you read and follow experts in that field? You know, all those experts who tell you to do this and do that, and don’t even try doing xyz because you’re not ready yet? The one’s who leave you feeling like you will never be who you feel you are called to be?
We all do. Because we all had to start somewhere. I don’t want you to discount them, because they are experts. But I think taking every single word they have to say as if it were plated in gold, might just hurt you in the long run.
Please remember, at least somewhere deep down in your soul hidden from the pain that is rejection of any kind, that God doesn’t always take the proven path to success. Sometimes, He has methods beyond our comprehension. He doesn’t get all those emails nor read the help books.
Am I saying you should stop filling your inbox with all those emails from people with years of experience and expertise? No. Should you blaze your own trail simply on a whim and prayer because you have a calling from God and anyone who stands in your way is just plain wrong? No.
Am I confusing you yet?
What I am saying is this: Do continue to learn the how’s and why’s. Do continue to add to your experience be it by getting training or volunteering. Do watch and wait for the moment it feels like you should take a chance, like you’re being shoved off a cliff. Sometimes, you should close your eyes and jump.
But don’t allow yourself to get too discouraged if that leap of faith was only meant to teach you something. Perhaps that something couldn’t be learned by you any other way. We each have our own mistake-filled, utterly human path that we have to follow. For some of us, we’ll have to fail forward a bit. For others, success will seem to happen in an instant. The plan may take you many years to complete, but if that’s truly where God wants you to be (i. e. you are feeling truly led in that direction and not pushing that direction) than He already knows where you’ll be and how many people you were meant to touch.
If we listen too much to experts, and not the Ultimate Expert, we deny ourselves the reward for our gift. Our lives are intended to glorify God and if we push ourselves too soon or don’t act when we feel led to because of expert advice, we are not being faithful followers. We are not allowing Christ to lead our lives.
I want my books out there, in the hands of readers, more than I can ever tell you. The Lord had to teach me patience, then He led me to self-publishing (and eventually my dream of being published was realized). You’d think with four children I would get the gold star, but that just wasn’t the case for me. I knew He didn’t have me work this hard for nothing, it just took a long time to get here. Years, to be frank.
When all is said and done, I only ask that you listen to the experts and use what you can to grow from it. Don’t let it cloud your path, because God’s got the ultimate plan for you and He doesn’t listen to the experts.
Linda Brooks Davis
Ever find yourself clenching a project with both fists?
I have. And so has Adelaide Fitzgerald in The Awakening of Miss Adelaide.
Have you figured out what to do about it?
I pull out this photo of Ella, my granddaughter. And remember.
In the fall of 2004, my daughter called me with news that rocked our family. After years of failure and disappointment, she was pregnant with triplets.
But dire warnings lurked on the heels of good news: Premature delivery. Brain damage. Blindness. Cerebral palsy. Developmental deficits. Death.
Lynn Lee’s physicians presented her with a single medical alternative: selective reduction. They couched their information in clinical phrases devoid of emotion and faith—those aspects of personhood that raise humans above mere animals. Baby A would be the one to “go.”
Surprised that A’s heartbeat would be referred to as Baby A, not Throbbing Collection of Cells A, I prayed. And my daughter chose to trust God with all three babies. Hospitalized most of her pregnancy, she surpassed the all-important 28-week milestone by four days.
Baby A turned out to be Ella Jane, my daughter’s only daughter, my only granddaughter, and my grandmother’s only offspring named for her. As Ella developed over the subsequent years, I recalled our family prayer circles and vows to keep the children lifted for the Lord’s anointing.
It’s a battle at times to keep a loved one perched in an open palm, isn’t it? The instinct to protect overshadows everything else. Forgetting God loves her more than I, I clutch her, pull her to me as if I can do what God cannot.
Which reminds me of writing. Or any other project I value.
Projects are somewhat like our children. We birth them with no small amount of grunts, groans, and growls. Occasionally we’re tempted to selectively reduce them for their sakes and our own. We celebrate their birth with memories of agony banished. We cheer those who recognize their worth. And we smile that the future bodes well.
But how do we react when others focus on our offsprings’ shortcomings, when they shrug with a ho-hum? Or pick someone else’s child over our own. We may experience heartache … wounding … even heart break. Or, like Adelaide, the destruction of a dream.
At those times, do we hold our children in clenched fists as if we can accomplish what God cannot?
Or do we ask ourselves why we do what we do?
Do we give ourselves to a project for others’ approval? For our own gratification? Or for a higher purpose? Adelaide Fitzgerald is forced to answer in The Awakening of Miss Adelaide.
Why did those precious, 2 ½-pound infants survive? Why did they pass the NICU’s milestones for discharge and then thrive? Was it for me, their parents … or someone higher?
Ella’s exuberance in the pink curlers reminds me my priorities shifted at her birth. It underlines my purpose. And opens my palms.
Sleeping in fat curlers is a far cry from comfort, as is sitting upright in my desk chair hours on end. But—oh—what a difference when I remember I write not for myself but for Him.
Marguerite Martin Gray
I LOVE research. I claim it and am not ashamed of it. Perhaps, this fact appears boring or nerdish, but it is true. And, historical research is the height of the thrill of prepping for a new novel. I don’t spend by time dredging through “How to” books on space travel or brain surgery or physics—my mind steers away from science and engineering, unless information about conveyances or roads forwards the plot. But, give me an historical topic such as the Enlightenment, American Revolution, or the Medici, and I’m on it.
First, I must decide on a time frame for my novel. Let’s take my series Revolutionary Faith for an example. I had an idea for a setting—Charles Town, South Carolina—and a tentative date, 1770s. From that point I started my research.
Next, I expand the time frame to include the years before and the years after. So, from 1770 I went back to the earlier years of unrest in the colonies around 1760, especially 1765 with the Stamp Act. My end date was the end of the war in 1782.
Then, the research begins with the accumulation of resources. This feat could take a while for I tend to go overboard with the vast choices. Eventually, after five books in the Revolutionary Faith series, I had gathered and used forty-five books as references.
Finally, the most enjoyable part of research arrives—the reading and scouring of the sources. Before I ever put pen to paper for beginning a novel, I spend months amidst the pages of history.
Research never truly ends for me. Even as my Revolutionary Faith series concludes, my desire to know more about the American Revolution increases. Thankfully, other authors write about the same period and I can escape into their worlds and learn a bit more.
Presently, I’ve collected my resources for research on the Enlightenment in France from 1715-1775ish. My work in progress is set in 1747 Chenonceau, France during the reign of Louis XV. Today, I will dive into the pages of France in the Enlightenment by Daniel Roche.
Hopefully, you will enjoy the labors of my study as I incorporate historical facts in fiction.
The impact of our words
My mama always says, “From your mouth, issue blessings and cursings. Choose blessings.” Growing up, she would say it mostly while my brother and I were tossing mean and hateful words at each other. You know, like kids typically do. She never yelled, like I do, but she wanted us to stop fighting and think about what we were allowing out of our mouths. I’m not sure we understood.
Shortly after I got married, the same thing started between my husband and I (maybe I am the instigator. Who knows?). After one of these mouthy fights, mama came over to calm me down while my husband drove off his anger. Sitting on the couch, she listened to me sputter and fume over how “rotten” I thought my new husband was. She didn’t say a word. She let me get it out my hurt and frustration. Then she said, “From your mouth, issue blessings and cursings. Choose blessings.” Now irritated with her, she told me to look it up in the Bible. When at last my husband came home and she left. And I looked it up.
Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
I learned something amazing that I try, and sometimes fail, to recall—my words matter. My unwholesome talk was the way I spoke about him. Never once stopping to think about how it might have impacted him, thus, impacting the situation.
The words that we use, written and verbal, have a profound impact on those who read our work or hear us speak. Our children, our spouse, our friends, our readers—they all see and hear what we have to say. Running our words through the filter of “what would Jesus say” can change the course of a life. If we choose wrong, it can destroy a life.
Now, I can’t say that I have mastered getting my words right. I probably will be working hard at it until the day I’m called Home, but Lord knows I’m going to try to be wise with my words. The last thing I want is to hurt someone with my words. People are to important to me.
How does this apply to my writing?
Well, if I don’t convey the message right or if I put some biblical truth too far out of context, I could damage someone’s faith or trigger memories that might be more damaging than healing. Though I am willing to show that believers can be affectionate with their significant other, if I take it too far, I could push someone to think that the Body of Christ looks no different than the world. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want that on my head. So, it is key that I run every word I write and speak through a filter and let God guide my fingers as I type. I only want to encourage readers—encourage them to allow healing to happen, to let love into their hearts, and to see the hand of God on their lives.
Misty M. Beller
Can’t Find the Hope?
One of my favorite themes to write about is God’s love, and the way He guides us in His plan if we’re intentional about seeking His will in each decision. We all want to know we’re in God’s will, right? That He will bless the outcome of whatever we’re setting out to accomplish. But I’ve always tended to think that being in God’s will would make things easier. Make the road a bit smoother. So when life would become exceedingly tough, I would sometimes question how I had stepped outside of God’s will. Where did I go wrong?
Book two in my current series, Love’s Mountain Quest, is the story of a mother’s journey to saver her 5-year-old son who’s been kidnapped by a gang of thieves. Can you imagine how that must feel as a mother? The terror of not knowing what your child might be facing. The horror of the situation being so far out of your control.
She enlists the help of Isaac Bowen, a mountain man who’s helped her once before. Together they set of to recover her son and the friend who was stolen with him. I love Joanna’s tenacity to take action in the face of fear. Ever heard the phrase, “Cowgirl up?” This woman knew what that meant!
One of the things God showed me at a heart-deep level as I wrote this story was how critical the hard times are to reaching joy. Not just important to properly appreciate the blessings God brings to us, but we can’t actually reach the good until we’ve traveled through the rough parts. Our lives are a journey, and no matter how dark the current path may feel, I can cling to the fact that my Father will bring me joy and blessings, as long as I stay on the path He’s placed me. As long as I seek His face and yearn to model His righteousness, I can look forward to the gifts He plants along the journey.
That, my friend, brings me hope!
Wild Heart Books
Behind the Scenes of Rocky Mountain Redemption by Lisa J. Flickinger
I have a confession to make. I’m a square dancer, a real live square dancer who do-si-dos and allemande-lefts my way around a square every Thursday night. And lest you think it’s a room full of eighty year olds, our youngest dancer is a mere twenty-four.
It was on the dance floor I first met Larry. Logger Larry, the Paul Bunyan like soul who regaled me with tales of chopping trees in the Rocky Mountains. He told stories about grizzlies who hunted men for their next meal, brawls in the bunkhouse only the hardy could survive, and life threatening axe injuries when they had to carry the wounded through the forest for miles.
Larry’s stories provided a great background for a romantic novel and sent me on a mission to research late 1800’s logging camps. It’s at Pollitt’s Lumber, in 1898, where we meet our hero and heroine, Preach and Isabelle, and join their cautious journey toward love. It’s also where we meet a ragtag bunch of lumberjacks whose antics would get on anyone’s last nerve.
I fell in love with the characters of Rocky Mountain Redemption as they tromped onto the pages, and I’m thrilled to introduce them to you in Book One of the Rocky Mountain Revival Series.
Dear reader, enjoy!