The Author’s Tools by @_NancyRadke

Authors use the Internet, resource books, movies, and their own experiences when writing novels. We refer to them as author’s tools. I thought I’d mention one of the more unique books that I use which sits on my writing table and has to be moved whenever I have company for dinner.

The book that I use for every novel is The Best Baby Name Book in the Whole Wide World, by Bruce Lansky. It has over 13,000 boys and girls names along with their meanings. It has been enlarged, but I expect most baby name books will work for this purpose. You might wonder why I use this until you realize that romance authors write books in series, and each series might have ten to fifteen books in it.

What’s in a name?

Author's ToolsI need a different hero’s name, heroine’s name, a villain or two, a best friend and parents. Sometimes a dog’s name, like Sam. That means twenty or more names at the very least that I don’t want repeated in that series. So once I have written enough of the story to figure out the personality of my main characters, I give them names to match their personalities. Then I mark that name so I won’t use it again. This is hard to do when I find names I really love, such as Tripp and Keely in the book, The Prisoner Returns.

Some of the names I will use as family names, such as Trahern, a Welsh name meaning “strong as iron.” The Trahern historical series has thirteen books in it with the fourteenth started. But many of the books in my modern-day Silver Bell series have the descendants of the Traherns in them. So, I avoid using the names again, except in the case of Prescott Trahern, whose ancestor Prescott was in The Bravest Woman in the Town. The modern Prescott and his son, Jesse, a forest ranger in Oregon, have to fight drug dealers and smugglers in the book Trouble Never Knocks, where they mention the early Prescott’s bravery.

Appaloosa BluesAppaloosa Blues, a book in the Sisters of Spirit series, features Adam and Johnny Trahern. So, you can see why I may spend an hour or more looking through the baby name book to give my “babies” meaningful names.

That includes nicknames. In the Sisters of Spirit book, Spirit of a Champion, my heroine, the sister of a prize-fighter, needed a name that matched her personality. If she found a cause she felt was just, she went all in for it. I gave her the nick-name, Stormy.

Here are the opening paragraphs for that book:

Victoria Tempest Drake, known to all as “Stormy,” threw the last of her father’s clean socks into his suitcase, stuffed them down into any remaining spaces, and pressed it shut. All she needed to do now was to call the cab and arrange for it to take him and her brother to the Boise airport. Then she would have her father’s house all to herself while she decided what to do with her Masters in applied mathematics.

She had three universities trying to recruit her at the present, she mused as she picked up the phone. Actually four.

“…results are not good.” 

“Tell me.”

The line was being used. Stormy started to hang up.

“You have three soft spots—one very large. If you fight again—ever—it will kill you.”

Scorpions TrailHer brother is determined to fight, and Stormy is just as determined to stop him. She battles for his life. She even takes on his opponent and the men who try to kill her to get her out of the way.

You’ll meet Hugo and Perri in this book. This is the same couple from Scorpion’s Trail and the same Hugo who is in the Brothers of Spirit stories.

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About Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse's nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said "Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes." It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.  View website

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