Saturday, June 25, 2011


I'm seeing more and more made-up names for characters in novels. However, the trend in naming babies seems to be going in the same direction, so maybe it's a sign of the times. I shake my head at many of the names, especially those invented by creative celebrity parents.

Hollywood actors and actresses may have been born with common names like Julia and Brad, but that doesn’t mean their offspring have to suffer the same fate. Will and Jada Smith’s children: Willow and Jaden; Demi Moore’s girls: Scout LaRue, Rumer Glen and Tallulah Belle; Gwenyth Paltrow’s daughter: Apple Blythe; John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s son: Jett; Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s son: Ronin. Singer Brandi’s daughter: Sy’rai; Thomas Jane (The Punisher) and Rosanna Arquette’s daughter: Harlow.

Even some famous faces were lucky enough to have been born with one-of-a-kind names: Keanu Reeves, Jude Law, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Macaulay Culkin, Kiefer Sutherland, Oprah Winfrey.

Descriptive names will diminish serious fiction or romance novels. Please don't name your hero Rod Remington. And please avoid branding them with a common name that only conjures up stereotypical images. Cruella, Snidley, Ratso, Tiffany, Scarlett, or Bric.

So, what about our characters in our books? We're the sole parent of these people, and we have the responsibility to give them a proper name at their birth.

I don't overthink names for my characters. A name usually just appears as soon as I know my character. I am guilty, though, of using a name more than once—a habit I'm trying to break.

Overall, I like my characters' names, and believe I do a fair job. I usually try to make the name fit the person, so that at a glance of the name the reader might have a hint of his/her personality.

In my July 4 release, Heart of a Hero, the hero's name is Matthew Rayburn Carrington. What does this say to the reader? I hope it implies that he is from a wealthy, perhaps locally well-known family. And that is the case. The heroine's name is Lauren Delaney. To me this says she is somewhat sophisticated, perhaps from wealth, too, but with a hint of girl-next-door. The antagonist in the story is actually Matt's fiancé Stephanie Davenport. She is a spoiled wealthy young woman who only wants what will benefit her.

The most memorable names to me are those that conjure up an image of the character, whether they are good or evil. Some that are noteworthy from my view are:

Fallon—the villain in Cheryl Pierson's Fire Eyes.
Wick—the wreck of a man hero in Sandra Brown's The Crush.
Cleopatra Jones—the Southern female sleuth in Maggie Toussaint's In for a Penny.
Skeeter-the author heroine in Kathryn Stockket's The Help.
Scarlett O'Hara-the heroine in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind.

What are some memorable names you recall from novels—even your own! How do you name your "babies?"

Want to play a game? I don't know who this guy is, but he looks like a hero I'd like to have in one of my books. Let's give him a name—any volunteers? (If he's an actor, tell me. I do not keep up with all the actors.)

Thank for reading—
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pet Peeves for the Week--then I'll be nice

PARKING—I simply do not understand why an experienced driver cannot pull into a parking spot straight instead of an angle. This phenomenon is getting completely out of hand. In most cases, this thoughtless driver actually takes up two spots because the worst offenders are the people who drive the largest vehicles. There's no excuse for this.

While I'm on this topic, have you heard of reverse parking? The city of Austin is implementing these parking places in a few areas of town where the traffic is heavy. In case you haven't heard of this, stay with me here. The slots are angled away from the direction the driver is proceeding. To reverse park, the driver pulls forward past the slot, then backs into it. Now you tell me—if many drivers cannot park driving forward into a clearly marked straight slot, how will he ever learn this procedure? Backing up is very difficult for many people. And how many people will stop before the space to allow the driver to back in? Try imagine the number of rear-end accidents.

The city is already issuing tickets. Why? One, for pulling into a reverse spot head first. The driver is going the opposite direction, on the far side of the road, but still, he crosses the lane and pulls in. I couldn't keep from laughing.

SCHOOL ZONES—We have a small private elementary school out here in our subdivision. The parents drive in at 40+ mph, right up to the school to allow their child to get out. From the main road to the school there is a sign warning drivers to slow to 20 mph because a school is just ahead. Why did the county come out and post this sign? Because the parents were complaining about the residents out here driving too fast by the school.

SUPERMARKET SHOPPERS—Why do some shoppers (okay, it's always a woman) stand docilely while the checker scans her groceries, and when she sees the total, she moves a few feet to retrieve her purse from the cart, bring it back to the counter, open it and find…her checkbook. Slowly, but surely, she finds a blank check, but returns to her purse to search for a pen. Pen in hand, she carefully writes the check…always reviewing the total a few times first, though. Before she hands the check to the checker, she must record the total, tear out the check, return the pen and checkbook to her purse, then…give the check to the checker.

Friends, this is enough for now. I haven't posted pet peeves for a long time, and I promise to be nicer and more patient if I possibly can.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Friday, June 17, 2011

Meet Jennifer Wilck, Debut Author

Welcome, Jennifer, to a little bit of Texas!

Even though Jennifer is celebrating the release of her first novel, she is far from being a novice at writing. In between chauffeuring her daughters, running youth group activities, training their recently adopted shelter dog, and cooking, she writes freelance articles for magazines and newspapers, and edits newsletters. And here she is!
Jennifer, in one sentence, give a synopsis of your present life.
"My life is a fun and crazy juggling act between my kids, my husband, my volunteer work and my writing."

If you could only use five words to describe yourself, what would those be?
"Mother, daughter, wife, friend, work-in-progress."

I understand A Heart of a Little Faith is your first novel. Where did the premise for this lovely story come from? Is it autobiographical in any way? Why or why not?
"I saw a minor character in a TV show a long time ago who inspired me to write this story. I was extremely lucky that the story flowed easily from start to finish (although the editing and submitting process were much harder!). The only minor autobiographical part occurs in the massage scene. Lily and Gideon are talking and she describes how as a child, she used to give her father massages and pretend his back was a pizza pie. She’d roll out the dough, swoosh the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and pat on the pepperoni. Her father would have a limber back and she’d have a (pretend) pizza. I used to do the same thing when I was about three. And some of the things that Lily’s daughter says and does, like her insane love of the game Trouble, are similar to my daughter’s traits when she was six."

How did you become so immersed in writing?
"Writing was always talked about in my house, because we had several writers in the family. I’ve always enjoyed writing (I so preferred those classes to math and used to love vocabulary tests—I know, weird, right?) and used to have stories mulling about in my head. One day, I decided it would be fun to write some of them down, just to see what happened. From then on, I was hooked.

I know you have two young daughters. How difficult is it to balance your time?
"I’m a big believer in early bedtimes (much to my children’s chagrin), so when they were little, I could write at night after they went to sleep. Now that they’re older, by the time they actually both go to bed, I’m lucky I remember my name, much less be able to write anything, so I have to do most of my writing during the day. Thank goodness for school! I can usually carve out at least some time during the day to get writing done. And I can always go off and hide on a weekend for an hour or two."

What is your favorite thing to do when you need/want to relax and hang out?
"Hanging out with my family and friends, playing games, watching movies or TV, reading, walking the dog."

Without thinking very hard, fill in the blanks:
Once a week Ireally should clean the house, but usually procrastinate at least a little by playing on Facebook.
I feel incomplete without …my cell phone, even though I NEVER hear it, which drives my husband up the wall!
Most weekends, I…hang out with my family and laugh.
Most days I wearwhatever is comfortable, as long as they’re not t-shirts or sweatshirts (I never claimed to make sense.)
Once a day, I …(at least) talk to my mom on the phone.
One thing I'd really like to try ishotwiring a car. I am totally fascinated by this!

Do you have a favorite singer or musical group?
"My musical taste is eclectic—I like almost anything except opera. Some of my favorites are Billy Joel, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, Bruce Springsteen."

Here's what we've been waiting for. Tell us about your novel.
"Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance. Her life begins to change, however, when she meets Gideon Stone. He’s handsome and charming, and spent all afternoon entertaining her rambunctious daughter. Lily believes he must need rescuing—fast—but finds out the two of them hit it off. Although Gideon and Claire form a fast friendship, Lily and Gideon can’t seem to get it right. Despite mutual obstacles, neither of them can avoid the sparks that fly between them. After a few false starts, where tempers erupt, they settle on an uneasy truce, deciding to be friends and nothing more.
That truce is soon tested when Gideon’s overbearing boss demands he start showing up to work events with a date. How can he do this without appearing to violate their truce—and his own vow to never let a woman get the best of him again?
The answer appears when he helps Claire out of a jam. Although grateful, Lily’s independent spirit won’t let her feel beholden to him. Gideon suggests a bargain—he’ll help Claire if Lily will accompany him to work events. The agreement is supposed to be platonic, but each encounter draws them closer together.
As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone."

Will you offer an excerpt to sample your writing?

Gideon entered his sister’s crowded SoHo gallery in Manhattan and glanced at his watch. If he was lucky, he could make a quick appearance and leave. Garish paintings and semi-pornographic sculptures, coupled with snooty patrons and pseudo-intellectual artists, bored him. A mélange of overpowering perfumes blasted his olfactory nerves and he grimaced as he quickly tried to breathe through his mouth. He’d only come to support Samantha, and with any luck she’d be too busy with potential buyers to do anymore than register his presence, leaving him free to make a hasty exit. In the meantime, he needed to find something to eat before he starved to death.

Across the room he spied black-clad catering staff and made his way around half walls and columns to check out their offerings. At least he thought they were catering staff. With black continuing to be the customary dress code of New York art patrons, he could never be too sure. Still, silver platters were sure to give them away. Before he’d gotten halfway across the converted warehouse, a waitress materialized in front of him, offering champagne and scallops wrapped in bacon. Pendulum lights from above glinted on the crystal glasses, and the smoky scent made his mouth water. He snagged a glass of champagne and two scallops, and popped one immediately into his mouth. The ice cold glass chilled his fingers and provided a welcome relief from the warmth of the overcrowded room. The scallop melted in his mouth, leaving the taste of crisp bacon for him to savor. A little bit of heaven.

He saw Samantha and made his way over, past old gentlemen sitting on oversized ottomans comparing notes, willow-thin women chatting about the Hamptons and a few art students staring at the scene with longing. He waited until she noticed him. They said their hellos quickly, and she apologized as another group of people swept her away. He nodded his understanding and, with his duty complete, headed back the way he’d come.

He’d gone about twenty-five feet when something caught his attention. Surrounded by movement — the friction caused by the artist’s use of flashy, contrasting colors against stark white canvas, the undulating positions of the sculptures, or the constant swaying of people in the room — her stillness drew his eye. All other sights and sounds disappeared as he approached her. He no longer heard the chatter and laughter around him. His vision tunneled and all surrounding sights disappeared into a fog. His ears picked up only the sound of her fingernails tapping the crystal goblet and magnified it until her tapping became the beat of a song for him alone. The jasmine scent of her perfume floated toward him and made him think of summer vacations in a tropical paradise. Distracted by her, he didn’t notice those around him trying to get out of his way.

She stood motionless in front of a painting. The spotlight above illuminated her brown hair, turning it a fiery red tinged with gold, her skin a luminous peach. Her blouse, made of some gauzy material he couldn’t name, but longed to touch, draped gracefully over her shoulders and down her back. With the lights pouring down on her, he could just see the outline of her body. The barely there whisper of an outline attracted him more than any wet T-shirt ever could. Her black-flared pants hugged her hips the way he once had held a woman, gently but firmly.

He stared at her, bedazzled. He only intended to look for a moment, but she turned around and met his eyes. Caught red-handed he contemplated turning around, but that would be cowardly. He couldn’t continue to stare at her without appearing either moronic or rude, especially since he hated when people stared at him. He inhaled and tried to muster up a smile, when another man approached her. Breaking their gaze, she turned and smiled at him. Gideon inched closer. He heard her engage the other man in casual conversation before she gently excused herself. As the other man walked off, she turned back to Gideon and smiled. Her green cat eyes pierced his soul and made him believe she could see right through him. He continued to watch her, entranced.

“Hasn’t anyone taught you it’s impolite to stare?”

Struck by the irony of her question, he burst into warm laughter and shook her outstretched hand. Her soft cool hand fit completely within his hard, callused one and he closed his other hand over hers. He felt the delicate veins beneath her skin, her pulse beating in her wrist and wished to prolong the skin-on-skin contact for as long as possible. Reluctantly, he let it go.

“I’m Gideon.”


“Are you a fan?”

Lily stared at him blankly for a moment and blinked quickly. “Oh, of the artist’s?” She turned once more to look at the painting, tilting her head to the right. “Not exactly. He’s a little too…”

“Much? Bright? Vulgar?”

Lily laughed. “I see you’re a huge fan. No, maybe, I don’t know. The colors are cheery, if only maybe there weren’t so many. But looking at it does brighten my mood.”

“Bad day at work?”

“Terrible. But why are you here if you don’t like the artist?”

Gideon turned and pointed to Samantha on the other side of the room. “She’s my sister.”

Lily raised her eyebrows as she looked over at the gallery owner.

“Oh, Samantha’s my best friend. I didn’t realize you were her brother. So I guess she roped you into this too?”

He sat back and gave her what he hoped was a relaxed grin. “Brotherly duty, or some such nonsense. Apparently I pulled one too many pigtails as a child and this is my penance.”

Lily laughed. She has a great laugh, he thought. It lit up her whole face. “Samantha had pigtails?”

The two of them turned to look at Samantha, currently sporting short and spiky jet-black hair, with small rhinestone barrettes scattered throughout. “You’ll have to fill me in more later,” Lily added, as she stifled a yawn.

“What, is it my stimulating conversation, or these garish paintings that bores you?” Gideon asked, one eyebrow raised.

Lily apologized. “I’m sorry. I had a long day at work and I’m exhausted. I wasn’t even going to come, but Samantha begged.”

“She tends to do that. I’ve told her it isn’t a pleasing trait, but why should she listen to me? I’m only her big brother.”

Find out more about Samantha’s big brother in A Heart of Little Faith, available from Whiskey Creek Press this month! Part of the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Where can readers find your book?
"It will be available through the publisher ( ), Amazon ( ) and Barnes & Noble ( )."

Where else can readers find you?
"My website is
My blog is Fried Oreos and can be found at 
I also am one of the contributors to the Heroines With Hearts blog at
And, you can find me on Facebook at

Jennifer, I thank you so much for visiting today. Readers, please leave a comment—if your Yahoo is working! Both of us love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you, Celia, for having me as a guest on your blog. It was a pleasure to be here! And a big thank you to your readers for visiting me here to learn about me and my book! I love meeting new people and hearing from them, so feel free to leave a comment if you’d like. Jennifer

Sunday, June 12, 2011

AVOIDANCE--Let Me Count the Ways

Simply put, Avoidance is attempting to ignore the issue at hand. Psychologists may have reams—or saved documents—of essays expounding the details of the topic, but I can break this down into a few simple ideas.

Note that I don't speak for others; I am not a psychologist or a counselor. My claim is simply what I know.

Some "issues at hand" might fall into serious categories, but I'm only analyzing my life as I know it. Specifically, my writing life. Probably, we as adults have practiced some form of Avoidance our entire lives, but when I began writing, I became a master.

My expertise on Avoidance has increased via the internet. Yes, I have discovered Yahoo discussion loops, Ning groups, FB, Twitter, instant messaging, my blog, other blogs, quick free reads, contests, chats, forums, Goodreads, and many new friends I can't ignore.
Can I?

Editing falls under the category of an "issue at hand." Actually, the editing process is rather satisfying, for I like to clean up a manuscript. I do not like spelling errors in my books, repeated phrases, POV shifts, unnecessary tags, or useless phrases. However, after the third or fourth round I begin to despise my own story that once held me spellbound by its sheer brilliance. In this case, I Avoid the document with all those colored balloons my editor and I have hashed over, and take a detour onto the internet.

Writing a synopsis is a huge "issue at hand." I may never submit another manuscript because of that dreaded three-page document. Talk about Avoid—I choose to do laundry, scrub the bathroom, or sweep the driveway in 100 degree heat instead of directly confronting the task.

Formatting is about as exciting as watching grass grow—or in the case of my dry yard…die. I have more documents with formatting rules than I can count. Let's see, I have five publishers, so that would be five different sets. All have some things in common, but not one of them is the same.
Self-editing also falls into this category.

I keep a notepad to the left of my computer. There, I have neat lists of tasks to perform concerning my writing life. One list covers a month, another a week, and one for the day. As a rule, I am organized and like to check tasks off a list. But there are days when boredom, malaise, or a novel I'd rather read pulls me away from my desk.

Why am I writing this blog this Sunday afternoon? Avoiding those nasty little items on my list. Aha! It's almost five o'clock, time to think about dinner, bathe, put on my jammies, and get ready for the NBA finals. I can't work anymore today—I have too many other things to do.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Friday, June 10, 2011

HEART OF A HERO--Coming in July

I wrote Heart of a Hero before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, specifically New Orleans.

The story involves a soldier hero who comes home from the Middle East War and knows his life is not right. He leaves Dallas, his family, and fiancé, and goes to a small Central Texas town where his grandmother lives on the river. While there, a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast and sends massive amounts of rain all the way to the middle of Texas. I named this hurricane Krystal. Isn't that odd? I had no idea such a destructive hurricane named Katrina would hit the coast the next year. (Note: hurricanes often drift into Central Texas, bringing much-needed rain. We need a hurricane right now!)

So, anyway, I held on to the manuscript for a long while because I was involved with Western Historical Romances. I did submit it to a couple of small ePresses, those same ones where I had publications, but it was met with revision, revision, revision. Stubborn me, I turned down the advice and held on to it a while longer. Now it has a home, a great cover, and a release date sometime in July.

The figures on the cover are almost identical to my vision of Matt Carrington and Lauren Delaney. It's a lovely cover.

Matt Carrington escapes a terrorists’ prison while in the Army, but he has difficulty escaping the trappings of a demanding fiancé and his own parents. To get away to think, he meets pretty, girl-next-door Lauren Delaney, the kind of woman he desires. But his fiancé and his parents have other plans, and they determine to have their way—no matter what Matt wants.

Lauren Delaney is an independent young woman who quickly befriends the soldier hero who comes to town. Knowing he has another life in Dallas, she holds a secret, too. But she pretends neither have a problem in order to have the summer with him.

During the long hot months, a hurricane almost destroys the town. Matt and Lauren work with a team to save as many residents as they can, and in the process fall deeply in love. When the danger is past, the two lovers suffer from their own lies and misunderstandings. Can they find peace and happiness without hurting others?

I don't have a buy link or page yet, but it will be available in ebook and print.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Storm Cellar, a Cancelled Graduation, and a Do-Over

With all the tornadoes in the news these days, I'm reminded of growing up among twisters, and sleeping under the bed many nights, rolled up in a quilt. We were fortunate we never lost anything, but we knew plenty of those who did.

In 1970, my husband and I still lived in Levelland, about twenty miles west of Lubbock. We had two young children at the time. In that year, I was to graduate from Texas Tech University. Yes, I was a late-bloomer, waiting until I was almost thirty to finish college.

I had bought my black disposable cap and gown for the ceremony in the university coliseum. However, a week before the ceremony, the night of terror struck us. The storms were so horrible, and we did not have radar nor did we have good radio reception for someone to inform us we were in danger. We had a concrete storm cellar in our back yard—it was there when we bought the small house. Not once had we used it, being afraid of going down there and closing the heavy cast-iron door.

But in the middle of the night, we heard pounding on our back door. Our neighbors and their son stood there yelling for us to get our babies and head for the cellar, that killer tornadoes were all around. They rushed on to our cellar, and we obeyed them. We ran through driving rain and pounding hail and stumbled down the steps. We kept a kerosene lantern down there, so we weren't in total darkness.

The next day, in calm weather, we learned that Lubbock had been hit by an F4 tornado, and it was possibly a double one, as two had criss-crossed the city. We felt horrible for the town and the people.

I received a letter with a note that graduation had been canceled because the coliseum would be used for refugees. My cap and gown went into a drawer. A few weeks later, I received my diploma in the mail with an embossed letter from the university president. "Dear 1970 Graduate, I confer your degree upon you, etc." So, that's how I graduated.

Twenty-five years later in 1995, I received another letter from the president. "Since the Class of 1970 failed to enjoy a graduation ceremony, you are thereby invited to be a part of the 1995 ceremony. Instead of black caps and gowns, the 1970 graduates will wear red. (Buy the cap and gown in the university bookstore.)"

I did not attend. It seemed like a lot of trouble, but I read the articles about it afterward and viewed photos. Wasn't it lovely for the university to do that? I was pleased that at least I had been invited.

One more note. The Class of 1970 was the first one with the distinction of graduating from "Texas Tech University." Before that, the college was "Texas Technological College." I was very proud of that fact.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas