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


  1. I wouldn't be surprised if these celebrities' offspring disown their parents. I would. LOL.

    I don't know who this guy is 'cause I don't keep up with the latest Hollywood heartthrobs; but I'll name him: JOSH MCKINNEY.

  2. Hi Celia:

    Those Hollywood types named their kids to get more publicity for themselves. It’s all about them not the kids. An odd name is newsworthy.

    That guy looks like a “Digger Jones” to me. He’s likely to jump into any mess and quickly get to the bottom of things. Nothing fancy.

    My hero in “Characters in a Romance”, a paranormal, is Victor Hart. The heroine is Missy Gale. The story is very wacky so I wanted the hero and heroine, at least, to have simple names.


  3. LAUREAN--I love Josh McKinney!!!! Fantastic name for him...I just love him, and have no idea who he is. Just a photo.Thanks, girlfriend, for popping by two times in a row--I miss you, but I don't stay on the loops much lately--must get back. Celia

  4. VINCE--Oh,good grief! You made me laugh out loud! "Digger Jones?" I hardly think so!!! That is just so funny, that I actually love it. Only you would come up with a name like that.
    And I think you're right, even though I didn't think of it--the parents gives their children weird names for attention. Well, okay. Poor kids. Celia

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Celia,
    Not sure if that guy is a celeb or not, but he looks like a Wyatt Evans to me. As for odd celeb names, Opra Winfree's name was supposed to be Orpha, from the Bible, but the nurse mispelled her name on the birth certificate. Her mom didn't find out until she went to register little Orpha for school. The school said they'd have to have her name legally changed to Orpha because it was Opra on the birth certificate so that is what she had to go by in school. Her family left the name as it was on the birth certificate. At least, that's the story I read in her unofficial

  7. What fun! and thanks for loving Cleopatra Jones. It means a lot to an author when a character comes to life for a reader.

    I love your challenge idea for the picture. I looked at him for just a few minutes, taking in the muscled physique, the sunglasses on a keeper so he doesn't lose them overboard, the splotchy jeans, and the fact that he's squatting behind a heavy duty vehicle. This is a southern guy who isn't afraid of getting dirty, who's comfortable on the water, who will look trouble in the eye and laugh and say bring it on. To me, it's obvious. His name is Gator Blaoo (pronounced blue).

    Enjoyed the post! Maggie

  8. I like Vince's Digger Jones. I could see him as an archeologist whose real name was never used because everyone called him Digger.

    I guess my favorite of my characters is Nate Bartholomew from THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. I had struggled with his name and it popped into my head in church when the minister was talking about Nathan/Bartholomew changing his name when he changed from bad to good. The character is a man who thinks he's bad until he reforms for a good woman, so the name seemed appropriate.

    My own name was from a book my mom read when she was pregnant with me.

  9. Good Morning, Celia.

    I know a lot of stars as we know them have chosen their star name versus using their real names, but I agree some of these parents are off-the-wall with the names they put upon their children. I can't help but wonder if they've done this, expecting the child to come up with something more normal for a professional name. I need to reason the senselessness. Remember Sonny and Cher named their used-to-be daughter Chasity - back then it caused a stir.

    Since my stories, for the most part, are set around the area where I live, I try to keep the names of characters in line with what are commonly used. That can be rough and limited, so at times I branch out to the different if I've come across someone who has named their child after someone in the Hollywood world to be different. Sometimes I scoll through the movie channels looking for names that might fit characters. Whatever I choose goes on a list of names used so I don't reuse them.

    Twenty-seven years ago, my sister and her husband tried to combine their names for a name for their baby which she just knew was a girl and it's been used by others, so new or not... Tonia and Kevin became Tokaia. I rather liked it, because it has a Native America sound to it. My paternal grandmother was Blackfeet. And no, my heros name in Jewel of the Sun's Blood Destiny wasn't a take off of my nieces name, but came from an Apache name list.

    I, too, often wonder if names make the person. It seems some names belong to mostly brunettes, others to blonds and yet others to redheads. Stero-typed names, maybe.

    My name was chosen by my paternal grandmother and over the years it's meaning has been befitting so I've been told.

    Names are a fascinating thing.

  10. I'm going to go with Rick for the picture. I can't think of a last name right now, but he looks scrappy and that's what I think of with the name Rick.

    I know with my own characters, I look at baby name books or sites on the Internet. I like to know the meanings behind the names and see if I can find ones that fit the character. That's how I came up with Gideon and Lily in A Heart of Little Faith. For my second book, I picked John and Valerie--they just seemed to fit the characters. I tend to like simple names; maybe a little uncommon, but not crazy.

    When my cousin had her first baby, she named him Jace, and the first thing my mom and I said to each other was that she'd read too many romance novels while pregnant! :)

  11. The second book ever wrote, I wanted to name the hero Sloane. I thought it was rich and powerful sounding. But every time I got the heroine in the room with him she called him Blake. Try as I might, I couldn't make her call him anything else. Sigh. Today he's part of my PIP (polish in progress) for submission. And his name...Blake.
    My parents named me Amy after a Bobby Darrin song from a western. My middle name is Patricia after my mother. But nobody--and I mean nobody--calls me that. I've always been Amy Louellen. A little tweaking and there's my author name! :-) I have to agree with Vince and Caroline--he's Digger Jones. Most probably christened something plain or horrible--like John or...worse!

  12. OK...I can only think of him as Digger now. LOL, even though that wasn't my first thought. I can't say anything about unusual names, although mine isn't as unusual as it is old and not used anymore.

    I tend to name characters from historical lists, and in the Middle Ages there wasn't a lot of variety in names. But my characters often get fun nicknames that are reflective of their personalities.

  13. Celia, great food for thought. When naming characters, I go the baby name index on the Internet for that country. I write a lot of international stories so I want something authentic to the country I'm in. The guiding point is what you mentioned - "Carrington" implies money, success wealth. That's my character in "A Polish Heart" is Darrin Douglas Riverton III because I'm trying to imply that. I like Maggie's Cleopatra Jones because it's not too wild and implies a certain amount of quirkiness which appeals to me as a reader, but honestly, as a reader, I don't want to go past that.

    As for chosing my sons' name that was nightmare. LOL!! I, being a romance writer, wanted names like Tristian, Romeo, Ian, ah...

    Brent rolled his eyes wanting a more masculine name and then he went for the ridulious. So, ultimately we went to the Bible for inspiration.

    We decided on Andrew early on and easily. Joe was another matter.

    Brent's first suggestion: Jesus. I rolled my eyes only because Brent and I are as white as Ghosts. Can you imagine calling a really really white boy Jesus?

    Then Brent said let's go ethentic (sp?) He suggested Wolfgang. (German) I suggested Stefan.(Polish) Both names were shot down in flames.

    We went to the Bible. I suggested Adam. Brent suggested Joseph. Joseph Adam won in the end, but I would have prefered Adam Joseph. LOL!!

    We liked "Chloe" and "Samantha" for a girl, but no girls for us.

  14. I don't like some of the names chosen by celebs either.

    I choose names for my characters by first seeing what names were popular the year they were born, also look at baby book or now on internet at list of names to see meanings. I'm like you and have a tendency to want to use a favorite name again - like Brad so have to watch that. I don't like it when authors use names that are hard to spell and to pronounce.

    My new wip has Amish characters so I researched Amish names and came up with Rachel Hershberger and Samuel Weaver for the main characters.

    Growing up I always loved the names Jennifer and Stephanie, but when naming our daughters, my husband hated those names. LOL But as it turned out, I could use them for two of my characters. :)

  15. I think he looks like a "Kit Masterson' - no idea why that name came into my head!
    I couldn't think of the right name for one of my heroes, so I called him Jack, intending to re-name him once I 'got to know' him, but somehow he BECAME Jack - and I couldn't change his name after that!

  16. Paula--I've read that authors use the same names too many times--Sam(I have a Sam), Max(I have one, maybe two!), Jack....I haven't used Jack, but if I wanted to, I would. You see, I like one syllable names for guys. That is why I like yours, too. And "Kit?"Yeah, I'd go with that. Thanks for visiting! Celia

  17. Hi, Diane--Rachel and Samuel are perfect Amish names. And I'm so with you on names you cannot pronounce. These are usually in fantasy or Science fiction, etc. and contain letters we don't use much--X,Z,V,--as well as putting letters together that we don't do normally.
    I'd never thought of baby names books in the year your character was born. Now, that's creative thinking---I'll remember that.
    Thanks for you comments--you always make good points. Celia

  18. Well, like you, Steph, no girls--grandsons, that is. I'll tell you on the spa loop what their names are. They each have an old Testament name and a New Testament name.
    "Darrin Douglas Riverton III" sounds very uppercrust. Like you would never name this person Bubba or Mike or Buddy.
    I use baby name websites only when I need a Hispanic or Native American name. Everything else I can handle. I have been known to open the phone book to a random page and with my eyes closed touch the page. If that one doesn't work, I keep going. Haha. Easy way out. Celia

  19. KEENA--I've never heard of anyone with the name
    Keena. You say it's old--what ethnic group? Or time period? I'd be interested in knowing.
    I suppose it would be difficult to find many names from the Middle Ages. And now I remember your characters often have nicknames.
    Anyway, I like Keena a lot--it sounds a little futuristic, to me.
    Thanks for your input--looks like my guy's name will be Digger. Celia

  20. AMY--very funny! That's not happened to me--a character insisting on his own name! But I do believe you.
    Interesting that your middle name is actually Patricia but everyone says Amy Louellen. Some people make up a name for someone they know because they like them. I won't say my daughter's name here, but her uncle "changed" her middle name to "Mae" so that with her first name, it's sort of sing-songy.
    Another vote for Digger!
    Thanks for visiting!

  21. Jennifer---Yessss! Something scrappy! My mystery guy could easily be a Rick. All Ricks are scrappy--Gov. of Texas Rick Perry--a scarpper if there ever was one. If he runs for president, he might not win, but he most definitely will get the red hot middle of things!!!
    Oh, I love the names Gideon and Lily. Well, I just like the name Lily, period.
    The only WIP I ever abandoned had Lily Marie as my heroine. I thought it was a cute story, but I never submitted it--why? Four POVs, and romance publisher go crazy if you have more than two.
    Also, a tiny girl in our church is Lily, and she is the most adorable thing. Love it.
    Yeah, I never heard the name Jace until I started seeing it in romance novels.

  22. BEKKI--Names are a funny thing..they can make us or break us, I think. These crazy baby names for celebrities, as Vince said, are clearly for their own attention.
    I do remember what a stink the name "Chastity" made, and now--decades later? "His" name is Chas. The fact that he changed his gender didn't even make a ripple...let alone his name.
    You touched on a new idea--that names tend to go with hair color--natural, I guess. I need to think about that one.
    Thanks for your comment--I always love to read your messages and comment because you always have something interesting and entertaining to say.

  23. Lilly Gayle--Wyatt Evans...hmmm. That's very good!
    I've never heard that story about Ophrah's real name, but it's very interesting. I wouldn't doubt it at all.

  24. Maggie-say it isn't so!!! Gator Bluee?Noooo.
    But I do like Cleo's name--perfect for a Southern female sleuth.Celia

  25. Celia,
    Keena is a gaelic name, but the spelling is anglicized. I never have to spell my name when I'm in Scotland or Ireland. :-)

  26. I have internet for a few minutes! So I will chime in and say thanks for mentioning Fallon--he was so truly evil and that name just seemed to fit him perfectly.LOL I am a name collector, probably because I have such a weird one myself--Cheryl--but not like everyone else in the world says it (Sheryl)-- my parents said it phonetically--Chair-yl.When I was little, I would correct people if they called me Sheryl, but I have given that up years ago--still, it's like someone is talking to a different person when they call me Sheryl, because everyone who really knows me says it the 'right' way--Chairyl.So all my heroes and heroines just have to have the most perfect names. I have always been very conscious of names since I was a little girl. I think your guy looks like a Jack, or Rick, maybe even a Jake. I tend to use last names that end in "on" or "an"--Morgan, Jackson, Johnson, Thompson, etc. Love that little challenge. Maybe he will be Jake Morgan, for my vote. Great post, Celia. I name my heroes the same thing a lot of times, too, like you were mentioning. Lots of Johnnys and of course there was Kaed Turner in Fire Eyes. I had a hero in the summer collection anthology this year named Shay, which is a guy's name when spelled like that, but a girl's when spelled Shea, and that's my daughter's middle name, and my cousin's son's middle name is Shay. LOL GREAT post--I loved it, but have to go before the internet quits again.

  27. What a fun blog, Celia. My heroines' names are chosen for convenience, because their names play a role in the story. In to Love A Hero, the heroine is Cecile--American father, French mother--the Russian hero Sergei will nicknmae her Cecilya. In French Peril, I called the heroine Cheryl, the French hero François will often call her Chérie (darling in French).

    I found out that my name was easy to say and remember, so I kept it as author's name.

    When my daughter and daughter-in-law were pregnant at the same time, we spent several evenings with their spouses choosing names from a Baby Names book and laughing at some crazy names.

  28. Now this was a truly wonderful blog. Names are the beginning of the identity of our characters. Without the right name, the character can just fall flat on their face.
    In my historicals I try to use names that were significant for that time period like Matilda Rose but I also like to give them a name that has some reason behind it like Harmonica Joe and Banjo.
    In my paranormals I become more inventive. The gypsy leader that shows up in all of them is Pennytook. I like naming the gypsies whimsical names. I named the McKnight men after raptures--Peregrine, Hawk, Falcon and Raven while the sisters are named after flowers, Rose, Daisy and Columbine.
    Wonderful blog subjest, Celia.

  29. KEENA--ohhh,Gaelic. How wonderful, and now that you say that it does have that sound. I think you're lucky to have such a uniquie beautiful name. Celia

  30. Chair-yl--since I've never heard your name out loud, to myself I said "Sheryl." We have a Sheryl in the family, but that's only one I know with either spelling. The pronunciation of your name is unique. From now on, I'll say Chair-yl to myself. I'm so glad you told me.
    Your also like heros names that have a K in them--Jack, etc. and even Kaed. Now, I recall that one vividly because when I first saw it in print, I thought...I love that name. I'd never forget it.
    I, too, like Jake Morgan for my mystery guy. I have laughed all day about the names readers are giving me--it's so much fun. Digger Jones???? Please. But it's beginning to grow on me!
    I have another blog after this in which I'll talk about all these suggested names for my guy, plus the importance and impact of some very common names--Jones and Smith. How many of us would give our hero or heroine the last name of either? Well, I did, simply because it sounded right--Miss Adriana Jones in Addie and the Gunslinger.
    Oh, and your Shay? I'm almost finished with that story! But I knew a little girl named and spelled Shay.
    Ah, well, must go....Thanks for stopping in with your limited internet access! Love you...Celia

  31. Mona--your name is easy. Short names are so much better for authors--usually. Nora, for example.
    I like your Russian names, but I'd have a hard time with anything very foreign. I'm glad you're the one writing International romance--I'll stick with the provincial stuff.
    Names are very important--and can be so much fun, as you say. Celia

  32. SARAH-I'm beginning to know and associate you with your titles and character names. You know I like Harmonica Joe--now to me, it says--Sarah McNeal.Sort of like a brand. So, your character names and titles will formulate a "this is me" sort of thing.
    And the names for gypsies. It seems that's a perfect place to use inventive, descriptive names. Good job...Celia

  33. I'm glad I'm late and I get to read all these other wonderful comments. I am annoyed by too many names in one book that begin with the same letter or sound too much alike when said. It makes me have to stop and think about who is speaking sometimes. I choose my characters' names almost as carefully as I chose my children's. And I need to name them before they come alive in the book. Occasionally, I have had to change a name that didn't fit as the character developed. I keep a list of names that I like and search the list for a combination that works. Your guy looks like a Chad to me, maybe Chad Roberts.

  34. Hi- Linda--I'm so glad you did make it, and read all these great comments. Funny thing--your saying my mystery guy should be Chad Roberts. My hero in the Honkytonk WIP is---Chad Rogers! Weird!!! But my hero in the WIP doesn't look like this guy...except for the sunglasses...and the short hair....and the worn jeans...and the...hmmm. Maybe this is my hero. Interesting.
    I've seen the annoying thing you're speaking of, too. Names beginning with the same letter or sound in the same book.
    Thank you! Celia

  35. I'm okay with made up names if they mean something (My grandaughter is named after the village we lived in when my daughter was born) but "Apple?" Gwyneth Paltro said the name was from the bible - Garden of Eden. If she's sticking with the bible then she should have named her "fruit" as Eve ate fruit not an apple. Heart of a Hero has character names that depict the characters, great choices.

  36. Hi, Cozy--I think some people do name their babies after the town they were born in-Houston, Austin, Dallas, Sonora...I've not known anyone named Dime Box, though! Haha.
    You're right about the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Gwyneth should have read her Bible before she tried to be so cute. Thanks for visiting--Celia

  37. I would name in Alexander Craig. I don't know how my characters get their names, they just pop into my head. Sometimes I pull them off the family tree and sometimes I put two favorite names together or give them nicknames. One of my writer friends uses the phone book, but that seems so cold.

  38. PAISLEY--I will have to use that name. Alexander Craig. It's wonderful--somewhat more romantic and sophisticated than "Digger Jones!" Are you listening, Vince????
    I've been guilty of using the phone book. In fact I did just about 20 minutes ago. I had a small town Texas girl named Sara Jean, but I've used now her name is Leigh Anne. I found it in the phone book! Thanks for the suggestion. Celia

  39. I'm very late to this game! First- My name was (like Orpha's) misspelled by the hospital. My mother named me after- a romance novel location- Calais, France. In turn Mitchell and I named our first daughter, in memory of my mother, after both of us. Calais Michelle.
    Calisa "Rhose"? Roses were my mothers fave flower and perfume but I didn't want ordinary (and well used in romance authors) 'rose'.

    The cutie in your pic- Seth Keeper. I didn't think on it- it just popped into my head the instant I saw him. Small town trouble maker turned Indiana Jones. That's how most of my characters give me their names too.
    Amy- that has happened just once to me with a character and he wasn't even a main one at the time. Jon Grey- one of my shifters wanted his own story so badly that I even tried to change the hero's (Logan) name to Jon. Nope. Jon now has his own story as does Logan. All of my shifters and the heroine's have names that translate into Cherokee because they are NA. Logan= Logani, Jon= Tsani, and youngest brother, Bank= Quiniki. Beth =Queti, Shyen= Tsiani.

    For my contemp characters- they usually tell me their names just as easily. The hero in my soon to be released WRP Vintage- HOME- is Sam Callahan. All American footbal hero gone to Vietnam war while my gypsy heroine insisted on a name with spunk. Poppy Tippen.