Reading Challenge

My May TBR Stack

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For the month of May, I’m participating in #bookspinbonanza hosted by @TheAromaofBooks over on Litsy. If you’re haven’t heard of the Litsy app, you can find out more about it here. It’s the perfect app for readers!

Since the start of the year, I’ve been participating in the #bookspin, where the host draws a random number 1-20, and participants read the book from their list of twenty books that corresponds to that number. This month the bonanza twist is to read all twenty of the books in the order they are drawn. Here’s the graphic for #bookspinbonanza:

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So here are the twenty books I’ve chosen (they are all my own books so this also helps me with the #unreadshelfproject):

1. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

2. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeves

3. A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

4. The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson

5. Malice by Pintip Dunn

6. In the Hall With The Knife by Diana Peterfreund

7. The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

8. The Secret Horses by Megan Shepherd

9. The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

10. Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto (I’m reading this as part of @bookgizmo’s book club on Instagram)

11.  Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

12. Save Your Breath by Melinda Leigh

13. Shakespeare’s Landlord  by Charlaine Harris

14. Finish First by Scott Hamilton

15. The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis compiled by Caroline Kennedy

16. Secrets of Skating  by Oksana Baiul

17. My Side of the Story: Peter Pan by Kiki Thorpe

18. My Side of the Story: 101 Dalmatians by Daphne Skinner

19. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Mister Rogers

20. The Big Book of Disney Top Ten: Fun Facts and Cool Trivia

 

What are you reading plans for May? Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!

 

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Connecting With Your Readers Through Twitter – #authortoolboxbloghop

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So before the New Year, I did a series on connecting  with your reader as part of the blog hop. (You can see my last toolbox post here.) I wanted to share some tips for using Twitter to connect with readers, so I decided to go ahead and add another post to this series.

As with all the other venues of social media, you want to be commenting and liking your readers’ posts. Just like with Instagram, hashtags are key for finding like-minded people on Twitter, but there are also other ways you can use Twitter. Here are a few ways to use Twitter to connect with your readers:

  1. Share articles or quizzes that your readers will enjoy. This can be your own content or content you’ve found from somewhere else. For instance, I share a lot of things from the Epic Reads site. They have quizzes about YA books, and articles about the newest YA releases. Just remember to credit who or where you got the content from.
  2. Share the same things you share on Instagram or on other social media sites. You get the best use of your content when you share it on all your social media platforms. To help with this, there is even a slider button on Instagram that allows you to share your post to Twitter or Facebook. However, sometimes I find it more effective to share your content separately. When you share posts via the IG button, the picture doesn’t actually post directly to Twitter,  it’s just a link to the photo. If it is something you really want your followers to see, it is more effective to post directly to Twitter.
  3. Use your hastags! Like I said earlier, hashtags are how people find your posts. Find some relative hashtags for your genre (#yalit, #yabooks ect.) to use with your posts. Also, just like on Instagram, there are challenges you can participate in using specific hashtags. (#fridayreads, #yearofepicreads ect.)
  4. Share what you are reading.  Your readers love to hear about new books.  They also enjoy hearing about the kind of books their favorite authors like. Sharing what you are reading is one of the best way to connect with readers.
  5. Make use of the poll option. One of the cool options Twitter has is the poll capability.  (When you go to post a tweet, it is the button on the bottom that looks like a little bar graph.) You can use the poll option to find out what your readers like most about your books, what their favorite genre is, or which of your books they enjoyed most.

These are just some of the ways you can use Twitter to connect with your readers. You can connect with me @charityrau1 on Twitter. What are some you favorite ways to use Twitter? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

 

#authortoolboxbloghop

Choosing the Right Social Media Platform to Connect With Your Readers – #authortoolboxbloghop

Connecting With Your Readers#authortoolboxbloghop (2)

For last month’s bloghop, I posted about connecting with readers through your blog. If you missed it, you can read about it here. I want to share some tips about connecting with readers through social media, but first, I’d thought I’d share some tips on how to determine the best social media sites for you to use.

There are so many social media platforms out there, it’s hard to know which ones are best. There are some things you want to consider before choosing which ones you want to use.

1. First, find the sites your readers are always on. For me, I primarily use Instagram and Twitter. I’ve found a lot of YA readers on both.  Snapchat is another site YA readers hang out on, but your audience is limited to those you are already friends with, so I don’t use it much. Other options include Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Wattpad, and Goodreads.

2. Choose only two or three sites to manage. If you try to use all the sites, you’re going to be eating up a lot of your time. You can be much more effective if you choose just a couple of sites to focus on. Twitter and Instagram are my main focus. I also have accounts with Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+, but I use them far less.

3. Set realistic goals for using your chosen sites. Now that you’ve determined the sites you’re going to use, it’s time to set goals. You want to have goals for posting, interacting with and gaining followers, and promoting your books. I’ll share more about these in my next couple of posts.

While it can seem challenging and confusing at first, using social media can really help you build relationships with your readers. I have found it to be rewarding and enjoyable, and I have made a lot of great friends.

How about you? Do you use social media to connect with readers? Which sites to do you use? What do you like best about social media?  Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#authortoolboxbloghop – Connecting With Readers Through Your Blog

Connecting With Your Readers#authortoolboxbloghop

Connecting with your readers is not only important, it’s also a lot of fun. So, I’ve decided to do a little mini-series about connecting with readers for the next couple of #authortoolboxbloghop posts. Hope you enjoy! Also, I apologize for getting my post up late today, it’s been a busy week.

As a writer, connecting with your readers is essential. I’ve seen a lot of writers make a concentrated effort to connect with other writers (which is also important), but neglect making connections with readers.  With all the technology we have now, it’s easier than ever to connect with readers all around the world. Today, I’ll be focusing on making connections through blogging.

Here a few tips that have helped me:

Determine who you readers are. Before anything else, you have to know who you’re readers are. It might be tempting to say “everyone”, but while we all want “everyone” to read our books, your outreach will not be effective if your target readership is too broad.  I write YA, and specifically fantasy with a fairy-tale twist, so I know I want to connect with others who enjoy reading fantasy and fairy-tale retellings.

See what kind of blogs your readers follow. Once you’ve determined your ideal readers, then you need to find the kind of blogs they like to follow. A google search can help with this.  Type in your genre followed by  “book blog”.  I’ve discovered the YA community is great, and many of the readers are also avid bloggers. They enjoy book blogs with book reviews, reading challenges, and awesome giveaways.

Format your blog accordingly. After you’ve seen the kind of blogs your readers like, you can format yours similarly. Since I know my readers like book reviews, challenges and giveaways, I make sure to incorporate those things into my blog.

Interact with similar blogs. Not only do you want to research blogs to give you ideas what your readers like, but you also want to interact with these blogs. Comments and likes are key in making connections with others. I keep a list of my favorite YA blogs and set aside time each week to visit and comment on those blogs.

Participate in blog hops or challenges. This is taking it a step further than just commenting or liking. Many communities have a blog hop (similar to this one) or some kind of other challenge where participants search for said challenge (often by a hashtag on social media) to comment and like posts that are part of the challenge. I participate in “Top Ten Tuesday”, a challenge where the host gives a topic for each week and the participants list their top ten books on that topic. It’s a lot of fun to see who else might have listed the same books you did. You can check out my last Top Ten Tuesday post here.

These are just some of the things that have helped me make some great friends and find my readers via blogging. What are some ways you make connections with readers through your blog? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Worlds I Want to Visit/Not Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Girl. To find out more about the top ten theme, or to join in the fun go here.

Today’s theme is bookish worlds you want to live in/not live in. It’s hard for me to say I’d actually want to live in another world, but there are some I’d certainly want to visit, as well as some I’d want to avoid. 🙂

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Here are my picks:

1. Narnia (The Chronicles of  Narnia) – This is one place I’d love to visit! Aslan and magical creatures – need I say more?

2. Hogwarts (Harry Potter) – Who wouldn’t want to learn how to do magic? 🙂

3. The Lunar Chronicles World – A futuristic world with lots of cool tech? Yes, please!

4. Wonderland – There are so many versions of this world (Heartless, Queen of Hearts, Alice and Wonderland, Once Upon A Time, to name a few.) All of them seem like interesting places, and it would be pretty fun to attend a mad tea party.

5. Neverland – Again a lot of versions of this world – Wendy Darling, Never Ever, Once Upon A Time, Peter Pan – and they all have a few things in common: flying capability, mermaids and pirates. Anyone who loves fairytales would love to visit such a place.

And a few worlds I wouldn’t want to visit….

6.The world of The Winner’s Kiss – While I enjoyed the story, I certainly wouldn’t want to visit. All that war, prejudice, and slavery – No thank-you!

7. The world of The Selection – Another read I really enjoyed, but not a place I’d want to visit. Too much poverty and uncertainty. Although the lavish dresses would be cool to see.

8. The world of The Hunger Games – I think it’s obvious to anyone who’s read the book why you wouldn’t want to live here. You might literally have to fight for your life by killing your friends.

9. The World of Divergent – Too much conformity in this world. I wouldn’t appreciate being lumped into a specific group and destined to do the same thing for the rest of my life.

10. Morganville (The Morganville Vampires) While interesting to read about, this is another place where you have to do too much fighting to stay alive. And if you manage to stay alive, you could end up enslaved to a vampire. I don’t think so!

What about you? Is there a bookish world you’d like to visit? How about one you wouldn’t want to visit? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Making Time for Writing

Making Time For Writing

I know sometimes making time for writing can be a struggle. Recently, it’s been a bit of a struggle for me. In the last couple of months, illness, my day job, and family responsibilities have crowded in, and I’ve hard to work harder to make time for my writing. So I thought for this bloghop, I’d share some of the techniques I use to fit my writing time in.

1. Schedule your writing time on your calendar. This is especially important if, like me, you can’t keep the same schedule for each day. Some days my writing time is early in the day, and sometimes it’s in the evening.

2. Set realistic time goals. Sometimes we have a habit of overloading our schedules, and this is true for our writing as well. Some days, writing time might have to be a bit shorter due to all the other responsibilities you have to fulfill that day. For instance, if you have doctor appointments during the day, your daughter’s ballet recital in the evening, and  all your normal responsibilities, you may have to make your writing time shorter. On other days, where you have extra free time, you can make your writing time longer. I find it usually balances out in the end.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Ask yourself, “What things must get done today?” This helps you identify how much time you can set aside for writing. This also applies to your writing. What projects are the most important and need your attention now?

4. Be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes unexpected things happen: illness, accidents, death in the family. While you can’t really plan for such an event, you can be prepared. First, in your mindset – when something like this happens, realize you might have to take a step back from your writing. This doesn’t mean you’re quitting, it just means there are some other things you have to deal with first.

Second, don’t lock yourself into a tight deadline. In other words, plan more than enough time to complete your projects. For instance, if you know a certain project typically takes you three weeks to complete, give yourself four. This way if something happens to knock off your regular writing time, you have a little time to take off.

5. Take time for yourself. Sometimes you might need to take some time to recharge yourself. I know some people hold to the “write every day” principle, but I find that after a grueling project it helps to take a little time off. This gives you time to reflect on what you want to do next, helps you prepare for the next project (i.e. brainstorming), and lets you focus on self care which allows you to be at your best for the next project. Journaling is a good way to still get some writing in during this time.

These techniques help keep me on track, and I hope you’ll find them helpful too. Also, keep in mind that everyone has bad days, and everyone fails at times. The important thing is to keep at it.

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

How about you? What techniques do you find most helpful in making time for your writing? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Books set in other countries

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Girl. To find out more about the top ten theme, or to join in the fun go here.

This week’s topic is: books set in another country. I live in the US, so these books are all set in countries other than the US.

I read a lot of fantasy where the story takes place in a made up land, so I had to think about this one a little. Here’s what I came up with:

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1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer, set in China, or at least a futuristic version of China.

2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, set in France

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer, set in Egypt

One of the reasons I love The Lunar Chronicles so much is because they happen in so many different places.

4. Hunted by Meagan Spooner, set in Russia

5. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

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6. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, set in England

7. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco, set in Romania

I love this series for so many reasons – the mystery, the romance, the Victorian era… I can hardly wait for the final two books.

8. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury, set in Arabia/Persia

9. A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, set in Arabia/Persia

10. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George, set in Romania

 

What’s your favorite book set in a country other than your own? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday Favorite Book Quotes

Today, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I love this idea. It’s such a great way to connect with other book nerds, so I’m going to try to participate most weeks. 🙂 Today’s theme is book quotes.

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At first, I wasn’t sure how many book quotes I knew, but after some research I realized I knew more than I thought. I included quotes from some classics and some from favorite recent reads. Hope you enjoy!

1. “I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women                                                                                                    (This speech Jo gives about her dreams is one of the reasons I love her so much, and I had to include something from Little Women since it’s been such a longtime favorite.)

2. “I promise, I will not let you die without being kissed.”
― Marissa Meyer, Cress                                                                                                                          (Cress and Thorne are my favorite couple from The Lunar Chronicles.)

3. “As the poets say, stories are truth told through lies.”
― Jessica Khoury, The Forbidden Wish

4. “I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter.”
― Jackson Pearce, Sisters Red

5. “I said: “He cannot be so bad if he loves roses so much.”
“But he is a Beast,” said Father helplessly.
I saw that he was weakening, and wishing only to comfort him I said, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
― Robin McKinley, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

6. “Mirrors only show us what we are. Books show us what we can be.”
― Jennifer Donnelly, Beauty and The Beast: Lost in a Book                                                         (I loved this book and it’s so quotable, I had to include a few from it.)

7. “Isn’t that what a good story does? It pulls you in and never lets you go.”
― Jennifer Donnelly,  Beauty and The Beast: Lost in a Book

8. “Reading became my sanctuary,” Belle continued. “I found so much in those books. I found histories that inspired me. Poems that delighted me. Novels that challenged me…” Belle paused, suddenly self-conscious. She looked down at her hands, and in a wistful voice, said, “What I really found, though, was myself.”
― Jennifer Donnelly, Beauty and The Beast: Lost in a Book

9. “Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”
― Kerri Maniscalco, Stalking Jack the Ripper

10. “For there are no limits to the stars, their numbers infinite. Which is precisely why I measure my love for you by the stars. An amount too boundless to count.”
― Kerri Maniscalco, Hunting Prince Dracula

 

What are some of your favorite book quotes? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

My Stories

Once Upon A Time…

In honor of National Fairy Tale Day, I am posting one of my own fairy tales. 🙂 This tale was created last summer when I participated in an instagram writing challenge – #onceuponyourstory. It was so much fun! There was a prompt for each day, and you added to your story using these prompts.

I had so many ideas while I created this story – ways to turn it into a novel and even ideas for other novels. It was a great writing exercise.

Since it’s a bit longer than an ordinary blog post, I’ve split it into three parts, and the next two parts I’ll post tomorrow and Wednesday. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Also, if you’re on Instagram, (I’m @charityrau), today is the last chance to enter my giveaway there for a copy of Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton as well as some other goodies.

Part 1

Once upon a time, a servant girl bore the king a child. Angry that the child was a daughter and not a son, the king banished the servant and the baby to the TALLEST TOWER in the kingdom.

The same night, another BABY WAS BORN in the cottage of the castle’s groundskeeper. The groundskeeper and his wife were thrilled as they had given up all hope of ever having a child. When the king heard that this child was a boy, he sent his soldiers to seize the baby, for he had proclaimed to the entire kingdom that his barren wife was going to have a child. Having banished the baby girl that was to be the “queen’s child”, he needed a baby to present to the kingdom.

He demanded that the baby’s parents and everyone else involved in his plotting keep their silence. Death would be the penalty for a wagging tongue. But even the threat of death can’t keep some secrets.

The next morning, the king declared there would be a three day FEAST to celebrate his son’s birth. He invited everyone in the land, and the party was a great success. No one suspected that the baby wasn’t truly a prince.

The king named his stolen child Edward, and on Edward’s eighteenth birthday the king threw a massive party. RED, WHITE AND BLUE flags flew throughout the entire kingdom. All MEN OF ELIGIBLE age were invited to come and compete for a chance to become a knight.

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Meanwhile, in the tower, the servant girl still lived with her daughter. Even more misfortune had befallen the servant, for she had become gravely ill. Her daughter pleaded with the guards to bring help. Most ignored her pleas, but the new guard on the night watch, Will, took mercy upon her and went for help. By the time he brought the old medicine woman to the tower, it was too late.

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The medicine woman recognized the girl’s mother for she had been the one who had delivered the girl so many years ago at the palace.

“You’re the true heir -the only offspring of the king. What is your name, child?” 

“Maria, ma’am. But what am I to do now? No one would ever believe that I’m heir to the throne.” Tears trickled down her face as she looked down at her worn dress. “I can’t stay in this tower any longer. Without my mother, I’ll go crazy.”

“Don’t worry, dear. You can come with me,” the medicine woman said.
Then the medicine woman and Will formed a plan. They would spread Maria’s story throughout the kingdom in hopes of rallying the people to her side.

Will headed for the palace to compete in the knights competition and to gather some knights willing to fight for Maria.

He reached the castle just in time for the sword fights. All participants were divided into two teams and were lined up facing each other. Will took his position in line. SWORDS CLASHED as the two lines charged one another.

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BLOOD spilled as the fights raged on, but when it was over, Will was still standing. He passed through the rest of the soldiers and found some willing to fight for Maria. The king was often unfair, so it wasn’t hard to find those willing to stand against him. The willing ones would all meet together under the cover of night to make a plan.

Word had spread quickly and people were already questioning Edward’s right to the CROWN. The king was furious. He called for all his soldiers and commanded them to seize anyone who said his son wasn’t the true heir. With soldiers searching everywhere, Will knew they had to MOVE QUICKLY.

The people were all ready and waiting at the inn where Will had asked them to meet.

“The king is searching for us. We have to leave town now! ” He explained as gathered everyone up and led them out into the streets. He cleared a narrow path through a SEA OF PEOPLE, hoping they could leave the city gates before the guards found them. They reached the gates and just made it through, when there was a shout behind them.

“That’s them! The people that was speaking against the kings son!”

Will looked back. A weathered old man in rags was yanking on a soldier”s arm and pointing at them. The soldier yelled for his comrades and they all charged out of the gates.

Will scrambled onward trying to think of how they could escape capture. It seemed impossible. Then a sudden BURST OF LIGHT shot across the sky. There was a roar like thunder. Will looked up.

A herd of DRAGONS filled the SKY. Their scales sparkled in the sunlight, a rainbow of blue, green and gold. Will had never seen anything so beautiful or so fearsome. He stumbled BACKWARDS, keeping his eyes on the dragons. They swooped down.

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Their targets were the king’s soldiers. Will realized this was his chance.

“INTO THE WOODS!” He yelled as he turned and led the way.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

“What’s In A Name?” – Naming Your Characters

name book

Great characters deserve great names, but how do you determine what that name should be? Some writers just write whatever name comes to them. They like the way it sounds, so it should work, right? Not necessarily. There are a few things to consider when naming your characters.

First off, you don’t want to have characters with names that sound the same or begin with the same letter. Your readers will inevitably mix them up. I’ve had it happen  to me. I’m reading along when I suddenly realize, “Wait- this isn’t that character, this is that other character. How long have I been mixed up?” I furiously flip back through pages I’ve already read, trying to determine where exactly I got confused. It’s not a good feeling, and you don’t want your readers to experience it.

Second, you want your characters’ names to match up with their personalities. For instance, if you are naming a scaredy-cat character who never faces his fear, you wouldn’t want to name him Eric, which means “powerful”.  A baby naming book is a great tool for finding names for your character.  In fact, sometimes it’s fun to peruse a naming book and write down names you like for use in a future story. I like The Name Book by Dorothy Astoria.

Third, you want your names to be consistent. (This pertains especially to fantasy and sci-fi.) By this, I mean you don’t want to have a lot of characters with exotic sounding names like Thordan, Boriel, and Cantor, and then have one character named Tom. When a reader comes to that name, they’ll be drawn out of the story just trying to figure out why his name is Tom. The exception to this rule would be if there actually is a specific reason for his name being Tom – like maybe he is from a different place than all your other characters.

Fourth, make sure names are believable and not too hard to pronounce. You want to be creative, but you don’t want to turn off readers. Try saying your chosen name out loud. Show the name to some friends and have them read it back to you. If it seems a little too made-up or hard to pronounce, it probably is. Also, if you can’t find the name in a baby book or a online name generator, you should probably nix it.

Fifth, minor characters might only be known by characteristic/appearance. Sometimes we have characters so minor they don’t need an actual name, but they do need something shorter than a full description for each time you refer to them. For instance, perhaps there is a mean boy tormenting your MC. He could simply be referred to as Meanie once you’ve introduced him as such.  Maybe there is an extremely pale girl who rides the same bus as your MC, but never actually talks to the MC. She could go by Ghost.

I recently read a book where the MC’s name was Seredipity.  Kind of a cool name, right? At least it was until the author gave the MC the nickname Pity. Yes, Pity!  Every time I read the name I couldn’t help but think, “What a horrible name! Are we suppose to pity her? Does she pity herself? Who would want to be called Pity?” I struggled to get through that book.

So you get the idea. You want to use creativity in naming characters, but you also want to be sure your characters’ names make sense, and that they don’t turn the reader off.

How do you choose your characters’ names? What tips do you use to help you choose names? Let me know in the comments!

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop hosted by the lovely Raimey Gallant. To find out more about the blog hop and check out the other participants’ post go here.