Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guest Author Janice Maynard

I met Janice a couple months ago at a Wisconsin writers conference. I hadn't been to a smaller regional shindig in a very long time and so enjoyed the intimate setting. I had an opportunity to visit a little with Janice and Lori Foster who were the headliners and asked them to visit some time.

So here's Janice ...

Thanks so much to Helen and the gang for inviting me to "cruise" the cyber highway with you today! Riding with the top down sounds like a good idea on a day like today with the sun shining and the storms from last night that cleared out the air a bit!

I'm in the midst of writing a book that will be out in July '09 called, "Mating Game". It's about a woman whose grandmother died and left her a fortunre with the proviso that the granddaughter must be married in thirty days to inherit. The heroine has three good options: her current lover, her childhood sweetheart, and the hunky handyman she hires to fix up her grandmother's derelict mansion. Things are going well until someone tries to kill her, and then she has to decide not only who to marry, but who she can trust.

It's a bit of a departure from some of my earlier books... very sexy but with a bit of a dark side. It's turning out well, I think... I hope!!

I've also been working on a proposal for a new trilogy which I hope my editor will like. Which brings me to today's topic... what's in a name? I keep a huge chart of first names and last names from all the books I have done to date, so I don't re-use favorite names... I try to challenge myself to find new names that really fit my characters.

In the proposal I'm working on now, my agent sugested changing one character's name and offered "Hal" as a substitute. Now, Hal is a great name and I like it, but it's also the name of my dear hubby's best friend, so that really didn't float my boat. We settled on a third name as a compromise.

When Lori Foster was writing "Hard to Handle", she e-mailed me to see if I minded her naming the heroine Anastasia, because Lori knew that was the name of my granddaughter. Of course, I thought that was great. But all this has set me to thinking. Have I ever really been turned off by a book because one of the characters had a name I disliked? I can't remember any off hand, but I suppose it might have happened once or twice.

I think in reality that once I get caught up in a story, if the characters are written well, the name really doesn't bother me one way or another. But I do have my favorites for both sexes.

So tell me all you romance readers... can a hero's name turn you off? A heroine's? Or will you keep on reading until the end to get to the happily ever after??

As a thank you to anyone who posts today, I'll be drawing one name and giving away a copy of "The Power of Love", a June release from Berkley. The other photo is my current book (July '08), The Perfect Ten.

Thanks for letting me play!

Janice M.


Dina said...

Hi Jaince,

Welcome to RWTT. Do you live in Wisocnsin, I do? I will look up your site after work toda though, lol.

Names are ok either way, but I do like the catchy ones, sometimes makes them sexier. :)

Playground Monitor said...

A name won't make me stop reading a book, but I once read a single title romance where the hero and heroine lived in Texas and both had Hispanic names that were alliterative and I had no idea how to pronounce. It kinda bothered me, but not enough to stop reading.

Keeping a chart of character names is a good idea. All my heroes end up being Jack. LOL!


Welcome to My Writer's Attic said...

OMG The hero in my WIP is Jack! LOL...I definitely think the name should fit the character. If I'm reading about a hero named Chester for instance it would be hard to picture him doing heroic things. But I don't think I've ever been completely turned off by a name for either sex.


Cheri2628 said...

The only time a name bothers me is when I am not sure how to pronounce it. I am a teacher, so phonics comes easily to me; however, I have come across some names that defy "sounding out." :)

Michele Hauf said...

Hee. I named a hero Jack once, for the reason that...Jack is the most popular name for heroes. I mean, look at all the action adventure movies and TV shows out there. Jack is in half of them. :-)

Anyway, the only time names bother me if it's a fantasy or historical and the author has used the correct spelling of the time period and I just have no idea how to pronounce it for the weird spelling. Then, after I decide on how I'll pronounce it in my head, I usually find out I'm way off. :-)

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Janice. Thanks for coming, looks like you're in for a treat today!! It's going to be a gorgeous sunny day with low humidity and a high of 80 something in the vert today!

I've never liked the name Jack. Not sure why, but the hero of TREASURE is named Jake. Go figure.

Name's are huge to me. But still, even if I get turned off or can't pronounce it, it won't necessarily turn me off the book. I end up skimming over the name or coming up with my own.

D Twomey said...

Hi Janice,

Characters names will not turn me off of a book... but like some of the others have said, I hate it when I have to stumble over, in my mind, names that I can't pronounce. It interferes with the flow...

Betina Krahn said...

A NAME CHART! Now why haven't I thought of that? I found myself, some time back, re-using a name without realizing it. "Beatrice" had been a secondary character before and was now my heroine! AGhhhh. The book was already in before I realized it.

Welcome, welcome, welcome Janice-- one Maynard to another! (It is my birth name, now my legal middle name!) I am so glad to hear what you're working on. . . and what I can look forward to!

And as to names. . . I'm pretty good with most names for characters. I confess I had a bit of trouble with JR Ward's "Brotherhood" names. . . Rhage, Tohrment, Zadist, Phury. . . though they were a bit too contrived. But I sure didn't let that stop me from reading the first book or the other installments afterward.

I have had an editor or two request a name change because my character's name was a little too close to a family members of HERS and she couldn't see the character as sexy. Just goes to show how subjective this game is. If the book hadn't been under contract, would my editor have shot down the proposal because of a name? No way to know, but I can't help having suspicions.

Janice Maynard said...

Wow - What fun comments! And so early in the morning - ha! We had bad storms last night, and it took me a while today to get everything back up and running. But I'm here!

Several of you mentioned it, and I do remember that it bothers me to read a book where I don't know how to pronounce a name... so I'm fine if the author puts a pronunciation guide at the beginning.

Betina - It's great to "see" you here. I know we met at an RWA not too long ago... maybe Atlanta? Who knows... I've slept since then... but I do remember discussing the Maynard conection.

And as for the name chart, it's really nothing more than an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper with 26 blocks, one for each letter... and the same for last names. I blew them up really big so I would have plenty of room to write. And then for instance, on the first name page under M it will say "Morgan" -BAO... to remind me he was the hero in By Appointment Only.

I promise to stop by again in a bit. Good to see all of you here... and by the way - that conference was my first trip to Wisconsin... I live in east Tennessee. But I loved the conference!!

Janice :)

Janice Maynard said...

P.S. I forgot to mention that in the proposal I'm working on... the hero's name is Jack. Hmmm - we must love our boys named Jack..


flchen1 said...

Jack is a lovely name :) Hmm... I don't think names will make me put a story down, but crummy ones can definitely be a slight distraction. Of course it really depends on how good the story is, because if I get caught up in the story, I can usually get over even the worst/silliest names.

Please don't enter me--I already have this terrific book!

Thanks for posting today, Janice!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Hi Janice!

Isn't it cool that we get to use all the names we liked but couldn't quite bring ourselves to hang on our kids? Or couldn't because their other parent nixed it.

I've started characters in one name and changed to another after a while because the first name wasn't right. It's funny that something that simple can cause serious WBF--writer brain freeze--that clears up the minute you hit on the right handle. Or is it just me?

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Janice
Naming a character is often a real challenge for an author because of your very question: Will the reader relate or will the name turn them off. For me, names have always come easy. I have this vision of who my hero or heroine is and bam - their name comes to me. Some of my writer friends agonize, change, research etc. I've never figured out why for some it's a blood letting process and for others - like me - the name is just, well, their name.
Good luck on the book and thanks for riding with us today.

limecello said...

Hi Janice,
Thanks for visiting with us today! I love your books :). Hm... as for names, I haven't come across a hero or heroine's name that I've disliked enough to make me stop reading the book based on that.
Sometimes, names get a bit goofy/try too hard [or the heroine would NEVER have been named that based on her age] ... but I'm still ok with it.
Other things like personality, actions, etc - if it gets to be too much might stop me. Names however, are mostly a non issue. Now, there are characters whose names I LOVE - and I just consider that an added bonus.

Janice Maynard said...

Kathleen - It is definitely fun to name these wonderful people we create... with no one standing by to say, "we need to use Uncle Elmer's mother's name.." Ha!

Cindy - Lucky you to have the names come so easily... they often do for me, but not always.

Lime - so glad you enjoy my books. Thanks!

By the way - I thought of another name thing... Lori Foster once named a chatracter "George" which is not exaclty the first hero name that springs to mind. But she made readers fall in love with him, and since one of my first real crushes as a teenager was on a guy named "George", I was right there with her!

Flchen1 - thanks for buying The Perfect Love. We are proud to have ALL the royalties and advances going to the shelter (even the agents portion)!


robynl said...

I will finish a book if there is a name I don't like and am reminded of someone I am not particularly fond of but it has some effect on the story for me.

Emma said...

The Power Of Love sound like a wonderful book. A name won't make me stop reading a book.The only time a name bothers me is when I am not sure how to pronounce it.

Sean and Anna said...

Names are important but not a deal killer- at least for me. I have read books where I had negative feelings about a name but I just crossed my fingers and hoped the author would change my mind. I once read a book with a character named Adrian and I was totally turned off because that is the mane of my best friends horrible husband. He didn't do well in the book and I enjoyed his misery immensely- not very nice of me but it really made me and my pal laugh.
On a side note: I have been naming my fish after the Brotherhood characters! I loved the twist on the names so I gave them to my pets:) My kids have fun trying to decide what crazy name mom will use next.

Sean and Anna said...

Oops! I meant name of my best friends horrible husband, not mane.

Maureen said...

Hi Janice,
The names of friends and family can throw me off when I first start reading a story but once I get into the story I don't think about it. My biggest complaint about names is when there are very similar names in a story and I start getting them confused.

Jane said...

Hi Janice,
I've never stopped reading a book because I hated a character's name. The names might annoy me, but I can usually keep it in check and concentrate on the story. Not really a fan of the names Reginald and Hortense.

the book girl said...

The only time the name of a character bothers me is if it is my child's name. It is hard to read about a woman named Hannah having sex or acting bad, I relate the name to the three year old not a grown-up. I don't stop reading for this reason, but I usually just think of the character as "H".

catslady said...

My biggest problem is when I can't pronounce the name. I try to settle on something but it never works and always pulls me out of the story.

Estella said...

The only names I dislike are ones I can't pronounce.

Janice Maynard said...

Very interesting! And Black Dagger fish - way cool! :)

Some of you reminded me that I really don't like it when two main characters start with the same letter... because if I'm reading too quickly that can make me stumble, and I do have trouble when a character's name is the same as someone I know well... requires cocentration to get past that.

I've had fun with this roday... and I'll daraw a winner first thing in the morning!

I might pop back in once later.. we'll see.


Lori T said...

Hi Janice~

I don't think that a character's name would make me stop reading a book. I think that you can get past the names and hopefully find a really great story.

Caffey said...

Hi Janice!
Once I was reading a historical and the hero's name was Adam, which I like. I then had planned for my next book to read and the hero's name was Adam! I kept getting so lost! I was reading and thinking about scenes, and then remembering I'm reading a different book. So I had to put it away and read something else. This reminds me of names used alot of the same in some genres. So thats one thing that like in vampire romances, some more may use the name of like Kienan so it may confuse a reader reading a similar name often. Thats the only thing I can think of when it comes to names in books. Really no names stop me from reading the book. I always feel the name fits as the story goes on!

Cynthya said...

I don't think a hero's name would turn me off unless it was very difficult to pronounce, like other people said. I do admit I like names that are clearly masculine or feminine but I think I'm in the minority. By the way, I think Anastasia is a beautiful name!

Janice maynard said...

I drew a winner - "Sean and Anna" - please e-mail me your snail mail address to and I'll pop your book in the mail.

Great to see everyone !

Janice Maynard

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks for coming Janice!! Hope to meet you again at another conference!

Lisa62 said...

Hi Janice. I realize it's past the day of posting but your question struck something I'd given some thought to while reading a friends' book a while back. Not the Hero's name, but the heroine's. It didn't 'fit' her. At least not for me, and it kept interferring with my story concentration all the way through the book. For some reason every time I read her name I had to struggle to recall which character the author was talking about, or in who's POV she was in. I don't remember a name ever bothering me like this, but for some reason that one did all the way through the book. It almost made me glad to reach 'The End' and put me out of that irritating misery. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story! But her name just didn't 'do it' for me.