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Monday, November 29, 2021

Character Names, Part Wherever We Left Off

Edits are underway for A Flame Among the Stars, and I've also seen a mockup of the cover, which is AMAZING. As soon as I'm allowed to share it, I will, because it's seriously gorgeous. I don't want to spoil anything, but: DRAGON. Also, as soon as I have a firm release date, I'll be sure to share that, too. (Reminder: I've been using my newsletter more than my blog lately, so make sure you're signed up for the latest news!)

More on the topic of exciting news! I believe I mentioned I'm rebooting the Geneva Greyson/Searching the Skies series, and now I can announce I've signed contracts for the first three books. (The first two were previously published, #3 is new.) I'm currently plugging away on Book 4, which is about two thirds of the way done.

That brings me to the topic of the day: character names! I've written posts about the various aspects of naming characters in the past, such as when to name characters and my thought processes for doing so. Book 4 has a lot of secondary characters in it, and those characters needed names. A lot of said characters are female, and finding enough distinctive names that still fit their personalities was a little bit of a challenge.

I'm not opposed to alliteration, or having more than one name in a book start with the same letter. As I wrote in one of those previous posts, for me, I sometimes think it's more important to vary the ending sounds of names. For women, this can get tricky because a lot—a LOT—of names end in A. Y might be the next most popular letter/sound, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

All right, so we've got our main character Geneva, the star of the show. Her mother, Dahlia, also has an -a name, but the other sounds plus the syllable count make them different enough for me. (In my accent/voice, anyway. If you want to stress every single sound and call her Dah-lee-ah instead of sort of smearing together the last vowels, I certainly won't stop you.) Out of all the other female characters, I only have one more who has an -a name—Freya—and she doesn't show up too often, anyway. And luckily, Geneva, Dahlia, and Freya are never all in the same scene together.

Book 3 introduces us to a new significant character, Adele. Here, I really wanted a big contrast to Geneva. Longtime readers will remember one of the [male] main characters of the series is named Ash. I did devote some thought to having two A- names, but ultimately decided Ash and Adele were different enough to not be distracting. Again, in my accent, the initial vowel sounds in Adele and Ash don't even sound the same. (Fun fact! Adele was very close to being named Katharine, but I thought Adele fit her better.)

Back to Book 4, there are three other female characters who needed names. Renae was one of those characters who kind of named herself. Hey, sometimes you just can't fight what was meant to be. From the very beginning of starting to plot this book, she was Renae in my mind. I guess if I was really concerned about the way repeated letters look, I could have gone with the more traditional spelling of Renée, but 1) I admit I didn't want to deal with the accent marks, and 2) I think the Renae spelling is cooler anyway, and this Renae is a badass.

Okay, two more to go. For one of them, I really wanted to set her apart from Geneva and the others for various reasons (she's not quite a villain or antagonist, but let's just say her morality scale differs from that of our heroine). I chose Lorelei, as I like the name well enough, I thought it fit the character, AND it had the added bonus of having a unique ending. Perfect! For the last of the minor characters (Lorelei's friend, who shows up on screen once and is mentioned one subsequent time), I originally went with Tamara, but thought it was too similar to some of the other names, so I did a find 'n' replace and changed it to Taryn. Yay for yet another ending letter/sound!

Phew, that's a lot of names. There are a couple new male characters of varying significance in Book 4 as well, and I did spend some time making sure they were different enough both from each other and existing characters. I don't know, though—for some reason, I've always found female names to be a lot more fun. And regardless, I'm more than happy to feature a lot of interesting women in this book!

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions - Release Day!


It's here! The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is now officially available on both Kindle Unlimited and in paperback. And! AND! To celebrate Release Day, Disintegration, Book 1 of the series, will be available for FREE on November 1st and 2nd, so if you need to catch up, now is the perfect time! Don't forget - if you haven't grabbed your free copy of Disintegration: The Prequels to round out the series, you can pick your favorite format here.


A year has passed since Ro Bernard escaped from the Midnight Scorpions, a clandestine group of mercenaries that exists in the outside world as little more than myths and rumors. Though haunted by the reprehensible acts she committed and witnessed as a member of the organization, her primary focus is keeping a roof over her head and food on her plate. A chance encounter leads her to Karin Cassels, whose son died in the Scorpions’ underground laboratory. While sharing details about her son’s research, Ro reveals the most disturbing information she has on the group. Their leader, scientist Dane Zedek, has been integrating cybernetic parts with human soldiers in the hopes of building a lethal army to help him achieve greater political power.

The women hatch a plan to take down the Midnight Scorpions with two ultimate goals: kill Zedek, and rescue Callum, Ro’s lover who was the first of the scientist’s experimental hybrids. For additional assistance, Dr. Cassels directs Ro to Reggie Quinn, a drifter who is no stranger to odd jobs and risky situations. Reggie negotiates a deal with Ro and agrees to join the cause in exchange for a percentage of whatever they loot from the Scorpions’ base.

They embark on an adventure throughout three warring countries to assemble their team and gather the necessary materials for their schemes. Along the way, Ro tries to fight her growing attraction to Reggie, especially as reminders of her unhappy past keep resurfacing. Love and redemption wait for her at the end of her mission to defeat the Midnight Scorpions…assuming she makes it out alive.


Reggie collected their new belongings, and she opened her knapsack for him to deposit the ammo inside as they walked out the door. Once they left the shop, she took her handgun from him and slipped it into the back of the waistband of her pants. “Well, that was fun,” she said.

“I don’t know, Rosie. I think you could have batted your eyelashes a bit more.”

She’d given up on trying to fend off the nickname. “Don’t get too excited there, buddy. I don’t mix business and pleasure. It never ends well.”

They turned a corner, traveling back to Ted’s neighborhood on foot. “Sounds like you’re speaking from experience,” he said. “What, were there all sorts of illicit love affairs and secret trysts going on in the deepest recesses of the Scorpions’ lair?”

“Something along those lines.”

A wicked gleam lit up his eyes. “Ah, so you’ve been holding out on me. Way to leave out the best bits of the stories.”

“If you haven’t noticed yet, most of the stories don’t have a happy ending.”


Ro bit her bottom lip as they walked along the paved path. She had yet to reveal her second main objective for when they made their way into the underground facility and disposed of Zedek. The gun at her back reminded her how much Reggie had been willing to risk for her. She owed him full honesty.

“Fine, you got me,” she said. “I may have neglected to mention one of my priorities for this mission, aside from killing Zedek, looting the place, and turning it into a pile of rubble.”

He stopped walking. “Dare I ask when you were going to bother filling me in?”

“I don’t know. Eventually?” She halted her pace and turned around to face him, sighing. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I should have been completely forthcoming from the get-go.”

“Apology accepted.” He continued down the road again, tugging on her wrist so she would do the same. “But start talking.”

Ro pondered how many details to disclose and the best way to convey them. “I have a friend down there and I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. I didn’t have time to find out for sure before I escaped and, obviously, I couldn’t take him with me.”

“So we add springing your friend to our list. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

She didn’t say anything.

“Oh,” Reggie said after a few beats of silence. “Let me guess. I stumbled across one of those love affairs I was joking about.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be that way. He was a project, an assignment, a responsibility.” The words tasted bitter as they rolled off her tongue. “And he deserved better than what he got.”

“From the Midnight Scorpions or from you yourself?”


The street shifted from asphalt to dirt beneath their feet. “If you loved him, I don’t think he got such a raw deal from you,” Reggie said quietly.

Her teeth gritted together. “Zedek and the lab rats were responsible for fucking up his brain and his body. His emotions, his soul, those were all on me.”

“It couldn’t have been so bad.”

“It was.” Nauseating guilt churned in her stomach, but she’d come too far to leave her confessions unfinished. “As soon as we started caring about each other, I should have walked away and put an end to it. Not only would it have been the professional thing to do, I knew nothing warm and bright and good could ever come from Zedek’s dark pit in the ground. I was right.”

He glanced up toward the sky. “When things look bleak, people want to cling to whatever glimmers of hope they can find.”

“Are you referring to him or me?”

“Both,” he said, repeating her prior answer.

They trudged along the dusty paths. The settlement of gray and brown hovels appeared in the distance, swathed in the illusion of murky shadows despite the mid-day sun. Before they reached Ted’s house, Reggie grabbed her shoulder and spun her around to face him. “Look, Rosie, I’m not going to tell you not to beat yourself up over whatever happened with this guy,” he said. “You and I both have our skeletons and scars, and sleep comes easier some nights more than others. I’m not going to delve into your innermost feelings or offer useless platitudes, and you’d probably tell me to go fuck myself if I tried.”

Ro shrugged, though the motion didn’t dislodge his grip. “Very likely.”

“For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re a horrible person, and I doubt anything you could tell me would change my mind.” His fingers remained on her arm, though his grasp loosened. “I don’t go following just anybody into hideouts filled with hordes of deadly mercenaries, you know.”

She stared up into his gold-flecked eyes. “You’ve heard enough evidence of how everything I touch turns to shit. Let’s follow through with the plans Ted helped us solidify and get the job done. Assuming we come out alive on the other end, we can then worry about whether your assessment was right or wrong.”


They arrived at Ted’s door. “One more thing,” Reggie said as she reached for the knob.


“Your friend, boyfriend, lover, whatever.” Sympathy softened the strong lines of his cheekbones and jaw. “We’ll find him and get him out, no matter what.”