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I’ve been busy on the last revisions of Surrender to Ruin before I send it to a trusted reader. The hero of this book owns a gaming hell and some brothels which he continues to operate despite having inherited a title.  As I wrote the book, I gave him a partner in the business. This was due to a number of things having to do with plot and research that indicated hells were frequently run by more than one person.

Without spoilers, his partner is from India, a man who came to England as the servant of an Englishman and then found himself without a job because his former employer’s new bride objected to his presence in the house.  He and my hero meet as near destitute young men in London and embark upon their life skirting the edges of legality. They make a lot of money in the process. The life of boxer Bill Richmond (I interviewed Richmond’s biographer in that post) made it clear some of our notions of diversity in the Regency are very wrong. If you haven’t read the biography, I urge you to do so. It’s a wonderful book. Richmond clearly earned social distinction. He was a participant in George IV’s coronation ceremony. Not someone who watched. He participated in ceremony.

My hero’s partner, therefore, is an Indian man living in England, who is wealthy and a businessman in his own right. And he needed a name. I could have made one up. Instead I asked one of my former colleagues from India if I could use his name. He and I worked very closely together in a fast, tense environment. I did indeed explain that the character would own a gambling hell and brothel. And he graciously agreed to let me use his name for the character.

And now, as I write and flesh out this character, I keep thinking of my friend and colleague who lent his name. And, well, if this character seems super smart and really, really nice, it’s because the person whose name I’m using is both those things. He was always going to be awesome, since he’s my hero’s buddy, but now he’s really awesome.

Other News

I have a boxed set of three of my historical romances just now out. Three full length novels for less than $5.00.

Fancy 3-D cover for Historical Jewels, 3 Regency Romances

Three Books!

The three books include The Spare, Scandal, and Indiscreet. It’s a bargain, so if you don’t have these books, here’s your chance to get three for essentially the price of one.

All Romance | Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Lady_Selina_Meade.jpegWe’ve done a lot of talking about names at Risky Regencies over the years (see here, here, and here), but here I go again!

I have a few rules for myself when I’m naming characters. Guidelines, really.

1. The names have to have a pleasant rhythm. For example, Emily Galightly doesn’t do it for me, but Hugh Westleigh (hero of A Lady of Notoriety) has a nice sound to my ear.

2. The names need to be historically accurate, or at least seem historically accurate. No modern sorts of names like Savannah or Brooklyn, both of which make a Top 50 Girl Baby Name list for 2014.

3. Absolutely no female characters who have traditionally male names. This is one of my pettest peeves and I see it in contemporary romance too often for my taste. It’s just confusing!! So no names like Addison or Taylor for my heroines, even though those, too, made the list of Top 50 Girl Baby Names.

4. Vary the character names so that none are inadvertently similar. No Harry or Herbert if there is a Hal, for example. Same with surnames. No Goodman if there is a Jackman.

5. Try not to use the names of real people, especially real people who are in the news. My editors flagged a name I’d chosen that turned out to be the name of an English entertainer. Now I’ve learned to Google the name to see if I’ve chosen one that would be recognizable.

It seems like I use different websites with each book to help me select names. For first names, I google “girls names of the 1800s” or “boys names of the 1800s.”

Here are some websites to use for surnames or tital names or both:

The name of the lady in the portrait by Lawrence is Lady Selina Meade. Now that’s a great name!

Do you have any naming rules or pet peeves?

The book is The Malorie Phoenix and to save time you don’t have to read the rest of the post but you can go here for to buy for Nook and here for Kindle.

    1. There is a villain called E****! No kidding (I think you can guess a villain-type name). Not a spoiler, he’s so obviously up to no good from his first oily manifestation on the page, when he oozes his way into the heroine’s life with a Nefarious Scheme.
    2. H/h first have sex by fireworks in Vauxhall Gardens.
    3. There’s a secret baby!
    4. I narrowly escaped yet another sex in the maze scene later in the book, when, realizing I had one in both Dedication and A Most Lamentable Comedy, I hurriedly rewrote it to be sex in the stable. With horses watching. As you know, the use of sex scenes in mazes is rigidly administered by the Regency Police and I am licensed for only two every five years. Too late I remembered some heavy breathing in the presence of a horse in Improper Relations.
    5. (Yes, I’m cross-selling)
    6. There’s an awesome book trailer, for which CPE Bach very kindly composed the music:

  • There is a super awesome tagline: She plays a deadly game but nothing is as dangerous as love.
  • The hero has one of the best-ever names in Romancelandia–Benedict de Malorie, Earl of Trevisan. I just love those vaguely Frenchified “we came over with the Normans” type names.
  • But there’s another character in the book called Evelina Stanley who was named in honor of my friend’s late golden retriever mix (whose name was Stanley, not Evelina. The dog, not the friend). The heroine is called Jenny.
  • … and finally–THE CLINCHER, LET’S MAKE A DEAL–this is my cheapest book ever! $3.99! Go for it.


If you are a genuine blogger or reviewer you can request a review copy from NetGalley.

Would you like to win a copy of The Malorie Phoenix? Give me your reasons why you are qualified to win (although as usual the thing will apply): did you have a hamster named Stanley? A haddock named Edwin? An exciting experience in a maze? I will give away two copies and announce the winners on Friday evening at about 10 pm, so you must either leave a neutered version of your email address or make sure you check in then.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone is having a bright and shiny January!

Back in the day, when I lived in Berkeley, California and did not have children or a car, I was within walking distance of some of the finest bookstores in the world. Meaning, Moe’s, Cody’s, Shakespeare and Company, the University of California Press, and the Holmes Bookstore (in Oakland.) Of those, Moe’s is, I believe, still open. Holmes was actually not really walking distance, it being about 1o miles from my house but I was poor and sometimes walked there on a weekend. Holmes was three stories of books, new on the ground floor, used on all the others. You can imagine the heaven that was.

I was able to pick up some very interesting, odd and useful books for my research library. And I made it a habit to always buy one (used) book about which I knew absolutely nothing. That’s where the odd portion of my library comes into play.

There’s a confession I need to make. A deep dark secret about Carolyn. I love me some weird sh*t. Vacation pictures. I LOVE looking at people’s vacation pictures. Old family photos, even if they’re not my family. The older the better. I get into looking at the way people are sitting, where they’re looking, how they’re arranged, the background, what they’re wearing etc and I love ephemera of all sorts. Give me a crate of really old papers and I am a happy girl.

My mind slips back to the past. What were the people saying right before they sat for that photo?

Please don’t let Uncle John smile like a dork.
Does this bustle make my butt look fat?
I’m hungry.
Are we done yet?
I wonder if I hid the ax well enough?

At any rate, one of my books is London City, Its History, Streets, Traffic, Buildings, People by W.J. Loftie, BA, FSA illustrated by W. Luker, Jr, from original drawings, engraved by Ch. Guillaume et Cie, Paris. The publication date is 1891.

One of the very interesting things about this book is the many many pages in the back that make up a List of Subscribers. Beginning with Her Majesty Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India.

I find I am fascinated by the way the Queen’s title is denoted. Another fascinating one is Field Marshall His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge

So many fascinating names, streets and locations:

Abbott, Saunders, Major-General, 2 Petersham Terrace, Queen’s Gate, S.W.

Abethell, Mrs. John, Muswell Hill, Horsney, N.

Abrahams, Joseph H., 93 The Grove, Camberwell, S.E.

Here’s a great name:

Angier, Theo. V.S., Walsingham House, Piccadilly, W.; The Woodlands, Thames Ditton; and 118 Bishopsgate Street Within, E.C.

Seriously. Angier. Is that a great name or what? And check out his addresses! Bishopsgate Street Within. Within sounds so completely dreamy. Like you would call on this guy and be admitted into this whole amazing house — within. With hidden stairs and desks with secret drawers.

Blanchworth Poultry Farm Company, Dursley, Gloustershire.
Brand, H. Shelley, Foochow Club, Foochow China.

Now tell me, Harry Potter aside, don’t you agree Dursley is a great name for a village?

How about this one:

Dadwell, Deputy F., C.C. 51 Bishopsgate Street Without, E.C.

Perhaps Deputy F. Dadwell stands guard over the Angiers Within? And here’s two addresses that should be familiar to Regency England:

Hubbard, Henry Lainson, 76 Upper Berkeley Street, Portman Square, W.

James, Coram, 45 Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, W. I had a character in a book of mine who lived almost exactly here! Mr. Coram James had some serious money.

Croix, Madam La, Lymington

Ah, Madam La Croix! Just what are you up to?

Who, pray tell, is C.W. Dalbiac, Swandean, Kent.? That last name is teh awesome.

Jacob, Charles J., The Library, Basingstoke. He lives in a library?

Rothschild, Lord, Tring Park, Tring. Oooh. That just freaking gives me chills.

Here’s a name to make you think: Rubenstein, Mrs. Belle, 56 West Cromwell Road, South Kensington, S.W.

Just down the street from Mr. Angier:

S.S. “Scot,” Union Line, Cape of Good Hope, Natal, and East African Royal Mail Steamer; Offices, South African House, 94-96 Bishopsgate Street Within, E.C.

Scott, Miss, 30 Cumberland Terrace, Regent’s Park, N.W.

Scott, Sydney C., Hatherleigh, The Avenue, Gipsy Hill, S.E.

Thonger, Charles W., 22 De Grey Road, Leeds. De Gray Road. Imagine living on De Gray Road.

Threfall, Thomas, 19 Holland Park, W.

Wardleworth, T.R., 18 and 18A Brown Street, Manchester

Welter, H., 59 Rue Bonaparte, Paris.

Winfield, Samuel Henry, The Hall, Stoke Ferry, Norfolk

The sad thing is (for you guys) is I could peruse this list all night long.

Still, I do believe it’s aimless trolling like this that gives a writer’s brain ideas. Addresses that have just the right flavor. Names that aren’t so obviously ENGLISH that you want to cringe, and yet, English.

It’s a sickness. But I don’t mind much.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 19 Replies

I am Everard Dominic Benedict Ashford Alexander Artichoke FitzGrennan, Duke of Hawkraven, known and feared as Satan’s Elbow, but you may address me as…Cuddles. Top Ten Things, Rules of Gentility

Part X, because this is something we write about again and again–how to find names for characters that don’t sound hideously 21st century, that somehow represent a quality of the character, and lend themselves to different forms of address. How would your hero’s mother, sister, mistress, best friend, etc. address him? (Other than as “sir,” of course.)

This is something on my mind at the moment because I’m considering changing the hero’s name in a book that’s pretty much written. For one thing, his nickname, a shortened version of his title, is a sort of fish. And yes, he’s a retired naval officer, but even so… His first name is pretty much nonedescript because no one ever uses it. Everyone close to him uses his nickname, even the heroine. As far as fish names go, I can think of better ones–Hal, short for Viscount Halibut–but there are also minor characters called Henry and Harry. Not that he has to have a fish name–I’m trying to get away from the fish motif, you understand. And it bothers me that somehow, in not having the right name, I don’t have the proper handle on the character. Eeek.

So I did a bit of research on favorite names and it’s a small but level playing field in the 18th-19th century: lots of Johns and Williams. There’s a list at but I’m not sure how accurate it is in relation to usage then or or now, and some are specific to the US. For a list of popular English girls’ names in the eighteenth century, there’s some good information in Female Names over the Centuries.

I like old-fashioned interchangeable male/female names like Evelyn and Joslyn. (Did you know that John Wayne’s real name was Marion Michael Morrison and he adopted the nickname Duke in his youth?)

The book Bad Baby Names by Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback,was reviewed in the NY Times by John Tierney:

By scouring census records from 1790 to 1930, Mr. Sherrod and Mr. Rayback discovered Garage Empty, Hysteria Johnson, King Arthur, Infinity Hubbard, Please Cope, Major Slaughter, Helen Troy, several Satans and a host of colleagues to the famed Ima Hogg (including Ima Pigg, Ima Muskrat, Ima Nut and Ima Hooker).

The authors also interviewed adults today who had survived names like Candy Stohr, Cash Guy, Mary Christmas, River Jordan and Rasp Berry. All of them, even Happy Day, seemed untraumatized.

A contest that followed the review for the worst modern name came up with this winner:

Iona Knipl. The judges chose it because, in addition to being an embarrassing pun, it also set up an inevitable reply from people imagining they were being wittily original. I called up Miss Knipl and asked her how many times she had heard someone meet her and reply, “I own two.”

As for names that seem to have implicit meaning, if you read Chuck Shepherds’s News of the Weird, you’ll know that the name Wayne has unfortunate connotations and the column has regular Wayne updates.

So I won’t be renaming my hero Wayne.

Here’s a short story I wrote in 2001 at the writing site Toasted Cheese, all about the different forms of names and what they can say about characters.

The hero in A Most Lamentable Comedy is called Nicholas Congrevance, because I like the first name and his surname is a French Arthurian name I came across that seems suitably foreign and exotic. The heroine was originally named Mary, which I found a very stultifying good girl name (although her first appearance in The Rules was as a very bad girl indeed) so I changed it to Caroline, and she took off. The book is released July 23 and you can order it with free shipping from And don’t forget the contest at my website!

Compulsory promotion over, what are your favorite names in fiction and in real life? Is there an interesting story behind a character’s name in one of your books?

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