Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We Gots Us Some Geeky Fun

Naming characters is always fun. For Tallulah Falls, I knew Tallulah’s name from the very beginning. Maeve's, too. I don’t know how; that’s just who they were, and I ran with it.

For the characters in Ten Cents a Dance (which I’m already thinking of as my “last book,” even though it isn’t published yet, to distinguish it in my head from the “new book,” the one I’m currently whamming at with a sledgehammer trying to get it off the ground—and if that sounds like a frustrating way to get something airborne, believe me, it is), Ruby’s name came to me fast. It’s colorful and sparkly, which fits her, plus it has that lovely 1940s feel to it.

That’s the thing about names. They have to fit the characters, and they also have to be true to the time period of the book. Which gets me to the main event of this post:

The Baby Name Wizard’s Name Voyager!

Now, I realize I am a geek. I find many things fascinating which put other people to sleep. Which I don’t understand, because they're fascinating, don't you understand? But OK, whatever. This, though—I showed this to a couple of co-workers, and the next thing I knew, ten people were crowded around the computer, yelling, “Put in ‘Leslie!" "Put in ‘Sam’!" "Put in ‘Ashley’!

See, the Name Voyager is a Java interactive thingy whereby you type in a name, specify “boy” or “girl” or both, and its magical presto-chango graph illustrates, in lovely color, how popular that name has been in every decade since the 1880s. You heard that right. Eighteen-eighties.

Type in “Bella.” Middling popular until the 1910s, then it tanks and disappears by the mid-‘30s. Gone for decades, then…boom, 2003, folks start naming their baby girls “Bella” again. It’s shot up the charts and is still climbing. Why is that? No idea.

And then there’s “Lisa.” I know a million Lisas. It’s a name as old as the hills, right? One of those perennial favorites that’ll never disapp— Hey, wait a minute! Where’d it go?

Gone with the wind, my friend. The Lisa, she is gone with the wind.

I could spend hours on this thing, it’s so much geeky fun. No, wait—I have spent hours on this thing. Naming characters was always entertaining…but with the Name Voyager to play with, now it’s a wonder I get anything else done at all.*

*Shhh! Don't tell my agent. She thinks I'm working.

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Cassie Edwards plagiarism update:
(here's the original post)

Signet Books, which originally said this, is now saying this. (I can just hear their lawyers: "All riiiiight, everyone, backpedal! And a-one-two-three-four...")

One of the plagiarized parties, Paul Tolme, whose article on mating habits of the black-footed ferret—I swear to God I’m not making this up—was copied and pasted into Edwards’s novel, Shadow Bear, writes about his reaction in Newsweek magazine.

To top all off—because the whole thing isn't bizarre enough already, you know—an exceptionally dedicated searcher found this in Edwards’s novel Savage Obsession:

SAVAGE OBSESSION Page 284

The odors of the forest, the dew and damp meadow, and the curling smoke from the wigwams were left behind as Lorinda [...]

HIAWATHA by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Lines 3-5 of the Introduction

With the odors of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams


Holy freaking moly. Hiawatha?

3 comments:

Melissa Marsh said...

Ok - now I am really incensed. Hiawatha??? And she is saying that she didn't "know" she had to cite her historical sources? Absolutely unacceptable. I think she knew what she was doing - and it was only a matter of time before she got caught.

It's truly turned into a nation-wide story, hasn't it? And to think, it all started on a little ol' romance reading website...

Christine Fletcher said...

I know -- Hiawatha!!

I agree with you, Melissa. I think she had to know what she was doing. I can't think of any viable defense for this.

What boggles the mind even more is that she reportedly has over 10 million books in print. In terms of profiting from what she's "borrowed," that's not exactly pocket change.

Melissa Marsh said...

Christine -
The book I'm reading is Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profit, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies.

Link for Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Goes-War-Politics-Propaganda/dp/0520071611/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200671341&sr=8-7