What’s in a Unique Name?

January 21, 2015

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Pat Henshaw here, author of the novella, What’s in a Name?, releasing today.

The premise of the story is that both the viewpoint character, a barista named Jimmy, and a bartender, whom Jimmy calls Guy, have really unfortunate given names.  Jimmy’s real name is King James because he was named after the Bible that sat on his mother’s hospital bedside table.  Jimmy wants to know Guy’s real name, so Guy gives him seven guesses over seven days to do so.

In our family, when our daughters complained about their given names, we always told them they were lucky.  They could have been named after their grandmothers: Eula and Floy.  That always shut them up.

When I worked as an English composition instructor, I was always struck on how some of my students worked around their given names.  One named Ajax had me calling him A. J. even though his middle name didn’t begin with the letter J.  I saw that as a lemonade solution.

Even though I had some ideas of what Jimmy would guess as Guy’s names, I still ransacked online baby naming sites and compiled a list of unique and often strange given names.  Here’s a smattering of my favorites:  Abacus, Boundary, Caraway, Doubt, Every, Five, Gravity, Halcyon, Irony, Julep, Music, Opera, Pyramid, Rude, and Sonnet.

What unusual or unique names do you have or have you come across in your life?  As a fiction writer, I’m always collecting names!

What’s in a Name?

January 21, 2015

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In my novella, What’s in a Name?, the viewpoint character, barista Jimmy Patterson, has noticed that the burly, bearish bartender of Stonewall Saloon wears a different nametag every time Jimmy and his boyfriend come in.  This unleashes curiosity in Jimmy.  What’s the bartender’s name?

Jimmy understand being given a embarrassing name at birth.  After all, his mother named him for the Bible by her hospital bedside: King James.  Fortunately, there was the “James” in there which he immediately turned into “Jimmy.”  And he always had the backup of his initials, K. J.

But Jimmy wonders what it would be like to have no useable parts to a given name.  What if both of the bartender’s names were horrible–especially for someone over six feet tall and burly–and even his initials can’t be used?

In writing the novella, I had to come up with at least seven plausible given names that would be embarrassing for a big, gruff man, names that couldn’t be abbreviated to be acceptable for a bartender.

What are your guesses as to the names I came up with?  What names would you never, ever want as your first name?

What’s in a Name? Excerpt Included

January 21, 2015

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Hi, again!  Author Pat Henshaw here.  So you might be wondering what my novella What’s in a Name? is about.  Maybe an excerpt setting down the basic premise might help, right?  Well, here’s an explanation from point of view character, barista Jimmy Patterson:

* * *

“Okay. How’s this for a deal?” He [the burly bartender who's not telling his first name] put down his knife and fork and leaned into the table, stabbing me with his eyes. “I’ll give you a week to guess my name. Seven chances. Every day you can ask a few questions, then come up with what you think my name is. If you’re right, I’ll buy the best bike for you and teach you how to ride it.”

“And if I’m wrong?”

“You owe me a kiss.” He leaned back in satisfaction.

“A kiss? One measly kiss?”

“Oh, I don’t want the measly ones. I mean a real, God of Love kiss. Something to set my ass back a couple a notches.”

Now I really laughed. Right. Me, giving him a humdinger of a kiss? Right. Who were we kidding? Oh, well. Didn’t matter because I was going to accept his challenge.

* * *

Easy enough.  All Jimmy has to do is guess the bartender’s name.  In the meantime, Jimmy decides he’ll call the bartender “Guy.”  It’s not the perfect name, but it’ll do.

If you were Jimmy, what would you choose to call “Guy”?  Would you rely on the fact that he was a big, bearish man?  Or would you go with a generic name like “Guy”?  And if you were “Guy,” would you be insulted by the name Jimmy chose?

Hello!

January 21, 2015

Wow! Pat Henshaw here.  I’m really excited about being with you today. As a first-time author, I’ve had a blast wading through all the edits, cover design, and other bits and pieces of turning my manuscript into a real book.  Now that the actual publication day is here, I thought I’d share with you some of my peripheral thoughts and inspirations for my novella, What’s in a Name?  Stay tuned for more blogs from me.  In the meantime, join me today at the following blog sites where the book will be featured:

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The past becomes the present

January 16, 2015

Hello, I’m Elizabeth Noble and my time on this blog, discussing A Barlow Lens, my latest release is about up. Dreamspinner Press is offering a 25%off coupon code good from now until Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive). Everyone commenting is eligible to win a free eBook copy of A Barlow Lens. I’ll announce the winner Sunday evening.

In the present day part of the book Val and Wyatt use a number of sources to look back into the past and solve a decades old mystery. I had to really think about how someone now would investigate a murder that took place about 90 years prior. Val and Wyatt had to get pretty crafty when digging up their facts. They used a few resources, old photographs, a museum and drawings from a school girl from the time.

Just like an astronomer uses a telescope and special lens as tools to exploring the night sky, Val and Wyatt used a number tools as well. What they discovered was how the lives of a street cop, a teacher and a gangster collided in 1927. The lives of Tom and Philip intertwined with Val and Wyatt’s years after their deaths.

Every life is a circle.

 

Excerpt:

After coffee and breakfast, Val looked much better and Wyatt definitely felt much better.

“Kevin destroyed all our evidence. How are we going to find out what happened?” Val asked. They sat at the table, and he was finishing a second cup of coffee. “From what we learned so far, I’m having a hard time believing it was Tom who started that fire. I want the end of the story.”

“I agree. That article you read, the one written by one of the surviving students, you said she disputed Tom being at fault,” Wyatt said.

“Yeah.” Val put his coffee cup down with a soft clunk. “Think she’s still alive?”

“I suppose it’s possible. If not, maybe we can track down a relative who might be able to shed some light on things.” He stood up, taking his phone. “I have to call Lily. We were supposed to meet her yesterday, and I want to make sure she’s all right and let her know we’re okay.”

It took them some serious searching, putting both training and skills to good use. Wyatt had years of experience researching and ferreting out useful bits of data from the most mundane sources. He was constantly impressed and surprised by Val’s ingenuity and downright creativity when it came to hunting facts and people on the internet. Val found sites and resources Wyatt would never have thought existed, let alone gone to while trying to locate someone.

They ended up spending a day at the police museum and city hall searching records, even enlisting Lily’s aide. She was able to aim them at documents kept at the museum and a local university containing a great deal about the woman who’d written the article as well as other pieces that had appeared in newspapers over the years. The woman had mounted a campaign to bring the story of what really happened to light, but it never seemed to happen.

It took considerable effort on all their parts, but finally there was a solid trail to be followed. While it didn’t lead to the little girl who grew into the woman who’d written the article, they did have a clear picture of who she was.

“Molly and her brother Dennis, who was three years older, survived the school fire,” Val said, reading Wyatt the notes and timeline they’d put together. “Molly was really an amazing woman. She grew up and married a Tony Petite a few years before we got into World War Two. He was in the Navy and stationed in Hawaii. They not only lived through Pearl Harbor, but she also survived the 1946 tsunami. He wasn’t in Hawaii at that time.”

“That is one lucky woman. She lives through a fire that killed more than survived, the bombing of a naval base, and a tsunami.” Wyatt settled in a chair. He’d bought some large pads of paper with adhesive strips on the back and watched as Val stuck them to the wall, making lists and drawing arrows from one thing to the next.

 

I have a number of old photos sitting in several boxes. Some of them are more than a century old and I love looking at them. Each one tells a story. Do you have any photographs or documents that give you clues into the lives of people living in the past?

1927 and Now

January 16, 2015

I’m Elizabeth Noble and I’ve confiscated the Dreamspinner Blog to talk about my latest release A Barlow Lens.

The story this book tells takes place in two separate, but interconnected timelines. The story begins in the present with Val and Wyatt, two men preparing for their wedding. When Wyatt is asked to consult on a cold-case murder, he and Val get a look back at what life was like for another gay couple Tom and Philip. The majority of the story takes place in Cleveland, Ohio which looked a lot like this in 1927.

 

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This is part of the neighborhood Tom and Philip lived in. This business and building no longer exist today. The neighborhood I’ve used while telling the story is the same one I live in now. It was also the neighborhood where my grandparents spent much of their youth. While A Barlow Lens isn’t a historical novel, I have tried to make the sections written in that time line as accurate as possible. One of the characters in the book, a small time gangster named Archie is loosely based on stories my grandfather told me about one of his older brothers.

Tom and Philip read the Cleveland Press newspaper and back then it looked a lot like this.

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Do you like novels that give you a little bit of history but aren’t necessarily historical novels or are you a purist?

Don’t forget Dreamspinner is offering a 25% off coupon code for all my books now through Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).

Here is an excerpt from the 1927 portion of the story:

 

TOM MANNING stopped just inside the heavy, wooden door and stomped the snow from his boots. He shrugged out of his overcoat and waited for his eyes to adjust to the lower lighting. A shiver worked its way down his spine. There was a fire, the room was warm, but it still took his body a few minutes to acclimate to the temperature without his coat. He turned to the right where one of the large coatracks stood next to the door and added his coat to the ones already there. Taking his hat off, he shook snow from the fabric and wiped one hand over his hair. He gave his head a little shake to clear off any excess snowflakes.

 

A radio in one corner provided music. Despite its scratchy reception, there were a few couples swaying on the dance floor. Tom had become a regular in this particular juice joint, even though it was far enough from his small apartment in the West Park section of Cleveland that it took planning and a little time to get there. That was just fine by Tom. It made the Canary, this joint’s name, safer. Most cops wouldn’t bother coming this far north and west, and if they did, there’d be plenty of warning. At least Tom hoped so.

 

The first few times he’d come there, he had worried about who might see him. Then he realized that if someone saw him, they’d come to the Canary for the same reason. This particular speakeasy catered to a select and secretive group of men and women.

 

Tom slid onto a stool and smiled when the bartender sashayed over with a plate of sandwiches thick with meat and cheese on freshly baked bread.

 

“We got a new shipment in this week. Care to give it a try, honey?” The bartender, Billy, flipped a towel over his shoulder and put his hand over Tom’s for an instant. He tipped his head at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s been asking after you. I’ll get you two of what he’s having.”

 

“Appreciate it,” Tom said. He twisted on the stool to get a better look at the man at the table. The man had dark hair and was built like a bull. His big hands cradled the glass of bootleg, and that sent a spark coursing right through Tom to his balls. Beefy hands that handled a glass gently. What would they do to Tom’s flesh?

 

Thanks to Billy and his need to be in everyone’s business, Tom might just find out.

Every life is a circle

January 16, 2015

Hi there. I’m Elizabeth Noble and I’m here today to celebrate my latest release: A Barlow Lens

Dreamspinner Press is offering a coupon code beginning today and good until Monday for 25% off all my books! The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).

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A Barlow Lens is the second book in the Circles series. Run for the Roses kicked the series off. When I wrote Run for the Roses I intended it to be a standalone story. It sort of ended on a tiny cliff hanger, but the story itself was wrapped up. Then somewhere along the way between submitting and release I had an idea for a series. So, Circles was born. The series tagline is ‘every life is a circle’ and that is also an underlying theme of the series. Each book introduces one or two of the main characters featured in the next book in the series. All the stories in Circles are a mystery. Sometimes there is murder, sometimes not, but one of the MCs is involved in law enforcement. Will the books eventually circle back to earlier characters? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually happens.

A Barlow Lens takes its title from a piece of equipment used in an astronomical telescope, the Barlow lens. When one takes a peek into a telescope and views the stars you are actually looking back in time. Starlight travels vast distances over many, many years. The light we see in the sky tonight may have started its journey hundreds or thousands of years ago. We are seeing something that happened long ago.

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There is no way that is not the most coolest thing ever!

What does this little bit of metal and glass have to do with a murder mystery? Good question.

The plot of A Barlow Lens takes place in two separate timelines. The modern day characters, Wyatt and Val, find themselves involved in solving a cold-case murder that happened eighty years prior. They look back at the lives of another gay couple, Tom and Philip, living in a completely different social atmosphere in order to solve the mystery. During the investigation the story of two lovers from the past comes to light. That story, like starlight, traveled a long way through time before being seen and told.

In keeping with the theme of the series during the investigation Wyatt’s past comes back in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. A Barlow Lens is a look back that sheds light on the present for Wyatt and Val, proving every life is a circle.

Anyone answering any of the questions in any of my posts today will be entered into a contest to win a free eBook copy of A Barlow Lens, simply make sure I have your email. I will leave this contest open until Sunday evening.

What branch of law enforcement  should I write about in the future?

Welcome to A Barlow Lens release party!

January 16, 2015

1813614  Hello. I’m Elizabeth Noble and welcome to the virtual release party of my latest novel, A Barlow Lens. Please visit the Circles website to stay up to date on the entire series.

Before I forget, because I always forget, Dreamspinner Press has offered a coupon code: Noble0116 (case sensitive).  It’s good for 25% off all my books beginning today, Friday, and expires on Monday.

To start the festivities here is the blurb and a bit of an excerpt from the book.

 

Blurb:

While planning a future with his partner, Val, Wyatt’s past refuses to be forgotten. Wyatt’s old friend asks him to look into the mysterious death of her uncle in a fire back in 1927, when men were silent, tough, and did not love other men—except when they did. Working with Val, Wyatt digs up clues uncovering the truth behind the tragic school fire and the one responsible. The story of Tom and Philip slowly reveals itself, and Wyatt and Val realize nothing is as simple as they originally believed. As their trail heats up, an old enemy of Wyatt’s decides he’s waited long enough for revenge. If Wyatt can’t tie everything together, history might repeat itself.

 

 

Excerpt:

Once they were back at their hotel, Wyatt ushered Val into their room, not bothering with the light. They were high enough up there was no need to close the drapes, and light from the city cast a soft glow over them.

As Val unbuttoned his suit jacket, Wyatt stepped up behind him, placing his palms on Val’s shoulders, then rubbing lightly up and down his arms a few times. “Let me give you a hand.” Wyatt eased the jacket off and kissed the side of Val’s neck, nudging his head to the side as he did so. A low moan rumbled out of Val’s chest. Wyatt dropped the jacket on a chair and slipped his hands under Val’s shirt, caressing Val’s skin with his fingertips.

When he reached Val’s tightening nipples, he rubbed small circles until Val’s hips jerked. Val shuddered and pulled in a quick, shaky breath, making Wyatt smile. Val’s tie and shirt joined his jacket. Wyatt ran his hands over Val’s torso before returning them to Val’s shoulders. He lightly traced the scars on Val’s shoulder with first his finger, then his tongue.

Val’s surgery to repair the damage done in the course of stopping some seriously dangerous people who had been trying to force jockeys to throw races, had left several scars. They weren’t red, raised, and angry anymore. Val never complained about them hurting, but the marks were still puckered and darker than the surrounding skin.

“You know,” Val whispered between dragging in a breath and panting it out again. “That first time we went out to dinner, I was so worried you’d think I was some uncouth, country hick because I don’t know about wine and art. And that I was too young to bother with.”

“Hmm, do you know what I worried about when I was thirty?” Wyatt scraped his teeth across Val’s shoulder blades.

“N-no. What?”

“Getting a sweet piece of hot ass,” Wyatt said in a low voice.

Val laughed. “Well, you’re sort of slow. Took you long enough. Worth the wait?”

“Oh, hell, yes.” Wyatt maneuvered Val to the bed.

There is an age difference between Val and Wyatt. What’s your preference, couples that are closer or farther apart in age? Any personal experiences to share?

 

 

Unfortunate Son: The Winner!

January 12, 2015

And now the big reveal… the ebook of Unfortunate Son goes to Missy1980! Please send me an email at shaeconnorwrites@gmail.com and let me know what email address your Dreamspinner account is under, and I’ll get the information over to them to add it to your bookshelf. Congratulations!

Happy reading, all! :)

Unfortunate Son: Thanks and Shout-Outs

January 12, 2015

One last post to wrap things up before I give away the ebook of Unfortunate Son and then head over to Twitter for more fun and games! I want to give a few big shout-outs.

First, I owe huge thanks to Travis Irons, for being a fabulous cover model and super excited about the book project. I get to see him this weekend for the book release party, and I’m super excited about that!

Second, thanks to Burkhart’s Pub here in Atlanta, which will be hosting the release party, and which served as the basis for the bar in Unfortunate Son that hosts the drag show during which Evan’s friend Cory performs as Coco Lamé. Thanks also to the Armorettes, the Infamous Camp Drag Queens of the South, who inspired the Stilettos, the troupe with which Coco performs.

And last but never least, thanks to my editing team, D. M. Grace, Tia Fielding, CJane Elliott, Charley Descoteaux, and J. P. Barnaby, and to my Senior Editor, Jane, and all the other editors, proofreaders, designers, and production staff at Dreamspinner. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of folks to work with.

One final question: What one thing about the information you’ve seen for Unfortunate Son makes you want to read it more than anything else?

Check back in after 5PM for the contest winner reveal! :)