The Uncial Letter ~ May 2018

Linda Palmer talks about characters…

A name, of course, is like a piece of clothing, isn’t it?
It gives you an impression right away.

James Salter
Novelist and Screen Writer

Without a doubt, for me the hardest part of writing fiction is coming up with names for my characters. They never pop into my head the moment I begin brainstorming. The reason is that when it comes to naming players, I have rules.

My first is that each and every character’s name must have a unique–at least to their book–beginning letter. I can’t have a Mary fall in love with a Marty. Nor can she have a best friend named Millie. The reason for this is that I want my readers to instantly know which character is on stage. One letter, the first, will tell them.

My second rule is that the name I pick can’t remind me of someone real. For example, if the name I pick for my hero is the same one as the boy who broke my heart in fourth grade, I’ll picture a budding jerk every time I type it.

Third on my list of rules is name length, as in I like short ones. The reason for this is simple: they’re faster to type. Imagine typing Bartholomew a few thousand times. Also, I avoid letters hard for me to type, in my case the X. I have to look to be sure my finger has found it, the reason there are no Xanders or Xaviers in my books. Now occasionally, my characters revolt and demand complicated names. When they do, I pay them back by going with a nickname or a derivative. Allison becomes Ally. Christopher becomes Kit or Chris.

My fourth and last rule is that the name must be fairly common and, if I’m really being picky, have a strong meaning. For example, Takoda is a pretty cool name that I found online. But if I use it, won’t my reader wonder if I really meant to type Dakota? Bam! A single word has yanked that precious reader out of a meticulously written scene. As for name meanings, thank goodness for the internet, with all its amazing lists of names by first letter, country, popularity, and origin.

I was lucky when it came to naming characters for The Hurt Handler, my May 2018 release. In this novella, the fourth in my Psy Squad series, the hero is a character from an earlier entry, Psychic High. So I had Nate already. The heroine wasn’t so easy. Before I finally went with Shiloh, she was Madison and then Melia. But that’s nothing compared to the hero in my November 2018 release, Beating Heart. Ren, my rock climbing male lead, was Kane, Ethan, and a couple of others I’ve now forgotten before I finally went with Warren, an old-ish name I cut down to size to modernize it.

So while I agree with Juliet that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” sometimes a hero by any other name just isn’t.


We love series, whether they have characters who are at the center of each story or they take place in a time or place we can grow familiar with. Linda Palmer’s Psy Squad series is one of the latter, a few years in the future where psychic gifts are being recognized and put to work making the world a better–and safer–place. And what a wonderful, exciting assortment of psychic abilities there is.

The Hurt Handler coverThe gifted are all young people, still in the process of learning to use their gifts. They attend a special school for psychic in Wyoming, where they can continue their education while they learn to control and use their gifts. At least Nate Conti does. Shiloh Nilsen doesn’t really believe she’s psychic, but she’s willing to ask for Nate’s help to find a precious heirloom ring before her mother learns she’s lost it. But the search is more complicated than they expected, leading them to discover Shiloh’s psychic gift…and catapults them into great danger. Before long they are more than just friends, and Shiloh’s future–if she and Nate can survive their search–is heading in a direction she never anticipated. Psy Squad Book 4, The Hurt Handler, $3.99; ISBN 978-1-60174-238-4

Bumpy Night on the Walk of Fame coverOne in a while a book comes along that’s so delightful we just have to publish it. Our June release is one of those, from a new-to-Uncial-Press author, Loretta Bolger Wish. If you’re a film buff, you’ll love Bumpy Night on the Walk of Fame. And if you’re not, you’ll still enjoy it, because it’s funny, engaging, poignant and a delightful tale about “What Might Have Been.”

Take a break from reality. Read a good mystery, fantasy, romance, thriller, or whatever genre you fancy. There’s nothing more refreshing than stepping into someone else’s shoes for a few hours. We’ve a great selection to choose from at Uncial Press.

Star & Jude

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