Picking a name

While I’ve been working stories, especially fiction, the one thing I discovered is the complexity of character names. How do other people come up with names? Sometimes I’ve had a name from the start. In the case of my current story the main characters’ names have been in my head from the beginning. I also had several of the other background and ancillary characters with names I knew I wanted to use.

But this one guy. My main female’s ex-husband. What the crap is his name? Todd, Alec. Oh he’s dead, a jerk, and only referred to in past tense.

I’ve come up with those two names so far, but they just don’t strike me as the right one. All you writers out there. Where do you look for names? Do you have a proven method to find the one that works?

I am currently trying to blog, listening to classical music and eating a sandwich while trying to keep the cat from my food.

So let me know the way you find the best name for a fictional human.




Writing and Dogs vs Kitten

Good news on the writing front. I sat here in the living room, casting You Tube videos, with my tablet nearby, and the words just came rolling out. The scene I just finished set up an important relationship that will affect several of my characters and will drive the big drama between the main characters.

I looked back at some of the stuff I wrote a few days ago, being a bit more critical and immediately noticed necessary edits. But I’m not going to touch those until this first draft puppy is done. I know better than to mess with it like that when so much is yet to be written. I’m at 16k+ words right now.

I’ve been working on a design for our Galifrey One t-shirts. We are going to wear matching T’s on Friday. I think what I’ve come up with is pretty nice. Simple but gets the point across. I’m so ready to to be there. My kids live on opposite coasts which makes it hard to get together. I need to sell a bunch of books so I have the money to fly to Orlando more often. My daughter in LA is easier, just a eight hour drive from Tucson. Flights are also cheaper from Phoenix to LAX. Next month will be wonderful with all six of us together. I was telling my sister this a few days ago and almost started to cry.

We have some cold nights in the forecast this week so the dogs are spending the nights indoors. It’s 7:30 pm and 38 degrees. It’s been hilarious watching the dogs as they figure out the little furry boss in our family. Cleo runs the show, this teeny calico kitten running the two big German Shepherds around. She isn’t shy of them, and she will play, especially with Millie. We weren’t sure how they would all get on once they were introduced, but with patience they are coexisting.

Hope all of you are enjoying what ever is happening at your place.



Yay Nick Foles and the Eagles!! 

Sample first draft scene

I’m having such a good writing day working on the first draft of my new story. These people are so real to me. So I wanted to share a scene from the new book Anchor Bay –

Tom sat in his recliner watching basketball, holding his second beer. His mind was not on the game but on a beautiful red head with lips he hoped were as soft as they looked. He was happily surprised when she accepted his invitation. She gave him her number when he dropped her at her house, and he smiled watching her shapely form walk toward the front door. She opened the door, turned to him, offering a quick wave and went inside. He had just sat in the cruiser for a few minutes enjoying the newness of attraction before heading home.

                “Oh damn!” he swore when the realization hit he had just broken his own rule of not dating a local. He would have to take her somewhere close but not in Anchor Bay. Maybe she wouldn’t mind a drive down the coast to Ogunquit. Some good eating down there. Barnacle Billy’s had good food and drinks, yeah that’s where they would go. Still, there might be Bay folks there. What were the odds? He jumped when his landline rang.

                “Sheriff Chambers,” he said, his voice sharp.


                “What did I tell you about calling this line, Barb? It’s for work.”

                “Oh, Tommy don’t be that way,” she whined. “I need to stay with you tonight. My car broke down at Willies and Tony won’t come get me.”

                “Call a cab.”


                “You can’t stay here. Impossible!” He insisted.

                “Wait…okay here,” she was obviously talking to someone.

                “Sheriff, get this woman out of here!” Willy Plum owner of Wet Willies shouted into the phone.

                “Willy, what the hell is going on?”

                “Damn woman is driving the paying customers away. She’s begging drinks, and well ya know how she is Tom.”

                “Yeah I know. I’ll lock her up for the night. She can sleep it off and I will get her car fixed so she can leave.”

                “Thanks man,” Willy said and then Barb was back on the phone.

                “Tommy, don’t listen to him. He thinks just because he owns the place he can boss people, and…” Tom hung up on her, got his coat and weapon, grabbed the keys to the cruiser and took off for Wet Willies.




Writing, Quilting and Doctor Who

I’m writing here. Writing and sewing. Mozart is cranked, wine is poured. I’m basking in the solitude of creativity. It is awesome!!

Almost 1000 words today. Anchor Bay is coming into focus.

My story has been at a standstill until the other night, after my stress meltdown. I picked up my story folder, read through some notes, and started to plot some scenes. Before long the cobwebs cleared and I remembered who these people were and where they were going. As I sat here today with those notes spread out, and the map I drew of my imaginary town in front of me, the good feeling of accomplishment filled my literary soul.

Behind me is my cutting table with the pieces of a baby quilt cut and laid out in order. It is going to be so cute. It is for my brand new great nephew Andrew. I also owe one to great nephew Bodie, and that one is next. I enjoy the process of quilting. To make quilts, cutting and measuring need to be precise. Quilters are the first to say that making a quilt is a lot of sewing and pulling it apart and resewing.

It gives us quilters a good excuse to buy extra fabric!! You know – just in case.

This weekend hubby and I start prepping for our Galifrey One costumes. Chuck is going to be the “The War Doctor” (John Hurt played him) and I am going to be “Sarah Jane Smith” played by the late Elizabeth Sladen. We have been thinking of Charlie being K-9 but his mom and I don’t believe he would put up with wearing the costume all day! Oh well. Aaron, Chelsea, and Melissa are playing various Doctors and Companions also. I am going to make matching T-shirts for us to wear one of the days of the convention.

We are the WhoviVaughns.



The words are back

I’m very glad to share I have been writing again!

I sat down, opened the file, read what I had already written – I’ve done this before with no results – and when I reached the end of the text another line came to my mind, then another, and before I knew it 1000 words were knocked out and my mind was flying. It was bliss. I’ve since added more words, plotted the next couple of chapters, and fleshed out an important character I didn’t yet know very well.

This fed the creativity in my brain for the cosplay costume I am making. I was becoming so stale it was disconcerting and depressing. I can’t express how great it feels to get things moving once more. One thing I did discover is I need to ignore the distractions, specifically a person whose negativity is counterproductive. I shut the door, blast the Netflix or music and get busy writing and sewing. Woo hoo, it’s fun.

I spent four days in the LA area with my sister, Mary, and I think that started the brain cleansing. The laughing we did felt great. A good, long, loud belly laugh does wonders for the perspective. We spent hours at the ocean, we cruised down one canyon and up another listening to great music, singing, and remembering. Went to a wine tasting, had breakfast at Weiler’s-twice-and spent plenty of time with Melissa and Charlie (love kissing that boy.) Got a little too much sun. I felt young, bright, free, and adventurous. It was a perfect respite from the tension that flows from the negative person in my house.

I would have liked to have Chuck along but this was a girls trip. Next time!

The nights are cooling off, finally! The days are still too close to hell fire for me, but thank goodness for refrigeration and lots of fans to keep the air moving. My nephew is holding his own in Army basic, hubby is busy with his leather working, my kids are busy productive humans, and life is going on.

“There’s no such thing as too much magic, pixie dust, or fun.”



A Catalina Party

I’ve been on a blogging hiatus, primarily because I was struggling with inspiration for any kind of writing. The stresses of life hit me like a category five hurricane. Thoughts and ideas were destroyed like 200 mph winds throw around a metal shed, and rip off the roof. The next step in my story plot was washed away from my mind like the storm surge will swipe the surface of the ground away, debris lost to the tides. I have struggled, cried, complained, and spent quiet time in thought. Where can I start? Author Twist Phelan gave me a suggestion, to start with just a paragraph, so that is what I am doing. This is Nancy fighting back, rebuilding the house, pumping out the water, throwing away the ruined furniture, and repainting.


Last Saturday I held a farewell party for my nephew, Austin, who is leaving for Army basic training. He is actually my great nephew but I never make those distinctions. This party was important to me for a couple of reasons. The first is I was there when Austin was born. I helped his mom be calm through a difficult delivery. I watched as he was helped to take his first breaths, when he made his first cries, and when he peed on his dad.

Austin has always been important to me.


He has struggled with some poor life choices, let the wrong people influence him, dealt with abuse, and turned the corner to focus on a direction that is healthy, both physically and emotionally. He has found his spiritual voice giving him a strength to release detrimental humans in his life. I am incredibly proud of him.

The party was here at my house, in the “party yard” and was filled with family and friends who came to celebrate this step in his future.


The music was rocking, the kids were running, the drinks were flowing, the food was plentiful, the ice cream was homemade, and the cake was Army cammo.

Once the sun went down the bonfire was lit and the little ones were entertained by waving sparklers.

Austin represented third and fourth generations at the party – how cool is that! He was able to tease and chase his young cousins. He had cousins present who were older by a decade to as young as a year old. He had friends there who grew up with him. It was perfect.


I took a moment to share with everyone how proud I was of him and to give him a cheer.






It was fun. I think he was a bit surprised at the whole thing.


He will leave for basic training on October 2nd. But he will stay in our hearts and minds as he serves his country and makes us all proud! dsc0043.jpgSo I leave you with this special picture of Austin and I, and the party.

This is a Catalina AZ party!



I’m blocked!

I’m blocked! The muse has fled and left me in a puddle of no inspiration. I’ve searched through notes, tried to play with plotting, looked for images, talked it out with a few people, pretty much everything that should get the creative brain plugging on.

I’m confused about why this is dragging on.

Some of this is because of stress I’m sure. There are several things stressing out this woman. My mother living here and being responsible for her everyday care has messed with my writing schedule and space. She needs help with everything from getting her meals to showering. It’s almost as if the everyday grind of reality has squashed the fantasy world this writer lives in when the words flow.

All of my focus is her and what she needs. It’s true when they say we change places with the parent at a certain point in aging. It seems I am on-call so to speak.

Maybe I need an escape, but I’m bound here right now. Perhaps the inspiration is just on vacation.

What do you do when the cursed writers block strikes?



Being on track

There are so many things requiring my focus this summer, and I have to prioritize now more than ever. At the end of this month my mother will be moving into our house and a whole new set of issues will come with that. We have some changes to the house in order to accommodate her walker. She can’t do stairs without assistance so a ramp is required for access. Also an exterior door for her is being installed. Chuck is taking care of these changes, and he is doing a good job.

I have two stories in the works, and researching developing an author web site. My daughter and grandson will be here in a few weeks, there is a big birthday party in Phoenix for my great nephew at the same time, providing a chance to visit with family.

Monsoon storms are about ready to bust out which will be great for the fires in the mountains. We can smell the smoke in the air. The wildfire crews have been staging their helicopter water drops from Catalina, so we have been watchng them flying in and out.

I have a quilt to start and shirt to finish, some mending to do, and five bags of clothing donations to catalogue.

I hope to start going back to the gym in the fall, maybe make one more trip to California before school starts, and try to be as productive as possible in my writing.

I’ll be good as long as the wine holds out!




This past week has been full of situations, humans, responsibilities, any thing that can distract me from putting words to work and has kept me sidelined. There were things I enjoyed doing like making the costume for my daughter-in-law, but there were also circumstances that were stress filled emotional things and they were unavoidable.

I was fighting to find my joy.

When I look at the pictures on my phone, tablet, and laptop of Charlie then my joy surfaces. Working with my hubby on a cool home improvement project is rewarding, and I look forward to seeing it soon completed. Then one of those distractions worms its way into my smile.

Rather than sitting down uninterrupted and writing 2000+ words, I stop quickly, bang out 200, then have to pull away. Argh!

I’m fighting the urge to run away and hide. This is my usual response to unpleasant distractions. Anyone want to pay for a week in Tuscany for me? Passport is ready.

On top of all of this it is really starting to heat up here in Southern Arizona. It’s been threatening for a month, now it is unavoidable. This does not help my state of mind because I don’t do hot. If it’s going to be this damn hot there should be an ocean nearby.

Ya know what I’m sayin’?

I wonder how Tinkerbell deals with times like this? Pixie dust! I need me some pixie dust! Personally I like the blue stuff.


Historical tidbit: Did you know there is not one photo or likeness ever made of Cochise?

Good for him.






Books, life, and high school

I’m sitting here with three chapters written, ten chapters plotted, and at least half of the story laid out on paper. This feels good.

Also on my plate, is the design and construction of a cosplay costume for my daughter-in-law. So the creative muse is very busy.

My own personal deadlines for each project are good for me. I need these and work well in this situation. I always have. I am good at spreading a project out, making timelines, seeing what needs to happen next, and looking forward to the thrill of completion.

Time works when I have plenty to do. That saying “if you want something done, give it to a busy person,” well that is me. When I am busy, I am very productive.

Recently I have connected with some people from my high school years. I went to two different high schools, changing between sophomore and junior years. Sunnyside was a big school where I, as a new kid, could fade into the background and find my niche. The second school, Flowing Wells, was a smaller school where it seemed everyone had grown up together and had long histories, and the new kid was on probation. These classmates from Flowing Wells are the ones I am meeting. I express it this way because I never knew these folks when I was in school. I really didn’t know many of the students at all.  Getting to know them and hearing their stories has helped with some bitterness I had about the school. They are very nice people and I hope to have more chances to get together.

At both schools I was involved in drama and music. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors and my enthusiasm for these subjects helped ease me through the troublesome high school times. I’ve used my high school experiences as fodder for my writing. In fact my short story “The Green Bag” has a few scenes colored from personal experiences at Flowing Wells, and drawn into the fiction of the story.

I think this is why I love to tell stories. My grandmother, my beautiful Nannie, was a story teller. In a scene from The Walton’s the grandmother tells John Boy that her people would gather in the evenings and tell all kinds of stories and she intended to pass these stories on to him. Nannie did this with her children and grandchildren, with the result that we all have our “Nannie” stories.

My cousin Niki and I have written down one of our most favorite about a family of bears, and I hope one day that it will be published. It would be a wonderful tribute to Nannie, and a wonderful opportunity for other children to hear the story that captivated us.

Books. I have over a thousand in my personal library. It is something I hope to hand over to my children as a heritage. Writing, story telling, books-they are part of me. But the best part is sharing them with an eager reader. Don’t you agree?