Facebook

06 June 2018

Simon The Time Travelling Cat's Dubious Advice | IWSG



The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day. I'm co-hosting this month, along with Beverly Stowe McClure, Tonja Drecker, and Tyrean Martinson.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:


"What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below. 

* * *

Cat image via The Graphics Fairy

I was lying down with my eyes closed when Simon the Time Traveling Cat jumped on me. He pressed his gray paws into my stomach firmly. When I didn't respond, he inched upward and then batted me in the face. "Wake up, lady!"

"Shush, Simon. I'm busy," I said trying unsuccessfully to push him away.

"Busy with what? Digesting that entire pack of Oreos you just ate?"

I opened my eyes, wiped a few telltale black crumbs off of my shirt. "No, I'm trying to think of character names for the cozy mystery I'm working on. There are two young guys who work on fishing charter boats, a real estate agent, and a young couple who live on a catamaran. Any ideas?"

"That's easy. Simon."

"Simon? Maybe. But for which character."

"All of them."

"Huh?"

"Geez, lady. Sometimes, you're so dense. Name everyone in your book Simon." He curled up on my neck and played with my earring. 

I turned my head and stared at him. "Don't you think that would get a little confusing?"

"Well, only if your readers are as stupid as you. Besides, it will be good for sales. Who wouldn't want to read about me?"

I picked Simon up and placed him on the table. "You do realize that this book isn't about you, don't you?"

Simon lay down on top of the empty Oreo bag. After washing behind his ears for a few moments, he turned to me and said, "I guess that explains your really poor Amazon ranking. Your characters and their names suck."


* * *

I find character names a lot harder to come up with than book titles. Although I'm not sure how great they are, it was pretty easy to come up with the titles for my cozy sailing mystery series. Basically,  variations on murder with a nautical theme (Murder at the Marina, Bodies in the Boatyard, Poisoned by the Pier etc.). Having said that, the names in my cozy mysteries are heaps easier to dream up, than the ones were for my fantasy short story published in last year's IWSG anthology (Hero Lost). I wrote a blog post about the process - Imaginary Language & Character Names in Fantasy Stories - if you want to check it out.


* * *

And in other news, the release of my debut novel, >>Murder at the Marina<< is on June 21st. Tons of people have volunteered to support the release (thank you!), so there's going to be a blog tour & fiesta running from June 21st - July 4th. More details about the participants on Wednesday, June 20th.

If you signed up for an ARC, you should have received an email by now with a link to download it. If you haven't, please drop me an email at ellenjacobsonauthor (at) gmail (dot) com.



A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary - not very romantic. 
A dead body on board - even worse.

My cozy mystery, >>Murder at the Marina<<, will be released on June 21, 2018 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

A paperback version will available closer to the release date. Find out more on Goodreads, check out the advance reviews, and add to your To-Read list.

Have you ever been given some really dubious advice? Did you follow it? What do you find harder to come up with - book titles or character names?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

123 comments:

  1. Is Simon a little self-centred? Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Man, Simon is so frank. LOL. I love your posts. if you need anymore help with the blog tour let me know. I'm happy to review it too. Cheers to you, Ellen :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erika - I sent you an email a while back - not sure if you got it? If not, drop me a line at ellenjacobsonauthor (at) gmail (dot) com I'd love to have your help.

      Delete
  3. I do so enjoy your posts. Simon. What a cat! If only we could live with such assuredness, right? Anyway, thank you for the post and for hosting this month's IWSG blog hop. Also, thanks for dropping the link to your post about languages and names in fantasy stories. I write fantasy, and so I found that post particularly fascinating. Have a great Wednesday, and happy writing to you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Simon certainly doesn't lack in the self-confidence department :-)

      Delete
  4. Your titles are pretty catchy!! I'm writing a MG Mystery set next to Lake Michigan. Love the nautical themes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lake Michigan would be a great setting. So beautiful there!

      Delete
  5. I love reading your Simon posts. You really capture his mood and antics. Congratulations on the release of your cozy murder, Murder at the Marina. Best of luck on your blog tour!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Character names are a breeze compared to titles. Thinking up titles is an agony! Best of luck with your release!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Titles are so hard, probably because they're so crucial.

      Delete
  7. Tell him you're going to name all the characters Oreos and see how he likes that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I always love your posts that include Simon. (Maybe you could name ONE character after him...)

    Good luck with your launch! The reviews are already piling in, so you're off to a great pre-start!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might just have to name a character after him. That's quite a good idea :-) It'd have to be an annoying and snarky guy though.

      I'm overwhelmed by how many people offered to read and review ARCs (like yourself). Honestly, it's brought a little tear to my eye.

      Delete
  9. Well how about variations of his name? Simon, Simone, Simeon, Si, Simey...whew, how many characters? Best wishes on your new release! I giggled out loud in parts of it and couldn't figure out the bad guy till the end. Very entertaining.
    JQ Rose

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks so much for taking the time to read and review :-)

      Delete
  10. I LOVE baby name databases, especially the ones that list the popularity of any given name during the last hundred years. SOOOOO helpful. Beyond that, I like to name my characters symbolically, so that cuts out some of the guess work and headaches. Truth though, the names usually just come to me. Titles can be easy or difficult depending on your audience. There's a YA trend toward one word titles. That definitely makes it more complicated. Pick just one word to hook people AND represent your story. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow - I can't imagine having to come up with a one word title. Talk about pressure!

      Delete
  11. Congratulations on your new book! I enjoy researching the meanings of names. I like a name to reflect who the character is as a person. Most titles seem to come out of thin air.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After reading everyone's blog posts and comments this month, I think I'm going to spend more time researching names, especially what they mean.

      Delete
  12. This just helped me solve all my problems...I will name all my characters Simon from now on!

    Congratulations on your book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll tell you - it's such a simple solution. I wonder why I never thought about it before :-)

      Delete
  13. Give Simon a slap from me! He's getting a bit above himself ;) And awesomely good luck for your book launch :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to give Simon a slap from you, but he just hissed at me :-(

      Thanks for all your support with the launch :-)

      Delete
  14. I indulged in my Oreo craving last night as well even though I know how many worthless calories are in them. Why or why can't I break my sugar addiction? Oh right. It's an addiction. Duh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The struggle with sugar addiction is real. I wish I could give it up, but I always go back to the dark side.

      Delete
  15. Best of luck with your release and congratulations! I'm sure it will be awesome. I'm kind of weird, but I love creating titles and character names. I'll scour the web or lose myself in baby name directories. Same goes for research. And that's usually when the titles comes to me, during my research time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't call that weird - that's a great trait to enjoy creating titles and names :-)

      Delete
  16. I suppose you could do variations of Simon - Simon Sr., Simon Jr., Simone.... :)

    I don't really know much about cozy mysteries, but I really like your titles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many cozy mysteries have punny titles, which mine don't. It was way to hard to come up with those.

      Delete
  17. I'm with you on book titles being easier than character names. Simon's probably right, though. He would be quite the character. I'm reading Murder at the Marina right now and loving it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying Murder at the Marina :-)

      Delete
  18. A local friend agonized quite a long time over character names. My struggles aren't so much with names, but action scenes and good endings. ~grin~ Happy Writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really struggle with action scenes too :-)

      Delete
  19. Your book is coming out soon!

    Name them all Simon Cowell.

    ReplyDelete
  20. CONGRATS on your debut novel! So exciting! Title names come easy for me, but I can waste a lot of time on character names. I tend to troll the Social Security popular name index for the year of birth of a character, on the pretext of choosing 'authentic' names for the time period. Naming them all Simon might not be a bad idea. Love the Simon chat, by the way. Thanks for co-hosting today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Lee! I didn't know that there was a Social Security index - I'll have to check that out.

      Delete
  21. Ooh, Simon! It would get a little confusing. Your titles are great! I usually have to get help from writer friends when I need titles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - I'm glad you like the titles :-)

      Delete
  22. I'm looking forward to your release! Oh, and you should tell Simon he's indirectly responsible for the design of my map. I had always pictured my fantasy world laid out like the old Simon game...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't tell Simon that - it would go to his head and we all know his head is way too big as it is :-) I LOVE your map!!

      Delete
  23. You could vary the spelling. Simon, Symon, Sigh-Mon. Haha

    I struggle with character names, too, because I've already used up my favorites and have come up with so many.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh-Mon - I love that one!!

      I hadn't thought about running out of fave names, but I can see how that would happen after you'd written a few books.

      Delete
  24. Naming every character the same would make it easier. LOL! I have trouble coming up with characters' names too.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Good luck with your launch! I'm sorry I missed the signup for the blog hop--would have happily helped. Sigh.

    And, I know exactly what you're going through as my launch is today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries - there's always the next book in the series :-)

      All the best with your launch - such an exciting time!

      Delete
  26. I spent years writing reports when I worked for the Sheriff's Department. I was pretty good at those and went to court and testified with my reports. I've never wanted to write a book though. Way too much work.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet that's a real skill you have to learn to structure and write police reports. I imagine they have to be perfect, considering how they're used and that they're an official record.

      Delete
  27. I can see how a cozy series might make naming titles easier because of the running theme. Congrats on the upcoming release! I have one coming out the end of June as well. Maybe I should try to put together some kind of release party, but it seems all the effort doesn't bring in much in the way of sales anymore. Maybe I'm getting jaded?

    Anyway, good luck with the release and coming up with names for all those Simons. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is my first book so I may have gone overboard in launch activities. I'm just not sure what works and what doesn't and what's worth the effort and what isn't. All the best with your release as well :-)

      Delete
  28. Goodness Simon, be nice! Congrats on your new release! And thanks for co-hosting this month.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Coming up with a name for my main character is harder than for the secondary characters. It just has to feel right and that doesn't always work for me.

    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks to Simon I now know what I've been doing wrong all this time. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, life and writing is much simpler if you follow Simon's rules.

      Delete
  31. I'm with you on character names. It takes awhile to find one that really resonates. For my titles I steal like an artist. Great post. Thank you for co-hosting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just read your post about "stealing" book titles - such a great idea!

      Delete
  32. Good luck with your release! I'll hunt for the blog tour.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Simon is super snarky this month!
    Best wishes on the release!!! It's an awesome book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to have to cut back on how much catnip I give him. Too much snark this month.

      Delete
  34. LOL Simon. Not much to be done about that straight shooting cat.

    Woot! Yay for your upcoming release!!! I hope your festivities go off without a hitch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Meka! Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.

      Delete
  35. Wow, that was harsh, even for Simon. That kitty needs to eat a treat and chill.

    When it comes to character names, Google has been a lifesaver for me, since I write books set in so many different countries. Just today, I searched for Romanian men’s names, and BOOM! Done. It’s made my life so much easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Google is a godsend. What did we do before it? I think Simon has had too much catnip lately. Makes him mean.

      Delete
  36. Leapin' Lizards! Has Simon been into the catnip? Depending on how developed your character is (or will be), think of names you'd associate with the personality. You wouldn't want to name a secondary character Rutabaga :-)
    Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the name Rutabaga - might have to use that one :-) Possibly for a cat or dog though.

      Delete
  37. Thank you for co-hosting this month. Simon is not very supportive, but he sounds cute. Sometimes it's hard to notice good advise, but bad advise blares with warning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially Simon's advice, there's a lot of blaring :-)

      Delete
  38. Simon's back!!! I can't wait to read Murder at the Marina. Have my copy pre-ordered. Thanks for co-hosting this month!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I missed the sign-up. Is it too late to help with your launch? I think Simon's wrong on this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shannon! I'd love to have your help. I'll send you an email.

      Delete
  40. Yay for Simon! I like your list of book names. I do think that having a theme for the cozy mysteries makes the titles easier. I have the title for the next one in my series, too, thus giving the lie to my comments about titles being hard. But the short stories I've been working on have been hard.

    I know what you mean about fantasy names, too--and I'm off to read what you say about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like your "Death..." theme for your series. It works really well.

      Delete
  41. I adore your genre - innovative and refreshingly clever! I hope you are or know a sailor well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually live on a sailboat with my hubby. We sailed in New Zealand, the Bahamas and Florida, and my husband has also done quite a bit of sailing in Europe. Or adventures and misadvntures definitely inspired the book.

      Delete
  42. At least Simon knows what he likes, doesn't he -- himself.

    My copy of your book is pre-ordered, and i will try to make sure i get time to read it before the end of your fiesta, in spite of work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for pre-ordering! I really appreciate it!

      Delete
  43. I love Simon's input. Congratulations on your upcoming release. If there is something I can do, let me know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for offering to help :-) BTW, when I click on your name, it takes me to your Google profile which doesn't have a link to your site or way to contact you.

      Delete
  44. Cozy Mysteries have the best titles! They practically scream, "Buy me and read me NOW!" So, I look forward to reading your post on writing imaginative titles. It's something I have to work on. Congrats on your upcoming series :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of them are so clever, especially the punny ones.

      Delete
  45. Thanks for co-hosting today! Simon doesn’t make things easy for you does he?

    Book titles hands down. I don’t know why but naming characters comes much easier for me than titles. If only they both came with such ease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if both of them come easily to some people or if we all struggle with one of the other.

      Delete
  46. Ooo,I like Simon. Congratulations on the book release. Thanks for co-hosting.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thanks for co-hosting today, Ellen. I always enjoy it when Simon shows up. I'm in awe of all the talent in the IWSG. Good luck with the release of your debut novel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thinking Simon has been too snarky this month. Might need to send him to the vet next month :-)

      Delete
  48. My cat is no help in naming anything, although he does love laying across my computer when I'm trying to type. Then he just stares at me with his tongue hanging out. Just too weird.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Congrats on the new release! Love your idea of the nautical theme for titles but I think "Simon" would confuse the issue. My cats love to judge me while I'm writing but offer little in the way of creative help "Hey, that guy could use a little cat nip!" Thanks for co-hosting this month, Ellen. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Good luck on your book release! It comes out on my daughter's 18th birthday, so that's a good omen, right? Interestingly enough, I'll be on a boat on your book birthday! A cruise . . . hopefully no murders, just relaxation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great omen! Happy bday to your daughter later this month and enjoy your cruise :-)

      Delete
  51. I like your Simon's reasoning for naming your characters. He is a genius cat.
    Good luck with your book release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did he pay you to call him a genius? :-)

      Delete
  52. That definitely seems like something a cat would say. It's all about him!
    Good luck with the release!

    ReplyDelete
  53. You're lucky to have a cat to help you write. My cat tries to help by walking over the keyboard, but I'm not smart enough to understand what she's trying to say (yet--I'm always the optimist).

    Congratulations on your upcoming book release!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why is it that cats always want attention when you're working?

      Delete
  54. Maybe with so many followers Simon is right in his name choices ;-) - well, you could go with Ximun or Semyon or Jimeno or even Ximena and Simonetta. Or would he object to those? Or Simon the Slain Sailor?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Simon the Slain Sailor" - LOL! I like Ximena - that's pretty.

      Delete
  55. I like the sound of your cozy mystery. Cute cover. I love choosing character names. They just come to me depending on whether they're Italian, French, Babylonian. Fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Denise! I'm glad you like the cover. It's one of those things I'm not quite sure about.

      Delete
  56. Simon is brilliant! (And demanding.) I'm so excited for your book release--congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jen! Simon is very demanding :-)

      Delete
  57. As per usual, Simon is full of his own self-importance! :)

    I struggle with character names. My characters remain Mrs. B, Mr. X and Miss Y for a very long time.

    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month, Ellen.
    Congrats on the upcoming book release and book blog tour!
    I'll definitely tweet for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've got a lot of placeholder names in my current manuscript like those too.

      Thanks for helping out with tweets :-)

      Delete
  58. Sometimes I question myself why I chose certain character names. But finding a title for my current work has been harder for me:
    http://jannghi.blogspot.com/2018/06/titles-or-character-names-which-is.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would really like to change certain character names now, but I guess it's too late.

      Delete
  59. I like the titles of your mystery series, Ellen. Using alliterations makes them fun, and I think it’s helpful to have an idea about what the book is about (theme or location) when choosing a title. Have fun with the book tours. Very exciting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Liesbet - that was my thinking as well about the titles. They're not "punny" like many cozies, but hopefully they'll work out ok.

      Delete
  60. Early congrats on your release! Did I ever tell you my sister has a cat named Simon? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is your sister's cat as annoying as my Simon? I hope not :-)

      Delete
  61. Congratulations on your release date! I'm better at character names, but it does help when you write particular genres.

    ReplyDelete

We LOVE when people leave comments. It's so much more fun hearing what you have to say. If you have a blog, make sure you leave a link and I'll be sure to pop on by.