What's in a (Character) Name?
I was asked this question by Samantha Henthorn, and I realized I had no idea how many readers are interested in knowing the answer. If you are one of them, I invite you to check Sam's website. If you want to read something humorous and well written, check her books too. Enjoy!
Hi! My name is Nico and I’m a writer. Throughout my life, I’ve been called also Nicole, Niki, Nicu, but somehow Nico has a warmer touch to it. So, Nico, it is. It is all about feelings, you know.
Let's see how I came up with some of the names from my novels .
Magnetic Reverie & Reverie Girl:
The idea for my first novel struck me one day. It didn’t have many characters but I had to decide on the names as otherwise, it would have made it difficult, right? I couldn’t just go »she« and »he« as at one point not only the readers would be confused, but I would be the more confused one, the author. I didn’t think much of the names when I started. I did pick up Ana as the name of my main character. My mom’s name is Ana and I find it a really beautiful name, full of purity. It felt so smooth writing Ana whenever the main character came into the scene. I don’t recall now what were the other characters’ names but I’m sure I’ve changed them all.
You know, when I first started writing I didn't even think it will be something that it will turn into a novel. I just penned down the beginning of something that later on will become my debut novel. When the story was evolving and the characters were being defined, as I didn’t want any of the people I had in my life to think there are any correlations between my work of fiction and my private life, I had to deal with the name thing. Ana, as much as I love this name, had to be replaced. I can’t write a bisexual/lesbian novel with some steamy scenes having one character named the same as my mom. Do you agree? Still, I had to replace it with something as smooth and soft so after some thinking it became Lana. Problem solved. The other characters were a tad easier, still not quite smooth. I didn’t just snap my fingers or took a three minutes break and came up with them. No. Having in mind that the story takes place between Slovenia, Croatia, and the USA, and all the twists and wonders that are not clear for the reader right at the beginning, I had to deal longer with the name for my second character. She was a woman from Slovenia, so her name had to sound Slovenian and American at the same time. And here comes Claire. Well, Claire is the American version while Klara is the Slovenian one. There is a perfectly fine explanation for that in the story and to me, she’s mainly Claire. The other characters got random names, still, I usually prefer short ones and I’m trying to avoid having very similar names so that the reader does not get confused. As I’ve said earlier, I’m trying to have all the names of my fiction works as different as possible from the people I know. Still, it can’t always be done easily as we do get to meet quite a lot of people in our lives. So here comes the claim: »This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.«
ADHD: Life is Beautiful
I cherish and hold dear to my heart all of my books, as they are my children, my creations. This one, being a true story, hits a higher place. The names though, except for mine, could not be used. As I mention in the introduction: »Some places, names, and identifying details have been changed in order to maintain the anonymity of other.«, I couldn’t expose my friends' names so I had to come up with substitutions.
While I wrote the book, I have used their real names and only replaced them before publishing. I played in my mind for a few days with several names as they had to sit right with me. My friends, a mother and her son, became Peter and Eliza.
The real Peter didn’t like the name I gave to his character and he asked me to mention in the book that the main character got the name against his will, hence without his approval.:) He made me laugh and his remark was totally in line with the content of the book. He wasn’t laughing, though.
In conclusion, there are many stories behind a character’s name and, we authors, don’t have often the chance to talk about it, so thank you, Sam, for the opportunity.
MAGNETIC REVERIE: Amazon
REVERIE GIRL: Amazon
ADHD: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL Amazon
I miss the sea
They say we appreciate more what we don’t have.
Living in cities close to the mountains most of my life, my wish to live by the sea was increasing year after year. I love nature in all its shapes and forms, and I do appreciate the daily view of the mountains too. Sometimes though, I wished so badly to be able to transport myself to the seaside, in an instant. No matter what day, month or season it would be. I was fortunate enough to be able to live for almost two years close to the sea, in a house with a sea view. Boy, how I enjoyed it! The sea air, the waves, the blue water, and the seagulls flying around felt magical. There were also times when strong winds were making it impossible to be outside. Or I would skip the daily walk by the seaside knowing that later on or the next day I will have opportunities to walk. With the time passing by, I got accustomed with the surroundings. I still loved everything around me but I started to act like there was always tomorrow.… Until one day when I had to move.
By then it was too late to make it up for all the things I didn't do while I was still there. I didn’t feel too sad though as I thought that the two years would have been enough to fulfill my wish. I waved the sea a goodbye and went back to my dear mountains. I was fine, my life moved on. Yet, I felt very soon that something was indeed missing.
Day in day out I felt I was missing something yet I couldn't put my finger on as to what I was missing. Then one fine morning I realized that I missed my daily walk by the sea, alone with my thoughts with the breeze gently caressing my hair. I missed even the moments when the weather condition wasn't so pleasant. I remembered how I enjoyed watching the agitated sea from indoor; in fact not only enjoyed, I was amazed by it. Yes, the mountains are magnificent and I always get impressed admiring them. I believe I couldn’t live without them either. Still, their vicinity couldn't fill the part that was now empty. I felt that the sea was calling me day and night. At first with just a soft whisper, then louder and louder.
I heard the call. But I was shouting out within “It is not possible now. You have lived there for two years, many people don't even get such a chance, so, be quiet now.” It didn’t help though. Soon I was left without arguments. During my walks, I was looking at the mountains and telling them: “You are beautiful but you aren’t enough.” My mood was gradually influenced by this strong urge. I couldn't function properly anymore. I had to do something. I had to go to the seaside, even that being for only one day.
This urge came around the peak of the season, meaning the possibility of almost no vacancies for accommodation and excessive prices. It was most of a no-no at first. But I had to persist to satisfy the urge and find ways within my possibilities. My wish was too strong to ignore it. The feeling that I had, seemed equal to when you miss badly someone you love and you are not at peace until you see them. It wasn't easy but I made the impossible possible. I listened to my wish, and a few days later I was where I wanted to be. At the seaside. Just me and the sea. I was where I belonged to be in that exact moment. I was then relaxed and not anymore restless. I was in the place that was so persistently calling my name. I felt relieved, happy and full of life. I was grateful to the universal power that made my wish heard and pushed me to follow my desire. It made me believe that things that were seemingly impossible are possible to be achieved. At the same time, I was grateful for one more thing, for the simple fact of being there. I felt the gratitude in every moment and everything I was doing so that when I went back I felt that I lived the given time at the sea at the fullest.
With the circumstances we are in the given time and place, our mind will often tell us that certain things are impossible to attend and achieve. Despite any obvious impediments we need to sharpen our hearing and listen to the calls for anything that is there for us. Listen to your internal voice for apparently not-possible-to-come-true-at-present desire and don’t stop until you have it; and as often as you need it for as long as it is necessary. When you do achieve, allow yourself to enjoy, let the shooting feelings of excitement charge your batteries, breathe in the wonderful scent of your reached ‘need’, and smile. Life would be beautiful again.
Yes, we may appreciate having more of something that we don't have anymore, but if we are offered a chance to have that thing again, I hope we will be smarter. And here I am talking about things that we earnestly need. Things that without which we would not feel complete. Things that are call-of the-heart such as a regular dose of the sea, a hike in the mountains, time spend with our partners, parents, friends, pets etc. Everyone should know what is their ‘call of the heart’. Only when we have everything in place we feel complete. It’s like constructing a puzzle. When we miss a piece, the puzzle it’s incomplete. When the missing piece falls in right place at right time, we feel overwhelming joy.
With a clear awareness of living in the present moment and feelings of gratitude, we may manage to appreciate what we have while we have as well cherished the sweet memories of what was in the past, without feeling incomplete. Fulfilling my urge did three important things for me: it improved my mood, it gave me the hope for many other great things I wanted to do and thought I couldn't, and made me appreciate more what I have when I have it.
Today I am thankful for the sea, places, and people that improve my mood and make me feel alive, yet at peace. I promise never again take you for granted.
THE BUCKET LIST
“I will lose weight.”
“I will quit smoking.”
“I will learn a new language.”
“I will be a better partner.”
“I will stop being an impulsive shopper.”
“I will get angry less.”
“I will smile more.”
“I will search for a better job, etc.”
“I will spend more time with my family and friends.”
You have all at least one of these New Year’s resolutions, right? I don’t know though how many of you actually keep your resolutions throughout the year? If you do, you have my salute! If can’t, please don’t worry. You’re not alone.
There is an alternative to the New Year’s resolutions it’s called a wish list that will not limit you to just the following year. It is something for your entire life. This long-term wish list is often described very well as the ‘bucket list,’ used in this text as defined in one dictionary: a list of the things that a person would like to do or achieve before they die. (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press.)
“I want to climb Mount Everest.”
“I want to see the Great Wall of China.”
“I want to fly in a balloon.”
“I want to go on Route 66.”
“I want to read all the books in the world.”
“I want to sing on a big stage, even though I know I will never be a real singer.”
“I want to be a great cook."
Did you ever make this kind of list? I know some of you have. I have too. Albeit for me, it is called, ‘My little book of happy things.’ When I started to write, I didn’t know the usage of the term ‘bucket list’, but it is actually my bucket list in a form of a little book. As time passes, I come up with more and more things I want to do. If you do not have such a list yet, please take your time and write it down. The list can be endless. Whatever one puts on one’s bucket list is personal, and is going to fulfill one’s life to the fullest. Look at the list and commit to it.
Don’t look at it only as a ‘To-do’ list, but more as a personal guide for a happy, meaningful, and fulfilled life. Each time something from the list is done or achieved, the satisfaction will grow. Your life will gain a deeper meaning. Your life becomes richer. It doesn’t necessarily have to contain big things. I encourage you though to think wider. Don’t let the possible barriers stop you.
Write everything down as if you are sure that it is going to happen. As if, you have a magic wand in your hand. Day by day, month by month, year by year, mark down what you have fulfilled. Feel free though to constantly add any additional wish or goal that comes to your mind. Little by little achieve them. Don’t postpone things. Don’t leave until tomorrow what could be done today. Tomorrow may be too late. Live today to the maximum and plan tomorrow’s potential and use it. Make it, so you have no regrets. Yes, some things will require more time or money, but so long as your desire is strong enough, there will always be a way. Trust me!
Having a bucket list doesn’t mean that you will not allow spontaneity in your life. It simply means that you choose what will be the main things you want to experience in order for you to feel you’ve lived a full life. The other things will just give additional color tinges to your life. Don’t live in black and white. Let the colors fill your life. The more you live as you desire the more the colors of your life will get sharper and brighter. Living like this will leave no space for regrets. Never stop believing in your dreams.
Places that inspire me
I am often asked how did I come up with the idea for my first novel, Magnetic Reverie, the first book in The Reverie series. It was years ago, I was traveling by train from Ljubljana to Zagreb, where I worked at the time. It was a two-hour trip and usually, I would read, admire the view, listen to music, deal with job emails or sleep (when I was traveling at a very early hour). But that day, in October 2013, I didn't do any of the above. Out of nowhere, an idea was struck! I picked up a pen and wrote it down in my notebook. That was the beginning of my first novel.
I used to write here and there in the past, but nothing to a length of a novel. I was so excited about it. I didn't even ask myself questions: Why did I get this idea? What did that mean? No. Even though I had never thought I would ever write a novel, the first thing I did when returned home was to write some more. Next two or three days in a row I continued writing in the evenings after work, and I came up with 15-20 pages. Then, I had to stop. It wasn't because the idea left me. Or that I've got bored. Or that I thought this wasn't for me. Not at all. It was because I was too busy with my day job and I didn't have time to continue.
Luckily for me, the initial idea stood by. A few years later, I moved closer to the beautiful city of Šibenik, Croatia, on the magical coast of the Adriatic sea. Being close to the sea was what I wanted at the time. With its proximity, and having the time on hand I continued writing my novel. And finished it within few months. The story essentially travels back and forth between the main character Lana’s romance with her husband Greg, and a mysterious woman in Slovenia known as Claire. While one of the relationships appears to be based on reality, the other one only comes to Lana in her dreams. Throughout the story, Lana is emotionally torn between her two loves: a handsome, loving and supportive husband and the fantasy woman of her dreams. As I was living in Slovenia when I’ve got the idea for the book, both of my main characters were Slovene. While developing the plot I felt I should include Croatia too, hence my characters had a vacation in Šibenik and the surroundings. The descriptions of the places though were not added just as mere filler. They were integral to the storyline and weaved into the powerful emotions which the characters were experiencing.
For one, I was perfectly aware of what inspired me the most. It was the beautiful transcending places I lived in. The places that I visited at that time not only offered me great views, relaxation, peace of mind but also inspired me. I had to include them in my novel. I wanted my readers to get to know about this part of the world. I wanted them to see the beauty through my eyes and if they wouldn't believe me, at least to come and see for themselves.
Reverie Girl is the second book in The Reverie series. I started writing it at the same location. While it began with a trip to in India, and I did use a lot from my own traveling experience, then it continued with a holiday in Croatia. I was still living in Croatia by that time. While still working on my book I moved back to Slovenia. It was funny to see how the events moved to those location too. And everything fit again perfectly. At the time, I wasn't aware but looking back I can tell it.
My latest book Lessons in Life: Achieving a better you through self-reflection was entirely influenced by the events that took place in my life, people I've met, emotions I lived, lessons I've learned, and places that I visited. I know that life itself is my main inspiration for writing and that my ideas come from my experience combined with imagination, especially when I write fiction.
I wish I could write a book in every country of the world as I am sure that each and every one of them would inspire me differently. Hopefully, I will never be stuck for too long in a toilet or in an elevator as I am not sure what story I would come up with. LOL. You know what they say 'When life gives you lemons, make a lemonade.'
"...if the stones that we walked on could talk, they would surely tell our story." - Magnetic Reverie
Books that inspire me (Part 1)
Books can make us dream. They help us escape from our daily life. They can take us on adventures. They can make us cry. They can make us believe in fairy-tales and never-ending happiness. They have the ability to draw us in and influence the way we think.
There is more to a book than we can see at a first glance. They teach us, move us, give us new perspectives, and help us shape. Some of them are so powerful that they may change our lives forever.
“Awakened by Fate” by Lynn Lawler came to me as a life path reminder and below you can see why.
Many years ago I was traveling by train during the night. It was along trip, I was really young and scared of what may happen in the quietness of the dark so I stayed awake. Luckily for me at a next train station a new passenger came into my compartment. She was an older woman and her presence made me feel safer. Still, I didn’t sleep. I rather chatted with her. We talked about many things. Since it was too long ago I don't remember many details. What I do remember though are two things: she was a Reiki (a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being) therapist and she gave me a little red heart made of rubber which I glued immediately on my little notebook that I had with me. I was too young and the Internet was at its beginning so I didn’t find out more about it.
Fourteen years ago, while visiting India, the wish of knowing more about meditation and yoga was born in me, but little I did during the years that followed. I did read though at the time some books about spirituality and reincarnation.
Two years ago, while visiting my home country I was searching for a physiotherapist for my stiffen back caused by another long trip. The only one I found was among other possible remedies a Reiki master, and I found myself really relaxed after talking with her. I still didn’t know much more about Reiki at the time but I made a mental note to find the time and read about it.
Last year, while launching my debut novel with an Indian publisher, I came in contact with many people from India. I even made some close friends and few of them have suggested to me a meditation on several occasions. Still, with a tight schedule, I always found excuses to postpone. After a few postponements, a time came that I wasn't even thinking of it anymore! I did listen though to a video about meditation. I did some yoga too, but I don't know for what reason, I stopped.
And here I was now, reading “Awakened by Fate” by Lynn Lawler. Besides the plot and the character’s struggles on her journey, there were the other elements of this book that lit a big lamp in my head. It became more than a fiction story to me. I perceived it as a sign and invitation that it is finally time to dig into meditation, yoga, Reiki and other such related therapies. I even watched the movie Hereafter and listened to Japanese Flute music, both mentioned in the book.
“There was a lot to discover, but only she could be the one to follow her path. She embraced her spiritual awakening and felt a sense of peace.”
This is how the book ends and I feel somehow that it energizes readers by reading it. It certainly positively inspired me. I shall be looking forward to the sequel while I am following my new decisions awakened by reading this life-changing book.
"In hope of a world, that does not celebrate the fake & the cold
In hope of a world where true emotions can be uphold
In hope of a world where truth is told
In hope of the world where sugar coated abuses are not sold
In hope of a world that does not force you to fit in & fold
In hope of a world where tears are allowed to unfold
You are not told to fake happy when your heart can no longer hold
In the hope of a world that doesn’t go numb & cold,
While faking positivity & not being bold
In hope of that world where you & I can be true to our core
We are not judged for being human
And not expected to be a bot, running on a computer code
Let the beauty of true emotions and the warmth of real unfold
Sweet, sour, bitter, happy, sad, high, low, cold
Sincere bonds and true connects
Let us not turn the world into a fake emotion(less) zone"
by Vanashree Yadav