What’s in a [character’s] name?

Names are a big deal in RPGs and other fiction. (They’re a big deal in real life, too.) In fiction, names should really mean something. They should add to the character or explain the character or give them some sort of gravitas (a.k.a. street cred, if you’re writing or playing contemporary).

In my opinion, for kids, a name should give them something to aspire to, big shoes to fill, or dreams to share.

As a novelist, I suppose choosing a common name could make your character could make the character more relatable but also perhaps date your work, if you’re not careful. Names carry lots of connotations for people.

As a parent (and a game master), I’m always amused to see who’s naming their kids (and characters) what. When I’m naming my own characters (and my own kids), I try to find unique or unusual names. Most people seem follow the herd when choosing names. . .I don’t get why, but hey, whatever makes you happy.

Here’s what parents in the U.S. named their kids this year: BabyCenter® Reveals Top Baby Names Of 2017:


  1. Sophia
  2. Olivia
  3. Emma
  4. Ava
  5. Isabella
  6. Mia
  7. Aria
  8. Riley
  9. Zoe
  10. Amelia (NEW)


  1. Jackson
  2. Liam
  3. Noah
  4. Aiden
  5. Lucas
  6. Caden
  7. Grayson (NEW)
  8. Mason
  9. Elijah
  10. Logan (NEW)

Clickbait headlines make your study seem stupid.

I’m happy that somebody is exposing the poseur “literary fiction” readers as the frauds that they are, but. . . Science Fiction Makes You Stupid as a blog post title doesn’t accurately describe the results of the study. Sad.

I am glad that the study authors dove into this research to debunk the bullshit spewed in Science in 2013 about how reading literary fiction makes you a better reader and a better person. Nonsense. My criticism is only about how the authors’ promoted their study with their inflammatory blog title. It set the stage for how their good research will be portrayed by the rest of the media.

Proper Study Translation: People who already don’t like a genre will not give genre fiction the same level of attention and careful reading that they would of an identical piece so-called “literary” fiction. If you already disrespect science fiction, your reading comprehension of science fiction will be lower.

The study language is suitably academic and opaque to muggles, so read at your own risk. I guess my bachelors degree in unemployment (political science) and incomplete masters degree in unemployment (public administration) did give me some sort of skill to translate pseudo-intellectual babble. Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson and probably perfectly nice fellows, and I’m sure that their fiction is much more readable than the paper, “The Genre Effect: A Science Fiction (vs. Realism) Manipulation Decreases Inference Effort, Reading Comprehension, and Perceptions of Literary Merit”, that they had to write for submission to the journal Scientific Study of Literature. You’ve got to meet audience expectations, after all.

The sample size was small (150), but I’ll reserve judgment until I read that whole study. It seems like a solid methodology based on the description they blogged, but I’m skeptical until I read it. I’m lookin’ forward to it.

No scouting on the kindle for this #indiewriter

I’ve been thinking about this and kicking it around with peeps I know and trust, so I just went and re-read Amazon’s page describing how kindlescout works. I’ll pass. It’s all the work that I would do anyway to promote a novel. TWICE. Once to get people to vote for it and (if Amazon puts it under contract) then AGAIN to get OTHER people to buy it to earn out the advance . . . because the people who voted for it get a free copy anyway. Unless Amazon is going to feature their own in a way that guarantees more sales (I wouldn’t believe a guarantee anyway), I think I’ll be happier the indie way, even if it takes me longer to get $1,500.

Laughing out loud

I understand why they’re demanding unpublished work and I know they’re trying to cherry pick pieces of the Kickstarter “viral social” model (without the upfront cash commitment of the crowd), but Amazon (and the author community) would be better served by opening up nominations of authors with already published work and finding a way to put those under contract instead. Or offer already published authors an advance on future work.

Kickstarter and Patreon work because people vote with real dollars, not imaginary “free” (as in beer) votes that Amazon gives them (like UserVoice). I think Amazon missed that (very important) little part.

Amazon thinks they know better than the dinosaur publishers, let them prove it by developing their own stable of exclusive talent. I don’t expect that the kindlescout net will pull in the kind of authors that they’re looking for. I hope for everyone’s sake that I’m just a pessimistic curmudgeon and wrong. I’ll be happy to jump on the kindlescout bandwagon when I see at least one massive bestseller pop out of their pipeline.

Just my $0.02US (unadjusted for inflation).