Heroines deserve strong names...right?
Anyone ever notice that heroine (the lead female in a book) and heroin (the addictive illegal drug) are pronounced the same way? And, of course, the spelling is almost identical. Hmmm….Do you think someone somewhere is trying to tell us something? Like maybe we’re a man’s drug of choice or we’re as addictive as narcotics? LOL Because we know no one is suggesting we’re big trouble! *cheeky grin*
I’m in the middle of writing and the hero’s name jumped out at me from a billboard. Phoenix—Nix to his friends. Everywhere I look now, I see the name Phoenix. So, I know it’s the right name for my hero. But the heroine, we’re struggling over her name. Nothing seems to fit correctly. She’s been Grace, but that was too close to my name and I kept writing Gracen. So she had a name change to Samantha, but she doesn’t feel like a Samantha. That probably sounds crazy, but I have to “feel” the name before it sits well with me. Next, she became Alexis and then Katherine and that’s where we still are. But, once again, she doesn’t feel like an Alexis and Katherine is okay, but I’m not jumping for joy over it. I do like that I can shorten Katherine to Kat, which would fit with Nix’s character, but there’s still something holding me back for loving Katherine/Kat.
So, here’s where you step in. I want you to pick the heroine’s name. From now until next Thursday, April 1, 2010 (no joking!), you get to suggest names. Then on April 2nd I’ll allow random.org to pick 3 of the suggested names from the list and then you’ll vote your favorite name from those 3 names. The winning name will become the heroine’s new and final name.
To help you suggest a name, here’s a small bio for her: She’s twenty-five, has a five year old son named Avery. Was romanced into an early marriage to a man of means with political and financial connections, but he left her without a word when Avery was two. So, she’s a single mother, with a strong sense of protective mother instincts. But things aren’t as they seem. Overnight, Avery turns homicidal, kills the family cat, then moves on to gutting the family dog, before starting on wildlife animals and the neighborhood pets. A phone call to a psychic tells her a demon is to blame and that she’ll send reinforcements. That’s when Nix enters the scene.
My heroine will face many obstacles, all related to her son. She’ll grow from being a woman with unsure footing in this world, into a woman of conviction and determination to save her son from the evil forces that threaten his livelihood, while learning nothing about her life is as it appeared.
So, she’ll need a solid name and I’m thinking something old-fashioned. But please don’t give me names like Beth, Lisa, Marie, Bridgette or Jane. I have nothing against those names, but they’re a little more commonplace than I’d prefer. But I don’t want names like Ethel and Mildred, either. They’re too old fashioned! Give me something classy and practical.
Don’t forget to leave me a comment with your name suggestion!!
One Rule: You cannot suggest a name that’s already been suggested. If you do, you will not be entered into the contest unless you suggest an alternate name. The person that suggests the winning name will win the following items:
1. A 2010 Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem desk calendar:
2. A Gracen Miller Mouse Pad:
3. And if the winner wants, I'll throw in a PDF e-book of Elfin Blood.
To help you get a better feel for the issue, here’s the first two chapters …they’re unedited and very rough draft, so please pardon any errors or snafus.
“What?” Katherine said with a mixture of disbelief and irritation. She looked at her son, Avery, and felt adamant denial surge in the form of a pounding headache. She’d come to the doctor for answers and this screwed up diagnosis was what she got?
“Ms. Wescott, all the tests came back normal.” The doctor scratched his chin as if intrigued. The thought of him being ‘intrigued’ over her son’s dilemma pissed her off. She forced aside the urge to whack him with her purse. “Everything except the anomaly with his blood,” he made a face, scrunching his features as if that anomaly still perplexed him. “Fascin—” The word fell incomplete when his glance landed on her hands twisting into tight fists in her lap. His gaze shot to her face. There was a flash of wariness in his ordinary brown eyes, like he expected her to give him a shiner any moment. She wanted to. She sure as hell wanted to pop him in the eye, but she had to settle for hoping the murder she felt at the despicable word ‘fascinating’ showed brightly on her face. He cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple bobbed nervously, and he failed to meet her gaze as he continued, “Otherwise, I can assure you there is nothing physically wrong with him.”
“Just psychologically?” she drawled with enough sarcasm to frighten a heavy-weight boxer.
“With the right psychiatrist and medication…Um…”
She would not drug her child into a zombie state so everyone could cope with his condition. Hell, he was already a zombie without medication.
“We think” —so refreshing that the doctor only thought and didn’t have a damn solid answer— “he can live a relatively normal life with medication.”
“Relatively?” she echoed, baffled why the doctor felt that should make her feel better about his diagnosis.
“Dissociative Identity Disorders are not the end of the world, Ms. Wescott.”
Dissociative Identity Disorder her ass! That was the new feel-good medical terminology for multiple personalities. Something her child did not have. Putting a nice, neat medical nametag on the disorder didn’t alter the diagnosis or make her feel any freaking better.
Although….she looked at her son. He sat on the table, his legs swishing back and forth like that of any high-energy child. Avery stared at the doctor with enough malice blazing from his baby-blue eyes that it sent shivers of dread up her spine. Yeah, she couldn’t deny something was amiss with him. But she trusted her gut and it said the problem was much more than multiple personality disorder.
Two months ago, he’d been a happy, healthy, normal child, one that giggled often and adored his feline and canine companions. The next day, he’d been mute and homicidal.
He’d snapped the cat’s neck the first week of the change, receiving multiple cat scratches before he managed feline murder. Five years old and he displayed a marked increase in strength. Explaining away that incident in the emergency room would have been difficult in the best scenarios. The hostile, blaming glances from the medical personal had made her feel worse than a slug. Easily read in those gazes was that if it happened again, Social Services would be called. She didn’t want or need a repeat performance of that event ever again. And if she thought Social Services would help, she’d call them herself.
The dog had been next. Avery had sliced and diced her with a kitchen carving knife. He’d gone into the fenced-in backyard to play and she’d left him alone long enough to pour a glass of iced tea...not more than five minutes at most. When she returned, she’d found him and the dog on the back porch. Blood everywhere like there’d been a struggle. His blonde hair had been speckled with the stuff, his pale face splotched red, his hands coated to his elbows like the hemoglobin had been used as lotion, and the clothes on his chest blossomed with the substance, as if he’d wallowed in the sanguine fluid. The smile on his face…her hands trembled at the memory. She’d choked on a scream and retched over the side of the railing until she could do nothing more than dry heave.
Avery had caught a fly and she’d been amazed at his quick reflexes. And then he tortured it, holding it steady with his fingers while he pulled off its legs before moving on to those fragile wings. Those incidences heralded the beginning of his atrocities.
Twice he’d tried to stab her, slicing her upper thigh the last time. She’d stitched the wound herself, worried about infection when the slash turned an angry shade of red. Religiously, she’d slathered the wound with antibiotic ointment, added warm salty compresses and luckily, the cut healed. It still ached and she’d forever wear the ragged scar of her son’s attack, but she refused to give up on him, or allow anyone to know the total truth of his ferocity. The protective instincts of motherhood had kicked in. Nothing on earth could force her to betray him.
He’d kicked, scratched and bitten her more times than she could count. When the violent episode ceased—sometimes he snapped out of it in the middle of the rage—he would collapse in her arms and sob until exhausted sleep claimed him. His heartbreak broke her heart.
The doctor didn’t seem to notice her distress—just as well—and continued in his patronizing tone, “This disorder always involves some sort of trauma, Ms. Wescott. Your frank honesty can help us determine the trauma and proceed accordingly.”
She ground her teeth hard, amazed they didn’t crack. “Nothing has changed in his life.” Not a damn thing since her husband walked out the door three years ago.
“I’m sure if you would consider—”
“Enough!” Katherine came to her feet with a snap. The doctor flinched in surprise, his words cut off midstream. She sent him a hostile glare, snatched up her purse, held her hand out to Avery and said, “Let’s go, baby.”
Avery plopped off the diagnosis table, while the doctor’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. Avery sent the doctor a smile that reeked of evil intent. It creeped her out when her baby wore that expression and she couldn’t even explain the expression. It was as docile a look as the one he always wore, but something about his eyes screeched not just evil, but malevolence. There was a difference.
She sniffed. What was that smell? It rather reminded her of rotten eggs. She put a finger to her nose, but nothing helped obliterate the stench. It’d become stronger lately. God-awful described the scent perfectly.
Katherine looked at the doctor. “Do you smell that?”
“Sulphur,” he whispered, face as pale as rice paper, gawking at her son like he was the prophesized anti-Christ. The doctor tossed the chart aside, jumped to his feet, knees popping, and exclaimed, “Ms. Wescott, I don’t think you should walk out that door.” He stared at Avery, not sparing her a single glance through the diatribe.
Wondering at the doctor’s sudden fear, she looked down at Avery. There it was again…that fiery orange glow surrounding the outer perimeter of his blue eyes. The child blinked and the color dissipated.
“We really must put him somewhere we can watch him around the clock, run tests and such.”
Her gaze snapped to him, eyes narrowing. As long as she breathed her son would never become a damn lab rat. “He does not leave me. Ever.”
Anyone that tried to take him was a dead man.
Katherine chewed on her fingernail. Through her window, she watched her neighbor staple up a “missing pet” poster across the street. The eighth missing animal this month. Would her nightmare ever end?
She released the curtain, turned with the sound of the curtain swishing behind her and walked to the liquor cabinet. Jack Daniels really, really wanted to be her friend or at least her amnesiac friend. Drinking to oblivion was stupid. Drunkenness would resolve nothing. On the morrow, she’d awake with a hangover and the reality that her ‘reality’ hadn’t changed at all. Or, she’d wake to a new horror Avery had committed while she’d been passed out.
Eight missing animals on one street, she thought rubbing her eyes and all of them dead by Avery’s hand. It’d been a month since her doctor visit and things were decidedly worse. Avery’s deeds now included sneaking out of the house at night, stealing the animals somehow from their neighbor’s homes, bringing them back to her house and butchering them in her backyard, or God help her, in her living room on more than one occasion. After committing animal murder, he’d climb back into bed bloody.
She relocated him to her bedroom, hoping she’d wake when he climbed out of bed. For the first time in her life, she became a dead sleeper rather than a light sleeper. She lived in a state of panic of Avery never getting better, her neighbors discovering his nightly jaunts and them learning the lengths she would go to cover up his nightly murderous jaunts. Worse, she feared, his victims would turn to the two legged variety.
Using an alias and going against her belief—or rather non-belief—she’d gone to the Church. They performed an exorcism. Nothing changed.
She visited an herbalist. They administered herbs and performed an incantation, with incense clogging up her sinuses. Again, nothing changed.
In desperation she’d turned to a witch doctor. He’d done his thing and still nothing changed.
A week ago she’d located her umpteenth psychic that claimed to have all the answers. Georgie lived in Kansas, talked a good game, but being jaded came with a lot of trust issues. A nervous giggle jerked through Katherine.
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Katherine ran a hand down her face. She was starting to doubt her sanity. Then she’d doubted Georgie’s sanity when she cautioned Avery was the cause for her heavier sleep pattern so he could go about his nightly jaunts unhampered. That wasn’t even possible. Was it?
Georgie also warned that evil lurked near, an evil she couldn’t contain and one that would devour her soul. That sounded a bit hellfire and brimstone to her.
She shook her head. Evil? She wasn’t even sure she believed in evil. Her deceased Christian parents would think her blasphemous, but even if evil did exist, her parents couldn’t help Katherine with this dilemma. They were dead. Seven years in the grave now.
Regardless of religious beliefs, Georgie refused to explain, just promised help. Katherine had yet to see any assistance. With each passing day, hope grew further and further out of reach, a smoky mist she couldn’t wrap her fingers around.
Defeat was her constant companion, a weight bearing heavily on her shoulders. But now wasn’t the time for giving up. She shut the liquor cabinet, turned and walked up the stairs to check on Avery. She found him in his bedroom sitting on the floor at the foot of his bed. The tip of a knife rested in the palm of his hand, the handle horizontal, and rotating in a circle unaided by touch.
Katherine closed her eyes, counted to ten and prayed she hallucinated.
She opened her eyes and felt her heart lurch into her lungs. Nothing had changed!
Blackness narrowed her vision, she struggled to maintain consciousness. Avery turned his head toward her, his eyes shining with that strange orange glow and his wide-eyed expression articulated without words, “Look what I can do!”
He came at her so fast she barely had time to release a half-scream before he kicked her feet out from underneath her. She hit the floor hard, the breath whooshing from her lungs and her teeth jarring. He jumped on her before she had a chance to gasp a breath. Instinct took over, thank God. The blade glinted—it was serrated, odd that she noticed that at a time like this or that she wondered where he’d gotten it from—as he slashed it toward her neck.
She caught his wrist an inch from her throat.
Copyright 2010 Gracen Miller ~ No part of this may be copy, pasted, uploaded, or used in anyway whatsoever without the express written consent of Gracen Miller.
(Please note: This contest will also run at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem where I blog every Friday. All names suggested at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem and Wicked, Thorn & Roses will be combined together to create one contest.)