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Saturday, March 26, 2011

PSB: Guest Post & Giveaway with Jennifer Estep




I am extremely happy to have the amazing Jennifer Estep by my side today! She was so generous and fun to work with, and she jumped right into our project! Her books have been very popular since the first one released and there’s a reason for that! Keep on reading to discover more about her books and how she names her characters!




Greetings and salutations! I want to say thanks to Tynga for having me on the blog today. Thanks, Tynga!

Spider's BiteI write the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin code named the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a bar be cue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ash land. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Books in the series are Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book, will be released in October 2011. Also, Haints and Hob webs: An Elemental Assassin short story will be published in The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, which will be released in October 2011.

I also write the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensing ton. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spar tans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

The first book, Touch of Frost, will be out in August 2011, while the second book, Kiss of Frost, will hit shelves in December 2011.

Today, Tynga asked me to talk about how I come up with my character names. I have to admit that I’m not very scientific about it, especially when it comes to my first drafts. Usually, I’m just typing along when I decide to introduce a new character – and realize that I need a name for her.Web of Lies 1-6-10 small

I know that some authors spend hours researching names. Sometimes, I’ll do that too – or at the very least, go to one of the baby name websites and surf through the various names and meanings until I find one that fits the character. But most of the time if I need a name immediately, I’ll sit there and stare blankly at my computer screen for several minutes and try out various names in my head – trying to keep in mind all the other names that I’ve already used in the book. When I find a name that I like, that’s what I go with and continue typing out the story.
Scary, isn’t it? LOL.

But that’s what second and third and fourth drafts are for – to make sure that everything is as perfect as I can make it, including the names. Sometimes, I’ll go back and change a major or a secondary character’s name if I don’t think it’s exactly right. But if you’ve read my Elemental Assassin series, you know that my main character, Gin Blanco aka the Spider, kills a lot of people in the books – a lot of people. I’ll admit that I don’t worry too much about the names of the minor bad guys that Gin eliminates. If I could get away with calling them Bad Guy #1 and Bad Guy #2, I would.

Elemental Assassins Book #3 - VenomSeveral years ago, someone gave me a list of Welsh names and their meanings. I’ve used a lot of those in my books. For example, I got Gin Blanco’s real name (Genevieve) from that list. Genevieve means white or white wave, depending on which list or website you look at. I thought Gin/Genevieve was unusual enough to be memorable, and I thought it would be interesting that Gin’s name means white when so much of what she does is so very dark and ugly as the Spider.

Detective Bria Coolidge’s name (which I shortened from Briallen) also came from that Welsh list. Bria means primrose. Another name that came from that list was Eira, who is Gin and Bria’s mother. Eira means snow. Both Bria and Eira have rune necklaces that match their names – Bria’s rune is shaped like a primrose, while Eira’s is a snowflake.

So for the major characters I do try to come up with names that fit the character and her place in the overall plot, and I try to add in little touches to the story that add to the meaning of the names, like the runes I use in my Elemental Assassin books.

Actually, I’ve still got that Welsh list of names somewhere in my files – and I may just dig it out again when I start on my next book. ;-)

What about you guys? What are some of your favorite character names? Do you like runes, etc. that tie in with the characters and the meaning of their names?

Jennifer’s best Spring Break memory:

One of my favorite spring break memories was when I was about 12 or so. We went to visit some of my cousins who live in another state. Spring break was also during Easter weekend that year, and I had a great time hanging out with my cousins, eating food, and playing softball. ;-)


I love names and their meaning! My real name is Cindy which is a popular nickname from Cinderella but it also means Divine in Latin. Quite cool lol

Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin, #4)

I’d rather face a dozen lethal assas­sins any night than deal with some­thing as tricky, con­vo­luted, and frag­ile as my feel­ings. But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assas­sin known as the Spi­der. Hov­er­ing out­side sexy busi­ness­man Owen Grayson’s front door like a ner­vous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my fore­head. Cold-blooded Fire ele­men­tal Mab Mon­roe has hired one of the smartest assas­sins in the busi­ness to trap me. Elek­tra LaFleur is skilled and effi­cient, with deadly elec­tri­cal ele­men­tal magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone pow­ers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t sur­vive this bat­tle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assas­sin to take out my baby sis­ter, Detec­tive Bria Coolidge, too. The only prob­lem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sib­ling … or that I’m the mur­derer she’s been chas­ing through Ash­land for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead …

Read the first chap­ter.


Jennifer very generously offered a copy of her upcoming release, Tangled Threads, to one lucky reader!

To enter, all you have to do is FILL THE FORM and leave a comment answering Jennifer’s questions!

Open to US & Canada

You can earn one extra entry by spreading the word!

Tweet: Win! Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep http://bit.ly/enHp93 hosted by @Tynga & @parajunkee #Giveaway #ParanormalSpringBreak PLZ RT

Ends April 6th, 2011.

BD2 amazon

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

Follow Tynga on: Facebook | Twitter

51 People left their mark' :

  1. Yay! Love this series!! Can't wait for #4 :)

  2. I've really, really been wanting to read this series. I absolutely love Rachel Caine's Weather Wardens and was so excited to find another elemental world out there. Thanks for the opp!

  3. I really never give thought to the charater,s name, unless it bugs me. Most of the time I'm second guessing myself as to if I'm saying the name right in my head. I have Spiders Bite going on my wish list.

  4. This series looks great!! I have not read any of the books, do they stand alone?


  5. I like the series b/c I love a kick-butt girl!

  6. I like when I read a book and it has my name in it (Cassandra) I pretend that the author wrote me into the book - I like to make up excuses to feel special lol and I'm such a nerd lol

  7. I really thought that much aboutt a charater's name, unless Its a really hard name to say and if I'm saying the name right. Love the series!

  8. I have read Venom and I loved it. the characters names especially!

    terilhack at gmail dot com

  9. Some of my favorite character names are: Jaye Wells' Sabina, your Gin, Jeaniene Frost's Bones, Charlaine Harris' Sookie, Ann Aguirre's Sirantha - because they're all different and when I hear them I immediately think of those characters.
    Yes, I like the runes that tie in with the characters and the meaning of their names. I think that's a great detail and adds to the story. I've read all three of the series so far, and I love your Gin, life has made her so hard, yet she is such a soft touch for those in trouble and those she loves.

  10. ohh I have not read the series but after these book blurb i cannot wait to read the series.

    kasuranna at yahoo dot com

  11. I love the character names in Dark Hunter series and BDB- like Wrath, Tohrment Phury they tie it to when they become the brotherhood, I love unique names like that. Could you imagine if I had been reading these books while pregnant with my son? Wonder if my then hubby would have allowed his son to be called anyone of these names :)

  12. I too love the Dark Hunter names. I also love Acheron and the "gods" names. Just about anything with MAC or MC in front does me good too *giggles*

    Please authors do not name your characters Dick or Bob ;)

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  13. Hi, guys! Sorry I'm so late chiming in. Too many weekend chores. LOL.

    MsInformed -- Cool. I hope you like Tangled Threads even more.

    Vidisha -- Thanks!

    Smash Attack -- Cool. Hope you enjoy the books. My elementals are Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone, although folks can use other areas too, like water and electricity.

    Rain Maiden -- Yeah, sometimes I'll wonder if I'm pronouncing a character's name right if it's unusual or has a different spelling. Cool. Hope you enjoy the book.

    Judy -- I think I put enough backstory in each of the books so that folks can understand what's going on, but really, it's best to read them in order. I also have several free short stories on the Excerpts page of my website if you want to read about the other characters in the series.

    Andrea -- Thanks! I like strong heroines too.

    Cassay -- That's cool. I would do that too except nobody uses the name Jennifer anymore.

    Minhchieu -- Thanks for the nice words about the series.

    Teril -- Cool. Glad you enjoyed the book.

    Barbara -- Thanks! I appreciate all the nice words about my books. Yeah, Gin is kind of like a burnt marshmallow -- hard on the outside but gooey on the inside -- not that she would ever admit that. LOL.

    Kaya -- Cool. Hope you enjoy the books.

    BLHmistress -- Ward has some interesting names too -- all the male names in her books always sound to strong and tough.

    Robin -- Kenyon has lots of great names in the DH world.

  14. Jennifer--

    Love, love, love this series and can't wait for Tangled Threads. I do like the way you've used the runes and Gin's family names. It adds emotional depth when we hear Gin's recollections.

    Among other character names I like are Jaz Parks from Jennifer Rardin's series. I also enjoy those used by Carolyn Crane in her disillusionist trilogy: Justine as a heroine...and who else would name a UF love interest Otto?

  15. I like the name Sebastian, Tristan, and Rhys for guy names. As for girl names I don't particularly have any favorites.


  16. Hi Jennifer. I love your series. I like strong names like Jake, Chance and Rogan.

  17. This series sounds awesome, I love the idea of elemental powers!

    If I'm writing a story I take a while to name my characters because I do want them to have some sort of meaning. Or I play on online MMORPG and name my characters after mythological war goddesses or something :P

    m_laura28 at yahoo dot ca

  18. I never really thought about names of characters, but if a really wimpy sounding name was paired with a strong hero, etc it would throw me. I don't have a favorite character name.

  19. Hi Jennifer! I love the series and can't wait for the new book. I like classic names such as Steven, Michael and Christopher. Thanks for the contest. bpatrick64113@sbcglobal.net

  20. I agree some of the best names out there are in the BDB & Dark Hunter...Muhrder, Tohrment, Vishous, Rhage, Ash, Z (both of them). Don't forget about Kresly Cole's IAD: Regin the Radiant, Mareketa the Awaited, etc. I like it when names tie to the charecters! Although I don't think it is a must! But...the name must not be way off in the base. Like say a Bones type charecter with a name like Jim.

    Thanks! mmafsmith@gmail.com

  21. I've always thought it would be neat to see Vance as a man's name in a book. I just like the name.

  22. love this series and I like unusal names. and you using the name to fit their elements is great. Did their elements manifest themselves at birth. Just curious.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  23. I tweeted
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  24. I'm not at all picky about names of characters as long as they are easily pronounceable. I love the Welsh names - they are just enough different to stand out without being too foreign to deal with. I also love that they have meanings that tie into their runes, although that's not something I would catch unless the author points it out to me. I can't wait to read Tangled Threads. I love this series.

  25. Love this series. Looking forward to Tangled Threads.

    I like unusual names. But what tends to bother me are the normal names just spelled oddly.

  26. I love your series- and TANGLED THREADS is a must read for this year. I love the names in your books -I like names like Mason, Alexander, and Alysan.

  27. LSUReader -- Cool. Glad you are enjoying the books. I keep meaning to try Crane's books. I've heard such good things about them.

    Danielle -- Actually, Gin's dad is named Tristan, but I killed him off when Gin was just a kid.

    Crystal -- Cool. Glad you are enjoying the books.

    Laura -- Sometimes, I look up the meanings of names online too. Sometimes that helps me brainstorm, and sometimes it doesn't.

    Lil -- I know what you mean. You want the name to match the character.

    Barb -- Cool. Glad you are enjoying the books.

    Maria -- Yeah, Jim just wouldn't have the same appeal as Bones would it? LOL.

    Wanda -- Vance is a cool name. I like the Vance on NCIS.

    PamK -- Yes, elementals are born, not made. Does that answer your question?

    JenM -- Cool. Glad that you like the names and the books.

  28. I have never read any of this series but would like to. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  29. I like when characters have unique and interesting names.


  30. I'm not picky on the names. I think Harris' Sookie is a perfect fit for the location her Southern Vampire novels take place. Names that are spelled weirdly I find silly. What's the point with Zadist, Xhex, Thorment, aren't they just strange enough spelled Sadist, Sex and Torment?

    I think the rune theme in your Gin Blanco series is a nice bonus touch which is already starting to have a role of it's own in the series.

  31. Names aren't really important to me. I'm more interested in the characters and how they fit into the story.


  32. This is so random - I was at the bookstore today browsing through a book of character names an even jotted down a few that for whatever random reason stuck out:

    Gaelic (f)
    Kellan - warrior princess

    Gaelic (m)
    Devlyn - fierce
    Kane - tribute
    Cullan - handsome
    Galen - tranquil
    Kieran - black

    Greek (f)
    Stasia - shall be reborn
    Suadela - goddess of persuasion
    Tess/Zyta - reaper

    Greek (m)
    Orion - son of fire

    I don't think it's necessary, but love when it's done well.
    The Dark Hunters series is a great example.
    Also, Richelle Meads Succubus series - I absolutely loved Georgina's name as a mortal (Leitha) and the tie in with the river Leithe (forgetfulness)...very well done.

    Wow - I can't believe I just wrote all that!! Anyhow. I absolutely love this series and can't wait for Tangled Threads and Spiders Revenge to release!!

  33. So many great names I love the BDB names My favorite is Zadist! One of my other favorite name is Dimitri.
    I can't wait to read this book thank you for the great giveaway!
    tishajean@ charter.net

  34. I love the Gin Blanco series can't wait for Tangled Threads!
    I haven't thought much about character names. I guess I like the ones that are unique and stand out.


  35. When it comes to names in books I don't have a preference or anything. The only thing that does bug me occasionally is when I don't know how the heck to say the name! Or I find out that I've been saying it wrong the whole time in my head!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  36. Favorite names: Ivy - From Kim Harrison's Hollows.

    Jean Claude - LKH

    I love the meaning behind names. I wish my parents had picked my name for some cool meaning other than they just liked the way it sounded. When you create your own world, you get that opportunity. ;)


  37. Thank you so much for this giveaway.

    What about you guys? What are some of your favorite character names? Do you like runes, etc. that tie in with the characters and the meaning of their names?

    Yes, I do. I love the whole idea and I love the names you use. Personaly I love the names, Zara, Zoey, Carra, Lorna, and Nickolas.


  38. I am loving this series. I think that runes embedded into the story gives it a very ancient and mystical element that makes for better mystery. So much is unknown about them...and they are everywhere...caves, temples, museums.

    I like names that don't seem like they were made up or difficult to read or say. I think if a name must be difficult, then nicknames are a good alternative. If I had to choose a name for a character, I do like two names for a person... soemthing like Holly Marie or Paige Ellen and for a guys name Zachery Ryan or Rogan Seth.


  39. To be honest, I don't really think much about character names... but I do like more unique ones or ones that have certain meanings behind them that ties into the story. However, it's best that I can pronounce the names myself, otherwise it'll become a distraction for me when I'm reading.


  40. I know they are every where but I love the names Declan and Lucan are two of my favorites. I think strong alpha vampires whenever I see those names.

  41. I think character names really help develop a story. In previous novels, I love the names Zane & Chloe.Thanks for the chance at your giveaway. carrieab77@hotmail.com

  42. I love knowing the definitions of characters' names, especially if the definitions relate to the character. I can't think of any names at the top of my head, there are too many XD

    This series is amazing! Thank you for the giveaway and good luck everyone! =)


  43. I like exotic names, ones that have roots in other languages. They tend to sound sexy to me. I like it if the names are meaningful and reveal something about the person.


  44. I like the old European names and Greek/Italian ones.. oh and Asian (Japanese in particular) ones.

    I do think it is a pretty cool concept to have a rune, etc. tie-in with the character name somehow.

    loving Gin's story so far sooo can't wait for Tangled Threads!

    pams00 @ aol.com

  45. No books have my name in it. lol Stacyann just doesnt come off kick ass does it?


  46. Love the runes' association with names.


  47. I do like the runes. I like all names except when I can't figure out how to pronounce them (which is annoying).

  48. Hmm, I like Devon, Damien, Dante. For some reason, the D's have it :) I also like odd names, names that your don't see everyday but the problem with that is I am not always sure If I'm saying the name right. Just last month I was talking to a friend on the phone and was cracking up because we were both saying the characters name differently. I love it when the name holds meaning, gives you a little more insight into the character

  49. First, have to say how amazing it is to see how far Jennifer Estep and Spider have come in such a short time!

    I like it when the history of the name adds to the story but admit it isn't always necessary to my enjoyment. Runes are fine just as long as everyone doesn't start doing the same thing. I do wish when it is a complicated name or dialect that the author would give the correct way to pronounce it.

  50. Names are so personal that I prefer either very common names like Mary or Jennifer or unusual names that I have no association with when I read a story.

    linze_e at hotmail.com