Guest Post with Giveaway ~ One Foot In The Grove by Kelly Lane


How I Chose Character Names for ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE

Call me character-driven. Whether I’m reading a book or writing a book, to me, the characters are the most important elements of a story. So, for example, when I crafted my cozy mystery, ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE, developing and presenting each character in a fun and memorable way was crucial to me.

A most telling element in showcasing each character was his or her name. I considered each name in terms of suitability for not only the character, but for the setting and cozy mystery genre as well. I thought about how memorable each name would be for readers. And sometimes I added a little bit of my “reality” to the mix!

Names of Cozy Mystery Characters Indicate Personae

Without giving away the story, when appropriate I tried to create names that give clues regarding what a character may be about. For example, main character Eva Knox’s sister, Pepper-Leigh, is called “Pep,” by nearly everyone, and the nickname fits her spicy personality. Right off the bat, evil Debi Dicer sounds like trouble. And for protagonist Eva Knox, she is! Gossip monger Tilly Beekerspat works at dispatch in the sheriff’s office. Pooty Chitty is a “loose” lingerie shop owner. Pat Butts is a reporter who pops up at inopportune times and writes stories that annoy Eva. It’s not hard to guess from his actions that New Yorker Guido Gambini is a mob man.

The one character who doesn’t seem to fit her name, at first blush anyway, is Eva Knox’s friend, Precious Darling. However, it shouldn’t take readers long to figure out that even though she doesn’t seem like her name on the outside, Precious truly is a gem on the inside.

Spelling Counts!

Even a name’s spelling mattered. For example, when developing protagonist, Eva Knox, I considered the spelling “Ava” for her first name. In the end, I went with “Eva” because this is a woman who suffers from insomnia and she runs during the evenings – when she always runs into trouble! Having a connection to the night seemed appropriate for Eva. Also, “Ava” reads softer, sweeter to me. The “E” version seems to have a bit more edge to it and fits the character’s spirited persona.

Similarly, the name “Debi Dicer” could have been “Debby Dicer,” “Debbie Dicer,” or “Debbi Dicer.” Each unique spelling gave the character a subtle but different feel. Short and snappy, when you connect it with her behavior, “Debi,” gave my villainous Abundance native the essence that I wanted.

Matching Fictional Names to Specific Setting

I was raised in the Northeastern United States before relocating to the South. And I’ve noticed first-hand distinctive differences in names native to each region. For example, Earlene Azalea Greene and Tammy Fae Tanner are certainly more Southern than my Northeastern characters, Judi Malagutti and Zack Black.

For my Abundance, Georgia, characters, I tried to come-up with names that seem appropriate for a small, rural community in the Southeast. I spent a great deal of time researching local news sources, community and tourism information, obituaries and genealogical sites on the Internet. Also I paid attention to names I’ve heard in my own community. And I considered my own Southern family members and ancestors. I made countless lists and pushed first names and surnames together and created nicknames, finally coming up with fitting combinations. I tried to make it all entertaining for readers as well!

Genre, Memorability and Favored Pets Influence Characters

As befitting the cozy mystery genre, parts of ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE are a bit “campy.” So in keeping with this upbeat interpretation, I wanted characters – especially those of the supporting cast – to add to the lighthearted, fun feel of the story. To that end I tossed in whimsical names that make me smile, such as, “Tilly Beekerspat,” Daila Whipplesnap, and my favorite, “Pooty Chitty.” I enjoy saying these names aloud as much as I like reading them on the page!

Eva Knox, Buck Tanner and Precious Darling have solid sounding names that are simple to write and read, as well as to a snap to remember. I wanted readers to be able to put the book down, walk away, and later talk about the story and main characters with a friend, as if the characters in the story are real people. Remembering their names, and the images that go-with, is a big part of that.

Finally, although I didn’t use names of any specific real people in my life, I did use names of “real” animals and pets. There are several in ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE. Most notably, Eva’s beloved black dog, Dolly, is the spitting image of my real-life dog, Dolly. The wonderful ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE cover illustration features Eva’s naughty Dolly. And of course, the pup looks like, and misbehaves like, the real Dolly!

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groveSeries: An Olive Grove Mystery (Book 1)
Publisher: Berkley (January 5, 2016)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ISBN-10: 0425277224
ISBN-13: 978-0425277225
Buy: Amazon, Kindle, IndieBound, The Book Depository


First in a delicious new mystery series about Eva Knox and her family’s Georgia olive plantation.

In the sweet Southern town of Abundance, Georgia, home of the Knox family’s olive farm, gossip isn’t the only thing that can kill you…

After leaving a man at the altar for the second time in her life, Eva Knox decides to head home to her family’s plantation to regroup and soak in some Southern charm. But hiding from her woes is a slipperier proposition than Eva imagined. For one thing, most people in town still haven’t forgiven her for leaving local boy Buck Tanner at the altar and hightailing it up north eighteen years ago. For another, a death on her family’s farm soon makes her the lead suspect in a murder case—and the sheriff investigating is none other than Eva’s old flame Buck.

With the police putting the squeeze on her, it’s up to Eva and her sisters, Pep and Daphne, to figure out who could have possibly left a dead body in their olive grove. And they’ll have to catch the greasy killer quickly—because it looks like Eva has been picked as the murderer’s next victim…

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Thanks to the publisher I have one (1) copy of One Foot in the Grove to give away.

Giveaway open to residents of the US only.
Giveaway ends on January 30th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will have 48 hours, from the time of notification to confirm their win or another winner will be chosen.

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Kelly Lane lives near Charlottesville, Virginia, and has worked as a writer, editor, and public relations professional. An active member of Sisters in Crime, she participates in professional writing groups and workshops. Kelly enjoys a Southern, agrarian lifestyle that includes preparing locally grown and artisanal foods for family and friends. At any given time, Kelly’s pantry boasts more than a dozen kinds of olive oil, including delicious Georgia varieties. She’d be hard-pressed not to share with you a mouthwatering dish made with her favorite olive oils.


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  1. Elaine Roberson says:

    Sounds like a great book.  Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Sandy Todd says:

    Thanks Lori for the intro to this debut cozy!  Sounds to me like I will need to put this on my wish list.

  3. Cynthia E. Blain says:

    Fantastic sounding book; looking forward to winning or buying it.  (I never have won so I guess I should order it, :))  Loved the interview/write up about this book and author.   A lot to begin with book 1 in series so this is great news.  Thank you.


    Cynthia B

  4. Della Williamson says:

    One foot in the Grove looks like a most interesting and fun read.  Loved the post.  Most informative.  And makes wanting to read this book even stronger.  Beautiful cover.  Thank you for a chance at this book.

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