HELP! Again

on April 12, 2007

First, my novella from hell is done. I love it, I really hope my agent and editor like it, but I’m just glad it’s over. It’s 36,000 words and I know I need to trim a few things, but I also realized after I sent it to my agent I never mentioned, not even a hint, of the hero’s backstory. Urgh. But I’m going to revise it over the weekend anyway. I want it to be over.

But I’ve started writing book #1 of the next trilogy. (Yep, no titles, I sent a list to my editor and they’re going over it but I don’t think they love any of them otherwise I would have probably heard back. I like BREAKOUT but I don’t think anyone else does!)

The set-up of the next trilogy: An earthquake under San Quentin prison facilitates the escape of several death row inmates. Each book deals with the aftermath. (They all stand alone, though there’s a recurring character who’s coordinating the manhunt for the feds.)

Anyway, the first book is Will Hooper’s story. Will is Carina Kincaid’s partner from SPEAK NO EVIL. I like Will. He’s a bit of a womanizer–a playboy. This stems from a failed marriage years ago because of his job. He assumes he’ll be a bachelor for life, and it never bothered him until his partner Carina decided to get married. He’s on the periphery of the Kincaid family, and he realizes that maybe he’s missing out on something.

But his job does come first, especially the capture of Theodore Glenn, a killer he put in prison six years ago. Glenn is a sociopath–he has no remorse, no conscience. He’s also very smart–a corporate attorney who turned to murder when he got bored.

Okay, so Will’s in charge of the task force. Glenn vowed to kill everyone who testified against him–including Will. But Will isn’t concerned about his own safety as much as the innocent civilians who has done their civic duty to help put Glenn behind bars.

This is the problem. I thought the heroine was Trinity Lange, a compassionate but ambitious reporter who had covered the trial six years ago but now has her own show and does special reports for the local network. She basically wants to be Greta van Sustern (but cuter) and is all over this escape. Then Glenn breaks into her condo and threatens her–he admits to killing the first three strippers, but he denies the last. He wants her to prove it. Or he’ll kill her.

So that was the initial set-up. And I love it. Except that Will and Trinity don’t work. I was going to have her call the police (because she’s not stupid) and Will sort of watch over her while doing his job, but it just didn’t work. At least in my mind (I only have about 30 pages written.)

But then I started thinking about the fourth victim, and learned that she was the roommate of one of the dead strippers and she now owns the club where all the dead strippers had worked. It’s now a high-class night club, no stripping. And guess what? As soon as I put her and Will in the same room, I KNEW she was the heroine.

Damn, damn, damn. But that’s life, right? I think I know best for my characters, but they remind me I’m merely the vessel to tell their story.

So I can picture her. She’s tall, rounded, and her ballet teacher told her she’d never be a professional dancer because she had too many curves. She’s blonde. I think. Maybe she’s brunette. She has dark eyes. She’s very, very smart–a bit of street smarts. Her dad was never around–she found him when she was 18 and he attempted to pay her off thinking she was after back child support. She just wanted to know him. Her mother is a nice woman without any common sense. My heroine is intensely practical. They were broke growing up because her mother, though generous with a good job, never remember to pay the bills first so they’d been evicted twice before her heroine was 7. She started balancing her mother’s checkbook and paying all the bills, having her mother sign the checks. She grew up too fast. No sexual or physical abuse whatsoever. She loves her mother, who is living nearby. That might play a role in the story, I don’t know. I think she also lived with her grandmother for a long time.

She turned to stripping to get through college. Again, it was a practical decision. It was the best paying job she could find and she desperately wanted a college degree. She doesn’t know why she wanted it, but just figured she needed a degree to find a good job and not live paycheck to paycheck. When she told her boyfriends she was a stripper, inevitably they’d bring all their friends to the club and hollar at her. She stopped talking about it. She fell in love when she was a senior, to a grad student. He asked her to marry him. She told him the truth. He was horrified and left her. Broke her heart.

The last time she got close to a man was six years ago. His name was Detective Will Hooper and he was investigating the murders of strippers. They had an affair that ended very badly. Now he’s back. And it’s like he never went away.

So, my problem? HER NAME!!!! I called her Anna when she was a secondary character, but now that she’s the heroine and I know her backstory, it doesn’t fit. I went through a bunch of names and settled on Sydney, but when I started writing a scene in her POV, her name wasn’t Sydney. It didn’t fit. I’m stuck. I keep thinking of her as Kate, but Kate is the heroine in FEAR NO EVIL, so obviously that doesn’t work.

So please help. Again. You guys did such a fabulous job namin Skye McPherson in my now-finished novella. Can you help will Will Hooper’s heroine? I need a first name. I don’t know her last name, but that’s much easier for me, especially when I get a first name nailed.

I’ll pick randomly among all the posters today and send off one of my books, just for helping! 🙂