Sunday, May 26, 2013

Free YA Audiobooks All Summer Long!

I mentioned Sync in a previous blog post, but it's been a while and it certainly bears repeating. Especially this year, because Sync is offering an amazing collection of audiobooks. For free.

Sync gives people a chance to experience audiobooks and pairs classic literature with a current YA release. A new pair is released once a week throughout summer.

Just sign up and you can be downloading free audiobooks all summer long. Sync will even send you a text or email reminder when the new audiobooks are available. How easy is that? (And did I mention it is FREE!?!)

The first pair --  Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, read by Rebecca Gibel and The Tempest by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast -- releases on May 30, 2013 and will available for download through June 5, 2013.

You can see the full schedule of Sync audiobooks here.

Happy listening!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What to Name Your Characters

I've always loved names. I used to read the phone book and make lists of names I liked. Sometimes it was the combination of sounds, sometimes it was image that it provoked, sometimes it was just goofy.

I'd combine names and make up names, sci-fi sounding names like Hysy Sigee and silly names like Constance Prattle.

I bought a baby name book and used that to name characters, but then I discovered the Social Security Administration's list of baby names. It is nirvana for name nerds like me, especially if your novel takes place in the United States.

The SSA released the data for 2012 this week and while the big news is usually the most popular names (Jacob and Sophia), there is a cornucopia of name goodness throughout the website.

First of all, the database goes back to 1880, when the most popular names were John and Mary. And you can find the most popular names up to the 1,000th (Layton and Eula in 1880; Dangelo and Katalina in 2012).

You can also find the most popular names by decade. I write contemporary YA, so my characters would have born in the 1990's. I can see that Michael and Jessica were the most popular names during the era of grunge.

If you want to get specific by geography, you can also check most popular name by state, up to the 100th(ish) most popular. Say I have a character born in Alabama in 1997. The most popular names were William and Hannah. Colby and Sabrina were 100th. Nationally, William was 19th for that year and Hannah was at 5th. Colby was at 229th and Sabrina 53rd.

If those kid were born in Texas instead, the most popular were Jose and Ashley. The 100th were Joel and Angela. Nationally, Jose was 32nd and Ashley was 3rd. Joel was 126th and Angela was 93rd.

Of course, there are other things to consider when naming a character. Such as the sound, the meaning, the connotations of a name. But if you're writing historical or contemporary fiction, then the Social Security baby name database is an incredible source of information to help you make the best naming choice.

And if you're looking for a last name, you might want to check out the genealogy data from the U.S. Census. It has data of the most common surnames from the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reader's Corner - April 2013 Update

"The Diviners is the cat's meow!"
So April was not the cruelest month. It was one of those months that zipped on by in a whirl of collection development and library programming.

While I got very little reading done, I did get a chance to listen to some wonderful audiobooks. (I have a feeling I should change this monthly post from Reader's Corner to Listener's Corner.) 

First of all, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is absolutely magical. There's a love story and a coming-of-age story, but really, it's about a place so special that everyone who reads the book wishes they could go to the Night Circus while wearing a red scarf to meet other people who know how special it is. The Circus itself is a character, the most important character of all, built from love and pining and loss.

The other audiobook I listened to was The Diviners by Libba Bray. Evie O'Neill is a flapper in 1920's New York who has the ability to "read" objects and see the past. She lives with her Uncle Will, who runs an occult museum, and together they investigate a series a horrific murders. 

But The Diviners isn't just about Evie. It's a huge, sprawling novel that introduces many characters who also have special gifts. This is the first in a series, so most of these characters are incidental to the main plot but you know they'll have their own storylines in future volumes.

Even though there's a lot going on in the novel, it doesn't seem bloated with unnecessary detail or story threads. In fact, the historical details are entertaining, as well as thorough, and really bring 1920's New York to life.

Also, The Diviners is as scary as hell. 

The Diviners book trailer:



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