Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Guest Blogger Linda Winstead Jones

The Playground is pleased to have one of our own Mavens blogging today. Give a warm Playground welcome to Linda Winstead Jones (AKA Maven LJ) as she talks about her latest book and her anthropomorphic tendencies...

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked - and the hardest to answer - is “Where do you get your ideas?” Usually the answer is complicated. There was this song, and then a few days later I overheard a snippet of conversation -- oh, yeah, and there was the dream, and that movie title that sparked something. And in truth, the result will hold little if any resemblance to any of the triggers.

But in some instances, the answer is simple.

When the other mavens and I were working on the Raintree trilogy we exchanged many, many e-mails. Many. Trust me on this. At one point, in the midst of an e-mail deluge, Beverly sent a question into cyberspace. “Are you naming your swords?” Linda and I had the same response. “What swords?” The e-mail conversation continued, devolving into deadline-induced silliness, until Linda said the only name she could think of was Kitty, and that didn’t spark for her.

It sparked for me. I asked, “Can I have it?” Oddly enough, neither of them wanted a sword named Kitty, so I claimed it as my own. Kitty wasn’t right for Raintree, and I knew it at the moment. But she (it? they?) was perfect for Bela, my heroine in 22 Nights.

In The Emperor’s Brides trilogy, six potential brides are being collected for Emperor Jahn to choose from. Bela is one of those chosen, though she’s hardly what anyone would consider empress material. She prefers the lifestyle of a warrior to that of a wife and mother. She has no desire to tie herself to a man -- until General Merin comes back into her life. And, oh yeah, unknown to him they’re already married, and they end up literally tied together. But I digress.


A sword constructed of a magical crystal from a forbidden mountain who (which? that? hmm) speaks to the one chosen to hear. A sword with a calling, a purpose, a destiny. A personality. Yes, the sword became a character almost as important as the hero and heroine. She (okay that’s it. Weapon or not, “she” will have to do) leads, she coerces, she manipulates, she is a partner in a battle that will lead Bela and Merin into Forbidden Mountain -- bound together as a part of the ritual to undo their marriage.

The idea of a magical sword isn’t a new one, I know that. In fantasy fiction objects which are ordinarily inanimate often take on a life of their own and become crucial to the story. Funny, exciting, frightening, heroic - they become characters we come to love as much as the heroes and heroines. Swords and daggers, clothing and jewelry, pens and paintbrushes . . . and so much more.

Do you have a favorite? Or do you prefer all the players in your story to be warm-blooded? :-)

Remember, one lucky commenter will win a copy of the first book in the trilogy - Untouchable - and a nifty totebag. (It's dedicated to moi, so I'm especially partial to it.) Also, you can pick up a copy of 22 Nights now on Amazon or Books a Million. You can learn more about her books at her website


Smarty Pants said...

DB always gets onto me for doing this. I like giving inanimate objects names and personalities. My computer, plants, cars, you name it. Makes me feel better when my car breaks down and I can yell at it properly.

Problem Child said...

A sword named Kitty is definitely a she.

My current WIP has lots of boats, and I've been told the correct pronoun is "she." I'm going with it, but I don't know why...

word verif: shanthel. Sounds like a good name for a sword.

Angel said...

Welcome, Maven LJ! Well, I have to say I haven't read much fantasy, but the idea of a magical sword sounds fun. And I love the idea of a marriage he didn't know about. Sounds awesome!

I LOVE the cover for this book!!! How did that come about? Is it from a particular scene?


Linda Winstead Jones said...

SP -- My grandmother called her car Betsy. I guess I come by this naturally. :-)

PC -- Yeah, boats are shes. Who decides these things?

Angel -- The cover. I wish I could take credit, but I can't. But whoever designed it had read the book, or at least part of it. The water in the background is from a scene in the book, and Kitty is perfect. The characters aren't too shabby, either. :-)


Christie Craig said...


This sounds like a great read!

I like naming things. Hey, men name things all the time. Their cars . . . and well, body parts.

This sounds like winner.

Congrats on the new release.


Smarty Pants said...

There has to be someone that decides whether it's a he or she because in Spanish, things are assigned a pronoun like la camera. Cameras are women. Dunno why. Maybe its just that it ends in an a and flows better than el camera.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Thanks, Christie! :-)


Instigator said...

Welcome Maven LJ! I can't wait to read this book. I love the idea of Kitty. And the way you describe her...I can just see her :-)

I'm not the kind of person to name things. I suck at it. I'm just not detail oriented enough to pick out something that fits.


Rhonda Nelson said...

A sword named Kitty. Only you, LJ. :-) Can't wait to read the book. It will be my reward for finishing the one I'm working on.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I think a sword named Kitty is cool!! I was a fantasy reader long before I returned to romance -- and there was always an object with a name. But most of them didn't have personalities! I think this is a cool idea, Maven LJ!

I don't think I have anything in my books thus far with a name. Well, I have a 3 yr old in the current WIP -- and since kids are rarely seen and never heard in a Presents, he's almost like an object. *g*

Sherry Werth said...

Hi LJ! I can't think of anything I've read that has a named object in it but I love the idea. A sword named Kitty would be something I wouldn't forget!

Congrats on the new release! I'm looking forward to reading the trilogy.
BTW - Great covers!

CrystalGB said...

I love how the sword's name is Kitty. I call my car Betsy.

Minna said...

Looks like my TBB list just keeps getting longer...

Linda Winstead Jones said...

What is it about cars and the name Betsy? There must be a story there. I hope it doesn't bear any resemblance to Stephen King's Christine. :-)


Playground Monitor said...

I'm late chiming in. I have an awful cold. ::sniffle, cough, aaaa-choooooo::

I've never named anything and the only things I could think of were Christine the car and Excalibur from Arthurian legend.

Oh wait -- the DH and I have a huge wandering jew plant we named Moses years ago.

I think I'll go back to bed now.

PM's Mother said...

PC--does this answer your question?

"Why is a ship called she?

A ship is called a "she" because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about, she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and when coming into port, always heads for the buoys."

That, my friends, is why a ship is a she.

Maven Linda said...

I tend to call inanimate objects by personal names, but as often as not I forget them as soon as the moment passes.

We also had two cars named "Betsy." The first one was just Betsy, then when we got a second car the first one became Old Betsy and the new one was New Betsy. It must have been something about the times.

I love that Kitty has a real personality. How cool is that?

word verification: unctokoo. It sounds like a fantasy place name.

Anonymous said...

Welcome Linda,
I am not a writer but I do enjoy how writers do put names and personalities on items when I read their stories. And yes, I have been known to name a few things myself, ie., "the girls".

Cathy said...

I am not the kind that puts names to things I own, but I get a kick out of it in the stories I read. The cars in Tara Janzen's series comes to mind. Plus I know I've read about swords and knives that have names, I've just gone blank about which stories they were in.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Apparently Betsy is THE most popular name among those who name their cars. I found an article online about the possible reasons.


Linda Winstead Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Winstead Jones said...

I posted and then immediately cancelled because there was a horrid typing error that could not be left alone. Anyway, the link didn't work, looks like, but you can find the article by putting Betsy and Car into google. The title is something like Heaven to Betsy what a car. I wouldn't feel right cutting and pasting. If anyone should respect copyright, it's writers.

Cars and swords do seem to be the most popular named objects.


catslady said...

I've never named an inanimate object but a sword named Kitty is unique lol. My word was venth - I like it too lol.

Stephanie said...

I have not named many inanimate objects in my life but I do often call them names when the objects don't work the way I want them to. Does that count?

I LOVE the idea of a sword named Kitty the fact that she has her own forceful makes it even better!

Virginia said...

Your book sound great. I do tend to name thing myself. Cars and other things around the house. I even have a few chose names for dear hubby when he doesn't get done what I want him to do.

Amy S. said...

22 Nights sounds great!

Sue A. said...

Great post — the book sounds awesome!

I have a hard time naming things when required or even finding a clever handle for use on the computer so you won't find me going around giving out names to my possessions.