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Sunday, May 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

Hi, my name is Cynthia Arsuaga. I’m a relatively new author, actually a very new author. My first release was in January, followed by two more and a week ago had my fourth accepted, the sequel to the first release. This little exercise in promotion is one of the ways I’m supposed to get the word out about my books and myself, and as I thought about what I had to write, ‘er Blog about, well I figured why not talk about what’s in a name. This led me to think about my name, Cynthia Arsuaga. Should I use my real name or a pen name?
As you no doubt have figured out, Cynthia is okay to pronounce. Haven’t had too many problems over the years with that one. Although, people do tend to automatically call me Cindy, which I really don’t like. I like Cindy, not the presumption. Ask my husband. He’s never, ever called me Cindy since the day we met. Now, to the last name—Arsuaga. The name isn’t a problem for those of Hispanic background because it’s Spanish Basque. Keep in mind, my lineage isn’t Spanish Basque, it’s my husband’s. I always tell people I proudly chose the name, I wasn’t born with it. His family originates from that region in Spain and can trace his family roots back to the “Old Country”. So, how do you pronounce the name you ask? It has had some derivations over the years, some of which have had me rolling in the aisles with laughter, but after thirty plus years living with the name, I’ve learned to take the well-meant mispronunciations in stride. I can’t get upset with anyone because the name is certainly chocked full of vowels. Hopefully, after everyone starts to see, buy, and enjoy my stories, the pronunciation will become easy.
Can picking your book title be as important as your author name? Should it roll off the tongue easily? Long, short, tell the story in a few brief words? Do you come up with a title before you start to write or after you’ve begun? Or have it change when the publisher takes a crack at it? I’ve wondered these questions and in my brief explorations on chat rooms, social networks, and blogs (there’s that word again), I don’t think I’ve seen the questions answered directly. Some say they like a title, but never asked the author how they came up with it. As Shakespeare so eloquently wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet;” and the rest is history. This passage from Romeo and Juliet is recognizable and associated with Shakespeare hundreds of years later. So, is a name important or not?
I created my characters’ names on purpose. Their monikers were important to me and had to be just right. My heroine, Alexandra Carlton, also known as Alex, came first. I knew her instantly, no question about it. The hero, I actually researched a name for him. I wanted his name to be authentic, not made up or a “maybe it could fit” or “it sounded good” name. Stefan Marin had a meaning behind the use. The secondary characters had the same thought and care put into their names as well; especially the villain, Dragos Munteanu.
And the title? Born to Be Wild came to me within writing the first two pages. Alex drove Highway 95 north to Virginia on a hunt for the rogue vampire in her candy apple red ‘Stang with the CD blaring her favorite song. And the story unfolded from there, living up to its title. My Life as a Dog, which I co-authored with my husband, came about the same way. The story is about a private investigator that has special abilities, namely a shape-shifting Yorkshire terrier. Drake Martin has the ability to get into places, and trouble, that other shape-shifters never could. My latest release, The Cougar and Her Vampire, evolved. I had two other titles before I settled on the final one. The “Cougar” in this book is not a shape-shifter, but an older woman who meets up with a younger man, except he turns out to be a three hundred year old vampire. Hopefully, the titles will resonate with readers. Only time will tell.
So the final question is—do you think a name is important? Let me know what you think.
Oh, my name’s pronounced R-SWA-GA (short “a” sounds). Remember the name, Cynthia Arsuaga, erotic paranormal romance author. Find me at or where I have excerpts of my other novels and other interesting information.


Amber Skyze said...

Congrats on all the recent success Cynthia!

Tina Donahue said...

Character names are always important. If they're too hard to pronounce, if all of the characters' names are similar (Tim, Tom, Toni, Tess), it makes for very hard reading.

Congrats on getting pubbed, Cynthia!

Linda Kage said...

Hi Cynthia, welcome to RBRU!!

Sometimes, character names have come easily for me. As soon as I pick them, I keep it that way. And some times, I'll change a person's name ten times in a book because nothing feels right.

Titles are the same. Some I think up as soon as I come up with the story idea, and other change a dozen times. Only once has a publisher changed one of my titles. But I'm sure it won't be the last!

Patricia Eimer said...

I think character names are important. I find that I don't buy books where the character names are too "out there" because I just don't connect as well. And I feel your pain with the last name. My maiden name was a killer.

Sandy said...

Congrats, Cynthia. I hope you sell tons of books.

I think names are important that you don't make them too difficult for readers. I've read books where I stopped at a name prounouncing several different ways, and that ruins the story for me.

Molly Daniels said...

LOL:) I was close on the pronunciation of your last name:) Congrats on 30 years and for being pubbed this year!

Sometimes my characters tell me their names, and other times I have to search for a good one, one which isn't being overly used by everyone else. And yes, books with names I can't pronounce somewhat drive me nuts as I'm reading.

Cynthia Arsuaga said...

Thanks everyone for all your comments! I appreciate all the support.

jean hart stewart said...

Welcome to our group, Cynthia. I'm with the others, seomtimes names come to me immediately, once in a while I change them once I get into a book. Best caveat, don't have the villain and the hero start with a sound-alike name. Jean

Bobbye Terry said...

I liked your blog Cynthia. ;)

I tend towards characters with different spellings in their names or exotic sounding ones. LOL, with a name like Bobbye(not a nickname, BTW)and one pen name as Daryn, no wonder. As for book titles, I find you can't go wrong with song titles as long as they have the right connotation. For mysteries, I often use words like buried and murders, thus no mistaking the genre.

Thanks for giving me something to think about...


Cynthia Arsuaga said...

Thanks Bobbye and Jean! Appreciate your input.

Lawna Mackie said...

I really enjoyed your blog post. I think names are very important, and I also think they should not be to hard to pronounce. Sometimes I get stuck trying to find a name, and sometimes I catch myself creating names that are similar to other characters in other books I write.

Lawna Mackie

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