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Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? It's shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, and starts two weeks from today. Aspiring writers everywhere pledge to put 50,000 words to paper (or computer file) during the month, and maybe get the next Great American Novel (or maybe, the next Twilight) out of it. And after years of saying "I should write a novel," I'm committing to a lack of sleep all next month to try and get my 50,000 words in on an idea I've been kicking around for over a year now. (And I'm putting this out there on the blog so that it's in writing, out there for the world to see, and I'll be embarrassed if I don't at least get something done on it.)

Right now, I'm prepping my outline and taking way too much time sorting through baby names to find the right names for my cast of characters. I've already settled on names for the mother and aunt of my heroine—they'll be Cordelia and Calista, names that, at least for me, have a somewhat mystical vibe. I think my heroine's best friends are Ruby and Nick. But I'm still settling on the right name for my lead, a girl who was estranged from her family and her hometown (for good reason), and returns home to reconnect and deal with some pretty crazy stuff. Originally, she was Violet, but I'm not loving that for her—it feels a little too passive for a powerful girl. But I feel like it should be a name that has an old-fashioned vibe to it, and may have a connection to nature somehow. I like Dahlia and Delphine, but I also worry that I'm getting a little too "romance novel" with the names, and maybe need to give her something simpler and basic, like Jessica.

What name would you give the heroine of your novel?

Photo: Stack of books by monticello /