The Trouble with Names by Cheyenne Blue (Plus a FREE Book!)

Congratulations to Petra! She won an ebook copy of Never-Tied Nora by Cheyenne Blue!

Cheyenne Blue is here! And she has a new book! And, even better, she’s giving away an ebook copy. Yeah, you totally want to win this one.

To enter, drop a comment into the space below. I’ll pick a winner on Friday, Jan 29, 2016. 

cover_Never-Tied-Nora_500x800The Trouble with Names by Cheyenne Blue

I have enormous problems with names.

It’s not that I have trouble putting names to faces, as many people do; I’m fairly good at that. No, what I find hard is picking the perfect names for characters. It is, after all, an important thing, nearly on a level with picking a name for your child, or your dog. While your character might not get bullied in the schoolyard for your woeful choice of name, or refuse to return to you when off leash, the readers’ initial perception of your characters can be influenced by the names you give them. Like it or not, names can give clues to ethnicity, social group, age, and influences. On top of that, we tend to add our own individual perceptions and biases acquired over the years.

If I meet someone called Julia, for example, I’m immediately predisposed to like them, as every Julia I’ve ever met has been one of the most interesting people in the room. The flip side is of course that my gut churns every time I meet someone with the name of the person who shafted me and hung me out to dry many, many years ago.

When I start a story, it’s seldom that I have the characters’ names from the get go. Most of my characters start life with placeholder names. If I waited until I had the perfect moniker, the story would never be written. I’m a huge tennis fan, so my placeholder names are those of tennis players. Thank goodness for search and replace. When Casey becomes Molly becomes Cath becomes Tianna (as happened in a recent story) it’s a cinch to make the changes.

My recent novella, Never-Tied Nora, wasn’t so bad when it came to picking names. The main characters come from traditional Irish families and live in London. Those two facts alone ruled out a lot of more modern names as it would have been very out of character for those particular parents to have called their kids something modern and fashionable. Gaelic names have a wonderful beauty to them, but they are horrendously difficult for a non-Gaelic speaker to pronounce. I used to mangle them all the time when I first lived in Ireland, until I worked out how the strings of consonants hung together. I remember too, years ago, an editor asked me to change a character’s name from Aoife to something easier for a non-Gaelic person to say. She thought it was pronounced “Oaf” which just made her laugh. She said, quite rightly, that if a reader can’t pronounce a name, it will throw them out of the story. So that ruled out a lot of very lovely names. I also lived in Ireland for a few years, and have a good collection of Irish friends, so that knocked out a few, as I make a point of avoiding names belonging to people I know.

My characters ended up being called Nora and Geraldine. Two very traditional names, easy to write and pronounce, yet with strong Irish connections to them. James Joyce—who wrote the greatest book never read, Ulysses—his wife was Nora Barnacle (really!). And while the names, Nora and Geraldine, are old-fashioned, they are also coming back into modern usage.

Nora Kelly and Geraldine Flannery come from traditional families who are embroiled in a long running feud. When Nora and Geraldine fall in love, the feud causes problems and heartbreak for them as loyalty to family butts up against the promise of true love.

Would it have been the same story if the main characters were called Tiffany and Skylar? No, I don’t think it would. Two perfectly good names, but so very wrong for the composite picture of character, background, setting, and family.

True story: A friend inherited a dog called Fluffy Dimplebottom. It would only respond to that name if food was involved.

Another true story: While I am good at remembering names, my partner is not. Over 20 years ago, in the days when you had to visit a bank to get a mortgage and smooze the bank manager, my partner introduced me by the first and last name of a famous actor who shares the same first name as me, thus negating in one stroke all our earnest avowals as to the stability of our relationship.

Third true story: Until last year, I owned a 1980 Volvo called Lord Volvomort because it refused to die.

Never-Tied Nora 

Nora Kelly loves her carefree London life where there’s always a new woman to seduce. Her big Irish family tease her about her footloose ways, but she knows she’s in no danger of losing her heart.

Her family has only one rule when it comes to dating: Nora can date any woman she wants—as long as she’s not a Flannery. The Kellys and the Flannerys have been feuding ever since both families arrived in London from Ireland sixty years ago, and time has not lessened the hatred.

But never-tied Nora has just met the woman of her dreams, and suddenly commitment isn’t a dirty word. Trouble is, Geraldine is a Flannery.

Can Nora convince Ger that, despite their families, they are meant to be together?

Never-Tied Nora is available now from:

bio-pic_cheyenne-blueCheyenne Blue’s erotic fiction has been included in over 90 erotic anthologies since 2000, including Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, All You Can Eat: a buffet of lesbian romance and erotica, Sweat, Bossy, and Wild Girls, Wild Nights. She is the editor of Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire (Ladylit) which is a Lambda Literary Award finalist and a Golden Crown Literary Award finalist, and First: Sensual Lesbian Stories of New Beginnings. Her collected lesbian short fiction is published by Ladylit as Blue Woman Stories – volumes 1 to 3. Her first novella, Never-Tied Nora, is out now from Ylva Publishing, with more to come.

Under her own name she has written travel books and articles, and edited anthologies of local writing in Ireland. She has lived in the U.K., Ireland, the United States, and Switzerland, but now writes, runs, makes bread and cheese, and drinks wine by the beach in Queensland, Australia. Check out her blog at, on Twitter at IamCheyenneBlue and on Goodreads at



  1. Sounds like a fun read! My daughter and her boyfriend adopted a red heeler that came pre-named as Bruno. That wasn’t a name any of us liked, so I christened him the first name I could think of for a red dog named Bruno: Mars. And that’s his name, often lengthened to Mars Bar or Mars-ipan.


  2. Google random name generator and you can set parameters for names, first middle only or last as well. I often have to use our a few times till a name that resonates work me comes up but it’s pretty awesome.


  3. Excellent post Cheyenne, and spot on about how a character’s name can influence a reader’s initial perception of said character. Never-Tied Nora sounds like quite the interesting read.


  4. You are so correct about names of characters. If I can’t pronounce a name, I just give them a name I can. But please have someone in the story tell me how to actually pronounce that collection of consonants and vowels and apostrophes so that our heroic couple don’t spend their adventures being referred to as Myra and Spike.


  5. I often wonder how names I’m reading are supposed to be pronounced, probably not what I come up with. I’d love to win the book.


  6. I worked in a university admissions office years ago and came across an applicants name I have never forgotten, Barbara Betterbed. It was her married name…. I think I would have kept my maiden name.


  7. Count me in the drawing. Only Nora I can think of is “Noisy Nora” one of my favorite childhood stories/book!


  8. I’m a teacher so names are important to me. If a child is challenging I tend to dread having that name show up in my class with the same name. Please count me in on the drawing. Thanks!!


  9. Sounds like a very interesting book and the post was very interesting and entertaining, also! Thanks for the chance to win…always something high on my list! (new books are always great but then new, free books even better) 😉
    Big hugs, k


  10. Oh no!! Nora & Geraldine verses Tiffany & Skylar. Yes it made me laugh but now when I read this book they are going to be Tiffany & Skylar in my head. 😈😈


  11. I think I changed at least six characters’ names in my book, for one reason or another. Oddly enough, a lot of the ones that stuck were ones that were shared with various pets I’ve known over the years. Thank goodness for Find and Replace, that’s all I can say…


  12. Hi, Cheyenne. What an entertaining post!

    Public-service reminder: For those of you changing names via search/replace, keep your eyes open! I once almost ended up with a “tommy cloth robe” in a book in which I was changing a character’s name from Terry to Tommy. (:v>

    [P.S. I already own NTN, so don’t put my name–or any name you change it to–in the hat.]


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