One of my favorite parts of starting a new story is naming all the characters. I like to give my characters names that reflect their goals or traits, and I also try to avoid using the names of people I know well. Luckily, there are lots of names.
One site that I used a lot today was:
This neat site allows you to search for name by gender, origin, meaning, initial letter, popularity … all kinds of stuff (just click on a letter or type of name and then click on the yellow “Refine Results” button). You can also look for names with a theme (intelligence, strength).
It has a related site for surnames:
For name popularity in the US, I also like to look at census data:
The danger, of course, is that I have so much fun looking at names that I don’t do any actual writing. Time to get back to work!
I’ve been trying to write more regularly (goal is at least 100 words/day), and when I do that, I’ve noticed that I make a lot of fast progress because even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking more about what I’m writing. This has paid off: I’ve just finished the first draft of a new story that I also started this year. I think this is a record for me.
One of the things I love doing is photographing astronomical events. In 2012, we had two neat ones a few weeks apart: a partial solar eclipse and a transit of Venus. I chose a good spot with a clear view to the horizon for my pictures and went out the night before the transit of Venus to take some test shots. I’m particularly fond of this one.