Friday, October 21, 2011

What's in a Name?

This piece could be called A Writer's Warning or The Great Awakening. Maybe it just goes back to the old adage that the memory is the first thing to go. The realization of what had happened came yesterday when I was answering questions for an interview tied in with tomorrow's launch of my second Sid Chance novel, The Good, The Bad and The Murderous. I wanted to say something about the character Jaz LeMieux's father and needed to look it up in the first book of the series, The Surest Poison. I keep all my book files in the computer to make it easy to check back on something I wrote earlier.

But first, a little background on Jaz, or to be formal, Jasmine LeMieux. Her father, a French Canadian, came to Nashville after the Korean War and helped start what became a nationwide chain of truck stops, or travel stores, along the interstates. Her mother, an aristocratic Southern belle, disowned her when she dropped out of college and joined the Air Force, where she was assigned to the Security Police. After completing her hitch, she took to the ring and became a champion woman boxer. Since it didn't pay enough to live on, she joined the Metro Nashville Police Department to pay her bills.

On her mother's death, Jaz got back in good graces with her father, returned to school and got her MBA. She inherited controlling interest in the business on her father's death. She now serves as chairman of the board, with no responsibility for day-to-day operations. That gives her time to indulge her interest in law enforcement as Sid's associate on difficult cases.

Which brings us to the business at hand. I decided to look up information on the start of Jaques LeMieux's business by doing a search on the name I had used numerous times  in writing The Good, The Bad and The Murderous. When I entered  "Welcome Home Stores" in the Word search box and clicked on Find Next, I got a message saying the term had not been found in The Surest Poison file.

I opened the file for the new book and did the same search. Welcome Home appeared fifteen times. I went back to The Surest Poison and checked out a chapter I knew would include the business name. And there it was:

Welcome Traveler Stores.

When I did the search on that name, it came up fourteen times. Then I recalled originally using Welcome Home Stores in the first book but changing it to Welcome Traveler before sending it to the editor. That was back in 2008. I wrote the fifth Greg McKenzie mystery before starting on the second Sid Chance. I had forgotten about changing the company's name, thus used the original.

Let that be a warning. If you have a year or so delay before writing the same characters again, read the previous book before you start. It can save a lot of embarrassment. I guess I'll just sit back and wait for somebody to write and ask, "What happened to Welcome Traveler Stores?" Maybe I'll say they had a company reorganization and decided to change the name. Or maybe I'll just admit I goofed.

Chester Campbell
Visit me at Mystery Mania.


Morgan Mandel said...

Memory can be very tricky, all right. I find myself looking up stuff in my current work in progress. I often forget the name of something and spell it differently, then have to change it during the editing process.

I could say it's because I'm getting older, but it's possible I wouldn't have remembered when I was younger either.

Morgan Mandel

Mark Troy said...

I think I'm in love with Jaz.

Chester Campbell said...

You're not alone, Mark. I've had several readers tell me they like Jaz better than Sid Chance.

xl pharmacy said...

I've heard some great stories about this book Chester Campbell. My congrats to this success.