Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Fantasy Name Ideas

Sometimes I need a little help coming up with the name of a character or place. I'm compiling a list here of the name generators I find most useful. Note that they have a decidedly fantasy genre bend to them; that is what I write, after all. Also, I rarely take a random name literally. Rather I'll tweak it a bit. But I've found these sites good starting places when the mind is stuck.

People

Humans

  1. Fantasy Land: Comprehensive Fantasy Names Links
  2. The Baby Name Network
  3. A Barrel of Names
  4. Social Security Administration Popular Names
  5. Most Common Surnames in the U.S.
  6. 100 Most Common U.S. Surnames
  7. Wikipedia: Most Common Surnames
  8. Behind the Name
  9. Rinkworks Fantasy Name Generator
  10. Donjon Name Generator
  11. Behind the Name Random Name Generator
  12. YAFNAG: Yet Another Fantasy NAme Generator
  13. Squid.org Random Name Generator
  14. 20,000 Names

Dwarves

  1. Seventh Sanctum: Dwarf Name Generator
  2. Dwarf Names
  3. RPGInspiration: Dwarf Names
  4. Dwarf Names

Orcs

  1. Orcish Name Generator

Krill/Cat-people

  1. Seventh Sanctum: Cat Being Namer

Ratmen

  1. Rats Rule: Males / Females

Demons

  1. Weird Encyclopedia: Demons A-Z
  2. Demonology: Demon Names
  3. Names of Demons
  4. Seventh Sanctum Angel/Demon Name Generator

Any/Other

  1. Dungeons & Dragons: Fantasy Name Generator
  2. Seventh Sanctum: Lovecraftian Name Generator

Places

  1. Place Name Generator
  2. Seventh Sanctum: Tavern Name Generator
  3. Manon's Garden: Fantasy Place Name Generator
  4. Dwarven Strongholds
  5. Denmark Castle and Palaces
  6. Native North American People Tribal Names
  7. African Tribal Names
  8. Wikipedia: List of Celtic Tribes
  9. List of earldoms
  10. A Barrel of Names: Street Name Generator

Further Reading 

  1. Paperback Writer: Place Names
  2. BabyNames.com: Tips for Writers
  3. Fantasy Author's Handbook: The Name Game

Microsoft Office Live Workspace

What is Office Live Workspace?

imageA lot of people are mobile these days. I am. I have my laptop with me most times so that when I want to fit in some work on my current novel or other documents I flip it open and go. But every once in a while I leave the laptop at home. The dilemma then becomes one of how do I fit some work in on those documents when the files are not accessible?

Enter Office Live Workspace.

Office Live Workspace is a free "access your documents anywhere" service from Microsoft. With the service you can store hundreds if not thousands of documents remotely, then access those same documents from any computer.

Technically, you don't have to have Office on your desktop, but the integration is quite slick, so I would recommend it. Also, the product is beta, so keep that in mind.

Installation & Setup

You get hooked up with Office Live Workspace by installing the Microsoft Office Live Add-in available via Windows Update as an optional update. I'll assume you can handle that part of the install since it really is just another update. Also, once you get into the service, you'll likely be prompted to install some updates. Go through the motions and let it install what it needs.

Now, either you already have a Live Id from previous apps you might have installed or used or you'll need to sign-up for a new one. If you've already got one, you can sign in from the Office Live Workspace home page: image

Otherwise, here's the step-by-step to get setup with Office Live Workspace.

1. Let's say you've fired up, say, Microsoft Word. Once the Office Live Workspace add-in has been installed you'll see the following dialog asking you to take the plunge with Office Live Workspace:

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2. If you click "Continue" you're brought to the following web site where you can sign up for the Workspace service.

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3. Type your email address and click "Next". You'll then see this:

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4. Go through the motions of filling in the form in order to set up your account. Good luck with the captcha—it took me more times than I care to admit to get it right.

Once you've filled out the form to their satisfaction and clicked "Finish", you'll get a confirmation of sorts:

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5. Go to your inbox and wait for the email to show up. When it does, click on the "Activate your workspace" link.

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I ran into some problems at this point. The service was fairly unresponsive (see above comment about this being beta ;-) ). I waited a bit, and finally got in:

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That's it. You're in. People familiar with SharePoint will see some commonalities here. Basically you've got a repository for storing documents and other files. You can upload files, create a new workspace for grouping files, or view shared documents if others have opened up their documents for you to see.

Save a document to Office Live Workspace

Uploading a document is easy. Let's do it through the web page first, then we'll look at how to save a document to the remote Workspace from within Word.

To upload a document to the Workspace over the web:

1. From your Workspace page, click on "Add Documents".

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2. Navigate to a file using the resulting Open dialog and select it.

3. You'll see a progress bar next to the title of your document as it uploads. The time it takes to upload your file depends on the size of the file.

4. Done. File has been uploaded:

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Now, if you're using Microsoft Word you can upload files directly from there.

1. First, sign-in using the account you created above.

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2. This is one of those times mentioned above where you'll need to install some updates. Click through until it's happy.

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Unfortunately, you will be asked to reboot. Once you've done that, open up Word again, select "Save to Office Live" again and sign-in.

3. A File Save dialog will pop-up. Double-click on the "Documents" folder (it doesn't look like a folder, but that's what it is) and click "Save".

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Give it a sec…

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That's it. Document saved.

Open a document from Office Live Workspace

Just like saving/uploading a document can be done from the web interface or through Microsoft Word, so can opening a file.

1. To open a file through the web interface, locate the "Edit" (leftmost) button.

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2. You'll be confronted with a warning about unsafe files:

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Click "OK"

3. Your document will open in Word or whatever program is assigned to open the file type you chose.

Now, to open a file stored on your Workspace through Word:

1. Select the "Open from Office Live" menu item. A File Open dialog will pop-up. Select your file.

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2. Click "Open" and your document will open in Word.

Make changes and save. You'll see the "Saving" dialog again as the document is saved off to the remote Workspace location.

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That's all there is to it. You've signed up for an Office Live Workspace account, uploaded a file to the service, opened it from the remote location, made changes, and saved it back.

Conclusion

I'm planning on using Office Live Workspace for those days when I don't have my laptop with me but where I also have some time to work on documents I typically only store there. I do have some concerns over security—I'm not going to store personal financial data out there. But as long as the service remains stable I think it will help me stay productive.

Further Reading

For more info and assistance visit the Office Live Workspace Community page.

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Stuff to Use Later

image I have a file that accompanies every one of my stories. It's called "stuff to use later.doc". This file contains sentences, paragraphs, snippets, possibly even entire chapters. Some of it is stuff that comes to mind before I've even started work on an outline. It might be a scene of dialog between two characters, or some information on setting. Then, once I've started writing or editing, I might toss into this file tidbits that are good, and that I like, but maybe don't quite fit into the story as it is right now.

The point of this file is simple: it gives me a place to throw things without throwing them away. I'm not a packrat, but when it comes to writing I don't delete anything unless I know with absolute certainty that it's crap. Even then I may hold onto it for a while longer, just in case.

Point in case: as I continue through a second edit of my current fantasy novel, I just came across a place where it hit me that a short scene I had previously chopped might fit quite nicely. I'm digging into my "stuff to use later" file now and will soon have it back in place.

Milestones and Goals

468230_30211180 Every writer or blogger has goals. But on the road to achieving those goals we pass something else by: milestones.

I like to think of milestones as micro-goals. They're not bona fide goals unto themselves, but they are accomplishments of a sort.

Make no mistake: milestones are a good thing. Sometimes, trying to achieve a full-fledged goal can be overwhelming. Take writing a novel, for example. How many people never start (let alone finish) such a thing simply because of the daunting nature of it?

I'll tell you what helps: milestones.

Merriam-Webster defines a milestone as "a significant point in development". Reaching a milestone is not the end, but it's a significant step in that direction.

For me, a milestone is a chapter written. The chapter by itself is kind of meaningless—you can't sell it, and it probably doesn't tell a whole story. But rack up enough of those milestones and the next thing you know, you've got a complete manuscript.

There's something else about setting goals or working towards a milestone: they have to be realistic or attainable.

Overshooting, or setting unrealistic goals, is a recipe for failure. Not reaching your goals can be discouraging. Hit on too many disappointments, next thing you know you're out of the game before you even had a chance.

The lesson in all of this: baby steps. Keep it simple. Reach for the attainable, knowing that each smaller step is a signpost on the longer road to completion.

Thoughts from Brandon Sanderson

image I was going through my usual blog reading routine this morning and came across a link to some thoughts from Brandon Sanderson on his history as a writer. Brandon Sanderson was tagged to write the final volumes in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, the first of which is The Gathering Storm. Jordan passed away before he could finish the series. The details of Sanderson's post are significant enough that I thought I would share.

Sanderson's Mistborn was a Tor Free E-book Giveaway back in July. He's also the guy tasked with completing Jordan's final Wheel of Time book after that author's death. There's also a recent video interview with the author that I came across.

The most profound thing I took away from Sanderson's post is that I (and I imagine many writers) found myself empathizing with many of his feelings and thoughts. I saw in his words some of the same questions I ask myself, such as "is this good enough?", "will this stand up to reader scrutiny?", "is anyone going to even want to read this let alone publish it?". It's, in an odd way, comforting.

At one point, Sanderson says this:

Here I was, having written twelve novels, and I seemed to be getting WORSE with each one. I wasn't selling, I was out of school working a wage job graveyard shift, and my social life consisted pretty much of my friends taking pity on me and coming to hang out at the hotel once in a while.

Sounds rather dismal. The thing that really blew me away was his statement that he'd written twelve novels (twelve!) without a publishing credit to his name. That's disheartening and inspiring at the same time. The latter because of his fortitude and perseverance, both obviously of heroic proportions.

Later, he says this:

I was NEVER AGAIN going to write toward the market.

After some initial failures, Sanderson changed tactics, trying to write what he thought publishers wanted. The results were sub-standard work simply because his heart was not in the material. The above statement marks a turning point, whereupon he decides to write for himself. He finds success not too long after that.

On that last point, I've seen it go the other way, too. I know of one writer in particular who also faced some small amount of defeat in getting published before he also decided to change tactics—study the market, see what publishers were buying (and what people were reading)—then take that information and write. The result was his first sale of many.

In light of that, it would seem there's no foolproof approach. What works for some may not work for others. It's both inspiring and sobering to read such posts as Sanderson's, though. Go check it out.