Names, Quilts, and Release Day!


gr8aunt is the winner of a copy of From Beer to Eternity. Look for an email from me!

I can’t believe it’s release day for From Beer to Eternity! The idea for the series started in an email conversation with my editor at Kensington in February 2018. Holding my book in my hands is a breathtaking experience whether it’s my first book or my ninth. I look at it and think “I wrote this!” So here it is world From Beer to Eternity. Look for a giveaway at the end of the post.

I’ve talked before about how hard it is for me to name characters. Some characters’ names like Scott Pellner from my Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries just pop into my head. But most names I have to fight to figure out. Ask Barb Goffman, my independent editor, about the manuscript for From Beer to Eternity. When I gave it to her almost everyone’s last name was Blank because I hadn’t figured the names out yet. And I may have forgotten to mention that to Barb. Her comment: That Blank family is really big.

So how did I come up with the name Chloe Jackson? I turned to a quilt that my paternal grandmother made. I’m lucky enough to have seven quilts that my grandmother and her friends and family made. (My sister has another seven.) I wish I’d asked my grandmother about when she made them and how, but I like to picture a group of women quilting together in her living room in front of the large picture window that looked out at the barn.

The quilt below was probably made in the late thirties or early forties. I suspect the colorful fabric is from feedbags. (I have another quilt that I know is fabric from feedbags.) I love how everyone embroidered their names. I know some of the people – my grandmother Ursula who was always called Zula and my aunt Virginia who was always called Ginny.

Here is the block for Chloe.  Chloe Gates is one of my grandmother’s sisters. I don’t believe I ever met her or if I did, I was too young to remember. But the name just fit my character.

Here is the block for Vivian. I shortened it to Vivi because it sounded more southern to me. I picked Slidell, which is a town north of New Orleans, for the same reason.

I suspect more names from the quilt will appear in future books. How can I resist the temptation of Ora or Rowena or Mazie? I’m sad that one name has been lost forever.

Other names come from friends—Ann Williams, Edith Hickle, Leah Hickle, Michael. And some like Deputy Biffle just pop in as I write about the character.

I hope you get a chance to read From Beer to Eternity and I hope you love it as much as I do. I’m giving away a copy to someone who leaves a comment. I’ll also be doing Seven Days of Giveaways on my Facebook author page. Plus giveaways here:

July 28 7 to 10 pm eastern time Kensington July Mystery and Thriller Launch Party Click here for a link:

July 29 7 to 8:30 pm eastern time Facebook Launch Party with Catherine Bruns! Click here for a link:

July 29 Jungle Red Writers

July 30 Dru’s Book Musings

Dollycas blog tour:

Thanks to all of you who read and support my books–you help my dreams come true!

Readers: Do you have unique name or nickname in your family or friends?

89 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on release day. I’m looking forward to meeting Chloe. One of my favorite names.

    The quilt is beautiful and with the addition of names, so unique. What a charming family piece of history. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the quilting room. Did you ever see a movie titled How to Make an American Quilt. It’s an old Winona Ryder flick. Your description of your women quilting brought it to mind.

  2. I’m so happy for you, Sherry, and can’t wait to pick up my copy at my local indy bookstore! The quilts are beautiful and what a great place to mine for names. I’ve used cemeteries quite a bit, too. I think of all the old names I’ve used, I like Orpha best – she’s Rose Carroll’s old midwife and mentor. (Or maybe I just like the character I made up to go with the name…)

    I know this new series will be a smash hit, my friend!

    1. I forgot to add family names. Nothing too interesting, although one great-grandmother (or perhaps great aunt) was named Ida Etta. As kids we joked, ‘Ida Etta pig!” yuk-yuk-yuk. (In translation, in case it isn’t clear: I’d have eaten a pig…)

  3. Congratulations on the release of the new book Sherry! I know that I’m looking forward to picking up my copy and reading it.

    I don’t have any unique nickname in my family, at least as far as I know.

  4. Congratulations on the new book! The beginning of a new series is exciting, and I can’t wait to start this one. The quilt is beautiful, and I love all the names on it. My maternal grandmother and two her sisters had unique names (and one regular name) — Jeffie, Maude, Bird, and Molly.

  5. My family didn’t have unusual names but my daddy was always called Happy by his family.I have crazy quilt maded out of Silk ties from the men in my family by my godmother in 1935.

  6. Ruby Jane. My grandmother. She had a quilting frame suspended from the bedroom ceiling in their little house; it was very exciting to lower and raise that frame. My stitches weren’t very reliable or evenly spaced, but she always let me ‘help.’

  7. Big time congrats on the new release, Sherry! Enjoy your special day. No unusual names in my family, though my older kiddo’s middle name is Seamus, which is much more common in Ireland than here in the States.

  8. Can’t wait for my delivery, hopefully today, lots of good releases today, I have been looking forward to this one for a long time. I love the quilt and the names, quilts are a living history and the names are so interesting. What an amazing gift to have them. Enjoy your book birthday!

  9. Congratulations on the release of “From Beer to Eternity”! Sounds like a fabulous book and is already on my TBR list.

    Probably not that unusual, but I called my brother Bubba for years. Two nicknames that stuck through the years were for my two cousins. When they were very young and living in a very small town in Oklahoma, they called their Mom at work and asked if they could go to town in the car. Never dreaming they would know how or could, she laughed and said “well of course” thinking they would get frustrated after a while and go back to normal boy playing. They were so small that one had to be the one to steer and know where they were going while the other was down in the floorboard working the pedals and off they went. When my Aunt got another phone call asking why the car in town, she begun to panic and off she took. You can about figure out how the rest of the events played out, but from that day forward my cousins were known as Clutch and Double Clutch.

    Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to win a copy of your new release. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one to be able to read and review your book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  10. Happy release day, Sherry! I love the story of the quilt. I bet those ladies had no idea you would use their names for inspiration one day. The things people leave behind in this world is amazing. I can’t say my family has any unique nicknames. Congrats again!

  11. I usually struggle with naming characters too. And I once did a critique swap with someone who used three different last names for the same character. I finally figured out what was going on, but it took several chapters. Congrats on your new series!

  12. Happy, happy book birthday to you, Sherry! I expect this series is ging to be a runaway hit! I love old names, especially the quirky ones! One of my great aunts had the middle name Lucretia which I used in a novel. Very satisfying!

  13. My older brothers nickname for one of my grandmothers was “Brown Grandma” it wasn’t due to the color of her skin but because her hair stayed Brown even into her 70’s-80’s (don’t know if she died it)
    Looking forward to your new book Sherry!

    1. That’s funny! I have a neighbor who is in her 70’s and has brown hair that she says she doesn’t dye. I hope you like the book!

  14. Happy book birthday! I love your books and can’t wait to read this one. My nickname was given to me by my then boyfriend (now husband)’s baby brother (who is now 40 and a father of four!) He couldn’t say Michelle so he called me Meesh, and it stuck!

  15. Have you ever seen the play “Quilters”? It’s a musical that tells the story of each block of a quilt. At the end, they unveil a huge quilt with all the blocks stitched together. It’s wonderful!
    Congratulations on your new book and series!

  16. I just ordered From Beer to Eternity from before I read the blog, looking forward to reading it.

  17. Congrats on the release! It’s a wonderful trip to the beach without worrying about social distancing.

  18. Happy book birthday! And what a cool way to come up with names. Looking forward to this!

  19. Congrats on the release of this book that has been teasing us for a long time. 🙂

    A quick look through a family history brought up my grandmother, Lavina, whose name variously got spelled Lavinia. I”m not sure she even knew how it was spelled. Someone named Cleda (gender unknown) and Hula (a baby who died at 2 1/2 months). I also have a friend who is always called Teep because a grandson would say to teepdoein (keep going) when she would pour him milk.

  20. I loved reading about how you come up with names for characters! And I loved the story of that quilt. As a side note, I really like how you’ve evolved Scott Pellner’s character. Amazon should be shipping my pre-ordered copy of “From Beer to Eternity” today!! I’ll read it the second I get it. 🙂

  21. It’s a great book. I read it and have been waiting for Amazon to let me review it. Yay! I will be writing my review shortly! Congratulations on the new books release

  22. Happy release day!!!!
    I think it is so special that the names in the book are from your family quilt!!! Makes the book just that more awesome to me!
    The quilts are beautiful!!

  23. Seems like there are name cycles, because back in my grandmother’s day all the women had gem inspired names: Opal, Pearl, Ruby etc. In my mother’s generation there were lots of names from past family members: Jean, Faye, Doris and male names like William, Robert, and Charles. My generation was influenced by the popularity of movies at least it seems that way to me since I had so many Judy’s in my classes growing up. Some fun family nicknames we have in our family are: Squirm (for the person who wiggled around a lot), Preacher (for the guy who was always telling the other children what to do) and Totsie ( I never did understand where that came from). Wishing you all the best on your new series…I can’t wait to read it!

  24. You’re so fortunate to have those quilts. I have two that my grandmother made, but sadly, they are not in as great shape as yours. The signatures are so much fun! I bet you smile every time you see them. And now, the names are preserved for all time in your book(s). 🙂 Happy Launch Day for the new series!!!!

  25. Just a follow up from my post this morning. The book has been put on hold for me at the book shop I spend most of my book shopping time at. I’m glad I called when I did because the store, for reasons passing understanding, only got a single copy of FBTE and the other book I put on hold.

    I’ll be picking them up on Friday.

  26. Happy Book Birthday, Sherry! I loved seeing all the quilt squares – old quilts are one of my favorite things!

  27. Happy Book Birthday, Sherry! I loved seeing all the quilt blocks – old quilts are one of my favorite things!

  28. I love to read about Sarah Winston, so I can’t wait to meet Chloe!

  29. I have a quilt from my grandmother which is pretty much tattered from being used as a bed spread for 70 years or so. My dad was called CAP because those were his initials. I should have been Sarah Annette (the 14th) on my mother’s side but she refused because my initials would have been SAP! Thank you mom. Miss you.

  30. I’m a librarian who lives and works in the Florida Panhandle. Have high hopes for this book. I don’t think this is an unusual nickname, but I’m called Kat (after Krazy Kat) – happened my freshman year in college when our small dorm had too many Katherine/Cathy/Kathleen/Kathys and several of us with the same initials, so I shortened my name to Kat.

  31. Congrats on pub day! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC – what a fantastic book. My review has been posted everywhere :-). No need to enter me in the giveaway, thanks.

    I am Gigi to my great-grandkids but that’s not really unusual. But I am Pepe to my nieces. Not sure why except that my oldest niece was about a year and a half old and being held by someone she wanted to escape ha ha and pointed to me and plaintively said, “Pepe, Pepe….” Although I think she may have just wanted a Pepsi, Pepe I have been, even now to the great nephew and niece (who may be Pepe2 since she was just born on my birthday.

    Enjoy the day!

  32. Congratulations on your new series, I can not wait to read it! I absolutely love your quilt..what a wonderful thing to have, made with love from others!! My grandmother’s name was Velna Vivian..she was named Velna after Velna syrup.. She was like the 13th of 16 kids..grandma Streetman was running out of names

  33. Thanks for the chance. I like the cover. It sounds like a fun story.

  34. I have a grandaughter named Chloe pretty name. Can’t wait to read your book.

  35. Keilah Eliana Nick name Kiki my granddaughter and Lakelynne hers is Lakey.

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