What’s In A Name?

This past April I wrote something a little different for Camp NaNoWriMo. Instead of my usual mystery novels or super-power fantasy novels, I decided to retell my favorite fairy tale.

I wrote The Lost Girl, a retelling of Peter Pan.

First things first, I had to do a bit of research about the time period. Peter Pan takes place in about 1904.

So, when coming up with a name for my lead female character, I looked up the most popular names from the 1900s. Grace was number 42 (according to the list I found).

I chose the name Grace because I think it’s a pretty name. It’s a common name. It’s simple. Even though it was popular way back then, it’s still pretty common.

The name Gwen is number 78 on that list. I like the name Gwen, but it’s never my first choice.

I was also trying to find a name for Grace’s mother as well. I ended up using Grace as my main character and a different name for her mother. Gwen didn’t make the cut at all. And to be honest, if a new female pops up in my story, I will not choose the name Gwen, no matter how big of a character she is.

Because while I don’t mind the name Gwen, there is just something about it. Something I don’t understand.

What's In A Name: Gwen

I’ve read a fair share amount of Peter Pan retellings lately. It’s partly why I decided to write my own. Peter Pan is my favorite and I thought of a great idea from the ABC show Once Upon A Time and from all the Peter Pan tales I had been reading.

If you follow my book reviews, you’ll know I’ve read some Peter Pan tales and I haven’t been a fan of a few of them. More than a few of them, actually. But I still add those tales to my to-be-read list anyway. They all sound good and I love Peter Pan, so why not give them a try?

I’ve noticed that fairy tale retellings have become pretty big lately and a lot of retellings that are coming out are about Peter Pan. This means getting The Lost Girl out in the world will either be pretty “easy” (I say that lightly) or really hard.

But I know there’s one thing my novel has that the others don’t: a different name.

Every time I go to my local bookstore with Kris, we always search through the young adult section. As I said, fairy tale retellings are what’s currently “in” at the moment and there are a lot of Peter Pan stories.

I found the novel Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell through Goodreads. The main character’s name is Gwen.

Then I found The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse at the bookstore. The main character’s name is Gwen.

There was another novel I found at the bookstore, but I can’t remember the name or author at the moment. What I do remember is that the main character’s name was–Drumroll, please–Gwen.

I went back to the bookstore a few days ago and discovered a new Peter Pan story titled Everland by Wendy Spinale. As I picked it up off the shelf, I said to Kris: “I swear, if the main character’s name is Gwen…”

I started reading the summary in the front cover flap and stopped after the second sentence, which read:

“The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey.” (Curtosy of Goodreads).


I don’t understand why the name Gwen is so popular among Peter Pan stories.

Is there something I’m missing? Is it a coincidence?

What I do know is that if I ended up choosing the name Gwen for my character, I would be changing it right now. Part of me wants to change Grace just because it starts with the letter “G.”

I don’t know if I’m overthinking things or not. I don’t even know if I have the right to be bothered by this. I just think it’s weird. None of these authors could choose a different name other than Gwen? Gwen doesn’t even have a special meaning that has anything to do with Peter Pan.

What’s even more strange is that Unhooked was published in February 2016. But The Neverland Wars was published May 9, 2016 while Everland was published May 10, 2016. All three books were by different publishers.

Weird, huh?

Names are important. And if you want your book to stand out from the rest, you have to give your characters names no one will forget; especially if you’re writing about the same topic as many others.

Have you ever noticed anything strange about different books like this? What do you think about this “Gwen” fad in Peter Pan stories? Let me know in the comments!

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An Hour A Day

If you know anything about me, you know that I work on one writing project after another. I alternate working on multiple projects at once. I get a lot done on these projects. But when it comes to editing, it’s a slow-going process. Sometimes it’s non-existant.

My plan was to have my mystery novel 100% edited by the end of this year and start querying it in January. I did really well working on it at the beginning of the year and then somewhere I got lost along the way. Or my novel got lost. I don’t really know.

Needless to say, I’m taking a break with that one. I hate to say it, but I really need to re-evaluate my plan to tackle that novel. There’s a lot more to figure out than just “editing” it as far as research and deeper plot holes go.

Writing mysteries are hard. I love it, it’s fun, but there’s so much information to remember and to figure out when writing each mystery. And since my novel is the first in a series, I feel the need to figure out the rest of the books before I can fully understand the first mystery. It’s a little hard to explain, you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

So maybe that novel will be ready by December 2017. Because I’ve decided that George and Lilah need a vacation. So I’m not going to look at my manuscript until January 2017. If inspiration happens to strike, then I will most definitely put that to good use, but for right now I’m going to take a step back and then look at it again as though I’m editing the first draft in January.

I know I said I was going to have my sister look at it, but I’m not even going to do that just yet. Maybe next summer.

So, the point of this whole post (now that we’re over 300 words into the article) is that Kris and I had one of our quarter-life-crisis-things when it comes to our writing.

I try to make deadlines for myself and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the end, I know the deadline is “fake” because it was set up by me and I have no one to answer to, except me.

But the reason I do so well with NaNoWriMo is because the deadline is “real.” I have to give my manuscript to someone by the end of the month. That someone being the NaNo validator, but still, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Plus, NaNo is kind of like a competition. And who doesn’t like a fun competition?

So Kris and I decided to commit to one novel each. We both have a novel that’s mostly written, but the first draft isn’t quite finished.

For me, it’s The Lost Girl. I wrote 58,000 words of the novel back in April for Camp NaNoWriMo, but the actual story wasn’t complete.

I know I wrote a post a while ago saying my plans were to finish the novel, edit it in the summer, and then post it on Wattpad in November or December. Well, this may come as a shock to you, but I haven’t touched that story since the end of April.

I was focused more on why George and I couldn’t get along and then when I finally threw in the towel for that one, I decided to work on short stories.

Anyway, Kris and I are going to hold each other accountable for our novels. She committed to her fantasy novel and I committed to The Lost Girl. We’re going to work on our manuscripts for at least one hour each day and finish our first drafts by October 1st. Including today, that gives us 32 days, 32 (or more) hours to finish these drafts.

Then, on October 1st, we’re going to write each other letters about our manuscripts, things that we think need work, what we need to edit or research, the works. Then we’ll swap manuscripts and the other will read and critique it. We’ll set a deadline for that and then we’ll go from there.

It’s still a deadline set up by me, but I have someone to answer to other than myself. My manuscript will be leaving my hands in a month even if it’s just going on the desk across from mine.

I think this will work.

How are your writing projects coming along? Let me know in the comments! 

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The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse book review Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads
Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Genre: Fantasy
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Goodreads):

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

My Review:

This book is not what it seems. No, I’m not talking about the magic. I’m talking about the plot. Or, lack thereof.

While the writing style of this novel was very easy to read and the story flowed well, not too much happened. The summary and the even the title itself was misleading. And when I say misleading, I mean it chalks the story up to be much more than what it was.

Neverland was fun to explore, but that was just about it. There was a lot of worldbuilding, but not too much happened in that world so it seemed to be pointless.

I thought the characters were well done and I enjoyed each and every one of them. However, Gwen, the protagonist, is 16 and acts much younger. She could get slightly annoying at times.

Gwen goes to Neverland to bring her sister, Rosemary home. Rosemary is barely in the story as we focus too much on Gwen. So the ending when Gwen finds out whether Rosemary wants to stay or not, is a little unclear because we didn’t get to know Rosemary at all.

The beginning of the novel was strong. So I got increasingly disappointed as the novel continued. The ending was very abrupt and I don’t know if there will be a sequel or not.

If you know me, you know Peter Pan is my absolute favorite. So while it was fun reading about the author’s interpretation of Neverland, nothing else about the actual story was memorable. 

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse gets out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s fun to watch how their imaginations run away with them… And how they sometimes end up running away with their imaginations.” –Audrey Greathouse, The Neverland Wars

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April 2016 Camp Wrap Up

And so another Camp NaNoWriMo session has come to an end.

I think it turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

camp nanowrimo winner april 2016 rachel poli

Word Count

Day 27: 0
Day 28: 0
Day 29: 0
Day 30: 0

Overall Total: 58,159

I made my goal of 50,000 words on April 22. I wanted to complete the whole story and I knew 50k just wasn’t going to cut it. So I planned to write until the bitter end, but I stopped with four days to spare.

I knew what I wanted to happen next, but was unsure how to go about the whole thing. I decided to give myself a break from the story, which isn’t a bad thing.

No matter whether it’s Camp NaNo or just regular NaNo, no matter the month whether it’s April, July, or November, my stats always come out weird. And I mean weird.

My goal is always to write 2,000 words a day. I often try to get 4,000 words a day on Saturdays and Sundays since I don’t have work those days. It never ends up like that.

I do well the first week and then get burnt out. If I get really ahead, I get cocky and decide not to write the 2k words. I’ll write a little less or worse, skip the day all together. If I make my goal, I’ll just stop writing. It doesn’t matter if the draft is done or not. The pressure is off, the challenge has been won, it’s time for a break even if there are still five days left in the month.

I mean, just look at what happened in April 2015:

camp nanowrimo april 2015 stats rachel poli

As you can see, there were plenty of days where I skipped writing. Maybe I was ahead, maybe I was busy, maybe I was just lazy. Who really knows?

I made it to 50,000 words on April 23. I don’t really know how I managed to finish early, but if you look close enough, you’ll notice that my count on April 22 was 45,000 words. So I wrote 5k on the 23. It must have been a Saturday.

You’ll also notice that as soon as I hit 50k words, I stopped writing.

Last April I wrote Anonymous Tip, which is a book in my George Florence detective series. I did not finish the draft.

April 2015 looks like a hot mess. But oh, what’s this?

Let’s take a look at this year’s stats…

camp nanowrimo april 2016 stats rachel poli


The only way I would be able to make this look any more perfect was if I wrote 2k even every single day. But in order to do that, I would have had to stop mid-sentence. Or interrupt a great dose of inspiration.

I don’t know what it was about this month, but I did really well and I am proud of myself. This has probably been one of the best NaNo sessions I’ve ever had.

Maybe it was because I was in a slump all throughout March so my mind was raring to go again. Maybe it was because I was writing a retelling of my favorite story ever, Peter Pan.

Whatever it was, it worked.

I didn’t bother trying to write 4k on the weekends, I just solely stuck to my 2k a day. Some days I ended up writing a bit more, but that was just fine with me.

I never got bored of the story, I was excited the whole month long. I came up with new ideas and even started planning the editing process.

Overall, it was a fantastic month.

How did Camp NaNoWriMo go for you? Or are you working on a project at the moment that has you really excited?

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Camp: Week Four

camp nanowrimo update week four rachel poli

Just a few more days left!

Here’s an update of my third week of Camp NaNoWriMo and my novel, The Lost Girl.

The Ups

I completed the challenge with a total of 50,103 words on April 22! I stuck with my 2,000-words a day goal and it really paid off. Some days I even reached above 3,000. My stats look pretty steady, which is satisfying to look at.

I never got tired of the story. Even now, I’m still writing to complete the draft and I’m still very much excited for what will happen in the next chapter and the next and the next.

I think this has been a successful Camp!

The Downs

The only “down” I can really think of is that I’m not finished with the whole draft yet. I knew the story was going to end up over 50k words, but I’m beginning to wonder when it will actually end… Especially since there were a couple of scenes that I meant to add in and should have. I don’t really want to have to add anything during the editing process.

I’ve continued to write 2k words a day even after I hit my word count goal. I currently have 58,211 words. That’s not including today because I haven’t written anything yet. So I guess we’ll just have to see how long the novel goes.

I was really hoping to finish the whole draft by the end of the month, though.

Favorite Quote

“How in the world are we going to do that? Keep in mind that Mr. Smee is still hiding behind a tree somewhere.”

Word Count

Day 20: 2,121
Day 21: 2,393
Day 22: 3,445
Day 23: 2,017
Day 24: 2,042
Day 25: 2,018
Day 26: 2,031
Total for the week: 16,067
Overall total: 58,211

How are you doing with Camp?