Behold: The finalists of the Name My Character contest! Now I need you to vote.

The names are in!

It’s been kind of a neat two weeks. I received a dozen name submissions which ran the gamut from Sarah (as in Sarah Connor) to Devon Sharktopus (thanks, Phil.)

But alas, as in Highlander, there can be only one. And because I like to make up arbitrary rules, there can be only three finalists.

One of the three names below will be the real name of the protagonist in my novella, Beware the Hawk. And to keep it a secret until the big reveal next installment of my story, I shant be revealing the winner until the next piece is published. (Although if you can do math and see the poll results you’ll probably be able to figure it out.) The winner gets to name the character, obviously, and will get a signed copy of the next story featuring her.*

Below are the finalists.

Vanessa Pye, submitted by Daisy Abreu

Hendrikke Penelope Brackensfeld, submitted by Beth Callahan

Harleigh McManus, submitted by Karen Morrissey Covey

You can vote here or on my Facebook page. Hell, vote once here and once on my Facebook page, twice a day, from different computers. Vote for your favorite name. Vote for your favorite person on the list. Just vote a lot, because I really want a clear winner.

And anyways, it’s not like this is a race governed by the elections commission.

The poll is below. You guys have until next month (August 19) to vote. So vote often.

*There’s no money or anything else attached to this prize, as you know. Just glory and a free story. Hey, that rhymes.

Name my protagonist!

I’m looking for a little help from my readers. And as usual, it will take the form of a contest.

My book, Beware the Hawk, features an unnamed protagonist, because I really love not naming first-person narrators. Which works well sometimes but not always.  It worked well for the original novella, but what if the character were to appear in other stories? She won’t be able to get through another storyline unnamed. I’ve been calling her Pink in private, but that’s not a real name. You know, like Jane, or Bob, or Ponyboy.

That, dear readers, is where you come in.

I want you to name my protagonist.

I already have some suggestions on my Facebook page, and I got one via text message this morning, but I need so much more than three suggestions.

Here’s how it will work.

Beware The Hawk novella

Faceless and nameless. For now.

I will be taking name suggestions (I’m looking for both first name and last name) via email, comment section, tweet and the aforementioned Facebook page. Also,  if you happen to see me in person, you can slip me a note with a name written on it. The virtual suggestion box will be open until I appear on Enders Island in Mystic, Conn. to read from the book on Thursday, July 19.

I will then pick a handful of the best names and post them, along with the names of those who suggested them. There will follow a week of  voting both on Facebook and here. I will however, announce the winner in private to the finalists, because I want the general readership to be surprised. (Although anyone capable of basic math and reading of poll results will probably be able to figure it out.)

The winner will have named Pink. Any other stories she appears in, she will bear the name you gave her. And you will get a free, signed copy of the very first new work she appears in.

The fine print (You should definitely read this.)

Ahem… The winner will not be entitled to royalties or other earnings. Just naming rights. And I do get some creative wiggle room, such as spelling or adding a middle name if necessary, because I am the author. Also, I can’t promise that just because I write a new Beware the Hawk book/story/screeenplay/graphic novel that anyone will want to publish it or that they will publish it in what you or I would consider to be a timely fashion. (Read: pronto.)

UPDATE: One name per entrant please! Pink’s only one woman!

So, what are you waiting for?

Send me some names!

Scavenger Hunt winners: The battle for supremacy.

Remember yesterday, when I posted the scavenger hunt winners? I posted a list of all the people who participated, and the number of missions in which they participated. This list  (which shall from this point on be referred to “The Leaderboard,” to make it seem cooler than it really is) looked like this at 11:30 yesterday:

Ally :4

Mary-Jo :4

Alena :4

E.S. : 3

Heidi: 1

Tamela : 1

Linsey : 1

As you can see, there was a three-way tie between Ally, Mary-Jo and Alena. I issued this challenge to the three front-runners: If one of you pulls ahead of the pack in the next 24 hours by submitting just one more entry, you may have the tee shirt of your choice from my store.

Then some of the participants read the post and things got real.

Except that I didn’t know how real things had gotten because this morning, my iPhone decided that I didn’t need to be notified when something was tweeted to me. I came home from work to find that three participants had attempted to submit/submitted new material and that two of the three had declared themselves “in it to win it.” One of the three was talking smack like a wrestler standing in front of WWE ringside camera.

It was awesome. And I missed most of  it. So now, I would like to post a summary of the Scavenger Hunt Battle for Supremacy. Cue the American Gladiator theme music.

Last night  – I posted the winners.

Last night – Mary-Jo has trouble uploading a tattoo photo but leaves this intriguing comment on my Facebook page:

“Mary-Jo Bates I’m having issues uploading the tatt pic, but I was impressed by Danno’s translation of my mental image into my cross tatt. Woohoo! I cannot wait to put that on my precious books’ shelf :)”

If you ever get that photo uploaded, Moj, I want to see it.

Last night –  E.S. Cameron submits a pink hair photo. I update the blog and go to sleep.

Then I wake up and this happens:

8:10 a.m  – Ally posts a photo of her tattoo. 8:44 a.m. – Ally posts a Craigslist ad, which is safe for work.

8:45 a.m. – Ally ups the ante, posting another Craigslist ad, which is probably not safe for work.

9:10 a.m.  – Alena strikes back with a twofor. Declares self “in it to win it.”

10:57 a.m. – You should not say such things to Ally, who has somehow found an actual purple shamrock and who is backing that up with a purple drawing of a shamrock, just in case I didn’t think the shamrock was purple enough. Her tweet contains the word “dammit.”

10:57 a.m.  -Ally takes some time out to taunt Tamela for making excuses.

11:00 a.m.  – Ally visits my Facebook page and tells us about an injury she’s had:

For the scavenger hunt, a more detailed account of my Toronto Chinatown injury: I was 11 years old, and we were going to visit my great-grandmother in Toronto. The first day we were there I fell down a flight of stairs in her apartment complex and sprained my ankle. I was on crutches the rest of the trip, and somewhere my mom has a picture of me at the Chinatown arch with my crutches and Ace bandage.

9:40 p.m. – After what I perceive as a long silence, Ally begs to be let off haiku-writing.

10:32 p.m. – The haiku is submitted. The other contenders are pretty much dead silent at this point.

10:39 p.m.  – She tweets this for the seedy bar category, which isn’t strictly speaking, what I asked for, but which counts.

Let’s take a look at The Leaderboard now.

Ally :10

Mary-Jo :4

Alena :5

E.S. : 3

Heidi: 1

Tamela : 1

Linsey : 1

Ally is the clear and undisputed winner. She wins either the tee of her choice from my store or the iPhone case.

Thank you for playing, ladies. And winners, get those snail mail addresses in to me so I can send you your prizes!

Scavenger hunt, day 10; An impressive tattoo.

We’re in the home stretch. Today is the tenth and final day of the scavenger hunt. Tomorrow, Beware the Hawk becomes available at Vagabondage Press and tomorrow I will announce the winners of the hunt!

But that is tomorrow. Today, I am looking for one more item from you scavengers – a photo of a tattoo. The protagonist in my book has a, shall we say, all-encompassing tattoo. You don’t have to take a photo of a full body tat, but take/find a photo of an impressive tattoo. You know the drill by now, folks: Tweet the photo with the hashtag #bewarethehawk or post it to my Facebook author page.

Now, let’s talk about pain. Yesterday – in honor of my protagonist’s cover-to-cover ankle injury – I asked you to tell me about a time when you had to live with an injury.

Mary-Jo Bates wrote this on my Facebook wall: “Being the fat kid, I made the best tug-of-war anchor. Unfortunately, being able to stand is a function of that post. Back in middle school, the class bully showed an odd moment of insight, whipping the giant jute rope around, catching my ankle, and twisting it something fierce. Still bitter my team lost on that field day.”

What a jerk that kid was. I hope s/he got a detention or a time-out. Or at least a dressing-down from the teacher.

Alena Dillon tweeted this: “I burned myself on the oven last weekend. That’s what I get for cooking. On the bright side, the scar is pretty badass.”

That must have been one hell of an oven burn to leave a badass scar. Hope it’s healing.

Lastly, Tamela Ritter made my day by walking by – and photographing – the Chinatown gate in D.C., which I’ve never seen before. Feast your eyes. It puts Boston’s gate to shame:

Scavenger Hunt, Day 5: There’s an app for that

The iPhone plays a big role in Beware the Hawk. I know, I know. I’m perpetuating the Apple iCulture in which we all live.

I’m going to defend the inclusion of the iPhone in my plot by saying two things: a) Apple didn’t pay me to make their phone into a tool of fictional dissidents, and b) art imitates life. That is, art would imitate life if you could never turn your iPhone off and your employers used its GPS to keep tabs on you, which they don’t.

Or do they?

For day five of the hunt, tell me about the coolest iPhone app you’ve ever heard of and if you have it, share the link.

Then tweet the information to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Scavenger Hunt, Day 4: Happy hour at the dive bar

That’s right. For day four of the scavenger hunt, I want you to take a photo of a bar, the seedier, the better. The sort of bar that might have served as inspiration for this song. Then tweet the photo to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Boston's Chinatown gate, photo found by the resourceful Ally Arendt.

As I wrote during yesterday’s Chinatown challenge, a lot of the action in Beware the Hawk takes place in Boston’s Chinatown, but a lot of that action takes place in a hole-in-the-wall bar.

Your bar doesn’t have to be in Chinatown (points if it is, of course) and it doesn’t have to be in Boston (once again, points if it is) but it does have to be a dive. I know it’s Tuesday and most of you good people don’t frequent dive bars in the middle of the week, but take one for the team, folks. Head down to the bar and have one for me.

Or maybe drankin’ is not your thing. If you’re one of those pure thoughts and clean living types, take a photo of a bar from the outside, which might not be as much fun, but still counts for something.

Scavenger Hunt, Day Three: Chinatown

Yesterday, we talked about the Fung-Wah, and I was sent this fabulous account of a scary 2006 bus trip by Ally.

That was yesterday. Today I want you to go down to Chinatown.

You don’t have to go literally, but for day three of the scavenger hunt, send me a photo of Chinatown.

A lot of the action in Beware the Hawk happens in Boston’s Chinatown, where one of the protagonist’s co-workers spends all of his free time. For the purposes of this game, any Chinatown will do, but points if it’s Boston’s Chinatown and double points if you can photograph an establishment called Snowflower, the Chinatown Gate or the weird nasty stuff in the gutter, all of which are mentioned in the book.

So head downtown, grab some lo mein and snap away. Just beware the Fung-Wah.

Also, check out the ladies with hair of many colors who sent in pics on Saturday.

Scavenger Hunt, Day 2: The Fung-Wah

UPDATE: I was sent a photo of a lady with colorful hair on Saturday and I missed it because I’m an eejit who clearly doesn’t understand how Facebook Timeline works.  I want to post her photo now. Behold! The aqua coif of Mary-Jo Bates, whose eloquent thoughts you can find here.

It's like she's a natural bluenette.

Now, on with the post for Sunday:

Oh, the stories we hear about the Fung-Wah. For those of you who do not live on the I-95 corridor between Boston and New York, the Fung-Wah is a bus line known for its cheap fares and the excitement of its rides, which is why my protagonist in Beware the Hawk likes it so much. It’s a literal cheap thrill.

For day two of the scavenger hunt, I want you to share a story about the Fung-Wah. Do do some Sunday Googlin’ and find the most amusing review/story you can about the Fung-Wah, or share your own harrowing experience.

Then share it on Twitter (#bewarethehawk) or on my Facebook author page. Or what the hell, share a story in the comments. Best story gets featured here tomorrow, which reminds me, I have a cherry-haired lady to share:

This is Michelle. Her photo was submitted by her friend, Ally.

No worries if you didn’t get a picture of a woman with colorful hair to me today. You can send one in at any time between now and March 20. So if you see a pink-haired lady, get out your phone, get up in her business and snap away!

Scavenger Hunt, Day 1: A hair color not found in nature

It’s day one of the Beware the Hawk scavenger hunt and your first mission is this: Snap me a photo of a woman with a hair color not found in nature.

Okay, okay. I know that most colors are found in nature if you look hard enough. And I know that pink, the color of my protagonist’s hair, is found in nature. Quite often, actually.

What I’m looking for here is a photo (that you took) of a woman with a hair color not naturally found on humans. Points if the hair is pink.

Complete the mission by posting the photo on Twitter, with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post your pic on my Facebook author page. The best submissions will end up on this blog tomorrow, when I post the next mission.

Good luck, agents, and this message would self-destruct, but I don’t think WordPress has a widget for that yet.


Go on a Beware the Hawk scavenger hunt with me!

This blog is at least 70 percent better when when my readers participate and send me stuff.

So, in that spirit, I’m announcing a contest. Actually, it’s better than a contest. It’s a scavenger hunt to celebrate the release of Beware the Hawk, as a physical book! From tomorrow, March 10,  until the release of Beware the Hawk in physical form, I will be assigning “missions.” And I will be posting (I hope daily) the best submissions.

Here’s how it works: Each day, I will log on and give you a mission. Complete the mission by going on twitter, and tweeting your find with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or, if you hate Twitter, post your submission on my Facebook author page for all to see. The best submissions will end up on this blog.

Sometimes I will ask you to take a photo. Sometimes I will ask you to post some information. Sometimes I will ask for a clever bit of writing.

All the missions will be listed on the Scavenger Hunt! page on this blog, so if you’re behind and you need to catch up, you can. Where is this page, you ask? Look at the top of this blog. See the tabs up there? There’s one that says “A.J.,” one that says “Beware the Hawk,” one that says “The Blogroll” and so on? It’s up there.


In some cases these missions will be easier if you live near Boston and New York, because that’s where the book takes place. But if you folks from other areas get creative, I know you’ll be able to participate.

The first person to complete all the missions will win a signed copy of the book and another prize: If the winner has an iPhone, he or she will get a Beware the Hawk skin for his or her phone. (I will post the image when I finish designing it.) If not, I will offer the winner a tee shirt of his or her choice from my store. Including the forbidden Lonely Mountain tee, which you can’t see anymore, although it is there. I’m also planning some more tees, so there will be more of a selection.

The first five people to complete at least nine of the missions will get signed copies of the book.

Anyone who submits is highly likely to have their submissions featured on this blog. Especially if those submissions are clever. Why? Because I love to madprop my homies. That’s why.

Stay tuned folks. The first clue will be posted tomorrow!