Guest Post: Lois Schmitt – PLAYING POSSUM

Playing Possum

by Lois Schmitt

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Good day, book people. Have you ever considered the importance of the names of characters. Would Gone with the Wind have been as memorable without characters named Scarlett and Rhett? Would we still be talking about Pride and Prejudice if the primary characters weren’t named Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? (Did you even remember his first name was Fitzwilliam?!) We place a lot of importance on names, whether consciously or subconsciously aware. Today’s guest, Lois Scmitt, author of Playing Possum is joining us and discussing the importance of names. Thank you, Ms. Schmitt, for joining us today and sharing with us your thoughts on “what’s in a name.” I hope everyone will enjoy your insights, add Playing Possum to their TBR lists, and follow this blog tour to learn more about this book and author. Ms. Schmitt, the blog is now all yours.

What’s In a Name?
by Lois Schmitt

Who is older—Ethel or Ashley? Who comes from old family money—Cynthia Pickney Winslet or Blanche Dipple?

Names tell a lot about characters. They create powerful images. Fagan (Oliver Twist) immediately makes you think “bad guy.” Since a name is often the reader’s first introduction to a character, it can be instrumental in creating a first impression.

Another reason names are important is to enable the reader to recall characters that may have appeared in earlier chapters. In reading a mystery, this is essential if you are an armchair detective who wants to figure out “whodunit.” For this reason, names need to be memorable.

One technique that can be used, sparingly, to help the reader remember is to have a name that relates to the character’s profession. This actually happens in real life. Years ago, there was a veterinarian in my community named Dr. Fish and a Water Commissioner whose last name was Flood.

In my mystery series, my amateur sleuth deals with two police detectives—Detective Wolfe and Detective Fox. My sleuth is a writer for a wildlife magazine, so since my series deals with animals, there is a connection. The detectives are introduced in my first mystery, Monkey Business, which involves murder at a zoo. My sleuth makes the following comment upon meeting them.

“Wolfe? Fox? At a zoo? Really?”

There are lots of other ways to make names memorable. If a character mentions how he got his name that can make it easier to remember. For example, a character named Cody might state that his parents had a fascination with Buffalo Bill whose real name was William Cody.

In the series by G.A. MeKevett, her main character is named Savannah Reid. Savannah was born in Georgia. Her brothers and sisters are also named after cities in that state, such as Marietta, and Macon.

First and last names that begin with the same letter can sometimes be easier to remember too. In my new mystery, Playing Possum, I have a character named George Grogin.

In mysteries, names can sometimes provide clues to the murderer. Example: A necklace with the initial “E” is found at a crime scene. There are three suspects—Emma, Beth, and Mary. It must be Emma, right? Wrong. Beth is actually a common nickname for Elizabeth. Although this suspect may be called Beth throughout the book, an armchair detective might figure it out along with the amateur sleuth.

Choosing character names is fun, and I use lots of methods. The most obvious is the white pages of the phone book. (Yes, I have an old copy.) Thanks to the Internet, I also can research the most popular names for the year, and I can go back many years to check (Example: The most popular names of 1970.)

I also pay attention to names in the newspaper, on television, and of people I meet. While I would never knowingly use someone’s real name, I might combine one person’s first name with someone else’s last name if I thought the two names worked together.

I have two ways to help me overcome writer’s block, and I use these to help me with names too. I think about a character right before I go to bed and often wake up with a name. I also take a walk every day, weather permitting. I like to walk in a nature preserve near my home. I’ll think of a character while I’m walking and sometimes a name will pop up.

Names are important as they are part of a character’s identity and help enrich the story. ♦

Playing Possum

by Lois Schmitt

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Playing Possum by Lois Schmitt

Murder, Mayhem, and Missing Animals.

When animals mysteriously disappear from the Pendwell Wildlife Refuge, former English teacher turned magazine reporter Kristy Farrell is on the case. Days later, the body of the refuge’s director is found in a grassy clearing.

Kristy, assisted by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers strong motives among the suspects, including greed, infidelity, betrayal, and blackmail.

As Kristy delves further, she finds herself up against the powerful Pendwell family, especially matriarch Victoria Buckley Pendwell, chair of the refuge board of trustees, and Victoria’s son, Austin Pendwell, who is slated to run for the state senate.

But ferreting out the murderer and finding the missing animals aren’t Kristy only challenges. While researching a story on puppy mills, she uncovers criminal activity that reaches far beyond the neighborhood pet store.

Meanwhile, strange things are happening back at the refuge, and soon a second murder occurs. Kristy is thwarted in her attempts to discover the murderer by her old nemesis, the blustery Detective Wolfe.

Kristy perseveres and as she unearths shady deals and dark secrets, Kristy slowly draws the killer out of the shadows.

Praise for Playing Possum:

Lois Schmitt’s Playing Possum does cozies proud. Fresh and traditional all at once.”
-Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepless City

“In her third book of the series, writer Lois Schmitt has crafted an intricately-plotted mystery full of twists and humor, with a cast of colorful characters, set in a wildlife refuge rehab center. Cozy fans, and especially followers of Schmitt’s animal lovers’ mysteries, will find great entertainment in Playing Possum.”
-Phyllis Gobbell, award-winning author of the Jordan Mayfair Mysteries

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: December 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 296
ISBN: 1645993051 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781645993056 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781645993049 (paperback)
ASIN: B09LK4CFB7 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Kristy Farrell Animal Lovers Mystery, #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | | | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Lois Schmitt

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring animal magazine reporter Kristy Farrell. Lois is member of several wildlife conservation and humane organizations, as well as Mystery Writers of America. She received 2nd runner-up for the Killer Nashville Claymore award for her second book in the series entitled Something Fishy, She previously served as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at a community college. Lois lives in Massapequa, Long Island with her family, which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series.

Catch Up With Lois Schmitt:
Instagram: @loisschmittmysteries
Twitter: @schmittmystery
Facebook: @LoisSchmittAuthor

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Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

One thought on “Guest Post: Lois Schmitt – PLAYING POSSUM”

  1. I loved this! Great guest post. I agree. Names are so important in books. They give you the first impression.
    Also, I have known some really strange names in my life.


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