Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Janet Chester Bly & Beneath a Camperdown Elm

Posted August 19, 2019 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Janet Chester Bly / 28 Comments

Please join me in welcoming Janet Chester Bly to the blog to talk about her Trails of Reba Cahill series & the latest book, Beneath a Camperdown Elm!

Trails of Reba Cahill #3
Inspirational Western/Contemporary Fiction

RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2019
PAGES: 248

Reba’s scary stalker is locked up in jail. She finally snatches a rancher fiancé. Her runaway mother returns home. Reba has everything she ever wanted. But Grandma Pearl has disappeared! Is Reba about to lose it all?

In August 1991, at Road’s End, Idaho, three generations of women travel separate journeys of the heart.


Read sample chapters of Beneath a Camperdown Elm

Other Books in this Series


Click on each cover to read sample chapters!

what’s in a character name?

by Janet Chester Bly

Sometimes the name of a character pops out through an ‘aha’ moment.

The name for my main female character for The Trails of Reba Cahill series evolved over several years. For one thing, my plot kept changing.

One day, I spied a photo of country singer, Reba McEntire. In a flash I knew her name was Reba and she was a redhead. From then on, her story formed more clearly. She became a 25-year-old cowgirl who worked a ranch with her grandmother on the Camas Prairie in north-central Idaho. Her full name: Reba Mae Cahill. That could be said with a definite country twang.

With Reba’s name chosen, her personality, and what she did for a living, soon developed. And it certainly fit the times of the series setting, which was summer of 1991.

To Avoid Confusion

Scottish tourist brother and sister twins, with the last name MacKenzie, arrive on the fictional scene in Beneath a Camperdown Elm, Book 3. At first, I called them Archie and Maggie. But in the final draft manuscript, I realized Maggie looked too much like Maidie, another prominent character mentioned often, even though she was no longer alive. And Archie and Maggie looked too similar on the page to cause mix-up, with a quick scan. So, Maggie got changed to Wynda in the final round of editing. Hope she didn’t mind too much.

Too Late To Change

In Book 1, Wind in the Wires, Quigley is a hitchhiker who got picked up on a road trip. At the time, I expected to dump him for Book 2. However, he turns into a stalker and bad dude for the rest of the series.

When he so rudely intruded in this way, I had to keep his given name, even when I realized the association could be made with one of my favorite western movies, Quigley Down Under. The Quigley in that story is a good guy. However, the die cast and original novel now in publishing stone, Quigley stuck. If I had known ahead of the unexpected turn of events, I would have chosen something more ominous or exotic. Perhaps Quylon, which means Sword. Or Quirin, which means Magic Spell. Or just Q, as in the Star Trek villain.

The reason I would stay with the Q letter is because I try to divvy out the alphabet when choosing character names in a story, to keep them as distinct as possible. And Q had not been used yet.

To Please A Reader

Several walk-on characters appear in Beneath a Camperdown Elm, for the sole purpose of following through on fan suggestions. Atch Murdock’s name was given to me by Jan G. many years ago. She reminded me I’d never used it in a novel yet. So, he finally got his billing. And then there’s Neoma Buzzwell, a name requested by Sandy R. Neoma only gets a very brief mention in Book 3. The reader must be very alert to notice it. But I fulfilled my promise to include her.

Too Many Characters

One comment I’ve received from readers is that I tend to include so many characters. It can be overwhelming to keep up. So, in Down Squash Blossom Road, Book 2, I began to add a Character & Place Names List at the back of the book. Included one in Book 3 too. Hope that will help!

Here’s the link to the Character Names Cheat Sheet to use for Wind in the Wires, Book 1:

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment answering this question: what’s one of the most memorable names for a good or bad character in a novel you’ve read?

thank you so much, Janet! I love that inside peek into the process!

Janet Chester Bly is the widow of Christy Award winning western author Stephen Bly. Together they published 120 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids. Janet and their three sons finished Stephen’s last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, a Selah Award Finalist. Beneath A Camperdown Elm is Book 3 of The Trails of Reba Cahill Series, a contemporary western romance with a zing of mystery. Find out more about Janet and Stephen and their books at

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Janet Chester Bly is offering a print copy (US only) or pdf of Beneath a Camperdown Elm to one of my readers! This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What’s one of the most memorable names for a good or bad character in a novel you’ve read?

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28 responses to “Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Janet Chester Bly & Beneath a Camperdown Elm

  1. Janice Moore

    I guess I need to pay closer attention to this detail. However, the name of Stephen Bly brings back good memories of his books!

  2. Jocelyn

    One of my favorite books is My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade. Kate Donovan is the heroine of this story.

  3. Lori Smanski

    Interesting post. Some of the most memorable names in fiction are: Series: Ribbons West: by Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson: Brenton and Jordana Baldwin. Both good people trying to find where and what God wants them to do/be. Brother and sister. Jordana escapes from an all girls school to follow her brother across America following the rail road as it is being built. She is a tom boy at heart, but the times dictate she be a lady. She is quite the help for her brother. Brenton wants to photograph the making of the rail road in its progress and in its glory. He wants to let others know that not only is he a great photographer but what is happening with the rail road in its building for history. Along the way there are troubles and there are joys. I loved loved this series

  4. Natalya Lakhno

    Maddox – they called him mad man (however, they didn’t know that his bruises came from his mom, she was abusive) 🙁

  5. Mallori N.

    Some of the most memorable characters names that I have ever read are in Jen Turano’s books–Millie Longfellow, Temperance Flowerdew, Permilia Griswold, Gertrude Cadwalader, etc. She always seems to come up with some unique name(s) for her main character(s).

  6. Alicia Haney

    Your book sounds like a very good read, I Love the cover , it is Beautiful! A good memorable name in a novel I have read is Zeke.

  7. AmyJo M.

    I like the name Ove, the title character from the book “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. He reminds me of my Grandfather who passed away many years ago.

    My book club just started reading Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I like this title characters name for 2 reasons. First, Eleanor is one of those old-school names you don’t hear much anymore plus it reminds me of my Grandmother Leona who passed away a couple years ago. Second, Oliphant makes me think of Elephants, which are my favorite animals!

  8. Desiree Kessler

    This sounds like a great read! I love the cover! ? One of the most memorable good characters in a book I’ve read is Lucky Santangelo (Jackie Collins). Love that character so much!!

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