Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's in a Name?

Take a look at the cover sitting over there and you'll see my author name. It's my real name and not a pseudonym. I wanted the people in the town where I grew up to know I did achieve my dream of becoming a published writer even when they said I wouldn't. I am very proud of both father's and my husband's. The names mean even more to me now because those wonderful men are both gone.

One Anglo/Saxon. Not French as some would think or as they would pronounce it. Hoyt... is how it is pronounced. Sharp and succinct, the precise meaning has been lost in the mists of time.It is a harder word than the effeminate pronunciation of the French version which is spelled Boyet or Boyette and pronounced Boy Yay or Boy Yet. The French meaning of the word equates to young bull.

Then there's Compo.

Originally spelled Compeaux when my husband's people came to America from France, it is pronounced Com Poe with the emphasis on the second syllable. His people changed the name because the maternal link was Italian and when they arrived in America, they moved into a predominately Italian neighborhood in New York City and the denizens of that class-conscious area of the city were not enamored of the French. His family labeled themselves Italian to keep the young boys in the group from being beaten to a bloody pulp every day after school.Thus the change in the spelling.

It isn't Camp, Campo, Campes, or Campos. Those surnames are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, but of Roman (Latin) origins from the 1st century a.d. Those names are topographical in translation and literally mean the countryside.

Nor is the second part of my surname Compton, Compote or Cornpone. It isn't Compass, Composite or Campus, either.

It is Compo. How hard is that to get right?

My first name gets misspelled quite often, too. Many people spell it Charolette for some odd reason that I can't fathom. My paternal grandmother spelled it Sharlet or Charlut depending on her mood. It is pronounced Shar Lut...not Shar Ruh Lut...and is Germanic in origin and means 'free man'. It is a derivative of Charles. The emphasis is on the first syllable, btw.

Likewise my nickname gets misspelled more often than not. It's Charlee which is pronounced Shar Lee..a soft and delicate nickname...but nearly everyone gives it the hard Char Lee as in Charlie's Angels. People spell it Charlie, Charli, or Charley. Some people even chop it off with a brutal Char which is pronounced Shar and which I hate with a bloody passion. I've reached the point that I, myself, even pronounce it Charlie because it just isn't worth correcting nearly everyone in my circle of acquaintances. It's not as important that it be corrected as my professional name is.

Just as I've gotten into the habit of calling myself Char Lee instead of Shar Lee, I've gotten into the even worse habit of pronouncing my maiden name Boy Yet. Most people pronounce it that way, anyway, so I go along to get along.That, really isn't too bad because my mom often felt Hyacinth Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances pronounces her husband's name as Boo Kay... to give herself airs. Daddy didn't seem to mind or care although he hated that his parents called him by his middle name Carl instead of the more forceful first name Floyd.

But I digress.

Put all together, my professional name is Charlotte Boyett-Compo. There is a hyphen there but some people ignore it and leave it off when writing about me. I really wish they wouldn't. Some folks even put me in the C section instead of the B.

And oh! the combinations I've had!

Either Charlotte Boyer-Campo or Charlotte Boyette-Campo seems to be the favorite ones of many reviewers. Some even add the ubiquitous 'S' on the end of Campo to add insult to injury. Charlotte Boyer-Compote, Charlotte Bayette-Compton, Charlotte Boyd-Compos, Charlotte Boy-Comp and Charlotte Boyette-Campus are just a few of the combinations that have slaughtered the name. My personal favorite of all time though was Charolette Bayer-Cornpone. The person who came up with that bizarre combination surely has a special place in Hell reserved for her!

Yes, it rankles me when my name is misspelled. It makes me grit my teeth. It also makes me have less respect for the one who misspelled it in the first place. I feel the same way about people who make errors in their reporting or who use bad grammar in their writing. It's slipshod writing. It's lazy writing. It's just plain discourteous to misspell the name of someone you've interviewed or reviewed. It makes me think they just don't care about what they put their name to. It doesn't take all that much time out of a reviewer's or interviewer's day to make sure they have spelled the name correctly. They took the time to read the book and review it. They took the time to email you the questions for the interview. What's a quick glance to make sure the name is as it should be on the piece? I'm sure they don't appreciate having their own misspelled name put out there for the world to see.

It isn't too much to ask an interviewer or reviewer to get your name right. After all, it is your professional name and you are defined by it. It isn't too much to ask that they glance at a cover from one of your books to ascertain the correct spelling if they are unsure. Nor is it too much to ask that they correct the name in a timely manner when informed they misspelled it.

So, I'm asking reviewers and interviewers and the writers of blogs to LOOK at what you write before you hit the publish button. Make sure you get the author's name right. It's simple courtesy.

And if you're wondering about the above book, Wyndstones is my latest novel and its the first of two long-awaited sequels to my popular NightWind. It was just released this week from New Concepts Publishing. You can read all about it at


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