The other day, I was telling my mom about a story I’m working on, which is set in Half-Moon Hollow.  I was trying to explain the plot to her and the following conversation happened:

Me: Remember, Gigi?  Iris’s little sister, the lady who ran the vampire concierge service?

Mom: I thought her name was Miranda.

Me: No, Iris runs the concierge service.  She tripped over the ancient Greek vampire in his kitchen and ended up taking him in like a stray kitten. Miranda works for Iris as a vampire transport driver.  She hooked up with the persnickety British vampire she had to drive across the country.

Mom: I thought that was Anna.

Me: No, Anna is the main character in the third Naked Werewolf book, she drives around Alaska with Caleb, Maggie and Cooper’s cousin.

Mom: OK, I have three kids and I have a hard time remembering all of your names sometimes. How am I supposed to remember all of your characters’ names?

Me: (shrugging) I cheat.  I have a list.

When you write spin-offs to an already established series like the Nice Girls vampire series, it can get a little confusing, keeping track of who knows who and how they’re connected.  And when you throw working on another series in the mix, the Naked Werewolf series, it’s even more chaotic.  I have to keep track of blood ties and relationships, because I don’t want to accidentally hook up two characters who turn out to be cousins.  (Jane Austen can get away with that, but I can’t.)  And I have to be careful not to use the same names over and over, which is a problem, because I have a list of favorite names I want to use for every new character that comes along.

I also have a list where I keep track of the characters in each universe, how they’re connected and how they interact. There are occasional slip-ups, but it has helped me avoid intermarried cousins and naming three main characters “Nora.”

The lists have been particularly useful as I’ve written the Caleb and Anna’s book, HOW TO RUN WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF, because Anna and Caleb are basically fringe characters from previous Naked Werewolf titles.  Also, Caleb has so many cousins, it’s mind-boggling.  But it was fun to revisit Mo and Cooper and Maggie and Nick, who make appearances in HOW TO RUN.

Now, if I could just get my mom to stop calling me “Manda,” that would be great.