Guest Chick: Liz Milliron

It’s always a delight to have Judy, er, Liz Milliron stop in and talk about her Homefront Mysteries!

The Story Behind the Book (A tale of Three Judys)

Thanks to Becky and all the Chicks for having me back. It’s always fun to visit.

At some point, I think it was when Ellen was blogging for the release of Four Parties and a Funeral, I said I’d share “the story behind the book” in my next guest post. For a while, I wondered if I would have a story. Aside from a few production hiccups – caused by things totally out of my control – my newest book, The Truth We Hide (Homefront Mysteries #4), was going pretty well. No crazy stories.

Or so I thought.

One of the last things any author does is proofread the galleys. You know, one last look. Just to make sure everything is a-okay.

I started reading. The waitress in Betty’s favorite diner, Teddy’s, is named Judy. She’s a recurring character. That was fine.

Then Betty goes to another diner to question a suspect where the waitress was named…Judy. Oh nuts. Well, okay. Judy was a really popular name in the 1940s, right? She’s only mentioned once, maybe twice. No one will notice.

Betty then goes to a restaurant on the hunt for information about a second suspect and one of the waitresses is named, you guessed it…Judy.

Reader, we’d crossed from “uh oh” to “you’ve got to be kidding me.” Apparently, when it comes to waitresses, I really, really like the name Judy.

Here’s the craziest thing. No one had noticed. Not me doing the read-through before I sent it off to my publisher. Not my critique group. Not one, but two, editors at my publisher. Not even my husband who had just finished reading an ARC and pronounced it “one of my best books.”


This is not the time to be making changes to a book beyond typo corrections. Fortunately, I know the typesetter for my publisher is fairly forgiving so I think I was able to rename two of the Judys. I think. I haven’t seen the finished books yet, so someone will have to let me know.

As any of the Chicks can attest, authors spend a lot of time on character names. You know, making sure they are distinct, they sound right, you don’t have five names that start with “M,”, etc. I do this…but only for the major characters. I don’t keep track of characters who have less than ten lines of dialog and only appear in one scene.

I guess I have to start.

If only to make sure I don’t end up with three Judys again.

Readers, does it bother you when there are duplicate character names in a book? And what do you think of the name Judy?

Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries, set in the scenic Laurel highlands and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Pennwriters, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and The Historical Novel Society. She is the current vice-president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime and is on the National Board as the Education Liaison.  Liz splits her time between Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands, where she lives with her husband and a very spoiled retired-racer greyhound.

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The Truth We Hide (Homefront Mysteries #4) – “ Budding private investigator Betty Ahern takes on a new case that has her questioning her own belief system and prejudices in this charming, thought-provoking, and impeccably researched historical mystery set in World War II era Buffalo. This superbly crafted mystery provides the perfect entry point to Milliron’s Home Front Mysteries.” – Edwin Hill, author of The Secrets We Share

Also Available

Lie Down with Dogs (The Laurel Highland Mysteries #5) – August 2022 – “Lie Down with Dogs is another fast-paced tightly-plotted mystery from Liz Milliron. Highly recommend!” – Bruce Robert Coffin, award-winning author of the Detective Byron Mysteries

The Lessons We Learn (Homefront Mysteries #3) – “ Intriguing, charming, and a delight to unravel…readers will truly enjoy Betty, the memorable, plucky, PI.” – L.A. Chandlar, award-winning author of The Art Deco Mystery Series

39 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Liz Milliron

  1. As long as I can keep them straight in my head, I wouldn’t mind. I went to Catholic school in a small town in the late 70’s and in a class of 30 kids, 5 boys were named Patrick. They wound up being addressed as “Mr. > Last Name<" by the teachers.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hilarious!
    I like the name Judy. After all, Cary Grant made the name famous in “Only Angels Have Wings”.
    But I do get confused with character names that are similar. If they are walking, it’s okay. But main characters? It takes me out of the story.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Congratulations on the new book, Liz! I totally feel for you on the whole name thing. It’s a LOT to keep track of. Glad you caught it. Cheers!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh my gosh, I would have been crazy trying to follow all those Judys. Nothing irritates me more than several characters with similar names beginning with the same letter. Grrr, those are gnashing teeth

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Christine, I know what you mean. Starting with the same letter doesn’t necessarily bother me, but when it’s even the same sound. I’ve gotten that I put all my characters in a spreadsheet so I can sort alphabetically by first AND last names to try and keep them distinct. It doesn’t always work…but I try,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The page of Baker Street in the Sherlock Homes stories was Billy. Only problem was, Billy was the page for several decades – couldn’t you just see a 30 year-old man in the blue suit with the brass buttons and a pillbox hat bringing Holmes a client’s card or taking his telegrams to the telegraph office? One pasticher solved that problem by proposing that Holmes and Watson called all of their pages Billy for convenience.
    It could have been a subplot that the same waitress turns up in three different restaurants. Sounds like grist for a future volume to me!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Liz!!!’ I feel your pain! Especially as someone who used the wrong name for a character on page ONE of the first Catering Hall Mystery – and no one caught it.
    During my current launch, I PUBLISHED a post about book 5 -not out until June 2024 – and did a Facebook Live in the wrong day. My old improv mentor Keith Johnstone trained us that mistakes are gifts. So hopefully “ Judy, Judy, Judy” no longer applies to your book!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It would bug me if more than one character of any importance had the same name just because I’d never keep track. Minor characters like this wouldn’t be an issue since I don’t tend to track them that much either.

    The exception would be if it was a plot point or it was called out in some way. “I can’t believe that every waitress I meant was named Judy.” Or “Hi, I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.” It does happen in real life, but the author has to make sure it works well for the reader and not just try to slip it by us.

    For the record, I’m assuming that the Judy issue hadn’t been fixed with the ARCs I read. And I didn’t notice either. 🙂

    And yes, I’ve read it. This is a great book!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Great story, Liz, and congrats on your latest book! I don’t mind the name Judy–isn’t there that “Judy Judy Judy” song?

    Anyway, I sometimes switcheroo names. Usually somebody catches it (the editor, a friend, or me), but I think I’ve seen one slip by in the printed copy even after we asked for changes! Whoops.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I kind of wish you’d left all the Judys; then in a subsequent novel we could find out why all the waitresses in the city had the same name (though that starts to sound more like some kind of sci-fi or horror story….)

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Liz–the new book sounds terrific!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Glad you got your Judy’s sorted, Liz. Characters are like kids. Sometimes we call them by the wrong name. I have called Liv Di and Di Liv. But I think it all got fixed before printing. I also had the male version of Judy, you could say. My editor pointed out in one book I had three characters named James, Jim, and Jamie! I agreed that could be confusing confusing, lol!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. But in your mind, they’re all distinct, right? In my work-in-progress, my critique partners pointed out I had a diner named Teddy’s and then introduced a character named Teddy. I can’t rename the diner, so…


  11. I feel your pain, Liz! I’ve learned to write a page with A to Z down one side. When I name someone, I put it on the sheet and nobody else can have that letter. My new series has so many characters, though, it’s a challenge!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Becky, I alphabetize and sort in Excel. It works – except when a character I assumed would only be around for one book won’t leave and now that letter is taken for the next book!


  12. Liz, huge congrats on The Truth We Hide–the story sounds fabulous, and I love the series (Buffalo, yay!). I can’t really comment on the name Judy because I’m a Lisa, and…one can never know too many Lisas? Funny how hardly anyone names their daughters Lisa anymore. I don’t think I’ve heard of many Judys, either–but I’m sure there will be a renaissance of both. (Or not?) A lot of us Lisas also had the middle name Ann/Anne, too, sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love this series, love this story, and have loved the name Judy since the days of Judy Jetson. I think a story can never have too many Judys… 🙂

    Congratulations on your new book, Liz. Can’t wait to read it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Liz, we love having you here–and oh my goodness, what a story!! I wish you peaceful editing. Just don’t do what I did when I made a global name change from Don to Dan without selecting “whole words only.” After I made the change, my book was filled with “dan’ts” and “Ding Dangs.” OY.

    I think Judy is a great name–and I’m tripling down on it!


  15. Yes, it does drive me nuts when there are multiple characters named the same. Or even with the same first initial. It slows me down having to place which character it is. When I write, I do a grid with the alphabet down the left side of the page, then keep track of all the character names. Especially for my series, and recurring characters. (Even pet names!).
    And I always liked the name “Judy”. I think it goes way back to my childhood in the 70’s, when Judy was my favorite character on “Lost in Space”. LOL


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