I think one of the biggest challenges I have faced in writing is choosing names for my characters and places. What about you?
Since my novels are Victorian and English, I have to try to "think English" despite my American birth. Places in England seem to end in "ton", "shire", "bury" and such. So then I try to add on another British name, and so thinking of Sherlock Holmes, I came up with the name for my book's fictional location- The Companion of Lady Holmeshire. With some of the character names, I start with the ending and then make up a beginning, thus Lord Breyton. After each making up frenzy, I get on Google and look up the name to make sure there is not a real one living who might sue me, lol. You would be surprised to find out how many of the names I have made up are real and occupied! It was probably about one out of four that were actually available.
Another way that I have come up with a name: I was floating about Facebook, spacing out because I needed a name for an angelic young lady in my second book, For the Skylark. I received a Friend Request from a gal named Evangeline. That was it! I asked the young lady if I could steal her name and she agreed to it. :) The next day, I received another Friend Request from a second woman named Evangeline, and I knew for sure that it was a keeper. (Although it took only one second to be sure in the first place!) My character has a twin brother, who as a toddler could not pronounce Evangeline and so called his sister Angel Eyes, which really reinforces her characteristics. I love it!
How have you authors come up with your names? I'd love to know.