Ok, so my first tidbit is from my first novel, Love Beyond Time. (No, I often don't pick the titles. The publishing company does. And, although I've been known to bash the titles, from a marketing standpoint they really are effective).
ANYway. I began writing this book when we lived in Atlanta for a short time. I had just read a time travel novel by Jude Deveraux, (A Night in Shining Armor, if you're interested), and I was totally enamored of the landscape around Atlanta--all the plaques everywhere that stated what had happened there in that very spot--so I decided to try to write a book myself.
When I first started the book, my heroine was a doctor named Claire Elizabeth. Loved, loved that name. As I progressed with the book, (over an embarrassingly long period of time), I came across a series of books I thought looked absolutely wonderful. The third in the series, Voyager, was newly released, so I backed up and read the first two books. Alas, imagine my dismay to realize that the books were about a time-traveling nurse-turned-doctor named: Claire Elizabeth. The series is the now-famed Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Amazing, amazing books.
I was distraught. But as my character was a time-traveling medical worker, I didn't want to be a copy cat, even though it really was entirely coincidental.
So I changed Claire's name to Amber. It worked, but it was SO HARD to change the character's name in the middle of the writing. I didn't think of her as an Amber. It was sillily painful. Now enough time has passed, (and truthfully I'd have to reread the book to really remember it well), that I can think of her as Amber.
I did resurrect the name Claire, however. She became an archaeologist in my third book. :-)