I will actually often go and search for names from specific countries if I'm working on a character who I've come up with a background/ history for, but not yet named. If I didn't look, my characters would all sound like the same WASP-y or Latina kids I grew up with. Which is fine when that's what I'm writing about, but often, it's not.
I wrote a story a long time ago about a nurse in Johannesburg who adopts a baby boy. I looked for African names online and found one I love: Kefentse.
I also thought Asher was a really cool, unique sounding name (this was found during my Hebrew-name search). I liked that one so much, I filed it away under "possible future baby names," thinking I was so original and off the beaten path.
But, according to this, I am so not. Number FIVE on top 100 boy baby names of 2010. Lame. Maybe by the time we have kids it'll be as original and uncommon as I thought it was.
Do you have any tricks that help you write stories?