A Rose By Any Other Name by Davalynn Spencer


The West offers such rich locales that historical authors have a nearly unlimited supply of locations from which to choose for the settings of their novels. But what if a writer wants a new spot in her Old West?

No problem! Both venues work—the real deal and the once-upon-a-time setting.

Last year I finished a three-book series based in Cañon City, Colorado, with many specific historical tidbits from the 1800s. But for a commissioned Christmas-bride novella collection, I wanted more freedom. I wanted to make up my own names for places, so I did.

I confess, my mind’s eye saw the story set somewhere along the snowy 1885 train route to Leadville, but between the first and final pages, The Snowbound Bride began and ended near my imaginary town of Spruce City, Colorado.

Snow scape

Freedom at last!

After I chose the location, I came up with my characters’ names using a different method than I usually employ. Most often, I close my eyes and go with the first name that pops out of my fingertips so I can start getting words on paper.

But for the Christmas story I dug into my family lineage for actual names from the era. And guess what I found?


My maternal grandmother was Ara Garr Jameson, an interesting woman who really deserves her own book about running for mayor of Chillicothe, Texas, when women didn’t do such outlandish things.

But for the time being, I decided to use her spunk to fuel my heroine and named the gal Ara Taube. Taube is not a family name, but it’s the German word for dove, and that fact fit nicely into the story.

All of my grandparents have long since passed on, so I feel a little more of the aforementioned freedom when it comes to using familial monikers. What’s a family for if not to provide a few quaint names?

However, I probably won’t be using my paternal grandmother’s name – Travine. Sounds too much like latrine and I just can’t go there. (Sorry, Grandma.)

One of Grandma’s daughters, Geraldine, married Charles Berry and became Gerry Berry. Too bad I don’t write kids’ books because that would be a cool name.

For a less-than-sterling secondary character in one of my novels, I chose a name that fit quite well, but I had to change it when I sold the manuscript. The name happened to be the same as my husband’s mother. Not a plan if I wanted to keep peace in the family.

With several titles now in print and several more in the hopper, I’m always on the lookout for good names. Sometimes I find them in unusual places. Like funerals.

The brother of a man whose funeral I attended and my grandfather teamed up for the name of my Colorado Ranger, Haskell Tillman Jacobs. His story, Romancing the Widow, finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion award.

Professional Bull Riders’ events and magazines like American Cowboy and Western Horseman feature men and women with unusual names that work well for contemporary authors. And don’t forget about the neighbors.


On a photo shoot at a neighbor’s particularly enticing Spanish-style barn and house last summer, I met his cowgirl daughter, Mason. Her name is sure to turn up in a future contemporary tale.

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked. With his unusual tag, he had the right to inquire and I believe I do too. I’m named after my father, David.

Guess he wanted a boy.

Do you have an unusual name or an unusual story behind your name? I love to hear it.

Twelve Brides of ChristmasBarbour’s novella collection, The 12 Brides of Christmas, releases October 1 where books are sold as well as online.





I will give away one signed copy to a US reader on October 1st or thereabouts! 


Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion award in Western Fiction and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and their dog, Blue. Connect with her at www.davalynnspencer.com.

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36 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Other Name by Davalynn Spencer”

  1. My name isn’t so unusual, but it’s a bit uncommon. I don’t really know if there is a story behind it. I enjoyed hearing how you come up with names.

  2. My mom loves to tell how they came up with mine and my siblings names. As for my kids – one of my children was named sort of accidentally. When I was 8 months pregnant I had joked to my hubby about the name Sylvia (it came from a long story). We still hadn’t decided on a name when she was born and hadn’t talked about that name since the time I jokingly brought it up. As he was watching her get cleaned he said “aww, there’s my Sylvia!”. I laughed and said I guess that’s her name! Hubby says “Oh, we didn’t decide that?!” We still laugh about it today with our 8 year old Sylvia about how her daddy named her.

  3. I was to be named Linda but my grandmother couldn’t pronounce it very well so I got named Jeanne which I like so much better since I went to school with half a dozen Linda’s lol. Most people spell it wrong and some want to call me Jean (like my teachers in school because they assumed my name was the nickname) and, of course, I always got the “I Dream of Jeanne with the long brown hair” since I did have long brown hair lol.

  4. My father served in korea so that’s how I ended up with my name. It is NOT short for Kimberly people do ask and I do know that is normally short for that but mine is not I tell people it’s just Kim.

  5. My parents only had a boy’s name picked out… then when I was born they had to quickly come up with something… they said it popped into their heads. There have been some family members with nicknames… my uncle used to call me Denise as his way of saying I was the niece. 🙂

  6. I usually tell people that I was named after my grandmother, which I was, sort of. My paternal grandmother was Rosalina. I was dubbed Rosie from birth. I was in the third grade when we had to do an assignment for school asking us to copy the information on our birth certificates. That’s when I found out that my name is Maria. I was even registered for school as Rosie, so my mother got a note from the teacher about my fabrication!
    Maria is a nice name, but it has never really been mine!

  7. My first name is Aprul but I go by my middle name Deanne. My dad was born in the month April so she wanted to name me after him but changed the spelling to the spelling Aprul instead of April. My name I go by is my middle name, Deanne. My moms’ name is Diane but she called me Deanne to avoid confusion. I like both names and think they are pretty. Congratulations on the release of the novella, The 12 brides of Christmas. The cover is stunning and I really enjoy novellas. I look forward to reading it !

    Deanne Patterson
    Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

  8. My first name is Virginia and I was named after my mother’s best friend, I never used the name Virginia except in school.

  9. Welcome back to the Junction Davalynn! Talking about names…I particularly like the name you chose for your dog…Blue. Congratulations for finalling in the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction!

  10. So, my name is a simple name…Jill…no middle name…just Jill. My husband, however has a neat story about his name. His Gpa Jim had an older brother who died in a tragic logging accident when he was 12 or 14—and his name was Samuel Alva. Gpa Jim was so close to his brother and so impacted by his death, that when Jim had his 1st son (at age 30), he named him Alva Samuel. Alva is pronounced “Al-vee” but when Al was in 7th Grade, his music teacher called him Alva (enunciating the “ah”)and all the kids laughed at him. (Bc that’s what you do in 7th grade)
    When Al was old enough to go into the military, he changed his name to Alvie Samuel. After the war, Al came home to his wife, and when he was 30 yrs old, they had a son…Samuel Alvie
    (my husband)…
    After we got married, and Sam was 29, we had a son (and didn’t name him Alvie), to which I said, “Darn—too bad he didn’t come when you were 30.” Thinking I was safe…as I wasn’t too keen on the name Alvie, per se.
    Of course, I became pregnant the following year…and yes, Sam was 30…and yes, we had a boy. And, yes—his name has Alvie Samuel in it…but we added Corey as a first name–just in case he didn’t want to go w/ the Alvie Samuel tradition.
    Corey (now 30) & his wife just had a baby—girl. Try as I might, Corey’s wife would not name her Samantha Alvina…I have no idea why??? 🙂

  11. Growing up I really didn’t like my name and told my mom that I was going to change it when I turned 18. Have grace with me since I was probably 6 or 7 at the time and my mom doesn’t get her feeling hurt easily by unfiltered children. Coincidentally, there was one other person with my name in the tiny town I lived in and he was a boy. Now, maybe you understand why I didn’t care for my name

    Now that I am an adult, I appreciate the uniqueness of my name and why my mother gave it to me. She is one of 13 children and her brother Bernard Terrill Berg died in a motorcycle accident when he was 18 years old. In a family of 13 children you sometimes pair off since some siblings are so much older or younger. Well, my Uncle Bernie (my namesake,) Uncle Butch and my mom were/are very close. I am the youngest and I have no male siblings, so I was chosen to carry my late Uncle’s name. I view it as an honor now.

  12. I have a common name. My son was named after his grandfathers. My daddy was Henry Clay and my husband’s name was Herbert Lee. Since I couldn’t really handle Henry Herbert, we decided to with middle names and came up with Clayton Lee. That was when Dallas was big on TV and everyone thought I named him after the Clayton character on Dallas.

  13. I know my name is unusual since I’ve only met one other gal who has it, but she spells it with an “e” on the end….which I do not. The story goes that my Mom wanted to name me after the actress Anne Marie (I have no clue who she is, lol) but my dad wanted something in front of the Anne. Thus, he came up with Trixi. My full first name is Trixianne, but I go by Trixi unless I it comes to legal paperwork.
    I used to hate my name growing up, but I love it as an adult. It fits because it’s quirky & unique just like me 🙂
    The 12 Brides of Christmas sounds like a great set of novellas! Thank you for the chance to win a copy 🙂

  14. Must have fallen asleep when I wrote my comment last night and didn’t post it.
    Anyway, not much unusual about my name. I was named after my father’s cousin, Sister Patricia Marie. I think they thought if they named me after a nun, I would be a well behaved little girl. Didn’t work.
    My Dad’s mother was Emma Josephine Beauharnois, known as Jo or Josie. The family belief was they were related to Josephine Beauharnois Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon. There has been at least one Josephine in every generation. My brother has done extensive genealogical research on the family and found that this bit of family history is false.

  15. My mom named me Cindy after hearing that the country singer Merle Travis had named one of his daughters Cindy. I”m not a Cynthia, just simply Cindy. I love my first name but I’m not that fond of my middle name which is Irene. Maybe that’s because when I got in trouble in my younger years I always heard “Cindy Irene”. 🙂

    I would love to be in the drawing for your book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  16. I like my name however it has become way to common. I think because of the influence of the Partridge family and Susan Dey’s character Laurie. There are too many ways to spell it too: Laurie, Lori, Laure, Lauri, Lorie…

    I was named after my mom’s best friend’s daughter who was 7 when I was born. Her friend’s name was Laura and she didn’t want her daughter to have the exact same name so she used Laurie instead.

    I love Christmas themed books!

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