What’s In A Name?


Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I’m at that fun (and slightly terrifying) place where I’m starting a brand new book. This will be the third book in my Hope’s Haven series and will feature the third and oldest of the three Eicher sisters, Martha.

One of the key things I need to do before I get started with the actual writing, besides having at least a high level idea of my plot and character goals and motivations, is to nail down the names. And I don’t mean just the protagonists and key players. Just as important to me are the place names and names of pets/animals. In fact I will sometimes spend days trying to come up with something that I feel evokes just the right tone I’m looking for.

I draw on several sources for inspiration. For instance when coming up with town names I’ve used vegetation—names like Dewberry, Whistling Oak, Foxberry, Knotty Pine, Clover Ridge, Sweetgum, Sweetgrass and Nettlesford.  Sometimes they’re based on theme, like my ten-book series set in Turnabout or my current series set in Hope’s Haven.

Other times I draw from things around me. For instance a city right next door to where I grew up was called Westwego. As a kid I never thought of it as anything but one word, it was only later that I realized it was made up of the three words west-we-go. Was it perhaps a rallying cry for folks heading west? After all it is located on the west bank of the Mississippi, across from New Orleans. Thinking about that I came up with the town name of Far Enough, sort of the other end of the journey. And another time I spotted a large flock of blackbirds rise up out of a field and circle overhead as a group.  That inspired the town name of Pepper Cloud. Sometimes they just come out of left field, like Frog Swallow and Minnow Creek.

Of course there are other things that need naming in a book, most significantly, the animals. Whether it’s pets, horses or other livestock, finding just the right name can prove an elusive task at times. In the past, for cats and dogs) I’ve used names like Smudge, Taffy, Buttons, Poppy, Rufus, Daffy (short for Daffodil), Cookie, Kip and Mustard among others. For horses I’ve used Titan, Monarch, Fletch, Scout, Trib (short for Retribution), Cocoa, Buttermilk and Amber among others. I’ve had a couple of mules named Jubal and Moses. There have also been pet birds I’ve named Cricket, Sweetie Pie and Sundar.

As I said, at the moment I’m in the early stages of my third Hope’s Haven book. I’m currently thinking I will need names for 4 horses (two draft horses and two buggy horses), a dog, a cat and perhaps a goat. I’d love to hear any suggestions for names you might have.

And for those who leave a comment, you’ll be entered in a giveaway of any book on my backlist.


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We’re celebrating our 14th birthday!

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

59 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”

  1. Hi! I’ve been doing a lot of talking with my 91 year-old dad about his childhood. He talks a lot about when he was a young teen, the team of work horses he raised and trained, Nellie and Dolly. When I was in grade school, Nellie and Dolly were 25+ years old, and had been put out to pasture at my grandparents’ farm. I would go out and ride them around the pasture all day, sometimes reading my book or napping on horseback. I loved it when they would walk into the pond to cool off when I was aboard.

  2. Buggy horses – Cinnamon & Ginger; draft horses- Hercules & Atlas; dog – Sergeant; cat – Cinders; goat – Hadrian

  3. I love the naming, too, Winnie! My places have been: Unforgiven, Chestnut Creek, Widow’s Grove. I love girl names that are usually boys names: Sam, Nevada, Harley. I had an old man named Hoot. Animals are fun, too. I had a palomino named Buttermilk (after Dale’s horse) but they called her Pork Chop, because she was a bit ahem curvy.

  4. Growing up we had Stinky (a dog), Tinker (Tinkerbell – cat). I had a cat named Pepper and my mom has a dog named Mutley. Now I have a cat named Punk and Bella.

  5. Hi Winnie! I love draft horses! As for names, let’s go with Ranger and Charger. For the buggy horses, how about Winnie and Daisy. You should, after all, name one after yourself. Right? Good luck on your third book in the series.

  6. Horses -Thunder, Stormy, Dash, Maverick, Samson, Oakley, Ol Faithful. Cats – Socks, Hunter, Poppy, Pumpkin, Sunny, Miss Polly. Dogs – Cocoa, Clarence, Iris, Willa, Honey, Finley. Goats – Ruby, Homer, Springer, Clyde, Stella. Good luck, Winnie!

  7. We have two draft horses… Waylon and Willie!
    Cat names…Tip and Tiger!
    Dog names…Poppy and Penny

  8. oh I have a hard time naming my animals – I need to see their personality shine through – My aussie pup last year was named Rowdy and boy did it fit – I have another pup this year and his name is Sully. Horses: Whistle, Snoopy, Sandzee, Wimpy, Maxx, Lady, Dainty, Balck Jack, Misty, Dobbin, Ghost and Storm – lst 2 would be great for dapple gray Percheron draft team! Other dog/cat names, Rusty, Bloo, Rambo, Gus, Flash, Charlie, Oodles, Doodles, Tubby, flowers, blaze, spot, Mouser! We had pygmy goats when my kids were little – Henry, Toad, Frog, Caramel and Wheezer!

  9. Hello and have a great day! I am not very good at naming animals but for a Dog I am going to say Jackson, a cat Sassy, and horses Molly, Daisy, Duke, and Max, Rocky and a goats name Charlie!

  10. Good morning. Hope you are well. Sugar, Saffire, Brutus, Diamond, Have a wonderful day and thank you.

  11. Winnie, you’ve come up with some great names for towns and animals. You spurred my brain and I thought of one for the new book I’m starting as well. I love the process of naming the things and people in my stories. Good luck with your book!

  12. Hi Winnie, fun blog. Right now I can’t think of names …even for my own people. Lots of great suggestions and I don’t think I could beat any of them. I did have a cat named Pepper and when we adopted her a sibling we named her Chili. So we had Chili and Pepper. Pepper has gone to furry friend heaven, but our Chili is a wild buck for a cat and sometimes I call her Pepper! Sure do miss you guys. Take care and good luck on your names. Hugs and love, Phyliss

  13. Winnie, the “naming” process is one I go through, too. I love Jubal! LOL And Trib, for Retribution. You’ve come up with some great ones. As for our dogs, we’ve always kept the names they were given at the shelter, or something close to it. With our Embry, he was from a litter of puppies that were born at the shelter, and that was when Twilight was all the rage. There were 12 puppies and they named them all names from the Twilight series. Embry just fit him so we kept it. With Sammy, he was familiar with that name and answered to it, so we kept it, but with Max, they had named him Axel. Well, that little thing did not look like an “Axel” to me or my hubby so we called him Max because it was close enough (he recognized the “ax” part already).

    For characters and animals in books, I love to be able to just be free to come up with the names that fit them so perfectly. We have a lot of weird names in Oklahoma for towns, many of them Indian names, but some are really just strange names. Slapout is one that cracks me up. I love learning what the Indian names mean in English. Talihina (iron road) is where the railroad came in to OK. Lots of fun facts about names.

    Great blog–I really enjoy seeing how everyone’s mind works about names of people, places, and animals!

  14. Some of our pets were: Sugar, Penny, Snickers, Peanuts, DC (for Darn Colt), Skylar, Willow, Rinny, Lucky, Lassie, Sandy

  15. Horse’s names -Big Red, Beauty, Beloved, Bella ,Starlite, Dog name -Honeybear, Ebony, Cookie, Kooper, Coco, Cleo, Mudge, Shadow, Max,Keita,Maiya, Zoey Cat name -Luna ,Stella, Romeo, Charlie, Pepper Goat name – Billy, Opal

  16. Wow, Winnie!! Everyone has names to share – how will you ever decide?!

    I think it’s funny how the trend for pets (dogs, for sure) is to name them after humans. My neighbor’s dog was Betty – which cracked me up because it was my mother’s name. My nephew named his Golden Retriever Kevin – also cracked me up – I’d never heard of such a name for a dog. And then he got a second Golden and named him Carl to keep the consonant sound the same.

    Great blog, sister filly, and thanks for the shout-out for our BIG birthday party comin’ up on Friday!

  17. Comong up with the right names can be really hard.. how about Taffy, Tito, Brutus and Stella for the horses?

  18. The first kitten we got our daughter she named Angel. That lasted a few weeks until I found she had climbed the lace curtains and was walking along the top of the curtain rod. She was renamed Mischief and continued to live up to her name. Other cats have been Mittens, Scooter, and Connor (a grey Manx). Our daughter had a beautiful Maine Coon cat she called Sebastian.

    Our son named our first black lab Oliver after the orphan Oliver Twist because he found the puppy by the side of the road and could find no owner. When we got another black lab he named her Olivia as the female version of the Oliver Twist legacy. I named our first dog, a beagle rescue, Noli after part of a title in a book (Noli Me Tangere) well known in the Philippines where I was a Peace Corps volunteer. In that sense it means : a warning against touching or interference, which I never bothered to find out. Noli is used in many other cultures meaning a very sweet little girl or one who is pragmatic and at times very, very persuasive. She was the sweetest dog and at times fit the other two classifications. Other dogs we have had are Stitch, Markham, Annie, Lucinda, Abby, Noah, Panzer, and Marley (after Bob Marley).

    We had friend who had two Belgian draft horses named Sunshine and George. Sunshine was a sweet horse and George was solid and steady. I like Holmes (or Sherlock) and Watson for the buggy horses. One daughter has llamas named Cocoa and Mocha, and Sammy among others. I can’t remember the names of her others. She has goats and sheep, too, but their names escape me right now. There are a multitude of other pets and names. Our son graced us with a rooster recently. He is really big and is beautiful. He is a Lavender Wyandotte I believe. He is an aggressive bird and I think even “the girls” are a bit put out by him. His name is Sir Lavender.

    Best of luck with naming your animals in the new book. Stay cool, safe, and healthy.

  19. Pearl and Rubby for buggy horse
    Tulip for the goat
    Rowdy for the dog
    Sassy for cat
    Maisy and Daisy for draft horses

  20. So many wonderful names. We had a goat named Reece. He was a lot of fun. I love my name: “Lournetta” I was the first child born between two brothers – Floyd and Lourn. 62 years ago they couldn’t tell the mom the sex of the baby like now. So I was supposed to be a boy and named after my uncle: Lourn. bur since I was a girl, my mom just added “etta” at the end. My uncle and I were very close, so it meant extra that I had his name.

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