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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Please Join us because not only will it be fun but

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Excuse Me, What’s Your Name?

This question wasn’t asked much on the American frontier and if you were so bold, you were liable to get shot. The old West offered a man a place to disappear into and leave behind whatever trouble he found himself in.

It was super easy and there was no way to check on anything. No telephone. No internet. No Social Security numbers. Nothing. It was perfect.

There were probably hundreds of men back then looking to change their identities and disappear and did. Outlaws checked into hotels and boardinghouses under an alias as did some politicians and famous people.

In my upcoming release, A Cowboy of Legend, Deacon Brannock has taken a fake name in order to disappear. All is well and good until firebrand Grace Legend marches into Hell’s Half Acre with burning determination to shut his saloon down. She’s a member of the Temperance Society and hellbent on running him out of business.

But, here’s the thing…Grace is also a reporter and writes a weekly column under an alias. Like a bloodhound, she discovers that Deacon Brannock is hiding a juicy secret. Oh, I love it!

A Cowboy of Legend contains a lot of secrets. Writing about secrets is fun for an author. Where there are secrets there’s conflict and those are what drives a story. I just love it when a book contains mysteries. I can’t turn the pages fast enough.

BLURB

Deacon Brannock is determined to make a name for himself and the saloon he’s worked his whole life to afford. He was prepared for the roughness of the Wild West, but he hadn’t counted on Grace Legend…

Grace has always fought passionately for what she believes in, and after her best friend is killed at the hands of her drunk, angry husband, that includes keeping alcohol out of her town. When the owner of the new saloon turns out to be a kind and considerate man, she can’t help but wonder if they could have a future together…if they weren’t on opposite sides of every issue.

This is Book 1 of a new series called Lone Star Legends and releases April 27th. Book 2 – A Cowboy Christmas Legend follows in Sept.

My question: If you could change your identity and disappear, would you? I think I’d chose to be Sierra or maybe Summer or Sapphire. What would you choose?

What’s in a Name? ~ Kari Trumbo

Do you find you love your name? People can be quite opinionated about something they had little to no control over. One common problem authors have who write historical books is to pick names that were authentically used in the time period. A name like Jaylen or even Liam (unless your character has a very specific heritage and hasn’t been in the US long) would be almost unheard of.

Names are beautiful, but surprising, too. From my study of census data and comparing it to various books I have with actual accounts, I can only say that simply because a name wasn’t common in an era, doesn’t mean it wasn’t used. There are names that have been created in the last few decades which should be (of course) avoided in a historical novel, but I’m all for using what the past has left behind to enrich the future.

Does that mean we should fill our stories with Agneses and Jacobs, or should we personally accept that we’ll have a name we are unhappy with for eternity? I don’t think we need to go that far. Not to mention, how boring it would be! A wonderful resource I’ve found for naming characters is, frankly, so simple I’m surprised more people don’t do it. I find books with personal letters from people during the period in which I’m writing and use their names.

For instance, one of my favorite books in studying Gold-rush era California is a book called, They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush, by Jo Ann Levy. This book is a treasure of life experiences from that period. So many people think of the Oregon Trail as the most difficult trial a family of that time could face, but life in California was hard. These women saw it all, not only the Elephant (you’ll have to look up that phrase to find the meaning, it’s off-topic for this post).

These early pioneers had fantastic names: Arzelia, Julius, Luzena, Ledyard, Zeno, Lodisa, Angeline, Lucena, Clotilde, and Fayette. These are just skimming through the first quarter of the book without even really looking! Of course, there are Annes, Jennies, Marys, Margerets, Johns and Josephs and I think a lot of authors feel like they must use these names because it is expected in historical novels, but in my digging for historical names, I found something very interesting. Your name doesn’t have to define you or your era, not now, and not into eternity.

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In the first book in my Brothers of Belle Fourche series, Teach Me to Love, Izzy is abused by the husband she hastily married. She comes to the Broken Circle O to find peace, what she gets is so much more. Conrad can’t think of her as Izzy, not even as her given name, Isabella. He gives her a new name, for a new start, Isabelle.

In Revelations 2:17b we learn that the Lord will give us a new name, a name so intimate, so truly ours, that no one but the receiver and the Lord will know it.

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

I really wanted to explore that in Teach Me to Love, how important a name can be in healing from the past, from our mistakes, the ultimate forgiveness because we are completely and totally new. The Lord knows we don’t want to be the selves we left behind when we meet Him, so he makes us new, not only in body, but in name.

So, what’s in a name?

I’ve got an ebook copy of my collection, Brothers of Belle Fourche, Books 1-3
 for one commenter. Do you think names are important? Have you ever wished you had a different name or read a book where it felt like the name of the character didn’t quite fit (or maybe fit perfectly)?

 

 

Kari Trumbo is an International bestselling author of historical and contemporary Christian romance. She began her writing journey five years ago and has indie published almost forty titles. Prior to writing, she was a freelance developmental editor and beta reader.

Kari is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the American Christian Fiction Writers Association as well as her local chapter, MN N.I.C.E. She makes her home in central MN—where the trees and lakes are plentiful—with her husband of over twenty years, two daughters, two sons, a cat, a bunny, and one hungry woodstove.

 

 

 

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