Thursday, June 19, 2014

Naming the 4 legged characters in my books


Hi, Winnie Griggs here.

Most of my books include an animal of some sort, usually a cat or a dog, a pet of one of the main characters.   And I always spend every bit as long finding just the right name for the animals as I do for any of my two-legged cast members.   I usually come up with an discard any number of names until I find one that just ‘feels’ right.

As a result, some of the names I have come up with have been rather mundane, some on the unique side.  Along the way I've had dogs named Kip, Jasper, Buck, Cookie, Poppy and Skipper.  Horses have carried names like Cinnamon, Homer, Cocoa, Licorice, Monarch and Scout.  I even had a pet bird in one of my stories named Sweetie Pie.  I got really creative with the cats, and they ended up with names such as Mustard, Daffy, Tully, Patience and even Othello.

In my latest book, my heroine has a dog that I had to try out about a dozen names for before I finally settled on one I was happy with.  The name I came up with was Rufus and as soon as I found his name he came to life for me.  Ivy also has a mule, the first one I’ve featured in a book, and unlike with Rufus, his name came to me immediately.  As soon as he popped on the page I knew his name was Jubal.  I even tried out a few others to see if something else would work better, but no, it had to be Jubal.

So what about you?  Do the names of the animals in the books you read play at all into how you picture them?  And if you have a pet of your own, how did you go about selecting the name for him/her?

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And to celebrate the release of Lone Star Heiress this month, I’ll give a copy away to one person who leaves a comment here.

LONE STAR HEIRESS
Book 4 of The Texas Grooms series

Rescuer Turned Husband? 

Plucky Ivy Feagan is headed to Turnabout, Texas, to claim an inheritance, not a widower's heart. That all changes when strapping schoolteacher Mitch Parker rescues her in the wilderness. Straightlaced Mitch has never met a woman like Ivy—beautiful, adventurous and good-hearted—but he already lost love once and doesn't dare try again.

When Turnabout's gossips target Mitch and Ivy's friendship, he proposes to save her reputation. But Ivy doesn't want to marry for honor, and she doesn't need to marry for money. Ivy will only agree to a proposal made for love's sake—but will Mitch make his heart part of the marriage offer? 

Texas Grooms: In search of their brides… 


24 comments:

Keli Gwyn said...

Winnie, it's fun to have pets featured in the stories I read. They add to characters' lives just as our pets add to ours.

My debut Love Inspired Historical features a dog. I chose his name carefully, and it adds a bit of fun to the story. There's a dog in the story I just completed, and he, too, has a name that has special meaning in this particular story.

Christine Johnson said...

Yes, like with real-life pets, the animals in our stories need just the right name. One thing I learned around our household is not to let my husband choose our pets' names. He saddled our first kittie with such a horrid name that I immediately changed it. Maybe it's a good thing we never had children...

Sandra Orchard said...

Oh, I love your animal names. Like your Rufus, I had a similar experience with the dog in Identity Withheld...a Golden Doodle. My kids pick the names for our pets...even the chickens!

Sandra Orchard said...

Oh, I love your animal names. Like your Rufus, I had a similar experience with the dog in Identity Withheld...a Golden Doodle. My kids pick the names for our pets...even the chickens!

Merrillee said...

Winnie, you do have a big cast of animal characters. I haven't had many books with pets, but when I do I have taken a good amount of time to come up with the name. For one book, I asked my FB friends to help me name the dog in the book. Humphrey Bogart became Bogie.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Love Rufus!

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Rufus sounds like such a good dog's name. And they can say it themselves. At least that's what some dog's barking sounds like. Rufus, Rufus, Rufus. We had a beloved dog named Toby and she showed up in a series I did for Guideposts. I also tend to have a lot of horses in my books and use our own horses names - makes it easier to imagine them and their personalities.

Jean C. Gordon said...

Three of our dogs were older when we got them and already had names, Jessie, Precious, and Colossus (he was the runt of the litter, but ended up growing into his name). For our current dog, Xena, my husband just looked at her and said Xena. That's also sort of the way our son got his name, too, off the top of his dad's head. Long before he was even a thought, my husband and I were riding in the car and out of the blue he said, "if we ever have a boy, we should name him Nathanael."

Margaret Daley said...

I've used all my pets' names and my friends. Sometimes a name will come quickly. Other times I have to ponder about it for days and sometimes change it throughout the book.

Jolene Navarro said...

I spend as much time naming animals as I do naming my kids - I'm always looking for something different but not weird. AT home we tend to use musical themes for our dogs - Sammy, Jazz, Blues, Elvis and Selina. With my horses, they were registered so you have to pick a "legal" name that usually ties in to their bloodlines but then you have the name everyone actually calls them - sometimes they match sometimes it is completely different. I had a beautiful palomino quarter horse named Jet Set Lena - called her Lena - AN appaloosa gelding named Dare the Wind - called him Mister. Could go on all day about my horses names loved them all -

Rhonda Gibson said...

I love animals in books! They add to the characters. My husband named my current baby. She's a shi'shu/miniature poodle mix and her name is Sheba. He said she came and took over the place. Most of our pets he's named but I get to name all the stray cats that show up.

Leann Harris said...

I've had horses in my last four books and the one I working on has horses. They are pivotal characters and have to have names. Spice is the name of my hero's horse in the book I'm working on.

Susan Johnson said...

I think it is fun to have pets in books. After all, people have pets. I used to have a cat named Nellie after my best friend, who was moving out of state the week I found her. Now I have a cat named Lizzie. I found her at Dairy Queen and my daughter wanted me to name her something associated with DQ. She suggested Blizzard, but it got shortened to Lizzie.

Winnie Griggs said...

Hi Keli - oh it's always fun when a pet's name actually has a speacial meaning. And I can't wait to read your book!

Christine - LOL with (not) letting your husband pick the names. Most of our personal pets name's were picked by our children, though I did name our first dog, before the kids came alone. Pepper was a very special dog and though he's been gone for nearly 30 years now I still miss him occassionally.

Winnie Griggs said...

Sandra, I'm not sure what a Golden Doodle is, but I love that name!

Hi Merilee. I've asked for help on FB before when trying to come up with a name. I've gotten tons of great suggestions that way.

Winnie Griggs said...

Thanks Sherri

Carolyne - LOL I hadn't thought about that aspect. I could have written it in the story! :)

Winnie Griggs said...

Hi Jean - sounds like your hubby likes the naming process!

Margaret - sounds like your process is similar to mine.

Jolene - for some reason horse names are usually the ones I have the most trouble naming. I'll have to get with you next time I need help!

Winnie Griggs said...

Rhonda - Ooooh, I like Sheba. I may have to use that in a book some day :)

Leann - Spice is another good name! You guys are so good t this!

Susan - LOL, I like how you shortened Blizzard to Lizzie - excellent compromise

Pamela Tracy said...

The LI I'm working on now has horses, so far the ones raising to prominence are Daisy, Palomino Pete, Cinderella, and Thunderbolt. Then, there's the pony Pinocchio. One thing good about this last name is now I really know how to spell Pinocchio. At first I kept trying to put two n's.

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