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What’s in a name?

My oldest and I were out getting his new glasses and I had to provide my e-mail address for the receipt. When the person helping us finished typing it in she looked hard at the screen. My first reaction was that she was going to ask me about our last name, but she suddenly said, “Is that your name, Jody?” And I was like, “Um, yeah?” At which point, she told me how much she loved it.

Now, I’ve never actually been partial to my name. When I was a little girl my mom bought the Little Women Madam Alexander Dolls and for a good year I walked around insisting that Josephine was a much better choice. I mean, why did my parent choose this dumb cutesy name? Even my sister had a cool name. It’s more common and elegant —and when she’s 87 she’s not going to be walking around with a “kid-style” nickname as a grandmother. Seriously, this is so deep-rooted that I even considered a pen name that was more professional sounding. It was only because I’m not embarrassed or concerned about what others think of my writing that I stayed with the moniker that I’ve gone by since I was sixteen. But it got me thinking that you’d like to know where some of the names in my books came from. Sometimes naming characters is as hard as naming kids. In other instances, the name drops out of the clear blue sky and is brilliant. Here’s a sampling of how the Kingsbrier names came to be. The “king” in Kingsbrier: Texas ➡ farm ➡ truck ➡ All-American ➡ Then a King Ranch F150 pulls up next to us. 💡! Adam — first man, first son Brier — Describes her personality; prickly. Colton — Colt ➡ young. He's the youngest. Note: I don’t refer to him as Colt. EVER. Daveigh — Actually one of the few girl names that made it on our personal list of what to name our kids. My oldest’s go-to toddler move was “Lilo and Stitch” voiced by Daveigh Chase (pronounced differently.) Eric — I’m partial to names spelled with c instead of k. And Eric Kingsbrier reads better than Erik Kingsbrier. Rose — Fit with Brier. Ross — His original name was Russ. My eyes started interchanging the u with the o in Rose. However, I vow to never again have a lead character coupling where their names even begin with the same letter, let alone are one letter off! Drew — in Draft Chapters he had a placeholder name of John. I happened to listen to the first 3 lines of “Drew” by Taylor Swift. While the song has very little to do with Brier & Drew’s story, the name stuck... Drew looks at me / I fake a smile so he won't see / That I want and I'm needing / Everything that we should be ...Plus the line: I wonder if he knows he's all I think about at night. Newhouse — I was standing in line at Disney World and the name was on a family’s backpack. It worked to my advantage months later when realized that Colette would become part of the family. Strand — A single piece of hair, thread. Colette is on her own when we meet her. Ginny — I happened to work out that Ginny ➡ Virginia ➡ virgin ➡ pregnancy storyline. Not planned at all. Dumb luck. Cris — I didn’t want to add the h. Mateo — originally Matteo. My editor has a linguistics degree and removed the extra t. Roseanne & Lily — Homage to Rose and Lily Anne to understand how much Brier & Drew’s mother’s meant to them. Many characters have part of a family name. Corey — A placeholder name that never changed. This is rare. Cricket — I wanted an uncommon southern name. The opposite was true of Savannah Andrew (mentioned in Cavanaugh). As a final note, I avoid using my family member’s names. The rare exception is Joan from Canvas. I’d wanted a one-syllable name that was businesslike and stood on its own two feet. The original story (which is VERY different) was concocted years before MJA encouraged me to publish anything. Joan had been Joan for so long that no matter what I tried to change her name to it didn’t work. If there are any names that aren’t on this list that you’d like to know more about e-mail me and I’ll add them to the list!

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