K. D. McCrite

K.D. McCrite grew up on an Ozark Mountain farm along an old dirt road, just like April Grace Reilly in In Front of God and Everybody. She loves writing stories that make people laugh and think. For a while, she worked as a librarian, but these days she sits at her desk and makes up stories. Her second book to this series, Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks, released in December 2011. The third book in the series will be released in the fall of 2012. Visit her at http://kdmccrite.com/

K. D. McCrite

What’s in a Name?

As a writer, I love words. I also love to make up places or people and attach monikers to them. Years ago I wrote a series of three books for Avalon Books (Home Is the Heart, Wintersong, and Rainbow Dreams, by Kathaleen Burr—yes, that was my name then). Those books were gentle romances, clean and sweet, so I needed a town that had a lovely, beckoning name and came up with Pleasant Springs, Missouri. In my Confessions of April Grace, I invented a town called Blue Reed by combining the names of two real towns nearby: Blue Eye and Reeds Spring. Do you remember Mayberry, North Carolina; Cabot Cove, Maine; Cicely, Alaska; or Sparta, Mississippi? You could almost believe those places were real, and just the sound of their names today brings a familiar image.

Have you ever thought how names of characters in books seem to fit their personalities? Dickens’s Uriah Heep is a self-serving manipulating, weaselly kind of person. Scarlett O’Hara was a fiery, determined, grasping woman who always defended her lack of morals. Miss Gulch, the evil neighbor who wants Toto destroyed in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Do you realize the reader never knows the name of the shy, victimized narrator of Daphne du Mauier’s Rebecca? The names, or lack thereof, fit these characters, don’t they? But is it true in real life? Do we grow into our names? I’m not sure, but it does seem that we often judge unknown persons by their names. These days we seem to follow trends, and I don’t think it is currently “trendy” to attach names with meaning.

Speaking of trends, have you noticed how names follow trends? In 1892, the most popular names were John and Mary. We find John and Mary still at the top of the list in 1912. By 1932, Robert replaced John in popularity but Mary stayed at the top. Two decades later in 1952, James and Linda rank at the top, and in 1972, Michael and Jennifer. In 1992, Michael still tops the charts, but Ashley became number one. Currently, according to my research, the most popular names are Mason and Emma. Now, I’ll tell you, I have known only one Mason, and that was a long time ago, but Emmas are all over the place. While older names for boys have never really gone away completely, old-fashioned names for girls are becoming more and more popular: Charlotte, Abigail, Emily. I’ve also noticed a resurgence for the name Henry for boys, a name I thought would never revive in popularity.

Because older names are making a comeback, I wonder if the trend to name children two or three, even four names, all surnames—i.e, Hamilton Baxter Simmons Smith—will soon fade

away. This makes guessing the gender of a child in jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers rather hard unless she’s wearing ribbons in her long hair.

My given name is Kathaleen. Yes, there’s an extra a in there. In fact, my mother actually spelled it Kathaleene, but after so many people called me Kathaleenie, I deleted that final e. Mom wanted to name me Glory. Not Gloria, but Glory. I’m glad everyone talked her out of that. Of course, upon my birth, my name was shortened immediately to Kathy. Not that I mind Kathy, but when I was young, the world seemed to swarm with the names Kathy, Linda, and Debbie. At least Glory would have stood out from the crowd.

Think about your name. Do you like it? Have you ever wondered why your parents chose it? Look it up, see what it means. Here’s a good Website: http://www.name-meanings.com/. Maybe you have something to live up to, maybe not. But it’s a lot of fun, anyway.


Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks