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  • Writer's pictureKaty Berritt


I just read ANOTHER book that had an old lady named Mabel! Authors! Please stop! Please stop naming your old ladies Mabel! Or Harriet, the other old lady in the book. Who the heck do you know named Mabel? If you Google it, you will find that Mabel was last popular in the early 1900s. Harriet was popular in the late 1800s. That would make Mabel and Harriet, um….

Okay, you do the math, people, it’s not my strong suit. Actually, now that I think about it, that would probably make them dead.

The Mabel and Harriet in this book (and other books I've read with ladies of those names) were spry things with active social and physical lives so I'm going to assume they were in their 60’s maybe 70’s.

Now, I'm going to let you, my readers, in on a little secret. I'm old. I'm not going to tell you exactly how old I am, but I'm old. I wish I wasn’t. I wish I could tell all you lovely people that I'm this hot chickie out there trolling the bars in New York City and picking up men…but I'm not. I'm old. I have grandkids. See…….

So, yes, folks, I'm a grandma…. Of course, if I was that congresswoman from Colorado—you know the one—I'd be a great.. great… great…. Okay, just add a bunch of greats and I'm sure you’ll be pretty close.

But that’s not the point. The point is, I'm probably about the age of the Mabel and Harriet in the book and guess what. I didn’t go to school with a SINGLE Mabel. Or Harriet. Or Mildred (another favorite of young authors) or ugh! Agnes. No, I went to school with a bunch of Debbies and Vickies and Donnas and Susies and… sigh…Karens. Poor things, if only their mother’s had known. Geez, there were even three Candys in my class. Okay, one of the Candys had a sister named Gertrude but their parents were from Germany so they didn’t know any better and she went by Trudi anyway, so see! Not a Mabel or Harriet or Mildred among them.

So authors, take note. When naming your senior people, do a little research. There’s this little known thing called Google where you can look up all kinds of amazing facts, including the names that were popular in any given year.

Just because a character in your book is old, you don’t need to define their oldness by giving them a name found only on tombstones.

Speaking of names; my heroine in A Wild and Wooly Texan, which came out May 1, 2023, is named Molly which was popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Of course, then there’s my hero’s name…Algernon. I don’t know if that was EVER popular. Regardless, I'm hoping Algernon and Molly’s story becomes wildly popular, kind of like the name….A Wild and Wooly Texan.


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