Friday, July 10, 2009

FOLLOWER FRIDAY - Forest Jane (A pseudonym)

(Note from Debra- I swear I didn't know she was a librarian at first, but when I found out...well, we all know how much authors love librarians.)

Hi, everyone! Thanks for the invitation to ride in your convertible for the day. *ties a scarf over her curls as the engine revs* Before you go google me to see if I'm someone famous, I'm not. I've only been printed in college publications; poems in the literary magazine, editorial cartoons, just a few articles, but hundreds of photographs in the yearbooks and weekly newspaper. None of that will be on the net. I went to college in pre-PC days. Even once took a class where we actually programmed with punch cards, anyone remember those?

How'd I end up here? Blame Debra Dixon, the quilter. She googled quilt g uilds, e-mailed the webmaster (me) to find out if the meeting location info was still current. I sent back a friendly "sure, you're welcome to come join us!" without even knowing she was a famous GMC cult leader and author. ;) Quilters are friendly folks. We exchanged e-mails. She sent me an e-mail one day from her BelleBooks addy, so I googled her back, and her secret was out. Then she found out besides being a quilter and webmaster, I was a proofreader, and now I proof for BelleBooks too. But my real job, the full-time one that pays the bills, is librarian.

Which brings me to a topic for us to discuss today: pseudonyms.

We were talking in the library about pen names, and how they make it difficult to find the books. We knew that Nora Roberts writes as Robb, but didn't know that Nora wasn't her 'real' name. We googled her and found that ". . . Eleanor Aufdem-Brinke (her married name) changed her name to Nora Roberts because she says she assumed all romance authors used a nom de plume."

ALL romance authors? Is that true? Is there any author on RWTTD that hasn't yet used a pen-name? Who has the most names? I can understand why someone with an obviously unsuited name would want to change names for a particular book title... you've seen the lists of books like:

Fire House Dog, by Dale Mation
Vegetable Cookbook, by Brock E. Lee and Tom A. Tous
Researching your DNA by Dr. Jean Poole
Restoring old Lightfixtures by Shanda Lear

On a more serious note, do you think using multiple names for books hurts or helps sales? I see that Charlaine Harris is now reprinting her Aurora Teagarden books, so apparently the folks who read her shapeshifter/vampire novels are quite willing to also accept her as a writer about mystery-solving-librarians. If she'd used a different name for the Sookie Stackhouse books, would as many readers realize she wrote both?

Then there's the whole 'why bother' part of using a pseudonym. I'm guessing the IRS has to know... and your agent... and your publisher? Once you tell three people, it's not a secret. Deborah Smith will be doing her next book under another name, Leigh Bridger, but she states right on her own website that it's her book. If authors DO try to keep it a secret from everyone but their publisher, what do they do if it wins an award? CJ Cherryh used her initials because women found it so difficult to break into science fiction in the '70's. If you're trying to keep the illusion, do you hire a guy to pretend to be you and make your award acceptance speech?

Do you think that any of the female authors you THINK you know, are really men, who send their wives to the conferences so they don't have to give away the closely guarded romance-writing secret?

How would YOU choose a pseudonym? Is there a formula, like the often-emailed one for porn names, where you use the name of a pet + your mother's maiden name? *grins* Would you use a different name for historical romance? Do you think something ending in A sounds more buxom? (sorry, Debra, Betina, lol) For a contemporary romance or chick lit, would a pen-name ending in i sound more playful-sexy?

I've filled this post with questions for you to think and comment on. I'll use a random number generator to choose ONE lucky responder on RWTTD to receive a pipe cleaner muse.

Guaranteed to boost you over any temporary writer's block.

It also doubles as a cat toy. ;) For pictures of my two cats, go peek over at my website and blog. Plus pix of my quilts and forays into container gardening. I'll also choose another lucky responder who comments to ANY post over on my blog, to receive a muse, so go visit over there, and comment away!


Forest Jane's Blog
(Hey, Debra here.  Go look!  Jane has some of the RWTTD books on her blog today.)

Forest Jane website

(Pssst...Debra here again. You'll find funny cat photo essays on her website.)

And a completely separate challenge, just for fun... What's the worst title/author combo you can think of? Here's mine: He Doesn't Care if I Don't Shave by Harry and Amanda Lovitt


amy*skf said...

Forest Jane, being a library worker (not a librarian, but a PSA) I love the whole pseudonym thing...even tried to figure out which name I would use, you know, if I were to ever publish a book.

I've done the "stripper name" first pet and first street you lived on: Camille Lake, kinda like that one. Thought about using my maiden name as my given name: Kennedy, always liked that as a first name...

Some of the stuff I write, I think, "my in-laws would hate that..." it's not as if their name is Smith. So, even though they would know, their friends wouldn't. Which is probably what they care about.

Playground Monitor said...

Great post, especially since I've been pondering the pseudonym thing. Both my married and maiden names are hard to spell and pronouce and so they're out. So I started back through my mother's side of the family since my uncle so kindly provided us with a family tree. I've found several possibilites, including an easy-to-spell-and-pronounce name that contains an "x." I've been told an unusual letter like q, x or z makes a name more distinguishable. At any rate, I hope I get the chance to use this name.

Amy, Kennedy is very popular as a given name around here. I've known two young women who named their daughters Kennedy. And do you remember the President's town hall where the little girl had skipped school to come with her dad, and the Prez wrote her an excuse note? Her name was Kennedy.

An stripper names? I'm Meg Liberty. ;-)


ForestJane said...

Wow, you guys are posting already, and it isn't even Friday, yet. :D

Amy*skf! like you, I kind of like Camille, it's got a certain style. But it doesn't sound like a stripper name to me!

Marilyn, Kennedy is a popular first name around here too, along with lots of other surname types, for boys OR girls: Madison, Tyler and Taylor, Bailey, Addison, Hayden, Parker, Jordan, Reese ... Did it all start with Reagan?

MarthaE said...

Hello "Forest Jane"! Interesting article! And I love the cat photos! I am a reader and reviewer. I started reviewing for two sites at the same time. Initially I decided to use a pseudonym at one - maybe in case the reviews weren't good? Then after 3 reviews there I decided "well jeepers" I want people to know who I am so I dropped the pseudo. Let's see I am trying to think of book/author combinations. I'm a laywer so here you go: You and the Law by Dewey, Cheetum and Howe. BUT its just a JOKE!

ForestJane said...

Ohhh, good one, Martha! I was trying to come up with a lawyer one, but all I could think of was the first name, Sue. :)

I think we're having too much fun using the 'vert when the owners are all asleep... it's like teenage kids, sneaking out at midnight, using the family car and leaving it in the driveway with only enough fumes to get to the nearest gas station in the morning.


Helen Brenna said...

Hey ForestJane. Welcome!

I feel a little as though I'm crashing a party, here. You guys were out past curfew last night! hehehe

I debated a pseudonym for a while, mostly for privacy, but the chances of it ever making a diff are slim to none. Can't think of any catchy author names/books. Must need another cup of tea!

Love your pipe cleaner muses - so cute!

LindaC said...

Love the muses. How cute and the cats seem to love them. Honestly I haven't given any thought to a pseudonym. Too busy trying to finish a WIP. Off to scare up some coffee and breakfast, so I can wake up.


ForestJane said...

*glances guiltily at the car keys to see if they're in the same spot on the counter this morning as they were last night*

Hi Helen!
Good morning!

What would your pen-name have been? And have you ever had any rabid fans appear on your doorstep, or is most author-stalking done on the internet these days?

Michele Hauf said...

Welcome, ForestJane! Love the muses. What is the hair made of? Some kind of soft yarn? So cool!

After I'd published a few books, I began to wonder that I should have taken a pseudonym, because I've never thought my name particularly 'romantic'. I should have used my middle name and been MIchele Renae. Ah well.

I have written under a pseudonym as Alex Archer, but that one is shared by many. Kind of fun though, to be someone else when you're writing.

ForestJane said...

Thanks, Linda!

They're fun to make - I even did the little beads that are used for their faces. These are made of that Sculpey stuff (polymer clay) then baked. I mixed translucent clay with spices like pepper, paprika and cinnamon, to give them a spicy personality. I was hoping the scent would remain too, but except for a hint of the cinnamon in the cinnamon ones, it didn't.

ForestJane said...

Morning, Michele!

I feel like I ought to slip you some money for gas... lol

The hair is that 'eyelash' yarn that people make knitted scarves with.

Playground Monitor said...

How About "Sitting Under the Grandstans" by Seymour Butts?

Or "Spots on the Wall" by Hoo Flung Dung?

Or "The Traveler's Guide to Public Restrooms" by I.P. Freely?



ForestJane said...

Ewwww, Marilyn, good ones!

The Traveler's Guide one by I.P. Freely sounds like a book that could be sponsored by Senator Larry Craig, lol

Debra Dixon said...

Hey, Jane! I fixed the blog link.

Welcome to the 'vert. And I have to say I really appreciate your giving me a chance to post the Leigh Bridger cover!

Okay, as to pseudonyms, I began my career at Bantam and wasn't encouraged to take a pseudonym.

Many many years ago Harlequin tried to "own" the pseudonyms of their authors as a way to control them. If the author left she couldn't take her readership with her and that would make her less attractive to a new publisher. That was before the days of the internet.

Obviously that wasn't good for the author and Romance Writers of America was instrumental in changing the policy of Harlequin. And it also took a couple of lawsuits over the names.

Thankfully those days are pretty much over.

Some authors are forced to take pseudonyms because of bad sales track records. They need to reboot their careers and "fool" the buyers. Other authors have difficult names. Others have privacy issues. And still others want to write in different genres.

If you write warm clean family fiction fiction you might not want to be identified with the erotica books you also write.

ForestJane said...

Thanks for fixing the link, Debra!

I was actually thinking you'd sneak something in about your tomatoes... lol

You know, you guys have never said exactly what KIND of convertible we're riding in... what is it? Can't tell from the hood ornament, that's some kind of high heeled shoe, isn't it?

And congrats on the new banner, I noticed. :)

Helen Brenna said...

Actually, I never really came up with any names, ForestJane. Just considered the benefits.

I always hated the name Helen as a kid, so it seemed like a fun thing to do. In the end, I decided not to because it seemed like such a headache. I think the best way for an author to make it work is to simply ALWAYS refer to themselves with their pseudonym.

Nope. Never had anyone show up on my doorstep!

Christie said...

Okay, first just have to get this out so we can all have a good laugh. If I made up a name that used first pet + mom's maiden name, I would be....




Regal Beaver!

MarthaE said...

Good morning - had so much fun last night I couldn't resist checking back in. ForestJane I had to gasp at the "sneaking the car" comment as my daughter did that at age 13 (obviously before license!) and at age 17 with our LaSabre convertible which is a boat! I am soooo glad those days are gone!

Oh dear! Marilyn went to toilet humor!

Christie - that was a good one! Was just thinking about the dog middle name thing - guess mine would be Chippy Ann!
Okay didn't mean to step on your toes FJ... I'll jump out now!

ForestJane said...

I never liked Jane, either, Helen. I always wanted to be named something longer... At least three syllables: Victoria. Elizabeth. Christina. Susannah. Those were my first four choices, and always what I named my dolls. :D

Keri Ford said...

Okay, first pet and mom's maiden name:

Jack Ford

I sound rather manly. Reynolds is my last name, and I never found it hard to say or spell as my madien name was Verrett. But then I ordered a few things over the phone and that was the end of it. Took mother's maiden name with my first: Keri Ford.

I don't care if I'm made to change my name, so long as I get to keep easy to say, easy to spell and easy to remember.

ForestJane said...

Funny, Christie! I hate to say it, but that would make a pretty good stripper name... lol

I just dare you to write an erotic novel and try to use that as a pseudonym. :D

ForestJane said...

Gawd, Martha, sounds like your daughter had some wild teenage years!

I never 'borrowed' the car at night without parental consent 'cause I was a good girl. My three older brothers did... even going so far as climb out their bedroom windows (creaky front door) then they pushed the car to the end of our long driveway to avoid starting it up near the house.

And you're not stepping on any toes, I like seeing dialogue going on here... lol

BTW, how did you catch her? Or did you find out about it years later, like my parents?

ForestJane said...

But Keri, I think you did pick a good name... short, easy to remember, and simple to spell.

As a librarian, I really hate the authors with the odd names - we have a very nitpicky program for a library catalog that won't suggest. Google or Amazon helpfully says, "Did you really mean..." but our catalog doesn't.

I always have trouble finding Carl Weber's Baby Momma Drama is available for checkout, because my first impulse is to type in Baby Mama Drama, which won't find the book.

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- Okay. I snorted coke out my nose.

ForestJane said...

*passes DD a paper towel to clean her keyboard with*

And what would be YOUR stripper name, Debra?

The captcha word verification for this posting was 'probing'

appropriate, huh? lol

Debra Dixon said...

My stripper name is completely worthless.

1st pet + mother's maiden =
King Martin

If you do street-I-grew-up on and A-pet you get better one ones.

Rebecca Penny
Rebecca Deuce

Or if you use a dog and a cat pet, you could get to
Lucky Penny

ForestJane said...

My first pet was a black lab/standard poodle mix named Pierre. Stick that with the street I grew up on, and you get Pierre Elmore, which just sounds mixed up.

Anonymous said...

Hiya ForestJane,

Followed you over here from your blog, after reading about the books you bought. Like the picture of Libby grabbing the toy by the ankle.

BTW, can you choose a pseudonym for me? Make sure I sound more buxom. LOL!


ForestJane said...

Ohhhh, I'll have to think on that, what a responsibility... LOL

Of course, if I pick one for you, that means you have to use it. :D

Ann said...

You folks are hilarious. I'm loving the pseudonyms. Think Regal Beaver has to be my fave, though! That's just to funny. Mine would be pretty boring, as my mom's maiden name was O'Shields, and the first dog I remember owning was Andy....... So, Andy O' Hubby's would be MUCH better!..... Fritzy Willey

MarthaE said...

Hi again ForestJane! I did a comment but lost it in cyberspace I think! Our daughter bragged about her misbehaviour later!
I made up a lawyer book to go with the name Sue:
Demand Your Rights by Sue N. Billum.

ForestJane said...

Wtg, Martha!

Ok, lawyer ones, how about...

How to Sue and make the Police Pigs Pay by Lee Tigate and Bill Hamm.

I'm Innocent, it was Them by Al TerEgo.

The Judge has Nothing On Me by R.B. Trary

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Forest Jane
Fun post! Chiming in late here but no pseudonym for me, even though I thought about it and WISHED no one could see my real name below the titles of some of my earlier category books (The Secret Baby Bond, anyone???)

Were I to use my first pet and my mother's maiden name I would be Pandy Corwin. Hum. Pandy makes me think of Panderer and per the dictionary, a pander = a pimp.
Say what?
I don't think I'll go that route :o0

ForestJane said...

Hi Cindy!

Never too late to post. ;)

Pandy's kinda cute... dog or cat? Looked like a panda?

Debra Dixon said...

Ann -- LOL! Fritzy Willey ???


ForestJane said...

All in all, nineteen people posted, not including me, so I asked a Random number generator to give me a number between 1 and 19. It gave me the number 14... counting down 14 people (omitting myself of course) means Debra Dixon gets the muse. :)

Congrats, Debra!

I'll also be making another one and sending it to Ann, Fritzy Willey just deserves something... lol

I enjoyed the ride in your convertible today, thanks for the invite!

Anonymous said...

If I may poke my head in.

As a male, I think I'd have to take a pen name. I mean Lou Gagliardi (okay, maybe the last's Italian) wouldn't sell romance novels. And Gagliardi is hard to pronounce (I get Gag-lee-ar-dee, or something similar when it's Ga-Lar-Dee).

So I think I'd have to take one, but that's me.

As for reading authors that have Pen names, I look at Michele. I've known Michele for awhile now (I'm the chat moderator for the the Nocturne line's chat), so I think if she'd ever write under another name I'd know her style imidate and be able to put two and two together, so it doesn't matter to me either way.

Just added my two cents at 7:39AM (when I should be sleeping)

Debra Dixon said...

Jane! No, the hostess can't win the prize either. LOL! Let's pick someone above or below me!

Debra Dixon said...

Hey, I'm testing out a new photo while I'm here.

Debra Dixon said...

Just consider these little icon posts as me testing Blogger pseudonymns!

ForestJane said...

I like them both... don't know which I'd choose over the other!

And consider the muse as a toy then, for your quilt-eating devil-cat there! :)

I actually have something to mail to you anyway, been feeling guilty I haven't yet, so think of Ann getting the muse from here, and the other to your cat.

Venus Vaughn said...

I chose my pen name because people always mispronounce my surname, and it would tick me off royally to be well-known nationally (fingers crossed, internationally) by the wrong name.

I also chose my pen name because I'm a privacy freak. That's actually the primary reason for my nom de plume. Not only do I not want to be famous by the wrong name, I don't want to be easily recognized by my own name.

However, my pen-name was well chosen from other names I've used over the years. It has meaning to me over and above how it will sound to a reader.

Pamela Keener said...

Very interesting blog. My stripper name would be Lady Mitchell LOL