Wednesday, January 11, 2012

RTW - Who Shall I Say is Calling?

Each week, YA Highway hosts Road Trip Wednesdays. 

Today's prompt:
If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pen name or pseudonym be?

Bank tellers, school admins and older ladies behind registers love my name. I know this because they often comment, "Oh, what a lovely name." I smile and say thank you secretly thinking, are you kidding?

It's not that I don't like my name, I do. My first name can be girly or masculine and I love that suppleness. My last name is foreign, but it has enough vowels in it so that most americans can pronounce it. I like my name so much that I kept it when I got married, not able to picture myself with my husband's wholly other (to me) last name.

But as a writer I have two problems with my name. The first is that I cannot imagine anyone buying a book with my name on it. When husband had my book printed on as an xmas present, the only thing on the lovely cover he designed that looked wrong was my name. The second problem I have with my name is that it's my identity. I have a career that doesn't involve writing at all. And I don't expect to become a household name any time soon, which means that writing and working will happen at the same time. Would it be strange to have the two worlds collide?

Even building a presence online for me started with a pseudonym, magpie. And while I wouldn't publish with that name, I am comfortable being known in this little community with that moniker.

OK but that wasn't the prompt. So what would I choose as a pen name? Alex O'Donnell. And will I eventually do that? I don't know. Maybe.

Do you plan on using a pen name? If so, what is it?


  1. I don't plan on using a pen name. I'll use the original awkward no name that my parents bequeathed to me.

  2. A pen name is so confusing. If I use one, it will be some form of my name. I wouldn't even know where to begin renaming myself.

  3. I agree with Emily - if I had to use a pen name it would have to be some variation of my own name or a family name at the very least. It would be impossible for me to connect with a wholly made up name. Plus, I feel like I'd like to see my name in print after putting in all that work. But to each his own, right? :)

  4. I don't anticipate using a pen name; like Jaime, I want my book to have my name on the cover--the one I was born with. But I can understand and accept that some feel the need to use a different name for their literary career. I suppose if you are well known in one line of work, it might be confusing to have a career as a writer under the same name. Like writing two very different genres.

    It's possible, though, that your agent may want you to use your real name, especially if it's unique and fits your genre (i.e., it markets well).

  5. You mentioned how your first name can be feminine or masculine - and you picked Alex for your penname. I love it!!

    Do you know why J.k. Rowling chose to use her initials for her name instead of just using her real one? Her agent/publisher was afraid young boys wouldn't want to read Harry Potter if it was written by a girl!

    I think your penname sounds awesome. :)

  6. That's a cool pen name, does it come from anything specific?

    My married name is Schieffelbein, which is long and people never know how to say it. If I get my YA published I will still use it, though. My original love was picture books, and for that I would use a pen name: Rachel Mary Bean. Bean is what my husband was called in the Marines because no one could say Schieffelbein. Ps, it's not pronounced bean at the end, either. :)

  7. I actually think your name would be GREAT on a cover--it's a name with personality & distinction. I love my name, too, and will use it, but do you know how many "copies" of it are out there? :)

    And, btw, you cracked me up with the "secretly thinking, are you kidding?" Because I have spent decades thinking that exact thing when people tell me they wish they had my hair!

  8. I don't really plan on using a pen name though I'm not sure my name is the loveliest. But it's mine and it's who I think of myself as. (I'm unsure if I even want to get rid of my name if I ever find a boy who likes me that well). But I like your real name. It's easy to critique that when you've lived your whole life with it.

    I couldn't pick a new name (well not completely) so I made a poll

  9. @michael - I actually really like you're name - it's memorable, unmistakable which is important in the book biz.
    @emily, jaime - I sort of feel the same - want to keep some of my identity in there, but at the same time protective of my other identity. The other complication is that I hope to write in more than one genre, as Colin mentions.
    @becky - You DO have great hair, no matter that you don't believe it. It's a FACT ;)
    @Veela - going to go check out your poll!
    @Rachel - I really like your picture book pen name, it's so kid friendly! my pen name is my real first name and my husband's last name. My mother in law, who has never gotten over the fact that I'm not Mrs.O'Donnell will likely have a fit if I use her name as a pseudonym.

    Basically this is all cart before the horse stuff - but fun to think about!

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