What’s In a Name?

The topic of pseudonyms came up on a discussion board. Several writers expressed an interest in using pen names and wanted more information about the legalities involved.

I was surprised to see so much interest in the topic. I had always associated pseudonyms with female writers such as Mary Anne Evans/George Eliot, who used a male name to ensure that her work would be accepted by publishers and the public.

While researching the topic, I discovered many more reasons for using pen names.

Authors who regularly write in more than one genre use different pen names. Romance writer Nora Roberts writes erotic thrillers under the pen name J.D. Robb.

A pen name may be used if the author believes that his/her name does not suit the genre. Western novelist Pearl Gray dropped his first name and changed the spelling of his last name to become Zane Grey.

In some countries, authors use pen names to write about controversial topics that could be politically unsafe.

Writers of romance novels are often advised to use pen names to protect themselves against stalkers.

In the past, prolific authors were asked to use pen names to prevent flooding the market with too many books in one year. Stephen King published four novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. After critics pointed out style similarities, the books were reprinted with Stephen King’s name. One of his books, Thinner, sold twenty times more copies after the changes were made.

Some writers wish to keep their writing career separate from their everyday life. Comic book writer Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber. He used the pen name Stan Lee because he intended to save his real name for more serious literature. His career as a novelist never materialized so he changed his name legally to Stan Lee.

A collective name or house name is used with series fiction such as the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins series. The first book in each series was written by one writer, but subsequent books were written by ghost writers.

Collaborative authors like to have their books published under one name. Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini write their Coffeehouse Mystery series using the pseudonym Cleo Coyle.

Last year, J.K. Rowling was outed as the author of Cuckoo’s Calling, which she published under the pen name Robert Gailbraith. In an interview, she commented: “”I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre to work without hype or expectation to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.”

Regarding the legalities…

You don’t have to file any forms or hire a lawyer. Simply put the phrase “writing as” on your manuscript and let the publisher know your real name to ensure that you receive payment for your work.

Any other interesting pseudonym stories out there?

When Less is More

flashfiction1

I reread the blurb for the flash fiction writing contest several times. It was the perfect antidote for the lingering writers’ block that was preventing me from moving forward with the sequel to Between Land and Sea. The entry fee was a bargain— three flash fiction stories for only $15—and the $500 prize added to the contest’s appeal.

After some reflection, I decided to resurrect two unpublished stories I had written last year. Only one problem—both were close to 1500 words and the rules for the contest specifically called for flash fiction of less than 500 words. While some writers may balk at the idea of trimming almost 1000 words from a short story, I welcomed the challenge of revamping both manuscripts. But before starting the whittling down process, I decided to research this style of fictional literature.

Continue reading on the Savvy Authors Blog.

The Evolving Mermaid

9491775_sWhen I announced the release of Between Land and Sea, a novel about an overweight, middle-aged mermaid, I was surprised by the subsequent comments.

The typical male response was a Duchenne smile followed by a puzzled expression and several pointed questions…

Why is she so old?

Just how overweight is she?

What happened to her?

The men had preconceived notions of what a mermaid should look like—wavy auburn tresses, mesmerizing green eyes and a curvaceous twenty something body.

Continue reading at Kate Wyland’s blog.

Visiting Sarah Hoss

11838450_sThe lawyer shook his head. “I still don’t understand why your mermaid has to be old and fat.”

“Fifty-three is not that old.” I ignored the weight issue.

He persisted. “It is when it comes to mermaids. Why couldn’t you just let her be young, thin and beautiful?”

Thankfully, the conversation was interrupted by the facilitator’s call to resume the workshop. A few minutes more and I might have lost patience with the annoying lawyer who simply wouldn’t accept my vision of an older mermaid.

Continue reading on Sarah Hoss’ blog.

How to Celebrate Rejection…

rejection

I’m always on the lookout for unique word combinations, but this one took me by surprise. I couldn’t imagine a more unlikely word pair than “celebrate rejection” and an even more unlikely source: an interview with Susan Sarandon.

How does one of Hollywood’s most talented leading ladies celebrate rejection? Whenever Ms. Sarandon didn’t get a role, she’d go out for dinner or buy herself an album. In leaner times, she treated herself to an avocado. But more importantly, she did not dwell on it. She had a knack for replacing the negative self-talk with positive and affirming statements such as, This means I’m now available for something else.

Continue reading at MindBodyGreen.

Reinvention and Baby Boomers

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, Beth Carpenter is talking about transitions and introducing her new book, Recalculating Route.

Here’s Beth!

beth1“And they lived happily ever after.” But what if they didn’t? Maybe the marriage didn’t work out. Maybe their career paths led them to a dead end. Maybe everything went just as planned, but now they are retired and need to reinvent themselves. “Happily ever after” isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Often, life feels less like a bed of roses and more like a tree on a riverbank, growing from the rock. While the river keeps washing the ground from underneath it, the tree is putting out roots, desperately trying to hang on, to keep from toppling over. Over time, that tree develops a certain grace, a sense of purpose that the pretty roses will never achieve. The struggle creates the beauty.

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Baby boomers everywhere are making transitions. Many, after years at one career, are making the decision to move to another, either to fulfill a lifelong dream or from necessity as their old job disappears. Sometimes, they’re starting their own business from scratch. Others are making that jump to retirement, structuring their days and their lives without the framework of a career to shape them.

Sometimes I think it’s absurd that we expect eighteen-year-olds to choose a college major that leads to a career path. What do they know about life, about the possibilities? On the other hand, a person has to start somewhere, and maybe where they begin is less important than taking that first step.  Knowledge is seldom wasted. Many people move from one career to something completely different, and yet the lessons from that first career shape the person and help him or her succeed in the next. I recently read Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant. In that book, Marsha Roberts tells of the parables she has experienced in her life. She was a nurse, but later became a successful producer. The two careers seem to have little in common, but her compassion, organizational skills, and experience working with people in difficult situations undoubtedly contributed to her success in her second career.

All our experiences make us who we are, and sometimes life seems to circle around, bringing us back to our roots. A few years ago, my brother agreed to help organize his class reunion. One of the other members of the committee was a woman he’d known in high school, but hadn’t seen since, who lived in a completely different part of the state. They’re happily married now, and they’re not alone. I’ve known of several couples from the same hometown who reconnected after years of living in different parts of the country. It makes sense. They have that common ground, that rootstock from which their life took shape. This gives them something to build on as they make their transitions.

bethTransitions can be fairly smooth. My own path from stay-at-home mom and avid reader to writer felt like a natural progression as my children grew up. A combination of life experience and those thousands of books I’d devoured over the years gave me a base to build upon in writing that I wouldn’t have had at twenty-five.

Other times, it’s not so smooth. In my newest book, Recalculating Route, the main character, Marsha, was happily married and had retirement all mapped out when her beloved husband died. That left her without a clue on how to spend the rest of her life. She meets Ben, who is also rudderless after selling his company and retiring. The two of them have to figure out what happens next.

As we make our transitions, whether by choice or by necessity, we need to keep in mind that we are in charge of our own “happily ever afters,” and happiness involves growing and changing. Enjoy the journey.

Where you can find Beth…

Blog: www.BethCarpenterBooks.blogspot.com

Blog Tour schedule: http://www.bethcarpenterbooks.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html

Goodreads : http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6443339.Beth_Carpenter

Amazon link: http://amzn.com/B00F4KL1WM

Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/recalculating-route-beth-carpenter/1116892125?ean=2940148565888

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/recalculating-route-choices/id685079206?mt=11

Link to Blog Tour Schedule and Prize Description: http://www.bethcarpenterbooks.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html

Joanne here!

Thank you, Beth for sharing your wonderful advice and insights about transitions. I just finished reading Recalculating Route and highly recommend it. Leave a comment for Beth and you could win a giveaway package valued at $50. Check out the link to the Prize Description.