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Friday, April 30, 2010

Selecting a pen name

I recently decided to swap my real name for a pen name to use in my fiction writing. With some research I discovered my own last name lacked author appeal, being difficult to spell.

I considered usual suggestions for writer's pen names: short; easy to remember; easy to spell; not overused by other authors; avoid end of the alphabet names or be lost at the tail end of bookstore displays.

Since I write fantasy romance/soft erotica I thought for half a second to use a genre appropriate name, something slinky like Jasmine Allure or Sultry Shadows or Smoky Embers. Those weren't me. My writing style is poetic, far more sensual than sexual, conjuring a three-dimensional romantic world rather than mere lust between characters.

The rhythm of the syllables and mouth feel when sounding vowels and consonants were my next considerations. References suggested a two-syllable first name paired with a one or two-syllable last name, to elicit the grand appeal of Stephen King or JK Rowling.

With those guidelines in mind, I tried on one name and then another. Much like selecting a clothing accessory such as a hat, purse or watch. Each one shaped my personality in a unique manner. It wasn't a devastating struggle akin to trying on swimsuits, but none felt like me. I couldn't connect my writing to the wrong name. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin, or own name.

I almost gave up on the idea. Then, one hit me so squarely I wondered why I hadn't thought of it first - my mother's maiden name. Moore. Marsha A. Moore. It's short and recognizable. Adding the initial for my middle name Ann, which I was purposely given to share with my mother, allows me some peace-of-mind I will not be confused with another Marsha Moore. I like the sound and hope it has an author quality to readers' ears, not to mention agents' and editors' as well. But, best of all the name makes me smile inside and out. I love my mom dearly and to embrace a name that was hers is more than comfortable . . . it warms me all over.

References: Jamie Hall, “How to Use a Pen Name” ; “The Writer's Relief”



diipo said...

Whats in a name?
I like this piece not minding what name you answer.