Using a Pen Name

Do you write under a pen name? And if so, why?

An article in Writer’s Relief  lists reasons why writers choose to adopt pen names. It could be, as they point out, that another author “owns” your name. For example, it would be difficult for someone named Agatha Christie to write under her real name.

Or, as a high school teacher who writes erotica, you’d want to conceal your identity. I hope.

Or maybe, you write in a genre that has basically a male audience and you are a woman. Joanne Rowling used the initials J.K. (K after her grandmother Katherine) because she feared that boys would not want to read Harry Potter if it was written by (horror!) a girl.  Similarly, Mary Ann Evans used a male name because she wanted to be taken seriously and wrote under the name of George Eliot. Of course, that was in the 1860’s and that doesn’t happen anymore, right?

Should you be interested in using a pen name you might want to consult Ellen Sedwick’s Self-Publishers Legal handbook for the legal aspects on using a pen name .

Here are some well known pen names:

Amanda Cross: Carolyn Gold Heilbrun

Isak Dinesen: Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke

Ann Rice: Howard Allen Frances O’Brien

John le Carré: David Cornwell

And pen names that hide more famous real names:

Rosamond Smith: Joyce Carol Oates

Richard Backman: Stephen King

And there are authors who write under several pen names.

 

Kathryne layne               A Hint of Scandle 2

 

 

 

 

 

upon-your-love-final-cover    Heather Crouse

Click to read an excerpt from Marie Lavender’s latest book.

What are your thoughts on a pen name for yourself?

 

 

 

Back in the Groove

Two things have been happening since my last blog post eons ago.

Number 1

I moved.

Moving is much like doing a major spring cleaning of every room in your house. Every nook and cranny and every spec of dust. In a way, it was very liberating and made me practice minimalism. It struck me as incredible and depressing to see how much stuff I’d accumulated throughout the years.

I moved into a smaller apartment and so I needed to downsize and trim my possessions. I still haven’t been able to let go of a small beige colored handbag which I haven’t used in years but it used to belong to my mother. What am I holding unto?

And then there was the move itself during Montreal’s heaviest snowstorm of the season!

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Source

Oops! Sorry, wrong photo!

montreal-que-march-15-2017-sq-officers-on-snowmobile3

Source

My poor dog, Bau, didn’t at all like the move.

Wake me when it’s over!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Number 2

The second reason why I haven’t been posting on my blog is that I had nothing to say.

Then, I received an e-mail from Thelma Mariano, the editor of my women’s fiction novels:

New Picture (9)  balawydermissisdatingadventures  cafe paradise a  Not by Design

Thelma was recently interviewed by Duke Diercks where, along with 12 other editors, was asked this question:

What is the #1 mistake that you see first-time authors make?

 Here’s part of her answer:

 Most first-time novelists underestimate the amount of work required to bring their completed draft to a publishable level. This leads to what I believe is the #1 problem with early manuscripts: a lack of story tension.

If we lack a “story-worthy” problem, something strong enough to pull a reader through hundreds of pages, needing to know what happens next, no amount of editing will make it better.

Click here to read more on Thelma’s answer

and here on the editing process

The Writing Job Description

It’s been ages since I’ve posted and it feels great to flex these muscles again. But, like any activity, it’s best to go easy at the beginning of a routine. So, I’m going to start off by re-blogging Belinda Williams’ witty and spot-on article on The Writing Job Description.
See if you have what it takes to be a writer.
Please leave all comments on Belinda’s blog. I’m still not 100% back!

Belinda Williams

Whether you’re a writer or not, you’ve probably come across one of these memes:

What writers do

While you chuckle, there is an element of truth to some of these. And that truth is:

Writing is about a hell of a lot more than just writing.

When I started writing, I had a vague idea of what I was getting myself in for. With the release of my latest contemporary romance, The Pitch, later this month, I’ve got a much clearer idea. It’s the third book I’ve released (with two more due for release late this year and next).

A writing job description (Or, if only someone had told me all this earlier . . .)

Here’s all those things I’ve discovered are part of the job description for ‘writing’ but are not actually writing:

  • Editing. That’s writing, you say! Huh. To a writer, editing is not writing. Editing is the…

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SOME INDIE BOOKS I READ

One of my goals during my time away from blogging was to catch up on my Kindle’s TBR list. Although I still haven’t gotten through the list here are a few books I did read that I’d like to share with you.

 

Islamic terrorists have managed to shut down an American submarine’s computer system while Kalian Delamagente (a PHd student at Columbia University) and the protagonist of this well researched novel, has invented a robot which is able to detect subs thus leading  multiple attempts by the terrorists to get their hands on Delamagente’s research.

This political thriller plays on both robotics and paleontology – an interesting and unique mixture. Aside from the plot, I was impressed by the number of characters in the novel and how the author was able to characterize all of them. I was also impressed by the descriptions offered in the book: She absorbed the cacophony of African life – the trill of insects, the distant hoots and hollers, and the rustle of wind. It was hard to accept that this overpowering beauty hid such danger.

Although the terrorists’ attempts to steal America’s most potent nuclear weapon is at the heart of this novel there are cultural gems interwoven throughout. For example, through one of the characters,  Laslo Hamar from Iran – we learn about the Islamic toiletry etiquette before prayer.

It has been a long time since I read a novel of such complexity (submarines, computer hacking, kidnapping). Although I did not find it an easy read – perhaps because of the author’s skilled technical knowledge incorporated in the novel – it was a stimulating and informative read.

Follow Jacqui at: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered why relationships are so difficult, Ana Linden’s book Parallel Lives offers ample reasons for this diversity and complexity between a man and a woman.

Amalia, the main character in the book, provides contemplative insights into finding someone she can like, accept and respect for who he is, from the very beginning. The book reads like a psychological treatise on such subjects as cheating, the death of feelings, suffocation familiarity, compromises, high school love, jealousy and intense sensations.

As a character, Amalia is strong and in control of her life.  She has a take me or leave me attitude and offers no apologies for her feelings or lack of them towards the men she becomes involved in, challenging some of them about their own infidelities and double lives – thus the title Parallel Lives.

Every woman who has ever questioned why she doesn’t have any physical desire for a kind man who worships her, will find she is not alone here:  you just can’t fake chemistry.

What I liked and admired the most about Amalia was that she remains true to herself and her value system. In her affair with the married man, Robert, I couldn’t help but think of Fifty Shades of Grey with a feminist twist and without the dominant/submissive contract. Submission is not at all part of Amalia’s make-up. She is much too strong willed and independent. Parallel lives is a refreshing, insightful and encouraging look at what happens when women take charge with confidence of their own desires.

The book also offers some tender and sensual moments and a clear look at how differently men and women view relationships, especially sexual ones.

Follow Ann at: https://analindenblog.wordpress.com/

 

ConneXions: A dating site where lonely women have become prey

Mariano’s novel illustrates that the world of online dating can be a dangerous trap for women seeking sexual excitement and escape from a loveless life. It becomes especially risky when the man they meet is Kyle whose modus operandi consists of smooth talking, seductiveness and a “getting to know” each other attitude.

Mariano keeps up interest by first focusing on Kyle who preys after married women. Interest is later upheld as the author introduces a second serial killer and the reader understand that Kyle is a copy cat killer. My suspense was maintained as I wondered who among the men that these married women were dating could be the original killer.

Although the author places much attention on the copy cat killer, his violent past and his life style, it is her concentration on the victims – along with failed marriages, disappointing careers, lonely lives – that add to the novel. These women could be your next door neighbor or even yourself. They are believable in their pursuit of meaningfulness in their lives and their vulnerability makes them easy prey for a charming, handsome man like Kyle.

As a sub-plot, Dana, a PH student in Psychology, is doing her thesis on the relationship between low self-esteem and married women’s affairs. She goes online in search of married women seeking intimate relationships. When Elaine, one of the women in her study is found strangled and another has disappeared she decides to take matters in her hands. The suspense is then upped as Dana goes online in search of the serial killer.

The characters in this novel were well developed and the story line flowed smoothly. Mariano is best known as a romance writer and her skills in this genre are reflected in this easy to read novel.

Follow Thelma at : http://www.thelmamariano.com/books/

 

 A series of misunderstandings is at the heart of this romantic suspense novel.  What is interesting in this novel is not so much finding out whodunit but rather how the protagonist will get out of the mess she finds herself in.

Sandra Eastman has finally got her life on track after the tragic deaths of bother parents. But then she finds herself being accused of planting a bomb in her boss’s office. Motivation for her doing so is not lacking and to add to the intrigue Lieutenant Harris is on the case – the same officer who remembers her as a teenager when he was the duty officer assigned to tell her that her father had died. There are many twists and turns to the plot, some having to do directly with Sandra and others like murder and fraud add parallel suspense and interest to the story.

And then there’s the romance. The ending is so very romantic.

The novel is written by two authors and I would be very curious to know how they worked together to create such a seamless novel in terms of characterization, tone, voice and style. As a bonus the novel is set in San Francisco.

Follow Pamela at: https://roughwighting.net/

 

If you’re looking for a good whodunit book consider reading Margot Kinberg’s B-Very Flat. The setting takes place on a university campus where Serena Brinkman, an up-and- coming violinist is found dead. The motives for her murder are many: money, career advancement, obsession, jealousy and Kinberg makes sure through her swift pacing to keep us on our toes.

The characters are well-drawn and the dialogue moves the plot forward. Although the novel is light and entertaining it does not lack in describing the foibles of human nature and the lengths people will go to maintain their status quo. As a sub-plot is a beautiful love relationship between Serena and her partner. If you like mystery puzzles you’ll love this book.

Follow Margot at: https://margotkinberg.wordpress.com/

The Golden Age of Charli

Charli and her husband Stewart (Pud) are on a mission to get healthy again and bring zest back into their 30 year marriage by bonding with their younger relatives and growing more mindful about their food uptake in spite of their love of wine and gourmet food.

This is an entertaining novel about retirement, being a golf widower and trying to shed the pounds. It is also a warming novel about a close knit family going through the transitional stage that comes with retirement.

What I most enjoyed about the book was Charli’s optimistic outlook on life. Although much of the book is about the health issues associated with being overweight, the author shows us, through Charli, that being healthy also consists of having a right attitude.

Follow Jena at: http://www.jenabooks.com/

The two  short crime stories in this book read like hard boiled fiction. Like any good short story both stories in Murder with a Twist are tightly written and we jump into the action right away.

Both stories were written from a woman’s point of view and whether in the first person view point (Salt Free) or the third person point of view (The Green Light) John Greco accurately portrayed the mindset of, in one case, a woman cheated by her husband and in the other a women using sex to get what she wants. I found the twists at the end of both stories to be surprising and satisfying. I’m hoping that these two stories are the beginning of a larger collection of stories by this author.

Follow John at: https://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/

Product Details

This story took me down memory lane to my own childhood filled with penny candy, candied apples, two cent empty Orange Crush bottles. Will (5) and Shawn (9) are brothers out to enjoy a great day together.

The author gives us a play by play of this day along with background on the young boys’ home situation of a dad’s drinking and parents fighting over money. It is a sweet story that made me feel good inside.

Follow Bette at: https://4writersandreaders.com/tag/wordpress/

 Versions of the SelfChristy Birmingham’s latest collection of poems takes off where her book Pathways to Illumination left off. In Versions of Self Christy Birmingham offers hope, inspiration and celebrates the strength of healing.In her own words her objective in writing this collection is “…(to) long for words I can to heal someone else.” This is what good poetry does and Birmingham succeeds on many levels.

I have always found reading poetry a catalyst for my own writing, particularly in its ability to fill my mind with inimitable images. Here’s an example:

Take off the uniform that smothers

Your hopes for a stable embrace, and

Listen for the words you are sure to hear,

When you dance one day, when

You tilt your lips into a smile.If you’ve followed Christy Birmingham’s blog, you know that she is a feminist and her poem Equality and Vision is a tribute to Women’s Equality Day, August 26.

Honor and represent the women who

Have brought us to the path we travel today.

Like a good wine, this collection is to be savored; unlike a good wine, her metaphorical bottle is always full ready for you to return to, each time enlightening you in a different way.

Do not add despair to your breath today sums up the optimism in this collection.

Follow Christy at: https://poeticparfait.com/ and https://whenwomeninspire.com/

 

 

Why I Changed My Cover

In my last post I revealed a cover for my latest novel Not By Design. 

Many of you took the time to comment positively about the cover and with all my heart – THANK YOU!

In the midst of this ego boost I received an e-mail from Debby at  D.G.Kaye who offered a different opinion, pointing out that my cover, although appealing, did not “go with” my brand.

The photo doesn’t give me an immediate feel for what the book is about. And the title should be in stronger font and stand out more, like your other books. Maybe like your Finding Mr. Right book, so it stands out and follows the branding of the previous book?

I literary struggled with the decision to change the cover of my book. At first I tried to take the easy way out and just go ahead with the status quo.  Also because so many of you wrote such lovely comments about the cover I didn’t want to take the risk of offending you by changing it. Besides, I too liked the cover.

I admire Debby’s work and that she has read all my previous books in my Getting To Mr. Right Series added clout to her critique. Plus, there was this annoying tiny voice nudging me to pay attention.

As these things so often happen, Jenny Nash’s weekly post was on getting advice. An interesting article worth reading, as Jenny’s articles are, but what particularly stuck with me were these words:

Most important of all, don’t lose sight of your own heart. When you get advice, weigh it against what you think. Does it ring true to you? Does it strike a nerve? Can you see how incorporating it will make your work more clear, more logical, and more whole? If yes, then by all means, take the advice.

Debby’s advice did strike a nerve that I couldn’t ignore, especially what she said about branding.

What did I know about branding except nothing. Then, I came across a tutorial on branding which you can find here.

If I was to be honest with myself I had to admit that my current cover, as eye-catching as it was, was not the right fit for my Getting To Mr. Right series. It just didn’t go with the other covers.  Something I should have thought about beforehand. But honestly, I hadn’t at all considered branding.

 

gettingtomrright_kindle_small15                Missi's dating B              cafe paradise a

 

As hard as it was for me to let go of the “old” cover, I had to do it.

The cover I’ve ended up choosing is more faithful to the character’s spirit and, hopefully, more in tune with the other books in this series.

 

NOT BY DESIGN (1)

 

In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.

Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.

Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

 

Buy Not By Design – A Getting To Mr. Right Series

 Amazon

 

 

 

Cover Reveal

It took a lot of searching and tries before I finally settled on a cover for my upcoming novel Not By Design.

My first idea for a cover was one that would depict Rome – where the novel is partially set. I particularly liked a certain photo that was on an Italian tour company’s website – an alleyway with huge overflowing flower boxes.

Here’s an excerpt from my novel to explain why I thought such a cover photo was appropriate. (Garbatella is a village-like community about twenty minutes from the center of Rome.)

The fifteen-minute walk to Tina’s cottage leads through a maze of courtyards, each with its own English garden. Her low-rise house, with its wrought iron gate, is at the end of a winding, cobbled street filled with overflowing flower boxes. I make my way along the curved sidewalks, soaking in the splendor of the terra cotta buildings with their clotheslines full of colorful laundry slowly drying in the late afternoon sun. I pass by a huge mural and smile to myself. Perhaps one day, Garbatella will also have one of my paintings on its walls.

Alas, my request to use the flower boxes-alleyway photo was never answered. That was a good thing. Not by Design is about more than Rome and its great places to eat. It’s about a woman’s struggle to come to terms with her road map. A short novel more about character than setting.

           Not By Design 16

I haven’t completely chucked the idea of using the setting as background for a future cover of this book. Consider this quote by Tim Kreider in his The New Yorker article The Decline and Fall of The Book Cover.  

I’ve been told that the most powerful figures in the current literary world, the buyers for the major national bookstore chains, have been known to offer to increase their orders for a book if its cover is changed.

Matt Dorfman, art director of The New York Times Book Review, lists The Best Book Covers of 2015 in this article.

Enjoy! 

What do you think? Do you judge a book by its cover?

Marketing: Book Blurbs

Reading Debby’s post on book blurbing as well as Jack Eason’s post on the same subject I got to thinking about the blurb I’m currently writing for my novella, Not By Design and that got me searching the internet.

Here’s what I found

  • Finally, consider why your book is different from the others – what is unique about your book and make sure to include it.

(Silverwood. How To Write an Inviting Cover Blurb For Your Book)

  • When writing a novel, there are few selling tools as important as writing a solidly written blurb. Sure, the cover design creates intrigue, but, if you have caught a potential reader’s attention, the blurb is what will sell your book—and convert readers. 

(Milena Canizares: writing-blurbs-for-novels.)

  • “… when writing a summary, make it snappy. Less is more. Don’t tell them everything, just the dramatic core of the story.

(Beth Bacon: 4 Easy Steps To An Irresistible Book Blurb)

  •  try to encapsulate the tone of your book in your blurb so that a reader can instantly tell what genre your book is.

(Silverwood books: How to write an inviting cover blurb for your book)

Joanna Penn offers a superb video on book blurbs.

 

Of course, I’m not going to pass up this opportunity for a pre-publishing sales pitch. 🙂

Not By Design: A Feel Good Novella

In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.

Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.

Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

 

 Are you in the process of writing a book blurb for your book?