Who Am I, Again?

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Back in the dawn of time, when I was a kid, the only way to get in touch with an author was to write a letter in care of the publishing house, and hope that it was deemed worthy of being sent along. Or so it seemed to me. I was fond of writing to authors whose work impressed me. I would type a letter on paper, sign it, fold it up and mail it in an envelope with a stamp. The first author who ever wrote back was Alexander Key. I was over the moon when that letter arrived. An author! A writer of books! And he’d spared five minutes of his valuable time communicating with me! I still have that letter, as well as notes from E.L. Konigsburg and Philip Jose Farmer, safely tucked away in a cedar trinket box that I could grab if the house was on fire. I wouldn’t have known any of those folks if they walked up to me in the street, because back then authors didn’t really get out all that much.

These days, it’s different. We have email addresses so readers can get directly in touch with the tap of a finger. We have web sites so people know what we look like right off the bat. We go to festivals and cons, where we mingle with fans. If we want to keep ourselves a little private, we have to invent a persona. New name, different clothing, that sort of thing. Faith Hunter, for example, dresses differently when she’s in her mystery AKA than she does as Faith.

When I go out into the world, people expect me to act..well, piratey. I did write a book about pirates, after all. When it’s appropriate, I do my best to give them what they expect. I wear my pirate hat and clothing, and use the proper words. Not that I mind, of course – I was a pirate way before pirates were cool. But when I finally finish and sell the non-pirate novel I’m working on, I can’t very well go around in breeches and hat to promote it. Changing my clothing isn’t that big a deal, but changing my name scares me to death.

I’m rather fond of my name, and the thrill of seeing it on the cover of a book for the first time rocked my world in ways I can’t even explain. It felt a little like the day I first gazed into my son’s eyes – utter accomplishment and joy in a tiny little package. I will happily buy a new wardrobe. color my hair, change my accent, whatever is necessary to differentiate the new work from the old. But I don’t want to change my name. If the publisher says I must, I’ll do it, of course. Since I don’t want to, though, it’ll probably take me a while to choose something I can live with. Something funky and exotic.

Throw some suggestions at me, y’all. I like to be ready for these things.

Misty Massey
www.mistymassey.com
www.magicalwords.net

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14 comments to Who Am I, Again?

  • I have the same problem, Misty. And I’m on my third name now. For a fourth, I may go with G. Hunter Paxton, because my writing partner for a new book possibility is G. Paxton.

    For others on my own, I’ve been thinking on something slightly campy using Hunter, like Diana Hunter, (grins) or Hunter Leonine. Or something up in the alphabet like Hunter Adams, Hunter Abrams, or Hunter Ashton (which I really like.)

    For you…LOL.
    Misty Morning
    Misty Dawn
    Misty Reign
    Sorry…I couldn’t resist!
    Okay, seriously, Misty M Moore (for more of Misty Massey)
    Misty M Mason (for building on the past).
    We should have a naming tea!

  • Aye, Cap’n Massey! Per’aps Missa Tymsey…’r not, as ye be.

    Honestly I’ve never really understood the pen name thing. I like my name. I’m proud of it. My parents gave it to me and wanted me to become someone to be proud of with it. I don’t really want to change it. I can’t really see how changing it would sell more books, nor do I see another name looking better on the cover. Besides, I would rather see my own name on something I poured a portion of my life into than a name that isn’t really mine. It doesn’t really bother me if people recognize me by name when I’m out and about, so that wouldn’t be an issue. It is sort of a common name, I guess. I think there’s a Daniel R Davis that writes, or wrote, technical writing.

    Besides, I’m enough of a character without adding another name to me. 😉

    On a side note, I have a topic I’d like to hear opinions on for the fantasy/sci-fi writers who are writing about different worlds not Earth or Earth-human-centric. Should I just toss it out here or should I email one of you?

  • You can share your suggestion here, Daniel, or, if you’d like it to be a surprise to the rest of the class, you’re welcome to email it to me. 😀

  • You’re supposed to dress up as one of your characters? Well, I better start saving for that complete set of Roman armour then, just in case. 😀

    I won’t mind separate pen names for my Fantasy and Historical Fiction as long as I can admit to it on my blog. I use a pen name on the internet anyway; there’s no way I’d give away my real name so those nosy relatives with that stupid But Does Writing Pay? attitude can find me. 😉

  • Gabriele said, “I better start saving for that complete set of Roman armour then, just in case.”

    You’ll certainly grab attention! 😀 My husband decided to attend a day of the Renaissance faire last season dressed as a Spartan warrior, and he could hardly move for all the people wanting to take pictures with him.

  • Daniel, sometimes a wrter has no say in using his or her own name. If you want to brand a style of writing to your name (smart in this market) then, when you change genres, or even move to a sub genre the publisher often requires a name change. Just part of the game. Few of us like it. A lot of us have to do it.

  • Well, I understand the need to have pen names, be it due to writing in a different genre or sub-genre, as well as the whole bookstore computers are winnowing away the amount of books ordered for a writer with their 80% ordering process.

    My thoughts on the issue:

    If I have so many stories being published in so many different genres or sub-genres I’d consider myself lucky. Of course I would love for them all to be published under my name, but I’ll deal with pen names if it means more books.

    Now, as to what pen names I would go with? I really have no idea where to begin.

  • Yeah, it’s odd though. Truthfully I prefer to see just how diverse an author is, but I guess not everyone is that way. Then again I’m not usually looking for certain types of books just by an author’s name. However, I have picked up other genres when I found that one of my favorite fantasy authors wrote it.

    To be cliche, I am actually drawn by a book’s cover first, then by the description on the back, then the author’s name, then last that little snippet in the front, or the detailed description in the flap, for hardback books. The covers of fantasy novels usually look quite different from horror novels from mystery novels from modern police style novels, etc. Romance novels and maybe urban fantasy are the only ones that kind of cross boundaries in the cover regard. But, at least as far as romance goes, if there’s a musclebound and long haired shirtless guy on there that’s unlike 90% of all males on the planet and a flowing-haired buxom woman in his arms I usually can figure that one out. 😉

    Now, as far as going to different genres and name changes, how about going from fantasy to sci-fi? Is it usually required or asked then or is that one a bit more loose?

    I guess I can see, say, Romance to fantasy, or even horror. There’s still, even today, that lonely housewife stigma attached to romance novels (though I have read a couple decent ones, honestly) that may make mainstream readers shy away from a novel, thinking it’s just another romance novel.

  • For you, Misty: Misty Todd. Seems like a no brainer.

    If I ever sell my contemporary urban fantasy, I’ll publish it as D.B. Jacqson. My first two initials, and my father’s name was Jack spelled the french way — Jacques.

  • I’ve already written a few books under Cate Dermody (and will probably never get to again, because the whole line those books were published under tanked, and so Cate’s numbers are very, very bad indeed). I have juvenile/YA stuff I intend to publish under Catie Murphy, because I think it’s a friendlier name to put on the cover of books for kids and teens. If I ever spin off into straight mystery and publishers want a new name, I’ll likely write under Cate Malone. I’m not, it turns out, all that attached to my own specific name on the cover of a book. It’s not like I go by CE in real life anyway. :) *I* know it’s me writing ’em, and for me that’s what really counts. :)

  • Beatriz

    David says: Misty Todd.

    😉 He stole my answer! Who’s the pirate around here???

    Misty mentions: My husband decided to attend a day of the Renaissance faire last season dressed as a Spartan warrior

    We are all everlastingly grateful to you for bringing us eye candy. :-)

  • Jon Freestone

    Here is an anagram creator:
    http://blackdog4kids.com/games/word/martin.mamo/

    Here are the three best ones I saw.

    Sissy Maymet
    Emmy Staysis
    Essay Mymist

  • Aleta Turner

    It seems silly to me that publishers would force name changes on authors. As a reader, if I find an author I enjoy, I want to be able to find out what else he or she has written so I can decide if I want to read it. I first became acquainted with Faith under that name. I was thrilled when I discovered she had written other books. I almost certainly would have sought out and started reading the Gwen books sooner if all the books had been written under the same name, because I’d have been able to search that one name. Maybe I just don’t understand the business of publishing (no doubt that is true!) but it seems to me like companies would be shooting themselves in the foot not to let readers find all the books by our favorite authors easily. (Perhaps publishers think their readers are too stupid to realize that books written in different genres by the same author will be different styles, and so they have to look like they are written by different authors. If that is the case, it is insulting.)

    Since the publishers do this to you all, I suppose the thing for you to do (IMNSHO) is to make sure you at least let all of your pseudonyms be known to those who follow your blogs and mailing lists. If we like your books, we want to be able to read them!

  • Here’s a question on this:

    I’m currently working on scripts for films and also doing rewrites and revisions for film scripts. Should I write under a pen name for these or is it not considered when dealing with using your name on other works? Another question that’s sort of related is, should I add any script work I’ve done on my writing resume?