1. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Coming up with a pen name. What's your story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by stormcat, Mar 10, 2015.

    Like many authors before and after me, I plan to use a pen name. I will go the JK Rowling route and use my initials (Only reversed so they are AJ instead of JA). But I'm having trouble picking out a suitable surname. My given surname is difficult to pronounce due to it's slavic origin. Any Ideas on how to pick one?

    Also, I'd love to hear about how you guys picked pen names, might give me some insight into choosing my own.
     
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    JA Rule
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know these are celebrities... But they have some pretty clever name changes listed here.

    Also, when Jennifer Aniston's parents moved to the US, they shortened their last name from Anastassakis. So maybe you could just shorten your name to something easier to pronounce?

    But I'm no expert... I've been thinking about asking for help with my pen name all week. :p Full first name, commonly used nickname, or something completely different? It really is a difficult decision.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Middle name and the street I grew up on. Tried and true.

    Second pen name? Different spelling of middle name plus an old family name.

    Your pen name is just one more marketing tool. Don't get too invested in it as an expression of self, just try to figure out what people in your genre are likely to be attracted to, and go for it.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My real, honest-to-goodness given name doesn't feel like it would look good on the cover of an anglophone marketed book. I don't have a pretty Latino name like the actor Gael García Bernal or the writer Gabriel García Márquez. What epic names those are, ripe and pungent with promises of excess and the pheromones of passion, both sexual and cerebral. My name is nothing like that. My first name tends to give anglophone speakers tongue cramps and my surname has no ring or roll to it. :/ I hesitate to contract my first name to just Ray because I swear that in every film I have ever seen, "Ray" is a dickhole character. Don't know. Not really there yet, anyway, as to be concerned about a real name or a pen name.
     
  6. Talisien
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    Talisien Member

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    From a very early age I have never been happy with my real name. It never 'felt' right. So when I started online gaming many years ago, and I chose the name for my avatar, I suddenly found I knew more people, many who become close friends, who called me by the avatar name rather than my real name. It 'felt' right so I adopted it and I use it as a pen name now.
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I'm going to leave that decision until I finish the blasted book. :write:

    I'll probably just use my real name but since I'm one of those weirdos who has two middle names and the second starts with R, I might riff off the "J.R.R. Tolkien" and "George R.R. Martin" thing - which is funny because I don't write fantasy, but to some degree my stuff has a critique of Martin's critique of Tolkeinian morality and one of my side characters is actually reading the Song of Ice and Fire series as a minor detail in the plot.
     
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  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes I think people underestimate their own names - especially how they might sound to people of different cultural contexts. And as for what the Anglophone tongue can or can't handle, you're right that we are wusses when it comes to pronunciation...but when the work is good, we learn...just ask this year's Best Director winner Alejandro González Iñárritu. Or tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Also, looking at your screename, if you really want to abbreviate, "Wrey" is a lot more mysterious-sounding than "Ray"...all in the visuals :)
     
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  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And that is how I spell my shortened name, and how I've spelled it since I was about 14, much to my parents' dismay when they assumed it would be a brief, childhood affectation, but no, I got used to it and fond of it, and now Ray doesn't look like my name at all. Other Rays are Ray. I am Wrey. Ray is just... not me. ;)
     
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  10. Teviya Abramson
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    Teviya Abramson Member

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    My pen name, Teviya Abramson, is a bit of a combination of things. I saw the film version of "Fiddler on the Roof" when I was young, and ever since I've absolutely loved the name "Tevye" (pronounced TEV-yah). I've actually very seriously considered legally changing my name so that my slightly tweaked version "Teviya" (slightly more feminine sounding) would be my legal first name, but I discarded that idea a while ago. "Abramson" is actually my grandmother's step-father's last name. There's a family story that when Papa Moe Abramson came to the US via Canada from somewhere in Eastern Europe, the only English words he knew were "Abrom" (Yiddish for Abraham) and "son". So when the clerk at Ellis Island asked him his name, he said "Abrom's son", and the clerk put down Abramson.

    I'm also of the mind that my real name wouldn't be cool enough to read on a book cover.
     
  11. Gabcy
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    Gabcy Member

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    Gabriel Cyrus -- AKA 'Gabcy' for forum use.

    I was born catholic and Gabriel was my patron name. Cyrus developed later on.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't like the idea of just using initials before the surname, like J.K. Rowling or A.J. Cronin. They hide the sex of the writer, so nobody knows what pronouns to use, and the writer becomes immediately very difficult to talk about. Argh.

    I have a strong dislike for my real first and last names, partly because I got teased a lot as a kid for both of them. However, I love my middle name, so I'll use that as my first name. For a surname, I'll probably use something that reminds me of Canada (where I grew up) - probably something about the climate. So, "Winter" or "Snow" or "Frost" or "North" - something like that for a surname. I haven't really decided yet, but sometimes I like to think about it.
     
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  13. Lilith_Duat
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    Lilith_Duat Member

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    I like "Lilith" for the biblical implications, she's a strong woman who stands up for what she believes in. In her case it's not submitting.

    "Duat" is the Egyptian underworld, where Anubis resides. So an argument could be made my pen name directly riffs off my book. But we have other books in the pipeline not related to the ancient world.

    The K is to break up Lilith and Duat, and is the first letter of my real name, but if anyone asks, K stands for "Kay". Much like Homer J. Simpson's full name is Homer Jay Simpson.
     
  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought about doing initials... But my name would be E. L. Farmer... And E. L. James wrote 50 Shades of Grey.... lol

    Lea is my middle name. Brooks is the end of my maiden name. I stared using it here to test it out as my pen name, but now I hate it. I'm thinking either Elizabeth Farmer or Lea Farmer or Beth Farmer or Lizzie Farmer or Lissie Farmer... Or possibly even Birdie Farmer... lol I like my married last name. It's my first name I'm worried about. My husband thinks Elizabeth works. But there are so many nicknames for Elizabeth, I want to look at all of them before I make a decision.

    Why's it gotta be so hard? :p
     
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  15. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    My second name is pretty cool so I'd use that no problem, but both first names are fairly dull and can be chopped and shortened in various ways. I'd be tempted to use initial but it does remove gender, which I don't see as a problem. I could also see that one shortened version of my name suggests 'chicklit' writer, and another longer version might suggest 'serious fiction'. Hmm.

    Didn't Iain Banks stick in an extra initial depending on the genre he wrote? Did that make a massive difference?
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Reminds me of a certain Robert I know. :p
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've thought of calling myself Frost since before I was really aware of Robert Frost. I got the name from Tom Waits' first album. He had a song on it called "Martha" that I really like, and part of the lyric goes, "Hello, hello, there, is this Martha / This is old Tom Frost / And I am calling long distance / Don't worry 'bout the cost." When I sing it, I use my first name instead of "Tom" in order to make it more personal. I've been doing that since I was a teenager in the 1970s. I became used to it, and I liked the sound.

    So Tom Waits led me to "Frost." It wasn't Robert. (Sorry!) ;)
     
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  18. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    My real name is kinda pretty ( first name Candace ) but it sounds too much like a romance author for my liking. Could be I'm anticipating more prejudice than is warranted but I'm one of those people that think people don't want romances written by Abner Hogwright or action thrillers written by Bambi Taylor. And doesn't literary pieces demand some sort of ethnic sounding names?

    Maybe I'm overthinking it but people do make up there minds about names. Once when I was twelve me and my friends decided to start a small business for house cleaning. We made up flyers put down our first names and numbers. Having no idea how appetizing this list looked. None of us had plain jane names. Within two days my mother got a call and asked - what have you been up to? A man just phoned requesting two girls to clean his apartment and not to worry about transportation he would pick you up in his red convertible and take you out for drinks afterwards. Despite the fact that our flyers were hand written in purple magic marker all this horny-toad could see was a list of pretty-girl names like some sort of menu for a dating service - lol.

    I chose Edi Marchen because I've been dragging that name along with me in my writing for years. Edimarchen all smashed together was a city district in my first novel. And was later transferred to the mc's name. Marchen showed up on it's own in other stories probably a homage to the March siblings in Little Women. I have no idea if I'll hang onto it or not. But I like the masculine touch of Edi.
     
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  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One thing I've noticed since I've been on this forum is that some members use their own stories, their own characters, as inspiration for their usernames and, in some cases, for their pen names. To me, that's a bit like Arthur Conan Doyle writing Sherlock Holmes stories under the pen name "Sherlock Holmes." Is it just me, or is that a bit, uh, self-incestuous (I just invented that term!)?
     
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  20. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have thought about what kind of pen name I'd want to have but I haven't really chosen one. If I do get a pen name at any point in the future it is likely to be based on variants of my real first name and last name because a pen name that is completely different from my name wouldn't feel like me.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You could just go with Kom Posten. It has a ring to it. :p
     
  22. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Apart form the fact that it happens to be a (kind of) valid question in Swedish. ;)
     
  23. kfmiller
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    kfmiller Active Member

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    For normal stuff I would do the whole E.L James, J.R.R. Tolkien, G.R.R. Martin, J.K Rowling route primarily because I think my 1st name has too much of a 1980's valley girl vibe to be taken seriously. It's not even that bad and there are authors with my first name, but I dunno, maybe it's because I've never taken myself seriously.

    For the romance story I'm working on the pen name I decided to use it Everly Rivers. I don't know how, it just popped into my head.
     
  24. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    I lived on Styvesant Road, and my old family names are all unpronounceable polish names.
     
  25. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Styvesant is pretty bitchin.
     
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