Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nom De Plumes

Happy Hump-Day, good people of the blogosphere! I can't believe it's Wednesday already. Time sure does fly when you're working your tuckus off. Today, I'd like to talk to you guys about pen names; also known as a Nom De Plume. Without beating around the bush, let's get going!

Why in the world would an author use a pen name?

Well, in my case, I use one because I don't want crazy people beating down my door if they don't like what I have to say. A couple of my books (the Mystic series, for one) teeter on the edge of calling people out for their crap and show what it's like to live on the other side of judgment. Another one has violence (and a lot of it) that a lot of folks say left them gasping for air as they read (Yassa). But, there are authors throughout history that used pen names to meet other goals. Here are a few:
  • Dr. Seuss.
  • Stephen King (aka Richard Bachmann)
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Jonathan Swift (aka Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.)
  • Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte (aka Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell)
  • Charles Dickens (aka Boz)
  • Benjamin Franklin (lots of akas - mostly female names!)
  • Anne Rice (aka A.N. Roquelaure)

So why did these authors choose their pen names?

For publishing reasons, of course. One was chosen because the publisher thought the author's books wouldn't sell as well if people knew it was a woman who wrote them. Back in the days of the Bronte sisters, women didn't write and they felt they had no choice but to submit as men. Sometimes pen names were chosen to allow the author to publish more frequently or even to get published at all (their real name may have been damaged in some way). Anne Rice said she didn't want anyone to know she'd written a naughty book. But, beyond that, she wanted to see if it was her name making her sales or her excellent writing. Makes sense to me.

So, if you're an author, and you use a pen name, why? Is it to hide who you really are, to break into a genre only (usually) written by a certain gender, or is it something simpler like a state of separation?

Inquiring minds are dying to know.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. I use both my maiden and married name. There's another Heather Wood that's an author and I wanted to stand out.

    1. I totally just learned something new. I had no idea there was another Heather Wood who wrote books. Ever contacted her? That might be fun :) hehe

  2. I hope I can do this without a BlogSpot account. I want to tell why I used a pseudonym. My book "No Broken Bones" exposed misdeeds of Oregon's child protection agency. I so wanted to name names, but not at the expense of my daughter and granddaughter's privacy. Now that they are older and stronger, Gail Morellen is me and that story is true, true, true. I wish the guilty weren't beyond punishment.

    1. Hiya, Ginney! I'm impressed you had the gumption to do what you did and even more awed by the fact that you tried, through the art of literature, to bring light to something folks should be very aware of. I hope it brought some peace, closure, and litigation for those who erred. Thanks for the comment!

  3. The first author with a pen name that comes to mind is always Mark Twain. I think his reasons are fairly clear. Oh, and fun fact (as I know how much you love them): Harriet Beecher Stowe was his neighbor. What a powerhouse combo! Great post.


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