I know I didn’t. And when I did make my first sale, a gay romance, I got tons of advice about a pen name. Pen name??? What the hell? Sure, I was told, you need one, especially if you write erotic or gay romance.
Yeah, ‘cuz there’s that – discrimination and prejudice – and I thought hey, I just write love stories. People told me I needed to protect my family, told me tales of the poor writers who were stalked by crazed fans. Told me I needed to protect my job, with more stories of writers being fired when their employers found out they wrote erotic romance.
Convinced me…for sure.
So I asked around, got opinions, of which there is no shortage, about what made a good pen name. Pick a clever name, pick a sexy name, pick a name that means something to you, pick a name you won’t forget to answer to, pick a name that’s easy. Got it. An easy, sexy, meaningful name.
And I also was told, hey, you write gay romance and you’re a woman. You need to use initials and let everyone think you’re a guy…’cuz you’ll sell more.
WTH? Okay, I’m a smart girl, but I’m not a genius, and I was already almost 50 yrs old. My memory wasn’t going to be getting better, and it’s hard enough to remember my own name, much less pretend I’m a man. But some writers did it, and I understand their reasons. I was tempted. I was…then realized I just didn’t have the energy or wits to keep up such a charade.
So my publisher was tapping her toes, waiting for my pen name so she could get the forms filled out for the contract, and I was racking my brain for a easy, sexy, familiar name. Something I’d like for a long time, right? ‘Cuz I had a career in front of me… Gulp!
So I talked to my dh, my rock, and told him what I’d been thinking of…using my middle name, since it was familiar to me, I would answer to it when fans (oh yeah, I dreamed of fans, silly girl) called out my name in a crowd. My dh agreed with it and jokingly said, hey, I have a bunch of names, take one of mine. So I thought it over and ran through all his names – he has 5 – seriously, 4 plus a last name. One of them started with an L and sounded good with Lynn. And when I Googled it, I didn’t find anyone.
And so Lynn Lorenz was born, or at least her pen name. I’ve been around for awhile and amazingly Lynn’s still around and writing since 2008.
So when I took a look at my traditional romances, which I’d been writing using Lynn Lorenz, I decided I needed to let my readers know better what they were getting with my books and the only way to do that would be to…..pick an new pen name.
OMG! Not again!!!!!
Yes, again. So I struggled with the decision to pick a new pen name, for my heterosexual romances. So I started the process once more – thinking of a name with the right sound, familiar, yet different. I picked my mother’s middle name, Theodora, a name I’ve always loved. Then I had to find a last name, and since Theodora has multiple syllables, the last name should be short and sweet. I came up with several, Googled, but found them used. Then I hit Lane. There were no Theodora Lanes…only real streets.
But there were other Lanes out there writing, but the ones I knew either weren’t spelled the same, and were writing gay romance, not het, so chances were I’d not be in conflict with them.
And then I had to think about whether to keep Lynn writing as Theodora a secret. Again, too old and too tired to be that clever. So I looked at a few other writers, famous ones, who made no secret of their alternate writing names – like Richard Bachman – Stephen King, JD Robb – Nora Roberts, and Lori Armstrong – Lorelei James. Good company and it didn’t hurt their careers. Their readers know what to expect when they buy a book written by each name and that’s what I wanted my readers to know also.
So, with the new urban fantasy story coming out in August from Taliesin Publishing, Heart of a Warrior, I decided to launch my new pen name, Theodora Lane, with that book. And along with that a new website that will showcase both my Lynn Lorenz name and books and Theodora Lane’s new books. I can’t wait to show it to you, along with the new cover, which I’ve gotten a sneak peek at, but you’ll have to wait for that in July.
Well, that’s my story about pen names.