Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#IWSG: What Is in a Name? #penname | #Specfic Bookworm News

IWSG was created by the amazing Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click here to visit the other participants. August's co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders.
As I've been working on the Soul Reaper series, I've been considering whether or not to create a pseudonym for my adult urban fantasy work. It wouldn't be a secret pen name as I've been talking about working on the series here, my website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. My work under my own name has been rather all over the place when it comes to genre, although it fits under the umbrella term speculative fiction. My published stories have been young adult or general adultlimited (closed door) sex, light cussing, and some violence.

Soul Reaper may have sex (Diana Greyson says a big YES, but I keep telling the character we'll wait and see if the scene stays. Her daughter wants to keep that door open too, if possible.) and will have violence and strong language. It's adult fiction and fits well in the urban fantasy genre. I see potential for one to two companion series, and I have other adult urban fantasy ideas as well. A pen name may suit my urban fantasy side while I continue to use my own name for my young adult and general adult speculative fiction work. A pen name would be good to use when marketing, particularly narrowing in on the UF fanbase and keeping the Also Boughts more focused on books similar to mine, as opposed to all different genres like my other books.

Yet it would mean a new email address, website, domain name, and newsletter, which will take a bit of time to set up, but aren't overly time-consuming. It would mean branding and marketing the new name, which can be a bit (i.e. a lot) harder.

So this question to use a pen name or not has been weighing on my mind and is my current insecurity. There are so many pros and cons, and I still haven't decided one way or the other. *sighs*

What are your insecurities this month?

August's IWSG question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published? The very first story I wrote that was not school related or posted on a fanfiction site was a short story similar to the Sherlock Holmes' stories called "The Case of the Tom Cat," featuring Detective Liam O'Hare. I wrote that story in 2006. The story, around 3500 words, was briefly published in 2009. Unfortunately, the publisher fell apart about six weeks later, so I never received royalties for it. *frowns*

The first novel I wrote was Reborn (titled The Phoenix Prophetess at the time). I wrote it in 2009, rewrote it in 2012/2013 and published it in May 2014.

On July 8, 2016, I finished writing the first draft of Destined. So I've completed my first series! Destined came in at 86,410 words. The Fate Challenges will be just a little shy of 300,000 words when all is said and done. Now comes the hard task: editing.

When I finished Destined, I started rewriting A Soul to Kill. The rewrite is going very well, and I should finish it in the middle of this month or so.

Oh, on July 1, I got some fantasy/sci-fi tattoos. My first ones! The three stars tattoo is from the Harry Potter books and is on my left wrist, and the other on my right ankle is the Earth/Tau'ri symbol from Stargate. Now I'm considering the Deathly Hollows symbol on my left ankle. Hmm...

My August goals include:
- Finish the rewrite of A Soul to Kill.
- Revise my outline for A Soul to Reap.
- When the rewrite is done, I plan to write "The Folding Point" for Spirits in the Water (UR anthology #4, forthcoming 2017). This story will be set in my Paperist world, like my stories "Paper Lanterns" in Mayhem in the Air and "Folds in Life and Death" in Parallels: Felix Was Here.
- Edit A Soul to Protect.
- Finish editing a friend's novellas. For real this time!

What are your goals for this month?

2016 Stats: 202,742 words written and 985 pages edited

A Faerie's Curse by Rachel Morgan
Flashpoint by Adam Quinn

A Faerie's Curse by Rachel Morgan
Calla Larkenwood's world is ripping apart at the seams in Rachel Morgan's A Faerie's Curse. This novel is the finale to Calla's story, and boy, it is one fast-paced ride! I didn't want to stop reading. The end of Part One had me crying. The end of Part Two left me shocked. I even gasped at what happened in that part. The ending was sweet and touching, but Morgan also left enough questions unanswered for the next part of the Creepy Hollow series, which I'm already excited to read. What I love best about Calla is that no matter what she goes through, she does find a way to remain true to herself. Action, danger, romance, and moreA Faerie's Curse by Rachel Morgan has it all!

Flashpoint by Adam Quinn
Taylor Ghatzi must re-enter the world she'd left behind in order to stop another galaxy war in Adam Quinn's Flashpoint. Most of this space opera novel is told from Taylor's point of view. A telekinetic now working in emergency services, she embraces her military background, which makes her a strong character, although sometimes I felt a bit distanced from her. She lets down her mask, though, by the end. The other view point is from the diplomat Cherran DeGuavra. Cherran easily became my favorite character. Sometimes foppish in nature, he carries the weight of his father's legacy upon him with pride. The intricate world building took me a little while to get used to with many unique names and an alphabet soup of agencies, but I enjoyed Quinn's attention to detail as well as the technological advances he created. I found the galaxy politics rather relevant to what's going on in the world today, and I have a feeling we've just dipped our toes into the mysteries of this galaxy's inhabitants. Space opera fans will likely enjoy Flashpoint by Adam Quinn.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Sign of the Green Dragon by C. Lee McKenzie
Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Shadow Born by Jasmine Walt and Rebecca Hamilton
Unbreakable by Liz Long
Unknown by Wendy Higgins
Flashpoint by Adam Quinn
Quantum by Jess Anastasi
Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith
Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Six Scary Stories by Stephen King and Others
Between Two Fires by Mark Noce

Come back on August 17 for a post from Mark Noce, whose book Between Two Fires releases in August. I should also have a review of Between Two Fires up by then.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A Stargate tattoo - now that is all out geek.
Another Paperist story? Very cool.
Elizabeth S. Craig writes with a pen name but she keeps everything under one account.

Heather R. Holden said...

Congrats on wrapping up the first draft of Destined! I hope your edits for this series don't end up giving you too much trouble...

And best of luck figuring out what to do when it comes to pseudonyms! Keeping all your work under a single name sounds simpler and less time-consuming, but I can see the benefits of using a pen name, too, marketing-wise...

emaginette said...

I have a couple of friends that use pen names and it is tough to tweet and post under them all. You may want to keep the same website and give each name their own page. It is a huge undertaking, but they did it for the same reasons. They didn't want a reader reading a book that wouldn't enjoy. No matter what you choose, I'm sure it will be right for you. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

And I thought I was swamped. Wow, you're up to your eyebrows. Congratulations at being so close to finished, Cherie. Your work efforts will pay off, I'm sure. As for using a pen name... when I'm not sure about a certain action, I meditate on the answer. Or pray. Then wait. The answer is close by, you just need time to hear it.

Chrys Fey said...

Having two separate names for publishing is a lot of work. I know Kelly Hashway recently combined her two social medias for her Kelly Hashway and Ashelyn Drake audiences. She even combined her website for both. You can check out her website to see how she did it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Good to hear the rewrite is coming along.

I'm working on my 4th genre and I've never bothered with a pen name. People just need to expect a mix from me.

Rachna Chhabria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachna Chhabria said...

Wow!I have always wanted to get a tattoo but am very scared of the pain. A pen name for your urban fantasy books may be a good idea, but it will require a lot of work in terms of a website, email id, etc. Why not write under your own name?

Toi Thomas said...

I generally write in the speculative genres also. When I decided to write a contemporary romance, I used a pen name but I didn't get that involved wit it. I blogged about it being my alter ego and use my established presence as Toi Thomas to promote my alter ego Glorie Townson. I just thought it would be fun and it would clearly separate my speculative work from my contemporary work.

I do think, though, that your plan is probably the better way to handle a pen name.

While you seem to have a lot on your plate, you also seem to be getting a lot done. Books don't read themselves and reviews don't write themselves.

I love your Stargate tattoo. Knew exactly what it was when I saw it.

Stephsco said...

I'm personally against adding pen names unless the work truly needs to be separate, like a ghost writer project or kids picture book vs erotic romance. Some of these other genres I don't know how much it matters anymore. What I really don't get is when a writer is BIG NAME WRITER writing as PEN NAME and both names are on the book! There is a romance writer who does this. I also see writers have both names prominently on their website. A writer friend of mine who pubs YA wrote a New Adult series and the pub for the NA said they wanted her to use a pen name so their books would be featured first in Amazon searches for her books. So she did it, but it's not a secret.

Anyhoo. I don't know. I'm not helping. I think if you have a really good business reason for a new name, then by all means. To me there are writers using extra names that dont need to and it's a headache to manage.

Here's my August IWSG post on my first novel attempt (note I said ATTEMPT). YA Author Stephanie Scott IWSG August

cleemckenzie said...

You're making some big decisions with this. I can see why a pseudonym would be good, but I also see how much work that involves. Keep us posted. I'd love to hear what happens.

Jemi Fraser said...

Having to do all those 'extras' with the 2nd name is the part that would leave me wary. Tough decision!!

erica and christy said...

Congrats on all of your writing! Your post title caught my eye because I am having trouble with this as well. I've actually recently decided to self-publish, so excited by the business side of publishing, and decided to do so under a pen name. I started a wordpress author site and blog, new email, instagram, tumblr, twitter, FB page, the whole shebang, but NOW i'm all caught up in blogging and reconnecting as myself, and my poor pen name has NOBODY. do i keep it all a secret? and if not, then what's the point of having a pen name? the reason i created one was 1)in case i query and try to become traditionally published for some titles in the future and 2)to boost my confidence, to write and publish as someone OTHER than me. Am I being ridiculous? Totally insecure. Gah. <3 Christy (I'm a first-time IWSG poster today as erica and christy I don' think I'm logged in correctly to comment as such.

L.G. Keltner said...

Good luck on figuring out whether or not to use a pen name! I'd offer some useful advice if I had any on the subject, but alas, I do not.

I love the tattoos! I'd say you should definitely go for the Deathly Hallows tattoo as well. That would be amazing!

Chemist Ken said...

I'm not sure which way to go on the penname. While having a penname allows you to focus your marketing efforts, it also means that you'll have fewer books listed under either name, which means it will take longer to build up momentum for either name. Of course, if you're a prolific writer and expect to have plenty of books out for both names, then a penname might be the way to go. Good luck with the choice and let us know what happens.

Tamara Narayan said...

That's a ton of accomplishments. Way to go! I always thought I'd use my maiden name as a pen name. I still might some day for the same reasons. I like to write in more than one genre.

Crystal Collier said...

Knowing all that goes into branding, I would never suggest a pen name. You can put a disclaimer on the cover or title or in your advertising. That's how I'd do it--a bar across the top or bottom that clearly defines this is an adult novel. But then, that may not be the best move either.

Juneta key said...

Wow, I'm impressed. You very prolific. WTG. I love the name of the first story makes me want to read it. Congrats on the goals too. Wishing you the best.

Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Pat Garcia said...

I think pen names are good to have. I use a pen name for all my writing, regardless of what it is. I started using it when I started writing seriously and it has stuck with me. So go for it.

Shalom aleichem,

Julie Flanders said...

Cool tattoos!
I thought of using a pen name for my children's book but in the end I didn't want to lose what little name recognition I have.

Nicola said...

Interesting post, Cherie. If your pseudonym isn't secret then there's no need to go full out rebranding. You could (as Alex points out)work alongside your current name. Have a look at Nora Roberts website - she also writes as J.D.Robb and has cleverly woven everything into one website. Wishing you lots of luck!!

M Pax said...

I love Stargate! That's so awesome.

If you want advice on setting up a second name, let me know. It went fairly smoothly for me. You know where to find me.

Great news on your progress! I was making progress, but took a few days off.

Gwen Gardner said...

There's a lot to think about with a pseudonym. I'm thinking of using one if I try to go for some traditional publishing. We'll see. But you brought up some valid considerations for sure.

Anonymous said...

I went for a pen name when I released my novella series, but I didn't go with a new website or any of that. Mostly because I didn't give myself enough time and also because I put on the home page "Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine". I want people to know me as both names and how to tell my YA from my NA.

Jenni said...

I've never really thought of having a pen name myself, but I think your situation of writing something quite different from your other work is a really good reason.
Your Holmesian story sounds really good. I'm sad to hear about the publisher folding--ugh!

J.L. Campbell said...

Decisions, decisions. I started out with a pen name alongside my own name and abandoned it after a while. Like you, I'm all over the place in terms of what I write. You do manage to get lots of stuff done. Kudos on that!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Norah Roberts uses the pen name so readers can quickly distinguish between the romance and the mysteries. Even a mall distinction, like using your initials would probably be enough to create a different brand.

DMS said...

Hopefully talking to some authors who use a pen name will help you make the best decision for you. I don't know much about it, so I can't offer and advice.

Congrats on the writing and continued good luck with the rewrites. :)

Christine Rains said...

You are making awesome progress with your writing! And yes, the big decision of a pen name. I still dance back and forth about it, but so far, not doing the extra work has won out.

Michelle Wallace said...

Cool tattoos!
Your 2016 stats are AMAZING! Congratulations!
I suppose the pen name issue has its pros and cons. Good luck figuring out what to do about it.

Mark said...

It's so tempting to play with pen names, I mean we create names for our characters so why not ourselves, right? Then again, just think what a cool character name Cherie Reich would be:)

Anonymous said...

You can always use initials, first and middle names, and your last name so you still have your fan base, readers recognize you, and at the same time they know that you're branching off into something else.

Cindy said...

I've had the same debate with myself regarding pen names, and so far I decided to just use my real name for the very reason you listed...a lot of work. Anyway, I really love the title Soul Reaper.

alexia said...

Part of me kind of wishes I'd used a pen name for the Zyan books, just because I do have a bit of risqué stuff in there, and I hope none of my coworkers at my day job are reading it. Especially Vengeance and Vermouth, the sex scene is really steamy. Ah, well. Too late now! And cool tattoos :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

It's interesting to see more than a few posts about pen names - and I was drafting one up about that, too . . . because I've considered it a few times.
I think the reasons your considering it are good ones, similar to some of my own - although mainly I struggle with people who can't pronounce my name or who think I stole it from George R. Martin. (Sorry, I had my name before Tyrion.)

Way to go with all of your goals!!!

Unknown said...

Hi Cherie, sounds like a cool new prospect for urban fantasy. Wishing you luck and peace of mind as you try to decide how to proceed. :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

I know a couple people who have a pen name for their works for younger people so there are no unfortunate issues. One is DeAnna Knippling, who you can find at (in case there's something helpful there concerning how she splits them up, as I don't think she keeps it a secret or anything.) Her pen name for MG is DeKenyon. Good luck while you figure it out!

Ellie Garratt said...

I love your book and scifi-related tattoos. They really express who you are.

I think having a pen name is a great idea, but seems like a lot of work. If you can be dedicated enough to keep your pen name out there, I don't see why it wouldn't work the way you want it to.