When I used to tell people my sign, they’d nod and purse their lips, as if to say, “Figures.” Or they’d ask me directly if that was my sign and smile victoriously when I admitted that it was. Or, when I revealed the information, they’d shake their heads, take a tentative step away and mutter something about how they once knew one, but it had been a long time ago.
I’m a Gemini, which, from this experiences and many more, I believe is a word some people consider synonymous with psychotic. I’m guessing it’s the whole twins thing — from my unscientific research in the area, I’d have to guess that people with split personalities tend to be upsetting. We’re sweet as can be — and then the switch flips.
And oh, how I fit that description. Add to that the fact that I was born on June 6th (and that when we were little, my brother had told me after we saw Damien: Omen II that I had a scar on my scalp that he’d seen when I was born which proved that I was in fact a devil child) and I really felt I was justified in being monstrous.
But then I grew up a little and the two sides began to feel oppressive. It was simply too exhausting to balance being perfect and perfectly horrible. And also, I got sober, therapized and older.
And I also found out, from a friend who was one of those astrology freaks, that your rising sign is actually a lot more indicative of who you are than your birth sign.
I liked that theory because my rising sign is Leo — which, as far as I’m concerned, beats Gemini by a mile. I mean, would you rather be attached to a sign that’s associated with glory or the one that’s renowned for being nuts? Of course, Leo’s also have some less than desirable characteristics having to do with being self-involved — but I’ll take that.
And weirdly, now when I get into conversations with people about signs and they’re guessing mine (I live in LA — this kind of thing isn’t as unusual as you might imagine), more often than not, they’ll ask me if I’m a Leo. You could say, I guess, that I grew into my rising sign.
Or at least that my two sides became one.
Are you more like your birth sign or your rising sign? Do you even know your rising sign?
Debs Keep Dancing! Deb Mia’s second novel, THE ALOHA DIARIES, was sold last week to Berkley Trade, publisher of GOOD THINGS, with an August 2008 pub date! A big mahalo to Deb Mia’s new agent, Jenny Bent at Trident Media, for negotiating the deal and to Wendy McCurdy, executive editor at Penguin, for saying yes! Read the synopsis by clicking here.
And We Have a Winner! Congratulations to Marianne from New Hampshire, our Debutante Postcard Contest Winner! She’ll receive a postcard from each of the Debs from their hometowns, as well as a good gift from Deb Tish (Toronto). Congratulations, Marianne!
Deb Tish is Seizing a Daisy! Larramie and Seize a Daisy talks with Deb Tish and her upcoming debut, TOWN HOUSE this Monday! Please swing by and say hi!
Happy Debs! PROMISE NOT TO TELL is now in its third printing, not even three weeks after its debut! Deb Jennifer is shocked, grateful, thrilled, and humbled.
I like my name. It has a certain rhythm to it (can anyone spell rhythm correctly the first time?) and I like the symmetry of the two K’s. I also like the fact that if you fake an Irish brogue, you can say my last name correctly on the first try. Go ahead, try it: Keeeer-nin. Just makes you ache for a black and tan doesn’t it?
But like most authors, I’ve given thought to the whole pseudonym issue. Using Jennifer’s porn star formula I would be Nikki Shaddalee, which I think is just brilliant. Using her romance writer formula it would be Kristine Jones, which is rather boring, no? So Nikki Shaddalee it is.
But I don’t really feel like I write what Nikki would. I mean, Nikki sounds pretty racy, doesn’t it? And Shaddalee sounds downright romantic. Which, while perfect for a porn star, doesn’t really fit my style. So, in my search for a new pseudonym I ran across a site with plenty of famous folks’ pseudonyms and have decided to give out the first annual Kristy’s.
I would like to award the first Well, Weren’t YOU Smart Kristy to Jane Seymour, of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman fame and more recently the bearer (and barer) of perfectly fine middle-aged breasts in Wedding Crashers, for dropping the astounding moniker of Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg.
The first annual Huh? Kristy goes to Willem Dafoe, who was christened William Dafoe. Does just changing vowels really count as a pseudonym? How did this come about? Did he want to be more…Celtic? Did his agent have some odd speech impediment that kept him from properly pronouncing that pesky “ia” sound?
The Seriously, How Cool Is That? Kristy goes to wa-wa trombonist Butter Jackson, who was already born with the ultra-cool name of Quentin Jackson, but once he played with the likes of Ellington, Basie, and Mingus had to up the cool factor, and really, do you get any cooler than Butter? I don’t think so.
The Rose By Any Other Name Kristy goes to Elle MacPherson who apparently became even more beautiful with the axing of Elanor Gow.
And our final award, the coveted Saints Can Do Whatever They Want Kristy goes to Mother Theresa, who was born, all shiny and beatific, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. No Agnes of God cracks, please, I’m trying to avoid lightning strikes.
Clearly I’ve put a lot of thought into this whole pseudonym thing. And I’ve finally settled on my own. If you ever see a book out there written by Butter Dafoe MacPherson, well, pick that baby up, I obviously need the sale.
As a kid I hated my name. I was surrounded by Jennifers, Katherines and Stephanies. I longed to have the ability to change my name to fit my mood and my ever evolving self concept. Jennifer’s can be Jen, Jenny, or Jenna. Katherine’s can be Kathy, Kate, Katie or even the exotic- Kat. Even my best friend Laura, went by La. People often got my name wrong, calling me Elaine, Irene or Ellen.
If your name is Eileen there aren’t a lot of options. I toyed with Neelie, which is Eileen backwards, but it never stuck. I wanted to define myself, to create a moniker that fit my idealized self. I felt quite certain that if I had a better name, a more exciting name, then I would be better and more exciting too. I hoped someone would give me a great nickname, but this also never happened.
I’m not sure when it changed, or even why, but somewhere along the way I started to like the name Eileen. There aren’t very many of us. Eileen’s are a rare item. Unless you are in Ireland in which case, there are more Eileen’s than sheep. I spent my entire vacation in Ireland thinking people were trying to talk to me.
After I sold my book I was asked if I wanted to use my own name or a pen name. This was it. I could pick any name I wanted. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t want to be anyone else.
For the record? My porn name (pet/first street): Silly Starwood.
Did you like your name growing up?
Who would have thought that after all the angst surrounding the dream of publication (one I’ve had for a LONG time, as in … forever), I would let my debut novel out into the real world under a pseudonym? The reasons why are long and varied (you can get the entire 411 from my website), but here was how I came up with the name I did, the one you all know me by: Mia King.
First, I came up with a list of first names and last names that I liked best. Brevity was a big deal for me for some reason – I was drawn to single syllable names. My favorite was Sara Li (a play off of the brand Sara Lee since we have all those cooking and baking elements in the book), but my agent at the time thought it was a bit to cutesy. So then I came up with Mia, a play off my daughter’s name, Maya. King was one of my top last names, “borrowed” from a girlfriend who’s an actress in L.A. Then I took my favorite top 8 blends and did the numerology.
I did the numerology and instantly threw out the blends that equalled “doormat” or “shrinking violet.” I don’t know numerology, so I did it free online. In the end I settled on a name that wasn’t too intense (“You will rule the world!”) but seemed to be the right nature for me (“You will still be a neurotic mess, but highly creative with success.”). My number associated with my pen name is “1″.
Thinking about writing under a pen name or want to know if your real name sets you up for success? You can check out the numerology by clicking here!
With all due respect to Anna (aka Benjamin), the porn name formula by which I have always sworn is name of first pet + name of the street you grew up on. My name, by the way, would be Mumpsy Avonside. Sexy, huh? Okay, second pet: Fluffy. This works much better. Phew! There’s also a romance novelist name formula I’ve heard of – your middle name + your mother’s maiden name. That would make me Ann Howard – which I think works, although I’d probably make it Anne. Actually, when I used to have running away fantasies as a youngster, I always imagined this as the name I would use to start my other life. Clean slate and all that. For a while, to test it out, I started signing journal entries A.H.
There’s a wonderful traditional Scottish song called “Jenny Nettles” – Jenny is abandoned by her love and hangs herself and is then buried in an unmarked grave. I always thought her name would make a great pseudonym. I can’t really bear being called Jenny (my brother has called me Jenny to torment me all my life, and he’s the only one who can get away with it…) but maybe this would be a way to embrace my “Jenny-ness” which might just be doable when combined with the prickly, wounding Nettles. Ever touched stinging nettles? If you had, you’d remember. It’s a wonderfully nasty plant.
My partner Drea (porn name: Bunky Aztec; romance novelist name: Katherine Taylor) and I once started co-writing an amateur sleuth mystery. I think we spent more time dreaming up the pseudonym than actually writing the book. The name we came up with: Ida Harp. (I notice the meter is very similar to “Mia King”!) We got about halfway through the book. I re-read it recently. It’s actually pretty good. So who knows… maybe one day Ida Harp will be making an appearance in a bookstore near you.
I think it would be interesting to write something under a man’s name – a manly sounding man. Brent. Dirk. Jackson. And for a last name… something solid that screams testosterone: Steel, Burns, Cave … What would Brent Steel write? Surely not the same sort of thing Jennifer McMahon turns out. I imagine something with a noir feel – fast cars, fast women, lots of cigarette smoke. This could be fun. If I ever hit the wall with my own work, maybe I’ll try becoming Brent Steel for awhile.
And on the subject of gender bending … I’ve read that there are a decent number of men writing romance using female pen names. I love this. I wonder if they are “out” about it to their friends?
But you know what? The fact is, at the end of the day, writing is tough work. Some days, I struggle to get even a page done. And damn it, I want credit for what’s on that page, and there’s no pressing reason to use another name. So I don’t think I’ll be opting for a nom de plume anytime soon.
As I write this, my basement is filling up with water. Some sort of tempest swirled up from the bowels of the stratosphere and has, apparently tipped Toronto on its side so driving rain can attack the city from the left. It’s always best to attack from the left.
I should get off the computer. That’s the thunderstorm rule. Maybe so I don’t get hit by e-shrapnel if my computer blows. Or maybe so I don’t lose this document. I don’t know but I’m willing to risk it in the name of discussing pseudonyms. Unintentional pun.
It used to be that you could drink water from the tap, talk on the phone and stand by the window during a good squall. Those days are gone. Now you’re not even supposed to watch TV during a storm, lest Ari Gold blast out of the screen and take out your eye. And you can’t use the down time to shower either. Death by electrocution.
If you’re getting itchy about the pseudonym, hold tight, we’re getting to that.
With all these limitations, one might think a nasty electrical storm might be the perfect time to do leg lifts. Maybe even crunches. But try to find a spot on the floor that’s not near any TV, phone, window or stereo. Just try.
You might try to help your kids with their homework, but they’ve used the power failure as justification to lose themselves in PSPs. In the name of saving their eyes. (Again with the name thing.)
Everyone knows these new weather safety tips are just filler for a 24-hour weather channel. When you have to fill 1440 minutes of air time day after day, with nothing more to talk about than Elm pollen and fog, you have to start making weather sound more dangerous. You need conflict. High stakes. Like in a novel.
You just got excited there. You thought I was getting to the pseudonym thing. You were wrong.
Now we even have a weather feature called “Weather and Your Pet.” If you watch it, you’ll learn not to leave your Pomeranian outside when it’s 20 below. And not to leave your Rottie in a car on a hot summer day. Sadly, there are humans who need to be told this.
On Canada’s Weather Network, the hosts appear translucent. Like ghosts. (Jennifer, did you just sit up taller?) It took my husband a long time to notice the transparency. It wasn’t strange to him that a desk was showing through the anchor’s blazer.
Which brings us to the pseudonym.
You didn’t see the pseudonym coming that time, did you? You started thinking about ghosts and Promise Not to Tell. You got all excited and off track. Now you just want to go read her delicious book and you really don’t care about my pseudonym. I forgive you if you leave now. If I were you, I’d do the same.
But then you’ll never know how I was ever going to connect Ari Gold taking out your eye and shivering Pomeranians and Elm pollen and pen names.
According to Anna’s system, my pseudonym would be Carole Walpole—which sounds like a terrible author name. It sounds more like a cable station weather anchor who cannot figure out why every suit she buys is see-through.
And if I use my second street name, I’d be Carole Highcrest—which still sounds like a terrible author name. It sounds like a woman on a TV commercial who is frowning in the mirror because of the blueberry stains on her teeth.
If I use my third street name, I’d be Carole DeVere, who might have a dog in her purse. Maybe even in her glove compartment. Either way, she doesn’t even read, let alone write.
So you see my problem. If I have to come up with a pen name, I need a new formula. Say…my 97-year-old Icelandic grandmother’s first name and my dog’s name?
Sounds like a gal who knows to attack from the left, don’t you think?