Wednesday, February 5, 2014

IWSG: The Pen Name Game

1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group. Wherein I post about the difficulties and joys of writing.

This might be shocking to my sixteen some-odd readers, but Mencara isn't my real name.Don't worry, I've put some smelling salts next to your chair. Thaaaat's it. Breathe deeply.

My name is actually Christina. After my grandmother died, I took her middle name (Mencara) as my pen name because I've always loved it. Matter of fact, when I got married and changed my name, I almost made my middle name Mencara but I chickened out at the last minute. If I had, I wouldn't be worrying about my pen name now.

In the last few months I've noticed what an enormous pain in the ass it is to have a pen name. I spend a lot of time on Facebook and I tried figuring out how to create a profile for Mencara. What a complete waste of time. You really can't do it, unless you buck FB rules and risk the possibility of being booted by creating a fake profile. You can create a page for your persona but you can't use it to join writer groups like Insecure Writers Support Group. Can't be done.

So I tried using Twitter because it would be much easier to use a pen name there, but frankly, I cannot figure out how to read Twitter conversations. They make no sense to me. Shut up, you damnable whippersnappers. I'm not old. Twitter is just... too young.

Then I began reading about all the nightmares that come along with using pen names. The difficulties getting paid and getting contracts from out of the country, etc. Now that my novel is finally getting somewhere, I'm thinking seriously about my name and my online presence. Based on info from writer blogs and publishers, I'm going to have to use some variation of my real name. It's a bummer but there you have it.

I have several writer friends who are all blessed with interesting, bam-pow names. This is not my reality. I write romantic comedy but I don't have a romantic comedy name. Think about how fitting names like Jenny Crusie and Jane Heller fit the genre of romantic comedy. But I'm Christina Mitchell. It's a name for historical romance writer. A stuffy one. I should write about masked balls and refer to man whores as "rakes". And I should develop a rather keen love of bustles. I mean, everyone likes a good bustle. But I'm not sure I can love them. Ya know?

My first and middle name are nice together. I wondered if they would work. So I Googled the combo and discovered an award winning romance writer, from my state no less, has that name already. I am filled with haterade. I'm not gonna curse her out because one day she might read this. But rest assured when I discovered her name, I lobbed some choice words at my computer screen. I'm sure she's a very nice lady, blah blah blah.

So, I let go of my pen name. I changed my blog address. I changed my header, my sidebar etc. My Google+ profile has been updated and I'm just hoping that I don't lose the few readers I have.

Oh and since it's IWSG, I suppose I should tell you that my book is coming along nicely, though I'm struggling a little with my current chapter. It refuses to be funny or interesting, no matter what I do. I rewrote it, I avoided it, I watched a marathon of Supernatural episodes followed by a marathon of Adventure Time... nothing helped.

Now I'm gonna try chocolate.


  1. I start out writing when you HAD to use a pen name - the publishers insisted on it. I accumulated three before I was finally able to use my own name. What a relief! To tie them together I branded myself (before branding was cool!) as Nancy Gideon: Romance by any other Name. Now I'm under one roof with different wings. Now I don't have to struggle to remember 'who' I am.

    1. I can't even imagine trying to juggle three pen names in the internet age. Three different Twitters, Pinterests, Facebooks, Google + accounts? Just ugh.

      I'm glad you know who you are now :)

  2. I use a pen name too. Mine is for safe-guarding my children's identities because of one of the blogs I have. (Long story). I haven't had too much problem with using a pen name but that's probably because I haven't tried to publish anything. When I do, it'll be self-published anyway.


  3. I have a penname as well as my real name. I decided to keep my penname anonymous and I pan to self-publish under both. I will be looking for an agent (under real name) next year though. If you plan to go traditional your real is a whole lot less stressful. Good luck and thanks for taking part in IWSG.

    ---Greetings from a February IWSG Cohost.

  4. Another chocolate lover. It always works, especially the Pierre Marcolini brand. Enjoy.

  5. I was thinking your parents were quite creative with your name. I have a pen name, but everything else on my profile is 100% me. I don't think you have to or should create a totally new persona. It's hard to maintain and it's not authentic.
    I kind of think of my pen name as my nick name. Some people in the world know me and refer to me by this name, but it's still me.

  6. I've ghosted for a couple of people who use pen names. It tends to work out okay, so long as the world knows in at least vague terms that they are pen names.

  7. I'm having second thoughts about my pen name too, though I've been writing as Carrie-Anne for over 20 years, since I was 13, and feel pretty attached to that identity. My real forename is as common as dirt, to the point that even Mary seems more original these days. And a lot of people mangle my Slovak surname into an Irish or Scottish name, or something else. I do love my middle name Ursula, and there are some cool names in my family tree, like Hartlein, Spirnsk, Vargovich, Sviatko, Neiman, and Coukart.


I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment.