Charlie's Blog

Using Pseudonyms

Saturday, April 15, 2023 11:38 PM

This is a sample blog post

            I've been on a couple of panels about pseudonyms over the years. I use one. Soon I'll have two. So, I thought I'd share why.

            As I've said before, my first publication was in high school, thanks to my English teacher. My first paid publication was in college. I sold several poems to "The Leading Edge: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy" put out through the College of Humanities. I sold a few things after I graduated, all with either my maiden or my married name. Then I got busy with kids and other activities and didn't write or publish much. Occasionally I'd either start something or edit it. I'd take a workshop or attend some writing conferences. I workshopped a couple of short stories and got some positive feedback, but I didn't really follow through. I was busy. And time passed.

            When my kids were older, I finally started to take my writing seriously. But a lot of time had passed. So, I decided I should reinvent myself. My daughter was into writing, too, and she decided she was going to use her first and middle names as her writing persona. She said I should use the same last name so that when we had books published, they'd be  next to each other on a shelf in a bookstore. (Yes, this was before the boom in indie publishing). 

            Because I was "reinventing" myself as a writer, and had a lot more self-confidence than I had back in college, I chose a phoenix as my logo. And so, I became C. H. Lindsay.

            It's been eleven years since my first sale under my new name. At first sales were slow and far-between, but the past couple of years have been better. This year is looking to be the best so far. I haven't published any novels, but I have four in various stages, and I plan to write a sequel to one of them this year, so that will be five. I need to get back into them and do some serious rewriting and editing. I also have two short stories to polish, one to do a final rewrite (I need to fix the beginning), and I'll have four to send out. I have one or two in the first-draft stage. And best of all, I'm excited to write.

            Last year, I binge read cozy mysteries. I read a LOT of cozy mysteries. I even wrote one for NaNoWriMo. And since cozy mysteries are very different from the various flavors of fantasy I usually write, this year I created a second pseudonym. This one has a dragon. Why? Well, I like dragons. And my first cozy mystery is set in a bookshop with dragon images on the walls. So, my new persona is under way. Hopefully I'll have something substantial next year. 

            I know writers who use their own names and do really well. I know writers who did really well in one genre, then changed their author name to reinvent themselves in a new genre. I know authors who have multiple pseudonyms for their various genres. And I know a couple of authors who write a bit of everything under one name. There's no one answer as to whether or not you should have a pen name or pseudonym when you write. There's nothing wrong with using your own name. Me, I'm still an introvert who gets anxious before I have to do a presentation or be on a panel, even though I've been doing it for years. I like hiding my real identity. 

            Okay, I'm REALLY not so good at that as all my writing groups know my real name. I use my real name for the writing organizations I belong to. I just put a pen name on my stories and poems. One level of public separation. One thin wall to hide behind when I fall into a bout of self-deprecation or imposter syndrome. Some days, I really don't think my work is very good. But I love writing. I love creating. I am gratified when others like what I do. 

            And having another name, even if it's not a big secret, is good for me. It gives me the appearance of anonymity. And it lets me pretend, when I'm having a rough day, that I really am a writer. :)