There are times when having a pen name is a good thing, like when you’re writing novels or….. well….. um…..
Okay, there’s really no other time you should use a pen name. If you’re not noveling, don’t do it. Just use your parents-given Christian name.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
There’s a blog I love to read here on these internets called Reading, Writing, and the War of the Words. I like it because it’s geared towards aspiring writers and dedicated bloggers, with lots of contests, book reviews, and interviews with published authors. In this post, the blogger behind the madness, Genna Sarnak, interviewed Margo Candela, an author with four acclaimed novels to her name. She also included a signed giveaway of Candela’s most recent novel, Good-bye To All That.
I thought the author had some good thoughts on the writing process and publishing, and the book looked interesting, so I entered the contest. I didn’t take it too seriously– blogged about it (because it secured you extra chances to win, and I had nothing to blog about), put in my email, and used a pen name to enter. Skye McKay, after my dear Rodney from SGA. I thought it was pretty funny.
That was a month ago. Last week, I got an email. Subject line? Congrats! You’ve Won! I was, of course, immediately suspicious. Whenever my inbox tells me I’ve won something, it’s either a brand new iPad (just wire the small processing fee to a nondescript account in Malasia), a million dollars (after all, I was the 100,000,000 visitor to a website just created yesterday whose hit counter reads 32), or a trip to Australia (after I send them my email, social security number, address, cell numbers, and mother’s maiden name). But the sender, Genna Sardek, sounded vaguely familiar, plus it hadn’t been wired straight to spam, so I clicked it.
Lo and behold, peasants! The message informed me that I had won a signed copy of Good-bye To All That.
Well, when I say “me”, I mean that I got an email saying Skye McKay had won a personalized signed copy of the book. I wasn’t about to email Genna back saying “…. um….. yeah…. y’see…. could you just kinda let Margo know that Skye McKay doesn’t exist and…. yeah….. kthxbai?”. I mean, what idiot does that? What idiot enters a contest for book signed to their name with a fake name??
This idiot. Right here. Yeah. Go ahead and make your blonde jokes.
Anyway, I responded enthusiastically informing her that I, Skye McKay, would be delighted to recieve such an honor. I gave her my address and settled down to wait.
Last night, I got a package. Hand-addressed from a certain Margo Candela (squee! getting a book straight from the author!), to Skye McKay, with a book-sized lump inside. I tore the package open to inspect the cruel irony of what I had done to myself.
And, really, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Signed “Dear Skye– Happy reading! ~Margo Candela”. It could have been worse, like the humiliation of the last name of a fictional character who I fangirl over, or if I’d used the pen name “Archduke Fluffycheesecake Llamas of Doom”, which I might have done if it was a Friday night with too much chocolate milk.
Anyway, I read the book. The front page was a haunting sign of my idiocy, with the Sharpie message that was as good as a message engraved in stone:
“Next time, THINK, genius.”
Moral of this story? Don’t be an idiot like me. If something like this comes up, don’t use a fake name, even if you’re almost positive you won’t win.
Or, at the very least, leave “fluffy” out of the pseudonym.
But, hey, I got a mention of my blog on her’s, and an adorable “congrats” picture of a kitten- and my family and I got a good laugh out of it!