Tag Archives: books

Pen Name VS. Real Name: The Great Writer Debate

Hello writer bees!

So, lately, I’ve noticed a heated debate within the writing community. When you finally publish a story, should you use your real name or a pen name? For aspiring authors, it’s a tough question. Have no fear, I’m here to help!

Today, I’m taking a look at the pros and cons of both sides of the argument, to help you decide what name will be printed on your book cover.

See the source image

Pros of a Pen Name

  • The power on anonymity: Some people find freedom in using a new moniker. And If you are sharing a personal life story, you can keep it private. Your boss and your church friends won’t have any idea.
  • Choose a more ‘writerly’ name: Create a memorable, eye catching name that suits the genre you are writing in. Pen names give you a chance to give yourself the name you’ve always wanted.
  • Dip your toe in multiple genres. Be fluid and experiment in various genres with multiple personas. And if you fail to sell enough books, simply reinvent yourself.

Cons of a Pen Name

  • Difficult Marketing: It’s harder to spread the word on your book under a nom de plume. Keeping your true identity a secret may hurt your book promoting process.
  • Struggle with building an author-reader connection. And it takes some time for the name to gain recognition.
  • Establishing a brand new persona. With a pen name, you may have to balance a double life. That might mean managing multiple social media accounts and writer websites etc.

Authors That Used Pen Names

  • J.K. Rowling (Joanne Rowling)
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Lewis Carrol (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
  • Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel)
  • Stan Lee ( Stanley Martin Lieber)

See the source image

Pros of Using Your Real Name

  • Pride: That’s your name on the cover of the book. Sweet success belongs to you. Some writers dream about seeing their name in a bookstore. It’s a major accomplishment.
  • Easier to promote your work with your real name. Friends, family members, neighbors etc. will know it’s you. And you can do more local promos as well.
  • One name, one identity. No need to manage multiple social media accounts or author websites. Also, forget the hassle or confusion of a fake moniker. Readers and business associates know how to address you.

Cons of Using Your Real Name

  • Your name may sound similar to another famous name. That might cause confusion to readers.
  • You may have a forgettable or fairly common name. (Shout out to the John Smiths of the world.)
  • You are writing within a genre where books written by the opposite gender sell better. Unfortunately, sexism against authors is real.

Would you use a pen name or your real name when you publish a book? And what’s your take on nom de plumes? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

What’s in a Name?: Tips on Naming Characters

Hello hello writer bugs!

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, naming a character is like naming a child.

Whether it’s for a main character or a background character, the names you choose should be significant. Names can tie characters to the setting, to their roots, or just hold a greater symbolic meaning. How do you find the perfect name for a character? I’ve got some tips that are sure to help.

Baby Naming Websites

Baby naming websites for mommies-to-be are actually really helpful. Check out the extensive lists and dredge up some ideas for names. If you are looking for a name that begins with a certain letter or a specific cultural origin, you’ll be able to search names that fit your criteria.

A Name with Meaning

Sometimes, names have a deeper root meaning. And those meanings can fit into a character’s personality. You’d be surprised what some names translate into. Not every reader is going to make those connections, however, you, as the author, will know. A meaningful name may influence a character’s identity.

For my MC, his first name is Graham, which means ‘grey home’. That image really connects with his gloomy and mysterious personality.

Historical Context 

If your story takes place in another time period, keep in mind the historical context. Names that are common today may not have been 100 years ago. Find out what names were common at the time. If you Google something like ‘names from 1920s’, a list of popular names from the 1920s will probably pop up.

Also, check the Social Security Administration website for ranked list of common names of the decade. It’s pretty useful, and it’ll give you a feel for the time period and what inspired names during that era.

Sound it Out

When in doubt, sound it out. Say the name out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, or its difficult to pronounce, or just sounds like a mouthful, then something’s off. Keep trying. Once you’ve found a name that suits your character, it should just click. Like, “huh, that one sounds right.”

Consider the Entire Cast

Try not to have characters’ names sound similar, or readers may be confused. Think about your fictional crew as a whole and note if names sound too alike. By differentiating characters, readers will have an easier time following the story and connecting with individual characters.

One time, in fiction writing class, a classmate had two characters named Flip and Clip. Unironically. Don’t have a Flip and Clip in your story. I’m still confused about it.


How do you go about naming your characters? Lemme know in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Become a Patron! // Writing Services // Follow Me on Twitter

Main Character Name Reveal (And Staying Positive)

Hello Writer Bugs!

It was been a rough week for me. Job hunting is difficult. Rejection is disheartening. I’m working on staying positive and strong, and learning how to keep my head above water in tough times. Shout out to my amazing boyfriend for keeping me afloat when I was drowning. I don’t know where I’d be without his unwavering love and support.

On the plus side, I think my main character for my WIP finally has a new name. For those of you who have been following my journey as a fiction writer, you’ll know that I’ve been wanting to change the name of my main character, after 5 years. Since this is a small milestone for me, and a brighter point in my week, I thought I’d share with you guys.

Drumroll please, writer bees! My detective’s new name is…

Graham Ward Barnaby or Private Detective G.W. Barnaby

This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but to me, this is a well needed change. Personally, I put a lot of thought into character names. They have to look and sound like a given name found in the real world (in the right time period). Now, his name is still subject to change but for now, I think this name suits him well (both as a full name and as initials). I’m happy with the next chapter in my beloved character’s evolution. And who knows? You might see Detective Barnaby is another project of mine. Wink wink.

Thank you guys for always being so sweet and supportive of this little ol’ blog. It means more to me than words can express. You writer bugs keep me going, and keep me writing.

What do you think of his new name? Have you ever made a major change to your main character? Talk to me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

4 Story Clichés to Avoid At All Costs

Hey Writer Bees!

Hope life is treating you better than usual.

Today, we are talking about clichés. Those overused and utterly boring plot devices that drag a story down into the abyss of unoriginality. Here are four clichés to avoid so your story can shine in all it’s original and spectacular glory.

Describing Self in Mirror

See the source image

I confess, I’m guilty of this one. It’s tricky to describe what a first person narrator looks like. But it is unrealistic. How many times have you looked at your reflection and described yourself to yourself? Unless your narrator is incredibly self indulgent and narcissistic, talking about one’s reflection is a cheap trick. And some find it a bit lazy.

Instead, leave it up to the reader’s imagination. Let them create an image of the character themselves. Or, have another character make a comment about one’s appearance. This will throw subtle hints to the reader about what the narrator looks like. Maybe something like, “Wow, your hair has grown so long!” or “You look just like your father.”

You know what I mean? You know what I mean.

All Hail, The Chosen One

Image result for chosen one character

Yeah, that’s right, I’m calling out characters like Harry Potter and Frodo and (I’m so sorry) King Arthur. Fight me. Many fantasy stories have this idea of the Chosen One, the guy who is destined to save the world, defeat the big baddie, find or destroy the magical item. The fates have decided that this is THE guy to do all that. And he happens to still be in high school or college.

Truthfully? No divine intervention required. Your hero does not need to be chosen by destiny to be special. Heroes aren’t born, they’re created. Just because they were “chosen”, does not make them heroic in nature. It just forces a character into a role. Make your character a hero worth rooting for. Give them the motivation behind their good deeds and give their true purpose to defeat evil wherever it lurks.

What a Knockout

Image result for anime  fainting

Did a character suddenly fall unconscious? And they wake up in another location? That’s a weak transition. And if that were to happen in real life, you’d need to rush to the hospital, not the next scene. Having a character faint just to move to another location quickly is overly dramatic and far too convenient. There are ways to ease into a new setting and make for a more graceful transition. Try and figure out how to move the plot along some other way.

Bad Parents Make Bad People

Big cliché alert. Antagonist who are products of horrible childhoods. It’s touch to justify a jerk of a character and his or hers bad behavior. And things like abuse or cruel parents make the evil character easy to forgive. No, I’m not trying to belittle someone’s tragic backstory. And yes, these things do happen in real life. However, I’m just saying , It can’t be that simple to explain away their flaws and their poor choice.

The only way to combat this tired cliché is to really focus on characterization. Give him or her a better reason to be a jerk than their bad parents. And keep in mind, not every antagonist comes from a broken home. Think about the jerks that come from perfectly lovely families. Now that’s scary.

Only You Can Tell Your Story

While some clichés are tough to avoid, let your story speak for itself. Don’t copy parts from other books or movies. Pick those boring clichés out with a tweezer and let your originality stand on it’s own. Turn stereotypes on it’s head and leave dull plot lines in the dust.

What’s one cliché in writing you can’t stand? Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to check out the tip jar.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Work In Progress Tag

Hello everyone!

Now that we are in 2019, I have a couple new year’s resolutions. One of them is to work on my WIP, my novel. So what better tag to start off the new year with than the W.I.P tag? Found this on The Shameful Narcissist‘s blog. Hope you guys enjoy.

And psst! No judging my work in progress. It’s still in progress.

1. What is the working title of your book?

The title, drumroll please, is The Case of the Drowned Mermaid. Add the bright lights and the confetti. And as of now, I’m pretty sure that will be the title of the finished product. I wanted the title to be reminiscent of classic murder mysteries, like ‘The Murder in the Rue Morgue.” Also, in the story, it’s the name the narrator dubs the case him and the Detective are investigating.

2. Where did the idea come from?

I’ve had the idea for my detective for about 5 years. When I entered college, I had an interest in mysteries and began reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. And then, I asked myself, “If I created a detective and sidekick, what would they be like?” Soon after, the detective and his partner were born. Sometimes, characters and ideas are born by asking yourself “what if?”

The idea for the actual murder in the murder mystery is a whole other story. This wasn’t going to be a simple point-and-shoot kind of mystery, those aren’t my Detective’s cup of tea. The more peculiar cases are more interesting, right? Next to my love of mysteries, there is an equal love of fantasy stories. I love fairytales and magic and “the strange and unusual”. I did a lot of research on the 1920s and freak shows at the time. And being a New Yorker, I’m a train ride away from Coney Island. A vague story line, centered around a dead sideshow performer, seemed to just fall into place. 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery/Detective fiction would be my WIP’s genre. I wanted it to be a twist on a classic murder mystery. My detective isn’t like typical detectives, nor is his partner like Watson. My mystery solving duo is complex, have flaws, and stray away from tradition.

Also, there’s a bit of romance, humor and historical fiction thrown into the pot too.

Image result for detective gif

 

4. Which actors would play your characters in the movie adaptation?

Wow, hard to imagine my rough first draft as a full fledged movie. But sure, I’ll play along. I have two main characters and a list of suspects. This is a murder mystery after all. I’m just going to focus on those two. So, Detective H.B. Cooper is a long-in-the-tooth private detective, from Great Britain. Perceptive and irritable, he has a gifted memory and a crippled leg.  Now, I’m not sure who would play him in a movie. Maybe a bearded Ian McKellan?

Image result for ian mckellen

On the other hand, I know exactly who would play the detective’s assistant, Oscar Fitzgerald. Andrew Garfield would be perfect. I always imagine Oscar with that cocky, playful smirk. He’s a young man, living it up in the 1920s. Sarcastic and cheeky, he looks after Mr. Cooper, in more ways than more. I like to think they make a pretty good team. Image result for andrew garfield gif

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

How to condense my life’s work into one sentence. Hmm…

When a sideshow mermaid is found floating belly up, Detective H.B. Cooper and his associate, Oscar Fitzgerald, unravel a mystery surrounding her untimely death.

Peek your interest? Man, I hope so.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

That’s a complicated answer. See, I was working on one mystery, with the same cast of characters. Then, I basically started over. I changed the murder in my murder mystery. After I scraped a lot of written material, a new plot rose from the ashes.

My first draft, of about 20,000 words, was finished around Christmas. It took a decent couple of months. Participating in National Novel Writing Month really pushed me to write. Slowly, but surely, this little draft will grow into something bigger and better. So, short answer, a good six months, at least.

8. What other books will you compare your book to?

I feel as though my humble draft is unworthy and cannot be compared to published masterpieces. If I had to compare, It’d have to be a Hercule Poirot book.

Image result for poirot gif littler grey cells

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

With a genuine interest in mysteries, I took a Detective Fiction class in Hunter college. There, I read all the greats, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, and Raymond Chandler. Those authors really inspired me to write a story like this.

10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

Lots of things, hopefully. Call me a perfectionist, but I hold myself to an unreachably high standard. And if I ever do achieve my goal, I want it to be real page turner.

  • A Death at a Coney Island Sideshow
  • The 1920s at it’s Best, and Worst
  • An Unlikely Partnership
  • A Detective with Golden Eyes and an Extraordinary Memory
  • Suspicious Suspects
  • The Anti Femme Fatale
  • Sarcasm and Humor mixed with Mystery
  • The Biggest Plot Twist Surprise Ending EVER 



And there you have it. Let me know what you think of my novel idea. Be kind, all things start from somewhere. If you’ve got a Work In Progress, proudly show it off in the comments, I’d love to know what you guys are working on.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

 

Words for Writers Wednesday: Read Everything

For you, as a writer,

to achieve great heights,

you need a solid foundation.

Every writer should read everything.

The good stuff. The bad stuff.

The classics. The new releases.

Every genre, every style, every kind of voice.

Read it all.

And once you have that solid foundation

that foundation of stories will become a launch pad

for the stories you will write.


I have this pet peeve of people who stick to only one genre. Yes, of course, you can love a specific genre or writing style. I love stories of fantasy and mystery. But there’s so much more out there. Don’t be afraid to read outside of your usual once in a while. And you never know what will inspire you.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky