Category Archives: Pen Names

What is in a name?

Hiddey-Ho peeps!  J Monkeys here.  I’m in a bit of a kerfluffle and I’m counting on you good people to help me out.  I imagine that it will come as no surprise to you that J Monkeys is a nom de plume.  It’s a play on my real name, and since I’ve been writing children’s stuff, I thought that the monkey thing would be memorable to my kiddie audience.  

But now, I’m working on a romance for adults and my first thought was to publish (or seek publication) under a different name.  Suze chucked a FABULOUS idea my way (this secret idea may be unveiled at a future date) which has me thinking about writing this new work under the J Monkeys name. But would women buy a romance written by someone with a silly name?

My romance is one of those Fade-to-Black style popular these days.  I’m not writing graphic love scenes…that’s not my forte, and I often skip over them these days when reading.  Hey, I’ve been married more than 10 years.  Love scenes aren’t new…ya know what I’m sayin’?  So the material, while adult, isn’t something that would be a betrayal of my younger audience.  

foreverThen, there’s the Judy Blume controversy.  I’m a huge Judy Blume fan, loved her stuff when I was a kid.  But I think that a lot of parents knew her as a children’s author, so when she wrote Forever and Wifey, these parents assumed that the material was appropriate for their 5th and 6th graders.  In case you never read those, take it from a former 5th grader, the love scenes in Forever were quite graphic, if a bit awkward.  (They were supposed to be awkward…)  Those books were meant for a high school audience, not kids still in elementary school.  But the world has changed in the decades since Ms. Blume’s books came out.  Kids have access to so much more than my generation ever did.  (Thank you Mr. Internet.)  Parents probably know they need to be a bit more involved in evaluating what their kids see, more so today than back in the 80’s.

Today’s question: Here’s my two-fold dilemma: 1-Would you buy a romance by someone with a silly name?   2-Do I have a responsibility to the adults who buy my books, to maintain my kid-friendly persona so that they can buy J Monkeys’ books knowing that they are age appropriate? 

Given all the social media work etc that agents/publisher are looking for before that debut book even comes out these days, maintaining two personas may be more than I can handle.


Dusting off the old manuscripts?

It’s Tuesday again, Scribesters, PJ Sharon here. I’d like to talk today about revisiting those old manuscripts. You know…the ones you’ve got under the bed next to the old Pink Floyd albums, in the closet, or hiding at the back of your hard drive?

Most writers, when they first start putting pen to paper, have no idea how to…well…write. Something compels us to record these crazy stories in our heads. We work our butts off, and are so excited when we write “The End,” that we ignore the fact that our stories have plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon, head hopping that even Nora would cringe at, and stilted dialogue that makes our characters sound like they just came out of a Cracker Jack box. Until we have someone read them for us, and they say kindly—or not so kindly—“you’ve got a lot to learn about the craft of writing.” At least that was my experience.

I actually have four such manuscripts, all of which have point of view problems and more –ing words per page than a do-it-yourself manual. My first novel, a 100,000 word fantasy erotic romance (although a fun tale that taught me a dozen ways to describe the act of sex) will sadly never see the light of day. My second book though, was a paranormal romance called “The Amulet” about a witch and a witch hunter. It was a ton of fun to write and had a lot of promise. After that, I wrote two romantic suspense novels. One of which is complete at 100k and the other which is three quarters finished—all great stories, but none written particularly well.

While revising SAVAGE CINDERELLA, I realized how much I’ve grown as a writer even over the past year. I’m still wiping out those -ing words and anhilating the passive voice issues left and right, but at least I spot the problems and know how to fix them. Now that I’ve learned a thing or two about the craft of writing, what’s to stop me from resurrecting these fabulous tales, revising them, and putting them out there?

As an indie author, I can if I want to (that’s my rebellious inner teen talking again).

For one thing, I’m now branded as a YA author, so switching genres at this point would require a lot of work. Since I don’t want my teen readers picking up my adult books, I’d have to create a whole new persona and brand myself all over again in order to sell my books. This sounds like way too much work to me. I also have to consider the fact that I have lots of YA story ideas and books planned for the next year, so it would seem that my dance card is full…unless…

Well don’t you know,  I’ve seen a bunch of indie authors coming out with novellas and doing quite well crossing genres and selling a ton of these short novels under different pen names. I’ve also seen some authors use these novellas by offering them for free to increase the sales of their other books. It seems to be quite an effective marketing tool.

Hmmm…this has me thinking about all of those fun and interesting manuscripts that I’ve already written. I believe they are salvageable if I cut out all of the unnecessary words and straighten out the craft problems. I might even be able to turn them into YA stories. A major overhaul and I could have three or four novellas to add to my cyber bookshelf. What about a book of short stories?

I’m seriously considering this option and would love to hear what you all think. Great idea, or nightmare waiting to happen? What about you? Do you read novellas? Like short stories? Do you have a novel you could dust off and resurrect? Maybe you could indie publish and see what happens? You’ve really got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Miss Pope Has Left the Building…

Dirty South!

There’s a girl out there with my same exact name, with the same exact spelling. After she friended my on Facebook I learned that we were born months apart, share the same ethnic background, even have a brother with the same name. She too has a blog right here on WordPress.Spooky right!?! At this moment she’s in medical school pursuing a career in the field I thought I was once destined for. I can’t wait for her to finish because very shortly there will be a Dr. Jamie Pope out there saving the world.

Professionally, she is going to need that name. As much as I would like to call dibs on it I can’t. Being a published romance novelist is my dream but it’s not as noble or as hard as being a doctor. There are other Jamie Pope’s out there. Jewelry designer, financial planner, musician, nutritionist, engineer, dentist and former Clemson Tigers football player. This Jamie Pope doesn’t even come up in the search results when you Google her. (How lowering…)

Now’s the right time to take on a pen name. As a teacher that decision was relatively easy for me to make. The hard part is deciding what to rename myself. There are many reasons why people choose pen names. The most popular is to separate their writing from their personal lives. Others do it for safety reasons, stalkers, fraud, etc. Some authors have multiple pen names, each with its own personality to reflect their unique writing style.

There are many authors with normal pen names. I didn’t want something normal, something easily forgettable. I wanted a name that stood out in the crowd and reflected my fun writing style, so I asked a friend for help. His first try was Brown Sugar Bacardi. Which he followed up with a, “Bow Chicka wow wow.”

Okay, I kinda, sorta loved it but knew it was way too over the top. He then suggested dropping the Brown and leaving the Sugar. Sugar. Sugar?

My father’s family is super Southern and spending a little time on Saint Helena Island(Coastal South Carolina. Check it out!) I learned that my family members who reside there don’t have typical names. I have a third or fourth cousin named Sugar, as well as one named Do’ boy(nickname,I hope). My grandmother whose name is Pearl, becomes Sissy and my aunt’s name changes from Diane to Lady. Confusing? Yes.

But I love that odd, almost backward culture of my relatives and as an homage to them I will gladly call myself Sugar. As for a sir name, I had to keep some part of myself in there so we decided on Jamison. Sugar Jamison. Over the top? A little. Uniquely me? You betcha.

As for the title to this post…  I have to give credit to one of my very cute, pain in the rear former students.  Every time he saw me get annoyed he would shout, “Miss Pope has left the building!”  Which was caused everybody to crack up and me to lighten up.  So, thank you to him for giving me a reason to use that phrase.

Your turn! What do think about pen names? Do you have one? Want one? Need one? Know a famous author with many? Have an oddly named family too?  Have you ever been to Saint Helena Island? Any and all comments are welcome.