Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FAQ - Pen Names

Q: Is Vicki Lane a pen name? How did you choose it if it is? And why did you decide to use one?
A: Vicki Lane is the name on my birth certificate. My married (and legal) name is  Vicki Lane Skemp.  When my first book  was nearing publication, I asked my editor what she thought I should use -- Vicki Skemp, Vicki Lane Skemp, V.L. Skemp, etc. -- and she said, "I think you should use Vicki Lane. It puts you in the middle of the bookshelf or book store... "

Actually, I suspect she just thought Skemp is a somewhat clunky name -- as do I.

People have various reasons for choosing a pen name -- some for privacy, to to evoke a certain feeling -- romance writers often have rather exciting names that I suspect are made up -- Yasmyne de la Fuente, Amber Flame, Smolder Trelawney . . .

And sometimes writers who are switching to a different type of  fiction will use a different name so as not to confuse their fans. Abigail Butterworth may write sweetly pretty cozies but when she's writing as Dominique Scarlett, expect the fiction to sizzle.

I'd suggest googling possible names to make sure there's not another someone writing and publishing under whatever name you choose to use. There's a Vicki Lane who writes romances (unpublished so far) and has a pretty active web presence. I don't know if I'd have gone with some other name because of her but had she been already publishing, I might have.
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15 comments:

Desiree said...

Interesting. It would not have occurred to me to query whether your name was real or not. You shared some lovely photographs here!

Joan said...

I find names fascinating. How and why we change them. I would love for us women to have matriarchal names that we hand down to daughters. Always our sirnames are patriarchal. I sometimes feel I would like to invent a name for myself. I remember somewhere in the bible a place where our names are.. well actually .. I don't remember.LOL

Brian Miller said...

i agree with the different reasons...always used my real name and never thought much of another...

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Very interesting about pen names Vicki. Actually, names are very interesting and sometimes confusing.

I go by my married name and my first name (now) is a nickname my husband gave me when we met and it stuck. My name growing up has no resemblance to my present name, making it difficult for old friends to find me.

Good advice about checking your name to see if anyone else uses it.
Sam

Star said...

Interesting! I think we get to associate the person with the name, don'e we. I like your name as Vicki Lane, probably because I'm accustomed to it. Skemp is an unusual name. Does it come from the locality where you live or from a different locality where your husband's family comes from?

barb said...

New subject...I just finished Day of Small Things...and after letting it seep into my soul, I've realized how timely it is to my life. I'm dealing with family matters as well as personal that replicate conflicts between belief systems and their powers. Well, maybe that's my whole life. Thanks for putting this experience/conflict into a loveable character's life.

Vicki Lane said...

Desiree -- Me either -- I always assume that the authors I read or meet are using their real names -- unless it's one of those really improbable ones.

Joan, it was the custom for many years in the American South for the mother's maiden name to be given to a daughter as a middle name of to a son as a first name. Of course that name was from the mother's father...

Brian -- I was pleased, actually, to go back to my birth name -- easy to remember too!


Sam -- I think some of us find or grow into our 'true' names.

Star -- the name Skemp is very uncommon where we live -- just us and our son. It came originally from Flemish weavers who settled in England (so I'm told) and was probably spelled Schempf or something like that. My husband's paternal grandfather (or perhaps great grandfather -- I don't remember) was from England.

Vicki Lane said...

Hello Barb -- Are you one of the Barb's I already know or someone new?

I'm glad that Birdie's story resonated with you at this time. The power of belief systems can be oh so strong -- and it can be used for good or evil. My first book SIGNS IN THE BLOOD had a lot to say of that theme.

Kristen Haskell said...

This is very helpful. My best friend just signed with a publisher to have her first fantasy novel published. She decided to go with her first and middle name initals and her last name. I love that you went with Vicki Lane because it is an easy name to remember and whenever I want to recommend a book to someone I can recall it. I tell people you should read Art's Blood by Vicki Lane.

Bouncin' Barb said...

Hi Vicki...Great pictures as always. Interesting to think about using pen names. Bouncin' Barb? Decisions, decisions!!

Reader Wil said...

Fortunately you can use your own name and maiden name. The sisters Bronte chose at first male christian names, because female writers were not taken seriously and their books were not published. I wonder how
Jane Austin managed to get her books published.

Deanna said...

I think Vicki Lane is the perfect name for an author. How special that you already "owned" it!

dana said...

I assume it is time to start making the rounds of agents again. My manuscript was put on hold until I could sort my life out. If I wait until I'm finished sorting out my life, it would have to be published posthumously.

Vicki Lane said...

Wil -- There are actually some mystery writing women who use initials or a non-gender specific name because of the perception that men will often not read books written by women.

Dana -- The search for an agent can take a long, long time. Hang in there.

Tipper said...

Fascinating things to think about! I Love all your FAQ posts : )