Category: pen names

Facebook Real Name Policy; Neil Patrick Harris Empowered; Michael Sam and Fiance

Facebook Real Name Policy

Mark Zuckerberg is defending the “real names” policy on facebook and claiming that it doesn’t have an impact on trans people. At least I think that’s what he saying. You never really do know in this case. There’s nothing clear at all about this entire topic.

The trans community has reacted with disbelief, with many accusing Zuckerberg of lying.

In a public Q&A on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg suggested Facebook’s policy had been misinterpreted in some cases. Claiming that the aim was to increase security for marginalized communities and make it easier for individuals to connect with friends, he said: ‘There is some confusion about what our policy actually is.

‘Real name does not mean your legal name. Your real name is whatever you go by and what your friends call you. If your friends all call you by a nickname and you want to use that name on Facebook, you should be able to do that.

I think Zuckerberg basically comes from the same world I do. A world where people don’t hide who they are…unless they have something to hide. When my mom was dying of pancreatic cancer last year I joined a private facebook group that was inclusive to people who either have had Whipple surgery, were going to have Whipple surgery, or to the caregivers with friends and relatives dealing with Whipple surgery. It was an extremely helpful group for me as a caregiver, and refreshing to know everyone in the group used their real names.

There is a great deal of abuse on Facebook regarding names. There’s this one guy who is known for abusive political hate speech and I’ve blocked him several times, only to have him show up again with another fake name, only to block him again. And while that does make it unfortunate for the people who don’t use real names for valid reasons, I’m not sure there’s a simple way to deal with this issue of online anonymity and how online anonymity is often abused. I’m not against anyone using a fake name with good intentions. And I’m not talking about authors using pen names right now. It’s just hard to figure out a person’s intentions.

And don’t forget about THAT blogger who duped her entire readership, and private group members, for years by using a fake identity all over social media. 

You can read more here.

And please don’t read between the lines here. I’m not singling anyone out for using a fake name or a pen name. I’m just saying that it’s an issue on all social media and like everything else it depends on how it’s done. 

Side note: If you are dealing with anything Whipple surgery or pancreatic cancer related I highly suggest you check out Facebook’s “Whipple Warriors” private group.

Neil Patrick Harris Empowered

Neil Patrick Harris has definitely broken the proverbial glass ceiling for gay male actors and he knows it. He claims that most of his parts have been straight in spite of his being openly gay, and that the way society has shifted has empowered him professionally. I think this is huge for gay authors, too.
With the exception of his role as a transgender punk rocker in Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harris continues to play heterosexual roles while being in a high-profile marriage to actor David Burtka and raising their twins Gideon and Harper.

‘That’s been empowering to others, and certainly to me, that I can tweet pictures of my husband and my kids,’ he says. ‘I can make out with David at the Tonys. And I can still play opposite Rosamund Pike in a movie, and have sex with her, and people aren’t conflicted.

‘I think it speaks to society’s shift in what they deem important.’

Again, this is huge for all gay people. I hope it continues, especially for authors. I’ve noticed several gay male authors moving into mainstream romance genres and completely backing away from m/m romance. There’s no law that states just because you’re gay means you can only write gay fiction.

Michael Sam and Fiance

This article questions whether or not Michael Sam is still with his fiance. It’s pure clickbait, and it’s trashy journalism at best. But I’m curious about all things in the world and I can’t imagine anyone breaking up with Michael Sam.

The pair, who began dating in 2011 while the pair were studying at the University of Missouri, has reportedly deleted all of his Instagram photos of the pair.

This includes the one of them getting engaged atop St Petersburg Basilica in the Vatican City back in January, according to TMZ.

Cammisano also posted a vlog last week on YouTube, where he was seen not wearing his engagement ring.

The rest is here. Not much to go on, and neither Sam nor the fiance were available to comment.You get it. Speculation for clickbait.

Loving Daylight


A PG rated Mainstream Romance


How Do You Feel About M/M Authors Using Different Names in M/M?

How Do You Feel About M/M Authors Using Different Names in M/M?

It’s been a longtime standard that when a writer ventures away from his or her own genre he/she often takes on a pen name. It’s done for many reasons, two of which are to keep established readers from getting confused and to introduce new readers to an author’s work without bias. In other words, JK Rowling recently used a pen name for a book she wrote in a different genre because she’s so well known for the Harry Potter series. However, when that pen name was disclosed there were quite a few mixed reactions.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve written several books with pen names because I was venturing outside of my genre. One was titled “Loving Daylight,” a hetero pg-rated romance that was part of a Home Shopping Network collection where I was paid a flat fee up front. I never promoted the book much because of the fact that I made the flat fee and I wasn’t counting on sales, and it’s still up on Amazon lingering in the middle of nowhere. Oddly, it’s one of my own favorite books that I’ve written. And, one of the few where I actually own a print copy.

I also wrote two gay erotic romance mystery/suspense novels, here and here, and used a pen name for that, too…Dale Bishop. In this case, because they were gay themed books, even though they were mystery/suspense I felt very uncomfortable using the pen name because I write so much in the gay romance genre, and gay erotica genre. It felt sneaky and shady and sleazy to take on a whole new persona and go out there and actively promote these books on social media as Dale Bishop. So at the time I wound up not promoting those books at all and they have also been lingering in Amazon nowhere land for a long time. And, once again, I loved writing these books and I think they were some of the sexiest pieces I’ve ever done.

What prompted me to write this post was a link I found where a few established m/m romance authors were speaking in a video for a few minutes. It wasn’t anything long, but it was long enough to make me wonder when they clearly and proudly introduced themselves, on camera, as completely different people. I had to go back and watch again to be certain I hadn’t missed anything. And when I saw that I was, indeed, correct I did a quick search to see if I could find an explanation. Evidently, these established m/m authors are now writing YA m/m. I guess that’s considered a different genre in m/m. I’m not that familiar with m/m to really know.

I just thought it was interesting to see authors go on camera and actually introduce himself and herself as completely different people than what we’ve always known them to be. I can’t even describe it well in this post because I’ve never seen it done before. JK Rowling didn’t do that with her pen name. She worked hard to keep it a secret until someone with a huge mouth outed her. She actually filed suit and won…the money went to charity. But more important, she really was reaching out to a new audience in a completely different genre, not a related genre or sub-genre of Harry Potter.

Rowling sued Chris Gossage, a partner at her former law firm, Russells, and his friend, Judith Callegari. Gossage had revealed to Callegari that Rowling was the real author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith. Callegari then passed the information on to a Sunday Times columnist via Twitter, leading the newspaper to investigate, and eventually confirm and publish, Rowling’s true identity.

Rowling made a gracious statement about it.

“I always knew that if and when I was discovered I would ask for my royalties to be paid to ABF The Soldier’s Charity,” Rowling said in a statement. “This is partly as a thank you to the people who helped with research, but also because researching and writing the character of [detective Cormoran] Strike has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for serving soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed.”

I have seen authors who use pen names introduce themselves with their known identity and then explain they are writing with a pen name for various reasons. And those reasons are usually valid, just like Rowling’s reasons. I’ve seen it in bios and I’ve seen it in articles about the writer, but always with an explanation. I just never saw it done on camera, and without an explanation, and it took me by surprise. I think I even blinked a few times. And now I’m wondering how readers feel about this. I’m guessing it’s okay? If I were to go on camera (or use a photo with my image) and introduce myself as Dale Bishop without an explanation you guys wouldn’t mind?

But I’m still debating on whether or not to change my bio and add the pen names. At the time, I felt like I was doing something underhanded by writing as Dale Bishop with the Manhandled series because it was gay themed, and yet at the same time mystery/suspense. I guess I was just being too careful? Notice the questions marks I keep using. I’m still not sure yet. And I’d really love to know what readers think. Feel free to e-mail me in private… 

Ryan Field Books Smashwords; Bloggers and Pen Names

Ryan Field Books Smashwords

I’ve had books published with publishers up on Smashwords for a long time. Here’s link to that page.

But we recently uploaded all my indie books, which include backlist titles I’ve been publishing alone since June on Smashwords and other web sites, and I wanted to mention that link, too, because I’ve had a few e-mails from readers about it.

I honestly don’t know how this works, but for people looking for books I think it’s a good thing to know that with authors like me you won’t find the same results with just one search. In other words, my books with publishers are not grouped with books I’ve indie pubbed with Ryan Field Press. So if you’re looking for other authors and for a specific book and you don’t find it in one search, try another and be more specific (book title and author). There are a lot of imperfections still with online booksellers, and if you don’t know these things you’re going to get confused (me).

In any event, here’s the link to my recently uploaded indies on Smashwords. All are .99 e-books. I think there are thirty-eight right now.

Side note: You can also find me here at Barnes & Noble. If you notice all my books on B&N, both indie and those released with publishers, are grouped together in one place.

Bloggers and Pen Names

First, this is only about bloggers, not about fiction writers or authors who have blogs that only deal with their fiction. I want to make that clear, because the most popular bloggers don’t write fiction. They focus on news, pop culture, opinion, and other non-fic related topics, which include book reviews. So again, this isn’t for fiction writer who have blogs or use pen names to write fiction.

If you search the web for articles about pen names and bloggers you’ll find many varying opinions on the topic, and there doesn’t seem to be a set rule. Mostly I found that those bloggers who use pen names defend pen names, naturally. Those who don’t use pen names, don’t trust bloggers who use pen names. If you search for journalists and pen names you’ll also find a few different opinions. However, none of the opinions I found that are pro pen names for bloggers and journalists make a significant argument…at least not enough to sway my opinion about those who blog about real things with fake names and identities. And I found a post that sums up the way I feel about blogging news with a pen name.

I think this article sums it up well, and makes a few valid points about honesty and integrity when blogging. I’ve always believed that if you’re a journalist or a serious blogger writing non-fiction oriented news or even reviews and opinion pieces you should be able to stand behind your own name, and be proud to do it. I realize there are some cases where the rules can be broken, but not in most cases. This excerpt below from the article is the best I’ve seen so far, and why I decided to use my real identity a long time ago. I have no regrets.

It keeps me honestThe Internets (word to George “Dubya” Bush) are a safe haven for anonymous and over the top speech — and by anonymous and over the top I mean ratchet and uncouth verbage slung by those who would never say such things in real life. The allure of going all in on somebody is decreased when you affix your real name to the end of a tweet, blog or article. I’ve gone hard on people before, but I have no problem standing behind what I say (and such was the case when I got blasted over my UFC rankings on a popular MMA website, which has left my Google search in shambles).

J.K. Rowling and Full Blog Disclosure; Fifty Gay Things

J.K. Rowling and Full Blog Disclosure

There has been a great deal written this week about J.K. Rowling’s pen name, Robert Galbraith, and I read a piece last night that made me think about all authors and bloggers when it comes to full disclosure. Of course in Rowling’s case it’s a little different because she’s so famous for the Harry Potter series, however, authors using pen names isn’t something new and it’s usually accepted when authors cross genres. But what about popular bloggers? Does the same standard of full disclosure hold true for popular bloggers as well? Especially if the blogger holds everyone else to the standard of full disclosure.

In this Huff Po piece about Rowling’s situation, it seems her pen name was revealed completely by accident, through the friend of the wife of an attorney. It wasn’t a publicity stunt and Rowling didn’t want the name revealed.

The newspaper said it had received a tip-off on Twitter, and there was speculation that Rowling or her publisher were behind the revelation – which has sent sales of the thriller skyrocketing.

But law firm Russells said Thursday that one of its partners, Chris Gossage, had let the information slip to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari – the woman behind the tweet. Her Twitter account has now been deleted.

So basically someone had a big mouth and couldn’t keep it shut. The piece goes into a few more details, and then mentions this comment from Rowling:

“To say that I am disappointed is an understatement,” she added. “I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”

I don’t know a single author out there who wouldn’t feel the same way.

But let’s face it, we’re living in a world now where there are very few secrets left, and privacy becomes harder to maintain each passing day. And I’m not talking about author pen names now. When it comes to popular bloggers and full disclosure, I think they should be held to a higher standard, especially those who blog about the real things that happen, not just for fun. Although these popular bloggers are not considered journalists, I think they have the same responsibility to their readership as anyone else out there publishing content that deals with the same ethics by which most journalists abide. I hold myself to these same standards as a blogger, and I use this small blog to disclose information about my books many times. And I believe I have an ethical responsibility to the people who read this blog to disclose honest information here on the blog.

Last night after I read the piece on Rowling, I went to a popular blog that’s gained a large readership in publishing. Some might even call it quasi journalism. I found a contest there, which looked interesting, and I read the details. And there was one line in the post that made me wonder. The blogger mentioned that the PR firm of an author had asked if the blogger would do a promotional contest in order to actually promote a new project for the author. Names don’t matter right now. I’m not Edward Snowden and I don’t want to be. The author has a very high profile and doesn’t write in any of the genres in which I write. And no, it’s not someone in m/m romance or anything even LGBT related. This is a mainstream commercial author who writes more chick lit type romance novels that I find dry, dull, lacking in emotion and sex, and highly mundane.

In any event, the popular blogger mentioned this information about the PR firm offhandedly, as if the PR firm had contacted the blogger at random; just for fun and games (haha-haha). And I know for a fact that that’s not full disclosure. I know the blogger is closely associated with the PR firm that represents the famous chick lit author, and even closer to another highly profiled blogger who actually works with the PR firm and many other famous authors. There’s a great deal of money involved here now, not just blogging for fun. It’s not illegal to do this, but how ethical is it?

In other words, if readers actually knew that the blogger was this close to the PR firm, and that the blogger and the PR firm are working behind the scenes in private to put together a promotional event for the famous author, would readers be that interested in supporting something like that? Especially if this particular blogger who is holding the event is one of the biggest supporters of FULL DISCLOSURE on the Internet today. This happens to be a blogger who has accused many people of more than a few things. And when you do that I would like to think your own background is spotlessly clean. But more important, it makes me wonder what else the blogger in question is hiding…what’s not being disclosed.

I had a contest here that was associated with a blog hop on the 4th of July, and I disclosed everything possible. I would stand in a courtroom, put my hand on a bible, and swear to this. I did not have any hidden relationship with the online publication that sponsored the blog event, and I would disclose all my former e-mails with that publication if I had to and I would have nothing to worry about. And I’m only a small blogger with an average of 5,000 hits a week.

I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about author blogs that focus on fiction, or humorous blogs that deal with parody and sarcasm. Those blogs are all fun and they aren’t hurting anyone. I love reading them myself and I don’t expect them to be perfect. But the case I’m talking about with the popular blogger who pretends journalism but failed to mention the part about being closely associated to the PR firm makes me wonder. This blogger is the first to report anyone else’s wrong-doings, this blogger has called out other bloggers over the years for lack of ethics, and this blogger has even gone to the point of terrorizing small bloggers for doing far less. And I don’t think there should be that kind of double standard in blogging when it comes to facts or anything that’s not just opinion. And if a small blogger like me is expected to practice full disclosure, so should the large blogger.

It’s that age old cliche about those who live in glass houses. And when popular bloggers don’t disclose all the facts they are doing a disservice to their readers.

Fifty Gay Things

I often use Urban Dictionary as a source for personal information I don’t know. I find it highly entertaining, and sometimes I just do searches for things I might find interesting. This next link made me smile because of the tone in which it was written. It looks as if someone posted fifty gay facts, someone got pissed at the fifty gay facts, and then wrote his/her own gay facts.

It’s not even fifty gay facts. It’s only ten, but I like them all, especially the last two:

9. Gay women were not put on earth for straight men’s amusement, that “lesbian” porno situation will never happen to you.

10. Not all gays fit the stereotype. There could be one right next to you right now and you’d never notice. You might be best friends with one or related to one and you’d never notice. Ha ha.

I actually think that both of these facts go together. The gay community is highly diverse and you really don’t know for certain whether or not the person next to you is gay. There are so many gay and bi people who are not out it’s impossible to know for sure. There could be a reason for this. Unfortunately, there seems to be this unchallenged movement going on where the most obvious gay people are providing amusement for the mainstream in ways no other minority would stand for. And those who aren’t as obvious don’t want to deal with that brand of discrimination so they remain in the closet. I get e-mails from them all the time, and they all say the same thing.

J.K. Rowling Reveals Secret Pen Name; Indiana Gay Marriage Myths

J.K. Rowling Reveals Secret Pen Name

This morning I read that J.K. Rowling’s secret pen name, Robert Galbraith, was revealed. Rowling, AKA Robert Galbraith, wrote a mystery crime novel titled, The Cuckoo’s Calling.

In top-secret fashion, she published “The Cuckoo’s Calling” under the name Robert Galbraith. Her publisher, Mulholland Books — an imprint of Little, Brown and Company — described the author as a former member of the Special Investigative Branch of the Royal Military Police.

“He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry,” the publisher’s website said. “The idea for (protagonist) Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.”
The Sunday Times, curious about who this mystery novelist really was, connected the dots — noting that “he” used an agent, editor and publisher who had worked with Rowling.
Well. I think I hear the call of the wild on Amazon and Goodreads.  
And then, I read this article that talks about a review for The Cuckoo’s Calling that came out a week before the pen name name was revealed. Someone was on the ball.
An oddly prescient review of THE CUCKOO’S CALLING from July 7 — almost a full week before J.K. Rowling was revealed as the author behind the pseudonym.
Rowling made this comment, here.
“It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.”
For those who aren’t familiar with authors using pen names, this isn’t something new. Any author who has been branded to death in one particular genre and wants to break into another, or associated with one particular style, knows the only way to do that is by taking on a pen name. If you don’t believe me just look at the reviews for Rowling’s novel, The Casual Vacancy, which I loved but many reviewed poorly. And I think that had a great deal to do with Rowling using her own name and being associated with Harry Potter.
I admire Rowling for taking the chance, and I also admire her for writing in another genre. Many authors with her kind of fame would have continued doing what they became famous for and wouldn’t have tried to reinvent themselves…most don’t have the capacity with which to do that…or the talent. And to be honest, I usually wait to see what authors like Rowling or E.L. James do after they have the big books. In this case, it tells me that Rowling is a true career writer and she’s not just in this for the money or the fame. And if I had to guess, I would imagine she would have preferred to keep the pen name a secret.
In any event, I think I’m going to check the book out now. I’ve been looking for something different to read, in a different genre, and this just might be the thing. I think what she did is inspiring.
Thank you, Robert Galbraith, for giving me something good to read this summer.  
Indiana Gay Marriage Myths
This past weekend I was watching something I’d recorded on DVR and I noticed a message come across the screen that said something about gay marriage and Indiana. I jumped back thirty seconds and re-read it. Basically it was an announcement about a new law that states if someone even files for a marriage license in Indiana they can be arrested.
I don’t know about most people, but when I see something that doesn’t make sense I look it up. And that didn’t make sense to me, and this is what I found:

The laws make it a felony for a same-sex couple even to apply for a marriage license and a misdemeanor for a clergy member to solemnize such a marriage.

But while several blogs portray those crimes as new laws passed this year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, they’ve been on the books for more than a decade.

They date back at least to 1997, when the state’s marriage laws were recodified by the legislature. And they may have been on the books much longer, since they don’t specifically address same-sex marriage. Instead, they generally address perjury on a marriage license application and attempts to perform marriages not allowed by law.

I think that’s a good example of how much bad information there is going around about gay marriage (and dumb blogging). I know some zealots that would go berserk over that statement I saw in TV without even bothering to look it up. When in reality, the laws don’t even target same-sex marriage, and that’s most likely due to the fact that when the laws were written no one even thought same-sex marriage was an option.

There is a lot of other misguided information floating around with the recent SCOTUS ruling, so take what you see with that proverbial grain of salt and double check it before you start posting about it. I’m still trying to find out if same sex couples who live in states were same-sex marriage is NOT legal can marry in states where it is legal and benefit from not paying federal inheritance taxes. So far, I’ve had discussions with more friends about this than I can count and half say yes and half say no. So I’m not posting anything on that topic until I know for certain. If anyone has any links about this, please e-mail me.


Hidden Gaycism; On Pen Names; Elizabeth Glaser AIDS Foundation

The only link I have to this part of the post on “Gaycism” is what I found over at Urban Dictionary, right here. And this mostly because I’m not even sure if what I’m about to discuss exists. This is partly because gay men are still so closeted many things still are not discussed, or taken seriously.

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I was corresponding with a gay male reader who is Amish the other day and I mentioned to him that my partner, Tony, wasn’t completely out of the closet until about five years ago. Tony worked in corporate America where being openly gay is still something that’s very well-hidden. I know gay men in publishing who are still partially in the closet, too. In fact, Tony and I were together for fifteen years, living as a “married” couple, before I actually met anyone in his family. I never pushed him into doing anything he wasn’t ready to do. So I understand the need to remain in the closet as well as any other gay man out there today. I also respect this and would never push anyone to come out until they are ready. In the same respect, I often wonder about how nice it would be if all gay men who are in the closet would come out and support each other. I think things would be very different. They wouldn’t fuck around with us as much.

I personally never had a huge coming out day like you see on TV or read in books. I just knew I was gay from day one and never denied it to anyone. In other words, this is me, like it or not, kiss my proverbial ass. I have a very successful gay brother in New York who did the same thing. I also have a nephew in medical school in Iowa who had a more dramatic coming out because he felt the need to do that. He had to actually say it aloud in words, to his mom and dad, otherwise he claimed he felt as if he would explode. I get that, too. We’re all different and no one can define the best way to come out to anyone.

In any event, I correspond with a lot of people over the course of a week. Some are readers, some are other authors, gay and straight. But the one thing I’ve found interesting recently is that so many of the gay men I talk with claim they are seeing a new brand of “gaycism” in publishing and I’m not even sure I understand it. Just to be clear, I have always supported women who write m/m romance and I’ve promoted them here on my blog and even gone to extra lengths to make sure that’s known. One of my favorite all time gay novels is “The Front Runner,” by Patricia Nell Warren, a women who started writing gay fiction back in the 1970’s and doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves. I even have a call out for submissions right now for an anthology I’m doing about the women who love gay romance because I know how many women love to read about gay romance. I’ve always believed that if you write well that’s all that matters. And I have respect for anyone who does that.

The form of gaycism I’m talking about right now is subtle. It’s not the brand of gaycism Anita Bryant practiced…even though she was honest about her feelings. The kind of gaycism I’m talking about is hidden and not really discussed anywhere. And from what I gather, if it does exist at all, it’s based more on exploitation and money than actual social discrimination and honesty. I know that in order to sell anything there’s always a certain amount of exploitation. You can’t avoid it. But there are some gay men who feel as if they are not even welcome in certain circles where women who write m/m romance gather, talk, and promote themselves. A good many feel completely ignored…invisible…as if there’s this huge gay male party going on and only a handful of carefully selected gay men were invited to attend. It’s hard to elaborate on this, other than to say that there are gay men in publishing who tell me they don’t even bother going to certain places online anymore because they know they are not welcome. And never will be welcome.

I’m usually too busy to notice a lot of these things, so I can’t comment on them personally at this point. And I haven’t actually felt this myself. But I am going to start opening my eyes, so to speak, to see if there is any basis to what I’m hearing about this brand of gaycism happening behind the scenes. I hope not, because that would be a shame. I hope it’s just a few people feeling insecure. Look at it this way, if a group of aggressive white authors banned together, regardless of how good their intentions are, and started to write novels in literal droves about African Americans for financial gain, and then aggressively went out promoting those novels and purposely left African American authors out of their circles, I would consider that racism in one of its worst forms. In fact, I doubt this would even happen because no one would have the audacity to actually do it nowadays. No one would be that disrespectful to African American authors or their personal experiences. The African American community would rise up and squash those aggressive white authors one by one, and then turn them into jokes. But the problem with gay men is that most of us aren’t out, most don’t get involved in anything that will call attention to us, and we wind up suffering the consequences because of this.

As I said, I haven’t experienced this personally. So this is nothing more than hearsay and something I wanted to mention because I’ve heard so much about it lately. And I know none of the wonderful straight people writing m/m romance out there would even think of doing something like this. They work hard to promote gay causes like same sex marriage and AIDS and National Coming Out Day because they truly care more about the LGBT community and those causes than they care about book sales or promotion or any kind of self-gratification.

Elizabeth Glaser

Elizabeth Glaser, née Meyer ((1947-11-11)November 11, 1947 – December 3, 1994(1994-12-03)), was a major American AIDS activist and child advocate married to actor and director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV very early in the modern AIDS epidemic after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth. Like other HIV-infected mothers, Glaser unknowingly passed the virus to her infant daughter, Ariel, through breastfeeding. The Glasers’ son, Jake, born in 1984, contracted HIV from his mother in utero.

The virus went undetected in all three infected family members until they underwent HIV testing in 1985, after the Glasers’ daughter, Ariel, began suffering from a series of unexplained illnesses. Ariel had developed advanced AIDS at a time when the medical community knew very little about the disease and there were no available treatment options. Early in 1987, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved AZT as an effective drug to extend the lives of AIDS patients, but the approval only extended to adults. With their daughter’s condition rapidly deteriorating, the Glasers fought to have her treated with AZT intravenously. However, the treatment came too late, and the child eventually succumbed to the disease late in the summer of 1988.
If you don’t know anything about Elizabeth Glaser, please check out the link above. It’s one of the most historical cases about the AIDS virus ever talked about, and one I’ve been following for a long time. I will dedicate a post to her in the future. She deserves it.
On Pen Names 
I’m writing about this topic again because I’m probably going to be using a pen name very soon. But this time I’m going to do it differently than the way I’ve done it in the past. I’m just going to come out with it and make it known from the start…if I actually do it.
In the past, I’ve always kept my pen names quiet, and that’s only because I used them to hop genres. But in my case, what I discovered was that I didn’t enjoy promoting or talking about the books because of the pen name. It’s actually a huge dilemma for authors and I’ve never figured it out. So I’m going to take the advice of this article, and do the pen name and make it known that I am that pen name.

The only thing I suggest is not make it a big secret or mystery. Don’t set up different fake websites and fake lives of these fake people.

Own up to it all on your personal website. My name is ‘X’ and I write romance under ‘Y’ and thrillers under ‘Z’.

You might want to put an FAQ page or answer the question “why don’t I use my real name?”

For each genre and name, try to use the same font, size and style for the author name. (Especially for a series). However, if you don’t have a genre and your books are all unique, I’d focus more on making a great cover than making your name look the same way.

Still, branding is about elements of repetition.

I have to agree with this article completely on not making it a big secret. This past weekend I did a search for an author in m/m romance that I enjoy reading and I didn’t even know it was a pen name. This is an author who talks about personal real life situations all the time and I just assumed the author was using a real name. This author even gets into travel experiences in long detailed posts. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered the only information associated with the author’s name in a search, other than books, is the motor in a well known automobile. I joke not about this. The motor of a well known automobile.

Of course that could be coincidence. If you google me you’ll find web sites for athletic fields. But people on social media do see me interact with personal freinds here in New Hope. I try to keep it real and at the same time retain some privacy, and this time I’m going to do that with the pen name and follow the advice given above. That is if I decide to use one at all.

Photo above courtesy of good friend, Ryan Morro, New Hope, PA. 


Why I’m Not Always Fond of Pen Names for Myself…

Before I get into the explanation of why I’m not always fond of pen names for myself, I’d like to mention first that I’m not against pen names at all. I know more authors using pen names than their real names and I support them and see nothing wrong with it. Authors have their own reasons for using pen names and I would never question those reasons. But I’d like to explain why there are cases where pen names don’t always work out well, and give examples from my own personal experiences with them.

The first example I’d like to give is a good experience I had with a pen name. I was asked to write a hetero pg rated romance for a publisher about four years ago for an interesting project I didn’t want to turn down. It was one of those deals where the authors got paid up front and I didn’t expect to make much money on the back end. I also knew that the book would be marketed and distributed to a completely different fan base/readership than what I’ve been building with my own name for twenty years. The book would be part of a very different genre than what I normally do…paranormal hetero romance rated pg.

In this case, when genre hopping, pen names are crucial to authors. I had fun writing the book. I loved every single last detail about it. The project was a success and all the authors who participated benefited from it. The book is still up on various web sites for sale, in print and digital. And though it never did make much money on the back end, the flat fee I received for doing it made the project worth while. I even enjoyed the very limited promoting I did with the pen name. All in all, the experience was positive and I’d do it again if asked. So pen names do work out sometimes, and very well. I would also do this again, if asked, and with a pen name.

But I’ve also had negative experiences with pen names. I was once asked to write m/m erotic romance with a pen name by a publisher. Actually, it was more like I was told to do this…in a very nice, convincing way. Though no one forced me into a headlock, I knew this is what the editor wanted and I’ve always been inclined to listen to the editor/publisher with regard to these things. The main reason they wanted me to use a pen name was because this m/m erotic romance would be in a slightly different sub-genre. Although I still didn’t “get” why they wanted me to use a pen name in m/m erotic romance, I agreed to do it because it was in a sub-genre I’d never written in before. I thought the change could be interesting. I loved the concept of the project. And I still do love the concept of the project.

The only problem with this was that I found it impossible to actually promote this book after it was released. And it’s really my own fault because I knew ahead of time it wouldn’t be easy. I just didn’t know how difficult it would be. In hindsight, it makes no sense to me at all why a publisher/editor would ask an established author in his or her own genre to use a pen name in basically the same genre. For the author, it’s like competing against him/herself. But this is something that bothered me from the start. I wondered about this when I agreed to the deal and I should have listened to my own instincts instead of the editor’s very bad idea. I have just as much experience as the editor, and maybe even more because I know my genre, I know my readers, and I know my audience better than anyone.

At this point, I’m sure many of you are wondering why it was so hard to promote this book with a pen name.

The reason I found it impossible to promote this book with a pen name was because I have formed strong bonds with readers and other authors in the m/m erotic romance genre over the years. I found it impossible to lie to them with a pen name and pretend I was someone else. Two incidents happened that caused me to shut down almost completely with the pen name. The first happened when I wrote a blog post with the pen name and one author I know got mad at the post. I don’t even recall what the post was about, and it had nothing to do with anyone in particular, but this author took it as an attack against him. And it wasn’t even about him. I felt terrible. The post had nothing to do with him and I couldn’t even explain it because it was a pen name. I stopped almost all blogging with the pen name. I think in all, I have about five posts on that blog. It just felt too creepy to continue. After that, I kept the blog open and wrote basic information posts about the book I was trying to promote.

The second thing that really freaked me out happened on social media. When I started one social media account for the pen name I had to give a birthday. I chose the first date that came to the top of my head and forgot all about it. Then, nine months later, I wind up getting hundreds of e-mail notifications from other people on this social network with birthday greetings. When I say that I never interacted with any of these people who sent the greetings, not once, and I saw all these very sincere birthday greetings for a person that didn’t even exist, it was a very strange feeling. If anyone wants to check, I never even post my own birthday on social media because I feel awkward getting so many greetings. I know people mean well; I just feel awkward about it.

In any event, I never did a single thing to promote with this particular pen name or project because it felt too creepy. And though I don’t regret this decision to stop all promotion and interaction as a personal ethical decision that worked for me, I do regret taking on a project with a pen name in m/m erotic romance in the first place. I should have listened to my own better instincts and said no to a very pushy, aggressive editor. The end result is that I have a couple of books out there, floating around without an author, that I worked hard to write and release. For those of you who have heard of orphaned books, this takes it to another level. It’s usually the publisher who orphan’s a book, not the author. But in this case, I simply didn’t have a choice. It was either lie to all the people I’ve built online relationships with over the years or back off completely.

I know some of you are thinking why didn’t I just announce the pen name like other authors do and let people know I was using it. The reason why I didn’t announce it…and NEVER will announce it…is because it’s just plain stupid to have a pen name in a genre where you’re already established with your real name. At least that’s how I look at it.

If there is a moral to this post, I guess it would be that authors need to think carefully before they go the pen name route. As I pointed out above, it can work out well if done for the right reasons. But if it’s done for the wrong reasons, the book will wind up suffering in the end. And that’s a shame.

But on the positive side of all this, the bad experience with the pen name did give me the final push into self-publishing that I’d been thinking about for a long time. I just figured I have all this experience now as an author and an editor and I’m still taking bad advice from a pushy editor at a publishing house? It was a pivotal moment for me in my career and in a way I’m glad it happened. I should have known better and I have no one to blame but me. At least I can take pride in the fact that I didn’t go into a full fledged lie to all the people I know and respect. That, indeed, would have been wrong.

I’m going to be doing something very different with my next Kindle release. This book is the sequel to “Chase of a Lifetime.” I titled it “Chase of a Dream.” I’m not going to say what it is I’m doing at this point. But I will announce it within the next month. I don’t think this has ever been done before. And if it has been done it hasn’t been something I’ve seen. I know for a fact that if I approached any publisher about doing this they wouldn’t go for it. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do with a book and I decided that even though it’s going to make twice as much work for me, I really want to find out if it works.