Many writers choose to use a pen name when they become published authors. By now, everyone knows that Samuel Clemens became more famous writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Mark Twain, while Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written by Charles Dodgson—aka Lewis Carroll.
Authors take on pen names for various reasons. Joanne Rowling’s publisher told her that her Harry Potter series wouldn’t be popular with boys if a woman’s name appeared on the cover, so she went with gender-neutral initials and became J. K. Rowling—smiling all the way to the bank—numerous times! Some writers have already established themselves in a certain genre, as popular romance novelist Nora Roberts. Her publisher convinced her to take a pen name when she wished to branch out into detective fiction with her In Death series—and thus was born J. D. Robb.
Even within romance, some authors create different personas and pseudonyms when they jump from different types of romance. One of my favorites, Jayne Ann Krentz, writes contemporary romantic suspense under her married name. Her historical romantic suspense novels are under the Amanda Quick umbrella. Jayne Castle is responsible for her futuristic and paranormal stories. She does this so readers will know exactly what they’re buying and which of her “worlds” they are entering when they pick up one of her books.
In my upcoming western historical romance Written in the Cards, my heroine Maggie Rutherford decides to write dime novels under a pen name. She submits her first effort to Rutherford House, her family’s publishing business, and she doesn’t want to be shown any favoritism. She also realizes that in many ways that it’s a man’s world—and she’s a practical woman who wants to sell some books! Just as the Brontë sisters first published as Ellis, Acton, and Currer Bell (for Emily, Anne, and Charlotte Brontë), Maggie selects a man’s pen name for her stories. Since many dime novels in her era focused on adventures in the Wild West, Maggie believes a male pen name will lead to success—thus, Lud Madison was born in her imagination.
Like Maggie, I’ve chosen to publish under my pen name of Lauren Linwood. My last name is hard to pronounce, and I already had a Facebook page. Allowing “Lauren” to have her own Facebook page, Twitter account, email, and blog keeps a little bit of separation between us and helps me maintain the separation between business and pleasure (although writing is a heck of a lot of fun!).
Here’s an excerpt from Written in the Cards. Maggie has just received one of those newfangled inventions called a typewriter from her editor.
Maggie squealed with delight. “I saw this contraption demonstrated when I was in Denver this past spring. The man’s fingers flew over . . . oh, what is it called? A keyboard, I think. He punched keys marked with letters of the alphabet, and they struck a piece of paper. The words formed along a line almost by magic. It was amazing!”
“Then let’s open the parcel and see it for ourselves.” Ben used his pocketknife to open the box. He extracted the typewriter, a small pamphlet that accompanied it, some black ribbons in cases, and a ream of paper.
“It’s heavy,” he told her. “It would be bulky for a woman to carry, much less travel with.”
She struck a pose with her good left arm, flexing a muscle. “I am stronger than I look, Mr. Morgan. I’ve had actual boxing lessons from an Irish brawler. I could probably take you on and knock you down before you knew what hit you.”
Ben’s lazy smile warmed her inside, all the way down to her toes. “You are a constant surprise to me, Maggie Rutherford.”
They unfolded the instructions, and she read them aloud while he affixed the ribbon in the prescribed manner. He then loaded the typewriter with a piece of white paper that sat upon a roll. They took turns striking the keys, marveling at the words that appeared upon the page. The pamphlet illustrated how certain fingers were designated to strike individual keys.
“Once the pattern is learned, this will be a remarkable way for me to write my novels. I’ll have to come up with stories at a faster rate, but that won’t be a problem at all. I have so many ideas that run through my brain now, I sometimes have trouble getting them all down on paper.”
“You can type out your ideas, Maggie, as well as your novels. That way you won’t lose any of them.”
She beamed at him, elated at the idea he proposed. She wished her wrist would be healed immediately. She couldn’t wait to teach her fingers to dance across the keyboard. Nothing would make her happier than quickly setting down all the storylines that skittered through her head. Nothing.
Until Ben leaned over and kissed her.
Then her idea of happiness took a seismic shift.
When dime novelist Maggie Rutherford interviews cowboy Ben Morgan for her next book, she falls fast . . . and then learns he’s actually a gambler with a gunslinger hot on his trail. Will Ben run from his growing attraction to Maggie and an outlaw’s promise of death—or will he make a stand for his life—and love?
Written in the Cards will be available May 21 through Amazon.