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What’s in a Name? {Pseudonyms, Pen Names & Nom de Plumes}

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet” ~ William Shakespeare

pseu·do·nym | noun |ˈsoōdn-im| a fictitious name
* Geisel was best known by the pseudonym ‘Dr. Seuss’

* Synonyms & related words: pen name, nom de plume, assumed name, false name, alias, professional name, sobriquet, stage name, nom de guerre.

* ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from French pseudonyme, from Greek pseudōnymos, from pseudēs ‘false’ + onoma ‘name.’

I have always been a bit confused by the reasons behind a pseudonym.  But, then I realized I have several myself.  We all do, probably.  We have screen names and avatars for different sites scattered around the WWW.  Hopefully not for any nefarious reasons, but sometimes it’s nice to go unnoticed by those who know you best.

During my search for not only which authors use a pseudonym, but the reasons for them, I found several interesting articles and a YouTube video that helped clear up my confusion.  The first article I found, 9 Reasons Why You Should Use a Pseudonym, was written by Carmela for the Huffington Post.  It showed some of the more odd reasons an author would use a pseudonym such as when William Sydney Porter was released from prison in 1901 and wanted to reinvent himself or Fernando Pessoa, who apparently had multiple personalities and wrote under 70 different names.

Nah, make fun, but that's typically NOT the reason

There were others, but the one that really helped clarify it for me was the YouTube video discussion between Brian Felsen of BookBaby and author Jennifer Ashley at the 2011 Romantic Times Convention.  Jennifer explains her reasons for writing under four different names {Jennifer Ashley, which is her real name, Allyson James, Allison Gardner, and Laurien Gardner}.  It started when she was trying to get published.  She was submitting different stories, in different genres, to different publishing houses.  Two houses wanted to publish her writing, but they asked her to use two different names –

hence the creation of her first two pseudonyms.  She explains that the differences in her writing styles {POV, tone, and genre} were good reasons for the different names.  It was a way for fans to distinguish between the different types of writing and therefore know what to expect from her books {under each name}.  When she decided to write some spicier, erotic novels, she felt the use of a pseudonym offered her some protection and anonymity in case she wasn’t any good at it.

The way in which Jennifer explained it helped me better understand why an author may choose a pseudonym.  It’s a way for authors to establish different writing styles within different genres without confusing their fans.  It’s a way to be carefree when you write about steamy, hot sex without worrying about offending the family, your friends, or fan base.  I’d love to hear from authors about why they chose their pseudonym(s), if you’d like to share.  🙂

Additionally, I found some good reference sites when trying to hunt down who’s who.  Sometimes you may think you’ve found a new-to-you author, when in reality, it’s an author you’ve already been reading and following.  Here’s a list of some authors I follow and their pseudos, plus some websites to help you on your hunt.

Author Pseudos

Tessa Adams = Tracy Deebs = Tracy Wolff

Ann Aguirre = Ava Gray = Ellen Connor (with co-author, Carrie Lofty)

G.A. Aiken = Shelly Laurenston

Jennifer Ashley = Allyson James = Ashley Gardner = Laurien Gardner

Julie Kenner = J.K. Beck

Laura Bickle = Alayna Williams

Jessica Bird = J.R. Ward

Jayne Castle = Jayne Ann Krentz = Amanda Quick = Stephanie James

Maureen Child = Regan Hastings

Dawn Cook = Kim Harrison

Sydney Croft = Larissa Ione & Stephanie Tyler

Kristina Douglas = Anne Stuart

Mira Grant = Seanan McGuire

Sherrilyn Kenyon = Kinley MacGregor

Jill Myles = Jessica Sims

Savannah Russe = Lucy Finn

And, my favorite writing duo, husband and wife team, Ilona & Gordon make up Ilona Andrews

There are many, many more.  Here are some links to sites that can help ya out:  A-Z Pseudonyms | Mystical Unicorn’s Pseudo List | Wikipedia’s List

One More Reason to ❤ FictFact!


Oh, FictFact, how I love thee!


FictFact, one of my favorite leaning tower of TBR organizing sites, has just modified their, already awesome, book release calendar to allow users to “filter the Book Release Calendar to just the books in your series. Now you can quickly see all the great books that are coming soon! Just click on “Only show books in my series.” It is great being able to see all the books to-be-released in a specific month ~ helps me catch any I may not have been aware of. But, now it just became my monthly book shopping list.

If you are a FictFact newbie, you can read more about the site in our related post, FictFact: A Lifesaver for Serial Readers. Join FictFact TODAY! You will not be sorry!


FictFact: A Lifesaver for Serial Readers ~ Q&A with Brian, Co-Founder

In 2009, I was scouring the internet for a site or program that would allow me to track my series reads.  I consider myself to be a well organized serial reader (thanks in part to my OCDemon), but there are still times when I wonder which book comes first? I have only read a series book out of order twice, once by accident (didn’t know it was part of a series) and once by choice (to fit multiple challenges at once).

On my search, I found several very interesting and helpful sites, but the only one that allowed me to truly track my series was FictFact.

In case you’re one of the few that have not yet found this site, here are just a few of the things they offer:

* Follow your favorite series and get notified when books are released or added
* Get a custom queue of the next book in each series to easily read books in the correct order
* Get a public profile that you can share with your friends
* Create lists to organize all your series
* Store ownership status on books and create custom book reports – New!
* Add book ratings – New!
* Stay up to date with all the wonderful things coming soon to FictFact!

Being a member and a huge fan of the site, I buried my nerves and asked Brian, Co-Founder to join us here at Random Musings for some Q&A. I also wanted to make sure he and his wife, Christine, knew just how much we love their site.

Welcome to Random Musings, Brian!

First and foremost, let me say We FictFact!


Q: When you and your wife, Christine created FictFact, did you imagine it would be as popular as it is?

Brian: We created FictFact because Christine reads a ton of books and wanted a tool to help keep her organized. We realized that nothing like this existed on the web, so we decided to create it ourselves. We hoped that other people would find the tool useful and be able to save time trying to keep things straight.

Q: How many new members have joined since it’s creation in 2009?

Brian:We now have over 12,000 users and are growing every month.

Q: What do you feel sets FictFact apart from other series sites?

Brian: We believe our “Next Book List” is what really sets us apart. This feature is the overall focus of why we started collecting series information and we feel it is an extreme time saver when you want to find out which books to buy or read next. We wanted to provide a simple way for users to have an automatically updated list, so they always know they’re reading the correct book. Our users also love the personalized email we send out once a week with updates and coming soon books.

We’d love to become more like the other book social networking sites, so we are working on adding “all books” (not just books in series) with our “Next Book List” technology. Our overall goal is the ability for users to follow an author and get an updated list and emails whenever any of their books come out.

Q: Is the site maintenance time consuming? Is it a full-time job for you and your wife or something you do on the side?

Brian: Right now, we both have full time jobs as well as working on FictFact. We spend a lot of nights and weekends working on new features. We love getting user feedback to help keep the site as accurate and current as possible. We are currently self funded.

Q: Are Christine, Mr. Ehring and yourself the only people maintaining the site? Or do you have other employees?

Brian: The three of us are the only ones maintaining the site right now. Richard works on customer support, adding new books and series. Christine and Brian work on code, new features, as well as content entry.

The Dream Team

Christine Kirsten ~ Co-Founder & CEO: Christine has a passion for reading that borderlines in obsession, plain and simple.
Brian Kirsten ~ Co-Founder & CTO: Brian is an entrepreneur, software engineer, writer and publisher. He loves writing software, and when he has the time reads science fiction and mystery.
Richard Ehring ~ Community Manager: With over 25 years of QA & Engineering experience, if you’ve got an issue Richard is the man to solve it.


Q: Do you plan to keep the site free to members indefinitely?

Brian: Yes, the plan is to keep the current feature set free. We have ideas for premium features or applications that we might charge for at a future date. We rely on affiliate sales and advertising for our income. Check out our support page for ideas on how users can help support FictFact. We also hope our users will use the links on our site to purchase books.


I asked the members of my Goodreads’ group, SOS: Serious Overload of Series, if they had any questions or requests for Brian. Being serial readers themselves, they did.


Q: Is it possible to number short stories (including anthologies) in a way similar to how Goodreads’ numbers them?
o Goodreads’ example: ‘Kate Daniels’ series by Ilona Andrews
+ “Dark and Stormy Knights” Anthology – book 0.5
+ “Magic Bites” – book 1
Instead of numbering them based on their release date
o FictFact example: ‘Kate Daniels’ series by Ilona Andrews
+ “Magic Bites” – book 1
+ ‘A Questionable Client’ in “Dark and Stormy Knights” – book 6

Brian: This is definitely something we’ve talked about added to the site. We should be putting something in place soon.

Q: Is it possible to edit your member account once created? (eg: your user name)

Brian: Users can edit everything but the username, from the Edit Profile page. This includes email address and privacy settings.

Q: How do you see members using the contacts and followers section? Do you have any plans to create ways for us to communicate with them? It would be nice to be able to ask their opinion on series they have read and/or get suggestions for series TBR (to-be-read).

Brian: We currently have and are working on lots of ideas for contacts. The first thing we are working on is the ability to message your contacts. Some of the other things we’re considering are recommendations, comments on activity feeds, and facilitating swapping or lending of books and e-books between contacts.

As FictFact continues to grow and gain user support, it becomes easier to work on new features.

Q: Is it possible to change the way we mark books as TBR, currently reading, read or skipped? Possibly a check box option vs. drop down? The drop down box option makes marking individual books within a very large series (20+ books) time consuming. A check box option would allow for a quicker way to update those series.

Brian: That is a good idea, we can definitely look into adding this as a feature. Right now we have a “Mark all as read” link that you can use to quickly “complete” a series. After you can adjust individual books if needed.

Q: The print option currently only allows for printing an entire page. Would it be possible to allow for printing a single series list?

Brian: This is commonly requested feature. We are currently figuring out the best way to do it that makes it easy for the user while protecting FictFact’s data.

Q: Are you considering creating an application for smart phones?
o If so, any time frame in mind?
o If not, any specific reason(s)?

Brian: We would love to do a smart phone app, but currently development is beyond our resources. We are starting to look for outside funding which will allow us to get an application to market faster.

See what's being released each month


Some of the features we love most are your speedy responses to any requests for book, author and/or series additions, no matter how obscure; your wonderful publication updates and emails*, the book release calendar and the ability to browse by series and most popular by genre. Of course, as you add new features to the site, we find new things to love about it.

We wish you and your wife continued success with your site!
Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us here!


* Each month FictFact sends an email to their users titled “Updates about your books and series on FictFact”. In it they include a monthly contest to win an Amazon gift card, a list of book(s) out this week in your favorite series, books that have been added to series you’re following, and series added to your favorite authors. It’s your personal series release update.