Pen Names

Choosing A Pen Name . . .

For many authors, choosing a pen name is one of the most difficult choices they'll ever make because the name they select becomes their trademark. I recall getting a plethora of advice from other authors about choosing a pen name. Several warned me against picking a long name because the longer the name, the smaller the letters will be on your book cover. That little morsel of advice made me dump my first choice: Shay McCandless and look for something short and sweet.

I'm known to be indecisive at times, so I skipped naming myself and began writing my first women's fiction novel, confident a name would come to me. The setting for the series was based in the west part of Texas, and when I recalled how much my father-in-law loved his Zane Grey westerns, the wheels began turning. Grey--hmm--it had a ring to it and was short enough to ensure my name would be in large print on the book's cover. Not wanting to trick anyone into believing I might be Zane's kin, I changed the spelling of the last name and it became Gray. Ah, but I didn't have a first name. As I continued writing the series, my frisky sheltie would lie at my feet and stay within inches of me all day long. She was my constant companion. As I rose from my chair one day, I nearly tripped over her. "Tessa, get out of the way!" Hmm--Tessa. That's short enough. Tessa Gray--it had a nice ring to it.

P1010713Of course, when you don't use your real name, crazy things can happen. I recently discovered that another author has books with a character name Tessa Gray. And then I began Googling my beloved pen name only to discover that someone named Tessa Gray who lived in the UK was serving a prison term. But that was after I'd published two books under the pen name. For the time being, I'm perfectly happy with the name Tessa Gray, and one of my readers recently told me she thought my pen name suited me well. 

A word of advice here: Google the pen name you're considering using and make sure no one with that name is in the slammer. It could come back to bite you! 





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