Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pesky Pen Names

While most of you (who are not writers) may not empathize with my plight, those who know me well enough will know that I write commercial fiction under a pen name.

... And yes, some of the material written under that pen name is for adults only, or at least those looking for paranormal romantic suspense with no holds barred or general erotica with the slightest hint of a plot.

Anyway, I recently wrote a sequel to a paranormal romantic suspense (crime) novel that was rather risque. The sequel was not risque. In fact the story begins and ends with the main character assumed to still be a virgin. The sequel was pure paranormal romantic suspense that could be read by someone of any age, and it was a dismal flop. Well, maybe not a dismal flop, but a flop nonetheless. It would have been a dismal flop but it managed to sell one copy through one channel (Amazon) so far this month of January.

After talking to some of my writer friends about this, I was convinced that, in no uncertain terms, I should have release this under another pen name. I was actually told by at least one of my author friends, or rather, warned, that I should release the book using some name other than the one I use for general erotic stories. I guess I just didn't listen.

What is it about pen names anyway? I've noticed some authors write exclusively under a pen name, or many, while others stick to their real names.

Jim Grant writes under one pen name for all his stories. You might know this author as there was recently a movie released (oddly enough, on December 21st) based on one of his books and starring Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. Yes, I'm talking about Lee Child. He is one of my favorite authors of suspense and crime fiction. That is, until he allowed the movie industry to cast the diminutive Tom Cruise to play a character that is six foot-five. Yes, I'm still bitter.

I'm not sure how many of you might know of Lawrence Block. He is a crime and suspense author writing such books as:
A Drop of the Hard Stuff, 2012
Lucky at Cards, 2011
The Girl With the Long Green Heart, 2011
Grifter's Game, 2011
Tanner's Tiger, 2007

The list could go on forever, but if you are not familiar with these stories, you might have read something under one of the many other pen names he's been known to use such as:

Chip Harrison
Paul Kavanagh
Lee Duncan
Sheldon Lord
Jill Emerson
Lesley Evens
Andrew Shaw
Ben Christopher
John Warren Wells

Again, these are just the pen names I'm aware of. I'm sure there have been others. Some of this author's more 'adult' stories were written as Sheldon Lord, Lesley Evens,and Andrew Shaw. Jill Emerson is the name used to write lesbian erotica in the fifties and sixties that is still popular today.

So, I guess using more than one pen name might not be so bad after all. Don't be surprised if you find some of my material re-released in the future under a different name. Just remember, it will still be me writing the material.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Motivation and Misplaced Attentions

I had this unnatural urge to write this post as an update to the continuing gun control saga, but realized it would accomplish nothing. So, I've decided to write about something nearly everyone can relate to; something everyone suffers from, or suffers a lack of.

We are now half-way through the first month of the new year. How many of you are still running toward your resolutions? I ran for a few minutes on January first, but then I got a cramp and I've been walking toe-to-heel ever since. It's not that I don't want to follow through on my self-induced commitments, I've just lost the push, the strength of conviction, the motivation.


The word has its origins from the Latin word 'Mover' which means 'To move.'

Think of it as proverbial carrot on a stick one might use to get a beast of burden to move forward. But, for people, or rather, individuals, there must be some other component. I studied motivation from a management perspective for many years throughout my military career and, from an academic angle while pursuing an MBA. In those instances, such things were discussed as: incentives, duty, benefits, advancement. That works fine when managing others, but what is it that makes a person (on an individual level) put one foot in front of the other time after time?


I believe drive is what pushes a person forward on personal level. But what drives, drive?

Desire, Greed

Yes folks, I hate to disappoint, but it is that little monster that moves, or motivates the individual. If one is told they may get a promotion if they do certain things, they will likely be motivated to do those things but, deep inside, hidden within the caverns of their Id, that promotion represents money to buy their baby mama a new pair of shoes, admiration given by others, or simply a change in status or elevation of their social position.

So you see, desire and greed can be good things. It's okay to 'want' something as long as one is willing to work for it -- As long as it provides motivation to move forward.

Now, you know I'm going to have to tie this into writing somehow. On a personal level, I ask myself, "Why am I lacking motivation?" Is it because I do not want for anything? I know that's not it. I want plenty. That want drives (or motivates) me to write other 'adult' material under a pen name. Why? Because it sells. Now as far as art goes, I do try to employ thoughts, themes, and positive outcomes into that work but sometimes it's not enough.

So this year I suppose I'll just have to double-down on my writing and spend more time working on my mainstream stuff. I have so many ideas they seem to overflow and keep me awake at night. Of course most of them will not work out but there are always that precious few story ideas that speak to me and make feel like they will speak to others.

In other words, I'm hoping to find motivation through a desire to produce more meaningful, more mainstream work with artistic value. I know it's not monetary, but nowadays money doesn't seem to matter much. It seems the harder I work to make more, the more is lost in new taxes, so I choose to get back to my roots and write for my own satisfaction. Of course, I'll continue to write adult stuff to because, after all, mama does like her shoes.

So, what about you? What drives you? Is it money? Politics? Love? Fame? Or, is it something else entirely?