According to dictionary.com:
pseu·do·nym – [sood-n-im] noun a fictitious name used by an author to conceal his or her identity; pen name. Synonyms : alias, nom de plume.
nom de guerre – [nom duh gair; Fr. nawn duh ger] noun, plural: noms de guerre [nomz duh gair; Fr. nawn duh ger] an assumed name, as one
under which a person fights. Origin: French: literally, war name
I have heard other professional writers advise the use of a pen name. Apparently the deal is that if you get a few books published and they don’t sell well, you are frequently not able to sell any more to the publishers and it’s all very sad. The work around is to switch to a different name and genre where your previous experience plays to your benefit and the publishers over there don’t know you were a flop. So you don’t use your real name when writing in case you have to dump it and get a new one. That’s just what I heard.
My real name. What does that even mean? This is a time in the world’s history when you can have a fully-fledged online avatar for every aspect of your life, every mood swing, or every day of the week if you so desire. This is a time when we must all swallow the bitter irony of Facebook insisting that only perverts and criminals would use a pseudonym on social media while it sells our identity down the river to every credit card thief and relentless advertiser it can find.
The Internet is supposed to raise our acceptance of new ideas and make available to us cultures and pursuits we would never be able to access without it. It should make us a global community, yet every day the news feeds bring us stories of people fired from their jobs for “Liking” something on Facebook or arrested for things they said on Twitter.
Sure, you can argue that they got what was coming. Sure, these people should know better than to say the wrong thing, but who hasn’t mouthed off once in a while, usually for the sake of a joke that goes over like a lead balloon? Or expressed an opinion poorly, giving the impression that you are a racist cow when really you just very much enjoy Uncle Remus stories and you are from the south. Like Romney, I once used the term ‘tar baby’ to describe a sticky situation that got worse the more I struggled with it. My bad.
It’s enough to make a girl twitchy about giving out her ‘real’ name. Katy Stauber was my real name once. It is my maiden name. Legally I haven’t been Katy Stauber in over a decade, though. My primary reason for using it is to separate my boring ‘real’ job from my fun actual life. I didn’t want to confuse people. If you type in my legal name, you get a blast of websites pertaining to my day job in the health care industry. If you type in Katy Stauber, you get my writing stuff and social media crap. And by using my maiden name I avoid many of the issues of pen names that Courtney mentioned in her post. I have documentation proving that me is me.
My nome de guerre of choice has classically been Octar The Invincible! I use it for online gaming and D&D and all that nerdy stuff that I do when I should be exercising or writing or something. Octar was Attila the Hun’s uncle, one of the many uncles who mysteriously died and left poor little Attila in charge of all those raging hoards of blood thirsty Huns. I don’t know. There weren’t any chick Huns with cool names.
I’ve been given nicknames in the past – Sparky (a teenage love of fire and an allegedly large number of dormitory
fire violations) and Captain Crunch (The day job and a sailboat and too much time talking like a pirate. Let’s not get into it.). I don’t know why it’s always male oriented. Too long hiding my gender on BBS/IRC/online forums to avoid the inevitable deluge of guys sending gross messages, I guess.
Lately, I’ve been writing fantasy-themed erotica (think superhero sexy time and robot-alien love trysts) because… I was about to blame my friends who are all the time requesting that sort of thing, but the sad truth is that I am just a weirdo. Anyway, I may need a pseudonym for that as I also write a little young adult and children’s’ fiction and I’d hate to freak out the Moms of the world. They have enough problems. I like Cassandra Compl3x, but that may be just a bit much.