Tag Archives: title

Maybe you’re just trying too hard.

21 Jan

I follow many people on Twitter, but one that always sticks out to me. She’s an indie author who likes to change her pseudonym every couple of months, and from the number of posts she makes on it, I think she’s trying too hard.

Personally, I love Natalie–that’s her actual name… or at least, her most consistent–but as she writes on so many different platforms and genres, she focuses on the strangest things. Maybe that’s just because she has a far different situation than me. I’m a fat middle-aged white father of teenagers in Arizona. She’s a handicapped black single woman in her 20’s in Indiana. So she has different priorities and concerns than I do.

There are plenty of authors with pseudonyms–take one of the most popular young adult authors–Shannon Messenger. It might be her real name, after all, it’s really hard to tell anymore… but I seriously doubt it. Same with Constantine Storm or P.N. Elrod or my personal favorite, Liam Hearn. “Liam” is actually a professor from Australia who didn’t want his academic research to get mixed up with fiction writing. I’m guessing Mr. Storm just wanted a cool name that would sell books. Shannon’s probably more worried about stalkers.

The sad truth is… I doubt it matters. If you’re worried about stalkers, I fear it’s not going to help. If someone really wants to find you in the digital age, it doesn’t take that long. Someone somewhere is going to slip and your actual location will appear. My favorite internet comedy group–yeah, I know exactly where their office is. One of my favorite authors–yeah, I know exactly where he lives. Why? Because they had to register themselves somewhere public… and that requires an mailing address. It took me all of five minutes. And no, I’m not going to tell you.

A name like “messenger” or “storm” grabs my attention on the bookshelf, sure, but I still haven’t bought any of their books. My kids bought her books and they demanded I read the first two. Still don’t like them, although they do get better, her young adult series simply isn’t for me. Duh. The ones who have something to protect I understand better–you have a reputation or one name works better than two authors. I personally like the guy who shortens his name from Jacob Holowach to Jacob Holo because it’s easier to say and sounds cooler. (Actually interviewed him about three or four years ago, before he co-wrote with David Weber.)

When writing romance novels, I did write under Adrienne Alexander, the name of a retired realtor in Chicago. I had this thought that romance readers want to see a woman’s name on it, but in the end, since none of them ever got published, it doesn’t matter.

Personally, I want to stroke my ego, have my name on the book. So yes, Marcus Johnston is my actual name. It’s generic enough that a Google search comes up with several other people (including a photographer in Scotland) before you get to me. You’re more likely to find Marcus Johnson than the one with the “t.” Believe it or not, I actually change my name professionally (Marc Johnston, M.Ed) because it gets me more work. Why? That’s a post for another day.

What do you think? Do pseudonyms have any purpose in the modern day? Do you like them? Do you hate them? Let me know in the comments below!

Weapon Name or Novel Title?

15 Dec

I’ve discovered my next random title generator–the Destiny 2 Weapon List! Now I’ve never played this game, but I discovered just how good this weapon list was for generating story ideas, because there are just so many names!

For all the legendary weapons–which I doubt are very legendary with so flipping many of them–they all have memorable names. Now somebody might be able to tell me that they all do different bad-ass things, and some have cooler paint schemes than others, but for my money, they generate so many story ideas.

The first one that caught my eye was Beringer’s Memory. What memory? Who is Beringer? What happened in his/her/its past that might come back to haunt them? Anonymous Autumn just sounds cool, even though that might be a little simple–your main character is called Autumn, but no one can keep a memory of her.

Similar to this screen shot, strapping on the word “Eternal” in front of everything sounds great. I actually bought a book called “Eternity Road” by Jack McDevitt and absolutely hated it. I didn’t read another book by Jack for another five years, and… it turned out he actually was a good writer, he just had a bad book.

Home for the Lost and Last Perdition are fricking awesome psuedo-Western stories just waiting to be written. Similar to Patron of Lost Causes, however, Peace by Consensus or Perfect Paradox have some wonderful time travel possibilities. Seventh Seraph could be anything, but if I need a good cyberpunk title, we can go with Stochastic Variable. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds vaguely mathematical and cool.

That’s what a lot of these boil down to–something that sounds cool. Telemachus-C has that main character from The Odyssey with a “C” in it to make you wonder, “Is it a robot? Is it a satellite? Is it a computer virus?” I’ve got three story ideas right there! I can put it in an anthology called The Militia’s Birthright which will also have a short story called The Time-Worn Spire.

This list is really good! Much better than the Pulp Adventure Name Generator, which I’ve also used on previous occasions, but that’s going for a Conan/Cthulhu vibe. What random generators (purpose built or not) have you found that are really useful? Let us know in the comments below!

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