IWSG (A Quick One on Pen Names)


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of every month, and gives participants an opportunity to vent, share struggles and triumphs, and just commiserate in general. Since this is the month of the A to Z Challenge, this month’s post will be much shorter than usual.

I’ve been having some second thoughts about my pen name. My pen name of almost 21 years just doesn’t feel like the name of a serious, professional historical writer. I love Ursula Hartlein, my middle name and an old family name, but Hartlein also happens to be the birth surname of my character Lenore, and Ursula is the older sister of my villain Urma Smart. I didn’t realise how attached I’d gotten to my pseudonym, to the point where I felt really sad at the prospect of losing it.

Most people don’t have the same taste in music as they did at thirteen, but I still dearly love both the bands I got my pen name from. I’d proudly tell anyone who asks where I got the name from. It’s a really special thing when you’ve loved a band for almost 21 years, and love them more maturely as an adult than you did as a teenager.

My new plan is to publish my serious, heavy historicals as Ursula Hartlein, and use my first pen name of Carrie-Anne for my shorter, more lightweight Atlantic City books. One name to fit each mood. I also think I might publish Little Ragdoll as Carrie-Anne, since the book is set in America (except for the last few pages by the Bridge of Sighs), and it might seem egotistical to use the Hartlein name when that’s Lenore’s birth surname.

Hart, or Härt, is German for brave/strong/hardy. Lein is a diminutive suffix used to form pet names or terms of endearment. Roughly, it translates as “brave little one” or “little brave one.”

It also just seems fitting to use the name Carrie-Anne for Little Ragdoll since I wrote and edited so much of it with a Hollies’ soundtrack, which I even credit in the dedication page. There are a few other clues of my Hollies’ fandom sprinkled through the book as well, most obviously the fact that Allen and Lenore meet at a bus stop. One of my two ideas for the cover is also inspired by this picture, one of my favourites of the band. My cover would have Adicia, Justine and her stuffed bunny, Allen, Lenore, and Emeline or Ernestine posed like that on the front stoop of Allen’s West Village apartment, which is blue instead of red.

Keeping my first pen name for some books also avoids the headache of changing my url and switching over any links to posts at sites like Ink Pageant. All I’ve had to do was to add my other pen name to my banner.


8 thoughts on “IWSG (A Quick One on Pen Names)

  1. Pingback: Béziers, France « Welcome to My Magick Theatre

  2. Interesting what goes into pen names, I’m always curious to hear the origins. I don’t want to use a pen name, but given Stephanie Scott is a rising Disney star on a current kids show and I already found another unpublished YA writer with my same name, I’m going to need my middle initial at least. I like my middle name so I don’t mind incorporating it but it’s a lot to think about!


  3. I have to be honest…this is why I decided against having a pen name. I’ve seen my tastes wax and wane so much that I’m certain I would end up wanting to change the name within a couple of years, and then a couple more after that, until I ended up with a dozen different ones. @_@


  4. I’ve been using a pen name since I started blogging and wanted to continue to use it for anything related to my writing. I still may. Lilica (Lily) Blake is the pen name I use. Eva Solar is my parent given name and I think I will only use my real name for any ‘real-life’ writing: such as stroke awareness and things like that. This is all fairly new to me. I’ve only been blogging since last February, so I am clearly the new kid on the block at almost a half century old. (Sigh)

    Do the other bloggers and authors know you by your real name or your pen name? Since I’ve had some recent losses, I wanted people to know my name because I want to advocate as well. At the same time, I don’t want to confuse anyone either. That being said, any advice would be helpful. Until I figure it out, I’ve been signing everything Lily-Eva. Lol

    Anyway, good luck with the A to Z Challenge and although I can’t participate, I am proudly displaying my Supporter Badge on my Blog. Have a great evening!


  5. It’s interesting to hear how people go about picking a pen name. What a big decision! I like that you’ve attached sentimental value to your pen names instead of just picking something strictly for marketing purposes.


  6. That’s interesting to read. I used to want to write under a pen name, but I gave that up when I realized that I wanted writing to be my main life and whatever career I got would just be a way to finance the writing (which I have now settled on librarian, which is very fitting). I like my real name, and I know I’m fickle and would want to change a pen name.


  7. Love The Hollies! I like both your pen names 🙂 It *is* hard to let go of a name you’ve become attached too, I expect.


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