Not every author uses a pen name, but a lot of them do. Ann Landers, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Nora Roberts, and Dr. Seuss are all pen names. Benjamin Franklin first wrote under Silence Dogood.  Stephen King also writes under Richard Bachman. The list goes on.

I was not convinced. Did I really need a pen name? I work hard at my writing and I am proud of it. I yearned to see my own name upon a book cover.

There are many reasons for pen names, including privacy, writing under multiple genres, safety, desire to reach a new audience, and so on. The list of reasons is as varied as reasons to write in the first place.

Still, I was not convinced. Did I really want or need a pen name? I found advice that a pen name should be short, catchy, easy to spell, and memorable. That is when I knew I needed one, because my given name was none of those things.

I began my quest to find a name for myself, and soon realized the difficulty. Give me a baby to name and I can come up with many great possibilities. Give me a character to name and I'll find names that range from sasssy to classy. But I couldn't name myself. The problem was every fabricated name made me feel like a fraud.

My mother's maiden name is Allison and my grandmother's maiden name is O'Dell. Allison O'Dell seemed to me to be the perfect name. I could see it on a book cover. It had a nice ring to it. I felt good honoring my mother and my grandmother. But then I discovered there are many Allison O'Dells in this world when I searched for the name on Google and Facebook.

The discovery led me to a new set of considerations.  I wanted a name that would not be commonly confused with someone else. A pen name should be easily remembered and yet unique. I wanted to come up on Google and Facebook as the only possibility. If I was to be a successful writer I would need a website with my name as a dot.com.

One day it hit me to form a contraction of my given name. I used basic elements of my real name but I shortened it up. Suddenly I didn't feel like a fraud. It felt right. I nearly fell off my chair when a search of Google and Facebook turned up nothing.

Now I am writing full speed ahead with my shiny new pen name.
 


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