Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writing Under Pseudonyms...

Hello SNSD and welcome to another post by me, the woman with three pseudos, Rawiya aka Michael Mandrake, BLMorticia and in real life, Sharita Lira.
Seriously, things have been busier in my life as of recently. I’m having work done on our house, my 3 year old is even busier than ever, I’m looking for an EDJ (evil day job) because the multi million dollar contract has not come yet, and as per usual, I have various promotions and writing projects going on all at once.
This has sent me into a small state of panic and so, I asked our lovely lady in charge, Sarah, what I should do since I’m also at Robin Badillo’s this whole week. In her wisdom, she suggested I do a blog about why I keep three names which was a fabulous idea that I thought I’d use later but, with all the big mess surrounding Miss Judy Mayes, it became more of a necessity.
Why do I write under other names other Sharita Lira?
In all truthfulness, I do it because Sharita Lira is somewhat of a boring name. It doesn’t encompass all the facets of my personality or what I’m trying to convey in my writing. With my pseudonyms, I’m more than just the married mom of two bratty kids from Chicago:
I’m the badgirl that wishes she could travel the world with her favorite bands. BlMorticia
I’m the gay man who loves writing about the love shared between a male and his partner despite the troubles and trials they have ahead of them. Michael Mandrake
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Or the one closest to myself, the woman that puts her passions and wildest fantasies onto paper while still keeping a sense of reality. Rawiya
Through these characters I’ve created, I’m able to transform myself into all these people and hopefully use the imaginations and my storytelling ability to entertain readers in the most titillating and concise way I can.
Have I perfected this yet? No way! Not even close *laughs*
I’ve found that they are more similar than different and only a few things separate the way they are in my head. A couple of times, especially in the beginning, I wrote the wrong story under the wrong pseudonym.
Case in point: The Delicacies of Lust Liquor and Cannabis should have been BLMorticia. No way is Michael that cynical and snarky. That’s totally BL’s deal. You ask, why does it matter? Well, in my opinion, when an author takes on a persona, it’s something that the reader gets used to seeing. Not saying that Michael can’t be humorous, but his is more of a dry sense whereas BL is more of the tongue in cheek, out there kind of lewd humor you might find on Family Guy or South Park.
Of course, nothing can be done about this now but, it’s all part of my maturity as a writer and how I grow to become better at it since I’m not really that great of one yet. Do I have a better handle on it? Certainly, and I hope to build a fanbase around all three in the coming years.
Back to the original point. Why do we use pseudonyms? People do it for protection of themselves in the real world. Do you want the world to know Sharita Lira writes erotic fiction? Honestly, I’m not in that kind of position that I had to care. Back when I was working regularly, I’d told several of my close friends that I did it as a hobby. Most of these same people have become my fans or are still in contact with me on Facebook primarily, asking me about my latest projects or celebrating a new release.
I guess I would consider myself pretty lucky but in the case of Judy Mayes, not so. They found out about her erotica writings and they called her in for it. All because of parents who are prudes! UNBELIEVABLE
What does it hurt for a woman to write erotic fiction? I wonder did Stephen King or Zane have this problem before they became millionaires. Did someone shun them for what they wrote? Were they discharged? What about Anne Rice or one of my old favorites, Jackie Collins?
Is that what writers will have to do? Keep their writing lives totally separate? Most do because we might have kids and truthfully, that is a small part of my concern as well but I wonder will this be the norm. Will people start a witch hunt looking for us?
In my opinion, this is just another example of people sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong. Why would Miss Mayes writing hurt anyone?
In reality, it wasn’t her real self that did the writing, it was her alternate personality…her pseudonym.


Rawiya said...

TY SNSD again for having me and thx Sarah for the fab idea!

Artemis said...

Thanks for the insight today.

What a shame authors feel they have to protect themselves from persecution, but I do understand why.

Tina Donahue said...

I think your real name is beautiful, hon.

Delaney Diamond said...

I didn't realize Ms. Mays had already lost her job. That's unfortunate, because she took the necessary steps to protect herself and her family's privacy. It's not as if she brought the books into the classroom or encouraged her students to buy them.

It boggles my mind that people are so small-minded that they can't understand romance is just one facet of a person's personality and doesn't represent a totality of the person.

They're up in arms about love, romance, and sex, yet violence is celebrated in thrillers and horror books. If she'd written Stephen King-type books, would she still have her job? Probably.

Great post.

Rawiya said...

TY Artemis for stopping in. It is a shame that people have to hide what they really are and yes, I get it too.

Rawiya said...

TY Tina. I love my real name by my pseudonyms encompasses all my likes and loves. :)

TY for commenting!

Rawiya said...

Greta point Delaney and that is exactly it.

Such a double standard.

I thank you for commenting. :)

Blak Rayne Books said...

It is unfortunate but having a pen name does save the author a tremendous amount of grief, especially in the genre we write. People aren't so kind when you write what they like to call 'smut'. Great post!

Rawiya said...

TY Blak. It is true,

I just hate we have to hide what we are...

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I can't believe you think your real name is boring. I also like your last name. It's so close to the work Lyrical--a good nom de plume if you ever go for a fourth.
I don't have a nom de plume. It's just me and whtever I write--mostly because, at my age, I wouldn't remember what name went with what.
You wouldn't think in such an enlightened society, we would still have people who are at risk for what they write. It's fiction after all and has nothing to do with the real life of an author.
Loved your blog.

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Good article, very thoughtful. You raise a lot of good points about pen names and why they are used. However, and I realize this is not going to be the most popular view, I still take umbrage at women who use men's names (not pointing at you in particular) and give the illusion that they are men to entice readers into buying their books because of their so-called male expertise. I realize that society as a whole is harsh on those who go beyond what they consider the norm, and I've been a victim of that prejudice myself. But I resent being considered sub-standard as a female compared to supposedly male authors who are actually women with men's names. Androgynous first names and using initials to muddy the waters is also close to that, especially if the writer does not indicate that they are female, allowing someone to believe that they are male.

Do I consider myself a gay man in a woman's body? Yes. Would I ever do anything about it? No, that boat sailed a long time ago. I am who I am, and I wouldn't change that. Society needs to be less narrow minded, to accept people as they are. And readers need to understand, including members of the gay community, that a person can write in a viewpoint which they don't necessarily possess - ie, women as men and vice versa. It's fiction - by definition, it isn't real. As for women not understanding gay men's love - bullshit. Love is love is love.

Thanks for letting me get that out. Hugs to you, R. (sorry, it's how I know you best).

Michael said...

At Sarah, TY for the comments on my legal name.

Dont get me wrong, I love it but I just feel like the three pseudos suit me better as a writer. I doubt Sharita will ever write anything. ;P

TY for stopping in!

Michael said...


No worries, im in agreement with everything you said. I think I picked Michael Mandrake mostly because he himself is a character I have in my head.

He would like to write a story where he puts himself in it, believe it or not.

I agree also with the narrowminded comments! We as a society need to respect people for what they are as individuals and stop worrying about what each other does, writes, marries, fucks, whatever.

I understand the rant and I thank you.

Brenda Hyde said...

Thanks for the input:) I'm writing YA with my husband but have projects of my own that are romance. I've been playing around with using a pseudonym for those stories. You've given me a few ideas for picking one that I hadn't thought of:)

The situation with Judy Mayes is unexceptable- those people should be ashamed.

Paige Tyler said...

Great blog! I definitely like using a pen name because it gives me privacy.


Fiona McGier said...

The whole Judy Mays situation is absurd. Someone reminded me that when Laurell Hamilton goes to Britain they are uncomfortable with the level of violence in her books...but here in the US, they are uncomfortable with the level of sex. Shows you that we are still very much a nation of prudes! Like one of my recent blogs said, why can't we just accept that adults think about sex, daydream about it, dream at night about it, and do it as often as we can manage? What's wrong with that? It's one of the only privileges of being an adult and having to pay a mortgage! Those vicious moms are helicopter biddies who need to get a life!
My pen name was to keep my FIL's name off my stuff. I knew he wouldn't approve...but his son likes what I write!

Rawiya said...

Thank you for the comments Fiona, Paige and Brenda. I'd like to make a correction on the blog.

Miss Mayes was not canned, she was called in by her supervisors but nothing else was done. She received a wealth of support from fellow teachers, some parents, and students as well as the writing community.

Sorry for that misunderstanding. I made the correction in the blog.