Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jones Girl

I have conflicted emotions about my maiden name, Jones. Boys at school sometimes called me "Jonesy" and I hated that.

I think I have a boring author name. Karen Jones Gowen. There's no ring to it. No imagination. It happened when I wrote Farm Girl, the story of my mom as a girl growing up on a 1920's Nebraska farm.

She didn't want her name on the book as co-author. Since it was a sort-of memoir, I needed to use my real name and utilize the Jones as credit to my mom, right? Which is how I got my official author name. Once done is done, and now it's done.

Writers should think very carefully about what to put on that first book. To establish author recognition, you want the same name since life's just easier that way. It will go on your website, your blog, your Facebook page, and all the rest. Some use different pen names for different genres. I can barely keep track of my passport, I know I couldn't manage another identity.

Since Farm Girl needed my real, full name, I am now officially Karen Jones Gowen, Author.  If I had it to do over again, I'd choose something with more flair. I would be Samantha St. James or something like that. My daughter's author name is L.A. DeVaul. How very cool is that? She didn't even have to make it up, it is her real name. Lucky!



34 comments:

  1. I like your name. Maybe because it's familiar, though. I would probably write under my full (married) name, but I've been considering a pen name if I choose to write in more than one genre.

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  2. Your name isn't dull to me, because on this side of the Atlanic, it's rare to encounter someone who uses two surnames :) I think it's unique!

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  3. Fun post and a terrific blog. I, too, wrestled with my name, as there are lots of Stewarts out there. Finally left it as is.

    If you've the time, I'd love for you to pop over to my blog. I'm the author of the Bella and Britt series for kids, with a book about Winter, the dolphin and Katrina Simpkins launching soon. BTW, I'm following you...

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  4. I don't have to worry about getting lost in a sea of authors with similar names. My biggest worry is whether or not people would be able to spell or pronounce it to be able to look for it. Maybe a pseudonym would be a better idea after all.

    Melonie Allyn-Schwerin

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  5. Hi Karen! Talk about names...mine was a "fun" one in school. I'm okay with it now and have considered keeping it or not, but you have a good point. Once you start with it you, really can't change it.

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  6. I was born with the name Kathleen Valentine but most people seem to think it is a pseudonym and that I am a romance author, neither of which is true. My books have a romantic component to them but they are more mainstream. I often wonder if I should have used a different name.

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    1. Kathleen, Truly awesome name. I'm very jealous.

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  7. You and your daughter have lovely names!! Take care
    x

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  8. I've never thought much about alternate author names, other than the one I have, so it's interesting to read this post. I think your name is beautiful, and I love three-name authors: Mary Higgins Clark and Arthur Conan Doyle spring to mind. Karen Jones Gowen has the same kind of rhythm.

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  9. I actually use my full name for romance, my initials for mystery and a pen name for naughtier works. Great post about a topic we all need to think about.

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  10. I have a pseudonym because my given name was completely taken. Middle initial and all. So Brown is my mother's maiden name and my nickname "JRo" is the same throughout all my life, author and teacher.

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  11. Oh I hemmed and hawed about what name to use. I had no middle name growing up and my maiden name didn't feel right, and using it in conjunction with my married name was just too long! I thought about a pseudonym, but I juggle enough peoples lives here with children, I didn't need another one to boot. Thanks for sharing your process and advice!!

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  12. Interesting post. Gives me something to think about.

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  13. It is the reason I kept O'Shaughnessy when I got married I always loved my maiden name and saw no reason to give it up back in the late post hippie 70's. At times it was confusing for my kids who after two marriages have two last names NOT the same as mine BUT now at 52 I am OK with all of us being different.

    And beside I like Jones Gowen, Its very English Formal sounding as in Lady Jones Gowen

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    1. Donna, I have always wanted to be British!

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  14. I just went with my real name, using my middle initial. (Can you imagine if I'd spelled the whole thing out? There wouldn't be room on the cover!)

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    1. Alex, Now I'm curious about that middle initial. James? John? Or something really long, like Jorgenson or Johannson?

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  15. I happen to like it. Of course I'm the Gowen part of it so I'm prejudiced.

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    1. Anonymous, Now I just have to figure out which Gowen you are.

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  16. That last comment probably sounds a little brusk. Sorry. But I do follow you...hehehe

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  17. I think your name works very well: it has a definite lilt; it sounds "writerly", and it has a very pleasing mixture of soft and hard consonants.

    My name is a bit of a problem. It's my real name, but it sounds like the name of someone who writes about dragons and elves and possibly a hobbit or two. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of writing--I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan--but it's very much not my genre. Sigh. I guess I'll worry about it more when I'm closer to publishing.

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    1. Kern, So right! What a great fantasy author name you have. Maybe you should change genres? Maybe you are avoiding your destiny as a fantasy writer.

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    2. Kern, your name also brings to my mind Victorian ladies and romance..... ;-)

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  18. Now your maiden name is a verb...jonsing, which means craving. Not a bad name nowadays, I would think!

    I'm a new follower via the A to Z. It's nice to meet you!

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  19. There are so many Samantha St. Whatevers and Victoria Whispy-fluffs out there, I can't keep 'em straight, and I was blessed/burdened with a stellar memory! Your "plain" name stands out to me. I'd remember it because it is "plain", or, really, because it has the feel and flavor of a real name put to a real person, not some bit of saccharine silliness made up on the cusp of a deadline in some publisher's cozy inner offices.

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  20. This was helpful to read. I'm currently trying to figure out a name for me as a photographer. It isn't easy! Do I use my real name? Partial name? Name of my website? Maybe I'll just pull a name out of hat? :)

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  21. I went with the "L. Diane" because anyone who knew me would KNOW that was me, even though the last name was different. In retrospect, I should've picked a last name that was higher up in the alphabet though. Wolfe is always on the bottom row in the bookstore.

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  22. I use my maiden name as my middle name too! It means a lot to me that folks who knew my parents and maybe my grandparents, not to mention folks who knew me in grammar school, might recognize me through it.

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  23. I borrow old family names often to apply to my writing. Makes me feel more connected to the relatives.

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  24. I agree with Saturday. I tend to remember "plain" names better because the flowery ones are so dime-a-dozen. My family history has McGowens. I've always thought it souned so cool and Scottish. Reminds me of Sean Connery.

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  25. I often give names that I like to my main characters, and then I sometimes give names that I don't like to their antagonists. :) I don't know if I'd use a pen name either. I've read several authors I admire who do use them, but like you, I would want to see my own name on my book.

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  26. I can definitely sympathize! I confess, J.W. Alden is a pen name. My real name is not only boring, but so common that there are already several published authors with that name. So it wasn't really a matter of choice for me.

    J.W. Alden

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  27. I was so excited about changing my name when I got married! My new name is way better than my maiden name - now when I write my signature there's a romantic cursive capital L in it. :)

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  28. Hi Karen .. I rather like Karen Gowen Jones .. it's simple and perfect for the girl, lady, woman and oh yes author! Your daughter's DeVaul is pretty cool .. I suspect I'm on the way with a name I'm not too happy with - but if you're HAMB .. what choice do you have .. and you're aleady out there - I can't wind the clock back .. It is interesting how names affect us .. cheers Hilary

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