Pondering a Pen Name 

Many a famous author – and some not so famous – have chosen to use a pen name to publish under rather than use their own name. I’ve been playing around with the idea for awhile myself, and have finally decided that I will write with a pen name, too.

Before making the decision, I listened to others discuss and have read articles and other blog posts about the topic. At the end of this post I have included a few that I thought were particularly helpful. 

There are a lot of good reasons to write with a pen name. Below are just a few of the big ones I have seen (or heard) discussed.

  • Avoiding Discrimination – based on gender bias or even the ethnicity of a name
  • Writing in Multiple Genres – having a different well-tailored pen name for each genre you write in seems fairly common 
  • Privacy – keeping your writing life separate from your real life for any number of reasons  

All are factors I considered but the biggest for me is keeping my writer self separate as much as possible from real life. I have a family (including young children) and a full time job, so a pen name works well for me. 

So if you choose to have a pen name, how do you decide on a name? I have been working this out myself! Some things I have seen suggested and considered for my own:

  • Favorite book characters
  • Favorites TV/Movies characters
  • Baby name searches 
  • Surname searches 
  • Family names 
  • People you admire 
  • Favorite Places 
  • Favorite Colors 
  • Presidents 
  • Athletes 
  • Authors 
  • Genealogy Sites 

I have a few names in final consideration stages and will share once I’ve decided on one. 😀

I still have to research all the legal aspects of writing with a pen name. I am only in the beginning stages of this part and will post again at another time when I find more details about the practical side of choosing to have a pen name.  

Below are just a few articles I looked at before writing this post – which have far more information than my post provides – check them out! 😀

Are you for or against having a pen name? Let me know in the comments & feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions! 

Have a great week!

-CJS

Compassion

This post is my part of the #1000Speak Compassion movement on social media today, February 20th, 2015. Over one thousand have already agreed to blog about, tweet about, and post on Facebook and elsewhere about compassion, highlighting the need for more of it in today’s world. Follow along or join in!

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If you want others to be happy,
practice compassion.
If you want to be happy,
practice compassion.
– Dalai Lama

Preparing for this post, which I agreed to over a month ago, thanks to my fellow blogger, Jessica Scott, I have spent a lot of time reading quotes about compassion and kindness. The quote above is one of my favorites because I felt it captured the spirit of this movement to highlight the need for compassion in this world. Some may suggest that practicing compassion for our own benefit might be a selfish excuse for what should be a selfless act. Perhaps, but I think not.

For one thing, I don’t believe it is so bad to take care of ourselves, in fact, I feel some of us could benefit from treating our own selves with compassion. It’s okay to say “I need this in order to be happier” sometimes. It’s okay to nurture ourselves and not just others. It’s okay to acknowledge that we need to be kinder to ourselves. To do so is a big step toward brightening this world, because if we can’t love and take care of ourselves, we won’t be able to properly love and take care of others.

Also, though, practicing compassion couldn’t ever be entirely selfish, even if the goal was to simply make yourself happier. Looking for ways to share yourself with others, to help others, to understand others better, or to be kind in any way can increase your own joy while increasing the joy of another.
Even the smallest act can make a difference, maybe even causing a ripple effect, the extent of which you may never know.

I recently participated in another Twitter campaign for practicing Acts of Goodwill. Joining on this particular day was almost entirely about me having fun. It made me smile that day. I paid for someone’s meal in the drive through behind me. I gave money to a charity. I made my husband’s favorite type of dinner. Will any of these little acts make a big difference? Most likely no, but I felt good all day for the little things I did. But even though I really did those things for me, the person in line behind me hopefully had a small reason to smile. Some child in some community in another part of the world may have access to water in part because of the small amount of money I shared. My husband hopefully was reminded that I love him and like to make him happy, even in small ways. So, selfish or not, practicing giving and caring for others helped someone, while also making me happy.

And don’t we, all of us, need a bit more happiness? I would argue that we do. So spread a spirit of compassion! Practice random acts of kindness! Nurture others and yourself, too! Increase others’ happiness and your own in the process. 😃

Below are a few of my other favorite quotes on compassion and kindness that I’ve seen this last month or so.

Thanks for reading!

CJS

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.
– Henry James

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
– Dalai Lama

By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.
– Sir Thomas Browne

Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.
– Dalai Lama

And in a recent episode of Downton Abbey ( which is a new addiction ), the Dowager Countess of Grantham says to her granddaughter, Lady Mary Crawley (who was being rather heartless to a grieving sister):

“My dear. A lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears.”

Adventures in Editing

I would say that one of my favorite parts of writing has always been the excitement of starting new projects. It hasn’t, so far, been in editing what I have written. But I am working on it. 😀

Having committed to writing every day, I find I have started a lot, but haven’t truly finished much. This new year, while committing to write every day again, I have also committed to finishing the book I have been fooling around with but haven’t pulled together. I need to get it truly finished.

Unfortunately, I am in a bit of a tough place with my current work in progress right now.

In an effort to move forward with editing this novel, I have started submitting to my critique group for some much needed feedback. One major challenge of submitting for feedback is that the earlier chapters are such a mess. I’ve scrapped some of the original opening and rearranged others parts. Simply put, it needs a lot of work.

My most recent submission for critique was a “chapter” that had elements of an original introduction (which I had actually scrapped at one point but that had some key points I didn’t want to just leave out) mixed in with a rather poorly developed scene. The submission read more like notes on a chapter than an actual chapter, as one of the group astutely pointed out.

While I was aware of some of the bigger issues, I submitted for critique anyway just to get them further into story. The group pointed out a lot of the issues I knew were there, some with more diplomacy than others, but they also made a few very helpful observations that I hadn’t thought about before.

The issue that really concerned me, though, was the direction they felt the book is headed, as it is not at all the direction I am headed.

As a result, I’m afraid a major component just needs changing because this is not the book I am wanting to write. Now I am feeling a need to make some more cuts and to make some bigger changes to the beginning and to a few key concepts.

The good news is, that as hard as it always is to have people read your unpolished work, offering up the work can result in some helpful insight. Insight, like in this case, that can lead to an edit you might not have realized you needed to make.

Now the task for me is deciding how to fix it and to move forward. 😀

Have a great week everyone!

~CJS

Confessions of a Jimmy Fallon Junkie

I have a confession. I have fallen into a new addiction.

YouTube videos of Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.

I cannot help but smile or laugh out loud when watching the videos, especially the games he plays with celebrity guests. I stumbled on this new addiction because someone posted a video “Water War with Chris Hemsworth” on my Twitter feed and then I ended up binge watching every video uploaded from the Jimmy Fallon show ever. Ok perhaps that is a slight overstatement, but, you get the idea. 😃

One video, though, did more than make me laugh, it really made me think. It seemed a perfect illustration of how people feel it okay to behave or speak about someone when you think they may not see or hear it. It made me think of things people say online especially.

The video is about a baseball player I have never heard of, sorry I am not a baseball fan, but the clip explains it well about who he is and why NY fans might not like him. The show sets up a chance for fans to boo this player before the big game when the player returns. What the fans don’t know is that the player is actually right there and can hear. He then comes out and the people see him and their reactions are great.

Watch clip of Fans Boo Robinson Cano

How great are their reactions when they realize what they are doing/saying is essentially right to the guy’s face? Would they have done the same if they had known that in the first place? I doubt it.

I then wondered if people would say some of the hateful, ugly, and abusive things you often see said on Facebook or Twitter in posts or comments if they were having to say those things to the person’s face? I doubt it. I would think you would see far less of it in any case.

So why would people say such things online? Of course another funny late night host has tackled this topic to great hilarity in the bit Mean Tweets on Jimmy Kimmell Live, but I thought this was a great way to see the difference.

So, you see, my new Jimmy Fallon YouTube watching addiction has been educational
for me. Yep. Can you hear the justification there?

These clips aren’t educational at all but hilarious and some of my favorites. Enjoy and everyone have a great week!

Jimmy Fallon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Stephen Merchant Lip Sync Battle – Stephen Merchant doing Single Ladies = awesome. Jimmy Fallon is always funny. Joseph Gordon-Levitt just kills it in Tiny Dancer.

Wheel of Impressions with Kevin Spacey Because Kevin Spacey is greatness.

BattleShots with Chris Pine Poor Chris Pine hilariously loses this game.

I could go on and on, and believe me I have, but I should get back to writing and away from Jimmy Fallon clips. #Addictive – which calls for just one more clip —-

Hashtags with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake