Sometimes There Are Things You Never Knew You Needed

For those of you who’ve been out of the loop or might be new to the blog, here’s the not so big news that I’m moving across the great big state of Pennsylvania from Pittsburgh to a small town between Wilmington, DE and Philadelphia. We’ve been in the temporary housing for a few months now and we’ve finally gotten all the paperwork sorted for a mortgage and to go buy another house. Great right?

I thought so too. We had a mortgage, we had our old house listed for sale, we’d found a new house we liked. Loved actually. 3,000 square feet, a built in home office for me to work out, lots of windows to let in light, all on one floor, over 2 acres and with its own in ground pool and hot tub. It was even priced below what we’d been approved for. Sure it needed some paint and various other cosmetic work. But what place doesn’t? Right?

WRONG!!! If you agreed with me you would be wrong!!!!! Because we went in for the general inspection and found that our quaint little place maybe wasn’t so quaint after all. Like the lack of a working master bathroom. The stuff was there it just wasn’t hooked to the plumbing. Which had not been installed properly and was causing the walls to rot. Or the fact that the inspector recommended we really not walk on the deck since it wasn’t structurally stable and we could you know fall through it.

But the worst part? The worst part is the sewer system. It’s the machine equivalent of nonexistent. I mean it’s there and all but it doesn’t work. Or as the Oldest put it, the poop goes down the drain but it just ends up sitting next to the pool. Yeah, that’s a pleasant thought with your wine and your hot tub. No honey, don’t touch that it isn’t a rock.

So last week we went house shopping again and found another nice place. Everything I didn’t want in a house. It’s two stories, in a subdivision, there are neighbors nearby. My house looks like both neighbors houses and I have this paranoia that the Criminal Minds people are going to show up because we all have the same garage door opener (if you haven’t seen that episode very scary and set in the town where hubby and I went to graduate school) and the neighbors have been brutally slain. I don’t even know these people yet but I sure hope they don’t end up dead like that. It seems like a hell of a way to go. But I digress. New house, nothing I wanted in it, everything I didn’t want there and I sort of love the place. Which is good because we’re about to run out of temp housing.

Now if only the inspections go like we need. Or as oldest puts it, the poop gets buried like it’s supposed to.

To Pen or Not to Pen That May Be the Ultimate Career Question

Recently, I launched a new site (www.andriabuchanan.com) and announced to the world my three book publishing deal with Entangled Teen to write a MG/YA romantic-fantasy series called the Chronicles of Nerissette. The most important thing to note here isn’t that I managed a teaser trailer all by myself (I’m pretty proud of that actually) but that I’ve decided to do it under a penname.

Why you might ask? The decision was pretty simple but it requires an explanation. When I wrote my first book—Luck of the Devil—it was written for an adult audience. And my then 8 year old couldn’t read it. Which caused more than a few family fights let me tell you. So, as a compromise, I offered to write my daughter a series of books that she could read and the characters and world of Nerissette was born.

Then the contract comes through and my editor and I sit down to discuss things. Things like “wow Luck of the Devil has enough profanity in it that I wouldn’t be allowed to do a reading at the Kennedy Center because it’s over the Lewis Black f&*$ limit” or “wow I’d sure hate for a kid to pick up Luck of the Devil by mistake because I’m their favorite author and read about the Devil getting a blow job”. And that was where we decided maybe a pen name was in order and Andria Buchanan was born. Not because I’m ashamed to write YA or Adult. Not because I don’t want adults to read my YA work. But because my adult work isn’t suitable for children.

Now a lot of people will tell you that pen names are great. That they’re wonderful. That you should use a different pen name for every subgenre of romance you write. You should keep pen names in reserve because you don’t want to over saturate the market under one name or people will get sick of you. That your quirky paranormal fans aren’t going to love your gritty contemporary spy thrillers.

Personally, I think all of that is balderdash. I think romance readers are flexible in what they read and smart enough to understand that you need the same variety when you write. I think they’re also smart enough to know how to read a back blurb cover and then say “Well I like Author XYZ’s cute ghost stories but you know serial killers aren’t really my thing” so they set the book down and read something else. No harm no foul. I also think that romance is a pretty friendly genre with rabid readers who will keep reading your stuff as long as you put out quality work. It’s not oversaturation that turns off readers it’s a drop in quality by writers.

If you’re using pen names for any of these reasons take a good hard look at your writing and your audience and see if really dividing your time and your energy is worth it. Because that’s what a pen name does. It divides your time and your energy and your branding abilities and adds work to your day.

Now on the opposite side of the argument, if you’re like me and write adult romance and MG/lower YA where the adult books have content that isn’t suitable for younger readers – a pen name is a good idea. It’s more work, yes, but it’s also respectful to your readers to make that definitive break between brands. That’s one reason you should take a pen name. If you write books with profanity or erotica or a lot of gory violence and you want to write YA/MG ? Save everyone the headache and take a pen name.

If you have an audience that would be offended or detrimentally affected by reading all of your work, separate out the work focused on that audience with a pen name. Take the extra time to respect that audience and their particular situation. Don’t put your hardcore BDSM erotica that involves group sex on the same page as your MG works or your sweet Christian cozies. Can you write both? Sure. Why not? Just respect your audience and your brands by keeping them separate.

To wrap up, if you’re taking a pen name because you’re worried about oversaturation or genre confusion, seriously consider whether the effort is worth it. It may not be worth the headache. If you’re doing it to protect or respect one of your audiences from the content of your other books – then in my opinion it’s not only the respectful course of action but totally worth the effort.

What do you think? Do you love pen names? Do you hate them? Are there any situations that you think they should be a hard and fast rule? Do you think I’m totally off base?