Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mistaken Identities...Tanya Hanson

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1


When I was born, my great-grandfather wrote me a letter I didn’t read until many years after his death. I’d been christened with such an elaborate Russian name he declared I ought to be a ballerina or composer.

Sadly, I’m a klutz and only okay on the piano. And despite his excitement, I grew up seriously loathing both my first and last names. I was often teased about being a “Commie.” Each name was constantly mispronounced and misspelled. I won a prestigious art award in college and yup, spelled wrong. My mom often joked that I’d marry a Smith or Jones. Something easy.

Hanson seemed to fit her prediction. Easy to pronounce for sure. But just as easy to misspell. I have relatives who still spell my married name HansEn. Uh, we’ve been married almost forty years.

I mention all of this because I wondered about pseudonyms when I started out as a writer. Do I honor my father? My husband? Or become somebody entirely new. A very successful, very famous author I met through RWA regretted using her actual name; she kept getting fan mail from a guy in prison who vowed to “look her up” when he got released...

Reality won out. Tanya Hanson I was and Tanya Hanson I would remain. And hence comes my initial advice to every newbie author. Google your pen name before you carve it in stone. I did not. Upon publishing my first book, it took my eleven year old neighbor boy's misspelling my last name as he looked up my new website to discover that Tanya HanSEN is a porn star.

Yup. At least I got a lot of traffic to my site. And also Too Much Information about the real me all over the internet.

Then came the additional challenge of writing both secular and inspirational romance. My writing both genres never bothered my editors, nor did my keeping the same name. But wow, I’ve gotten some nasty comments and reviews from judgmental readers.

So I wonder. Is it better to start out fresh and new? Or like my great-grandfather’s wish, aspire for good things as your actual self?

Do you use a pen name? Should authors use different names for different genres? Too late for me, but let me know your advice and thoughts for upcoming authors out there!


Claiming His Heart

Caught between a noose and a cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything possible to prove his brother’s innocence...even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. He needs every nugget and flake he can pull from her worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife. Save his brother and he’ll be back on the Texas cattle trails. God, and trusting Him, are things of the past.


Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last mysterious outsider in the valley. Faith? That’s wavered, too, after too many family tragedies. But she has no choice but to wed the handsome Tull. He bears terrible family secrets that need to be kept behind closed doors. Although she’s eager to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatments for her wounded brother, her unwanted marriage douses her plans, yet stirs up hope and love for Tull...and begins to fortify her weakened faith.

Can the two of them find a future--and faith--together even with their haunted pasts? 

Amazon Buy link:

Tanya Hanson and her firefighter-hubby live on California’s Central Coast where they are the besotted grandparents of two darling little boys. Her love of the West shows up in each of her stories. Claiming His Heart, set in the gold mining country of southern California, is her first inspirational historical romance.




51 comments:

  1. Great post, Tanya! I've been looking forward to reading your day all month. :)

    I googled my real name and sent a cheery little note to all five of the others who share my name. (Would you believe it?) One did not appreciate it at all and asked me to change my name! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie, laughing out loud. I was amazed at how many Tanya Hansons there actually are. When our son applied to college, the admissions department kept mixing him up with another boy of the same name. Sigh...your kind words mean so much to me. Whatever would I do without you :) ?

      Delete
  2. I'm curious about pen names as well especially as I'm writing my first book targeted outside the CBA border. I think I'm only sharing my name with a teacher. Safe...for now. :)

    Great post, Tanya!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dora, I know, it's a hard decision because most of us like being ourselves, but I still have doubts after all these years. Oh well, what can ya do LOL? Thanks for posting, my wonderful friend.

      Delete
  3. I struggled with the idea of using a combination of family names and eventually decided to use my real name. Then I had to decide whether to use Sandra or Sandy (what I go by). Sandra won out, but I might as well have flipped a coin. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi Sandy,hmmm, spelling a name slightly askew might work. I dunno. It's a tough one. I hope you're glad you stayed the same LOL. Thanks for posting today.

      Delete
  4. People constantly spell my first name wrong - even folks who have known me for years.

    I'm not sure who all shares my name. I'll have to check that out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Terri, oh, I hear ya about misspelled first names. There are SO many ways to mess up Tanya. Our daughter named her baby boy a hard-to-spell one, going against my advice LOL. At least his is short. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  5. My hubs nicknamed me early in our marriage. The nickname I'd had; the spelling was new. It was a joke that stuck. When I started writing and learned abotu Googling, I found I'm the only Ane Mulligan in the world. There are other Anes but no other Ane Mulligans. (And it's pronounced like Ann) :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, Ane, you had your answer early on. I like it! But do folks who don't know for sure start out and say "Aine"? I've seen Irish first names that don't remotely spell the way they sound. I like that you are the only one in the world!

      Delete
    2. I read a book where the heroes name was Eoghan, an Irish name. I was do disappointed to learn it is pronounced Owen.

      Delete
    3. I know what you mean. Eoghan looks so much more romantic than the familiar ol' Owen. (No offense to any Owens or Mrs. Owens!)

      Delete
  6. Great post, Tanya! Love your writing voice. I discovered several people shared my married name when I signed up for Facebook. Couldn't believe it. Still can't, with such an unusual last name. No writers that I know of, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Annette, yup, I think there are 25 Tanya Hanson's on FB. I even wrote one of them to see if we should have our own group LOL. Never heard back. I agree, it's very interesting when there are others who share an unusual name. Oh, I have another doppelganger who's a PhD and another an attorney, so we won't let that porn star win!

      Delete
  7. I use my real name. I used a pen name for fanfic, but that is gradually coming down from wherever it was posted now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Clare, always so nice to see you. Your name is such a great-sounding one for an author. Best wishes on your latest release and another new series! xo

    ReplyDelete
  9. I use a pen name for two reasons. One my married name is hard to pronounce and spelling it is - well no one ever gets it right. Second reason, I wanted to use the name I was born-my real name.. So I use my middle initial and my maiden name for writing and photography.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Louise, what a great way to cover all the bases! My middle name is very lame, though, it was never in the contention LOL. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Delete
    2. I agree with Louise. The name I was born with still feels like my real name, despite 35 years of marriage. It sits comfortably on me, whether I'm writing fiction or non-fiction.

      Delete
    3. Hi Madeleine, so nice to hear from you! Despite all its warts, I too did like my maiden name after I matured LOL. God bless you in your genres of writing.

      Delete
  10. I used a pen name. My name is old-fashioned and lengthy, so my 12 year old nephew suggested my first & middle name. Short and easy to remember. Anyone who has known me long knows my family calls me both. Norma Gail is something I fought against my entire life. Now it's on my book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Norma, oh I'm chuckling. In kinda the same vein I actually riffed off my maiden name, first and last, for a YA I wrote...I love your idea of using your middle name as a surname. Nice and succinct. Thanks for commenting today.

      Delete
  11. Loved your reason for a 'new name'. I use a partial one because I didn't want students identifying me immediately. Actually, I had a beautiful, melodic (I thought :>) chosen, then a member of my RWA chapter recommended keeping your first name because of the 'which name do I answer to' factor. Made sense, so then I concentrated on finding a last name to match.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barbara, I love your reasons. It's hard to "put yourself out there." I taught school for a zillion years and lots of those kids, now grown ups, are friends on FB. I love the reasoning of keeping the same first name. I have several RWA chapter friends well known with pen names, and I tend to think of them by their "fake" name when we meet and talk. Sheesh. So nice to hear from you today..

      Delete
  12. Hi Tanya, great topic! My married name is Scandinavian and almost but not quite rhymes with Hanson. I decided not to use it as my author name to protect my family's privacy, particularly my daughter's. She wasn't happy when I talked about her in my memoire, Six Cats In My Kitchen. Publishing it under my pen name mollified her somewhat.

    My pen name is a combo of the nickname my hubby has always called me, and my maiden name, Horner. There other Lyn Horners out there on the net (I've noticed a couple) but I don't worry about it. I'm the only one who writes western historicals with a supernatural twist. At least as far as I know. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lyn, I do get what you're saying about privacy. Sometimes I see a lot more of myself out there than I wish...e.g. personal stuff. I've had to ask some sites to take it down, like Spokeo. Sigh. And I love western historicals with a supernatural twist. You're in my Kindle for the days I finally get to sit down and read. Sighing. I so appreciate you commenting today!

      Delete
  13. Great post! I use a pen name because I'm a teacher and my books, admittedly not erotica, have adult content. The last thing I want to deal with is a student reading out a...ahem...scene in my class. Awkward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL J.C. I sooo hear you. I didn't start writing until I left teaching but yep, those students are still out there! While my secular books are definitely NOT erotic, some are not closed-door. Hard call. One fun thing, though. A former student has the coolest cowboy-sounding name. His wife is my Facebook friend and when I asked them if I could use his name for a hero, they were both SO excited! Thanks so much for stopping by today.

      Delete
  14. Hi Tanya! So funny. I live my normal life under a pseudonym, since I took my husband's last name informally ten years into our marriage when having a different last name than him and our two children felt as wrong as taking his name the day we got married had earlier. As a documentarian with a social media life that reveals quite a bit about my political/social views, I definitely thought it best to take a pen name when I became a newbie YA author to keep that brand focused on the books, not me. So now, I juggle the three names,which can be complicated, but each one serves a valuable purpose, so no regrets. And yes, I did google my pen name before choosing it. I'd almost chosen the name of that poor girl who was cyber bullied by another girl's mother into committing suicide. I thought that would have been a rather tasteless pen name for a YA author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, Kady. You sure made the proper decision there! And I kinda hear ya...even though my maiden name caused me much consternation in my youth, It was kinda hard to give it up forty years ago...but honoring it as a pen name was out of the question. It's just too complicated. Thanks so much for sharing your decisions with us today! I so appreciate it.

      Delete
  15. Hi Tanya! I use a variation on my real name: JM Stewart. The 'J' is my first name, and the 'M' is the first initial of my maiden name. Why? Honestly? Because I hate my first name. Or at least, I used to. It just sounds so boring. But I don't exactly hide who I am, either, so now I'm not sure that using one really made any sense. lol But I'm published with it, so there it stays. I didn't google mine, though. Turns out, there's apparently a place that makes signs by that name. Lots of new authors popping up as JM, too. Oh well. Interesting topic!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Howdy Joanne, thanks so much for stopping by today! I love the double initials without separation by periods. Very unique! And I don't mean to malign any pen names out there, but an RWA speaker once specifically mentioned both Dan Brown and Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) as the royalty of boring. SIgh. I'm kinda there LOL. So glad to see you here!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm using a pen name, purely as a matter of preference. I did an internet search of both my pen name and my married name before I created my website and my pen name was a better option. I sure get a lot of questions, though. Fun post!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Heidi, thanks so much for commenting today. I love that your pen name was a better option. I once came up with Trill Hillstreet for a now-defunct action-adventure series I'd concocted for an editor before the line folded, sigh. Who knows what future identities we might all become, no?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was going to use my married name, Maggie Marlow, because like you I wanted to keep it real, then I discovered that there was already an author using that name. No problem, I'll use my maiden name, Maggie Kelly, I always liked that name. No, another author was using that one. Finally I mushed the two together and came up with Marlow Kelly. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it'll have to do, for now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marlow, actually, I think your pen name is way, way cool and soooo distinctive. You did good, girl! It just never occurred to me to google beforehand, sheesh. You did good there, too LOL.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to post today.

      Delete
  20. Ah, it's an age-old question for writers. I went with my maiden name, which is actually my legal name, but I tend to go through day-to-day life under my married name and thought the distinction would create a little buffer between writer me and mommy me. Then I end up participating in FB parties and other promo activities under my personal page, so my web of secrecy has totally been compromised: :}

    Basically, if I write it, I gotta own it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Sam. I so hear ya. wink wink There is no hiding out in today's technology. And I agree, I write what I write and I'm me all the way through. Love you, Sam. Thanks so much for posting today. Excitid about your new release in two weeks and rooting for ya RITA-wise in San Antonio. xoxox

      Delete
  21. I use a pen name principally because of the day job, but it's a loose secret. Also, in between the time I googled the name and the time my first book was published, some probably-very-lovely lady in New Zealand self pubbed her own novel, about how she and her husband met in Indonesia. By then I was too far down the road with social media, book promo etc., to change plus I LIKE Veronica Scott for a pen name.And of course she was also "Veronica Scott." I got the Amazon Author Page, which was my main careabout. We seem to be co-existing in the book world quite nicely and we both get pirated about equally, I think LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Veronica, wow, another author. At least you scored the author page, and piracy is just so wrong...but the way you wrote it, I can see you smiling. What can ya do...thanks soo much for stopping by today. Xo

      Delete
  22. I'm a planner, so I started thinking about this before I'd even started to write a book. For now, my pen name is getting lots of use online. I wanted to keep my first name because I like it and it's who I am, but my given last name is difficult to spell or remember. I spent a lot of time searching on names from my family tree. Finally, I found one that didn't come up in any search. I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cami, a great idea to plan ahead. I am so bad at that...I think I launched my website along with the book. Oh well, slow,learner...hence my advice today. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  23. Our parents likely didn't Google our names before they picked them when we were born. As authors we do have that luxury at least.

    I have two pen names. One is my first & middle real names, just because I think they sound cool as a pen name (Jesse Pearle). The other I chose for personal association reasons and via the Scrivener name generator. Ophelia means "serpentine" and, well, I was writing about dragons. I chose a single syllable last name that evoked music (Bell), and also had a slight recognition link to a certain very popular story about vampires. I didn't actually Google that pen name before I settled on it, though... turns out there's a sweet old black lady in North Carolina with the same name. I wonder what she thinks when she googles herself and finds dragon erotica? (And I think it's kinda cool that I grew up in NC, too.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Jesse, thanks so much for your interesting post. I know my daughter and son googled names before their kids were born...but each had to "look" at their sons before bestowing a name officially LOL. And it's just as hard to get our pen names correct. Looks like you did it right!

      Delete
  24. Hi Tanya,
    Great post. Yikes, a porn star! That’s wild.
    I'm looking forward to reading Claiming His Heart. I also enjoy reading inspirational romance, and I’ve always wondered if authors who cross over to secular have backlash from readers.

    Okay, to your question. I’m a romantic suspense author and use a pen name, but it is just my initials. I use my real name for my elementary teaching career. I live in a small town so my pen name helps me keep my two professions separate; especially with social media. I researched the topic and the advice to use part of my own name made sense. It is easier for your friends to remember than a completely made up name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi JL, I didn't publish until after I left teaching full time but I hear ya...gotta keep it separate. A lot of my former students (I taught at a Catholic high school) are my FB friends and fans now; that's so great. I hope you get to read CHH some day. It's my first-ever historical inspirational so I'm still a little shaky about it. There are two more in the series planned but now it making the time for it. In the meantime, I'm concentrating on writing short stories and novellas...the shorter lengths go down easier these days with family concerns going on. I so appreciate you stopping by today!

      Delete
  25. I use my real name. I want readers to find me easily and, okay, I want all the credit for what I write. Using my real name works for me, but I do understand why some authors use a pen name. Nora Roberts uses R.D. Robb as a pen name for her mystery books to save her romance fans from confusion about the genre of book they're purchasing. Some authors have jobs, like teaching grade school, and don't want her/his students or their parents to know his/her stories are erotica. No one wants to endanger their means for making a living. And sometimes, an author runs into another author who has the same name. There's probably another Stephen King out there; what if he wrote horror stories, too? Everyone also has the right to privacy and may use a pen name to keep the career separate from real life. The only time I have a problem with pen names is when one author has a myriad of pen names. It gets difficult to find all their books through a maze of names.
    A provocative blog, Tanya. I enjoyed reading all the different comments.

    ReplyDelete
  26. hi Sarah, I thought today's response was great, too! I think the one thing I regret, and it's not even the porn star, is the lack of privacy the internet generates. But, it is what it is LOL. I am so happy you could visit us here today! Hope you come back!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I recently choose my first Pen name. I write historicals under Susan Edwards and figured for erotica, I had to take on a pen name. It was quite a journey.
    Sydney

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Sydney, I think I'd have to agree. Best of luck for all your genres! thanks for posting here today.

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!