Thursday, June 3, 2010

Shelving Jennifer


I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a name other than Jennifer. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jennifer is a pretty name, but it was way too popular when I was growing up. Everywhere I went, I ended up with dumb nicknames to differentiate me from other Jennifers.

If the nicknames had been cool, I would have celebrated the popularity of my name, but they were usually unflattering or were a bludgeoned version of my last name (Briggs). I went through years of high school bearing the undignified name of Briggsy. This was due to the fact that there were 10 Jennifers in a class of 100 kids!

When I got married and added Stanley to my name, I was able to merge the Jennifer and the Briggs to make J.B. Then, when the Hope Street Church books went into production, I reverted to regular old Jennifer.
So you can imagine my excitement when my editor at Berkley Prime Crime said I could pick a pen name for my new Books By the Bay mysteries. 

A new name! Anything I wanted? WOW!


As most of you know by now, I chose Ellery Adams. My mom and I
used to read Ellery Queen books every winter and for me, the name Ellery is synonymous with mystery –more so than Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, or Dashiell Hammett. And really, I don’t look like a Dashiell. The Adams part is less interesting. After being at the end of the alphabet in the bookstore for the past four years, I wanted to be in the beginning for a spell. 

Now here’s a fun game! Pretend I’m your editor and I’ve just called to tell you that I need a pen name for your new mystery series. What would yours be?

40 comments:

Andrea C. said...

Oh..I know this one. I have thought about it before. I would be Mia Morgan. Mia is my middle name and I always wish I had gone by it instead of Andrea. Morgan is a family name (many women in my family were named Morgan) AND I love alliteration!
Good Pick with Ellery Adams! I like it!

Lorna Barrett said...

LOL! My stepdaughter is named Jennifer (she's 3 years younger than you)--and was also in school with a load of other Jennifers.

And you're right about the unflattering nick-names. Her sisters called her Poop-Face -- and sometimes still do!

mary in MO said...

I can relate, in a class of Mary's way back when, Maary Ann, Mary Beth, Mary Lee..I wore thick glasses, my middle name begins with G. I got to be 'MaGoo' NOT PLEASANT to be called that for 8 grades of education.
My choice for a pen name would be 'Wanda Whye'....

Jessica Park said...

Mrs. Rick Springfield

Dru said...

I just knew Jessica would come up with that pen name ;)

I can't think of one :(

Anonymous said...

Ok, so where have I been. JB, I had no idea you were Ellery Adams. I figured it was a pen name, but I had no idea it was you. I loved your Hope Street Church Mystery. I am reading the second book now. And I was so into A Killer Plot, once I finished it yesterday, that I actually dreamed about it last night. WOW.
Annette

Kelley said...

I would choose Elizabeth Kelley. I have always liked the name Elizabeth and of course, Kelley is my real first name :)

And just think of every rhyming word for Kelley and you'll get the idea of the teasing I got as a kid! Kids are mean!! :p

Peggy Graham said...

I'd probably become Maggie Ellison. Although my actual given name is Peggy, I've constantly been bombarded with people asking "isn't your name really Margaret?" Well, no, it isn't. But Maggie is another derivative of the Margaret that isn't my real name, and I've lived on Ellison Street for 30 years. So, there you go!

Laineshots said...

Any name I want? Cool! Well, since Ellery Adams is already taken (and I LOVE Ellery)...... :) Well, since I already got to change my name once (my first name is also my older sister's), I'll keep Laine...Laine McQueen. Yeah, that's it!

jbstanley said...

Laine, I have been toying with calling a new character by your name. I think it sounds southern and feminine and plucky!

Babs said...

I know how you feel Jennifer my first name is Barbara and I was always called Barbie, Barb, Bobbi, Babs etc. My maiden name is Downey and I was always called the fabric softener fun ha.

My Pen name is M.K. they are the first initial of the babies we lost and thought a good way to include and remember them.

Rosemary Harris said...

Janet Evanovich?

No...I always wanted to have one of those androgynous but girly names..like Sam for Samantha or Charlie for Charlotte, Frankie for Francesca..and I like my characters last name, so I'd be Frankie Holliday.

That was fun.

Aimee said...

C.K. Dexter ... and if you can figure out why I'll know we're meant to be friends forever and ever. ;)

CindyD said...

I know your pain - even now when I meet another Cindy I can guess how old she is! "Cindy" is my nickname, my name is actually "Lucinda" and I used that in high school till it got shortened to "loose".

Mandie W said...

I feel your pain too, Jennifer. My real name is Amanda and I'm guessing we are close to the same age because we had a dozen Jennifer's and Amanda's in my school too, LOL! That's why I spell Mandie with an IE because I needed to differentiate from the other Mandy's and Amy's... I think for my pen name I'd be Carla Bender. I chose Carla because when I was 6 i tried to change my name to Carla and Bender because it's the street I grew up on, PLUS it has the bonus of being near the beginning of the alphabet :)

Anonymous said...

I know I won't get credit for my comment by going anonymous but that's okay. Mine is Anne Sorgeson. I hope to write other things one day but we'll see. Two kids under 7 and other family stuff going on.

Debra said...

I would be Madison Hampton, my grandfather's name. I wanted to name our son Madison but instead he is Noah Ethan. He is 18,when he was about five I started to meet baby girls named Madison,but strangely enough no boys.

signlady217 said...

Angela Raye (my real first name and my dad's middle name, which my real middle name is derived from). It sounds like a good one for a romance novelist! There's actually not that many "Angela"s around, but they crop up here and there. I've met a few "Angel"s and "Angelina"s, too.

Shel said...

Oh lord, Jess...*laughing* Well, let's see here. I'd want something different. (Although that's dangerous in itself, what do you do at a signing when a fan starts asking you a question prefaced by your "name" and you don't answer?) I know one author right now that I'm supposed to meet up with at Printer's Row who has two writing names, and I have no idea which is her REAL name, and therefore don't have a clue what to call her. I'm leaning toward "Hey, you" at the moment...*grin*. Dang it, Jess, I think you've derailed me completely this morning. But anyway, my fictional pseudonym would probably be Faith McCormick. Faith is my daughter's middle name, and McCormick is a family name.

Rural View said...

My name is Barbara and immediately you know I'm over 65 because the name fell out of favor after that. Hated Barb, although my great-aunt called me Barbs and I actually liked it. Was more generally known as Bobbie Jo or BJ. This was before MASH.

A pen name: Amy McBride. Amy is my favorite name and McBride my mother's maiden name.

Kelley said...

Aimee,

I've always been a fan of Macauley, but my friends call me Mike :) Of which I have many!

LOL! Love that movie!! C.K. Dexter Haven, one of the best names ever invented for a movie!

Kelley

Mom2MandJ said...

Mine would be something out of Jane Austen, like Anne Northanger or Lizzie Mansfield.

Amy J said...

What a question! Never thought of that...now pondering. Growing up, we would always bring flowers to the cemetery to put on the stones of relatives, and every year we'd hear the stories of who was who. One name that I LOVED and still do, is Axie Moriah. But I'd want to add something to that....my beloved Grandma's name was Hazel, so perhaps Axie Moriah Hazelton (whew! what a mouthful! Can you pick oddities like that??) I'd know if someone called my name as you never hear of someone named Axie, so I'd turn to look and see who they were calling! :)

Ellery Adams said...

I love all these names! May steal some of them for a future book.

Jessica, I already consider you Mrs. Rick Springfield. I know you're happily married and perhaps Rick is too, but the man owes you something for your tireless devotion and I think a title would do nicely.

Marlyn said...

Liz Bennett. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Jennifer/Ellery:
What a fun surprise! I had a thought about it but said, Nah. See how easily I'm fooled. Now another book to add to my collection of yours. I was already sold on it so...
Name would be Danielle Scott. Daughter's middle name and my Mother's last name.

Whatever your name is it means Success!

Jess, LOL keep trying gal!
Love, Jeannie or Anon.

Melissa Eiselein said...

I am totally stressing over a pen name. I'd like to keep my real first name because I'm afraid I won't remember to answer to anyone else. My entire K-12 school years I knew only one other Melissa. That was awhile ago. :)

Now, there are so many that I'm having trouble finding a pen name that still has an open domain or isn't as hard to pronounce as my real last name. I'd like to stick with an "E" name, but the letter seems to make for some slim picking.

I was seriously considering Melissa Emerald, but that sounds like a romance writer name and I write cozy mysteries.

I'm so confused. I want a good name, easy to remember, good play on the alphabet list, but not too corney, hard to remember or hard to write. Ack!

Ellery Adams said...

Hey Melissa, how about Melissa Malone?

Cricket said...

Well since I have always hated my real name which is Rebecca...I would use the name I was given when my dad first saw me which is Cricket. Then I would use my Maiden name which is McGraw. So my pen name would be Cricket McGraw. (Thanks Dad for such a cool nickname.)

Helen Kiker said...

Rose Wolfe

Rose is my middle name.

My favorite author is Rex Stout but who would want a name like Rose Stout - eek! So I used his famous detective's last name - Wolfe

Allison said...

My nickname has been Alli since high school (before the show "Kate & Alli!). My dad called me "Big Al" for years, too.
My pen name for a series would be Allianne Burke (mixing first and middle names, and my maiden name as a tribute to my dad). Guess I better finish that book so I can use the name!

Chèli said...

For me, I'd choose Victoria Martin.

I always like Victoria because there are so many nicknames that you can get from it and Martin, because that was my father's name.

I sympathize about your end of the alphabet issues. I grew up with the last name that started with Y and was usually last or next to last. So when I started dating I swore I wasn't going past the letter G. Lucky for me, Prince Charming was in the Ds.

marybelle said...

Isabella Fontaine. So far removed from my name. A tad exotic.

marypres@gmail.com

Lindy said...

I created an alter ego to use on the internet: Lindy Someone. I introduced myself to my husband the other night. He sometimes kinda wonders about me. Maybe I'll become Greta Gostiert (invented from the word verification I have to type to enter this comment).

Lori Mager said...

I think mine would be Lorraine Hope...My mom wanted to name me Lorraine Hope and call me Lori for short...My dad doesn't like nicknames and said, If you're gonna call her Lori, name her Lori....and they did. I like Hope for a middle name so much better than Kay!!!

Valerie Consoer said...

Maybe I'm totally out of the loop, but I had absolutely no idea that you were Ellery Adams! Coulda fooled me! Wonderful name, though!
Oh gosh, I have put some thought into names that I could go by if I went by a pen name and I haven't exactly decided on just one. Here are my choices: Violet Richards, Tonda O'Bryan, or Gayle Thomas.
Congrats on the new identity and book!

Anonymous said...

I was one of several million Cathys (or Kathy) born in the same year and had to go by Catherine in first grade because there were so many of us. My dad called me Kitty Cat when I was little so I'd probably be Kit Baker. I grew up on Baker St.

Valerie Consoer said...

Well, Kit Baker (lol), my dad used to call me huggy bear, which still makes me smile to this day. And my mom and grandmother called me Valigayle. I love that nickname as well. I'm glad you posted that. I haven't thought about those old nicknames of mine in a long time. Brings back good memories.

Aimstark said...

I picked my pen name a long time ago. Now I just need to write the novel!

If you ever see a mystery by Easely Livingood, that will be me.

Anonymous said...

Bella Saint John Sounds important : ) Susan Vtc