What’s In A (pen)Name?

A name can be a tricky thing. It is you—at least the you that anyone will take with them. A name is the first thing someone learns about you. It’s the thing they try to remember as you jib-jab small talk—not many other details will stick (unless you have a dog with you…and then they will only ever remember your dog’s name for the rest of time).

Names are an identifier, albeit not a very good one. Look at how many James Smiths there are in the world (over 35k said one ancestry census). There is a good chance you are walking around with hundreds or thousands of people with your exact name. There are not a whole heckuva lot of people with my first/last name combination, but there is one particularly famous one—that’s where my current problem lies.

I think I need a pen name.

I don’t want one. I spent a long time thinking I didn’t need one. However, after a few years of moving my name around, trying my middle initial, and a few other ways to get around this famous person’s name on the internet, I have not gotten very far in establishing myself and popping this person’s bubble on Google. Now, my long-time internet ‘handle’ has its own life on the web. I’ve had it for twenty years. Exiled Replicant is singular and can easily be remembered and found. But I can’t necessarily publish books as “The Exiled Replicant.” I suppose I could, but wow, would that be pretentious.

I googled pen name generators and anagrams of my sobriquet. Still, it’s way too long to come up with anything resembling catchy by using those ordinary devices. Eventually, I came up with some possibilities and felt a new life forming. I got excited. (oo) I said to myself, thinking about the personification of the new life I’d created. Not a character, but a new me. Maybe, even possibly, a name I would have to stick with for the rest of my career (if by some miracle you ever sell something and become known by any small group of readers).

How do you choose?!

There’s also the small notion of having to change everything you’ve ever worked on up until this point to now be that new name. What are the easiest and choicest steps to changing your social handles, website addresses, and bylines on everything possible to erase your retired persona? Do you keep more than one nom de plume at hand for a time you need to incinerate some other version of yourself that you no longer feel you can encapsulate?

When it comes down to brass tax, the questions become: do I decide to juggle multiple names, Twitter handles, and websites for different components of my writing career? Stick with the one I already have and just deal with being on page nine of the world wide web unless I can surpass a famous musician? Or create one new name, one time, and just continue along my course, as myself personality-wise, with a new name?

How many of you know Anne Rice or C.S. Lewis’ real names? Kirk Douglas or Elton John’s? How long ahead of their career did they decide? Were they well on their way before they got the full agent “turnaround,” or were they smart enough to do it from the get-go? The only one I can think of was when I saw early acting videos of Willem Dafoe pronouncing his name differently. Everyone else seems to have quickly swept their old selves under the rug.

How many of you have gone with a pen name? And if so, did you always have that name from the beginning or have to choose your own path later on?

BOOK REVIEW – Fadeout by Joseph Hansen

This 1970 noir-style detective story titillates with an engrossing story and a queer protagonist.

Joseph Hansen was a famous poet and novelist from the ’50s until his death in 2004. I had never heard of him, which honestly is strange as a gay dude living in tinsel town. He was part of the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood and was notable in the community.


Fadeout is the first in a series of 12 books in the Dave Brandstetter mysteries, which now, of course, I’m going to have to buy all of immediately. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read the rest.


Our protagonist is an insurance detective working for his father’s insurance company. He is a gruff and dutiful mid-40’s who also happens to be unabashedly homosexual. The story opens with a car accident and a missing body. Brandstetter’s company doesn’t want to have to pay the 150k life insurance policy on the man in the car because, well, his body is missing. Did he wash up in the sink somewhere unseen, or is there something more sinister going on? Of course, sinister! Everyone has secrets, and everyone seems to know the missing wannabe writer and mayoral candidate Fox Olsen. Brandstetter uses his skills of people reading and offering cigarettes to get down to the bottom of it.


Throughout the book, we’re given glimpses of Brandstetter’s life, and this is where I read with my mouth open. I’m ecstatic that Hansen could write this, a hard-boiled mystery, with an openly queer protagonist who doesn’t hide who he is. He has the typical drinks and cigs, gay flings, lesbian besties, and a penchant for dark young men. Throughout the story, you can see people around him use words like fag, flit, and queer without Brandstetter batting an eye. He watches them go about their homophobic rants without feeling the need to tell them who he is, even though a few throughout the story peg him pretty quick. He does the job, and the job is what matters. The story runs parallel with troubles in Brandstetter’s own life which gives you a good feeling of who he is.


At times there were too many characters introduced in a short time that I had trouble keeping track of who was who and how they were all related. However, it was still a fun mystery to unravel.

Rating: 4.5/5

Queer up the classics

A FUN IDEA: Our favorite classic authors are our favorites for a reason, but because of the times there was a severe lack of gay characters and storylines. Taking your favorite authors from the golden age of sci-fi (from Asimov to Zebrowski), tell us your favorite story and explain in the comments how you’d “queer” it up!

– Idea from Queer Sci Fi!

Instaration #6

Look out the window,
Find a sign, find a face.
The stacks of well-worn sorrow
are paled against snow-dusted glass.

I hold my hand out to you,
Press the glass, feel my warmth.
Your home is much more than a hearth.

_

Spent the weekend in chilly St. Paul for Jingle Ball and stayed at the beautiful St. Paul Hotel. It had a very warm and old school feeling against the snow and biting cold of the city.

Just as I was packing for my flight to head home, I pulled open a drawer and saw their beautiful post cards and stationary. Well, I couldn’t help myself. I let my bag fall and pulled the chair out, reaching for my new pen (the one I had stolen from another drawer in that same hotel room earlier) and had to put something down.

This was a nice thing to add to the memory of my trip, so I think I’ll have to do something like this at more of the hotels I visit!

Spiders

Just a little Halloween inspired prose for October.

SPIDERS

Do I live among the spiders,

or do the spiders live with me?

I am not entirely sure,

Will you help make it clearer to me?

Humble in living, crude in thought,
I make the most of what I haven’t been taught.
I am the man in my castle, king of my hill,
but the spiders sit above me, hiding their will.
Night comes again and I slink into bed,
reminiscing and planning for a few days ahead.
From their webs they come down, crawling in droves,
but my eyes cannot see, for I am dreaming of groves.
They descend and tickle my skin with their legs,
my body jumps, shaking the bed from its pegs.
Jolted I wake, feeling and reaching to fight,
but the spiders have scurried off, giggling in the night.
It’s only the bites they leave, oozing and blue,
that makes me realize what I am to do.
Tis your webs of deceit, and your sharp little teeth,
that wrap around my soul and puncture my meat.
I shall wait silent in the night, looking for thine,
evil fucking spiders, your sins are now mine.
Do I live among the spiders,
or do the spiders live with me?
I’m still not entirely sure,
but killing you was curing to me.

Notes from the Tree #1

NotesFromTheTree_01

“Excerpts from the D’zalara, found scrolls from the Lozon Mine, Lelara.”

“The Tree knows the nature of what things are,

and not of what man wants them to be.

For not all things seen are shown.” – King Ghishet

“Notes from the Tree” are a collection of found excerpts from the scrolls of D’zalara, from my upcoming science fiction novel “Two Planets.”

Mr. GOODBYE

What does it mean to be liked? To be followed? 

It seems a racket now, doesn’t it?

Someone likes your work, they give you a follow. You check their page, enjoy their work, and give them a follow back. Then the next day, they’re gone. It’s all the numbers game. Make sure you have more followers than people you follow. Add an army’s worth of people a day in hopes they will add you back, then unfollow them all, and hope some of them stick around just to add up your numbers. Is anyone even reading each other’s work? Care about the art?

The pages seem to be the same recycled 7 word meme-shares: love, rain, strong, better, heart, ocean, pain.

The generation of instant gratification has erased the ideal of patience, of waiting for something good to come along, and in taking the time to enjoy something longer and more fulfilling. If it can’t be read in big bold short words while scrolling by, it can’t be worth all that time, can it? If it can’t be swiped left or right, double-tapped, and passed on, did you really write it?

Luckily, the soldiers of he word are strong, the soldiers like you. The people who trudge on through the slop of buzz words and “Hang in there, baby” cat posters and gifs of dogs falling in to mounds of snow. You write because words are warriors. They cut through the blackthorns of mediocrity and sail across the seas.

Has this affected how you write in this new social world?

The emergence of instant gratification meme poetry and daily motivations, what are your thoughts?


 

You are transparent in your need,

taking time to show your feed.

You follow and like and show your cards,

y’all don’t need fans, you need to be starred.

The words you string are not your own.

The ideas, the memories, the long-lost loves,

are his, and hers, and they’s, to loan.

Like the journey of The Fool,

they are ancient too,

why slap your name on it,

telling me it’s something new?

When you’re in it for the numbers,

the digits climb and raise you high,

to the mantle of poor ole forgettable Mr. Goodbye.