Your Fake Name

A lot of authors use pen names, but they’re not the only ones. Use of a pseudonym is prevalent in other branches of the entertainment industry also, as there are lots of actors and musicians who use alternative names. If you’re new to writing and want to choose a pen name, but you’re wondering if there’s some legal and official thing you have to do, you don’t. Unless you plan to do something business-wise or financially with your pen name, you simply choose a name and get to work. If you publish traditionally, publishers and agents cut your royalty checks with your legal name on them, so you don’t need a separate bank account with your pen name attached to it.

Why choose a pen name, though? Here are some reasons writers might want a nom de plume:

  • An unwieldy real name. This is the reason I personally have a pen name. My real name is a bit silly. Everyone mispronounces my first name and misspells my last name. So, I took on something easy to say, easy to spell, and is hopefully catchy with its alliteration. Some authors would have lots of headaches with their real name from readers and publishers alike, as they’d be constantly correcting people’s spelling and pronunciation. The opposite is also true–some authors may want to change their name to something more glamorous and memorable, if they have a common and unremarkable name.
  • Anonymity. Some authors–especially romance and erotica authors–may not want people in their real life to know what they write, be it co-workers, family, or friends. Some people have day jobs where they could get in trouble or even fired if it was discovered they write smut (or even something like horror) on the side. Rest assured, if you publish traditionally, publishers do not reveal your legal name to the public. Even your copyright claim inside your book will state your pen name, so your secret is safe.
  • Multiple genres. Some authors write in more than one genre, which may not crossover well with their reader bases, so they write different things under different names. Some are open about this and it’s a well-known fact, while others keep it more secret and even maintain different websites and social media for each name.
  • Just for fun. Some writers just want a writing name, a ‘persona’ they slip into when they’re in author-mode. That’s fine too!

Do you have a pen name? Why/how did you choose it?

A few side notes: Monday is my birthday! I’m not planning anything big for it, but the blog will probably be a bit wonky next week. And Wednesday is release day for It Takes a Thief, which you can pre-order right now! A new book out is indeed a great birthday present for me.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Ten Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Cats

While I was trying to come up with a post for today, I was petting my cat and wondered out loud what I should write about. My cat gave me a look like, “you should write about me, the most important thing on earth, duh, human.” And so here we are.

Ten Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Cats:

  1. It’s easier to get what you want if you act sweet and cute.
  2. Get plenty of rest.
  3. Groom yourself daily (but it’s okay if you have one weird tuft of hair that always sticks up).
  4. Sometimes the packaging is more interesting than what’s inside.
  5. You may have lots of toys, but you will often find the simplest things make you the happiest.
  6. When you meet new people, sniff them get to know them better.
  7. Sometimes you need to just vanish and not let anyone figure out where you are for a while. Have an air of mystery about yourself.
  8. Leave your mark on as many things as you can.
  9. Get wild and crazy for no reason at all sometimes.
  10. If you make a big mess, blame the dog.

I promise a more substantive post on Friday. Do you have any to add?

It Takes a Thief–Now Available For Pre-Order

I now have a release date and pre-order information for It Takes a Thief!

Audra Yates is immortal, a being of a nameless race that has been around since the beginning of time. But there’s still one way for an immortal to die—if you find your soul mate, you’ll start to age. For this reason, Audra has been killing her soul mate for over a century, every time he reincarnates and seeks her out.

Now, Audra is bored with her long life, and she needs a reason to keep going. This time around, her soul mate comes in the form of Eamon Ashe, a beautiful criminal who steals her purse one beautiful, spring morning. When Audra confronts him, she finds herself unnaturally weak to his charms. Audra gives in to the pull that’s been tugging at her for ages, a lust and love that ultimately can’t be contained. Opening herself up to her soul mate gives her the purpose she’s been seeking—but at what cost? Will she choose love over living forever?

Available July 27th 2016 from Siren Bookstrand

Read an excerpt 

Pre-order at: Bookstrand (all e-formats)

All In by Simona Ahrnstedt

Today I’m hosting Simona Ahrnstedt and her contemporary romance All In. Simona is giving away a print copy of All In (US/Canada only), so make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Enter to win a print copy of All In (US/Canada only)

Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

In the cutthroat world of Sweden’s financial elite, no one knows that better than corporate raider David Hammar. Ruthless. Notorious. Unstoppable. He’s out to hijack the ultimate prize, Investum. After years of planning, all the players are in place; he needs just one member of the aristocratic owning family on his side—Natalia De la Grip.

Elegant, brilliant, driven to succeed in a man’s world, Natalia is curious about David’s unexpected invitation to lunch. Everyone knows that he is rich, dangerous, unethical; she soon discovers he is also deeply scarred.

The attraction between these two is impossible, but the long Swedish nights unfold an affair that will bring to light shocking secrets, forever alter a family, and force both Natalia and David to confront their innermost fears and desires.


Michel nodded. After all, this was what Hammar Capital did. Their team of analysts searched for companies that weren’t doing as well as they should be. David and Michel identified the problems—often incompetent leadership—and then vacuumed up shares in order to put together a majority holding

Then they went in, brutally, took over, broke the company into pieces and restructured, sold, and profited. They were better at this than almost anyone else—owning and improving. Sometimes it went smoothly. People cooperated, and Hammar Capital was able to drive its agenda. Sometimes there was a fight.

“I’d still like to get someone from the owning family on our side,” David said as southern Stockholm spread out beneath them. Having one or more of the big shareholders, some of the giant retirement fund managers, for example, on your side was critical for success in a hostile takeover this big. David and Michel had spent a lot of time convincing the managers, attended endless meetings, and run the numbers countless times. But winning over someone from the actual owning family had several advantages. In part, it would be an enormously prestigious symbolic win, especially with this firm, Investum, one of Sweden’s biggest and oldest companies. It would also automatically win over a number of other shareholders who would vote in favor of Hammar Capital if David and Michel could show that they had someone from the inner circle on their side. “It would make the process a lot easier,” he continued.

“But who?”

“There is one person who actually has gone her own way in that family,” said David as Bromma Airport came into view on the horizon.

Michel was quiet for a bit. “You mean the daughter, right?”

“Yes,” David said. “She’s an unknown but considered to be quite the talent. It’s possible that she’s dissatisfied with how the men are treating her.” Investum wasn’t just an old and traditional company. It was patriarchal in a way that would make the 1950s seem modern and enlightened.

“Do you really believe you can win over anyone from that family?” Michel asked hesitantly. “You’re not exactly popular with them.”

David almost laughed at the understatement.

Investum was controlled by the De la Grip family, and the company did billions of kronor worth of business a day. Indirectly Investum, and thus the De la Grip family, controlled close to a tenth of Sweden’s GNP and owned the biggest bank in the country. Family members sat on the board of directors of close to every major Swedish company. The De la Grip family was upper-class, traditional, and wealthy. As close to royalty as you could get without actually being royal. And with significantly bluer blood than any member of the House of Bernadotte, Sweden’s royal family. It would be unlikely for David Hammar, the upstart, to get anyone from the innermost circle— known for their loyalty—to change sides and join him, an infamous venture capitalist and corporate raider.

But he’d done it before, convinced a few family members to join forces with him. That often meant leaving a trail of broken family ties behind him, which he usually regretted, but in this case it would be a welcome bonus.

“I’m going to try,” he said.

“That’s damn near insane,” said Michel. It wasn’t the first time in the last year he’d uttered those words.

David nodded briefly. “I already called to set up a lunch meeting with her.”

“Of course you did,” said Michel as the helicopter started its descent for landing. The flight had taken less than thirty minutes. “And what did she say?”

David thought about the cool voice he’d gotten on the line, not an assistant’s but that of Natalia De la Grip herself. She had sounded surprised but hadn’t said very much, just thanked him for the invitation, and then had her assistant confirm the lunch appointment by e-mail.

“She said she was looking forward to our meeting.”

“She did?”

David laughed, tersely and joylessly. Her voice had been distinctive in that patrician way that almost inevitably triggered his disdain for the upper classes. Natalia De la Grip was one of about a hundred women in Sweden who had been born with the title of countess, the elite of the elite. He hardly had the words to express how little he thought of that kind of person.

“No,” he said. “She didn’t say that.” But then he hadn’t expected her to, either.



Simona Ahrnstedt © 2014 Fotograf Anna-Lena Ahlstršm +46-709-797817ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Simona Ahrnstedt was born in Prague and is a licensed psychologist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, and most importantly, a bestselling author. As her novels have swept bestseller lists in her native Sweden, she has become a spokesperson for books by women, for women, and about women. Her provocative women’s fiction has been sold in multiple languages as well as audio format. She lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her two teenagers.


Enter to win a print copy of All In (US/Canada only)

Leave a comment and visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

Point Of View

Point of view is definitely one of the most important aspects of a story. Which point of view you tell the story in–and which character tells it–is the backbone, or blueprint of the entire thing. Picking which character will tell the story depends on what story you want to tell and what you want to get across. It’s just like real life–if you and a friend go on a trip together, the story of that trip is going to be different depending on which friend tells it to others. Sure, you both experienced the same events, but you each experienced them in your own way. Maybe a scenic outlook you found beautiful wasn’t that interesting to your friend, or your friend really liked some aspect of the trip you were ambivalent about.

Deciding what you want to convey to the reader means you need to pick the character who will tell it the right way.

There’s two (really three, we’ll get to that) main points of view in most conventional writing:

First Person

First person is told through the eyes of one character and uses ‘I’ and ‘me.’ It’s a very immediate form of writing that gets deep into the character’s head and perspective. For this reason it can also be narrow and you have to figure out creative ways for concepts outside the character’s view to be introduced.

Personally, I have never written in first person point of view and I don’t like reading it. I feel like I’m being forced to immediately identify with a character I haven’t gotten to know yet. This is just my personal preference. There’s plenty of readers who love first person and there’s plenty of brilliant books written in first person. Again though, it’s a limited way of telling a story and you have to get creative to introduce information that your narrator character wouldn’t know.

Third Person

Third person is a lot more expansive because you can tell the whole story from one person’s point of view, or you can tell it from the perspective of multiple characters, which allows you a greater range of storytelling and introducing plot points. You can also get deep into the characters heads or just tell us what they’re doing, depending on what you want to convey.

It’s a misconception if you have multiple character viewpoints and one is trying to hide something, you can’t write from that character’s point of view. Say, one character is lying to another, but you don’t want the reader to know that yet. You don’t have to tell us the character is lying when you’re in their viewpoint. Simply tell the story, drop hints where you need to, and bring all the cards out on the table at the end.

I prefer third person because it gives more room for creating plot.

There’s also…

Second Person

Very few books are written in second person and it’s very difficult to do in fiction (though it’s sometimes used in nonfiction and technical writing). It tends to be experimental and it can be distracting if not done masterfully. I’m not able to say much about it because I’ve never read a piece of fiction in second person.

What is your favorite point of view to write, or to read? Have you ever read any second person fiction?

Write What You Know–But What Does That Mean?

The other day, I was brainstorming with a friend over a story I was stuck on. I didn’t like the original idea I’d come up with and I wanted something new. In the process of doing this (which worked out very well) I mentioned that I would like to set the story in a small town, because I spent most of my life in a small town and it’s easy to write. That got me thinking about something.

Specifically, that age-old writer’s adage that you’ve probably heard a thousand times:

Write what you know.

The thing about ‘write what you know’ is that it’s a much more complex piece of advice than it seems on the surface, and some writers might not really understand what it means at all. How can you take advice that doesn’t even make sense to you?

Taken at face value, ‘write what you know’ sounds like you should never write about places you’ve never visited, jobs you’ve never had, and skills you’ve never acquired. But we know this isn’t true. You can do research, there’s a lot of information out there, and you can write faithfully about things you don’t ‘know.’ I’m going to break this piece of advice down into two simpler parts: write what you love, and write what’s easy.

If you’re a fan of Stephen King, you know that a disproportionate amount of his books are set in Maine (where he lives) with protagonists who are either writers or teachers (which he was). This doesn’t mean he doesn’t write about other places and professions. But he loves Maine, and of course, he loves writing.

A disproportionate amount of my work is set in Chicago or references it because I love Chicago. I don’t live there, I never have. I’ve visited it many times but not enough to say I ‘know’ Chicago like someone who was born and grew up there. But I love it, and putting in the research to write about it is a delight. When you love what you’re writing about it comes through the words.

On the other hand, writing what you know can also mean writing what’s easy. I grew up in a small town and spent a good portion of my adult life there, so I understand the dynamics of a small town. Therefore, if I want to focus on the characters and not have to put any effort into the background or world building, I set it in a small town, because the backdrop comes easy to me. Likewise, I have characters who are bartenders and servers because I’ve worked in bars and restaurants for nearly a decade and I don’t have to think about their job. Their profession is easy to write about and I don’t have to put any extra work in, if I want to focus more tightly on other aspects of the story.

So ‘write what you know’ can also mean write what you love, and write what’s easy. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever write about places and professions that are completely exotic to you–as I said, there is a wealth of information out there, and it’s always fun to learn something new anyway.

Write what you know can mean a lot of things. What does it mean to you?

Dumb Writer Fears

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG will be Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott!

Yesterday was the release of The Burning City, the third book in my Siren Song urban fantasy series. While every release day is filled with excitement, it’s also filled with anxiety, too. Insecurity always rears its ugly head: what if no one cares? What if I get awful reviews? What if I sell zero copies? What if the publishing police show up at my house and beat me with sticks for writing a terrible book?

Of course, these are Dumb Writer Fears, and I know that having three books out is a huge deal and something I should be excited about. And I am! Additionally, the first book in the series has sold over a thousand copies, and I’m excited about that. Dumb Writer Fears remain, though. They lurk in dark corners and wait to jump out and bop you on the head when you least expect it. They show up every time you see another writer winning awards, or selling more books than you, or your publisher pays more attention to a best selling author than they do you. You sigh and remind yourself it’s an honor just to be here, yadda yadda. Dumb Writer Fears only seem to shut up when you’re writing, but then they come right back when you’re editing.

I think the best way to deal with these fears is the way you’re supposed to deal with any fear: turn it into fuel. There’s always going to be writers doing better than me, but I can either let that drive me under the covers curled up in a ball, or I can watch and learn from them and try to do what they’re doing. I can look at their successes and turn them into goals for myself. The best way to shut up Dumb Writer Fears is to ask them “okay, so what do I DO about it?” They shut up then, ’cause they’re dumb and they have no idea. They just like to wave their arms and try to scare you.

I don’t really believe the publishing police are gonna beat me with sticks. They’re probably too busy beating George RR Martin demanding the next Song of Ice and Fire book. And I am truly happy about having a third book out, and all my successes so far. Dumb Writer Fears are all around us, though. We need to keep a spray bottle to squirt them with when they get too loud.

The Burning City Release Day

Today is the day! The Burning City is now available:

The Burning City – Siren Song #3

When the smoke clears, who will be left standing?

Tattoo artist June Coffin has another, more hidden talent: she’s a Siren who can influence people with the sound of her voice. But in the wake of a murder and shake-up at the Institute of Supernatural Research, her own powers are starting to kill her. The only chance she has of saving herself—as well as her kidnapped brother and best friend—is to become a vampire. But joining the ranks of the vengeful vamp, Occam Reed, is the last thing June wants to do.

Occam isn’t the only danger June needs to worry about. Power hungry telepath Robbie Beecher will stop at nothing to gain control over Chicago. He’ll destroy anyone who gets in his way—and June’s lover, Sam, is high on the hit list since his bid for Mayor. With the city and June’s heart being pulled in different directions, it’s only a matter of time before the powder keg explodes…and time isn’t something June has much of left. With a city on fire, can she rise from its ashes?

Read the first chapter | Book #1 – The Wicked City | Book #2 – The Bloody City

Buy it at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iTunesKobo | All Romance Ebooks | BAM


Want to win some prizes? Check out The Burning City today at:

Check out the promo blast and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card! The participating blogs are listed here if you want to show them some love!

  • Suzanne Johnson’s blog: enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card!
  • The Burning City is also featured at Cover Reveals right now.
  • Additionally, simply comment on this post and I will pick one lucky winner to receive the entire Siren Song series (3 books) in e-format. Winner will be announced here on Friday!

Next Week Update

Just a note that things will be a bit out of whack here on the blog next week, as The Burning City will be released on Tuesday and I’ll be focusing a lot on that.

As an update, unfortunately I’ve decided to cancel the Facebook party for release day due to lack of interest–however, I will be doing a giveaway here on the blog instead and there will be multiple giveaways on other blogs where I’m doing guest spots, as well. I’ll make sure to link to those on Tuesday so you have lots of chances to win!

Hope to see you on Tuesday for release day, and if you live in the U.S., have a great holiday weekend!