Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finding Happiness In Everyday Life

I admit this isn't the usual type of book I talk about, nobody is maimed, murdered, or even bruised. Then again, it's not a thriller, but it is worth talking about. Jo Ann Hurst whose inspirational debut book, Looking For The Good, A Journey To Finding Happiness In Everyday Life, has visited today to share with us how this book came about.

“Looking For The Good” began as a silly amusement just to pass time and has since evolved into a lifestyle. A much better lifestyle than the one I had before. Originally, it was a blog that I was writing, pretty much, for myself to keep focused on the positive things in life. I believe very strongly that what we focus our attention on is what gets bigger in our mind and, ultimately, in our life. I've been keeping a journal since the mid-80s and when I look back at those journals and read what I wrote then, it makes perfect sense why I had such a miserable life! All I ever wrote about was what was wrong or bad in my life and how terrible things were. There was rarely anything mentioned about good things that were happening. Were things really that bad or was I just not paying attention?

Writing “Looking For The Good” has been like training wheels in the way it has helped me to change the way I perceived life. It is my hope that reading about my experiences in looking for the good stuff in life will help others to shift their focus to what's good and happy in their lives as well. Happiness and joy is all around us if we'll just open our eyes and see it.

Buy it here:

You can visit Jo Ann at her blog:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books

“To diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen." - KURT VONNEGUT

The Executioners, by the late and great John D MacDonald, author of 78 books, was originally published in 1957. In the 60s it was adapted into the movie Cape Fear, staring Gregory Peck. Scorsese did a darker and more brutal remake of it in the 90s with Robert DeNiro cast in the role of Max Caddy.

Cape Fear was a huge movie and anyone who's seen it knows the story and knows how frightening a character Caddy is. In the original story by MacDonald, Caddy is convicted on rape charges and sent to prison where he cultivates his hatred for Sam Bowden, the man he blames for his conviction. Unfortunately for Bowden and his innocent family, Caddy gets released from incarceration. And his only goal is to track down Bowden and make him pay.

The movie adaption diviates quite a bit from the original book. I found the movie a lot more suspenseful. And of course DiNiro's role was brilliant, so perhaps I'm a little biased having seen the movie first, but it's impossible not to compare the book with the movie. I like the premise of a psychotic homicidal stalker being pit against an innocent average family and the police can't do anything about it. It's this contrast that makes it so deliciously chilling.

The Executioners is without a doubt, a quick, fast-paced and unnerving read. And John D MacDonald is simply a supurb writer.

More of Friday's Forgotten books can be found at Patti Abbott's blog:

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Writers Need For Success...

Since I started this blog just last month and signed up for Twitter, I'm amazed at how much I'm enjoying blogging and tweeting. I feel like a kid with a new toy. I'm a little late to the game I know, but I've always been the last one to jump on a bandwagon. Let all the guinea pigs go first and then I'll decide, that's my attitude. Same thing when it comes to upgrading my technology. If it wasn't for my husband I'd still be using a VCR. But, when it comes to all the social media I do notice one drawback. Between the blogging, tweeting, making new friends, interacting with other writers, bloggers, book reviewers, and book lovers, I notice how much it's cutting into my writing time. How is a writer suppose to balance it all?

I'm also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do book reviews for a local paper in Mississauga. This also just started last month, and I'm really excited about it. So with reading those books I'm reviewing, plus the ones I read just for myself, and all the social media vying for my time, I've only managed to write maybe three short stories. That's all the fiction writing I've done. I haven't even looked at the new manuscipt that I'm working on (well, not working on is what it really is) nor have I done any rewrites for the sequel to my first novel, Scarlet Rose, that I've got coming out later this year. And then of course there's work. Don't forget work, making money to pay the electricity bill which fuels the laptop and the writing addiction. And there's the housework, the dust-bunnies that need sweeping before they grow teeth and eat the pets, the leaning towers of dishes and pots and pans filling the kitchen counter on any given day. The mountains of laundry waiting to be done, clogging the floorspace as if a stuff-bomb exploded. And there's excersise to think about too.

I wish I could hire somebody to take my body out jogging while I sit here and get some writing done. I really think the one thing that a writer needs to ensure that the writing gets done, is a maid. Yes, a maid. Not just any maid. Not just one of those maids that comes in once or twice a week for half an hour. Who writer's really need is Alice from the Brady Bunch, the live-in housekeeper. She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of the kids, she's always there to lend a hand. Okay...I'm dreaming. I know. So how does a writer balance it all? What are the tools for success?

In two words, I beleive, it's time management.
Stephen Covey's book First Things First is the best book I ever read on time management. Not that I read a lot of books on the subject. But the information and skills he suggests are nothing short of miraculous. I'll have to dust off my copy.

The one thing I try to do is multi-task when I can. I listen to audiobooks when I work out. And recently I've started tweeting when I'm sitting on the excercise bike. I also listen to audiobooks when I grocery shop. I do my phone calling in the car (hands free ofcourse). I try to cook more cassaroles and use my crock-pot for cooking dinner. It's always nice to come home to the smell of dinner cooking. I usually make a batch of soup on Sundays for lunch during the week as well as a pot of pasta sauce which I freeze in small portions. Fortunately my daughter is now a teenager and needs less of my time than when she was small. She does enjoy cooking so now and then she'll make dinner, however, cleaning up afterward is another story.

I wonder too, if men who write have an easier time of it. Typically, even though most women hold down full time jobs, they are the ones who do the majority of cooking and cleaning. That's how it is in my house. Although, my husband takes on all the traditional male jobs like taking out garbage, fixing stuff around the house, shoveling snow, cutting grass, etc. He does occasionally help with the dishes.

So, as a busy writer with a job, a family who needs attention, a house and pets to look after, as well as other obligations one has, how do you balance it all? Is there something you've discovered that works? That enables you to do everything you want, or at least have time for all the important things in your life? Do you get up an hour or two earlier in the mornings to get your writing fix? Have you given up a hobby you enjoy to have time for your writing? Or have you managed to find your own personal Alice? Please share your thoughts and ideas for any time management techniques you've learned.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books

Street Raised by Pearce Hansen, Point Blank Publishing 2006.

Product Descripton (from Amazon): When Speedy raises from Pelican Bay State Prison, he hitchhikes home to Oakland only to find his little brother Willy a homeless crack addict, and his best friend Fat Bob bouncing in SF's underground punk clubs. When two of their childhood homeboys get wrapped in chains by Nuestra Familia drug dealers and thrown in the American River alive, our heroes somehow get it together enough to plot revenge. Sure, it maybe takes the edge of Speedy's game a little when he starts playing house with beautiful phone psychic Carmel. And it complicates things a bit more when Officer Louis, the same cop who put Speedy in prison, starts dogging their steps like an unwelcome relative. But when a racist coven of skinheads comes howling for Speedy & Carmel's blood, and a serial killer with a Monster in his head decides that Speedy is the answer to all his unholy prayers, things get REALLY interesting . . .

My Review: Street Raised is a raw, gritty, fast paced, beautifully written novel. It breathes with authenticity and a depth that captured me from the first word. Speedy's character is so real it felt as if I'd known him all my life. I loved this book and I gave it a 5 star rating on Goodreads. I highly recommend it if you're into crime novels.

Visit Patti Abbott's Blog for more of Friday's Forgotten Books:

New Book Release Date!

No One To Hear You Scream has been delayed by one month. The new release date is June 1, 2011. honour of my writing style, I'm keeping you all in suspense. (Mmwahaha! Wickedly rubs hands together and salivates.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge

This is a flash fiction piece I did for Patti Abbott's "Scarry Night" fiction challenge where we have to use the line "I really don't mind the scars". It's going until the end of the month. More info here:

Celeste by Julia Madeleine

The microphone stand was a lame crutch keeping him vertical on the stage. But Drew needed something, if not just the illusion of being anchored in place. Through a haze of alcohol, and too many blunts out back, his road-mapped eyes scanned the bar for his woman. Or his ex-woman. He wasn’t sure these days what to call her. Fuck buddies, that’s what she said they were now. Although for him, Celeste would never be just a lay, in spite of what she’d done to him.

Through his T-shirt he could feel the scars on his chest and stomach. The pain was still present, even though they’d healed over, months ago, leaving him with raised red keloids the size and shape of leeches permanently affixed to his flesh.

It wasn’t hard to locate Celeste in the crowd. She was the one in front competing for his audience, in the black pleather skirt, fishnet hose, looking like a drunken runway model in someone else’s stilettos. Her glossy hair, side parted and hanging around her shoulders, reminded him of a young Michelle Pfeiffer. Her kohl rimmed eyes ignored him, ignored all that he was. Her applause was only a reaction to the applause of others, nothing that she had noticed herself in him or appreciated. It was, as everything else with her, window dressing; a masquerade designed only to draw attention. But it didn’t matter. She could torture kittens and kill Christ himself and it wouldn’t change how he felt about her.

“And this one is dedicated to our guitar player’s mother,” Drew slurred, his eyes on Celeste the entire time. “Turning twenty-five today for the second time. Give up some applause, people!”

Drew cradled the microphone in his bony hands, breathing into it, his passion rising up in a sombre ache, gentle as a sigh. Then his scream split the air hard like a thunder clap. It died with an unexpected tenderness; a feather drifting on a breeze. So passionate and soulful was Drew’s voice that he knew it dredged emotions from the depths of his many fan’s hearts they hadn’t known had occupied themselves. They said he was beyond talented. A virtuoso at twenty-one. A record deal was imminent, according to his manager.

All the songs he wrote were about Celeste. And it was just like drowning, a clawing at his heart so deep he was surprised most days that he was still here, breathing, in this world.
He caught her eye for a brief moment. His pulse slammed inside of him.

Later, out back, another blunt, and another desperate attempt for her attention. Drew turned to her wearing the leather coat that still bore the cuts from the knife. A memory pierced his brain of her showing him the blade just before shutting off the light switch and running at him in the dark. Something he’d said, or didn’t say. He’d never learned which. At the hospital he hadn’t known how to explain things so he told them it was self inflicted. They put him on suicide watch. And sent in a shrink. But he needed more than just a doctor for his problem. He needed someone who could excavate her from his mind and body, sever her from his soul before she destroyed it too. Seemed impossible.

Drew looked at her now in the dull glow of light leaking from the back door of the bar. It sparkled in her eyes as if they were made of glass, and caught on a silver hoop dangling from one ear. He only hoped she wanted to fuck him tonight and not his guitar player again. He didn’t need another night of torture, listening to them in the room next to his. The fleeting thought of hitting on his guitar player’s mother occurred to him. But he knew it wasn’t something he could ever do. It wasn’t in his character to seek revenge.

Drew took the meagre roach from Celeste’s fingers. He wanted to say something to her. Some magic words that would make her love him. But he stood there awkwardly, aware of his skeletal body hidden within layers of leather; an inadequate armor. She was already turning away from him, laughing at a joke somebody had cracked, when he said, “You know, I really don’t mind the scars.”

His words scattered on a midnight breeze as they always did around her. He brought what was left of the roach to his lips and realized there was nothing there, only ashes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Never Could Have Done This Before The Internet

How did mankind survive before the Internet? For the entire generation of pre-twenty-something-year-olds, you wouldn’t understand what life was like before the internet but this is what we had to do when we wanted information: Look it up in an encyclopedia (google that word if you’re unfamiliar with it), go to the library and hope the page in the book you need hasn't been ripped out, call up Mom or Dad or another of our smart relatives. Like Grampa who is a wealth of information, or Uncle Joe who went to college and is good with his money. He knows a thing or two and ought to be able to help us with a question. Or at least point us in the right direction to where we can find the information we’re looking for. Now, post-internet, we just hit a couple of buttons on the computer. Click, click...and we’ve got a treasure trove of information underneath our fingertips. Easy. Everything we could ever possibly need to know is there instanteously. And if what you’re looking for is not there, then it’s because it doesn’t exist.

There are certain situations one could find themselves in where quick information the internet provides is vital. Say for instance your dog and your husband get sprayed by a skunk in the back yard at 2 o’clock in the morning. What would you do? Way back in the pre-internet days you’d have to make a phone call and wake somebody up who may or may not be too happy about being woken up. And what are they going to tell you? Buy some tomato juice. But you know the thing about tomato juice’s a crock. It barely even masks the odour. It’s like spraying cologne instead of showering. We all know that doesn’t work. It even intensifies the BO.

Here’s what I discovered while Googling “skunk spray” sitting in front of the computer with Kleenex stuffed in each nostril, the doors and windows wide open, the husband pacing in front of me on the verge of panic, and our sheppard stuck in the back room howling like he was being eaten alive by a flock of zombies:

Amazing Home Remedy For Removing Skunk Spray:

One quart hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup of baking soda
1 tsp of dish soap

The claim was that this concoction would completely neutralize the smell by chemically altering the skunk spray. So, after sending said husband out to find an all-night drug store to buy the ingredients, we got him and the dog together in the shower, doused the pair of them with the stuff, and before you could say “Aberacadabra”... shabam! The smell was gone. And I mean gone. As if it never existed. Sanity was once again restored to our happy home.

I'd hate to think how that scenario would have gone before we had the internet. Bathing in cold tomato juice doesn’t sound very appealing. Glad that’s something I’ll never have to experience.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Final Vector by Allan Leverone Lands Today!

Thriller writer Allan Leverone's debut novel Final Vector is coming in for a landing Friday February 11th. And Allan has been good enough to give us all a sneak peek at his book right here. Judging from the excerpt, it looks like this book is going to be keeping a lot of folks up late at night turning the pages. A little less sleep is worth it though. Who needs sleep when you've got books like this one? Here is Allan Leverone, the man who's going to be responsible for all those people sleeping on the job...

Thanks, Julia, for your support and for offering to feature an excerpt from FINAL VECTOR on your blog! I want to reassure anyone who feels you have to be an aviation enthusiast in order to enjoy the book that you couldn’t be more wrong. All you have to be is a fan of the thriller genre. To prove it, allow me to offer up the following excerpt. In it, a small band of mostly home-grown terrorists are launching their attack on the air traffic control radar facility serving Boston’s Logan International Airport, with potentially deadly consequences…


Jim Shay was bone tired. Working two jobs—one of which required him to be alert between 12:00 and 8:00 a.m. while the rest of the world slumbered snugly in their beds—was a major pain in the ass. But with five kids and a wife who spent money like they had a printing press in their basement, he had no choice but to do what he was doing. “Keep on keepin’ on,” as the song lyrics went.

On the bright side, this BCT security gig was a piece of cake once you got past the terrible hours. He worked days as a Merri¬mack town cop, slept in the afternoon and early evening, then put on his generic security guard’s uniform and drove to this out-of-the-way government facility to work the graveyard shift five nights a week. As the sun peeked over the evergreen trees in the morning, he would leave the BCT and drive straight to the Merrimack Police Department to begin the whole exhausting cycle all over again.

It was a tiring life, boring too, but the way Jim saw it, he had no real reason to bitch. The United States government paid damned good money to maintain a minimum staffing level of two armed guards at the BCT 24/7, and Jim was thankful he had been selected to fill one of the slots when the air traffic control facility opened seven years ago. In this economy, when a lot of people were scrambling to keep one job, Jim wasn’t going to complain about having two.
He leaned back in his rolling office chair and yawned. As tempting as it was to close his eyes and take a quick power nap, Jim was too conscientious to ever sleep on duty. It wouldn’t be right. More to the point, if he got caught, he would definitely get fired, and what would he do then? Lucy was sure as hell not going to stop spending money, and there was no way he’d ever find another second job that paid the kind of scratch this one did.

At least he had someone to talk to; that little bonus helped pass the time. In keeping with the FAA’s policy, there were always at least two people manning the guard shack at all times, even in the middle of the night. And although his night shift partner, Morris Stapleton, wasn’t going to make anyone forget Albert Ein¬stein and didn’t exactly set the world on fire with his initiative, he had a pretty good sense of humor and loved to talk sports, so for the most part, the nights went by as quickly as Jim had any right to expect.

Thinking of Morris made Jim wonder what was taking him so long to return from his perimeter patrol. There were only three duties mandated by the government on the overnight shift: maintain a con¬stant presence in the guard shack, screening traffic at the front gate at all times; scan the bank of monitors showing the real-time video feed from the dozens of CCTV security cameras inside and outside the BCT building; and patrol the perimeter of the property and the inside of the BCT building several times a night.

In other words, do a little bit of law enforcement.

Over the course of their partnership, Jim and Morris had worked out an agreement whereby they would trade off perimeter patrol duties on alternating nights. Walking perimeter patrol was by far the most distasteful of the job’s few requirements, since it involved exercise often conducted in weather conditions that were less than desirable.

Tonight was Morris’s turn to Walk the Line, as they called it, and he was pretty fortunate; the conditions weren’t too bad. It was cool, and it was going to rain later. But for now the air was still, and although the atmosphere was saturated with moisture, the rain had thus far held off.
As Jim considered whether he should go look for Morris— maybe the fat slob had suffered a heart attack and was even now lying facedown and motionless behind the building—he noticed the vague shape of his partner coming into focus in the dim, hazy glow of the sodium vapor arc lights spaced at regular intervals around the property. Morris was still far off across the open empty expanse of field bordering the access road, ambling along like he always did. Jim often wondered if Morris even knew how to run. If he did, Jim had never seen any evidence of it.

Jim turned his attention toward a large imitation maple console that ran alongside the front interior wall of the guard shack. The con¬sole contained a series of small closed-circuit television monitors, each one countersunk into the surface so that only its viewing screen protruded. The guards had had a few close calls with spilling coffee onto the damned things, but so far, thank God, none of the accidents had fried any of the monitors.

He wondered how much money would be withheld from his paycheck to replace a monitor if he destroyed one and shuddered. They were just basic black-and-white CCTV monitors, five inches tall by seven inches wide, but with the United States government doing the purchasing, undoubtedly the sky was the limit on the price of the goddamned things. Each one probably priced out at upward of a thousand bucks or something.

He glanced at the three rows of monitors, looking away and then doing a double take. Something was wrong with camera 17, the one mounted on a swivel high on the southeast corner of the BCT building. It provided the only video coverage of the grounds directly behind that portion of the building, and the camera had just shit the bed, or else the monitor itself was on the fritz. All that was being displayed was interference, like the snow you used to get on the broadcast TV channels—in the Dark Ages before cable—in the middle of the night when the station was off the air.

Jim tried to remember whether that particular monitor had been working the last time he checked and was pretty sure it had been; he would have noticed if the screen had been grey and fuzzy like it was now. It wasn’t all that unusual for the cameras to suffer glitches, though. He would have to ask Morris if he had noticed anything unusual in that area when he made it back to the shack. He had passed by there just a couple of minutes ago. Where was he? Christ, that guy was slow.

Finally the man’s bulk filled the open doorway. Jim registered him entering in his peripheral vision but continued watching camera 17’s monitor as if he could somehow will the piece of crap to begin operating normally again. It would certainly make life easier if he could.
“Check out this piece of shit,” Jim said, glancing up at the man and immediately freezing in place, his blood running cold. He had no fucking idea who was standing inside the guard shack’s bulletproof door dressed in Morris’s ill-fitting uniform, but it certainly wasn’t Morris. This guy was shorter than Morris, squat and power¬fully built, with curly jet-black hair sticking out of his blue ball cap at odd angles, making it look as though he had a bunch of antennae coming out of his head. Kind of like Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian, the old TV comedy he had loved when he was a kid.

But there was nothing funny about the gun the guy was pointing at Jim’s chest. He held the weapon securely in a two-handed shooter’s grip like he knew exactly what he was doing, and he appeared com¬pletely at ease. “Check out what piece of shit, my friend?” he said pleasantly in a high-pitched nasally voice tinged with traces of a New York accent.

“Who the fuck are you?”
“I would think you might try to take a more civil tone, considering I have absolute control over whether you live or die in the next few seconds.”

Jim tried to get his breathing under control as he considered his options. There weren’t many. He could try to draw his weapon on the man, but it was holstered at his hip, held in place by a thick leather strap. He would have to unsnap the strap, lift the gun, and shoot in one smooth motion before the guy squeezed the trigger on his own weapon, which he now recognized as a Glock very similar to his own. Odds of success: pretty fucking slim.

Other options? He couldn’t think of any, except maybe to keep the guy talking. Slow things down a little. Maybe he would have the opportunity to get a jump on this character if he could draw things out and establish some control over the situation. Easier said than done, though, especially since this guy looked like a pro.

“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry about that, dude. Let me try a different question: Where’s my partner?”
“Partner? What partner? You had a partner?” The guy had a wiseass smirk on his face, and Jim realized he was playing with him. He also realized the guy said “had a partner,” not “have a partner.” He didn’t like the choice of wording and didn’t think it was accidental.
He pushed on. Keep the guy talking. Wait for an opportunity. What choice did he have? “Yeah, my partner, the man whose uniform you’re now wearing. I gotta tell ya—he fills it out a lot better than you do.”
“Not anymore he don’t.” The man’s dark eyes had gone cold, and they glittered dangerously. He held the gun perfectly centered on Jim’s chest. His hands looked relaxed and steady. This guy knew what he was doing. “He won’t be filling any uniforms out anymore, good or bad.”

Jim’s heart sank. Unless the guy was playing with him again, and that certainly appeared unlikely, he was making it clear that Morris was dead. Matters suddenly became much more dire, if that was pos¬sible. Question: What could be worse than a man pointing a loaded gun at you from no more than seven feet away? Answer: A man who had just killed another human being in cold blood pointing a gun at you from no more than seven feet away.If this crazy bastard really had murdered Morris, then clearly he had nothing to lose. He was already facing a lethal injection and would have zero reason to allow Jim to live and every reason in the world not to. Jim knew he should be shaking, should be shitting his pants actually, but he felt a strange sort of Zen calm envelop him. He had been in bad situations before, serving two tours with the Marine Corps in the Middle East, where there was virtually no respect for human life among many of the people; they just didn’t place the same value on it that Westerners did.

He had survived confrontations with men who were twice as savage and cunning as this young man, and Jim was sure if he kept his wits about him that he could survive this, too. He just had to figure out how.

“So Morris is out of the picture. That’s too bad, man, but we can still resolve things without anyone else dying. Especially me. That sound reasonable to you? What’s your name?”
The guy coughed out a harsh laugh like the question was the funniest thing he had heard all night. His dead shark eyes narrowed. He probably knew exactly what Jim was trying to do. “Okay, I’ll play along, seeing how we’re becoming so close and all. My name’s Jackie. Jackie Corrigan. It make you feel better knowing my name?”
“Not really, Jackie. Since we’re being honest with each other, I have to tell you it makes me feel damned uncomfortable. It makes me feel like you’ve already decided what you’re going to do with me, and I’m afraid it’s something that I’m not going to like very much.”
A genuine smile flitted across the man’s face and disappeared. “I like you. You’ve got balls. In a different life we could have been friends. It’s too bad I’ve got to do this. No hard feelings, okay?”

In that instant Jim knew what was coming and tried to fling himself backward. The guard shack was small and packed with equipment, and there was virtually no place to take cover, but Jim was literally a sitting duck in that chair, propped up right in front of the killer with the Glock. He pushed off with his feet and launched himself up and over the back of the chair just as the first shot came. The pistol roared, and fire spit out of the muzzle. Jim screamed, and against all odds he almost missed that first shot.

Almost but not quite. The bullet caught Jim in the right wrist, and blood splattered all over the far wall. For a split second Jim wondered whether they would take the cost of repainting the building’s interior out of his pay, and then the man fired again. This time his aim was true, as Jim had run out of room. The bullet struck him in the center of the chest, opening up a ragged gaping hole and causing a gushing wave of blood to soak his uniform shirt.

Jim found himself crumpled on his back on the console, his uninjured left hand resting just inches from the telephone. He reached for it instinctively, but before he could punch a single button, a third bullet pierced his neck, and the curtain came down on his world as rapidly and as completely as the end of a Broadway show, except there would be no applause. His last aching thought was of Lucy, and then the world went black.

If you’re interested in learning more about FINAL VECTOR, feel free to check out my website,, as well as my publisher’s website,, or the video book trailer,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Do You Need An Alternate Identity?

So what’s up with established, and even brand new authors using a pseudonym? I know there are certain circumstances where an alias would be appropriate, like if a man is writing romance books for Harlequin or some other famous writer is churning out those “trashy”, as they’re known, novels like porn that some women eat for breakfast. I get why an author wouldn’t want to pen his own name under those circumstances. Or perhaps in a case of ghost writing someone’s biography. Or maybe if your real name is too close to another author’s name that it creates confusion. I can understand that. Perhaps you’ve got a really bad name. There are people who go through life with horrible names, names that rhyme with something unpleasant or are just comical.

When I was in nursery school (wasn’t called daycare way back then) I had two teachers and their names were Mrs. Pickles and Mrs. Mustard. True story. Those were their names. You can believe it or not. How the hell they ended up starting a nursery school together I think it must have been fate. Now, for a crime fiction writer both of those last names lack a certain credence I think necessary for a reader to take seriously.  So a nom de plume would be in order. I met a guy recently whose last name was Bozo. He pronounced it "Bah-so". I’m sorry, you can pronounce it any way you want, but it’s Bozo. That’s how it was spelled, that’s how I wrote it down, and that’s how I announced it to those within earshot once he left (couldn’t help myself). Now if he was an author, particularly of crime fiction, Bozo would need to turn in the big red shoes and get a serious name, as a marketing strategy strictly speaking. Preferably something tough sounding.  Like Stone or Steel. I’ve heard of a fellow going through life with the name Dick Seaman. Why the hell wouldn’t he just go with Richard? Seems like the best option but maybe he didn’t get enough attention as a child and is trying to make up for it. Who knows? These things happen.

I once bought a car from Al Palladini’s Pinetree Lincoln Mercury in Woodbridge Ontario because I liked his commercials...”Any Palladini is a pal of mine”.  That was his slogan. Had his last name had the word cock or dick in it, I don’t know how I would have felt about it.  I wonder how successful a car dealership by the famous race car driver Dick Trickle, would have been? I met a guy once with the name Pen Guin. He was Chinese. Ironically, I first saw him in a photograph and he was dressed in a tux. Now that’s pure comedy right there.

          I can understand why some actors do the whole stage name thing, especially if they had a name like my little Chinese aforementioned friend. And I can see how a musician might want to have a handle a little more in line with their persona. Like 50 Cent, Queen Latifah, or Sticky Fingaz. That’s just par for the industry they’re in. I think Prince went a bit too far when he renamed himself a symbol. And then he was just referred to as “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince”. Because even someone with a trace of a brain cell in their head knows that a symbol is not a name. Apparently Prince didn’t get the memo because he was raised by illiterate aliens. Probably it was a marketing ploy. Only him and his equally pint-sized lace-pants-wearing friends would know. Oh, was that me making fun of a man’s size? I guess it was.

Strippers of course need to all call themselves Candi with one “i” or Destiny because that’s just being practical. Who wants to see a woman named Nancy taking off her clothes? I know I sure don’t. But, why for instance, would Joyce Carol Oates who has a huge audience choose to publish under another name? Or Stephen King. His name alone on a book cover is an automatic best-seller so why invent Richard Bachman, Stephen King? Why Stephen King? And then later he releases a book titled “The Bachman Books” by Stephen King. JCO did the same thing when her publishers released “Joyce Carol Oates writing as Rosamond Smith”. Seems to defeat the whole purpose doesn’t it? Although what that original purpose was, I couldn’t say. I’m sure they had their reasons. Maybe being too famous has it’s difficulties. But if you’re going to hide yourself behind an alias, and then go and announce it, especially at the same time as you’re writing under your own name (I’ve seen this done), it seems entirely pointless. Or maybe this is just me missing something.  

From now on I think  I’ll call myself.... Snooki. Hey, it worked for her. Put her squarely on the NYT’s best-seller list. I’ll need some new hair though, mine’s a little too Julia Madeleine-ish.