Friday, March 18, 2011

LIVING A DUAL LIFE--Written by the author known as Ann Charles


Please welcome author Ann Charles to the blog. Ann's debut novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood (winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) recently released.

Here's Ann: I’m living a dual life. No, I’m not a secret agent, nor am I married to two different men (that would require extraordinary paranormal-like powers to pull off). I’m an author with a pseudonym, and thanks to this “other me,” I can stand in front of one hundred people and talk about building a platform, planning a career, or writing books with only initial minor jitters that quickly pass.

“Ann Charles” was born about eight years ago, but it wasn’t until closer to four years ago that I started to go by that name in public. It was at that time that I realized I was going to have to start being a public persona, and I didn’t think I could pull it off under my real name and normal self. What I initially believed would feel weird, quickly became freeing. As Ann Charles, I can say and do things I wasn’t always comfortable saying and doing under my real name. I’m not talking about breaking into the Smithsonian and stealing priceless historical documents, just simple things like teaching workshops, approaching complete strangers and asking them if they would be willing to write an article for 1st Turning Point, or asking someone point-blank to read my book and tell me what they think.

In my workshops, I am often asked questions regarding having a pseudonym. Most of the time, the questions center around what names I think they should choose, and if I think certain names will work well with the genres in which they write. Many of the questions come from writers who have been at this game for two years or less. They are excited about having their names on their book covers. I don’t blame them, I was excited, too. Still am. But not many of these authors consider the power of pseudonyms—how they can be used as cloaking devices to hide insecurities, fears, doubts; how much strength they can give authors standing in front of audiences, reading to groups of fans at book signings, or asking conference coordinators to consider taking a chance on them as guest speakers.

Most of us authors are loner sorts of folks who are the most comfortable living in our fiction worlds with our characters. I’m no exception. I’d take hanging out in my version of Deadwood over selling my products any day, but hiding in my stories won’t make me any money or build any name recognition. I have to go forth and speak, share, entertain, and act like the out-going author that readers want to me to be, smiling until I give my final bow each night and the lights go dim. The real me groans and shudders over the whole idea of this, but “Ann” loves the bright lights. She feeds off making people happy enough to smile back. She takes joy in verbally conversing with authors and fans alike. She is the fun-looking, grinning cowgirl in my author pictures. Me? I’m the one who is most comfortable at home in my jammies with no makeup on, drinking wine straight from the bottle, eating M&Ms like they are oxygen supplements, and mingling with the fictional characters.

Together, Ann and I can build an empire.

No, I’m not crazy. Okay, maybe there’s a bit of a multiple personality disorder going on with me (same as most authors). As I said, I have a dual personality. If you’re shy and dread the public life that authors are now being pushed to lead, you should give this duality a try. You might find that you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, just like Ann Charles can.

About Ann: Ann Charles writes mysteries full of mayhem, humor, and a splash of romance. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington. A winner of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, she has been a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America for many moons. Ann has written several contemporary novels and series, and she is currently toiling away on her next book.


To learn more about Ann:
Website: www.anncharles.com
Email: ann@anncharles.com

20 comments:

  1. I use a pseudonym for separation from my day job, but I can totally relate to the dual personality feeling. My ever-supportive boyfriend even got a Valentines Day card signed from both of us. :)

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  2. I'm still getting used to "Ann," LOL! I use my first and middle name as my pseudonym, but I've also experienced the same sensation...that Shannon McKelden is a different person who can behave more confidently than the real me. :) I've been using it so long now that some people have never known me as anyone else. A pretty good friend once wrote me a check as Shannon McKelden because she didn't even realize it was a pseudonym. LOL!

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  3. Hi Ann! I hadn't really thought about the psychology of having a pseudonym for writing, but you make some excellent points. I write under a pen name in order to separate the steamy nature of my writing from my daily life as a PTA member, volunteer at my kids' schools, and relative of some very conservative family members. They all know about my writing, but it's a way for them to separate themselves from it if they choose. It's very freeing, isn't it?

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  4. Julia,
    My husband and I have fun with the pseudonym thing, too. I give out separate gifts to family members who help me out and sign the Thank You cards "Ann." Love your V-day tale!

    Ann

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  5. Shannon, I had a check come to Ann Charles once and tried to cash it, but my bank wanted me to get a business license first. Brother! So, I just sent the check back and asked for one to the "me" that has a bank account. I think I'm one of those who only know you as Shannon McKeldon. You've done a good job of making that Shannon very popular. :)

    Ann

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  6. Laurie, that makes total sense based off your current genre and your day-to-day life. I love the last name you chose, too. It makes you very worldly sounding. :)

    My coworkers know me as both, and when I'm being super nice and charming and loving, they will say, "Uh, Ann, will you let Wendy come back out to play. You're too weird." LOL! They love me, both of me. ;)

    Ann

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  7. Ann, I had wondered about that business of doing checks/handling money under a pen name. Did you try opening an account under 'Ann Charles, Inc.' or something similar after the problem with the first check?

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  8. ohmygosh!! I am so glad I stopped in here today -- no idea Nearly Depareted in Deadwood had been published. I judged it in the Daphne and loved loved it!! Woohoo! Off to order my copy!
    Oh yea, and the pseudonym thing... I write under one as well, but but I've gone the other direction. My realname me is far more outgoing than my writer me. Weird, huh?
    Right. Gotta go buy a book!

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  9. As a fellow pseudonymous writer, I love the post. In fact, I'm trying to figure out what Kaye should wear to LCC right now. Her staff, alas, is not large enough to include a personal dresser.

    I have a bank account that belongs to MYREALNAME DBA Kaye George. Kaye can get and deposit payments, but that other gal has to sign checks. I can copyright as Kaye, too, which I like. In TX I think it cost about $15.

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  10. That's good information, Kaye. If and when I get my first novel published, I thought I'd start an S corp under a name that I'd copyright my work under as well, solving the money issue. I can't say I have a split personality, but then, I have had very little promotion to do. I have mixed feeelings. As most writers, I'm more of an introvert. Not that I don't have friends, but I tend to see them one at a time, no party girl here. But "Ann" your suggestion, to enable the pseudonym to have that promotional personality, is a good one. I just have to figure out what a promotional personality is and how to feel comfortable putting it on. Take acting lessons?

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  11. I love this! My pen name persona is far more outgoing than the real me, too.

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  12. Hi Gwen--I do believe I know both of your names. :) Thanks for stopping by and being excited about my book. Thank you, also, for giving me such great scores in the Daphne. Can you feel my love coming through the computer? ;)

    You have an interesting situation with your name. I wish "both" of you luck!

    Ann

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  13. Hey Kaye--what did you and your other self decide to pack for LCC? I would love a personal dresser. Let me know if you find some cheap onees and where. ;)

    I tried to do a DBA with the bank, but then they wanted a business license. They are a credit union and being fussy. I may need to find another bank for my author bank account. Good to keep it all separate, anyway.

    Thanks for hanging out!
    Ann C.

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  14. Hey EB! Great to see you here. Thanks for coming by. I kind of experimented with my pseudonym personality, focusing on making her much more professional and "always" nice. Do some test runs at places where people don't know your real name and won't find out you are using your pseudonym. Just remember, treat it like it's you, because it is. While Ann may the the nicer of the two of us, it's still me. I'm not faking anything. And have fun with it!

    I hope you are doing well and busy writing. :)

    Ann C.

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  15. Amber, you are incredible as both the real you and your pen name. The only difference is that one is a little easier to spell. ;) Thank you for coming over and chiming in. You're a busy lady these days, Ms. Bestseller.

    Ann C.

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  16. Sarah,
    I haven't tried that because my credit union/bank shut me down on this so quickly. I do believe I'm going to try a different bank and get a new account with the whole Ann Charles persona as part of the deal from the start. Good idea!

    Ann C.

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  17. Ann, thanks so much for being on the blog today. You wrote a fascinating post. Makes me wish I'd written under a pen name so I could have a split personality, too. LOL

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  18. Rebecca, thank you for having me! I had fun writing this post and I'm glad to chat about pseudonyms in a different way than usual.

    Ann

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  19. My pseudonym is younger than the real me. More fun too! Just don't put a mirror in front of her! Will really burst my ... er ... her bubble. :)

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  20. Good one, Wendy. I should go shoe shopping with your pseudonym. ;)

    Ann

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