Why I Chose To Use A Pen Name

My “real” name is pretty generic. My maiden name is even more generic. Both have been written under and have been taken as names for websites. This situation left me with a dilemma. Apparently having a built in “platform,” a well-followed blog and ready e-mail list of folks anxiously anticipating your creative genius, is key to having traditional publishers seriously consider your work, and right now traditionally publishing my book is the way I want to go.

I could use my real name or my maiden name and have those who know me be able to easily recognize my work but risk that I would just blend in with all the other Jennifers with my name. Or. I could use a more unique name that somehow echoed of who I am and from where I come. Of course, I could also use a completely meaningless yet distinctive name, but I just don’t roll that way.

I come from an amazing line of people. Thinking about just how amazing overwhelms me. You won’t find any of them in history books, but they were the kind of men and women who the rest of the world admired and respected for the quality of people they were. They made their worlds a better place, and they were tough and hearty, generous and loving, smart and contemplative. So for days I spent hours trying out different combinations of the names in hopes of being able to find one that reflected as many of these parts of me as possible. Some were too long. Others didn’t roll right off the tongue.

Ultimately, I chose to use my father’s mother’s name — not her full one but the one she went by, Estora Adams. It was the most unique, and I like to think I am much like her. My favorite picture of her is from 1932. It’s a group photo of her softball team. She’s wearing shorts. In 1932. She was a midwife and a school teacher. She loved her husband fiercely, and they were nomads, moving every few years after he retired from the police department. She taught me to read long before I started school. My reading lessons were immediately following her exercises for the day (which I distinctly remember including toe touches) and immediately before the Lawrence Welk Show which happened to be her favorite. My family didn’t have flatware that matched, but she made sure that I knew how to set the table properly with it and use manners while I ate. She played guitar, could out shoot my grandfather and could carry a fifty pound sacks of seed on each shoulder to the fields. She sewed clothes for the grandchildren and embroidered pillow cases. And she smelled like roses and face powder.

She was quite a woman. I hope I am much like her. I hope she would be honored that I chose her name to brand my work.

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