Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Nom de Plume-o-matic

From time to time I’m sure we’ve all toyed with the idea of using a pen name, either because we don’t much care for the limelight or because we write such horrendously graphic, fetishistic, smut-filled horror novels, we don’t want anyone in the PTA to find out about it.

But how do we choose just the right pen name?

I found a couple online pen name generators, but they were pretty lame. You type in your real name, it spits out a pen name at random. BOR-ing. Come on. You know I can’t abide antiseptic randomness when there’s a far more asinine approach to take. So, here you go. As ever, you’re very welcome.

The Nom de Plume-o-matic
(patent pending)

1) Take your mother’s maiden name. Substitute a y for the first vowel and then add an e to the end even if it already has one. I find that you can never have too many silent e’s.

2) Add either your favorite gym teacher’s last name or the plural form of the street on which you grew up.

3) Reverse the two.

4) Are you married? If yes, hyphenate those two names. If no, that's OK, but I think your mom’s starting to worry about you and frankly, so am I. We don’t want to see you end up alone. It happens, you know. If you’re being too picky or whatever. I mean, look what happened to your cousin. Such a good-looking kid and then whammo – dead at 28, killed by a pile of comic books that fell on him in his basement apartment, and all because he refused to settle down or rather, to just plain settle. And do I even need to tell you how the paramedics found him? Let’s just say that if your grandmother sees “auto-erotic asphyxiation” written on your death certificate, she's going to die of embarrassment, and I mean that literally. Stroke or heart attack or whatever else old people die from suddenly. So consider that, Mr./Ms. Too High Standards. Anyway, if you’re not married, drop the second name entirely.

5) If you live on the East Coast, choose one of the following prefixes -- Mc, von, or del -- and put that in front of whatever you came up with on line 4. West Coast people add one of the following suffixes to the end: -ton, -ville, or –burg. If you live in the Midwest, just leave it alone. You people have enough problems as it is, and I don’t want to add to your confusion. (Mountain time zone, you say? Please. There’s no such thing and never has been. Don't be a dupe of the Feds.)

6) Oh, btw, this is now your last name. Start writing it over and over again so you get used to giving autographs in this name. If you want, feel free to also wear a wig or lifts in your shoes if that helps you get into character but don’t expect your significant other to use this name in intimate situations. Well, not without first rolling his or her eyes while muttering, “Oh, for God’s sake….”

7) Have you visited Africa since 1977, eaten tainted meat products from Scotland or Wales, or had sex with a prostitute who visited Africa since 1977 AND ate tainted Scottish or Welsh beef? Oh, wait. Forget that. You’re not donating blood.

8) You’ll now be needing a first and possibly a middle name. All your great literary lions have three names (moi, for example). I’m afraid to tell you this, but you can’t just “decide” to have three names. You have to earn the right to that third or possibly fourth name, especially if you’re not married and therefore have no hyphenated bogus surname. And if you’re not married -- again, your mother and I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with you that a good hair cut and some decent clothes wouldn’t fix. Anyway, to earn a middle name, answer me this: do you know how to change a tire? If yes, you get have a middle name. If not, you should be ashamed of yourself. I mean, really, unless you have some other vital life skill to rival tire-changing -- say, knowing how to perform an emergency tracheotomy or something -- you really need to work on getting more practical life experience before you go embarking on some high-falutin’ literary career.

9) Choosing your first name... (And before you even ask, no you absolutely may not substitute initials for your first and middle names. Look, everybody does that because they think they’re being all clever about hiding their gender, and they think they’ll be able to avoid reader biases that way. No, no, no – a thousand times no. Have the balls to declare yourself regardless of whether you actually possess balls.)

10) Back to choosing a first name. Pick ONE of the following:

 a) Your childhood nickname (Tippy, Buster, Dorkmeister in the Highwater Pants);
 b) a diminutive of your actual name (Chucky, Tommy, Sissy, etc.);
 c) your favorite pet’s name;
 d) if you’re still on about that gender-neutral thing, fine. Use Robin, Dana, or Chris if you must.

11) If you’ve earned the right to a middle name, help yourself to the name of your favorite Star Wars character.

So what did you get? Please do share your name with us in the comment section below. I need to know it next time I’m browsing my local bookstore for your latest smut-filled horror novel.

(My pen name as generated by the Nom de Plume-o-matic? Baba Jabba von Brown-Schyffere.)