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Pseudonyms July 25, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, multi-cultural fiction, mystery, non-fiction.
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Samuel Clemons had Mark Twain. Charles Dodson had Lewis Carroll. The Bronte sisters had the Bells. Pseudonymns. For reasons public and private, long-speculated and tossed glibly in gossip, these and thousands of other authors through the years chose to publish their writing under different names. The reasons they chose pen names are many, varied from author to author and era to era. This week in #litchat we’ll discuss authors writing under pseudonyms.

We have a treat in store this week with two guest hosts. On Wednesday, July 27, Carmela Ciuraru joins us to discuss her new book, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms. Friday, July 29, a mystery novelist will share why she chose to publish her debut novel, A Good Excuse to Be Bad, under the pen name Miranda Parker.

Carmela Ciuraru, Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

Nom De Plume is an engaging glimpse into the lives of 18 literary icons who published under pen names. Rather than try to psychoanalyze why these complex individuals chose pen names, Ciuraru draws from scholarly sources, first-person anecdotes, diaries, and public record to contrast the authors with their alter egos. Ciuraru asserts that the choice of pen name and how the author employs—or lives within—the pseudonym reveals as much about the person as the words he/she writes. The secrets alluded to in the book’s subtitle aren’t new author scandals, conspiracies or mysteries, but overlooked details that distinguish the character of the author from the alias. Nom De Plume unites rigorous research with witty and playful prose, resulting in a book writers will be putting on their holiday gift lists for years to come.

Carmela Ciuraru does not write under a pseudonym. In addition to Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms, Ciuraru’s anthologies include First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them (Scribner) and Solitude Poems (Alfred A. Knopf/Everyman’s Library). A graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, she is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and PEN American Center. She has written for the  New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and other publications. She is a 2011 Fellow in Nonfiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Follow Carmela Ciuraru on Twitter: @CarmelaTheTwit.

Miranda Parker, A Good Excuse To Be Bad

Miranda Parker may or may not reveal her real name during her visit to #litchat. She will, however, share why she chose to write under a pen name. Her debut novel, A Good Excuse To Be Bad, is the first in a series featuring drop-dead gorgeous bounty hunter Evangeline Crawford. When her brother-in-law, the high-profile pastor of an Atlanta megachurch, is murdered and her twin sister arrested for the crime, Evangeline uses her brains and her beauty to reveal the killer. Evangeline, nicknamed “Angel,” flirts and flaunts while on the job, but off duty, the girl walks a mean straight and narrow.

After graduating from Agnes Scott College, the author known as Miranda Parker began working as a features editor for various magazines and spent many years as a publicist for national recording artists, actors, ministers, and authors. However, writing fun, fiesty, redemptive bad girl gone good stories is her passion. She resides with her family in Georgia near a horse ranch and her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. On a perfect day she can be found curled up with a good book or in a movie theater with a bucket of popcorn.

Follow Miranda Parker on Twitter: @MirandaParker2.

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Protagonists Of Our Own Lives June 27, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in non-fiction.
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Erin Blakemore

In #litchat discussions about why people read fiction we’ve found a large group of people who claim that fiction is an escape from their real lives. They enjoy living vicariously through the characters, citing how they prefer characters who do things they dream about, but would never dare or have the opportunity to do, be or achieve in real life. Other fiction aficionados read to explore diverse cultures, bygone eras, and scintillating scenarios. No matter the reason for their fiction addition, most readers place compelling characters at the top of what makes a novel succeed. The best literary characters unfold from the pages of novels into the mindstream of public perception like icons of universal understanding, household names in the pantheon of celebrity. We quote them, we emulate them, we revere them, we discuss them as if they were real people. And yet, they are the creations of authors. Characters that sprang to life in the mind of a person with a story to tell. This week in #litchat we’ll discuss how literary characters propel ideas, shape culture and inspire people to become active protagonists in their own lives.

Joining us as guest host on Friday, July 1st is Erin Blakemore, author of The Heroine’s Bookshelf. An exploration of classic heroines and their equally admirable authors, The Heroine’s Bookshelf uses these characters to help people tap into their inner strengths and live life with intelligence and grace. Jo March, Scarlett O’Hara, Scout Finch—the literary canon is brimming with  intelligent,  feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today’s women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back—sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and  inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern readers. While the book may use female characters as examples, there is much for readers of both sexes to appreciate.

Award-winning author Blakemore learned to drool over Darcy and cry over Little Women in suburban San Diego, Calif.These days, her inner heroine loves roller derby, running her own business, and hiking in her adopted hometown of Boulder, Colo..  Erin’s debut book, The Heroine’s Bookshelf, was published by HarperCollins in October.  Learn more about the book at The Heroine’s Bookshelf.

Follow Erin Blakemore on Twitter at @heroinebook.