Author Lorenzo Samuel at ease.

Let's take a moment and examine this author Lorenzo Samuel. He produces writings of speculative fiction and science fiction. Who is he though? Would you be surprised to know that "Lorenzo Samuel" is a pen name? Why a pen name instead of my given name "Lawrence Wiley."

I recall telling a friend that I was publishing a book under a pen name. She expressed outrage at the idea. Like I was committing a sin! Like I was hiding myself as the source of the book.

I can understand her point of view, although a number of famous authors have used pen names for some of their work. Steven King and L. Ron Hubbard come to mind. They are (were in the case of Hubbard) high producers, putting out a lot of wordage.

I don't as yet fall into their league. My production is small in comparison. I've published 1 non-fiction book and 1 fiction book do date. I'm nearly done with the 2nd fiction book, another volume of short speculative-fiction tales.

The reasons to use a pen name are various. And yes, hiding oneself as the source of the writing is one of them. There are others more praiseworthy. An author might want to experiment in her or his writing style or genre and keep his real name known for a particular style or genre that readers have come to expect. Or an author might saturate the field of his readers if too much writing comes out under the well-known name. Another one is the desire of an author to have a book stand out alone, not as part of her or his regular output.

My reason is personal. I like my pen name. It brings sweet memories with it. In high school my best friend and I took Spanish. His name is David and mine Lawrence. For practice, we spoke a little Spanish to each other. In the Spanish language "David" is "Da-VEED" and "Lawrence" is "Lorenzo." Guess what we called each other.

In our class, there were several girls who were 2 years ahead of us in school. They were pretty, poised, and left us in the dust regarding maturity, intelligence, and the use of Spanish. They actually spoke Spanish to the teacher! We darn near worshipped them. My best friend and these girls made me love the language. The tongue has remained an off-and-on hobby with me since then.

So, there's "Lorenzo." How about "Samuel?" Well, that's an even easier tale. My given middle name is "Samuel." Thus, my pen name became "Lorenzo Samuel." The only reason I can give you for using it is sentiment.

Change of subject: In a previous blog, I listed the books I'm studying to improve my fiction. One of those was "The Elements of Style." This book is only 71 pages long. How's that for concise? I won't say what's in the book is all you need to know about to write great English. Howver, it is likely 95% of what you need to know. If you practice what it teaches, you will eliminate most of your mistakes.

It's a "do and don't" book. The writers (Strunk and White) practice what they preach. That's why it's only 71 pages long. Get a copy and learn to write better.

In the next blog in the "Author News" category, I'll take up another book on writing fiction.

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