MRM Reviews in the spotlight reviews About MRM Advertising with MRM Contact Us MRM Home Image Map

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Author By Any Other Name …. a Guest Post by Lauren Carr

Today we are pleased to share with you a guest post from Lauren Carr, best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime mystery series.

An Author By Any Other Name ….
By Lauren Carr (aka Jack’s wife, Tristan’s Mom, Beast Master, Gnarly’s Keeper)

Occasionally, I receive an email from an author terrified of using Facebook, the Internet, or any social media for fear of friends and relatives identifying them. Once, I received an email from an author afraid to promote his upcoming book. “I have relatives out there who I don’t want to find me,” he said. I’m certain there’s a great story behind this, but he refused to tell me.

Last week, I conducted a publishing class on using social media for book promotion where most of those who attended were equally fearful of promoting their books online. So, I offer this solution: Use a Pen Name!

Read on to learn about my not-so-secret identity.

My husband has been the financial director at our church for almost twenty years. Yep, this mystery writer, who spends her days researching how to kill people is a middle-aged church lady. Since I am somewhat a local celebrity, our church’s gift shop carries some of my books. While we don’t endorse murder, my mysteries are clean of profanity, graphic violence, and explicit sex. Therefore, our senior pastor (a fan) allows my titles to be sold in our bookstore.

One afternoon, I was coming down the hall outside my husband’s office when I heard the administrative assistant telling a woman in her office, “You really should ask Terri about that. She might be able to help you.”

“Who’s Terri?” the woman replied.

“Jack’s wife,” Jill answered.

Hearing my name, I stepped into the office and a woman, a church member who I had known for years, turned around. When she saw me she said, “That’s not Lauren Carr. That’s Marilyn, Jack’s wife.”

Laughing, Jill explained, “She’s all three of them. Lauren Carr is a pen name. She’s also Jack’s wife Marilyn, but her real name is Terri.”

The woman’s eyes got wide. “Jack is married to Lauren Carr!” Judging by her expression, you would have thought I was Nora Roberts (another author that uses a pen name) living undercover as a middle aged church lady called Marilyn by her close friends.

The truth is my true identity is not exactly a state secret. Yep, Lauren Carr, Jack’s wife Marilyn (which is another story), Tristan’s Mom, Ziggy and Beagle Bailey’s Mistress—Gnarly’s Keeper–they would all be me.

Pen names are nothing new. Authors have been using them for centuries. Some names are famous: Mark Twain was really Samuel Clemens and Dr. Seuss was Theodor Geisel. Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman. O. Henry was William Sydney Porter.

Why would an author change his or her name to hide his or her identity from the real world rather than step forth and take all the glory they deserve for having completed the daunting task of writing a book?

There could be any number of reasons:

In Mary Ann Evans’ case, she was writing at a time when books written by men were more successful than those written by female authors. So Evans assumed a man's name (George Eliot) to relate better with her readers.

Likewise, award winning mystery author L.C. Hayden, says that when she first started writing by her real name of Elsie Hayden, she received rejection after rejection until she changed her name to L.C. to give publishers and readers the impression that she was a male writer.

Another author I recently worked with used a pen name because his first book, fiction-based-on-fact, said some not so nice things about some real people and he wanted to hide his identity. During my career, I have met more than one writer considering the use of pen names for just this reason.

In the case of Stephen King (Yes, even Stephen King used a pen name!) he didn’t want to risk saturating the market with Stephen King books. At the beginning of Stephen King's career, publishers limited authors to one book a year. In order to increase his publishing, he convinced his publisher, to print a series of novels under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman.

My reason for using the pen name of Lauren Carr is not quite so grand, or even interesting. Frankly, I don’t like the name Terri. I never did. That’s why my husband calls me Marilyn. (No, that is not my middle name. … It’s a long story.) When I was growing up, I realized that since I wrote fiction, which is not real, then I was free to take on a not-real name and I could be any one I wanted.

What a kick!

I thought long and hard about my name. I gave as much thought to it as an expectant mother, because that was who I was going to be, even if only on the cover of a book. I chose Lauren because my sister’s name is Karen. I was convinced that if my mother was thinking straight, that Lauren, not Terri, would have naturally followed Karen. Don’t ask me why or how I came to this conclusion, I just did. Carr was my late stepfather’s last name.

So, I became Lauren Carr, a pen name that I have had longer than my real name. I was Lauren Carr before I married my husband and took on his name. Little did I realize that as my career has grown, that Lauren Carr would become a whole other identity, which is also a kick.

Is it fun? Sure is.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a mystery dinner theater in the small town where we have lived for close to a quarter of a century. I hosted the event. During the performances, I would be introduced as Lauren Carr to the audience. Jaws did drop. Many people in the audience had read Lauren Carr books, written by the local author, but they didn’t know Tristan’s mom and Jack’s wife wrote murder mysteries. She seems so normal!

Other questions that writers considering using pen names ask me:
What about when customers write checks? Do you have to make them sign them under your real name? No. I contacted my bank and explained the situation, which they thought was cool. Customers write out their checks to Lauren Carr. I simply deposit the whole amount into my account, which is under my real name.

Warning: Do let your bank know that you and your pen name are one and the same before you start accepting checks made out to your pen name. Not all banks are the same. When we opened an account at a different bank for Acorn Book Services, they stated that they would not take a check made out to Lauren Carr.

Post Office: Let the post office and your mail carrier know that mail addressed to your pen name is for you. Otherwise, it might be returned as wrong address.

Email Address: Very simple. Many people who don't have multiple identities have more than one email address. I have one email that I use for my personal accounts. Another (writerlaurencarr@gmail.com) for my social media accounts (which I rarely check); and yet another for my publishing company (acornbookservices@gmail.com) (which I closely monitor).

I also have different signature lines set up in Outlook. If it has to do with writing, the signature line is from Lauren Carr, author. If the subject is publishing, then it is Lauren Carr, publisher. If it is a grocery list to my husband, it is Marilyn. Terri doesn’t have a signature line.

Social Media: For book promotion, I have a Lauren Carr account and a separate personal account for my personal life. Not too long ago, a friend said that she had to friend Lauren Carr because I never used my personal account.
However, I don’t put truly personal information out there on the social media. The foremost reason I use it for promotion. Therefore, never—I repeat—never put anything personal out there on the Internet that will reflect poorly on your public image. Example: You have a fight with your husband—don’t go onto Facebook to announce that you married a doofus and then provide a blow-by-blow account of your side of the fight. That’s not going to sell books and will alienate some of your readers. Constantly think about your public image and how you want to present yourself. Don’t upload that video of you wearing the beer hat and dancing naked on the kitchen table while singing “I’m a Little Tea Cup.”

Security is a big thing that most authors are concerned about in using social media. We have all heard stories about maniacs hunting down people who they have been following on the Internet. A couple of years ago, I received a phone call at home from someone who had found my mailing address on the internet. He knew he lived in the same town where I lived and GoogleMapped it. He claimed he lived only a few streets from me. After a few long emails from him and phone conversations, I went on the Internet and removed my address from everywhere I could find it.

Make an effort to not give away too much about your personal life even if you aren’t trying to hide from long lost relatives. I don’t post pictures of my house. I refrain from posting pictures of my son and my husband. Not too long ago a reader who realized she lived in the same town I did posted questions on my timeline on Facebook trying to find out where I lived and if we knew the same people. At one point, when she had put it together, instead of sending me a message off-line, she posted on Facebook “Are you …”   I refused to say yeah or nay. If she had sent a message off-line instead of my timeline where everyone could read it, I would have answered her.

What’s the point, or the fun, of having a pen name if you don’t get to live behind a veil of mystery? As an author, with a pen name, you can be whoever you want to be.

What do I want to be called? Call me anything. Just don’t call me late for ice cream.

About the Author
Lauren & Gnarly
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries will be released Spring/Summer 2015.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.  

Contact Lauren or visit her website and blogs at:


  1. What an entertaining post from an author whose nonstop energy and enthusiasm are such a treat for mystery readers. Thanks so much for welcoming her to your site and allowing us to get to know a little more about her.

  2. Thank you for dropping by Lance! I found this post to be fascinating.....

  3. Thank you so much, Lance, for dropping by, and Must Read Mysteries for inviting me today. As always, it's so much fun stopping by to meet other mystery fans!


Contact Form


Email *

Message *