A Writer’s Mad Tea Party

“A bright idea came into Alice’s head. ‘Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?’ she asked.

‘Yes, that’s it,’ said the Hatter with a sigh: ‘it’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.'”- from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

If you could cordially invite six authors (3 males, 3 females- living or dead) to a tea party- who would they be?

Sitting around my checkered-clothed table, while  indulging in scones, clotted cream and jam, I would love to converse with the following:

1. Agatha Christie- Not only did she write over 80 novels and therein create the über-sharp Miss Marple and brilliant Hercule Poirot (Belgium.  Warning: Never call him French), but she was a nurse during the second World War, and later traveled around the world from England to Australia to Egypt.   The  true stories she could regale us with!

2.  Mark Twain-  Not only a great writer (Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer…), but witty as all hell.  I’d invite him just to hear him wax poetic on the German language:  http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/awfgrmlg.html

3.  Anne Bronte- Of course, a Bronte must be invited to my party.  Why not Emily or Charlotte?  Well, let’s face it.  Emily would just turn down the invitation, and spend the day roaming through her moors.   Charlotte would be fun, but she left us many letters.   Anne, however, has been quieted throughout the centuries.  But it’s obvious in her novels, Agnes Grey and Tenant of Wildfell Hall that she was very perceptive of human nature with much to say.   I’d want to meet the oft- forgotten sister.

4.   Edgar Allen Poe- To him recite The Raven, The Conqueror Worm, and Annabel Lee.  To listen to how he came up with his ideas for The Tell-tale Heart, Ligeia, and more.  And most of all, to let the man know who died penniless and alone,   how beloved and respected his work is today.

5.  Daphne Du Maurier-  When she wasn’t spinning  incredible gothic romance tales such as  Rebecca and Jamaicca Inn,  she was penning chilling tales such as The Birds and Don’t Look Now.    I’d love to hear her insights on plot and narrative structure.

6. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- Creator of  Sherlock Holmes.  That’s reason enough.   But he was also part of the 19th century Spiritualist movement and it would be so much fun to hear first hand accounts of seances he attended.

So, who is cordially invited to your tea party?


What’s My Name?- Noms de Plume

music playing: Shakira,  “Underneath Your Clothes”

Every so often as I peruse writing forums, I come across people worrying over the issue of pseudonyms.   Now, I’m far from an authority on the publishing business.  But one thing I can say with total confidence is that pseudonyms are not an issue.  

So if you want to use one, stop worrying your little head over it.  Really.  Agents/editors don’t care.  In query letters to magazines, I’ve always put something like,  “TITLE, written under my PEN NAME, is WORD COUNT….”.  And on the cover page have put:


Real Name

Writing As: XXXX

When I’ve been lucky enough to be published, my pen name has appeared in the magazine.   No questions asked.    Editors/Agents are aware that some authors like to use pseudonyms.   They don’t care if you are using one because, A: you worry about privacy  B: you just want one for the hell of it, or C: you’re running from the law.  (if it’s C, they definitely don’t want to know)

The only thing to think carefully over is the choosing of your nom de plume.   If you become successful you’re going to be stuck with that name.  So it’s probably not a good idea to use a fantasy name generator; or choosing one after  gulping down several mint juleps. 

Also, some authors like to use different pseudonyms for various genres.  And  Edward Gorey made a hobby out of forming anagrams of his name.  My favorite: Ogdred Weary.


Famous pen names:

Samuel Clemens:  Mark Twain

Charles Dodgson:  Lewis Carroll

Pearl Gray:  Zane Grey

Mary Ann Evans: George Elliot

What are some of your favorite famous pen names?