Writing Under Multiple Pen Names

June 17, 2017 | By | Reply More

When a dream comes true, and it’s even better than your original dream, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve reached a pinnacle in your writing journey and you’re pinching yourself to wake up. You’re floating on air. It’s all too wonderful to be true. But there it is in black and white – you’ve signed the contract with a publisher.

But come down to earth you must.

When one of the big publishing companies asked me to write a novel for them, set in the Second World War – one of my favourite periods – I was overjoyed. They would provide a brief and give me any support I needed. Then the lovely editor said: ‘And we’d like to offer you a 3-book deal.’ This was so unexpected I almost dropped the receiver and said, ‘Oh, thank you. How lovely.’ She couldn’t see me punching the air, a beam practically splitting my face in two, and mouthing ‘Yay!’

Over the moon? Was I.

I started writing the first novel immediately as publication day was set for November this year. It was to be approximately 100,000 words and I was given two years to complete the series of three – not long when you consider all the research that’s necessary for the period.

I’ve backed out of social engagements, tried not to feel guilty when I don’t cook everything from scratch, and let chores pile up around me. But I was doing well, often churning out between 1-1500 words a day. The pile of typed pages was growing nicely. And then my indie publishers sent me the copy-edits of the third book in a trilogy, ready to be published this month (June). By the time I’d amended, added and cut it I was coming to the end of the first book for the dream publishers. They’d only read the first chapter and synopsis many months before and I was worried I might not be on the same track as they’d envisaged. Luckily, they loved it. Phew!

We discussed the second book. They had lots of ideas and so did I. With every week counting I got down to book 2. About half-way into it the copy-edits came back for book 1. Thankfully there were no material changes. However, the editor had made many suggestions which I knew were spot on, and also wanted me to add a couple of chapters and to cut a couple of scenes. It took me several weeks of solid work to finish these amendments as even one change can have an effect on the whole novel which you then have to read all over again. In the meantime the third of my trilogy came back for its first proof read. This was urgent as publication day was only a few weeks away.

Throughout this time I was desperate to press on with book 2 of the new series. At one point I had the heroine in the wrong novel! Then the indie publisher sent me the final interior of the third of my trilogy novel. This had to be the most painstakingly careful read of all, and I was still picking up mistakes! Quite horrifying when I was that close to publication.

Are you still with me? If so, my question is – how does one keep three long novels in one’s head at the same time without going completely crazy?

I decided in the end that it was impossible. I could only do two books at a time. And my focus had to be on the two which were going to be published this year. Reluctantly I put aside the new book 2, only making a few brief notes from time to time, hoping it would be enough to keep it ‘live’.

At first I tried copy-editing one novel in the morning and proofing the other in the afternoon. But I soon changed to alternate days so my head would only be full of one title per day, keeping in mind that if I could get the proofing done quickly and sent back to the indie publishers it would relieve some of the pressure.

With that book safely away, the copy-editing speeded up and I could even write the odd piece on book 2. The great moment came when I emailed the copy-edits to my editor on the very morning of my deadline.

It’s wonderful to be able to continue book 2 though I’m now beginning to think about who my heroine will be and what is going to happen to her in book 3! And then those copy-edits for book 1 will become proofs and the whole process will begin again with trying to keep three novels in my head.

To cap it all, I write under three different names. I use my own name, Denise Barnes, when I write non-fiction; Fenella Forster for my indie-published trilogy, which by the way is called The Voyagers: Annie’s Story, Juliet’s Story and the latest one, Kitty’s Story; and Molly Green for the new publishers, HarperCollins, with the first book: An Orphan In The Snow.

I only hope with juggling all these novels I won’t have an identity crisis. But if I am ever in any kind of pickle, they can’t get me under all three names. I’ll just say – whichever name they pick – ‘Never heard of her!’

Denise is the author of Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business
pub. by Biteback Publishing and Annie’s Story and Juliet’s Story, Book 1 and 2 of The Voyagers trilogy published by SilverWood Books.

Find out more about Denise on her Website  www.denisebarneswriter.com

Follow her on Twitter: @denisebarnesuk

About Juliet’s Story

Can secrets destroy love?

2005 – Whatever the risk, businesswoman Juliet Reece grabs a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with both hands.
She’s been given the freedom and time to sail to Australia to trace her emigrant grandparents’ story back in 1913. But buried under the surface is a more compelling reason – a secret she has held close since she was a vulnerable sixteen-year-old, which only her grandmother, Annie, shared – and whose answer may lie in Australia.

When Juliet boards the Alexandria at Tilbury she doesn’t count on meeting the enigmatic Jack Delaney. But is it wise to fall for a man from the other side of the world who seems to be carrying dark secrets of his own?

Buy Juliet’s Story HERE

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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, How To and Tips

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