What do Eric Marlon Bishop, Ella Marie Lani Yelich-O’Connor, and Peter Gene Bayot Hernandez have in common? A name change. That’s right, Jamie Foxx, Lorde, and Bruno Mars, as we know them now, have all changed their name.
Aside from taking on a married name, actors/actresses/musicians change their names for a variety of reasons. It could be because someone in the business already uses that name, or their given name is hard to pronounce, or the name doesn’t fit the image they’re trying to project, or they simply don’t like it.
As writers, we have our own set of reasons to make a name change.
- To maintain anonymity.
- Too close to another, or more famous, writer’s name.
- To write in a different genre.
- To mask gender.
There are a number of other reasons, but that isn’t what this post is about, so I won’t delve too deeply into them.
The reason for this post is to reveal MY reason and maybe impart some advice on those who have considered it at some point.
A little backstory…
2009 – I entered a fiction manuscript contest. I entered under my married name, even though I was divorced. I didn’t revert to my maiden name after the divorce as I shared the last name with my kids as well, and thought keeping it made more sense. On New Year’s Day 2010, I was announced as the winner of that contest. I won a publishing contract and that was the first time I had given any real thought as to what name I would want associated with my work (by this time my kids were adults and on their own.) The man I had been seeing for about two years (who from this point on will be referred to as Evil X) and I had been discussing marriage and when the question came up, he said, “It’s up to you, but we’ll be married by the time the book comes out. I’d be honored and flattered if you’d use my name.”
Aww… So I did.
(Cue peril music)
There will be plenty of talk about that mistake – another time, (by way of a book titled The Salesman to be released the day I get the legal go ahead.) But for the point I want to make now, during the 7 1/2 years I was with Evil X, I wrote two books using the name Kathy Reinhart – his surname. Once I ended the relationship, I gave brief thought as to what name I would use going forward and decided that he wasn’t the only person named Reinhart and as far as I was concerned, since I had never married him it was a pseudonym. I had established myself using it – with his blessing. Until I made a final decision on the matter, I would use it.
More recently – For all intents and purposes the relationship had been over for years, but there was still minimal contact until last September when I decided that contact in any form was an emotional drain and the only way I could tolerate seeing him, was as a deeply buried memory.
That should have been the end of the story, but narcissists tend to become vindictive when someone else calls the shots and, after all, it was me who pulled the plug on that tub of dirty water.
About a month ago, I began receiving troll reviews on Amazon, nasty tweets from new, short-lived Twitter accounts, and emails forwarded to me by colleagues, sent to them by Evil X or one of his minions, trying to ruin my good name with them. (Thank God my colleagues are smarter than Evil X and didn’t buy into the ridiculousness of the emails.) Then, I received an email from GoDaddy, my domain provider, stating that a change of registrant was pending for my domain kathyreinhart.com and the email address attached to the request was….. none other than, Evil Xs. I immediately typed in my domain name and it took me to pornhub.com. For those of you who have never been there – very graphic and sooo not the type of stuff you’d see on my website. Later that afternoon, it took me to some silly cartoon and later yet, to some strange YouTube parody video. Evil X had hijacked my domain name and was having juvenile fun re-directing it to the types of websites he frequents. *According to GoDaddy and my attorney, I have enough evidence to bring charges against him for Theft of Intellectual Property and Computer Theft. As much as he deserves it, there are more important people than me after him. For now, I think I’ll just sit back and watch the parade go by and let someone else pull the float.
It took me a solid week of calls back and forth with GoDaddy before I was able to remove the protection he had placed on my domain name to keep me from getting it back, and get it into a new, safe account. In the process, I learned that he had bought 7 or 8 other kathyreinhart domain names. So far, he has directed them to multiple undeveloped websites, all of which use the Reinhart name. (Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted as they develop!) I suppose the things he’s done and is still doing would be enough for most people to go on the attack, and I might have felt that way briefly, but at the end of the day,
it HE isn’t worth it. I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I had already wasted on a social loser with no morals, ethics, or integrity, so why throw good time after bad? If his new life has so little meaning that playing games like that are the only thing he has to look forward to, let him have his fun. I have better things to do like paint my toenails or binge-watch Budweiser Beer commercials on YouTube.
In the weeks to follow, he went on to forge repossession papers and steal my daughter’s car (which has been paid off since January of 2013.) This is a man (term used loosely) who secretly remarried his ex-wife 2 1/2 years after we began dating and then forged divorce papers when the prosecutor at his grand jury investigation informed me of the marriage. Forgery and fraud are his specialties, but certainly not his only criminal talents. By this point, I would venture a guess that the Evil X moniker is beginning to make sense to you. I realize Evil X is rather generic and not very creative coming from the mind of a writer, but as accurate as “Black-Heart-No-Conscience-Semi-Working-Penis” is, it’s too long for the signature box. 🙂
Where am I going with this? I tell you this so you understand why enough was finally enough and why the notion to change my name has become a
necessity mission. From what I hear, Evil X is trying to force me into giving up the use his name. Seems like a lot of trouble to go through when all he had to do was ask! What he apparently doesn’t know is that I’ve been trying to figure out how to disassociate myself from him and everything he has done and has been accused of doing without damaging my brand or past accomplishments anymore than what is absolutely necessary. He acts as if by using his last name, I’m pilfering precious goods from him when in reality, and especially in these parts, his name comes with a negative connotation no one wants to touch. (His own son considered changing his name at one point.) Had I known then just how hated he was by the public at large and that he’d be accused of such a wide variety of crimes, I never would have entertained the idea of using it. But as it is, the name he views as having value, I view as an appendage I can’t shake quickly enough.
So, I set my writing aside and got to work. I chose a new name, bought the matching domain, and am in the process of revising my backlist. Within the next several months, I will release them again with new covers, ISBN #s, titles, and a brand new name.
And, as a friend pointed out, the benefits of doing this FAR outweigh the inconveniences.
- I’ve grown considerably in the last 15 years as a writer. This gives me a chance to revise my older work and put out an even better product.
- The copyrights for those titles will start over.
- “Under One Roof” – My entire backlist will be in the same name as all future releases.
- Best of all, I will be completely disassociated with him.
I might have to put in a little extra time on the social media circuit until the new name sticks and I’ve re-established myself within my networks, but all in all, a small price to pay to be rid of Evil X and the black cloud looming over him.
This is a head’s up post. I’m not going to announce my new name today, although it became legal this week (not a pen name, but a legal name change.) Instead, that announcement will come by way of my upcoming release, Cry Like A Girl, which comes out on Friday, July 1st, 2016.
My story is not unique; most of you can probably identify with it. But, in many ways, it’s less common than a lot of the reasons people use when seeking a name change. For you, my readers, my friends, and my family – and some of you count as all three, I just wanted to say that if you’ve ever thought about changing your name for any reason, it’s both a much simpler process than you might think and not unusual. Keep in mind, it’s not the same as creating a new identity or disappearing from society; there is a paper trail that attaches your old name to your new one. But speaking for myself, it does give a sense of starting over fresh. A new lease on life. And for those of you who have ever been stuck in a bad rental, who couldn’t use a new lease every now and then?
Write to the ends of your imagination