Monday, February 2, 2015

No Relation

As I get approach the release date of my first leap into self-publishing, it occurred to me that I should perhaps clarify a particular point.

I am not Brandon Sanderson using initials to hide my identity.  In fact, he's a dude and I'm not.  Well, actually, I don't know anything about Brandon Sanderson.  I assume he's a dude and not a gal hiding her identity.  (Writing gals have to do that from time to time, you know.  Take George Eliot, for example.)

As far as I know, there's no relation to Mr. Sanderson either.  For one, Sanderson is my married name.  For another, I've done the genealogy for Hubs and unless there's a connection way back and Brandon is a shoot off another branch, he's not in the tree I created.

I haven't even read anything by Mr. Sanderson.  I've heard he's really good, but I just haven't made the time to add him to my TBR pile.  (Sorry, dude.  I'll try to rectify that eventually.)

I'm also not a relation to the indie author, Cedar Sanderson - even though we follow each other's blogs now (not here - at The Writing Spectacle.) 

I thought briefly about using a pseudonym to distance myself from the fame of Mr. Sanderson.  But he writes mainly MG or YA fantasy, I think, and my one foray into that genre sits half-finished for the foreseeable future, so there's little danger of confusing readers there.  Besides, I'm proud of my last name.  Hubs and I chose each other, and I am proud to wear his surname. 

I do use my initials, though.  It was a choice I made years ago - before I even began writing seriously.  And unlike some of my fellow female writers, it doesn't have much to do with my gender.  It has more to do with maintaining some amount of anonymity.  You see, I used to do quite a few letters to the editor - especially after 9-11.  There are a lot of scary people in the world, and I didn't want them locating me easily.  So, B.E. Meissner was born.  After I got married, I just changed the surname. 

Besides, my first name never seemed to have the right flavor for the books I was writing.  Beth doesn't write suspense, she writes kid's books or cookbooks or helpful marriage guides.  B.E. writes grit. 

Heh. I'm over that for the most part now, so all the Beth's of the world need not hammer me for my narrow-mindedness. In fact, as I get ready to publish in other genres, I will be using Beth Sanderson instead of B.E. Sanderson to differentiate my work for my readers.  If the cover says B.E., it's a suspense or mystery.  If the cover says Beth, it's my urban fantasy.  And when I eventually put my dystopian works out there, I'll choose a different name to associate with those. 

So anyway, I just wanted to say I am who I am, and I'm no relation to pretty much any other mainstream writer out there.  And if you have stumbled by here looking for Brandon or Cedar or any other writerly Sanderson in the world, sorry you missed them.  I hope you'll stay, though, and check out my books, too.  =o)


  1. Hmmm... Are you saying I SHOULD have used my maiden name? James Thurber was a fairly famous author. My maiden name is Thurber. Heck, I actually AM related to the guy (many generations ago). However, I didn't use it because I didn't think it would help me in the romance field. Now, if I wrote something else... Who knows?

    1. I wrote this because I was trying to be funny. (You can tell why I don't write humor. LOL) I like McKitrick, but Thurber's good, too. I don't think either one would've been bad for the romance field. I did think about using my maiden name, but so many people pronounce it wrong, it would drive me batty. ;o)

      Too cool that you're related to James Thurber. The best I can say is I'm distantly related to the people who started the company that makes the trophy for the Kentucky Derby.

  2. This is completely random, but someone else has the name Cedar?!?! My cousin named her baby girl Cedar (whom I affectionately adopted as my "niece" since I'm more of an aunt than a second cousin). I have never heard of anyone else with that name. I wonder if your author friend is using a pseudonym.

    And I've actually wondered about the Brandon Sanderson thing--not that I thought you were writing as him, but if you were going to change your writing name because of him.

    I'm still having this internal debate with myself: Murphy vs. Nicholas. I like Natalie Murphy because its my maiden name and I've always imagined publishing under it. But at the same time, I like the ring of two N's with Natalie Nicholas. The problem is, NO ONE can say Nicholas correctly, nor can they spell it. EVER. You'd think people could because it is so freaking easy, but no. It is literally pronounced Nicholas like the first name (often shortened to Nick lol). But instead we get Nichols like "nickles" and dimes. *eye twitch* And spelling it? It makes me terrified of the future USA LOL!

    1. As far as I know, Cedar is her real name. If I recall correctly, she has a sister with a tree name, too. And her mom comments on her FB page.

      Actually, Nat, I was writing before he published his first book, and I was all "D'oh!" when his came out. But I'm over it. I think there's enough room for all us Sandersons in the writing world.

      I think either way you choose to go will work. I can't believe people can't get Nicholas - I mean, I get the spelling, since there are other ways to spell it (Nicolas, for instance), but not pronouncing it? Sheesh. I expect people to mispronounce Meissner (it's Mice Ner - btw), but yours is relatively common.

  3. I knew this story. ;) And it's too blasted early/not enough coffee for me to be pithy after a mostly sleepless night.

    We all have our reasons. In my case, it was to differentiate between the technical writing I did in my career fields and my romance books. As for different names for different genres, it's hard enough to build a platform for one name. Just sayin'... (That's not to say don't do it. I know several authors who had done it to good effect.)

    I need more coffee. *wanders off*

    1. Pithiness is not required, Silver - especially on too little sleep/coffee.

      Yeah, the differentiation is key. And it's probably easier when it's technical vs fiction, but I've seen people do it successfully, so I'll probably try it. It's not like the names will be that different - just something so a reader of suspense won't get tripped when they pick up my urban fantasy or dystopian stuff. B.E., Beth, and maybe B. Ellen, or something like that.

      Go forth and get thyself coffee! Tis the elixir or life (or at least the elixir that keeps us from killing others.) ;o)

  4. Brandon Sanderson was at the Calgary WWC writing conference last year. I'd never heard of him. So there I am, chatting with Robert J. Sawyer (!!) sitting at a table, looking at the autograph line up. Jack Whyte (!) is up there with a couple people chatting to him. There's another author with a few people. Then a line up down one side of the big room, around the corner, and well along another wall for Sanderson. Sawyer graciously explained who he was. Duh. I attended one of his panels on novel structure. It was a university level lecture at firehose pressure.

    As for the naming thing, it's a pity women had to hide their gender. There are many famous examples. I don't think that's an issue now, at least not as much. But it's funny how some names are writerly, and some aren't. I say pick what you are comfortable with for whatever reason. As Zorg says, "Be proud of who you are."