If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I’m not a fan of my own name.
As a journalist, “Debbie” worked. She was solid, dependable, factual. Printed alongside my last name, “Debbie” made a nice-looking byline.
But as a fiction writer? One who kills off characters and spins imaginary tales?
I think not.
In trying to implement a Writer’s Digest conference suggestion for wannabe writers to “get our names out there” (establish a platform), I learned to my amazement there are hundreds — maybe thousands — of women worldwide bearing my name. And most of them had already grabbed the best dot-coms. What to do?
Enter my friend Katybeth who suggested I change my name.
I knew my living family members would be horrified — like I was rejecting them — when that wasn’t my intention.
Still the idea stuck.
I decided to compromise by choosing a pen name.
Drawing on baby books and the Internet, I started to research, following a few parameters. I wanted something:
- That would honor my Irish heritage
- That wouldn’t age me
- That I wouldn’t get bored with
- That was unusual but not overly so
- That meant something — to me
Then I tried on names. First names. Surnames.
I dug into meanings. Said them aloud. Imagined autographing books (!) with them.
And I lived in each new name for a while, visualizing how I’d feel if somebody called me that rather than “Debbie.”
Finally, I zeroed in on one.
And I love it more every day.
As a web designer, I know there are nearly 4 million domain names registered every month; I decided to register my new name before it could vanish. And then, because I could, I designed my author’s Website. Registered for social media, including Twitter and Pinterest. Worked with WordPress to map a sub-domain for this blog, making it easier for people to find me via my pen name.
Now, before you protest that I’m putting the cart before the horse, you should know I’ve already written a book (my first two are “throwaways”). I’m working on Book #2, with definite ideas for Book #3. I hope they’ll turn into a series, though they could just as easily stand solo.
But this is more than you really want to know, isn’t it? Aren’t you just interested in what name I’ve chosen?
“Caleigh” is a Gaelic name meaning “slender, from the forest.”
“O’Shea” also is Gaelic and is among the 50 most numerous surnames in Ireland. The “O’Shea” family was a member of the Ten Tribes of Kilkenny. The name means “hawk-like,” “stately,” “majestic,” “courteous,” “dauntless.”
What do you think?
Debbie, I think it’s absolutely AWESOME! LOVE your pen name, it’s beautiful! And not only do I like the way it sounds when it’s spoken, but I also love the way it looks. I can just picture the name printed on your books in a beautiful scripted font.
I also checked out your new website and it’s FAB-U-LOUS! I like how you linked it to your blog, good thinking!
“Imagined autographing books (!) with them.”
I laughed when I read that because I used to do the same thing when I became an actor and thought about how my name would look autographed. In fact, I used to practice signing my name – HA!
“before you protest that I’m putting the cart before the horse, you should know I’ve already written a book”
I don’t protest at all. I actually think that’s a great thing because it shows that you believe in yourself and are making plans to make your beliefs manifest!
Well done, my friend. And I wish you much continued success. You are such a gifted writer!
Have a super weekend!
Ron, I can’t thank you enough for your kind words!! Yes, an actor definitely would know how a writer feels about autographs. I might never be asked to sign one of my books, but the thought that I *could* is enough to make me humbly excited.
I’m so glad you like my pen name. I think it fits me — or anyway, I’m trying to grow into it! I imagine it’s going to be a task getting people who know me as “Debbie” to remember me as “Caleigh” when they’re book-shopping, though.
You’re right, you know. I do believe in my book. I think it’s an interesting story (I know I, for one, couldn’t rest until these characters had had their say and the mystery was solved!). I hope readers find it enjoyable!
Thank you again, my friend. Happy Happy weekend to you! xo
First, a practical question: did you use your name in your URL, or something else? And did you use .com or .me? Or something else? I’ve got a domain name registered with the title of the book I’m intending, but it suddenly occurred to me — what if I write two? That’s a problem.
Now, as to the name itself: it’s perfect. And it has an advantage you may not have thought of. When you’re well-known and popular, it’s not a name that can be easly parodied. “Caleigh O’Crap” is about the worst I could come up with. It’s a strange thought, maybe, but given what social media has become, we have to think about all the possibilities!
I really do like it, and I love knowing that you — who know about such things — have done what I did with the domain name registering. Now, I may need to rethink that and grab one with my name the next time GoDaddy has a sale. 🙂
Linda, I know some authors have websites set up for a book, but since I really expect NOT to be a one-book-wonder, I opted to buy a domain under my pen name. There, I can promote all the books I intend to write! And yes, I decided to go with a dot-com extension. I wanted something tried and true, something that most people I know would expect to find — some of the other extensions are relatively new in Internet terms, and I figured most readers would have enough trouble linking Debbie with Caleigh.
I’m truly glad you like my pen name. I hadn’t even thought about being parodied — do you think that might be a sign of success for a name to command that much attention (negative or not)??
Absolutely. It’s the same with poetry and songs. If something isn’t known, a parody makes no sense. Remember my Cat Carols? They only reason they’re so funny is that everyone knows the Christmas carols. Maybe I ought to roll those out again!
YES, please do! I’d love to see those things again — and who knows, maybe Miss Dixie might get into the spirit of the season?!!
It’s lovely and meaningful and a wonderful way to represent you as a writer. It’s perfect. Congratulations on the birth of a new YOU.
Katybeth, thank YOU for the suggestion to go with a pen name in the first place!! My dear mom has already protested, sorrowfully wondering why she won’t see my real name on the cover of my book. However, if I ever decide to write a nonfiction type of book, I’ll probably go with my real name (just so I don’t confuse people). Gee, is all this too confusing anyway??
I love your new name! It’s very Irish without being at all “twee” – and very “you”, I think. I can imagine calling you Caleigh. Your new website looks fab too. But you’re wrong about one thing – I’m not just interested in the new name – I want to know more about the BOOK!!! Like when it’ll be appearing for starters… 😀
Spoken like a true book-lover, FF! Truth be told, it’s due out in 2017 — yikes! I’m not self-publishing, so the schedule isn’t under my control. I promise to write more as soon as I’m allowed!
I’m tickled you like my pen name! You know, we don’t get a choice in the name our parents give us and sometimes we have to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Not like being the author, who gets to name characters right and left, ha!
How exciting for you! Can’t wait to learn more about it! 😀
Well, my name is apparently Hebrew for “cow” – imagine how thrilled I was to discover that during a mixed religious studies class aged 14… 😉
“Deborah” is a Hebrew name, too. The thing is, I was never called that … unless I was in big trouble!! Not sure any 14-year-old wants to be thought of as “cow” in front of her friends!
I like it lots. And also that there’s a secret meaning behind it…haha.
That’s such a nice thing to say, Professor — thank you for saying it! Since I’ve been writing fiction, I find myself fascinated by names. Their meanings, the way the letters work together (or not). And it’s so cool when a name truly “fits” a person!
I like it a lot! The meaning behind it gives it a special quality.
Aw, shucks, Suzi, thanks so much! I’m sure I haven’t heard the end of the family protests, but I have to harden myself to the criticisms. And you know, that might be a GOOD thing, particularly if reviewers hate my book!
I like your website and your pen name. I think yo are right the name is timeless and can go on forever. Nice Job.
John, you’ve traveled this author’s path so much longer than I have, so I respect your opinion and thank you for it. And here, I thought writing the book was hard; now I have to wade into the deep waters of marketing!
I love your name! I was beginning to worry you weren’t going to share your pen name with us, Debbie. The meaning is mystical and perfect for your inspiration. I don’t even know where I’d begin if I had to do the same. Have a great weekend.
What a lovely thing to say, Audrey — thank you! I’ve connected with some on Twitter and LinkedIn under my pen name, but that’s probably not near enough to get the message out. This promotion-stuff isn’t easy, even for the Irish warrior princess I hope to become!!
I absolutely love the name and can’t wait to read your books! My daughter (who converted to Judaism) and her husband have chosen a Gaelic middle name for each of their sons as an homage to her Irish heritage. As you say, “Life’s too short to not be Irish.” Sláinte!
What a wonderful thing, giving your grandsons a Gaelic middle name! I’m afraid my folks weren’t terribly original with Debbie. In fact, when it came time for my baptism, the priest asked them what name they’d chosen for their baby girl, and after hearing “Debbie,” he said, “What? Another Debbie?” No wonder I had to choose a pen name, ha! Seriously, thank you, Mo, for your kind words of encouragement — ’tis much appreciated!
I love the name! But more importantly, I want to hear about this book!!
Aw, bless you, DD! I promise, as the time for publication nears, I’ll be glad to tell you about it (but not overly so, because I don’t want to be a pest!). Right now, I’m still pinching myself. I can’t believe this is really happening!!
You must do a “process” post! The how, what, whens of how it all happened… would love to know! What exciting news! So happy for you!!
Thanks, DD. Hang in there, my talented friend … your time’s coming!
I love the name also, Debbie! So wonderful and Irish too. My pen name is a combination of my grandmother’s names….I put them both together. I have the WordPress site and a Facebook page for L.T. Garvin, and of course, Twitter. It’s all I can keep up with, ha ha!
Lana, it sounds as if you’ve got all the bases covered — well done! As you know, ’tis hard to do everything — and do it well. I love how you’ve honored both your grandmothers with your pen name, too!
Well, I’ve tried to cover them, but my old friend time… I also meant to tell you, congrats on your book, and I can’t wait til you unveil it! What a wonderful accomplishment, Debbie. I can be your road manager if you go on tour, sometimes when I’m substitute teaching in middle school, it is rather like doing crowd control at a Justin Beiber concert, so I have experience 😉
I love it . It suits you. I also love your new website and can’t wait to read your books. As women, it is our prerogative to reinvent ourselves. So you go, Caleigh.
Thanks, Pat, for your kind words — they mean a LOT, you know. Reinventing ourselves is something many of us do quite often — perhaps that has something to do with being a writer!!
Caleigh O’Shea so glad you’re my blog friend! Caleigh O’Shea has a nice ring to it. I love your website and I got to know more about you because of your bio.I love that your parents knew all along that you were a writer. Us parent know what potential our children have. It’s an honor your parent can see this happen for you. I’m proud to know….Caleigh O’Shea!!!