Sunday, June 5, 2011

Guest Blogger Heather Lin

 Today my guest blogger is Heather Lin. Welcome Heather.

On Pen Names by Heather Lin

Why do authors use pen names? For some, it's to stay anonymous. It's akin to a stripper name. You never want to be at work and have someone say "Oh, I know that name! You write about sex!" just like you never want someone to say "Oh, I know that name! You're my favorite stripper!" It's just plain awkward. And, for some, it can interfere with a day job and/or embarrass family members.

I was never really worried about any of this. My family is far from conservative, and I started writing sex while I was in college, where everyone's pretty much obsessed with sex, anyway. The big shocker was that I was the quiet, virginal one who seemed to have no interest in the risqué. But, of course, it's always the quiet ones. ;)

No, my personal predicament came from the fact that I don't only write sex. I also write poetry, science fiction, and when I was twelve my dream was to write the next epic fantasy novel. That dream never quite escaped me, so my purpose in using a pen name was simply to separate my erotic works from my non-erotic works. For erotica, I'm Heather Lin, and for everything else, I'm Heather Smith.

Sounds simple, right? Not so much.

What about cross-genre? What if I decide to write erotic poetry or horror with erotic elements? What about my latest release, Westridge, which is about 1/20th sex? I had to make the decision that any story including any type of graphic sex would go under Heather Lin; everything else would go under Heather Smith.

 But does this pose another problem? Readers who are used to seeing page after page of graphic sex may be surprised to read Westridge and find it to be more romantic than erotic.

How do you feel on the subject? Do you like reading different heat levels, or do you like being able to expect the same thing from the same name?

I hope you'll find time to voice your opinion.

Also, be sure to stop by my blog for your chance to win a Country Chic gift set from Bath & Bodyworks in celebration of Westridge's release!

I hope you'll find time to voice your opinion.

Also, be sure to stop by my blog for your chance to win a Country Chic gift set from Bath & Bodyworks in celebration of Westridge's release!

 Buy Link


Gabby Jones and Jason Dawson were born only months apart in the small, country town of Westridge. For the next eighteen years, they were inseparable, but after their high school graduation, Gabby got on a bus to the city, leaving Jason with a weak explanation and a broken heart. After five years of making it a point to avoid her old flame, Gabby comes home for a funeral and, thanks to meddling parents and circumstance, she and Jason are thrown together again.
But now Jason is an auto mechanic with an ex-wife and a daughter, and Gabby owns a successful flower shop in the city. Even if Gabby is able to admit she still loves Jason, and even if Jason is able to convince her to tell him the real reason she left, will they be able to get past the changes and broken pieces in time to start over?

Excerpt (Unedited)

"What do you mean you can't pick me up?" Gabby Jones asked in disbelief, trying to balance her purse, suitcase, ticket, and cell phone as she boarded the bus.
"I'll send someone to get you. I'm busy helping with the funeral arrangements," her mother replied.
"What about Dad?"
"He's busy, too. We'll send someone."
"Mom," she said unhappily. "I know who you're gonna send. You can't."
"Oh, you're gonna have to see him at the funeral, anyway. And just because you disowned all of your friends when you moved away doesn't mean I have to."
Gabby had left the small town of Westridge five years ago. In Westridge, the nearest mall was forty-five minutes away, and "got stuck behind a plow" was the most common excuse for tardiness. The kids hung out at Walmart or the diner during their downtime and talked about how they couldn't wait to get away from the stupid small town where everyone knew everyone else's business. They didn't want to be stuck in the same routine, seeing the same people their whole lives, and Gabby had felt the same way — trapped, bored, insignificant. At least, that's what she'd told Jason two days before getting on a bus to the city and not looking back.
Ever since, she'd made a point of avoiding her old friends whenever she returned to visit her parents. Of course, her mother always updated her on Jason whether Gabby wanted to hear it or not. Mrs Jones had complained about the girl Jason dated after Gabby, discounted their quick marriage, gushed over their new baby, and gloated when they got divorced just a year after her birth. It had hurt Gabby to hear the news, but there was no way she'd ever admit it to her mother. Gabby tolerated her mother's gossip and was grateful she'd managed to avoid her high school sweetheart in person, if not in conversation. But this visit would be different.
Her parents and Jason's had been best friends since high school, and none of them made a secret of wishing Gabby and Jason would get back together. Sending him to pick her up today was a perfect setup. For them. Gabby rolled her hazel eyes in annoyance, even though her mother couldn't see.
"I didn't disown anyone," she said. “I just went on to bigger and better things. People drift apart. It happens."
She found her seat and threw her bags onto the rack above it. Her neighbors didn't look particularly happy about the twenty-three year old talking away on her cell phone, but she ignored them.
"Bullshit," Mrs Jones admonished. Only her mother could make cussing sound like a gentle, motherly act. "You loved it here. You were perfectly happy until—"
"Mom!" Gabby interrupted, not wanting to hear what her mother would say next.
She'd become a master of denial over the years and couldn't handle anyone breaking through the fog of her self-induced memory loss. Her mother sighed. It was a heavy sound, and Gabby didn't like it. It made her seem old.
"You're right. It's fine," Gabby's voice softened. "I'll have to see him soon, anyway."
"It'll be okay, baby. I love you. I have to go now."
"Love you, too, Mom."
She snapped the phone shut and leaned her head back against the seat, closing her eyes to fend off a tension headache. But all she could see was an eighteen year old Jason: blue eyes full of disbelief, face pale, fists balled.

* * * *

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Jason demanded, slamming the door to his truck shut.
"I'm leaving."
Gabby had to work hard to keep her chin raised and her lips from trembling.
"Just like that? And all I get is a note in my locker on the last day of school?"
He threw a crumpled piece of paper at her feet. Her parents had dropped her off at the bus stop, but they were long gone. If that goodbye had been painful, this one would be excruciating — which was exactly why she'd tried to avoid it.
"I told you in the note—"
"And now you can tell me to my face."
He was making a scene. Gabby was embarrassed, and the tears she'd tried desperately to keep at bay burned in her eyes.
"There isn't anything to do in this town. I just need to see what else is out there."
"This is bullshit, Gabby. A few months ago, we were talking about getting married."
Her voice rose as she lied desperately through her teeth, trying to keep control.
"Well, I changed my mind."
The bus pulled up, and Jason's anger turned to pleading.
"Don't, Gabby. If you need some time away from this place, I'll go with you."
"You belong here, Jason."
"I belong with you."
"Not anymore."
Then she turned and boarded the bus, ignoring the stares. She managed to hold the tears back until he was out of sight.

* * * *

The pain of the memory was scorching, surprising Gabby with its intensity. She opened her eyes. She had to get a hold of herself. She looked past the old man reading a magazine, her gaze falling on the houses outside. They were reaching the suburbs, but her destination lay far beyond that. Gabby groaned and firmly pushed the last image she had of her high school sweetheart out of her mind. The next few days were going to be hell.

Thanks Heather. I enjoyed your blog and Westridge sounds great.
Readers, don't forget to stop by Heather's blog for your chance to win a gift set from Bath & Bodyworks. Here's the link:

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the pen name. Such a tender subject for some. Personally, I expect an author to write what strikes their fancy. Nora Roberts has always written romance, but when she wrote one that was more of a mystery, I loved it. Charlaine Harris could write a completely non-romance paranormal and I'd still read it. Go with what drives you.