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Continually trying to answer the question...can a man of few words write a successful novel?

I'm a Mystery/Thriller/Suspense writer from small town USA who struggles everyday to balance my passion for prose against the need to be a full-time bread winner. Finding ways to devote more time to my writing is the challenge, but for now all I can do is follow this tug at my heart to wherever it leads. I'm here primarily to soak up all the knowledge I can from the writing-centric blogosphere, but I'll do my best to contribute by thinking of new and innovative ways to churn the writing pot.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Donald


D is for Donald


My given name is Donald Lee Hammons, but the only person that ever called me Donald (other than teachers reading from the 1st day enrollment roster – which I quickly corrected) was my mother when I had done something to draw her ire.  Most of the world knows me simply as Don.  My family and a few friends call me Donnie.  I secretly toyed with the idea of going by my middle name for awhile because I really don’t like my name.  It’s so….vanilla!  There were numerous nick-names throughout my high school and college years, but once you get to a certain age nick-names kind of fall by the wayside.  Let’s face it; somebody like a fifty year old “Scooter” just seems kind of desperate.

But there is only one group of people, and one group alone, that know me by DL.  That’s anybody in the writing community.  Wanna know why?  One of my early short stories I seriously considered sending to contests was written from a female POV.  As it made the rounds through my critique partners I received a lot of comments expressing confusion/surprise about the main character because they naturally expected it to be male.  That got me thinking about the possible unconscious bias from contest judges towards male writers with female characters.  That’s when I decided to neuter myself and go with DL.  No more gender-related predisposition. 

A secondary benefit is that it helps me keep my writing life and everything else separate.  DL has his own email.  Anything writing related (Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, Forums, Subscriptions, etc) is setup under DL.  It’s not technically a pen name, but it’s the next best thing.

Donald was born in 1956, has a handful of friends and a family of five.

DL was born in 2009, has 897 followers and a family that expands every day.

Pleased to meet you!

51 comments:

  1. DL sounds cool--like on the "Down Low".

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  2. Interesting post, I don't like my name, i was christened Katy which is what everyone calls me except two friends who call me Kats and online I am Kate - but its so blah! Its funny when you meet someone and are surprised when you find out their name, have you ever had that conversation when someone says - He is so not a ....

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  3. I was going to my name for D also but changed it at the last minute. I have a Uncle Don, but DL sounds cooler. My initials were DW as in Darkwing Duck and that's what I was always called. And when someone would say DW the theme song would play in my head.

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  4. Dude, never use the word neuter when referring to yourself. Making me nervous.
    And if I heard my full name from my mother, I knew I was in deep, deep trouble!

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  5. Interesting. I never did not like my name,I just did not like that in school (my generation) there were so many. I really have no middle name. My first name is intended to be two words, but that only ever stuck within my immediate family. When I answer the phone and the caller asks for me by those two names, I know it's one of my cousins.

    Happy to be part of your cyber-family.

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  6. It's actually funny that you mention this because in SFF, it used to be pretty common (and some people still use it) for female writers to use initials in their name to "hide" their gender. The idea being that readers have a bias against female authors, that their work can't be as good as a man's. Although I think this was probably more true in SF than in fantasy.

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  7. Good to meet you DL!! I don't really have a nickname but I do have a sort-of pen name. All my online accounts are under the name sterlingsop, which only came about because I was rooting for a hotmail address name about 15 years ago. At the time I played the soprano cornet which was my dream, and the instrument I played was made by the company Sterling, hence the name sterlingsop was born. I tend to refer to the online me as sterlingsop, and the offline me as Pam, although recently I have started to meld the two together and I sign off my comments with my real name rather than my e-name.

    Like you, the only people to call me "Pamela" are my parents, and it's usually when I've done something wrong. Even at the age of 41, it can bring a shiver when I hear my full name!

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge, best wishes, Pam :)

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  8. I love DL. But I have had many awesome students named Donald and Donny and hey! Look at President Snow. :)

    I have been toying with the same thing - going by AR because my story is from a male POV. We'll see. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Funny, my mother never used my full name, she just smacked the bajesus out of me. I knew I was in trouble when my head was ringing.

    From one pen name to another (not quite) pen name, great post! :D

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  10. I think that name bias works both ways. Female writers with a male lead also get those raised eyebrows. If I remember correctly it is why Rowling went with "JK" for Harry Potter.

    As for the name itself? I like the name Donald. But I am partial to traditional names.

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  11. Great post, DL!

    Although I kinda still like "Bone" or "D-Bone".

    But regardless of moniker, you're a great writer, and I'm always pulling for ya, my friend!

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  12. DL works for me! Though I like the name Don. To me it's strong and simple and to the point.

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  13. Gender neutral names are never a bad idea for a writer. A lot of my protagonists are male and I know there's some question when readers start the stories...

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  14. Anytime I talk to Brent and say DL, he has that blank look.

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  15. Nice to meet you DL. I had a 'Name ID Gender Issue' until Johnny Cash came out with the song "A Boy Named Sue". Problem solved...now I can spit, cuss, and bust broncs with the best of them...or Bob Offield does in my name. I write my Texas Ancestor stories through Bob. His latest...'Rattlesnakes, Sidewinder and Flying Contraptions'...sounds like an 'Old Coot', huh?

    My theme is AtoZ My Family Tree and my 'D' is a fallen World WarI Family Member. Hope you will stop by CollectInTexas Gal...Sue

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  16. Oh, I was so gonna call you Donnie so I could number myself among your few friends, but I like being in the DL group. :)

    I have way too many nicknames. Who knows what one will make it on my books.

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  17. I'm with you DL. I prefer the ambiguity of my pen name. If it worked for Tolkien, Lewis and Rowling, it's good enough for me.

    Nice to meet you back.

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  18. Ooooo... secrets are revealed!!!!

    LOL

    Love it, DL. Donald is a fantastic name ;)

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  19. I like DL! So I'm glad I got to know you that way. However, I've always wondered what DL stands for. Glad to finally find out.

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  20. Interesting. I know some women use initials to avoid assumptions (J.K. Rowling being a notable example, and P.D. James.), but it never occurred to me that it would go the other way around.

    Erin

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  21. Okay, you've revealed half of your secret identity. But there's still the L... what is it, Lazarus? Lothario? Llewellyn? Luxembourg? Or are you going to keep us all in suspense until next Friday?

    (You don't actually have to tell us. I just wanted an excuse to say "Llewellyn".)

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  22. Oh yay! I love learning about this stuff. I like to go by The Crusher. All shall fear my fiery fists of dooooom. *ting* :)

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  23. Interesting, names can often get lost in all of the confusion and among on the Don's out there DL does stand out from the rest. :) I have a nickname and trust me if my mom used my real name I knew I had had it, so that today if anyone calls me by my real name I immediately respond with UhOh. Thanks for sharing the post

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  24. Great to get to know you a little better. I'm glad to be part of the DL group. :) I Like Jessica and Jess, but dislike being called Jessie. I always feel funny correcting people when they call me Jessie though.

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  25. An alter ego who racks in all the benefits. What's Tbone then?

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  26. It was nice to meet you too!
    ~blog hopping from A to Z challenge~ http://monkeyangelasblog.blogspot.com

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  27. Love this post...as always! You'll always be DL to me. :)

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  28. Hi DL! I love initials. I have one of those names that won't get smaller. I have my sons name down to one letter!
    Heather

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  29. Nice to meet you DL. It totally makes sense to go by a none gender name. And I would love to read a female POV written by a male. ;0)

    Jen from http://falling4fiction.blogspot.com/

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  30. Using the initials is a smart move if you plan on writing from the opposite gender. And DL just sounds cool :)

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  31. Ah I wondered about the initials before so thanks for clearing that up! And what an excellent reason too.

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  32. Thanks for the information share. That was a cool idea to use your initials so you could appear gender neutral when needed.

    I like your method of keeping D.L. the writer and Don separate with different email and other accounts. Just this week, I was scrolling through my inbox and realized that I need to do something to maintain some resemblance of organization. Once I added comments to my email, I realized that it is becoming far too easy for me to miss important emails (that sounded wrong-of course comment emails are important). It is just that I have also subscribed to so many newsletters, communities & groups etc., that the added volume overwhelms me.

    I really like the end of your post, Donald, (sorry-I won't do that again) where you listed the date of births for D.L. & for Don.

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  33. I wondered where DL came from too. Nice to know your story!

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  34. *hands you a cookie* Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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  35. I wondered what DL stood for. Now I know. : )

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  36. Nobody is ever happy with their name, right? Good thing as writers we can choose one new for ourselves and many pretty ones for our characters. I know that saved my girls from baring many experimental names. =)

    Best of luck!
    From Diary of a Writer in Progress

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  37. It's good to know the name behind the initials! I definitely see you as a "DL" though, since that's how I first got to know you (not all that long ago).

    Thanks for sharing this.

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  38. Awesome. I love how you created a new identity. I've thought that it would be great if we all had non-gender, non-ethnic names and let the words be our introduction and our identity, no chance for prejudice.

    Play off the Page

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  39. Great post! I love it that DL has his own separate online identity!

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  40. We all live with our different names, great to know the history of yours'.

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  41. I like DL as a writer/pen name. Works for either male or female POV - it's very clever.

    Glad to be getting to know you, DL, through this A-Z thing.

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  42. Very smart idea to seperate the two - the DL persona is well-known within the online writing community.
    Nice to learn more about you.

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  43. Nice, it's like your alter ego. :)

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  44. "neuter yourself" lol... I love it! Yep that's what authors have done for years. I've actually always gone by PK my entire life, but because my mom was so into books, she dubbed me PK for that very reason.
    THanks for sharing the DL history!

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  45. Nice to meet you AND your alter ego!
    I laughed when you said that you "neutered yourself" after the people who critiqued your story were surprised that you wrote a female main character.
    I am a female and I write mostly male characters. If writers only wrote their own gender we'd be very constricted in what we could write.:)

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  46. I love this post. Pleased to meet you DL :-)

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  47. I... quite enjoy... this post!!!

    I tend to overuse dashes - if all of the sudden dashes were illegal, I would spend my life in jail - I doubt that will happen.

    Dif-tor heh smusma
    - T'Laina

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  48. Names have power, for sure. I also overuse dashes - but it has become my style signpost - so I think I'll keep on doing it. Great post, DL!

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  49. I've always thought Donald was a strong name, not vanilla, lol!

    Don, you should be proud of your expanding family in cyberspace! It's quite an accomplishment. :-)

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  50. Excellent post. I like the DL and pen names have quite the history. Just ask Stephen King.
    A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

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