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I is for Initials

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 (see my previous post), but once you get to a certain age nick-names kind of fall by the wayside.  Let’s face it; 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 my initials 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 initials.  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 2226 followers and a family that expands every day.

Pleased to meet you!


  1. So when your book gets published (because it will!) what name do you think will be on the cover? Because it is written from a male POV...

  2. Using initials is a great way to keep your sex and identity a secret as an author. I considered it, but my initials didn't sounds as good as DL. ;)

  3. Interesting! My current WIP is primarily written from a male perspective and I've wondered if that was going to come around a bite me when I started submitting it. I haven't really sued a pen name, of course everything of mine is linked to Far Away Eyes, and a lot of people have started calling me FAE, but Google keeps no secrets and if I email you, my real name comes through loud and clear. I guess maybe I should do something to take care of that and consider initials or some other gender neutral way of representing myself.

  4. Arlee Bird is vanilla! Who knew?
    I use an initial for my middle name, because if I spelled the whole thing out, it would be a mouthful.

  5. This initial name stuff is fascinating. I chose C. Lee, thinking it sounded gender neutral, too. Of course, my friends immediately turned it into Sealy as in Posturpedic. And the first email I recieved said, Hi C. You sound like a fruit drink. Too late to rethink my choice.




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