Four Years Of Joy

Four Years Of Joy

I have a question for you. Whether you’ve been reading my blog since 2010 or stumbled across it via Google today, this question is directed at you. And I guess you don’t have to answer, not straight away or not right here, but I’d like to hear as many thoughts as people are willing to contribute.

What does the name Miriam Joy mean to you? What does it evoke?

When I chose this name back in 2011, I didn’t think about what it conveyed. The vibe. But now I look at it and I think, “Huh. Does that say creepy stories about assassins and fairies, or does it convey more the idea of inspirational Christian romance?” Because I really feel it might be the latter, and I’m not sure that’s exactly the brand I’m looking to build up.

This is the version of me that chose that name. The long-haired, pink-dress-wearing me.
This is the version of me that chose that name. The long-haired, pink-dress-wearing me.

I didn’t think about how many other Miriam Joys there might be — didn’t check Twitter handles and website URLs to see if they were already taken, or look on Amazon to see if any other Miriam Joy had written a book. Now I’ve made the miriamjoywrites handle my own on nearly all sites because guess what? miriamjoy is taken. Because there are others. Others who come up in search engines, whose books about batik techniques get muddled with my Goodreads profile.

When I started out — and I will disclose this — I used the name M.J.Longman. That’s why my YouTube URL is /MJLongman. That’s why I have a Google+ profile at all, so that I could persuade YouTube to display it as “Miriam Joy”.

It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together and figure out that Miriam is my first name, Joy my middle name, and my surname is Longman. A surname I frequently ignore, but which can be easily linked to me when I share my brother’s music (Benjamin Longman). M.J.Longman is the name on my university card, and the one that post gets addressed to. Admittedly it’s not the name on the electoral roll, because they got my middle initial wrong, but…

For the last three and a half years, since I started using that name, I’ve enjoyed the sense of distance between my public self, Miriam Joy, and my private self, Miriam Longman. The two often overlap, and I use Joy more than Longman, but the two mostly coexist. It helps me keep online profiles separate, and means that when people who know me only in real life don’t necessarily find out everything about me by googling, because it takes time to find me.

Except I guess I’ve given myself away now, so they won’t find it so tricky. Whoops. I so should have thought this through. considers deleting post

I guess my face is on here enough that they'd find me anyway.
I guess my face is on here enough that they’d find me anyway.

I have business cards in the name of Miriam Joy. I have five publications (if you include the short story I had published in 2011, and St Mallory’s Forever, as well as my three poetry collections) under that name. I have a YouTube channel with 259 subscribers and a whole lot of videos, of which a large proportion have an endscreen with the name Miriam Joy on a black background.

I have this blog. I write for YAvengers. I have my Tumblr, Twitter, Goodreads and Memrise accounts. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me under Miriam Joy.

So I guess it’s a bit late to start having second thoughts about whether it’s really the name I want to be using, except that I’ve been doubting this name for some time now, and haven’t had the courage to say anything. The fact that I own business cards means I’m reluctant to consider the possibility of change, whether to the old initials-and-surname that’s worked so well for fantasy authors through time, or whether to something else — my first name and surname, a different name completely. I have a dozen pseudonyms I could adopt at a moment’s notice.

But this is the one that people know.

So I guess I’d like to hear your thoughts. What does Miriam Joy mean to you? What do you think when you see it? If I were to change my public image so drastically, would that throw you off?

(I’m not saying I’m going to. I was just thinking about the issue and testing the water, as it were.)

Does it matter if my name says “inspirational Christian romance” but my blurbs say “brutal, tragic death and bad life choices”? Does it matter if there are other Miriam Joys cropping up in search engines when you’re looking for me because at fifteen I didn’t bother to run a cursory Google search the way I do before giving any surname to a character nowadays?

This was also me in 2011, admittedly. Maybe the version of me that chose the name knew what she was doing.
This was also me in 2011, admittedly. Maybe the version of me that chose the name knew what she was doing.

I guess it probably doesn’t, but in the end it’s the readers it affects more than me — it’s you guys who would see it and form a thought. I know who’s behind the name. You don’t, necessarily.

So, tell me your thoughts. I’ll be interested to read them, and muse upon the various options.

12 thoughts on “Four Years Of Joy

  1. It’s hard to say what I think when I hear “Miriam Joy”. I know you as Miriam Joy. I don’t consider anything else. Your name is what you make it to be. If you change, then my perception of what I think of when I hear “Miriam Joy” will change, too.

    And no, it doesn’t matter if there are other Miriam Joys. There will always be other John Smiths, Katherine Nicholses, Robyn Hoodes, Miriam Joys, Liam Woods (having the wrong email address proved that last one *shudder*) … There’s probably even another J.K. Rowling somewhere. You may share your name with someone, but that just lets we readers say “No! The awesome one who write beautiful morbid poetry! I’ve never heard of the other one!”

      1. You’re welcome. :)

        The story with that… okay, so about a year and a half ago, Liam convinced me to send him the story I was working on at the time so he could beta-read. (It was a mess and I was a bit reluctant.) Well, I didn’t know his email address. We were both in a writing group and he said it’s the one he used with that. I could see the first part of his email but not the stuff after “@”. I guessed. Well, he didn’t get my story with that address and my email didn’t say “This address doesn’t exist.” So, somewhere in the world, some other Liam Wood got my story…

        1. Sometimes if an email address or username I want is taken, I message the person who has it just for fun. I did that with my first ever email address. Never had a reply. mad_mim, you let this mad.mim down by your silence.

          1. *laughs* That’s awesome. I’m too much an introvert to do that.
            I’ve got an entire list of names/pseudonyms. Robyn Hoode, Robyn G. Hoode, Elainya, Katie, Katherine, Katie Beth, Katie E. Nichols, Katherine E. Nichols, Katherine Elizabeth Nichols… There’s an odd one somewhere and I can’t remember it…. oh well. You get the point.

  2. Hmm, I do see what you mean. I guess “Miriam Joy” probably evokes more inspirational Christian romance then murderous fairies…BUT THEN it is cool that a name doesn’t necessarily define us. When I see profile pics of authors and they’re this light bubbly happy looking person and I just go, “WAIT. YOU WROTE THAT HORROR?!!” I find it kind of funny. xD But then plenty of authors write by 2 names. I know Abigail Haas (who wrote Dangerous Girls) writes adult books under the name Abigail MacDonald. *shrugs* So if you wanted to change your brand, I say go for it. My name everyone is just “Cait” or “Cait Grace” even though that’s my middle name. There’s no reason for it, except that, like you said, it’s a small barrier of my online life and my personal life.

  3. People don’t often find fiction by using a standard search engine. They find it by going to the right section in a bookshop/library or using the search mechanisms on their internet retailer of choice.

    Therefore, the only time people are likely to search for you by name is if they are big fans already; so either they will already know which instance is which or you will be a famous author so will appear at the top of search results anyway.

    In a similar vein, most people who encounter your book outside a search will see your name in the context of the cover. Therefore, if you have a cover that fits your book, they won’t think it is fluffy romance (unless it is, of course).

    So the only time the resonance of your name is likely to matter is instances where you are seeking interest from an audience that knows nothing about you and can’t include much other than your name.

    While I therefore don’t think you need to worry what your name feels like, I don’t think it feels like inspirational Christian romance anyway, or indeed strongly of any genre.

    1. You have a point. While I’ve occasionally picked up books because the author’s name was interesting / reminded me of something, most of the time I don’t even notice if it isn’t someone I’ve read before.

      Ah, fluffy romance. I understand that it’s a thing, but somehow it’s never what falls from my pen.

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