Author S.J. Drum Discusses Romance vs. Women’s Fiction, Pen Name vs. Real Name and Says To Never Give Up

Have you ever considered using a pseudonym – a pen name – for your writing? I blogged anonymously for a few years, but when it came to publishing in the real world – newspapers, magazines,  journals and a novel – I wanted name recognition.  How about you?  

S.J. Drum uses a pseudonym and a logo instead of a photo.  It’s something I’ve never considered but it’s certainly an interesting twist and it works for S.J. — and her readers!

Please welcome S.J. Drum w/a Clara LaVeaux to Women’s Fiction Writers!  

Author S.J. Drum Discusses Romance vs. Women’s Fiction, Pen Name vs. Real Name and Says To Never Give Up

ASN: Welcome to Women’s Fiction Writers, S.J. — or should I say, Clara LaVeaux, as that’s the pseudonym you use on your novel, A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY.  So, the big question: Why are you using a pseudonym when S.J. Drum is a mighty fine name?  And how did you come up with the name Clara LaVeaux?

SJD: Many authors choose to use a pseudonym when they ‘hop genres’, write a story outside of their usual category. Because I intend to concentrate the majority of my time writing Urban Fantasy for both adults and young adults, I felt I should use a pseudonym for A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY, as it falls under a very different genre.

I chose Clara LaVeaux as my Women’s Fiction pseudonym because I wanted a strong, feminine name. ‘Clara’ is a play on my birth name, ‘Sara’. ‘LaVeaux’ was chosen because of my ties to Louisiana, where I lived directly after graduating college. I miss the sultry summer nights and crawfish boils of the south and have always loved the way Cajun’s tend to spell words with ‘veaux’ tagged onto the end.

A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY is published by e-publisher Eternal Press.  What makes A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY more women’s fiction than romance?  Can you tell us a little about the story?

I love reading both Romance and Women’s Fiction, but the genres are distinctly different.

Romance is a genre where the plot revolves around a hero and heroine’s relationship. The plots normally go something like this: Will they get together? Maybe… Now they can’t. Then there’s a struggle. Finally, they’re together and it’s a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Women’s Fiction is more about the heroine’s journey as opposed to a romantic relationship between her and the hero. While many Women’s Fiction novels–including A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY–have strong romantic elements, the story remains strongly focused on the main character’s emotional growth and how she navigates considerable life changes.

A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY follows Amelia Gauge’s journey as she reinvents herself while adapting to sudden single motherhood and discovering an ability to love she thought had died with her husband. Amelia’s story explores the guilt of a former stay-at-home mother forced to concentrate on herself–and what she wants out of life–while navigating a new-to-her world filled with deceit and hidden danger, a movie star suitor, big money, and even bigger hearts.  A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY will be released on February 7th, 2012 and will be available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Fictionwise and through the Eternal Press publisher’s website.

ASN: What was your journey to publication?  Did you find Eternal Press or did they find you, and what was it like working with them?

SJD: I’d love to tell you I wrote the manuscript, blanketed cyber-space with query letters, and immediately received a “YES!” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? *Insert hysterical, eerie laugh.*

The truth is, for most authors, the road to publication is very, very long. I spent nearly a year writing, revising, having others critique the manuscript, revising again and self-editing before I sent out my first batch of query letters to agents and editors.

After I received a few responses that went something like: “I like the premise, the writing was solid, but the beginning didn’t draw me in…” I sat at my desk and contemplated setting a few items on fire, or possibly placing my laptop atop the gravel in my driveway and running over it repeatedly with my SUV for daring to allow anything but acceptance letters to enter my inbox.

When I calmed down, I realized these rejections were actually good. They weren’t form letters, they were personalized responses from agents/editors who didn’t HAVE to take the time to give feedback. So, I highlighted my first chapter, took a deep breath and hit ‘delete’. Then, tweaked the second chapter to become the first and sent out a new round of sample pages.

I was offered a contract with Eternal Press somewhere around 8 months after sending my first batch of queries. I liked their cover art and the books I’d read that’d been published by Eternal Press were suitably edited. For me, the decision was an easy ‘yes’.

ASN: What’s your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction, especially in this changing publishing climate?

SJD: Don’t worry about tailoring stories to what’s “hot” in publishing. Unless you already have a polished story that fits the bill, by the time you go through the entire story creation/writing/polishing/querying process, something else will have become the most popular theme and you’ll have missed the boat.

Write what’s in your heart, write it well, then throw it out and write it again, only better.

Don’t jump directly into self-publishing. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing, but don’t look at it as an easy/quick fix to the querying process. So many authors are tempted by this and later can’t figure out why they haven’t gone the way of Amanda Hocking and raked in millions.

For the majority of writers, to put out a quality book that’ll stand out from the rest, you’ll need a professional, freelance editor (around $800 for an 80,000 word manuscript)* and a good graphic artist to design a book cover (around $200+)*.

Most of all, remember, writers write. It’s what they do. If you want to be a writer…start writing and never give up!

As S.J. Drum, I am a writer of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Novels. Under the pen name Clara LaVeaux, I write Contemporary Women’s Fiction with strong romantic elements.

I have a terribly expensive and utterly useless BA in Studio Arts with a minor in Psychology.

I currently live near Yellow Springs, Ohio with my husband and two small children. When I’m not changing diapers or writing, I enjoy scuba diving and have been known to make an elephant do a headstand.

Link to A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY on Goodreads:



Twitter: AuthorSJDrum

*These numbers are based on S.J. Drum’s experience. Prices vary widely within the industry. 

6 thoughts on “Author S.J. Drum Discusses Romance vs. Women’s Fiction, Pen Name vs. Real Name and Says To Never Give Up

  1. Ah Louisiana – I lived in Baton Rouge for many years before and South Louisiana is one unique place that shows up in some of my books – especially the food!

    I’ve often thought of using a pen name and then writing something completely out of my usual writing – I even have a name picked out but I can’t tell! 😀 -just in case *laugh*

    Good luck with the book and your journies!


  2. What I really, really want to see is a photo of that elephant doing a headstand! I also loved your description of wanting to sit at your desk and set things on fire…perfect! Probably healthier than my rejection reaction, which too often have involved Grand Marnier and chocolate…anyway, sounds like a great book, and best of luck with it!


  3. Great interview and some good food for thought. I have two books coming out in two different genres – women’s fiction and literary short stories – but I think I am too lazy and confused to use different names. It’s hard enough following two blogs and trying to achieve distinct tones. Not easy.

    Good luck with A Life Beyond Yesterday!


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