Saturday, March 17, 2012

My not-so-secret identity

So, Virginia Jewel is not my real name. I think I've mentioned that before on this blog. I chose it because I wanted to take the risk of putting a piece of work out there without taking too much of a risk on a personal level. I am a teacher, something that I know I've mentioned on here before as well as on my twitter feed. As a teacher, everything that I do in and out of the classroom is scrutinized and judged. Being a romance novelist in my spare time may not be what some parents think is the best way for their child's teacher to spend her free time. While it is true that my books are not graphic and completely harmless, you just never know when someone might object to something. I'm telling you all of this because I've walked around in a bubble of anonymity for a long time, but unfortunately, that bubble has been burst.

When I did my first free book giveaway, I was so amazed by the results that I shared my secret with some of the people I work with. I wasn't worried because I trusted them and knew that they would be honest if they read my work. Because these people were either proud of my accomplishments or just trying to be helpful, word has started to spread around my work environment about my secret hobby. People that I never would have spoken to about my books are now reading them and stopping me in the halls to talk to me about them. Others who may not have a Kindle are searching for other avenues to access my books. All this is hard for me because I really have no desire to be the face of Virginia Jewel. I write because I enjoy it. I write because I like to read good stories so I try hard to write good stories for other readers.

Therefore, my secret identity has become the worst kept secret in town!

Now my problem is this:

Where do I go from here?

I chose a pen name for a reason. I wanted to stay behind the curtain. I didn't want my reality to mix with the crazy reality of being a self-published author. As long as most people didn't know who Virginia Jewel was, I could come home from a long day of work and escape into the world of my writing. As Virginia Jewel, I feel free to blog, post to Facebook, and tweet without worry of risking my reputation as a teacher. Again, it's not as if I am doing anything unsavory when I write as Virginia Jewel, but it's just the principle of the matter.

All that being said, I realize that I am not Clark Kent/Superman! My books aren't topping the NY Times Bestseller lists or anything amazing like that (though I certainly would be happy if that did happen!). My success is limited. My latest three-day free book giveaway topped 8,000 downloads between the US and Europe. That amount of exposure is not likely to land me on the cover of any newspapers or magazines. I recognize that. However, as Virginia Jewel, I'm much more exposed than I am as my real self. With this blog, my Facebook account, my twitter account, and my author account, I am more Virginia Jewel than me!

Why does this whole thing bother me, you ask. It's not because I'm embarrassed about my work or what I've written about. I haven't used real people to create my characters and now I'm afraid that they'll read it and find out. It's nothing like either of those things. My issue is simply this...I like being anonymous. I've always liked being the quiet one who sits in the corner. I'm a wallflower.

Unfortunately, Virginia Jewel is not.


  1. I have thought of 60 different solutions - and everyone gets half way out of my fingers, and then I realize that it wouldn't work.

    Bottom line from me - be proud!


  2. Thanks, Barbara! I am proud of what I've accomplished. I'm just quiet proud, not loud proud. I've just always been comfortable being a behind the scenes kind of successful. It's also a little about the vulnerability and that's definitely not something that I'm used to. Yikes!
    Thanks for reading an commenting!

  3. I just downloaded one of your books last week and started reading it...then I had to go back and download the others because I ADORED them!! Found your blog and wanted to say thank you for writing! I have enjoyed every one that I have read so far (and that would be 5 - FIVE - since Friday...oops!) and cannot wait to see what you have next. I do need to download the remaining book (New Sheriff in Town) and will probably do so later today. :)

    I have always been a sucker for a romance novel, and I adore how your characters interact with each other. Love the fact that there isn't anything inappropriate, and I agree you should be proud!

    Thank you again, and I'm looking forward to your future works!