Sharon or Shari? Why a Pen name?
As most of you know or have figured out by now, my name is Sharon Smith, so you may have wondered why I am publishing under a pen name.
Well, first of all, it’s not because my last name is Smith! True, there are a lot of Smith’s . . . it’s a very common / popular name. But, I love being a Smith! I love it that it’s easy to spell and easy to pronounce. I also love it that strangers are never quite sure if you’re being honest with them when you tell them you’re “Mrs. Smith” . . . there’s that little bit of doubt – I like to call it intrigue.
And oddly enough, no one forgets your name. Sure, there are a few more Sharon Smith’s in my little corner of the world. I’ve been given the wrong prescription – but only once! And I’ve been in the doctor’s office with another Sharon Smith, we both stood up when the name was called, but the dilemma was easily resolved when the nurse corrected to say “the pregnant one” . . . nope, not me!
So, why the pen name? Well, for many of the very reasons I stated above – Smith’s are everywhere so having that name on a book isn’t going to exactly stand out in anyone’s mind. And really, doesn’t Shari Smith sound more like a made up name than Shari Sullivan-Quinn?
In case anyone is curious where the pen name comes from . . . it comes from my heart.
Shari was my older sister’s pet name for me when I was a kid. She still calls me that occasionally in fact. I like it, a nickname for Sharon, who knew?
I was raised by a single mother. A woman who was generally easy going and full of love, but she never took any garbage from anyone. My dad had given her enough grief, so if any of her boyfriends started being too bossy or behaving like our home was his home or if they got too bossy with me or my older siblings who lived on their own by then, she would kick them out of our house and out of our life. She would tell them, this is my house and my daughter, and my children comes first.
She taught me not to sweat the small stuff, that a messy house will still be there when we die, so if you decide to spend the day playing board games or reading your favorite book, that’s okay. We don’t have to live in a spotless world.
She taught me that if no one else comes through for you, you have to come through for yourself so pick yourself up and figure it out; and if you need money, any job is an honorable job, even if it’s washing dishes in a restaurant. Honest hard work, is honest hard work.
I am the woman I am because she allowed me to be independent and to think for myself from a very young age. I had few rules, but had been given the self discipline to know right from wrong.
My mother’s maiden name was O’quinn, that’s where the Quinn comes from, and Sullivan was her mother’s maiden name. My mom never really knew her mother; she passed away when mom was still a toddler, so in honor of both of them I chose to add Sullivan.
My pen name is my “heart name” – for three strong women – me, my mom, and a grandmother I never knew.
But most of all, it is in honor of the woman who helped me grow up to think for myself, to not fear hard work, to be strong and independent. Who showed me that it’s okay to be loving and giving, but it’s also okay to stand up for myself and those I love and not let other’s take advantage.
I hope you like the name as much as I do.