Why pen names?

8:17 PM

In 2005, I was offered a writing job on a local news site. I was incredibly excited and launched my new blog on that site. It was dedicated to discussing the things I, a 17-year-old college junior, faced as I moved out on my own, explored a new city, and juggled dating, college, and Christianity. I was so excited to be a writer, albeit an unpaid one, and I loved having something "real" and "professional" to my name.

Six years later, I had experience writing for numerous websites and was making a great income from one of them. Unfortunately, almost overnight, the website fired all its writers and started fresh. To be fair, they didn't "fire" anyone. We all just had to simply re-apply for our current jobs and almost no one was approved, myself included. My income plummeted. My stress levels went through the roof. Somewhere in between my husband promised things would be all right, and they were.

Until I found a new writing gig, I decided to cut our expenses using coupons. My husband was in the military, so we still had a regular paycheck, but we knew we wanted to move overseas, so we were trying to save as much as possible. I read everything I could on using coupons, including blogs, books, websites, and Facebook groups. I started posting pictures on Facebook of how much money I was saving, and my friends and families all had one comment: you should write a book.

So I did.


The Coupon Diet was my first nonfiction book. I had very few sales for the first two months, then I ran a promotion that resulted in 11,000 downloads and spiraled it to the #6 spot on Amazon.com. A short, 29-page guide designed to help moms learn to navigate the world of coupons got me noticed. Most of all, it encouraged me to write more.

So I did.

I wrote more and more and more. I published dozens of books for moms, showing them how to work from home, how to balance homeschooling with working, how to lead a Bible study, how to become a blogger, and so on. My books were designed to help mothers balance their faith with working from home and to empower them to believe in themselves enough to take a chance.

As I wrote, I was aware there was another Beth Jones who published books on Christianity and homeschooling; however, I didn't really mind that we shared a name. Unfortunately, not every website felt the same way. Many book bloggers and websites began mixing up our books, labeling half of mine as the other Beths. As a result, when someone enjoyed a book I wrote and wanted to read more, they would end up buying the other person's books, and vice versa. Reviews got mixed up and tangled. In other words, it was a mess. Soon there were even more Beths. At last count, I found four distinct Beth Jones authors! Eek!

Unfortunately, with an ordinary name came unusual problems, so I decided it was time to launch a pen name.

Enter Penelope Hoyt.

I began writing as Penelope simply to distinguish my work from other Beths. In years past, writers didn't have such a luxury, and I'm thrilled I have the opportunity to continue writing while branding myself as The Nerdy Survivalist.

If you've been a reader for years, you may remember my old blogs. The Hungry Freelancer was a blog for writers and still has an active Facebook page. The Purple Haired Homeschooler was an educational blog. I later turned the best posts into a book called Homeschooling for Busy Moms, which is now available on Amazon.

So if you've been wondering who Penelope Hoyt is and why she sounds so much like that other writer you've read, now you know. I'm the same girl, at heart, but write under a different name simply to be different and to distinguish myself from other authors who also love essential oils, parenting, and Jesus.

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