Monday, May 6, 2013

Real World Crashes Into Writing World


Most of you know I'm an educator in my "real world". I taught grade school for 9 years, substitute taught for 2 1/2, and I've been a Writing Tutor since January. Some of my coworkers know I'm a published romance writer. Some have talked about supporting me and buying my books. Some think it's really cool. I've given out bookmarks and talked a bit about the writing life to them. (Some more than others, just like closer friends hear more details.)

As for the kids, I've talked about being a published writer and usually tie it in to their brainstorming and drafting their essays. I don't ever tell them my pen name and I don't give them the names of my books. I'm not comfortable talking about my romance books with the kids.

I'm teaching this 10th grade English class that basically writes essays. I was asked to teach it a few weeks ago for the rest of the school year. Of course I said yes. I'm hoping the school will give me a salaried teaching position for next year and I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to show them what I can do.

This past Friday in the 10th grade class, we started off talking about the testing they'll be doing next week, the rough draft essay that they were writing for me, and the final draft I expect next week. I mentioned about how many drafts I do of each book on my own (to show them drafts are a GOOD thing)....and that led to a chunk of time of me answering questions about publishing in general. I talked about the editing process and how many drafts I do for each book with editors too. I tied it all back into what I do with them and for the school, too. I did not reveal my pen name or my book titles even though they asked a lot and tried to get me to slip up. I explained I hav a pen name to keep my two lives separate. (I didn't mention about the romance aspect of my books. I just say that I write about crimes and justice, which IS true.)

After school, I was tutoring a younger class with another teacher. A handful of the 10th graders came up to the door and slapped a piece of paper to the window in the door that said "We know". I excused myself and went out to the hallway. They were excited and bouncing and exclaimed, "We know your pen name!" I asked what they thought it was and.....they were right. I asked how they found out and they said they'd googled my real name and it linked up to my pen name fairly quickly.

I was a bit freaked out because I don't want it to be (or become) a problem. I've never been in this situation before. I asked them to be respectful and to not make a big deal out of it since I want to keep the two worlds separate. (Because let's face it....not all parents will be thrilled with a romance writer teaching their kid to write.) I thought about emailing my bosses and explaining that some of the kids know my pen name and how they found it just so they're aware and so they don't think I'm spending my days in the classroom talking only about my writing. I'm thinking I might still send that email early this morning.

But really, I haven't done anything wrong. The kids are tech savvy. They found me online. I didn't give them any information. I didn't talk about my books or the scenes. I'm still teaching what I'm supposed to be teaching, and, hell, my books are something to be proud of, right? They illustrate healthy, emotional, adult relationships...relationships we should all be striving for.

What do you think?


  1. Great post Alexa! I think I too would be a little freaked out and I think emailing your bosses would be the right thing to do, proactive! Whether they would be mad or not, I think it would be better for you that they hear it from you directly instead of the grapevine.

  2. That's a difficult one - but I think the school should be proud to know you're a 'real' writer. You're in an excellent position to teach about writing!

  3. Think of all the junk literature targeting teens and young adults that encourage negative co-dependent relationships. We live in a world full of negatives. You're offering love stories with strong equal relationships and the society sure needs more of that. Be proud. My kids are grown, but if they were in the writing class of a published author, I'd think your credentials for the job were solid. Just figure this news will be like fireworks -- brilliant when they get shot into the air, then fades as the seconds tick by. You'll be old news soon. :)


  4. I don't think it's a problem. I agree that you should let the school know, but in the end the kids will get over it. I guarantee you one or two of them will buy your books and snicker at the romance aspect, but we get that from adults too, LOL.

  5. I don't know what to say except there's really no privacy any more. I've heard stories of people having trouble with being outed, it's kind of like being gay, or being atheist where I live. Once people know it's a hush hush type of thing. I hope it stays at that level! All it takes is one freaked out parent....

  6. Hold your head high, you have accomplished something a lot of folks haven't. You've worked hard and your dream has come true. If those parents have a problem, maybe they should be going to a school and learn to grow up. Obviously they know about sex or they wouldn't be sending children to school.

  7. Hi Lexi! We think alike...I am trying to keep my private and public worlds separate --not easy! I don't want my own mother reading my next novella...non-fiction abuse victims. Also, when I was program coordinator for thirteen Calgary elementary schools I was asked to teach the health class to the youth in our Behavior Modification Program...ugh...the kids knew more than me:( Only once; Never again!

    I understand and have always known you to have great will work itself the good:)

    Jennifer (JC Page)

  8. Alexa,

    I definitely think you should let the school know, but don't worry about it. If my kid had a "real" writer for English class, I would be thrilled.

    1. Alexa, I feel it shouldn't be a problem. You're a writer and your field is romance. As a writer you have expertise and as a romance writer you have insight into human relationships. I should think that's all very positive.