Pub Rants

Stories Behind The Names

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STATUS: Is it possible to be unhappy while in San Francisco? I had a great day. There is publishing out West (just in case some of you didn’t know that). I had coffee with Kate Nitze from MacAdam/Cage and then lunch with Renee Sedliar, Marlowe & Company. Now I’m back at the hotel but the conference starts in an hour.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? Telly in the hotel room is on instead.

I have to say that although my last two rants are pretty pointless, I’ve had a great time with them. I promised you a story so finally, here it is. I actually have two stories to share.

Okay. I’ve included the cover of PLAN B from the author of BACHELORETTE #1. Take a close look. Do you notice anything different? Don’t read on until you catch it.

It’s subtle so give yourself a pat on the back if you caught it right away. Yes, this is the debut YA cover for my adult market author Jennifer O’Connell.

And yes, her publisher is the one who decided to change her name from Jennifer to Jenny O’Connell for her YA stuff.

The big question is why.

Well, her editor actually thought that the name “Jenny” had a hipper, younger feel than Jennifer and since we wanted to appeal to that younger audience, we choose to change her name slightly and go with the Jenny.

Even better (and this is what cracks me up) Jennifer, being the savvy author that she is, decided to do a photo op that had a younger feel. She even decided to remove her wedding rings for the photo since being “married” might feel too stodgy and established for her younger readers. There’s no disguising that she’s not in her 20s but she’s looking pretty hip if I do say so myself.

I’ve got another story but must head out now. Will have to wait until Monday.

71 Responses

  1. lizzie26 said:

    Think I might change my name (nope, it’s not lizzie anyway) and get plastic surgery. Or as Dana said, hire someone to stand in for me.

  2. Cindy Procter-King said:

    She looks GREAT in the photo. Very clever idea to take off her wedding rings.

    Shortening an established author’s first name for YA is pretty common and a great way to differentiate from the author’s adult work.


  3. Jennifer/Jenny O'Connell said:

    As long as Kristin outed me, thought I’d chime in. Another reason to use Jenny vs. Jennifer was to create an alternate web site for teens instead of having them go to (didn’t think they’d be too interested in the rants of a 38 year old). is geared directly to teen readers. Granted, I haven’t been called Jenny since I was a kid, and probably wouldn’t even respond if someone yelled out “Jenny” in a crowded room, but this way we could delineate the two different genres.

  4. Allison Brennan said:

    Jennifer looks fabulous. I’m in my 30s and look nowhere as great as she does! And I did catch the name right off. Good packaging all away around.

  5. Jana DeLeon said:

    I had to smile – “good packaging” describes the book AND Jennifer. 🙂

    I’m about 2000 grilled chicken breasts short of looking that good…..

  6. Anonymous said:

    Taking off her wedding rings? Trying to appear to be something she isn’t? And why? To separate child-customers from their money. I realize that publishing is a business, but this souds like a “sell-out” to me. I think we ought to be more respectful of young women. We needn’t sell our souls, or sell today’s youth short.

    What kind of role model takes off her wedding rings in order to make money? This is disgusting!

  7. Shelli Stevens said:

    Wait, she’s not in her twenties?! She looks 26. God, to have that body… and I AM in my twenties. Well, for another year. Hee hee.

    Have fun in San Fran.

  8. lottery ticket said:

    Thank you, anonymous. At least I know I’m not completely alone in failing to cheer for the craftiness of taking off one’s wedding rings. Change your name, change your look, deny your marital status…all in the name of selling your book.
    It’s times like these that I’m not sorry my book is unpublished. I’d hate to find my integrity turning up in the remainders bin.
    It’s a short step from this sort of “marketing” to the glossily packaged train wreck the was “Opah Mehta”. Those who won’t stand for something as basic as who they are will fall for anything.

  9. pacatrue said:

    In the spirit of anonymous and lottery ticket, I have decided to stop bathing. I mean, this delightful unshaven, smelly version is the real me and I wouldn’t want to put on a fake “clean” persona. My teeth wouldn’t be white either if I wasn’t always giving them that color with by brushing, so I have decided to forego that as well. After all, the only thing important in life is to present me as me. Who cares about the expectations of others and how I fit into a larger society?

    For a while I was thinking I might shorten my name from “pacatrue” down to just old “paca”, but after this flash of insight I don’t want to be a sell-out like that Mark Twain guy or that corporate shell George Eliot. I mean, geez, she even took on a male name in order to sell her stuff.

  10. Anonymous said:

    You miss the point, Pacatrue. YA novels are marketed to children. Whether you smell or not has nothing to do with the degree to which you influence the minds of young women. It’s not untruthful to present oneself in a neat and tidy manner; but it IS untruthful to pretend you’re not married.

    Do you think it’s perfectly fine to lie to people in order to make money?

    If you want to compare apples and apples (as opposed to apples and oranges), trying to assume a youthful appearance, and to deny one’s marital status is similar to shaving one’s legs and brushing one’s legs in that they both say, “The true me is unpleasant, and embarassing. I would like to hide it.”

    Try using that as an excuse with your spouse when you take your wedding rings off. “Honey, I’m taking the rings you gave me because they’re embarassing. They give people an impression that I don’t want them to have. It’s not cool to be married. You don’t mind, do you?”

    News Flash: It’s not cool to smell, but it is cool to be proud of your marriage.

  11. PRNewland said:

    a smooth stone
    in glass pallisades
    flies through mirror

    …think I went over on syllables. Just a small haiku interlude.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled controversy.

  12. lottery ticket said:

    Pacatrue, I used to have a teacher who said, “be yourself, but be your best self.”
    Brushing my teeth falls in the category of being my best self.
    Taking off my wedding ring falls in the category of lying.
    Your mileage may vary.

  13. pacatrue said:

    I told my own wife when I posted my comment that I knew I shouldn’t, but unfortunately, I did not listen to my better self or my better half. I do not think that the little items we are talking about here – using a diminutive version of one’s name (even using a fake name completely, which is why I brought up Twain and Eliot), giving oneself a spruced up young looking picture, and the like – amount to deception of the young. However, both of you point out, the issue seems to be the wedding ring. My take was that the publishers and author were simply trying to present an image with which her readers could easily identify. Since most of them are not married and might even see marriage as something that old people do and therefore not want to listen to the author, they took off the wedding ring as well. I just don’t think there is much harm in that. I assume that if one of her readers were to ask Ms. O’Donnell if she is seeing someone, she’d truthfully inform them that she is married if she considers it any of their business, which it may not be.

    I once took Latin percussion lessons where it was not a good idea to wear rings due to the damage to drums and effect it had on certain tones, so I took the ring off. I assume my wife did not mind as there was an innocent purpose. I wasn’t denying my marital state; I was playing an instrument. It would be different if I was taking my ring off, going to bars after she was asleep, and then telling 25 year olds that my wife died in a car accident last year, so, don’t you want to comfort me for a couple hours? I think that the publicity shot here is closer to the former than the latter. The publishers were simply trying to present an image of the author that their readers could easily relate to. Ms. O’Donnell is just as married with the ring off than she is with it on.

    Apologies, sincerely to all, to letting my half-awake, sarcastic side dominate and cause controversy. I will be more constructive in the future.

  14. Anonymous said:

    Do you condemn an actor who takes off her wedding ring because she plays a single person in a sitcom? She has to if she wants that job. Or should she only take on married roles? Then what if they want her to wear a different ring because her character is rich/poor? Maybe she should give up acting altogether.

    Do you condemn a TV anchor who stays blonde past 30 because female anchors going gray at the temples aren’t seen as distinguished by their producers, and therefore must cut their careers short by 20 years because it would be bad to project the image to young girls that women should never hide their roots to overcome a double-standard?

    No matter what we do for a living, we’re all doing some marketing of some kind: faking confidence when you’re about to go into a tough board meeting; giving the appearance to neighbors you have it all together when really the PTA, the housework, the kids’ activities and the high price of gas are about to drive you crazy.

    Puhleeze. Besides, the right to condemnation belongs to juries, deities, and political pundits with seven-figure book deals and cable TV shows.

    Go on and do your thing Jennifer/Jenny, with your bad selves.


  15. lottery ticket said:

    Condemning? Did either of us use that word? If anything, I save my condemnation for the marketing machine which coerces these choices.
    I happen to be an actress and I have occasionally had to take off my wedding ring while playing a role. But the ring goes on again when I am out of character. Because lotteryticket is married. Character is not. The author in the photo is representing herself, not a character.
    I’m also going gray and not covering it. But as I said, your mileage may vary. In my view, all of those little choices…dropping your name, taking off the ring, coloring your gray are not only an attempt to sell more books, but they contribute to the perception that all of that artifice is necessary. The anchorwoman who colors her hair makes it that much harder for the women who follow her to make any other choice. I grew up in a time when retaining one’s maiden name or choosing to hyphenate was a bold step. And one which drew no small amount of criticism. But enough women did it that now it’s commonplace and I’m guessing most young women who make that choice now catch very little grief for it. That is thanks to those who did the unpopular thing that felt right for them.
    I’m perfectly well aware that most people will happily change their name, cover their marital status and stand on their head and spit nickels if it will increase their chances of being published. I’m just not one of them. I would love to be published. But it is more important to me to stay true to the things that are important to me, including embracing the fact that I’m a 42 year old (slightly graying) woman who has been married for 17 years to a man who supports my writing career and many other choices I’ve made.
    But while we’re posting rhetoricals…what if a male author of romantic fiction is gay? Is it OK to tell him he’d better cover that up rather than risk compromising his book sales?

  16. PRNewland said:


    Just out of curiosity, am I the only one who actually went to after reading this?

    The ‘about Jenny’ page is quite upfront about that fact she writes more than YA and gives the jennifer web address right there.

    The picture is on both web sites. This is not even remotely close to writing under a nom de plume such as JD Robb who wrote an ungodly number of books under various monikers. Same with Stephen King. Were they also deceitful sell outs?

    When I was a kid, I read the Hardy Boys mysteries. The ‘author’ didn’t exist. It was a pen name under which various writers worked. Was I traumatized when I found out? Um… no. It also wasn’t difficult to work out when you looked them up in the library and saw how long the series had been ongoing.

    Shortening the name to Jenny and looking really good in the photo does not make Jennifer into JennyFrey for goodness sakes. Chill out people.

    Oh, and congratulation to Jennyfer 😛

  17. Jennifer O'Connell said:

    I think the comments here have been so interesting to read. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and we all get to make personal choices that align with our sense of integrity – from the name we use to the bios on the back cover of our books. The level of outrage and indignancy several posters expressed, and equating not wearing a wedding band to lying, is just another area where I made a choice they wouldn’t have made.

    As for the omission of rings being considering “lying,” well, the book very clearly states on the first page, “For my daughter.” Not exactly, “For all my fly girls in sixth period English.” I think readers are smart enough to figure out I’m not exactly their contemporary. But if a picture that looks friendly and casual and fits the tone of the story gets a girl to pick up a book – any book -and start reading, well then I’m all for it. Personal decisions don’t need to be justified, and my husband keeps that photo on his desk. As long as he knows we’re married, that’s what matters to me.

  18. Anonymous said:

    Condemn sounds harsh, but it did sound to me like expression of disapproval; pronouncement of judgement. In the case of the gay writer, that would be his call, but I bet he wouldn’t see denying his identity on equal footing with removing a band that symbolizes, but does not erase, an aspect of one’s identity.

    I knee-jerk defended an author’s right to market to meet the needs of her book. But I agree with prnewland’s wisdom and will chill.


  19. Anonymous said:

    To Jennifer:

    You and your friends can dice words and appearances all you want. For my part, I promise never to purchase your books, and not to recommend them to anyone because of your decisions. You are duplicitous.

    Money talks – and for you, money seems to be a stronger motivator than integrity. So be it. I hope my non-purchase sends a message you can comprehend, if you can’t comprehend the words here on this blog.

    Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. That’s how we all ought to live.

  20. Patrice said:

    Just went to Amazon and purchased PLAN B for my three nieces. It looks great and they’re smart enough to judge a book by its content, not the author’s photo. These people need to lighten up and worry more about the content of stories and the lessons they’re teaching girls than photos on the book jackets. A little common sense, folks!

    As my neices would say in their infinite teenaged wisdom: You go, girl!!

  21. Anonymous said:

    Has anybody who’s felt compelled to comment even read PLAN B? Smart girl (honor roll, Yale-bound), cares about her parents, follows the rules, stays out of trouble, strives to do what’s right.

    I read the book and the character Jenny writes about is a girl I’d want my daughter reading about. In an age when books targeting girls contain oral sex, flagrant drug use, disrespect for adults and disdain for authority, PLAN B was funny and enjoyable and real. Who the hell cares about the author photo?

  22. pacatrue said:

    I am going back and forth here so much on whether or not to take the flame bait from anonymous, since I know no good will come from continuing the talk. At the same time, I hate to leave the conversation with a personally-directed attack on someone. I just hope, anonymous, that you will stay consistent with your declaration. You should never read Nora Roberts, Amanda Quick, Elizabeth Peters, Mark Twain, George Elliot, George Sand, and hundreds and hundreds of other fine, or extraordinary, authors who have used pen names. They are all liars. You should also never buy a song by virtually any pop music artist, since they routinely put on personas that go with their current song or album, and still use their same name.

    I know I cannot reach you, but what is going on here really isn’t so bad. It is an author emphasizing certain attributes of herself in order to be able to speak to a certain audience.

    OK, I am now taping my fingers together so that I can’t continue this certainly fruitless debate.

  23. Elektra said:

    Going back to the original topic, the weird thing is that (to me anyway) Jenny sounds too young for YA. Most shortened-name people I know began to prefer their full name in middle school, so that they would sound less childish

  24. Jana DeLeon said:

    I’m just curious – in the definition of some previous posters, wouldn’t having your hair highlighted, using styling products, wearing makeup, painting your nails and quite frankly – wearing a push up bra or lycra be considered “lying.”

    If so, then every woman I know lies daily.

    Please, people, don’t make your standards everyone elses. There’s a reason this is a free country. The only person who has a right to comment or complain on this issue is Jennifer’s husband and obviously he likes the picture enough to have it displayed.

  25. Jana DeLeon said:

    Oh, and BTW, I’ve read all of Jennifer’s books……she’s not published and selling well because of the picture. She’s talented AND beautiful.

  26. Anonymous said:

    (I’m anonymous #4? maybe) When did the author’s biography (and therefore name) begin to matter as much, or more, than the work – especially in the world of fiction? What authority, or cachet, does a writer of fiction need beyond her imagination? Is this infatuation with the marketability of the writer’s bio (and its subsequent tweaking) somehow an off-shoot of the literalist/dogmatic interpretation of the hackneyed nugget “write what you know?”

    It’s sad that some won’t read a writer because they don’t approve of the writer’s bio. It’s sad that we have a system where the only way to sell a book about made up people is to tell a writer she has to adopt a special image to do so. It’s sad because, in the end, the books no longer matter intellectually but rather as a product with no inate value except that which is attached to the volume moved out of the warehouse. Content? we don’t need no stinking content. We’ve got a brand formula and that’s better than content.

  27. Louise Douglas said:

    You’ve got to be kidding me talking about Jen selling out and being a liar and jumping on the marketing. Well…hello! She has a BOOK to sell. Of course she’s going to market herself properly. She would be stupid not to. For you to sit her with your pious airs and say that anyone who takes their wedding ring off for a stupid picture is some sort of sell out, well…hello, welcome to America…land of the free, home of the brave, bounty of marketing and selling and advertising. Get over it. You’re just jealous that she’s so successful and talented and beautiful and a hell of a nice person who I’ve met at many conferences. Having your own opinion is one thing — something I respect — but don’t condemn her (and yes, by virtue of your asinine posts, you are condemning her choice) and shove such ridiculous theories down anyone else’s throat. If it bothers you so damn much, there are a couple of options:

    1. Don’t visit this blog.
    2. Don’t visit Jen’s website.
    3. Don’t buy her book.

    But you know what…I HAVE bought her books and I WILL buy this one…Jenny, Jennifer or Irving.

    Honestly…get a new hobby anonymous and lottery.

    Louise Douglas

  28. Marley Gibson said:

    This has been most entertaining to read this. Amazing what cranks some people’s motor boats. ::BG::

    I too know Jen/Jenny/Jennifer and she’s got more talent in her little finger than most people have in their whole bodies.

    If I weren’t already planning on getting the book (which I saw an ad on MTV for it this morning!!!), the silliness here would push me straight to purchase it. I agree with Louise…if it bothers you so much, click to the next website.

    CONGRATS, Jen! You deserve it! Can’t wait to read PLAN B.

    Marley = )

  29. Dave Kuzminski said:

    Admittedly, she looks like a knockout in that photo. In fact, she could even pass for a teen. Don’t argue, either. Most of us have seen teens under 18 who look that effervescent. One could also say that she was making a statement for underage marriage by wearing her rings.

    We should keep it in mind that much of this should not be placed on her doorstep since it’s obviously a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Even the publisher faces the same predicament. It’s brought about by our society and the manner in which marketing has taken hold of so many things, so blame our society if you must blame anyone. Just remember that many people have no choice but to go along with what will help them not just achieve success, but just get food on the table. It’s really not all that amazing what people will go along with when such choices have to be made.

  30. lottery ticket said:

    Louise, how charming you are. I hold a different point of view, a minority point of you, yet I managed to state it politely. Now that I’ve seen the venom which greets a contrary opinion, I’ll bow out. I’ve stated my point of view and I stick by it. And I didn’t even have to call anyone jealous or talentless to do it.

  31. Patrice said:

    A minority view is always welcome, it adds to the color of the conversation. However, when your “opinion” becomes baseless attacks on someone that you a) don’t know and have no idea what they “stand for,” and b) have no basis for ridicule considering your lack of publication experience, it’s time to stay silent.

    This is a forum for ideas, not judgemental rants for the sake of making you feel like the morally superior person.

  32. Jeff Smith said:

    If the rings mattered so much to take them out of the picture, why is it so easy to find out about Jennifer’s marital status, age, and the fact she has children? Why not a picture where you can’t see her hands?
    I admit, the fact that she doesn’t wear her wedding ring rubs me the wrong way. It is a choice I would not make. Is she evil for doing so? No. Should we applaud her for doing so? No.
    Call me dumb, but why did it matter so much to someone that it was decided that she shouldn’t wear her wedding ring?
    I always make my connection to the book, not to the author. But then again, I’m not a teenage girl.

  33. Anonymous said:

    I write a book about dogs – my author photo does not picture me and my cat.

    I write a book about an aerobics instructor – I do not have my author photo taken in my “fat” jeans while lounging on my couch.

    I write a book about a make-up artist – I do not take my author photo without ensuring my eyeshadow and lipstick are flawless.

    I write a book about a shoe-obsessed woman – I make sure I’m wearing my strappiest heels in my photo.

    I write a book about an 18-year old girl – I make sure I look as relatable as possible, not like I could be her mother.

    Who’s hiding something? It’s just about making your audience comfortable enough so that they believe you understand them. Anybody out there with a teenager knows that it’s an “us/teens” vs. “them/adults” mentality. For an author to try to seem more accessible to them, and their fears/concerns/lives, just makes sense to me.

  34. Janny said:

    If it hadn’t been mentioned that she took off her wedding rings for the picture, I doubt any more than maybe three to five percent of us would notice in the first place…and other than teenage girls looking to see what kind of jewelry she wears, I doubt THEY’d notice whether or not she had rings on, either.

    But if it were me, and I’m representing myself with all the integrity I can, I’m leaving those rings on. They’re a part of who I am, whether I’m Jenny or Jennifer.
    I’m not playing a role in that picture, playing a musical instrument that might damage the jewelry, or working in a factory where jewelry can be a hazard and needs to be removed. Therefore, they stay on.

    If someone’s reading a message into the presence of a ring such as “encouraging teenage marriage” or the like, they need a life. OTOH, what better way to show that one can be married, gorgeous AND cool than by being willing to leave those rings ON?

    There could also be a hundred reasons why she didn’t happen to have her rings on for a photo shoot…such as they were being cleaned, repaired, or the like. The fact that it was made a MARKETING point that those rings were gone, I think, is what bothers a lot of us.

    Short answer: if you hadn’t told me, I probably never would have noticed. A lesson for next time.

  35. Wesley Smith said:

    Getting back to the name thing (assuming that anybody is reading this far…), I’m also suprised that she chose to go with ‘Jenny.’ Not because it’s duplicitous (which it’s not), but because ‘Jenny’ doesn’t sound like a teenager.

    In my church I know a handful of Jennifers in their teen and early twenties, and not one of them goes by ‘Jenny.’ Almost all go by ‘Jen.’

  36. Brenda N. said:

    A ring is part of who you are? That’s got to be the craziest thing I’ve heard. A ring? If that’s all marriage is, god help us all. When I was pregnant I didn’t wear my rings for six months, even though they’d fit over my finger if I tried hard enough. Fact was, I didn’t need a ring to prove to anyone I was married. Funny how many marriages break up even while the spouses are still wearing their rings. Guess a ring isn’t the most important thing afterall… But dedicating a book to your daughter, that speaks volumes.

  37. cheryl said:

    I’m absolutely discombobulated over this entire discussion and the labeling and accusations that have been thrown at Jennifer, as if you’re her best friend standing in judgement over her. Jesus.

    Congratulations on the cross over and having a whole new demographic to market yourself to with or without rings. And yeah, if it hadn’t been pointed out, no one would have noticed.

    Hope the book does well.

  38. Anonymous said:

    Janny, That is the whole point. Her readers can’t notice that she took her rings off, but they will notice that she isn’t wearing any.

  39. cheryl said:

    Janny, That is the whole point. Her readers can’t notice that she took her rings off, but they will notice that she isn’t wearing any.


    Does the lack of jewelry make her any less credible as a writer of this tale?

    If you read her website and her plog on Amazon, she very clearly says a lot of this story was based on her own experiences in high school. You don’t need a wedding ring, marriage certificate or anything like that to have knowledge of telling a high school tale. I think all of you people are MISSING THE POINT!

    My husband doesn’t wear his wedding ring because he’s in contruction and it isn’t convenient to his job. Are you saying he’s a liar? Duplicitous?

  40. Anonymous said:

    Cheryl –

    If your husband took his wedding ring in order to get hired at a new job, THEN he would be doing what Jennifer has done.

    The point isn’t that she took off her rings. It’s that SHE TOOK OFF HER RINGS IN ORDER TO PROMOTE HER BOOK. I take my ring off when I wash dishes and make bread. I wouldn’t dare take it off to get hired for a new job.

    Get it, folks?

  41. Susan McDonald said:

    Maybe Jenny thinks appealing to her audience is more important than washing dishes or making bread (I’d have to agree). In any case, this entire string of posts would only really matter if wearing a wedding ring were the yardstick by which marriages or moral-compasses were to be judged. Use your own criteria to determine your own behavior. But when it comes to why someone does something that has no impact whatsoever on you, maybe it’s time to adhere to the old adage, “To each her own.” Or at the very least, “Mind your own business.”

  42. cheryl said:

    The point isn’t that she took off her rings. It’s that SHE TOOK OFF HER RINGS IN ORDER TO PROMOTE HER BOOK.

    WRONG! She took her rings off to help the reader identify with her as a young, hip person who had every right to tell this tale. If she were single and writing this book with no rings in the picture, would you have such a problem? It’s the act of removing her rings that’s got you, ANONYMOUS, all in a tizzy.

    And, as Jennifer herself said, her HUSBAND has NO problem with this, so then why do all of you people? Marriage is between two people — not a blog full of people who easily hide behind that convenient “Anonymous” button to post.

    – who has no blog, that’s why I have no Blogger ID, but I always sign my posts.

  43. Anonymous said:

    But when it comes to why someone does something that has no impact whatsoever on you, maybe it’s time to adhere to the old adage, “To each her own.” Or at the very least, “Mind your own business.”

    finally someone who presents a compelling argument. everyone else, shut the hell up. 😉

  44. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Why do you HAVE to make your marriage, your children, your family part of your promotion? I APPLAUD Jennifer’s decision to keep her personal life out of her book promotion. Too many celebrities make their love lives the topic of discussion, rather than their work. Look at all the tabloids obsessed with who is wearing their wedding rings and when rather than the actor’s actual ACTING skills. Jessica Simpson is one example of a train wreck who is only popular because she made her marriage the topic of discussion,r ather than any of the work she does.

    Thank you, Jennifer, for putting the focus of your book where it belongs — on your BOOK — and not on your own personal life.

    PLAN BE is fantastic.

  45. Diana Peterfreund said:

    By the way, I have PLAN B sitting in front of me right now. The author picture doesn’t even have hands in it, so you attackers can chill out. As far as I can tell, looking at this book, the author might not even HAVE hands.

    If someone tells me they are married, I’m not going to go checking for rings. I know plenty of very very married people who never wear them at all.

  46. Anonymous said:

    Wow, this is very entertaining. I can’t believe people are reading so much into her photo. I write YA and my author photo doesn’t show my hands (not a conscience choice, it just doesn’t). Thus, you can’t see my wedding ring. I never noticed it before, my husband didn’t notice it, my agent didn’t notice it. It’s a non-issue people. If anyone ever asks if I’m married, I say yes. My acknowledgements thank my husband. Besides, who looks that closely at an author photo?

    Not to mention, several authors don’t include photos of themselves on the back covers (particularly in YA) because they aren’t marketable enough. Is that selling out? Or is it just smart of them to realize that their photo won’t help to sell books. Jennifer’s might. And she has every right to include it. She is who she is, and she happens to be beautiful. Should she really try to play down her looks to make self-conscience readers feel better?

  47. 2readornot said:

    Good luck with the book, Jenny/Jennifer! Beautiful photo — rings or not. The joys of marketing I will not touch right now….

  48. Anonymous said:

    The only people who don’t get it are the ones that get the most in a tiff, like cheryl. Proud to post anonymously. -Anonymous.

    P.S. Anonymously, anonymous.

  49. PRNewland said:

    Announcer: and now for another thrilling tale of yesteryear!

    Cowboy singer: He/She/Its back in the saddle again!

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: He/She/Its standing tall in the saddle again…

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: He/She/It says what He/She/It means & means what He/She/It says…

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: boldly going where those with names fear to treeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaad!

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: He/She/It guts sacred cows & beats all our horses til deeeeeaaad!

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: it ain’t all the flames & drama that bother me the most

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: it ain’t your gender or agenda that I give a damn about

    Chorus: Anonymous!

    Cowboy singer: its that you won’t grow a set and sign your own damn posts!

    Cowboy singer: Yeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!

  50. Anonymous said:

    prnewland, I think you are at the end of several anonymous’s that seem to be kickin’ the horse in the flanks.
    Yours truly, anonymous.

  51. Michael Schofield said:

    Lovely party. Sorry I’m late. However, something burned me about one of the “anonymouses” (Is anonymouses plural for anonymous? There’s the question we should be wrestling with.) I want to respond to this whole “as YA writers we influence the minds of the young” crap. Teens are smart, a hell of a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and I think they are smart enough to not make decisions in their personal lives based on what they read in some book. One of first things that got drilled into my head when I first started writing in this genre is never talk down to your audience. Teen readers who smell a didactic lesson will run the other way. Those of us who write YA do so because we want to be entertaining, not because we feel responsible for our audience’s moral development. If you want to preach, you’re writing in the wrong genre.

    As for me, if I could I’d change my name to Dean Koontz, Stephen King, or James Patterson.

    Kudos to you, Jenny(ifer). Congrats on your book.

  52. Slappy said:

    And so, I’ll ask again – with a name since I am not the ranting anonymous’s (anonymi?)

    When did the author’s biography (and therefore name, marital status, hipness of name) begin to matter as much, or more, than the work – especially in the world of fiction? What authority, or cachet, does a writer of fiction need beyond her/his imagination?

    Is this obsession with the marketability of the writer’s biography (and its subsequent tweaking via rings/no rings, hipness quotiant of first name, and degree of autobiographical content, etc) somehow an off-shoot of the literalist/dogmatic interpretation of the hackneyed nugget “write what you know?”

    If we all stuck, literally and dogmatically to what we “know” then Arthur Golden should never have written Memoirs of a Geisha – or he should have at least been Japanese. And you’d better have a history like Pearl Buck if you’re going to be a white American writing about Chinese people. Or troop around in black make-up like John Griffin before, as a white writer, you write about a black person (and even then it’s tricky).

    And I’d have to go back to writing about lower middle class white boys who went to college and who were too shy around girls. God, that life bored me, it’d sure make a damn boring book.

  53. Allison Brennan said:

    Wow, leave for the weekend and I come back to see Jennifer getting pounced on.

    I don’t know Jennifer, but I certainly don’t think it’s fair to harshly criticize her for a decision that deals with her livlihood. She made a decision, her husband supports it, let it be.

    My husband rarely wears his wedding ring and we’ve been married 13 years. He’d never felt comfortable wearing it, and it’s on the small side. But we’re still married and I have the kids and marriage certificate to prove it.

  54. just Joan said:

    WOW! Who cares if she took her rings off? Done, over, past . . . move on! She didn’t ask for public opinion before she did it because it doesn’t matter what WE think. As for those who have said she is portraying herself and should therefore represent herself as she is, I disagree. She isn’t being herself. The photo on the back of her book represents Jenny the author, not Jennifer the wife/mother.

    When I am writing, I think and act differently than I do when I am washing dishes or changing a dirty diaper (or any of my other mommy/wifely duties_. We ALL play different parts in our lives. You don’t act the same to your boss as you do to your family, do you?

    Jenny the YA author is not the same person as Jennifer O’Connell wife and mother. Is Jenny a small facet of Jennifer’s total being, yes . . . but not the entire being. Jenny is just one more role she plays on the stage of life. Give her a break!

    Perhaps if you had been chosen for the role, you would have played it differently . . . but guess what? You weren’t so it doesn’t matter! When you ARE chosen to play a similar role, play it your way, but don’t criticize others for playing the role the way they did.

    I think the photo looks great. Congratulations Jennifer/Jenny and good luck with this and any other roles life chooses for you to play! 🙂

  55. NL Gassert said:

    I like that someone brought up the gay writer. I’m a heterosexual woman writing gay fiction. Let me say this again, I’m a straight chick writing books about gay men and for gay men. Would I consider a pen name that disguises my gender? Would I opt in favor of no author photo in the back of my book? And a carefully worded bio that doesn’t give away I’m a she?


    I don’t think this has anything to do with selling out or integrity or raking in large sums of money through book sales. It’s a fact of life that a number of men simply won’t touch a book written by a woman. If I want my book to have a chance, if I want my book to be read and judged on its merits, then I need to opt for initials or a unisex first name. Of course, all this “shiftiness” goes right out the window, when I give my first interview (since I am so obviously not male).

    Oh, and I don’t even wear a wedding band. Neither does my husband. And we’ve been happily married for thirteen years.

  56. Anonymous said:

    “There’s no disguising she’s not in her twenties…”

    Wha? If you’d said twenty-five I would have bought it.

  57. amy said:

    I say nix all author photos forever. My reasons being the following;

    1. It’s not worth the extra two-dimensional fifteen pounds.

    2. Nobody reads the “about the author” flap anyway.

    3. It almost always ends up looking like a mug shot.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your college yearbook photo for your Myspace. That’s still okay… I think.

    Jenny, I’m stealing your figure. You can have it back on Monday.


    p.s. Word verification is viibdxh. Pig latin, perhaps?

  58. Amie Stuart said:

    Um Hello….writing might be an art form but publishing is a business. And part of *any* business is um er yeah, Marketing. So she took off her wedding rings, big deal!