Just thought I would share info on where my new penname came from. Mandi Richards.
My first name is Amanda, so I decided to go with a variant of that as my first name. I thought about using my middle name, but I hope to some day be well known enough that people will want to talk to me as author me. I figured it would take a lot more getting used to someone calling me Danielle than Mandi, and if I introduced myself as Amanda by accident, people wouldn't be totally confused. There was even a time in my life I tried to convince people to call me Mandi. Though it never stuck.
Richard is my husband's name. My husband was my high school sweetheart! At this point in our lives, we have literally been a couple for half of our lives. We will be married for 12 years in August. He is my partner in everything I do. He's always one of the first to read my books, or someone I bounce ideas off of. When I married him, I chose to take his last name, not because I wanted to give up part of myself, but because I wanted to add part of him to me. So, it felt weird to get rid of his last name. I toyed with changing just my first name and keeping his last name, but it just didn't seem like the right choice (See above comment about why I chose to use Mandi). So, as a way to honor my husband and keep his name as part of mine, I decided Richards would be a good pen name. (This is also why I used the nickname Mandi instead of keeping Amanda... the website amandarichards dot com was already taken)
I will say, using a penname has been weird for me. I know a lot of authors use pennames, but it had not originally been part of my plan. I am proud that I am writing a book. (Well a series of books) A lot of people say they are going to write a book and never do. If you found my website through my social media, you probably already know why I decided to use a pen name, but in case you found me through some other means, I will explain.
I am a teacher. I teach upper elementary school aged students. Students who are just starting to navigate the waters of the internet, but who are WAY too young to read the sort of books I am writing. Back when I was a kid, no one ever knew their teachers first names. I think I can count on one hand the amount of teachers who's first names I knew. But in today's day and age, when almost every school uses google for education students all know their names. They can send us emails at our school accounts. They share digital copies of their work to our google accounts. And with the closing of schools due to covid- 19, we have created google classrooms and students are doing more and more electronic work. And every time they see our names on Google, it uses our first name. Imagine a little 5th grader, who just learned her teacher's first name. She then types it into google just to be funny ---- And she see's an author with the same name as her teacher. Of course she's going to click on the website just to see. And when she clicks around on the website, and she see's a picture of her teacher, and then she finds a link to her teacher's book? Well, luckily most 5th graders do not have credit cards. But if they have a kindle, they might be on their parents amazon account, and if their parent didn't realize their child even liked to read and never thought to turn off the book purchasing setting-- next thing you know, the 5th grader is reading her teacher's trashy romance novel. Or maybe the kid can't get the book. What if she shows her parents, who say "hmm. Suzie's teacher wrote a book. Let's see how good her grammar is after Suzie only got a 73 on that test last month. So you probably see the problem by now. Anyway, I never planned to use a pen name, and I am a bit disappointed not getting to see my own name on the gorgeous cover that my designer came up with. But this particular set of books, I wasn't getting physical copies of anyway. I will just have to keep writing and some day when I've written the children's books I plan to write, or the YA historical fantasy series that's half started and still simmering on the back burner, I will make sure to put my name on them. And I will even tell my students about them. I would be proud and honored to be the reason a child learns to like reading. And who knows, some day when I retire from teaching, I can re-release all my books under my own name with fancy new cover art.
So, those are my reasons for choosing to go with a pen name.