When I was a little girl, my family called me George. Everyone expected my mom to be carrying a boy, who would be named George. Even my sister, who begged and pleaded for a sister, called me George after I was born, even though my official name was Sandra.
Eventually, my sister started calling me Sam. Don't know when it started, but she calls me that even now.
At some point, my mom started calling me Sunny. ("Sunny, one so true, I love you..." as the song goes.)
Writing this, I realize, there must be a mistake in my story as I know it, because I also grew up "knowing" that my name was supposed to be Alexandra, but since I was so tiny when I was born, my dad said, "We can't name such a tiny baby such a long name." So they called me Sandra, which is short for Alexandra.
**SMH** Who knows.
Anyway, what's important to know at this point is, I was called many names, all of which I preferred over my given one. I hated Sandra/Sandi with the heat of a thousand suns.
When I went to university, I had the opportunity to start fresh and to change my first name—something easily done in Canada—and took the name Alexandra.
For the first few years I went by Alex, and it's just morphed into Ali. I love the name, it suits me, and I never think of myself as Sandra or George, anymore! My sister still calls me Sam, and my husband now calls me Sunny, but I can handle that.
My *real* name, since marriage, is Ali Cross. Does that name sound familiar to you? If it does, it's probably because you've seen or read James Patterson's Ali Cross books. Or, if you've been around the blogosphere for a while, maybe you ran into me on blogspot or in my Ninjas Write stuff. I've spent over eighteen years in the writing community with that name, and it's served me really well.
Because James Patterson is a force to be reckoned with and there's just no combating his amazing marketing team. At first I thought his book would bring new readers to me, but instead, it just made me invisible. And if you know me at all, you know that just won't fly! I kinda like being seen. 😉
Now, most authors can pick up a pen name like it's no big deal, but for me, I really angsted over it. To the point I'm sure my readers and family were rolling their eyes wishing I would just decide already. (Sorry, everybody!)
It took me a few months, but I've finally come to terms with all of it and have fully embraced the "new" me.
You can still find writing advice under Ali Cross. I'm too well known in the writing community to stop being the real me there. I'm also pursuing speaking engagements under that name.
Ali Archer will be the name you look up whenever you're looking for speculative fiction, which includes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction—all primarily young adult, or clean new adult.
And if you remember that one time I wrote a Christian romance book--the author on that book is now Ali Noble. I'm currently writing a Christmas novella with my friend Ann Hardy, and writing the second book in the Highlands series (finally!).
So there you have it! Why I might seem "familiar" even though the name doesn't seem right. Hopefully it'll grow on you, as it did for me.