Always Phlox Your Teeth Before Bed

Academaze will come out on June 20! Preorders will start on May 31st! Of course, I will share all the information here.

Today was a very busy day, plus a day of the monster headache… So nothing serious on the blog tonight.

The book will be under the pseudonym Sydney Phlox. (My publisher recommended I pick a pseudonym that sounds like a real name, so xykademiqz was out.)

I knew that I wanted a gender-neutral first name, so Riley and Sydney were at the top of my list. Why? I simply like them. Also, I am in a male-dominated field and I never write my first name on papers if I can help it, it’s always just first-name initial. If I can avoid being mentally downgraded before the referee gets to the abstract, I consider it a small victory. This is not me being paranoid. I know at least one female NAS member who swears by the same approach, which has served her well for decades. Besides, J.K. Rowling is J.K., and not Joanne for the same reason — people dismiss female writers as, you know, female. If you can get readers to give you a benefit of the doubt enough to read the book synopsis, that’s a small victory as well. (Not that I can write or sell books as well as J.K. Rowling.)

Besides, I really like my real first name, but I can’ use it. And if I can’t use it, why not be named like an awesome city?

[Edit: I can’t believe I forgot Sydney Bristow!]

The blog theme is black an purple, so for a  little while I thought it should be Lily Black or something similar. Then I decided to google possible names of different shades of the color purple.

Phlox jumped out as the best last-name contender of the bunch! [I didn’t want to be amethyst, fuchsia, or patriarch (!)] I urge you to look at the different names for greens, blues, blacks, etc. — it’s fascinating!

Anyway, this is my last name:


Phlox is also a common flower:


Aaaaaand, last but not least, Phlox is a character from Star Trek: Enterprise!

Purple perfection!


  1. Interesting. I knew phlox was a flower but not a color.

    I use my first initial on all my papers, too, but it does no good since I hyphenated my last name. I have kicked myself so many times for not just going with my maiden name. I was especially irritated when one grant proposal reviewer spent most of his review discussing the potential relationship I had with the PI and how this represents a conflict of interest. 😛

  2. I really like the name, but thought you might like to know that, to me, “Sydney” is definitely a female name, not gender neutral. But maybe it’s just me. Anyway, congrats on the book – so exciting!

  3. @social dendrite: It seems you are right!

    It looks like Sydney and Riley are among the names that can be boys’ or girls’ names, but have been drifting more towards being girls’ names. It also seems that, once a name is “girlified,” it doesn’t make it back. (Sort of like when women start making it en masse into a career, all of a sudden that career’s prestige and salary seem to plummet…)

    And OMG I can’t believe I forgot Sydney Bristow!
    (I am totally as awesome as her! Not. 😦 )

    @mareserenitatis: Sorry about the hyphenation! Reviewers can be the worst with obsession about female applicants. Every so often I get reviews of papers or grants where the reviewer uses “she” and “her” with such relish and ridiculous frequency in the report, you’d think it’s a new toy he’d just discovered! I can’t believe someone gave you a hard time for being on the grant with husband — WTF?

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