This post is for our Redbud readers who write.  Read on & comment below…

With big plans to make my mark in the world as a writer, I naturally wanted my adoring fans to be able to Google me with ease.  Suddenly the name I’d been perfectly happy with for eleven years of marriage, Margot Hausmann, was going to make that difficult.  Both first and last names would present some serious spelling challenges for the average Googler.

How much easier it would be, I mused, to use my maiden name, Starbuck, as my pen name.  Everyone on the planet can spell that Fortune 500 word!  Well, forty-four countries, anyway.  And still growing.

Even during the decades before the explosion of the coffee retailer, Starbuck had served me well.  In the early eighties I used it as a cultural Rorschach test to see whether people, upon learning it, would attempt a clever comment about the namesake character in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick or the one in ABC’s Battlestar Galactica.  Don’t ask.  If you’re a writer you don’t even want to know about that disturbing data.

When I became engaged in my early twenties I quickly realized that some of my feminist friends equated the engagement ring I wore with those hot poker things used to brand cattle.  The ring signified that I had become someone’s property.  How would I ever tell them I planned to take my husband’s German surname as my married name?

At least, I consoled myself, if I took his name I knew I would have the unflagging support of my conservative friends.  When I called one to gush about my engagement I reported that I planned to keep my maiden name as a middle name.  I knew that even old grandmas do that.  Teasing me about the oft misinterpreted biblical mandate for wives to submit to their husbands, my friend chided, “You’ve got to learn how to submit, girl!”

She was teasing, but she sort of meant it.

This was what was known as being caught between a shiny sparkly rock and a hard place.

Eleven years later—known to my friends, community, and audiences as Margot Hausmann—I started to publish under Margot Starbuck, confident that the Googlers strung out on caffeine would find my website.

Here’s the great news on the print publications: all five devoted Margot Hausmann fans still recognized the byline because Margot, which rhymes with cargo, is still so unconventional!

As a public speaker, I’d been working as Margot Hausmann for over a decade.  These were the ones I’d need to catch up to speed.  While easing a few existing clients into Margot Starbuck, more than one person asked if I chose it because I really loved coffee.

“Actually,” I explained, “I don’t touch the stuff.  Starbuck is my maiden name.”

“No way!” one barked in astonishment.  “You’re kidding, right?”

I couldn’t tell if the dismay was about the great name or about living coffee-less.

Either way, she’ll remember it.

Q for Redbud Readers who write: Any stories about the name under which you write?

Margot Starbuck, speaker and award-winning author, is passionate about communicating to individuals that they have been made for life that really is life. A graduate of Westmont College and Princeton Seminary, Margot is the author of The Girl in the Orange Dress, Unsqueezed and Small Things With Great Love. In Durham, North Carolina, Margot lives with her husband and three children, by birth and adoption. She serves as a volunteer among friends with and without disabilities through Reality Ministries. Convinced that God is with us and for us, in the person of Jesus, Margot inspires audiences to live love in the world. Learn more about Margot’s literary consulting at, or connect at or on facebook.


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  1. What a fun and interesting read! I have to admit, I have added my maiden name back because my married name, Miller, is so common. I don’t want to be confused with all the other Millers out there, so I’ve started publishing with my maiden name sandwiched between my first and last names Also, I just plain miss my maiden name. I got a bag monogrammed recently and decided to use my maiden name in the monogram. Maybe someday I’ll make the official switch back. 🙂

  2. I used to use a nom de ‘net in order to avoid getting called out by anyone who might stumble on a comment I wrote. Then I started doing guest posts for bloggers and thought I could get by with just my first name. One of the bloggers put in my last name unexpectedly, so there went that idea. Then a blogger asked if I could do some regular contributing (a short-lived venture!) and I added a picture to my full name on the posts. It certainly makes me feel exposed.


  3. Hi Margot!

    I wondered about only using my maiden name when my first article got published, and then again when my book came out. I thought it would preserve privacy. Or maybe it was just that I wanted to realize my childhood dream of seeing my name on the cover of a book: Kimberlee Conway.

    But I’d added the Ireton when I got married, and it felt really weird to leave it off. Sometimes I wish I had. “Kimberlee Conway Ireton” is such a mouthful, and for some reason people find “Ireton” hard to pronounce. I’ve heard it mis-said so many different ways, it’s laughable.

    I expect I could make the shift as you did, if I really wanted to, but anymore I mostly don’t care, except when people ask questions like these and I begin to second guess myself 🙂

    I only ever knew you as Starbuck, by the way 🙂

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