A Brand(ing) New Year

The Evolution of a Nomenclature



Robert F Thompson



                                 RyFT Brand-Stories


So many names, one lonely writer…

I’ll start by wishing a very enthusiastic Happy New year to each and every one. I’m really excited about the coming year and have big plans to keep you jumping, gasping, and laughing all the way through. We’re going to have some serious fun.

Last year was, to say the least, very challenging, and not just for me, most everyone I know had to sludge through some gunk in 2011. My last year began with severely lacerating two of my fingers on a table saw. I’ve healed quite nicely, thank you, but that was the stone that finally tipped me out of the carpentry business—yippee!

But hey, it’s 2012 and a good time to get reenergized and refreshed. I began my refreshment process by going through yet another series of molting Nome de plumes. I think the new feathers have come in nicely.

Branding is the why, but, as a storyteller, I’ll begin with a little back-story.

In the nineties, when I was a member of FHM, aka the ‘Sultans of New Psychedelic Blues’(yes, a band, guitar is one of three instruments I play moderately well, at least I did before said mutilation of fingers), I was most often called BB, which was short for Brotherbob, which was short for Todd’s Brother Bob. Todd is my most awesome younger brother, who is a lot more happening and social than I, hence why I became known as his brother.

And all that despite that I never go by Bob.

I never understood Bob; where does that come from? I prefer Robert, but Rob is fine, I get where Rob comes from. I have another friend Robert who goes by Bert. Yeah, that works, Bert is part of Robert, but Bob sure ain’t.

The family still calls me Bob, Bobby actually as I’m a junior meaning it distinguishes me from my father, Bob. It’s cool because it’s my family and they’ve called me Bobby, at least from my perspective, forever. My nieces and nephews just call me, Uncle, no proper name, no article before it, just Uncle. I think it sounds cool, kind of mysterious. “Who was that kind, silly gentleman?” whispers one somewhat bewildered bystander. His companion tucks his thumbs into the lapels of his coat and nods knowingly as I sashay out of sight, “Him? Well, I don’t know his right name, but ‘round these parts he’s called Uncle.”

And that wasn’t the first time I’d been called, BB.

When I was younger my father often had little nicknames for all of us (I also have two sisters). I like nick-names. Most of the time I think a nick name, being derived from our personalities, is more descriptive of us than the name given us when we’d just been born; they also have the ability to change and evolve as we do. One of my father’s nicknames for me was Bimbo Baggins (yes, a play on the inhabitant of Bag End). In observation of my cartoon-like antics (my father once said to me, “I could never watch that Gilligan’s Island show because I thought that character was too unbelievable…until I met you.”) my father had determined that, much like Colonel Steve Austin, I had been outfitted with cybernetic implants, only mine were designed to make one more clumsy and accident prone—as absurd as it may sound, it would explain a lot. These implants were called Bimbonics, which evolved into Bimbo Baggins, which was shortened to BB, as would be Brother Bob many years later. That makes me twice BB, or BBBB, or B to the power of 4.

So I’ve had, and am used to having, a lot of names.

My first novel, StrangetaleS, (if you haven’t read it, good, because it wasn’t very) was written under the penname, Brotherbob and published by my small company, Baggin’s Books (later changed to the current, Tricorner Publishing). The nomenclature was fine at the time, but, as most of my friends and I had begun to grow apart, it had ceased to fit me comfortably. So I took to writing under my given name, Robert F Thompson.

As Tricorner began publishing more and more books by other talented folks, I began to have to study such credulous subjects as retail and marketing. It was fine (or so I thought) to rest back on my laurels for my own work, but I had to be out in the field delivering sales for those who had trusted their hard work with me. That’s when I first discovered branding.

Branding, in short, means establishing a recognizable presence and reputation in the marketplace; think of Apple’s apple, or Kellogg’s K, or Wham-O’s exploding logo (dating myself now, aren’t I?). Now, in the internet age, branding has become more important then ever, bringing me back around to thoughts about having a penname, one that could help to establish my brand. Frankly, Robert F Thompson is a pretty common name, run it through Google and see.

A good friend of mine, Andrew Ely, actor extraordinaire (and the voice of PeeDee3) happens to have the initials, ACE; he signs his mail with it, and frankly, I was often jealous that his initials spelled something. But hey, all I was missing was a vowel. A quick search showed that there was no one else writing under the name, RiFT (I can’t imagine why?) so wham, slam, kablam, I had a new penname.

Of course I failed to consider that rift is a word, a word that comes up in search reports even more often than Robert F Thompson. A quick trip back to the drawing board (meaning stewing over it during a rigorous bike ride) and RyFT was born—and, despite how tempting RaFT was, I was pretty happy with it.

Enter the all important (to having a writing career) Facebook. Good old FB doesn’t let you (or I couldn’t figure out how to) have no last name. I tried Ry FT, but that made no sense—stuck again. I buy a lot of stuff from the Bucks County Folk Music Shop. Carl, the shop’s owner, once suggested to me that for a successful business, have your name say exactly what it is you do, like the Burpee Seed Company, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or Hashwallatikitiki’s Tiki Bar and Recovery Spa. So that was that, Facebook had pried me into using RyFT Brand-Stories, a name that says exactly what it is I do—produce strange, creepy, oftentimes silly stories, instantly recognizable as being set firmly in RyFT’s realm.


So happy New Year from the desk of RyFT Brand-Stories.



And apologies to fans of StrangetaleS (Yes indeed, there are still StrangetaleS fans out there). Just to be clear, I love ST, and still have great hope for the series. But, the truth be told, the effort was pretty sophomoric. I have, for the record, rewritten the novel and renamed the series, Strange Craft. I am, at the moment, mired in writing for Jazz, PeeDee3, and Bleeding Moon, and am working hard at editing the first novel in my Hallow’s Eve Trilogy. But I’m really hoping to tear back into Strange Craft over the summer for a (hopefully) January Release. Hang in there Strange Fans, the Dragon’s steaming on her tracks.


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