Thursday, January 20, 2011

The day I wasn't me

I was tickled pink by the wide range of guesses you offered in yesterday’s Guess what’s weird contest.

Though the tickling made me feel warm and tingly and strangely eager to lick your neck, I’m sorry to say there was no true winner.

Some of you came close to guessing what was weird about yesterday’s post, but none of you flat out suggested the possibility that I didn't write the post at all.

The real author was regular blog commenter Simon C. Larter, who I must say, did a damn fine job impersonating me.

Confused yet?

It started with Simon pondering whether he could mimic my voice convincingly enough that blog readers wouldn’t notice the switch. I was game, and also intrigued by the experiment.

The subject of an author's voice is something near and dear to my heart. During the long, bumpy path to my current three-book deal, my agent often forwarded me comments from editors. The #1 thing they'd praise was the uniqueness of my voice.

In my first conversation with Deb Werksman (who would later become my editor at Sourcebooks) she offered the same praise.

The she slugged me in the gut. "But I can't sell voice," she pointed out.

It was the first time I'd ever heard someone suggest that, and I'll admit, I was annoyed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she's right. You can't sell a no-name debut author based solely on voice. How do you put that on a book cover? How do you explain it to the average book buyer?

You don't. At least not without telling instead of showing, and we all know that isn't effective in writing.

That's why I started this blog. Here, I can sell voice. I'm not saying you should mail me a stack of unmarked bills (though if you have the urge, I'll give you my address). The reason I'm committed to blogging every single weekday is that it gives me a chance to show my voice. To offer free samples. If you happen to like it, there's a good chance you'll buy my books.

Oh, and lest you think Sourcebooks has no strategy for selling me, don't fret. That's why we all worked hard to refine my marketing hook – the idea that "normal is nice, but weird can be wonderful." It's at the core of all three books in my contract, and it's a lot easier to pitch from a marketing standpoint. Sourcebooks can sell that, I can sell voice, and if we happen to fail, we can sell my books out of the back of a van while a guy with a pipe-wrench stands there looking menacing.

But back to the contest. I've gotta hand it to several of you for picking up on the general idea of what was weird about yesterday's post. Sarah W pointed out the oddness of the suggestion that I might voluntarily clean, the presence of a LOLbunny, and the fact that there was no plan to choose winners based on creative random associations. All excellent observations from someone who's clearly been reading this blog closely.

Shakespeare noticed the LOLcat thing, too – for the record, I'm not really a LOLcat (or LOLbunny) kinda girl.

CKHB made another excellent observation with this: "It's the first time I think I've seen you mention a BAD consequence to drinking wine. I can't remember you previously writing about drinking to ease depression - usually you seem to drink in joy and celebration!"

Also a valid observation. In fact, I've gotten on my soapbox about not drinking when you're bummed. All jokes aside, it's something I take seriously.

Nate Wilson and Plamena Schmidt both picked up on the parenthetical heh (I'm partial to the parenthetical snicker).

I've gotta hand it to Laurie Lamb for this observation: "Is it weird how you talk about Zinfandel in this post and link to a post where Jennifer Paris (a.k.a. Jeffe Kennedy) picked Zinfandel #28 in the Petal and Thorns giveaway AND it's EXACTLY 28 weeks until your book release?"

Woah. That's a trip.

And I had to laugh about lora96's comment, "What struck me was the lack of naughtiness in the post title. I can usually count on the name of the post for a giggle."

Ironically, the headline is the only part I did write.

Those of you I just singled out for getting close, drop me an email with your address. You certainly earned the booty bag.

And can we get a round of applause for Simon? I think he did a tremendous job impersonating me for the day. Mimicking another author's voice is crazy difficult, and it's actually a great exercise for fine-tuning your own voice. Have you tried it? It's a whole lot harder than it looks.

I explained this to Pythagoras last night, pointing out what an amazing job Simon did with the impersonation.

"He really nailed me," I said.

Pythagoras looked pained. “Why do I have a feeling you’re going to use that line on the blog?”

I just did, honey. I just did.


Sarah W said...

It's a good thing I can type with my jaw dropped - it never occurred to me that you weren't you!

Simon - I'm impressed with your slight of voice. Was it difficult?

I do think this experiment proves just how distinctive your voice is, Tawna.

And I'm not just saying that because of the chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tawna, for letting me play you for a day! (Though I must say, the heels pinched a bit....)

Congratulations to the winners, too. I hoped Tawna would give some of her booty away (heh), 'cause every one of those guesses points to something that makes Tawna unique, and something I didn't nail (heh).

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go wash off this mascara. It's a lot harder to remove than it looks, apparently....

Matthew MacNish said...

Ah, well no wonder I didn't catch on. Simon is one of my CPs and I must say he is incredibly talented, and funny as hell (which makes a lot of sense, since he was able to mimic you quite well).

It also figures that I got distracted and asked you about alcohol instead of getting the real point of the post. Simon and I are virtual drinking buddies, and he often distracts me with mentions of spirits.

Anyway, what fun! Even if I never caught on, this is a great demonstration about voice. It is a very important aspect of writing, and I can't imagine trying to copy someone else's well enough to fool their readers.

Danica Avet said...

I'm stunned and amazed. Great job, Simon!

I've never consciously mimicked another writer's voice, but I did so without realizing it. I had my brother read J.R. Ward's BDB series, which he likes, and when I wrote my first novel, I had him read it to tell me what he thought. He compared it to J.R. and I was shocked. I'm not saying the story was nearly as good as hers, but when I look at it subjectively, I can see where I mimicked her voice a bit.

It's taken me some time to find my voice...which I've discovered is loud, obnoxious, and quite coarse, but er, it works for me? I think? LOL

Linda G. said...

I never would have guessed!

Simon -- amazing job nailing Tawna! How many glasses of wine did it take?

Amanda Bonilla said...

One of best constests I've seen! Good job, Simon!

abby mumford said...

that. was. awesome.

never saw it coming. (tee hee).

Patty Blount said...


Simon, very impressed with your female impersonation skills.

Anonymous said...

WAY to go Simon! Awesome post (er...posts.)
Highly entertaining, as usual!

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I'm still laughing at Linda's comment.

Anonymous said...

Shoot! Now that I read this post before the last one, the weird post doesn't sound like your writing voice at all!

Claire Dawn said...

He really nailed me! lol.

Last night my neighbour gave my our other neighbour's mail as I left his house.

"Put this is her box, will ya?" Took a while to stop laughing.

Sierra Godfrey said...

As Simon is my official nemesis, I found this disturbing to the core -- and strangely fascinating that you'd be willing to take on such a foul experiment. I hope you give the blog a good bath!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Very cool experiment! Kudos to Simon for doing such a marvelous job of it!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Simon's a sneaky guy!

Laurie Lamb said...

Well done, Simon! *standing ovation*

Amanda said...

Best contest idea imposter theater. Fabulous job, Simon!

Nate Wilson said...

Well played, Simon, well played. I never would have guessed you were the man behind the curtain. (But what a nice pink, frilly curtain it was!)

Plamena Schmidt said...

Omg, I feel duped. I thought it was a bit weird, but I never thought it wasn't you. But yay, does that mean I won something?? I loove chocolate coins!

Christin Pike said...

ARGH! I totally considered guessing "Pythagoras wrote it," but wimped out! Great contest!

Melanie Sherman said...

Simon, you bad-boy puppy. And Tawna, was it creepy? I mean, really, that Simon (who is admittedly gifted) could capture your voice? I'm freaking out just thinking about it. EEEEeeeeuuuu. Think of the horror story here. Someone stalks a blogger, bumps 'em off and takes over the blog.

Gads, I'm going to go write it.