Comments from blog readers always make me smile, but one yesterday had me grinning extra big:
Now you're all glancing up at the header, but I'll go ahead and paste it here just to save you the eye strain:
The quick answer is no, the illustration has been exactly the same since I launched this blog in February 2010.
But it's worth discussing because, believe it or not, this ties to author branding.
I put a lot of thought into the look and feel of this blog before I launched it. I'm a passably good designer, so I purchased a variation of that image above to use as a starting point for what you see now. After removing the city skyline outside the window, changing the woman's hair color to match mine, and adding the pencil to anchor her chignon, I started adding those little "details."
The words on the computer screen. The handcuffs to her right. And yes, the object to her left.
I knew I was pushing it with that last one, but it was a very deliberate choice to use it.
If you recognize what it is, you've got a dirty mind and you're not likely to be offended by it.
If you don't recognize it as a vibrator, you probably think it's a lipstick. Or more likely, you don't notice it at all.
Either way, I get to step back, blink innocently, and say, "What? I didn't say anything. If you took it that way, looks like you're the pervert."
Or something like that.
The humor I use in my books or in my blog posts or even in my day-to-day life relies heavily on euphemism, innuendo, suggestion, and subtlety. It's seldom blatant, and it always stops short of a line that's very clear in my mind.
In other words, I'll casually set a vibrator on the desktop and leave it to you to notice, but I'm not going to post an image that shows someone using it.
I was explaining this the other day to a friend who recently began reading my blog. He wanted to see just how clear the line was in my mind, and began peppering me with rapid-fire words, raunchy phrases, and risque jokes and asking whether I would or wouldn't say it on my blog.
For the record, this conversation was not held in the children's section at my local library.
In every single case, I could say instantly if something was blog-appropriate. I may not have spelled out the rules in a user manual I keep on my desktop, but I know without question where the line is. I might push it from time to time, but I don't cross it.
So there you have it – a little insight into the creation and maintenance of an author brand.
Where do you draw the line on risque humor? Are there certain topics or phrases that are off limits. Er, this is one of those discussions that could quickly deteriorate, so try to keep it subtle if you can. Consider it a challenge!