Friday, May 20, 2011

Am I the pervert or are you?

Comments from blog readers always make me smile, but one yesterday had me grinning extra big:
Anonymous Danielle Spears said...

OK, this is off subject here. Well, sort of. But is it just me, or did the object to the left of the computer on your blog image above just appear? No wonder you're in a good mood. If that's what I think it is. :)

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!

24 comments :

kmullican said...

Lines are for sissys! I posted on my blog yesterday about shaving my kitty and proceeded to carry on with a like-minded girlfriend on Facebook.

Being a woman, lines have been drawn for us for centuries and, like the ladies of SNL - we've been busting through them.

I don't mind being vulgar, that doesn't make me less of a lady. It means I am blessed with a sense of humor. I think the fact that it's damn near impossible to make me blush is part of my armor.

Go ahead - tell me a dumb blonde joke - mine are better!

Go big or go home! And for the record, I'm a big fan and adore your style!

Patrick Alan said...

I am line blind. I have to look around at the people near me to see if I have crossed it.

I have theories on lines. I speculate where they might be, but since I can't see them, it's not a solid point for me.

Sarah W said...

To me, innuendo, euphamisms, and double- (or triple-) entendres are inside jokes for people who like to play with words and meanings and enjoy the occasional evil snicker or earthy chuckle.

I like 'em.

Michelle Wolfson said...

I have to say that I saw that comment yesterday and immediately went to check the picture. I was like what??? I never noticed the handcuffs or the, uh, lipstick, either.

I have, however, noticed the line, many many times, and am etremely grateful for it.

Margareta said...

I like your "lipstick" and your writing about the lines you do not cross

Matthew MacNish said...

I just have to point out: that would be one damn giant lipstick.

And I like the subtlety of the pink missile, because, you know, it's lying down. If it was standing up? Too blatant.

The only thing I won't talk about on my blog is my history with crack addiction. Er, oops.

Bethany Mason said...

It's amazing how I look at that picture every time I visit (which is every time you post) and yet I never noticed the vibe or the handcuffs before you pointed it out to me - my eye is always drawn straight to the words. And for the record, knowing you won't cross the line but that you enjoy pushing it from time to time is one of the many reasons I love your blog.

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

I only have a few things I won't talk about. There are some things that happened in my childhood that I keep to myself for personal reasons. And there are some words that make me uncomfortable if they come out of my mouth so I wouldn't use them.
I noticed the vibrator. I though it was entirely appropriate and funny in the context.

ExMagistra said...

I am embarrassed to say that after a year or so of reading your blog, I never once noticed the handcuffs or the "personal massager." Observant.

I think the "crossing the line" thing is like pornography. I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. For instance, since I often write about reality television competition shows (like American Idol), I've made it a conscious choice not to poke fun at someone for something they may not be able to control, i.e. weight or bad teeth. However, I will call you on it if you wear an evening gown with red patent leather cowboy boots. That is just not acceptable in my world.

Also, I usually will not write the "F-word (opting for the BSG-approved "frak" instead)" or either "C-word" on my blog.

Danielle Spears said...

LOL! Should I be embarassed right now? I guess I'm the perv huh? You are rubbing off on us, Tawna! (Go ahead and innuendo that, too.) For the record, I have been following you for a couple months and I just now noticed it. It was coincidental with the whole "mood" post yesterday. In all (or most) seriousness, your brand is what keeps me coming back for more. I did it again, huh? This is too much fun.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I think that most people are more open to risque humor, especially because TV and the Internet are full of it. I like that you write with a sense of humor; it's one of the reasons I read your blog.

Sarah said...

Hahahaha. I thought it was a really bad rendition of a wine bottle.

Everyone's line is different. The best I can do is choose my own line and if someone else's line is too far from mine, I don't have to go to their blog.

thelisas said...

*blush*
not sure where to jump in to send a harmless "howdy" message, but this thread doesn't seem to be it ;)
be that as it may, thelisas are updating our authors' blog and have linked you!
(and only one of us is a closet prude)

Allie Sanders said...

I try to keep my internet life PG-13. I figure if I would blush saying it to my Gran than I shouldn't put it online. I'll admit that sometimes I push the line and it's more of an Easy A PG-13 than Disney Channel. I'll admit since i started talking to the large and amusing group of erotica & romance writers my line has been pushed and bent a lot more than it used to be.

Meredith said...

Huh. I always thought it was a big, pink pencil...

urthalun.com said...

Saw all the details from the very beginning, and knew what they all represented. I'm nosy that way.

Not much of line to cross at my place since my entire life is out there on the blog for every Tom, Dick, and Fernando to read about. I don't think I can actually BE embarrassed, what with raising three witchlings and being together with the same very uh... physical... guy for over 30 years now (yes, we were married as infants).

I am a great fan of Oregon's own Tawna Brand.
Julie

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Well, crud. I can't believe I never noticed the cuffs and "lipstick" on your pic before Danielle mentioned it. Guess my powers of observations are as crappy as my husband says they are.

I tend toward PG-13, at least online. If I blurt something stupid or inappropriate in public, even though I can't take it back, it'll eventually be forgotten. (hopefully) But online, we have no contol over who might be reading it. Or if it will go viral and end up outliving us. (One can only hope.)

Your tone is absolutely right for you, and the lines you won't cross are, too. You're funny, and much appreciated.

Elizabeth Poole said...

I've noticed the "lipstick" before, but I thought it was a wine bottle! The message on the computer adds to this theory and I never considered until now it was anything else.

That being said, I think it's hilarious that you left a "personal massager" laying around in plain sight and most of us didn't get it.

I like your sense of humor, and even though I don't normally read romantic comedy, I plan to buy your book the moment it comes out.

Suz said...

Oh great. And here's me hoping your novels would be full of blatant smut. Albeit, romantic smut ;)

The Sprouting Acorn said...

Well, hell. Guess even being "drawn pictures" don't help me. Didn't notice, or give any thought to that big pink "tube" or handcuffs for that matter. Maybe an invitation to your "toy" parties will help in my education process of such matters… :)

Plamena Schmidt said...

Hmm, I thought there was a bottle of wine beside the computer, but maybe it's just because it says "wine" on the screen and I just pictured it being there.

trainee writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
trainee writer said...

I have a habit of not seeing what is infront of me.I never noticed before your hand cuffs or pink ummm rocket.Shows modern womans strength and independence ;)

LTM said...

LOL! And I didn't even notice it... hmmm... Now I see it, but I only read the words on the screen and thought "cute!" :D

I don't know. I guess I play along if I'm in the mood. Or if I'm not being so blonde it flies over my head~ ;p