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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Voice and Valerie Bertinelli

Please welcome guest blogger Wendy Lyn Watson

One of the best compliments I ever received for my writing came from an unexpected source. My friend Matthew is a straight arrow. He’s Matthew, not Matt. He likes his burgers plain, just bun and meat. He wears neatly pressed dress shirts and lots of navy and gray. He is, in short, vanilla.

I am the opposite of Matthew.

Still, we get along like a house afire, having great fun at each others’ expense and generally rejoicing in our differences. I was tickled he deigned to pick up I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, my fluffy pink book, and give it a read. That alone would have made me happy, but then he brought tears to my eyes. He sent me an e-mail and said, “It was like I could hear you talking when I read it.”

Bingo. Bull’s eye. Shazam.

See, if I sucked all my voice out of I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, it’s a story about a woman scorned who’s suspected of killing her ex’s new, younger girlfriend. She investigates, figures out who dunnit, and maybe finds a new beau in the process. Yawn. You’ve read that story a hundred times, seen Valerie Bertinelli act it out in a Lifetime TV movie, maybe even written a version of it yourself.

What makes I SCREAM my book and, hopefully, something worth reading isn’t the story. Oh, sure, I spent a lot of time working on the pacing, making sure the narrative arc hit all the important points, crafting clues and red herrings, balancing description and dialogue. But in the end, what makes I SCREAM my book and not that Valerie Bertinelli vehicle on Lifetime is my voice.

The fact that Matthew could hear my voice--my actual, literal voice--when he read my prose meant I had achieved a certain authenticity in my writing. I may not be on the best-seller lists (yet - I’m an optimist), but that little pink book is mine and no one else’s. Matthew could not have paid me a better compliment.

And the great thing about voice, my darlings, is you all have one already. Really. Every last one of you. With work, you can refine it, polish it, show it off to its best advantage. But the raw material is already there inside you. In the online workshop I’m doing for FF&P in May, we’ll work on identifying and developing your individual voices. If you register for the workshop, come with an open mind, and by the end of May, you will hopefully have a better sense of what defines your voice and how you can amp up those qualities to really set your work apart from the pack.

Oh, and for the record, if Valerie Bertinelli wants to bring I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM to film, I’d be honored. She’d make a fantastic Tallulah Jones. Valerie? Call me.


Wendy Lyn Watson writes deliciously funny cozy mysteries with a dollop of romance. Her Mysteries a la Mode (I Scream, You Scream (October, 2009) and Scoop to Kill (September, 2010)) feature amateur sleuth Tallulah Jones, who solves murders in between scooping sundaes. While she does not commit--or solve--murders in real life, Wendy can kill a pint of ice cream in nothing flat. She's also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV. (www.wendylynwatson.com)


I Scream, You Scream

Tallulah Jones, proprietor of Dalliance, Texas’s old-fashioned ice-cream parlor, dishes up luscious ice cream that is simply to die for….

Unfortunately, Remember the A-la-mode’s profits are melting faster than a snow cone in July–and Tally’s stuck scooping sundaes for her two-timing ex-husband and his bodacious new girlfriend, Brittanie, at his company luau. To make matters worse, twenty years after she dumped him in the Tasty-Swirl parking lot, Tally’s high school beau, Finn Harper, comes back to town–looking every bit as delicious as a double-dip raspberry mascarpone waffle cone.

The cherry on top? Brittanie drops dead, and Tally’s suddenly the prime suspect in her murder investigation. To catch a killer, Tally will have to churn up Dalliance’s darkest secrets and dip deep into the past. But can Tally freeze out the real culprit before a murder charge puts her dreams on ice for good?


Write Naked runs May 3, 2010 through May 30,2010

8 comments:

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lynnrush said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing this.

Wendy said...

Thanks, Lynn! And thanks for posting. :)

Lisa Kessler said...

Great blog!!!

There are quite a few authors that I read soley because I love their voice. Doesn't matter if the plot isn't crazy original...

The person telling me the story is.

Lisa :)

Heather Webber said...

Wendy, I hope you get that call from Valerie (how cool would that be?). I love the idea of voice being the "flavor" of novels--perfect description.

Have fun with the workshop!

Wendy said...

Lisa, I'm the same way. I may know exactly what's going to happen in the book, but I will still devour the story just because I like the way it's told.

Heather, fingers crossed. Hopefully she has google alerts. :)

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Beth Caudill said...

I loved You Scream. CAn't wait for the next one.