To tell a compelling story…

Taking Time Off

Posted on: May 15, 2010

For Mother’s Day, my sons bought me a bag of books. They even threw in chocolate.  How well my boys know me.  Books and chocolate are THE best gift ever.  In the bag were:

  • The Electric Church by Jeff Somers
  • The Digital Plague by Jeff Somers
  • Delicious by Sherry Thomas
  • Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Left to my own devices, I’d have read all four books Sunday.  But my little guy knows me well and held them hostage. He let me see them, smell them, fondle their spines and then took all but The Electric Church back.

He’s pacing me.

I finished the book Monday and it was freakin’ awesome! Jeff’s post-Unification world is a bleak ruin where everyone’s a bad guy, even (or perhaps, especially) the cops.  I was sitting on my sofa, sweating and out of breath as if I’d just worked out. This story had me up well past my bedtime to finish it.  I dreamed of Avery Cates that night. I think I feel sorry for him.

Tuesday, my son gave me The Digital Plague.  (The book, not the illness.)  Cates is back, this time, some six years later. From the first scene, I was hooked. I drove out to Borders for Book 3, but they didn’t have it. I was depressed.

Until I started Delicious.  (Sorry, Jeff!)  Sherry Thomas writes with such mastery over the language, it makes me sigh. In each of Sherry’s stories, she uses her characters’ interests to depict highly sensual love scenes. In Delicious, a cook in love with the titled man of the house woos him through her culinary prowess.  Sherry manages to connect taste buds to both heart and groin without vulgarity.  She’d done the same thing in Not Quite a Husband with a game of chess.

What fun!

My son is still keeping the new Sookie Stackhouse away from me so I have something to read over the weekend.

He did let me have the chocolate. Godiva. (swoons)

With all my reading and book store trips, I didn’t touch Send this week, except to develop a one-sentence summary as part of an exercise over at Nathan Bransford’s blog.  Okay, you twisted my arm. Here it is:

A teen who carelessly clicks Send and is branded a sex offender tries to bury his crime under a new name, at a new school, and meets a girl he eventually learns is his victim’s sister… but she knew all along.

Cheers or jeers? Be honest. Brutal, if you have to. I don’t learn anything from dead air.

After indulging in two of my favorite passions (reading and chocolate) to the exclusion of the third (writing), you might think I’d feel guilty, but I don’t, not in the least.  I think it’s good, even critical, to take a break and do whatever works to remind you why you wanted to be a writer.  For me, it’s reading a great story like Jeff’s or Sherry’s.  I can immerse myself in the story and forget where I am, when I am, even what I am.

Don’t believe me? Okay… check out this Facebook post from my smart-ass amusing oldest  son:

On Tuesday, I was hip-deep in Monks with Avery Cates and by the time I even saw my son’s post, I was salivating for both food and hero in Delicious.  Damn good thing the boy’s self-sufficient now, or I’d probably have forgotten to feed him or something.

With each story I read, I form attachments to characters, spend a little time in their worlds, and return to mine recommitted to telling my story in a way that (hopefully) produces similar feelings in you.

How do you recharge your writing battery? Inquiring minds need to know.

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7 Responses to "Taking Time Off"

Haha! Your kid cracked me up with that FB post. 🙂

Sounds like a great week, Patty, and your kids are pretty awesome.

Your one line pitch prompted two responses from me:

1. A teen can be branded a sex offender? Does that mean legally or just what people are thinking after he hit send? Gossip and official notecards in the mail about the new offender down the street are pretty different. If it’s legal it would be harder to hide.

2. “but she knew all along” – What does she know? That he didn’t do it? So is she going to use that against him? SHE’S EVIL! Or help him? AWW LOVE INTEREST! Hmm, what does she know? Intriguing. I want to find out.

That’s from the gut. A bit rambly, but I hope it helps. 🙂

Oooo, I’m so glad you’re hooked!

As I researched social networking for my day job, I’d found news articles where teens “sexting” were indeed forced to legally register as sex offenders. Sexting itself isn’t (yet) against the law, but some states have prosecuted such cases with existing laws on distribution of porn.

I did some more digging. There are “levels” of offenses. Some offenders are on the list for life. Minor offenders can get their names removed after so many years but it varies by state.

It terrified me! I have teenagers who do dumb things from time to time. So I decided to write this story from the perspective of a teen who just didn’t think out his decision very well. A dumb decision can get a teen’s name on a list with rapists and pedophiles!

This boy’s actions devastated a lot of people’s lives, especially the girl he meets. She is his victim’s sister, but he does not know this. She does. She knows exactly who he is but plans to get revenge on him for what he did to her brother (the brother committed suicide).

It needs work… it’s so hard to fit everything into a single sentence!

Wow. I didn’t know all that. I thought it was basically you’re on the offender list or you’re not.

Yes, it’s really hard to pitch your book in one line! Yesh.

First of all, the sex offender thing sounds incredible. Good job on that front. B of all, you sound like you re-charge your writer battery the same way I do. A delicious read. And I read through them as you do, veraciously. I also like to leave the house all by myself, go somewhere crowded, and people watch. I am alone and surrounded at the same time. Great post, Patty. 🙂

Thanks, Harley!

I have to be careful with the people watching thing. I tend to get caught.

Years ago, I was sitting in my college library, something I always did between classes because I love to read. I’d sit in a comfy chair with a great vantage point of the center of the library.

There were tables in the center and one day, a group of women sat there, chatting. One woman caught my eye because she was just so perfectly beautiful, I wanted to hate her.

I sat there, a terribly insecure teenager, making myself sick with envy over her glossy blonde hair, cornflower blue eyes, slender yet curvy figure, even her gorgeous shoes.

As I ran my eyes back up… BUSTED!

She’d felt my stare, probably felt the envy coming off me in waves and then gave me this snarky little blown kiss while all her pals laughed.

I never sat in the library again.

When you people watch, do you wear sunglasses? Bring a book to make it at least look like you’re not?

Hi, Patty! I found your blog from Cynthia Reese’s twitter page.

Your family sounds incredible (so sweet for them to give you books & chocolate!)!

If you get a spare minute, I’d love for you to take a look at my blog: Head in the Clouds. Hopefully, during my children’s naptime, I can read further on your intriguing site!

Hi, Tory,

Welcome! I love the family photo on your blog, it’s just beautiful. I just posted a comment there, but it was zapped away. Who knows? It may return but for now, here’s a recap. I answered your question about where YA is headed. I enjoy reading fantasy and I also enjoy reading real life situations. My current project is an edgy story with a lesson I’m doing my best NOT to preach about. When I was a kid, I would read anything and didn’t want to settle with one genre yet. (Not that I even knew what genre was then.) I read Judy Blume’s Forever when I was in elementary school and thought, “Whoa. No way.” I like being able to give young readers choices. If angsty teenage vampire love stories aren’t their thing, great. Maybe they’ll like mine!

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I'm in the process of transferring To Tell a Compelling Story over to my new website: www.pattyblount.com
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Hi! Welcome to my blog. I’m Patty.

I'm a writer represented by Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I love to tell stories, to boast about my sons, to indulge in a serious chocolate obsession. (I often combine these passions.)

During the day, I write software user guides, but at night, I let my hair down... and write whatever I want. (I know. You expected something else. Sorry.) I'm currently working on a YA story about sexting gone horribly bad called SEND. I use this blog to explore my passions.

Contact me at pattyblount3 at gmail dot com.

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