To tell a compelling story…

Great minds…

Posted on: August 22, 2010

This is the er... VULCAN mind meld. Not "Vulvan" as I once typed in a staff memo.

There’s an old saying that great minds think alike. 

While there is some truth in this (old sayings get old because there must be some truth in them, no?), I discovered yesterday that fresh points of view help you see things you never knew were there.

Twitter pal Jeannie (@Jeannienovels) invited me along to the Long Island Romance Writers meeting yesterday, where I got to finally meet her (yay!).  I had no idea Long Island had a local chapter of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and actually couldn’t sleep the night before, my excitement level was that high.  GPS charged, I started out and naturally, got lost a time or four, but arrived only slight late for the 10 AM start. I met the wonderful Pam Burford (tweets as @pamelaburford), and a whole cast of authors whose WIPs range from medieval, historical, contemporary to YA.  The group also ranged from multi-title publication credits to finishing the first novel. Some writers were even RITA finalists. 

Whenever I meet genius, there is a split second where I wait for alarms to peal. “UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY!”  It didn’t happen at Paper Cone Stories in NYC last month and it didn’t happen yesterday, either.  (There was just a hand clap there. I looked around to high five someone and had to do it myself.)

The people were friendly, supportive and so knowledgeable. Even though I’m not (YET!) a member, Pam invited me to bring some SEND pages to read aloud during the critique session.  If you’re wondering, this was the cause of my insomnia. Read aloud? *gulp* My story? *shiver*  In front of others? *heartstops* But, I did it! And, the world did not end. Simon Cowell did not appear from behind the potted plants and say, “That was the worst drivel I have ever heard and I can only thank God you didn’t attempt to SING it.”

Even better?  Two of the members suggested changing the opening hook (“God must have been bullied as a kid.”)  Great line, they said, but could put some readers off.  They also pointed out that I’d inadvertently named one character after someone famous. (Famous to all but me, it seems.)  A school teacher and librarian each said my story about cyber-bullying and sexting would be DEVOURED by their kids, who are sick of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons and zombies.

*pumps fist* Woo hoo!

I got to hear their stories, too. So much talent in one room. It was rather astounding for me to hear the differences in our voices, our styles. After the critique, Pam led us in an Opening Hook seminar that was very enlightening and helped me understand why so many agents will request only the first few pages of a MS. We examined some famous opening hooks. “Where is Papa going with that ax?” (Charlotte’s Web)  What’s your favorite opening line?

I learned a lot yesterday and definitely plan on joining the group. Pam encouraged us all to read everything, not just romance. I admit, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of reading outside my genre and it’s exposing me to techniques I’m using in my own work. Jeff Somers’ Avery Cates series is, trust me, the furthest thing from romance there is.  He is brilliant at writing action. I’ve got a few fight scenes in SEND and have been studying Jeff’s techniques to see how I might achieve similar results. Speaking of which…  er… um…  as a woman writing an 18-year-old male… I have this, um, gap in my, uh, experience.  Can someone describe what it feels like to be kicked in the, uh, NUTS?  *tomato red blush*

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21 Responses to "Great minds…"

Patty, we were thrilled you attended the meeting–and even more thrilled to welcome you as a new member of LIRW. Your writing really is terrific and I predict you’ll have a successful writing career.

Oops, I just corrected the link next to my pic. More caffeine, pleeeze!

So glad I found you! And thank you for that vote of confidence.

Patty, It was so exciting meeting you too and I’m glad you found the meeting so energizing. I always appreciate the chance to get to know other writers, to get feedback and just feel the writing “vibe.” It’s a great group that is adding another awesome member!

Likewise, Jeannie. I agree, it was just surrounding myself with the “vibe” that made me anxious to get home and finish the story! Which I did not do.

Each person brings insight, info, and their own special touch to every meeting, making it a wonderful experience for all. I’m glad you came and were a part of it and happy to hear you plan to join us. I’m looking forward to it.

Hi Patricia – sorry I could not attend the meeting yesterday – and also get to meet one of Jeannie’s Twitter friends 🙂 but I was at a one-day workshop outside of Philly. Glad you enjoyed the meeting. LIRW members are incredibly supportive and mentoring. I look forward to meeting you at a future event. Are you attending the writer’s retreat next month?

I am not yet sure. I still have to find the $ to register, since college tuition has all but erased my bank account.

Patty, you don’t have to join LIRW before next month’s retreat. You get at least two meetings before having to join (I’ll check on the number), so go ahead and register for it by sending me an email. There’s no fee for the retreat, or almost none. I believe LIRW is paying the $5 per person for use of the space. It’s going to be a wonderful day and we all want you there! Hope you can make it.

Hi, Patty.

Actually, there are two chapters of RWA on Long Island. And I happen to be the current president of the second, Dunes & Dreams, which covers eastern Long Island (mainly Suffolk County, though we do have several Nassau County residents in our little family.) I invite you to check us out either online or in person. We’ve got some great programs coming up, including our online workshops, historical tours, and a talk with Kensington Publishing’s Steve Zacharius. You can visit our website at http://www.dunesanddreams.org for more info! I hope you’ll contact us.

Hi, Gina. Thanks for the info and the link. I’ll visit.

I am so jealous. Wished I lived closer so we could have went together. How awesome!

I am so glad you are leaving your comfort zone and letting others get a taste of Send. I just know it will be a hit.

Thanks to you! You saved it.

I’m so pleased for you, Patty. That must have nerve-racking. If I was even near Long Island, I would have been there – love to hear you read SEND.

Thank you, Jessie. It was nerve-wracking, but SOOOOO glad I did it. Much as I love hearing compliments, I loved getting critical feedback more. These were things I’d never have known to fix!

What fun!

Alas, I have no nuts of my own, so I can’t help you there. I gather it’s rather breathtaking, though. And not in a good way.

Apparently, no men read this blog! *sighs* Research is a bitch, no?

What it feels like to get kicked in the nuts. You would ask that question, Patty.

Saying it’s like childbirth in reverse doesn’t go far enough. The pain starts in one place but takes over your entire body. You cannot breathe, your heart races, your eyes tear. The way the kick is delivered could either intensify or mediate the pain. A kick that lifts the testicles into the body is worse than one that goes directly into the groin. If it’s hard enough, (and I haven’t experienced this myself) you could probably void yourself.

One thing to keep in mind, though. If delivered to someone who’s drunk or high, kicking a guy in the gonads may do no worse than PISS HIM OFF. It’s more effective to kick the knee. That breaks, is painful, and the person cannot follow you.

Hope this helps.

Thank you, Julio! (I imagine the reply, “My pleasure” just doesn’t work in this context…)

What a nice article about the LIRW! It is an amazing group. 🙂

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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.

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