To tell a compelling story…

Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

During my lunch hour, I happened across a blog post by SI.com columnist Jeff Pearlman, in which he describes an upsetting reply from a disgruntled fan in response to a column he wrote about Jeff Bagwell and the Baseball Hall of Fame. The condensed version is the responder was snarky and vulgar and had included an x-rated link that infuriated the journalist so much, he was compelled to track down the miscreant.

Matt, the alleged sender of porn, is quoted as saying this:

“I was just trying to get a rise out of you. You’re a known sports writer and I thought it was cool. That’s all. I never meant for it to reach this point.”

Right there, I started taking notes.   Sadly, Pearlman notes this is not an isolated incident. Sports journalists are often subjected to vehement disagreement. But in the old days – the days before the Internet and Twitter and Facebook – such disagreement was confined to letters to the editor.  Another vocal basher, “Andy,” told Jeff “…the internet got the best of me.”

Hmm. The internet made me do it. As the author of a YA novel in which my protagonist causes a classmate’s suicide by posting embarrassing pictures online, I was intrigued by this defense. Particularly since Matt and Andy are not children. The popularity of social networking has not only removed the barriers of direct communication like mail delay, corporate red-tape, or anonymity, it’s somehow also erased the need for simple human kindness.  And, it compounds that lack with a sense of immediacy – just click Send and vent.  (My apologies for the shameless book plug) – “I’m pissed off NOW and I’m gonna tell you so NOW” even though, as Jeff’s conversations with both Matt and Andy would suggest, those opinions can change once the passion dissipates.

I’m not immune to the seductive power of online mob mentality. Recently, after a cooking e-zine got caught plagiarizing its recipes, I joined the immense public outcry denouncing the practice as well as the editor’s half-assed apologies. There is a sense of being part of something, something important. But at no time did I resort to name-calling or threats or sending pornographic content.

The internet is glaringly literal. It cares nothing about the context in which certain things were said, or the feelings we experienced when we said them.   Andy’s plea to Jeff: “Please don’t eviscerate me” should be a chilling reminder of reality – the Internet never forgets.

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On Monday, January 10th, my phone rang.

It was the call every writer dreams of.

An agent offered representation. To me!

The first thing I did upon hanging up the phone was turn to Twitter to post a shouty capitals announcement: I GOT THE CALL!

Was I bragging? No, I was sharing. It’s been a year since I began this blog and slightly over a year since I began tweeting. In that year, I’ve forged connections with dozens of people – writers, agents, editors – people who share my interests in books, in story-telling, in getting published. People who have taught me more than any MFA program could.

I have to thank you for your role in my good news.   From you, I learned how to write killer opening scenes, improve my query letter, and develop flawed characters.

From you, I was exposed to brilliant stories and compelling characters far outside my comfort zone and learned to take risks in my own work.

From you, I learned that no matter where in our writing careers we are – just starting out or multi-published – self-doubt is still a common enemy.

From you, I learned to stop taking life and rejection so seriously and that it’s okay to laugh at ourselves. A lot.

From you, I learned people may be interested in the things I have to say or the stories I have to tell. And then, from a group of Jeannie Moon’s high school students with a passion for reading, I learned there’s no “may be” about it.

From you, I learned to read and review books I might have otherwise ignored. And made new friends doing so.

From Kelly Breakey, I learned to ignore that monstrous self-doubt shouting in my ear and then, kick its ass a few times so I could finish the story I had to tell. SEND collected about two dozen rejections before Denise Little of The Ethan Ellenberg Agency said yes.  I just signed the contract. *happy dance*

Chocolate for everyone! On me.

To steal blatantly quote from author Evan Mandery, it’s later than you think.

My mother’s diagnosis made me realize that tomorrow is not a promise. It’s an expectation, an act of faith, a possibility. I’ve been doing too much waiting for tomorrow but what if there is no tomorrow?

When I was in the process of buying my house, I waited weeks for a settlement date and finally contacted the seller’s realtor to find out why I’d heard nothing. Turns out the seller’s attorney was hit by a bus.

Yes, actually hit by an actual bus.

No one knew anything about the deals he was working on. No one knew to contact me. I was hanging on this date, had movers standing by. Worse, I was never able to learn if the man survived.

Last week, we lost one of our coworkers from a sudden heart attack. That got me thinking… what if the unthinkable happens to me? I’m no BFD (Big Freakin’ Deal) so there won’t be news coverage of my demise. What then? How will my tweeps know that you’ll never hear from me again? I need to do something so you won’t worry. Am I being morbid? Perhaps. But I prefer to think of it as pragmatic.

Worry might *gasp* go on indefinitely. Since I’ve joined Twitter, I’ve felt this kind of worry quite a few times now. Someone did not follow his or her usual patterns, which triggered my impersonation of a car going 0 to 60, except I ratchet from “Hmm” to “Holy #$!^&(@! Crap!!” in 0.9 seconds. What? Your imagination doesn’t snap into overdrive like this?

Turns out, the couple of times this has happened, it was just people busy with their daily grinds taking a Twitter hiatus.  It’s allowed.  Sorry for making you feel any sort of pressure but I don’t want anybody worrying about me.

I want you to care, but NOT worry.  So, I checked it out and learned Twitter has a death policy. So does Facebook. But that policy does little more than shut down accounts belonging to deceased users. So, for extra reassurance, I have left a set of instructions with my last will and testament that includes the passwords to both Twitter accounts, both blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and gmail. (Stop sending me porn, Tawna. (Kidding.)) My sons have been instructed to post something in case anything happens to me so you all don’t sit there lamenting, “Where is Patty? Her book review is due this week, she promised me a guest post on my blog and is critiquing my manuscript!”

Along with my engagement ring, my DVD collection of the X-Files series, directions to my secret chocolate stash, my unfinished manuscripts, and oh yes, my debt (sorry, boys!), my sons have now inherited… um, well each of you.

*sighs in relief* There. I feel better knowing you won’t worry about me.

Do you obsess over things that might happen when you’re gone?


I’m moving! Bookmark the new URL.

I'm in the process of transferring To Tell a Compelling Story over to my new website: www.pattyblount.com
Bookmark the new link in case I never learn how to redirect.

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.

You're also welcome to link to, quote, or cite anything you find here. You're NOT welcome to copy it outright for your own use. 'Cause that's plagiarism, no matter what you heard on the internet.

We’re Book Hungry!

My twitta sistas and I were chatting one day a few weeks back and thought, "Hey! We should start a Book Club!" So, we did.

Watch our blogs; we're each posting our reviews blog-fest style!

Kelly Breakey
Abby Mumford
Alyson Peterson
Cynthia Reese
Elizabeth Ryann
Karla Nellenbach
Vanessa Noble

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