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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Patty Blount will also be on the page.)
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Patty Blount – The Magic of Words & Romance
You know that Stephen King quote, “Books are uniquely portable magic”? I live by that belief.
I believe in the magic of reading and in the magic of romance. Words have real power. For example, I may not use a word like breeze, but write about the “gusty winds that tossed her hair around her face.” Instead of embarrassed, I might say, “Her face burst into flames and her gaze darted around the room, hoping – praying – begging for no one to have seen that gaffe, only to be snared by his mocking expression. When she noticed his shaking shoulders, her heart fell to her feet with a sickening lurch. He’d never let her live this down.”
If I do my job as an author right, I can make you – a reader in a different time, a different place, maybe even living in different circumstances – see what’s inside my mind, feel what’s inside my heart. When I can move you to laugh or to cry with the words I choose to tell my stories? That’s potent magic.
Several years back, I wrote a novella (A Match Made At Christmas, Tule Publishing Group) with three author pals as part of a multi-author connected series. Mine was book 4 in that series, which was called Christmas in New York. The Christmas season is magical all on its own. People are somehow a little bit nicer, a little bit kinder to strangers, a little more giving, and a lot more excited. New York, known for its hustle and bustle, seems to slow down just a bit, maybe to give people more moments when they can be nicer, kinder, more giving, and excited?
I like to believe that.
A year later, I followed Match with a sequel (The Paramedic’s Rescue, Tule Publishing Group). This was also part of a multi-author connected series called Summer in New York. Summers in New York are scorchers. Tempers flare, the weather is unpredictable, and first responders are expected to work miracles every day. In this story, the first responder is the one who needs rescuing.
While writing both novels, I wanted the magic to be believable, but I also wanted it to feel intensely personal… as if it were made only for Elena and Kara Larsen. After all, isn’t falling in love a sort of intensely personal magic? Think about it…you don’t fall in love with every single person you’ve ever met. Falling in love requires finding someone with whom a deep connection forms. So why this person instead of the dozens of others we meet over the course of a lifetime?
That was the sort of magic I decided to explore in both of these books.
Elena and Kara lost their mom during the September 11th attack. For Elena, who was at the bratty teen stage of her life, that loss left her grappling with profound guilt. For Kara, it created a need to cling to love, even when it was wrong for her. Throughout both stories, Elena and Kara are presented with signs from their mother, if you believe in that sort of thing, which both sisters most assuredly do (though Elena might glare holes through you for suggesting it!).
In MATCH, Elena agrees to return to NYC for the first time since September 11th because Kara is about to give birth and become a single mother after Mr. Wrong skips out on her. As Elena steps out of the car, she’s knocked down by a rude pedestrian and helped back to her feet by Lucas Adair, a man with the most amazing smile she’s ever seen…. except for that one time back when she was a grieving teen, and a boy at Ground Zero handed her a Christmas ornament. Lucas has a friend who sees signs everywhere he goes and who opens Elena’s eyes to such possibilities. The problem is Elena believes those signs are punishment from her mother. It’s not until Kara’s baby is born that she finally sees them not as punishment but as forgiveness.
For Kara, the signs she sees all seem to be meant for everyone else but her. By the time her daughter is eighteen months old, Kara gives up hope of ever receiving signs of her own, signs that will lead her to love, as they did for her sister. After her daughter wanders off in a crowded department store, Reid Bennett, a surly paramedic, humiliates Kara for failing to adequately watch her daughter. When circumstances keep putting that same surly man in her path, Kara looks to heaven and demands to know why him. She knows Reid is a sign. She simply doesn’t want that particular one. It’s not until Kara’s ex returns that she eventually remembers that signs can be misinterpreted. Hadn’t Elena proved exactly that? She decides the only way to fix things is in a restaurant men’s room and – coughs — well, that would be a spoiler.
In both books, the signs are actually nothing magical at all… there are no spells, no mystical lamps with a genie granting wishes. They’re just things you’re likely to spot as you go through your day. They only become special when people imbue them with personal meaning. When my father lost his wife (not my mom), he used to find dimes around the house and say, “Joan was here!” Dimes, not pennies, were something they’d once discussed tossing in a fountain. The dime is a real, personal link between them. When my mother was in hospice, my sister told her to send butterflies. Catching butterflies was my sister’s favorite summer activity when she was little. After Mom died, every butterfly my sister saw was a sign from Mom, another intensely personal link. For Elena in MATCH, it’s candy wrappers. For Kara in RESCUE, it’s Reid’s very presence in her orbit.
The magic is in how Elena and Lucas, and Kara and Reid interpret and navigate these signs to find their way to each other. The magic is how these characters connect.
When you come right down to it…isn’t that what love is? A connection, a link that’s meaningful to just two people? This is the stuff that makes me tingle. There are so many ways to show these connections in story.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
My husband and I are not wealthy people and have not taken a vacation in many years. Last summer, we decided to visit Italy. It was a trip I’d originally planned to take with my mom, but she passed away before we could make that happen. We chose a date in September and for ten months, planned that trip. We got our first ever passports. We booked a tour starting in Rome and ending in Naples. The trip was amazing from start to finish. We visited landmarks that have been standing for centuries. This is hard for me to comprehend. Construction on the Colosseum in Rome began in 70 A.D. according to our tour guide. Just think about that for a minute. Yes, it’s not fully intact, but the structure that millions of tourists visit each year has been standing there for millennia – plural, while the walls in my house we painted 12 years ago, need to be repainted already. Everywhere we went in Italy, there was something of ancient value. The catacombs. Pompeii. The Vatican. As I walked through buildings and structures, and gazed at works of art that had been created so many hundreds of years ago, it struck me that this will be the closest I’ll ever come to time-travel.
It was truly a most transformative trip.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
I’d always wanted to be an author – nothing new there! I’m sure all authors say that. When I was a kid, everyone read Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys novels. New readers cut their teeth on such books. But the book that was truly magical for me held no magic whatsoever. It was called Deenie and it was written by Judy Blume. Deenie is a teen diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. She has to wear a brace for months. Soon after I’d read this book, I was diagnosed with the same disorder. In my case, the doctor discussed surgery and a brace for me, too.
My parents were astounded by how unfazed I was by this diagnosis. I knew all about the surgery, the brace, the exercises, and the outlook for scoliosis because I’d already experienced it, albeit through a fictional character, when I read Deenie. Wait…I guess that book held some powerful magic after all.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
Like most authors, I’d wanted to write for most of my life, but couldn’t see a way to make enough money at it. So, the dream always got shoved to the bottom of my to-do list. Oh, I still wrote, whenever I could find the time, but becoming a published author seemed like this impossible dream. I’d written a mystery, a few romances and was busy writing a trilogy when an idea came to me – fully baked – for a novel about a bully, with the bully as the main character. I put my trilogy aside and wrote that story in practically no time. Something inside me kept saying THIS IS IT. So I learned how to write query letters to find an agent.
One such agent sent me a response. It wasn’t a form letter, but real concerns she had about my story. Specifically, she said bullying is a child’s issue but my characters were adults in their twenties. Where would she sell such a book? She felt the story could be compelling if told from a teen’s perspective.
So I rewrote the entire novel, this time, with a teenaged protagonist. It became my debut, a Young Adult novel called SEND, all because one agent took the time to show me what I’d done wrong. If she hadn’t done that, I’d probably have queried a few more agents and when no one replied, shelved the book, and given up on the dream.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I adore magical elements and frequently read fantasy, paranormal, and adventure stories. I enjoy good – vs. – evil tropes. I especially love when the good are regular people battling some supernatural demon. These stories fill me with hope that people (in other words, ME) can make a difference. Even though I don’t write much magic, I love those subtle touches of inexplicable outcomes – divine intervention or just plain luck – because they allow readers to fill in the gaps that explain just how much magic there is in their world.
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is mostly factual, mostly historical but this little juicy nugget of time travel makes the whole series possible. Nora Roberts’ Sign of the Seven trilogy features three fairly mortal men learning to trust and love three fairly mortal women to battle against a demonic presence. I say “fairly mortal” because all six characters have something “extra” that makes this both a realistic and a magical saga I’ve read more than once — and enjoyed each time.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
Oh, I lose focus often! What recharges me is reading, because I was a reader well before I was a writer and that’s what compelled me to want to write. I read in and out of my genres for inspiration.
I am a huge Sherry Thomas fan. My first Sherry novel was PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, a historical romance. Right now, I’m addicted to her Lady Sherlock series. I’m writing a mystery right now and even though mine is 1) not historical, 2) not based on Sherlock Holmes and 3) not about the same crime, reading her novels gave me an idea for mine. I find this happens often. I may read a romantic comedy and say, “Oh! I could write a scene in which my detective and murderer meet and don’t realize –“ I almost did it again! I almost spoiled it. The point is, reading for pleasure has always held magic for me and when my own creative wells run dry, I know how to refill them.
DRAWING – Patty is hosting The Romance of Reading page, and her giveaways will take place there.
However, all comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 2 participating authors.
To enter, leave a comment below or on the ReadARomanceMonth FB post here. Each comment offers an extra chance to win. Must comment by 8/21/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Patty Blount grew up quiet and invisible in Queens, NY, but found her superpower writing smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. Today, she’s the award-winning author of edgy, emotional contemporary romance. Powered by way too much chocolate, Patty gives a voice to characters society would prefer to ignore…characters facing situations like rape (SOME BOYS, 2014, SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW, 2018) and bullying (SEND, 2012).
In her contemporary romances from Tule Publishing Group, Patty’s adult characters share traits of their young adult counterparts – strength, independence, and courage to face deep emotions.
Discover all of Patty’s books:
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