Book Review: Atonement in Bloom

I’ve been aboard Teagan’s tour bus for a few days and just hopped off for some biscuits and gravy in Atonement, Tennessee. While I’m at it, I’ll attempt a little magic for Teagan and share my review of Atonement in Bloom.

But, oh, not so fast. First I had to delve into Teagan’s amazing technicolor pantser brain and find out how she does it! Here is my question:

I know that you’re a pantser, Teagan, and I assure you that this is foreign territory for us dedicated outliners. Your stories are full of magic – people, objects, places, lore – and they all converge on the small town of Atonement in a zany adventure with eight plot threads whirling around at once. How do you keep this literary cyclone straight and make sure that it arrives at “the end” in one piece? I’d love to learn about the method to your madness. How you keep your stories straight?

Here’s her answer:

Teagan’s Tips for Pantsers

Diana, thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me visit Myths of the Mirror. I love your blog name. I can’t help being reminded of the wickedly mischievous mirror in my Atonement stories.

Horsefeathers! Did I really have eight plot threads? I suppose that statement alone is a good way to illustrate the differences between pantsers and plotters. (A pantser is someone who “flies by the seat of their pants,” writing in a completely unplanned way.)

If I had my druthers, I would have a rather loose plan and a vague outline — I’d be a combination pantser and plotter. However, my job keeps me in a stress overload. When I’m stressed, I can’t cope with the planning of writing. The serials on my blog are full-on pantser, 100% spontaneous and unplanned.

atonement notebook

While Atonement, Tennessee actually was planned (those were better days!), the sequel, Atonement in Bloom… not so much. Plus, because of work, I had to start and stop repeatedly over several years. That would make it even harder for me to plan.

How to keep it straight? I create a character matrix before I start writing. Even though I’m not planning, the storytelling can’t start until I have a character. So I note some details about that character. Then as other characters, artifacts, and places come into the story, I add them to the matrix. Sometimes I give the reader a clue — yet I don’t know where it’s going. Things like that get a note in the matrix too.

I do have a couple of tricks

The matrix is in Excel. I have a lot of columns and I try to fill in the same details for every character – whether or not I actually use the detail in the story.

Electronic notes

MS Word – Styles. As I write the story, I make notes in the manuscript regarding where in the story certain things happen. I use the Styles feature in word combined with enabling the “navigation pane.” When I apply a heading style to the note, it lets me see it, at a glance, on the left side of the screen. So it’s very easy for me to keep track of where or when something happened.

Atonement 2 nav pane

Diana, I’m absolutely thrilled that you enjoyed Atonement in Bloom. Thank you again for letting me visit. Hugs!

Diana’s note here: As an outliner, I also keep a number of Excel grids, but I’ve never considered using Word’s Styles to make notes! Great tip for all writers. Thanks, Teagan!

And now my review:

Atonement in Bloom begins at the point where Atonement, Tennessee (book one) ended. Although the events that took place in book 1 were erased from the memories of most of Atonement’s citizens, Ralda and her Goth friend, Bethany, remember very clearly.

Not only has little returned to normal, but the presence of magic in the small town is much deeper and broader than first imagined. As it turns out, more people know about the local magic than just Ralda and Bethany, and magical characters are constantly popping in to sway events. There is a wide variety of objects with a range of supernatural powers, most which came from Sunhold, Ralda’s old house by the cemetery.

Geneviene is at it again with a whimsical, magic-filled story that is full of surprises. The gal pals take a back seat this time, except for Bethany, as the plot thickens and runs off the rails – in a good way! The action starts immediately, and the pace speeds along with multiple events and mysteries piling one atop another. One of my favorite scenes was when a love spell goes haywire and the characters are all attracted to the wrong people.

Besides the author’s wild imagination, I was once again enamored with a host of delightful characters including glowing pigs that talk, a woman who’s a living Meadow and leaves flowers growing in her wake, and a slithering dragon that is mistaken for a bear. Robin, the Shakespeare-quoting sheriff has a bigger role. And, of course, Ralda’s cat, Lilith, makes a reappearance as the only other POV character besides her owner.

In keeping with the tone of the first book, this is a light and fanciful read with plenty to keep a reader entertained. Appropriate for all ages and perfect for anyone who loves playful magic.

Ready for a magical read?

Global Amazon Link

You can also visit Teagan at:
Amazon 
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube
LinkedIn

191 thoughts on “Book Review: Atonement in Bloom

  1. I can’t wait to read these!! I just recently hopped on the bus and I’m looking forward to forcing the bus to stop for a bathroom break so I can sneak off and share my thoughts! So interesting to see the process behind the work!! A character matrix is definitely not something I would have thought of doing!! 💖

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marcia says:

    Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Teagan Geneviene is a guest on D. Wallace Peach’s Myths of the Mirror blog, sharing news about her latest book, Atonement in Bloom and some great writing/outlining tips, too. Add to that Diana’s lovely review of the book, and you have an awful lot of good stuff in one super post! Check it out! (And then pass it along so others can enjoy.) THANKS! Good job, Diana and Teagan! I really enjoyed this one a lot! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Heartfelt thanks for sharing from your place, Marcia. You’re a treasure. Mega hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Marcia. I enjoyed digging into Teagan’s creative head to figure out where these wild stories come from and how she keeps them straight. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed her answer as well as the review. Happy Writing, my friend. Are you doing Nano this month?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Marcia says:

        You’re welcome, Diana. It was a great post! No-No NaNo for me. 😉 I am way too far behind on my series to take on anything else. I feel like I’m falling deeper into the hole every day!

        BTW, I owe you an email. I read both the Shattered Sea series and the Rose Shield books, and hope to get a MINUTE somewhere to leave reviews for both. I’m behind on that, too! But rest assured, I loved them, in particular the Shattered Seas. I knew as soon as I saw that gorgeous hero … er … I mean, cover … I’d like that one! 😀

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you for the wonderful comment, Marcia. I’m so glad you enjoyed the series and the hunk.. I mean… hero on the cover. Ha ha. I’ll look forward to your reviews. Yay! I’m embroiled in Nano and it feels great to write again after a hectic summer. I wish you great luck catching up on your series. Happy Writing!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post with the summary and interview/overview. Teagan really shared some nice writing tips… which will aid many writers. Happy new month to all!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I enjoy this interview, Diana. Teagan, I’m sure your book 3 will be done in no time. I used Excel and the grid, but haven’t used MS Word Styles. I must look into it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    Book Review: Atonement in Bloom

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Excellent review Diana. I can imagine Teagan’s smile.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Just more proof that there’s no definitive, right-or-wrong way to be a writer: It’s all about finding a mode that works for you.

    I love that you included a little insight into Teagan’s process along with the review, Diana! I never tire of hearing how other writers approach the craft!

    Best to both you ladies for a lovely, restful weekend…

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Teri Polen says:

    Amazing review, Diana – I loved spending time with these characters again.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Staci Troilo says:

    Fabulous review. And what an interesting use of styles to keep track of things. I write in Scrivener now, but if I still used Word, I think I’d try that.

    All the best to both of you ladies.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. ljshouse2015 says:

    I never heard of this series before. So I had to go and get the first book. I’m kind of jealous that I never found all these magical places here in Tennessee that other authors seem to come up with – although there are certainly a lot of beautiful places here.

    Great review, and I loved the writing tips – whether I ever get the chance to use them or not.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I hope you enjoy the books. Teagan has a great imagination and the magic just spills out of her brain. I hope you find that Tennessee place that reminds you of the book and brings it to life. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 3 people

    • I’m honored that you got Atonement, Tennessee. LOL, Actually finding the town might be more than any of us would bargain for. 😀
      I lived in TN two different times, and grew up just across the state line, and always felt it was full of magic. Thanks so much for taking time to visit this post. Great big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great interview, Diana and Teagan! I never thought about using Excel for character grids. I use Scrivener to write, and I use OneNote (with binders set up following Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days worksheets) to keep track of everything. And my TBR list is going to bury me 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Jina Bazzar says:

    Sounds like a lovely story. . Glowing pigs that fly, love potions gone wrong. And more important, entertaining.

    I read parts of Teagan’s stories on her blog and the magic is always thick in the air – in a fascinating way

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Adele Marie says:

    A great review. I love Atonement and am looking forward to reading this one too. xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Sarah says:

    I’m always fascinated by reading about the writing process and the different approaches they chose to let their magic loose. 😉 So thank you, Teagan for this lovely insight, and thank you, Diana, for the lovely review! 😄

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Mae Clair says:

    An awesome review, Diana. Congrats to Teagan.
    I also loved getting a glimpse “behind the scenes” of Teagan’s work progress. I use tables in Word, but maybe I need to switch to Excel!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. olganm says:

    Great review and great question, Diana. I love Teagan’s writing and her latest one is quite fabulous, and fits in well with the whole series. I’m not great with Excel but like the suggestion of using Styles. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Reblogged this on Teagan's Books and commented:
    I feel like everything is coming up roses for “Atonement in Bloom” (you know I couldn’t resist the pun). I’m tickled pink that Diana Wallace Peach hosted me at her Myths of the Mirror blog. She gave me a one question interview. Then she added a review of “Bloom” that made me positively giddy! Click on over to visit Diana. I’ve disabled comments here, because I want you to visit her amazing blog. Hugs!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A book review of ATONEMENT IN BLOOM

    Liked by 3 people

  19. acflory says:

    I hear you, Teagan. Pantsing is a release, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally disorganised. I use Word navigation for my technical writing but StoryBox’s navigation for fiction [so much easier to move things around].

    As always, a great review, Diana. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the visit, Andrea. You’re a tech wizard so I’m not surprised that you have found ways to track your stories. I’ve never tried Word navigation or StoryBox. Or most of the other writing aids. I’m stuck in the 90’s. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the review. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • acflory says:

        -giggles- oh I love that…’tech wizard’.

        Seriously though, Teagan is right, the navigation function is one of THE best things in Word. Just go to the VIEW tab and click the checkbox for ‘Navigation Pane’ [it’s under Ruler and Gridlines. The doc. screen will shove a bit over to the right and you’ll see a vertical column on the left.
        Use any of the Heading Styles, say for your chapter headings or scene headings, and whatever you type as the heading will show up in the navigation pane. If you only use Heading 1 you’ll just get the top level of headings. If you also use Heading 2 or 3 etc, you’ll get indented headings in the navigation pane.
        It’s such a quick and easy way to keep track of your story outline as you write. I think it would be useful for plotters as well because any changes to the original outline will show up in the navigation. Kind of like track changes for the story.
        -sigh- And you probably didn’t want to know all that. Can’t help myself. 😦

        Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much for saying that, Andrea. Just because we don’t plan a story does not mean the work is not organized. I appreciate you taking time to visit. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Reblogged this on DSM Publications and commented:
    Check out this book review of Atonement in Bloom by Teagan Riordain Geneviene along with some bonus tips from the author herself in this post from the Myths of the Mirror blog.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. rijanjks says:

    What a fantastic review, Diana! I am reading Atonement, Tn now and then will move on to Atonement in Bloom. What a great idea, Teagan to make a character spreadsheet in Excel. I’m going to own that technique. 🙂 Thank you both for a lovely blog!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I do the spreadsheet thing too, Jan, and love it. Just wait until you get to the second book… you’ll see why Teagan needs a way of keeping track of things. 🙂 Thanks so much for the visit, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the review. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hey Jan! I’m honored that you are reading Atonement.
      My spreadsheets transferred from a detailed one I came up with back in Albuquerque when my job involved writing all the software manuals for a large collection of applications. I decided something similar would be useful for the (still unpublished) novel I was working on, because it had an array of characters big enough for Robert Jordan or Tolkien. Not to compare myself to either master — just the number of characters. It worked for me, and since then I’ve started a character matrix for every novel. Great big hug!

      Liked by 3 people

  22. What a fun book this sounds like! My one and only fantasy was way too dark to even finish. This sounds delightful–“a woman who’s a living Meadow and leaves flowers growing in her wake”–who couldn’t love that.

    And how you write, Teagan–how interesting. with a spreadsheet, I would have called you a plotter but I suppose it has to do with the plot being spreadsheeted. Very interesting peek behind the curtain.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Meadow is a unique character, Jacqui. I’ve never come across another with this ability. And who can resist glowing, talking piglets?! The series is really fun and, of course, I had to pick Teagan’s brain a bit about how she does it. Thanks for the visit and Happy Editing!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jacqui. Thanks so much for your kind words. The first Atonement novel was definitely planned, if loosely. The tools I describe are more a means of keeping track. The spreadsheet develops as the story develops, not in advance of the story. LOL, I tend to have a lot of elements and details to track! Although I could certainly use Styles in Word to make an outline… a sort of fill in the blank. Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  23. michnavs says:

    A very comprehensive review Diana..thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Steven Baird says:

    Nice interview, Diana. It’s always fascinating to discover the madness and methods of other writers. A wonderful and insightful read.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Great interview, Diana! That Teagan is so smart, isn’t she? I’m a pantser all the way, even though I’m forced to write a synopsis when submitting a proposal…yuck!

    Liked by 3 people

  26. inesephoto says:

    Thank you for the great review, Diana. I enjoyed the book #1, and look forward to returning to Atonement again.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. This is so interesting, Diana, to gain insight into the process of writing a complicated storyline. I feel like reading this series would be a mini-trip to Disney World. Or attending an impromptu tea party hosted by Alice.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The tea party hosted by Alice is a great analogy, Molly. Ha ha. The magic in Teagan’s series is zany and a delight to read. You never know what’s going to happen next. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Sunday. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Molly. Thanks for taking time to leave your delightful comment. Haha! I’ve never thought of a visit to the town of Atonement as Disney or Wonderland, but I love the comparison. It’s a quirky town though, and you are always welcome. Hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

  28. Sounds like a really fun read! Also, it’s nice to know I’m not the only pantser in the world who would love to work up to being just a little bit more of a plotter. It’s amazing to get the insight into a writer’s process – great review, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Mary. Teagan’s stories are charming and a bit zany with all the rampant magic. I don’t know how she does it… thus the question. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Mary, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Yes, I think being a hybrid of the two, pantser and plotter would be ideal — for me anyway. But writing spontaneously from a random prompt is all I can handle when stress takes over. And that’s become the normal state. Whatever lets us write, right? Hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Lovely to meet you as well! I often feel like the process of writing is just me telling myself the story. There’s definitely an element of surprise, fun, and spontaneity in being a pantser (but it makes the editing process pretty tricky!)

        Liked by 3 people

  29. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for sharing this great review, Diana and thanks for getting Teagan to reveal a little of the way the magic works. I learn so much from you all. I feel like I’m in a writing class except it’s always fun! I hope you both are having a great weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Wonderful review, Diana. And Teagan, I thoroughly enjoyed getting the inside scoop on how you manage to ‘pull it all together’ with your writing tips 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  31. dgkaye says:

    Wonderful review Diana and good tips from Teagan. 🙂 x

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Antonia says:

    I am always amazed with the writing process, and enjoyed the insights from Teagan. Wonderful review, Diana, and congratulations, Teagan!

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Great review, Diana and Teagan. ♥

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Fascinating interview Diana. It’s so interesting to learn of a ‘pantser’s’ way of doing things – love it!

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Congrats on the wonderful review, Teagan! I have Atonement in Bloom on my reader, and will be starting it soon.
    Great advice on Excel and Word. I’m a pantser, too. One Note is my friend, lol

    Liked by 3 people

  36. A wonderful review of Teagan’s book, Diana. I have it on my kindle and am looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 4 people

  37. I never thought of using Styles the way Teagan does, either. It sounds like a great idea. Thanks for sharing your ideas, Teagan. And, Diana, thank for sharing your review for Atonement in Bloom. Congrats, Teagan.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m going try using styles in my current WIP for notes about things I need to go back to. It’s a great idea. Thanks for visiting, Mary. Hope you’re having a lovely Saturday. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • I don’t know what inspired me to use Styles that way, Diana. But I think Atonement was the first time I did it. It works so well for me, that I don’t even look for a better way. It works when I want to make sure I’ve left enough clues about different things. (For instance, I might use heading 3 and simply put “Bear”. Or if I note the first mention of a “thread” I can make sure I haven’t brought things up out of order. It is particularly helpful for work that one has to start and stop a lot, over time… Like Bloom.

        Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks so very much, Mary. I know everybody has different things that work for them. That was my sincere answer to Diana’s question. And it’s fun to share! 🙂
      I look forward to your book featuring the matriarch of your ranch series. Happy writing! Hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

  38. balroop2013 says:

    Thanks for this review Diana…what head-spinning magical imagination you have Teagan! Bravo! you amaze me.

    Liked by 4 people

  39. Great review, and I was also very interested in the writing methods Teagan described in her tips.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I keep spreadsheets on all kinds of things, but never considered using styles for notes. I’m trying that as I start my next book. 🙂 It’s a fun series for fantasy readers who love lots of zany magic. I can see it as a tv series without a problem. Thanks for stopping by, Anneli. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      • This post has inspired me to try a few new things. I always did spreadsheets for my novels by hand – big sheets of paper with boxes for so many things. It helps to see the bigger picture. But doing it on the computer makes so much sense. I’ll have to check out the styles thing too. Happy writing.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Each of us responds to different things, Anneli. Some people need that tangible, touchable means of tracking. When I first began “educating” myself about writing, in preparation to try my first novel, I read an interview with Fannie Flag. You probably don’t remember her, but she was famous in the USA back in the 90s. She wrote Fried Green Tomatoes. She said she wrote the story out of order (randomly sequenced scenes). Then she strung a clothes line across the room and hung the (paper) scenes from the line, so she could look at them and decide what order she wanted them to be in. There is a lot to be said for your paper method. Happy writing!

          Liked by 4 people

  40. Dear Diana, I’m truly thrilled to be here at your blog. Your review means the world to me. Heartfelt thanks.
    Also thank you for your feedback about the plot threads. I tried to add fullness, and what I call “layers” to the story. So, I’m happy to know that I managed it.
    I will reblog either Sunday or Monday. Happy almost Halloween. Hugs!

    Liked by 4 people

  41. Teagan, thanks for this insight into your writing process, and Diana, thank you for sharing your review. “A woman who’s a living meadow” made me smile, what a beautiful image. I am intrigued enough that I’ll have to go back and read the first book!

    Liked by 4 people

Comments are warmly welcomed. Don't be shy .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s