A Quiet Place, #SneakyPete, Writing, and #Giveaway #amwriting

Something kind of new on the blog.  I’ve decided Mondays are for talking about what shows/movies I’ve been watching, what’s going on with my writing, pictures of my cat – just whatever jumps to the front of my brain.

I saw A Quiet Place this weekend.  After seeing the trailer a few months back, it immediately went on the ‘stupid excited, please don’t suck’ list, and it didn’t disappoint.  Highly original story, intense, white knuckle scenes, and incredible acting by John Krasinski and wife, Emily Blunt.  Krasinski also firmly established himself as a talented director.  If you’re a horror/suspense fan, this is a must see.

Hubby and I have been watching Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime and we’re loving it (and trust me when I say it’s difficult getting hubby to watch a series).  I’ve been a Giovanni Ribisi fan since he played Phoebe’s brother, Frank, on Friends, and many of the supporting actors are from Justified and The Americans, both among my fav shows.  If con men, gangsters, and false identities keep your peepers glued to the screen, this one’s for you.

On the writing front, I’ve started my third book, but I’m only a chapter in so far.  With the promotion for The Gemini Connection and two book festivals this month, the WIP has fallen by the wayside somewhat.  My MC still  hasn’t shared his full story, but he’s given me a road map to get started.  Like The Gemini Connection, this could also wind up being a dual POV.  Waiting for the characters to tell me, but I can see it happening.

Sci-fi and Scary is hosting a giveaway of Sarah – click here to enter, then stay and read reviews on the latest sci-fi and horror books and movies!

Have a great week and happy reading!

Upsizing the TBR Pile

I didn’t post anything last week and with good reason.  I was at an amazing writer’s retreat hosted by C.J. Redwine,retreat1 author of the Defiance Trilogy and Ravenspire Series.  I reconnected with some other writers I’d met at last year’s retreat, met some new attendees, added a significant amount to my word count, attended informative workshops, and got new ideas for my WIP – brilliant ideas, actually.  It’s exactly what I needed to make the new book feel more cohesive.  So – productive week.  And the views were pretty spectacular too!

I participated in Pit2Pub a couple of weeks ago and received 4 ‘likes’, but only sent info to two publishers.  You really have to do your research before sending to anyone.  Here’s to hoping!

The blog post title above isn’t a mistake – I increased the TBR pile this past week and I still haven’t finished Morning Star – but I’m sooooo enjoying being back in the world Pierce Brown created.  Promise to finish it over the next week.

I added Sleeping Giant by Sylvain Neuvel, The Murder Complex by by Lindsay Cummings and pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (a given, right?)- I’m a die-hard Potter fan and Griffindor according to every quiz I’ve taken.

Still currently reading (again):







Up next:

TBR pile:  96

Read:  0

Bought:  3

Total:  99 (Still under 100!)

Guest Post and Giveaway: Beyond Show – Don’t Tell: Fifteen Tips To Make Your Writing Shine by B. Lynn Goodwin

Today we welcome Lynn Goodwin to Books & Such as part of the WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour!  Lynn is here today to share some tips about how to make your writing stand out from the crowd.  Her coming-of-age novel, Talent: Real Life Doesn’t Have a Script, was released in November 2015.  Leave a comment below to be registered to win a copy!      

Beyond Show—Don’t Tell:

Fifteen Tips To Make Your Writing Shine

Here are some tips that will help your writing sparkle. One of my tips is “Less is more.” In keeping with that sentiment, I have kept these short and simple.

  1. Write about an idea worth sharing. Everybody has them, you know.
  2. Figure out what makes your idea unique. If you look at it from that angle, you’ll interest more people and they’ll want to read something new, fresh, and exciting.
  3. Hook your readers in the first paragraph. Contemporary readers have very short attention spans.
  4. Know your characters. Know what they want, what they can do to get it, and what is in their way. Explore these three elements for each character in your journal. Interview the characters. Give them plenty of chances to share with you. It will pay off, because sympathetic, well-rounded characters draw readers into any story.
  5. Let events happen naturally and logically. Actions have consequences. Let one event lead to another.
  6. Be wary of digressions. Instead of deleting them, save your digressions for a different story.
  7. When you finish a draft, read it over. Underline words and phrases that have energy—whatever that means for you. Those are places that you may want to dig deeper and explore further.
  8. Delete anything that doesn’t belong. If you want to use it sometime, put it with your digressions and use it later.
  9. Read your writing out loud. Listen for places where your writing trips you up. Rephrase. Dig deeper. Eliminate unnecessary words. If none of that works, go to your journal and ask yourself why the passage trips you up. One idea will lead to another and you will figure it out.
  10. After you read, ask yourself what you want to know more about and make a list of questions that address those issues. Answer them when you are ready to do so. Keep going back and adding. Trust your instincts as you weave your newest discoveries into the story.
  11. After the next draft, have a trusted friend read your work to you. What do you hear that works? What could be clearer? What could be smoother? Make notes.
  12. With every draft, journal about the issues that came up for the author as well as the characters. These journal entries will give you insights.
  13. Write to elicit an emotional impact in the reader.
  14. Less is more. Don’t over describe, but give us enough thought that we sink into the story. Don’t flaunt your vocabulary.
  15. Write with your heart at least as much as you write with your head. Be subjective. If you are telling a story, let us live it with you.

My last piece of advice can be easy to follow or extremely difficult, depending on how you are hard wired. Be open to the suggestions of others, but don’t be governed by them. If an idea appeals, use it. If it makes you bristle, ask yourself why. You can journal about it if you want to, but maybe you don’t need to. Consider the knowledge and sensitivity of the person commenting. If a suggestion confuses you, ask the person who gave it to you what he or she means.

Remember, you need your approval and maybe you need an agent, editor, or publisher’s approval. Maybe not. Tell the story that you want to tell, a story you will be proud to call your own. I’ve given you tips. Please use whatever will work for you as you continue on your writing journey.



Talent Cover

Fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver’s license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, Bri, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan.

Talent is a timely story about a girl who learns her brother is MIA in Afghanistan. What does she do? How does she cope while trying to be part of the drama department and attempting to live normally? Lynn Goodwin has captured the angst and the pathos of this situation and created a character who will appeal to many teens. All she wants to do is fit in and live her life, but events keep happening that don’t allow her to do this. I highly recommend this book as a way for young people to understand the effects of war on the people left behind and the kinds of problems teens face today.

TALENT is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Talent-B-Lynn-Goodwin/.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be registered to win a copy of Talent!  This giveaway runs through March 16th.


BLynnGoodwinLynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com, and the author of both You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing), and TALENT (Eternal Press). Her blog is at http://blynngoodwin.com. Goodwin’s stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; Good Housekeeping.com and many other venues. She is currently working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62.


WIPpet Wednesday

Wasn’t it just Wednesday yesterday?  Thinking about how the past week just sped by, I tried images (2)to account for what I’d been doing – I was busy, but was I productive?

Finally saw the new Avengers movie – loved it!  My college son came home for the summer, bringing me a monstrous pile of dirty laundry for Mother’s Day.  I’d imagined having the four of us go out to dinner Saturday night before the crowds on Mother’s Day, but both my sons were at a card shop in the middle of duels, so that turned into a night out with just my hubby, and I’ll never complain about that.  Worked, went to the gym, had a band parent’s meeting where I was voted in as an officer, picked up other son numerous times from band/art/friends, read two books and posted reviews but, wait a minute – did I write anything for my WIP?  Why, yes I did.  I had a block of time yesterday when the words just fell out of my head – and those times seem to come less often than I’d like.  I came up with some great ideas to add when I get into editing, so there’s that.  Combined with a few other chunks of writing time, I’m feeling pretty good about my production over the past week.

Today is my grandmother’s 90th birthday, so from chapter 9, you get thirteen lines.   Since Cain’s concussion, he’s been feeling a little out of it, so this is where we are.

The way I felt during my classes was similar to how I felt at home this morning.  I was there, but not there, detached.  My instructors asked questions and I’d wanted to answer, but felt like a there was a wall between my brain and my mouth.  It was giving me a headache.

“Cain, are you in there?  Hello?” 

“Should we take him to the nurse?  This can’t be good.”

Voices.  They sounded so distant.  I knew it was Finn and Lindsey, but where were they?  Then, my head snapped to the right, as Finn’s hand connected with my cheek.

“What the hell was that for?”  I shouted.

Drop by the other WIPpeteers blogs to read some amazing WIPs here.  Cookies to K.L. Schwengel for hosting!

WIPpet Wednesday

Wasn’t it just Wednesday yesterday?  Despite being snowed in until Saturday, the week BookEditingseems like it just disappeared.

Not as productive this week with my writing, but I’m not so disappointed over that because I had a couple of epiphanies regarding plot – sometimes I’m a genius that way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen nearly enough.  I also have a character who is demanding to be in this story, but I really haven’t figured out exactly what his role is yet.  I’m hoping he lets me know soon so I can work with him.

So today’s math works like this:  2 + 5 = chapter 7, 20 – 15 = 5 lines – okay, 6 just because that finished the paragraph.  Nothing exciting today – Cain excited over Lindsey asking him out, and Finn giving him advice on his current girlfriend, Erin.

“I think she asked me out.  She mentioned doing something after her concert this week.”

“It’s time to get serious, bro.  You’ve got to get rid of Erin.  She’s like a virus that infects everyone she comes in contact with, just rotten to her core.  There’s nothing good about her.  Did you see her yesterday?”

To join the party and read other WIPpets, click here.  Thanks to K.L. Schwengel for hosting!

Guest Post by Calvin Dean, author of The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff and A Door Unlocked



For the month of October, in honor of Halloween and my love of horror books and movies, I’ve asked some authors/friends/fellow bloggers to write guest posts related in some way to the horror/paranormal genre.  Today’s guest is Calvin Dean, whose first book, The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff, I reviewed at https://teripolen.com/2013/05/24/the-epitaph-of-jonas-barloff-by-calvin-dean/.  Hurry over to Amazon or B&N and get his book – it’s perfect reading for Halloween!  His second book, A Door Unlocked, comes out today, so make sure to pick it up while you’re there – I already got mine.  Thanks so much, Calvin, for visiting Books & Such.

Influence, inspiration and confidence can come from the strangest places. As a little leaguer, I remember marveling at how far the bigger kids could hit a baseball. One day I stepped to the plate and fouled a ball over the backstop. Wow, I thought to myself. I can do this! All I needed was a foul ball with some pop to boost my confidence.

Years later, I started writing my first book. Influence from great authors came easy. Confidence came, not in foul balls, but in the foul behavior of odd characters. Let me explain.

 Horror Influence – The Early Days

I knew him as Sivad. (Davis spelled backwards.) In the 1960s, he dressed as a vampire and hosted creature features on a Memphis, Tennessee television program. But it was a live appearance at the Gloria Theatre in my small hometown that nearly frightened the living daylights out of me. At an afternoon matinee, Sivad brought along a few sidekicks – Frankenstein and The Mummy. Or maybe it was The Werewolf. Though the sun shone brightly outside, inside the theatre it was the stroke of midnight, and a full moon chased crackles of lightning up and down my spine. Needless to say, being in the same room with ghouls from my creepiest nightmares sent shivers that reverberate to this day.

Horror Influences – From Books

I don’t know why I picked up “Dead Sleep” by fellow Mississippi author Greg Iles. I didn’t know Greg. Didn’t know he was from Mississippi by way of Germany. All I know is that after one chapter, I knew I would become a huge Greg Iles fan. In that chapter, a famous photographer is passing time at a Hong Kong art exhibit. As she enters the museum, those already inside regard her with horror. She soon discovers why. One of the portraits is a spitting image of her, but the fleshy skin tones are all wrong. Instead of warmth, her skin is pale. Blue. Dead.

I love the way Author Conan Doyle crafts a sentence. Pure eloquence. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is my favorite Sherlock Holmes novel. While it’s a mystery, there is just enough darkness to please any horror aficionado. In fact, one reviewer said my debut novel, “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” is a cross between Goosebumps and an Arthur Conan Doyle novel. I took that as a huge compliment.

I don’t read series novels. Nor do I like long, drawn-out books. There are exceptions. After reading “Boy’s Town” by Robert McCammon, I needed another McCammon fix to pacify my addiction. So, I picked up “Speaks the Nightbird”, which is actually a two-book series. It’s about a magistrate and his aid who must pass judgment on a woman accused of witchcraft in colonial Carolina. The Matthew Corbett character pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. Next thing I know, I’m yanking the sequel from the shelf, “The Queen of Bedlam”. Eight hundred pages later, I want more McCammon.

Confidence from the Odd Places

In Dean Koontz’s “Odd Thomas” series, Oddy can see and communicate with the dead. That’s right up my alley. I especially liked the lighter moments with Elvis and Sinatra, which added humor one doesn’t necessarily expect in a horror novel. Because of this, I used humor in “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff”. Dean Koontz gave me the confidence to try it.

In Closing

What novels, horror or otherwise, influence you? What inspires confidence? I know horror is a niche market. Within that niche are people who demand more vampire stories. More zombies. More werewolves. More witches. What scares you? For me, it’s haunted houses and spooky cemeteries. As Halloween approaches, I hope you’ll find yourself buried deep under a security blanket with a good book. To set the mood, I recommend carving a jack-o-lantern and placing it in a dark corner of the room. Make sure you lock the doors and put the knife safely away before settling in for the night. (Sinister laugh!) FREE KINDLE EBOOK: In honor of my favorite holiday, Halloween, I’m offering “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” FREE! Be sure to log-on to Amazon.com and download a free Kindle copy Oct. 16 – 20, 2013. Mark your calendar now.

Coming Soon

By the time you read this, my second book will be released – or will be soon. The release date is Oct. 5, 2013. In “A Door Unlocked”, messages from the grave help a young mother rescue her kidnapped daughter and unravel a web of corruption. Like “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” it’s a quick, fast-paced read. Available in paperback, Kindle, Nook – and soon, Audible.


Happy Halloween. And happy reading.


Calvin Dean

Author of “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff”, “A Door Unlocked” & “The Rookie Umpire”, a short story.

Guest Post by Destiny Allison – Writing Related to Art

As promised, today I have a guest post from the multi-talented Destiny Allison, artist and author of Shaping Destiny and Pipe Dreams.  If you haven’t visited her art website at http://destinyallisonfineart.com/ or her blog at http://shapingdestinythebook.com/ , drop by and I guarantee it will add to your Friday celebration!

Teri, thanks so much for having me on Books and Such today. When you asked me to talk about the 13518665relationship between art and writing, I smiled. For me, they’re two sides of the same coin.

The processes are similar. In sculpture, you create a rough outline or armature that will support the weight of the material once you begin to flesh it out. If the armature is flawed, it’s a lot of work to fix it and sometimes you can’t. Once you have it in place, you start adding — large chunks at first in a haphazard and rough fashion — until you have a shape you like. Then you begin the final detailing, adding, subtracting, and honing the work. A sculpture, like a book, is done when your tweaks don’t change anything.

What I find interesting, and hadn’t noticed myself, is that my books are really visual. Readers see the people and places vividly and many of them have said Pipe Dreams should be a movie. I think that’s because my artist eye is trained to notice things and because I see letters like shapes. An A is a triangle. An O is a circle. Each letter has a different emotional connotation that inspires me. In my sculptures, geometric shapes and organic forms combine to express idea and emotion. The same is true in my letters and words. The arrangement of words in a sentence creates a visual effect that stimulates feeling and imagination.  17973984

Here’s an example:

Act on.

On act.

If you drew a line along the top of the first two words, you would see that all the letters flow from high to low, creating a sideways triangle. In the second, the t at the end of act balances out the O and makes more of a rectangle.  Triangles, in sculpture, denote action while rectangles are static.

Authors understand that the right word can make all the difference between a good sentence and a bad one. The right word creates flow. Sometimes it’s about a specific meaning, but in other instances it has to do with the shape of the word, whether we realize it consciously or not.  If people want to know more about this theory, I describe it in detail in my memoir, Shaping Destiny.

Just Some Rambling

This is a weekend I look forward to all year.  The Southern Kentucky Book Fest is this Saturday and the writer’s conference is on Friday – so you know I’ll be in my happy place both days.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend this event, take it – it’s also free.  Friday morning and afternoon I’ll be attending logoclasses on suspense in fiction, bones of a story, chapter 1 do’s and don’ts, and revisions.  On Saturday, I get to listen to some wonderful authors from all different genres – YA contemporary, paranormal, fantasy/sci-fi, mystery, literary, contemporary fiction, etc – talk about their craft.  During the downtime on both of these days, I’ll be able to meet these authors, buy some books (yeah!), learn more about the publishing industry, and hopefully make some connections.  You can find out more about the book fest at http://www.sokybookfest.org/

I haven’t mentioned music in my blog before (other than the fact that I can’t tolerate country music), but last week I came across a band that put on an amazing show.  I’m not saying I was crazy about all their songs (some I loved), but they completely owned the stage – and they were the opener.  Their name is Churchill and if you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon because they’re on the way up and definitely a band to watch.  You can find out more about them at http://churchilltheband.com/

Lastly, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t recommend a book.  If you’re a fan of supernatural mysteries,   Amanda Stevens has a Graveyard Queen series you’d enjoy – The Restorer, The Kingdom, and The 9722219Prophet.  Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts.  If you’ve heard of this profession before, you get out more than I do – this was my first time.  But it definitely makes for a good read.  Every book has a new mystery, but there is also an ongoing story with a detective in Charleston, SC.  After living in upstate SC for 18 years, I really enjoy the setting of these books.

Enjoy your weekend – I know I will!

Progress Update and Why Aren’t You Reading YA?

I have good news and bad news – and no news.  I always like to start with the bad news first, so here we go.

Over the past month and a half, I’ve queried seven agents and received three rejections.  That’s still four people I haven’t heard from, including one agent I’d love to work with based on her interviews and client list.  It’s the holiday season and you gotta have faith, right?  No news is still good news – or I may never hear back from the other four agents.  Some just never respond, which is maddening, but I know their slush pile is pretty big.

The good news is that I tried out a website, Absolutewrite.com, recommended to me by a published author and have found a critique partner – someone I’ve needed for a very long time, but unable to find locally.  This is someone I’ve never met personally and know very little about, so far.  She’s critiqued my first chapter and has given some wonderful unbiased advice and offered a fresh perspective – invaluable help, in my opinion.  I’ve also read the first chapter of her work in progress and really enjoyed it.  Any time I get to read, it’s a good day – plus, her book is definitely something I’d read anyway.  One of the reasons I was unable to find a critique partner locally is that none of my friends read YA, let alone actually have the time to read my book and give me an honest opinion.  On Absolutewrite.com, you can list the genre you’re writing and like-minded people (hopefully) respond.  I wouldn’t presume to critique Women’s Literature and Fiction – I don’t read the genre and seriously doubt I could stay awake long enough to finish the story.

Some of you who haven’t tried YA may think it’s just for teenagers and, as an adult, why would you read books targeted at teenagers?  This is exactly what I said when a friend recommended I read the Harry Potter series thirteen years ago – and they turned out to be some of the best books I’ve ever come across.  I read an interview with the writer Victoria Scott on the blog chasingthecrazies yesterday and she make a wonderful statement about YA –  “I love YA because of its simplicity. I believe stories can be a lot more exciting when there’s no mortgage, marriage issues, kids to raise, careers to worry about, etc. Being a teen is raw…and it’s pure.”  You can just enjoy the story and not have to read about characters whining over marriage/career/children/financial problems and complaining about why they’re not happy or fulfilled in their lives.  Personally, I’d rather read a good story than listen to that any day.  If you don’t like your situation, do something to change it.  Try YA – you may discover a whole new world.