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ANGELA ACKERMAN AND BECCA PUGLISI INTERVIEW AND THE EMOTION THESAURUS GIVEAWAY


Hi everyone. Hope you're enjoying summer. I know for some of you, school will start in a few weeks. Here in Michigan, we don't start school till after Labor Day. Though swim practice starts twice a day every weekday for my daughter soon.

If you missed my interview last Monday with Natalie Dias Lorenzi and the giveaway of her awesome middle grade book, FLYING THE DRAGONS, I recommend you check it out. It's a multi-cultural story about Skye, a middle school girl coming to terms with her Japanese culture while wanting to be focused on her soccer, and her middle school age cousin, Hiroshi, who is dealing with coming to the United States knowing no English. Of course, there's conflict between them. I loved the story. The link to my giveaway contest is at the top of the blog.

So now onto some winners.

The winner of THE ROCK OF IVANORE is TERESA COLTRIN!

The winner of THE SELECTION is KATIE C!

and the winner of UNRAVELING is MOLLY FRENZEL!

Congrats. E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. 

Today I’m excited to interview Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, co-partners of The Bookshelf Muse blog and co-authors of THE EMOTION THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER EXPRESSION, their debut book that was released in May, 2012. It’s a fantastic tool for showing the emotions of your characters through body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations. Besides loving the tips on seventy-five emotions, I really found helpful the introduction where they talk about the power of emotion and common problems like telling, emotional clichés, and being melodramatic, and how to avoid them.

Here's a description from Goodreads:

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages authors to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

Hi Angela and Becca. Thanks so much for joining us.

1.   Tell us about yourselves, how you got into writing, and what you like to write.

ANGELA: I write Middle Grade and Young Adult, mostly with Mystery or Fantasy elements, and am represented by Jill Corcoran at The Herman Agency. I have always had a passion for writing and books, and as a kid, I loved nothing better than to get lost in a story because it helped me cope with some of the darker aspects of my childhood. Now as an adult writer, I want to offer the same sense of entertainment and companionship to others.

BECCA: I didn’t write books as a child, never envisioned myself becoming an author. But I was that kid who always had her nose in a book and enjoyed getting lost in other worlds. When I started writing as a thirty-something, it was with the desire to create those cozy, otherworldly reading experiences for today’s children and teens. YA fantasy and historical fiction are where I feel at home.

2.  Even though I've been following your blog for quite awhile, I didn't know how you both got into writing. It's fun to find out. And I'm like you Becca, I had no idea until I was an adult that I'd like to write.  

    I know you live in different countries yet developed a friendship and actually met each other. Share a bit about that and how you came up with the idea for your blog, The Bookshelf Muse.

BECCA: Well, our partnership was clearly meant to be. Angela and I both started writing about the same time, and we both joined Critique Circle within a month of each other in 2004. Despite the thousands of users who frequented that site at the time, we managed to hook up, join the same critique group, and fall in love with each others’ work.
Four years later, we decided to join forces and start our own blog. In discussing what kind of blog we'd like to have, we decided to offer resources to other writers in a format that would keep people coming back for more. Back in the day, we had cobbled together a list of bodily cues—a thesaurus, of sorts, consisting of physical indicators for different emotions (because our characters were constantly biting their lips, smiling, and shrugging). We figured, if we both were struggling with this area of descriptive writing, other writers probably were too, so we decided to share our list of emotional indicators at The Bookshelf Muse. This became The Emotion Thesaurus, the first of six descriptive writing resources at our blog.

3.   That's so cool that you were friends for so long before deciding to start a blog. What made you decide to go to the next step and publish THE EMOTION THESAURUS? Why did you decide to self-publish it?

BECCA: The response to that first thesaurus was truly overwhelming. We kept hearing from loyal followers about how much it was helping them, and how other writers were struggling with this specific problem. People started telling us what a great resource it would be in book format, so we decided to make it available.

Since we were each pursuing traditional publication for our fiction, we naturally started there. But after numerous FaceTime conversations, we realized that maybe it wasn’t the most logical solution for this book. First off, the blog already had a built-in audience of potential buyers. Building a fan base is one of the hardest parts of selling a book; with that already done, it made sense to try and publish it ourselves. Then there was the traditional publishing timeline. Since we didn’t feel comfortable negotiating a contract on our own, we’d first have to secure an agent, who would then have to sell it to a publisher, and then we’d have to wait for the actual book to be manufactured. We were looking at 2+ years to publication, which was a long time to wait. But the biggest factor in our decision involved the existing content of The Emotion Thesaurus that was up at our blog. We knew that any traditional publisher would require us to take it down once the book was available for purchase. It was very important to us to leave a portion of that Emotion Thesaurus up at the blog, so people who were unable or unwilling to buy the book would still have access to some of the content. That was kind of the deal breaker for us and was the deciding factor in our decision to self-publish. Looking back, it was totally the right choice. We have absolutely no regrets about that.

4.  Your book and your blog are such a great resources. They help so much to avoid those cliches. And you two really thought out your publishing decision, which sounds like a good fit for your book.

I’m always amazed when authors co-write a book and make it sound like it’s been written by one person. Angela, tell us how you collaborated on this and any challenges you faced.

ANGELA: I think it really helps that Becca and I have collaborated on blog entries and studied the same writing books, because it means that we use similar terminology and our views on writing strong emotion are the same. We’ve also been critique partners for about a billion years, so we know one another’s writing quite well. :)

Our only challenge was defining what was an emotion and what was only a synonym. That took some time and discussion. For the book’s ‘how to’ component, we broke it up, each writing half. Then we swapped sections and critiqued the other’s work to strengthen. After rewrites, we them both went through the book content and made sure we didn’t overlap ideas or cover the same ground. It took a few passes to achieve a strong flow so I’m happy to hear you say the writing appears uniform!

5.  You definitely did a great job with that. Just like with this interview. I love hearing from you both. 

How’s your book different from your blog posts? Share how you think it will help writers.

ANGELA: The blog posts are pure emotional brainstorming, a jumble of what occurred to us as we thought about each emotion we profiled--visceral reactions, thoughts & gestures. These are helpful, but not organized or complete. What you see on the blog now is only the smallest sample of what the book contains. 

However, The Emotion Thesaurus book is a complete guide to writing emotion. We discuss what emotion is and how it builds an empathy link between readers and characters. We also look at the biggest problems writers face when writing emotion (clichés, telling, etc.), and offer solutions to avoid them. The Thesaurus component itself consists of seventy five unique emotions (many more than we ever featured on the blog) and we explore them in depth. The lists are organized by Physical Signals (cues, gestures, actions), Mental Responses (thoughts & feelings) and Internal Sensations (visceral body responses). We explore the entire range of each emotion to ensure a writer can find descriptions that match each character’s specific experience. After all, someone who is in a state of worry for days is going to show the strain much more than someone worrying for only a few minutes. As well, we offer body language options for when a character is trying to hide how they feel.  

There are also suggestions on how each emotion might escalate, leading to conflicting or more complicated feelings. This can help writers plan the emotional path in a scene. Then to top it off, we offer a Writing Tip with each entry (75 tips!) focused on description, dialogue and emotion.

The Emotion Thesaurus is a essentially a brainstorming tool for Emotion. If a writer finds themselves describing the same smiles, shrugs, frowns and racing heartbeat to show their character’s feelings, this is their type of resource!

6.  I so agree! I love the Writers Tips at the end of each entry. 

Share how you’re marketing your book. What advice on marketing do you have for aspiring authors?

ANGELA: Our marketing strategy is focused almost entirely on discoverability and word of mouth. We have not placed ads, subscribed to any service for promotion or marketing or anything like that. We are also not hardcore, ‘buy, buy, buy!’ people. As writers, we know describing emotion is hard, and we know this book fills a great need. So, our efforts go into making our resource discoverable: writing posts on emotion that writers can apply to their own writing, guest posting on blogs about topics pertinent to writers, running giveaways, etc. We focus on bringing our audience (writers) what they need and want. This is our job--to help! 

Our experience so far has been that once a writer finds the ET, they get excited and often tweet/blog/share it on their own, because they see how unique this resource is and want others to discover it too. Becca and I are incredibly grateful to everyone who spreads the word, and we are thrilled so many writers are being helped by something we created. 

I recently wrote a post on marketing tips, which people can find HERE!

I loved how you celebrated your book's release with The Random Acts of Kindess blitz. It was so awesome. And guys, Angela's post is great. You should check it out.

Thanks Angela and Becca for sharing all your advice. You can find Angela and Becca at their blog, which I highly recommend you follow. To find out more about the Emotion Thesaurus, go HERE and to see how this book is helping other writers, check out the reviews on Amazon & Goodreads

Angela and Becca are generously donating an e-copy of THE EMOTION THESAURUS for a giveaway. Don't have an e-reader? Not a problem. I have Kindle on my computer and love reading their book and others that way.  To enter the contest, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on August 18th. I’ll announce the winner on August 20th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday, I'm interviewing Rachel McClellan and giving away a copy of FRACTURED LIGHT, a paranormal story dealing with Auras, Vykens, and Guardians. I'm amazed at how well she spread the word through blogs consistently over time about her book and am looking forward to sharing her advice with you.

On Friday, I'm excited to participate in Alyssa Sheinmel's blog tour for her book THE STONE GIRL, a story about a teenage girl with eating disorders. She'll be sharing a guest post and giving away an ARC. I'm really looking forward to sharing this book with you because it's sadly a timely issue for our teenage girls. One of my cousins who is my daughter's age almost died from this last year and I know another teenage girl who borders on having this problem. You may know someone with this problem too.

Next Monday, I'm interviewing C.J. Redwine and giving away an ARC of her debut book, DEFIANCE, a fantasy/dystopian novel I loved! 

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


64 comments:

  1. Great interview! Loved learning more about Angela and Becca and hearing about the process that went into THE EMOTION THESAURUS. Just amazing. You guys rock!

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  2. Aww, thanks so much! Ange and I are always happy to talk about ourselves, lol.

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  3. Thanks Angela and Becca for sharing about your new book and how you became blog partners.

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  4. I own Emotion Thesaurus, so I won't enter the contest. Great to see their book featured here!

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  5. Congratulations Teresa! Hope you enjoy The Rock of Ivanore. Congrats to all the winners!

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  6. Yay for the Emotion Thesaurus! It's a great resource. I already have a copy, so no need to enter me in the giveaway.

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  7. This book is such a brilliant idea! Congrats to Angela and Becca!

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  8. Big fan of the Bookshelf Muse Blog! Well done, ladies. The Emotion Thesaurus looks like a treasure!

    Shelley

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  9. Been reading and learning from the Bookshelf Muse for quite awhile now! I loved hearing more of the personal stuff from both Angela and Becca.

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  10. I agree - it was good to read more about their backgrounds and how the book came about. Congratulations, ladies!
    erica

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  11. These girls rock! I have learned so much from them. They deserve an award, or more awards since I am sure they get awards all the time :)

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  12. Natalie, you and Casey are so awesome to host us today. I feel so fortunate to have found Becca, and we work so well together it is a delight to talk about it! Thanks everyone for the kind words! We are both so happy to know the Emotion Thesaurus is helping so many.

    All of you, and all writers we know, have supported and helped us grow! If we can give back in some small way, that's the least we can do, right?

    Hope everyone has an awesome writing week. :) Let's get those stories out there!

    Angela

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  13. I'm also a big fan of the Bookshelf Muse! Definitely ordering the book and mentioning this on Twitter!

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  14. I just came from a blog that was praising this book. Coincidence? I think not! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  15. I love their blog and I keep hearing about the Emotion Thesaurus! Who couldn't use that to help with writing? Thanks for the great interview ladies!

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  16. what a great interview and giveaway!I love the emotion thesaurus!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  17. Don't enter me in the contest - because I already have a copy and love it! Great interview!

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  18. Thanks for this great interview and giveaway. The emotion thesaurus is so helpful since my characters constantly have jumpy stomachs when they're nervous and I need to branch out a little. :)

    I'm off to Tweet this contest.

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  19. Thanks for the tweetage and kind words about The Emotion Thesaurus. Honestly, it's people like Natalie and Casey and all of you, helping us spread the word, that have made The Emotion Thesaurus a success. Thanks a million!

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  20. YEAH to Angela and Becca! Great interview. I already have a copy of the thesaurus, so there's no need to enter me.

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  21. What Becca said. Truly, it is the support of writers that has made this book so popular. Thank you so much for sharing this resource with others!

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  22. What a great interview! I've heard so many good things about The Emotion Thesaurus. Would love to win a copy, thanks!

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  23. Fantastic interview girls! I love their blog too.

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  24. The Emotion Thesaurus is truly a great resource. I own one but would love ot win another so I can lend it out to students. Thanks for the great interview!

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  25. Wonderful interview. Thanks for that and for the giveaway!

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  26. I'm thrilled to hear about this book. With the teaching I do about emotion in writing, this will be a great resource to show people. Thanks for the interview and for the giveaway opportunity.

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  27. This looks like such a great tool for aspiring authors. Thanks to all of you for making a copy available to us. I'll definitely be keeping my fingers crossed till the Aug. 18th draw.

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  28. I don't know how I survived without The Emotion Thesaurus. I love it. I'm glad Angela and Becca self pubbed it. I couldn't imagine having to wait another two years + to get my hands on it.

    Thanks for the awesome interview, ladies!

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  29. This was a great interview. I enjoyed learning more about Becca and Angela. I was really intrigued by how you went about your collaboration.

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  30. AWESOME interview! Love Ange-Becca-The Bookshelf Muse! And love reading all your interviews. I learn something new in each one!

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  31. Great interview- Going over to check out their blogs now. Thanks for sharing!

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  32. Oh my gosh you guys, THE LOVE HERE! You are all so great and amazing and talented and passionate--it is a privileged to stand alongside you as a writer. :)

    And a seriously big squishy hugs to Casey and Natalie, both for the tremendous resource they offer us all with this site, and for letting us take over for a day. Becca and I love this place :)

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  33. What she said.

    Squishy hugs all around. :)

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  34. Wonderful interview, ladies! I loved reading your blog's origin story. :)

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  35. Great interview! If anyone reading this comment is not a follower of Angela and Becca's blog, they need to check it out. LOTS of great information!

    I already have a copy of THE EMOTION THESAURUS, so no need to enter me in the giveaway.

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  36. Yay!!! Angela and Becca are so cool. TET is a great resource, and I'm wishing them all the best of success with it and their future books! :o)

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  37. Love you girls! It was wonderful learning more about the two of you and the creation of the thesaurus. It really does fill a great need and I hope it does amazingly well!

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  38. Angela and Becca are both AMAZING, and their ET helps me out all the time. When I'm stuck on how to show an emotion, their blog, and now their book, is my go-to place.

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  39. Super resource. Great giveaway. Thanks Angela and Becca. Natalie, you're the best.

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  40. I've been following the Bookshelf Muse, but I love the interview to telling me how the book is different. It would be great if I won it, but I like being able to flip back and forth easily, so I also need a print copy! Going on my Amazon wish list. Thanks!

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  41. I'll have to head over to their blog and check them out. That book sounds great, I've been wanting something like that.

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  42. You're right, Casey. Both the book and their blog are fabulous resources. It makes you appreciate how difficult it really is to write emotions well. This is definitely a must have for any writer.

    ceder4(at)comcast(dot)net

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  43. This looks like such a great book! It would be a great addition to my library!

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  44. What an awesome idea for a book! Already got it on my Amazon wish list!

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  45. Ooo, I would love a copy of the Emotion Thesaurus. I used the website extensively for my last manuscript. Great interview!

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  46. Great interview! Love the Emotion Thesaurus, and really enjoyed learning more about how it came to be.

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  47. Awesome! I was just mentioning this on another blog since they were promoting the same book! I so badly want a copy! Great idea ladies!

    strzemzalski@yahoo.com

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  48. Lovely interview. :)

    warisha_jayanti@hotmail.com

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  49. These two are awesome - I've followed their blog for a while now

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  50. The blog posts are pure emotional brainstorming, a jumble of what occurred to us as we thought about each emotion we profiled--visceral reactions, thoughts & gestures. -- This is very interesting.

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  51. https://www.facebook.com/jamie.l.martin.50/posts/457557300951656

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  52. I've almost bought this book twice; so I'll enter here and if I don't win I promise I will buy! I am building up my writing craft books :)

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  53. Totally count me in! I'd love to have a copy of the Emotion Thesaurus! I'm already a follower of your blog. Here is a link of my facebook page where I posted about the contest: https://www.facebook.com/angela.dahle

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  54. this book totally rocks! And again, a very nice and helpful interview. Very interesting!

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

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  55. The Emotion Thesaurus sounds exactly what I've been looking for. I keep finding myself using the same physical and emotional cues over and over and am struggling with appropriate variety!

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  56. The Emotion Thesaurus sounds exactly what I've been looking for. I keep finding myself using the same physical and emotional cues over and over and am struggling with appropriate variety!

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  57. The Emotion Thesaurus sounds awesome. I,too, seem to reuse the same cues.
    cerickson at integra dot net

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  58. I've used the Emotion Thesaurus quite a bit on my WIP and would love my own e-copy. Thanks for the opportunity and the great resource. heathercq(at)verizon(dot)net.

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  59. Sounds good, thank you :]
    GFC FOLLOWER: Leanna
    TWITTER POST (+1): https://twitter.com/leannaBF/status/236741412354392064
    E-MAIL: leannaBF@gmail.com

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  60. I'm so delighted to learn about your blog and your book, Emotion Thesaurus. Already the blog has been such an inspiration and I am very hopeful to win this e-book.

    Thank you for providing such great resources.

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  61. Would love a copy of this! Fantastic blog!

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