Tag Archives | The Emotion Thesaurus

Don’t Miss The Writers Helping Writing Amazing Race!

Hey everyone! This is a fantastic opportunity for all writers to get a little feedback.

Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers (formerly The Bookshelf Muse) have added two more books to their Descriptive Thesaurus Collection: The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws. To celebrate, they are hosting a race, and not just any old race, either. It’s the…


Writing is hard, isn’t it? Create the perfect hook. Make your first page compelling. Craft an amazing 25 word pitch. Knock out a query that will blow an agent’s mind. On and on it goes. And sometimes, well, you just wish someone would help.


From October 21st until October 27th, Writers Helping Writers is posting an OPEN CALL for writers. You can fill out a form, requesting help with critiques, book visibility, social media sharing, blog diagnostics, advice and more.

An army of Amazing Racers are standing by (ME INCLUDED!) waiting to help with your submissions. How many people can we help in a week? Let’s find out! Did I mention there are Celebrity Racers too–amazing authors and editors who know their way around a first page. Maybe one of them will pick your submission to help with!

Each day this week, there’s an AMAZING giveaway, too. So stop in at Angela & Becca’s new Writers Helping Writers website and find out how to take advantage of this unique, pay-it-forward event for writers. I’ll see you there!


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Winners from the Spies, Murder and Mystery – week 3!

Wow! Those three weeks flew by. I hope you’ve found new authors and new books to read!

And here are the winners from last week!

Signed copy of Uncommon Criminals goes to Kelly Polark!

An ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus goes to Sherrie Petersen!

A print copy of The Spy Who Left Me goes to Mart Ramirez!

An ebook of Untraceable goes to Laura Marcella!

An ebook of Suffocate goes to Laura Diamond!

Congrats to all the winners! Please use the contact form up on my menu bar to give your mailing address if you won a print copy. If you won an ebook, leave me your email and which version – Kindle or Nook – you prefer.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day if you live in the United States! I’ll be back on Thursday!

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The story behind Untraceable with S.R. Johannes.

Welcome to the last day! That’s right. The last day of the murder/mystery blog series! If you haven’t already, check out A Spy Like Me!

Today we have S.R. Johannes to tell us the story behind Untraceable!

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I have always loved animals. I was the girl who always forced my dad to stop the car so I could move a turtle off the highway. A girl who would run out in the rain to save a lizard from a puddle. A girl who always took in stray animals, cried at road kill, and who dreamed of preventing the world’s animals from abuse.

Seriously, I was intense about animals. Still am.

I also used to stay up and read my mom’s thrillers especially James Hall’s books Mean High Tide and Gone Wild. His books incorporated conservation awareness with thrilling elements. Not only was I on the edge of my seat the whole book, but I always walked away learning something new. Wanting to make a difference. I loved that feeling.

So it makes sense that is where I ended up.

Untraceable started with a small seed. My husband camps a lot – I‘m talking – by himself in the deep North Georgia wilderness for a day with nothing to eat (b/c he plans to catch it in the stream) and a one man tent. Just him and his dog. One day he came home from camping and in passing said, “Bloody hell, I was so deep in the woods, someone could do something totally illegal and no one would ever know.”

Okay so first let me say, I didn’t even really know there was a “wilderness” like that anymore. Sure there are mountains and trees but was there really a wilderness still that was so deep – no one could find you??? That concept intriqued me. I am a city girl but I just assumed most of the wild had been developed (unless it was in Africa!) (Needless to say I am NOT a camper unless it is a pop up tent with starbucks singles brewing on the stove).

A few months later, we went to Cherokee NC with the kids. There, is an  active Native American Reservation there and they have a festival every year. In the town, we came across an attraction for 5$ a person. At first, we started in. But then I peeked through the fence and what I saw broke my heart. A Bear Pit where bears were kept in cement pits (just on the edge of the national Park where they could smell freedom) and people were throwing apples and marshmallows at them, laughing. They had sores on their backsides from the hard ground and were obese. I made my family leave and cried all the way back to our cabin. (im a cry baby when I feel helpless)

This broke my already-fragile-toward-animals heart. It haunted me. I could not understand how native americans who always worshipped animals could be so cruel. How they could taunt the bears with freedom on the edge of a national park. Then I learned that The reservation was exempt from any state laws due to their reservation status. What? This pissed me off.

Once I did research I learned that there were 3 of these bear pits in that area on the Native American Reservation. I also learned that Bob Barker (yes Price is right guy who is VERY active in animal conservation BTW) had been trying to close them down for years by talking to the Chief there. But the Chief didn’t want to let go of the money they made from these bear Pits.

This horrible situation combined with stumbling on other research and my need for a thriller spawned Untraceable.

But I wanted to be sure to make my book a thrilling ride yet still sneak in in a conservation message for teens. No preachy stuff just a taste of something to think about. The things that happen in that book are real. They have happened and do happen. I got them from articles so they are not made up.

Maybe not all at the same time in the same place. But they do occur. Even in this day and age.

The Nature of Grace series gives teens a glance into the beauty of nature and animal while introducing them to the ugly side of when a lack of respect for nature threatens conservation – yet I did it in a non-stop action kind of way. This way, you stay up late reading. You may cry, you may laugh. But more importantly, I think you will walk away knowing something you didn’t know before which makes I hope makes each of us more conscious about the world around us.

In honor of those bears, I started a petition for the Bear Pits in NC. If you would like to help close down these inhumane places, please go here and sign it J


If you have read Untraceable, try out my new short story Unspeakable from Mo’s perspective.

If you liked Untraceable, try my new novelette, Suffocate. The first in a series of three novelettes that combines dystopia, science fiction and thriller sub genres.

Shelli is generously offering an ecopy of both Untraceable and Suffocate!

Don’t forget all the giveaways this week that end tonight! Tweet for these awesome authors!

Enter for a signed hardcover of Uncommon Criminals.
Enter for an ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus.
Enter for a print copy of The Spy Who Left Me.

Thanks everyone! Leave a comment and tweet to win Shelli’s books!
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Taking the Mystery out of Editing Those Pesky Subplots!

The Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon is winding down but in no way over!

I’ll just say three words and you’ll know who our guest is today: The Emotion Thesaurus! Becca and Angela kicked off their release recently with all the random acts of kindness and their book reached #1 on Amazon! Woo hoo!

Welcome Becca Puglisi to the blog! *cheers and clapping*

Biscuits and Subplots and Cake, Oh My!

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about layers. Not cake layers. Not the scrumptious, peel-off-able pieces of the fluffy buttermilk biscuits my daughter forces me to make (and consume) for breakfast. No, fortunately for my waistline, I’m focused right now on story layers, particularly those that develop through the use of subplots. I’ve figured out that a story is always better when it’s layered, so I added a few extra plot lines into my WIP. There’s the main hero plot line, two romantic subplots, and also a relational subplot surrounding my character’s dysfunctional relationship with her stepmother. In hindsight, inserting these layers was fairly easy. The hard part came when it was time to edit them, and I realized I didn’t know how to do it effectively.

So I came up with a system. I love systems; I have one for pretty much everything. A system for cleaning the house. A system for organizing my week, for teaching my son the alphabet, for plotting my next novel–if it needs doing, I have a system in place to keep it streamlined. It was really just a matter of time ‘til I came up with one for editing subplots:

  1. Number and title your chapters and scenes. If you don’t want to muddy up your story with chapter titles, you can keep a separate list. For me, while editing, I find it easier to include them in the manuscript. Then when I need to go to a particular scene, I can just search-and-find and jump right to it.
  2. Now pick a subplot to edit. Let’s say you want to work on the romantic one. Look through your numbered list and jot down any chapter where you’ve dealt with this subplot in some way. It could be big or small: the first time the characters see each other, a conversation between the two, the hero’s thoughts about the love interest after seeing her across the room. This is a rough outline of the existing content for that subplot. Now it’s time to examine it to see what needs work.
  3. First, look for gaps. Are there long stretches where nothing happens to further the subplot? If so, you may need to add a scene, or add something small into the existing content. Is there a scene where your love interest could show up and get some extra exposure? Could you replace a background character in an existing scene with your love interest? Another option is to use peripheral characters. Maybe the person the hero interacts with in chapter 9 is actually the love interest’s neighbor or distant relation. An innocent conversation could stir up thoughts and feelings in the hero that could be used to further your subplot.
  4. Next, make sure your content is furthering the plot. According to Blake Snyder (of Save the Cat fame, and my new hero), each scene should go somewhere emotionally. If your hero starts out in a negative frame of mind, something should happen so she’s feeling “up” at the end of the scene. Conversely, if the hero is up at the start, by the end of the scene, her emotions should take a downward turn. The reason for this is to make sure that something is actually happening during the scene. No emotional change = stagnation = never a good thing. Tweak existing scenes to reflect some kind of emotional change. If you’re having trouble making it work, consider removing the scene altogether. If it doesn’t further the plot line and doesn’t challenge your hero in some way, it may be extraneous and should be pruned to keep the story strong.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for each subplot.

One final bit of advice: Don’t be afraid of “extra” work. It’s easy, once you reach the editing stage, to think that the drafting is done. But as you edit, you’ll most certainly discover that scenes need to be added here and there. You might even find, as I realized once I started examining my WIP, that your story is in need of a whole additional plot line. If you go into the editing process knowing that you still have some heavy writing to do, it will be easier to accept these changes.

So there you have it. There are a lot of methods for editing, but this is one that works really well for me. Layers are so important when writing a deep and satisfying story. Hopefully something here will encourage you to smooth them out and make your story even better than you thought it could be.


Becca Puglisi is a YA fantasy and historical fiction writer, SCBWI member, and co-host of The Bookshelf Muse, an on-line resource for writers. She also has a number of magazine publications under her belt. Her book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and Smashwords.



Purchase Links:

Amazon print ~ Kindle ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

Becca and Angela are graciously offering an ebook version of The Emotion Thesaurus to one winner! Please comment and tweet!

In celebration, tell us your most over-used, cliche phrase you have to constantly eradicate from your writing! 

There is still time to enter the Indelibles Beach Bash to win a Nook or Kindle loaded with some Indelibles newest releases including my release – A Spy Like Me. Join the fun!

And don’t forget to enter for a signed hard cover of Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter.

See you tomorrow for an awesome post on using spy gadgets in your fiction!


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Want a sneak peek into the next three weeks of Spies, Murder and Mystery?

So the posts are rolling in and I’m loving what I’m reading and can’t wait to share it with all of you in the next three weeks.


What? Haven’t you heard?

To celebrate A Spy Like Me I’m holding a 3 week Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon.

Read more about it here.

But here are some sneak peeks!

Six common challenges when writing a traditional mystery and some ideas for getting around them, by the fabulous Elizabeth Spann Craig, author of Quilt or Innocence.

Don’t miss it!

What does the Deepwater oil spill, the European debt crisis and the barefoot bandit have to do with Elisa Ludwig’s YA debut, Pretty Crooked?

You’ll have to wait to find out!

When does a 13-year-old author find the time to write? And what do his teachers and friends think?

Spencer Brokaw of The Impenetrable Spy tells all.

Teddy bear cams, rearview sunglasses, listening ears, video pens – all needed spy equipment.

Find out how Gina Robinson uses them in her fiction, The Spy Who Left Me.

Hollywood scandal inspires Anne R. Allen to write The Gatsby Game.

Curious about which scandal? Return next week!

Becca Puglisi, co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus talks about cake, er, I mean sub-plotting and editing.

Don’t miss out!

That’s just a taste of what’s coming. More great authors. Terrific info! Lots of stories behind the stories. And, of course, book giveaways!

See you next week!

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