The Emotion Thesaurus – an interview with Becca Puglisi


Hey everyone!  I’ve got a great guest today.  Give a big welcome to Becca Puglisi, one of the brains behind the ever popular THE EMOTION THESAURUS.
What is The Emotion Thesaurus?  From The Bookshelf Muse:
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a writer’s best friend, helping to navigate the difficult terrain of showing character emotion. Through an easy-to-use list format, this brainstorming tool explores seventy-five emotions and provides a large selection of body language, internal sensations, actions and thoughts associated with each.
I stumbled upon Becca’s blog site, The Bookshelf Muse, almost two years ago and it immediately became one of the best resource tools I used in my writing.  Becca, together with Angela Ackerman, put together an amazing website of  ’emotions’ that help writers “show” instead of “tell”.  It has been a lifeline for me and other writers as well.
For the longest time, Becca and Angela maintained The Emotion Thesaurus through their blog site, The Bookshelf Muse; however, on May 14, 2012, they released their awesome and amazing book, The Emotion Thesaurus:  A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.  If you don’t have this book yet, get it! It is a must have for your writing library.
Now onto my interview with the lovely and talented Becca Puglisi!   *Applause*
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Me:  Thank you for joining me today, Becca.  In order to put together such a remarkable book, you must be an avid reader.  Tell me, what books have most influenced your life?

Becca:  Well, I have to be a little predictable and start with the Bible. It’s the only book that, 30 years later, I’m still going back to on a daily basis for inspiration and direction. Another one, called The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg, always reveals areas of my life that need work matter how many times I read it. When it comes to the craft of writing, The First Five Pages (Lukeman) was the first book I ever read. It set off half a dozen light bulbs in my newbie writer’s brain and truly kickstarted my journey as an author.

Me:  Oh, I’ll have to check out Lukeman’s book. Sounds like another great ‘how to’ book to have around.  So tell me, what authors do you admire, and why?

Becca:  Oh gracious. Let’s see…Tolkien is at the top of my list, for his ability to envision and create such rich and complete worlds and convey them so clearly to the reader. Robin McKinley is another author whose books never fail to awe me. Rowling, obviously, for sheer creativity. Shannon Hale and Joan Bauer for consistently putting out sweet YA that is engaging and well-written. John Green, whose books can move the most practical reader (that would be me) to tears. Stephen King, for not ever holding back–having the courage to put absolutely everything out there. And Franny Billingsley and Laini Taylor, for being true wordsmiths who are consistently able to phrase things so beautifully and uniquely.

Me:  Wow. You’ve mentioned some really great authors in there.  I have to agree with you about John Green.  The Fault In Our Stars had me sobbing like a baby.

Can you tell us a little about THE EMOTION THESAURUS  and why you and Angela wrote it?

Becca:  Angela and I technically started writing The Emotion Thesaurus back in 2004, though we had no idea that it would end up being a full-length book. Angela and I, complete strangers, had just joined Critique Circle and our first critique group. One of the problem areas I noticed early on with my writing was that my characters were always shifting their feet, narrowing their eyes, and fidgeting. So annoyingly repetitive, but I didn’t know how else to show their feelings. So I started a list of physical cues for some of the more common emotions. Angela commiserated, saying that her characters were always biting their lips, nodding, and smiling or frowning. When everyone else in the group admitted that they struggled with the same thing, I shared my bare-bones list of emotional indicators. We agreed to contribute to the list and Angela kept a master copy.

This was the start of The Emotion Thesaurus, birthed out of a need that we each saw in our own writing. When other writers responded so enthusiastically to our lists, we realized that it wasn’t just us who struggled with emotional description; it was a problem area for most writers. So we decided to expand our lists, streamline the format, and provide the resource in book format so other writers could utilize it.

Me:  What a fantastic story.  How and why did you come up with your blog?

Becca:  In 2008, Angela and I started The Bookshelf Muse. In discussing what kind of blog we’d like to have, we decided that we wanted to offer resources to other writers in a format that would keep people coming back for more. Angela remembered our list, and how it had benefited us and the other members of our critique group. So we started with that. When writers responded, we brainstormed other areas of descriptive writing that we could highlight, and the rest of the thesauri followed.

Me:  Just out of curiosity, do you have any novels in the works?  If so, can you tell us about them?

Becca:  I’m currently working on two YA novels and I just happen to have the log lines for each. The first is historical fiction: Gold may sparkle and shine but it also has the power to destroy, as Nora learns when it’s discovered near her California home in 1848. The second is a dark fantasy that I’m hoping to expand into a series, if I can figure out how to do that: When villagers begin losing themselves in the nightmare realm of Reverie, a grieving and undisciplined girl is the only one who can walk into the Haze to save them.

Me:  Ah, you’re a writer after my own heart.  Love fantasy and the premise sounds fantastic! On that note, I’m going to say goodbye. I know you have other blogs you’re hopping around on to get out the word about the new book. I want to thank you for stopping by and chatting with me today.  It was an absolute pleasure.  I hope you guys sell tons and tons of books. It has definitely helped me out more than I can say.

Oh, and in closing…may I say what a great turnout you had when you and Angela sponsored the Random Act of Kindness blitz.  I think there were over 200 bloggers who participated in that event and so many lives were touched because of both of you.  Thank you.  I hope that people will continue passing on random acts of kindness with no expectations of return gifts.  It’s such a fantastic feeling to make someone else smile.

If you want to keep in touch with Becca and Angela, you can find them at The Bookshelf Muse and don’t forget to grab a copy of their book available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iTunes and Smashwords.

That’s it guys. Give a big round of applause to Becca for stopping by.  I would also like to give you guys a big thank you for joining in today and I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about Becca and The Emotion Thesaurus.   Have a wonderful day!

Random Act of Kindness BLITZ!


A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community.

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers counsel, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don’t they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I’m participating too!

The first person I pick is Jennifer M. Eaton.  She is more than a beta reader.  She is a fellow writer who understands the frustrations, the ups and downs, the joy…the rollercoaster ride of writing.  She is an amazing person with a fantastic eye for catching boo boos and helping me keep my voice.  I know it’s not much, Jen, but I’m going to send you a Crux bookmark.  I know you’ll like and use it a lot, and since it’s signed by one of your fellow J. Taylor authors, I know you will cherish it.  I will also continue to offer my time and efforts to help you along your journeys through life and writing.  Thank you for everything.

I really appreciate Jennifer who blogs at http://jennifermeaton.com.  Please visit her blog, introduce yourself  and say ‘hi’.

To Julie Reece, author of Crux, I offer you endless hours of critiques, promotions of Crux, anything you need, I’ll do for you.  I believe so much in Crux and think the world needs to read it, too.  It truly is movie material and if I can do anything to get you there, I’ll do it.  You’re beautiful, inside and out, and I’m honored to help you in any way I can.

I adore Julie and I would really appreciate it if you would stop by her website, tell her you saw her here and also check out the info on her YA novel, Crux!  You’ll be glad you did and she’s such a sweetheart.  She’ll be glad you dropped by.

Every day, women and children are abused and neglected and must find shelter from those who vowed to love and care for them.  Elderly people are shunned, forced into nursing homes and care facilities, many of them rarely, if ever, visited by those they once cared for.  Many of these people had to leave their personal belongings behind, including books and toys.  Over the next few days, I will distribute some used books, both adult and children’s, to shelters and nursing homes in hopes of brightening their days, if just a little.

Do you know someone special that you’d like to randomly acknowledge? Don’t be shy–come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. 🙂

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!