Friday, June 21, 2019

Books for Writers: The Emotion Thesaurus, Second Edition

Books for Writers: The Emotion Thesaurus, Second Edition

Did you ever read the Hardy Boys series or the Nancy Drew series

As a kid, I think I read every one of them. I know I read all I had access to. They were my favorite books at one point in my life. I recommend these books to any young person who loves to read. Or those you wish would develop a love of reading.

At the time, I didn't have a problem with the following dialog indicators:

  • He/She blared
  • He/She demanded
  • He/She screamed
  • He/She chortled
  • He/She laughed
  • He/She snickered
  • He/She cried
  • He/She twittered
  • He/She giggled
  • He/She boasted

There were more, too. While it is true that some of these are perfectly fine, such as 'she screamed' or 'she cried,' many of the others are simply not possible.

You try laughing and talking at the same time. It's almost an impossibility. For that reason, it makes more sense to use a period than a comma in this sentence: "I can't believe you did that," she laughed.

Instead, this would make more sense:

She laughed, her arms wrapped tight against her chest as if to hold her amusement inside. "I can't believe you did that!"

Some have said using the tags mentioned above is simply laziness. I don't know if that's true. After all, that's what most of us grew up reading. It could be that it's what we've internalized while growing up as readers. However, richer, more intense writing requires more.

Tags can be overused, too. He nodded. He shrugged. These are two of the tags I have to watch out for in my own writing. The more tired I am when writing, the more often these show up. The thesaurus is helpful in coming up with new ways to say the same thing. Instead of 'he bowed his head,' maybe 'he stared at the tip of his boot' or 'he raised one shoulder' would be better.

Dialog Tags

Dialog tags are phrases that intuit a character's action before, during, or after the character speaks. It provides richer, more satisfying prose to the reader and helps the reader know who is talking without the constant use of 'he said' or 'she said.' Even so, the occasional 'he said' or 'she said' tag is useful when it is otherwise difficult to know which character is speaking.

When I first learned to use dialog tags, I used the suggestions in The Romance Writers' Phrase Book to come up with some of my own dialog tags. For an author in the early years of my writing efforts, that book was a fantastic tool. I still recommend it. Unfortunately, it is pretty limited.

I blogged about this book last year. If you're interested, you can find blog entry below Reviews of Writing Books on my Author Helps page.

The Emotion Thesaurus

Then I found The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist.

In many ways, this book is more helpful than the Romance Writers' Phrase Book. There are more categories.

The categories for each emotion are broken down into definition, physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, cues of acute or long-term responses (this emotion), may escalate to, cues of suppressed (this emotion), and writer's tips.

Wow! That's pretty comprehensive coverage for each emotion.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression, Second Edition (Expanded)

Then, the second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus (Expanded) was published in 2019, with even more emotions listed.

The categories for each emotion are broken down into definition, physical signals and behaviors, internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses for this emotion, signs that this emotion is being suppressed, may escalate to, may de-escalate to, associated power verbs, and writer's tips.

As comprehensive as the coverage for terms was in the first edition, the information provided for each term in the second is even better.

So, how are these used? You could copy and paste whole phrases from the book, but that isn't the best use for this thesaurus. For best practice, read the entire two pages for the emotion you're trying to evoke in your writing, then think about it within the context of your scene.

Which character is feeling the emotion? Which character is the viewpoint character? To stay in POV (point of view), you need to make sure whatever dialog tag you use is one that is directly observable or 'feelable' by the POV character.

For instance, your character can see that someone's face turns red and his or her lips tremble, but unless the POV character is a telepath or empath, he or she cannot know what the other person is thinking or feeling directly.

Does the person's face turn red because she's angry or because she's embarrassed? Are his lips trembling because he's afraid or because passion has overcome him? Your POV character can assume, but not know unless the other character specifically states it.

As the author, you know, or should, how your character will respond to a situation. Read the appropriate thesaurus pages, then visualize your character responding in the scene. Write what you visualize. This makes it your writing, rather than just a copy and paste situation.

My Recommendation

I highly recommend the second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus. However, don't just read the entries for the specific emotion you want to show in your writing. Take the time to read the first chapters in the book, too. These chapters will teach you the importance of showing emotion in your writing. You will learn more about:

  • The Power of Emotion
  • Character Research: What to Know to Write Authentic Emotion
  • Using Dialogue to Write Emotion
  • Subtext: What Lies Beneath
  • Additional Ideas for Brainstorming Fresh Emotion
  • Common Problems with Writing Nonverbal Emotion
  • Using the Emotion Thesaurus

For years, I taught computers and coding. If I were to teach a class on writing fiction, I would require my students to have a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus, Second Edition. In my opinion, it's a tool that should be on every writer's shelf. Or even better, sitting next to the keyboard ready for use.

Dialog tags can be fun to write. Check it out. You may be surprised that you find it fun, too.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Large Print Edition Wolf's Man

Large Print Edition: Wolf's Man

Wolf's Man is now available as a large print paperback edition!

The other books in the series will also be offered in large print editions over the next few months, one approximately every two weeks. The text is 16 point type to make reading a more pleasant experience.

The first time I saw a large print section in a library, I was surprised. It never occurred to me at the age of fourteen or fifteen years old that there was a need for it. After thinking about it, though, I realized my grandparents would probably be more comfortable reading large print editions.

Fast forward to the current time. Now, I'm the grandparent. While I can still read 11 or 12 point text, it isn't easy. Especially, if my reading glasses aren't handy. (My arms are just too short!)

With a population that is growing older, there comes a time that most people have trouble reading normal font sizes. At the same time, I and others like me still love to read. For this reason, I've decided to add a large print edition to my paranormal romance/suspense series.

At the same time, I balked at increasing the price. I'm a big woman. It's hard to find shoes wide enough, and I have to shop at specialty stores for clothes. As a woman who also sews, and therefore knows that it doesn't often require more yardage to make a dress for me than for a smaller woman (unless she's really tiny), it infuriates me that I have to pay $5 or $10 more for the same blouse than smaller women. Especially when I know the extra fabric, etc., would have been scrap from making the same item in a smaller size.

There is an entire industry determined to make more on people who don't fit a specific mold, whether it be physical, medical, or other. For instance, the same nebulizer machine that an asthmatic would use for medication can be used to aerate an aquarium. I know this because my dad purchased old nebulizers at yard sales to pump air into an aquarium for fishing minnows. It makes sense to my weird brain, then, that the same pump used for an aquarium (filtered properly) would work as a nebulizer. 

When I mentioned this to my doctor several years ago, he was surprised at the thought, then agreed. You can purchase an aquarium pump for less than $10. If you purchase a nebulizer online, the price starts at $20 and goes up. And if it's a prescription? You better have insurance. Before I was smart enough to search online for the best price, the last prescription nebulizer I purchased was over $400. Just because it's medical and prescription, the price goes way, way up.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. It really irks me to have something go up in price when the cost to create that same item in a slightly larger size or different format/style doesn't go up enough to warrant it. Therefore, I have decided that the large print paperback edition of my books will be the same price as the regular paperback editions.

Thank you to Joanna Penn for her brilliant idea of making large print editions! If you enjoy writing or think you would be interested in trying, Joanna has a great podcast and blog with tons of helpful information!


Friday, June 14, 2019

Wolf's Mate Update

Wolf's Mate: A Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Short Story

Free Through June 18, 2019

For a limited time, my new story, Wolf's Mate, is free on Amazon! If you haven't read this short story placed in the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack world, now is your chance to do so without cost.

Made-wolf. Changeling. Shifter.

Whatever she called it, Violet still had trouble accepting that she was a werewolf. All she ever wanted was to be a teacher. Teaching shifter children? Not even on her radar. Until her former fiance tried to kill her and the pack alpha changed her to save her life.

As a former Huntsman and a human, Phillip has been taught to hunt and kill wolf shifters. Now, he's learned shifters aren't the killers he was taught they were. He's surprised to find himself drawn to a wolf shifter, even if she was recently human. But her gorgeous red hair and dark, mysterious eyes pull him to her.

Can Phillip convince her that he's the mate for her?

This story occurs during the first half of book 11 in the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series, Wolf's Guard.

All of my books are clean and suitable for teens to read as well as adults!

Other News

At this point, I have more than 13,000 words written in book twelve of the series, Wolf's Duty. 

I'm a little behind where I intended to be at this point. I've been sick, requiring antibiotics and rest for a few days, but I'm feeling better. Back to work!


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Work-In-Progess Snip of Wolf's Duty

Progress on Wolf's Duty

As mentioned elsewhere, I am currently writing the final installment of the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series, book 12, Wolf's Duty. I've got nearly 9,000 words written so far.

Today, I have a preview snip for my readers, but at this point, I can't tell you which chapter it will be in when the book comes out. 

Seldom do I write a book in the order that the finished book is in. After all but the last two or three chapters are written, I sit down and work out which order to put the chapters. 

Events that have been mentioned in previous books that are not closed with this final book will be dealt with in a series of short stories over the summer.

I look forward to working on the spin-off series I have planned for this world.

Preview of Wolf's Duty

After both Nate and the general gave their reluctant approval, Don glanced at his phone to check the time. Amelie would be off in half an hour. When he offered to pick her up at work, Nate agreed. It still felt strange to Don that everything he did with Amelie had to have Nate’s approval, but since the shifter who was a father-figure to Amelie was also the alpha, Don didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Taking his keys from his pocket, he grabbed the roll bar and pulled himself into his Jeep. After leaving the ranch dirt road, he cruised down the farm-to-market road toward Travis Ranch. Nate recently bought the ranch next door and set up both a school and a hospital for shifters there. He named it for the doctor who agreed to run the hospital. Travis supervised the hands-on training for shifters who wanted to be nurses and medical technicians. Over the previous week, a few, well-vetted humans were hired to work as trainers and hospital staff.
Don pulled into the parking lot at the hospital and texted Amelie to let her know he was there. A few minutes passed before the front pneumatic door slid open and she walked out. With a wave, she waited for him to pull up in the circle drive, then climbed into the Jeep. Don put the Jeep in Park and leaned toward her. “Hey, you.”
“Hey!” She met him half-way.
His lips gently caressed hers for a moment, then he leaned back into his seat. “Buckle up!”
When her belt clinked, he grinned at her, put the Jeep in Drive, and pulled out of the driveway. At the ranch entrance, he turned toward Hallettsville. “I need to talk to you about something. How about a burger?”
“I’d love a burger. Or two. Maybe even three!”
Don laughed. “Rough day?”
Amelie hunched down into her jacket. “Ugh! Dr. Travis insisted we clean everything! All the rooms, including the exam rooms and the surgical center.” She shook her head and huffed. “It hasn’t even been used since the last time we had to clean it.”
With a grin, Don turned back to his driving. The only time his superiors insisted they clean when it wasn’t needed was when there was nothing else planned for the day. “Did you watch a movie, yesterday?”
Her puzzled gaze turned to him. “We did. We watched a documentary on how diseases spread. How did you know?”
“Sounds like Dr. Travis might be a bit overwhelmed and hasn’t finished his lesson plans.”
“You mean we had to clean because he didn’t have anything else for us to do?”
“Happens sometimes. Even in the military.”
She harrumphed and glared out the windshield. “He could just let us go home for the day.”
“And cut your pay? I bet you’d rather clean.”
“I guess so.” Her head bowed, she cut her eyes at him. “So, what do you want to talk about?”
“After we get some food and go to the park, we can talk.”
Fifteen minutes later, Don pulled into the Hallettsville City Park. For January, the temperature was still a little chilly for a picnic, but they both had on light jackets. Carrying a bag of burgers and fries in one hand and his soda in the other, he led Amelie to a table in an empty picnic shelter.
He waited until she unwrapped her first burger and took her first bite before speaking. “So, I’m on leave a few days next week. My folks called to see if I could make it to my mother’s birthday party. Would you like to go with me?”
Sitting perfectly still, her mouth full and eyes wide, Amelie stared at him. After a moment, she blinked, then chewed and swallowed her bite. “You want me to meet your parents?”
“Sure. You don’t want to meet them?”
She took a sip of her soda, then leaned back, her forearms resting on the concrete table, the burger held in both hands. “Did you ask Nate?”
“He said it’s okay if you want to go.”
“He did?”
“Well, he made a few threats if I let anything happen to you, but yeah, he did.”
The corner of her mouth twitched, then she pressed her lips together. “What did your parents say?”
“They said I could bring you.”
“And . . .?”
Don leaned forward, sliding his arm across the table and rested his hand on her forearm. “If we’re gonna get serious, I want them to meet you.” He raised one shoulder. “I want you to meet them.”
Amelie scrunched her mouth to the right and bowed her head. When she looked up, she was biting her lip, and he couldn’t tell what she was thinking. But then, he never could. “I’ll go. I’d like to meet your family.”
He let out a sigh of relief. “Great. The party is on Saturday. I’m off Friday, so we can shop for a birthday gift and then drive up on Saturday morning. We’ll stay with them a couple of days, then drive back Monday afternoon. If that’s okay.”
“I’ll have to ask Dr. Travis.”
“Nate said he’d take care of it if you want to go.”
“Still, Dr. Travis is my boss. I want to talk to him, first.”
“Okay. My folks have several extra rooms, so you’ll have your own room.” He squeezed her arm. “Thanks, Amelie. It means a lot for you to go with me.”
A smile touched her eyes. “It means a lot that you asked me.” She took another bite, chewed, swallowed and then grinned. “You will put the top on the Jeep for the trip, right? You never know. It might rain.”