The Calm Before the Summer

It’s hard to believe it’s already mid-April.

In Alaska, we went from 20-something degrees to 50-something almost overnight, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s still enough darkness at night to fall asleep, and enough warmth put my winter boots and coats away. As I write this, I’m sitting in a sunny atrium at the local university, watching college students walking around outside in their shorts.

No one appreciates springtime more than sun-starved Alaskans!

A few bears have awoken early and been seen in the city, and the moose are getting ready to calve. It’s a time to stay alert while enjoying a stroll in the beautiful outdoors.

I’m also gearing up for a busy summer. In the spirit of transitioning to retirement, I’ll be working at Holland America/Princess Cruise lines on the weekend in addition to my job in probation. If I like it, I may continue the work fulltime seasonally beginning in summer 2021 no matter where I live in the winters. If I don’t, I’ll finish the season and likely have great stories to write about. Plus I’ll make minimum wage and work with a crew that are even older than I am, so I’ll feel like a kid again. A real win/win.

So in the interim, I’m trying to get stuff done around the house. And I’m writing a little more, sending work to my editor, and appreciating this period of quiet.

I was invited to participate in both National Library Week and Crime Victims Rights Week, and can I tell you how much fun I had at both?


 

It never ceases to amaze me how many non-monetary benefits being an author has. I continue to meet lovely and inspiring people at events I speak at. And did I mention there’s free food? I ate some unidentified appetizers last night and a chocolate cake that was life-changing. And people I’ve never met email me, telling me their stories and how mine intersected with theirs. I once had a man write after his relationship ended to say he’d considered taking his son from the child’s mother to bypass government red-tape and to retaliate for their parting, but decided against it after reading the long-term impact on my own daughters.

That was a wonderful note to receive.

And I’ve written an essay on the challenge of letting adult kids live their own lives called Conscious Unhovering. It’s early draft won a contest an netted me $100! (Nothing to sneeze at for a freelancer today). Stay tuned to my author Facebook to see which blog or magazine publishes it!

Thank you for your support and for staying in touch here with me.

Truly yours,

Lizbeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with Author Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers

 

 

I first found Writers Helping Writers while I was working on my memoir.

I felt like I’d struck gold. This online support group, co-founded by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, is a resource for writers and editors, providing tools and support as well as a place for writers of all levels to connect.

Ms. Ackerman and Puglisi have now co-authored more than a dozen description thesauruses, including the most recent addition, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus.

I’m honored to have Angela Ackerman as my guest today.

 

Q. Can you describe that magical moment when you and Becca Puglisi realized you’d stumbled upon a recipe for success with your thesaurus series?

A.When we started the Emotion Thesaurus, we posted entries on our blog, one per week, and immediately saw our hits skyrocket. That helped us see that people struggled in this area and liked the idea of these unique lists of brainstorming ideas we were providing. Years later we self-published The Emotion Thesaurus and it quickly climbed Amazon’s bestseller lists. More incredibly, it has stayed in the top 5 in different categories ever since (six years and counting). People seem to be huge fans of our list style and we are so grateful. Word of mouth referrals are so important in our industry.

Q. What have you learned about the book promotion process that you’d be willing to share using your readers/supporters?

A. I am not a fan of promotion but I love marketing. Marketing is all about understanding who your audience is, what they need, and then making sure to provide it. My best advice is to take the time to know who your readers are and what they are interested in. and then supply whatever it is that they will find the most entertaining, helpful, or interesting based on who they are. (I have lots of marketing handouts, interviews, and swipe files on marketing at Writers Helping Writers, so people can check those out for more help.

Q. Can you give a simple description for how writers can best use one of your thesauruses?

A. All of our thesauruses take a challenging area of description and break it down. Each book is part instruction, part brainstorming list. The Emotion Thesaurus looks at how to show the body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for over 75 emotions, offering a huge list of ideas to describe each feeling. The Negative and Positive Trait Thesaurus books tackle character personality and how writers can show, not tell, different traits through behavior and actions, creating deep, compelling characters. Our Urban and Rural Setting Thesaurus books explore the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures for 220 different story locations…and a lot more. Our Emotional Wound Thesaurus book investigates nearly 120 different types of painful events in a character’s past which explains their behavior, how they view the world & themselves, and fears they will have in the current story.

Q.Was it ever difficult when compiling the Emotional Wound Thesaurus?

A.Oh yes. I would say this was the hardest book we’ve written simply because emotional wounds aren’t fictional. Each traumatic event we profiled is something that people, including some of our readers, would have experienced. Some of the wounds in our book were personal ones too, forcing Becca and I to dig around in our own pasts. This wasn’t easy. We spent hours researching the accounts of people who have experienced things like domestic abuse, childhood neglect, racism, and rape. It took a toll on us and we needed to take a lot of breaks to mentally recharge (I ended up baking a lot of cookies for my kids!) Once we finished, we had a psychologist vet every entry for accuracy, because we knew writers would see themselves in some of the entries as we so often write about things that are personal to us.

Q.What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from publishing it this past fall?

The most wonderful feedback we’ve had is that people are finding this book is actually helping them work their own unresolved wounds, which is wonderful. This isn’t something we’re surprised by because Becca and I both found the process of looking at our own past trauma and thinking about how important it was to move past such things to live a full life very cathartic. This book does exactly this, showing writers how characters will behave when influenced by trauma, and how internal growth is the key to them becoming stronger and more capable so they can achieve their story goal. If anyone wants to see an example entry of this thesaurus, it can be found here.

I should also mention that we have many more thesauruses than books, too. If anyone wants to see all 14 of our description thesauruses, they can be found at our second site, One Stop for Writers.

To meet Ms. Ackerman in person, consider attending the Alaska Writer’s Guild Conference 2018 in Anchorage, Alaska with me this next September.

Or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for stopping by, and for making Pieces of Me a #1 e-book on Kindle this week in domestic partner abuse category more than a year after publication. I was ridiculously excited.

Here’s the link to my Arctic Entries story I mentioned during the last post.

Have a great day.

The Memories of March

We all have those anniversary dates that plague us. The death of a loved one. The accident that changed our lives. The day we got fired. Something.

For me, the month of March holds most of mine. My children were kidnapped on March 13th, 1994. We reunited on March 27, 1996 in Greece. But it’s March 5th every year that is the most sobering.

In March of 1990, when I was 25, I got up off the floor after being strangled by then-husband, gathered my daughters, and left. But mid-strangle, I knew that life would never be the same. If life continued, I would stop tolerating abusive behavior as though I’d earned it. From everyone. My mother. My husband. Whoever.

I didn’t know then what leaving an abusive partner would entail, or the unintended consequences that would occur.

Now, 28 years later, I’m creating happier anniversary dates this March.

Like yesterday, an essay I wrote got published in the fabulous Sunlight PressMy e-book has climbed to #4 in it’s category on Amazon. And I get to hear and share stories at Arctic Entries on Wednesday, a truly terrifying and wonderful opportunity I’m pushing myself to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But most of all, I have two amazing grown daughters who have created their own lives. Beautiful friends who have sustained me. And a wonderful family I’ve been able to find and enjoy for decades now.

 

I’ll never forget the importance of March. And, it turns out, I don’t really want to.

Thank you for stopping by.

 

A Writer’s Mentor/Interview with Author and Professor Dr. Virginia Carney

In 1992, when I was a welfare mom trying to finish my degree before my girls were old enough to feel the stigma of poverty, I met a professor who immediately felt like family. Later, it made sense. Not only was Professor Ginny Carney an inspiring and nurturing person,  her roots from Southern Appalachia were close to mine from Eastern Kentucky.

Before she moved  to Kentucky from Alaska to live near Berea College,while she attended graduate school, Dr. Carney became Ginny to me, a treasured friend and confidante who helped me believe that anything was possible.

Though I’ve not seen her in person in more than two decades, Ginny Carney remains a mentor and a dear friend.

January in National Mentoring Month, and I’m so pleased to have one of my favorites here today.  Thank you, Ginny!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Who mentored you and fostered a love of stories and literature?

Neither of my parents was a high school graduate, and they were probably never aware of what a strategic role they played in cultivating a love for words in their children; both my mother and father, however, were avid readers and would often tell stories, sing ballads, or recite long poems from memory. Although we were very poor, they always subscribed to a newspaper and a couple of magazines, and when I was about three, they found a way to “buy on time” a set of the Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia. I loved those books, and somehow, I learned to read from them by the time I was four years old. Since our family had no car and no electricity, reading introduced me to worlds far beyond Southern Appalachia, and I developed an insatiable appetite for books.

When did you know you wanted to mentor others? How did it begin? Was it through foster parenting or parenting?

I’ve never really thought of myself as a mentor, but for as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for learning—and I have always wanted to share that passion with others. By the time I was four years old, I already had three younger siblings, and playing “school” with them was excellent preparation for my years ahead as a mother/grandmother/great-grandmother.

 You enjoyed a second career after nursing. How did that come about? Was there a pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a professor?

My childhood dream was to become either a medical doctor or a registered nurse. Due to lack of financial resources, however, completing college was a much greater challenge than I had anticipated. After getting married in 1963, I did begin applying to nursing schools, but was stunned to discover that none of these programs accepted married women (a story in itself!).

I did eventually complete nursing and work for several years as a pediatric/NICU nurse, but adopting a sibling group of four (ages 2-6) in the late 1980s, eventually compelled me to think about a profession that would allow more time with my family. Subsequently, I enrolled at UAA, where Dr. Arlene Kuhner (Professor of English) became an incredible mentor/friend, encouraging me to be proud of my Cherokee/Appalachian heritage, and to incorporate that into my writing.  I completed an M.A. degree in English in 1990, was privileged to teach at UAA for three years prior to my acceptance into a PhD program, and I continued working in higher education until my retirement in 2016 at age 75.

 Do you have any advice on how emerging writers can find a mentor? Are there secrets you have learned in being a mentor?

Of course, it would be wonderful if every emerging writer had a trusted mentor of his/her own. Often, however, mentors are individuals who don’t necessarily think of themselves as mentors, but who, as a result of life’s experiences, have gained a wisdom, compassion for others, and encouraging spirit that they instinctively share with others—especially with those who may be going through similar experiences. Therefore, emerging writers (of all ages) often find that their greatest support comes from authors like you, Liz—writers whose stories they may have only read, but whose words light an inextinguishable flame of creativity and hope within them.

 Is there a story or two you would like to share that you’re most proud of?

Of the hundreds of narratives that I could share, this story of an elderly Ojibwe woman in Minnesota is one of my favorites:

After outliving three husbands and retiring as a Licensed Practical Nurse, 85-year-old Miss Lois said, “I’m bored! Maybe I’ll take a moccasin-making class at the tribal college!” So, she enrolled in that one class, and she so enjoyed being with young college students that she decided to enroll as a full-time student.

One of the classes she took was my American Indian Literature course—a course in which we read about and discussed a number of emotional topics, including the Indian boarding school era, which has resulted in PTSD for thousands of American Indian/Alaska Native students and their families. At first, Miss Lois only alluded to the sexual abuse she and other young children had experienced at the hands of their “teachers,” but one day, she began joking about a group of girls “ganging up on a priest and tying him up.” Her young classmates (who had never attended boarding schools themselves) did not laugh.  Instead, they voiced indignation that their elders had “put up with” the physical and sexual abuse inflicted on them in many American and Canadian boarding schools. At that point, Miss Lois, who always seemed full of laughter and fun, shocked her classmates by breaking down in tears, and she began pouring out things she had kept inside for almost 80 years.  During the next several classes, other students began openly sharing their stories of incest/sexual abuse, and Miss Lois became their trusted (and highly esteemed) confidante/mentor. She went on to graduate from college, touching untold numbers of lives with her stories in newspaper and television interviews, as a participant in numerous panel discussions, and in her handwritten memoirs.

Miss Lois died in 2013 at the age of 95.

 

The New Year’s Cruise and Other Updates

Happy 2018!

My New Year began with a cruise vacation on Holland America’s Eurodam, where I enjoyed sunshine, fireworks, good friends, and a break from social media and work.

I’d needed a vacation. And here’s what I loved most:

    • The days at sea.
      I slept well. I went to the library to write. I found quiet spaces to read. There were workshops to attend, a book group. I especially loved a lecture on pirates, past and present. And the music- from the jazz band to the orchestra- was fantastic.
    • The days at shore.
    • In Key West, I went to Judy Blume’s bookstore. I’d emailed her to see if perhaps I could meet her and have her sign a copy of her latest book.   I didn’t expect anything. While I lost my internet access on the ship, her assistant wrote with a date that we could meet. Rats! Missed her. But I liked the Ernest Hemingway Museum. I’d never seen six-toed cats before. I won’t miss them in the future, but it was a fun day.

    • Turks and Caicos was pristine. The Dominican Republic was nice, and I especially liked feeding and snorkeling with stingrays in the Bahamas. Did you know stingrays are affectionate? I was surprised to be spooned by them when I was holding their fish dinner. They wrapped around me for a little appreciative hug. Very nice (once I realized I wasn’t going to die).
    • The return to home. Coming back to the cold and dark season, I was refreshed. I’d missed my life here in Alaska. I knew I wanted to keep some of the vacation gains going. Like going to bed earlier, shutting my phone off for some time every day, writing more, etc. I’d given up nearly all coffee, a true love of mine I’ve maintained for 40 years which had been aggravating some health issues. And I want to take time off more regularly, just to recharge.
    • And guess who got herself a part-time job this summer in tourism?
    • Me! I’ll be working at Holland America/Princess Tours (HAP) on Saturdays, earning a little cash and meeting some great people, who will help me figure out where to go next with my HAP travel benefits. I know it seems I’m moving in the wrong direction, wanting to take more breaks and all, but if it’s enjoyable, I’ll work there fulltime for a few months every year after I retire. It’ll give me travel money and focused time to write. An inexpensive or no-cost writer’s retreat every year.
    • If you’re in the neighborhood on a cruise, please say hello. I’ll be stationed in Whittier.
    • Another fun fact—I joined MoviePass just before I left on vacation. For just $10 a month, I can see all the films I like. A movie membership that will save me easily $40 plus dollars a month. I highly recommend it if you like seeing movies at the theater. It’s terrific.At the theater, I saw Molly’s Game, All The Money in the World, Darkest Hour, and The Post.
    •  I just finished reading In the Game by Peggy Garrity and In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.
    • So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?

 

Cheers for the New Year

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities.

And thankfully, it is over.- Lizbeth Meredith, after each and every Christmas.

Happy nearly New Year! I hope your holiday was peaceful and lacking expectation.

I enjoyed time with both of my grown daughters and with their significant others.  I cooked unsuccessfully, did more cleaning than I enjoyed, and heard from family and friends from near and far. And both the daughter time and the friends and family contact made it special.

So looking ahead to the New Year, I wish you the best of health and happiness. Positive relationships and some relaxation.

To that end, I’m leaving the cold behind and going on a trip with two dear friends from my childhood, and I’m so happy to have time offline  and in warmer temperatures!

Thank you stopping by, and I’ll be back soon!

Liz

 

 

 

Intended to be pumpkin pancakes.

 

 

 

A Full Circle Christmas and Dog-Eared Reads

 

My youngest daughter called me from Barnes & Noble the other day. “What are 12-year-old boys reading these days?” she asked.

She’d adopted a needy family whose name she got from a Christmas three at the mall.

It was a sweet reminder. We’ve come full circle.

“Did you know our little family was adopted one Christmas when you were small?” I asked her.

It was the Christmas of 1990.  A woman rang my doorbell and left a toboggan on the front porch, filled with gifts and preloaded stockings and all the food to make a Christmas feast. There were winter jackets for us all, wrapped toys for my daughters, socks and mittens and hats. Everything we could ever want or need. It was the best Christmas we’d ever had. It would be the only Christmas that I didn’t worry about how their holiday compared to those of their peers.

Comparing holiday spoils was something I was adept at. As a child, I dreaded returning to school after Christmas break. “What did get? Where did you go?” Basic stuff kids ask kids. Questions I was too embarrassed to answer.

When I became a mom, I tried to make sure my kids’ Christmases were great. I cooked the big meal or said yes to a lot of invitations to share it with friends. Along with the book or sweater I bought new for the girls were presents scavenged from Value Village, wrapped as pretend-new gift. I hoped their holidays would measure up to their friends’ scrutiny.

The thing is, there wasn’t any scrutiny from their friends.  But the girls certainly felt my pain. They felt it through my moodiness and meltdowns. And they felt it through my martyrdom.

When they were teens, my oldest daughter broke it down for me.

“You do realize that you ruin all of our holidays by trying so hard, don’t you?”

I was gob smacked. While it was tough to hear, it was also freeing. Who says holidays need to be perfect?

Holidays have a way of amplifying old insecurities or hurts if we let them. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In later years, my daughters and I settled on easier holiday routines. For gifts, we get one another things to experience. A pedicure, a massage, movie tickets, books. We like brunch with egg nog French toast casserole better than turkeys. And we like just enough time together that the sweetness lingers, but not so much that old bitterness’s resurface.

It doesn’t always work. And the trick for me is not expecting perfection on Christmas and other holidays when I enjoy an imperfect life all of the other days.

And the other trick is to appreciate the ability I now have to both give and receive.
I wonder sometimes about the nice family that adopted mine so many Christmases ago.  I wish they knew how they touched our lives, and that we’re doing our best to pay it forward.

I hope you enjoy your holidays. And drop me a line if you know what 12 year-old boys are reading these days. It’s fun to hear from you.

Here are some of my recent reads from Alaskan writers.

From L to R- Homestead Girl, Whisper Mama, The Shadows in My Heart, Trumpula


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for stopping by.

If you’ve wanted to come to one of my book events but couldn’t, here’s a link to a recent interview from Radio KMXT’s Dog Eared Reads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Catch-Up and NaNoWriMo

I hope your holiday season is going well.

Please forgive my lack of activity. I’m gently behind on some emails and calls and blogging this month.

I’ve slowed down markedly with the increasing cold and decreasing light. Sometimes, after I get home from work, I sit in a cold stupor and just think. I know I’ll defrost soon enough as the weather resolves.

 

During the latter part of October, I finished with book events in Sitka and Kodiak in their respective libraries. Both trips for me were magical, with the well-attended and respectful conversations about trauma and writing and anything else that came up. Both trips included beautiful wildlife. And both trips gave me time with treasured friends who live on the Alaskan islands. Huge thank you to the people of Sitka and Kodiak, including the libraries there.

I returned home feeling refreshed and encouraged. And in need of time to just write and to binge-watch TV with my cats and to catch up with friends.

So that’s what I’ve been doing a little more of. Writing. It’s NaNoWriMo  ,National Novel Writing Month, and while I’m not planning to finish a novel in the month of November, I’m nearing 100 pages on the second book of my trilogy. And editing/producing Pieces of Me so it will one day be an audiobook. And I’ve happily written some essays for different magazines, and am seeing some of them find their way to publication.

I wondered if I’d be sad about the book tour excitement being over. It’s been such an emotional roller-coaster, and while so many things went wonderfully, I had a lot of near-misses and disappointments too.  But honestly, I just feel pretty pleased and grateful to have shared it with you.

So I gave myself 90 days of no book events. A vacation from hearing me talk about me. I needed that.

And then a nice lawyer called and booked a talk in February for a group of attorneys who volunteer to represent victims of domestic violence for free. Their conference comes just as my 90 day event break ends, and this is a group I definitely want to talk to. Volunteer lawyers have helped me find my missing father, seek orders of protection and eventually a divorce when I needed to from my former husband, and volunteer lawyers helped recover my missing daughters. I am truly forever indebted. It will be an honor to meet with them.

I plan to have a low-key Christmas and sneak in some sunshine at the end of December. A trip just for the sake of fun with two old friends from my childhood.

Until then, I’ll keep plugging away. Please remember my author page on Facebook, and thank you for your comments.

With you, I’m never alone.

Thanks for that.

 

 

 

Pieces of Me Turns One/Looking Back and Moving Forward

Today it’s been a year since my memoir was officially launched.

More than 65 events, 103 online reviews (and counting), and three awards later, what a year it has been.

Thanks to your support, Pieces of Me has enjoyed national attention, and has garnered international fans as well.  None of this would be possible without your support. There just are not enough thank you’s to go around.

The gifts that followed after publishing my book are the relationships that have been strengthened, the new friendships made, and the opportunities to talk with family, friends, and strangers  about issues that have been traditionally have secret. Like family violence. Parental child abduction. Intergenerational trauma.

When giving presentations to high school and college students, I love recalling that pre-internet time when people across the community united to help me bring my kidnappped daughters home. What a diverse group my support network was made up of, and their generosity was duplicated in  beautiful Greece.  And what a special time it was in history in general when people actually spoke to one another instead of at each other.  It reminds me that together, we can  accomplish most anything.  It reminds me that when we are divided, we accomplish very little.

There have been some stressful times promoting the book. I ruffled a few feathers. I got very tired. And I relived some very horrible moments in my family’s history.  But the good has far outweighed the negative.

I have some more events coming up. Indeed, I am about to get on a plane and speak at it conference this weekend.  But after October, it is time for me to slow down and work on my next book.  I’m excited about it, having pitched it to  a literary agent at a writer’s conference last weekend, who deemed it the “most promising manuscript,”  of those pitched to her in that event.

I plan to begin charging for book trips that cost me both money and personal leave time so I can break even financially. But I have treasured this year and these moments together.

I will continue to work toward getting my memoir into universities, and welcome any help to that end.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

XOXO,

Lizbeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Becca Puglisi on The Emotion Thesaurus and Writers Helping Writers

 

 

I’m always looking for tools to help my writing.

Two years ago I found Writers Helping Writers in the nick of time as I was polishing up the final draft of my memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters.

Writers Helping Writers is an easy site to navigate, and offers a number of author reference books. Books like The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression and The Positive Trait Thesaurus are  in giving writing dimension.

I checked in with author and co-founder Becca Puglisi about what’s new in Writers Helping Writers community since I ran the below Q and A originally in 2015.

Coming soon to the Writers Helping Writers Collection…The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. Of all the formative experiences in a character’s past, none are more destructive than emotional wounds. The aftershocks of trauma can change who they are, alter what they believe, and sabotage their ability to achieve meaningful goals, all of which will affect the trajectory of a story. Enter The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, which explores over 100 possible traumatic experiences and how they can impact the character in the present. Armed with this unique resource, authors will be able to root their characters in reality by giving them an authentic wound that causes difficulties and prompts them to strive for inner growth to overcome it. Look for this book to be available by the end of October 2017!

 

Author Becca Puglisi.

I’m happy to have author Becca Puglisi as my guest in today’s post.

Thank you for being here, Becca!

How did the process of writing The Emotion Thesaurus evolve?

Well, it started when I noticed that my characters were constantly smiling and shuffling their feet. I wanted to get rid of those repetitions, but I didn’t know how else to show the emotions. Angela was having the same problem with her characters, and there just wasn’t anything out there to address the issue. So we started making lists of different emotions and brainstorming how people often express them.

When we shared the lists with our critique group, they jumped on it, sharing how they each struggled with the same problem. Years later, when it was time to start our Writers Helping Writers blog (then called The Bookshelf Muse), we wanted to include practical and fresh content that would keep writers coming back for me. We decided to share our lists, releasing a new emotional entry each week. And The Emotion Thesaurus was born.

You write Young Adult Fantasy Historical Fiction Writing in addition to the series of guidebooks for writers, two vastly different forms of writing. How did you develop the structure for The Emotion Thesaurus?

Well, in its original state, it was just a bunch of simple lists: one for fear, one for anger, etc. By the time we started our blog, the lists were so long that we needed something a little more organized and user-friendly, so we split each entry into fields: physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, and so on. And when we decided to publish the books, we added a few more fields that we thought would be helpful to writers.

What is the process like of working with a co-author? Did you each divvy up sections in advance or teleconference occasionally to check progress?

Our process is fairly smooth because Angela and I complement each other very well. I think that in comparison to many people, we each tend to over-communicate; we talk A LOT—about possible ideas, problems that we anticipate in the future, how to break ideas down into a process and format that make sense, how the final product should look.

For any potential idea or project, we do a ton of pre-writing before we ever put pencil to paper. At the end of this stage, we usually have a template and a list of overall entries that we’d like to include. At that point, Angela writes one half and I write the other. When the drafting is done, we switch halves to edit—usually a few times. By that point, the writing has blended into an end product that is a mixture of` both of our styles.

I imagine you receive a lot of feedback from readers about this book, your site Writers Helping Writers, and the other great tools you’ve shared with the writing community. Is there any one example you would like to share that is especially gratifying to you?

Oh my gosh, there are so many examples. We’ve heard from Special Ed teachers using The Emotion Thesaurus with their students to help them read and identify other people’s emotions. Another time, I led a workshop on backstory that shows writers how events from the past can determine who a character becomes. Afterwards, one of the attendees told me that during the workshop she had identified an emotional wound from her own past that she hadn’t realized had impacted her so much, and now that she’d named it, she was going to be able to deal with it.

It was incredibly gratifying to see how a book of ours had impacted someone so meaningfully on a personal level. But I think the best note I’ve ever received was from a visually-impaired writer. Blind from birth, this writer had always had trouble describing character emotion because he had never seen it. With The Emotion Thesaurus, he said he could finally picture what a frustrated, excited, or terrified person looked like, and he was able to write those emotions realistically. I was floored. Who would’ve thought that our book would be able to help someone in such an amazing way?

I read that you were a teacher long before you were a writer. What inspired you to take the plunge and become an author?

This is my favorite interview question, because it exemplifies how good God is—and also shows that he has a sense of humor. My church was running a ministry project and, as a private school teacher, I had very little money. I prayed, asking God how I could make some extra money, and he told me to write a book. Haha. ‘Cuz writing is so lucrative, right? I had never written anything before, but I started working on what would become a middle-grade chapter book. And I was hooked.

It was eight years before I made a single cent from my writing, and that ministry opportunity never benefited from it, but with the sales of our books over the past three years, I’ve been able to pass on the blessings in ways I’d never imagined.

Writers Helping Writers

What has been the most surprising part of being a writer?

When I considered a career as a writer, I had this image of me happily writing—in a café somewhere sipping a drink, sitting by the fire in winter, staring out a widow at a picturesque view while contemplating my plot line. It was a shock to discover how much of my writing time was spent doing other things.

I spend an awful lot of time networking on social media, blogging, reading about writing, keeping up on industry news, bookkeeping, and responding to emails. It was discouraging at first, because with two small children at home, my writing time was very limited. But it’s all part of the deal. And for me, it’s been totally worth it!

Author Bio–Becca Puglisi is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others. This is one of her reasons for writing The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. Her website, Writers Helping Writers, is a hub for all things description, offering tons of free resources to aid writers in their literary efforts. A member of SCBWI, she leads workshops at regional conferences and teaches webinars online.

For more information, check out Writers Helping Writers.

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