Emotion Thesaurus 2nd Edition Review

Emotion Thesaurus Writing Tip 3

I was lucky enough to see a copy of the Emotion Thesaurus 2ndEdition before publication due on 19th February,  for my honest review.

I purchased the first edition a few years ago and became my bible for my own writing. It taught me a great deal about how to put emotion across through physical actions and internal reactions. I didn’t read the introduction pages of the 1stEdition and went straight to the thesaurus, but as I’m reviewing the 2ndEdition I read the book from the start.

Introduction – I found the description of vocal cues, body language, thoughts and visceral reactions very helpful. We all hear these phrases but the description of each opened my mind up to how I should be using them. The same applies to backstory, baseline reactions, comfort zone, reactions etc.These can be scary things to approach for fear of getting them wrong. They can be the difference to an okayish book to a brilliant one, with characters that come alive. This section has been expanded and an excellent starting point. It’s like a mini workshop, creating a better understanding on how to use the following pages. And, us writers do love a workshop – right?

The Thesaurus –  The 1stEdition has 75 root emotions, the 2ndEdition has 130.

The book is really a starting point to help us seek out our own ways to describe our character’s emotions. Personally as a shy and introverted person, I have no idea how a confident person full of their own self-worth and pride reacts to situations, or that evil character plotting the downfall of their nemesis but now I have an idea of how to approach it.

I absolutely love this book and the whole series really and feel they have helped me to become a better writer.

More information on the book can be located here

https://writershelpingwriters.net/the-emotion-thesaurus-a-writers-guide-to-character-expression/

Additionally, there is a free webinar available until the end of February full of helpful tips for your writing which can be located here:

https://writershelpingwriters.net/the-emotion-thesaurus-a-writers-guide-to-character-expression/

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Transpire

 

ghosts

It wasn’t that I needed to think about it. Did I believe or not? The plain fact of the matter was how couldn’t I? I remember the first time I saw my ghostly visitor, my breath was trapped in my throat, and only a pickaxe might be able to dislodge it. She stood there, eyes as round and white as golf balls – staring at me. Pale lips parted in a shocked expression, screaming at me in silence. How dare I be in my own home – the one place I should be safe.

At the time, it was impossible for me to understand the connection.

After the first vision, I called the doctor for a home visit. I was seeing things – there must be a reasonable explanation. I didn’t go to the doctor’s surgery myself – that would have been impossible.

It’s not that I didn’t try, but each time I pushed my foot over the threshold to exit my flat, my stomach tightened and my head filled with a dense cloud separating my brain from the rest of me. Actions – static. Thoughts – impossible. I was unable to persuade my leg to move. My brain incapable of completing a single thought.

It was difficult to remember when I last left the flat. A few days – a week – a month? Each day felt like the next until I lost track of time altogether.

When my telephone rang, I would wait for the call to click over to the answerphone. Nine times out of ten, it would be my mum or my sister; on the rare occasion, my dad, but his messages were always short and sharp, and I heard mum in the background urging him to speak kinder.

Then there was the woman next door – I’m sure mum called her to check on me. Why else would she knock? For the year we were neighbours we’d never even exchanged a greeting. What could I say to her now that wouldn’t be awkward and embarrassing. I’d stand to one side of the door, too afraid to look through the peephole in case she saw my shadow. Fearful she would hear my pounding heart crashing against my ribcage. Perspiration trickled down my forehead and I wiped it away in frustration. I’d curse at myself, angry at my own incompetence and the ridiculous situation in which I found myself.

So that’s why I phoned the doctor. I mulled it over in my mind. How was I to approach the receptionist? The thought of travelling to the surgery was too much. My fear of stepping past my front door was more than I could bear.

It took a lot of faking on the phone to get the doctor to do a home visit. Home visits made him grumpy. I’d come up with dizzy spells and continuous vomiting as a reason for being unable to travel out into the cold September day. I suppose if I had given the real reason that I was seeing things and afraid of the world outside my door would have been good enough; but I felt stupid and ashamed. Vomiting seemed more acceptable to me.

I apologised to the doctor as soon as he arrived. The guilt for my lies was almost more than I could stand, although it no-way matched my fear. My fear was no longer nameless.

‘You’re agoraphobic, young lady,’he said while he examined me over the top of his thick reading glasses. He produced a pamphlet from his briefcase and hurled it at me. It left the grasp of his hairy fist and landed on my lap. Meanwhile, I was waiting for the doctor’s infamous bedside manner. I realised I would be out of luck on that score.

Agoraphobia – An Irrational Fear of Going Out in Public.

That was the title of the document he supplied me with and it explained a lot about me. It was a relief that there was an explanation, and now I had a pamphlet. It was evident I didn’t need anything else, or why would the doctor rush away like that?

This didn’t explain the hallucination, but then in the end I didn’t mention it for fear of being tied up in the strait-jacket I imagined was hiding in his compact doctor’s bag.

My thoughts grew steadily negative. What did this mean for me now? Would my four walls be my life? My fists clenched. Would I ever get to the supermarket again; or was it home deliveries till kingdom come? Was my fear all I had now? A dark cloud consumed me. It was a depressing future.

My heart grew heavy as panic attacks filled my waking moments. My life so clearly illustrated through the words in the pamphlet. My anxiety was altering my perception of the terrifying world outside my protective walls.

It was at that point my phantom companion returned. Her eyes always watched me, and most of the time from the bathroom.

She would stare open mouthed and look at me with tears of sadness in her strained eyes. I couldn’t understand why. Come to think of it I’d been avoiding the bathroom. It was as if a magnet was repelling me in the other direction, and as much as I tried to force myself forward, I remained static. I wasn’t able remember the last time I’d been in there, which in itself was a ridiculous thought. It’s not like my bladder had become an insignificant organ, and I didn’t feel as though I hadn’t bathed in days.

Days meshed as one, and exhaustion devoured me, as my memories grew dim. Why was that?

My translucent guest was like a strip of double exposed film. A faint figure planted in … no wait that’s not quite right – hanging there against the backdrop of my home. It wasn’t even as if she ever disappeared in a flash, she was always bloody there!

Sometimes she would try to speak but all she would achieve would be to look like a fish searching for food.

“I’m sorry. I can’t hear you.”

She sighed and walked to the front door and peered through the spy hole. Placing her translucent hand on the solid doorknob she twisted the handle and pulled. The door didn’t move. How could it? She possessed no flesh and bone, but she reacted as though it opened. She wordlessly spoke to an invisible visitor on the other side of the oak door, then she glanced at me and pointed.

I shuddered.

For a moment our eyes locked. My stomach churned. Bile rose in my throat, but I fought it back. Four walls pulsated around me –closing in on me. She turned and walked through the solid door.

With her gone, I rushed to the door and gaped through the spy hole. The corridor outside my flat was empty. No sign of ‘her’ or anyone who may have had a conversation with her. I was alone once more. I should have been thankful, but my anxiety rose with my companion of sorts gone. Before I knew what was happening my eyes and cheeks were wet with salty tears, and I wiped my face with my sleeve. Why was I so upset?

It wasn’t long before she returned.

She would follow me into my bedroom at night and still be there when I woke. I should have been afraid, after all she was a ghost, but I wasn’t anymore. I never felt as though I was in danger, other than being in risk of overcrowding.

I often found her standing in the bathroom with an aura of sadness surrounding her. With my feet planted on one side of the carpet runner, I peered into the bathroom. My hands clasped the rough wooden doorframe as I tried to fight against that force repelling me, so I could see what had her attention. One moment the bath rippled with water as a steady stream gushed from the taps, as I squinted to see a submerged shape. It was dark and undefined. It wriggled, splashing water over the edge. I jumped, startled. It thrashed wildly, followed with muffled cries; but then I saw something else. A disembodied arm was pushing down in the bath, holding the body in place. Then – in a flash – the scene ended. Vanished. Pain in my throat as I gulped back imaginary razor blades.

Was that what my friend was trying to tell me? That she had drowned – someone had murdered her? Oh the poor woman. Did she want me to investigate? Did I have to uncover the truth so she might move on? But why was her spectral force holding me back, not letting me inside the room? Every new step I took just led me to more questions, and I didn’t have the answers.

The next time I saw her she was sitting at a desk. It wasn’t my desk, but a faint image of one that must have once stood there. She was staring at a screen, but my eyes couldn’t focus on the text. She was waiting. As she turned, a kind smile played on her lips and she beckoned me to her. She pointed to the computer screen, which was materializing before my eyes. There was a gentle whirring emanating from it as the information on it became clearer. She moved her chair aside to allow me to see. The local paper’s electronic edition was on the screen. I moved closer.

‘Police have reported discovering a body of a young woman in her twenties today. The deceased who lived alone died in her bathtub.’

“I knew it,” I mumbled looking across at her. “I’m so sorry.”

She shook her head and pointed with a perfectly manicured finger at the screen again. I continued to read.

‘Friends of the woman have said she had grown increasingly depressed over the past months after being diagnosed with agoraphobia. Her doctor has refused to comment at this time. The death has not been classed as foul play, but suicide.’

I shuddered, watching in horror as she scrolled down the screen. I didn’t want to see, but compelled, I lifted my eyes. There was a photograph and there was no getting away from it. Short blond hair, thin lips and a forced smile. Such a typical photograph taken at a family gathering – of me!

She told me how sorry she was. Finally, I could hear her! As she spoke, her body became more solid and less ghost like; which really was because she wasn’t the ghost: I was. She had been trying to help me comprehend what had happened, but I hadn’t been able to see.

“I didn’t understand,” I croaked. “I still can’t remember, but …” A sudden flash of light awakened a memory. I remember the doctor holding the pamphlet in his hand. When he removed his jacket, and I noticed how thick and hairy his hand and arm had been.

Tears stung my eyes, but neither were real anymore. She said that maybe I couldn’t remember for a reason, and now I knew that reason. I wish I didn’t.

I looked around at my home. The wallpaper I had lovingly admired when I’d first put it up, faded away into brilliant white painted walls. My threadbare sofa floated off into the ether,  replaced with a brand new leather couch. Little by little the familiar transpired into the unknown.

“This isn’t my home anymore,” I stated, acknowledging the simple fact I couldn’t change.

“No,”she said. It was hers. She had been living here for two years. Two whole years! So I’ve been dead for how long now? I really didn’t want to know the answer.

I wanted to laugh at the irony. I’d never accepted they were real … ever. After all what kind of fool believed in ghosts?

ghosts

Festival of Writing 2017

fow17

It’s been a difficult year.

My husband was in a road traffic accident in November. Nothing broken thankfully, but he did end up with a Seroma (a pocket of clear serous fluid that sometimes develops in the body after surgery/trauma). He needed an operation and was out of work for almost seven months. There were multiple return visits to the hospital as we experienced a few hiccups along the way, and I spent much of my time doing my best impression of a nurse (minus the uniform).

One weekend I found him trawling websites looking for author retreats. At first, I thought he’d gone barmy. I never look at these myself simply for the fact it’s depressing looking at things we can’t afford. But, he insisted I needed a treat, and who am I to put a block on that fantastic idea.

I pointed him into the direction of the Festival of Writing in York. Some friends went a couple of years ago and said how good it was. Being exceedingly shy, I never thought I’d ever attend such a thing. Three days of workshops, agents, book doctors and hundreds of fellow authors — it was a thrilling but scary prospect. But, I’m serious about this writing thing, and I’m not backwards in thrusting myself in situations outside of my comfort zone. I wanted feedback. I wanted to learn. So, I booked myself on it.

The workshops were fantastic. I was a note-taking demon. I had two one-to-ones with agents. It was a terrifying prospect, despite the fact that it turned out, they were both lovely people. As I said I’m shy. I also get more nervous than anyone I know, so the hours that led up to these meetings were hard for me. But, they resulted in positive feedback and the new knowledge of what exactly I needed to edit in my novel to make it better. I also have another novel which I entered into the WoMentoring Project ( https://womentoringproject.co.uk/ ). I was amazed when I was selected and the agent who is mentoring me was at York, so I had to introduce myself. Okay it took me the three days to find the courage to do it but I did it. (That shy thing again – it’s a monster to live with).

Then there was the socialising, and if I’m perfectly honest this is the part that scared me most of all. Basically, I can’t do it. I can’t walk up to people and start a conversation. If people approach me and start talking I can respond, but that is as much as I can handle. They were all lovely people of course. It’s just how I am, and putting myself in a room with 300 plus people is a huge step for me. Maybe there is some hope that one day I’ll get over it.

All in all, I had a great time. I learned a lot and my brain is full of ideas on how to make both books better. One more step along the very long road of publishing. It was well worth it.

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My Pen To Print Journey 2014-2017

pen2print

My Pen to Print journey started in late 2014.  My husband showed me a copy of the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham’s newsletter, where they were advertising a series of writing competitions. I went along to the day-long event and discovered they were funded by the Arts’ Council and were holding competitions for novels, short stories and poetry.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and despite my lack of confidence in my ability I entered the novel competition. A few weeks later I received an email informing me my novel was shortlisted in the competition. I’m not sure I could ever describe that feeling. Shock. Joy. Elation.

The organisers matched all eight shortlisted novelists with local published writers to get our books ready for the competition deadline, and then we were off.

All the finalists were given the opportunity to have their books self-published as part of the prize. Some took Pen to Print up on that offer. It’s a great opportunity, but my dream is to follow the traditional route. I’m not sure I’ll ever give up on it. So I started submitting my book to agents. I didn’t think I’d get a single request for a full manuscript, but I got FOUR! Unfortunately, they all ended in rejection. But, I got this far, so it’s evident I have something. So after a few months of contemplation I’ve decided to rewrite the book, and that’s what I’m doing now.

This year I entered my short story, Transpire into the Pen to Print Short Story Competition. It’s a paranormal tale of a woman coping with agoraphobia while having ghostly visits from a spirit who is trying to tell her something, but things aren’t as they seem. I was ecstatic when I discovered that my story was awarded second place.

I was asked to read some of my work at an awards evening. As someone with a major inferiority complex, and much happier sitting in a corner busy being unnoticed, it was a terrifying thought. I’m painfully shy, and speaking to anyone outside my immediate family has always been difficult for me. When I’d been asked to read something the previous year I declined, but I want to be a writer, and if one day I achieve that goal — find an agent and publisher I know I’ll need to do that sort of thing. I can’t hide forever. So despite my urge to run screaming in the other direction — I said yes.

So there I sat in the audience waiting for my turn; planning in my head how I could semi-hide behind the rostrum with the microphone in the stand in front of me. When the first writer got up, someone handed her the microphone. No rostrum.

Holy crap! I was going to be exposed. The two thirds of my body I had planned to hide behind the wooden stand was no longer safe. Me and my poor body image had no way of seeking camouflage. And, I’d have to hold the microphone. How on earth was I supposed to turn the pages?

When they called my name I made my way to the front and began to read. I’d never done anything like this before. I fought to stop my voice from shaking and gripped the microphone tightly for fear of dropping it. Just five minutes. I had to keep telling myself that time and again. I was so completely out of my comfort zone. I tried not to rush, or a load of nonsense would spill from my mouth. I stumbled a little — it was inevitable. My head felt disembodied and the sight of all those people looking at me did nothing to stop the shaking.

meeeee

But I did it. I fought the demon in my head who was telling me I’m not good enough, and I read my story. Hopefully next time (and there will be a next time) I won’t send myself into a tornado of panic in the preceding weeks.

Another part of this process was being interviewed on camera. I didn’t have to take part, but I often find myself pushing myself to do things that don’t’ come naturally. The videos are linked below.

https://youtu.be/Wj7yJKe2vBc    –    Suzanne Burrows Pen To Print Author

https://youtu.be/s7mGVOM9cmY    –    Pen To Print – Top Tips

https://youtu.be/wyGYH3fNcjs     –    The Pen To Print Legacy

The Zombie Zone

depression

It is time to open up and get to the real crux of the matter. I am liable to duck for cover as soon as I post this. Laying myself bare. Casting aside my layers of shielding as a stripper peels away her clothes.

I am not sure what came first – just like the case of the chicken and the egg. My shyness, my insecurity, my loneliness or the depression. Each one exists in me. I am each of them in turn. Despite having a husband I know loves me, and a son and grandchildren I adore; my heart skips a beat each time I see them all. I grew up with loving parents, although regretfully we lost mum several years ago. I have never lacked for love from those that matter, and yet when the depression grabs hold of me, as it so often does, I will sink into despair for no apparent reason. I will find I have landed in my Zombie Zone.

The Zombie Zone. A place I find very hard to escape. My head pulsates and I feel a chasm expanding between myself and everyone surrounding me. A fog infests my brain and it is a huge effort just to string a sentence together. I am on the verge of tears most of the time and the only thing I can do is to wait it out. Eventually it will pass – until the next time.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece of flash fiction ‘What if?’ (it can be found under the ‘Flash Fiction’ section of this site. It’s about a young woman suffering from depression, fighting her loneliness and self-hatred. The only escape she can think of is suicide. Some people asked me where the idea came from, while others just gave me ‘that’ look, too afraid to ask. I owned up to some of it, that it came from some feelings I have had in the past, but I said ‘it was never that bad.’

I lied. It was, and at times, is that bad.

Unlike my character, I have never stocked up on pills, but there have been moments – flashes in the root of my brain where I have wondered – what if?

I’m feeling quiet shaky and emotional writing this. I smile while my inner panic consumes me. I can’t look in the mirror, and going to places like the hairdressers where I am surrounded by them makes me tremble. I spend my days with my eyes lowered, fearful of making eye contact or god forbid – conversation. What do people think of me? Do they mock me – hate me?

I feel secluded and ignored, but the thought of being included terrifies me.

There’s a phrase used too easily. People say it without evening thinking, but some of us feel the physical pain, the emotional torture of being ‘painfully shy’. It is a real thing, and for me it links to my depression. In the company of others, I try to hide my torture. I smile a lot, and make casual glances around the room while fiddling with my hands, but I can’t make conversation. I can make brief responses to questions, but when I search my brain for questions in response, to anecdotes to share there is nothing in there. It is totally blank. Nothing.

Some people say they consider me confident. It amazes me that my cover works so well. They don’t see the inferiority complex that rattles my bones or the devastating depression that leaks from every pore as I struggle to make my way through life. I don’t tell them. I don’t tell anyone — until now.

Pitch Wars Vs Self-Publishing

 

I’ve had to make a huge decision this week.

I’d previously mentioned that last year I was shortlisted in the ‘Pen to Print’ novel competition organised by ‘The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham’, or more notably the ‘Library Services’ section. Part of the winner’s prize was to be published using a company producing self-publishing packages. Hard copies of the book would go to all the local libraries and an e-book would be available for future readers to purchase. Then they announced they would do the same for all the shortlisted novels. It was an exciting prospect.

The thought of self-publishing has always scared me. Which company do you use? How do you approach organisations like Amazon? How do you market yourself? All terrifying thoughts — but the biggest one of all was, that I would be the sole person responsible for proofing the book. Sometimes when you edit, edit and edit some more, word blindness sets in and your eyes skip over a typo no matter how many times you re-read your work —well it does for me. What if after the publishing process has completed you (or God forbid, one of your paying readers) spot an error — what do you do then.

Oops – gone a little off topic.

Anyway it’s a great opportunity — but I’m someone whose dream has always been to find an agent who will fall in love with my book (not an easy thing to find), and then be published the traditional way. Its not easy letting go of that dream.

My longing to hold my printed novel, bound in a shiny cover with my name on the spine was so great I was on the verge of accepting the offer. But, that wasn’t quite the dream. Then along came Pitch Wars.

I’d heard about Pitch Wars last year but I didn’t have anything available to submit to it.  I had one book I was re-drafting with my wonderful editor Kate Foster – please check her out http://www.katejfoster.com/ The other book was in the process of being written for the aforementioned competition.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pitch Wars — and if you are a writer on Twitter, how could you have not heard of it — is a contest, where mentors select a writer and book to champion, making it the best it can possibly be before it’s seen by agents, and hopefully leading to a publisher.

There are a number of categories: Adult, YA, MG etc.  Within each are mentors.  My book is YA and there were over sixty mentors in that category, and trawling through their blogs to discover a little about these people and their wish lists was a mammoth task. All to find the four mentors I was going to sub/query to.

This is when a decision had to be made.

If I went ahead with the self-publishing option, I needed to let the organisers know by 8th August. It was guaranteed. It would be published. I would get a hard copy of my very own and an e-book available to sell. But, if I did that I wouldn’t be able to submit my novel to Pitch Wars, and I wouldn’t know if I had been chosen by them until much later in the month. With almost two thousand entries submitted to Pitch Wars, and just over a hundred mentors I knew my chances were slight. But, if I didn’t try I’d always be wondering.

Self publishing  was guaranteed — I would hold my book in my hands. But, with Pitch Wars there are no guarantees — but it could be the road that ends with me looking my book on the other side of a book store window.

So I chose—

The submission window was between 3rd and 6th August, and I sent my sub early — I’m always early. You send a query letter plus your chapter and a short prologue if you have one. I’m discovering I love my prologue’s. I’ve heard that some agents don’t like them, but I use them to expose important parts of the story that need to be discovered early.

nail biting

And now there’s waiting.

Let the Twitter stalking commence as the mentors leak teasers.

Is that my story they’re talking about, or am I stretching the vague similarity to my novel?

Am I seeing things that aren’t there?

inbox

During this frustrating period as we have mental images of our precious pages sitting in unfamiliar inboxes, we refresh our emails every five minutes to see if we have a full request, which may or may not lead us to being mentored, and in a perfect world, being agented. We make friends on Twitter; maybe even join a new Facebook group and be amazed at how many like-minded souls are out there, and discover techniques each use to plot (or not plot). Not to mention going weak at the knees at the sight of so much competition.

A manuscript request may come, but that still doesn’t mean we’ll get selected for the next stage. And if we don’t it will be a huge disappointment and we’ll question ourselves and our writing abilities, but there’s a huge amount of rejection out there. So we lick our wounds, have a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine and just carry on writing.

After all it is what we do — isn’t it?

 

Rejection, Chocolate & Prosecco

Rejection

 

Well the long wait is over — time for a recap…..

In August last year, Hodderscape (the Sci-fi/fantasy/horror branch of publishers, Hodder & Stoughton), had an open door call for submissions. They received a little under 1.500 entries. Over the following months they started sending out rejections. By the new year, those remaining had made it to second reads, but then the rejections started again. A couple of months ago we were told those still waiting had reached the last 5% (about 70 remaining). The last few weeks have been painful. Refreshing emails and checking their website repeatedly throughout the day.

Today I received my rejection — after nine months this journey is over.

It was a very nice rejection, but that hasn’t stopped me from going through the stage of post-rejection.

girl crying

Stage 1 — I think I read the email wrong. It couldn’t possibly say they didn’t want me to send a full manuscript (eyes glazing over). I’ll read it again.

Stage 2 — Crap its true they don’t want me.

Stage 3 — Text husband; message writing pals. All supportive comments received.

Stage 4 — I want to cry, I’m not good enough — they hated it.

Stage 5 — Head is pounding, I can feel my body temperature rising. I just want to run away and hide.

Stage 6 — But I got this far. They thought my book was better than 95% of the entries. I can write, it just wasn’t right for them… (10 seconds later)…there’s no hope for me I can’t write!

Stage 7 — Back home, armed with bars of chocolate (not the best idea for a diabetic) and a bottle of prosecco. Things will be better tomorrow.

Stage 8 — Get back on the horse. Laptop on, continue with the editing in preparation for the next opportunity that comes my way.

Stage 9 — Open bottle.

Writing is hard. Creativity isn’t easy and rejection, well that completely sucks — and there’s so much of it!

But, we carry on. Rejection is like an earthquake, it rocks us to our core, but we get back up on our feet, dust ourselves down and continue to write.

bottle