Monday, June 11, 2012

Angela Ackerman: The Emotion Thesaurus Blog Tour

Today it's my huge honor to welcome Angela Ackerman to The QQQE. Angela has long been a mentor of mine, but she's also a good friend, and an incredibly accessible person when it comes to lending a hand to anyone in this journey we call The Path to Publication.

Dun, dun, duh, duh.

I know, I'm just being weird for fun. I do that a lot. Anyway, today is my turn on the blog tour for the release of Angela and Becca's first published writer's thesaurus: The Emotion Thesaurus. I've long been a fan of these features on their blog, The Bookshelf Muse, but having this reference as an e-book, or even better, in print, is an amazing tool for our writer's toolboxes.

So, before I go on forever, I asked Angela to write about something really cool today.

Take it away, AA:

When Matt invited me to swing by, I asked him what flavor of post he’s like to see. Of course the dear man suggested a topic that’s right up my undead-clogged ally: Zombies, and why they’ve become such a phenomenal draw in our society.

Anyone who knows me knows I like three things above all else: Bacon, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Zombies. But his question made me dig deeper into why I think society is thrilled by the slash-and-gnaw scares of a world turned undead. So, here’s my slab of brain with some buckshot on the side: Politics.


Yep, that’s right, Politics.

We live in a world that is immense--in size, in population, in rules and regulations, in political agendas, economy and business. There's famine and disease and global warming and war and who knows, maybe aliens to worry about...and as lone individuals, the scope of it all is beyond us. So, we elect governments and leaders to think the big thoughts and handle the big decisions, juggling everything so the important balls all stay up in the air.

The giant machine of government handles all the details. They tell us what is right, wrong, good and bad. They distill our options, ask us choose A or B so we feel like we’re contributing and then pat us on the back and send us on our way. After roughing a sea of propaganda, statistics and promises delivered by bright, teeth-whitened smiles, we just hope that whatever we chose -A or B- will get it right more than it will wrong.

Each day we go to work, we pay taxes, we color inside the lines. But this type of adherence also binds us to a strict path. On some level, we become the Borg. Oh sure, we’ll also growl and snarl over stupid policies or laws, get upset at the unfairness, inequality and unbalance we see. Some even take it a step further and stand up and say Enough! They march, petition, and for awhile, we remember that we are should be in control.

But then time passes and the majority goes back to work, to taxes, to coloring inside the lines. Because deep inside, we know Resistance Is Futile. No one truly can fight the Machine we’ve created, not unless the Machine agrees itself that change is needed.

Hmm...sounds like a dystopian novel, doesn’t it?

Now back to Zombies. Or the Borg. Because if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see I’m really talking about who we’ve become in the big picture: a little zombie-ish. We don’t like it. None of us do. But regardless, we are chained by the fact that when our ancestors, attracted by bright colors and blinking lights, climbed onto the carousel named Progress, they didn’t realize that maybe one day it would spin too fast for anyone to get off.

So why the Undead appeal? Simple. Fiction and movies provide us with a twisted, carnival-like reality where we can imagine what it is like to fight back. To break free of the mentality of helplessness and stop the carousel. To act, and regain the Amusement Park. Battling zombies gives us the chance to take control and turn the big world small again.

I know, this sounds a bit dour. Maybe it is. But it also illustrates why writers are so important! At the heart of Man is the desire to leave one's mark. People want to express themselves in a way that leaves the world a better place. Unfortunately people don't always have as much control or influence over the big things as they would like, which is why so many turn to movies and fiction to escape.

So, keep those undead hordes coming writers & filmmakers, and your audiences will love you for it! :)

Angela Ackerman is one half of The Bookshelf Muse duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression. Sadly, this book has nothing to do with Zombies, but it has everything to do with writing, so if you'd like to find out more, visit us here.

Thanks so much, Angela!

Now I've got two more very cool things to say. Very cool, because they involve all of you, directly.

We're giving away two things today. Well, really Angela's giving them away, but I'm here to facilitate.

The two prizes are: A free .pdf copy of The Emotion Thesaurus, and a 1000 word critique from Angela, which I forgot to give away when The Bookshelf Muse honored me as a Writing Hero. It can be for anything. I would suggest you use it to tighten the all important opening pages of a manuscript you plan on submitting to agents or editors, but you could certainly ask her to look at a short story, or probably even a synopsis (but you'd have to work that out with Angela).

Here's how it will work. I'm no good at rafflecopter or, so I like to keep things simple. Each person who comments on this post will get one entry. If you want to earn extra entries, you must find a new follower for The QQQE, The Bookshelf Muse, or both. This will be on the honor system, so don't cheat. You don't necessarily have to Facebook, Blog, or Tweet, but just talk someone you know who doesn't follow our blogs into stopping by to follow. A new follower to The QQQE who mentions your referral in their comment earns you an extra point. A new follower to The Bookshelf Muse who mentions your referral in their comment earns you another extra point. BUT, if you send someone to both blogs who doesn't follow either, and they mention this (and you) in their comment, you'll get five extra points/entries.

Think of it like the reaping in The Hunger Games, except, you know, cool.

Then, I'll put the entries in a hat, and the first name I pick will have their choice of the two prizes. The second name will win whichever prize is left.

So, leave your comment, thank Angela for being so awesome, and if you have to come back and comment a second time to total your points, that's fine with me!


Laura Pauling said...

It's so much fun to analyze why society becomes enamored with things like zombies and I"m sure it's always a reflection of ourselves somehow.

Fun post!

Karen Baldwin said...

Thank you Angela, you're awesome. I never would have linked zombies to politics...but I like your analysis.

Anonymous said...

Good zombie-political analogy. Zompolics? Polizombs?

Hope this comment suffices as my entry as I have no blog followers to refer yet! lol

I need help with the opening of my zombie novel :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! I just had a gander at The Emotional Thesaurus and it's absolutely brilliant. I started using it based on what my MC was doing or feeling while writing a bit of a scene just now and the ET made my words explode with much more imaginative prose! I am SO buying this book asap if I don't win the contest ;)

Stina said...

Now I know why Angela and I are such great friends. We both love Diet Dr. Pepper. I totally didn't know that about her, but we never eat lunch at places that serve it, so I've never seen her eyes light up when she gets it. :)

Love love love the ET. Couldn't imagine writing without it. I especially love the hardcopy. It's my favorite resource.

Nancy Thompson said...

What an interesting take on why people love zombies. I don't care for them myself. I can't take the gore. But I am drooling over the Emotion Thesaurus. Have been ever since I first heard about it 2 weeks ago. You can enter me in that contest, but either way, I will get myself a copy if that book!!!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

For the record, I do not want to become a Borg! Zombie, maybe.

Great post, Angela! Thanks for having her, Matt.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post Angela. I would have never connected politics and zombies.
I already have Angela's book so let someone else win it.

Talli Roland said...

Zombies and politics! Love it! :) Congrats to Angela on the book.

Kristen Wixted said...

Angela has been a great inspiration to me, too. I do think writers and creative people of all types are such an important facet in humanity--at every period in history.
Three cheers for the Emotion Thesaurus!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

The political side of zombie-mania. Awesome!

I already have a copy of The Emotional Thesaurus, although I'm thinking of getting another for my class. I brought it into school one day during the last week ... with results that I'll be sharing later as part of the ET blog tour.

jerichas said...

Thanks, Angele. After all the recent news stories and the peculiar outpouring of zombies jokes ranging from the oh-god-if-I-don't-laugh-I'll-cry to the horrible-offensive-and-tasteless, it's nice to have a reminder of why it is we keep coming back. (Interesting that zombies, in their current popular brain-eating incarnation, have only been cool since, oh, the 70s. Wonder what that says about us?)

The Emotion Thesaurus sounds amazing. Raffle winner or no, I'd love to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for hosting, Matt! I'm glad to know about this!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The link between the two makes sense. We are often like the Borg.
I won't ever make a huge difference in this world, but hope I at least make a small one.

Julie DeGuia said...

I have to admit - zombies and politics are two things I very rarely think about. I know I'm in the minority here. Although my son did just get the first book in The Zombie Chasers yesterday... as I rolled my eyes at him.

Anyway, the other point of this blogpost was to promote Angela's book and blog, and I have just become her most recent follower! So thank you for pointing me to her blog Matt. You can give yourself an extra entry into your own contest! :-)

Old Kitty said...

It always frightens me how anonymous I truly am! Yikes!!

So yay for creative people and thinkers! Take care

LTM said...

what a fun post! And I think you're so right about the whole political machine and zombie obsession. I think that was sort of the thing w/vampires and the rise of corporations (aka, bloodsuckers). Yes?

I'm actually not a huge zombie fan, but I did enjoy Zombieland. I'm also not a huge Star Trek fan, but hubs is always talking about the Borg. Me: Victor Borg? :D <3

Jessica Bell said...

Would love to enter! Not for the critique though. :o) Thanks Angela and Matt!

Bish Denham said...

I adore Angela. She is one my earliest followers, earliest mentors. I am continually in awe of all that she does. (I already have an ecopy of the thesaurus and please, let someone else be blessed with a critique!)

Angela Ackerman said...

Matt, you are the best for letting me take over your blog AND talk about Zombies. I mean, what a way to start off the week. Now if only I had some bacon and could steal Stina's Diet Dr Pepper, I'd be aces. :)

Thanks everyone for the comments, and for all the kind words about the ET & blog. You all rock, and it's a pleasure to be part of such an amazing group of folks here online.

@ Suz--I am so stealing Zompolics. Awesome.

@SA, I know. There's something just ultra-creepy about the borg--their greasy while skin, coal black eyes...*shudders* & LTM, I think the Borg is also discussion-worthy because it was probably one of the biggest "This is what happens when technology gets too intelligent" situations that made people think. *think" I'm pretty sure it predates Terminator, another popular example of that.

@Dianna, I am looking forward to hearing how it went in your class. I've had several teacher contact me about it and looking forward to your take!

@Alex, I'm with you--I think big or small, making a difference is still 100% worthy. :)

Hugs everyone--hope you all have a great week of writing and zombie-dodging! :)


farawayeyes said...

Zombies - politics/politicians! Ha, ha, ha, ha.

Jay Noel said...

Awesome guest post!

I'm going to take another angle at the zombie theory. I believe zombie stories strike at something primal in all of us - survival.

A zombie apocalypse throws out all convention and frees of us societial laws and rules. You get to take whatever you want from a convenience store, load up on guns and ammo, and kill at will.

They're just zombies, after all, and killing them is not like killing a person. So you're free from guilt. You kill to survive.

Andrew Leon said...

I don't borg well. Or zombie.

Lisa Gail Green said...

LOVE Angela's analysis! But she's awesome. Great minds think alike on topics too. ZOMBIES. Oh yeah. Enter me! Though I feel like everyone I know already knows I love the Bookshelf Muse and hopefully you too, Matt!

Emily R. King said...

For someone who turns to movies and books to escape, I appreciated this post! Thanks, Matthew and Angela.

Rick Daley said...

I think politicians are most like zombies in the sense that they lack functioning brains.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

You are definitely onto something there Angela with the whole political clime and the brain deaded-ness of our jobs (Joe vs. the Volcano anyone?) I also like zombies because an entire apocalypse of them removes enough people from the world that the survivors are suddenly important again. The only thing that I don't like about zombie apocalypse books is the lack of diversity. For example, no gay people ever survive. It's always straight people.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Angela, interesting take. I love the Borg but I'm so not a zombie fan. My hubs and son are-movies, shows, games-they got it covered.

It was funny, we saw The Avengers last weekend and we had a lively discussion why movies like this are so popular. I think much of what you said about the political environment would apply. I think we need heroes. To know there is something out there that can kick ass and take names when we can't do it. Not that it keeps us from wanting to try.:-)

I've heard lots of kudos about The Emotional Thesaurus. I haven't had a chance to check it out just yet but I want to.


Lydia Kang said...

I think culture and society are so delicately entwined, that even the most inexplicably idiotic trends (Kardashians, anyone?) can be explained by some simple issues within our society.

Beth H. said...

Awesome post, Angela! Thanks, Matt, for sharing it. Of course, you've given me some uncomfortable food for thought as I proceed with my inside-the-lines afternoon, but maybe that will give me added impetus to go home and work on my novel about an ordinary guy breaking out of his daily life. I don't have any literal zombies, but the same themes apply.

Johanna Garth said...

Angela this post made me think about zombies in a whole new way. Love the insightful thoughtful approach to a brain hungry horde.

Also loving Walking Dead. Now I can watch it with a whole new spin.

Jackie Layton said...

Not just anybody can tie zombies and politics together in one blog post. Amazing.
Thanks for sharing today!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

Okay, this is really intriguing and totally in the line of something I might think up (except I don't tend to go to the zombie end very often). This book is currently near the top of my wish list, but let's be honest, I'll probably buy it even if I don't win. Great post!

.jessica. said...

I think you're dead on, Angela. (Annnnd I didn't mean to make a pun there, but: ba-doom-SHA!) Getting to fight the undead sounds awfully cathartic when you think about it like that.

..she says, sitting at her work computer, in her office, under the buzz of the flourescent lights...

So it begins.

Michael G-G said...

I swoon over the Emotion Thesaurus, but then I do tend to be a wee bit emotional. Love ya both!

Hart Johnson said...

Love the Zombie assessment! I think you are spot on! Good luck with your book!

Zan Marie said...

Wonderful post, Angela!

Matthew, does the fact that *I'm* now a follower of The Bookshelf Muse count? ; )

Ciara said...

How funny. I just got off the phone with one of my critique partners who just put her hands on the print version. She was so excited she started reading some of it to me on the phone. LOL It is an AWESOME resource for writers.

Angela Ackerman said...

Jay, Michael and Sia, I think we're all on the same page. There is something primal that pulls at us, and the need to be the hero. :) It's all tied together in a nice, grisly package.
@Rick--you crack me up!

Thanks Emily, Lisa, Johanna, Jackie and Beth!

@Lydia, so true.

>Jessica--nice pun & epic drums roll to boot!

@Tasha & Michael, you are too kind!

Thanks Hart & welcome Zan!

Ciara, that is crazy! And wow I am so thrilled she actually started reading it! That is just so incredibly awesome--thanks so much for telling me about it. :)

Thanks everyone for the fun commentary. :) Nothing like a little zombie action to pull us all together, :) And thanks Matt for having me here! You are the best, and your blog is so fun :)

Traci Kenworth said...

Zombies, oh no!! Lol. Good to see you on here, Angela and congrats again on The Emotion Thesaurus.

Kelly Hashway said...

Yay for zombies!

New follower.

PK HREZO said...

Definitely second the fact that Angela is awesome. And even tho zombies don't appeal to me, everything else she just said about sticking it to the man, does. Can I get an amen, sista?!
I have my handy dandy Emotion Thesaurus beside me every time I write. It is a MUST HAVE for writers!!