How to Create a Strong Emotional Response in Your Readers

I saw this article and I knew I just had to share it. I’m an emotional reader. If the book doesn’t inspire any kind of emotion in me be it good or bad I don’t stay invested in it. I give up like I would stale chicken. I won’t keep eating it hoping I’ll get the flavor I know it’s meant to have when I get closer to the bone.

This is why I work hard to be an emotional writer as well. I practice what I preach. In this sermon Jackie Johansen a guest on the blog Love, Write, Thrive has something meaningful to say.

I strongly recommend you follow this blog, Live, Write, Thrive. The author/editor running it has a lot of helpful tips for authors, especially new writers.


man jumpingYou are writing your book, and you are excited thinking of others reading it. You understand what your characters are feeling, and you understand what you want your readers to feel.

You know what it is liked to feel something from a book. The books that stirred you stick in your mind—they mean the most to you, and they often changed your thinking about ourselves or the world.

You want this for your readers. You want this for yourself.

Often the books that end up on best-seller lists carry a heavy emotional punch. Books that lack emotionality fall flat. When that emotionality isn’t infused in our work, our characters fall flat. The work as a whole can fall flat, and unfortunately the result will be unmemorable novel.

Luckily, creating a strong emotional response in your audience is easy to do.

First, you have to keep in mind that emotions are just energy in motion. They have the ability move from you and transfer to the words on the page, then come alive in your readers. If you approach your writing feeling uninspired or doubtful about what you are saying, your words wont have the strong emotional impact you intend.

For example, we have all had moments of anger, sadness, and joy. When immersed in big feelings, we might write in our journal or write a letter to process what is going on inside us. If we reread what we wrote, we are taken back to that feeling. It is captured there on the page.

The most powerful writing comes from a writer really feeling something.

Connecting to the emotionality of your experience and writing from this place allows you to be in your creative power. In this state the words will flow effortlessly from your fingers because the energy of the emotion is propelling the work forward.

Prep yourself first: get into a writing mind

Doubt, resistance, distraction, and feeling ungrounded can negatively affect your writing. To help, pump yourself up before approaching your writing practice.

Plan to let your words flow no matter what. Give yourself a pep talk, make a commitment to write, and create with confidence and beautiful vulnerability.

Pull forward the creativity, wisdom, and aliveness that are innate in you. Feel the expansion of your emotional capacity, mirrored in your rising chest, as you take a deep breath and dive into your work.

When you want your writing to have more emotional depth, you need to feel what you want your readers to feel.

If you want readers to experience joy and elation, pull up a memory that makes you feel these emotions. Feel them in your body. Feel them running through you. Write from this state.

If you want to create a feeling of sadness, or elicit tears from your readers, take some time and get to a space when you are writing from a sadness that is palpable for you. Let this experience pour onto the page.

We have access to a wide array of emotions because we are emotional beings.

Often the various feelings that you want to bring to your work are ones you already experience at some time during your day.

When away from your writing desk, notice when various feelings pop up, and allow yourself to feel them. They are always in movement. You don’t have to dwell in them, but rather, experience them for what they are, and allow them to pass through you.

The more you tenderly notice your emotional states during the times you are not writing, the more gracefully you will bring depth to your work and readers’ experience.

There are many emotions captured in written language, but we are most familiar with only a small handful of them.

Don’t limit yourself or your writing. Google a list of “emotion” words to help bring awareness to various emotional states. Notice the nuances of the common feelings (anger, sadness, joy, etc.). Notice the subtleties and the similarities of different emotional experiences.

When you want to bring more of these feelings into your writing, tap into the wisdom of your body.

We have all experienced how our bodies change when we are feeling sad versus happy or confident. Our bodies and emotions are connected. We can use our bodies to shift our emotional state.

When writing, take on the posture of what you want your readers to feel. This quickly shifts your emotional state, your writing, and your thinking. Be present with the felt experience of what you want translated onto the page.

Trust the knowing that emotions are a universal human experience.

What you’re feeling will translate into your work. What you are feeling will resonate in the hearts of those receiving your words.

When you are open to experiencing different emotional states, you and your work will take on a powerful creative momentum. You will have taken control over your work in a new way. By surrendering to the feelings coming up for you, and the feelings you want your readers to feel, your work becomes more solid and alive.

Jackie Johansen headshotJackie Johansen is a writer and soul seeker. She writes at Finally Writing, where she combines personal development with actionable writing strategies to help you write the words that will inspire the world. If you are ready to unleash your inner writer and get writing from the inside out, start the free 21-Day Writing Challenge.

Feature Photo Credit: danorbit. via Compfight cc

Don’t Kill the Messenger

Indigo Sea Press Blog

TruthNow don’t get angry with me just because I’m about to tell you the truth. I know, I know, the truth hurts, but sometimes we have to face it. Now I am just going to be honest with you, and if the truth hurts, remember I’m just the messenger.

White houseJeffersonThis truth business all came about because a friend, well OK, an acquaintance really, had just returned from D.C. and was rhapsodize about all the monuments and I thought, “Yeah, that’s a city of nothing but liars and monuments and all the monuments are to liars.”


UnknownI realize that may not be a very nice thing to say, so I’ll mitigate it somewhat by saying there may be a monument to someone other than a liar like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and some of those little monuments in Arlington.

Aside from that slight possibility; in all likelihood the greater…

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Setting the Scene: The Importance of Location in Fiction by David Pereda

Indigo Sea Press Blog

My latest thriller, Twin Powers, was officially released by Second Wind Publishing, at the annual Book’Em event held at the Robeson Community College in Lumberton, North Carolina on February 28th. I was part of a three-person panel titled, Setting the Scene: Backdrops. I had great colleagues on the panel, a smart moderator, and a fantastic group of attendees who asked a number of insightful questions about the subject that I’d like to share with you.

  1. What is the location for Twin Powers, and why did you select that particular location?

There are three key locations in Twin Powers — Havana, Miami, and Dubai. Since about 60 percent of the book takes place in Dubai, I’d say Dubai is the principal location. I chose Dubai for several reasons: one, the villain is an Arab Sheikh from that city; two, my familiarity with Dubai and its…

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Guest post: An Author’s Fan Mail by Roger Hurn

Morgen 'with an E' Bailey

Today’s guest blog post, on the topic of reader feedback, is brought to you by multi-genre writer Roger Hurn.

An Author’s Fan Mail

RogerFrom time to time I receive fan mail. I’m not saying my postman ever risks getting a slipped disk from delivering a bulging bag of it to my door, but it sometimes happens that my writer’s ego gets a modest boost when a small pile of letters from my readers drops onto my doormat.   I was reading a batch of them the other day when my daughter walked into my study. She saw what I was doing and said, ‘Do you know why kids write to you, Dad?’

I shook my head and said I didn’t, but I could tell by the look on her face that she was about to enlighten me. I wasn’t wrong.

‘It’s because their teachers make them,’ she said in a…

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Book Marketing 101: Five Things to Do Before Your Book is Released by Lee & Low Books.

I got this post from Lee & Low Books and I just had to share it. Every author goes through a headless chicken moment right before a book release. This should help some.

Authors often ask me: What can I do while I’m waiting for my book to come out? Here are five of my top suggestions:

1. Develop your list of contacts.
It may seem obvious,  but one of the most important things you can do while waiting for your book to be released is to simply put together a list of all your professional and personal contacts who you think should know about your book. This includes family,book marketing 101friends, coworkers, professional contacts, fellow writers, and contacts from any communities you’re personally connected to: religious communities, volunteer organizations, even neighborhood restaurants where you’re a regular. Don’t be shy! All of these people will be excited to find out that you’ve published a book, and many of them will want to support you by buying a copy. Create a clean list of email addresses so that when the book is released, you can easily send out an email to everyone to let them know (even if you are connected to many of these people on Facebook, studies show that they will be more likely to make a purchase from a direct email). After that, don’t forget to add new contacts to your list as you meet new people at conferences or events.

2. Reach out to your local bookstore about hosting a launch party.
As soon as you have a release date for your book, get in touch with your local bookstore to see if they would be willing to host a launch party for you. Many bookstores are happy to do this, especially for local authors. Launch parties at bookstores are a win/win: you get a space for hosting and don’t have to worry about handling book sales yourself, and bookstores get an influx of people who are excited to purchase books. Coordinate with your publisher to make sure you pick a launch date when books will definitely be available.

3. Refine your online presence.
Now is the time to make sure that your online presence is everything you want it to be and contains all the most updated information about you. This means, first and foremost, having a clean and updated website. Put a book cover, release information, and any reviews you’ve received on your website as soon as possible. You may feel like only your mom visits your website now, but once your book comes out, traffic will increase, and your website should be in top shape before then. You should also use this time to decide which, if any, social media platforms you want to use. Delete accounts you don’t use instead of letting them languor un-updated for years (or, at the very least, add links that redirect people to your website) and start getting in the habit of updating content regularly on any platforms you want to use.

Photo from the launch party of Juna's Jar
Photo from the launch party of Juna’s Jar

4. Come up with a list of topics related to your book.
Book releases today are almost always accompanied by blog tours or some other type of blog coverage. You can do your part to get ready for this by putting together a list of topics related to your book on which you would be willing to write guest posts or answer questions. These could include anything from the research you did for the book to your playlist of songs you listened to while revising. Be creative! Share this list with your publishers so they can use it when shaping their pitches for bloggers. They may also work with you to shape some of these topics into longer pieces to pitch to online or print publications.

5. Get to know local opportunities.
Spend some time looking into any local or state book awards for which you might be eligible, and pass them on to your publisher to make sure they are submitting your book. Are there any book fairs or book festivals in your area? The deadlines for getting on panels at these events are often many months before the event happens, so the earlier you find out about them, the better the chances that you’ll be able to participate. Don’t assume your publisher already knows about everything; while publishers have extensive lists of awards and book festivals, no one knows your area better than you, and you may find something they’ve missed.

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to bother your publisher! Even if they’re busy, they’ll appreciate the work that you are doing to prepare for your book release and be happy to work with you.


This is just the first post to a series. Make sure to visit Lee & Low Books to stay updated and informed. Click here to go to the original post.

Author’s Compromising On Their Work

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Why do publishers ask for the first three chapters of a MS?

Have you ever read the first chapter of a book and found it really bland, but because you’ve spent money on this book, or an author has asked you for an honest review, you push yourself to read at least the next two chapters. And when those do nothing for you either, the book is cast aside.

How many reviews have you seen with the words ‘couldn’t finish because I couldn’t relate’ or ‘the first chapters were so boring i figured the rest of the book will be the same’.

When author’s send a query to the publisher, attached is a book synopsis. How the synopsis is written influences whether or not the author will receive a callback requesting the first three chapters of the MS. This is where the author either secures a contract or receives a rejection letter. These first chapters need to be engaging, drawing the reader in and keeping them hooked to the end of the book. I call these chapters bait because they determine the readership of that book.


So can we blame publishers when they ask authors to either add or subtract to it? Can we truly blame publishers when at the end of the day, the book should be carrying the editor’s name not the author’s because it doesn’t resemble the original work?

Publishers never sign books that are not marketable despite how great the story may be. They would never place themselves in a position of facing huge losses because they believe in an author’s vision, in their creative ingenuity crossing their fingers hoping readers also see this. In circumstances where the publishers find the story interesting enough, they do ask authors to rework the book and re-submit.

Usually i ask myself, ‘why should i struggle to identify what i need to rework when i have no idea what they see as being wrong with it?’ This is because the publishers doesn’t want to spend more than what they deem necessary on editors. The less work the book needs the better/ cheaper for them. And once an author ‘reworked’ (and some authors just change one or two words and resubmit) and the publisher deems the changes satisfactory, the author receives a contract. The publishers gave the author a chance to perfect the MS and once the contract is signed, it’s their turn to do with it as they think best.

There is all this lingo that you need to read and understand before signing on the dotted line and most of the time, authors don’t take the necessary time to read and understand. Well, there are three sections that need undivided attention, the Royalties, rights and terms of agreement.

‘The author agrees to be open about changes the publishers believe the manuscript need and should not be obstinate. if so, the contract will be broken and author will pay for work already done up to the point of disagreement’

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Yeah, authors really need to watch out for this line in their contracts because holding onto your integrity will end up costing a bundle. So for those who have no other choice but to agree, they do find that the book has undergone so many changes it doesn’t resemble the story s/he penned down. Why? Because publishers only publish marketable manuscripts. For those who published vampire books during the Twilight craze, they did find their books resembling that series a lot, just not so much as to risk being sued for plagiarism, because Edward and Bella was what was marketable during that time.

Book covers aren’t immune either. The author describes what they like, what they believe best tells their story in a picture or the models pose. You’d think that would be simple enough. No way. If publishers don’t like the description given, the author receives an email containing a cover s/he either didn’t approve of the first time or didn’t ask for with the comment ‘the publisher has made the executive decision to chose the final book cover‘.

Clearly, the publishing industry is just like any other entertainment industry in the world. Author’s are forced to conform to what is in season at the time and unique becomes the ugly step-sister.  Well, unless there is just one or two things that make it standout from all the other zebras. It does explain why publishers have authors write books under one theme, or a plot line. See why there are so many self-published authors who do better than those represented. Because they are uniquely themselves, not a clone of Stephanie Meyer or the other big names in publishing.

So do you as an author fight for your vision or do you compromise? When does an author say I’d rather invest in my own work and be uniquely me or will they say as long as I’m getting paid they can do the hell they want with the book?

Books ought to be judged by their own merits, and what makes them unique and if the creative vision is compelling and engaging and not some business model. Personally, I don’t read books with the same plot line or story line unless there is something very unique about them. What’s the point of paying for three to five books that are the same nursery rhythm with the same melody and lyrics just sang by different people at a different tempo?


Five Habits to Avoid in Fiction Writing

Another great article from Scribendi I just had to share. This site is so great in giving meaningful writing advice, i’ve made it a part of my reading schedule. Make sure you visit this site during your writing journey. I’ve noticed a change in my own writing and it’s just been a week!

Bad Habits You Must Avoid In Your Writing!


1. Generic verbs and nouns

Imagine trying to paint everything in the world using only four colors. The results would probably look pretty generic. When you are a writer, your language is your medium. People, places, and things (i.e., nouns) have names, and it’s your job to know what they are. Precise nouns work wonders in fiction writing because nouns have connotations or meanings that go beyond their dictionary definitions. If one character gives another character flowers, tell readers what kind of flowers. Are they tulips or columbines or snapdragons or peonies? This information could hint at what time of year it is (tulips are pretty scarce in September) and could also tell us something about the character who gives the flowers. Four dozen roses are expensive—does this person have money or like to show off? A bouquet of wildflowers might have come from the character’s backyard—perhaps this person likes to garden.

A similar thought process should be applied to the selection of verbs. There are at least 12 synonyms for the verb to laugh, and each one evokes a specific image. A character could express amusement by cackling, chortling, chuckling, giggling, guffawing, snickering, sniggering, tittering, crowing, whooping, simpering, or smirking. Precise verbs contribute greatly to characterization. If a man walks into a room, all readers know is that he has entered. He could be anybody. But if he limps in, right away readers want to know if he is old or injured or tired. If he gallops in, readers know he is energetic or excited about some piece of news. If he swaggers, readers wonder if he is full of himself or perhaps just drunk.

2. The exception: He said, she said

Reading good dialogue makes readers feel like they’re actually listening in on a real conversation. Because of this, it can be very disruptive if the author keeps butting in to tell readers that the speaker intoned or declared or asserted or retorted. It could seem that using “said” repeatedly in dialogue tags is repetitive, but in fact the little word is so inconspicuous, it just fades into the background—which is exactly what we want when we’re trying to listen in on a good conversation. The rare deviation is fine (asked, in particular, seems to be okay once in a while), but if you find yourself using a colorful synonym for every dialogue tag in your manuscript or screenplay, you may be doing more harm than good.

3. Adjective/Adverb-a-rhea

Sometimes a well-placed and specific adverb or adjective strengthens or clarifies an image. However, many writers, in a misguided attempt to make their fiction writing descriptive, overuse these words. If you master the use of precise nouns and verbs (see tip number one), you’ll almost certainly avoid the bad habit of propping up a weak verb or noun with a host of intrusive modifiers, as in the following example:

Carrying a steaming and fragrant mug, she walked angrily and loudly into his office.

Why write that, when you could have simply said:

Carrying her peppermint tea, she stormed into his office.

The second sentence actually gives us more information using fewer words.

Furthermore, when editing your manuscript, be especially wary of adjectives that don’t actually convey much…

interesting, lovely, exciting, beautiful

…and adverbs that introduce redundancy…

stereo blared loudly (blared implies high volume)

scrubbed vigorously (scrubbed implies intensity)

…or contradict the meaning of the verb or adjective they modify.

slightly pregnant (with pregnancy, you either are or aren’t!)

very unique (something is either unique or not unique)

4. Inconsistent point of view

An author of fiction must choose the perspective, or point of view, from which a story will be told. In first-person narration, one charactertells the story in his or her own voice (using “I”). Third-person narration can be either limited (an objective narrator tells the story by focusing on a particular character’s thoughts and interactions) or omniscient (the narrator sees and hears all). No single point of view is better than another, but once you have made a choice, be consistent. If your story is told in first-person, then remember that the narrator must be present in every scene he describes to the reader; otherwise, how would he have the information? If a limited third-person narrator who hears only Tom’s thoughts tells the story for the first four chapters, the reader should not suddenly be privy to the mailman’s daydreams in chapter five.

Of course, there are some fine examples of novels that experiment with point of view by switching between narrators. But even in these stories, some kind of predictable pattern is imposed for clarity, such as a change in narrator from one chapter to the next but not within a chapter.

5. Unnaturally expositional, stilted, or irrelevant dialogue

Read your dialogue out loud. Does it sound like the way people actually talk (without all the ums and ahs and boring digressions, of course)? Do the characters rattle off factual information you are trying to jam into the story? Are they talking about the weather? Because if they’re talking about the weather, you’d better have a good reason for it. Otherwise, the reader will feel bored, and a bored reader closes his or her book and turns on the TV.

All this advice is important, but by far the worst habit a fiction writer can develop is the habit of giving up too easily. Keep writing every day. If you need help, remember that our manuscript editors are available 24/7 and they can help you tackle all of your manuscript mishaps.