The Ericksons

Category Archives: Writing

These are posts related to writing.


writer's rut

Sometimes life hands you lemonade right after you’ve brushed your teeth. That’s how the last few weeks have felt for me. Dealing with a medical emergency for one of my children as well as a turn of events in my husband’s cancer, left me little time to write. That happens sometimes, doesn’t it? The problem is that writing is almost as necessary as air for a writer.  How do you get out of a writer’s rut?Getting out of a writer’s rut can be a choreIn physics, there is a principle known as Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia.“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”So here we are in a writer’s rut. We will stay in this rut without being acted upon by some unbalanced force. That requires effort.Be willing to accept less than the bestSometimes as writers, we feel as though we need to create something great with our words or it’s not worth the effort. This can lead to writer’s rut. We sit in front of our Read more…


12 things about me

Life in our house is a little crazy right now. My husband is participating in a clinical trial for lung cancer at the Mayo Clinic to treat. One of our daughters has been dealing with her own medical problems, so I thought I would do something different this week by sharing 12 things about me.What does your ideal day look like?My ideal day would begin with me waking up to a quiet clean house. I would have a strong cup of coffee and spend the day writing. At noon, I would go to lunch with my daughters and have happy hour sushi at Hajime. I would end the day as I always do, snuggling in front of Netflix with my husband.What did you want to be when you were younger?I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Always.Who would you love to meet? What would you ask?I would love to meet my husband’s maternal grandmother. She died long before I married my husband so I never had the opportunity, but I feel as though I know her because of all the stories her children and grandchildren tell about her. She was an amazing woman. I have often been told, “It’s too bad you Read more…


beta readers

Most authors use beta readers to help them prepare their book for publication. It’s extra work and takes more time, but this is a step you won’t want to skip if you want your book to be as good as possible. How do you get beta readers? What do they do for you?Beta readers go by several different namesBeta readersStreet TeamAdvance ReadersLaunch TeamBook CrewReview CrewI call my beta readers “Advance Readers,” because they read my book in advance of it being in its final form (more about that later).What do Beta Readers Do?Authors not only use a variety of names for their beta readers, but they utilize their beta readers in several different ways, depending on what they need most.Do you :Need feedback to help you decide what to cut and what to keep?Welcome proofreading from those who excel at spotting typos?Have specific questions you need to have answered?I personally have my team of Advance Readers read an early version of my book. I ask for feedback, both specific and general and make a lot of changes based on their responses. Then, once the book is ready to publish, I send my beta readers a final copy of the book Read more…


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I’m going to explore how to approach your writing like an Olympian in training, as I answer the #IWSG question for August.What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?I am not athletic by any stretch of the imagination. Believe it or not, I’ve never even watched the Olympic Games. But I do find the accomplishments of Olympians inspiring. We can certainly learn from them, what it means to try to be the best in their field. Since I’m not well-versed in Olympic culture, I did a lot of reading about how an Olympian trains. The advice can help us as writers.[1] I will take the highlights of how to train like an Olympian and share how to apply them to your writing.The first thing we need to establish is that this is a hard journey. Just as an athlete doesn’t decide a month before the games that they are going to compete as an Olympian, a writer can’t say Read more…


Amazon Author Page

Today I will be exploring Amazon Author Central. What is it? How do you set up an Amazon Author Page? What can it do for you and your audience?Let’s start with Amazon Author Central. What is it?Amazon Author Central is your go-to place as an author who is selling books on the world’s largest online bookstore. There, you can find links to tools you can use as an author to write your books and sell them on Amazon. You can find the reviews people have left for your books as well as your sales statistics. I think the most interesting and useful thing on Amazon Author Central is your Amazon Author page. Here is an overview of what you and your readers can find on your Amazon Author Page.Readers will find:Your profile, including your profile picture and your website address(es). You can also include video, such as a book trailer if you choose. There is also a follow button so that your readers can get your latest posts and be notified when you publish a new book.Your books and their prices. These are found at the top for quick reference.Your Blog Feed. Yes! Your posts (or at least the first couple Read more…


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I’m going to explore my writing goals, past, present, and future as I answer the #IWSG question for July.What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?When I was youngI wrote a lot of poetry.My writing goals were very romantic.I can’t imagine writing a poem now.Perhaps I’ve grown too jaded, too defensive;Throwing up walls to protect my heart.I may still be a poet on the inside,But, on the outside, it’s, “Just the facts ma’am. It was 1993I graduated from the Minnesota Center for Arts Education. I knew that I wanted to write, and journalism seemed like the practical route to take. I had no idea of the politics I would encounter in that area of study. And, like most journalists, I couldn’t keep what I thought to myself. That alienated me from the people I needed to know to get ahead and achieve my writing goals.  I was young, foolish. I gave birth to my first daughter. Two Read more…


Putting Your Best Font Forward

In today’s post, I will be giving you a behind-the-scenes look at me putting together my next book, Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with your Cancer. Today, it’s all about making your book look good with the right formatting.Making Your Book Look Good starts with no formatting at allI’ve found this to be incredibly important. To help you see the transformations process that happens when you are making your book look good I have taken some screenshots of my manuscript along with some hints.Putting Your Best Font ForwardWith print projects, I often forget about the importance of font until it’s time to publish. Then I scramble to make it more visually appealing. Originally the paragraph font was Courier New, 12 pt. with the lines at 1.5. The chapter headings were 20 pt.It was boring and screamed, “self-published!” So, I decided to play around with it. I recommend looking at other professionally published books in your genre to see what they are using.After a little trial and error, I decided that Cambria was the font to go with for my non-fiction book. This change, alone, made a big difference.I then decided to change the font to 11 pt. and chapter Read more…


outlining your non-fiction book

I am big on using an outline in my writing process. Since (for now) I would like to avoid the whole pantsers vs. plotters debate, I will focus this post on outlining your non-fiction book. There are several reasons I recommend outlining your non-fiction book …Outlining your non-fiction book will help you come up with ideasThink of it as a method of brainstorming. You are getting all the ideas that have been swirling around in your head, out and onto paper. Some of these ideas will work and will be worth exploring deeper. Others will seem disconnected from the group. Maybe you can use them for another project, but they really don’t belong in this particular book. You can identify these easily because they don’t fit anywhere on your outline.During this process, you can see what decisions you need to makeFor example, in Facing Cancer as a Parent, I included a section called Ages and Stages. In it I cover how children from 0 to 26 years old react to, and cope with, a parent’s cancer. That’s a big span of ages! So, I broke them down into brackets: Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, School Age, Preteens and Teens, and Young Read more…


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I’m going to explore character names as I answer the #IWSG question for June:Which is harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?I have a much harder time coming up with a book title than I do good character names. While a book title needs to be catchy and clever, there are some good guidelines and tools available to help name characters. What are some of them?The root of character namesMany names have an underlying meaning. “Delilah” means desired or seductive. A character with this name will surely evoke thoughts of Samson’s downfall. Maybe you want this. If not, consider something else; perhaps “Deborah,” the mighty warrior and prophetess, judge of Israel, in the Bible.Consider EthnicityHow you use ethnicity in naming your character can go a long way toward helping you with characterization. An Asian American could just as easily have the given name “David,” as he would, “Yuan.” But the former will signal to the reader that he is Read more…


Book Proposal

According to one survey, 81% of people believe they have a book in them.  Unfortunately, most people don’t[i].  They might have a story in them, but a book is another thing, entirely. A book is written for an audience. In the past, publishers have asked the questions that ensured whether or not a book would likely sell. Writers answer these questions in the form of a book proposal. With the ability to self-publish, no one is asking these questions.Today, most writers:Don’t know what sellsOverestimate the demand for their book idea in an already saturated marketOverestimate their ability as a writerDon’t realize how much time it takes to write, edit, format, publish, and market their bookAre often too satisfied with a low-quality bookHow can you know whether or not your idea for a book is worth pursuing?Start where traditionally published writers do, with a book proposal.When someone is attempting to traditionally publish, they don’t invest the time and energy into writing a book until they know someone wants to publish it for them. So they write a book proposal to answer two questions a publisher will ask:Why should I publish this book?Why are you the person to write it?As a writer Read more…

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