The Ericksons

Style Guide

You’ve written your book proposal and decided that your idea for a book is definitely worth pursuing. As a self-published author (or an independent blogger) you will want your content to look as professional as possible. This means doing some of the same things professional publishers do. In this “Behind the Scenes of Self-Publishing” post, I will be sharing why it’s important for every self-published writer to have a style guide.

Create your style guide, or adopt one that someone else has created, early on in your writing process (the earlier the better). In your style guide, you will answer questions about how information is presented. You can then refer to your style guide throughout your writing and publishing process to keep your content consistent.

Because of issues that can arise when you actually publish your book, you will want to wait to implement fonts and formatting until you get to that point. I’ll give you the low-down on that in a later post.

First, consider style choices for your content.

For example:

  • How will you handle capitalization and numbering of titles and headings?
  • What types of words will you hyphenate? For example, I hyphenate ages like this: “thirteen-year-old.”
  • Will you spell out numbers in full, or not? In books, I spell them in full, as you can see in the previous example. In blog posts, however, I use numerals. So you may want to have a different style sheet for each type of content you publish.
  • How will you write out dates?
  • Will you use footnotes or endnotes? What citation rules will you follow?
  • How will you organize your bibliography?
  • Is your book or blog specialized? If so, how will you handle specific vocabulary and acronyms that the general public is unfamiliar with? WIll you have a glossary or index?
  • Are there specific grammar and punctuation rules you will encounter that are flexible? For example, do you use the Oxford comma? Decide how you will follow these rules in your specific publication and stay consistent!

Perdue OWL is just one of the great online resources to help you wade through the technical aspects of this.

It’s your style guide

You are in control of it. If you are writing for someone else, you will follow their chosen style guide, but as a self-published writer, you can bring your own distinctive flair to the table.  It is important that you stay consistent in how you present it, though. That’s why knowing from the outset of the project how to handle various situations, is important.

Consistency=Professionalism

Where will you place your content within the book?

There are so many things you can put into a book. The following is a fairly comprehensive list. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) used all of these pages. Look at books that are similar to what you are writing. What do their author’s include? Be practical. For example, my daughter wrote the foreword to Facing Cancer as a Parent. This was appropriate since she grew up with a parent who has cancer. She could speak to my qualifications to write the book. Because of that, I didn’t need to include a preface. It would have been redundant. Only use the parts you need and keep the rest in order.

Front Matter

  • Book Half Title Page—This is the title only (No subtitle or byline)
  • Series Title Page—A list of other published work in the series or a blank page. This is on the backside of the book half-title page.
  • Title Page—Your book’s full title and subtitle, as well as your name and that of any co-author(s) and/or translator.
  • Copyright Page—Copyright notice, including the year of publication and the name of the copyright holder (usually the author), permissions and acknowledgments, publisher’s address and country of publication, categories, ISBN, and disclaimers.
  • Dedication—Optional.
  • Epigraph—A quotation along the theme of the book (optional).
  • Table of Contents—Only used in nonfiction and Fiction when the chapters have titles. Subheadings are optional.
  • Foreword—Most common in nonfiction. Written by someone other than the author, typically an expert in the field of the book’s subject.
  • Preface—Most commonly found in nonfiction books. Describes the author’s qualifications to write about the book’s subject.
  • Acknowledgments—While traditionally positioned here, this note of appreciation to those who supported or helped the author as they wrote the book is more commonly being placed in the back matter. This is due to the logistics of the sample pages an author is allowed to display in online stores like Amazon.com. By placing the acknowledgments in the back, the prospective reader is able to see the more pertinent material.
  • Introduction—This is preliminary information the author wants to share to help the reader better understand the material they will read. In a fiction book, this will be a prologue, which will set the scene or introduce characters.
  • A 2nd Half Title Page—This is optional, and usually only used is there is extensive front matter.

The Body of the Material

Usually divided into sections, chapters, and subchapters.

Back Matter

  • Afterword—Situates the book in a wider context. In fiction, this is an “epilogue” to bring closure to the story.
  • Note to the Reader—When self-publishing a book, it is common and advisable to write a professional note to the reader thanking them for reading your book and requesting that if they enjoyed it, would they please consider writing a review of the book on Amazon.com and Goodreads. This is particularly applicable in an e-book format.
  • Acknowledgments are more commonly being placed here.
  • Appendix—Includes any data, tables, reports, research, and sources.
  • Chronology—Used to list the events in a historical context.
  • Glossary—Lists any complex or technical terms.
  • Bibliography—Depending on how you cite your sources, this lists source material at the end of the book.
  • Contributors and Credits—Lists any contributors to the book and credits any illustrations.

Later you will format your content.

Formatting is anything you do to change the appearance of the text. This includes:

  • Font: style, size, bold, italics, underline, etc.
  • Spacing: Single, double, or somewhere in between?
  • Lists: Will they be bulleted, numbered, in outline form, etc.?
  • How will you treat book and chapter titles, headings, subheadings, etc.?

Write your formatting choices down in your style guide, as well. You can (and should) use this same guide in all of your future books, especially those in a series.

If you are a blogger, you will create a style guide for all of your blog posts! Often it evolves over time, as you learn what you and your readers like. Later, you can freshen up old posts and make any changes necessary for consistency.

Next week…

I will tell you more about formatting and why it’s important to hold off on formatting until you are ready to publish. You will want to start thinking about this early on, though.

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.


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 sells
  • Overestimate the demand for their book idea in an already saturated market
  • Overestimate their ability as a writer
  • Don’t realize how much time it takes to write, edit, format, publish, and market their book
  • Are often too satisfied with a low-quality book

How 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 attempting to self-publish, you need to answer these same questions. You do this in your book proposal. This guide is meant as a starting point for self-published writers to assess the viability of their book in much the same way that a publisher does. And it only makes sense to do this. After all, you are the publisher!

If you are trying to traditionally publish, you will want to be more precise and professional in its layout.

Start with an introduction.

  • What is your book about?

This should hook your audience enough that they will see there’s a compelling reason to consider your book.

  • What is its genre/category?

A great way to determine this is to go to your local library. Find a book that is very similar to what you want to write and see how it is categorized. You might need to tweak it to find the best fit, but this is a good starting point. Amazon.com can be used in a similar manner. Unfortunately, many self-published authors miscategorize their books so make sure you aren’t following someone down the wrong path.

If you happen to be writing a novel, the best resource I know of is the Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. He does an excellent job of explaining genre and how to decide which genre your book falls under. It’s much more complex than it sounds, but he gives step by step guidance to help you sort it out.

Include an estimated length as well as the number of photos and/or illustrations. Pages with images are often more expensive and will need to be figured into the publishing cost.

What about the competition?

Like the three bears, it’s important that you have some competition, but that the market isn’t overly saturated. What about that book that no one has thought of yet? You know… the really original idea.

“There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each.”[ii]

With that many books being published each year, if no one has thought to write about something, then no one is thinking about reading it, either. So some competition is good. But, you also need to stand out from the crowd. The perfect example of this is the cancer book market. I can speak to this since I am a part of this over-saturated market.

Before writing my book, “Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who has Cancer,” I spoke with David Henry Sterry of The Book Doctors. He explained that traditional publishers are very leery of publishing books about cancer because everyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer has decided to write a memoir about it and they just haven’t sold well. He was also quick to point out that there is still a market for books in this category…

But you need to stand out from the crowd

I chose to do this by focusing more on the practical advice people need when facing cancer, rather than our story. My goal was to stand out from the more sterile “about cancer” books written by professionals, by making my books very readable from the voice of experience, while focusing on the reader.

Find comparable books. It’s helpful to know what books have the same style and feeling as the book you are writing. You can use this information in your book description on its sales page, as well. “If you like “Such and Such,” you’re going to love…” Also, know what is missing from each of those books, and how your book fills the void.

Book Proposal

Who is your book’s audience?

Narrow down who your audience is, as much as possible. It is common for writers to write their book in a generalized manner in an attempt to please everyone. Unfortunately, when you do this, you connect with no one. Drilling down to a specific audience in your book proposal results in your readers feeling like the book was written just for them. And in a sense, it was! How is your book going to benefit this audience?

Is it part of a series?

Will there be sequels? This is a huge factor in marketability. As I talked to David Henry Sterry about a mystery series I was starting, I said I planned on writing 3 books. It took place in a small town and you can only have so many murders in a small town before people start checking the water. Sterry laughed and said, “No way. Think about Murder She Wrote. There’s a murder every week in Cabot Cove.”  That’s how an expert marketer thinks. Possibilities!

Who are you?

In your book proposal, consider what makes you the ideal person to write this book. You are selling yourself as much as your book. What is your platform? This is the place from which you will market your book and yourself.  It includes your website, your social media accounts, and your mailing list. All of these connect you to your audience in a more personal way. Publishers demand a well-established platform. You will need them to get your book in front of your audience. Consider all the ways you can publicise your book and include those ideas here so that when you are marketing, you already have the beginning of a plan.

Are you consulting an expert if your subject is a specialized one?

For my book, Facing Cancer as a Parent, I consulted a child-life specialist who specializes in children who have a parent with cancer. As a parent of children whose dad has cancer, I have a level of expertise that was earned the hard way, through experience. But, when you are dealing with something as important as the well-being of children, you want to ensure the information you are publishing is technically correct, as well. Consulting an expert adds to your book’s credibility.

An Outline

I know there are die-hard “pantsers” out there, writers who fly by the seat of their pants and see where their muse takes them. The truth is until you are established as an author, a publisher wants to know where you’re going with your book. What’s going to be in it? Even though this book proposal is for your benefit as a self-published writer, you will want to plan out your book in outline form.

Start by listing your chapters and then under each chapter heading, list the subheadings, or what you will detail in each chapter. This will help you to get the flow of your book planned.

Sample Chapter

Even as a self-published writer, including a sample chapter in your book proposal, will help you to set the tone and get the formatting straight. We will talk more about formatting in a future post.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.

Footnotes:

[i] Joseph Epstein, New York Times, September 28, 2002, “Think You Have a Book in You? Think Again”

[ii] Forbes, Jan. 8, 2013. Nick Welsh, Contributor. “Thinking of Self-Publishing Your Book in 2013? Here’s What You Need to Know.”

 


Sushi

I am in the middle of preparing a series on self-publishing, behind the scenes, So this week I decided to write about something a little lighter, a little more personal. I pulled a question from my Jar of Ideas.  The question is as tame as it gets: “What is your favorite food?” I love sushi.

Who are your friends?

A wonderful blogger friend of mine recently posted a thought-provoking blog entitled, Can Someone You’ve Never Met Really Be Your Friend? One important aspect of being someone’s friend is trusting them with personal information about yourself, and they, in turn, reciprocate. I write a lot about my family, but I rarely write about myself, personally. A psychologist might say it is because I have a deep fear of rejection, and they would probably be right. I have recently come to the conclusion that I am pretty thin-skinned. This is my attempt at remedying that, one small step at a time.

The first time I had sushi was about a year and a half ago.

A couple we had become friends with through a cancer support group met us at a local restaurant.  They love sushi and ordered several rolls. I am always willing to try anything. So for the first time, I tried raw fish (not including pickled herring, which really can’t be considered raw, even though it is). I loved it! The flavors were so fresh and vibrant. It was also a special night because it was one of the last times we saw our friend Mike, who later died from cancer. We were able to see him and pray for him and his family, just before he passed.

SushiI soon shared the sushi experience with our daughters. It turns out they love sushi, too. Since then, as a special treat, I will take them for lunch at a local Japanese restaurant. This is the beauty of great food. You can socialize around it, appreciating it together.

A Sensory Experience

One of the great things about sushi is the variety of senses it sparks. This begins with the site of it. Sushi is like a beautiful sculpture on your plate.  I recently watched in an interesting interview of Alton Brown. One of the things he lamented was people like me who take pictures of their food and post them on social media. He said that the problem was how we’ve reduced food to a visual experience rather than recognizing that its value lies in the flavor of it.

Speaking of flavor, sushi not only tastes good, but the texture of it affects the flavor. How is it wrapped? Does it have crunch? Is there a sauce on it? There is such variety in the presentation of sushi.

Now you know my favorite food, what’s yours?

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.


Writing Facing Cancer as a Parent

In preparation for my upcoming book launch, I’ve been gathering questions my readers have about the process of writing Facing Cancer as a Parent: How to help your Child Cope with Your Cancer and getting it ready to publish. The release date for Facing Cancer as a Parent is coming up, soon. I am formatting the book for print right now. Some formatting issues have put me behind schedule. My goal is to have it out by July 4th. In the meantime, here are some Q and A about writing Facing Cancer as a Parent.

Facing Cancer series seem to be part how-to and part anecdotal stories. Why the blend?

I love telling stories, especially to my family about my family, our history, and memories. It seems like daily I try to tell my kids a story and before I even begin, they groan and tell me the story as proof that they’ve heard it before. Apparently, I have told them these stories one too many times. I’m a storyteller. That’s part of being a writer. I also believe that most people are wired for story. Stories help them retain the information and know how to apply it to their own lives.

Is it difficult sharing such personal stories in your books?

I’m actually a very private person. Whenever I read a memoir, I wonder how the friends and family feel having their dirty laundry aired so publicly. So I’m sensitive to that and I’m careful to share things that are genuine, but at the same time don’t embarrass my family. That’s respect.

When I write a story about someone, whether they are a family member or a friend, I like to have them give me the okay.  If I write about someone I can’t get ahold of because we’ve lost touch, I change names and identifying details. Most people, including my kids, are pretty cool with it. I’ve never had anyone say no. But then, I don’t share everything.

Sometimes there are things that you might want to write about in the hope that it could help someone else in a similar situation, but you can’t do that if it’s going to embarrass your kid. Your kid has to come first. And you can’t make assumptions. Kids are unique and often sensitive to the spotlight. There might be something you don’t think is a big deal to share, but they might be mortified to see it in print. Ask first.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I think the editing process is my favorite. Not the whole grammar/punctuation aspect, but crafting the words. For a project like this, one of my goals is making the reader comfortable. I want the words to be easily digested so there’s no interference between me and the reader. So, I don’t want to throw overly-complex information at them or try to prove my intellect with a bunch of fifty-cent words. My readers are dealing with enough in their lives. I want to make life easier for them. That’s not always how I write, but it’s my philosophy when crafting my books about cancer.

Facing Cancer as a ParentWhat was the hardest part of writing Facing Cancer as a Parent?

By far the hardest part of writing Facing Cancer as a Parent was the end. There’s a section that deals with helping children through the death of a parent. I often found myself avoiding it and coming up with other things to do rather than finish the book. I didn’t want to think about it because that’s the reality that our family continues to face. Many people who have cancer are treated and cured and go on to live long lives. But there are people like my husband who have a diagnosis that doesn’t have a cure. We can put it off, but the day will come. So, that was an incredibly difficult section to write.

What’s it like working with Create Space to publish your book?

There are things about it that I love, like the ability to control your content, from the interior to cover choices, to how it will be marketed. There are also things I hate, like doing my own formatting. I could certainly hire a formatter, but I haven’t quite given up trying to save money in that area. I keep thinking, I’ve done this before. Why is it so hard? I will likely write about this in the future because it was such a difficult obstical to hurdle.

What characteristics from Facing Cancer as a Friend did you use writing Facing Cancer as a Parent?

I continue to write about things that the book’s audience is dealing with every day. In Facing Cancer as a Friend, that was the question of how to support someone you care about who is now diagnosed with cancer. In writing Facing Cancer as a Parent, I confronted the question of how to still parent even when your mind is constantly on your (or your spouse’s) cancer diagnosis. I researched the topic, extensively, getting the help of child life specialists, including Melissa Turgeon who at the time was working for the Angel Foundation, an organization that supports families facing cancer in Minnesota.

I’ve also lived this. For over 5 years, my husband has been fighting stage IV lung cancer. We have seen a lot of ups and downs. Our 3 daughters have lived for over 5 years, with the reality that their dad is sick and that his life is on the line. Our goal has been to help them adjust to this and face the future with strength and resilience. So, I share a lot of short stories from our lives.

How is Facing Cancer as a Parent going to be different from Facing Cancer as a Friend?

I learned so much, writing Facing Cancer as a Friend, including some things I wish I could redo (and plan to, at some point). There are some things that are stylistically more professional in Facing Cancer as a Parent. I am much happier with the cover and the formatting style of Facing Cancer as a Parent. When I have the time, I plan to rerelease Facing Cancer as a Friend with these same formatting changes.

What was your main goal while writing Facing Cancer as a Parent?

I want to offer a starting point for parents going through this difficult time. There are questions every parent asks and I hope to give them some answers and a direction in which they can go to help their kids. It won’t solve every problem they encounter, but it will help them feel more like they are on solid footing.

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.


A to Z Retrospective

This year, for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, participated with both of my blogs, Facing Cancer with Grace and Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker. That meant doing the A to Z posts for 2 blogs (26×2) plus the Theme Reveal for each blog (+2 more) and the retrospective (I’m only doing this one and linking to it from Facing Cancer with Grace). That’s a total of 55 posts in one month!

For the Facing Cancer with Grace site…

I chose to write with caregivers in mind. At this time, I have been deep in the mire of caregiving, so this would be something that would come from the heart. Also, everyone will either be a caregiver or depend on one at some point in their life. Even though I write from the perspective of a cancer caregiver, the principles I would cover would apply to other caregiving situations.

At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

I decided to consider my audience. Who would be participating in the A to Z Challenge? Creative people! And if these people were anything like me, they probably needed a little creative boost. It’s tough coming up with 26 different posts revolving around the same topic. So, I decided to tackle creativity-specifically, how to get more of it. This was a lot of fun because I experimented with some of the ideas that I hadn’t tried yet. I definitely felt more creative after this exercise.

Working Ahead

I knew from past experience that I wanted to do more than just toss up a blog every day. I don’t work well under pressure, so writing the posts in advance would be the only way I could be successful. Having the posts done ahead of time also meant that I could devote the month of April to interacting with other bloggers, both those who came to my sites and those I visited.

I also have learned from my digital detox last January, that posting with a scheduler is the way to go. Even though the posts would go up automatically at a set time and date, I did a last minute check the night before each posted to make sure there was nothing wrong with the post. The one time I didn’t, I was missing a featured image and a link was broken.

A to Z ChallengeUsing Social Media

I also began auto-sharing to social media with Jetpack, a free WordPress plugin. During the month of April, I spontaneously decided to start a new Facebook page for Facing Cancer with Grace. It is one more thing to maintain, but there were good reasons for this move. I want to serve my audience with clarity and definite purpose. This is why I added a separate website. I have 2 very different audiences and I want to give them the information they are looking for.

What I thought of the A to Z format this year

I loved it! I had my doubts before I experienced it. The idea of signing up to the Google spreadsheet each day felt a little overwhelming. I’m not that techy. But it was simple! And the result was a place where all of the participants were listed. This meant I could easily explore other blogs. I found lots of sites that interested me. Over the course of the month, I had sites I would check into each day because I knew I could count on high-quality content. I also tried out new sites each day.  This is a practice I plan to continue beyond April.

What I’ve learned as a blogger

I’ve learned the importance of participating in the blogging community. Often, my introverted nature extends to my online life. I write my posts, put them up, and leave them alone. It has been wonderful to meet other bloggers via the A to Z Challenge. I’ve learned a lot from their content, and also their process. This has helped me to refine my own process, as well.

Learning to make a signature

I also appreciated the posts that the A to Z team put up. I regret not interacting with them more. I did always read them, though, and learned from them. One thing that was very valuable to me was the “N” post, called Netiquette. One of the recommendations was to sign your posts so the blogger and other readers know who you are and what you write. As a self-hosted blogger, this wasn’t super easy to figure out, but within 24 hours, I had my signature on a word doc, ready to copy/paste into comments.

Favorite Sites

In last year’s A to Z Retrospective, I listed some of my favorite sites that participated in the A to Z blogging challenge. This year, I am having a really hard time whittling that list down—there are so many that I have enjoyed. Instead, I will continue to read new sites from the A to Z master list each week, along with my favorites. I will share recommendations throughout the year.

Where to go from here

I will be going back to my normal posting schedule. Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker will go up each Wednesday, and Facing Cancer with Grace, each Monday. For anyone interested in our family’s personal journey, I post on my husband’s CaringBridge site whenever something comes up with his cancer. It is a public site that anyone can read.

My next big task is to get my latest manuscript to press. It’s very close. I look forward to announcing when “Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Child Cope with Your Cancer,”  is available on Amazon.

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

My Family
The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

 

 


How the spring season inspires me to write

It’s spring! 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. Even though it seemed like it would never arrive, spring is here! Today I will explore whether the season inspires me to write, or not, as I answer this month’s IWSG Day question:

It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than other seasons, or not?

The Short Answer

No.  I always want to write.

But…

But each season inspires me to write in a different way.

I believe strongly that there is a natural rhythm throughout the calendar year, which can help us in everything we do, whether it’s celebrating seasons and holidays with family and friends, worshiping God, learning or working. Marketing gurus figured this out, long ago. Why not allow our creative endeavors to be assisted by the calendar?

How each season inspires me to write

How the summer season inspires me to write

Let’s start with how the spring season inspires me to write

Beginning in 2017, I started participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s a wonderful way to start out the year because if for some reason, I don’t get any more blog posts written the rest of the year, I still have content to share (even if it means reposting and A to Z post in November when I’m swamped with holiday preparations).  In order to accomplish this, I write and edit like crazy, beginning in Late February, in preparation for the April challenge.

When A to Z is over, I breathe a sigh of relief and pick up the pieces of whatever book I happen to be writing. Currently, I am getting, “Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Kids Cope with Your Cancer,” ready for publication. I happen to be in the phase of the final edits and formatting.

How the summer season inspires me to write

For our family, summer means big family get-togethers like a week at the cabin. It also means road trips and vacations. I write more in my journal during the summer months because it’s more portable.  I also tend to choose a fresh project to work on at the cabin. Some people might wonder why I work while I’m on vacation. If I go more than a day or two without writing, I can really get into a slump. Writing at least a little bit each day keeps the pump primed.

Strange things happen in the summer that inspires me to write in ways I often don’t. For example, last year there was a power outage that left us using candles to light our house and, of course, no computer to write with. I grabbed a book of story starters and began to write a short story idea involving a power outage. It was an idea I would never have had on a regular day.

How the summer season inspires me to write

How the autumn season inspires me to write

The summer fun is winding down and the new routine of the school year invites new ideas and goals I typically turn in my journal for a schedule and my laptop. I help my focus along by listening to instrumental music through my earbuds so the squabbling of my homeschooled kids doesn’t drive me crazy. They do their work in the living room on their own laptops, or with notebooks and pencils.

I usually have some concrete goals that I try to achieve in the fall. One year, I participated in NaNoWriMo and finished my first draft in a month. I still haven’t finished revising it.  As a middle-aged woman with a lot of irons in the fire, I opted out last year.  I do have an idea for a future book, though.

How the winter season inspires me to write

I live in Minnesota, so when winter arrives I hunker down and avoid going outside at all costs. This gives me a great 5-month opportunity to write.  I try to finish any projects that I can before the end of the year. I begin thinking about my goals for the next year and what it will take to accomplish them. I also get as much of my content calendar written as possible, so I always have plenty of ideas simmering on the back burner.

Each season inspires me to write in different ways from the others, and spring is no exception. But, it seems my actual output is pretty steady throughout the year.

How the winter season inspires me to write.

How do the seasons affect your life?

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

 

My Family
The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

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