Nancy Erickson

Author Archives: The Book Professor

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How to write a nonfiction book

Nonfiction is Life

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… and Life is Nonfiction

Have you seen the movie Hidden Figures yet? I give this nonfiction movie 5 stars, and it exposed me to another angle of Black History Month. Until I saw this movie, I never knew that three female African–American mathematicians were instrumental in the early days of NASA. They weren’t just instrumental, they were crucial to John Glenn’s orbit around the earth! Why hadn’t I heard of this before?

This month gives us the opportunity to recognize and applaud the contributions that black men and women have made. From artists, to poets, to politicians, to religious leaders, to authors, to sports figures, to business men and women, to scientists, to everyday people, this is our appointed time learn more about these people and to celebrate their accomplishments.

black history nonfiction

Nonfiction sports history

My husband is a baseball fanatic, and we recently visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. What a treat! Negro leagues were formed due How to write a nonfiction bookto segregation laws, and they ran strong from 1920 until they started their decline in 1945, when Jackie Robinson was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers. They produced strong players like Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, LeRoy “Satchel” Paige, and—of course—Jackie Robinson. Think any of these athletes made history? You bet your boots they did! They were a strong force in the civil rights movement, although all they really wanted to do was play baseball.

As I think about our effort to find 117 solutions to our most pressing problems in 2017, I’m drawn to the racial divide that has plagued our nation almost since its inception. It’s a big problem, and we need to find solutions.

Nonfiction contemporary conversations

I like what is happening in St. Louis, particularly through an organization called Mother 2 Mother, where 11 black mothers share their stories with “thousands of mostly white attendees…” Their purpose is to expose other women to the “dangers and realities of raising Black sons in America regardless of the socio-economic status achieved.”(source)

How to write a nonfiction bookI attended one of these conversations and was dumbstruck by the things these black mothers endure that have never been part of my life. Their sons are consistently pulled over for no reason and, in some cases, have been handcuffed and taken to the police station. One woman’s daughter was told to go to the back of the school bus by some teenage boys, who were never punished, and it happened in the priciest zip code in the St. Louis area. As I heard these mothers – doctors, attorneys, scientists, and professors at Washington University – talk about what they and their kids battle on a daily basis, I shrunk in my seat and thought, “There has to be a solution to this.”

117 Solutions in 2017

We are looking for solutions to problems like white privilege and the racial divide. How about you? What do you know, what have you been through, what have you discovered or developed that can help others? What inspirational nonfiction book could you write that will bring hope to others? Please join us in our effort to find 117 Solutions in 2017!

The purpose of 117 Solutions in 2017 is:

  • To create a groundswell of solutions to problems that have, until now, seemed too big or impossible to resolve
  • To unleash the answers that are trapped inside of people
  • To change lives, save lives, and transform society
  • To use your life and your gifts and your resources to MAKE THINGS BETTER. Not because you must, but because YOU CAN!

 


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Nonfiction Writer Tool: Sensory Language

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Human beings are wired to respond to stories, and we remember things that have an emotional impact on us. When you write your book, there’s a nonfiction writer tool you can use to impact the reader. It affects them on an emotional level, so they will remember what they read.

How do you do that? Well, it’s not so complicated. One way to impact your reader is to bring them in close, to make them feel like they’re right there in the room with you. You do that by creating scenes that use the nonfiction writer tool of sensory language.

Sensory language as a nonfiction writer tool

Sensory language is just what it sounds like – it’s the language of our five senses. When you use sensory language, you describe what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and smelled. You don’t write, “I was sad when my girlfriend left me.” You write, “When she told me she was leaving, she smiled as she whispered the words, ‘I’m leaving you.’ My throat clamped tight. I blinked hard, so I wouldn’t cry, but one hot tear fell and salted my upper lip.”

In this passage, you find four of the five senses: She told me–hearing; throat clamped tight and hot tear–feeling; she smiled–sight; she whispered–hearing; salted my upper lip–taste. The only sense not included is the sense of smell.

Sensory language punches up your writing and engages the reader. It breaks up the monotony and helps the reader to visualize the scene, so they can experience it.

Before and After

Take a look at the two passages below, and notice how sensory language makes a difference.

1. Becky called me and said that something terrible had just happened. She wanted to talk about it, so I asked her to meet me at the grill on the ground floor of my building. It was almost noon, and I was hungry, so I asked her if she wanted something to eat.

Compare that to:

2. “The police just barged in my house,” Becky said. “It was raining, and their boots tracked bits of grass and mud all over my white carpet. Didn’t even bother to wipe their feet. It’s like they used my carpet as a door mat. There were six of them.”

A piece of red hair – I Love Lucy red hair – escaped from behind her ear, and she slicked it back without taking a breath. My watch beeped twelve o’clock, but she yammered on. The grilling onions made my stomach lurch. I hadn’t eaten breakfast.

“Wow,” I said. “I’m so sorry. Can I get you something to eat? I could use a bite myself, and maybe that would make you feel better.”

Her head banged down on the table, and she hiccuped massive sobs. “What do you think I am, a twelve-year-old?” she sputtered. “It’s not like a snack can make me all better!”

Sensory language is a nonfiction writer tool that is easy to incorporate. All you have to do is describe what you hear, what you smell, what you see, what you feel, and what you taste. Drop those elements in a scene and watch your writing come alive!


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How to Write a Nonfiction Book When It Hurts

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This year, our focus is to find 117 Solutions to our most difficult problems, an effort we call 117 Solutions in 2017. I’m encouraged by the response we’ve had, but I also feel humbled when I’m asked how to write an inspirational nonfiction book when it hurts. Not all stories are pretty, especially those about child abuse.

Sean Carney is one of my heroes. He’s a big, burly man, tough in a kind-hearted way, and he has the kind of laugh that would get you in trouble at church. Deeply generous, Sean lives large, and he shares his blessings inspirational nonfictionwith everyone around him. He should have died when he was 20.

Inspirational Nonfiction; A Painful Story

Sean wasn’t sick, but he grew up in a sick environment that was punctuated by regular incidents of the worst kind of child abuse, inflicted on him by his uncle. The son of a violent father and a depressed-to-the-point-of-being-disabled mother, he had to take the family reins when he was just twelve years old, getting his brothers up for school and cooking their dinner at night. It’s no wonder he became angry and violent, and at 13 he started using drugs: pot, PCP, crystal meth, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. At 17 he became a father. By the time he was twenty, he was on the needle. Even though he drank and drugged, he could not escape the PTSD from the sexual abuse.

Sometimes you can’t tell when children are in trouble. Sean’s family looked like the richest people in town. He was an All-Star in Little League and hockey, he played army, went to the beach and played in the woods, and he was even a track star. He looked like the run of the mill mid-western kid, but Sean had a secret that burned a hole inside him. His rage was always just under the surface, and it frequently exploded.

 

A business owner since he was 17, by the time he was 20, despite his drug use, Sean’s strong work ethic made him a phenomenal success. But inside his head, the abuse still tormented him. He was full of self-loathing and felt he was never good enough. Angry to the point of planning his uncle’s murder, he was a loose cannon. How could he feel any different? Look what happened to him.

But that’s not the end of the story. Sean turned his life around, and he is writing an inspirational nonfiction book that will encourage other down-and-outers and show them that they can turn their lives around, too.

What’s the Purpose?

The purpose of Sean’s book is to show people who have lost faith in themselves and feel hopeless about their future, that no matter what’s happened to them or what they’ve done, that they don’t have to be defined by their past but can be prepared by it to live out their unique purpose and become the person they were truly meant to be.

There are over 27,000 reported cases of child abuse every year, but how many more don’t get reported? Hundreds of thousands of adults carry those scars, and I’m grateful that Sean Carney  stepped up to tell his story and offer hope and help to others. Living with the after-effects of child abuse is a problem, and Sean offers a solution. His inspirational nonfiction book may be painful to write, but it will be the voice of hope and help to those who have suffered similar situations.

117 Solutions in 2017

How about you? What do you know, what have you been through, what have you discovered or developed that can help others? What inspirational nonfiction book could you write that will bring hope to others? Please join us in our effort to find 117 Solutions in 2017!

The purpose of 117 Solutions in 2017 is:

  • To create a groundswell of solutions to problems that have, until now, seemed too big or impossible to resolve
  • To unleash the answers that are trapped inside of people
  • To change lives, save lives, and transform society
  • To use your life and your gifts and your resources to MAKE THINGS BETTER. Not because you must, but because YOU CAN!

 


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Vocabulary for Online Writing Classes

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Your manuscript is comprised of words, and the ones you select are critical to how well you communicate with your audience. The vocabulary you select will either make or break your manuscript. A strong and varied vocabulary is an important writing tool that all writers should strive to have.

We use words to communicate ideas, thoughts, and emotions. Sometimes our communication is successful, and sometimes it’s not. Your job as a writer is to select the words that communicate exactly what you mean, without the possibility of misinterpretation. A wide vocabulary allows you to do that. Without a good working knowledge of words and their meanings, your written communication will be muddied or poorly understood.

If you don’t have a strong vocabulary, one way to develop it is to use a simple but effective writing tool: a thesaurus.

Say you wanted to describe how you felt on the day your first child was born. You might use the word “happy.” However, we use the same word to describe a wide range of pleasant feelings, don’t we? I’m happy when I have a cup of coffee in the morning, but that’s not the same happy I felt the day my daughter was born.

I highly recommend a writing tool called Visual Thesaurus. Simply type in the word you want to replace, and the results pop up in mindmap format. Click on any of the displayed word options, and they will expand to give further meaning. In essence, you drill down until you find the precise word that means exactly what you want to say.

I looked up the word happy because I wanted to describe how I felt when my daughter was born. Some of the selections included blissful, joyful, content, glad, bright, elated, euphoric, etc. The term that really struck me was blessed.writing tool

 

Next, I wanted to describe how I feel when I drink a cup of hot coffee in the morning. I don’t feel blessed, or euphoric, or bright, or gleeful, I feel content. I am content with my cup of coffee.

The words blessed and content are both variations on the word happy, and yet, they actually have different meanings.

A nimble working vocabulary allows you to say exactly what you mean and to be explicit, rather than vague. I caution you to choose words that your audience will understand. In other words, keep it simple. If the reader doesn’t understand your word choice, you may feel intelligent, but you will lose your audience, and that’s not good communication. A thesaurus is an excellent writing tool because it helps you brainstorm and then drill down to the perfect word, but you do not want your readers to need a dictionary just to get through a mess of overcomplicated words on each page. So when choosing your words, remember that you are writing to communicate your thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

 


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inspirational people

Making a Difference with His Nonfiction Book

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I hope you are following our mission to find 117 Solutions in 2017 because you will meet many ordinary, yet inspirational people, who are working hard to make this world a better place. Tom Hofmeister is such a man.

inspirational people

I met Tom at a conference several years ago and was immediately impressed with his work. I knew right away that he was one of the inspirational people in the world who need to share their story in a nonfiction book. He owns and operates elder care facilities that are nothing like anything I’d ever heard of before.

I’ve visited a number of nursing homes over time, and not long after I arrived, I always wished that my visit was over. Why did it smell so bad? Why were there so many wheelchair-bound residents parked in the halls? Why did most of the people sit in their rooms all day? This was the last stop on the journey of life, and I sure didn’t want to end up there.

Enter Tom Hofmeister of Elderfire Lodges.

Tom is building a network of elder care facilities that you wouldn’t recognize. He is solving the problem of parking your parents somewhere while they wait for the end. His lodges are bright and vibrant communities. They capitalize on the talents of their residents and get them involved in running the place. His lodges are destinations for community events, which bring in local residents for art shows, community meetings, and the Boy Scouts. The lodges are never sterile and antiseptic. Rather, they are built like a home with all the comfortable amenities you find in your own residence and, as a result, they are a favorite destination for family dinners and celebrations.

Far from feeling like they are parked and waiting for the end, his residents don’t have time for that. They’re too busy working with the local garden club or teaching their valuable skills to others. That’s the kind of place I want to live when I finally have to leave my home.

And, yes, Tom is writing a book. The purpose of his book is to introduce families of aging adults to this alternative approach to adult care, which allows them and their loved one to feel safe, secure, and respected, without increasing costs or sacrificing a home environment.

And, no, Tom is not a writer. He’s just an incredible person who has a solution that he wants to share with the world. Take a look at what Tom has to say about inspirational people who are not writers and how they can still put their story into a nonfiction book.

 

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2017: The Year of Solutions!

Feeling disturbed by the chaos in our world? You are not alone.

 

 

Look around you. We’ve been bombarded with problems that appear unsolvable, and many are in deep distress.

We have so many problems that we don’t even know how to name them anymore, but we do know what doesn’t work. Top-down solutions don’t work. Government can’t fix anything, organized religion hasn’t solved our problems, and we’ve tried to medicate our problems away, but that hasn’t worked either. In many cases, these attempts have made things worse and have spawned new problems.

2017: The Year of Solutions!

I believe that our problems—all of them—can be solved, and that the answers are trapped inside people like you. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you become the solution. The answers are inside of you. You ARE the solution.

There are two things that people cannot live without: HOPE and HELP. People need hope that things can and will get better, and they need help to get from where they are to where they want to be. When you tell your story, Nonfiction writing coachwhen you share what you’ve been through, what you’ve learned, what you’ve overcome, what you’ve developed or the path you took, you become the voice of hope and help.

There are people like you who have the answers, the solutions. And there are other people who, in some cases, are literally dying, waiting for those answers. You have what they need, and you can offer the hope and help that they crave simply by telling your story. You are the solution.

Think about what you’ve learned and how you can be a force that changes lives, saves lives, and transforms society. Don’t waste your pain and struggles. Put them to work in the world and let the mess become the messenger — the messenger of hope and help.

Maybe you’ve been through a painful time and fell like you can reach back and give others a helping hand. What do you know? What have you learned? What have you discovered or developed that can help others?

 

The Answer: 117 Solutions in 2017

It’s time for us to take the reins and solve the problems that surround us. In 2017, we are going to find 117 solutions to the problems that plague us. Every week we will focus on 2 specific problems and ask for your help to solve them. Perhaps you have a solution of your own, or maybe you know someone else who does. Introduce us to one another.

You can share the problems you’ve encountered and the solutions you crafted to offer hope and help to this chaotic world. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

When you  tell your story and what you’ve been through, what you’ve discovered, what you’ve overcome, or what you’ve developed, you become the voice of hope and help.

The purpose of 117 Solutions in 2017 is:

  • To create a groundswell of solutions to problems that have, until now, seemed too big or impossible to resolve
  • To unleash the answers that are trapped inside of people
  • To change lives, save lives, and transform society

 

Call to Action:

You can’t sit around and hope that things will change. If you want change, you must be the solution. Be the one who offers hope and help and write your high-impact nonfiction book that can save lives, change lives or transform society. Click the button to get involved:

Write a nonficiton book

 

The Problems:

We have a lot of problems, and here are a few to consider. What do you know or what have you learned about these problems that could help others?

Immigration Reform
Refugee Crisis
Church-State Separation Tension
Eroding Middle Class
Government restrictions on small business
Suicide
Drug Abuse
Capital Punishment
Misuse of social networking
Animal abuse
Homophobia
Poverty
Women’s Rights
Domestic Terrorism
Religion-based Discrimination
Organ & body donation
Human Rights Violations
Environmental Pollution
Children’s Rights
Corporate Downsizing
Defense Spending and Preparedness
Euthanasia & assisted suicide
Eating Disorders
Unemployment
Homelessness
Racial profiling
Welfare
Recycling and Conservation
HIV/AIDS
Civil Rights
Genetic Engineering
Consumer Debt and Bankruptcy
Obesity
Terrorism
Judicial Reform
Censorship
Violence
Academic Freedom
Gun Control
Gender issues
Environmental issues
Single Parenting
Child Labor
Tobacco
Nuclear Proliferation
Ageism
Stress
Cancer
Prostitution
Education
Health Care Reform
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Child pornography
Sex Trafficking
Refugee Crisis
Data Security
Use of Drones
Violence through indoctrination
Child Neglect
Child Abuse
Juvenile Offenders
Child prostitution
Information Overload
Instability of the EU
Gender Wage Gap
Child care alternatives
Lack of human connection in over-connected world
Over-stressed parents
Under-served populations
Reliance on government programs rather than self
Effects of childhood traumas
Teen heroin use and overdose
Polarized political parties
Crippling anxiety
Traumatic brain injury
Living with chronic disease
Overcoming childhood abuse
Racial reconciliation
White privilege
Failure of the education system – elementary
Failure of the education system – secondary
Tort reform
Eroding middle class
Domestic poverty
Child-on-child crime
Polarized societies
Alcoholism
Eating disorders
Bullying
Date rape
Cyber bullying
Domestic violence
Gang violence
Classism
Climate Change
Cloning
Colorisim
Cloud Hacking
Computer Hacking
Corporal Punishment
Disaster Relief
Drinking and Driving
Identify Theft
Legalization of Marijuana
Hate Crimes

 

 


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how to start writing

How to Start Writing a Book

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It’s almost time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Many people say that they they will finally write their book, but they get sidetracked because they don’t know how to start writing. The good news is that if you dedicate yourself to the task in 2017, you can finish your book within 1 year.

how to start writing

Some people are life-long learners and love the process of going from not knowing anything to becoming proficient in their area. That makes sense. We all want to be the best we can be, and I’m the same way. But along the way, we have to learn a lot of little things that can either make us the best at what we do or, if we choose not to learn them, will keep us in the pack of average Joes.

I’ve never aspired to be average, and I bet you haven’t either. So I have to continually learn my craft. I have to stay up to date on the industry, and consistently learn new tools of the trade that will either allow me to do things better or allow my clients to write in a more efficient manner. Here’s the deal with me: I only want to know as much as I need to know to use a tool for my intended purpose. I don’t want to learn all its features and functions or try to discover ways I could use the tool in new ways that I hadn’t considered. You know why? It’s because I’m not a natural life-long learner. I don’t like details, I like ideas. I don’t want to learn how to use something, I just want to use it.

I detest the learning curve. I generally try to find every possible way around it, so I can get on to the using stage. Learning frustrates me; knowing satisfies me. But that’s not the way the world works. In order to know something, I must go through the pain of learning, and I have to follow a process.

Make a Decision

Before I can follow a new process, I have to make a decision to do it. I have to say to myself, “Nancy, this is something you need to learn, and there’s no way around it. So make the decision, be committed, and get started.”
You know what the hardest part about writing a book is? It’s making the decision to do it. You’ve probably had the idea for your book for a long time. I bet it’s been percolating in your head, banging against the doors to come out. At times it probably drives you crazy, but books don’t write themselves, and the only way yours is going to get written is if you make the decision to do it. You have to decide to write your book then figure out how to start writing it. It’s your story. Only you can write it.

Whenever I travel, it seems I am seated next to chatty types, and it’s fun to get acquainted. On one particular flight, I sat next to Don, and when he asked me what I do for work, I explained that I help people who aren’t writers become authors of high-impact nonfiction books.

“Really?” he replied. “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

I hear that a lot. A lot of people say they want to write a book. “Then why don’t you?” I asked.

“I’ve never really looked into it,” he said.

His answer spoke volumes. Don had flirted with the idea of writing a book, but he’d never taken it further than just that — the idea of writing a book. People tend to glamorize the writer’s life and don’t realize that it’s a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of time. Don never made the decision to write his book, so in all likelihood, it will never get done. If he cannot make the decision to write a book, he’ll never know how to start writing it.

Contrast that to Bryan. When I ask Bryan why he hadn’t written his book, he said, “Because I don’t know how to start writing. I have all these ideas, but I don’t know what to do with them. This is where I get lost.”

Make a Plan

That makes perfect sense to me. If you’ve never written a book, how would you know how to start writing one? Writing is hard work and the publishing industry is complicated. Some people sit down and start writing first, but they soon find that all those ideas that have been rattling around in their head have no form, no shape. What comes out is like a spaghetti mess — a bunch of threads that aren’t connected to one another. It’s frustrating. They know they have a message, but they don’t know how to get it down on paper. That’s not how to start writing; you need a plan before you put words on paper or on a screen.

The problem with the “write first” approach is that it’s like trying to build a house without any plans. You have no blueprint to follow, no foundation poured, and you have no idea what the house will look like when it’s finished.

I don’t know a lot about building, but I know you never put up the walls first. They have to be attached to something solid, so you pour the foundation first. But even before that, you need a comprehensive plan, or blueprint, that shows where each room will be and what features it will have. Before you pull out your hammer, you have to have a plan.

The same is true for your book. If you want to save time, energy, money, and frustration, you begin with the end in mind. You take the concept for your book and turn it into a concrete plan.

To do that, we start with the foundation. Perhaps you know the topic of your book, but do you know what you want your book to accomplish? The book must have a purpose, or there’s no reason to write it. Believe it or not, the purpose isn’t always easy to figure out, at least not without some concentrated effort.

I like to start with these Foundational Questions:

1.  Why do you want to write this book?  What is your motivation?
2.  What purpose will the book serve?
3.  How is it different from other books published on this same subject? What new information or angle does your story present that hasn’t already been heard?
4.  What is the main theme of the story, as you see it now? What are the secondary themes?
5.  Who is your audience? Be specific. Define your primary and secondary markets.
6.  How will this work impact that audience? What change do you want to invoke in the reader?
7.  Why will people want to read this story? Why would they recommend it to others?
8.  What is the pivotal moment in your story?
9.  Write a Purpose Statement for the book that begins with, “The purpose of this book is to …” and list the primary and secondary purposes that you have identified.
10. Write a two- to three-paragraph synopsis of the book.
11. Write the copy that you envision appearing on the back cover of the book.
12. Who do you want to endorse the book?

These questions will help you crystallize your message and figure out how to start writing. Beyond that, you need a process you can follow that will get you on the right track and keep you there. In my Group Coaching classes  we create a BookMAP, which is a visual representation of your entire book. We map out all the contents of your book before you write a single word. Then, when you are ready to write, you follow your BookMAP, and even if you only have 15 minutes, you can write something to contribute to your book.

Let me show you how to start writing and finish your book in just 1 year

A new year is upon us, and you can make 2017 the year you finally write your book that will establish you as an expert in your field, raise your credibility, and attract a following. I’m here to help! In fact, a new Group Coaching class begins in January, and you can join now. Make 2017 the year you finally write your book!


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Capture the Time

It often seems impossible to make time to write, or to even make time for anything outside of your normal schedule. I don’t exactly know what time is, but I know I’ve been a slave to it for much of my life. My life, like yours, is filled with so much: things I want to do, things I need to do, and a lot of things I don’t really want to do, but must. There’s always that race against the clock, which leaves me feeling scattered and torn, like a scarecrow with his stuffing pulled out. At the end of the day, there isn’t much left, and what’s left doesn’t feel like me.

Recently I’ve been learning that time is actually nothing — and I do mean nothing. They say it doesn’t actually exist, make time to writeand yet, I’ve not only given it great power in my life, but I’ve allowed it to be a tyrannical and unsympathetic ruler, never satisfied because no matter how much I do, I never have enough time. There’s always more–more to achieve, more to accomplish, more to attend to. Time is never satisfied.

When my husband and I went to the Grand Canyon for a ten day float trip, time changed. I can’t figure out if it stretched, shifted, or stopped altogether, but I do know that one day melted into the next, and the pressure of time was lost. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. All I had to do was to eat, drink, and be. After ten days of floating from day to day, I was fundamentally changed. I had found the wide open spaces inside of me, and I only felt the pressure of time as our trip was coming to a close. I dreaded going back to the calendar and clock that ruled my life.

Somewhere along the way, and I don’t know when, I made a decision. “I don’t want to do anything that I don’t want to do anymore,” I told Tom. He looked at me with a kind of quizzical look on his face, kind of like my daughters did when they were teenagers right before the word “duh” came out of their mouths.

“Then don’t,” he said.

Then don’t? Could it be that easy? Figure out what I don’t want to do and just stop?

It took no effort at all to make a list of the things I didn’t want to do anymore. The list wasn’t that long, but when I matched it up to my day-to-day activities, I saw that the “don’t like” stuff ruled my calendar and, thus, ruled my life. I spent most of my time doing things I didn’t like. All I had to do was stop doing these things—and that was the challenge.

The first thing I crossed off was going to meetings and gatherings that didn’t interest me. I often said “yes” to things like networking events that other people asked me to attend, and I quit doing that. There comes a point in time, especially when you’re a business owner, that you have to say “no” to the good opportunities, so you can focus on building a great business. It wasn’t so much that the events themselves took a lot of time, but when coupled with the travel time and the cost of not doing what I really needed to do, they were simply too expensive, too great a cost for the benefit.

Because I own my own business, there are countless behind-the-scenes responsibilities that must be handled, such as accounting, payroll, social media, and website maintenance. I used to do all these things myself because I had to, but in recent years I’ve gotten help with them. I fully delegated all the tasks in the financial arena to my CPA firm, because I hate that stuff! When I looked at the rest of the bits and bytes of running my business, I decided to hire an Operations Manager to run the daily show, but that was a scary step for me. How would I pay for her?

On the other hand, how could I afford NOT to hire her? Quite simply, I’d pay for her by directing my energies into doing the things that I love and that only I can do — like reaching more writers, developing more programs, and publishing more books by people like you that can change lives, save lives, or transform society out to the world.

Prioritize your time and make time to write

So what does this have to do with you and your book? I assume that you’re a busy professional, and you’re not looking for extra things to fill your time. Life is busy enough with work, but when you layer on the more important things like faith and family, there’s no wiggle room, no gaps where you can sneak in a major project like writing your book. And yet, it’s something you want to do. And you’re only one who can tell your story; you’re the only one who can do it. The reason why people want to write a book varies from writer to writer, but I’ve found that most people want to do it because they have found a solution and they want to help others. They want to make a difference.

You actually have time to do the things you want to do. You can make time to write your book if you learn how to prioritize your time.

When I was forty-eight years old, I went back to school to earn my Masters degree in writing (MFA) because I wanted to hone my skills to the point where I could not only make a living by writing, but because I wanted to help other people discover and unleash the critical messages that were trapped inside of them. At the time, both my daughters were not only grown, but one of them was married and had already earned her Masters degree, and the other one had just started medical school. I was old, and the first day I walked into class, I felt it!

It was hard. I hadn’t been in school for twenty-six years, and I’d forgotten about the rigors of academia. The program lasted two years—that’s twenty-four consecutive months without a summer break—and it seemed like an eternity. When I was in the thick of it, I couldn’t imagine what life would be like when I finally graduated. I mean that. I could not picture life after school. The work was hard, and I had to adopt the attitude that school was only for a season of my life, not its entirety. In order to be successful and earn my degree, I had to cut out everything else in order to get the work done. After all, it was only two years. That time was going to pass anyway. “I may as well have something to show for it,” I thought.

Writing your book is a lot like going to school. You have this major project that you work and work and work on, and you think you’ll never get finished, that you’ll never get out of school, then one day — voilà! It’s over! You have your book in hand, and you can have free time again. The year is going to pass anyway. Your might as well have something to show for it. Dedicate a year to it, and make the time to write.

Just like there’s a season for going to school, there’s a season for writing your book. But it’s only a season. It doesn’t last forever. You must adopt this mindset.

It would be ridiculous to think that someone like you is going to drop everything or possibly even quit your job to make time to write a book. That wouldn’t be healthy. But it’s not unreasonable to expect you to shift your schedule for the next year, in order to prioritize the project. You can’t create time, but you can capture pockets of it and re-purpose its use. Don’t get me wrong. It’s going to be busy, perhaps busier than you’d like, but if you simply get up an hour earlier each day, or commit your lunch hour to your book, or turn off the TV to write, you can absolutely accomplish this, step by step by step. One day at a time, one paragraph or page at a time, until the pages become chapters and the chapters become a book. By giving attention to the little details on a consistent basis, you will build your book brick by brick. The big thing comes forth from the little things, but the process has to be efficient.

You don’t have to do this alone. Work with me and I can help you make time to write your book. The year will pass no matter what, so make sure you have something to show for it.


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“I’m not a writer” – Why You Should Hire a Book Writing Coach

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No one can be an expert in everything. I talk a lot about the value of establishing yourself as an expert in your field, and I happen to be an expert book writing coach who helps people who claim they aren’t writers to write and publish their nonfiction books. I am not, however, an expert in everything, which is why I’d like to share my experience working with a coach of my own in order to achieve an important goal.

My husband, Tom, is an outdoor enthusiast, and he has a special relationship with the Grand Canyon. Every year for the past decade he has taken a couple of weeks to float the Colorado River at the bottom of the Canyon, enjoying the white water, scaling the canyon walls on challenging hikes, and sleeping under the stars. He is also a darn good photographer and likes to get up in the wee hours to photograph the deep black sky that radiates light from the millions and millions of stars. The Grand Canyon restores Tom and ignites every fiber of his being with its beauty and majesty. He can’t get enough of it, and he wanted to share it with me.

im-not-a-writerI also love the outdoors, but the thought of spending two weeks on a raft and living outdoors without the basic comforts of a bed or bathroom was a bit daunting. And then there was the hike in. To get to the bottom of the canyon, we would hike 8.5 miles down Bright Angel Trail, which has an elevation drop of one mile. We had to carry in all of our belongings in packs that weighed about 25 pounds. The hike usually takes between 5.5 and 6.5 hours, and it’s not for the faint of heart. You might think that hiking down is easy but, in fact, the hike down is harder than the hike up. Your shins and calves bear the brunt of the pounding, and afterward hikers often lose their big toenails. They are also prone to suffering intense calf pain for days afterward, pain that is nearly crippling.

As you float down the river, other hikes are part of the trip, and I don’t mean a nice little stroll down a trail. At times you have to plant your hands and feet on opposite sides of the wall in a slot canyon and then scale upward. On some hikes there are thin ledges — only two feet wide — that you must traverse. You have to inch yourself sideways and hope that your hands have a firm grip on the rock wall. It’s a long way down, but when you get past these challenging portions, you reach amazing scenes of beauty that you never knew existed.

I knew I could deal with living outdoors, but I wasn’t sure I could endure the hike down with a 25-pound pack on my back. I also knew I didn’t have the skills to climb a slot canyon or scale ledges.

If I was going to do this, I needed to get help. I needed a coach.

I started training with Brent about five months before our trip. He planned a regimen where on Wednesdays we worked on building strength and on Fridays we worked on balance and agility. In between, I amped up my cardio so I would have the endurance I needed. When I went to my training sessions, I had no idea what we were going to do that day. I didn’t know how to get myself in shape, so I just did what Brent told me. All I did was show up and follow his instructions. When he told me to do twenty jump squats, I did them. When he told me to get on the stair climber and climb on my tiptoes, I did it. When he said to stand on the bosu ball on one leg and catch the ball he threw to me, I did it. No two sessions were the same, and week after week after week, I showed up and did whatever he said to do for that hour. Little by little, I built my strength and agility in those one-hour bite-sized chunks.

The day we hiked down the Grand Canyon, there was an excessive heat warning. Temperatures were expected to rise to 112 degrees on the canyon floor, which is exactly where we were going. We were fully prepared with energy snacks, plenty of water, and our hats and sunscreen, and there were water refill stations about every three miles. We were ready. I was ready.

It took us 5.5 hours to get to the bottom, and I felt pretty good until about the last half mile. It was my toes. They were screaming at me, and I was certain I would lose those toenails. The heat was exhausting, and by the time we reached the bottom it was 109 degrees, but we made it. I made it! Those small repeated increments of time I’d devoted to getting in shape for the trip carried me from the upper rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado river at the bottom. I never even had the deep muscle pain that some experience.

Get a Coach

So what does my trip to the Grand Canyon have to do with your book? You have a book-worthy idea inside you and might think, “I’m not a writer, I can’t do this,” but that’s not true. You may not be not a writer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become an author. You can do anything you want to do if you get the proper help. You need a book writing coach who can take the idea for your book and help you crystallize your message, plan the contents, write the manuscript, edit it to perfection—and finally—publish and distribute your book. You need someone to take you the entire distance so that all you have to do is follow. A great book writing coach can turn a “liver” into a writer.

Here’s the thing: people who write nonfiction aren’t writers. They’re what I call “livers.” You’ve lived through something; you’ve been through something, you’ve learned something, discovered something, or developed something, and you’re busy living your life. You’re not a writer because you’re a doer. You’re out accomplishing things. You don’t need to learn the publishing industry or take any writing classes to write your book. You simply need to get your message out of your head and out into the world, and you need a comprehensive book writing coach to help you do that.

All you have to do is take the first step and get started. You have a message, and I have a process. Why don’t we work together?


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Prior Programming & Personal Growth

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There’s a funny thing about childhood. It’s seems like we make it through only to spend the rest of our lives either denying it or trying to recover from it. I wasn’t always willing to examine my childhood and how it has affected me long into my adult life, but I now realize that stories of personal growth help others see that they are not alone in our struggles.

When I was growing up, I had a wonderful family, but we moved a lot. My dad worked for IBM, which at the time people joked about it meaning “I’ve Been Moved.” We moved a lot. The longest place we ever lived was three years, and the shortest was nine months. By the time I graduated high school, I’d been to nine different schools.

The culture shock was, at times, dizzying. When I was twelve, we moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Chicago area. Itprior-programming-and-personal-growth was like moving to a foreign country. The people talked differently, and it wasn’t just their strange accent I had trouble understanding. They used odd phrases like, “Do you want to go with?” Go with what? With whom? I kept waiting for them to finish their sentence and they never did. They called the restrooms “washrooms,” and Coke, which, for me, was the proper name for every soft drink in the world, was called “pop.”

Even the solar system was different. It got dark around 4:00 when I was barely home from school, when in Tulsa—even in the dead of winter—the sun didn’t set until around 5:30. And then there was the cold. It wasn’t just cold in Chicago. It was bitter, bone chilling cold, and the real temperature, which plunged to 21 below zero, felt like 40 below with the wind chill. When I walked outside to go to the bus stop, my nostrils froze shut. I was cold to the bone, summer and winter, the entire three years we lived there.

It wasn’t easy always being the new girl. Every place we moved was so different. What were the rules here? Who could I trust? Who should I be? The trepidation of walking into a new school on the first day was crippling. My stomach tightened, my bowels loosened, and my neck got stiff. As all eyes bored into me when I stood in front of the room to be introduced, I fantasized about being lifted up onto a cloud and transported away. I didn’t want to start over. And over. And over.

It was important that I figure things out before I shared any of myself in any way. I needed to learn the rules and customs and behaviors in a new place, so I could mimic them and fit in. I became a completely different person every time we moved, and I adopted new personas to match what I saw in others. That’s when I developed my three most crippling self-defeating beliefs:
1. If people know who I really am, they won’t like me.
2. No one cares about me.
3. I don’t matter.

My personal growth process progressed slowly but surely

It’s been a long time since I was twelve years old, and I wish I could say that those internal messages disappeared with my youth, but they did not. To the contrary, these became my core beliefs about myself, and they kept me in chameleon mode for far too much of my life. These negative beliefs caused me to neglect myself and my own needs, to marry an abusive husband, to work in a career that I hated, to be under-developed as a human being, and to live a life of crippling anxiety — always trying to figure out what to do, who to be, how to act.

With the help of some good therapy, journaling, and a daily practice of meditation, I’ve worked through these issues, and they no longer cripple me. But I admit that, on certain days, I have to work really, really hard just to justify my existence. On those days I feel like I don’t matter, that no one cares about me, and if people knew who I really was, they wouldn’t like me.

When you’ve built your life on a lie, it’s hard to overcome that thinking. The lie becomes the truth, and the truth becomes a lie. I believe it’s the lies we tell ourselves that prevent us from doing the things we were meant to do and for which we are gifted. The lies we create become barriers that block us from personal growth.

I don’t know what lies you’ve been telling yourself, but I do know the truth.

You do matter. You are important. You can help other people.

You may feel that you don’t have anything to offer that’s worthy of writing a book, but I disagree. Take a look at your life, what you’ve learned, what you’ve been through, what you’ve developed, what you’ve gleaned, what you’ve endured. Take a moment to consider your story of personal growth and all you have done to get to where you are now. You may not know everything else in life, but you do know your own life. You know your own patch of ground, and you know it well. What do you know and what have you learned that can change lives, save lives, or transform society?

You can do that, can be that voice of hope and help to others, and I’m here to help.


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