Writing Influences

Now that Promise’s Prayer is available to the world, what is this author working on now?

A very special project.



A temporary cover image; click for synopsis, Pinterest board, and more


This month, I’m rewriting Happy Days With the Lanesa middle-grade children’s novel centered around eleven-year-old twins Julia and Jonathan, who love to surprise each other.

I first wrote Happy Days With the Lanes when I was ten years old, officially finishing the first draft four years later. Because I love the characters and the message – and I’ve wanted to publish a children’s book – it seemed that it was time to rewrite this one.

It’s been an adventure so far. I’m 20,000 words into the story, and it’s a joy to re-visit the characters, polishing up the story to make it the best it can be.

Today I dug out my Lanes folder and located the following gems:

  • Four chapters of the very first Lanes story I started writing, where the characters have different names and somehow live in a society suspiciously similar to the pre-Civil War South, even though the story is otherwise clearly set in modern times…
  • Fifteen handwritten chapters of the first draft of the Lanes story I’m now rewriting, including a few deleted chapters
  • A separate short story revolving around six-year-old Joshua Lane
  • A Lanes prequel written for children ages 3-7, with Julia and Jonathan at age 5.
  • Two chapters of a Lanes sequel centered around Tasha’s family – the oldest Lane child, after she’s married and has a family of her own
  • Numerous family trees

The first cover – circa 2003

Reading through these old writings, I’m amazed at the large number of influences that have found their way into my writing. At age ten, my stories’ influences were much easier to discover – before I’d found my own writing voice and learned to more subtlely weave in the many influences that inevitably join themselves to my work. The importance of surrounding one’s self with quality literature cannot be overestimated – for what we read is, in many ways, exactly what we write.

A few books that directly influenced the writing done by the young Erika:

  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • The New Amplified Pilgrim’s Progress audio drama
  • The Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley
  • A variety of fiction by Rod & Staff publishers, including Just Thirteen, The Family God Gave, Home Fires Beneath Northern Lights, Home Fires at the Foot of the Rockies, Cicada Summer, God’s Marvels in Washington, Year of Doubt, and Year of Growth
  • The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The King’s Daughter and Other Stories for Girls


“Jonathan, S.A.L.,” whispered Julia during lunch, nudging her twin with her elbow.
Once the lunch dishes were finished, the twins met under the stairs in the tiny room that Julia had arranged for the two of them.
“What’s your Secret After Lunch?” Jonathan asked.
Julia’s dark eyes sparkled. She tossed back her wavy brown hair. “Next week is Christmas vacation. You know that Tasha’s birthday is December 24. I though we…” Julia pranced around Jonathan, caught her breath, and finished. “I thought we could give her a surprise!”
Jonathan’s brown eyes began to sparkle, too. He grinned. “I’ll say, I don’t know what could be more fun! But what surprise could we give?”
Julia’s face fell. “I don’t know. How could we give a surprise without her knowing about it?”
Mother’s voice floated down the stairs towards them. “Julia and Jonathan!”
“Coming, Mother,” Jonathan replied quickly, then turned back to Julia. “Think about it. We’ll meet here in two days, on December 21. Let’s go!”

What books have influenced your writing?


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