HONEY, I SHRUNK THE GRIEF!
A Young Widower Discovers Love Will Find A Way
a memoir, by Eric Vaiksnoras
About Me: I believe that I’m built to give; I feel like the truest and best me when I’m giving of myself. I have a strong belief that All Are One: I believe that you and I, and everything that surrounds us, are all connected and dependent on one another. If I care for and love you—I care for and love everything.
About This Book: Essentially, it’s a book about Reactions. I cannot control death, But, I do have control over my reactions to death. Managing grief for me has largely been about learning how to process grief—learning how to react in ways that bring me hope. This book has played a big part in getting grief to release the tight grip that it had on me. My dream for this book is that it will offer you some relief too.
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So there’s the short and sweet version. If you’re content enough with that—Great! Stop here, and go check out my book! And for those who would appreciate more, please continue…
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I initially had plans to go the more traditional book route. I planned to seek out the interest of an agent, who could help me find a publisher—with the ultimate goal being to share my work with the world in hardcopy form, as a soft or hardcover book. But as happens so often in life, things changed. As I neared the completion of this book (which evolved over the course of the last 5 years), I began to realize that in order to stay true to one of my biggest goals for this book (having it accessible to many people dealing with grief), I needed to abandon my initial hardcopy publishing dreams. During an exercise induced boxing high it hit me (the idea, not a boxing glove!); I realized I needed to create a website and offer my book online for free. The Internet would make it so much easier for me to connect with others. Perfect! I believe I have something valuable to offer the world—a piece of hope. And I believe I was created to give. That is what makes offering this hope to you so fulfilling to me. It gives meaning to the mess—it allows me to directly see how my pain and trials can help others. It allows me to see powerful transformations occurring—giving of myself to you, sharing in this with you, can do Great things. It allows us to turn our grief into hope—together.
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My Query Letter, to You…
While writing this book I was also educating myself on the publishing process. I learned that the principle way an author attracts interest in his book, is through the creation of a Query Letter. A Query Letter is a one-page document that is sent to agents and publishers and is a critical first step in the overall success of a piece of work. It can be viewed in the same light as a résumé, so it needs to stand out and create interest. It aims to accomplish this through the use of three concentrated paragraphs:
— One paragraph gives a brief description of the book
— One paragraph gives a brief market for the book
— One paragraph gives a brief description of the author
Well, since I never ended up needing to create a Query Letter for an agent (because I decided to self-publish, in the form of this website), I decided that within this “About Me/About This Book” section I’d present—You—with my Query Letter. This seems very fitting to me because in so many ways, You have become my agent and publisher. You are the one who I want to spark interest in my book. You are so largely who this book was created for. So with that in mind, I now present to you, my Query Letter:
Paragraph One: A brief description of the book:
This book is written in a memoir format. In it, I share my experiences with death and grieving. I specifically choose to write about grief through my experiences for a few reasons. I recognized that grief is different for everybody, and I wanted to honor that sensitive fact. In order to do that, I made it a priority to offer almost all of my reactions within this book, using the word “I”. I felt that this would help to make it clear that these were my reactions, and I was not trying to suggest that the reader was expected to experience grief in the same way. I hoped that by sharing what I felt in this way, it would create an environment that would better allow readers to connect with me. It would allow me to share something that I felt was significant, and if the reader was able to relate, and connect with it directly—wonderful—and if the reader experienced things differently, that’s very ok and expected too. At the very least, I wanted to offer opportunities in which we could both share in hope. If there is one message that I am promoting, one message that this book is built on, one message that my experiences have taught me to believe in with every ounce of my being, it would be this: “Everything will be Okay, because Love Will Find a Way”
Paragraph Two: A brief description of the market for the book:
The ultimate objective of this paragraph of a Query Letter would be to convince an agent or publisher that they would make money off of me if they took on my project. Their main interest is not in my story, but rather if they could make money from my story (and I say that with no disrespect to them, because publishing is a business and their livelihood). So to address the intent of this paragraph, and summarize the market for this book, I will do so by making the following statement: Death and grief are extremely powerful things that occur numerous times throughout one’s life, each time making a significant impact on everyone involved. This fact makes the market for this book, which deals with finding hope in grief, as big as any market that exists. With that said, it gives me great pleasure that through self-publishing, and offering this book to you for free online, the focus of this paragraph, and the entire book, becomes so much more pure in my eyes. It makes it not about money, but about helping one another.
Paragraph Three: A brief description of the author:
At this point, you probably know me most as a widower and writer, but I’m also many other things. I’m the dad of an eight-year-old, an opportunity that I treasure beyond words. I have on many occasions said that he is my masterpiece—a truer statement could not be made. Some other things I am…I’m a lover of life, even in its darkest moments. I’m stubborn and hardheaded, and work hard to steer this energy towards a “refuse to be discouraged” attitude. I’m loving, curious, encouraging, and reflective. I’m too serious at times, yet have a playful side, and a sense of humor that loves to come out. I don’t like being afraid of things, and I often find myself gravitating towards situations that allow me to face my fears — they’re almost always much less powerful than my mind makes them out to be. I seek out hope in everything I do, without it, I feel helplessly lost. I went to college for a year after high school, then dropped out. I was more interested in motorcycles and girls. I worked with my hands full-time for almost 10 years (home remodeling/and cable guy). I met the woman of my dreams in 1998 (the reason this book came to be), fell in love, and got married in 2000 (more to follow in Chapter One). She was an elementary school teacher, and she let me help out in her classroom. This was a life-changing event for me. I felt so alive surrounded by the kids. I felt on fire. I felt at home. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to return to school and complete my teaching degree, and my wife supported me every step of the way. I decided to merge two passions of mine—teaching and being physically active (physical activity/health has always been an important part of my life), and I returned to school to be a Phys Ed teacher. I proudly earned my bachelors in 2005 by completing a challenging Kent State University Phys Ed program. I then continued on as a full-time student at KSU, working as a Graduate Assistant, and earned my Masters of Education in 2008, obtaining a graduate degree in Community Health/School Health. I’m now qualified to work in various health related fields, as well as teach Phys.Ed & Health Ed in grades pre-K through 12th. After my graduation, I put teaching on hold to raise my young son and work on this book. I have (happily) been very active in my son’s life. I have coached his sports teams and have done quite a bit of other forms of volunteering as well. My son and I have been Hospice Volunteers at a local nursing home since 2008 (almost 4 years now, as of the writing of this). Being a hospice volunteer has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. Essentially what we volunteer is our joyful and empathetic hearts—as we talk with, play games with, walk with, or simply sit and be with—the nursing home residents we visit (see Ch4 for more). There are also times when our support goes more to the families of the residents we visit. And while I volunteer to give, not to receive, I must admit that I am rewarded ten-fold. At least. I’ve also done some volunteering as a facilitator for a local Grief Support Group I helped to create. I mention all these things because they’re important parts of my life, important parts of who I am. I also mention them to express the fact that although I’m not that old, I’ve seen and dealt with a lot of grief. So that’s some of me. Thank you for listening. I hope you find me worthy enough to read my book; I would be truly honored to share in your grief.
Eric(38) & David(8)
Still love to ride!
Eric(34) – May 2008
Sharing a laugh with my sidekick
Eric(38) David(8) – January 2012