Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Do I Do That?

"The whole world's scared so I swallow the fear. 
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer. 
So cool in line, and we try try try, but we try too hard and it's a waste of my time. 
Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere. 
They don't like my jeans; they don't get my hair. 
Exchange ourselves, and we do it all the time. 
Why do we do that? Why do I do that? 

Why do I do that? "

-Pink, "Effin' Perfect"

Do you ever see people driving around in their cars, music rippin' and the fool is screaming the lyrics as if she wrote them?


That'd be ME!!!

I can't say how many stares, glares and cheers I've gotten over the years.  But you know what?  I DON'T CARE!!!

Right now, Pink's song "Perfect" is one of my most listened to songs...(this poses a problem when my critters are in the car, but they're so good they know to skip it because of the frequent F-bombs).

And I love the quote I posted above...and I frequently ask myself "WHY DO I DO THAT?"

I mean, why do I let other people get me down?

Why do I take stuff SO personally?

And finally, why do I have to respond DYSFUNCTIONALLY????

I'd really expect at my age, with my experience, I'd be better at relating to other people.  And for the most part I do.  But there's always that reminder, I have some work to do.  Just when I think I have it all together, something totally throws me.  

And I act like an idiot.

So, if I've been an idiot to you lately, I'm sorry.  I'm trying to get back to the ME I want to be.  I'm trying AGAIN to unlearn all the bad habits that have found their way back into my life.

To those who've been helping me (you know who you are!), THANK YOU for being kind, patient and understanding.

I'm a stubborn perfectionist who thinks I have to handle it all on my own.  But I can't, I'm learning again.  And probably will need to continue to do so.

And more than likely, I'll ask myself again: WHY DO I DO THAT?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Review: The Hospital at The End of The World

The Hospital at the End of the World 
Joe Niemczura, R.N., MS

There are 2,600 hospitals in Asia, Africa and South America which could be classified as "Mission Hospitals" - far off the beaten path, providing basic medical service to the poorest people of the world. The Hospital at the End of the World tells the story of a nurse from the USA and his first experience as a teaching nurse in Nepal. 

Because this book is non-fiction, I'm reviewing it in a manner different from fiction.  It will be in a discussion form versus actual critique of components.

Shortly after my first Nursing Relief trip to post-earthquake Haiti, I found myself searching for ways to integrate all that I brought home.  I had pictures, memories, thoughts, but most importantly, emotions.  I didn't know any other nurse who had traveled to a third world country to provide nursing care.  And even though I was only in Haiti for a week, it was still life and career altering. 

At the time, I was writing a blog at  Advance for Nurses and another blogger interviewed  Joe Niemczura R.N., MS regarding his advice for nurses doing just what I did!  (The blog has since been taken down, otherwise I'd link to it.)   Right away, I bought the book and read it as fast as I could.  I also contacted Joe who took a lot of his personal time talking with me. And I will forever be grateful for that.  He truly restored my love of nursing...

I found The Hospital at the End of The World to be a satisfying read.  It was conversational enough for non-medical readers and yet interesting to me as a nurse.  The one factor that separates it from other nursing memoirs is Joe's truth in emotion.  He shares secrets of coping with the ups and downs, many that I didn't even know I used.  He's open, honest and real about the struggles nurses face every day-whether in a third world country or in our homeland.  

The structure and writing isn't perfect, but the readability of Joe's voice usurped any of that, at least for me.  I tagged many pages that moved me and return to read them when I need to.  Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

In conclusion, I'd like to share one of my favorite paragraphs as an example of what I mean: 

"When people choose their life work, they all have a vision or fantasy about what they will be doing when they are at work.  It's a way to write the script of your life, which validates your self image and helps you keep going.  We all have these scripts whether we know it or not.  I had a pretty straightforward idea of who I was and why I was working in healthcare.  For me, the daydream that sustained me was one in which I was the person who worked hard to protect and rescue helpless people."

Thank you Joe, for putting it all out there.  I can't wait to hear about your upcoming 2011 trip.

And if anyone is interested in more information, please LIKE his Facebook page, where you can find pictures, videos and SO much more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: MY FAVORITE BAND DOES NOT EXIST by Robert T. Jeschonek

Photo property of HMH Books

Title:My Favorite Band Does Not Exist
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Imprint:Clarion Books
Pub Date:07/11/2011

 Sixteen-year-old genius Idea Deity believes that he exists only in the pages of a novel written by a malevolent, omnipotent author . . . and that he will die in chapter 64. Meanwhile, another teen named Reacher Mirage sings lead vocals for the undercover rock band Youforia . . . a band that exists in Idea’s world only as an Internet hoax that Idea himself perpetuated. Then there’s beautiful and mysterious Eunice Truant, who links their destinies. When Idea and Reacher plunge into the reality of Fireskull's Revenant, the twisted epic fantasy novel they’ve both been reading, chapter 64 bears down on them like a speeding freight train on an unstoppable collision course. Being trapped in a bad book can be a nightmare. Just ask Idea Deity. 

Description: Okay, if you've read my reviews, you KNOW I'm not a fantasy/magical type reader.  I always get bored with description and scene setting.  This, however was NOT the case with My Favorite Band.  There were a lot of little details that I expected to confuse and/or bore me...but happily, they didn't.  Overall, even the simple girl I am, could follow the descriptions and create adequate pictures in my head.  I must admit, though, it did get a little repetitive.  In defense of that statement, the continuous reminders are rather appropriate for the type of book and audience.  Overall, it was rather readeable, even if it's not my "thing". (Score: 7/10)

Narrative:  In this type of story, I expect a lot of narrative.  My Favorite Band had quite a bit and none of it bored me-except at the very end.  But I'll touch upon that later.  Overall, the three, yes THREE, concurrent/intermingling stories moved along easily.  I liked bouncing between the character's different worlds- Idea Deity, Reacher Mirage, and Fireskull had individual settings with unique qualities.  The sequence of events played along nicely, complimenting each plot line without getting confusing.  My only disappointment was the whole novel seemed so formulated.  It followed the rules/techniques of writing perfectly.  NOW, as a non-writing reader, I probably wouldn't even notice.  I'm studying technique now, so I'm willing to bet that's why it stood out.  Anyway, I liked the way the story came together and played out.  Yeah, I predicted the end pretty early on, but I found that comforting.  And the few surprises that did come along, I really enjoyed.  Overall, this book was a pretty good read. (Score: 7/10) 

Dialogue: Robert T. Jeschonek's background in short stories and comics really shines through in his dialogue. It's full of information, action and all pertinent to the story. The voices stay true to the character, making it easy to follow who's who-- and with the number of characters in My Favorite Band, that must have been quite a task for him. Even, I-an easily confused reader--never felt lost or overwhelmed during conversations. (Score: 8/10)

Characterization:  Okay-so-THREE concurrent stories are maintained in this novel.  That means, for each plot line, there's a main character and a secondary character, with many more  along for the ride.  HOW Robert T. Jeschonek kept them all straight is a mystery to me.  I noticed a lot of visual cues to keep the mind focused on the proper character, which I found very interesting.  At the same time, the details set the ending up to be predictable to me but, like I said above, I didn't dislike that.  Anyway, the characters are all very unique with interesting perspectives.  To me, the author's creative skills really shone through in Idea, Mirage, Fireskull and everyone else.  (Score: 8/10) 

Resolution: As I mentioned above, I predicted the ending to My Favorite Band rather early on. But, really, I didn't mind. The resolution was creatively weaved with insight and forward thinking. The characters Idea and Mirage had lessons to learn--which they did, in a non-preachy sort of way. Even the "kings" Fireskull and Johnny grew throughout the novel. Though I felt the ending was rather contrived, it resonated with me on a deeper level. And I feel that other readers, who enjoy this genre would feel the same. To be brutally honest, I could have done without the epilogue. I'm sure the author had his reasons, but mostly I skimmed it. As far as I was concerned, the book ended at the end of the last chapter. The most surprising part of the ending to me? It was neatly packaged, but I still LIKED it! And for those of you who know my tastes, that's something. (Score: 8/10)

My Favorite Band Does Not Exist was a nice, easy read. It's another good story with a MALE PROTAGONIST...(I really need to spotlight these on my blog...all I hear at conferences is how desperate readers are to find main male characters!) I think Robert T. Jeschonek's style is one that could be entertaining to many audiences, especially middle grade and teen boys. The book is fast paced but not overwhelming. Three story lines are detailed just enough to prevent confusion and create interest. If you're looking for an amusing book that's a little different the rest, I suggest you try this one. Overall, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been thinking about the cost of burnout.

It's pretty high.

For a while, I've thought Alzheimer's or early dementia was setting in.  

I couldn't make decisions AT ALL.
I had no motivation-okay, I had bursts of motivation but ended up feeling the same a day later.
I was tired.
I was angry.
-And all of the above occurred while I was home with my family.

Then, I took some time off from my "real" job.  And suddenly, my brain started working again-within DAYS!!!

FINALLY, I feel the relief.  I'm able to enjoy my life, without the residual toxicity of work invading my every moment.  But more striking to me-I'd allowed myself to develop immunity to the negative feeling.

Now my priorities are back in place and some things in my mind have shifted.  I also have new options that weren't available a month ago. I'm ready to face more than I have in a long time.

So, now what?  It's back to writing I go....and I'm pretty excited!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Experience the World Differently....
I often wonder how many people ACTUALLY listen to the lyrics of songs. When you love a song, do you ever think about WHY or WHAT it is that makes you REALLY identify with a particular song or artist? I do-ALL the time.

Music is as important to me as books. I'll listen to anything that makes me feel. A lot of my music choices depend directly on my mood. If I need to be pumped up, I love Pop/Dance. If I'm sad or thoughtful-Country's my choice. If I'm mad, you can bet I'll be ripping Heavy Metal. If I'm in between-who knows?  When I belonged to Columbia House (yes, I'm aging myself here)  I used to confuse the HELL out of them with my selections of artists.  And I loved every second of it.

Since I attended The Write Stuff pre-conference, I've been thinking about one concept I've come to accept about myself: I EXPERIENCE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY.  And that's why I write.  Or is it the other way around:  I'm a writer, therefore my experience of the world is different?  Either way, it really doesn't matter.  I see things others can't.  I know things others don't.  (I wish I learned this like twenty years ago-IT EXPLAINS SO MUCH!)

And my closest friends have helped to reinforce this AND remind me that it's all good. For my birthday, Sera and my beautiful niece made me CDs of songs that relate to ME!  And I'll probably wear them both out by the end of the month.  They're both writers (though my niece hasn't accepted yet that she is!) and see the world in the same magical way I do.

But, really, it was my other writer friend Rebecca Rose that prompted this whole new perspective on music.  While we traveled to Pennsylvania for the Write Stuff, she had me listen to  Blank Sheet of Paper by Tim McGraw.  And it's written from a very unique point of view.

Can you see the scene that's painted?  Can you feel anything?  Or do you hear just another twangy country song?

Maybe this song matters so much to me because I once sat at a blank computer screen.  I was scared.  But I started typing, telling myself no one would ever read it, so it didn't matter.  I went back a thousand times and continued  typing.  I've revised again and again.  The words have changed, but the sentiment is still there.

And now, I have my completed novel.  It's not perfect yet, but I'm getting ready to put it out there when it is.  I'll be terrified, I know.  But I'll do it anyway.

So, if there's something you need to write, just do it.  No one has to read it.  But I'm willing to bet, someday, you'll be ready.  And it will be so worth it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Found it, Finally!!!

I've written.

I've learned.

I've revised.

And my novel has come a long way.

But, writers, do you know, that voice that's constantly chirping in the back of your head to create a certain WAY?

Some call it your inner editor or self censoring-but being a Disney freak-I prefer to call it  MY Jiminy Cricket.  He says things like: "That sounds dumb..."  or "Too many words Loretta."  or "No one wants to read THAT."

He exists for a reason, I know this, but still I seriously dislike him!!  (No offense, Walt, really, but he needs to be quiet when I'm writing. Just sayin'.)

Anyway, I think for ONCE I quelled him.  I'm not sure how it happened exactly, but I'm going to try to do it again in a few minutes.  What I did was open a chapter that needed serious revisions and just had fun with it, as if I was at a workshop brain dumping.  No thought about what I was trying to say or exactly which words I should use.  I just wrote.

And you know what? I loved it!

When I reread it, I loved it, still!!!  The narrative was real, relaxed and enjoyable.  I even read it to my husband, who smiled blankly and said "Great!."  (He's very enthusiastic, but does not have a reader's mind. I find it cute that he listens and tries to get it.)

So, now I truly think I've found my voice.  I thought I had, but now this new stuff coming out of me feels more genuine.  And I think my critique partners will agree.  Yeah, it's a stretch revealing my voice, but now that it's here, I realize I've always had's just been silent...all these years.  Here's a tribute to one of my favorite musicians EVER!  Thank you Tori Amos for inspiring me since I was seventeen years old.