Friday, November 26, 2010

Interesting Reading Lately

So, I've been spending lots and lots of time on the Scribophile website.  It's a land where writers can read and critique other people's works, and have their own work critiqued.  Unfortunately, I've never been able to put down a good story, and I've been immersed in a work by another author until tonight when I finally got to the end.  I really hope it gets published - it's a fascinating story that deserves to have lots of people enjoy it.

My own writing, on the other hand, needs to get back on track. It's time to go back and reread the critiques that were generously given by other writers to tighten up the first two chapters of Inertia.  I'm still not in love with the title, but it gives me a name for the book when it's up for critique on the site.  The suggestions I received have been fantastic and eye-opening.  The more I hang out on the site, the more I want to upgrade to the premium membership so I can post all of the chapters I've written so far and start getting some feedback.  Those who have critiqued me have noted interest in seeing how Hannah's character develops, but I can't show them anything more than what I have posted so far.

I'm excited to do the revising, and in a way, dreading writing the next section of the book.  It's going to take time and attention to get it down on paper and I haven't felt that I have the stamina to make it happen.  I don't want to do a half-assed job with it, but the longer I wait, the longer I'll have nothing written.  Sometime you just have to take the first step.  If I'm lucky, once the story starts to come out, it will flow out onto the pages.  And if not?  Well, it wouldn't be the first time I deleted entire sections that I decided I hated.  I had written 17 chapters back in November 2008, hated the whole thing, threw it out and started over.  Fifteen brand-new chapters later, I think this book might have a shot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another layer unfolds.

I'm still sticking to the author's rules for getting published.  As noted, I've successfully completed the steps that got me to picking a working title for my novel, and submitting (and having accepted) the academic article about our medical mission to China.

The next step (in chronological order of accomplishment, of course) was to keep writing the novel.  To this end, I've successfully harnessed the idleness of one who was ill enough to actually get admitted to a hospital for 5 days.  During my hiatus from reality, I managed to put down about 4600 words, which equates to about two chapters, or 20 typed pages.  These weren't just any random 4600 words, either.  Major plot points happened.  Hannah went to Emil's wake where she found out secrets about Garrett that he didn't share/neglected to share, which throws her whole life into a tailspin.  Never mind the fact that he kissed her.

Of course, I think these things are fascinating and, of course, spectacularly written, but... it's entirely possible that it all sucks.  So, according to the rules, the next step is to have someone critique the work.  To this end, I've joined Scribophile, an online critique group, and have posted chapters 1 and 2 on the site for critique.  Whereas my mom gives really great, honest critiques (she tells me when she thinks some parts suck), we do think awfully alike, so I've put myself out there and have my fanny hanging in the breeze on Scibophile hoping not to get spanked too badly.

It's time for Marc and Hannah to walk down the aisle, and this is the major climax of the book.  I'm going to have to really take my time and get this right, so I'm going to let my posted writings sit on Scribophile for a while and go back to the paper and pen (which is working for me right now).  The next chapter is waiting in the wings of my mind, ready to take form in words.

And when I get bored or frustrated, I'll go back to researching the agents that will be at the Writer's Digest conference in January.  (This is under the rules about finding an agent so you can get published.  Very important for when the book is actually finished.)  If it's going to be worth the money, I'm going to have to finish this novel and start to get it polished.  My goal is to pitch it in January, and if anyone buys my pitch, they're probably going to want to read it.  And the rules say, don't pitch it if it isn't finished.

So, for now, I'm right where I think I need to be, until I read another article with another rule that I know I'm not following.  Did I mention the rule about having a Twitter account?  I have one, and I follow lots of people, but other than that, I'm not sure what to do about it.  I just don't see the fascination.  I'm much more of a Facebook girl myself.

Michelle :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I killed Emil...

I just reread this scene, and I'm really happy with how it came out - which is really bizarre on a first draft.  Feel free to tell me how to make it better.

Chapter 13

I weaved through the room until I got to the far side of the bed.
“Ruby,” I said, “where’s Bronte?”
“Hannah, what are you doing here?  Can you…”
I cut her off. 
“I can’t.  I’m off the clock and under the influence.  Garrett’s here – I’ll stick to emotional support.  He wants to come in.  What happened?”
“I have no idea.  One minute everything was fine, the next, his pressure bottomed out and his heart rate dropped and then stopped altogether.  I would have called Garrett sooner, but I was in a scramble to start coding him.  As it was I had to have the supervisor call him because I was in the middle of doing chest compressions.” 
“That’s fine, is Bronte on his way?”
“Yeah.  We paged him first.  He should be here any minute,” she said, and she turned to the code sheet.
“We’re due for another epinephrine,” she called, and handed it over to Elyse, the nurse who was giving the meds.
“I’m going to bring Garrett in, are you guys ready?”  I looked around the room and found Alden.  Thank God the nurses weren’t the only ones in the room with brains.
“Epi’s in,” Elyse called, and Ruby marked the time on the code sheet.
“Family’s coming in,” Ruby called, and the side conversations hushed as I made my way back out the door.  I met Garrett just outside the door.
“Ready?” I asked.
He nodded.  I wrapped my wrist around his upper arm to guide him and started talking as we walked through the door.
“There’s a lot going on right now.  From what Ruby told me, he was fine and then suddenly his blood pressure dropped and his heart rate slowed and then stopped.”
The forest of white coats made a path that effectively guided us to the far side of the bed.  The side rails of the bed were down to allow Elyse access to the intravenous sites.  It also allowed Garrett access to his father’s arm.  He hesitantly rested his hand on his father’s and gave it a gentle squeeze.  I released his arm and rested my hand lightly on his shoulder so he knew I was still there.
“Hold compressions,” Alden called, and the room was still, all except for the medical resident at Emil’s groin who was holding the Doppler to the femoral artery.  Instead of the whoosh-whoosh of a pulse, there was only the static caused by the medical resident searching for a pulse.
“What’s the rhythm?” Alden called.
“Asystole,” Ruby answered.
 “Elyse is giving him medications to try to start his heart again,” I said quietly.  “Ruby’s in charge of keeping track of what’s been done.  Frank is doing chest compressions to circulate the medications so they reach you dad’s heart and Cheryl is using the ventilation bag to breathe for him and give him oxygen.”
Garrett nodded, staring down at the bed.  His expression was resigned, almost stoic, until there was a commotion in the hallway.  Garrett’s head snapped up, and he darted for the door.  He caught Rosemary just as she was about to enter the room and I saw the terror in her face as she took in the scene.  Her eyes were wide and her hand covered her mouth.  She buried her head in Garrett’s shoulder and as I approached them, I could hear him murmuring in her ear.  Another woman, who must have been Rose’s partner Martha, stood a few feet back, tears streaming down her face.  I could hear what Garrett was saying now that I was next to them.
“Are you sure you want to go in?” he asked Rose.  She nodded, her face still buried in his chest.  “It’s not pretty, and he doesn’t look like himself.”
“I don’t care,” she sobbed, “I want to see him.”
I motioned to Martha to come closer, but she shook her head.  I looked around quickly, and found a chair in the hallway that wasn’t being used and pulled it over for her.  She nodded, and rested her hand on the back of it.  It was clear by her rigid posture that she wasn’t about to sit, but it was the best I could do for the moment.  I turned back to the room to see Garrett walking Rosemary over to the bedside.  I quickly followed them in, not knowing how Rose was going to react, and wanting to be close in case Garrett needed help. 
As they reached the bedside, she reached down for Emil’s hand and then her knees gave out and she was kneeling at his bedside.  Garrett kept his arms around her, and I quickly pulled over a chair.  Together, Garrett and I helped her into it, and once she was settled, he stood behind her to watch.  I put my hand on his back, and then moved a few steps away, letting my hand slip down to rest on the footboard of the bed.
Dr. Bronte came in at that point and spoke with Alden and Ruby.
Around us, the code team continued to give medications, do CPR and breathe for Emil.  Rosemary’s shoulders shook as she cried and Garrett rubbed her back, tears streaming down his cheeks.  This wasn’t fair, and I wanted to yell, but there was no one to yell at, no one to blame.  It wasn’t fair for them to have to go through losing their father after losing their mother.  And it was so incredibly frustrating to know that there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. 
Dr. Bronte came over then to speak to Garrett and Rosemary.
“From what the nurses and doctors are telling me, I don’t think your father is bleeding again.  I don’t see any benefit from taking him back to the operating room for another surgery.  It’s not going to stop what’s happening here.”
Rosemary sobbed harder, and Garrett took a deep breath in and held it before letting it out again.
“What are you saying?” he asked, steeling himself for the reply.
“The medications aren’t working, and although we can continue to try to resuscitate him, the outcome isn’t likely to change.  I believe we’ve reached a point where this is out of our hands.  Do you want us to keep trying to bring him back?”  Dr. Bronte was as gentle, yet as honest as he could be.
“Garrett,” Rosemary said, her voice hitching, “I think they should stop.”
“I know, Rose, me too.  Dr. Bronte?”  Garrett let the question hang in the air.
“Ruby, what’s the time?” Dr. Bronte asked.
“One twenty-nine a.m.” she replied.
“Time of death, one twenty-nine a.m.  Thank you every body.”  And with that, Dr. Bronte dismissed the medical team.
The sounds of activity faded, and one-by-one the members of the team left the room as Dr. Bronte stood with me next to Garrett and Rosemary.
“I’m very sorry,” Dr. Bronte said.  “If there’s anything else I can do, Hannah knows how to reach me, and you have my card.  And again, I’m very sorry that there wasn’t more that we could do.”
Garrett shook his hand and thanked him, and I walked with Dr. Bronte to the door of the room.  Martha was sitting in the chair I had given her, her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands.  I walked over to her and invited her into the room.  When she looked up, the room was nearly empty, except for Garrett, Rosemary and Ruby.  Ruby was finishing with the monitor so she could turn it off.  Martha seemed hesitant, until Rosemary’s brittle voice called, “Martha?”  With that, she was up and crossed into the room so quickly, I didn’t bother to try and keep up.
Garrett had stepped back and sunk into a chair against the wall.  I pulled another chair over next to Rosemary for Martha, and she sat, putting her arm around Rose.  I handed her a box of tissues, then grabbed another for Garrett and myself.  Rose leaned forward, resting her forehead on her father’s arm and let out a high, keening cry, then dissolved into shaking sobs.  As tears streamed down my face I wept for a man I’d never actually met and realized that I’d never gotten so close to any other family in my career.
“Hannah,” Rose choked.
“Yeah, Rose?”
“Does he have to have all those tubes in him?”
“Not any more.  Do you want to leave while we take them out?  You can come back in as soon as we’re finished.”
Rose nodded.  She and Martha pushed back their chairs and gathered up their tissues.  Ruby left to get the supplies we would need and some fresh linens.  Garrett didn’t make any motion to leave.
“Are you sure you want to stay?  This part isn’t really pleasant,” I warned.
“I’ll be ok,” he said, “I’d rather be where you are.”
“Oh,” I said, surprised.  “I don’t have to help Ruby.  I can ask another someone else to come in and I can go out to the waiting room with you.” 
He shook his head, closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair.  I felt a little better that he wasn’t watching.  Ruby came back in with the supplies, and we began getting Emil cleaned up.   As we worked to remove Emil’s tubes and drains, I felt Garrett’s eyes on us.  I looked up to see him studying his father and then shifting his gaze back to me.

It's all about the voice...

I read a few really great articles in my latest Writer's Digest magazine.  Thank you to my darling husband for renewing my subscription.

Food for thought - I have a tendency to be a chameleon.  I can very easily take on attributes of what I am exposed to.  Leave me down south long enough, and you'll notice a subtle drawl.  Put me in a group of strong personalities, and I'll take on the same boisterous attitude.  A group of intellectuals, I'll happily get academic.  Pub night?  Time to tell stories.

Finding my own identity has taken years of time and patience.  This year I feel like I'm really starting to know who I am and what I'm about, and it's starting to show in my writing.  (It's probably thanks to my writing that I even started on this journey of self-discovery.)

I have something to say and a story to tell, and I can't use the writing patterns of Stephenie Meyer, Diana Gabaldon or J.R. Ward.  (Despite how much I love their books!)  Unfortunately, if I just finished reading or listening to any of their work, it starts to come through in my own.  Being aware that I do this is the first step in not letting it happen, and I think I'm really starting to get a handle on my writing voice so I can say what it is I want to say.  With any luck, once said, someone will want to hear it.

So, it is in that frame of mind that I sign off to go and cook dinner, get the kids ready for school and bed, and hopefully, find some time at my keyboard to get Hannah, Garret and Marc a little further along in their story.  If only there was such a thing as a 36 hour day - I might be able to get the laundry and the book done in a reasonable amount of time.


Friday, November 5, 2010

China Medical Mission Article Will Be Published!!

I received an email back from the International Nursing editor today ACCEPTING my article for publication!!!  There are 3 articles ahead of mine, so the plan is to use the time to refine the submission and include pictures of the experience.  I'm guessing summer of 2011 for a publication date.  She also paid me a very nice complement, saying that she didn't see a lot of revision being necessary because it was "very well written."

As my Uncle David just told me, I'm going to be spoiled now because usually it takes a very long time to receive a decision about whether or not the manuscript is accepted.  I was prepared to wait and expected to be rejected thinking that my manuscript might not be up to the standards of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.  To have such a tremendously positive response only 2 days after the original submission is beyond encouraging!!

For those of you who aren't familiar with this publication, it's the official publication of the Emergency Nurses Association - the national organization that represents emergency nurses.  ENA is the emergency nurses' equivalent of the AMA or the American College of Emergency Physicians.  To say that I'm honored would be an understatement.

A huge thank you to Brian Faley for helping me realize that my article was ready and for walking me step-by-step through the submission process.  I may have stalled indefinitely if it weren't for him basically saying, "What are you waiting for?  Let's do it."

I'm also so grateful to everyone from the mission (Dr. Chiang and his wife Julie, Dr. Kane and Dr. Hernandez, Jane Burke and of course my darling husband Eric) and my friends and family who supported me in putting this article together.  Not only is this a major professional accomplishment, but it's also a very personal one.

So on that note, I'm going to take my perma-smile-self out with my husband to celebrate.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Alas, I've emerged from the depths of the Internet

I started my evening reading one of my favorite publications:  Writer's Digest.  I devour it.  From cover to cover it's as relevant and informative as the Journal of Emergency Nursing is to my nursing practice.

In this month's issue there was a lot of talk about online forums such as critique groups, personal websites, blogs, tweeting and I'm sure a myriad of others that I have yet to read about.  You may have noticed the first impact of this issue, this here blog.  I finally woke up and smelled the latte and got myself a blog just like the How to Be a Real Author instruction manual said I should.

As a result, I've now submitted the China medical mission article for publication, and am working with the title "Inertia" for my novel.  I don't know if I can express in words the magnitude of these accomplishments.  The draft of my article and a cover page that read "Book Name" have been plaguing me for about a year.  Now thanks to this blog and the feedback I've been getting from all of you, I've pushed the peanut forward, so to speak.

I'm aware of the reality that my article could be rejected, and I think I'm prepared for that, although I guess I really won't know until I hear back from the Journal of Emergency Nursing, but that's not the point.  The point is that I actually asked someone to consider publishing my work.  

Like my mom says, you'll never score a basket if you don't shoot the that particular sport.

It's late, and I do need to get up and get to work in the morning, so I'll keep it short tonight.  If it suits you, consider checking out my author facebook page.  You can click the "badge" on the right side of my blog (hard to miss), or you can search me out under "Michelle A Kobayashi".  If you want to peek in on the updates as they post, feel free to "Like" my page.  The page is in its infancy, and I don't know how it will evolve, but I'm really excited that it's started.

Baby steps.