Most of us have heard of that famous literary nurse, Cherry Ames. Cherry Ames' only dream was to be a nurse, she never went anywhere without her perky smile and things always worked out perfectly for her. Lois Roelofs is no Cherry Ames...but then, Cherry Ames is no Lois Roelofs! Roelofs' memoir Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor's Journey of Faith and Self focuses on her nursing career but it isn't a book just for those in the medical profession. Her memoir is a record of making difficult choices, dealing with changes in the workplace, returning to school, juggling career and family—challenges we can all identify with no matter what our chosen career.
Paperback: 224 pages (and e-formats)
Publisher: Deep River Books
Twitter Hashtag: #CaringLessons
The memoir Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor's Journey of Faith and Self is available in print and e-book formats online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as at your local bookstores.
Book Giveaway Contest: If you would like to win a copy of Caring Lesson: A Nursing Professor's Journey of Faith and Self, please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in the random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, March 15 at 11:59 PM PST. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #CaringLessons, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post on the following day Friday, March 16. Good luck!
About the Author:
Lois Roelofs describes herself as a rebellious minister's daughter, a reluctant nurse, a restless mom and a perpetual student who eventually became a fun-loving teacher of mental health nursing. During her forty-year nursing career, she cared for patients and taught nursing students primarily in mental health and medical-surgical settings. As a caregiver, she learned the value of caring for herself and did so by changing jobs to suit her interests, going back to school more than once to feed her craving for learning, and seeking professional help when personal and family crises invaded her life.
You will be amused, saddened, and inspired as you read this intimate and introspective memoir. Plus you will learn the importance of faith, family, and friendship—whatever your profession—and come away with a new appreciation of caring for yourself as well as caring for others.
Find the Author Online: http://loisroelofs.com
--------Interview by Jodi Webb
WOW: You've led a very busy 30+ years in various positions in the nursing profession. When did you become a writer?
Lois: I was always writing, filling file cabinets full of paper during my student and working years. But since I retired from teaching nursing in 2000, I've begun a different kind of writing—more personal, more important, and more fun. I love adventure, and learning to write creative nonfiction has given me many fresh and fascinating experiences during this phase of my life.
WOW: Some people's memoirs began as personal journals, others are trying to exorcise old demons, fill a literary void, or hope readers can learn from their experiences. What made you decide to write a memoir?
Lois: I always liked telling my nursing stories to my students. In fact, in course evaluations, students often wrote my "stories" were the best part about the course. I'd chuckle and hope my administrative evaluators would not discount me as just a story-teller teacher, but as a teacher who used clinical anecdotes effectively.
So, shortly before my retirement, when my friend Marianna and I started to talk about writing our nursing stories, I thought my head is full of stories and, yes, without my venue of teaching, I should write them down before I forget them. Of course, neither of us thought about the work involved, but always loving a bit of excitement, we naively embarked on the project.
Much later, while writing a book proposal, I found my book would fill a void as I was unable to find a memoir written by a nurse who ended up with an academic career.
WOW: Your way of writing was unique in that you created a writer's group of two friends writing on the same subject. Tell us a little about how your writer's group worked.
Lois: My first writer's group was just the two of us. Since we live in separate cities, for several years we made deliberate plans to meet in person. Our first meeting was at her home in Chapel Hill where we spent a week planning our books. Every day we did free writes about eras in our nursing lives, creating lists of events that we then discussed. By the time I returned to Chicago, I had an outline of stories that I wanted to write about.
I played organizer since Marianna was still working fulltime. We established deadlines for stories and exchanged them on schedule. We gave each other general feedback on themes and content, but it was too early in the process to critique each other's work. We've met up in person at least yearly to talk about the progress on our books and to read each other's stories. And, yes, she's had some of her stories published and is working on a book about her nurse practitioner experiences in an urban setting.
About a year after I began writing, I started another writing group with people I'd met in writing classes at the Newberry Library here in Chicago. Since the summer of 2001, four of us have met four hours weekly. In this group, we loosely divide out time up into an hour talking about our writing challenges, two hours critiquing each other's work (we email up to ten pages to each other the day before) and the final hour studying either a writing craft book or studying the craft in a novel or short story. We do the nitty gritty critique, from a global "this works or doesn't" to line-by-line editing. Meanwhile, Marianna also found writing groups and classes in her area.
WOW: Do you think it's valuable to have another pair of eyes on your writing?
Lois: Absolutely, especially as a nurse. The other three in my weekly writing group are not nurses and have backgrounds in journalism or teaching English. They quickly catch words that a lay person may not understand. The journalist catches issues of clarity, while the English teachers catch everything from dangling participles to problems with the story line.
WOW: Before writing Caring Lessons, were you a reader of memoirs?
Lois: During my working life, I mostly read academic books and journals and, rarely, short stories in women's magazines. But since I started writing creative nonfiction, I've enjoyed the memoirs of my teachers at the Iowa Summer Writing Workshop: Marilyn Abildskov's The Men in My Country, Hope Edelman's Motherless Daughters, and Sandra Scofield's Occasions of Sin. And of a fellow student: Carol Rottman's Writers in the Spirit and All Nature Sings. I also like the memoirs of writers I've heard at writer's conferences such as Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes and Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.
WOW: Did you ever worry that the people in your book might not like how they were portrayed? Any feedback?
Lois: Yes, I was concerned with how I portrayed people. A good thing was that I had distance from most of the events. I felt like I had worked through any negative feelings and could tell my stories objectively. I also attended a few seminars on the legal aspects of writing memoir. And I did show my manuscript to all the people, still alive, that played more than a minor role in the stories. One reader didn't think I'd done enough introspection, but my writing teacher at the time said I'd done more than enough, so I went with the teacher's advice. Since Caring Lessons has come out, I've had many readers give me feedback in person or via email. Feedback has been positive, and I've been surprised at the broad range of comments from readers identifying not only with the nursing stories but with my stories as a working mom, a returning student, and the everyday events that broadsided me along the way.
WOW: Although you are experienced in so many aspects of nursing, as a writer you are a newbie. Care to tell us how you navigated your way through the maze of publication?
Lois: Do you have an hour? I'll try to make this simple! I'm thankful I like to organize because the process of finding a publisher took nearly two years.
First, I sat at a bookstore and took pages of notes from books about writing a proposal. I spent six months writing the proposal, getting feedback every week from my writing group. At the same time, I read the acknowledgement page of dozens of memoirs at libraries and bookstores to check out agents' names.
Second, I bought a book on publishing (Writer's Market Deluxe Edition) that listed hundreds of agents. I cozied up in a comfy chair and highlighted the entries on memoirs that dealt with the topics of career, education, medicine, psychology, religion, and/or women's studies.
Third, I typed a spreadsheet listing the above information for thirty agencies, the contact person, whether they took new authors, what they required (query letter or query and proposal), and dates for submission and reply.
Fourth, I started snail mailing, honoring each agent's request regarding simultaneous submissions. After nine rejections in seven months, I followed the advice of two agents who said they liked my writing and suggested I consider a smaller publisher.
Finally, with time by and me getting older, I posted my book proposal on an online submission site for Christian publishing houses. Three weeks later, I received an email from Deep River Books. The time from acceptance of my manuscript by this partnership publisher to publication was about ten months.
The part of publishing that was most difficult was giving up the idea of being traditionally published. As a strong promoter of nursing, I dream of nursing memoirs being at least as prevalent as those of physicians. So it was hard to hear that, even though my writing was good, these two agents didn't feel they could sell my story. I was grateful for their advice, however, and had a very positive experience with my publisher. Even though expensive, I had help at every step from cover design, three levels of editing, through follow-up international advertising.
WOW: Thank you for sharing your experience. It's very helpful! We are always on the lookout for writer tips. If you could give us one tip about getting that book finished, what would it be?
Lois: Other than persistence that every writer needs, I credit my writing group for helping me get my book finished. Being accountable every week for a submission and knowing I'd get free, worthwhile feedback plus camaraderie and intellectual stimulation, proved an invaluable motivator.
WOW: What can we expect from you next?
Lois: I have three project in process:
1. I maintain my blog, that I started up nearly two years and two-hundred some blog posts ago to promote Caring Lessons. The blog has evolved into a potpourri of topics from nursing to aging to living in Chicago.
2. I'm writing a book in letter form to my newest grandchildren, both under three. I have three grandchildren in their teens that I know well and think of often when I write but, at age seventy, if I don't live to ninety-five like my mother, I want to leave all my grandchildren with stories about their grandparents (and great-grandparents) and with a sense of how much they were wanted and loved.
3. With an interest in a new adventure, learning to write fiction, I participated in NaNoWriMo a year ago and wrote a 50,000 word novel, The Essence of Sophie, during the month of November. I'm slowly working through a second draft. This is a story about a woman my age that lives through a scare of her husband having cancer. The starting point was true, but the rest was a 1667-words-per-day race against time, shoving my internal editor in a locker and watching my imagination skate across the page.
WOW: I've participated in NaNo and know the craziness of it all. Can't wait to see what you create from that exercise in writing insanity!
--------Blog Tour Dates
Tuesday, March 13 @ Thoughts in Progress
Lois Roelofs will be giving away advice on writing as well as a copy of her memoir Caring Lessons.
Wednesday, March 14 @ Mom-e-centric
Lois Roelofs, who managed to get her doctorate in nursing while raising her children, writes about "Keeping Your ME while Being a MOM". You can also listen to an inspiring audio interview and win a copy of her memoir Caring Lessons.
Thursday, March 15 @ Reviews by Molly
Enjoy a post by Lois Roelofs, author of the memoir Caring Lessons, and a chance to win her book about 30+ years in the nursing profession from reluctant nursing student to being awarded her doctorate in nursing.
Tuesday, March 20 @ I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Ever wanted to ask an author crazy questions? Today's your chance to interview Lois Roelofs. Inspired Kathy gets the ball rolling with some fun questions but feel free to add your own in the comments section. You can also enter to win Roelofs' memoir Caring Lessons.
Thursday, March 22 @ I Was Just Thinking...
Don't miss a review of Caring Lessons, Lois Roelofs' memoir about the nursing profession.
Tuesday, March 27 @ Musings from the Slushpile
Feel like the end will never be in sight? Memoirist Lois Roelofs stops by with "Five Tips to Finishing Your Book."
Thursday, March 29 @ Empty Nest
Stop by for "Five Reasons You Should Write Memoir" and a review of Lois Roelofs' memoir Caring Lessons.
Monday, April 2 @ Selling Books
Lois Roelofs, author of the memoir Caring Lessons, stops by today with some insights into marketing.
Saturday, April 7 @ CMash Loves to Read
Have questions concerning misconceptions about mental illness? Get some insider information from nurse of 30+ years Lois Roelofs, as well as the chance to win her nursing memoir Caring Lessons.
To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar here.
If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email Robyn or Jodi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Giveaway Contest
Enter here to win a print copy of Caring Lesson: A Nursing Professor's Journey of Faith and Self by Lois Roelofs! Here's how you enter:
1. For your first entry, just leave a comment on this post! Leave a comment, ask Lois a question, or share your nursing story to be entered in the random drawing.
2. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #CaringLessons then come back and leave us a link to your tweet.
The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, March 15 at 11:59 PM PST. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day -- Friday, March 16, and if we have the winner's email from the comments section, we will also notify them via email.