Monday, October 23, 2017

Evernight Teen's Loop Giveaway on Instagram Today: Win Prizes & Books and Meet the Authors

To all my blogger friends on Instagram: I'm excited to announce that I'm participating in a #loopgiveaway with Evernight Teen and 22 other fantastic 
#YA authors TODAY is the day Oct 23. 

Each author will have a prize to #giveaway and Evernight Teen is offering a few GRAND PRIZES, including gift certificates and prize packs. If you complete the loop, you’ll have the chance to #win at least 25 different prizes.
I’m giving away an e-book version of  THE SHELLS OF MERSING, plus a $5 Evernight Teen gift certificate!

Here are the rules for the loop giveaway:
  • Follow all of the accounts in the loop.
  • Comment below with a friend's name that should enter to win too (the more the merrier!).
  • Tap the photo to see where to go next.
  • Remember you must follow ALL Instagram accounts in order for your entry to be valid.
  • Once you get back here, you’ve completed the loop!
  • Winners will be announced on October 30th.
{Winners will be announced on Oct 30}

To start, Follow me @sharonmhimsl on Instagram and continue with the other authors to complete the loop.

#entertowin #instacontest #amreading #YALit #TeenBooks #TeenFiction #YoungAdult #mustread #EvernightTeen #prize #freebooks

Friday, October 20, 2017

Africa Mercy - Ready, Set, Go: One Nurse's Story

My friend Marilyn is in Africa serving as a nurse on the Africa Mercy. She emails me and I share her words with you. For those of you who know nothing of  Marilyn's story, the Africa Mercy is a hospital ship that travels the African coast with a crew of nurses and doctors. They come from all over to give of their time as volunteers. 

"Ready, Set, Go"

The eye team is almost launched.  The screening group screened over 300
people today.  They screen again tomorrow, and then Friday we expect to
process 60 people through the follow-up exam and schedule them for
surgery, which starts October 2.  By next week, we should be rolling
through the process daily, hopefully with most of the bugs worked out. 

 Now...are the potential patients really out there, and will they come?
 This is a new country for Mercy Ships, and it usually takes a bit of
 time to build reputation and trust.

Since I don't have any patient stories yet, I'll share one I heard over
dinner about a man with a very large facial tumor.  He lives up in the
northern part of the country, speaking a different language from the
common ones around here.  He was approved for surgery by the advance
team...but his tumor started to bleed before the ship was ready to
operate.  We put him in a local hospital here in Duoala (at our expense,
of course) and gave him a transfusion (blood donated by one of our
ship's crew), and got him stabilized.  So, he was one of the very first
surgeries in this country, and he got a good result.  Even before
surgery, he was encouraging other patients who were waiting for surgery.
 After surgery, he found one woman of his language group who was quite
afraid, so he got his own chart to show her the before and after
pictures.  I think we should hire him, especially since his language
group is scarce around here, and we need translators.  Of course, he
might have a family back home...  But wherever he goes, he's likely to
be an advocate for Mercy Ships, helping others to overcome their fear
and distrust.


Africa Mercy - First Day: One Nurse's Story

My friend Marilyn is in Africa serving as a nurse on the Africa Mercy. She emails me and I share her words with you. For those of you who know nothing of  Marilyn's story, the Africa Mercy is a hospital ship that travels the African coast with a crew of nurses and doctors. They come from all over to give of their time as volunteers.  

"First Day"

I arrived in Cameroon last night, got to my room around midnight, after
about 36 hours of travel without sleep.   I was supposed to arrive
several hours earlier, but my first flight out of Syracuse had
mechanical problems, and so they had to completely reroute me, through
Paris instead of Brussels.  Now that is one intimidating airport!  Huge,
with multiple terminals, a complicated bus system between terminals, and
poor signs.  It took a couple of hours to get from arrival gate to
departure gate.  Luckily, I had six hours to kill, so taking two hours
to find my way wasn't overly stressful.

I was up again at 5:45 AM to start my first day of work.  We have 22 day
workers (the locals that we hire to translate, teach, manage patients,
and do many of the technical tasks), so I have a lot of new names to
learn.  Dr. Glen spent most of the day still teaching the team--he is an
excellent teacher!  The day crew seem like they are all fairly strong in
English.  That will help a lot.  They also seem like cheerful workers,
enthusiastic and involved.  I think we're off to a good start.

Initially the plan was for government workers to screen for cataracts
upcountry before the ship arrived and then send them to us for surgery.
For reasons I don't know, that plan didn't work well.  That meant that
we needed to restructure our team to handle the extra work of doing the
initial screening.  So, now the eye team has been subdivided into task
groups.  One group will be responsible for the initial screening
process.  They will see hundreds of people each day, selecting those
that seem like they'd be good candidates for cataract surgery.  Those
folks will get an appointment for secondary screening at the off-ship
eye clinic.   At this appointment, the second group will test their
visual acuity (we select for the more profoundly blind) and give them a
more thorough eye exam.  If they are still good surgical candidates, we
do a variety of measurements to determine the correct lens.  When we
give them an appointment for surgery, we need to teach them of possible
complications so that they can give informed consent, and we need to
teach them what to do to prepare for surgery.  This last step of
appointments and teaching is where I will be working.

The third task group is the day-of-surgery eye room, where I have worked
in previous times.  They bring the people onto the ship, prepare them
for surgery, and then send them home after surgery with careful
instructions on what to do next.  The fourth stop for the patients is
the surgery itself--but that's the OR crew, not our team.  The next task
group of our team is the post-surgical care group.  They see the
patients the day after surgery, see any patients that need further
follow-up, and see all the patients again at six weeks for a final check
and JAG treatment (a laser treatment that pokes holes in the posterior
capsule behind the new lens, done because about 20% of all cataract
patients develop cloudiness in this membrane after surgery; the JAG
treatment prevents this.)

I think that this new organizational scheme will be an improvement over
what we've done in the past, where one clinical team handled all the
tasks that weren't done on the day of surgery itself.  Divide and
conquer--I think it will reduce the stress and chaos of one team trying
to do too many tasks at once.

We don't have internet at the team house where I live off ship, so my
access to internet may be sporadic--free time on the ship will probably
be random and scarce once we actually get underway with secondary
screening in the clinic.  I'll write when I can.

Keep us in your prayers as we gear up to do 2200 surgeries in the next
six months, nearly double of what we've done in previous field services.


Africa Mercy - A New Beginning: One Nurse's Story

My friend Marilyn is in Africa again serving as a nurse on the Africa Mercy. She emails me and I share her words with you. Afraid I'm quite behind on her posts, but I know that some of you have followed her amazing adventure and would miss hearing her news. For those of you who know nothing of  Marilyn's story, the Africa Mercy is a hospital ship that travels the African coast with a crew of nurses and doctors. They come from all over to give of their time as volunteers. They are such a blessing and it just blows my mind how wonderful they are in their outreach. The emphasis has been on much needed eye surgery. They are headed for Cameroon,  in West Africa.

 "A New Beginning"

"In one week I will be returning to Mercy Ships for a field service in
Cameroon.  Am I excited?  Oh, yes!  Let me tell you a bit of background
now, because once I get there, we will hit the ground running, and it
might be a while before I can write again.  (And while I’m thinking
about it...if you would rather not receive these group emails, just let
me offense will be taken...I’d rather not clutter up your
inbox if you don’t actually want to hear this stuff.)

Cameroon is in West Africa, just below Nigeria, right at the bend.  It
is a poor country, lacking in medical care for most of the population.
Our ship, the Africa Mercy, provides free surgeries of several types,
including cataract surgery.  Apparently there is a large need for
cataract surgery--the government of Cameroon wants us to do twice our
usual number of surgeries.  That means restructuring the team and
devoting two operating theaters to the task this year.  It is exciting
to think of the thousands of lives about to be marvelously impacted by
the restoration of sight.

One of the changes that impacts me directly is that I will not be living
on the ship.  Bursting at our seams, Mercy Ships has set up two team
houses for some of the crew who work mostly off ship--the eye clinic,
the dental clinic, and the Hope Center (for patients in rehabilitation
after surgery). Each team house will hold about 15 people, and that’s
where I will be living this year.  That will certainly be different...I
have a lot of questions, but I’ll find out what that’s like soon enough.

My job on the eye team will be different this year, too.  I will be
Senior Scheduling Nurse instead of working with the patients on the day
of surgery.  So, there’s much I don’t know about my job as well as my
living situation--it’s an adventure all around.  I think that my tasks
will be primarily administrative--working with the schedules for the
clinic evaluation before surgery, surgery itself, and for post-surgery
follow-up.  I think that I will be working in the off-ship eye clinic
some days and at various screening sites on other days.  I will be
seeing a greater volume of patients than I ever have, but seeing them
much more briefly.  I have no idea if this job will be as satisfying and
full of great stories as what I had before, but it’s a job that needs
doing, and I have the privilege of doing it.  What more could I ask?

Seven months.  Tropical, rainy, hot and humid.  Living on land instead
of the ship.  Working in various locations.  Battling traffic to get
there (not me driving!).  New role and responsibilities to learn.  It’s
an adventure, and it starts next week!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: You Can Always Find Something

When life gets you down, find something to smile about. Try a happy memory that makes you reflect and gives you pause. I often head for the baked goods, perhaps not the healthiest diet-wise, but I enjoy baking cookies on a cold autumn afternoon. I did this a lot as a girl for my family, and also as a young mother. Nothing better than fresh baked molasses cookies and a cold glass of milk. Store bought just doesn't cut it!

How about warm socks on a cold Autumn morning? I'm thinking of those cozy Norwegian slippers I sometimes got for Christmas under the tree as a girl, but I like the stripe ones on the left too. Boy, do they ever warm the toes.
Maybe it's a taste of homemade jam that the neighbor brought over or you made yourself. I was given a box of plums and made plum jam. 
It could be a funny line from a favorite movie.
I still quote lines from Bill Murray's 'Groundhog Day'.  Oh, no, did I do that same thing again? Will I ever learn? "It's Groundhog Day!"


Could it be a good book you gave yourself permission to read? When you really should be doing something else? I say, go for it! I like the orange tabby purring at this young boy's side. Animals have a special gift. They know how to make us slow down in life. Best blood pressure medicine of all! 

 How about one of #Evernight Teen's awesome books? If you read one, be sure to give a review. It's the kindest support you can give an author.

I'm reading Kate Larkindale's book, An Unstill Life by Evernight Teen. What are you reading?

And don't forget to vote for C. Lee Mckenzie's book, Double Negative, up for the Reader's Choice award for Young Adult. You can vote here: 🙂

There is is always something to celebrate, so if you haven't found the time this week, make time now. I guarantee you'll feel a whole lot better. "You can never have too much happy."

Author of THE SHELLS OF MERSING - Evernight Teen

"Come celebrate with us" 
To join "Celebrate the Small Things, visit Lexa Cain's blog
Co-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Seasonal Inspiration and Not-so-Inspirational Other

We painted the garden shed last week and I can't stop staring at it. The blue doors make such a difference, don't you think? We almost chose boring brown. 

I don't have much to say this month writing-wise, other than I'm still writing and making progress on the new novel, a sequel to my recently published one. I wrote a preliminary first chapter and had fun playing with a humorous scene, but mostly worked on the outline, which is slow going. Received my first royalty check on the sale of The Shells of Mersing and didn't run out to celebrate. To be fair, the not-so-Inspirational check reflected only one week's worth of e-book sales, not print, but my husband and I quickly did a retake on the new garage we thought we might build. Ha--ha... It was enough to buy a giant Snickers bar, we joked. Royalty checks are due out again this October, so keeping my fingers crossed but expectations more in keeping. Very excited though that the book is at our local Barnes & Noble on a local author's shelf for Young Adult. I haven't checked to verify this (we live one hour away), but was told they ordered two copies in. Maybe that will qualify me for a box of Snickers!

Those are the Umptanums in the background. Never mind we lost most of July and August to thick un-breathable fire smoke and couldn't enjoy the outdoors. 'Mother nature' has made a glorious comeback and memory of that smoke has already begun to fade.  

In answer to the month's question....Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters either by accident or on purpose?.... No, not really. I feel strongly about not sharing family information that could embarrass or cause harm. When I started writing I think there were family members that worried I might reveal some of the family skeletons. My granddaughter would really like me to use her name, however, which I will if I can come up with the right character. She's such a neat kid 👩 

Time to get the pumpkins ready and find some sales on candy for Halloween. We usually go through six bags or more, but I don't mind. The kids have a ball, and with all the negativity in the world right now and the terrible shooting in Las Vegas, I'm all for making the world a little brighter and whimsical for them whenever I can.

So 'hi' to all the writers 
and readers out there. 
Wishing you a fruitful 
and glorious autumn. 


The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken,Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz: Book Review

Finding Perfect
Author: Elly Swartz
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016
Ages: 8 to 12, Middle Grade

For twelve-year-old Molly Nathans, life was perfect once. Mom and Dad were happy and not separated. Her friend Hannah’s family wasn’t planning to move far away and her other friend Bridget wasn’t obsessed with collecting obituaries after a family member died. Molly doesn’t think there is anything wrong with striving for perfection. If she wants to arrange her glass animal figurines perfectly, so many inches apart, it’s one thing she can control in her otherwise imperfect world. Of most importance, she wants to fix her parent’s marriage. Mom moved out and took a job in another city, leaving Dad to care for Molly and her siblings, Ian and Kate. Her old sister Kate is just plain mad, convinced that Mom has left for good. Ian, the younger of the three, misses Mom and cries a lot. 

Molly convinces herself that she can fix her parent’s marriage by winning the Poetry Slam at school. Mom would then feel compelled to return home for the awards ceremony and see the error of her ways. As the poetry candidates are narrowed down, it becomes clear Molly will win. But also clear is Molly’s strange behavior of late. For instance, instead of washing her hands just once, she repeats the process again and again, and her glass figurines are never, ever, in the right position. Most bizarre is her compulsion to count numbers in her head. Added to this strange behavior, Molly believes that if she doesn’t perform these acts, something terrible will happen to Ian. 

By the time her friends and Dad (and eventually, Mom) begin questioning her behavior, Molly has learned online she has a mental condition called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Ignoring Molly’s attempt to hide her symptoms, family and friends intervene. They learn that others in Molly’s family have been OCD, and Mom and Dad learn the importance of tending to the needs of their family. The author does a great job creating a believable story about a real disorder that often begins in childhood. A book I would recommend.

Check out new Goodreads REVIEW 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: Don't Believe You Can't Achieve a Goal

Stepping out of your comfort zone? Afraid you took on a goal you could never possibly achieve? This may be the video you need to hear. Three times now I've listened to its message, and three times I have found the words helpful.  

I found some inspiration this week listening to speakers at the SCBWI Writers' Conference in Spokane, WA. Saw some old friends so all was good---loved it, but writing a new draft to completion remains difficult for me. Maintaining focus has always been a challenge, and I have a stack of unfinished drafts as evidence. This time, however, the luxury of time shouldn't be taken for granted. I have a book sequel to complete, so it's back to the 100-Day Challenge after taking two days off....and this marvelous video. 

Sorry I'm late posting a Celebrate post this week. It'll roll over into Friday later this week. Wishing you all the best, and if Weekends are your time of rest, by all means DO that. But as this video emphasizes, DON'T BELIEVE YOU CAN'T ACHIEVE A GOAL, because you really can. YOU REALLY CAN!

I'm headed back with my characters to Mersing and the South China Sea this week. Just visited Singapore. Not in real time of course, but you get my drift.....

Check out my New Goodreads REVIEW 

"Come celebrate with us" 
To join "Celebrate the Small Things, visit Lexa Cain's blog
Co-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: Writing in Different Genres

Sure, I've toyed with the idea of writing in a different genre, but it helps to familiarize yourself with the different genres to see where you fit first. 

I found a list of book types or genres that gives a good idea

Science fiction - Nope, never felt I could write in this genre, although I enjoy watching Sci-Fi movies and TV. My one claim to book reading in this genre would be Orson Scott Card's 'Ender' series. What a great series that was!

Satire - Nope, not a Mark Twain writer, which is my definition of satire, although I'm sure writers of satire could define this better.

Drama - I'm more of an action/adventure gal. I think drama involves in depth character sketches. Some writers do this extremely well. I would like to perfect this skill.

Action and Adventure - Yay, my cup of tea! 

Romance - Love it within another genre, but not by itself.  

Mystery - Yes, bring it on! But not the hard boiled detective type. 

Horror - Can't do it. I'm afraid to both watch and read horror, although I admit I have watched Stephen King movies. 

Self help - Hmm....wish I could say I had the expertise to write one. I read my share as a young woman trying to sort out the 'what ifs' and 'whys' of life.   
Health - I've done some on my blog and enjoyed talking about the benefits of adding fruit to our diet. It was fun. I may do one on vegetables next.

Guide - Yes, probably could....but sounds kind of boring.
Travel - I did a little. There's a travel writer in me that never got the chance. Ah, if I were younger and had more time to explore.

Children's - Yes, I have tried. Picture books, but not middle grade, which I am considering. 
And yes, to Young Adult of course. 

Religion, Spirituality, New Age - The subject is fascinating to me, but writing-wise, only as related to research of a character or situation.

Science - Nope, I do not have the education to write, but I did edit food science books and articles in my day job once. Now if gardening is a science, I could write about that!

History - Yes, I could and have done this. I researched 1920 to 1940 for a nonfiction book, and wrote about the Shoshone Indians for another. I've done a number of nonfiction series on my blog on women in history. Wish I could apply to Historical Fiction

Math - Oh dear, not for me.

Anthology - This has become rather popular lately, but have not done - yet. 

Poetry - Yes, but I'm more of a closet poet.

Encyclopedias - I helped a professor prepare and edit a large series of Food Engineering articles for the 'Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems' for the United Nations. Pretty proud of the project and final product.
Dictionaries - Nah, but you know, they need writers for this too.

Comics - Nothing but respect for those who have the talent!

ArtNot my cup of tea, but lots of talent out there!

Cookbooks - Have thought about this, but the world is overrun with cookbooks already. It's more fun to be inventive as you cook. Only problem with this style is you win some, and lose some! 

Diaries - Yes, I have kept three in my life. One as a young teenager. Another in college. A third during my 9 months in Malaysia. I also keep a dream diary (when I remember). I highly recommend diaries. You can discover some real gems for your writing.
Journals - Yes, I sometimes log my writing progress and thoughts. I do as needed to motivate.

Prayer books - I occasionally keep a prayer list. I usually list 10 things and/or people I'm praying for, then cross out when answered. You'd be surprised how many prayers are answered! I don't write out prayers or do devotionals.

Series - I would love to write a series. Lucky are those who find an interesting character or subject that warrants one! I keep thinking about this.
Trilogy - I'm working on a sequel to 'The Shells of Mersing' right now, but it's not likely to be a trilogy.

Biographies - Only as related to some fictional piece I'm working on.
Autobiographies - Yes, tried this once. Boring! But I think you could add Memoirs to this category, which I have tried and like.

Fantasy - Have never tried. I would need to read this genre a lot to feel comfortable. Lots of folks adore this genre, so I keep thinking I should try. If Time Travel works, that would definitely be my choice.

Wow, that's a lot of writing options! I should add I wouldn't mind trying adult fiction. At least two of my first short stories were from a male perspective for the adult market. I felt very comfortable writing in the male voice. Another story was Orwellian in nature about an elderly couple, the strangest thing I have ever written.

Flash fiction is kind of fun too. Again for the adult market. I've never written one to completion, but have had some great beginnings. 
How about you? Where do you fit in your writing? Are you all over the map like I am?   ~Sharon

New Review - GoodReads

THANK YOU Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts for the September 6 posting of the IWSG, Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure!!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Exploring the Pennsylvania Colony by John Micklos, Jr.: Book Review

Exploring the Pennsylvania Colony
Author: John Micklos, Jr.
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Publisher: Capstone Press,  2017
Ages:  8 to 11, Chapter Book, MG
Pages: 48

Pennsylvania was the ninth colony established as a permanent European settlement in North America. First contact with the Native Americans occurred in 1608 with Englishman John Smith, but settlers didn’t arrive until much later. Swedish settlers arrived in 1638, the Dutch in 1655, and finally, the British in 1664 under the leadership of a Quaker named William Penn. 

Penn had been granted 45,000 acres by the king for settlement. He established peaceful relations with the Delaware, Shawnee, Nanticoke and Mingo tribes, but after his death, conflicts over land began. Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe was among those who led a brave resistance, but eventually most of the Native Americans were either killed or weakened by disease. 

Despite the conflicts Pennsylvania thrived as a colony. The soil was fertile and its central location had made the export of goods convenient, including for political gatherings. After the Revolutionary War ended, Philadelphia became the nation’s new capital and a meeting place for the nations's new Congress. The Declaration of Independence was signed there, and later the U.S. Constitution in 1790, at which time Pennsylvania entered the union. 

Business prospered in the growing economy. One famous businessman, a printer named Benjamin Franklin, ran a newspaper and wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack, but he was also well known as a scientist, inventor, politician, and diplomat. Micklos describes more pioneers during the period, for example, Daniel Boone, Betsy Ross, and Thomas Paine. 

As typical in this series, the “did you know” side notes, mini bios, illustrations, quotes and “Critical Thinking with Primary Sources” are useful in sparking classroom discussion. 

Celebrate the Small Things: Setting Goals and Getting Ready for Fall

I don't know about you, but there is something about the onset of Fall that gets my creative juices going. I saw this challenge on Facebook at my publisher's author site and decided this was for me. 

You basically devote 100 days of activity to an artistic/creative endeavor between now and December 31, 2017. Mine is to finish outlining my new novel and actually begin writing chapters. You set the challenge, and ideally plan each day in advance. I plan to commit at least 25 minutes a day (by timer if necessary). I know the time will be longer if I can just put my butt in the chair, but it's how my mind works (I have to trick it into compliance). Of course, everyone does what works best for them. #SHOWUP100

Today was DAY 1. I worked on the synopsis and back stories, and boy did it ever feel good. As this is a sequel, I loved pulling in characters from the first book, deciding who would no longer play a role. It wasn't easy. I wanted to give them all top billing on the novel stage, but alas, some actors no longer fit. Anyway, wish me luck! Have any of you tried this method?

The challenge is necessary. My husband and I just spent the last two weeks painting our home. I haven't been writing at all. We managed to put on one coat, but it was good paint and should get us by till next spring, when we'll apply a second coat. Frankly, it's been too darn hot to accomplish much more, and it's smokier than ever here. VERY tired of the smoke! 

Nonetheless, the signs of Fall are already here. The leaves of our new service berry tree are already beginning to turn. The mums are starting to blossom. We have Fall planting to do as well, but not nearly as much as last year. 

I hope you are doing fine. I've been offline far too long, but had so much stuff to do this summer. I have book reviews piling up that I need to do as well. Eventually, eventually. It all comes together somehow, doesn't it?

Take care everyone. Remember to smile and take deep breaths. I look at the world and have days when all I can do is shake my head in the negative, but we saw some beautiful coming together by all in Houston. Made me proud. Still tough for those folks, but help keeps coming in. I try to remember, it could always be worse, and that celebrating the small things in life is what matters most. 

ALSO Celebrating my novel and reviews. Check it out: 
The Shells of Mersing 

"Come celebrate with us" 
To join "Celebrate the Small Things, visit Lexa Cain's blog
Co-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog