Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" - BOO!!!

Happy Halloween!!

Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Africa Mercy - Two Weeks Gone: 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. 

"Two Weeks Gone"

Hard to believe I've been here two weeks already.  "Time flies when
you're having fun" seems to hold true once again.  And I certainly have
been having a wonderful time...not "fun" exactly, just joy in the
journey.  I was going to take a day trip to an animal preserve and
botanical garden a couple of hours away, but the captain made it a "no
go" zone due to demonstrations and unrest in that area.  Perhaps I'll
have another opportunity if/when the political climate settles down.
Anyway, I haven't seen much of the country--just the path from the team
house to the ship, to the eye clinic, and back.

 Douala itself seems peaceful.  There are "no go" areas in the city, but
 it's due to thieves and rough characters in those areas, not political
 unrest.  As African port cities go, Douala seems more prosperous than
 some.  There are many paved streets (some major potholes, to be
 sure...), round-abouts, and traffic lights.  Lots of traffic, of
 course, both taxi and private vehicles, and probably ten times as many
 motorbikes as cars.  Driving is "situational" rather than
 rule-governed, so cars nose into intersections to muscle their way
 through the congestion, and motorbikes slither all around everyone,
 going every which way.  Pedestrians stroll through traffic with a
 casualness that I certainly wouldn't feel.  I don't think I'd ever be
 comfortable driving in Africa!  It takes a certain aggressiveness--but
 not too much--to drive in conformity with local expectations.  You
 don't want to play chicken with the big trucks, but if you hesitate and
 yield to oncoming traffic,  you'll never get home.

We continue to screen for cataract patients four days a week.  Of those
who come to the initial screening, the likely surgical candidates are
scheduled for secondary screening at the clinic in batches of about
60/day.  Of those, the ones that are approved for surgery then have
their eye measurements done and are given a date to come to the ship for
surgery.  These first two steps of the process have been underway for
several days now, and they seem to be going well.  Surgery itself starts
on Monday.

On Friday, the eye team debriefed a bit.  Several of the day crew said
how hard it was to turn people away that we are not able to help.
Rolland told of one man who wanted to know if perhaps someone in Europe
or the States could have helped him if he'd had the money to go.  When
we told him that no one could have helped him, not even in Europe or
America, because his eyes were too damaged, it was a moment of
revelation for Rolland.  As he said, "I suddenly realized that money
can't buy everything."  That's a pretty profound truth for an ambitious
young man.  One wonders how it will impact the course of his life.

At the Hope Center, an eight-year-old girl had diarrhea.  Poo was
everywhere--her clothes, her bed, the floor.  The facilitator (crew
member, in charge of the shift) and one of the day crew set to work
cleaning her up, reassuring her, loving on her.  Another day crew person
was watching.  Later, he said, "When I saw that mess, I just wanted to
get away.  Even when my own baby has a poopy diaper, I get repulsed and
hand her to my wife.  Why is that?  I want to change, and have more love
and compassion."  Moral of the story:  It's not just the patients whose
lives are transformed around here.  Ours are, too.

For me, seeing life through another's eyes, like the stories above,
rattles my complacency, my sense of entitlement, and makes me ever more
profoundly thankful for all I have, all the opportunities I have had,
and for the incredible privilege of being here.


Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"National Geographic for Kids," United States Atlas, 5th Edition: Book Review

“National Geographic Kids” 
United States Atlas, 5th Ed.
Author: National Geographic
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Publisher: National Geographic Partners, LLC
Ages:  8 to 13, MG, 2017
Pages: 176

Last minute road trip anyone? Before winter sets in? 

Another handy and versatile kid’s atlas of the United States is available from National Geographic. This family-friendly over-sized version is easy to wipe clean, flexible and sturdy to handle, and reasonably priced. A hardback version is also available. 

Pages are color-coordinated at the top, dividing the atlas into eight sections: The Physical and Political United States, The Northeast, The Southeast, The Midwest, The Southwest, The West, The Territories, and Back of the Book, which includes Facts and Figures, Glossary, Abbreviations, and Place Names Index. 

A basic facts sidebar gives each state’s population, capital, land area, representative bird and flower, and more. Illustrative and photographic images of the region give a visual view of what to expect. 

A large map of each state, in addition to showing cities, roads, and topography, has symbolic icons representative of each state’s primary contributions to the nation’s economy. For instance, a state known for raising hogs and growing peanuts would show hog and peanut symbols. A brief history of each state and a Geo Whiz with fun facts, including the effects of climate change where relevant, add to the atlas’s usefulness. 

Have fun everyone....... 

Vroom! Vroom!

Author of The Shells of Mersing - Evernight Teen

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.


Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

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 know...no 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: 🙂  https://www.tckpublishing.com/readers-choice-voting

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!


About Me

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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.