Review of Sand & Sutures

I am truly flattered by a review my second book just received from Opus Book Review. Check it out.

“Sand & Sutures (Scrubs Book #2) is the second of a four book series by author L.M. Nelson.  Please allow me to introduce the other books in the series, the first being Scrubs (Scrubs Book # 1), Beyond the Hardwood (Scrubs Book #3) and finally, Center Stage (Scrubs Book #4).  The last two books have been written, (Thank goodness!) and will be published in the near future.

I recently had the opportunity to read Sand & Sutures, released in May 2016.  Soon I will be reading the first book in the series, Scrubs and let me tell you, I CANNOT WAIT to crack the spine on that one!  However, it is not necessary to have read Scrubs Book #1 in the series in order to FULLY enjoy Sand & Sutures.  The book stands alone just fine and I have to tell you, boy oh boy, did I enjoy it!  As I was nearing the end of Sand & Sutures, that time where I usually start to mourn the book if I have fallen in love with it, I took comfort in knowing that I would go back and read the first book in the series and see how all of this came about!  The original Scrubs, released May of 2015, has been re-released after undergoing a slight revision.  To further lessen my panic, I have the third and fourth books to look forward to and by then perhaps I will have talked author L.M. Nelson into writing these characters until they are old and grey, nearing the end of their lives…..and hey, there is always the next generation. I LOVED THIS BOOK.  Let me tell you why.

The story revolves around the life of Dr. Randal Hanson, his family and extended family as well as a wide, delightfully diverse group of close friends that are largely in the medical profession.  I quickly understood that these close friendships arose from the grueling and intense experiences of surviving medical school, creating a bond that could never be broken or forgotten.  They all became lifelong friends. 

Sand & Sutures has a very pleasing quick and efficient pace, covering about 3 years or so of the joy and happiness, anger and fear, the celebrations and some of the lower points that occur in all of the characters lives, much like the peaks and valleys that occur in own lives.  I never had the sense that any portion of Sand & Sutures was over described or went on too long about any particular thing nor did I feel that I was missing anything regarding any element of the book.  The timing and pace was PERFECT.  I wonder if this might be due to the author’s editing abilities and if this is true, author L.M. Nelson is a true GENIUS in that department.

In Sand & Sutures, the characters are incredibly well developed, each one as interesting as the next.  When reading a book that has many characters, I have often had the problematic experience of not being able to connect to each one, forgetting their name and relationship to the story, ruining that delightful flow of seamlessly reading by having to stop and think, who is this person and what are they doing here?  This is most definitely not a problem in Sand & Sutures.  Each character has a clearly defined personality and role in the story.  Author L.M. Nelson writes dialogue, both internal and verbal, with the precision of a surgeon, no pun intended.

Now, while we are on the subject of characters, OH, THE CHARACTERS!  I quickly became emotionally involved and invested in each character.  I find this to be a great asset to a story and an impressive skill on the part of the author.  My feelings regarding these characters are as such: I always want to be able to pick up a Scrubs book, check in and see what’s happening in their ever evolving lives.  Are they well?  How are the kids?  They must be growing up fast, can’t wait to see them in the next book.  I want to send Randy Hanson a nice coffee basket for Christmas; I know he would love it.  I wonder if so and so ever got over that difficulty they were having.  I also realized that these characters are universal in appeal.  “Scrubs” is a book series that will be enjoyed by men and women alike, the young and old, people from all walks of life.  A magnificently written, read at your own pace because the pace in the book will always be consistent with unforgettable characters and compelling, ever changing story lines.  Better yet?  There are FOUR books to keep you entertained for quite some time.  These are the kind of books that you will want to always have on your nightstand or keep in rotation with your other books because they will never disappoint, you can always count on it, a reliable good time.  If you know a book lover or have one in the family, the Scrubs series would make a great gift because of the book’s universal appeal and exceptionally good writing.

There are two other very prominent characters in Sand & Sutures and I suspect in all of the books in the Scrubs series that have no dialogue.  The first quiet but ever present character is the city of Seattle, Washington.  You can feel the green, picture the fog, sunshine and rain.  The features and terrain of Seattle have been lovingly and subtly written in as the characters walk through their days.  It now comes as no surprise to learn that the author spent a great deal of time in Seattle and I have a feeling she loved it because it feels loved in the reading.  The second character is the medical profession.  When I began reading the book, I asked the author, how do you know all this?!  All of the details of what happens in a hospital setting, in neurosurgery, in the field of an OB GYN?  I fully expected her to come back and tell me that her husband or father was a Doctor.  The detail is so good, so spot on, completely relatable and not too technical.  My thoughts were that someone who is very close to her in her life MUST be in the medical field.  At no point in this book does the backdrop character of the medical profession feel “researched” or foreign.  Nor is it ever overdone or under done, purely well done.  The medical environment in which the book takes place felt so natural that I thought the author must be immersed in it somehow.  I was very surprised to learn that that was not the case at all.  Her answer to me was research.  After completing the book, this one answer really goes back to everything else I have learned about author L.M. Nelson.  Her style is precise but not sharp, her characters are warm and inviting but not sticky and gooey and she is a master when it comes to dialogue and pace in her writing, a perfect trifecta!   

If I may, I would like to tell you of my experiences and interest in the works of independent authors.  It began when I became somewhat bored of reading the books of the usual.  You know the ones, the usual authors with the big publishing houses behind them.  The usual books that are easily recognizable due to expensive marketing campaigns.  The usual widely read books due to their familiarity.  I read a lot.  I mean, A LOT.  If you are reading this, you probably read a lot too.  I became so familiar with each of the usual author’s style, methods and writing formulas that I felt I was reading the same old things in the same old manner over and over again.  I began to seek out new material and it was then that I came across independent authors.  These were books that I could not find in my usual book haunts, or in my book trade with my neighbors or on my library’s shelves.  The works of independent authors are the books that I have come to read on a regular basis with very few exceptions; I do like a Michener every now and again.  My point is that there are so many extremely talented writers out there that you might not ever have the opportunity to enjoy because they don’t have expensive marketing campaigns or name recognition.  These authors write because they love to write and in the past several months, I have read so many wonderful, beautifully written books that I have absolutely loved.  Sometimes I think to myself, I cannot believe that these quality works of art will not be as widely read as some other books that I actually find to be of lesser quality.  It boggles my mind and I find it to be so unjust and I feel for the others like me that love to read, for so many it is a way of life, that they may not stumble upon these lesser known but highly talented independent authors.

That being said, I highly recommend the Scrubs book series as a great place to start or continue if you are so lucky as to already know about these hidden gems!  Start with Book #1 or just dive in and get all the books in this series that are available!  I am certain you will enjoy them just as much as I have. I consider myself to be a pretty good authority on the subject of books due to the mere fact that I have read for nearly my entire life, thousands of books.  As I mentioned above, for some reading is a way of life.  It is my lifestyle.  I now feel very fortunate to have discovered this whole new literary world.  I no longer judge a book by its shiny new cover and a photograph of a well known author.  I have now immersed myself into the world of independently published books and have the joy of judging it purely by its content.

Today is a great day to support this magnificent independent author, L.M. Nelson AND be as thoroughly entertained as I was in the reading of Sand & Sutures.” – Opus Book Review

Squirl

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I’ve spent the last several weeks working on getting my book locations inputted into the Squirl app.  I heard about this app through a Marketing conference I recently attended.  Squirl is a location-based book discovery app.  The app’s purpose is to bridge the gap between stories and the real world, connecting real life locations with books that have settings in that same location.

When I first began the incredibly time consuming process of inputting all of my book’s locations, I really wasn’t sure how far it was going to go or if it would even be worth my time.  But the effort involved has definitely paid off.  Scrubs has been featured on Squirl.

Super excited to see my book being recognized outside of Texas.

Getting To Know Me

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Interview with L.M. Nelson

Who are your favorite authors?

Dean Koontz, Nicholas Sparks, S.E. Hinton. I’m not tied down to a specific author or genre. If the book blurb intrigues me, I’ll most likely give the book a try. I enjoy books from pretty much any genre and from many different authors. To me it’s all about intriguing characters and a well-told story.

What is your e-reading device of choice?

I own a tablet and do read Kindle books, but in all honesty, I prefer to hold a real book in my hands.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

Personal connections. Although I have promoted via various social media platforms, I have sold more books to people face to face than through any other method. Marketing is challenging. It’s difficult to make yourself stand out in a market of millions of books.

Describe your desk.

Haha. Messy. Sticky notes and notebooks everywhere. Sketches of maps, character descriptions, and timelines. Stacks of writing reference material, a thesaurus, and a dictionary. Various pens, a laptop, and pages and pages of notes I’ve jotted down so I don’t forget story ideas as they hit me. Proofs of my novels with post-it notes sticking out of them. It’s a nightmare for my OCD husband, but it works for me.

When did you first start writing?

As a child, I always loved writing. I loved creating stories and making up characters, and wrote down song lyrics and lines from poems I liked. In Jr. High, I received several awards for research papers I wrote, and in high school I began a love affair with poetry. I began writing poetry my freshman year and had several poems published in my high school’s literary magazine. I earned a college scholarship for a poem I published in a national publication. I also began playing around with writing fiction in high school. I started off just creating stories in a notebook, most of which I don’t even have anymore. Once I graduated, I continued to write stories in notebooks. That’s where the Scrubs series began. I started it in college, just as a hobby more than anything, and kept the entire story in a notebook, hidden from anyone else’s eyes. Over the years and added to it. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a dear friend of mine read the entire series and convinced me to publish it.

The Scrubs series has grown with me. I wrote the four different books during different stages of my life. As I grew, my writing and the characters grew.

To this day, I still love to create stories in my head. I write them down and save them now, and wish I would have kept some of the stories I wrote when I was younger. I probably could have used some of those ideas to generate more novels.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I wanted my stories to be mine. I didn’t want anyone else to tell me who my characters should be or what story they should tell. I’ve heard about too many writers who went the traditional publishing route and were forced to change things in their books, even though they didn’t really want to. I didn’t want to have that hassle. I want ownership of my work and I want my characters to tell their story their way.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

The biggest joy I get from writing is the escape. I work 50+ hours a week in a very high stress job. Writing is my escape from that, my stress relief. I can tell when I go a day without writing. Anxiety kicks in and I get cranky.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up in California and the Pacific Northwest. My writing has been influenced by this because I set my books in these locations. My Scrubs series begins in California, the San Francisco/ Berkeley area to be precise, and continues in Seattle, WA and Santa Monica, CA. The last book in the series partially takes place in New York City, although I’ve never been to the Big Apple itself, I have been to upstate New York.. My husband is from New York and both of my kids have been to NYC, so I used them as references when I wrote the scenes in New York.

In a fantasy book I’m working on, the imaginary world I created is a reflection of what I know about the Pacific Northwest, with mountains, trees, rivers, forests, and the beautiful green landscape.

What do your fans mean to you?

Everything. I am an introvert, and putting myself and my work out in the public eye not only took a ton of convincing, but is also very difficult for me. It makes me anxious and nervous. People who are introverts will understand that. Having someone read my work and like what I’ve done makes the journey I’ve taken through this whole writing/ publication process worthwhile. Fans offer support and encouragement, and knowing I have that is the best feeling in the world.

What are you working on next?

As soon as the entire Scrubs series is published, I actually have two projects I’m working on. One is a middle grade/ YA fantasy book that I’m 5 chapters into, and the other is an adult crime fiction novel that is from the first person point of view of a Seattle firefighter. Both of these are very different from the Scrubs series, but I’m excited to get back into them. I have adult an action/ adventure book brewing in my head, but won’t tackle that one quite yet.

Sand and Sutures – Chapter One

Woohoo!  I’m celebrating because I have finally finished all revisions and editing for my second book, Sand and Sutures.  This book is a continuation of the first one and takes my characters through their residency.  Here’s a preview.  Hope you enjoy.  (Copyright L.M. Nelson 2016)

About-UWMC

Chapter 1

The Maternity Ward of University of Washington Medical Center overflowed with patients.  Unoccupied delivery rooms were scarce.  Nurses, patient technicians, and doctors frantically bounced around from one room to another attempting to dodge the chaos and tremendous influx of people who seemed to swarm the ward today.

Dr. Randal Hanson flipped through yet another patient chart, trying to comprehend the information in front of him.  He hadn’t had a cup of coffee all day and his energy tank was quickly depleting.  “Who opened the flood gate?” he said to one of the on-duty nurses.  “Did every single pregnant woman in Seattle go into labor today?”

The nurse gave a bemused smile.  “I don’t know, Doctor.  But the patient in room 213 is crowning.”

“Who’s her doctor?”

“Dr. Jamison, but he’s on vacation this week.”

“Who’s covering for him?”

“Dr. Drexol, but he’s not available right now because he’s busy with the patient in room 220.”

With a heavy sigh, Dr. Hanson put the chart back and headed to room 213.  When he walked into the delivery room, a young woman gripped her hands into her bulging abdomen and pulled her knees up to her chest.  Her facial muscles tensed, her teeth clenched, and she screamed in excruciating pain.

The nurse glanced up at the clock on the wall, turned her eyes to the doctor briefly, then focused on the clock again.  “Dr. Hanson.  Thank goodness you’re here.”

Calmly, Dr. Hanson headed over to the sink to wash his hands.  “How’s she doing?”

“Baby’s head has crowned.”

He pulled a couple of paper towels from the dispenser, dried his hands, then turned the water off.  Being a first-year resident doctor, Randy Hanson held a medical degree but could only practice medicine under the supervision of a fully licensed physician. Fully understanding that the attending physician in charge was ultimately held accountable for anything that happened in that delivery room, Randy asked, “Has Dr. Drexol been notified?”

“Yes, Doctor.  He said to get started and he’d be in as soon as he could.”

Randy tossed the damp paper towels in the trashcan and slipped on a pair of latex gloves.  While the nurse filled him in on vitals and other pertinent information, he took position at the end of the hospital bed, helped the patient slide her feet into the stirrups, and prepared to deliver this baby.  “Alright, go ahead and have her push.”

With the nurse assisting the patient, who had no labor coach of her own, Randy monitored the delivery to ensure that nothing went wrong.

Five minutes into the pushing process, Dr. Drexol shuffled into the room.  “How’s it going in here?”  He picked up the patient’s file to check her stats then peered over Randy’s shoulder.  “Looks like you have things under control.”  He scrubbed up, slipped on latex gloves, and stood behind Dr. Hanson, looking on while he continued to make the delivery.

Pushing proceeded for another ten minutes before the baby made his grand appearance.  Several loud cries followed, as well as tears from the mother when Randy placed the baby on her chest.

“Nice job, Dr. Hanson,” Dr. Drexol told his protégé.  “Your father would be proud.”

“Thank you.”  Randy’s father was a local obstetrician with an impeccable reputation in the Seattle metropolitan area.  Once his residency training was complete, Randy planned to fulfill a lifelong dream of joining his father’s private practice.

“How is your dad anyway?  I haven’t spoken to him in a while.”

“He’s doing well.”  Randy removed his latex gloves and threw them in the hazardous waste bin.  “Stays pretty busy with his practice.”

“Does he still fish?”

“Yes he does.  In fact he and I went fishing last weekend.”

“Give my regards to your father for me.  He’s a great man.”

“Will do, Doctor.  Thank you.”

“I have a scheduled Cesarean this afternoon and I’d like you to assist me in the OR.”

The first time Randy met Dr. William Drexol was during his residency interview.  He was one of UW’s upper division clinical teaching physicians.  Not only was he a wonderful mentor, he was also one of the few physicians who did his best to get to know his mentees on a personal level.

“Put on some fresh scrubs and meet me in the prep room in fifteen minutes,” Dr. Drexol instructed.

“Yes, Sir.”

Randy reported to the physician’s locker room.  As far as hospital locker rooms went, this one was pretty comfortable.  Each white locker, labeled with a physician’s name, had a small storage compartment underneath.  In the corner was a large cabinet, which held several pairs of scrubs folded neatly and sorted by size.  A comfortable white oak futon gave physicians a place to take a load off, and two windows allowed natural light to enter the room.  Overhead, florescent lamps brightened up the area and several green potted plants added a spark of color.  The facility was well-organized and clean.  This hospital treated its doctors well.

Randy opened a drawer full of blue disposable non-skid surgical shoe covers.  He pulled out a pair and slipped them over his loafers.  He locked up his belongings, put on his hospital photo ID badge, which also served as a controlled access card and gave him access to the Pneumatic Tube System, and headed to the OR to scrub up.

The main entrance of the University of Washington Medical Center displayed framed photos and informational plaques of all the attending physicians and resident doctors affiliated with the hospital.  Randy’s photograph hung among them—J. Randal Hanson, M.D.  

Even though Randy walked past this wall daily, he still beamed every time he saw the letters M.D. after his name.  The process of getting his medical education had been grueling, with long hours, arduous classes, obnoxious and demeaning physicians and residents, and exhausting tests.  For him, even with the difficulties, that journey had been worth it—every long hour, every second of humiliation he was subjected to, every minute of stress.  He was a physician now, an obstetrician/gynecologist, and he was ready to take the next step—that long four-year residency.

After a long day of hospital rounds, performing multiple deliveries, pelvic exams, and surgical procedures, Randy went back to the lab to process some samples for testing.  Feeling antsy, he glanced at his watch every ten minutes.

A colleague of his questioned his restlessness.  “Anxious to get home, Dr. Hanson?”

“I’m looking forward to this weekend so I can spend some time with my wife.” Randy and his wife had recently relocated from San Francisco to the Seattle area.  They were finally settled into their new home, but now that she was in grad school and Randy was working an average of 60-70 hours per week, adjusting to their new schedules had proven to be a bit challenging.

“How long you been married?”

“About three months.”

“Still newlyweds.  Congratulations.”  He shook Randy’s hand.  “I’m Greg Hutchins, second year resident.  I’ve heard about you, but we haven’t officially met.  Welcome to the UW Residency Program.”

“Thank you.”

“What’s your wife’s name?”

“Jane.”

“What does she do?”

“She’s in grad school, studying psychology.”  Randy checked the time again.  This day seemed to be dragging endlessly.

Randy’s watch had the Lakers logo on it, which instantly piqued Greg’s curiosity.  “Are you a Lakers fan?”

“Yup.”

“So am I.  Maybe we can catch a game together sometime.”

“That would be great.”  Wanting to learn more about this doctor, Randy asked, “You married?”

Greg blew off this question as if it had little importance in life.  “Nah.”

“Have a girlfriend?”

“Nope.  Not looking for one either.”

Greg’s tone was a bit hostile.  Randy was drawn back by this, wondering why this man was so openly negative.

“My bitch of an ex cleaned out my bank account, stole a bunch of my shit, and left,” Greg snarled.

Well, that explained the hostility.  “Ouch.  Damn, that sucks.”

“Yeah, well, shit happens.”

A young medical student stepped into the lab, interrupting their conversation.  “Excuse me, Dr. Hanson?”

Randy turned his head.  “Yes?”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but there’s a woman in the waiting room asking for you.  She claims to be your wife.”

Randy said, “Is she 5’7” with long brown hair, green eyes, and an amazing smile?”

The medical student nodded.  “That would be the one.”

“Yes, that’s my wife.”  He dropped what he was doing and went out to greet her.

Curiosity led Greg to follow him.

With a wide grin, Randy ambled over to Jane.  “Hey, Babe.  What are you doing here?”

“I left you a text.  You didn’t get it?”

“Been busy,” he admitted.  “Haven’t checked my messages in a while.  What’s up?”

“Aren’t you off in twenty minutes?”

“If I get this lab report done I am.  Why?”

“Because I thought we might go out for Chinese food tonight.”

“Alright,” he said cheerfully.  “Give me a minute to finish this.  You can wait out here if you want.”

Randy left Jane in the waiting room while he went back to the lab to finish his report.

“That’s your wife?” Greg asked.

“Yes.”

Greg turned his head and glanced at Jane once more.  “Wow.  Beautiful.”

“I think so.”

As soon as Randy finished his report, he grabbed his belongings and reported to the medical student he was working with.  “Mr. Allen.”

The medical student turned around.  “Yes, Sir?”

“Thank you for your help today.  When you get a chance Monday morning, check on the lab results and let me know if you find anything unusual.”

“Absolutely, Doctor.”

“Have a good weekend, and try to get some rest.”

The medical student replied, “Thank you, Sir.  You too.”

Randy swore he would not be the condescending ass so many residents he encountered in medical school seemed to be.  He made every effort to be courteous and kind, and because of this, the UW medical students floating around the hospital liked him.  As a mentor, Dr. Hanson was well-known for his kind, helpful attitude and friendly personality.  He was very understanding and tried to guide the medical students, not put them on the spot.  The attending physicians and other residents found him knowledgeable and hardworking.  He was thorough in his reports and clear and concise during Grand Round presentations.  He quickly became popular in the OB/GYN professional ranks.

Goodreads Review

Goodreads review of Scrubs.

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“Scrubs is a YA novel about a group of college students. The story focuses on Randy, a medical student, and his romance with Jane, a psychology student. The timeline begins at the start of Randy’s second year of med school, and concludes just days after his graduation.

The author does a realistic job of depicting the enormity of commitment necessary to succeed in the medical field. She also weaves into her story several other components of a med student’s life: fear of failure, fatigue, family sacrifice, and attrition.

Nelson does an EXCELLENT job of handling multiple characters. In fact, although Scrubs holds almost nothing in common with Gone With the Wind, Nelson is comparable to M. Mitchell in her ability to juggle several characters. Effortlessly, the reader is able to meet multiple distinct personalities. A young heroin addict, an older bereaved widow, sorority sisters, and darling toddlers all come to life for us.

Jane, the heroine of the story, undergoes great character evolution. She undergoes a period of stifling bereavement resulting from her mother’s death, and transitions to a young woman who functions well with happy memories of her mom. She also (begrudgingly) nurtures a life-altering relationship change with her father, and she transitions from an athlete who has abandoned her love of basketball to one who once again claims her prowess on the court.

Overall, I’d say this is a wonderful effort for a first-time author. Nelson shows great promise. Scrubs is the first of a four-part series, and readers will surely enjoy her subsequent YA novels.” J. Monk