Book Mail – Scrubs by L. M. Nelson — O.D. Book Reviews

My books, Scrubs and Sand & Sutures, were recently featured on OD Book Reviews.

BOOK MAIL! (Latest book mail photographed on top of one of my scrub tops.) If you like shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scrubs” you will want to check out this series by L. M. Nelson. Descriptions off Amazon with links below. Scrubs Randy Hanson, charming playboy and son of a wealthy doctor, strives to reach one goal—graduating from medical school.…

via Book Mail – Scrubs by L. M. Nelson — O.D. Book Reviews

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

Scrubs-Free First Chapter

In this blog, I am posting the first chapter of my book, Scrubs, for anyone who may be interested.  Feedback welcome.  Disclaimer: This is my original work and I own the copyright. (c) 2015 by L.M. Nelson

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Chapter One

“Alright!” Randy cheered as he high-fived his best friend, Jim Ryan.

“And another one down. That’s kickass, Bro.” After their third consecutive volleyball game win, Jim spun the ball on his finger and set it down in the sand.

The warm summer sun beat down on the beaches of Santa Cruz where several college students gathered for their last big beach blowout before the start of a new academic year. Randy and Jim had played several games now and were taking a break before meeting their next opponents. Hot sand permeated his bare toes as Randy took off his shirt, exposing his muscularly toned chest and abs. He tossed the shirt onto a pile of sand beside his sandals then reached into the cooler on the side of the makeshift volleyball court and grabbed a blue, berry-flavored Gatorade. Dressed in his tropical print red and orange swimming shorts, he took a big swig before he sat down in the sand to take a breather while contemplating the upcoming year. The slightest drop of sweat fell from his brow, and his chest was moist with perspiration, causing him to glisten in the hot summer sun. He held the Gatorade bottle in his hand with his forearms rested on his bent knees.

“Yo, Randy!” Jim hollered. “I’m gonna grab the sunscreen out of the car. I’ll be right back.”

Randy flashed his hand in acknowledgment, and Jim headed toward the parked car. Girls all over UC Berkeley knew Randal Hanson, or Randy as all of his friends called him, and they adored him. He was charming, witty, and intelligent. At six feet tall, he was good looking, muscular, and athletically built with a firm body and broad, strong shoulders. His brown wavy hair, with bangs slightly dangling over his forehead, deep brown eyes, and sexy smile gave him the power of seduction, which always made the women swoon. He prided himself with the fact that he was a ladies’ man. He had the reputation of being romantic, and rumor had it he was an exceptional lover. Besides enticing the ladies, his undeniable boyish charm also won him many friends. Everyone he ran into seemed to like him.

While Randy gulped down his Gatorade, out of the corner of his eye something captured his undivided attention. Looking up from his drink, he caught glance of a thin, femininely curved woman with long, flowing, light brown hair. She had on very short denim shorts and a bright yellow bikini top that tied behind her neck. She was staring at him, but he didn’t mind. He was staring at her too. Then the young woman made her way toward him. She walked with a delicate, yet confident gait. Rounded hips, slender waistline, silky legs, toned muscles, sun-tanned skin—she had a perfect figure. As she got closer to him, Randy was more able to see the appealing facial features she had. Her eyes were a beautiful shade of emerald green and her full rounded lips were luscious and very kissable. She had sexy hands, soft and feminine, with her long fingernails painted in a French manicure. Her estimated C cup-sized breasts filled out her bikini top perfectly, and with those sexy feminine curves, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her.

Jim came back with a bottle of sunscreen in his hand just as this woman stood crosscourt in front of them with her hands on her hips and looked Randy straight in the eye. Randy ogled over her with a devilish grin. Jim knew that look. “Oh, Jesus. Here we go again,” he said, knowing Randy was sitting right there and could hear every word. But Jim Ryan knew his friend well. Randy was a sweet talker and knew exactly how to get what he wanted out of women. This poor girl was tempting his friend’s exceedingly hungry appetite.

Randy flashed her a friendly, charming smile.

She returned the gesture, with what Randy thought was the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen. Then, to Randy’s surprise, she offered a challenge. “You guys up for a match or what?” she asked.

She was sassy and had a bit of feistiness in her tone. Randy liked it. He stood up, put his empty bottle back in the cooler, and confidently replied, “Why, you have something to prove?”

“Maybe.” Again, she challenged him. “You game or not?”

Randy peered over at Jim, wanting his opinion. Jim shrugged, not really caring what Randy decided to do. All attention turned back to this woman, who now had a pretty blonde girl standing next to her. Randy glanced at the blonde, then drew his eyes back to the brunette. “Alright. If you think you can handle us, you’re on.”

She smiled again, picked the volleyball up from the sand, and took her side of the court with her friend. Randy stared at her butt as she walked. It was round and firm, and her tight shorts accentuated every curve of it.

Jim chuckled as he watched his friend lusting over her. “Why does this not surprise me?” he questioned in his usual smartass manner.

“What?” Randy pulled his eyes away from her.

“You know exactly what I’m talkin’ about, Bro. Two babes?”

Randy flashed that devilish grin of his. “Oh, yeah. Pretty girls in bikinis.” His head turned to the brunette again, staring in lustful delight. “Jim, do you see her?”

“Yeah, I see her.”

“She…” Randy checked her out from head to toe, “is amazingly hot. Wow,” he added, trying to contain his uncontrollable desire for this girl. “Oh, man, this is gonna be fun.”

“Should be an easy win.”

But Randy had other thoughts. He stared at the beautiful brunette with ravenous eyes. “Winning isn’t what I was thinking,” he said, raising his eyebrows lustfully.

“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Jim saw the look on Randy’s face and knew what he wanted. That’s all Randy ever wanted.

Randy confidently approached the court. “Whenever you are ready, ladies.”

And the game was on.

He intended to prolong the game as long as possible so he could watch these women in bikinis play in the sand. He took it easy on the women at first, missing the ball on purpose several times to get the score up to 14-13 with the girls in the lead. He figured he’d pour it on at the last minute.

However, despite his very careful planning, things did not go as he anticipated. Jim served the ball, and it volleyed a few times. Then, unexpectedly, this dark-haired, green-eyed, luscious-lipped, gorgeous girl jumped up and spiked the ball right at Randy’s face. Randy dove face first but landed flat on his side, throwing sand all over himself. He completely missed. In fact, the ball hit him smack in the head.

The brunette grinned smugly then turned and gave her friend a high five.

Jim strolled over to Randy, trying not to laugh. “Happy, Hotshot?”

Randy got up and dusted the sand off himself. “Damn.”

“Is that what you were thinkin’? Gettin’ wiped out by bodacious babes?”

Randy glared at him. “No.”

Jim peered over at the girls who were staring at them, giggling. “Guess you really impressed them. Nice job, Romeo.”

Randy smiled sheepishly.

Jim checked the time on his watch. “Man, I better go. Trina will go postal on my ass if I hang out here all day.”

Katrina Rogers had been Jim’s girlfriend for many years and was rather possessive of his time. She had a bit of a temper when she didn’t get her way and blamed many things on Jim, even though most of the time he had nothing to do with them. Randy hated that Trina treated Jim that way, and the sad thing was Jim did nothing about it. Randy didn’t understand why his best friend put up with that. He wouldn’t. But it was Jim’s life, so he didn’t interfere. “I’ll catch up with you on Monday,” he said to his friend.

“See you in class, Dude.” Before Jim headed to his car, he gave Randy a fist wave with his pinky and thumb sticking out, better known as the shaka sign. A shaka sign was the ultimate symbol of aloha in the local surfing culture of Hawaii. Interpreted to mean ‘hang loose’ or ‘right on’, the shaka was a constant reminder that it was not the norm to worry or rush. Although Jim was not a native of Hawaii, the shaka salute was used as a standard greeting for him.

After Jim left, Randy began to clean up. When he leaned over to pick up the ball, he heard a sweet voice behind him say, “Impressive.”

He turned around to find the brunette staring at him. “You talkin’ to me?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Nice move, but warn me the next time you try to take my head off.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I thought you looked kind of cute down in the sand like that,” she quipped, trying to hold back a laugh.

This woman was a bit of a tease and seemed to find great joy in poking fun at him. Yet, he found her bantering adorable. He returned a smile and held out his hand in greeting. “I’m Randy.”

She shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Randy. I’m Jane.”

Turning away from her, he walked over to the pile of sand to grab his shirt.  “You’re a good player. Do you play a lot?”

“I play a little.”

He hesitated for a minute as he slipped his shirt over his head. “You live around here?”

She shook her head. “No. I’m just down here for the weekend enjoying the weather with my friends.”

“Me too.” He sat down, wiped the sand off his feet, and slipped on his sandals. “Where you from?”

“San Francisco. I’m a student at Cal.” She sat down cross-legged by the cooler and made figure eights in the sand with her finger.

“Cal Berkeley?”

“Yup.”

This sparked his interest. “I’m a student at Berkeley too. How long you been going there?”

“This is my third year. I’m an Alpha Phi.” She beamed with pride.

Randy’s eyebrows rose to this statement. “An Alpha girl, huh?”

“You have a problem with sorority girls?”

“No, not at all. I love sorority girls.” He was even more intrigued by her now, so he probed further. “What are you studying?”

“Psychology,” she answered.

He pondered this for a second. Psychology—the study of the brain, seekers of deep thoughts and feelings. Captivating topic. “Interesting,” he mused. “You’re a brain analyzer.”

She was quick to correct. “Not exactly.”

This woman was energetic, she was amazingly beautiful, she had the most incredible body Randy had ever laid eyes on, and he enjoyed carrying on a conversation with her. He found her fascinating. Even though he was interested in what she had to say, he tried to appear nonchalant by packing things into his grey athletic bag.

“What about you?” she asked curiously as she watched him.

“What about me?”

“What is your major?”

Uh oh. There it was. The question Randy hated women to ask him. The question he always hesitated to answer when they did ask. Every woman that ever asked him that tried to get him to commit to something serious. Even though he loved the attention this gave him, the prospect of having to settle with one woman made him want to run away screaming. He thoroughly enjoyed the company of women, but avoided love, relationships, and commitment of any kind at all costs. He liked having women around at his convenience, when it served his purposes. He was dedicated and hard-working and would let nothing, especially a woman, stand in the way of accomplishing his goals.

There was no doubt he was proud of the education he was receiving at University of California, Berkeley. Throughout his five years at Cal, he had taken pre-med classes as an undergrad while he worked toward his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health. He graduated summa cum laude. He continued his 4.0 grade point average throughout his first year of medical school. Now, excited and ambitious as ever, he was ready to begin his second year. However, medical school and relationships did not mix, in his opinion.

After some thought, he decided to tell her the truth. “I’m a medical student.”

This girl’s reaction was different than any other he had ever encountered. She didn’t seem that interested in what he did and didn’t give him the flirty eye he usually received when a woman found out he was studying medicine. She simply said, “Oh, I see how it is. You call me a brain analyzer when all along you are a brain dissector. Wow, there’s a combination. Think of the damage we could do.”

This comment made him laugh. Randy was awestruck by this woman—this beautiful, witty woman with an attitude unlike any he had ever witnessed.

She curled her lip in disgust. “You don’t dissect dead bodies and rip apart tissues and stuff like that, do you?”

“They’re called cadavers, and no, I don’t rip apart tissues. We analyze them, examine them. It takes a very steady and gentle hand to…”

Her mind momentarily drifted. “Mmm, chicken,” she blurted out. “I’m hungry. Are you hungry?”

Where did that random comment come from? How did this conversation turn from tissue ripping to food? He raised one eyebrow. “What?”

“Aren’t you hungry?” She stood up and dusted the sand off her legs. “I don’t know about you, but playing volleyball in the heat makes me hungry, and chicken sounds really good.”

Ok. Maybe he was hungry. Chicken actually did sound good. Her mind was drifty; she was spontaneous and fun, and he loved it. The more this woman spoke, the more enthralled by her he became. Every word that came out of her pretty mouth intrigued him.

Just then they heard, “JANE!” She pivoted her head to find her friends signaling her to join them. “Let’s go!”

“I’m coming!” She turned to Randy and said, “I have to go.”

“I heard,” he replied. “Maybe I’ll see you on campus sometime.”

“Maybe.” She stared at him for a minute before she said, “It was nice meeting you, Randy.”

“You too, Jane.”

She flashed a beautiful smile then waved at him and ran to join her friends.

He laughed under his breath. Where did she come from? Even though it had no intellectual content whatsoever, he found their conversation more stimulating than any he’d had in a while. What a fascinating girl. Beautiful, fun-loving, sexy, conversation that held his attention, which wasn’t easy to do, and the most amazing smile he had ever seen. He would definitely have to track her down. As he packed up his car to head back to Berkeley, he whistled a cheery tune.


A Writer’s Journey

i-love-to-writeWriting has always been a part of my life, and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  Throughout my youth I kept a journal where I wrote diary entries, song lyrics, poems I made up, cartoon sketches, and facts about animals I liked.   I created characters, wrote stories, drew maps of imaginary worlds, and doodled conversations using speech bubbles.  Aside from the contents of this journal, I also wrote letters and notes to family and friends, had a pen pal in New Zealand that I kept in touch with for nearly ten years, wrote lists to Santa asking for gifts I wanted for Christmas, made up movie scenes, and wrote out scripts for my friends to act out.  In school I took pages of notes and wrote creative stories, research reports, informative and persuasive papers, chapter summaries, and literary analyses.  Unlike most kids, this kind of writing didn’t bother me.  I actually enjoyed it.  In fact, in seventh grade I won a trophy for writing the best term paper of the year and my High School History teacher displayed my research paper in the hallway for months.  I never wrote anything to gain recognition, win awards, or make money.  And growing up, I never wanted to be an author. I wrote simply because I loved to write.

The first piece of writing I ever had published was a poem I wrote my Junior year of High School.  It was included in my school’s literary magazine.  I had two more published a year later, one of which earned me a college scholarship and a national publication in a book of collected poems.  While working toward my teaching degree, I continued to write poetry and jotted down story ideas and drafts in a spiral notebook.  All through college I wrote many research papers, thematic units, lesson plans, lab reports, article summaries, critical book reviews, child case studies, and persuasive papers explaining my philosophical insights about various topics.  For the brief time I was in grad school, I co-wrote an article that was published in a state educational journal.

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After graduation, my writing focus switched a bit.  I wrote mostly for professional purposes.  As a teacher I write every day, and most of the writing I do involves curriculum, lesson planning, newsletters, data analysis, short and long-term units, student files, and behavior initiatives.  I am also the department chair and lead teacher in my grade level, so my professional life is consumed by paperwork.  But when I’m not at work, I go into creative mode.  Part of this creative writing involves taking the many notebooks I have written story ideas in and turning them into books.

I began composing my first book fresh out of college.  As the story progressed, I became so invested in the research, storyline, and characters that the original novel I intended to write ended up being a four book series instead.  Of course I didn’t write it all at once.  With a full time job and trying to raise a family, it took me many years to write this series.  At the time I wrote it I had no intention of ever getting it published.  So I sat on this series for years, tweaking it here and there, before I finally allowed some friends and family members to read it.  They loved the characters and tried to convince me to pursue publication.  I was very hesitant.  Being a published author was never in the game plan for me.  After all, I was a teacher and a mother with a busy schedule and didn’t have time for anything that complex in my life.  Publishing a book was something I’d always hoped to achieve, but it was a dream I never thought would see the light of day.  Finally, after much coaxing, I bit the bullet and pursued publication.

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The entire process leading up to publication was time consuming and extremely stressful.  Researching publication options to decide which route to pursue, developing a book synopsis and author bio, writing query letters, reading and re-reading the manuscript over and over again, finding an editor, designing a cover, revising, cutting, editing…the list goes on.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  After months of prep work, the first novel of my series was released.   Scrubs has only been out for about two months now.  I’ve sold a few copies here and there.  But whether I sell copies or not, I find great satisfaction in knowing that I’ve spent years working hard on this project.  The frustration (almost to the verge of tears) associated with the whole process– editorial debates, feelings of self-doubt, wanting several times to bag the whole publication idea, nightmarish formatting issues and marketing woes, exposing myself to the public (which, being an introvert, is extremely difficult to do), and enduring criticism from strangers– has been worth the time and effort.  It’s been a wild ride to say the least.

Even though my first novel is out for the general public to read, I don’t write to reap any benefits, gain rewards, win prizes, or earn money.  If I sell copies of my book and gain readers, I’m ecstatic.  But if I don’t, I will continue to write.  Nothing will deter me from doing what I love.

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My four book series is complete.  The first one is on the market.  The other three need to go through revising and editing before they are printed.  I’m hoping to have the entire series out within year and a half, but with life and work responsibilities, we’ll see how that goes.  Aside from this four book series, I still write poetry and am currently working on writing a children’s fantasy book and an adult crime novel.

Writing is something I love to do and will continue to do.  Writing is my life.

I’d love to hear about your journey as a writer.  Comment below or contact me to share your story.

Indie Bookfest

10406761_1609943489238937_7753897263943418510_n (2)San Antonio will hold its first Indie Bookfest this Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Wonderland of America, 4522 Fredericksburg Rd, Balcones Heights, Texas 78201.  I have the lovely privilege of being included in this event.  If you live in or around this area, stop by and support your local Indie Authors.  See promo video here!

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Blood, Sweat, and Tears

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“How do you do it all?”  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times friends, family members, and colleagues have asked me that question.  And there really isn’t a definitive answer other than blood, sweat, and tears.  Well, maybe not the blood part, except for that time I had a paper cut.  But then again, if bleeding ink counts, then blood does apply.

Real writers work ridiculously hard.  I never realized how hard until I became a part of the author melting pot.  Sweating over deadlines, crying because your editor wants to cut a scene you spent months perfecting, tearing your hair out over marketing, and coming to the realization that following your dream of becoming an author has sucked every ounce of energy from you.  The entire writing, rewriting, editing, revising, polishing, publishing process is a walk in the park, except you’re not walking, you’re running with rabid dogs chasing you and the park in on fire.  Ok…it’s not that bad.  I’d describe it more like a marathon where you’re pouring out all of your energy and sweating like crazy hoping to reach the finish line without collapsing.

The market for books and e-books is huge.  Authors of every age, with varying levels of experience ranging from big names with large-scale international profiles to indie authors no one has ever heard of, write and publish books from every genre imaginable, and all seek the same thing–to gain readers, which will hopefully lead to book sales.  Authors participate in book signings and readings, keep up on social media, and some even conduct interviews or offer writing workshops to teach others how to write.  The list goes on.  All of this is challenging, but when you consider the fact that many of these authors are married, raising children, paying mortgages and car payments, and some of them even go to school or carry full time jobs when they aren’t writing (myself included), the entire writing process seems daunting.

So how does a writer with a normal life do all of this?  Caffeine is certainly helpful, although I don’t recommend drinking 50 cups of coffee a day.  In fact, I don’t even like coffee.  Tea works nicely though.

Being a writer, carrying a full time job, and raising a family definitely falls into the balancing act realm.  My first priority is my family.  My children are older now and don’t require my attention 24/7, but I still make sure they have what they need and make it a point to spend some quality time with them.  My husband and I need time to connect as well, so we make time every night to talk.  Weekends, for the most part, are family time.  Housework, yard work, and taking care of our pets is a group effort.  We all work together, taking ownership of the tasks at hand, so we are able to complete chores fairly quickly.  This way all of us have time to pursue whatever our passions and interests are.  Less sweat, less tears, and hopefully no blood.

My job occupies my day, five days a week.  I’m technically on the clock from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., although I don’t recall in the 20 some years I’ve been in this profession a time when I’ve actually left work at 3:30.  I’m usually in the building until at least 5:00 p.m., often later in order to avoid rush hour traffic.  My profession is one that requires me to work with children all day, which, as those of you who are around children know, can be physically draining. Endless paperwork, countless meetings…I won’t get into all the details.  The point is I probably work anywhere between 50 and 70 hours a week.  But I’ve made it a point over the last few years to leave my work at work and not bring any of it home.  If that means I stay a little later that day, then that’s what I do.  Less sweat, less tears.  I have, however, seen blood in my profession, including my own.

My evenings, after dinner with the family, are dedicated to writing.  Whether it’s reading a good book by a great author, editing and revising a book I’ve written, working on a first draft of another book, or networking, etc… I’m writing.  I keep a notebook and a pen in my possession at all times in case an inspiration pops into my head (which happens more often than you think it does.)  I use this time to relax and unwind from my busy day.  That’s what writing does for me.  It’s my stress relief.  No sweat.  No tears, unless I’m reading or writing an emotional scene, and definitely no blood.  Although I have written scenes that have blood in them.

It all sounds chaotic and overwhelming, but would I have it any other way?  Not on your life.  Balance.  Balance leads to harmony.  Harmony lessens stress.  Less stress means less sweat, fewer tears, and only occasional blood loss.  So pursue your dream, and most importantly, take some time for yourself.  Live.  Laugh.  Love.  Read.  Write.

L.M. Nelson, Author of Scrubs