Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Caring Lessons by Lois Hoitenga Roelofs

Welcome to Author Lois Hoitenga Roelofs

Lois longed to fly the friendly skies but in 1968 minister’s daughters did not become stewardesses. They chose practical careers like teaching or nursing. For the entire first year of nursing school, Lois made weekly calls home to beg her parents to let her come home. Then her instructors decided she had a “bad attitude”. Despite her lukewarm feelings about a nursing career Lois set out to prove those cranky old instructors wrong.

Lois’s attitude, as well as her feelings about nursing, changed radically during her over 30 year career. She retired in the year 2000 as professor emerita from Trinity Christian College with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in nursing. But even that wasn’t enough classroom time for Lois. She recently completed three years of the University of Chicago Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults. She now spends her days writing and being a happy grandma.

Lois’s website:
Caring Lessons’ excerpts:

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
People should read Caring Lessons for an expose of a nurse’s life.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I have two: one is Letters to My Grandchildren, the other a novel, The Essence of Sophie.

My grandchildren range in age from 1 to 19, and I want to leave them with stories from their grandparents’ lives, including stories that give them a sense of how much they mean to us.

I wrote my “Sophie” novel on a whim. The day before, I decided to participate in the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. So I thought up a story starter, along with the names of the central characters, and from then on it was an exhilarating race to pump out 1,667 words a day for next 30 days. Revision is next.

Aside from finishing the books, I have a file drawer full of things that I’d like to put in a sensible form in the future, maybe a book on Random Writings from a Nursing Perspective.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I was thrilled when an older woman attending one of my library readings raised her hand in the Q and A and said, “I never knew a nurse had to go through all that to become a nurse.” She knew only what she’d seen in the media, and I love to be able to dispel those stereotypes and talk about the intellectual, as well as the emotional and physical, requirements in nursing.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I’m there now. I live in downtown Chicago, a life-long dream. I’ve always lived in small cities or suburbs. My husband I moved to a Loop high rise six years ago and now are within walking distance to a multitude of cultural events—plays, dances, movies, concerts, operas—and to restaurants, shopping, and our church. My study overlooks Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park, and Lake Michigan, providing an energizing and breath-taking backdrop for my writing.

What is your favorite Quote?
My favorite quote comes from the Message version of the Bible, Matthew 5:5 You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I’d want Meryl Streep because she looks like she easily assumes the soul of the women she plays. Friends have told me that she reminded them of me in Mama Mia because she played a blonde following her passion while wearing bib jeans, and, when I saw it later, during the opening scene, I immediately thought that could be me.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Insidiously, my parents instilled a belief in me that I can do whatever I set my mind on doing.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
I would fund a couple of four-year renewable nursing scholarships at Trinity Christian College where I used to teach. THEN I would take my husband out for steak at Gibson’s in Chicago.

Which authors have influence you most how?
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird inspired me to just start writing, one word after another.

Tristine Rainer’s Your Life as Story rescued me when I had a massive jumble of stories written about my nursing experiences. Rainer’s detailed step-by-step approach to writing a memoir gave me the organizational tool to develop a story arc from my stories that resembled that of a novel.

Sandra Scofield”s Occasions of Sin, a writer’s memoir, gave me the courage to write deeper.

Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My nurse practitioner friend, Marianna Crane, got me started. She’d always done some writing and toward the end of our nursing careers, we came up with the idea of writing our nursing stories before we forgot them. It seemed like a great idea, because my head was full of stories and I’d no longer have the venue of telling them to my nursing students. Of course, after writing lectures, tests, and papers during all of my academic years, I had no idea of everything I would have to learn about writing creative nonfiction along the way as I was working on my memoir.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
My husband and I hosted a book party at our home. Friends dropped in all evening while I signed books, surrounded by their jovial congratulatory wishes for having the discipline to even think about writing a book, much less to finish one and follow it through to publication. It was then that I fully realized that Caring Lessons is sort of a big deal; not everybody publishes a book!

Text or Talk?
Talk. I just got a smart phone and am learning to text. But I prefer face-to-face chats any day. With my background in mental health nursing, I’m all for communication in the coziest, most trusting environment. Give me a mocha, a friend, a warm corner, and I’m all set!

Caring Lessons

Lois Roelofs describes herself as a rebellious minister’s daughter, a reluctant nurse, a restless mom, and a perpetual student who eventually became a fun-loving teacher of mental health nursing. During her forty-year nursing career, she cared for patients and taught nursing students in primarily mental health and medical-surgical settings. As a caregiver, she learned the value of caring for herself and did so by changing jobs to suit her interests, going back to school more than once to feed her crave for learning, and seeking professional help when personal and family crises invaded her life.
You will be amused, saddened, and inspired as you read this intimate and introspective memoir. Plus you will learn the importance of faith, family, and friendship—whatever your profession—and come away with a new appreciation of caring for yourself as well as caring for others.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Caring Lessons
Paperback open to US & Canada
Ebook Open Internationally
Ends 4/9/12

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