Monday, May 17, 2010

Behind The Scenes - Passing Whispers

The past few months have been so exciting. In December I signed my first book contract with Devine Destinies. 'Passing Whispers' is a paranormal romance depicting the love between the two main characters, Kate and Endel Sorra. When Detective Sorra is killed in a convenience store robbery, the lives of his loved ones are shattered. One year later, his wife Kate is still consumed with bitterness and grief. Deciding to give away all the precious Christmas decorations they have collected over the years, Kate comes across the Snow Globe her husband had given to her the first year they were married. Endel stops her from smashing it against the wall and finds a way to come back to her. Over a two week period, he helps her to discover the truth about his death and other misconceptions that are ruining her life. Although it's breaking his heart, Endel nudges Kate into the loving arms of another man. He knows he can't stay and he wants to make sure Kate will be able to go on with her life without him.

There are a few tear-jerking moments, but there are also many light-hearted and humorous ones, as well. The Readers get to know Brian Morris, the co-worker Endel believes will make Kate a good husband someday. The Morris Family are wealthy socialites keeping many secrets.

In an attempt to publicize the novel, I decided to produce my own Book Trailer. Having absolutely no experience has never stopped me from doing anything before. I have always been detailed oriented and spent months preparing for the photo shoot. I wanted the trailer to bring my novel to life and give the viewer a glimpse of what was waiting for them if they purchased the book.

I was on a tight budget. I knew my daughter Christina would be perfect to play the part of Kate Sorra. She had an ex-boyfriend who was willing to play the part of Endel. An old friend of mine had a son who is an aspiring model. He enthusiastically agreed to play the part of Brian Morris. Another friend suggested a photographer who was willing to do the shoot for a simple credit at the end of the trailer. After quite a bit of scrambling, we put a wardrobe together and gathered all the needed props. I was able to talk a few local businesses into letting us use their properties as locations. To my delight, my son Joe, and daughter Lisa, offered to help as well.

We were forced to post-pone the original shooting day due to heavy snow. The new date was yesterday. It was a perfect day and it went off without a hitch. Well, maybe a few hitches, but not many. Although I had never met Len Romano (the photographer) and Walt Kohn (the man playing Brian Morris) before long, it felt as though I had known them forever.
Throughout the story, Endel Sorra is wearing the same outfit he was killed in. Black slacks, shoes, white dress shirt and leather coat. He was wearing the red tie Kate had given to him as a gift, loosely tied around his neck (she always though he looked so handsome that way).When Mike Eckman walked out of the bedroom dressed in the outfit I had described in the novel, I couldn't believe it. It was as though Endel Sorra had just walked out of the book itself. He was perfect!

My daughter Christina is beautiful, but I never realized what a wonderful and talented actress she was as well. Mike told me that he had no acting experience except for a small part in his fifth grade play at school. Maybe it was left-over chemistry from their prior romantic relationship... whatever it was... it was powerful. Their chemistry was more than I could have hoped for.

The first location was in the basement of my own condo. These shots would depict Kate as she sorted through her old Christmas decorations. She comes across the Snow Globe and is overcome, once again, with the agony of losing her husband. Before she can smash the globe against the wall, Endel finds a way to come back to her. They are over-joyed to be in each other's arms once again. The lighting in the basement was minimal, at best. We had to take many different shots using different timing speeds and degrees of flash to capture just the right one. We hid a flashlight at the bottom of the box where the snow globe was stored, so that it would look... magical... when she opened it. Hopefully, Len was able to get it. He worked so hard. He'll send me the pics this week and we'll choose our favorites. Once Len edits them, they'll go to the videographer (Mike Lizzio) who will put them altogether into a book trailer.

In the novel, the music box inside the snow globe plays 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' when the key is turned, and that song was also playing when Endel was shot. I decided to use that melody as the back ground music on the book trailer. I was able to locate the owner and lease the right to use it for three years. I found a gifted fifteen-year-old sax player and his mother Stacey, who is a talented pianist to record the music. Incredibly, Dustyn DeBernardo had been practicing that song for years. He had written his own rendition for his grandmother, who recently passed away. When I told them what song I wanted them to record, they were speechless. That melody meant more to them than anyone I could have hired. It was fate and luck that I found them.
Next, we drove to a vacant house to take shots of Kate and Endel decorating their house in Christmas's past. A local park was used to depict the couple enjoying time together. Very romantic.
After lunch, we headed to the sample condos of a near-by contractor. I wanted to use a sample home as they are typically vacant, clean, beautifully decorated, well-lighted, and spacious. There we shot pics of the couple on previous anniversaries and the last day of Endel's life. Many pics were taken of Kate to show how devastated she was after her husband's death. It was so sad!

Next, we visited Costantino's Funeral Home. Vic allowed us to film Kate grieving over Endel's flag-draped casket, holding a rose. She had laid her head on it, and was grabbing onto as much of the casket as she could. Very moving scene.

My daughter Lisa and I had found a tombstone in a local cemetery which, cropped just the right way, would appear to be Endel's. There were shots of Kate visiting him numerous times. The final, and most dramatic shot was of Brian Morris as he held Kate at Endel's grave. Unbenownst to them, Endel is standing in the back ground watching them. He wants Kate to go on... but it's breaking his heart to see her with another man. WOW.

While we were at the park and the sample home, we also took some shots depicting Kate as she begins a new relationship with Brian Morris. 

The kids really did bring my novel to life. The shoot was great fun. I'll never forget it. I can't wait until the trailer is finished so I can post it.

Just a peek... Shhh! I'm not supposed to post these yet!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Hi Mom.
I can't believe that this will be my sixth Mother's Day without you. I miss you so much. Life goes on, but it's a lot harder without you here. I miss our talks over coffee. You were always such a good listener. I wish that you were here when I signed my book contract in December. I know that you always had the dream of becoming an author yourself, but it wasn't in the cards for you. You would have been my biggest fan and supporter. Your enthusiasm, determination and faith were contagious. I thank you for that.

I have two new grand-kids, Mom. They are so adorable. I wish they got a chance to meet you. And Brandon is getting so big. He inherited our wild imaginations. All three of my kids turned out so well. You would be proud of them, like I am.

You always had such a way of looking through the darkest of days and seeing the sunshine. I know you're with Daddy, and that's where you wanted to be. I'm happy for you. No matter how long you're gone, I'll never forget how special you both were.
 
I can't tell you how many times, even now, that I have the urge to pick up the phone and call you. Share a bit of wonderful news, or just cry on your shoulder over something insignificant that will pass.

How I wish I had to make time to run out to the store to buy you a Mother's Day Card. I'd try to find one that told you what a great Mom you were. How much I appreciate everything you ever did for me. That I am still realizing how many sacrifices you made to raise your seven kids. You taught me so much.

I just wanted you to know that, Mom. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Nurses' Week

This week is National Nurses' Week. It's a time to celebrate and thank the men and women who care for us and our loved ones during some of the most difficult and joyous times of our lives.

Being an RN myself for many years, and now a Nursing Supervisor, I have been privileged to witness many instances of caring and devotion. I don't think that the general public has any idea what it takes to be a nurse. Please allow me to explain.

School itself, is grueling. Many students must work full time jobs and raise families while trying to complete their education. Once grauduated, they must sit for State Boards and pass before they can work. Everyone has job related stress, but nurses have the fear of losing their hard earned licenses hanging over their heads every minute of the day. Even well meant advice to a neighbor who sought them out, can lead to a lawsuit.

Uncle Charlie can be convicted of a DUI and still have his job, but a nurse cannot. Any felony conviction will result in a nurse losing their license to practice.

Besides caring for her patients with their multitude of diagnoses, medications, treatments, tests, and results, she has to develop a care plan and discharge plan for each one of them. Every detail of her care must be documented. Both her employer and the State scrutinize her notes frequently. Added to her work load is the knowledge that although she is not a physician, she is still responsible for carrying out any and all orders written by the doctor which may be wrong. If any mistakes are made, she will be required to testify in Court, where her care of that patient will be torn apart by the patients' attorneys.

It's normal for every patient to believe that he is his nurses only patient and primary concern. But all of her other patients feel the same way. Today, patients expect and demand a high degree of care. Hospitals require the staff to deliver this care with speed, accuracy... and a smile. They insist that nothing is too much for a patient to ask for.

At the same time, each nurse is expected to keep up with the ever changing technology. She is required to earn a minimum amount of credits each and every year, as well as keep her expensive license current. Every hospital has mandatory classes she must attend annually. 

Frequently, I hear patients and their families complain that nurses are "unfeeling". They don't seem to realize that if their nurse allowed themselves to become emotionally attached, they would be unable to deliver the needed care at the moment it was necessary. How could she perform CPR and push life saving medications on the patient in room 108, if she focused on the fact that Mrs. Jones was a retired school teacher, with a devoted husband, three grieving children and 6 grandkids with another on the way? She must distance herself from the patient to a certain extent to be able to do what is necessary. There is a double-standard. Many times the patient requires care that can only be administered by an "uninvolved" person. They would be mortified if a close friend, family member or neighbor had to stick their fingers into their rectums to remove impacted stool. Would you ask your friendly mail carrier to check your episiotomy or administer a suppository to ease your hemorrhoids? No. You want and need someone to do it, who will not make you feel self-conscious. Nurses do things for patients that their own families can't or won't do for them. Nurses are human, too. They are called upon to see and smell things that would cause a normal person to wretch. But they are expected to do it, and act as though nothing is disgusting or out of the ordinary. Many nurses find other ways to show how much they care. They let patients sneak in young children and even pets to visit. They arrange baby showers, birthday and anniversay parties right in the hospital for patients who are too sick to go home. They bring in clothes for those who are in need. Don't be surprised to see a couple of nurses that cared for your mother at her funeral. Nurses do that sort of thing. They stay after their shift is over, off the clock, to sit with a dying patient or his family. One nurse I know, sat at a patients bedside and sang to him because he had no family or friends. She didn't want him to die alone. She sat there holding his hand until he was gone.

Add HIPPA to the stresses of nursing. No matter how distraught your family members are over you, and how much the nurses heart goes out to you, she is NOT allowed to discuss her patients with anyone. It's the law. She can be fined, fired and even have her license revoked for sharing personal information with anyone other than the patient. Yet, the family frequently retaliates to that news with anger and hostility.

Let's look at personal sacrifice. Nurses are required to work weekends and holidays. While most people are at home having a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner with their families, the nurses have left theirs to go to work. It's sad to hear the nurses on the telephone asking their kids if Santa came, how many Easter Eggs they found on the Hunt, or how they liked the fireworks display on the 4th of July. They have to give up so many special times and occasions with their families... because sickness never takes a holiday. They are nurses. Throughout my own kids lives, they thought holidays only came every other year.

No matter what is going on in the life of a nurse, she is expected to leave her problems at the door. She can't take the chance that her worries will interfere with her care. So what if her mother has just been diagnosed with cancer? If her husband may be cheating on her? If her teenagers are out drinking or maybe taking drugs? She has her patients to worry about this shift.

And what does the nurse get for her efforts? Free medical care for herself or her family? No. She pays every bit as much as anyone off the street. Free or reduced prices for prescription medicines? No. A great pension plan so that when she's old enough to retire she can do so without worry? No. Most nurses continue to work until they are in their late seventies. Bear in mind that a career frought with lifting, turning and assiting patients in and out of bed have left her with severe back pain. Not to mention foot pain from endless hours of standing on her feet. Yet, despite the constant pain from years of hard, laborous work, nurses work much longer than the average person. I can't tell you how many nurses I knew who worked until they suffered a stroke or a heart attack. Some while on the job.

Nurses do look out for one another. They donate vacation time to other nurses who need time off but have no time left of their own. They hold fund raisers for those who are suffering financial difficulties. They rally to the side of a fellow employee who has lost a loved one.

Yes, nurses are a special breed of angels. For most people, a nurse is the first person they see after they are born, and the last person they see before they die.

I want to take this opportunity to tell every nurse I know, how special she/he is. I want them to know that they have saved lives and helped patients to recover. Their touch will be felt by almost everyone at some point. Thank you, Angels Of Mercy, thank you. I pray that if you ever need it, another nurse will be at your side when you need them.