Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published e-Book Awards
Entry Title: A Struggle of the Heart
Author: Marie Fostino
Judge Number: 13
Entry Category: Fiction
Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. “0” indicates not applicable. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.
Structure and Organization: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot (if applicable): 4
Character Development (if applicable): 5
This story is both a coming of age journey and love and the choices and sometimes sacrifices we need to make to find true happiness. The story follows Annette a girl growing up in the small military base town of Lawton, Oklahoma. Her mother is a beautician, and Annette has always spent time there, learning the trade from her mother and planning to go to cosmetology school and follow in her footsteps so she moves to Norman, but then two things happen which will change her lifeâ€”she meets Aaron, a young Native American man with whom she falls in love, and the domestic terrorist bombing in nearby Oklahoma City ignites a passion within her to help people in emergency situations and become an EMT. She and Aaron fall deeply in love, but then he lets her know he has signed up for the army and will be leaving for his training. Devastated, but with promises to write and call and keep their love strong, Aaron leaves and Annette starts her schooling. All goes well for a while during bootcamp and Aaron training and deployment, but then Aaron stops writing with no explanation. Annette continues to write for months without reply. Heartbroken, Annette throws herself into her schooling with a vengeance. One of her classmates, Tim, befriends her and petitions to be her study buddy, knowing that her heart belongs to Aaron. But as the months pass with no word from Aaron, Tim admits that his feelings for her are more than friendly, and she has started having feelings for him too, causing her to search her heart to determine what to do about her conflicting feelings and her future happiness. But then a chance encounter during one of her EMT calls forces her see that she needs to find out what happened to Aaron and to see if their feelings are still there or if she should give Tim a chance. But will seeking out Aaron cause her to lose Tim? Who is her true love? She must choose.
Overall this is a very sweet story, with feelings and emotions that anyone who has had a first love or any experience of love will connect with. The story started a little slow and in a few spots got a bit bogged down in detail (some of the beauty shop procedurals and details of the studies) but the detail was definitely relevant and believable and it was clear that the author had first-hand knowledge and experience with her subject matter.
The characters were likeable and developed well and the storyline had a comfortable flow. I particularly appreciated how she captured Annette's innocence and how tastefully she dealt with their physical relationship and interaction so refreshing from so many in-your-face, far-too-much-information romance stories today, which makes it appropriate for younger readers as well. Both her career confusion and her working through her feelings with both guys was highly relatable and real.
What I thought truly shined was her treatment of the Oklahoma City bombing she captured the loss, violation and visceral response of the community and the nation and this book really honors those who lost their lives or were injured during that tragic event.
I was hoping that her final decision would go the other way, but it was a difficult decision and I could make a good argument for choosing either one of them.
There are some issues with the writing itself that would polish the story. She used some words that were either not the correct word (scrapped/scraped, maniken/mannequin) or the word was incorrectly used, particularly the use of sound alike words, such as staff/staph, toe/tow, principal/principle. Remember that running Spellcheck, in and of itself, only finds words incorrectly spelled, but if the misspelling is a real word, Spellcheck will not flag it. There were several punctuation issues including comma usage, punctuation in and around quotation marks and parallelism and the definition of negligence could have been a bit more clear. Being an e-book, there were some consistency issues as to having consistent spacing throughout. I recognize that some or all of the inconsistency could be due to uploading and format conversion through the contest judging process, but it is particularly important in the e-book format that there is consistency as to font and spacing. The one suggestion I would make and this is strictly a personal opinion and only because of this unique storyline-- is to change the name of the Tim character the reason I say this is that the Oklahoma City bombing will forever be associated with Timothy McVeigh, and to have a Tim as one of the good guys or love interests just didn't feel quite right.
Overall this is a very sweet story of first love and the choices we make. Good job would definitely recommend.
So I have decided to write about random acts of kindness. How would you describe this?
Random: Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective.
Kindness: A Kind, considerate, or helpful act.
I work on an ambulance so I like to be kind to my patients all the time but does that qualify for random acts of kindness.
I am sitting in my ambulance with a fireman who works part time for my ambulance company. He walks talks and acts like he is better than anyone else including me. I don't understand that mentality. I sit in the ambulance with him, I have children like he does, I am a mother while he is a father.
I start day at QT for some coffee. I smile at everyone I meet. I am polite with please & thank you and I open doors for incoming guests. Would you call that random acts of kindness or is that just the way I am.
I am sitting in my ambulance crocheting an afghan for the kids across the street. He works with me at the ambulance company and I can call them kids since they are in there early 30's and I turn 60 this year. They are going to be blessed with their first child and I think it would be so cool to give them something hand made. I know that when I received a homemade afghan with my first child I was so excited so I like to pass this on. In fact I still have it sitting in a box in my garage. Would you call this a random act of kindness?
So you are probably wondering why I am crocheting. My partner does the driving and I take care of the patients and do the paper work. So while we drive around the city, I listen to the radio and either crochet or read a book. lol
Our first call was with a fire department who got called for a gentleman who was having difficulty breathing. Running lights and siren is not as much fun as you would think. Cars don’t hear you or see you coming so we have to be extra careful. Fire was on scene around this man with oxygen and ecg monitor and talk about a c-pap. Unfortunately in route to the hospital the pt coded (died) and we had to work a code. Is that random acts of kindness? It is our job after all.
After sitting around a while in the 911 system we decide it is after one pm and we have not eaten yet. This usually brings on a call but we are hungry and take the gamble. So far to good, got to use the bathroom, and order some food. As we sit to enjoy our meal about halfway through we get the code 3 call for shortness of breath. Running to our ambulance we try and gobble down the last of our burger and get back on the road.
This call is for a woman who is about 4 yrs older than me. These calls are hard, knowing I am the same age and I have been dealt a different set of cards. It breaks my heart to see someone who cannot move or breathe like I can. Yet on the other hand I thank God I am given the strength to help take care of them. The fire crew had the necessary things done before we transferred her to our gurney and in our ambulance. I took my hand and caressed her arm moving my fingers up and down in a soothing way, asking her gently how she is feeling. Asking her if the medication they have her breathing is helping her. Trying to help her forget why she is here and trying to have conversation about things like how long she has been married and telling her I like her hair cut. Yet would you call this random acts of kindness, after all I did go to school for just this reason, to help others.
So now on an ambulance we also do something called GT (general transport). This next call was for a 37 yr old male from a hospital who was complaining of chest pain. We are to bring him to a behavioral place. Was told the patient slept all day in the hospital bed and when it was time to eat he told them he wanted to sleep. We are told to get our patients and get in and out quickly. I asked the patient how he was feeling, making sure he had no pain before we loaded him on our gurney. Patient stated he felt great but was starving. So my EMT and I let him eat before loading him on to our gurney. Is that a random act of kindness?
As we drive through the city and the sun goes down with pretty pink and orange in the sky I can't get over the beauty of God's creation.
At the high way there is a man standing holding a cup, skinny, dirty and walks with a limp. I have some cup of soup in my lunch pail that I was going to eat for dinner. Yet I wonder if he has eaten today. So I make my partner yell to him and as he struggles to walk to our ambulance I can see the smile on his face as he notices the soup and pop waiting for him.
My next behavioral call is a man about ten years younger than me. When I met him, I held out my hand for him to shake and he had a firm hand shake for me. After we transferred this patient to my gurney and took vitals I could tell that he was sad. Why is it I have been married, a job and a home and yet this man is homeless and lonely. I talked politely and took his vitals but the only way I thought I could be kind was to not intrude and let him have his silence.
At the end of the day, I was given a box of blankets that were not being used that I brought to the church to give to the homeless.
My question is anything and everything that I have done is not really random acts of kindness but something I have done daily.
So again I ask what is Random Acts of Kindness.
Do you believe in abortion or pro- life? What if your teenager comes home to tell you that she is pregnant. What is your response. I would love to hear from you!
I am the Author
a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and still believe in the power of love &