May 07

National Nurses Week: Guest Post with Kathleen Shoop, Author of After the Fog

 Did you know May 8th is National Student Nurses Day and May 12th is Florence Nightingale’s birthday? We share the same b-day! How cool is that?

According to the National Association of Nurses, the organization has been promoting and supporting the nursing profession since 1896.

“That’s Swell!” is delighted to host Kathleen Shoop, Author of AFTER THE FOG with a guest post for National Nurses Week!

Wanna win a health and wellness gift basket that includes a $100 gift certificate to Whole Foods? Read below to find out how to enter!

By: Kathleen Shoop
Publisher: Self
Pub Date: May 8, 2012
Paperback and Electronic
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Group: Adults

Purchase AFTER THE FOG on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Goodreads Synopsis: The sins of the mother… In the steel mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 “killing smog,” headstrong nurse Rose Pavlesic tends to her family and neighbors. Controlling and demanding, she’s created a life that reflects everything she missed growing up as an orphan. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her loving husband, dutiful children, and large extended family.When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family-and the whole town-splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin?

After the Fog is the recipient of the 2012 Independent Book Publishers Awards Silver Medal for the Mid Atlantic Fiction Category!


May 6th through May 12th is National Nurses Week. Everyone knows at least one nurse. Each is unique, but I think all nurses have a steely quality about them that forces the rest of us to shake our heads and admit, “I could never do that.” In researching my novel, After the Fog, I had the pleasure of delving into a mountainous stack of papers that brought to life a type of nurse I’d known nothing about—community and public health nurses.

I found a compilation of stories (undated, but from the context of them I’d say they were late 30’s or early 40’s) that was especially helpful in crafting the daily habits of my circa 1948, community nurse, Rose Pavlesic. The volume was called, “Chats…With a Public Health Nurse” by Elizabeth H. Rath. The tales of hope, compassion, and industry showed the nursing skills and services that were available to the public during the mid-20th century.

Rath used these “chats” to tell her and other nurses’ tales in a way that wasn’t preachy or heavy-handed. They told cautionary tales like the one about a man who waited too long to see a doctor when he had months of tuberculosis symptoms. Another detailed the way a nurse made one hundred fifteen visits to a girl who’d been hit by a truck. “The head wound was still open and occasionally bits of bone would work through the wound.” Eventually the nurse could turn the care of the girl over to her family.

The stories show the simple, practical needs of patients. “My sister is willing to pay anything if a nurse will come up and show her how to bathe her baby,” said one young girl to a public health nurse.

Some accounts are light-hearted—one nurse’s uniform caught fire while tending a child too close to the stove—she seemed nonplussed (I could almost hear her chuckling) about having to pin her uniform together to finish her calls that day.

Other stories were serious and showed the respect given to the nurses. “The nurse can enter the worst section of the town or the most notorious house and not be molested…In our uniform we have nothing to fear.”

Yet another story reveals that sexuality and diseases related to it were important topics well before the sexual revolution. In one story titled, “Taboos,” Rath addresses the need to discuss the treatment of syphilis—to not be afraid to use the word even though the use of it was banned on radio shows. “Syphilis can be cured…prevented. It is a disease, not a moral.” Rath closes this story with an invitation to discuss this topic with any public health nurse.

Other anecdotes show the autonomy nurses had in charging for services—a sliding scale that was applied at the nurse’s discretion. The tales were attempts to let the public know that care was available to all—those with money or not.

These nurses were improvisational artists. “Backrests are made with chairs, suitcases or boards. Cradles to prevent bedclothes from touching the patient are made from wire coat-hangers; bedpans from oven dripping pans with a padded board across one end…” Inner tubes and raincoats were used for ice packs; the list goes on for paragraphs.

Reading these accounts of nursing life provided me with a way to bring realism to Rose Pavlesic’s fictional experience. The stories allowed me to imagine how Rose’s capable hands would have crafted medical tools out of kitchen implements. And, in reading such research I’m reminded of what we owe nurses—past and present. The “chats” are precious reminders of the work all nurses do. Even if they don’t come into our homes anymore, they are always in our lives in some way. Happy National Nurses Week!

Enter to win the health and wellness giveaway throughout May at!

After the Fog is the second historical fiction novel by bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. It will be released in May 2012. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, sold more than 50,000 copies and garnered multiple awards in 2011, including the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal. A Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Follow Kathleen on Twitter | Website | goodreads

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3 Responses to “National Nurses Week: Guest Post with Kathleen Shoop, Author of After the Fog”

  1. Cool post. My mother in law is a nurse. And I love seeing her old nursing school pictures with the old uniform and white cap.
    Juju at Tales of recently posted..Eureka! Love in the Stacks

  2. hrose2931 says:

    I know two nurses, both work with babies, one is head of the labor and delivery department and helped deliver my first son. The second did work in the neonatal ICU at a small hospital. She now raises foster children. A full time job! I would not do their jobs for anything in the world, especially the deliveries when things didn’t go well. My friend was also the bereavement counselor. I think it takes a lot to be a nurse so THANK YOU to all the nurses out there. Like teachers you don’t get paid nearly enough!

    hrose2931 recently posted..Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom Blog Tour

  3. oh my gosh, i love that vintage illustration of the nurse. the book sounds excellent!!
    Carrie at In the Hammock Blog recently posted.."Jackie After O" Review