Interwiew with Laura B. Hern: Author & Educator
Sylvia: Welcome author. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Laura: I am a mother of two adult children who loves the Lord and tries to do His will in my life each day. My passions are for all genres of music, writing, travel and people. I have B. A. in Non-profit Management and Education and am currently a licensed Insurance Agent for the state of Minnesota. Throughout my career, I have worked as Children’s Ministry Director, instrumental band teacher for elementary and high school students, and as a church organist and choir director. I have been blessed to travel throughout the United States, Europe, Singapore, and enjoy learning the history and traditions of different cultures of people.People tell me I am outstanding motivator and I do enjoy public speaking. Indie writers are awesome! My stories have humor, real life experiences and I try to touch the soul of the reader and pull them into the story as if they were actually present.
My first book, TRANSPLANTED FAITH, is the courageous story of my late husband’s battle with pulmonary fibrosis, two lung transplants, and complete financial loss. Throughout his suffering his faith in Jesus Christ never wavered.
Sylvia: What inspired you to write your first book?
Laura: Writing a book has been my dream for years and years! As middle-age has engulfed me and my yearly AARP card renewal was deposited in my mailbox, I thought “Now is the time to write…..while I can still spell!”
“Transplanted Faith” is the story of my late husband’s courageous battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis or IPF. We had plans for retirement, traveling, and (since becoming empty-nesters) walking around naked whenever we desired…. saving wear and tear on our clothing you know!
David was one who was never ill, not even a headache. We had no notice of this deadly disease, no time to prepare, no time to plan. Here is a short excerpt from “Transplanted Faith”:
Monday, April 4th. I woke up just before the alarm went off at 5:00am. I scooted over to snuggle with him for a minute. At times he had rested; at times he struggled with the cough. I think he was glad Monday morning had arrived and that he could escape to work, keeping his mind occupied. I got out of bed first, sleepily tripping over the house shoes I put at the end of the bed. “Laura, will you get me a cup of 7-UP” David said while setting up in bed. I am going to shave and shower.” No problem. I left the house shoes where they were and trotted off to the kitchen.
I poured a glass of that sparkling beverage and was walking back to the bedroom when I heard this horrible, low, growling sound and then a loud bump as though someone had slammed a door extremely hard. I ran into the bedroom as David was collapsing onto the bathroom floor. I dropped the 7-UP glass and ran to him. “Dave, Dave, oh my God, Dave” I screamed. He had grabbed the medicine cabinet door as he fell, tearing it off and shattering the glass front. “Oh dear Lord, Dave!” I repeated as I leaned over him. He had fallen face up and while his eyes were open, they were glassy. He could hear me, but he could not speak. “Hang on David I’m calling 911. Dear God where is the phone? David, stay with me, stay with me!” I frantically found the phone and dialed 911. The second someone answered I yelled “Help him. Help him. My husband has a lung disease and he has passed out. Get an ambulance here now and bring oxygen….he needs oxygen!”
My hands were shaking so hard I could barely hold on to the receiver. “They are on their way Sweetheart. Don’t leave me. David. David. Can you hear me?” His lips were blue and he could no longer blink. “Dear God please get the paramedics here now. I am not ready to lose him. Please God; don’t take him away from me now!” I heard the doorbell ring and I ran to answer it. “He needs oxygen” I screamed as I opened the door. “He needs air. Help him.” They followed me upstairs to where David was lying. “Sir, Sir, do you understand me?” the young paramedic said while he was putting a gadget on his finger to measure his oxygen level. “What’s his name Ma’am?” “David, David Bichler. He’s my life, please help him!” I begged. The second paramedic had gone back out to the ambulance for an oxygen tank and blankets. I kept repeating over and over again “David, I am right here. Stay with me. They are bringing air for you.” Where was the oxygen tank? Why haven’t they got it running? “Please, he needs oxygen. He has IPF. Get him oxygen.” I pleaded. “Ma’am” the second paramedic took my hand and led me across the room so the first paramedic could get the oxygen mask on his face. “Ma’am” he repeated “where is your oxygen tank?” I couldn’t take my eyes off David. Was he breathing? “We don’t have one. He was just diagnosed two days ago at Mayo.” The man let go of my hand and said “Ma’am his oxygen level is 47 and we need to get him to the emergency room as soon as possible. We will bring in the stretcher and get him loaded in the ambulance.
We need you to keep the oxygen mask on his face till we put him on the stretcher. Can you do that?” “Yes, yes” I told him. “Just help him. I can’t loose him.” Looking down at him, I noticed that he was beginning to blink again. “Thank you God! Thank you God! David, can are you able to hear me?” He blinked. The oxygen tank was releasing oxygen with so much force I could feel it in my face. “Don’t worry Sweetie. God is here with us. You are going to the emergency room in the ambulance. I’ll be there with you. You are going to be fine. You are going to be alright.” By that time the men were in the room, loading David onto the stretcher. They told me to grab a coat and follow the ambulance in my car. They carried David down the steps, out the door and into the back of the ambulance which was parked a few steps from the door. I grabbed my coat and car keys and ran out the door. I don’t even think I shut the door. The driver waited for me to back out of the garage. The sirens were blaring, the lights were flashing and my heart was beating outside my chest. I kept repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over again while following the ambulance to the hospital. Dear God, please don’t take him yet. I love him! I need him! Please dear Lord, save him!
Sylvia: Wow, Laura. What a powerful story. We take life for granted and you never know your ‘fate.’
I commend you for your strength thru this life changing time. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?Laura: Yes, Sylvia, there is. Our lives are woven together stitch by stitch much as a beautiful patchwork quilt or blanket. God is the thread that strongly holds us together through the wear and tear of life. During the times of great stress and strain on our hearts and minds, we cannot waiver in our faith! We are given the gift of knowledge and of perceiving life through another person’s eyes each time our quilt is soiled. After a lifetime of washing, patching up small tears or worn spots, we realize that our faith has kept our precious threads together and that one day we will be made new again. Another message that I hope the book conveys is the great importance of becoming an organ donor. Did you know that today there are more than 115,399 people are on the waiting list for an organ? So many lives can be saved by such a simple gift. I encourage everyone I speak to, whether it be grief groups, book clubs, churches, or in my office to become an organ donor. It truly is the gift of life.
Sylvia: Yes, I am registered as an organ donor. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Laura: As I newer writer, I can say that writing about things I know, feelings or situations I have felt or experienced are what brings stories to life. Writing is so much more than aligning alphabet letters in sequences to form what we know as words! Writing is emotion; it is expression; it is sharing one’s inner thoughts with others and trusting that readers will understand and appreciate the story as much as the writer does. Writing is personal.
Life is a maze of experiences that help to create one’s personal journey. There are moments of great joy, passion, adventure, and triumph! There are moments of sadness, frustration, disappointment and despair. There are moments when our vision is crystal clear and moments when our minds are clouded with confusion. Each of these times is a part of what makes up our lives. Use these moments to captivate the reader.
Sylvia: Great advice! What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Laura: Wonderful interview venues such as yours, Sylvia, are a blessing to any author. Indie authors do have a difficult time ‘getting notice’ by readers and it is a challenge that we face every day. I have a wonderful publisher, Linda Boulanger of TreasureLine Books, and she has given me the opportunity to share ideas and marketing strategies with the many other wonderful authors she works with. Their expertise has been a gift and blessing to me. Marketing is by far the most labor-intensive part of being an author. I use Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and the Independent Author Network. Blogs and post in discussion groups are so very important! I have found that continually posting links or sales pitches for a book is not the way to attract readers. I try to put personal comments or pictures (such as my dog or cat and their funny antics) or I’ll comment on a follower’s photos, etc. Readers need to know that I am a real person, just like they are. And my life has ups and downs just like theirs do.
I mentioned Blogs and discussion groups earlier. Blogging is a great tool to bring insight to readers about your writing style, your heroes, and your hobbies. I spend days trying to write one blog entry that either gives some type of learning experience to the reader, admiring the bravery of people such as Michael J Fox, or enchanting them with a wonderful story of how beautiful the fall sunsets can be. What I try to avoid is hitting the reader over the head about purchasing my books. If they like my blogs and my type of story, they will look for my books.
Sylvia: Well, thanks. I’ve had a great time meeting many wonderful authors this year. I pledged to interview 52 women by December 31 and I will surpass 100 with a waiting list for next year. Never thought there was a need. Why should we buy your book?
Laura: Part of the reason I was compelled to write this book was to share my husband’s faith, to help in my own grieving process, and to bring to the light the awareness to become an organ donor. Transplanted Faith, describes one man’s heroic battle against an unseen, unknown killer…..IPF or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Throughout his two year battle, he suffered through two lung transplantation surgeries, immeasurable complications, financial loss and disappointment after disappointment. Yet he never lost faith in God. He was truly an inspiration, not only to his family, but also to the doctors, nurses, and other transplant patients. He was an extraordinary engineer, a soul mate and partner, a friend and spiritual leader of his family. I am praying that his story touches each reader’s soul.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Laura: Yes, there is. You may laugh at this, but I am a retired band teacher, grades 5th through 12th and I can tune out a lot of loud noise! I have a small bedroom in my home that I turned into an office of some sorts. My desk faces a wall decorated with many crosses of all sizes and shapes. These crosses were given to me at various times during my life and each one is special. They provide me with memories and generally make me feel like smiling. I have to admit that I must have a glass of milk and a package Oreos sitting beside my keyboard! For some reason, they just make me think better (or at least that’s how I see it)! Many Indie authors have full times jobs and I am no different. I tend to write late into the night and for some reason that is when I get many great story ideas.
Sylvia: Cookies and milk, huh? Love it! What projects are you currently working on?
Laura: I have gone back to college and will graduate in December of this year. I am very proud of that and have been nominated for the Outstanding Graduate award! Even though I work full time and have been attending college through online classes for the past two years, I do have a couple of stories I am working on. The next book is based on the true story of an alcoholic who lost his family, his career, his health, and almost his life because of the disease of alcoholism. It will detail his courage in admitting himself into rehab, the horror of rehab itself, and the daily struggle he has to learn to live sober. He is a young man, late 30’s, and he has become an inspiration to all those who have been blessed to know him. Talk about amazing courage in the face of death! I have learned a great deal about this disease and have done extensive research into his story. I can’t wait to share it.
Sylvia: Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. What is your POWER WORD? Why this word
Laura: That is a terrific question Sylvia! If I have to choose one word (and I think I really have several that give me inspiration) I would say PRAYER. In the wonderful times of life, in the worst times of life, in any situation, prayer makes me feel comfort, secure, invincible, and protected. I was blessed to be adopted when I was 5 days old. My parents were devout Christians who shaped my daily prayer life. Prayer. It works!
Sylvia: Laura, thank you! Please share your social media and book contact information.
Laura: Sylvia, I am honoured to be here with you and I thank you for giving Indie authors the opportunity to touch other lives! Here are my links: