Alumna Gina Holmes, Nurse and Author, Traces
Multiple Successes to Mercer Years

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Nurse and author Gina Holmes was a self-confessed quitter before coming to Mercer County Community College in her mid-20s. "Not until I was handed my degree on Mercer's stage did I feel I'd broken that cycle. After that, nothing ever seemed impossible again," Holmes maintains.

Now, some twelve years later, Holmes personifies the determined human spirit. Working as a dialysis nurse in southern Virginia, she is a wife, mother of five and soon-to-be-published author. While she loves nursing, Holmes says, "My passion is words."

Holmes says her motivation to achieve first surfaced at Mercer as a response to mentoring by Mercer's faculty and staff. "They wanted me to succeed. It was clear they cared how I did, if I understood the material, and how I was doing in general. I always knew what was expected of me and when I went to a professor to ask for help, I was never disappointed with the response."

She also recognized her powerful way with words. After handing in a favorite English essay, she observed her professor as he began to read. "As I watched him, I saw his eyes light up. He laughed and shook his head... it was then I realized I had a talent and the effect that talent could have on others," she recalls.

After graduating from the MCCC-Helene Fuld Cooperative Nursing program in 1997, Holmes started writing health-related articles. She also began to pen short stories and novels. It took five tries, but she finally landed a book contract with Tyndale House, a major Christian publishing house. Her book, Crossing Oceans, will be released in May. Her second novel for Tyndale is due in July.

"Although I wrote for ten years before that dream became a reality, I never gave up. That's what Mercer did for me," Holmes says.

Holmes notes that she didn't set out to write "Christian" novels, but that her work is infused with her world view. "There's no preaching in my work. I hate pat answers to life's tough dilemmas, and find them no more effective than anyone else. I try to deal with situations in my fiction authentically. Just like everyone else, I'm a sinner and I fall short and I don't always do the right thing, and neither do my characters. Of course there are consequences to our actions - good and bad, but I try to convey that realistically as well." The themes of her upcoming novel cover the spectrum from sexuality and single parenthood to sacrifice and death. "Everyone can relate to those themes," she says.

In 2005 she founded the influential literary blog, Novel Journey, which, by Holmes' estimate, gets 40,000 hits per month. On her blog, she has interviewed a number of prominent authors including Nicholas Sparks and Dean Koontz.

With honesty and humor, her blog also chronicles her writing process in all its excruciating ebbs and flows. Recent entries describe her efforts to write her second novel for Tyndale. "I throw the idea down on the computer with fervor, not pausing to edit. I'm scared to lose my groove. The muse is like a little bird perched on my window; if I disturb him, he'll fly away and maybe never return." Proclaiming her day's work "genius," she later changes her mind after rereading her manuscript. "With a grin I begin reading, with a grimace I end. This is not genius. This is trivial. Mediocre at best. Mundane word choices, half-baked ideas, absolutely no symbolism or foreshadowing whatsoever…I sigh and decide I need to chew on this idea a day or two. Meanwhile, I have plenty to keep me occupied - Twitter, facebook, shoutlife, myspace, blogger. After all, a novelist has to network."

The pre-release buzz surrrounding Crossing Oceans has been enthusiastic. "Gina Holmes knows how to find laughter in tragedy. . .Her characters will grab you by the heart and have you laughing, crying, and holding your breath," observes Marshall Karp, author of The Rabbit Factory. "Crossing Oceans will break your heart - and then put the pieces back together again. This is an uplifting and inspiring tale that reminds us to live every day as if it's our last," says Tess Gerritsen, New York Times best-selling author.

Looking back, Holmes considers attending Mercer to be "one of the best decisions of my life. It was affordable, convenient and gave me the best chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse." And, it turns out, of being a writer.

More about Gina Holmes and her upcoming novel is available on her website here or blog here.

To pre-order a copy of Holmes' book, click here.

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