Western Culture and What is Wrong with our Mental Health System

 

This photo speaks volumes to what is wrong with our Mental Health System. We treat too many things as illnesses rather than experiences of life.

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“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.

They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.

Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.”

~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

 ~

My cousin’s husband shot and killed himself years ago. My cousin had been cooped up in a room, resting in bed and being served soup and tea, for days. I came and sat with her a few days later and she was sad and bored and wanted a distraction. We went outside in the sunlight of the porch and started playing backgammon and my Aunt, bless her heart, went into hysterics because it wasn’t proper morning. Really?

Could you imagine being forced to talk about it, over and over again, with no relief?

Of course you could. It’s what we expect.

Crime Fiction Beta Readers Apply

We have gotten about half-way through with the first beta reads and second edits on Naked Alliances, my first crime novel. Yay! I’ve been told, “It’s one helluva good story to be proud of.” That really boosted my confidence, and I am feeling just about ready to share it with others.

I have two beta readers and they are more than awesome!  I’m really getting excited now. There is absolutely no way I could thank them enough. You totally rock!

I have four more beta readers lined up and I will accept a couple more if you think it’s really something you’d like to read. Just send me a note: sknicholls1@gmail.com  I will tell you now, it may be a couple of years before this story is released to the public, as I have two or three more stories in my head that I want to get down before I publish Book One in The Naked Eye Series.

This story was written as a challenge by my husband, the Rocket Scientist, to write a crime novel. It developed exactly as I expected it would. We are both avid readers of crime fiction. He reads everything, but I mostly read regional authors. I can’t deny being an amateur.

I also can’t deny that it is cliche. My characters are cliche. The story, while serious and fascinating, is somewhat cliche. Not a comedy caper, but it comes off as nearly satirical it’s so cliché, in my opinion. But it is what it is. And I have worked hard on it.

It’s regional southern crime fiction. There are southern colloquialisms that I most likely won’t alter. It is also spiced with contemporary, regional urban slang. (Hopefully, not too much.) Some may be very clear to you and some more obscure, but it’s not hard to pick up on meanings in context. There are accents and some regional dialect, but nothing you have to slog through for any length of time.

If rape, prostitution, porn, nudity, and/or recreational sex are triggers for you, you probably don’t need to read. If you’re put off by the notion of alternate lifestyles, you’re likely not going to enjoy this story. That’s okay, it wasn’t meant for everybody.

Being as cliché as it is there are stereotypes, and they are supposed to be there. There are no patched eyes or limping characters, steampunks, or people with robotic appendages. There is nothing paranormal, magical, or mystical about it.

The book is both murder mystery and crime thriller, but it’s not a cozy mystery and it was a challenge to write both murder mystery and thriller in one book. The murder is more a subplot, so it doesn’t really unfold the way a typical cozy murder mystery would.

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, when I am ready for more beta readers to take a look, I’ll have most of the editing done. I’m mainly looking for opinions and feedback on the overall flow, the pace, the story-lines, and how you feel about how they unfold. I would also like to know if there are characters that you would like to see come back in future books. The series books will stand alone, but may share common characters.

I am looking for folk who like crime fiction in particular.

 If you think you would be interested, drop me a line.

One of the fictional settings in the book, Leisure Lagoon, was modeled after this place, my family’s nudist resort here in Central Florida, Cypress Cove.

Kindle Countdown Offer – The Initiate

Originally posted on Daily Echo:

A Kindle Countdown price promotion will be running from 30th August to 5th September on Amazon UKand Amazon.com

The Initiate:

Adventures in Sacred Chromatography

The Initiate is the first book in the Triad of Albion series, an adventure in the landscape of the sacred heart of England… Albion… a place where giants dance in stone, where trees whisper secrets and ancient sites are layered deep in the earth.

“We are… without question…going to get locked up!”

BookCoverPreviewinitiate forntA trip to the ancient White Horse at Uffington, carved into the chalk in millennia past; a track, five thousand years old, that through the mists to a magic of Wayland’s Smithy and the gnarled stones of the circle at Rollright… overhead the hawks wheel… it is just supposed to be a day out in the landscape for Don and Wen.

But a chance visit to a medieval church leads the friends to…

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Meet Guest Author and Poet Pamela Beckford

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog..... An Author Promotions Enterprise!:

Pamela Beckford 01Hello, Mr., uh, Ape. Thank you for allowing me to take over some space on your vast network for a few minutes.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pamela Beckford and I’m a poet. Wow, that is really hard for me to say. I used to just say that I write poetry. But I think that makes me a poet, right?


In addition to being a poet, I’m the mom of a very talented daughter. She has a fashion design business and creates some amazing garments. She is also the mother of my fabulous grandson. He is five and the cutest little boy you have ever seen. No, really, he is adorable. He already has a mini career in modeling.

I started writing poetry about a year ago after some blogging friends encouraged me to give it a try. It was something I had never considered before…

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Book Review: Beacon of Vengeance by Patrick O’Bryon

I have been catching up on some sequels and series. There are some new authors I have been introduced to this past year that have really managed to keep me engaged and Patrick O’Bryon is one of the best.

You can read my review of his first book: “Corridor of Darkness” here.

“Beacon of Vengeance”, the new thriller inspired by his late father’s undercover life in Nazi Europe, is Volume Two in the “Corridor of Darkness” trilogy.

Book Review:

Patrick O’Bryon, a self-proclaimed Europhile who has traveled extensively, has a writer’s voice, language, and eloquent writing style perfect for Historical Fiction of this time period and location. O’Bryon’s ability to create realistic imagery and evoke human emotion with his words is incredible. “Corridor of Darkness”, his debut novel, sent chills up my spine as he described pre-war Germany in all of its splendor and chaos, and a thrilling and perilous chase across the countryside. The breath-taking book was masterfully crafted.

“Beacon of Vengeance” has Ryan Lemmon, an American professor and spy, intent on finding his friends, pursuing and being pursued across Occupied France. The pace is quick and steady throughout the book as spies and double agents appear, setting the stage for intrigue and suspense. Ryan Lemmon, as main character, was slow in getting out of the starting gate, but the author again masterfully set the stage for his next adventure. As things heated up I could not turn the pages fast enough to quell my anticipation.

The characters are people that we come to know intimately, both good and evil. Horst von Kredow, the dastardly, sadistic, Nazi villain, exercises cleverness that rivals that of Ryan Lemmon forcing Lemmon and his colleagues into dangerous and life-threatening situations. As often found in war, the lines blur between friend and foe. There are shocking revelations along the way. The author has a genuine gift in creating real presence for the reader. You feel as if you are there, participating in the story with the well-developed characters. Tension builds as you take two exciting steps forward and one horrifying step backward to finally come upon the phenomenal “show-down” conclusion. “Beacon of Vengeance” is a splendid central core for the trilogy and I eagerly await the final volume, “Fulcrum of Malice”. New characters have been introduced that have me excited for the next great adventure.

I am fascinated with the author’s skill and talent and highly recommend.

5 of 5 stars

You can visit with Patrick O’Bryon here, and read about his own personal experiences traveling abroad and his military history, as well as some delightful (and sometimes frightening) stories of his youth.

“Beacon of Vengeance” easily stands alone, but I recommend starting with the first book if you are new to the story:

Review: Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls

sknicholls:

Sue Vincent from Daily Echo has given “Red Clay and Roses” an in-depth look in an outstanding review that I would like to share with you. She has a distinctive way with words that describe so much of my heart as I penned these pages.

Originally posted on Daily Echo:

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking this a ‘woman’s book’. Its characters revolve around women and some of the issues raised are certainly primarily feminine; though even there the writer challenges preconceptions for these issues should be primarily human. It is not the literary equivalent of a chic flick… it is a book that makes you think. It is not always a comfortable read, but it is well written, well told and engrossing.

I saw a post by S.K. Nicolls on her website. Susan tells a good story, even within the limited scope of a blog post, and the details of her personal journey of discovery intrigued me. I bought the book.

Without giving the story away Red Clay and Roses explores the culture of the Southern States at a time in history when the various strata of society were as distinctly separate as oil and water…

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Seeing Stars on Amazon

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I was piddling around between editing bouts last evening reading and commenting on a few blogs I follow. One of my blogger friends and I got into a discussion about my book, “Red Clay and Roses”, which she just read.

It thrills me to no end when someone thinks deeply over the issues presented in the book and engages me in discussion, and we moved from comments to email.

After our discussion, I clicked on a link in her comments to discover that it took me to my paperback page. Now this blogger is one of two people who have bought the paperback online. (Yeah, that’s right, two. I have sold a couple of dozen paperbacks to Central Florida independent bookstores but only two online. And the paperback has special features the digital copy doesn’t have.)

I’ve sold hundreds of digital copies. (Was hoping to hit a thousand by year’s end, but that may not happen with only one more promo planned for this year. Anyway, I digress.)

Amazon defaults to my digital page. I never even visit my own paperback page. I just don’t go there.

But while I was there I noticed it shows not only my written reviews, but also star ratings left when a review wasn’t posted. My digital page doesn’t show those. It just shows the number of written reviews.

Does anybody know why? Most of my sales are on my digital page, so it would be really cool for me if these star ratings showed up there also. Do you have to special request it?

On my digital page reviews show as follows:

24 – 5 star

5 – 4 star

4 – 3 star

1 -2 star

0 – 1 star

On my paperback page it shows:

31 – 5 star

7 – 4 star

6 – 3 star

1 – 2 star

0 – 1 star

I jumped for joy over this. That’s 7 more 5 stars, 2 more 4 stars, and 2 more 3 stars. So, see, it would be in my best interest, I think, to have the starred reviews appear in addition to the written reviews. But I don’t know if it’s just select pages that Amazon posts these stars on or if mine was just overlooked. Should I email them or is this how it is for everybody? I can’t tell by looking at other people’s pages. Some people don’t have paperback books. Is this just a trial thing Amazon is testing on certain pages? Are they looking to see if this helps sell more paperbacks?

Just curious. Drop me a comment if you know anything at all about this. And readers…do write those reviews…even if it’s just a few words. There is no word limit now. (It used to be twenty.)

We authors live and breathe for reviews. We check our pages ten times a day. Maybe you posted something between breakfast and lunch, or lunch and snack. Perhaps you dropped a few lines after dinner, or just before bedtime.

A great review carries us through weeks, even months, of hearing nothing at all. It reinforces our strengths. We smile for hours after reading…like a Cheshire cat…really we do. We even cry happy tears of joy.

And even a critical review gives us a reason for a good cathartic cry. It helps us understand our weaknesses. Also, we can blame you for our bad day, for pulling out our hair, or for our writer’s block and lack of confidence. Justify our need for additional medication.

UPDATE: Well this sucks. I just checked it again and it’s gone. :(

My 4 Golden Rules of Writing

sknicholls:

Best writing rules I’ve ever seen on the web.

Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:

Found on pieroblog-citta.blogspot.com

Found on pieroblog-citta.blogspot.com

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. The main reason is that I keep coming across several writing rules that make little sense to me. Then, I came across a gem of a post by Constance Hale, “When Shakespeare Committed Word Crimes” on TED.

Constance confirmed what I long suspected: when there is tension in a language between what comes naturally and the rules, it’s because someone has tried to shoehorn the language into their idea of conformity.

Does this mean there are no rules? Not at all. It just means that the ones we are taught in workshops and classrooms are not necessarily the ones that matter to actual readers – as opposed to teachers, agents and editors. So, here are my golden rules; the ones no fiction writer should ever break, in my view:

Rule #1: Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.

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Book Review: The Worms of Heaven by Misha Burnett

A while back, March 15, 2014, to be precise, I posted book reviews for Misha Burnett’s first two books in the “Book of Lost Doors” series, Book One: “Catskinner’s Book” and Book Two: “Cannibal Hearts”. You can read those here if you like:

I recently had the honor of reading an ARC of Book Three, “The Worms of Heaven”. This is more a series review than a book review. I don’t usually post the book descriptions with my reviews because you can read those on Amazon, but I will for this book review to give you an idea of where this book: “The Worms of Heaven” is coming from. This review is a lot longer than my typical review. You will see a much shorter version on Amazon:

Book description: “Catskinner’s Book”:

Catskinner’s Book is a science fiction/urban fantasy novel set in a surreal world unlike any that you have seen before.

James Ozryck has a monster in his head.

All of his life the entity that he calls Catskinner has made him a fugitive, afraid to get too close to anyone, afraid to stay in one place for too long. Catskinner kills, without compassion and without warning, and is very good at it.

Now James has learned that Catskinner is not the only monster in the world, a world that has suddenly become a far stranger and more dangerous place than he imagined. In order to survive he will have to become something more than a monster, he will have to learn what it means to be human.

 Book description: “Cannibal Hearts”:

A year ago James Ozryck was a loner, forced to keep the world at bay by the alien entity he calls Catskinner who shares his body. Now he has found a community of others whose lives have been changed by the Outsiders.

Along with Godiva, his half-human lover, James runs a property management company that serves as a front company for Outsider activities.

When the pair’s mysterious boss, Agony Delapour suddenly shows up in town with a new project, however, things get dangerous fast as events unfold that threaten the life that they have made.

Book Review: “The Worms of Heaven”: 

I have mentioned in previous reviews in this series that Misha Burnett’s works are genius. His Catskinner character enmeshed with James Ozryck in both physical and psychological form; yet, really quite separate, is in and of itself remarkable. I fell in love with the singular duality of the character in Book One. Burnett worked wonders to give this (these) character (s) unique voice and personality.

Book Three brings Catskinner back in full force and has James and Catskinner interacting with the entire crew of Outsider affected characters in ways that are sure to keep you turning the pages. Agony Delapour has been kidnapped. Havoc has been wrecked on the Blue Metal Boy camp. Catskinner, the Butcher, has vowed death in revenge, facing his most formidable opponent yet, the Orchid.

Burnett’s ability to draw and create a colorful cast of characters was well illustrated in Books One and Two. Book Three takes that ability even deeper. There are humans, yes, but there are also Orthovores, a hive of Thomases, Ambimorphs, Pale Surgeons, Minraudim, Necroidim, and Blue Metal Boys, with depth; motivations, actions, and consequence, and these partial humans or undead have their own unique cultures.

Though most entertaining, this book moved me emotionally in ways that I really was not expecting. Existing within our culture, these Outsider affected “alien” beings have feelings and emotions (or lack of them), lifestyles and practices, if different from our own personal human experience, that are part of who they are in their society…like the cultural differences we find in our real world wide society. There are significant parallels here that cannot be ignored. Burnett has brought these beings together in stories that demonstrate the meaning of community without prejudice. The concepts of honor, love, loyalty, devotion and dedication are proven to be as “alien” as they are human.

So what does this mean for a fiction read? Some of it is grotesquely creepy, and some of it is profoundly beautiful. All of it is a bit weird, but weird is good. It’s supposed to be strange. It teaches us things about others and ourselves. I’m not talking about tolerance and acceptance. Those prejudicial concepts actually appall me. I’m speaking of the manner in which Misha Burnett has written non-judgmentally integrating worlds within worlds. There is much insight found in the methods of Burnett’s brilliance.

In conclusion, “The Book of Lost Doors” series has characters that have the ability to make decisions and affect the story. The characters have agency and push the plots more than the plots push them. They are much more than plot puppets. While the plots are fascinating and exciting, the books are also very much character driven, and that is where Burnett excels.

If you like urban fantasy or sci-fi, or anything in the paranormal realm, and have not started this excellent series, I highly recommend that you do.

5 of 5 Stars

You can follow Misha Burnett on his blog here, where he engages readers in interesting and insightful topics.

“The Worms of Heaven” available soon.