Monthly Archives: October 2014

New Release….

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Doomsday: Dark Sage

Now available on Amazon

The piper of Shacklow
The fiddler of Fin
The old woman of Demon’s Dale
Calls them all in.


They said I was born of the Balefire, when the priestesses left the enclosure to open the womb of the land as the dark time fled. I did not know, not then.

She was of the Old People, small and dark, a plump figure hunched singing over the quern. He tended the goats and fowl and life was simple. I learned the ways of hut and hearth, playing in the dirt with the dogs, my feet always stained with the green of the grass.

I do not remember that they ever spoke my name. They called me little one or bright one because of my hair and smiled, and sometimes shared glances I could not read.

Grandmother shared our hut. She never moved from her…

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Revenge of the Pumpkin

A couple of years ago, we went up to North Carolina where my thirty-seven year old son and his new wife were living for a Halloween visit. We took our little two year old granddaughter out to the pumpkin patch to choose a few pumpkins. 


Uncle Bryan is just a really big kid. They were having fun together.


They picked out pumpkins and Uncle Bryan had some really nifty templates to carve pumpkins. He had tons of fun teasing his niece with gobs of pumpkin guts and eating strings of seeds to gross her out.


He kept dunking her upside-down into the nearby trashcan playing like he was going to throw her away in between working on his masterpieces. He’s great with kids and had her both scared and laughing. She kept threatening to do bad things to him like turn him into a cat or a jack-o-lantern. In the end he had some wonderful creations, but his niece was highly irritated and wouldn’t get close to him.

(Notice his nose turning red and his eyes squinting?)

His sister made some toasted pumpkin seeds and Uncle Bryan ate a few handfuls…on top of all of the raw pumpkin he had consumed.


About an hour later, he was covered in hives with his tongue and eyes red and swollen. Turns out he had developed an allergy to pumpkin. He was red-faced and wheezing. I was scared we were going to have to take him to the ER if his breathing worsened. A heavy dose of Benadryl and the itching and other symptoms subsided but his niece had her revenge, as did the pumpkins!


The next day he was well enough to ride the choo-choo at the park.

Happy Halloween!

What’s your scariest pumpkin story?

Novel Reading as a Mental Illness: circa 1864-89, Time and Treatment Modalities

In my research for “Surviving Sister”, a novel that tells the stories of two sisters in the 1950s afflicted with mental disorder, I ran across a very interesting article with photographs. Which you can see here:

I am finding many obscure medical references to treatment modalities. Very little is explained, even in medical journals, about what these modalities actually involved. For example; “immersion therapy”, sounds like deep thought, but what they actually did was immersing hysterical patients into a bath of ice cold water. It was believed to cool the core body temperature down, calming the nervous system.



Another interesting photo on this web site lists the reasons that patients were admitted to the asylum. I would have most likely never found my way out if ever I found my way in. Read down the list and see if you fit anywhere. When you get to “Novel Reading” stop and think about that. I’m terribly afflicted.


Sheesh! No wonder so many folk ended up in these places without any medical justification. Families often sent “undesirables” for simply being “lazy” when they showed signs of depression. Many were locked away for the remainder of their lives, even buried on hospital properties.

Treatment modalities were given long, complex terms like, “Lateral cerebral diathermia treatment,” a method using a galvanized current to jolt psychosis sufferers.


Different facilities around the nation employed various “treatments” and there was no uniform guide for consistency by diagnosis. Controlling symptomatic behaviors was the expectation of facility staff. No one was ever cured, they were reformed or recovered.

Very hard to get a handle on exactly what was going on inside of these places except through tales told by survivors. Documentation is limited. Scary, huh? And we think facilities are bad now. Certainly not ideal, but a vast improvement over what I am seeing from yesteryear.

I believe the biopsychsocial model used during the 1980s was the closest we have come to ideal. The State hospitals cleaned up their act. Facilities were equipped with swimming pools and gyms, walking trails and jogging tracks, offered art and music therapies and took patients out into the community to introduce these “clients” to vast community resources. We went to art shows, bowling, support group meetings, theaters. There was much more individual and group “talk” therapy.

The typical stay during that decade was thirty days to six months. People took advantage of the system, malingering for months into years and insurance companies caught on quickly reducing lifetime maximums and days allowed per episode. Now they are strictly medical model, shoving a few pills at patients and sending them to community outpatient services in a matter of a few short days…before the meds (which usually take two weeks to thirty days to reach effective therapeutic level) even have a chance to kick in. Only the sickest and most psychotic are allowed more than a two week stay.

In many ways it is good to have patients treated in their own communities rather than as inpatient, but most communities simply don’t provide the necessary resources and that’s sad.

What do you think about mental health resources available in your community?

Book Review: Island in the Clouds by Susan Toy

This is probably one of the most delightful crime fiction stories I have ever read. If you have ever thought about escaping to a Caribbean Island, you need to read this book. A cozy mystery, the author introduces a heinous crime, and then takes you around the beautiful island of Bequia to meet the most interesting characters. Toy has a magical way with words in her lovely descriptions of place and person. You see the sights in their entire splendor and feel the warmth of the island sun. People on the island, both locals and ex-pats, have so very much personality. Main character, Geoff, is hiding his own secret, while trying to unravel the mystery of a murder that takes place on a property he manages. People associated with the murder victim are also keeping some nasty secrets which place them in harm’s way.

At mid-point of the book, the action kicks in and Geoff and his friends find themselves in danger. Drug lords and island thugs complicate his investigation, and local authorities, with their relaxed island mentality and manner, are of no use. The story is told in first person and you can’t help but be drawn into Geoff’s emotions as his friends and family are in peril. Slipping between present tense descriptions and past tense narrative and action was a bit distracting, but overall the story really drew me in and made me feel a natural part of the experience. I loved the surprising conclusion and found the island folk’s camaraderie and compassion deeply moving.

This is an author that I would like to read more from, and a person I know I would enjoy island hopping with on my next vacation. If you enjoy an intriguing tale of mystery and malice that will take you to a wonderful place for an adventure, you will love this book.

4 of 5 Stars

Anxiety Origins and My Last Full-Time Job

e3d0f15470243e3f766e7b5a4c1fad1fAussa Lorens posted a piece on anxiety on her blog today and it really got me thinking about the reality of my own anxiety and where it all came from. If you don’t know her, she works in a psych hospital.

I have anxiety disorder and there are times when my heart is racing and pounding in my throat and I can’t breathe. It can be overwhelming, especially when trying to work. I haven’t always had anxiety disorder. It just sort of sneaked up on me, but I think I have determined when.

The last place I was employed as an RN (in a free-standing psych hospital for six months) had me working nights in admissions alone with an open-door walk-in policy. Many nights it was me and 10-20 psychotic patients and their half dozen family members each. (Did I mention alone?) Many potential patients and/or their family members/friends were intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. The noise level was deafening.

While attempting to manage these people and all of the questions, needs for blankets, food, drink, etc…I was inputting their data into a computer (with my back to the door), screening calls and faxes from local hospitals for potential admissions, taking cold calls from people needing services or counselling, interviewing and performing assessments, inspecting and processing their belongings (you know, running the magic wand over them and collecting their guns and knives and things they might hurt somebody or themselves with, confiscating contraband), reviewing their meds with them, calling doctors for orders, processing patients out to ERs who were too sick to be admitted, printing out forms, calling insurance companies for pre-certs, admitting and walking patients to the wards to give report. Calm-during-stress-300x264All the while, I am attempting to remain the calm anchor in this sea of chaos and provide comfort and care to those in crisis. After all, I had worked forensics, ER, and CCU. Calm was my middle name. I had once worked a detox facility where a man walked in put a gun in my face and demanded his wife…so I thought I could handle this.

My begging for a health services tech for months had fallen on deaf ears. Again, I was alone in the admissions unit at night. I tried very often to get the nursing supervisor to send me assistance but, of course, she never had anyone she could send. On my last night there, I had 16 patients and their family members. I had done everything possible to make them comfortable, but one girl was screaming at the door to be let out, while her family waited on the director to come in (from her bed at home) to admit her involuntarily.

I had just turned around a patient who arrived via ambulance from the local ER whom I had been told had a “little head wound”, but who appeared on a stretcher comatose, with eighteen stitches down the side of his shaved head, and unequal pupils. The girl at the door screaming had tried to convince the ambulance attendants to take her with them. Once they were gone, her screaming became louder, and she started banging on the walls with a chair.

I thought I had screened everybody well at the door, but a man, obviously tired of the disruption and noise, pulled a gun from his sock and started shooting at the ceiling. We had no security department, and the guy gave up the gun willingly. Thank goodness no one was injured. When the director arrived, I handed her the keys and left. I never went back. There are reasons why it was the last place I worked. Anxiety or real fear…your call?

What makes you anxious?

Have you ever had a panic attack?

Do you understand why most healthcare workers feel the system is broken?

Always Listening for a Story

We took a trip down to the boat and went out on the water this weekend. It was long overdue for me. I am reminded why we bought this boat in the first place. The weather and the water were just gorgeous.

Our Sea Ray cabin cruiser is too big to trailer, so we spent some of the weekend looking for a smaller boat. One that has caught our eye is the Nautic Star 210 or the 231 Coastal. These are pleasure boats comfortable enough for the whole family, but also great for fishing. We are thinking of kids and grandkids, but also like to fish the shallows.


We went to the Ft. Myers City Yacht Basin. There are people who only stay overnight and there are folk who have lived here as long as thirty-eight years. The marinas and yacht basins are a cool place to hang out and hear some fantastic stories.

The Loopers are people who start out up north and travel down the rivers to the Gulf, travel around the southern tip of Florida or cut across the Okeechobee waterway to the Atlantic and then travel northward up the coast through the intercostal waterways. I’m sure it is an expensive lifestyle, but it would be one of my lottery winning dreams come true to do it at least once.


Loopers often have some of the best stories. These kind folk invited us for drinks aboard their vessel, Hoosier Daddy. Loopers are a special breed. They are some of the most well-grounded people you will ever meet, yet have a sense of adventure than nearly none can surpass.


Biketoberfest has been going on in Daytona for a week. It is one big party for bikers, but the bikers often travel the state which hosts them in various towns and communities with local bike weeks. The transients make Florida a more colorful place come October.

Lots of fun and lots of stories to be told.

 Great places for inspiration!

Where do you find yours?

Yeah! The Beta Reads Are All In For Book One In The Naked Eye Series

Belinda Pollard has some great articles on beta readers, what they are, how and when to use them.

I can’t say enough good things about my betas. I was so very glad that I went all out and had a dozen team members take a look. I had readers who focused on the “Big Picture” and readers who focused on the “Little Details”. Getting both of those perspectives contributed immensely to the creation of a better product. A couple weren’t able to read. That my ten readers loved the story and its characters thrills me.

This is not a high-level English literature read, and it’s not supposed to be. It’s an entertaining, fun read with zany, quirky characters, a bit of a romp. So many improvements have been made. There is still work to do. I plan to have the edits completed by November. I’m working through some attribution tag improvements and cutting some fluffy stuff from Chapters Three, Eleven and Twenty-Five to tighten up the read.

It has been a joy to work with so many brilliant minds and their varied talents. I had a wonderful audience well-suited to provide the feedback we needed to move this project forward. I say “we” because this seems a great team effort.

My plan is to park this first book come November, and spend the next year writing books two and three. Then they will go to an editor. I am hoping to have three completed and ready to publish by November of 2016. It may take a bit longer than that, but I am thinking getting into the flow with the series has been accomplished. If it takes another year that will work just as well. I want to publish them at three month intervals.

I’m still thinking a pseudonym of sorts will be best for this change in genre and style. I don’t want readers of one genre confused by the other simply because of author name.

A Great Big Thank You To All Who Were Willing To Help Out!

Your time and effort much appreciated.

You all get free airline and Disney tickets and can stay at my place (I wish).

We’ll have a big party!

Seriously! I am deeply indebted. Let me know if I can ever return the favor somehow.

Have you ever been a beta reader?

Have you used beta readers?

If not, you are missing out on a valuable experience.

S.K. Nicholls

Featured on Reading Recommendations by Susan Toy today. Drop by and take a look 🙂

Reading Recommendations

s-k-nichollsS.K. Nicholls

What is your latest release and what genre is it?Red Clay and Roses is a roman à clef in the vein of historical fiction

Quick description:Red Clay and Roses is a fictionalized true story of life in the Deep South during the time of Jim Crow Law, and before Roe vs. Wade. Women were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into the dynamics of the 1950s-60s, when the world was beginning to change. Steeped in history, this novel deeply penetrates the surface of a complex era as the cast of characters grapples with inequality in the Jim Crow South.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00016]

Brief biography:
Susan Koone Nicholls is a retired R.N. living in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, Greg, a rocket scientist. She was born, raised and educated in Georgia, where she…

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Reedy Creek: The Launching Point of Book Two

My next book focuses on a crime that occurs south of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). This is an area of old world Florida that was raped to create Disney World. I say raped, although Disney’s RCID works hard to maintain the district now, because it has seen some dramatic changes over the past forty years that have totally disrupted the natural ecosystem.

Disney called on his friends to lead the way in turning the marshes, swamps and wetlands of Central Florida into what would become the Walt Disney World Resort.

The headwaters of Reedy Creek are not natural. An effort to demolish a stand of low rent housing unearthed the waters. The low-lying swamps were essentially drained into what became Reedy Creek. It is now in what is one of the busiest parts of the world. But there is some effort to maintain the beauty and cleanliness of it.

Walt Disney World sits on of 25,000 acres in Central Florida governed and managed by an essentially “private” government—the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). RCID levies taxes on its residents, devises and enforces building codes, handles waste management and fire protection, issues bonds to finance infrastructure projects, and performs many other functions ordinarily performed by local governments.

With its headwaters in what is now Walt Disney World, Reedy Creek flows sluggishly southward through cypress swamps into pristine Lake Russell, and is one of the northernmost sources of water for the Everglades.

The Osceola County Schools Environmental Study Center has a nineteen acre area of Reedy Creek where you can walk out through the swamp.


The cypress with its air-pine bromeliads growing on the trunks and the water fowl are powerfully breathtaking. I always think of the Indians who made this their homeland long before we came along. What we see as inhospitable, they made their homes and learned to work within the environment to survive.


This nineteen-acre segment of the Reedy Creek Swamp offers elevated observation boardwalks, three hiking trails and indoor educational displays. You can see alligators sunning on turtles and turtles sunning on alligators.

The Reedy Creek Elementary school is an earth-bermed structure designed to be obscure in the natural habitat. Many Indian artifacts were unearthed when the school was built, including full-sized dugout canoes, which are on display inside the school.

Book Two of the Naked Eye Series begins as one of the private investigator’s former investment partners plans to work with the Seminole Indians to build a casino near the RCID and another one plans to build condos. One former partner ends up dead.