Monday words of wisdom…

August 21st, 2017

Don’t have fits watching the eclipse. Keep in mind you can go blind. Timeline for NYC area: 1:23 p.m. à 2:44 p.m. (71% eclipsed)à 4:00 p.m.

***

Rogue Planet. Hard sci-fi with Game-of-Thrones fantasy, shaken and stirred. This sequel to the “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy” is a stand-alone that differs from the trilogy’s novels. Prince Kaushal of the Second Tribe is a survivor of the First Tribe’s rebellion and creation of theocracy so brutal that the Interstellar Trade Union of Independent Planets (ITUIP) has quarantined his home planet Eden. He and his companions struggle to change that. This sci-fi adventure is available as both an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords and print book on Amazon. Great summer reading!

In libris libertas.

Movie Reviews #49…

August 18th, 2017

[Before reading this review, please read my “Monday Words of Wisdom: Special Edition.” This movie takes on new meaning in the dark and somber aftermath of what happened in Charottesville.]

Detroit. Kathryn Bigelow, dir. I wasn’t enthusiastic about going to this movie. I’d seen Zero Dark Thirty; Bigelow’s emphasis in that movie changed the story too much. And, when the director becomes the story, I feel the movie already has one strike against it.

Another reason for my lack of enthusiasm is that Zero Dark Thirty was one-sided. While I’m 100% against terrorism, I recognize that many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, bin Laden’s homeland, magnify the universal and historical gap between the poor and rich elites, whether these be initiated by old colonial powers or current despotic and medieval regimes and theocracies.

A third reason finds its basis in this question: can a white person in this country ever manage to communicate the story about the sixties unrest occurring in America’ large cities from Boston to LA? As a white author, I don’t think I could do it, although I’m not a fan of the anti-cultural appropriation crowd. I haven’t experienced racial discrimination en carne propia (a Spanish expression from another minority currently under attack that means “in my own flesh”). I could analyze this history like a doctor analyzes her or his patient, but this analysis would probably fail because I didn’t experience the pain.

Ms. Bigelow manages to portray the pain. Some viewers might think the white cops, the villains, are given too much screen time. I think this is positive—the director doesn’t try to hide the bigotry and hatred of their racism—but the focus is more on the personal stories of black frustration in the inner city, and it’s powerful history and a warning for our present.

Of course, Ms. Bigelow also directed The Hurt Locker. You take some facts and fill in the parts you don’t know, and you have a film inspired by true events. Add some good acting and get a good director, shake and do not stir, and you just might have an Academy Award winning film. Detroit is high on my list for the latter.

Unfortunately the movie is depressing. First, the cops got away with murder. Second, and more importantly, the racial tensions, hate, and bigotry exhibited in the film still continue. Dr. King’s dream of a colorblind society with equal opportunity for all still doesn’t exist in America. Instead of preparing people for the new jobs of the 21st century, we leave them living desperate lives or put them in jail. Desperate people do desperate things, and the people creating the desperation are to blame.

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Go out of your comfort zone…

August 17th, 2017

Many writers are introverts. That’s a nice way to say we’re nerdy. People say I talk funny, use big words, and derive pleasure from unusual activities. Guilty as charged.

If you accept this stereotypical description of a writer (many stereotypes are over-generalized and over-extrapolated statements based on limited data sets), do you accept the premise that PR and marketing is hard for writers? I find it difficult, and I’d rather be writing. Even these serious blog articles (OK, some aren’t so serious) are more fun than PR and marketing. The main benefits derived from my fiction writing are found in the actual storytelling and the pleasure obtained from entertaining at least a few people who read my stories. That comes my way whether I’m successful at PR and marketing or not (that success is hard to measure in general because it doesn’t guarantee a wildly successful book).

But I’m also a type-A personality, so I do try new things, however reluctantly. While teaching in Colombia, South America, we had to experiment with large lecture classes, common in the U.S. but not so much in Latin America. Our small department was facing a crisis because it had to teach an increasingly large population of engineering students. Imagine a nerdy prof getting up in front of 200+ kids and essentially pulling off a one-man theater shtick three times per week. That’s called going out of your comfort zone.

Book marketing is like that. It’s something every author must do nowadays, if only to organize a marketing campaign and hire the people necessary to do the job. For your stereotypical nerdy author, any of that means going out of her or his comfort zone. I’ve found it can be rewarding, though, because it often involves meeting new people and doing new things.

An experience I had last year illustrates my point. I was the only author hawking his books at the Holly Berry Show, a traditional holiday arts and crafts event run by the Upper Montclair Women’s Club. Mind you, a bit of time and money was invested in preparing for this show. The rewards included selling quite a few books, but the biggest ones corresponded to meeting complete strangers and talking about writing, books, and the book business with them. And some of my writer’s stereotypes were shattered too as I met elderly people interested in sci-fi and tweens interested in mysteries. (I was selling both The Midas Bomb, a mystery/thriller, and Rogue Planet, a sci-fi novel.) Besides these pleasant interchanges, I also got to know quite a few vendors, all artists just like me, although their creative talents and efforts weren’t dedicated to writing fiction.

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #148…

August 16th, 2017

[Note from Steve: Do you enjoy reading this newsletter? Please tell family and friends about it! And you can always comment just like you can for any other blog article.]

What do you prefer? Standard fiction comes in three forms: short stories, novellas, and novels. I write all three because I never know when I start a story what it will become. You can read some of my short fiction in the blog category “Steve’s Shorts” and in the PDFs free for the asking found in those listed on the webpage “Free Stuff & Contests.” I like short fiction enough that I have several collections available on Amazon too—they’re ideal reading material on a trip. And be forewarned: the free short fiction can always disappear and become a collection, so tet it while it’s free!

Small presses. Do you only read books spewed out from the Big Five conglomerates? That’s like seeing only the latest blockbuster movie and ignoring smaller-budget films with some more meat to them. My experience with Penmore Press, publisher of Rembrandt’s Angel, has been rewarding and interesting. Apparently this experience isn’t new. Consider the quote from The Guardian: “These days, it is minimally staffed and funded firms who invest in new authors. The giants avoid such risk, only picking the writers once their names are made….” (UK, Dec. 8, 2016). If you’re looking for new and exciting authors, please look beyond the Big Five publishing conglomerates.

Reviews are still coming in for Rembrandt’s Angelbut here are excerpts from one just posted:

a thrilling, globetrotting adventure that provides readers a glance into the world of art forgery, Neo-Nazi conspiracies and even links to ISIS. The duo of Brookstone and van Coevorden can be favorably compared with utmost respect to Agatha Christie’s classic characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Esther is a strong, well-liked character with a saucy disposition, while Bastiann, though he plays costar and lover to Esther, is able to hold his own with regards to likability.”

“…Steven M. Moore’s novel should be read by fans of the mystery genre. Particularly because the author has a keen ability to weave a great storyline that is not only filled with suspense, but captures a reader’s attention. A few quotes stood out as quite descriptive and remained with this reader well after the book was completely read, for example, ‘In the ice cream shop of crime, there are many flavors’ and ‘A committee of clouds enjoyed a private meeting over the manor.’”

“…the character Esther Brookstone provides readers with an unusual female protagonist who is more than just a senior Scotland Yard Inspector, she is a memorable and tenacious dame who readers will undoubtedly enjoy throughout the novel and will look forward to reading any of her possible future exploits.”

Rembrandt’s Angel is a complex thriller with several plots intertwined throughout the story. It is recommended for serious mystery fans who are looking for not only a challenging read, but also one that allows readers to become an armchair adventurist and detective, along with Brookstone and van Coevorden, spanning many different parts of the globe.”

—Lynette Latzko, Feathered Quill Reviews.

Thank you, Feathered Quill and reviewer Lynette. You can read the full review here.

…and Feathered Quill interviews me… I answer questions about my writing in general and about Rembrandt’s Angel in particular. See the full interview here.

Availability of Rembrandt’s Angel? You’ll find the ebook version on Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords (and its associated retailers and ebook lending services). It’s also available in print version on Amazon, B&N, or at your local bookstore (if they don’t have it, ask them to order it). It’s newly published, so don’t look for it in libraries just yet (except at Smashwords’ associated lending services). The ebook is also available overseas, of course; I don’t know about the print version. (Both are available at Amazon UK—I just checked.)

Ready for some post-apocalyptic reading entertainment? The Last Humans is worth waiting for. It’s a post-apocalyptic thriller that’s mind-bending enough for the most avid fan of this subgenre. The manuscript is now with my beta-readers.

Strange star. Readers of my sci-fi novel Survivors of the Chaos know that the planet Saturn and its moons play important roles in the novel. Recently a star smaller than Saturn was discovered. It has 300 times the mass, though, so it’s massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion. We’re learning more about our Universe every day!

Reading ebooks. Did you know that with a Kindle app you can read .mobi-formatted ebooks on most any device? My Win 10 version came with it, but you can download it from Amazon. Yes, I know many readers like the look and feel of a print book, whether trade paperback, hardbound, or airport-sized paperback, but they’re usually paying a higher price (print books are more expensive to produce) and also missing out on a lot of good reading that includes new editions of literary standards (I have a few on my Kindle, like Tale of Two Cities).

I used to be exclusively a print book reader, but I received a Kindle as a birthday present and it has become my constant companion. That said, the app is a good alternative for those who don’t want to invest in yet another device.

***

In libris libertas!

 

 

 

Creeping capitalism…

August 15th, 2017

Let’s get one thing straight: while I’m a progressive, I still believe we need to strike a balance between capitalism and socialism. We need to offer equal opportunity in this modern world, and we also need to recognize individual abilities and reward those with the new ideas. These are NOT antithetical goals and any political activist who tries to paint them that way immediately loses my respect. The world isn’t black and white, and it isn’t even just fifty shades of gray. It’s a technicolored world of great diversity that we should celebrate and make the most of in our daily lives. The key word here is balance maintained through logic and reason.

That said, let me justify the title of this article. Governor Cuomo’s newly announced partnership between the MTA and private enterprise is an example of “creeping capitalism.” (Did you think this article was about President Trump? Tsk, tsk.) Cuomo’s proposal: For $250k, a company can participate, and for $600k, it can “adopt” a subway station. Nowhere have I seen what the companies will get out of this participation (naming, plastering its ads on subway walls—how far will they go?), and I refuse to research it because the whole thing’s a bad idea. Knowing Mr. Cuomo, it will be yet another loss in the public’s battle against capitalistic intrusions into public services and spaces.

Some services just need to be government controlled and not in the hands of private enterprise to eliminate the often occurring abuses of corruption and price gouging. Private enterprise’s goal IS ALWAYS to make money; public services should only charge enough to cover their costs (which shouldn’t include bloated salaries for fat-cat administrators—do they think they’re more worthy than a NASA climatological scientist?). This is a fundamental and necessary bifurcation that is indeed black and white. Mixed systems do NOT work, and even private enterprise’s offering of essential services—natural gas and electricity, telephone, cable, ISPs, water and sewer are good examples—must be heavily controlled by governments if not actually owned by them.

NYC isn’t the only city and NY isn’t the only state where capitalism is increasingly intruding into the public service sector. Essential services were often run by local, county, state and natural governments to eliminate the abuses of private enterprise, but now these same entities are outsourcing to private enterprise to reduce costs because budget cuts make it attractive to shirk their civic responsibilities. This is a horrendous mistake because the human element is all too often ignored and the for-profit element is emphasized by these outsourcing firms. Privatization hurts their employees and takes the power away from the people by placing a barrier between essential services and the people they serve.

Conservatives often complain about the cost of government services. It’s always amusing for me to see well-dressed business people riding on public transportation and complaining about them. That’s hypocrisy in action. There’s no guarantee that costs to the user will be lower when the service is outsourced. And, if they aren’t, the private company will cut costs by minimizing workers’ salaries and benefits or skimp on maintenance. We see this in the airline industry, for example. This often leads to strikes, work stoppages, and inferior maintenance, a further burden for the user of the service.

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Monday Words of Wisdom: Special Edition…

August 14th, 2017

Domestic terrorism in Charlottesville is on my mind. Alt-right, neo-fascists, white supremacists—call them what you will, but the vehicular homicide committed in a narrow street in this beautiful college town is no different than what occurred in Nice or elsewhere as terrorists use vehicles as weapons to maim and murder.

The U.S. president doesn’t have the moral spine to call it what it is and denounce these groups because he panders to those criminal elements in our society. He needed these fanatics to vote for him and encourages them at every turn, and still does, from his birther nonsense to his racist and anti-immigrant policies His son-in-law claims to be an orthodox Jew—how can he support a father-in-law who won’t speak out against torchbearers marching through the UVA campus, the university created by Jefferson, chanting anti-Semitic, racist, and Nazi slogans like “blood and soil”?

His own party’s members have stated the obvious and said what a sitting president who really cares about the country should have said. Ted Cruz, Orrin Hatch, John McCain, and Marco Rubio are GOP leaders who said the right thing. Terry McCauliffe, governor of Virginia, though, probably made the best statement against far-right instigated domestic terrorism, but he echoed the sentiments of these GOP leaders made before and after the incidents.

On a stage where Trump couldn’t change his B&B ways (that’s “bully and braggard”), his statement was an anemic prattle about violence from all sides without mentioning which far-right wingnuts started the violence or the domestic terrorism perpetrated by one particular fanatic by smashing through a crowd, sending people flying and one woman to her death. And he ignored the media’s questions about whether he supported those hate groups, an attitude perhaps implying that he does—or does he hate the media so much that he can’t bring himself to answer such questions. At a time of crisis when a president should denounce these fanatics and try to bring the country together as MaCauliffe, the mayor of Charlottesville, and others tried to do, Trump completely failed.

We have had hatred and bigotry in America ever since the birth of this nation and before, but never have we had a president who enables it and panders to those who spew their vitriolic slogans. No, he more than panders to it: Bannon, Miller, and others in the White House are part of the government now—a legion of fanatics on the president’s staff! If Narcissus le Grand really wanted to show he doesn’t condone this hate, racism, bigotry, and violence, he would fire every one of them! For one who’s so good at firing, why doesn’t he kick the fanatics out of his White House staff? But he won’t. They all form part of his political base.

Il Duce dares to compare himself favorably to Lincoln. The GOP has shunned Lincoln for a long time, but this president is the worst of them all. The great presidents of American history wouldn’t condone any of these fanatics’ actions. And they would be wondering how insane the American electorate has become to have put this B&B president with dictatorial ambitions in charge of our lives.

Of course, the majority of Americans didn’t vote for the nativist, divisionist, and despotic Trump who calls himself a populist. Does 33% support, many with sympathies for the alt-right as a CNN interview with Trump supporters in Clifton, NJ’s Tick Tock Diner showed, deserve to be called populism?

Hitler was a “populist.” German industrialists loved him, anti-Semites loved him, and almost all Germans at the time supported him because he was going to make Germany great again. It’s no wonder that Germany no longer tolerates the kind of hate speech heard in Charlottesville. “Seig heil” can land you in jail there! Perhaps we should learn from their mistakes; better still, we should learn from their cures.

The far-right Nazi-style rhetoric and violence in Charlottesville and elsewhere in the U.S. wouldn’t be allowed in Germany today. Bannon, Miller, and the organizers of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally would probably all be in jail. This isn’t a question of free speech. It’s a national need to put neo-fascists inciting people to commit murder in jail. How could we have sunk so low to allow these people to get away with this? Perhaps we should start calling our country “Amerika” and play the “Ride of the Valkyries” instead of the national anthem?

***

And so it goes….

Book review of Peter May’s Entry Island…

August 11th, 2017

(Peter May, Entry Island, Quercus, 2014, 978-1-62365-663-8)

Because I’m half-Irish by ancestry, I once tried to learn Gaelic. I failed. So it was interesting to learn in this novel that speakers of Irish and Scotch Gaelic can understand each other, but, thinking about that some more, I guess it’s like when I spoke Spanish in Italy and got along fine.

This is a small point about the huge panorama of this novel. It’s a tour through history as Sime (pronounced “sheem”) MacKenzie, a homicide detective, tries to figure out how he already knows Kirsty Cowell, a murder suspect. That’s one mystery. The other is about who killed Kirsty’s husband.

Being half-Irish, I also knew about the Irish potato famines (I seem to remember there were several), but again I had no idea The Famine had affected parts of Scotland too. And the bad history between English lords and their Irish tenants had its parallel with the English lairds and their Scottish tenants. You can learn history from reading fiction much more than you can watching Hollywood destroy it on the silver screen (after I saw The Gladiator, I had to come home and check to make sure I wasn’t going senile—and that movie won an Academy Award?).

Maybe because of these relationships between Irish and Scottish history, I found the mostly predictable plot still gripping. Sime’s ancestor’s history, told via the latter’s diary entries, is the short part and the most interesting until the Postscript (it should have been called an epilogue) that shattered most of my admiration for the ancestor. Maybe I should have said two plots, as the longer part of the novel describes Sime’s struggles to solve a murder case while carrying the mental baggage of a failed marriage, insomnia, and the loneliness he feels as a Scotsman in French Canada, the last similar to his ancestor’s troubles in the New World.

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Mysteries and thrillers…

August 10th, 2017

The standard explanation of the difference between these two genres is perhaps familiar. A mystery is a story about a crime that’s committed and some sleuth(s), pro or amateur, figure how it was done and who did it, given clues, suspects, and witnesses. A thriller is a story about a villain or conspiracy that must be stopped; the reader generally knows who the bad guys (or gals) are planning the dirty deed.

Those words cover the standard explanation, but most readers know they’re often limited. First, the crime in the mystery might be perpetrated by a villain or conspiracy, and in the thriller the good guys (or gals) might have to stop the perps from doing some crime again.

That caveat is segue to number two: the two genres often merge or overlap, which is why books are often catalogued as “mystery, thriller, and suspense.” We can argue whether a book is a mystery or thriller, or whether it’s more mystery than thriller or vice versa (suspense describes both, of course). Genres are just labels designed for the convenience of book vendors who have to display their wares on shelves. (My new book Rembrandt’s Angel was found in the art section of one store, though, and maybe a reasonable mistake made by the vendor.) But both readers and writers have to realize the story is what’s important. Read the blurb and use “peek inside” to determine whether you’re interested in a book and forget about the genre classifications.

Third, nowadays there are many crossover stories. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Many sci-fi books are also thrillers, and some are even mysteries. For example. Asimov’s Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun are sci-fi mysteries about human and android sleuths partnering up to solve two murder cases; they set the bar high for any sci-fi mystery. I enjoyed these stories as a young lad, which is one of the reasons why I write sci-fi, mysteries, and thrillers, sometimes mixing these genres in my storytelling. Sometimes the mix is subtle: Detectives Chen and Castilblanco use smartphones that have many special PDA and video capabilities not yet available, and they have to drive eco-friendly cars as members of a futuristic NYPD.

One main character in Soldiers of God, Caitlin Murphy, is a futuristic FBI agent trying to solve a vicious murder. It’s a standard mystery in the sense that it begins with this crime, but it also has thriller elements. Even The Midas Bomb, first book in my detective series, was set in the future when I wrote it (it now has a second edition, and 2014 has long passed). All books in the “Clones and Mutants Trilogy” can be considered sci-fi thrillers, but they also have mystery elements.

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An interview with Scotland Yard Inspector George Langston…

August 9th, 2017

Steve (in a whisper reminiscent of an announcer at a Scottish golf tournament): I’ve traveled to London to interview Mr. George Langston, the Scotland Yard inspector who runs the Art and Antiques Division. He has written a chronicle about a few of Inspector Esther Brookstone’s cases. You’ll find them contained in Rembrandt’s Angel. (Louder) How are you today, George?

George: A bit weary of being called Esther’s Dr. John Watson for her Sherlock Holmes. Esther works for me. Watson and Holmes had a different relationship.

Steve: You took upon yourself to chronicle some of her cases, though. What was your motivation?

George: I hope all your questions will be as easy to answer. I admire Esther. As the chronicle shows, she is much more than a sleuth, although she does good work in the division.

Steve: Yes, for a woman in her sixties, she seems to be a twenty-first century Miss Marple. And her good friend, Interpol agent Bastiann van Coevorden, seems to be a twenty-first century Monsieur Poirot. George: Neither likes those comparisons, especially when they are uttered behind their backs by gossips in their respective workplaces. I personally find them complimentary, but you know how office gossips can be.

Steve: One person’s compliment can be turned into another’s criticism. I’m familiar with the phenomenon. You’re Esther Brookstone’s boss in Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Division. You also wrote this first chronicle about a few of her cases. Which role do you think is more important?

George: You could say that the first enables the second, but I probably would be writing about her cases even without that first relationship. It does permit me to peek inside her personnel file from time to time. We are also good friends, so there are also many things I know that embellish her personnel records.

Steve: Esther obviously told you something about her previous involvement in Britain’s security services. Any chance that story will become another chronicle about her?

George: I would have to do some more sleuthing myself to write about previous events before her time at the Yard. I am certain that learning about them would explain many of her current skills that go beyond the usual ones for an inspector in the Metropolitan Police, especially ones you see among personnel in the Art and Antiques Division.

Steve: It might explain how she and Bastiann could thwart that neo-Nazi threat, right?

George: That was a close thing. I would rather she be a bit more careful.

Steve: She seems to have become obsessed with that painting, “An Angel with Titus’ Features.” That’s a real painting, right? Not your literary embellishment?

George: The black-and-white photograph of the painting is freely available on the internet. But yes, Esther became a bit obsessed with it. That obsession added danger to her pursuit of the case. Recovering stolen artwork or thwarting its sale can be dangerous, though. The scoundrels who work in that dirty gray world, and even the buyers, can become violent when one of our inspectors closes in. These cases can resemble more ubiquitous cases of robbery and murder, although the criminals tend to be more knowledgeable about art.

Steve: But there’s not often so much danger.

George: Yes, the principal case in my chronicle was much more dangerous than the usual one we consider. You have to remember, though, that there was much more to it as Esther and Bastiann pursued the illegal art dealers. I believe both MI5 and MI6 are still in cleanup mode.

Steve: Is anyone still looking to recover the painting?

George: Our division and van Coevorden’s Interpol are still interested in doing so. The French and German authorities are too, but all these security forces breathed sighs of relief when the miscreants’ plans were discovered and stopped.

Steve: That was an interesting consequence of Esther’s obsession.

George: Perhaps. Again, it put her in danger. Bastiann too.

Steve: Do you have plans for more chronicles?

George: If I can uncover a bit of her history in our intelligence services, I will write that. Esther and Bastiann are recovering now at her Scottish castle. I hope she returns soon. Our caseload has increased during her absence. Who knows if one of those cases will be featured in a future chronicle?

Steve: Thank you for your time, Inspector.

George: I have no problem discussing Esther and her adventures. She is a bit hard to control at times, but no one can deny her success. I am honored to have her in our division.

***

Just posted: a new review of Rembrandt’s Angel. “a thrilling, globetrotting adventure that provides readers a glance into the world of art forgery, Neo-Nazi conspiracies and even links to ISIS. The duo of Brookstone and van Coevorden can be favorably compared with utmost respect to Agatha Christie’s classic characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Esther is a strong, well-liked character with a saucy disposition, while Bastiann, though he plays costar and lover to Esther, is able to hold his own with regards to likability…

…Steven M. Moore’s novel should be read by fans of the mystery genre particularly because the author has a keen ability to weave a great storyline that is not only filled with suspense, but captures a reader’s attention. A few quotes stood out as quite descriptive and remained with this reader well after the book was completely read, for example, “In the ice cream shop of crime, there are many flavors” and “A committee of clouds enjoyed a private meeting over the manor. …the character Esther Brookstone provides readers with an unusual female protagonist who is more than just a senior Scotland Yard Inspector. She is a memorable and tenacious dame who readers will undoubtedly enjoy throughout the novel and will look forward to reading any of her possible future exploits.

Rembrandt’s Angel is a complex thriller with several plots intertwined throughout the story. It is recommended for serious mystery fans who are looking for not only a challenging read, but also one that allows readers to become an armchair adventurist and detective, along with Brookstone and van Coevorden, spanning many different parts of the globe.”—Lynette Latzko, Feathered Quill Book Reviews

For the full review, visit Feathered Quill. To learn more about saucy Esther Brookstone, see Rembrandt’s Angel (Penmore Press), now available as an ebook on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple, and as a print book on Amazon, B&N,  or at your local bookstore through Ingram (ask for it if they don’t have it). Don’t miss it. It’s great summer reading.

In libris libertas!

 

 

 

 

The mental health crisis…

August 8th, 2017

One item proposed in the GOP Senate’s “Better Care Act” was more cuts to mental health care. Fortunately that didn’t pass, but these cuts have been going on for a long time. Mental hospitals have closed and there never seems to be enough competent staff. People with mental health problems have nowhere to turn. Some have worried families and friends who don’t know where to turn either. Others live homeless on the streets of America’s cities. And others have come home from wars broken in mind and spirit.

The shooting in NYC of policewoman Miosotis Familia by mentally disturbed Alexander Bond is an extreme example of the tragedies that can occur. One congressman was attacked by his own son; the father hadn’t been able to find a facility for him. An obviously deranged fifteen-year-old girl encouraged her depressed boyfriend via cellphone texts to commit suicide (she received a 2.5 year sentence but she should have been committed). These are only three cases that made the national news where persons with a mental illness didn’t have the care they needed. Too many don’t.

And I’m talking about quality care, not more copies of that cuckoos’ nest immortalized in the movie. While no modern mental ward seems as bad as that or Salieri’s in Amadeus, they can be bad. Patients in care are often treated inhumanely with drugs and shock therapy instead of being cured. These “cures” can be easily ordered by mental health professionals and applied by an army of nurses and barely qualified technicians, so the cost is low. The institutions still functioning often sacrifice good care because of budget cuts. Add to that the closing of mental health facilities everywhere, you have a crisis.

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