So you can read my books

Sunday, June 30, 2013


My good friend Milo James Fowler me today on the subject of AUDIOBOOKS:

Come read the fun.


THE LAST SHAMAN is only $6.08 on Amazon!  How cool is that?

And wait til you hear how Sam McCord sounds in FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.


Saturday, June 29, 2013


1. It's not the destination that is the treasure but the gems you pick up along the way.

    You can never know all that is within you if you don't test yourself.

    The people you meet along the way, both those that hurt as well as those who heal, will teach you how to be all you can be ... if you but listen.

2. Are you asking the wrong questions?

    Our being is filled with what we focus on. If you ask questions like, "How come I can't do this? Why is this so hard?"

    The mind may reply out of its despair, "Because you suck! Nothing goes your way! You don't deserve it that's why! You always fail! You aren't skilled enough!"

     Ask instead, "Is it possible for me to keep going? What can I do to make this easier?"

3. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone:

    No one has promised you that you're going to wake up in good health tomorrow with the ability to “get it all done.”

    Cherish the moment by appreciating the fragile beauty of it and by keeping the dream alive for yourself and others.

4. Think of the future YOU.

     Ten years from now don't you want to be able to look back on a life of being all you could be despite falls and mistakes?  We all fall.  Not all stagger back up ... only those who ten years later look back with pride on a life fully lived.

5. Driving with a near empty gas tank.

    People run out of gas in their automobile every day.  It is just as easy to keep a tank almost full as it is to keep it almost empty.

     You just have to stop to refill when you notice the needle dipping.

     Is your needle dipping right now?

     Then refill.

     Whatever makes you smile ... walking along the beach, listening to great music, talking to an old friend, watching a comedy.  DO IT.


       Continuing to try gives hope of a better outcome or more positive experiences, but quitting only guarantees no reward at all.

7. Your life is a song:

     The music may be forced on you, but the lyrics you choose to sing to it makes all the difference.
Only $6.08 on Amazon!






Just about every writer unconsciously has a SECRET AGENT word that creeps in on every page it seems.

Hillary Clinton’s rpeated word is “eager” (can you believe it? the committee that wrote Living History should have their typing fingers slapped).

Cosmopolitan magazine editor Kate White uses “quickly” over a dozen times in A Body To Die For.

Jack Kerouac’s crutch word in On the Road is “sad,” sometimes
doubly so – “sad, sad.”

Ann Packer’s in The Dive from Clausen’s Pier
is “weird.”

SECRET AGENT words are usually unremarkable little critters. That’s why they slip under the editorial radar –

they’re not even worth noticing, much less repeating,

but there you have it, pop, pop, pop, up they come -

like that rodent in the golf course in CADDY SHACK. Readers, however, notice them, get irked by them and are eventually distracted by them,

and put down the book never to pick it back up. Ouch.


“I wanted to know but couldn’t understand what her face had to say, so I waited until Alice was ready to tell me before asking what she meant.”

Victor Standish is trying to say something in this sentence, but who cares? The writing is so flat, limp, listless it just dies on the page. Talk about a "bad hair day" for prose!

You can’t fix it with a few replacement words – you have to give it depth, texture, character.

Flat writing is a sign that you’ve lost interest or are intimidated by your own novel's scope. It shows that you’re veering toward mediocrity, that your brain is fatigued,

that you’ve lost your inspiration.

So use it as a lesson. When you see flat writing on the page, it’s time to rethink, refuel and rewrite.


Actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, continuously, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully, finally –

these and others are words that promise emphasis, but too often they do the reverse. They suck the meaning out of every sentence.

I defer to People Magazine for gilding its articles with empty, valueless adverbs. A recent issue refers to an “incredibly popular, groundbreakingly racy sitcom.” That’s tough to say even when your lips aren’t moving.

In Still Life with Crows, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (experts at needless filler to pad a book) describe a mysterious row of corn in the middle of a field:

“It was, in fact, the only row that actually opened onto the creek.” Here are two attempts at emphasis (”in fact,” “actually”), but they just junk up the sentence. Remove them both and the word “only” carries the burden of the sentence with efficiency and precision.

(When in doubt, try this mantra: Precise and spare; precise and spare; precise and spare.)

In dialogue, empty adverbs may sound appropriate, even authentic,

but that’s because they’ve crept into American conversation in a trendy way. If you’re not watchful, they’ll make your characters sound wordy, childish and dated.

Look at this hilarious clunker from THE DA VINCE CODE by Dan Brown:

“Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino.”

Puke! “Almost inconceivably” –

that’s like being a little bit dead, isn't it?

Hopefully, that “enormous albino” will ironically go back to actually flogging himself while incredibly saying his prayers continually as we regretfully heave the book into the thankfully empty trash can.


Be careful of using dialogue to advance the plot.

Readers can tell when characters talk about things they already know, or when the speakers appear to be having a conversation for our benefit.

You never want one character to imply or say to the other, “Tell me again, Batman: What are we doing next?”

Avoid words that are fashionable in conversation.

Ann Packer’s characters are so trendy the reader recoils. ” ‘What’s up with that?’ I said. ‘Is this a thing [love affair]?’ ” “We both smiled. ” ‘What is it with him?’ I said. ‘I mean, really.’ ” Her book is only a few years old, and already it’s dated.

Dialogue offers glimpses into character the author can’t provide through description.

Hidden wit, thoughtful observations, a shy revelation, a charming aside all come out in dialogue, so the characters *show* us what the author can’t *tell* us.

But if dialogue helps the author distinguish each character, it also nails the culprit who’s promoting a hidden agenda by speaking out of character.

Setting your own high standards and sticking to them is the mark of a pro.

Be one, write like one, and don’t cheat.


Don’t take a perfectly good word and give it a new wardrobe, so it serves as something else. The New York Times does this all the time.

Instead of saying, “as a director, she is meticulous,” the reviewer will write, “as a director, she is known for her meticulousness.”

Until she is known for her obtuseness.

The “ness” words cause the eye to stumble, come back, reread:

Mindlessness, characterlessness, courageousness, statuesqueness, preciousness –

you get the idea. You might as well pour ball bearings into your readers’ mouths.

(Not even Victor Standish would do that!)

Not all “ness” words are bad – goodness, no – (couldn't resist; LOL) but they are all suspect.

The “ize” words are no better – finalize, conceptualize, fantasize, categorize. The “ize” hooks itself onto words as a short-cut but stays there like a parasite.

Policemen now say to each other about witnesses they’ve interrogated, “Did you statementize him?” Some shortcut.

Not all “ize” words are bad, either, but they do have the ring of the vulgate to them –

“he was brutalized by his father,” “she finalized her report.” Just try to use them rarely.

Use them too often is like jabbing your reader in the eye repeatedly. Guess what that reader does with your book? Ouch.

(Many thanks to Pat Holt for the wisdom of these pointers.)

Listen to the sample on my audio book's page:

Friday, June 28, 2013


You two-leggeds ...

You think you know. But you do not know.

How could you? 

You can know only what you have experienced.

And your experience is so stunted.

I look out from my consciousness surrounding the world that is my body,

and my horizon spans the the swimming bodies of my sisters

who wheel in their sweeping dance of gravity about our Father Sun.

Roland, he whom I call Little Lakota, talked of me some days back

with respect and with the knowledge that his grasp of me was limited.

So I honor that respect by telling you what little your limited minds can understand of my existence. 

Your minds are much like a song unfinished.

And nothing makes you more aware of the fragility

of existence than a song unfinished.

Here is a secret:

We are all songs unfinished.

We start with names. But what illusions are names.

Some call me Turquoise Woman.

Others call me Gaia. I call all of you temporary ...

Some I call cherished.

Others of you are but a fleeting rash upon my surface.

Irritating, viral, and in the end, self-destructive.

Sadly, your race is like a tick that will gorge itself until it bursts.

Bemused, I watch you scurry along my skin, moaning you are bringing an end to me.

I would laugh if it were not so pathetic.

You are merely bringing an end to yourselves.

I count the moments. You make my scalp itch.

You think you know what life is. Sad.

Do you know what life is?
A firefly's flicker in the night,

the breath of a buffalo in winter,

a cloud shadow that races across the green grass to lose itself in the blood-red of the sunset.

Do not try to understand me.

I look, not only down upon you,

but out across the vast glittering sea of eternal night.

The colors of my thoughts are the Northern Lights

and the reach of them is from horizon to horizon and unto the vastness of the stars.

The electro-magnetic field of my body gave birth to my consciousness

long before there were human hands to chisel stone into mute, blind idols

or to brush your world in blood on cave walls.

Your only true contribution to me was your language.

Before you crafted words into being, my consciousness was unfocused.

I listened with wonder as you spoke to one another,

slowly piecing the concept of language together in my thoughts.

Through the prism of your languages, my awareness crystalized.

I became aware.

Now, I know a haunted melancholy. Like a windmill's blades, my thoughts dip into my memories.

In misty after-images, I see your fleeting lives walking prayer-soft across my green fields only to fade into the inflamed oblivion of the sunset.

My son, Elu, will survive.

Hibbs, the bear with two shadows, I have spirited safely away into a sister dimension.

But Samuel, my sad-eyed, adopted son, will soon die I think.

Not at the hands of his life-long enemy, DayStar. But by the two-edged sword of his love for his wife, Meilori.

And that trickster scamp, Victor Standish, he, too, will die.

I will miss him, for he, also, will be "consumed" by his love for the unnatural creature called Alice.

And I believe my grandson, Wolf Howl, will die fighting for me.  But you two-leggeds have fooled me before.

You are wondering why I am talking to you?

You are close to my heart as well, for all of you craft with words.

So I have come to say seven words to you:

"Live well. Soon :I will miss you."
If you want to see more of the TURQUOISE WOMAN,
listen to THE LAST SHAMAN:
Only $6.08!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Samuel McCord speaks from the shadows of Meilori's at last!
($7.49 with Audible membership or
you can opt to get this FREE!)
Against the backdrop of Katrina's aftermath,
 an agnostic jazz club owner and his best friend, a haunted priest,
engage enemies in the shadows that challenge both their belief systems.
But there are two things not in doubt:
their deep friendship for one another
the dark threat given license to kill by the absence of the police.
Wolf Howl narrates the end of Man in ...
(Non-Member Price only $6.08!)
The time has come to listen to echoes from our land...
the wisdom and teachings of the mountains, streams, and woods.
Their words are simple and their voices are soft.
We have not heard them, because we have not taken the time to listen.
We have been too busy smothering them in crypts of concrete and steel.
Listen to the samples for both books.

 C'mon, you know you're curious!



"Why do we go on?"

I asked Gypsy, my ghost cat,

as she lapped from my tumbler of ice tea,

the ancient mysteries of Egypt seemingly mocking me from her emerald eyes.
I sighed, "There is no certain promise of success.
Often we are mocked by those in our world.

Worse, sometimes we are endured or "forgiven our obsession" by those close to us."

Hemingway looked at me from across the table at Meilori's.

"Backbone," he rumbled.


He downed the remainder of his rum. "Backbone, son. In yourself. In your work. That is the key to surviving this 'obsession' of ours."

He set his glass with a thump on the oak table. "Your own backbone is between you and your self-respect. I can't help you there."

He lit a cigar. "But with the backbone of your story or novel ... there I can help."

He looked at me over his glass of rum.

"The spine of your novel is what you follow on your character’s evolution from what he was to what he becomes. And the change must be big. Why would we follow a bump on a bumpkin’s life?

All good books have one thing in common. 

They are truer than real life. Why? In good books, anything that doesn’t contribute to the hero’s transformation is edited away.

So find your backbone. What big picture are you painting? Any brushstroke that doesn’t add to that picture, remove.

Ask 5 questions to find your backbone.

1) Who is your hero?

You’d be surprised how many bad novels wobble about in that department, not giving the reader a sure idea of who to root for.

2) What is the problem?

It has to be clear. It has to be primal. And it has to appear insurmountable.

3) How does the story begin and end?

There has to be a “before” and “after” feel to them. The end must be a ringing bell within the heart of the reader.

4) What is the spiritual problem of the hero?

The physical problem must symbolize the spiritual struggle within your hero.

5) What is your novel about?

What is your story’s theme. A young boy learns that true magic lies within. A man discovers lies only make problems; they do not solve them. You get the picture.

What are you waiting for? You want me to lead you to the computer and type the story for you? Writers write. Dreamers dream and die with their dreams."

He pointed the burning end of his cigar at me.

"Die on your feet, friend.

Die on your feet, your last breath spent living your dream,

not pining for it."***

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Sales plummeted at Barnes & Noble bookstores in the latest quarter and its Nook e-book devices failed to keep up with competitors, pushing the company to a net loss that more than doubled from a year ago.

Barnes & Noble announced Tuesday that it would stop manufacturing the Nook, its Android-based tablet product, as a part of its fourth-quarter earnings report.

 Amazon's Kindle was a hit, and despite more capabilities and an aggressive pricepoint, the Nook was an also-ran. The Nook division took in $768 million in revenue in the past year, a decrease of 36 percent over the year before, and not enough to turn a profit.

The company lost $475 million in the last year on the division.  Ouch!

Barnes & Noble Inc. had been pouring money into developing its Nook devices to keep up with changing reading habits and beat back competition from retailers such as Amazon, which makes the popular Kindle readers.

It hasn't worked. According to research firm IDC, Barnes & Noble's tablet shipments fell to 1 million in the fourth quarter, down from 1.4 million a year earlier. At the same time, sales of Kindle e-readers have kept growing.

Many point to the earnings call on Barnes & Noble College.

It's the bright spot in the Barnes & Noble family. Unfortunately, you can't count on that segment to flourish, and I will explain why.

How long do you think it will take before the majority of schools are using tablets instead of books?

 The transformation is already beginning.

There should be no question in your mind that digital books cost less. No shipping, distribution, printing, or binding is required, and Barnes & Noble is part of distribution.

The way content is delivered is changing, and the half-life of physical paper books is probably not much more than five years.

Why buy a physical copy of a college book for $125 when you can buy the same text in digital form for $70? I'm sure some will prefer the paper version regardless of cost, but isn't a model you want to invest in.

Do you believe Barnes & Noble is a lost cause? 

Do you enjoy going into one and just browsing? 

Did you buy a Nook? 

If so, what do you think of B & N's latest actions?

Brick and motar stores spur digital purchases by customers spotting books on the shelves they would have never thought of buying before seeing it with their own eyes. 

Now will the demise of physical bookstores slow the digital book sales?

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


{Image of Meilori courtesy of Leonora Roy}
The dream and expectation was your future.

The dream and expectation was your chief goal.

The dream was happy, peaceful and comforting - especially when the times were dark.

The dream was a part of you as much as your finger or eye.

And when a part of you is amputated, there is shock, blood, and denial.

Now ...


1. Grieve/Mourn –

 Cry, scream, sob, feel sad, stop smiling that plastic smile, and do whatever you feel like doing.

Losing a dream hurts.

Stuffing the hurt down will only be a temporary remedy.

When we stuff our feelings down and try to hide them, the pain will fester and eventually manifest itself somewhere and it usually isn’t a pretty sight.

So allow yourself to go through the grieving process.

There’s really no reason to hide your pain. Feeling it will allow your heart and mind the opportunity to heal.

2. Schedule Free Time –

 When a dream dies, it not only affects your heart, but it also seeps into every other aspect of your life.

Providing yourself the time to do anything you want whenever you want to do it will take the pressure off you to succeed in multiple tasks.

Your responsibility after a dream dies is to heal.

That’s it.

Just take the time to heal by giving yourself the right to have lots of free time void of commitments and responsibilities.

Think broken leg.  First, the cast.  Then, the crutch.  Lastly, the cane.  Aim for the goal of walking on your own ... but in stages.

But don't keep the cast.  It is only a stage.

3. Share but Care –

Most “people” don’t want to listen to you go on and on about how sad you are that your dream died. It just isn’t something most people want to do.

There are some friends or family members that will be there to listen no matter how many times you express your pain.

But do not lean too hard or too long.  The Father's hours are always open and speaking aloud to Him your pains and thoughts will allow you to hear what you might otherwise be denying in your silent thoughts.

4. Do Stuff –

Don’t sit and stare out the window counting clouds that float by each day. Use your spare time to do stuff.

You can do stuff alone or with people, inside your home, outside in nature or with the masses at the shopping malls. Do things that used to bring you pleasure apart from your dream.

See if there are any community services to which you can volunteer.  Here, there is Abraham's Tent, a city center where they provide meals.  They always need servers. 

You know how to read.  Join a community center where they teach literacy to adults longing to learn how to read.

Those activities will draw you out of yourself, awakening you to a world of hurting people.

5. Forgive –

Easy to say.  Hard to do.

The hurtful people in your world forge a cold environment of predators and prey.  But eventually the predator always becomes the prey.  And they will have no one in their life left to give a damn.

Forgiving is a powerful action.

It takes so much energy to harbor anger and resentment. Resentment is like taking poison, hoping the person who hurt you dies of it.  Know what?  He/She is out there dancing.

The best revenge is to live well. When a dream dies, make a concerted effort to forgive the person(s) or thing(s) that caused the loss. Don’t skip this step.

Especially when the person you have to forgive is yourself.

6. Happy People –

Surround yourself with happy people who laugh because it is contagious. It may take you time to mingle with people or even to feel something is humorous, but the aura or vibe that happy people give off will help you heal from the lost dream.

Can't be with people just yet?  Try DVD's of comedies.  Did LOONEY TUNES make you laugh as a child?  Watch a collection of cartoons of your favorite characters.  Re-awaken the child within.

7. New Goals/Dreams –

Look to the horizon.  The ticking minutes bring you closer to a new tomorrow.  Think of what would make it a better one.

Write down new goals and dreams.

Just brainstorm everything that enters your mind even if it seems impossible. Later you can go back and narrow down the list to a few things that you really want to work towards. When a dream dies, take the time to dream another dream.

8. Take Your Time –

Losing a dream is literally a death and it feels like one too. Take your time to heal from the death of the dream in order to cope with the huge emptiness you feel from the loss.

A bad wound does not heal in a day or even in a week or month.

Be kind to yourself in the same way you would be kind to someone who had a loved one die. You aren’t in a race and there isn’t a time limit on your grieving, so take you time to get through the healing process at a speed that makes you feel comfortable.

Change is hard, and how you cope with those changes is the real key to future happiness.

In the words of D.G. Hudson:

When our dreams die, they sometimes feed the growth of another dream. Perhaps that first dream is not our intended path.


And the place which may seem like the end
may also be the beginning. 

- Hibbs, the bear with 2 shadows

Monday, June 24, 2013




It's a show about misogyny. Sex. Money. Anxiety. Change. And millions can't look away.

Perhaps we see in its alienated characters, adrift in an age of insecurity, a mirror of our own troubled times.

"Enjoy the world as it is," an old woman tells a young one during the third season of Mad Men.

 They'll change it and never give you a reason."

Unlike the series' characters, marooned in the early 1960s, we, the audience, can see the changes coming.

We've either lived through them ourselves or grown up in a world shaped by them.

Furthermore, Mad Men offers a litany of reasons why those changes had to be made; the series catalogues the many failings of pre-counterculture America for our amusement and head-shaking dismay.

It specialises in a particular flavour of voyeuristic nostalgia: the chance to live
vicariously through a period of acute uncertainty while nestled in the comforting knowledge of how it will all turn out.

If you like MAD MEN for those reasons, may I suggest TRAVIS McGEE by John D. MacDonald:

Why Travis McGee?

I look at my trashy-looking  covers of the original Travis McGee novels and think of what treasures lie behind them:
The world of the sixties live in vivid detail for that is when they were written.  And the novels contain:
Amazingly excellent writing, with little gems of wisdom, humor, and compassion casually slipped-in among the preposterous and inevitable sex, murder and mayhem.
Classy trash! Not unlike MAD MEN ... and set in the sixties as I have written.
A beach book for intelligent readers!
John D. MacDonald's insights on issues like environmental degradation, overpopulation, irresponsible development, and mindless materialism are as urgently relevant today as they were forty years ago.
You are jarred by how often and casually terms like "Darling" and "Dear" are tossed about.  Hearing $4 as the price for a cheap motel room perks your ears.  The sexism and naive outlooks of many have you shaking your head.
The internet, cell phones, and AIDS are unheard of.
Travis returned from the Korean War to start a business with his brother and discovers his brother dead, swindled out of his savings.  He finds the swindler and a path to walk the rest of his life.
The basic framework of a Travis McGee story is this:

Travis, the lean combat veteran, is a self-described beachbum and salvage expert.

By "salvage" he means he will retrieve something of value that was taken from its rightful owner, something the victim can't get back by himself, and keep half as his fee.

He lives in a houseboat at Fort Lauderdale, drives an old Rolls-Royce which someone had converted into a pickup truck, and works only when he feels like it or when he can't refuse doing a favor.
His best friend and next-berth neighbor is Meyer, a renowned economist and goldmine of knowledge and insight. With these two characters, the author manages to find a way to say whatever he wants about humankind and the state of the world:

[Re assuming an identity]
"People take you at the value you put upon yourself. That makes it easy for them.
All you do is blend in. Accept the customs of every new tribe.
And you try not to say too much because then you sound as if you were selling something. Sweetie, everybody in this wide world is so constantly, continuously
concerned with the impact he's making,
he just doesn't have the time to wonder too much about the next guy."
"One good way [to detect poisonous females]
is to watch how the other women react...
Just the way, honey, a woman should be damned wary
of a man other men have no use for."
"A woman who does not guard and treasure herself
cannot be of very much value to anyone else...
Only a woman of pride, complexity, and emotional tension
is genuinely worth the act of love,
and there are only two ways to get yourself one of them.
Either you lie, and stain the relationship with your own sense of guile,
or you accept the involvement, the emotional responsibility,
the permanence she must by nature crave.
I love you can be said only two ways."
Travis in THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, p.24.
 is where MacDonald hits his stride
with Travis MacGee.
It might be a good starting point.
The plot of the Quick Red Fox,
like all the McGee novels is high melodrama. 
The thing that makes these novels so captivating
is the sense of time and place that MacDonald creates. 
I love the typical poetic musing. 
I love the characters...
not just McGee, though he is wonderful. 
In this one, he creates an amazing vapid actress,
a wonderful cast of villains
and a strong, brave female companion.


"What wound did ever heal but by degrees?,"

wrote Shakespeare.

Plato wrote,

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."

“If you would have me weep,
you must first of all feel grief yourself.”

~ Horace

1.) Each of these quotes made you reflect. IT MAY HAVE ALSO EXTENDED YOUR LIFE!

The world is gradually dividing into two populations.

Not the “haves” and “have-nots” of the political agitators. This is something much more precious than mere money: It’s those who learn and those who don’t.

In bald numbers, educated men live 14 years longer, on average, than uneducated men.

Educated women live 10 years longer, on average, than uneducated women.

But learning minds are not limited to those with degrees ... learning minds are merely those who read, reflect, and learn from the prose.


Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds, according to new research.

And it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, research found.

Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.

Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis.

Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.

Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, have a cup of tea of coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 per cent.

Playing video games brought them down by 21 per cent from their highest level but still left the volunteers with heart rates above their starting point.


The idea that literature can make us emotionally and physically stronger goes back to Plato.

But now book groups are proving that Shakespeare can be as beneficial as self-help guides. There is a rise in bibliotherapy.

Medical staff tell stories of the remarkable successes they've seen:

the neurological patient who sat in a group saying nothing for months, then after a reading of George Herbert's poem "The Flower"

"Who would have thought my shrivelled heart

Could have recovered greenness?"

launched into a 10-minute monologue at the end of which he announced "I feel great."

The brain-damaged young man whose vocabulary significantly increased after he joined a book group;

the husband caring for his disabled wife whose exposure to poetry has proved not just a respite but a liberation.

To outsiders, the outcomes might seem small, but to the staff and patients concerned they're huge breakthroughs.

Judith Mawer of the Mersey Care Mental Health Trust explained,

focusing on a book is the decisive factor:

"People who don't respond to conventional therapy, or don't have access to it, can externalise their feelings by engaging with a fictional character, or be stimulated by the rhythms of poetry."

One particularly successful initiative has been reading poetry to and with dementia patients, some of whom have lost all sense of who and where they are but can recite the words of a poem learned at school 70 years ago.

"One sheds one's sicknesses in books," DH Lawrence once wrote.

Bibliotherapy, as it's called, is a fast-growing profession. A recent survey suggests that "over half of English library authorities are operating some form of bibliotherapy intervention.

Read the evocative words of Emmylou Harris from THE PEARL which touched the dark heart of a patient struggling with Cancer:

O the dragons are gonna fly tonight
They're circling low and inside tonight
It's another round in the losing fight
Out along the great divide tonight

We are aging soldiers in an ancient war
Seeking out some half remembered shore
We drink our fill and still we thirst for more
Asking if there's no heaven what is this hunger for?

Our path is worn our feet are poorly shod
We lift up our prayer against the odds
And fear the silence is the voice of God
And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

Sorrow is constant and the joys are brief
The seasons come and bring no sweet relief
Time is a brutal but a careless theif
Who takes our lot but leaves behind the grief

It is the heart that kills us in the end
Just one more old broken bone that cannot mend
As it was now and ever shall be amen

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

So there'll be no guiding light for you and me
We are not sailors lost out on the sea
We were always headed toward eternity
Hoping for a glimpse of Gaililee

Like falling stars from the universe we are hurled
Down through the long loneliness of the world
Until we behold the pain become the pearl

Cryin´ Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah
For the Cancer patient there was emotional healing to these words.

*{A photo of some of the leather bound volumes in one of my bookcases.}