Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I'm happy to announce that, starting next week, I'm adding a new feature to CICERO'S CHILDREN. 

You'll still be able to find book reviews and other news here, but the main thrust of this blog will be to help writers who include medical scenes in their books, especially scenes set in the ER or scenes dealing with pre-hospital paramedic care.

Research is the keystone to successful writing. Set a scene on a bus in Chicago, and you'd better know if buses actually run in the neighborhood you're portraying. Plot a car chase in New York City, and you'd better know if the avenue you've named goes both ways or is a one-way street.

The same applies to medical scenes. I recall reading a thriller written by a surgeon. His surgical scenes were right on spot because he knew his subject well. But then he placed his characters in the ER, and everything he wrote about the care given to a child before and after arrival in the ER was wildly wrong. It was obvious that our surgeon/writer hadn't run this scene past an ER doctor or ER nurse or a paramedic.

So to help writers who want to get it right when they portray a medical scene, I'm instituting a Q&A section here along with a medical tips section. Want to know if there's a neurosurgeon in your small town who's capable of treating a gunshot wound to the head? Want to know if your gunshot-wound-to-the-shoulder victim should walk out of the ER with his arm in a cast? Want to know what a paramedic would do for a heart attack victim before arrival in the ER?

Then THE WRITER'S ER at CICERO'S CHILDREN is the place for you. Enter your questions in the comment section below, or email them to me at kleworks@aol.com. As a veteran ER nurse and instructor in ACLS, PALS, and BLS, I'll give you an answer you can trust. And if I can't give you an answer (which I doubt), I'll ask my ER doc friends and/or paramedic buddies. One way or another, I'll help you "write it right".

Remember, THE WRITER'S ER starts next week here at CICERO'S CHILDREN. I hope you'll drop by and check it out.

Until then, here's a bit of news from Julia Buckley.

"I'm launching my first YA novel on Kindle today. It's called GINEVRA BOND, and it's not a dystopian nightmare; instead, it's the story of one young woman whose psychic abilities make her a valuable commodity and therefore put her in danger. Here's the link." 


And now, another new book review by Pat Browning.

THE BLUE HACKLE , A Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron Mystery

By Lillian Stewart Carl
ISBN-10: 1594149224'ISVN-13: 978-1594149221
Reviewed by Pat Browning

I’m a traditional reader. I like to know where a story takes place. Too many stories I’ve read lately could happen anywhere. Not so with Lillian Stewart Carl’s THE BLUE HACKLE, set on the Isle of Skye .
I’ve been to the Isle of Skye. I’ve tromped hither and yon on a cold misty day. I’ve snapped photos of Dunvegan Castle. I’ve enjoyed tea and scones before the fireplace of a local inn. Lillian Stewart Carl’s descriptions ring true, and I thank her for giving her jewel of a ghost story a proper setting.
Jean Fairbairn, part-historian, part-journalist and lately of Texas, and retired Scottish Detective Inspector Alasdair Cameron of Edinburgh, are on Skye as guests of Fergus MacDonald, owner of the decaying Dunasheen Castle. “Fergie” hopes to make some money by opening the castle to paying guests. Jean and Alasdair plan a New Year’s wedding at the castle. And of course the old castle has a resident ghost, The Green Lady.
Poor Fergie. He plans a festive, profitable Hogmanay celebration. He gets murder, attempted suicide, cops swarming over the estate, reporters pounding at the gates, a clandestine love affair, a wayward wife, a questionable inheritance, and a throwback to “clan feuds, arguments festering for centuries.” This bunch keeps The Green Lady busy.
Jean Fairbairn is a delightful character. She’s nosy the way a journalist/historian should be. Her senses are fully engaged. She hears things, sees things, smells things, tastes things. She’s sensitive to the presence of ghosts and adds humor to the story.
It’s Jean who spots a sheath missing its dirk, the traditional and ceremonial dagger of officers of Scottish Highland regiments. One of the guests, a wheeler-dealer from Australia, has been stabbed to death. The missing dirk may well be the murder weapon, throwing suspicion on someone inside the castle, not on a wandering vagrant or other outsider.
Alasdair is the perfect opposite of Jean: the dour Scot at his most attractive, the sturdy and dependable companion. He, too, is “allergic” to ghosts, as is Dakota Krum, young daughter of the guests from Maryland.
The lively and curious Dakota stumbles upon the hidden grave of someone “known only to God." Jean and Alasdair speculate that the deceased was a key player in an old murder who returned to be reunited with the ghost of The Green Lady. Jean ponders the possibility: “Maybe death was a dream. Maybe life was. Maybe it all flowed on together, no now, no then. That would explain synchronicity, ESP, and ghosts in one fell swoop.”
Fergie shows Jean and Alasdair an ossuary he had meant to sell to the Australian. He believes it held relics of Jesus Christ. When he launches into a tale of fairies, Crusaders and alien astronauts, a despairing Alasdair fears his old friend has gone mad.
Jean demurs. “The true believers, they get me at ‘what if.’ … People used to see angels. Now they see UFOs. Seeing is believing, and believing is seeing. Never underestimate the will to believe or the will to exploit belief.”
The cops work the murder the traditional way: interviewing and re-interviewing witnesses and suspects, and picking up on local gossip. The investigation continues even while the New Year is chimed in at the castle. The doorbell rings, ushering in another complication. The story picks up steam, and the author wraps up all story threads in a nail-biting denouement and a thoroughly satisfactory ending.
A word about ghosts:
I did some Googling and turned up a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change from one form to another.” That led me to The Law of Conservation of Energy (aka the First Law of Thermodynamics) and theories going back to ancient Greek philosophy.
That led to the theory espoused by the Persian scholar Nasir al-Din-al Tusl in the 13th century: "A body of matter cannot disappear completely. It only changes its form, condition, composition, color and other properties and turns into a different complex or elementary matter." I ended up with Albert Einstein's theory of mass-energy equivalence stating that nothing is either created or destroyed; it merely changes from matter to energy and vice versa.
Those theories and experiments are still argued about today. Fortunately, I am neither a physicist nor a philosopher. Just thinking about it gives me a headache. But I do love ghost stories.