Book Spotlight – The Whisper – Creative Non-Fiction – Rebecca Miller

The Whisper – Amazon UK 

The Whisper –


Rose McWhorter is a gifted empath who can “hear” and “see” things that others cannot. She works as a hospice nurse for the largest hospice in Denver, Colorado. She’s on the elite afterhours team that responds to crisis and death calls for pediatric and adult patients. She’s a Celt and a descendant of female mystics and warriors. Rose is strong but weary. She’s haunted by her failure to sit with her mother when she died.

The Whisper begins with Rose sitting at the table where her mother used to sit. She’s charting a death that occurred at her mother’s former nursing home. Rose visits the home often and is confronted with her guilt and reminded of the first time she heard the whisper. While grieving at her mother’s bedside, she heard her deceased mother whisper “be a nurse.” Rose follows the directive and, after a few years, becomes a hospice nurse.

Her workplace, once non-profit, was acquired by a for-profit organization and is starting to fall apart. She encounters numerous abuses, from staffing shortages to workplace bullying and violence, resulting in Rose becoming worn down by the stress and the deathwork. After a hard death, she’s decided to quit her job, but changes her mind when she hears the whisper of her deceased mother telling her to “remember her lessons.”

Rose returns home, pondering the command, and activates her Gift. She’s led to open her mother’s Bible. Inside, she finds a card with a verse about love. She decides to use the verse as a writing prompt in her journal to review the lessons she’s learned working in hospice. The first line of the verse is, “Love is patient.” That night she called to help a patient who couldn’t breathe, but the actual mission was comforting his grandson by being patient and listening to him, helping him express his love for the grandfather through a piece of art. As she moves through the weeks and months, she is challenged more and more with difficult and sometimes dangerous calls, all while her job erodes. 

One night, Rose attends to a patient who reveals a gun and his suicidal intentions. Rose comes perilously close to death but is able to talk her patient down. Her husband Dennis became enraged, demanding that she resign. Her actions resulted in a two-day suspension for removing the weapon. Regardless of the pressure, she’s determined to see the prompts through to find out what she needs to learn.

Rose continues working the afterhours, revisiting parts of her past, further reinforcing her lessons. She visits a man whose son is dying of AIDS. She sees a gun on his table, reports it, but leaves it behind, per her directive. The patient’s father later uses it to hold a nurse and CNA hostage after his son’s death. The father sexually assaults the nurse, but the CNA escapes. The father ends his own life. Dennis again demands that she quit as she was supposed to be on the call. Rose initially lies to him, but after a call where a wealthy man forces her to help him with his suicide or risk losing her job, Rose breaks. 

After the call, Rose breaks down and hears the whisper say, “almost.” Rose decides that she’s had enough. The next day she works a double-back, rolling into a benign day shift. She begins to have second thoughts. She needs to hang on just a little bit longer, intuitively sensing that her lessons were almost complete.

That day Rose receives a phone call from her brother, Kurt, that their brother, Ed had a severe heart attack and is on life support. Kurt asks her to take the lead. Rose is hesitant, based on her past with Ed, but calls the hospital to find out that her brother is on the brink of death. The hospital needs a family member present since his girlfriend didn’t have any rights to his care. Time is short, and his body is failing. Rose is heartbroken. Her brother, Ed, is 1000 miles away.

Rose wrestles with the fact that the hospital could forbid her to help Ed because of their estranged relationship. Ed was a criminal and attempted to harm her son, and they hadn’t spoken in years, despite being very close before the incident. Rose anguished between being a nurse and a sister. She’s afraid that she wouldn’t be welcome or that she wasn’t good enough or strong enough to help him. She’d failed so many others.

The whisper tells her that she must go. She realizes that she needs to be a nurse for her brothers and call on her ancestors’ strength. Rose is the family matriarch, and it’s her duty. She’s the only one with the skills to help. Rose and Dennis leave to drive across the country, racing against time. On the drive, she’s able to resolve multiple complications due to her experience. She arrives and falls into the role of a hospice nurse. She learns that Ed was devoid of brain activity and learned of a congenital brain defect, concluding that her brother was on the autism spectrum, just like her son Wolfgang. It is a moment of reckoning, explaining his erratic behavior. However, she and her brothers painfully decide to remove supports. Ed was gone.

Rose provides a peaceful passing for her brother. When he dies, she hears the whisper that he is her final patient. On the way to collect his ashes, she discovers, via text message, that she lost her job but is unburdened. She realizes that her final lesson was, “love never fails.” As a result of her lessons, she provided the greatest comfort for her brother and her family, regaining their love and inclusion and solving the mystery of Ed’s behavior.

A few months after his death, Rose was attending Catechumante with her son, Wolfie. The Dean asked the confirmands to think about how God worked in their lives, leading them on a path without their knowing. The question startles her into realizing that the whisper she heard was God and that her path to becoming a nurse was to serve her brother. All of her suffering and her work were lessons to learn to help him pass. Rose finally feels peace and forgives herself. She realizes that she was enough all along.

Review – Schotts Miscellany

Schotts Miscellany is one of those ‘dip in and out of’ books. It’s a collection of the interesting, the weird and the varied – from Morse Code signs, to collective nouns, to country flag colours, to cricketing terms – there is something of interest to everyone.

It’s not the sort of book to read in one sitting, largely because there aren’t really any links between the facts and thus can be a little confusing. That said, it a lot of fun and if you’re the sort of person who likes to toss in weird knowledge or be the smart arse in a conversation (like me), then this is the book for you.

You can never have too many odd, weird and possibly useless facts.

5 stars. (Although the print is VERY small so get your specs out….)



Schott’s Miscellany” makes few claims to be exhaustive or even practical. It does, however, claim to be essential. It will afford you great wisdom in the morning, several conversational bons mots for the afternoon, and many an enlightened smile after dark. Where else can you find, packed on to one page, the thirteen principles of witchcraft, the structure of military hierarchy, all of the clothing care symbols, a list of the countries where you drive on the left, and a nursery rhyme about sneezing? Where else, but “Schott’s Miscellany”, will you stumble across John Lennon’s cat, the supplier of bagpipes to the Queen, and the brutal methods of murder encountered by Miss Marple? An encyclopaedia? A dictionary? An almanac? An anthology? A treasury? An amphigouri? A commonplace? A vade-mecum? Well – yes. “Schott’s Original Miscellany” is all these, and, of course, more. A book like no other, “Schott’s Original Miscellany” is entertaining, informative, unpredictable and utterly addictive.

Schotts Miscellany on

Author Interview 109 – Amanda Byrd

Welcome Amanda Byrd


Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m from Pennsylvania and now live in the state northerners vacation in, Florida


Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write what I call non-fiction “real talk”.  There’s quite a few “bad words” in my book(s), but they’re just words to me.


Where do you find inspiration? Real life experiences


Do you have a favourite character? If so why? There are no characters in my books, but I do have a favourite fantasy character.  Drizzt Do’Urden.  He’s so profound, and that profundity comes from the wonderful creator of him, R. A. Salvatore


Are your characters based on real people? They’re not exactly characters in the sense of character.  I’ve used titles like “said co-worker” and such.


Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? If I ever write fiction, I’m sure I will J


Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? My message is simple: being an adult is not fun.  I write experiences and lessons learned and hope my readers can learn from those mistakes I’ve made or build off of them.


In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? I go with e-books and paperback publishing.  I am considering audiobook, but the interest hasn’t generated enough yet.


Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do. It’s cheaper and I know what I want my book to look like, whereas a professional editor will try to change the entirety of the book.  Also, I don’t think a book suffers without professional editing, but the ones that are professionally edited…may want to be edited twice.  I’ve recently read some traditionally published books with horrible editing.


Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think the acceptance of self-published/indie authors is growing at an exponential rate and people are starting to respect us more because they realize we can sometimes write better books.


Do you read work by self-published authors? I do as a member of an author review site



What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are extremely important.  If you have minimal, that greatly lowers your chances of someone buying your book.  As for the author commenting on the reviews, I feel that’s a great way to build reader relationships and exposure.


When buying a book do you read the reviews?  Rarely


What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Use of imagination, which I feel doesn’t happen much in today’s world


What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?  I’ve really only got one piece of advice, and it’s this: If the urge to write strikes, no matter what you’re in the middle of, STOP AND WRITE! I’ve lost a lot of great material by putting writing off…and it’s not coming back.


What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst?  Facebook ads haven’t really done anything for me.  I did join a local business association, which has really helped with networking.  I’m a firm believer in word of mouth and face-to-face relationship building are the best.


Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? R.A Salvatore

And your favourite indie/self-published author? Don’t have one yet


What are your views on authors offering free books?  I’ve done giveaways and not even gotten reviews for them, so I’m off the giveaway thing for a while.


Do you have a favourite movie? Hannibal


Do you have any pets? Yessir! Cats!


Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? My worst job was the one I had while writing my first book.  I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t ever want again in a job.



Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m just a big kid with an organizational obsession.  I goof off all the time and simply enjoy making people laugh.

Book links, website/blog and author links:







Author Interview Number Ninety-Eight – Dan Buri

Welcome to Dan Buri

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in the Midwest in the States. I moved out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest a little over ten years ago.

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration in my everyday life. I think good writers have a unique gift of empathy. They work hard to understand another person’s pains, hopes, dreams and fears. I really try to understand each person that I encounter in my life. These experiences tend to inspire me and seep into my writing.

Are your characters based on real people? I think every character an author creates is based on a real person or an amalgamation of real people. It is just too difficult to not let experiences and biases seep into one’s writing. That being said, I didn’t have a specific person in mind when creating any of the characters in Pieces Like Pottery.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?This is my first published non-fiction work. It is available in ebook at most large retailer websites right now. I hope we will see it in print next year, but only time will tell.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently than traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think this used to be the case without question, but we have seen significant changes in the last 3-to-5 years. Ebooks have done wonders for changing the accessibility of indie authors, both from a publishing standpoint as well as from a readership standpoint. It has become much easier to see your work published than, say, 20 years ago. This has naturally had an effect on what gets published. The big six publishers are large corporations and as much as they aim to focus on creativity and great works, it’s difficult for them because they have thousands of people that work for them and rely on them. So the big six are constantly focused on what will be a commercial success. The irony is that they don’t know what will be a commercial success just like you and I don’t know. What do Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, Gone With the Wind, and Twilight have in common? They were all initially rejected by publishers. They just don’t know what’s going to sell. Indie authors have a little bit of freedom from this. We all want our books to do well commercially of course, but we are also able to take creative chances that a big six publisher might be unwilling to take.

 I think the quality of indie/self-published books has improved immensely too. There is such a high bar for indie authors and we quickly lose the reader’s trust if there are errors or incongruities in our stories. The editing process is so important in avoiding these errors. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, it’s only anecdotal, but it seems like the best self-published ebooks are of a higher quality now than 5-10 years ago. This has helped close the perception gap between indie authors and traditionally published others.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I do tend to peruse the reviews, but most of what I buy is via recommendations. I keep a list on my phone of all the books that have been recommended to me from people I trust. I’m lucky enough to live blocks from the world’s largest used bookstore—Powell’s City of Books. I just pull out my phone every time I go there and grab a couple selections off of my recommended list.

Do you have any pets? I do not currently have any pets. I have a two-year-old daughter that is allergic to dogs and cats. It’s a little bit heart-breaking because she absolutely loves dogs and cats. We walk through downtown Portland (Oregon) everyday and pet the dogs that walk by. She jumps up and down in excitement. But unfortunately, a pet in the home wouldn’t work well.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I have had more odd jobs than I can count. I worked maintenance at a high school one summer. One of the tasks was to empty out the 15-year-old water from a boiler in the basement of the school. The only way to empty it was to syphon the water out through a narrow tube, but I had to suck the water up through the tube until it reached the syphon valve that would then automatically start pumping the water out. My co-worker was supposed to tell me when the dirty boiler water reached the valve, but he got distracted. I swallowed a mouthful of that 15-year-old boiler water. Let me tell you, it still makes me queasy to this day. I was heaving and retching for quite awhile after that. I’m not quite sure what I learned from that, though, except that it’s a fairly funny story.

We all have to work tough jobs so we can continue to do what we love—write. I’ve worked a lot of writing jobs too—blogger, ghost writer, research assistant, editor, teacher’s aid, researcher. I didn’t enjoy all of those, but they have all helped me hone my craft in some way.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? When I was younger, I used to play Star Wars with my three older brothers. My oldest brother would be Luke Skywalker. My second oldest brother would be Han Solo. My brother just older than me would be Chewbacca. They would make me be Princess Leia. I have no idea why I couldn’t have been C-3PO or R2-D2 or Lando Calrissian even. They always made me be Princess Leia.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?Books provide a depth of insight and character development that just isn’t possible in the two-hours that movies offer. I think every one of us has had the experience of seeing a movie you enjoyed only to have a friend say, “Meh. It’s not as good as the book.” We’ve all said this and we’ve all been frustrated when a friend has said it to us. But it’s almost universally true. Movies simply can’t capture that depth in the short amount of time they have with the viewer. Television shows and video games are becoming much closer to the level of detail and depth of insight that books provide, particularly television. This is why I think we’re seeing so many writers and directors gravitate to that medium. It just offers them more freedom to develop complex characters.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavours. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)

  1. When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she said, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.


  1. Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages us that our work is not going to be good when we’re first starting out. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.


  1. Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I heard him once speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed with that and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.


So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I have a new term I like to use—sticky. I use this for books that stick with me well after I’ve completed them and put them down. The characters and themes just keep turning over in my mind. A few sticky books that I’ve read recently:

 The Corrections—Jonathan Franzen

Beautiful Ruins—Jess Walter

Ready Player One—Ernest Cline

Seven Weddings—Matt Miller (yet to be published novel by an indie author)

The Book Thief—Markus Zusak

Book links, website/blog and author links:


Author Bio

Dan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.


Mr. Buri’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.


Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World’s Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Crossing Categories in Writing – Guest Post Jacquelynn Luben

In 2015 I am welcoming a number of guests to my blog, where they discuss all manner of topics. I am sure my regular followers have seen the Fantasy and Literary Heroes in Society posts, which will be a continuing feature but today I am pleased to welcome Jacquelynn Luben who talks about the challenges of writing in multiple genres, her work in a small publishing house, research and the challenges faced by many authors. Over to you Jacquelynn…

Crossing Categories in Writing

Jacquelynn Luben

Over the years, I’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, short and long.  That is to say, I’ve written two non-fiction books and two novels (and am in the process of writing the third) and I’ve also written many short stories and published quite a few articles.

In terms of success, one of my non-fiction books was commissioned and published by a mainstream publisher, while the other was self-published, and of course, my articles were published in print magazines.

My novels, on the other hand, are published by a small publishing house, in which I am a director, with two others – so quite a small concern – which makes it more difficult to achieve the same sort of success as with a mainstream publisher.  However, on-line sales through Amazon have provided me with a very satisfactory income during the last three years, and this specifically applies to my fiction work.

I have never been a professional writer, and have never had to rely on writing for an income.  So from this point of view, I am happy with the way my writing has progressed.  It means I write what I feel like writing and when I feel like it, and am not normally boxed into a corner where I have to produce something to a deadline.

In the past, my non-fiction writing has been praised for its clarity, and perhaps I should have concentrated on that.  However, the truth of the matter is that I do not really like researching a subject.  My first non-fiction book (The Fruit of the Tree) was written from the heart, as it dealt with the death of my baby daughter through cot death.  Having written articles on the subject, I wanted to put the event into context, and so described a period of five years of my married life, including the births of my other children.  No research was needed.  At the time when I wrote it, it was all there in my memory.

I have spoken to writers who say that they love the research more than the writing.  This does not apply to me.  The writing is the part which is enjoyable;  I like using words – as any writer should – and I like editing what I have written, moving words, sentences and paragraphs around.  (Computers have made that aspect of writing so much easier.)  My articles therefore, have, on the whole, been based on my personal experience, the most recent having been published in a ‘nostalgia’ magazine, and have therefore not required much in the way of research.

It was as a result of writing my first book – which in the end, I published myself – that I was commissioned to write a self-help book on the subject of cot death, and for this I had to use my head and try to be somewhat more objective about the subject.  I did, of course, have to research the topic, and I interviewed a number of people, taking notes and using, at that time, a tape recorder, before going to the computer to transcribe the interviews.  I tried to make them wide ranging, including as my interviewees, bereaved parents, doctors and a midwife, a funeral director, and representatives of the charity which gave support to bereaved parents.  The parents, too, were diverse and included, for example, those who had had more children and those who chose not to, and religious and non-religious people.

My motivation for writing fiction is really quite different, the common factors being my enjoyment of writing, and my interest in the structure of any piece of work.  I am a sucker for stories.  If I turn on the radio or TV, half way through a play, I will probably get hooked and want to know what happened.  So constructing a story and living in the world of that story is a different kind of escapism.  Fiction comes in for criticism from my engineer husband, because it’s ‘not true’, but I believe that there is sometimes more truth in fiction than in factual stuff.  In my opinion, whenever fiction writers describe events, they are remembering something that occurred in their own lives, or that they have heard about.  The truth is in the emotion that was experienced, even if the fictional characters do not exist.  So a piece of fiction is a tapestry of true or half remembered events or events that could happen.  Even in fantasy and science fiction, (which I generally don’t write) good writers usually represent their characters with normal human emotions.

I think that writers have to recognise today that it is very difficult to make a living from writing unless you produce a best-seller.  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to get work read and even paid for, particularly in the field of ebooks.  My novel, Tainted Tree, is the piece of work that has provided me with an income recently and is the most read of my current work.  Initially on the Amazon discussion pages, I promoted it a great deal, though this can bring Amazon’s wrath upon your head, so after a reprimand,  I made sure that I was more cautious in this respect.

I made sure that I made good use of the categories on the book’s Kindle page, and was fortunate in that another writer who had created a ‘Listomania’ of genealogical novels, added it to his list.  If you are the writer of ‘literary fiction’, your book may not be too specific, but as I don’t come into that category, and prefer plot based books, it is probably easier to categorise them.  Having said that, I don’t believe that any book fits into one category.  Tainted Tree is a genealogical romance with a bit of mystery and history in the package.  My current novel in progress is a crime thriller, which also has a romantic thread.

My books have in common one thing.  I have read and reread them over and over again and made changes to numerous drafts.  Even if I break the rules, I regard grammar and spelling as of great importance, and, with the help of my fellow directors at our shared publishing house and other writers at my writing circle, I try, to the best of my ability, to sift out all errors.  I also try my hardest to make sure that loose ends are tied up and that there are no errors of continuity.  I am not a professional writer, but I try to be professional.

Book Review – Inconvenient People – Victorian History

Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and Mad-Doctors in Victorian England.

5 stars.

This is a fascinating book covering the lives of lunatics and alleged lunatics in Victorian England. Mental illness was little understood and feared. Many people found it shameful to have a lunatic relative and so often such people were hidden away. The book covers several persons who, although eccentric, were misdiagnosed as insane, hauled away to either ‘private’ asylums or larger establishments, with little or no recourse to law.

The author often mentions fiction in which this occurs – namely Jane Eyre and Women in White but the truth was often not far, or sometimes even worse than fiction.

The reasons for incarceration ranged from relatives wanting control of finances; inconvenient wives; women who spoke out and behaved against the rigid, masculine status quo, and in one of the case studies a group involved with a cult. Each case is discussed in depth, sympathetically and the changes in law (if any applied) mentioned.

It is a good insight into the world of Victorian England, the rules governing the role of women, the sick, the upper-classes and how the populace reacted. Ignorance, spite, greed and misdirection fill these pages, along with love gone sour, obsession and most importantly – courage.

For anyone interested in Victorian history, the history of mental illness treatment or psychiatry might find this book a good read.