Who is Ethical Norm? by Sharon St. George

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a piece by Sharon St. George. Here’s a little more about Sharon.

Abridged_excerpt_from_Chapter_1_of_CHECKED_OUT 2Sharon Owen, writing as Sharon St. George, is the current program director of Writers Forum. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Visit Sharon at www.sharonstgeorge.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/sharonstgeorge.

Who is Ethical Norm?

by Sharon St. George

Who is Ethical Norm?

Sorry, trick question. Ethical Norm is not the husky man from Cheers who sat at the corner of the
bar. Norm’s ethical boundaries might have been compromised by his appetite for beer, a
proclivity that, on more than one occasion, caused him to behave in an unethical manner.
Ethical norm is a term I first heard in a college fiction writing course. My professor assigned
Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, to be read by the class. During the discussion that
followed, the professor pointed out that the ethical norm of that community was an integral part
of the story setting. Without it, there would have been no story.
I recently refreshed my memory by searching out a definition of the term. I found that Webster
tells us norms are standards of proper or acceptable behavior; ethics are rules of behavior based
on ideas about what is morally good and bad. When these are combined, we have standards of
acceptable behavior, not necessarily mandated by law, but based on a particular society’s ideas of
what is morally good and bad. There is general agreement that as a society, we expect certain
behaviors from society at large, even when they do not fall under the purview of law.
Some of literature’s most memorable works have used the concept of a given society’s ethical
norm to startle readers’ minds into active thought about the behaviors they expect from
themselves and others who share not only their community, but their nation and their planet.
Another example, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, demonstrates what happens when a group
of young boys become castaways on a tropical island. Does their survival depend on establishing
an ethical norm different from what governed their behavior before they became shipwreck
survivors?
This important element of setting reaches beyond fiction. A 2016 Academy Award-winning
documentary short subject film titled A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is a stunning
example of the concept of how one society’s ethical norm differs from others. Set in Pakistan, it
sheds light on the practice of honor killings, and involves a 19-year-old woman who survives an
honor killing attempt by her father and uncle for marrying the man she loves. It brings to light
the statistic that approximately a thousand Pakistani women are murdered each year by male
relatives for dishonoring their families. The film has already prompted Pakistan’s prime minister
to address the need for a stronger law against honor killings in his country. In her Oscar
acceptance speech, courageous woman filmmaker Obaid-Chinoy stressed the “power of film” to
bring about social change.
So when we consider the setting for our novel, short story, or work of nonfiction, we’re not
looking merely at the time and place, but we also consider the ethical norm of that setting. We
know that it will affect the main characters, it will affect the other characters in the story, and it
will affect the reader’s reaction to the work. It is inspiring to realize that writers who expose
unacceptable ethical norms can do more than entertain and inform, they can make a better world
possible.
  1. Breach CoverIn Breach of Ethics, Sharon St. George’s third novel in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, a troubled surgeon faces an ethical dilemma while operating on a ten-year-old girl. His efforts to save the life of the child prodigy pianist result in ominous consequences involving Aimee and her band of intrepid crime solvers.

    Breach of Ethics will be released by Camel Press on May 1, 2016. It is available now to preorder from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and eBook format.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Advertisements

Member Monday: An Excerpt from Checked Out by Sharon St. George

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an abridged excerpt from chapter 1 of Checked Out, book 2 in the Aimee Machado Mystery Series by author Sharon St. George. Sharon is a charter member of Writers Forum and serves as the Writers Forum Program Chair. Here’s a little more about Sharon.

Abridged_excerpt_from_Chapter_1_of_CHECKED_OUT 2Abridged_excerpt_from_Chapter_1_of_CHECKED_OUTSharon Owen, writing as Sharon St. George, is currently working on SPINE DAMAGE, the fourth book in her Aimee Machado Mystery series published by Camel Press. Owen is a charter member and current program director of Writers Forum. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Visit Sharon at www.sharonstgeorge.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/sharonstgeorge.

An excerpt from Checked Out

by Sharon St. George

In order to carry on a confidential conversation, Aimee Machado, hospital librarian, and her colleague, medical staff director Cleo Cominoli, meet at a diner near the hospital where they work.

“Looks good.” I nodded at the steaming bowl Cleo placed on the table. “What is it?”

“The special. Meatball soup with kidney beans.”

“Okay, enough small talk. What’s up?”

Cleo sucked in a deep breath and blew it out on her soup.

“Sig is scheduled for prostate surgery with Dr. Poole.”

“How did that happen?”

“He didn’t ask me. His family doctor referred him to Poole, so it was a done deal when Sig finally told me.”

“Does Poole know Sig’s your fiancé?”

“ ’Fraid so. Of course she’ll blame me if he tries to back out.”

“Then what are you going to do?

“I don’t know yet, but we’ll have to act before Sig’s surgery date.”

“We?”

“Please, Aimee. Siggy’s loud and bald and fluffy, but I love him to pieces and we have a great sex life. You’ve got to help me. We can’t let Dr. Poole turn him into a eunuch.”

“You can’t be serious. Poole is aloof and intimidating, but that doesn’t mean she’s castrating male patients just for the heck of it.”

“Doesn’t it?” Cleo scooped a meatball into her spoon, stared at it, then dropped it back into the deep crimson broth in her bowl. She looked a little green.

“When is Sig scheduled?”

“Two and a half weeks from now.”

“Have you tried to talk him out of it?”

“Yes, but Sig’s convinced he’s going to die if she doesn’t operate.”

Cleo’s reaction was so extreme there had to be something she wasn’t telling me. She facilitated every one of TMC’s peer review committee meetings. All of their findings and corrective actions were kept in padlocked file cabinets in her office. She also kept confidences brought to her outside committee by nurses who observed suspicious behavior both on the patient floors and in the operating room.

“Do you know something about Poole that you’re not telling me?”

“Nothing I can confirm, but when a patient leaves the hospital against medical advice the night before his surgery, it raises an enormous red flag. There was an incident several years ago at the last hospital where I worked. One of the surgeons was performing unnecessary surgeries, and eventually the OR nurses got suspicious. Word got out to the rest of the nursing staff, and one of the floor nurses started warning the surgeon’s patients away. After a third patient checked out against medical advice the night before surgery, that nurse was exposed and fired.”

“What about the surgeon? What happened to him?”

“Nothing. He’s still there performing surgeries on other unsuspecting patients. That’s why I turned in my resignation and move here, three states away.”

“Are you saying you think someone warned Cody O’Brien away from Dr. Poole?”

“Why else would he bolt at the last minute?”

“Then you should tell Sig to get a second opinion, even if he has to go out of town.”

“If I can convince him to do that and he does decide to back out, I’m afraid he’ll end up like Cody O’Brien.”

“Cody O’Brien was killed by a horse. Sig’s not a cowboy, he’s a dentist.”

Cleo sniffed and said softly, “How do we know Cody was killed by a horse? All I heard is that he was found unconscious in the trailer with his horse. There was a contusion on his forehead consistent with a kick from a horse’s hoof.”

“Sounds pretty straightforward. Is the sheriff’s office investigating the incident?”

“No, and that’s what bothers me. They won’t investigate unless the coroner’s report shows something suspicious. In the meantime, I thought you and I could do some checking—on the quiet. We can’t go through hospital channels.”

“What kind of checking?” I said.

“Checking up on Dr. Poole. You were hired because you’re a forensic librarian. Use your skills.”

“But I’m not a forensic librarian. I’m a health sciences librarian, and part of my job is building a forensic component for the TMC library. That doesn’t make me a detective.”

“Some of that forensic know-how must have rubbed off. I’ll bet you know more than you realize about how to investigate a murder.”

“Cleo, you can’t believe Dr. Poole is going around killing patients who change their minds about surgery?”

Before Cleo could reply, Margie bustled over to our table. “Hello, ladies. Just dropping off our flyer. Friday night’s entertainment is Code Blues.”

She was referring to a blues combo made up of musicians affiliated with Timbergate Medical Center. I glanced at the flyer and noticed Laurie Popejoy’s name crossed out. I asked Margie what that was about.

“Rumor has it Laurie Popejoy can’t be in the combo now that she’s not employed by the hospital.” That was news to me. I shot a look at Cleo.

“I was getting to that,” she said.

Margie continued her update. “They already have a new gal they found right under their noses.”

“Who is she?” Cleo said.

Margie frowned. “Let’s see … I think her name is Dr. Phyllis Poole.”

As soon as Margie was out of earshot, Cleo grabbed my arm. “Can you believe that? Poole in Code Blues?”

“No, but let’s get back to Laurie Popejoy. What’s going on with her?”

“I was about to tell you that Laurie was Cody O’Brien’s floor nurse last night. He checked himself out against medical advice at the end of her shift. She called in her resignation first thing this morning.”

“What does all of this have to do with Cody O’Brien’s death? Are you thinking Laurie Popejoy said something that made O’Brien skip out on his surgery?”

“He skipped out and ended up dead. Laurie resigned immediately. The timing is too suspicious to dismiss as coincidence. I don’t like it one bit, and I won’t rest until I know whether Phyllis Poole’s involved.”

“Come on, Cleo, don’t you think you’re overreacting because of what happened at that other hospital?”

“Maybe, but we don’t know what lengths Poole’s capable of when it comes to protecting her reputation and keeping her medical license. Meanwhile, she’s not getting her hands on Siggy, whether you help me or not.”

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Success Story Saturday: Sharon St. George Signs Three-book Contract

Writers Forum member Sharon St. George recently signed a three-book contract with Camel Press, the fiction imprint of Coffeetown Press in Seattle, Washington. St. George’s hospital-based mystery series is titled The Machado Mysteries, and features Aimee Machado, a forensic librarian who works in an acute care hospital in rural northern California. Her brother, Harry, plays a part in helping Aimee solve these amateur sleuth mysteries.

The debut book in the series, Due for Discard is already in the publisher’s hands. The deadline for her second book, Checked Out, is May 1, and the third, Breach of Ethics, is a work in progress due  August 1. They will be published as print on demand (POD) paperbacks and as e-books. At this early stage, the date has not been set for when the books will be available to purchase.

St. George is proud and happy to be published by the same company that publishes Steve Callan, another Writers Forum member. Callan’s nonfiction book, Badges, Bears and Eagles, published by Coffeetown Press, is enjoying great success.

For those who do not recognize the author’s name, Sharon St. George is the pen name of Sharon Owen, Program Director of Writers Forum.

Visit Sharon St. George at www.sharonstgeorge.com