***image1*** Local authors lend a hand.

THE VIBRANT LIFE

Sentient Publications ($14.95)

The Vibrant Life

is local counselor and teacher Donna Thomson's collection of "practical meditations that will help you understand your energy and make effective use of it." Thomson's take on meditation is that it's neither an esoteric nor an austere practice, but a pragmatic, natural and useful resource that can be incorporated into everyday life and experience. The book is lucidly written, each chapter clarifying various aspects of our energy and offering meditations that can be practiced anytime, anywhere.

THE VELVET RAGE: OVERCOMING THE PAIN OF GROWING UP GAY IN A STRAIGHT MAN'S WORLD

Da Capo Press ($23.00)

Alan Downs is a Santa Fe psychologist whose previous books include

The Half Empty Heart: A Supportive Guide to Breaking Free from Chronic Discontent

and

Why Does This Keep Happening to Me?: The Seven Crises We All Experience and How to Overcome Them

. His most recent book,

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World

got him a spot on Oprah. "The most important issue in a gay man's life is not 'coming out,' but coming to terms with the invalidating past where we learned that we are shameful," says Downs.

CLOSING THE CHART: A DYING PHYSICIAN EXAMINES FAMILY, FAITH AND MEDICINE

University of New Mexico Press ($23.95)

Steven Hsi was a medical doctor who passed away, at the age of 44, due to a rare coronary disease. In the midst of his medical treatments, Dr. Hsi began a journal, and his posthumously published work (he died in 2000)

Closing the Chart: A Dying Physician Examines Family, Faith, and Medicine

(written with the help of Jim Belshaw and his widow, Beth Corbin-Hsi) exhorts his colleagues to be more than merely physicians. It is, according to Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, "a story told with so little artifice that you cannot close the cover unchanged."