Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Self-Hypnosis - Change your mind - change your world.

Self-hypnosis is not a magical state. It is merely a state of mind in which you are very relaxed, you are paying complete attention to the suggestions you want to implant and you do not criticize the suggestions made, and accept them at face value. Much like dreaming the dreams you want to dream, your conscious mind and subconscious mind are making agreements to work together.

We all enter the self-hypnotic state every night. It’s called the pre-sleep state. You’re relaxed to the point in which you don’t want to move. You know you can, but you don’t want to. At this point of relaxation you can actually program your subconscious mind with affirmations and suggestions.

Emotions, like stress, have a drastic impact on our physical health. Mainly through our immune systems. The immune system has many functions. It consists of white blood cells, amino acids and some specialized organs. Its basic function is to eliminate and destroy disease agents, toxins as well as dead or mutated cells.

In the 1970’s a Harvard study provided the first scientific evidence that our immune system is directly affected by moods and emotions. The evidence came in the form of the discovery that our immune cells contain neuropeptides – the brain chemicals connected to our emotions. Today immune system research is psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI. PNI research has confirmed that every part of our immune system is connected to the brain either by a direct nerve connection, or through the brain’s chemical language of neuropeptides and hormones.

What happens in your mind has an immediate effect on your immune system. Major studies have determined that our mental states influence our immune system. Negative mental states, chronic stress, and low self-esteem dramatically reduce our immunity. Likewise there is proof that positive mental states and activities can increase your immunity. Boosters include: Aerobics, humor and laughter, a sense of hope, relaxation, physical exertion, social support and satisfying relationships.

Emotional ups and downs are a part of life. However, chronic stress damages the ability of your immune system to resist disease, infections and even heart disease. Overcoming this is a matter of taking charge of your thoughts. Boost your self-confidence. Learn to relax. And learn to use subliminal message you yourself give your subconscious mind to improve your emotions, your moods, and thereby your overall health. These can also be called intentional emotions and/or intentional thoughts. The benefits: Energy used for positive purposes and constantly replenished; look and feel mentally, physically and emotionally healthier; reverse mental and physical aging; transform your outlook to a positive one; reduce your stress levels; more relaxed around other people.

Learning to hypnotize yourself:

For those who meditate learning self-hypnosis will be easy. If you’re not a regular meditator then it will take a little more time and practice to get used to the idea of total relaxation. Self-hypnosis uses a combination of relaxation, visualization and positive suggestions.

First let’s learn to visualize. Close your eyes and imagine you’re holding a lemon. Feel the rough texture of the skin, see the color. Now imagine you’re cutting the lemon. Smell the aroma. Now you’re tasting the lemon. Make notes to yourself of the parts of this exercise that were easy and the parts that were difficult. Visualization is just a part of your imagination that you can hone by practice. Not everyone sees clear pictures. Perhaps you just have a sensing of what you’re supposed to see. That’s perfectly fine. Keep practicing and the pictures will come.

Now, let’s do it again. Close your eyes and imagine you’re standing in your own living room. Look around and note where everything is located. Mentally walk through your home one room at time. Keep practicing this until you feel comfortable that you actually COULD walk through your home blindfolded and know exactly where everything is located.

The eye fatigue method of self-hypnosis is usually the easiest to start with. Pick a spot somewhere on the ceiling and simply stare at it. Clear your mind and breathe in deeply through your nose, exhaling through your mouth. After a few seconds slowly close your eyes and feel how good it feels. Relax your eyes allowing that relaxation to flow down your body all the way to your toes. Mentally repeat the number 10. Do this 9 more times, breathing deeply and exhaling slowly, opening and slowly closing your eyes as you mentally repeat the numbers 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. If at any time during the exercise your eyes are so relaxed you don’t want to open them, then don’t open them, but continue to give yourself suggestions that your body is relaxing, you mind is relaxing and you’re going deeper and deeper. Always give yourself the added suggestion that each time you do this exercise you will go deeper, more relaxed than the time before. It takes about 30 days for the program to be incorporated into your normal everyday routine and after a while it will take only a few counts for your body to be totally relaxed.

Now that you’re totally relaxed give yourself positive affirmations. Work on the areas of your life you feel need it the most. Health, happiness, anger, love, stress, self-esteem. Whatever area is making you unhappy, work on it. As your happiness improves, so will your physical health. You’ll find yourself more positive about work, home and life in general.

In the next few months I hope to totally revamp my website to include a page of downloads for meditations and self-hypnosis programs. Visit

All programs and downloads will be totally free of charge.

I wouldn’t be an author, if I didn’t put in this final plug. If you’re looking for a great mystery novel to take your mind off life’s programs check out The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery at Amazon Kindle. Current price is only $.99.

Book Review - The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Originally released in 2006, now available on Amazon Kindle for $.99. A bargain for Mystery Lovers.

The Gifts:
A Jacody Ives Mystery
By Linda S. Prather
Echelon Press
ISBN 1-59080-462-7
279 Pages

Linda S. Prather gives us a wonderful first novel! I am constantly amazed at the quality of books being submitted for reviews by new authors. I wholeheartedly recommend The Gifts: A Jacody Ives Mystery to lovers of mystery and suspense.

Prather is interested in and has studied metaphysics, delved into touch healing, dream analysis, meditation, psychic phenomena and hypnosis with a degree in metaphysics. She is now a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. With this background, she provided two benefits in her book. One is that she talks about “gifts” as part of daily conversation. This makes her writing much more fluid and knowledgeable and thus more enjoyable to the reader. Second, she brings characters into play with little emphasis on these gifts. The story is suspenseful and action-packed, and some of her characters just happen to use their gifts to help solve crimes. Little emphasis or mystique is applied. I found this, perhaps, more intriguing than those authors who are bringing together these individuals into special “groups” who then can apply their special gifts to resolving crimes that nobody else can. It isn’t that I don’t like these others, because I do. I just found Prather’s approach a little more sophisticated and perceptive.

Jacody Ives is a master at uncovering secrets. So is the man who wrote under that name, Gavin McAllister. One of the secrets that had been uncovered was that Gavin had been a twin at birth, but they had been separated and adopted by two different families. The first twist is that Corrine, his sister, had met her adopted brother and had fallen in love with Gavin’s brother. As happens nowadays, Gavin’s sister was going to marry his brother. But, before that could happen, Corrine (Cory) was murdered. And, so, this time finding out the secrets of the murder was personal…and became even more so! Gavin discovered that he would have to use all of the skills and gifts that he had given to Jacody Ives in order to work through the madness he would encounter.

Gavin’s brother, Rob, was completely broken by Cory’s torture and murder but in the midst of this turmoil, Cory “appears” to Gavin and sends him, not only on the trail of her murderer, but to save the life of a young girl. Torn between the two, Rob’s partner and close friend to both of the boys, Carl Jackson, promises to be there for Rob. Gavin goes to where he had been sent by Cory’s ghost: Glade Springs, West Virginia.

“The Mother’s Day Killer” had entered many lives. He had once had a lover and in her law enforcement position, she had helped to put him in jail for a long time. But because of her involvement, she and her daughter were moved into the witness protection program. They now lived in Glade Springs, West Virginia.

Ghosts, dreams, and visions have become part of every day for a number of people. Why? Because murders are occurring. They repeat the horrendous actions of the Mother’s Day Killer…and now he’s letting them know that “every day” is Mother’s Day! What has happened? Has the killer been released from prison? Did they convict the wrong man? And why is everything happening in Glade Springs? Could a ghost really lead the way to solving these crimes? One thing is certain, she’s there to help protect the little girl, but even ghosts need help!

You got it! This mystery keeps the pages turning! In the back of your mind, you are trying to figure out whether it’s the pastor, the deputy—just who is the killer and how will he be stopped?

During all the danger, Gavin finds he is attracted to the Sheriff, Sarah, and also that her daughter has won his heart. He comes to believe that this little girl is the one Cory sent him to save. If he’s going to be able to do it, he’s going to have to become a real-life Jacody Ives!

Prather’s characters become real to you—even the ghost! Her story is well developed and sufficiently complex to keep you wondering all the way to the end. The ending has both happy and sad results, but what better way than to have characters who are true to life. I’m hoping that Prather brings Jacody back to us in the future. I’ll be looking for her next book, and her next book and the one after that…hey, buy The Gifts! You’ll love it!

G. A. Bixler
IP Book Reviewer

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Old Yeller - The book that started it all for me.

As an author I’m often asked questions like, “Who’s your favorite author?”
That isn’t as simple as it sounds for me, as I have many authors I admire and as a voracious reader, I may give anyone a first read just to see if I like them. I would have to say though that Kay Hooper is probably my current favorite author. I was pulled in by her Evil series. I loved the stories. Love the characters, and Ms. Hooper has a knack for keeping you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end of the book.
Another question often asked and much simpler for me to answer is, “What book inspired you to write?”
That one is easy. Frederick Benjamin Gipson’s Old Yeller. A timeless classic, that in my humble opinion, everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.
Fourteen year old Travis is left in charge of looking after the farm, his mother and little brother Arliss while his father is gone on a cattle drive. The story is set in the late 1860’s in the hill country of Texas. Hard times. Dangerous times as the family has to deal with bears, wolves, rabid skunks and the ever-present threat of Indian attacks. And if this isn’t enough, one day an old “yeller” dog shows up on their doorstep. A dog Travis immediately hates, and a dog Little Arliss immediately loves.
Gipson’s knack of allowing you to see the story through the eyes of a fourteen year old boy, makes it come to life. The realness of the times, the dangers, the love and the pain. Travis learns to love the old yeller dog as it saves first Little Arliss’ life, and then his mother’s.
Gipson then takes you through one of life’s sad realities of the times. Old Yeller contracts rabies and Travis is forced to shoot him.
So, that’s the book that started it all for me. Another author’s ability to bring his characters to life. Make them real. Allow you to see the world they live in through the character’s eyes. Allow you to feel the frustration, love, hate, and pain of the main character. Allow you for a moment to escape from the world you live in and be someone else. Live in another time. Make you laugh. Make you cry. That to me is the greatest gift authors can give to their readers.
I think about Old Yeller every time I develop a new character. I read every chapter of my own books over and over again looking for that gift. I want my readers to have the very best I can give them. One day I hope I read a blog, book review, or just have someone say when asked the question, “What book inspired you to write?” and someone answers, Linda S. Prather’s Jacody Ives Mysteries.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Artist's Tool -- Dreaming Your Way to Success

Looking for new inspiration? Suffering from writer’s block? Have a problem that you just can’t solve? We’ve all experienced times when the harder we tried the more frustrated we became. We knew the answer was there. Just outside the recesses of our conscious thought. We just couldn’t quite pull it out.

Dreams are images, thoughts and emotions experienced during sleep. Some are extremely vivid, while others are extremely vague. Philosophers have studied the dream process for thousands of years, and although there are many theories as to why we dream, no one really knows.

Freud believed dreams were a representation of our unconscious desires. Hobson and McClarley believed that circuits in the brain are activated during REM sleep, and dreams are our attempt to interpret those signals. Other theories include that dreams have no purpose, while others believe that dreaming is essential to mental, emotional and physical health.

For artists, dreams have always been and still are a source of inspiration. Dreams are the creations of our mind, tapping into our imagination.

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, wrote that he got many of his best stories from his dreams.

Edgar Allen Poe also shared that he relied on his dreams to inspire the moods and themes of many of his tales.

Stephen King in an interview with UK report Stan Nicholls stated when asked about the inspiration for Misery: “Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream.”

Search the web and you’ll find hundreds of other stories of artists who have used their dreams to create works of poetry, novels, paintings and songs.

We dream every single night, but often we forget our dreams. The key to remembering dreams is to set the intention before you sleep. An agreement, if you will, between your conscious and subconscious mind that you will dream creatively and will recall your dreams.

Prior to sleep focus on the solution or inspiration you seek from your dreams. Write it down, being specific about exactly what you’re looking for. Keep a notepad and pen or pencil next to your bed. As soon as you awaken write down everything you remember about your dream. If you don’t remember, write down what you believe you remember. Write down the first thing that pops into your mind. Focus on your feelings in the dream, list any places, symbols, colors and the people involved.

Now, play with your dream. Turn it into a poem, a melody, short story or fable. Draw or paint pictures related to your dream. Set up a dialogue with the characters in your dream. See if there’s a correlation between your dream and your current creative project? If not, perhaps this is the inspiration for a new creative project.

Dreams can be an artist’s best tool for continued or renewed inspiration. I have dreamed many of the scenes of my current books, as well as plots for new novels.

Another simple process is prior to going to sleep, clear your mind. Think about exactly what you want to dream about, and hold that thought. Daydream about it until you drift off to sleep. Combine the power of your conscious and subconscious mind to open the doors to your creativity.

Linda S. Prather, Author
The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Genre Writing--Finding your Niche

I always knew I wanted to write mysteries, and specifically murder mysteries. I loved reading fantasy novels, romance novels, and even certain literary works, but my imagination steered to the darker side. Even in my early attempts, I found myself in the midst of murder and mayhem. I’m sure my teachers worried about my propensity to delve into the mystical world of vampires and werewolves. I know, that’s more along the fantasy and/or horror line, but in my world the vampires and werewolves were the good guys. They only killed those who deserved to die. Or at least in my vivid imagination deserved to die. Murderers, rapists, child molesters and abusers.

So how do you find your niche in genre writing? For me it didn’t really click until I combined all the parts of me into both the characters and the stories. I attempted to write the traditional mystery/crime story, but somewhere along the line I always lost interest. My characters didn’t leave a lasting impression. My protagonist just wasn’t strong enough, odd enough or perhaps dark enough inside to carry me through the entire story. And then I read Dean Koontz Odd Thomas. An inspiration to be me. There were so many things about Odd Thomas that I related to. I understood him. The dark and the light. The fear and the need. I was enthralled.

I then took a look at my own stories to define what I was missing. And what I found was that I was missing life. My life. The things that made me odd or unique, depending on how you look at metaphysical teachers, psychics and paranormal investigators. I had purposely attempted to keep all of that from my writing. To separate myself, the inner me, from the pages of my books. I failed miserably. If I didn’t like them, then how on earth could I ever expect a reader to like them? So I started with a fresh idea, fresh characters and I combined both the joy and pain, the odd and unique and the metaphysical into both my stories and my characters. I immediately feel in love with writing and my characters. I still cannot read The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery without an occasional tear. In the original story, Carl was designated to die. I fell so in love with his character I couldn’t do it. He became real to me. A part of me. As did all the characters.

How do you know when you’ve found your niche? When you wake up each morning and you just can’t wait to see what your characters are going to do next. They aren’t just names on paper, but co-authors who inspire and amaze you. Their antics make you laugh, make you cry, make you cheer when good overcomes evil. And in my case, they continue my love of learning. Although I have studied and used Tarot cards I truly had no idea the fascinating history behind them until I wrote Sacred Secrets. Clover, one of my favorite characters with whom I felt a real affinity, introduced me not only to the basic uses of Tarot in everyday life, but also the fascinating history of the original deck. Ms. Charity introduced me to the history of Voodoo, and Billy Dawson allowed me to enter the world of the Dream Weaver, Shaman’s and white wolves. Jacody Ives has allowed me to see and feel the darkness of evil, and fight my way through to the light.

Part of all fiction is real. To appeal to your readers, your characters must come to life on your pages. Have real issues, real flaws and real life problems. And good doesn’t always overcome evil. Not every story has a happy ending. Sacrifices have to be made. Look inside yourself, find your strengths, your weaknesses, and what it is that makes you unique. Combine that in both your stories and your characters and you’ve found your niche.

Happy writing and reading.

Linda S. Prather, Author
The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Friday, June 25, 2010

Self-Published Authors--The New Millennia

If you follow publishing news, as most authors do, you may be surprised to find a host of new authors emerging via e-book. Not only are they emerging, but many are reaching success levels they never dreamed possible. Unable to find an agent willing to take them on, or a publisher willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, authors are reaching out to e-book self-publishing and readers are responding.

Competition in the e-book reader market has been heated for the past several months. Prices are dropping, making e-readers more readily available to voracious readers. Smashwords is making it easy for authors wishing to self-publish to get their work into the market in a variety of forms easily downloadable on most e-readers.

Having just uploaded my first book on Amazon’s Kindle, I have to admit the process is actually quite simple. I hope to have my second book, Sacred Secrets, uploaded and available for sale within the next week. And now, knowing how easy it is, perhaps I can pull out all the other novels I’ve shelved over the years, polish them and see where they go. Although authors need to make a living, I think our first and basic need is an audience. We want to share our stories, our thoughts, our words. I never felt I needed an agent or publisher to validate my work. I needed readers. When The Gifts first came out I received hundreds of emails from people I had never met telling me how much they loved the book. That of course wouldn’t pay my bills, but it gave me much more than that. It gave me that validation that I had written a good story. An enjoyable story, and one people wanted to read.

So what’s driving the self-publishing frenzy for readers? Plain and simple it’s price. Readers want to read, and their favorite authors can only produce so many books a year. Trying a new author is risky. You may not like them. The first page may be wonderful, but the author didn’t carry that wonderful plot and wonderful story all the way to the end of the book. In making a choice to try a new author price becomes one of the major decision factors in making a purchase. At prices as low as $.99, a reader can take a chance on a new author. In fact, they can take a chance on five to ten new authors for the same price they would pay for one paperback in the bookstore. Self-published authors can afford to sell for less. They don’t have the overhead expenses of agents, publishers and bookstore fees. And with e-books they don’t have the added expenses of personal appearances for signings.

Is this a good thing? Search the web on self-publishing e-books, and it appears to be. Publishing houses are changing. Bookstores are changing. Self-publishing is the new market, and one that seems to be thriving and prosperous.

What does it mean for the future of books? For many readers like myself, I will always have my favorite authors and I collect their books. Paperbacks are still a source of major sales for the book industry. I don’t believe that will change in the near future.

What does it mean for authors? A whole new world. A way to reach more readers. And do it faster. Publishing a book can take anywhere from three months to two years from date of acceptance to actual print. With e-book uploads you can be up and running in 48 hours.

Are the books as good? Having read several self-published books I have to say some of them were as good, or better than a few New York Best Sellers I’ve read. Some were not. Self-published authors wishing to succeed will have to go the extra mile to make sure their books are properly edited, formatted and attractive. But first and foremost they will have to start with the same thing every published authors starts with—a good story.

The good news, at least in my humble opinion, is readers are the real winners in the self-publishing world. They get a chance for an affordable price to use their imagination to travel to distant places, fall in love, save the world, fight crime and enjoy a good book.

If you’re looking for a new mystery novel, like a touch of paranormal, and a little romance, I hope you’ll give the Jacody Ives Mysteries a try. Sacred Secrets is a prequel to The Gifts, and I hope to finalize the series with two more novels in the near future.

Linda S. Prather, Author
The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery