Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ready for your 2014 Reading Challenge? Fill up your Kindle with more than 60 great $.99 books.



Between December 26 and December 29 ONLY, you can get fabulous books by bestselling authors a mere .99 each on your kindle!

My latest book, Eternal Beauty is part of this sale. I hope you'll stop by and check out the entire selection. A great way to fill up your kindle for your 2014 reading challenge.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What's Wrong With Our Children? Rants and Raves.

At the wonderful age of 58 I became a parent again when we took custody of our almost 5 year old grandson. We noticed some immediate problems such as his inability to watch TV for more than a few minutes. His school had informed us that they believed he had ADHD as well as the possibility that he was slightly mentally retarded. We went to work--really hard work, teaching him to speak properly, proper social interaction with others, nutrition, diet, structure and yes, discipline. In many areas he excelled. We've had our ups and downs, and for about three months worked with an attitude that was diagnosed as ODD. I found that interesting, as I saw it as stretching his boundaries to see how far he could go, and what he could get away with. After six months of good teaching skills (pre-school) he was able to start kindergarten. Although late in the year (December) he was able to participate and with help graduated to first grade. We've come to the conclusion that he does have a minor learning disability, and we're looking for ways to work around that, with it, and keep him on track with the rest of his class.

Now, this brings me back to my original question: "What's wrong with our children today?" The article below states that 11 percent of all school children have been diagnosed with some form of ADHD. The second article, even more scary, states that 1 to 16 percent of school age children have been diagnosed with ODD. WOW! I went through 12 years of basic education, and I don't ever remember a child with ADHD or ODD. We had good kids and bad kids, fights and all the normal things you experience in a school setting--but we never had school shootings or children so angry they wanted to kill. My own children went through 12 years of basic education. I was very involved with the PTA and the school and I don't remember any children that had ADHD or ODD. Once again, good kids, bad kids and normal fights, etcetera.

If you pay close attention to the articles it's apparent that no one really knows what causes ADHD or ODD and they really aren't sure how to treat it, except with drugs. Lots of drugs, that don't help the children academically, and put them on a road for drug use the rest of their life. Some of these drugs have drastic side effects. They can make the children angry. I'm not anti-medication, but I am a true believer that every other available avenue should be explored prior to starting any child on medication. Once the medication is started it's rare that it's ever discontinued and there's really no way to measure the effects on future generations until we get there.

Living this life with a now six year old, I can tell you part of what I think is wrong with our children. First, it's doctor's and mental health practitioners need for an "easy" solution--medication. And second, it's our school system. Our grandson started exhibiting the ODD symptoms at home after about 3 months of first grade. And boy has first grade changed since my day, and even my children's day. He has reading, writing, math, social studies, geography, Spanish (and some even have Chinese), art and history. Excuse me, but WTH? He's six. When we went to school we spent the first year learning the basics--reading, writing, math. We concentrated on learning English, not foreign languages. We didn't have words like "homophone" to learn the meanings of--which by the way I had to look up on line, and when I asked two very intelligent attorneys if they knew what it was their answer was no. If three college educated professionals don't need to know what "homophone" means, then why the heck does a first grader need that? And that's just one of many, many words I've seen at night that blow me away. Useless, and unnecessary. He's diagramming sentences for nouns, verbs, etcetera. Once again, WTH? He can't even really read well at the moment.

We attended a parents meeting with his special education reading teacher who informed us that by the end of the year the goal was for our child to read 105 to 160 words a minute. She asked if we had any questions. I raised my hand and asked--what part does comprehension play in that? The answer shocked me. "Oh, we aren't worrying about comprehension, just being able to read and recognize that many words by the end of the year." I guess I'm stupid, because I really can't comprehend the benefit to a child to be able to read hundreds of words a minute and yet have no comprehension of what the words mean, which means he'll have no true connection to what he's reading and it won't be important enough to remember. He comes home with pages of homework every night. During the winter hours he has little or no time play by the time he finishes his homework, reading and spelling study.

His ODD symptoms stopped when we stopped. We stopped pushing him to be at the top of his class, and accepted the fact that he might have to repeat a grade now or sometime in the future. We started teaching him at home in a different way. We take it slower and we concentrate on comprehension not speed. We're approaching everything at a slower pace. Yes, he still has to keep up at school, but he's learning the basics at home. We found the basis for his anger. It was confusion and frustration. I'm sure if I were thrown into a Quantum Physics class without any basics behind me, I would soon become confused and frustrated, which would eventually lead to anger. If he can't spell homophone or give you the definition, then so what? He's probably never going to need that in the real world.

It's also important to note that his ADHD symptoms would clear up for weeks at a time when he was grasping what was happening around him. Teaching him comprehension of math, words and life has worked wonders for him. He isn't perfect by a long shot, and I'm sure we'll have problems again, but we're laying the groundwork for defusing the anger that is so prevalent in our young people today. We're accepting his anger as long as he's fully aware of what's causing the anger.

My rant and rave is really focused on the mental health and medical profession that diagnoses these children and places them on heavy medications without really trying to look for an alternative. I'm sure there are children out there who really have true ADHD and may even have ODD although I'm still on the fence on that one. And I know how frustrated we as parents can become when we simply can't understand what's wrong with our children and how to help them. I know what it feels like to reach the end of my rope. The bottom line for me was finding answers to complicated issues without masking them. And before you think I haven't been there--well, my grandson sent me in the hospital twice (bear in mind he's six) by kicking me hard enough to crack a rib. He's put his foot through our living room wall. We've had to restrain him to keep him from hurting us or himself. We've been there. We've tried all forms of punishment, and nothing worked until we backed up and decided to try a different route. We would accept his anger and give him a healthy way to express it as long as he understood where it was coming from. We have pop sickle sticks for him to break and a punching bag to really get it all out.

I think it's time the government took a good long look at medications prescribed for children as well as what's in the vaccines babies are given today. It's time for the school systems to look at just how much they're trying to force into small children's brains and perhaps back up and teach the basics first, and when a child has a full grasp of the basics then add things like Spanish, history and geography. Children would have a much easier time in 4th, 5th, 6th and high school years if the first three years concentrated on basics and comprehension. And perhaps we wouldn't have so many angry children.

Rant over!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Author Newsletters

Up until this year I really hadn't given much consideration to newsletters for fans, but having signed up for several myself and enjoying them immensely I decided to start my own. My first newsletter will go out tomorrow 12/15 and I'm excited. I stay in touch with fans on twitter and facebook and with my blog, but this is something totally different. In the newsletter I can share personal tidbits about my writing, my characters, my favorite authors and best of all--I get to give things away. Those who know me know how much I love giving things away and I'll be giving away $100.00 each month in 2014, as well as one month (not sure when yet) hosting a $500.00 giveaway. Yes, you heard it right--$500.00 to one lucky winner. Why? Well, newsletters are a form of advertising. You hope to reach fans who love your books and your characters and want more. I easily pay over $500.00 for a BookBub ad, which results in sales, but I'm not sure that everyone who buys these discounted books actually reads them, and I'd rather give my money and my time to the fans of Jacody Ives and Catherine Mans and hopefully to fans of that shh..... don't tell anyone--new series hero coming out in 2014.

I also love sharing my meditation/self-hypnosis/aromatherapy recipes and healing techniques that have worked for me and others. Through the newsletter I can offer these to people who are looking for something along those lines.

And last, but not least, it gives me an opportunity to share some other independent mystery authors and their books, introducing new material to my fans that I'm pretty sure they'll enjoy because I loved it. I would never recommend a book to my fans that I didn't enjoy myself.

If you're a mystery lover, Catherine Mans Fan, or Jacody Ives fan and love newsletters as I do, you can sign up for my newsletter on my blog here; my website at: or the Catherine Mans Fan Page - email signup.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Let's have an amazing 2014 together.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gay Rights or Religious Freedom? I wouldn't eat this cake.

I found the above article sad in many ways. First, I am not a proponent of discrimination in any form but this case, taken to court, was a lose/lose situation in my eyes. Yes, a ruling was made that Masterpiece Cakeshop must make a cake, which means all cake shops regardless of whatever reason must bake a cake for gay couples, or for anyone who wants one. Mr. Phillips had refused based on religious beliefs. The judge ruled that baking the cake wouldn't hurt his business, but would most likely increase his business and make it more profitable. It wasn't about money for Mr. Phillips--it was about upholding his religious beliefs. He offered to bake any other items the couple might want, just not a wedding cake. Clearly he didn't hate the people, he just couldn't in his heart support the marriage. Mr. Phillips' attorney made a statement that I found very true: “America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs,” Martin said in a prepared statement. “Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free.”

What appears to be a win for gay couples isn't a win at all but will in reality only foster more hate. Mr. Phillips appears to be a good man. I'm sure if he bakes a cake for the couple he will bake them a beautiful, delicious cake. Not everyone who may be forced to abide by this ruling will be. And truly, would you want to eat a cake or serve a cake to your guests made by someone who didn't want to bake you a cake? I wouldn't. How do you know they didn't grind up maggots in the flour and bake them in the cake? You wouldn't taste it or see it, but the baker would know it was there. How do you know they didn't spit in the batter before baking it? You wouldn't see it, or taste it, but the baker would know it was there. There are a million things the person baking your special cake could do to it that wouldn't leave a taste or be seen, that are sickening to think of.

My children would tell you that I often applaud people for standing up for their beliefs even if I disagree with them. In this case I applaud the gay couple for standing up for their rights to be served by anyone and treated equally with other couples getting married, but I also applaud Mr. Phillips for standing up for his religious beliefs. Both were right and both had rights. If this were the ONLY bakery in the world that made wedding cakes I would say that the couple had every right to go to court and get a ruling. It isn't the ONLY bakery in the world that makes wedding cakes. Clearly the couple could have gone to another bakery that would have been happy to bake them a beautiful cake. Mr. Phillips wouldn't have been forced to lose his rights to uphold their rights. And they could have had their cake and eaten it too, as could their guests, without the nagging fear in the back of their mind that the baker did something nasty to it.

When we take an action in court to force someone to do something against their will, we may think we've won, but there are no winners. We fan the fires of hate in those just looking for a reason to hate. And there are plenty of those people out there. Mr. Phillips doesn't appear to be the type of person to hate, but I would guarantee you he bakes his cakes with love, because he loves what he does. If he bakes this cake it won't be make with love. It may be beautiful and even delicious, but it won't be a happy cake and I doubt very seriously the couple will enjoy it at all.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The perfect gifts for mystery lovers!

Gifting can be difficult for some, but easy for others. Here's some great gifts for mystery lovers.

Mystery lovers love books. Mystery lovers love series. Did you know you can gift a copy of a book to arrive on a certain day? Perhaps a special birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day.  Simply hit the gift a copy button, enter your recipients email address and choose the day you want it delivered. Amazon will deliver it at 12:00 on the day of your choiee. Imagine your friend's surprise when they open Their Kindle or email and find a gift that will keep them entertained for days, weeks or even months.

If you're a mystery lover - check out the books below.   If you have a mystery lover on your gift list as I do - well, you've just found the perfect gift.

Catherine Mans Psychic Suspense / AmazonLSPrather / AmazonLPrather

MA Comley Justice Series / CruelJustice / ImpedingJustice / AmazonMAComleyJustice

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag

There were so many things about this book that I loved, but I think it was the opening chapter that will stick with me for life. The weather description, the walk, the tension building as you know something horrible waits. Something so unspeakable you want to cover your eyes. Few authors can instill that feeling with words, but Ms. Hoag mastered it with this book.

Other books by Tami you might enjoy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Glimpse Into A Twisted Mind

I'm not always sure where my characters originate, but Brightstone quickly became a loved/hated character for me.   Perhaps because I understood his pain.

Take a glimpse into a twisted mind.

There was nothing exceptional about my birth, except perhaps for the fact that my parents shared the biblical names of Joseph and Mary. They were a good, God-fearing couple.
Alas, they did not name me Jesus, but their hopes for me were not in vain. They soon realized I was not a normal child. Not like the other five-year-olds. I cared not for toys and storybooks. I spent my time developing healing antidotes from ordinary shrubs. I cared for animals, birds with broken wings. It was not unusual for me to come home carrying a poor dog that had been run over by some careless motorist. I would spend hours stitching up their wounds, applying homemade poultices, and nursing them back to health. I was indeed a savior of sorts.
School was my first experience of the cold reality of being different. Like my parents, my teachers discovered that my mind was much further advanced than they could deal with. How could you teach a child whose mind was a sponge and whose knowledge, within days, exceeded your own? I did not know then how to hide my intelligence and fit in with a crowd. I did not know how to play the games of life and lose occasionally.
Soon it became apparent that our small community was not the best place for a child of such brilliance. Or at least that was what the men in white coats convinced my parents of. So the men took me away for my own good.

I had no best friends, no first dates, no senior proms. Nothing but a cold grey building, lab coats, and books. Lots and lots of books. Not the fun, frivolous stories I should have enjoyed in my youth. Textbooks of knowledge that I absorbed and mastered within days, weeks, and months. I graduated with honors. My parents, whom I had not seen in ten years, were in the front row, beaming with pride. I smiled at them, but there was no feeling behind my smile. Any memory of the warmth of my mother’s touch or the gentle yet firm guidance of my father’s hands had long ago been lost. My father was a stranger, an old man, still handsome in some ways, but the luster was gone from his eyes. My mother, once a spirit of light and life, seemed cold with her sweater wrapped around her thin shoulders, her beauty faded by time. Had their lives grown cold and loveless like mine?

Love mysteries, page-turning suspense, prizes, fun, reviews and author interviews?  Sign up for my once a month newsletter.  $100.00 prize to one lucky winner on 12/15--just in time for Christmas.  Visit my website at

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rants and Raves - Do Books Kill?

Sometimes I just have to get things off my chest, and today is one of those days.  I've listened to the gun debate for over a year.  The pros and cons for severe gun control.  And once again, my answer is - "you can't cure stupid."  It is a misconception that criminals are stupid.  Many criminals border on brilliant.  There is simply no way to control crime and/or murders by taking away guns.  That leaves knives, hammers, baseball bats, crowbars, poison, ice picks, bombs, and the list goes on endlessly.

We'd like to believe as a society that evil doesn't exist and there are no evil people.  We spend thousands if not millions of dollars yearly on psychological studies of "what makes this killer tick" and "why did little Johnny go off"?  Sometimes it's an overload of nothing more than life.  Sometimes it's something inherent in the person that nothing can change.  There were signs.  Early warnings that were ignored because psychology says we're doing it all wrong.  Children have labels -- ADD, OD, CB, ODD, and the list is endless.  We medicate them with anti-psychotics that create both mental and physical problems.  Have you ever looked at those labels?  Each has a warning that the child cannot stop taking the medication without severe side effects.  Hum...that should give you food for thought.

But back to my original question--Do Books Kill?

In May of this year a child was found dead, naked and emaciated.  She died from hypothermia and malnutrition.  Officials determined she had been beaten with a plastic tube the day of death.  For more on this disturbing issue check out the article at:  Examiner

In the above article the author shares links to several other deaths attributed to a book "How To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl.

I took the opportunity to look this book up on Amazon.  It has 3,900+ reviews.  2,582 which are 1 star slamming the book.  It's #5 in Christian Books and Bibles and #5 in Christian Living.  WTH???????  As a Christian I am appalled that a book that perpetuates child abuse in the form of: beating a child with plastic tubing; training children with pain before they disobey, putting children outside in cold weather and withholding food, hosing children with cold water to potty train them or inflicting punishment upon a child until they pass out or cannot breath to complain could reach #5 in any Christian category.

As I said, as a Christian I am appalled, but I'm not surprised.  The book found a niche in society.  A group that believes many of the old time beliefs that children should be totally obedient.  Children should be seen and not heard, and only seen when YOU want them to be seen.  At the point in time when those beliefs were upheld children were not objects of choice, but objects of need.  Many parents had children, not because they wanted a child, but because they needed that child to work the farm or do the chores.

What this niche in society doesn't take into account is the changes in society.  When the old time beliefs were instituted families survived by working together, playing together and taking care of each of other.  Interaction with society was limited.  Interaction to other belief structures was limited.  Options for any other lifestyle than the one you lived weren't available.  Times have changed.  The world has changed, and children have changed.  Was it a good change?  Not always, but we have to recognize those changes and we have to find ways to deal with them and beating or starving a child to death is not the answer.  Adopting children or having children because it's "the thing to do" or "mommy and daddy want a grandchild" is not acceptable.

Having a child should be the most thought about, life changing decision any human being makes.  They aren't like puppies that you can feed twice a day, turn out in the back yard to do their business and lock up in cages when you want to get away.  You shouldn't treat a dog that way, but treating a child that way is and should be criminal.  There is simply too much education on birth control and free birth control out there and no one should ever have a child except for one reason--you want to love it, help it grow up and become a healthy, happy, functioning member of society.  100 years ago perhaps you could do that by beating, starving or tossing out into the cold.  Perhaps children were tougher then, physically and mentally.  Just as society has changed, the physical and mental makeup of children have changed.  They're not as tough now.  They break both physically and mentally.  We see prime examples of that every day in the news.

So Do Books Kill?  The simple answer is no, but the real answer is much more complex.  Books don't kill, just as guns don't kill.  People kill.  The question we have to find the answer to is why?  A part of that answer is that we live in a world of extreme fast pace.  We are more frustrated trying to take it all in.  We have more stress in trying to find simple ways to do it all in only a 24 hour day.  We need answers to deal with overwhelming issues that face us every day.  And we want a product that works.  Especially when we've tried everything and nothing has changed.  We want that instant gratification.  The "havitall" pill that takes away our pain, depression, worry and makes us happy.  And worst of all--we don't want to look in the mirror.  We don't want to search our own souls.  We want someone to tell us what to do to make it all go away.  Most intelligent people that might find this book in their hands would read a little and say "these people are nuts"; but there are and always will be those who want someone to tell them what to do, and how to make it all go away.  They'll read this book, try some of the examples, and perhaps for some it might work.  There will be others, like the examples above who believe in the book, just like Jim Jones' followers believed in him.  When the processes set forth therein aren't working, it isn't because the book is wrong and the examples therein won't work for their child, they believe it's because they aren't doing it right.  So they hit harder.  They starve longer.  And eventually another child dies.

The opinions above are my own, but they're not totally biased as I have a counseling degree, but even more important I have a 6 year old child who is being monitored for Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  If you're not familiar with that disorder it describes an angry, defiant child that no amount of reasoning, love, structure or discipline has an effect on.  I've read all the literature, studied all the methods of working with him, and tried almost everything.  We're in counseling.  We have days and sometimes weeks of the sweetest child in the world.  We have days and sometimes weeks of an angry, defiant, destructive ball of energy that can scream for hours on end because he doesn't want to do his homework.  There are times I'm tired, discouraged and I take a lot of long walks.  I keep looking for a solution, but never in my wildest dreams would I consider beating him, starving him or tossing him out in the cold.  Not because I may not be angry at times, or frustrated enough to do that, but because I'm intelligent enough to know that that would not solve the problem.  He might for a while on the surface appear better, act better, but the problem, whatever it is that lies underneath would still be there and someday it would burst forth and I would be looking at the next school shooting or worse.  I will never give up until I find a way to reach the problem and find a real solution, not a mask to cover the issue.  And I will keep loving him, providing structure and discipline and working with him until I do.

The bottom line is books don't kill, but they can provide information that if taken to the extreme can push an already frustrated and "at the end of the their rope" person over the edge.

We have get back to basics in some ways, yes, but we also have to understand there is no "havitall" pill.  And there is no shame in asking for help if you're having a problem or have a problem child.  There is no shame in accepting your child for who and what he/she is or who and what they want to be when they grow up.  Perhaps our grandson will never be the next Einstein.  He may never be an astronaut and make space discoveries.  He's not going to get that basketball, football or baseball million dollar contract. He may not be an Olympic swimmer (although that may be possible as he loves to swim).   I'm okay with that.  All I truly want for him is to be happy, healthy and a functioning member of society that grows up to respect himself and others.   If I accomplish that then I will have my havitall pill.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"You Can Dress Up Ugly....But You Can't Cure Stupid."

I'm often asked if my job as a court reporter gives me inspiration for stories.  I've always said no, because most of the cases I'm involved with would bore the reader to death.  Occasionally when I work with the police departments on a murder case, that may fuel a few of my murder scenes, but not always.  Actually the downtime in driving does give me lots of time to think though.  I'm often on the road two to three hours between getting to the deposition site and coming home.  This morning, on top of pouring coffee into orange juice, I found myself in a somewhat pensive mood.  An hour on the road for a fifteen minute deposition, that without an appearance fee would be a loss for me.  Now, before you feel sorry for me, that isn't always the case.  Court reporters make good money at times, and have lots of jobs that aren't really money makers.  But getting back to my pensive mood.  I found myself looking back over the years to other jobs I've had, and one job I was offered that truly made me laugh out loud as I was driving along because it reminded me of something my daddy said to me when I brought home a particular "pretty boy".  Oh, and he was handsome.  After my date that night when I came home dad was waiting and we sat down to talk for a few minutes.  Dad wasn't a big talker and he often put it pretty bluntly, which he did in this case.  He told me I couldn't go out with that guy anymore and then he said "You can dress up ugly, honey, but you can't cure stupid."

I realize now what I didn't realize then--Dad was always right.  I heard several years later that my pretty boy had committed several crimes, including murder, and was serving a 98 year sentence.  Thanks to dad  I jumped ship on that one before it sunk.

These thoughts led to other thoughts in my pensive mood.  I went back over my life and training as a hypnotherapist.  I spent thousands of hours in classes studying psychology, counseling and hypnosis techniques.  I've always been fascinated by the power of the mind, and hypnosis to me seemed like a wonderful tool to help people.  One of our requirements was to attend and take part in a lecture presented by a top hypnotist on "stop smoking" seminars.  I limited my presentation to the health benefits received from stopping smoking, although there are times I believe there are benefits to those who smoke.  (Don't hit me with wet noodles.  A doctor actually told me that."

I'm a very passionate speaker on topics I believe in.  For years I have taught free meditation and self-hypnosis classes for healing benefits.  I'm a firm believer that the mind has the power to heal us if we can only tap into those resources.  After my speech the presenter made me an offer he probably felt I couldn't refuse.  He wanted me to join their group.  They could book speeches for me and charge up to $300.00 a person for a one hour speech.   What the presenter didn't realize was that I was passionate about what I was studying, but to me it was a spiritual journey in finding ways to help people learn to help themselves. It wasn't about money.  I looked at him, smiled and said: "You can dress up ugly, but you can't cure stupid, and anyone willing to pay $300.00 an hour to hear me speak is too stupid for me to be of any benefit to."

I walked away from that presentation with my morals intact, and still feeling good about myself.  I'd learned some valuable things there and perhaps I could be rich now at the expense of others, but I wouldn't be able to sleep well at night.  Daddy had another saying that we hear a lot.  "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is."  I don't see these people doing seminars anymore so the odds are they priced themselves out of business.  When you're studying something to help others, price should not be a part of the equation.  You should put just as much passion into helping someone who needs it that can't afford to pay as you put into that person who can afford to pay $300.00 an hour . If you do that, then odds are you're going to succeed.  If you don't, odds are eventually you'll run out of people who can afford you.

I turned my thoughts from this to my writing.  And wow, what a kicker.  The third Catherine Mans book just clicked and now I can start writing it.  So if you love the Catherine Mans Psychic Suspense team, get ready--there's going to be a new one coming soon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Free copy of The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery for mystery fans

I love it when things finally click.  Spent this week upgrading and putting up a new website, which is now available at:  and it's available on mobile and Kindle Fire at 

The mobile website was a real challenge, but I love the fact that I can integrate my blog and my website for fans.  Now you can have both in one easy spot.

On December 15th I'll start the first of my monthly newsletters to those who have subscribed, and one lucky subscriber will get a $100.00 gift card just in time for Christmas.  If you subscribed earlier---don't forget to check your emails for confirmation.  This was taking you to some crazy page with a 404 error, but they've promised me that's fixed.  What's up for the first newsletter?  Well, Catherine Mans fans will get a chance to see how Catherine met Cody.  This portion is taken from the original book, which like with movies was cut from the final product.  I've hoping to have this, plus a few short stories up for download in .mobi, .epub, .pdf and word for all the Catherine fans.

If you  haven't subscribed to the newsletter yet, it's easy, just fill out the form on the side here or at the website and submit.  You'll get one confirmation email to confirm your subscription and one thank you email.  After that only a once a month newsletter.  I plan on giving away some great prizes in 2014 and hopefully some wonderful interviews with some fantastic guests.  Hope to see you there.

Free copy of The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery with each subscription.  After your confirmation email, I'll email you to see if you prefer .mobi .epub or a .pdf copy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tales From The Darkside - Blacklist and Sip Your Numbed Paradise

Like most of my family and friends, Blacklist has quickly become my favorite show.  As an author I'm in awe of both the stories created by the writers, as well as the genius behind the characters.  I recently found this poem again, written by my son, Charles W. Prather, Jr.  And it reminded so much of James Spader's role in Blacklist. A man who appears to be helpful, but has his own agenda.  He will not change, and yet he invites those around him to join him, to take their souls off for just a moment and become a little tainted.  A little taint never hurt.  And are Liz and Red kindred spirits?  I believe they may be.  Is Red leading the FBI into "numbed paradise"?  I truly believe he may be.  What an amazing character.  

If you've watched the show, read the poem and let me know what you think.  I'm sure Charles would enjoy it, and I know I would. I see James Spader in every line.


Crumpled cigarettes litter the table,
Alcohol burns the throat,
The pattern of self-destruction forms,
Cacophony of voices permeate the air,
A den of forgotten dreams,
Washed away with pinpricks to the brain,
Here there are no names,
Faces are all that matter,
Time is merely a formality.

Sit down, take your soul off,
Let it sit in the corner for a while,
You don’t need to worry about it,
We’ll take away the cause,
Sip your numbed paradise.

Dance away your memories,
Who needs them here,
You are in this moment,
Just let go of your future uncertain,
You can certainly be sure it’s worthless.

Sit down, take your soul off,
Let it soak in the view,
A little taint never hurt,
We’ll take away the consequences,
Sip your numbed paradise.

The lights are now less faded,
We’ve got to bid you farewell,
Our time,
Out of time,
So long yet so short,
But come back tomorrow,
A kindred spirit cannot be denied,
Your table will be waiting.

Sit down, take your soul off,
Do you remember where you left it?
We’ll help you find it,
Sip your numbed paradise.

By:  Charles W. Prather, Jr.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Power of Words

Two years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a rehab shelter for young women, most of them under twenty-one and many pregnant, who were recovering from drug addiction.  One of the most powerful things we discovered for all of them was their inability to use words to express their emotions.  We worked on this for many months with poetry writing, letter writing, and finally they wrote a play which they produced and put on for family, friends and their children.  It was a wonderful experience and one I miss and hope to repeat in the future.

Words are our most powerful weapon.  We use them to convey our love, our disapproval and sometimes to manipulate people.  As a motivational speaker we use words to change the thoughts, beliefs and sometimes the actions of the people we're speaking to.

In writing, authors use words to convey the emotions and sometimes the personalities of their characters.  My sister-in-law commented that I sometimes used "bad words" in my novels.  I laughed and stated: "It's hard to write a hard-core FBI agent who comes upon a brutal murder scene and have him say "sugar-beads.'"

So what gives words their power?  Basically they're hooks.  And the power lies in the meaning of the word to the persons who hear them.  Powerful weapons, or meaningless manipulations.  Words trigger emotions and emotions trigger actions.  I could say "I love you", but I don't know who is reading this post so if I don't know you, how can I possible truly love you.  I could say "I hate you", but the same would hold true.  I don't know you, so how can I possibly feel strongly enough about you to hate you?

Words without an emotional attachment are usually meaningless to the person reading or listening to them, and basically in time will bore a person to tune them out.  So how do we write exciting words that keep our readers turning pages?  We have to combine those words with emotions and meaning.  We do that with body language and punctuation.

Carrie turned back to the sink and continued slicing vegetables. "I said no."
Carrie turned back to the sink and continued slicing vegetables. "I said no!"
Carrie turned back to the sink, sighing deeply as she slammed the knife into the cutting board. "I.. said... no."

Each of these basically say pretty much the same thing, but express a different emotional state.  In sentence one, Carrie is basically just telling her listener that the answer is no. She's said it before, but she's still calm, and conveying the message without anger or frustration.  In sentence two Carrie is getting angry and frustrated and shouting "I said no!"  Her body language is still controlled and she's expressing her anger through her words only.   In sentence three Carrie is basically losing control as she slams the knife into the cutting board, taking her anger out both in her words and her body language.

As a method of power, sentence one might be enough for someone who was simply asking a question, like a child who wants a cookie.  Carrie says no, end of it with a well mannered child or someone listening who is willing to take no for an answer.  Sentence two goes further and could be the mother who is tired and has a  child, or adult for that matter, who repeatedly asks the same question. It insinuates she's said no before and more than once.  Sentence three is basically a woman who has pretty much reached the end of her rope.  Emphasizing each individual word  She isn't shouting, but using what is actually a more dangerous tone of voice.  Most likely deep, bitter and controlled.

With writing, as with life--emotions run the show.  Love, joy, pleasure, anger, fear, pain.  The only way your reader can possibly feel these emotions is if your character is feeling those emotions.  Jacody Ives said it best in The Gifts--the impact of words was in direct correlation to the emotions of the reader. Words could be twisted, knives to open up wounds long hidden. Maneuvered to evoke buried nightmares. Bare the soul, expose the wound, and you had a best seller.  Make them laugh.  Make them cry.  But above all, make them feel something.

A good writing habit is to set aside what you wrote this morning and come back to it in several hours.  Look at the scene, the words or conversation between characters.  Have you conveyed what your character is feeling?  Do you feel it?  Have you conveyed what your character is thinking?  Do you feel it?   If you feel it, then there's a good chance your readers will feel it, making their reading experience far more enjoyable.

Have a wonderful day!

Stop by my new website and say hi.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Mystery of the Somerton Man--Taman Shud and the Zodiac Killer

Like all mystery readers and authors I love a good mystery.  I ran across this case while researching for a new book.  It fascinated me at first.  As those who have read my books know, Rosetta Tosalina is my symbol expert and decipher.  I couldn't pass this up.  A body with no identity, a torn scrap of paper hidden in his trousers, torn from a copy of The Rubaiyat.  This case had it all--a secret code, an undetectable poison, lack of identification and perhaps unrequited love.  For the full story check: Wikipedia

The body, discovered on December 1, 1948 had no visible injuries.  Although many people came forward to identify the body, he was never properly identified.

I'm sure in real life this happens more often than we're aware of, so what kept the mystery alive?  A small piece of printed paper found deep inside a pocket sewn within his trouser pockets.  A phrase "Taman Shud" which was translated meaning "ended" or "finished" and was the last page of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  Ah, but the mystery grew.

A man, unidentified, came to the police station saying he had found a copy of this very rare book in the backseat of his car a week or two before the body was found.  This book was missing the words "Taman Shud" on the last page and had a blank reverse.  Microscopic tests concluded the missing piece came from this book.  In the back of the book were faint pencil markings and thus the undecipherable Code that has kept this mystery alive for many, many years.

At first glance, I felt that perhaps this was a two person note due to the changes in writing patterns within the note.  But after carefully studying it, I have come to the conclusion that if it has any meaning at all, it is not in the letters, but is instead in the individual strokes of each letter.  Someone took a great deal of time to put this together and I would suggest using different pens or pencils.  One with a thick point and one with a thin point.  The note has been very, very carefully drafted.  I feel it has any meaning at all, it is a system of numbers, names, places and perhaps times and distances carefully constructed into the stroke of each letter.

This brings back images of the Zodiac killer from the 1960's and 1970's who left cryptic messages.  Much of his code was broken, but no has been able to break the entire code and the killer was never found.  There's even a comparison below to the M's written by the Zodiac killer and this note.  Did the Zodiac killer see this somewhere and copy it?  Or was it just coincidence?  Another mystery for another day.

Let’s take a look at the letters:
Line 1

A careful examination shows a line first, and then a W with another line.  If you take the original photo and look closely you’ll see the W appears to be made after the first line was drawn and down on top of it.  Suggesting to me that this is two letters or symbols.  Or if this gentleman was actually British it could be a badly drawn crown without the bottom line.
A close examination of the W without the first line shows it’s similar to the Phoenician M.

There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly outstanding or different about the R G which are letters 2 and 3. Except their proximity, which leads me to believe these two letters go together and possibly represent the initials of an individual.

The fourth letter could be either an O or 0 and the oddity is that there are three of these in the note and all three are somewhat different in shape and slant.  The first O is slanted slightly to the right, the second straight up and the third long and oval.

The next letters appear to go together due to the proximity of the letters. AB
One of the most fascinating things about the entire message to me was the A’s.  There are 9 A’s in the message—but each A is distinctly different.

1 and 6 are similar, as each has a slightly curved middle and are drawn about the same size.  No. 2 is slightly similar to No. 7, however the size is different and the middle slash on 2 is pointed down whereas on No. 7 it’s pointed up.  Also noteworthy that No. 7 is connected to the next letter in the note which is Q.  No. 3 bears a slight resemblance to No. 8; however there are still some vague differences in size and length of lines.  No. 4 is a backwards rendition of No. 7 and also identical except for its reversal.  No. 5 is totally different.  No. 9 is totally different than all the rest and connects to the letter before and after it—G or CAB, which I believe to the writer’s initials.

The B’s are also very interesting.  There are 5 b’s which share some characteristics, but are still very different.

B 1 appears to have been drawn in 3 parts – D with a somewhat bad oval at top and then a curly line to the left.  B 2 appears to have been drawn very similar to 1.  B 2 appears to be a 3 with a line.  B4 also appears to be 3 or similar to several Alchemy symbols.  B 5 appears to be written as two separate D’s, with the bottom D open and the line extending and curved.

There appears to be only one read D or at least it could be a D.

Looking closely it appears the curved portion was drawn before the line.

Now we come to the second line which is believed to have been crossed out and rewritten as the third line.  I don’t really think that was the intention of the author.  Perhaps to underline, but not cross out.

There are 5 M’s in the note, some very similar, some distinctly different in size and slant.  M 1 and 3 and 5 appear to have been drawn in two motions.  1 and 3 the second part of the M appears to have been drawn first and is similar to the Phoenician N

5 appears the same, however instead of a straight line we have a curved line coming up and across somewhat like an r.

M’s 2 and 4 are very similar except for size, and if you look close at 5 the bottoms of the lines are slanted outward.  The only M that has this slant.  One thing I did find rather interesting is the 2 and 4 M’s are similar to the M’s used by the Zodiac Killer.  

The next letters are presumed to be L’s.  One in line 2 and one in line 4.

Both appear similar, except in size and bear a resemblance to the Phoenician L and possibly many other symbols I haven’t discovered it.

Next in line we have what are presumed to be I’s, but could also be 1’s.

These are mostly similar except for size.  The slants are close to the same for each. The fourth one could actually be more of a / between what could be two sets of initials.  I say this only because of placement.

This brings us to line 3 and the first letter which once again has been believed to be an M.

I don’t really think this is an M.  It has similarities to the first that is similar to the Phoenician M, but has been drawn with different strokes.

There are 6 T’s similar in slant, but different in size with other small notable differences.  T number 6 is the smallest of the group and has less of a slant to the top line.

We have what appear to be two P’s.  Humm…. Not so sure about that.

Both are different and both appear to have been drawn similar to the D.  The first P has a curve at the bottom of the half circle making it look like C backwards, where the second P has a slight down curve on the same stroke, similar to the stroke on the D.  And there's just a little space between the top of the P and the downward stroke.

There’s one N in the note.

Again it appears these were drawn in 2 different strokes.  The first a slanted line for the left, and then a Y type stroke to complete the N.

There appears to be only one E letter.

A close examination it appears he drew the 3 lines first and the long connecting line.  And odd way to draw and E, but that’s just me.  Maybe other people draw their E’s like that.

This brings us to the middle of the note which appears to have something similar to < drown out long with an X on it.  Of course in America this is a directional sign or less than sign and X has always marked the spot.

It could very well be a directional sign, but I don’t really see that as an X.  It appears to be more to me like a fallen T.  I thought a saw a symbol similar to this, but if so I haven’t found it again.

The new letters in line 5 are Q and C.

Nothing really spectacular about either, except the C appears to have been written almost as an afterthought.  Higher and set apart from the Q.

The first letter in line 6 could be a V, or once again a directional sign.

It appears to be set apart from the other letters slightly and may have been added once again as an afterthought. 

Which brings us to what appear or have been thought to be S.

Both are drawn slightly different, and the 2nd S resembles several different symbols.  I’ve looked at Hebrew, Phoenician, Greek, alchemy and engineering symbols as well as a host of other alphabets and symbols.  Resemblance is remarkable to some only slightly altered.

So having broken this down, letter by letter my conclusions are that if I had years of time to perhaps break it down stroke by stroke I might possibly come up with a plausible answer.  Would it be the correct answer?  I’ll never know because the majority of players in this mystery are now dead, or their names were withheld from the public for reasons unknown.

Was this his plan all along?  If the condition of his internal organs is correct, that would lead me to believe he had been poisoned over a a long period of time--not just one dose.  Did he write the note?  Was that his intention to leave behind a mystery that could never be solved?  Or did his killer write this cryptic message, stuff the "Taman Shud" note into his trousers to throw everyone off and lead them down a trail that would take them away from who this man really was, and who killed him.  In today's world of conspiracy and cover up--well, it seems to scream cover up to me.  But it could simply have been a joke as it reminds me of the college students who took three goats and labeled them 1, 2 and 4.  Days, hours and weeks were spent trying to find the 3rd goat, when no third goat ever existed.