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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vikings in Ireland

The White Devil of Dublin, my latest suspense, will be released this coming September. It is the second book in the Ryan O'Clery suspense series. To write this book, I researched the 12th century in Dublin, a fascinating and brutal time in Ireland's history.

The White Devil is a Viking, one of many who settled in Dublin from the 10th through the 12th centuries, transforming it from a sleepy port to a thriving village. They journeyed south from the Scandinavian countries to the Irish Sea, raiding monasteries and villages, raping women and killing men, women and children. They burned homes, pillaged and carried back whatever riches they found to their homelands.

But along the way, many of the Vikings became more Irish than the Irish.

There is a saying "Red on the head where the Vikings tread". Many Irish - among them, my own family on my father's side - lived in areas where the Vikings didn't penetrate. Their hair has always been black. Then there are Irish - such as those on my mother's side - who lived in the east, closer to the Irish Sea, and closer to the lands the Vikings invaded. Those are more likely to have red hair - the hair of the Vikings.

The White Devil is an albino. When a noted historian telephones Detective Ryan O'Clery claiming to have information about his ancestors, he is certain she is mistaken; yet he agrees to meet with her anyway. But when he arrives, he finds the woman dead and her computer stolen. His investigation will lead him back to the time when the Vikings ruled Ireland, a time when a man roamed Dublin known as Hvitr Bard, or The White Devil, and a secret his family kept hidden for over eight hundred years. It will also bring him face to face with a present-day albino serial killer, intent on finishing the job he started.

The official release date for The White Devil of Dublin is September 15, 2014. For the first time ever, you can pre-order the book in any eBook format for only $2.99. After the book's release, the price will go to $6.99 for the eBook and $16.95 for the trade paperback. To pre-order the eBook in any format and take advantage of the special pricing, follow this link. You can also find it in the iBooks store and on Nook. Check amazon on September 15 - they do not currently allow pre-orders for smaller publishers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reincarnation - Do You Believe?

Detective Ryan O'Clery has always had dreams of a beautiful woman. But unlike dreams in which the person may not appear in detail or certain characteristics change over time, his never did. It wasn't until he discovered a journal kept by an ancestor who lived centuries earlier and half a world away that he realized his dreams were actually the other man's memories.

In this scene in The Tempest Murders, Ryan is having a conversation with his sister Claire soon after he meets the woman he has been dreaming about since he was a small boy. He knew immediately that she was his soul mate; she looked identical to his dreams - and the memory of who she was in 1839 Ireland.



Claire cocked her head to study him. “I had a funny feeling you were needing me today.”
“Did you now?”
She didn’t answer but continued to study him. Her eyes were astute and after a minute, he stepped around the island and pulled her to him. He closed his eyes and held her, resting his chin on the top of her head.
“You’ve always known when I needed you.”
“Aye, Re. We’re joined together, you and I.” They stood for a moment in silence before she pulled away. “Are you sad on account of the divorce? It’s only natural, you know—”
“It isn’t that.”
“Well, what is it then?”
He could have gone to his grave with his secret inside him, had she not already known he was troubled. And she always knew. She’d known since she was six years old and he’d never been able to keep anything from her. “You remember the dreams I’ve always had?”
She cocked her head again. When she looked at him, she didn’t blink, as if she was totally focused on every word. “Aye.”
“They’ve become more frequent.”
“It’s only natural, Re, for you to dream about the perfect soul mate when your marriage has just dissolved.”
“She’s real, Claire. And she’s here.”
“What are you saying?”
He gestured toward the back yard. “It happened yesterday. I was cooking outside there. And right before I put the meat on the grill, she just stepped through the hedges there.”
“She just materialized in your own back yard.”
“Aye. Right there between’st the gardenias and the patio.”
“Re.”
“I know it sounds unbelievable—”
“It sounds insane.”
“But I swear it’s the truth.”
“You weren’t hallucinating.”
“Have you ever known me to hallucinate?”
“No. I haven’t.”
“There you have it.”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“My first time to hallucinate hasn’t happened yet.”
She shifted her weight from one hip to the other, her eyes still focused on his. “And what did you do there, after she materialized in your own back yard?”
“We had dinner.”
She raised one brow.
“She’s the woman I’ve dreamed about, all these years. She even had the dragonfly tattoo on her ankle. Of course, in my dreams, it was always a birthmark, but—”
“Lots of women have dragonfly tattoos on their ankles.”
He combed his hair with his fingers but the locks fell back onto his forehead immediately. “It happened so fast. And it felt so right. I’ve always had this feeling, like I had a twin in the womb with me. And somehow, coming into the world, that twin was lost. I’ve always lived with this emptiness, as if someone ought to be there who isn’t.”
“I know you have, Re. I’ve always known you have.”
“When she was here, when we were together, it—it was as though I’d found my twin. The other part of myself. She made me whole somehow.”
“Your twin soul.”
“She is my twin soul, Claire. I know we’ve been together before. I know we have.”




Is reincarnation possible? It is a question that Ryan struggles with. A staunch Irish Catholic, he's been raised to believe in one life followed by heaven or hell. Now he must come to terms with the very real possibility that he has known this woman in another life - and that it may end in murder, just as it did nearly two hundred years earlier.

The Tempest Murders is available in all fine book stores, retailers and online. It is a finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards and a 2014 International Book Awards nominee. You can find it on Kindle by following this link, in trade paperback on amazon here, and for all other eBooks formats you can follow this link. It is also available in the iBooks store and on Nook.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 14

While researching declassified missions conducted by psychic spies, some fascinating facts were revealed about impediments psychics can encounter. I used one of these in Vicki's Key, one of the books in my Black Swamp Mysteries series featuring CIA psychic spy Vicki Boyd.

Vicki is tasked with discovering why there is so much interest in a remote village in Afghanistan - a village that would be impossible to visit in the flesh, because foreigners would be discovered immediately. Yet she is repeatedly repelled by massive heat and unable to continue because of it.

The phenomenon has been reported in several instances. Psychic spies who were interviewed after these missions have reported that they believed they were in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, something so powerful that even when they were not there physically but only through their psyches, it threatened to destroy them. Just as a person can be frightened to death or their minds can lead to physical damage, the same is true during psychic missions.

There is another instance in which massive amounts of heat were felt during psychic missions, causing real-life psychics to turn back. I used this in a scene out of Vicki's Key:



Soon the blackness gave way to the feeling that she was inside a tunnel, moving forward cautiously as a blast of heat began to rise up in front of her. In the distance were the sounds of cries, of panicked children and men barking orders. Vicki touched the wall of the tunnel and peered into the darkness, realizing she had gone in after the children and she was searching for them now.
“Shaista!” she called. “Shaista!”
She tried to move forward but the tunnel walls became as hot as flames, burning her hands and causing her to recoil. Why was it so hot? She thought in alarm. She had to move forward, she had to find the children, but this heat was holding her back. It was as if she’d stepped through the gates of Hell.
She recalled the house built against the mountain and how the heat had risen from the door to block her entry. She had gone through it, she reminded herself, and she can go through it again.
She stepped back and tried to take a deep breath but the air was thick and stale. Dust seemed to be everywhere and it invaded and scorched her lungs. Her chest felt constricted and she knew with a rising panic that if she didn’t go back, she would perish there.
But the children, she thought. She had to save the children.
She tried to move forward again and again but each time, the fiery heat pushed her back.  What is in here? She thought. Her mind raced like a computer searching a database, looking for clues, needing answers.
The Ark of the Covenant, Sam had said. It wasn’t that. She knew it, she could feel it. The Holy Grail? No. It was nothing religious.
She touched the walls gingerly, trying not to pull back when her fingertips felt scorched. It wasn’t emeralds. It wasn’t gems. They were mining something, something so dangerous that her spirit was warning her away from it—
When the answer came to her, it appeared in a rush so forceful that it nearly swept her off her feet, sucking her out of the tunnel. Uranium. They were mining uranium.

For whatever reason, uranium does have the composition to create massive amounts of heat during psychic missions. It has become so documented that when psychic spies encounter it, they know almost instinctively that they are nearing uranium. 

And what of the Ark of the Covenant? Perhaps some day we'll discover it and we'll know when why it's properties are so valuable that it has successfully repelled psychics for millenia. 

Until then, it will no doubt be the stuff of legends, movies and books.

Vicki's Key is available in print in all fine book stores and retailers and online. You can find the trade paperback on amazon by following this link, and in Kindle format here. For all other eBook formats, follow this link or look for it in the iBooks store or on Nook. Vicki's Key was a finalist in both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 USA Best Book Awards.

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Age of Discovery

I am constantly amazed at this Golden Age of Discovery in which we live. And in just one year, our perception of the universe could be completely rocked.

Pluto is roughly 4.67 BILLION miles from Earth. The exact distance changes continually, as planets move in an elliptical manner, placing us closer at some times than others. And yet, in just one year from now, NASA's New Horizon spacecraft will reach Pluto. When it does, it will be able to look into a part of our universe that has never been seen before.

This is the first time we'll have glimpsed a new world in several decades. We have no idea what Pluto looks like - whether it is made of ice or rock, whether it shows signs of life in the past or present, or whether it may even resemble our own planet.

As the New Horizon spacecraft nears Pluto, it will also be able to look beyond it into areas we have never seen before, especially so up-close. Even the Hubble Space Telescope must strain to see Pluto. Yet when New Horizon enters its orbit, it would be able to detect tall buildings - if any exist. The level of detail will be astonishing.

It is the mystery, the awe and the wonder of such new worlds that inspired many science fiction writers and no doubt will continue to do so well into the future.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Does Hair Have to do with Suspense?

Hair seemed to have a running theme in my life last week.

I suppose I am from the "old school" because I never thought anything of making myself presentable each and every morning. It made no difference whether I planned to go out or stay in; it was just something ingrained in me from an early age.

However, I came across a lady who complained about her hair to me. She said she had to "fix it" every day, and she hated it for that reason.

Later in the same week, I was having lunch in a nice restaurant when I noticed the lady's hair at the next table was in dire need of washing. It was one of those times when I felt like I was watching a train wreck; I knew I should look away but I couldn't. Her black hair was sprinkled with what looked like lint; it was not only on top of the hair but obviously under the surface as well.

So what does this have to do with suspense?

I realized as I contemplated all of this (yes, I am a deep thinker) that when authors develop characters for their books, they often assume certain things. In the case of hair, I assumed that everyone had the same commitment to looking presentable as I did, or that no one resented the time spent in making themselves presentable.

But I realized that each of us is unique, and our characters should represent that. The two people I encountered provided inspiration. What type of character would go to a nice restaurant with hair littered with lint? Perhaps it's someone who doesn't care to spend time on hygiene. Or perhaps it's a caretaker for an elderly parent, a disabled child, or someone who can't take five minutes out of the day for themselves. Maybe it's someone who just lost their home to a tornado or hurricane, or a homeless person being treated to a decent meal by a Good Samaritan.

Then there are the people who hate their hair. It's thinning. Or it's too thick. It frizzes in high humidity. Or it goes limp. It's lifeless, or it has a life of its own.

Hair is just one element in describing a character but the image of that character can be changed in just a short phrase.

Can you think of other physical characteristics that would change your mental image of a character?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 13

In earlier posts on psychic spies, I mentioned empathic abilities. This is something that Intelligence agencies are cultivating, not only with psychic spies but with analysts as well. It is also something that is increasingly being shared with law enforcement, airport security and others tasked with being on the front lines of stopping crime, whether it is domestic or acts of terrorism.

When someone is empathic, it means they have the ability to "read" a person's emotions. We have all experienced this at one time or another. For example, when we see a child or an animal experiencing trauma, our eyes might well up with tears, we might feel sadness, or we may even feel agony or heaviness.

We've all watched movies where we had to reach for a tissue. Who didn't feel compassion while watching Lassie, Old Yeller, Steel Magnolias, Forrest Gump or Pay It Forward?

So what makes a person a professional empathic?

Someone who cultivates their empathic abilities or who uses those abilities in their work is a professional empathic.

Step number one is in recognizing our own feelings and our own prejudices.

Step number two is in recognizing what is coming from someone else.

For example, suppose you are feeling pretty "normal" one day and then you attend an event and suddenly feel the heaviness of anger wash over you, for no apparent reason? Then shortly after you leave, you feel back to normal again. Most people would brush this off, never giving it a second thought. But an empath will look for the reason for the sudden change in emotion. They'll go into the meeting or event knowing that they are not angry. When they feel that emotion wash over them, they'll begin to observe others in the crowd, particularly those physically closest to them. They will often be able to identify the source.

What goes hand-in-hand with the abilities to feel the emotion are the capabilities needed to observe specific behavior.

The CIA has in recent years employed more women in positions where they can observe behavior. Women pick up on nuances that men often overlook. A woman might say that a particular behavior just doesn't feel right, or they'll question why someone had a particular habit or why they've suddenly picked up a new one. Men are much more likely to curb their curiosity or brush it off.

Female analysts were behind a great deal of the work that went into finding Osama bin Laden. In The Pendulum Files, Sam, the CIA department head, explains to Dylan how the agency allocates analysts:



“We’ve got scores of analysts in Washington,” Sam said. “Some of them are tracking on one specific individual. That’s all they do, day after day. They know what that person ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They know who they saw and where they went and who they phoned. Hell, they even know when they’ve crapped.”
“Scintillatin’ job, I’m sure.”
“Others have a target group. The Russians. The Chinese. The Eastern Bloc. Then those are divided into sections, reaching down to groups of three and then to one.”


Psychic spies take this a step further. When more information is needed than what an analyst can obtain through other means, they use the psychic spies to infiltrate the individual's life. Suppose, for example, that an able-bodied man is seen suddenly using a cane - but only when he walks a particular path. Could it be that the cane is equipped with a poisoned tip, such as one used by the Soviets? An analyst might pick up on the fact that the cane is used and narrow it down to when it's used. Then a psychic spy is tasked with determining what is going on behind closed doors that the analyst can't see.

This series is based on the psychic spy, Vicki Boyd, in the suspense series Black Swamp Mysteries. The author, p.m.terrell, researched the use of psychic spies in a variety of governments including the United States and the former Soviet Union, and shares some of her research in this series of blogs. The latest in the series, The Pendulum Files, is available in all fine book stores and online. Visit www.pmterrell.com to download a sample chapter or visit the amazon page here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Join Me in a Worldwide Blog Hop

I'm excited to be participating in this worldwide blog hop. I always enjoy meeting other authors and readers and discovering new books. I was nominated for this blog hop by fellow author Susan Whitfield. I've come to know Susan through our involvement in Book 'Em North Carolina; she has participated each year and earlier this year, I had the pleasure of working with her through Studebaker Press.

Among her works, Susan has written a wonderful series called the Logan Hunter Series, featuring an SBI investigator. For those of you who don't live in North Carolina, the SBI is a state version of the FBI - it is North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation. Logan Hunter, the main character, becomes involved in murder investigations around the state. Susan's writing sucks me in with the very first chapter and keeps me riveted through to the last page.


ABOUT MYSELF

For visitors new to me and my writing, my pen name is p.m.terrell, which stands for Patricia McClelland Terrell. My first book was published in 1984 and since then, I've had 18 books released with more in various stages of the production cycle.

I've written in several genres, including how-to computer books and a how-to marketing book for authors. But my greatest success has come from two historical adventures based on an ancestor, Mary Neely, and my contemporary suspense. River Passage, the true story of the Donelson Party journey west in 1779, won the 2010 Best Book Award. Vicki's Key, a contemporary suspense featuring a CIA psychic spy, was a 2012 International Book Award Finalist and a 2012 USA Best Book Award Finalist. And The Tempest Murders was a 2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist and a 2014 International Book Awards nominee.


ABOUT MY WRITING

The next book that will be released is The White Devil of Dublin, and here for the first time is the cover revealed.

It is the sequel to The Tempest Murders. Detective Ryan O'Clery is an Irishman living in North Carolina when an historian contacts him with information about his ancestors. Convinced she has him mistaken for someone else, he agrees to meet with her - but finds her murdered, her throat slit from ear to ear, and her computer missing. To solve the case, he must find the missing computer and piece together the information she was working on, which takes him back to 12th century Dublin, to a secret his family had harbored for over eight hundred years, and to an albino called the White Devil of Dublin. It will also bring him face to face with a current-day albino serial killer who is intent on destroying everyone Ryan loves.

Below is an excerpt:



CHAPTER 1

1169, The Approach to Duiblinn

The mists swirled about the Viking ship, shrouding their approach in an ashen veil. It seemed as though the clouds themselves were reaching toward the waters, parting momentarily to reveal their advance, silent and evil, an apparition on the deadly sea.

He moved as one with the great ship, his feet spread wide and firmly planted behind the dragon’s head that graced the bow. Atop a platform, he had an unencumbered view of the gray waters; though they roiled and tumbled, the waves crashing against the sides of the vessel, he remained unyielding, secure in his position. He towered above those behind him who worked the sail or labored in the rowing stations. He could feel their eyes upon him.

Though he was a young man, his hair was white and reached nearly to his waist. It was wild at the moment, swirling about his body wherever the wind took it. His eyebrows and his lashes were pale against alabaster skin that stretched over taut muscles. His shoulders were broad and his arms powerful, though he now rested them idly behind his back, his fingers entwined. His thighs were strapping and fought at the fabric that dared encase them, moving effortlessly with the sway and tug of the vessel that was more a home to him than any bed and table.

His eyes were the color of blue ice. The pupils were not black but appeared to lack any color at all. He had been told by his men that when he stood at the bow of the ship as he did now, his eyes appeared nearly completely white and otherworldly, a characteristic that unnerved his enemies.

His name was Baldr but he was known simply as Hvitr Bard, The White Devil.

He preferred the saffron tunic and slightly darker cloak that he currently wore, though he’d discovered years earlier that his wine-colored clothing was best in battle, as it hid blood splatters. He had never been injured himself; his arms were uncommonly long, his frame inches taller than his Norse counterparts; a giant among giants. And among the Celtic people he now approached, he was indeed a goliath. No swing of an arm, even extended with a sword, could reach his torso.

As the mists parted with the first peek of the rising sun, he spotted fishermen along the shorelines and sheep farmers on the hills. As they readied for their day, they stopped to watch the tall, sleek ship slide silently past them.

Gone were the days when necessity dictated a stealthy approach. The Ostmen had ruled Duflin—what the Gaelic people called Duiblinn, or Black Pool—for three hundred years. It was their village now, even if the Celts resented their presence; a bustling, thriving spot along the water that beckoned with good food, strong spirits, and an abundance of women to be had for the taking.

In the distance, he spotted an outcropping of buildings. He forced himself to remain perfectly still, completely rigid. His expression would remain chiseled still as stone. It was an integral part of what made him The White Devil.

The docks were alive with fishermen departing for a day at sea; a cacophony of voices reached his ears as they drew closer still. Women hawked pieces of bread and meat for men who would grow hungry before they would again see these shores. Men shouted to one another, inspecting the nets and tossing them onto the decks, gathering their supplies for the hard hours ahead. In the distance, bells rang, their vibrations echoing in the mists of Eire.

Young boys rushed to greet the Viking ship, eager to assist for a coin, while the Celtic men eyed them suspiciously, warily.

Only then did Hvitr Bard remove his hands from behind his back. He raised one hand, and the rowing behind him stopped. With a gesture only his men recognized, they rose as one and prepared to come ashore.

The sail unfurled behind him as they pulled alongside the docks. Under the expert hands of his men, it would be folded and readied for the next voyage, whenever that should be. At a moment’s notice, they could be called to the north or the south to quell some uprising against them or to settle an old score with either the Celts or the Normans, or simply to raid another monastery or castle.




Standing near the dragonhead at the bow, he loomed above the men on shore, but when he leapt to the dock below, it was with the fluid grace and agility of a smaller, more slender man. He landed on his feet, his knees only slightly bending, before rising to his full height. The crowds parted as The White Devil stepped among them, their eyes wide, unblinking, frightened. The women clasped their hands to their chests, backing away, while the men avoided his path and averted their eyes. Many of them had seen him countless times before and yet each time it was the same: he was feared. And he was reviled.


The White Devil of Dublin is unique because it combines a present-day police investigation with events that transpired in Dublin during the time of the Viking conquest and the Norman invasion. The action moves back and forth between the two periods, unfolding as Ryan puts the pieces together. The reader discovers the secret as Ryan does; a secret his family kept hidden for more than eight hundred years, and which led a present-day albino killer to seek Ryan out from halfway around the world, intent on destroying him.

I enjoy writing contemporary suspense because I love the action and adventure, of propelling a story forward with breakneck speed, and of keeping readers turning the pages as they hurtle toward the final climactic scene. The White Devil of Dublin, like many of my other works, is also considered a romantic suspense and I was as surprised as anyone when I fell in love with the original albino that crossed Ryan's ancestors' paths in the 12th century.

I wrote the story of The White Devil in Ireland first and then went back to the beginning and interspersed it with Ryan's present-day investigation, polishing and blending as both stories come together. Layers of each character are unveiled as their stories intertwine, and I have to admit that I cried some and felt happiness and romance and joy right along with my characters. When I wrote the climactic scene, I knew I had to make it big and I also knew I had to make Ryan face one of his worst fears - that of heights. So the final scene takes place atop a water tower during a storm in which the clouds almost seem to reach to the top of the structure.


NEXT BLOGGERS

Three bloggers will pick up with this worldwide blog tour from here, posting next week, July 21. I hope you'll visit each of them. I'm sure you'll enjoy their books. I highly recommend following them!

Carol Dean Jones: http://caroldeanjones.wordpress.com

Maggie Thom: http://maggiethom.wordpress.com/the-write-to-read/

Bonnie Watson:  https://wisdomnovels.wordpress.com/