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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Power of Sound

Few people think about sound when they think about the act of writing or reading. Yet sound can be a powerful force through the entire process of developing each scene... to reading someone else’s writing.

Consider when a book is made into a movie, how the scenes are enhanced through music. The pages of a book cannot convey that music (though who knows what enhancements eBooks will bring) but it can alter the way in which the writer constructs the story.

I know a man who has television sets in every room and each one is set to the same station with back-to-back coverage of politics. For every news story, there are hours of pundits and their predictions. Over the years, I’ve seen this individual become very narrow-minded, extremely negative and downright unhappy. The same thing has played out with another man I know who listens to back-to-back political radio programs throughout every waking hour.

The shows in the background might be considered simply “white noise” to them, something to keep them from feeling completely alone. But the words seep into the mind, deep into the consciousness and affect what they think and feel.

If you don’t think sound can alter your emotions, consider some of the most compelling movie scores. Listen to the music below. Close your eyes and see what your inner mind sees.



Now listen to this music. Compare the varied emotions:



If you are a writer, what are you listening to and how does it affect what you write? If you are a reader, do you read in silence or listen to music? What music might you hear in your mind as you read various scenes?

Vicki’s Key, p.m.terrell’s 13th release, can now be pre-ordered through www.pmterrell.com. Official release date is March 17, 2012—St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Passing the Torch...

Earlier this week, I had the honor of receiving my first blog award. The best perk about getting it is the suggestion that I pass it along to three more individuals whose blogs are noteworthy. So I'd like to introduce the three authors who I felt deserved the All Around Wonderful Blog Award.

The first author is no stranger to just about anyone following my blog. Alex Cavanaugh posts seven days a week to his Ninja Army, often garnering upwards of 100 comments per post. He is witty, intelligent, engaging, a movie buff and has the ability to get everybody interested in what he has to say. Alex writes science fiction - CassaStar was released to great acclaim last year and CassaFire will be released in time for everyone to buy it at Book 'Em North Carolina on February 25.

The second author is one I recently discovered. Amber Scott writes amazing romantic suspense that jumps off the pages and truly makes you care about the characters. I first read Irish Moon; I was researching Ireland and stumbled across it and once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I then read Fierce Dawn, which has her same trademark style but in a different setting, one which I liken to a cross between True Blood and X-Men. Amber has a rabid following, having started The Hot Club on Facebook which gets very active followers each day. She's been a breath of fresh air with regard to book marketing and promotion and and all-around great person to have gotten to know.

And the third author is Bonnie Watson. I've known Bonnie the longest, having met her soon after my first suspense/thriller was published. Not only is she an awesome writer of fantasy, she is also an incredible artist. Take a look at her blog and website and you'll see what I mean! She created the covers for two of my books - River Passage and Songbirds are Free. She has been hard at work on her Blue Moon Rising series; she'll have at least two of the books in the series at Book 'Em North Carolina. Pop on over to her blogspot to read some of her short stories.

It has been a pleasure to know all three of these authors - one of the biggest perks to being an author is meeting great folks like them. So I hope you'll visit their blogs, subscribe to them, and enjoy their posts as much as I do!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Ghostly Tale

When I was young, we used to visit my grandparents in the family's Plymouth Fury. We always managed to ride in the pitch blackness along winding, desolate roads bordered by giant trees whose branches reached across the roadway like hands waiting to snatch us. Our Plymouth had the largest windows of any vehicle I ever remembered, which made me feel especially vulnerable when my older sister insisted on telling us ghost stories.

Hearing about ghosts and even seeing them was nothing new to us.

I remember the first time I ever saw a ghost as vividly as though it happened yesterday. I might have been about four years old. I was piled in the bed with my older sister and brother and my younger brother, while my mother lay with us and told us bedtime stories.

I remember looking at the end of the bed and seeing a man standing there, staring at my mother. She saw him as well, as did my siblings, and she started calling to my father to come to us. I remember, even at that young age, thinking, "Dad's going to be mad!"

When my father walked across the threshold into the bedroom, the man disappeared. I remember crawling out of bed and looking for him, but of course he was gone.

Two days later, my mother received a phone call. A man she had dated for nine years before she met my father had died two days earlier. He had always loved my mother, always wanted to marry her. And when she married another, he never married. He died alone in his home, reaching for the phone as he began to hemorrhage. The time of death was estimated at the very time he was standing in my mother's bedroom.

Through the years I've seen many ghosts. Some friendly, some loving, other mischievous and some frightening. Shown below: scenes from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir



What ghosts have you seen?

Vicki's Key, p.m.terrell's 13th published book, features a psychic spy, Vicki Boyd, who also sees ghosts. Part ghost story, part romance, part international intrigue, reviewer Marcia Freespirit says it's "riveting, spellbinding, sexy, intense... terrell's best book yet!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Wonderful Blog Award

I don't usually post on Mondays - Wednesdays are my posting days - but I wanted to write a special blog to thank fellow author Pamela June Kimmell for awarding me The All Around Wonderful Blog Award. I have been a follower and fan of Pam's blog, One Spoiled Cat, for some time now and admire her ability to write a blog seven days a week.

Some of my fellow authors write for other authors, posting tips on writing or the publishing industry. I have chosen to write for people who share a love of reading. It is my belief that reading a book can change your mood, alter your day or transform your life. It feeds us in either positive or negative ways, depending on what we are reading. It opens new worlds, allows us to explore new frontiers, to move into the past or flash forward to the future.

Reading and writing has been with me through my darkest hours and my brightest days. And while a movie might capture your attention for a couple of hours, a book engages your mind and your spirit. You can become the main character (or any character you connect with) and long after you put that book down, those people, that setting, that era - has the power to remain with you.

So, what am I reading this month?

I started out the month with Amber Scott's excellent book Irish Moon, which took me back to Ireland in a time when Christianity was on the rise and paganism was punishable by death...

I love it so much I read another book by Amber Scott, Fierce Dawn, which is like True Blood Meets X-Men: totally captivating and engaging.

And I just finished Erin Quinn's Haunting Beauty, which mesmerized me so much when I reached the last page, I turned to the first page and began reading it all over again. I also ordered her other three books in her Haunting series.

What are you reading? Which books have remained with you over the years and continue to captivate and enthrall you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Perfect Man

They say that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and definitely one of the perks in writing your own books is the ability to interject that beauty whenever and wherever you wish.

So when I began the Black Swamp Mysteries series, I decided one of the characters would appear to be the perfect man. Of course, no one is perfect, even in books, so as the layers were peeled back, he becomes more than a little flawed. But it turned out, he also became downright irresistible.

His name is Dylan Maguire and he makes his first appearance in Vicki's Key. He was only meant to be in that one book but I must have done my job a little too well because the editors and advance readers convinced me this guy had to be in the entire series. And I happen to agree.

The body type was easy. Dylan, an Irishman who moves to America, would be taller than most men. Large, with broad shoulders, muscular arms, strong thighs. A man's man. And also a woman's dream lover.

If the book was made into a movie, the perfect actor would be Russell Crowe, looking like he did in the movie Master and Commander (shown at right). Who, incidentally, was my pick for the role of Ramses the Great if Anne Rice's book, The Mummy, was ever made into a movie. Too bad it hasn't. But there's always time...

Dylan's eyes are hazel, which means in some lights and some moods, they appear greener while in others they have tints of gold flecks. The most captivating characteristic about them is when he smiles; they form half-moons which show his inner spirit, his love of life itself and his eternal optimism. His hair is deep brown, not quite black, and his brows heavy and masculine. For his eyes, I turned to Pierce Brosnan, who also happens to be an Irishman...

Interestingly enough, in the picture on the left, Pierce also has a five o'clock shadow. And in researching "the perfect man" I discovered a treasure trove of surveys and studies in which women overwhelmingly selected men with five o'clock shadows as the sexiest... Not clean shaven, not bearded or mustached... but just the hint that they culd grow a beard easily if they wanted to. So Dylan sports a five o'clock shadow, of course.

In Vicki's Key, Vicki Boyd arrives at a new job assisting an elderly woman only to find out Laurel Maguire had suffered a stroke and her nephew had arrived from Ireland to care for her. Dylan is quite the handyman around the house, seemingly everywhere at once. And while he can be gentle and incredibly sexy, he is also a champion kickboxer. A quick, hot temper begins to emerge and so does a ruthlessness that Vicki finds can be terrifying.  And as Vicki's past begins to collide with her future and Dylan's secrets begin to emerge, they find themselves on a collision course - to murder.

As I was working on the book, I heard Dylan's Irish brogue in my head as easily as I heard my own voice. I knew it was important for the reader to hear that same voice, so I made his character so he is not well educated. He is from the working class, using words and phrases in a cadence uniquely his own. His father, he tells Vicki, left his mother and himself when he was only three years old. His mother cried every night. He asks Vicki why she is crying, and when she answers "I don't know" he responds, "Same thin' me mum used to say. 'What are you cryin' for, Mum?' I'd say. 'I don't know.' 'Well, you do it every night. Seems like you'd 'ave figured it out by now.' "

While I was writing, I had the television set on low at one point and I heard Dylan's voice popping out of the tube. Glancing up, I found the movie Leap Year was on HBO. Matthew Goode, an Englishman by birth, didn't think he did a good job with an Irish accent but I think he captured Dylan's voice, as heard in this clip below:



Dylan turns into a complex man with deeply ingrained flaws. But that is what makes him even more interesting and even intriguing. His story is so complex that you'll find it unveiled throughout the series, layer by enticing layer.

If you could create your perfect man, who would he be? What would he sound like, look like, act like?

Vicki's Key, p.m.terrell's 13th book, will be released in March 2012 in trade paperback and in eBook format. It is available now for pre-order at www.pmterrell.com. Bengal Book Reviews says it is "riveting, spellbinding...sexy, intense, stay-up-all-night until you are done thriller... terrell's best book yet!" Part ghost story, part romance, part international intrigue... and ALL p.m.terrell!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What Does It Take to Organize a Book Fair?

If you've ever wondered what some authors do in their spare time (or at least this one!) pop on over to Elizabeth Spann Craig's blogspot, Mystery Writing is Murder, to read my guest post about what it's taken to get the Inaugural Book 'Em North Carolina event off the ground!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Entertaining, Engaging... and Surprising at Every Turn!

I could never be one of those authors who writes by a formula. My fans deserve better. And I have the kind of mind that fast-forwards a hundred steps and needs a lot to keep me engaged and interested. So I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas, different characters, detailed, engaging plots with twists and turns at every angle...

So when I decided to write a series, it was a huge step for me. Write about the same characters? In the same town? Me?

So, what makes Vicki's Key different from all my other books? And why was I confident this IS the series to write?

Vicki's Key is a cross-over genre. It's the mystery and suspense my fans have come to love. But unlike my other books, it starts off more slowly. Then like a ball rolling downhill, it gathers momentum until it has you by the throat, hurling you along at roller coaster speeds. Everything means something. EVERYTHING. Every piece of information comes together as you head toward the climactic scene.

It is also a ghost story. And Vicki Boyd, one of the main characters, is a psychic spy for the CIA. This crosses into the paranormal realm, but it's done so seamlessly that you'll feel like you are traveling from Lumberton, North Carolina to Afghanistan and back as Vicki unravels a plot against the United States Government.

Vicki saw her parents' deaths before it occurred. She was only 12 years old at the time and the adults around her either ignored her, chalked it up to an overactive imagination, or thought she might be losing her mind. But within weeks, her parents were dead and Vicki, along with her sister and two brothers, were placed into foster homes, scattered and separated for the rest of their childhoods. The incident attracted the CIA's attention and Vicki became the ward of the U.S.Government and trained as a psychic spy.

But when a mission known as the Amazon Incident goes horribly wrong, she decides to leave the CIA and start over in a small town, working for an elderly woman. It's only a summer job but it takes her out of Washington to a small town in southeastern North Carolina, where she can emotionally recover and decide what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

But when she arrives, she finds that Laurel Maguire has suffered a stroke and remains isolated on the third floor of a rambling mansion. And her nephew Dylan has arrived from Ireland to care for her.

The house comes alive with ghostly sightings - ice cold spots, icy hands at her back, visions of blood in the bathtub, a woman screaming at her to run... And Vicki begins to wonder whether she is losing her mind.

But she is also falling in love with the handsome and charming Dylan Maguire. He seems to be everything she is not: outgoing, unafraid, eager to experience life... seductive, protective... and mysterious. Vicki's Key is also a romance, filling requests from my fans to show more..

Vicki soon begins to realize that all is not what it seems at Aunt Laurel's home. And when the CIA comes calling with one more mission for her, she soon finds the haunted house with its deep, foreboding secrets is about to collide with her CIA assignment... in murder.

In coming weeks, find out who inspired the characters of Vicki Boyd, Dylan Maguire, and others...

What are you reading these days? What genre is it, and how it is attracting and keeping your attention?

Vicki's Key debuts as an eBook on February 1, 2012 and in trade paperback in March 2012. Advance orders for the printed edition are now being taken at www.pmterrell.com.