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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Work in Progress - Writing AND Events

Last Friday on the Book 'Em North Carolina blogspot, I wrote about all I have been involved in with organizing the annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. It has to be a labor of love because it takes so many hours out of every week, all year long. I've been very blessed and fortunate to have more and more people helping me out, taking on larger roles, and carrying more of the weight.

If you missed my blog, follow this link to find out how I spend much of my time when I am not actively writing.

I hope you'll join me for the next event - Saturday, February 22, 2014 I'll be at Robeson Community College in Lumberton, North Carolina. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Teaser - Wrapping Up

My next book, The Pendulum Files, is due to be released this March and I am spending this week finishing up the last of the edits. When my first suspense was published, it took more than a year for the book to go from the editing phase to the bookshelves. Now it seems the process has sped up like supersonic jets. Sometimes the book cover is completed and online before I am halfway finished writing the first draft.

This year I have committed to finishing three manuscripts: the first, the one I am editing now, is still scheduled for release on March 17, 2014.

The second will be the sequel to The Tempest Murders, which placed as one of four finalists in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards. The Tempest Murders has also been nominated for the 2014 International Book Awards. I have pieces of the plot in my mind and the general outline has already been done and accepted. The target date for publication if I meet all my deadlines is the fall of 2014.

The third book is the 6th in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, which has Vicki and Dylan returning to Ireland for their honeymoon. Of course, things will not go as planned and Vicki will find out exactly what Dylan's Mam meant when she said that "in Ireland, the veil is thin"!

Just a few years ago, I couldn't imagine writing three books in one year. But like anything, I have found that the more I write (which is every day) the faster the writing becomes. And my editors tell me that they have fewer edits each time around, which I hope means I am getting better.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shots in the Stomach

I have always been afraid of needles. I know exactly when the fear began: when I was 12 years old, I underwent surgery for a genetic intestinal issue called Meckel's Diverticulum. Afterward, I was hospitalized with IV's in both arms. For whatever reason, the IV's were constantly slipping out of my veins, and the blood or fluids they were pumping into me went into my tissues instead, causing my arms to balloon up. Again and again, I underwent the pain of the nurses reinserting the needles and tubes until both arms were black and blue and swollen.

Flashing forward several decades, when I underwent a heart procedure recently the nurses could not get the IV's started in my arms. At one point, I had a nurse on either side of me, each poking and prodding with their needles, complaining audibly about my collapsed veins as tears streamed down my cheeks.

So imagine the look on my face when I was told I needed to undergo immunotherapy - and I would be taught to give myself two shots every other day in the stomach.

It seems that my allergies are beyond the control of medications. I have liver damage which is believed to have been caused by the use of allergy medications over an extended period of time - nearly four decades. My system has built up an immunity to the medicines and especially since my major allergen is mold, there are very few resources left that can help me.

So the answer appears to be to inject myself with mold every other day through one shot, and inject myself with pollens every other day through another shot.

The old method was to go to a doctor's office once a week and have a nurse give the shots. The patient had to remain in the waiting room for 20 minutes to see if there was a reaction, which could be life-threatening. It meant driving to the doctor's office, waiting, and then driving back to the office or home.

Not anymore. Now they teach the patient how to give themselves their own shots. It means staring at the needle to find the pointed edge (unlike sewing needles, there isn't a point in the center, but along one side), holding the needle so the point goes in just right, pulling back on the plunger to see if blood floods the syringe (if it did, it hit a vein and the needle has to be pulled back out and destroyed, and I have to go through the process again and try not to hit a vein next time) ... And once the needle is inserted and no vein was struck, I have to inject the allergen into my body. Then do it again with a second dose.

I had to undergo training on the Epi-Pen, in the event that I suffered a reaction after the injections - if I could no longer breathe, if I became dizzy, if my throat began to swell... Which involves injecting myself in the thigh with a needle that provides adrenaline. If you watched the movie SALT with Angelina Jolie, you might remember her thrusting the needle into her leg. The entire audience cringed.

All of this for someone who is afraid of needles.

It has been a couple of months since I began giving myself the injections. There have been times when I have mangled it horribly and have bruises that look like I've been in a boxing ring. Other times, I bleed. But then there are days when I get the hang of it and I'm quite proud of myself for persevering.

Will all of this find its way into one of my books? You betcha. There is nothing scarier than a hypodermic needle.

Friday, January 17, 2014

An Update on Angel

I received quite a few emails about the story of Angel, the collie/ border collie mix who was found half-frozen on Thanksgiving Day with two broken legs. Earlier this week, I received an unexpected visit from Angel and her foster parents. And I have to say, if I didn't already have a houseful of dogs, Angel would not have left.

She is absolutely adorable. Her legs have healed and the only consideration is to keep her from gaining too much weight (bad for anybody's bones) and adopting her into a family in a temperate area, as cold, snow and ice might aggravate the metal pins she has in one leg.

She is about 4-5 months old, and as you can see from the video below, she gets along wonderfully with other dogs. Lucy Loo in particular really enjoyed playing with her. The man in the video is the Assistant Manager at the Robeson County Humane Society, and also along with his wife provide Angel's foster home.



They have already received several applications from folks wanting to adopt her. When she is adopted, I'll be sure to post it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Midwest Book Review

This year has started off in an exciting way for me, with the cover of Southern Writers Magazine and hearing that The Tempest Murders placed as a finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards. And the good news continues, with this latest review from Midwest Book Review's Richard R. Blake:

Terrell’s writing is absorbing, brilliant in scope, classic in style, with a hard driving action plot, and unique in the personality development of resilient, believable characters. Readers will appreciate her board insights into police procedure and human nature, and word pictures and descriptions that create vivid visual perceptions of the setting, action, and the climatic uncertainty of the outcome of the fast moving complex plot.


“The Tempest Murders” is destined to become another award winner for this already established internationally acclaimed author.

You can read the entire review at Midwest Book Review, on amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other book sites.   The decision when writing the book was to make it into a series if it was well received, so I am hard at work on the sequel, which is tentatively scheduled for release in the autumn of 2014 - just months away!   To purchase the book from amazon, follow this link.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Work in Progress - Book Events

I've been asked many times by authors participating in a Book 'Em event, how they can do the same thing in their community. The Book 'Em Foundation was set up to allow only one event per state, and we try to space them far enough apart so they don't compete against one another.

It takes me an entire year to prepare for a Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. Sometimes when I look at my writing commitments, my volunteer commitments and my editorial commitments, it boggles my mind how I manage to do it all. But then, I don't have children at home and I long ago sacrificed my private life to my commitments.

If you're curious what I do all year long to prepare for Book 'Em, check out this post that ran last Friday on Book 'Em's blogspot: http://bookemnc.blogspot.com/2014/01/book-em-north-carolina-how-it-happened.html

Meanwhile, I am trying to get the final edits done on The Pendulum Files so I can possibly have some advance copies available for the Book 'Em event. The official release date is March 17!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Perception

Everything I write in my suspense/thrillers is colored by perception. The events that unfold are told through the lens of a particular character, whether it's the Irish detective Ryan O'Clery, the psychic spy Vicki Boyd, the Irish CIA operative Dylan Maguire, or others. It's their background, their position in the story, and all that makes them who they are, that slants the action in one way or another.

To see just how critical perception is, just look at the world through an animal's eyes. I have three dogs - a collie, a Jack Russell, and a Jack Russell mix. Every day someone pulls in front of my house and stops for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. Each time, the dogs rush through the doggie doors, descend together in front of the gate at the end of the driveway and bark their heads off. And each time they frighten the intruder away. Yet he's back at the same time the next day - except he takes Sundays off.

To my dogs, they have protected my house and its inhabitants. They have pulled together, ready to fight, ready to warn everyone within hearing distance of the stranger at the edge of our property. They remain ever diligent for more intruders, ready to repeat the performance whenever another threat is detected.

Who is this stranger, who pulls in front of my home? Who stops his car and then pulls away after a few seconds - or up to a full minute - later?

It's the mailman.

In a book, it is the unknown that increases the suspense. It is seeing things through a character's eyes when the character has not yet figured things out. Of course, for it to be a good read, a satisfying read, at the end the stranger can't be a mailman - unless, like Three Days of the Condor, he comes bearing weapons with the intent to kill.

Sometimes, it's all in perception.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Musing - Dog Rescue

So everyone who knows me knows how much I love all of God's creatures (okay, I'm working on spiders and snakes) and this past week an email came to me that was both disturbing and heartwarming.

On Thanksgiving Day, someone found a three-month-old puppy, a Border Collie/Collie mix, nearly frozen in the road. This kind person took the puppy to a local veterinarian, where they discovered both back legs were broken, as well as the right tibia and the left femur. The injuries were consistent with someone having thrown the dog out of a moving car.

She was named Angel and was brought to the Robeson County Humane Society in Lumberton, North Carolina. They paid for surgery and while she does have a pin in her leg, she has recovered very nicely. A foster couple currently has her in their home, and they have potty-trained and crate-trained her. They tell me that despite the cruelty and the pain she endured, she is very, very sweet and loving.

To read more about her, follow this link.

The story was disturbing to me because I do not understand the cruelty of some people. I don't know of any other creature that treats others with such hatred and disregard for their health and safety. Just thinking of that poor puppy lying in the roadway freezing to death with broken legs brings me to tears.

The story was also heartwarming, because a chain of people stepped in to save this dear puppy's life and nurse her back to health... From the person who found her in the roadway, to the veterarians who worked to save her life and her legs, to the Robeson County Humane Society whose volunteers footed the veterinary bills, to the foster couple who lovingly care for her...

Angel will soon be ready to find her Forever Home, and I hope that all of the loving and giving people that have come into her life have completely erased the memories of the cruel and inhumane treatment she endured.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Busy with Book 'Em

This week my work has gone into overdrive. I am usually very busy between writing my suspense/thrillers and now working with a publisher to edit other authors' works. But to add to that mix, Book 'Em North Carolina is just a few weeks away. It consumes about 20 hours a week for me, year round, but during this time of the year it can often shoot to 40 hours or more.

If you missed my post earlier this week at the Book 'Em North Carolina blogspot, you can read how I co-founded The Book 'Em Foundation with Police Officer Mark Kearney, which led to the establishment of the annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair.

Just follow this link to read my blog, and follow this link to read more about our upcoming event.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Making the Cover of Southern Writers Magazine

I received an incredible honor this month; I made the cover of Southern Writers Magazine, a fabulous publication for authors and readers. They wrote a wonderful article about my secrets to writing suspense, and mentioned a cause that is dear to my heart: Book 'Em North Carolina, which raises money to increase literacy rates and raises public awareness of the direct link between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates.

You can read Southern Writers Magazine in traditional print or in eBook format. Just follow this link.

Book 'Em North Carolina is less than seven weeks away. I hope you'll consider attending the event on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at Robeson Community College in Lumberton, North Carolina. We bring together more than 75 authors, publishers, literary agents, movie makers, and rock stars to raise money for literacy campaigns in Robeson County, North Carolina. This year we have our best line-up ever, with headliners:

Bob Mayer, considered the Father of Factual Fiction, a New York Times bestselling author of more than 52 books;

Haywood Smith, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors of such greats as The Red Hat Club and The Red Hat Club Rides Again;

Scott Mason, the Emmy-award-winning host of the television series The Tarheel Traveler, who has written a book about the zaniest, wackiest things he's covered;

Adam Cushman of Red 14 Films, a Hollywood production company that specializes in getting the movie industry's attention for turning books into movies, through visual mediums;

Jamie Oldaker, the drummer for Eric Clapton and many rock legends, who is writing his memoirs on how a small boy with big dreams grew up to share the stage with music's most legendary performers;

and John Regan, the guitarist for legends such as Peter Frampton, Mick Jagger and David Bowie, who will speak about songwriting.

For more information about the event, which is FREE to all attendees (plus free parking) visit www.bookemnc.org.

Speaking of songwriting, I am very proud of my brother-in-law Robby Hicks, who co-wrote the song All the Difference in the World. The song has been performed by Russian musicians, including singer Ksenona, and it's one example of what the arts can do to promote peace in the world. It's the perfect song for starting the new year and in many people's opinion, the perfect song for the upcoming Olympics in Russia:



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Trend: Ladies' Braids

Last week I watched a television show on 2013 trends. One trend, which is expected to intensify through 2014, was hairstyles that included braids.

I found this very interesting because in my latest release, The Tempest Murders, Irish Detective Ryan O'Clery has a total fascination with long tresses that are pulled into braids or buns. It turns out that his ancestor, Rian Kelly, the man whose memories O'Clery relives in his dreams, had the same fascination.

Here is an excerpt from The Tempest Murders. It's been referred to as "the bathtub scene" between Rian Kelly and his lover, Cait O'Conor:

Leaning against him with her back against his chest was the woman he loved more than life itself.


She ran her hands along his legs as they rested on either side of her, sending a surge of emotion through him. “If we stay here much longer,” she was saying, “we’re likely to look like a couple of prunes.” She lifted one shapely leg out of the water as if to prove her point and he found himself staring at a birthmark that looked like a dainty dragonfly had landed on her ankle.

“Don’t make us move yet, Cait,” he answered. “It feels too good. I want this moment to last forever.”

She turned her face toward him and smiled. Her hair was pulled on top of her head in a loose, quickly arranged bun and he considered grabbing the pin that held it in place and allowing it to cascade over his body. But he knew the length of the brown tresses would reach the water and she’d made it clear in a gentle way that she wanted to keep it dry. He knew once they climbed out of the bath, she would allow her hair to escape from its confines and it would surround them as it had just an hour ago during their passionate lovemaking.

And later in the same scene (because it gets rather steamy):

When their ardor grew too intense for the bath’s confines, she reluctantly pulled back from him, her fingers lingering even as she rose to her feet. Now he had an unencumbered view of a body that might not have been perfect but it was perfect for him. The candlelight danced over skin that was taut and ivory as most Irish skin can be; the small of her back gently sloping to a full derriere that he couldn’t resist leaning forward and kissing as his arms wrapped around her thighs. He was gentle enough not to cause her to lose her balance and when she turned toward him in a flirtatious, playful manner, his kisses swept around her body.


As he glanced upward, her breasts enticed him and her hands moved from his hair to her own. She pulled the pin, releasing her tresses so they cascaded across her shoulders and down her back. Her hair always threatened to send him over the edge; it was carnal this hold she had on him, and he felt himself a willing prisoner.

The Tempest Murders was one of four finalists in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards (cross-genre category) and is a nominee for the 2014 International Book Awards. You can buy it at any book store or through amazon in trade paperback or Kindle format. It is also available for iBooks, the Nook and other eFormats.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Resolutions - Just a Wish List?

The holidays are over, the decorations put away, and as people around the world get back to work, it's time for those New Years Resolutions. No doubt what tops a lot of lists are losing weight, getting more exercise, eating healthier... And among my author friends I've heard selling more books and writing more books.

Do you know what can make the most significant difference in a resolution that is fulfilled versus one that fails miserably?

A plan.

If you want to lose weight, for example, but you eat the same way today as you did last month and last year, how can that help you reach your goal? Short and simple: it can't. It simply becomes a wish for something to happen. Sometimes wishes come true. But most often, we have to make them happen.

Once an author understands the process of writing and is getting their books published and in the hands of the readers, the whole dynamic changes to selling those books. And as many of my author friends know, simply stating that you want to sell more books does not make it happen. You need a plan.

There is not one-size-fits-all; that one solution that works for any and all writers.

I know authors who concentrate on in-store book signings and appearances, connecting one-on-one with their readers and book store staffs. They rack up thousands of miles of travel each year, living out of suitcases and hotel rooms, always moving from one place to another and rarely getting home.

I know others who tout the power of a blog. They blog seven days a week, day in and day out, rarely if ever taking one day off. They spend their days conversing with blog followers, visiting their followers' blogs, leaving comments and socializing, all in an attempt to get those followers to like them well enough to buy their books.

I know other authors who spent their time growing Twitter followers, who are constantly checking to see who follows them, unfollowing those that don't socialize, following more in the hopes that they'll be more loyal followers. It's a numbers game, seeing how many followers they can amass, setting goals that are consistently rising, all in an attempt to grow that platform.

Other authors lock onto Facebook day after day, some posting what they're eating for lunch, the results of their last doctor's visit, and what they see out their window. Their goal is to connect with their readers on a personal level, assuming that if they know them a little better, they will buy and read their books.

There are more social networks than this blog could ever mention - from Pinterest to LinkedIn to GoodReads and thousands more... And over this past year, I've met authors and publishers who tell me I MUST be spending hours a day on each of these websites in order to sell books.

If you are an author and you want to sell more books this year, how will you do it? If you simply want to sell more but you don't have a plan, it's nothing more than wishful thinking.

If you have a plan, what is it? Are you going with the tried-and-true, or are you trying something new and different?

If you don't have a plan, maybe your New Years Resolution should be to put together a plan for reaching your goal.

Whatever your resolution might be, I wish you the very best of success with it!