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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Emotional Impact

There’s a simple reason some people enjoy reading particular books, authors or genres. Though they might not realize it, they’ve experienced an emotional impact.

I am currently reading The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin. It is a heart-wrenching story, difficult to read at times and yet I can’t put it down. From the very first page, I was sucked in by the enormous emotional impact.

Noah is a four-year-old who has always been terrified of water and who knows things that can’t be explained, like the identification of lizards, how to score a baseball game or every scene in Harry Potter. His mother chalks it off to an active imagination or even that he’s a liar. But when his stories of being held underwater threaten to involve social services, she has no choice but to find out what’s wrong with him. She goes into debt, her business sidelined and the medical bills mounting yet test after test reveals nothing wrong. Until finally, she is forced to consider the impossible.

What if Noah is the reincarnation of another boy that was killed at the age of eight? A boy that simply disappeared, a boy whose mother is convinced he is still alive and one day he will come home to her? And what if Noah remembers exactly who shot him, exactly who tried to drown him, and exactly where his body is buried?

As an author, I am confronted with the emotional impact with every book I write. I write for my readers and sometimes that means they want to fall in love. Sometimes they want to be whisked away to an exotic location. Sometimes they want to be pulled back in time, perhaps looking for a simpler place, a simpler time only to discover a different set of obstacles. Sometimes the emotional impact comes in the form of having to know what is going to happen next, of solving the puzzle, of learning the answer. Sometimes it’s a heart-thumping read and at other times a breathtaking vista.

When I wrote Clans and Castles, the first book in my new Checkmate series, the emotional impact was even greater for me because I was writing about my ancestor, William Neely. There is something about envisioning an ancestor as a young man filled with hopes and dreams and desires… Knowing he loved deeply and lost intensely… Knowing he left everything he had ever known to forge a new future in a foreign land amidst odd customs, different dialects and warring factions. In a world that is divided today by religion, the divide between the haves and the have nots, power struggles and political alliances and upheavals… and then moving back in time to discover this has occurred for almost as long as man has lived on this earth. Some would flourish despite the odds; others would falter and still others would die far too early in their lives. It is the emotional journey that kept me writing and, like every author, it is the emotional journey that I hope keeps the reader reading…

p.m.terrell is the author of more than 21 books, including her bestselling book, Songbirds areFree, the true story of Mary Neely’s capture by Shawnee warriors; her award-winning River Passage, the true story of the Neely family’s journey westward with John Donelson; the award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries Series and award-winning Ryan O’Clery Mysteries. Discover book trailers, download free excerpts and read more about her books at

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What if you could walk in your ancestor's footsteps?

What if you could walk in your ancestor’s footsteps?

Today’s environment comes with a host of challenges, including economic recession, political drama, declining industries, a shrinking middle class, wars and threats on multiple fronts. It might be easy to come to the conclusion that living in today’s day and age poses more challenges than ever.

But what if you could take a step back in time to live as your ancestors did? What do you suppose you would find there?

I discovered a series entitled Victorian Slum House that takes modern-day families and places them in the environment of their ancestors. The day-to-day struggles are an eye-opener. Consider that during the 1870’s the average lifespan in areas of London was 28. Or the 91,000 Irish that immigrated to London in search of work, many of whom came because they had watched their own family members starve to death during the potato famine. One couple, when arriving in London, discovered lodging meant renting a coffin-shaped bed for eight hours, surrounded by dozens of others; or when the bed could not be afforded, one could sit on a wood bench with a rope that prevented falling off it during sleep for half the cost.

It may be easy to think that if we are doing well economically today, our ancestors did as well. Perhaps we have an image of our ancestors living a simpler life but having all they needed—plenty of food, a stable roof over their heads and adequate, steady employment. The reality, however, may be far from that.

When I began writing Clans and Castles, the first book in the Checkmate series, I was astounded at all I learned about Wigtownshire, Scotland in the early 17th century. The Lowlands of Scotland had become so deforested that it was a crime to cut off a branch, fell a tree or damage a sapling. Tenants often received their homes as part of their payment for work on a laird’s property, and they were moved on an annual basis. Because of that, they tended to build houses that could be erected within two days’ time and often blew away during major storms. They did not understand rudimentary agriculture such as irrigation but often thought if the land was too wet or too dry, it was simply “God’s will”.

It was that environment that my ancestor, William Neely, was born into. At the age of 18, he had the opportunity to leave Wigtownshire for Ulster—an opportunity he jumped at. In the scene below, Wills is with his friends Fergus and Tomas discussing a beautiful woman he has fallen in love with but her father doesn’t seem too keen on him:

“You have been unusually silent since you returned from dinner last eve,” Tomas said. “Things didn’t go well with the lass?”

Wills sighed. “They went well with her, aye. ‘Tis her father I am worried about.”

“What’s the story there, ‘ey?”

With the ropes secured and a short stretch of northward sail before them, Wills leaned against the railing and looked his friend in the eye for a moment. “I am afraid he could be looking for a nobleman for his daughter.”

“Ha! And didn’t we tell you?” Fergus said. “What would she want with the likes of you? More importantly, what would her da want?”

“What of your family?” Tomas pressed.

Wills shrugged. “Truth be told about it, they are tenant farmers—same as the three of us are here. Oh, and for sure, the Neely family has a decent reputation, one that has served us well. It has been a long time since our house and lands were rotated, so the house is sturdier than most and we’ve served the same laird for several generations now, we have.”

“Ah, but there’s the rub, ‘ey? Her father is looking for a nobleman for his daughter; a landowner. And a tenant farmer never owns the land himself, now does he? He tills it or he ranches it for the pleasure of the laird, and at his displeasure, he can be sent packing. ‘Ey?”

He nodded and turned to face the ocean waves. The mists were heavy this morning, the skies gray like his heart at the moment. “But though her da has lived in Donegal for two decades, at least, I had the impression his family was not of there.”


“So why does a man leave all he has ever known for the wilderness of Donegal?” Without waiting for a reply, he jabbed his finger in their direction. “I’ll tell you this, I will. No man leaves home if there is something there for him.”

“Are you suggesting—?”

“I am suggesting that Varney Ó Dálaigh is a self-made man himself. See, here’s the thing: when a man is at the top of the heap, there is no reason for him to leave that. He may own lands, a manor house or a castle, even; he might have the ear of his noblemen neighbors, a place in his community. Why would he give up all of that to travel to a place so vastly different?”

Fergus and Tomas grunted but whether they approved of his logic, Wills couldn’t tell. After another moment of thought, he added, “I’d be willing to bet, I would, that he had nothing to keep him close to his family for a man does not leave home unless he sees a brighter future for himself and his children elsewhere. He brought his wife to Donegal as well, which means at the time he knew he would not likely be returning, and with his two daughters having been born in Donegal, I believe it’s safe to say that he has determined he is better off now than he was before.”

“So where does that leave you?” Tomas asked.

“Truth be told, I left Wigtownshire for the same reason, I did. I knew I was leaving. I just didn’t know when or how.”

“But that doesn’t answer the question, now does it?”

“Oh, I have an answer alright. I do. I came to Ireland to make something more of myself than I figured I could do where I was. And that I will do, or die trying. It’s just now the timetable has sped up a bit, ‘ey?”

If you could place yourself in your ancestor’s shoes, where would you be? Who would you be? How vastly different would your life be from what you are experiencing today, here, in the 21st century?

My ancestor’s life was to change dramatically when Cahir O’Doherty, the last Gaelic Irish King, launched O’Doherty’s Rebellion and he found himself fighting for King James I of England. His actions on the battlefield would set in motion not only his own fate but those of future generations. Here’s a trailer from the book:

p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 21 books, including Songbirds are Free, the true story of Mary Neely’s capture by Shawnee warriors; River Passage, the true story of John Donelson’s river journey to Fort Nashborough; the award-winning series Black Swamp Mysteries and award-winning Ryan O’Clery Mysteries, and more. A full-time writer since 2002, she founded Book‘Em North Carolina and The NovelBusiness to assist other authors and connect readers and authors. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Behind the Bloody Hand

While visiting my ancestral home in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, it is impossible to escape the images of the bloody hand. It appears in various forms, sometimes with lions, a fish, a crown or a knight’s helmet. It can be found on the side of buildings, on flags, at sports complexes or in pubs. And they all tie into the O’Neill’s family crest.

I wrote about the bloody hand in my latest book, Clans and Castles, the first in the new Checkmate series of historical books about my ancestors. The scene takes place in 1608 between my ancestor, William Neely, and an Irish lady named Penarddun who had sewn the Neely family crest for him:

Penarddun slipped her long fingers under the wool and retrieved a piece of material that had quite obviously been painstakingly constructed. In the center was a castle with three turrets sewn in a grayish-black color, above which was the Red Hand of the O’Neill clan.

“Do you know what this is, lad?” she asked.

“I am afraid I do not, Lady Penarddun, though I have seen the hand.”

“Aye, and I am sure you have. It is the Bloody Hand of the Clan O’Neill. It is said that in the days of the Celts, several great chieftains sailed across the waters. They spotted the beautiful Irish coast and as their eyes fell on the magnificent shades of green, they debated who would lay claim to her. Ah, but they were powerful competitors, they were, and after great deliberation they decided they would each row a boat toward the land and whosoever touched her first would lay claim to her.”

She placed both hands on her knees, her eyes staring into the forest and yet seeing something miles and centuries apart. “So off they rowed, and it was a fierce competition, it was. The weaker ones dropped back and seeing that all was lost, they watched as two neared the shore. Oh, they were so close that none could tell who would reach it first and as the final stretch was there for the taking, Niall could not bear to lose that beautiful, precious land. So he reached to his axe and he severed his left hand at the wrist and with his right, he tossed it to shore.”


She smiled. “Aye, and so Niall won, you see, for it was his hand that touched Eire first. It was in the days before we were told we needed last names… So his descendants called themselves ‘uá Niáll’ to mark themselves as the children of the champion, and it’s since been changed to O’Neill. And there you have it.”

As she handed him the material, he said, “You are too kind, Lady Penarddun. But I do not understand what the Bloody Hand of The O’Neill—”

“Your ancestors, dear boy, were descendants of Niall. You are related to the O’Neill clan.”

This was a bombshell revelation to my ancestor because O’Doherty’s Rebellion had begun. Led by the last Gaelic Irish King Cahir O’Doherty, clans that included the O’Neill, Maguire, O’Cahan, O’Donnell, MacSweeney and more united against the Scottish and English settlers, burning their settlements in an attempt to drive them out of Ulster. But Wills, who had immigrated to Ireland from Wigtownshire, Scotland in 1608, was to discover that four hundred years earlier, the Neely family had left Ireland for Scotland—which meant he had come full circle. It also meant that he would soon face off against distant relatives on more than one battlefield; one side would fight to the death to keep Ireland Irish while the other would fight for King James I of England to claim it as a colony.

The words on the Neely family crest mean “One Family, Several Countries” as the family eventually immigrated to such diverse places as Canada, the United States and Australia. Shown here is a modernized version of the family crest.

I did not know what I would find when I began to explore William Neely’s journey from Scotland to Ireland. I found much more than I could have imagined because it was a fascinating period where cultures collided; the Gaelic Irish population against the Scottish and English settlers, the Gaelic Kings against Queen Elizabeth I and then King James I, ultimately the Catholic faith against the Church of Ireland’s Protestants, betrayal… and death.

Below is a trailer:

Clans and Castles, the first book in the Checkmate series is now available on amazon in Kindle and Paperback, and will be in all bookstores on June 1. Autographed copies can also be ordered from the author’s website. p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 21 books in a variety of genres.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Journey of the Scot-Irish

The odyssey into my family's history has taken me to unexpected places, and anyone of Scot-Irish (or Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish) descent likely has ancestors that traveled a similar path. Scotland is only twenty miles or so across the Irish Sea from Ireland and the inhabitants of both countries likely sailed from one country to the other at various times. But the modern version of the Scot-Irish descendent has its roots in the 17th century and specifically between 1606 and 1652.

In the late 16th century, Spain and England were at war. And in 1588, Philip II of Spain dispatched 130 ships in a failed effort to invade England. Having been defeated at the Battle of Gravelines, the Spanish ships attempted to return home by taking a route around western Ireland when they were caught by a massive storm, blown off course and onto Ireland’s western coast. Queen Elizabeth I believed the Spaniards were attempting to occupy Ireland and she sent a substantial force to stop the invasion. With rumors that Spain was sending additional troops to assist Ulster’s Hugh O’Neill in driving out the English, the English onslaught was merciless. Around 5,000 Spanish were killed and those few that survived escaped across Ireland and the Irish Sea to Scotland and the English occupation of Ireland began in earnest.

When King James I ascended to the English thrown after Elizabeth's death, the age of colonization began in full swing. King James wanted more Protestants loyal to the English Crown in Ireland to prevent Spain from attempting another invasion and to ensure that Ireland remained an English colony. Scottish Lowlanders were encouraged to relocate to Ireland, particularly Ulster. Scottish Highlanders were forbidden from participating in the relocation because they were largely Catholic and they had been less agreeable to England (to put it mildly).

In 1608, my ancestor, William Neely of Wigtownshire, joined Captain William Stewart and moved to Donegal. Fort Stewart was eventually erected on the Lough Swilly just across the water from the Inishowen Peninsula. That Peninsula was in the firm control of Sir Cahir O'Doherty, whose family had ruled Inishowen for more than one thousand years.

In discovering my roots, I discovered the role that the Scot-Irish played in Ireland's history. Born in Scotland and migrating to Ulster, they formed Plantations similar to those in America's Deep South, consisting of potato or vegetable farms and cattle and sheep herding. The men that journeyed there were searching for a better life, as the Scottish Lowlands had been deforested and were in a bleak state in the early 17th century. However, it meant displacing the native Irish - and therein lay the conflict.

William Neely and William Stewart were to come face to face with the chieftains of powerful Gaelic Irish clans, including Cahir O'Doherty, Niall Garbh O'Donnell, Phelim MacDavitt and The MacSweeneys. And the struggle for the future of Ireland would pit the native Irish against the Lowland Scots, culminating in O'Doherty's Rebellion.

The first book in my new series, Checkmate, is entitled Clans and Castles and it begins with William Neely joining Captain Stewart in sailing to Ulster and settling in Donegal. It introduces the complexity of the relationships between the Irish chieftains and the settlers, leading to O'Doherty's Rebellion and its aftermath.

If you are a descendent of Scot-Irish heritage, this is your ancestor's story as well.

It is now available on Kindle and in other formats on Smashwords, and it will be available soon in the iBooks store, Barnes and Noble Nook and other eBook stores. The paperback officially launches on June 1. If you'd like a personalized autograph copy of Clans and Castles or any of my books, please visit my website. Free shipping!

I hope you'll join me in taking a look at our ancestors' lives and seeing them come alive through the pages. For more information, check out my website. This is the first in a new series that will take the Neely family - and the Scot-Irish - through a journey that begins in the 17th century and is on-going today. The series will cover a number of events and rebellions in Ulster eventually leading to Irish independence for the Republic of Ireland but the establishment of Northern Ireland remaining under British rule, as well as both World Wars and the migration of the Scot-Irish from Ulster to America and beyond.

Watch the short video below about Clans and Castles.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in various genres. Her love of Ireland is apparent in her suspense books such as The Tempest Murders, The White Devil of Dublin, Dylan's Song and Cloak and Mirrors. Her most popular book is Songbirds are Free, the true story of Mary Neely's abduction by Shawnee warriors in 1780 near Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, TN), and River Passage, the true story of the Neely family's river journey to Fort Nashborough at the height of the Chickamauga Indian Wars won the 2010 Best Drama Award.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

O'Doherty's Rebellion

April 19 is the anniversary of O’Doherty’s Rebellion, which took place in Ulster, Ireland in 1608. Chances are you’ve never heard of it but if you are of Scot-Irish descent, this was a significant event in your ancestor’s life.

In the decades before O’Doherty’s Rebellion, Queen Elizabeth I sent English and Scottish troops to Ireland in an effort to colonize it. The Spanish Armada had come ashore in 1588; some accounts claim that the ships had been blown off course during a gale while others claimed that Spain intended to colonize Ireland. Concerned, Queen Elizabeth sent legions of soldiers to the island to prevent Spain from claiming it. The result were decades of war with Spain and with Ireland, particularly those fiercely independent clans in Ulster.

When King James I succeeded Elizabeth, colonization expanded dramatically. He offered Scottish Lowlanders the option of moving to Ulster in order to establish plantations. Scottish Highlanders were forbidden from participating because they had been a constant thorn in England’s side, whereas the Lowlanders were more likely to be Protestants and agreeable with the English monarchy.

One Gaelic Irish Lord was Cahir O’Doherty. He was a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, one of the greatest High Kings of Ireland, and Cahir’s family had ruled the Inishowen Peninsula in northwestern Ireland for more than one thousand years. Cahir became the Lord of the O’Doherty Clan when he was only fifteen years old when his father passed away. It was a critical time in the nation’s history, as Sir Henry Docwra of England was under siege at Derry and both he and his soldiers were facing starvation or a soldier’s death.

Cahir made the critical decision to turn against other clans such as the powerful O’Neills and O’Donnells and he came to Docwra’s rescue. He fought alongside the English during the Nine Years’ War, becoming knighted and known as “The Queen’s O’Doherty” under Elizabeth, and becoming accepted in the Duke of Wales’ Court under King James.

But Docwra was soon replaced with Sir George Paulet, a man that did not hide his hatred for the Irish. Paulet became the Governor of Derry and participated in a scorched earth policy along with Arthur Chichester, who ruled all of Ireland for the English Crown. He was constantly attempting to seize the O’Doherty’s lands, although they had been protected by the Crown, and the two men became bitter enemies.

That all came to a head on April 19, 1608. Cahir had grown into a handsome man of 6’8”—incredibly tall for that time period. He wore a Spanish-style metal cap with a tall feather and often rode in front of his troops during battle, casting an imposing figure. On April 18, he tricked his friend Henry Hart, commander at Culmore Fort north of Derry, overrunning the fort and seizing all the weapons and munitions. On April 19, he marched on Derry.

George Paulet was so confident in his position at Derry that he did not have any soldiers maintaining watch and the village was caught off guard. Paulet and Sheriff Hamilton were killed along with a few English soldiers, and the entire village was burned to the ground. This event was to touch off O’Doherty’s Rebellion. The result would change Irish history forever, and it would make Cahir O’Doherty the Last Gaelic Irish King in all of Ireland.

After the Rebellion, King James I instituted a more massive approach to colonization, resulting in thousands of Scottish men, women and children immigrating to Ulster. Every person that claims a Scot-Irish heritage owes their history to the ancestors that emigrated from Scotland to Ireland during this period.

This is part of the story I have written about in my upcoming book, Clans and Castles, the first book in the new Checkmate series. The book is creative nonfiction; the events are all accurate and the characters are as well: colorful characters such as Sir Cahir O’Doherty, Niall Garbh O’Donnell, Phelim MacDavitt, The Maguire, Sir Henry Hart, Sir George Paulet, Sir Arthur Chichester, Sir William Stewart…

And William Neely, my ancestor. William emigrated from Scotland at the age of 18 to join William Stewart in the old O’Donnell Clan territory in 1608 in the months leading up to O’Doherty’s Rebellion. He would find himself in a war that initially England was losing, and he would find himself on the battlefield facing Cahir O’Doherty.

For William’s service during O’Doherty’s Rebellion, he was granted one thousand acres at the base of the Inishowen Peninsula, strategically located near Derry (now known as “the Slash City—Londonderry/Derry”) and Burt Castle (one of Cahir’s castles which can still be seen today). He became a sea captain, purchased his own ships and brought scores of Scottish Lowlanders and English to Ulster.

Clans and Castles will be released this summer. Here’s a book trailer that tells you the story in about one minute:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Don't Miss this Exciting Book Tour!

March 17 marks the official launch of Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries Series and my 19th release. And to celebrate, I am going on an around-the-world book tour, and I'd love for you to join me!

Starting on Monday, March 20, there will be a unique interview at each stop. Even if you've been following me and reading my books for years, I bet you'll discover some surprising information. Whether you want to write books and are interested in the author's journey or if you're an avid reader that enjoys the inside scoop, you're sure to have fun.

And I will be giving away a beautiful Celtic necklace to a randomly selected follower - all you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment at any of these spots below on the date of my interview. The more comments you leave, the better your chances at winning.

March 20: Christine Young
March 21: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
March 22: Unabridged Andra
March 23: Fabulous and Brunette
March 24: Book Lover Promo
March 24: Hearts and Scribbles
March 27: Danita Minnis
March 27: The Reading Addict
March 28: The Avid Reader
March 29: Queen of All She Reads
March 30: Independent Authors
March 31: Long and Short Reviews
April 3: Lorana Hoopes
April 4: EskieMama and Dragon Lady Reads
April 5: Books, Dreams,Life
April 6: BooksChatter
April 7: A Writer's Life
April 10: T's Stuff
April 11: Notes From a Romantic's Heart
April 12: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
April 13: Deal Sharing Aunt
April 14: Two Ends of the Pen

In Cloak and Mirrors, Vicki Boyd and Dylan Maguire are married in Dylan's native Ireland. But true to form, the CIA demonstrates that they can even interrupt a honeymoon. While staying in a beautiful but isolated manor house along County Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way, their section chief, Sam, asks them to retrieve a microchip containing stolen Russian stealth technology plans. When their asset decides to defect, however, it places them on a collision course with the Russians. And when they discover that the Kremlin has ordered their capture, the stakes have risen even higher. With the breathtaking backdrop of Ireland from swinging rope bridges to deserted lighthouses to the myths and legends of the Blue Stack Mountains, you'll feel like you've visited Ireland yourself.

Watch the video below, and check out the excerpt:

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed author of suspense and creative nonfiction, including the award-winning series Black Swamp Mysteries and Ryan O'Clery Mysteries, River Passage and Songbirds are Free. She has been a full-time writer since 2002. She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, the founder of Book 'Em North Carolina, and the founder of The Novel Business. For more information, visit her website where you'll find book trailers, excerpts, reviews and much more.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Legend of St Patrick on White Island

The climactic scene in Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, takes place along the Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. There are actually two lakes, the Upper Lough and the larger Lower Lough and in between is the beautiful and picturesque town of Enniskillen. The lakes are actually widened sections of the River Erne, which runs northward and empties into the Atlantic, some 26 miles’ stretch. (Picture above courtesy of Falcon.)

There are 154 islands in the Lower Lough Erne, including White Island, which was the site of several monasteries dating to approximately 500 A.D. In 837 A.D., Vikings attacked and destroyed the monasteries, leaving in ruins a number of incredible carved figures made of quartzite. A popular theory is the figures depict St. Patrick healing a local Irish chieftain. It is possible the king may have been Prince Conall Gulban, whom St Patrick touched with his crosier, forming the sign of the cross just prior to baptizing him. He bestowed a blessing upon him as well; that if he followed that cross, he would always remain victorious in battle. A Constantinian shield bearing Saint Patrick’s outstretched hand holding the cross became the O’Donnell coat of arms and the clan was to indeed rise to tremendous power. I am currently writing about the O’Donnell clan along with the O’Doherty clan on a nonfiction book that takes place in 1608 and will be released later this year.

Around the year 1200, a stone Romanesque church was built on the same site and for whatever reason the figures were used as building stones. It wasn’t until a few centuries had passed before the figures were uncovered. They are on display today in the ruins of the church. (Picture at right credit of Jason098.)

Interestingly, because of the number of islands, this region largely escaped the potato famine of 1845-1849. The blight that affected so many potatoes could not reach those planted on the islands.

Here is an excerpt from Cloak and Mirrors:

Jack’s instinct was on high alert, the adrenaline building to a crescendo that was surging with increasing intensity. His eyes moved between Dylan and Alexei as they stood near the water’s edge. The three Russians standing in front of him were not the only ones; he was certain of that. He heard the motorboat’s engine, heard it coming in their direction, and heard the distant sound of men’s voices from the mainland.

He had the advantage of knowing the area well. Behind him was Lower Lough Erne, one of the largest lakes in all of Ireland. It was formed by the River Erne which flows north instead of south before curving toward the Atlantic Ocean. The currents often ran swift and sure like those of the ocean, making it ideal for the avid or extreme sportsman but deadly for those not ready for her powerful waves.

There were more than a hundred islands within the lough, 154 to be precise; some he had explored and some not, some privately owned and others maintained by the Irish government. During the high summer months when tourism was at its peak, this shore would have been littered with visitors who took the ferries to some of the largest islands. Behind him was Abbey Davy’s Island, the site of a medieval monastery that was now little more than stone ruins. And to the north of it was the larger White Island, best known perhaps for the stone figures and church ruins that dated back to 800 A.D. Though that was impressive enough, he supposed, the church and figures were actually built upon a far older monastic settlement.

The island was mystical; some said magical, with monolithic pagan creatures interspersed with Christian figures. The mists tended to swirl and sway over White Island as though they were spirits still alive, and many who graced those grounds came away with stories of hauntings and sightings. Some might have been too fantastic to be believed but so many had now experienced them that it was undeniable something lurked there that remained largely invisible to the naked eye but never undetectable by the attentive soul.

Now the tourists were gone and the lough nearly deserted; deserted enough, he thought, for the five of them to disappear without a trace.

You can purchase Cloak and Mirrors at in both Kindle and paperback formats. It is also available in all fine book stores worldwide. Check out the book trailer below and this link for more details:

p.m.terrell is the author of more than 20 books in several genres, including the award-winning River Passage, Vicki's Key, The Pendulum Files and The Tempest Murders. Cloak and Mirrors has been nominated for the 2017 International Book Awards. For more information, visit

Friday, February 10, 2017

Where is That Irish Village?

Ballytullmac is a fictional Irish village where Dylan Maguire was raised by his grandmother in the Black Swamp Mysteries series. It is set near the Bog of Allen and is located near Croghan Hill, a real place that is the site of an extinct volcano. From the top of Croghan Hill, you can see for miles around, as the surrounding terrain is very flat in the bogs. It is located in County Offaly west of Dublin.

Before England colonized Ireland (the same way they did America) in the 16th and 17th centuries, the island was divided into miniature “nations” just as the United States was divided into more than 500 Native American nations. Each was ruled by a clan, which was a close-knit group of family members and others loyal to that family.

The region of Croghan Hill was ruled by the O’Connor Clan; O’Connor was one of the last High Kings of Ireland before the Norman invasion (which serves as the backdrop in my book, The White Devil of Dublin).

In 2003, a remarkably well-preserved body was found in the bogs that is believed to be more than 2,000 years old. The man is measured at 6 feet, 6 inches, remarkably tall even for this day. He was murdered in his 20’s. The theory is that he was once a king in that region. It was believed during the Iron Age and the time of the druids that when bad fortune fell upon the community—such as famine, bad weather or natural disasters—it was the king’s fault. He would then have been taken to a special site, such as the ancient hill where kings were anointed, and killed to appease the gods. His body was found buried at the foot of the hill; he had wounds on his arm and chest; he had been decapitated and his body cut in half.

In later years, Croghan Hill was known as a fairy-mound filled with mystical powers.

In my newest release, Cloak and Mirrors, Dylan’s village of Ballytullmac is the backdrop for his marriage to Vicki Boyd. It is a tiny village with one main street (with lots of pubs!) and a Catholic church set on a hill overlooking the village. The priest at the church is Dylan’s best friend, Father Thomas Rowan, and it is Father Thomas who marries Vicki and Dylan in a traditional Irish ceremony.

They leave the next day for Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way on the northwest corner of Ireland, which serves as the backdrop for the rest of the story. Sam, their CIA section chief, sends them into Donegal to pick up a microchip containing plans for Russia’s latest stealth technology. When the Russian decides to defect, however, it sends them across the island in an attempt to rendezvous with an aircraft that will remove the defector from Europe. And when they learn that the Kremlin has identified Vicki and Dylan, they find themselves fighting to escape. Watch the trailer below!

The official launch date for Cloak and Mirrors is March 17 (Saint Patrick’s Day) but it is already available at amazon in both paperback and eBook. It will be in all fine stores by March 17 in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

Be very careful if you see any of my books advertised as free! They are never free and I have been notified that groups in Eastern Europe and Russia are offering free eBooks that are filled with malicious viruses.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in several genres. Her first book was published in 1984 and she became a full-time writer in 2002. She has mentored authors for more than 15 years and is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of the Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. For more information, visit

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Walking a Rope Bridge at Gunpoint

Would you walk a rope bridge at gunpoint?

Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, features a rope bridge in the climactic scene. I was inspired by the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, situated along the coast of Northern Ireland in County Antrim and not far from my ancestral home in Ballygawley.

The bridge was originally erected around the 1700’s when salmon fishing was big. The fishermen erected the bridge to a tiny island just off Northern Ireland’s coast called Carrickarede, which means the “rock of the casting”, where they would cast their nets. At one time, more than 300 salmon were caught each day. But by the turn of this century, less than 300 were caught in an entire season.

Today, the rope bridge is built for tourists—and therefore, for safety. It has handrails on either side and the slats are properly maintained. It is still a frightening trek, however, as the bridge can sway with both the strong Irish winds as well as the footsteps of every person in front and behind you. It is not for the faint of heart, and boats regularly transport visitors back to the mainland when they are so frightened that they can’t make the return journey across the bridge.

During the days in which the fishermen used it, however, it was not as sturdy or as well maintained, which further inspired the description in Cloak and Mirrors. In my book, I have located a similar rope bridge at an interior lough (or lake) that is exclusively used by the fishermen, so it more closely resembles the original rope bridges. They were strung in early summer and removed by late summer—usually lasting only from June to September. These bridges rarely had a handrail and the slats might be horizontally placed (with the length sideways) or vertically placed (one or two boards placed lengthwise as in the picture above), depending on the available wood. Sometimes the fishermen’s netting was used to keep the slats in place.

In Cloak and Mirrors, Vicki, Dylan and Brenda are fleeing from Russian operatives attempting to capture them. Not only must they navigate the bridge to reach an island in the lough, but they must do so under gunfire - one hundred and fifty feet above the water with no handrail.

The official launch date for Cloak and Mirrors is March 17, but you can pre-order the book now from amazon. The paperback sells for $16.95 (follow this link) and the Kindle sells for $6.99 (at this link).

Read an excerpt, watch the book trailer and find out more at

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Visiting Ireland’s Croaghgorms

The winds whistled and swirled in the frosty night like a chorus of apparitions dancing and bobbing, leaving soft whispers against Dylan’s ear, enticing, cajoling, flirtatious and deadly. Ah, but they could drive a man insane on a night like this, he thought, pulling his collar tighter about his ears. He wore an Irish tweed cap and still the winds licked at his hair like fingers running through it, soothing, insistent and treacherous.

So begins the chapter in which Dylan Maguire traverses the Croaghgorms, the Irish word for “The Blue Stacks” and perhaps better known to visitors as The Blue Stack Mountains. It is one of Ireland’s major mountain ranges and is situated in County Donegal. One road cuts through, called the Barnesmore Gap, an isolated road that one wouldn’t want to travel alone. Stories of apparitions abound in The Blue Stacks and particularly along Barnesmore Gap, including one of a woman who hitchhikes in the dead of night, only to disappear while in the unsuspecting driver’s car.

If you’ve ever been to Ireland, you know how mystical and magical it can be. The mists dance like phantoms, weaving in amongst the trees and the rocks until you aren’t quite sure whether otherworldly creatures are watching you, following you as you make your way. The winds can be cruel, especially when coming off the North Sea in the winter; as Dylan recalls later in the book, it’s the lazy winds that are the worst of all—called that because they’re too lazy to go around a man, they simply cut straight through him…

Donegal is situated in the Republic of Ireland but it is considered part of Ulster, the region that was divided from the Republic in 1921, making it part of the Border Region. It was after the Easter Rising of 1916 that Ireland won her independence from Great Britain, but six of the nine counties of Ulster were separated from the Republic, named Northern Ireland and is today considered one of four countries of Great Britain (along with England, Scotland and Wales).

There was once a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland manned with guards but those disappeared after the European Union was formed, making it possible to travel between the two countries as easily as Americans travel between states. This also made it possible for Dylan, along with a Russian defector and a fellow Irishman, to travel through the Blue Stacks on horseback in Cloak and Mirrors, weaving between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The mountains range from grassy slopes on which sheep graze to steep and rocky climbs. Occasionally, one will see an abandoned cottage with a thatched roof, most likely the home of a tenant farmer a century or more ago. The ground here, with little exception, cannot support crops so the tenant farmer and his family might have eked out barely enough to keep them alive, along with the more ample lamb they raised. In a region isolated and rugged, every bit of the lamb would have gone to good use, including the organs, the bones and the wool.

It is interesting to surmise what might have happened to the family; perhaps they starved during one of the Famines that struck Ireland with a savage vengeance. Or perhaps they were fortunate enough to migrate elsewhere; a costly, long and grueling journey across the Atlantic to America or to other countries around the world. They left behind a stone cottage that will stand for centuries longer, the thatched roof likely caving in, the area around the home overgrown as if the land is determined to claim it once more. All that is left in the haunted remains are the memories of what once was.

It is to one of these cottages that Dylan Maguire and his fellow travelers are heading en route to a rendezvous with a helicopter that is expected to receive the Russian defector and take him to America… If they survive.

I love writing about Ireland; the memories I have there are always warm even when the lazy North Sea winds cut straight through me. If you would like to read a chapter from my newest release, Cloak and Mirrors, that takes place in the Blue Stack Mountains and the cottage mentioned above, follow this link.

The book is due to be released on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2017. Vicki and Dylan discover the CIA can even hijack a honeymoon… While staying in a remote Irish manor house along the Wild Atlantic Way, they are directed to retrieve stolen documents on Russia’s newest stealth technology. But when the CIA asset decides to defect, their mission becomes much more complicated. And when they discover the Kremlin wants them captured, they’re in a fight for their lives.

Watch the book trailer below!

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books, including the award-winning series Black Swamp Mysteries. Cloak and Mirrors is the 6th book in the series. Right now the first book that introduces Vicki and Dylan, Vicki’s Key, is on sale for just $2.99 on Kindle. It’s a great opportunity to be introduced to these two. After Cloak andMirrors is released, Vicki’s Key will return to the original price of $6.99. Visit the author’s website at for lots more information.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cloak and Mirrors Trailer

Last week I announced that my 19th book will be released on March 17 - St. Patrick's Day. I am excited to show you the new book trailer. In one minute, you can get a feel for Cloak and Mirrors, the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series.

In upcoming weeks, I'll be filling you in on the writing of the book, including inside stories and research. Writing this book brought me into Russian stealth technology, including some of the newest innovations in cloaking and mirroring, which is how the book got its name. It also brought me into the advancements made in Siberia and the arms race.

The book takes place in Ireland and I use a mixture of fictitious places as well as real locations. I'll be taking you to the village that inspired one of the villages in Cloak and Mirrors, as well as the town of Donegal, in which key scenes take place. And I'll also be taking you behind the scenes to tensions during The Troubles, a thirty-year period of violence in Northern Ireland that spilled over into the Republic of Ireland.

So stay tuned for some exciting stories as we approach the launch of Cloak and Mirrors, as well as where you can purchase it and when it will be available in eBooks and in print. The official launch date is March 17, so mark your calendars now!

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in several genres. Her first book was published in 1984 and she became a full-time writer in 2002. She has mentored authors for more than 15 years and is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of the Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. For more information, visit And for more information about Cloak and Mirrors, visit

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cloak and Mirrors

I'm very excited to announce that the 6th book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series will be released on St Patrick's Day, March 17.

The release date is appropriate for Cloak and Mirrors because Vicki marries Irishman Dylan Maguire in the Irish village where he grew up. They then depart for a manor house in the north part of the island near Donegal for their honeymoon.

It's Christmas and the manor house is deserted except for Vicki and Dylan and their hosts. But they've barely arrived when their CIA boss, Sam, sends them to retrieve a microchip containing Russian stealth technology. It's a simple assignment - to retrieve the microchip from one operative and pass it off to another - but things take a more complicated direction when their asset decides to defect. As Vicki and Dylan try to move the defector to a rendezvous point, they discover the Kremlin has blown their cover - and the Russians want Vicki and Dylan captured and brought to Moscow.

This was an exciting book for me to write because it takes place against the backdrop of Ireland at a time when the sun sets early and rises late, bringing with it the Northern Lights and all those things that go bump in the night.

Over the upcoming months, I'll be writing about the inside stories: Siberia, Northern Ireland, stealth technology, the CIA psychic spy program and all the other research I've done while writing this book.

So mark your calendars now for March 17, and check back for more exciting news!

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 20 books in several genres, including her award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries series. Her first book was published in 1984 and she became a full-time writer in 2002. She has mentored authors for more than 15 years and is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of the Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. She has also launched The Novel Business to pass along her extensive knowledge of the publishing industry. For more information, visit