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Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Writer's Journey

If there is one thing I have learned in more than 25 years of writing books, it's that every writer's journey is unique.

Some have one book published and it supports them for the rest of their lives; think Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell as two high profile examples.

Some will have dozens of books published and not give up their day jobs, like best-selling author David Morrell describes in Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing.

Some will be traditionally published and some self-published; some will go with the largest publishers and others feel more comfortable with the mid-sized or smaller publishers.

Join me today as author Bill Cissna talks about his writing journey at Leave a comment about your own journey or questions for Bill. And please take the time to join us at Book 'Em North Carolina on Saturday, February 23, 2013 as Bill joins more than 75 authors, publishers, literary agents, book promoters and one awesome Hollywood film producer in Lumberton, North Carolina. It's free and open to the public. For more information visit

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rejections - Part 2

Yesterday I printed several rejection snippets from publishers and agents to now-famous authors.

Today, I'll continue with just a few facts about the number of times famous authors were rejected:

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the authors of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, received 134 rejections before they decided to self-publish. They were eventually picked up by a major publisher and their Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise is worth millions.

Janet Evanovich submitted her work for 10 years and filled a crate with rejection letters before it was finally accepted. Listen to her interview on The View:

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected 25 times before he self-published it. It was later purchased and re-released by one of the major publishers.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 25 times.

Gertrude Stein tried to get her poetry published for 22 years before one poem was accepted for publication.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected more than 40 times.

Dick Wimmer, author of Irish Wine, tried to get his work published for 25 years. After more than 160 rejections, his book was finally accepted for publication.

But who really persevered?

Louis L'Amour was rejected more than 200 times before his first book sold.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


If it's one thing most writers must learn to deal with, it's rejection. Sometimes it comes in the form of no answer. Sometimes it's a form letter that doesn't give you any clue as to why the publishers or agents didn't like it. And sometimes it's a nasty opinion of the book that could have easily led to the author giving up.

Fortunately for us, many now-famous authors hung in there after terrible rejection.

Consider the following:

One publisher said about Animal Farm by George Orwell, "It's impossible to sell animal stories."

One publisher said to Stephen King about Carrie, "We are not interested in science fiction that deal with negative utopias. They don't sell." (He went on to get a $300,000 advance for the paperback edition; millions of copies have sold and a movie was made from the book that also grossed millions.)

One publisher said of Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, "I haven't the foggiest idea of what the author is trying to say."

Emily Dickenson was told her poems "are truly devoid of poetic qualities."

Of J.G.Ballard, the author of Crash, it was said, "This author is beyond psychiatric help."

One publisher said of Rudyard Kipling, "You just don't know how to use the English language."

Of The Diary of Anne Frank, it was said, "This girl doesn't have a special perception or feeling that would lift the book above 'curiosity' level."

Lord of the Flies by William Golding was called "an absurd and uninteresting fantasy"

One publisher said of John le Carre after reading The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, "He hasn't got any future."

Have you received any interesting or horrific rejections?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Gathandrian Trilogy

Anne Brooke is the special guest at Book 'Em North Carolina today. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.

A little known fact about me is I enjoy great fantasy. And Anne's fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, features a scribe and mind-reader named Simon Hartstongue. The first in the series is The Gifting.

Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. I hope you'll pop into Book 'Em North Carolina today and read all about her new book.

Then leave me a comment about the best fantasy you've ever read - and why!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breath and Rhythm

I love meeting new authors through my work with Book 'Em North Carolina. Today author Steve Mitchell is guest blogger at Book 'Em North Carolina. He has been writing seriously for about twelve years. His fiction and poetry has been published in Contrary, Peregrine, The Adirondack Review, The North Carolina Literary Review, and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others.

Not limited to writing short stories, poetry and novels, his screenplays have been performed in theatres along the East Coast. He's directed additional theatre by Sam Shepard, Christopher Durang and Peter Brook among others, and toured with a multi-voice poetry group performing original work (and the occasional Gladys Knight and the Pips cover). He's directed a number of short films and taken part in two 48 Hour Film Projects as writer and actor. He's most proud of his performance as 'Thug 1' in Gone to Ground.

As a writer, he's intrigued with the places where true memory becomes our mythology and the places where these mythologies wrestle with our world. He's excited by moments of awareness in which something actually changes within us. And, he loves the way we learn about strangers in conversation: in snippets and bits and odd elocutions, in half-formed images and conjecture.

Please visit Book 'Em North Carolina and read his very special blog today!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Art Galleries and Murder

In just two more weeks, my 14th book will be released. Secrets of a Dangerous Woman takes place, like all of the Black Swamp Mysteries series, in Lumberton, North Carolina. And like the other books, I use real places.

The climactic scene in Secrets of a Dangerous Woman have Dylan Maguire (now working for the CIA), his boss Sam and Christopher Sandige, a political operative, surrounded by enemies at an old water filtration facility that is under renovation as an art gallery.

The Southeastern Waterworks Regional Art Center is a real project in Lumberton, North Carolina. The Water Street Water Filtration Plant was designed in 1946 and constructed on the Lumber River in the downtown commercial district. An addition was constructed several years later to meet increased demand. The property was abandoned in 1990 when a larger treatment facility was built less than a mile upriver.

It's this abandoned facility where Dylan, Sam and Chris must fight for their lives.

The community’s vision is to transform this abandoned though light-filled industrial building into a central gathering place with open artist studios, event space for up to 1,000 people, galleries, workshops, outdoor amphitheater, gardens and dining on the river.

The advantages of having a gallery space on the river are coveted in small rural communities like Lumberton. It is through the foresight and innovative commitment of the City of Lumberton that Southeastern Waterworks Regional Art Center received the 6,000 square foot building on the Natural and Historic Lumber River, to become a centerpiece of a new Downtown Riverwalk, also in the works.

For this purpose, the generous citizens of Lumberton, North Carolina are marshaling all their resources, including building a solar farm to provide ongoing funding for the center through the sale of sustainable energy.

This groundbreaking collaboration connects municipal government, the private arts sector and renewable energy. The strong commitment of the City of Lumberton is evidence that both her leadership and her public understands the great value of moving energy back into our historic downtown.

In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, the facility is immortalized in the condition it now stands - under renovation. I hope someday soon you'll be able to visit Lumberton and tour the facility in its incarnation as a Regional Art Center.

To stay abreast of the progress of the Southeastern Waterworks Regional Art Center, visit

Secrets of a Dangerous Woman is currently available for Kindle, Nook, iPad and other eBook formats. The printed edition will be released in September and will be available at all fine stores and online. You can order a copy now through and it will ship on September 1.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Of Ghosts and Thrillers

Book 'Em North Carolina is the host for guest blogger Donna Galanti today. You all know how I love a good ghost story and when you combine ghosts with dreams, it's right up my alley. Donna is the author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element (Echelon Press).

She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs but sadly, no ghosts...

Please click on over to Book 'Em North Carolina and read all about Donna. She's giving away a $50 amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner!

Monday, August 20, 2012

When Life is Too Tough To Continue

I don't normally talk about emotions like depression and hopelessness. There are far too many people who are better at discussing it and giving advice than I'll ever be.

But recently I came across a post that was too powerful not to share.

The post was written by Les Floyd, who wrote about carrying out a plan to commit suicide but was stopped by the sound of a nearby woodpecker. Just the sound of the bird working diligently nearby was enough to cause him to open his eyes... And I will leave the rest for him to tell.

He shared this story to help others. Which reminds all of us writers that the power of our words can never be overlooked.

It's well worth the time to read Les' blog. He lives in England but his words have traveled around the world many times...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Slowing Down

I have an eclectic taste in blogs. Some blogs I follow are always about the writing and publishing business while others stop to catch the sunsets and admire old barns... And others show their love for God's creatures.

I was recently approached by a fan who had read my latest book, Vicki's Key, who asked me about the job she had taken as a fish breeder. The job was inspired by my own hobby.

I have always adored freshwater angelfish. They are fascinating; they mate for life and under the right conditions can live to be 10 years old. When a mate dies, often the other will die soon after, leaving me to wonder if they had a broken heart.

I've had two pair of angelfish that seem to breed every few weeks. In the video below, Lindsay Buckingfish (yes, I name my angels) is the papa who is a 10-inch-tall black marble. Stevie Fishnick is the petite golden angel, the mama. If you look closely, you'll see their babies. They are crawling on the wide leaf of an amazon plant.

When they hatch, they are barely the size of a pinhead. It will take a week or more for them to grow fins to enable them to move beyond the leaf. When they venture too far, mama or papa will scoop them up in their mouths, take them back where they belong and spit them out.

Even before the babies hatch, the parents are diligent about defending them. In the video below, you'll see Lindsay Buckingfish defend the nest against another male angelfish, a 10-inch-tall koi angel known as Pipsqueak Littlefish, the Band Manager. I named him Pipsqueak because he was the size of a dime (literally) when I brought him home. I never thought he would grow to 10 inches tall! As Lindsay defends the nest, you'll see Stevie Fishnick tending to it, seemingly oblivious of the fight that could break out behind her. (Or maybe she's thinking, boys will be boys...)

I have to admit, after a long day of writing and all that goes into it, watching the fish is quite relaxing.

What do you do to relax?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thriller from Down Under

You have to love a man from Australia. And when he is also a author and his talent is writing sexy thrillers, well, what more can I say?

Please join me at Book 'Em North Carolina in welcoming fellow author Ian Walkley from Queensland, Australia as he talks about why he writes thrillers. Be sure to visit his website and leave us some comments. I'm sure you'll love his books as much as I do!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Whatever Happened to Poetry?

One of the greatest perks of organizing a huge event like Book 'Em North Carolina is meeting and networking with so many authors. So many of us have become friends and remain in touch week after week. It has opened my vistas to new genres and have led to rediscovering many old ones.

Please join me today at Book 'Em North Carolina as guest Branch Isole talks about Whatever Happened to Poetry?

Then leave a comment and let us know whether you also write poetry, or if you used to and stopped, and what your thoughts are on poets and poetry and their role in today's world.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Secrets of a Dangerous Woman

The third book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series is being released this fall. And for the first time ever, the eBook edition is available one month before the printed edition!

Secrets of a Dangerous Woman brings back all the characters my fans loved in Exit 22 and Vicki's Key:

Brenda Carnegie, the computer hacker who is always on the wrong side of the law;

Christopher Sandige, the political strategist who was caught up in a double homicide;

Vicki Boyd, the psychic spy working for the CIA;

and Irishman Dylan Maguire.

In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire is back and in his first assignment with the CIA: to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when Brenda escapes again, it's obvious that she's had help from within the CIA's own ranks. With Vicki Boyd's help, Dylan has her in his custody again. And now his mission is to discover why some in the highest government offices want her killed - and others will risk everything to help her. And when Dylan discovers her true identity, his mission has just become very personal.

What happens in Secrets of a Dangerous Woman will forever join the lives of Brenda, Chris, Vicki and Dylan together - through blood or circumstance.

Buy it today on Kindle at amazon or buy it for the Nook or the iPad. Orders are also being taken at for the trade paperback edition, which ships on September 1!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Promotion 101

Whether you are an aspiring or published author, it's important to understand the author's role in marketing and promoting their books.

The concept of a writer writing and the publisher producing and marketing the work is long gone. More emphasis is placed on the author promoting their own work than ever before.

Join me at Book 'Em North Carolina's blog to read Carolyn Howard-Johnson's two-part series on Book Publicity 101. You'll find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. And let me know what you do to boost your sales!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In Deep Decline?

When Gore Vidal passed away recently, I was watching an NBC Nightly News report in which Brian Williams said that Vidal believed America was in a sharp decline.

In contemplating this statement, I realized that my own belief is America rose to superpower status during World War II. That was further enhanced through our space exploration, strides made during the years of the Cold War and our advancements in technology.

What has happened to America in the past 20 years? Do you believe we are in sharp decline? Or are we experiencing part of a cycle that will rebound and we'll be stronger and more powerful than ever?

Who do you think the top three superpowers are in the world today?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I'm told I am a pretty even-tempered and open-minded individual. And most of the time, it doesn't matter to me what good authors write - suspense, romance, paranormal, erotica, science fiction, fantasy ... I find them all entertaining and some enlightening.

But there are three things I can't handle:

Animal Abuse

Child Abuse

Bondage Against Someone's Will

I've been asked over the years to read and comment on other writers' works. When I am reading a passage, particularly when I am supposed to actually like the character and that character participates in abusing animals or children or someone weaker than themselves and helpless, I'm done. The book goes in the trash. End of story.

I've had authors ask me to recommend them to literary agents and publishers and I used to pass along names in an effort to connect people. But I found recently I could no longer do it. Why? Because one of the publishers whose name I provided to an aspiring writer told me the book had the main character (again, someone we are supposed to like) raping a child.

To say I was horrified is an understatement. There is no excuse for writing something that will put that kind of an image into anyone's mind. I read for entertainment value or education. When an author writes about child abuse, animal abuse or abuse of another living being in an effort to entertain, it is NOT entertaining. It is disgusting.

What are your hot buttons?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Do You Care if I'm Female?

I was asked recently if my pen name, p.m.terrell, was selected because I wanted people to think I was a man.

That might have worked except for the fact that I show my face in public. And I don't think anyone would mistake me for a man.

My first four books were published under the name "Trish McClelland" which was my name (very Irish, don't you think?) before I married and became "Patricia McClelland Terrell."

When my first suspense was published (Kickback) I was living in Chesterfield, Virginia - right outside of Richmond, where Patricia Cornwell was a huge celebrity and a New York Times bestselling author. She lives elsewhere now but her books still hit the bestseller lists each and every time.

The publisher was afraid we would be compared constantly since we both share the same first name. But she was also opposed to using the name "Trish", which she said made me sound like I worked in a nail salon.

So the publisher suggested that I use the initials "P.M." An added bonus, she said to convince me, was my name could be in larger print since there were fewer characters with "P.M.Terrell" than with "Patricia M. Terrell" or certainly "Patricia McClelland Terrell."

When I saw the cover for the first time, the name was in all lower-case. It had been the publisher's suggestion. When she saw it, she hated it. When I saw it, I loved it.

And that's how I became "p.m.terrell."

What do you think? Would it have mattered to publishers, editors, agents or readers if I'd been a man instead of a woman?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Does Size Matter?

It's always interesting to me when I hear rumors about myself, especially when they are so far-fetched that I have no clue they're even speaking about me.

The latest is how many books I've written. One "expert" said "two." So in an effort to set things straight, here's a complete list of all the books I've had published - plus a couple in the works. They're in descending chronological order:

(16) Dylan's Song (Spring 2013, Drake Valley Press)

(15) The Tempest Murders (no release date set yet)

(14) Secrets of a Dangerous Woman (September 2012, Drake Valley Press)

(13) Vicki's Key (2012, Drake Valley Press)

(12) The Banker's Greed (2011, Drake Valley Press)

(11) River Passage (2009, Drake Valley Press)

(10) Exit 22 (2008, Drake Valley Press)

(9) Songbirds are Free (2007, Drake Valley Press)

(8) Ricochet (2006, Paralee Press)

(7) Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book (2006, Palari Publishing)

(6) The China Conspiracy (2003, Drake Valley Press)

(5) Kickback (2002, Chicago Spectrum Press; re-released 2003, Drake Valley Press)

(4) Memento WordPerfect (Edimicro, Paris, 1987)

(3) The Dynamics of Reflex (1986, Dow Jones)

(2) The Dynamics of WordPerfect (1985, Dow Jones)

(1) Creating the Perfect Database (1984, Scott-Foresman)

I am currently working on the synopses for Books 17 and 18, which should be released around the 2014 timeframe.

Does size matter? I've worked with some of the largest publishers (Dow Jones) and some of the smallest (Paralee Press) and some in between (Palari Publishing and Drake Valley Press) and I've found it all boils down (for me) to the editor. If you have a great working relationship with the editor in charge of your book-from pre-production to the release and beyond-it makes for a great environment in which to write, regardless of the size of the company. However, there is a lot to be said for the largest publishers who can get great placement in the book stores.

What do you think? Are you enjoying your current publisher? Why or why not?

Friday, August 3, 2012

How Romance Begins

How would you put two people together in a romance to last through all time?

That's the question I had to answer about Vicki Boyd and Dylan Maguire, the psychic spy and Irishman in my new Black Swamp Mysteries series.

Find out how I put two opposites together and made it work - and work well - by visiting me today at Reader Girls.

Then let me know the most romantic way you can imagine meeting that special someone!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jersey Girl

What would you do if you were asked to perform illegal activities at work?

That's exactly what happened to me when a trucking company asked me to write a computer program to hide their illegal kickbacks. Find out how I responded (and I might surprise you) by visiting me today at Jersey Girl's Book Reviews.

Then let me know what you would have done!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My World of Dreams

Do you ever wonder where your favorite author writes?

One of the places I would love to be able to write is the location Colin Firth writes next to a beautiful and secluded lake in Love, Actually.

Find out where I write now by visiting My World of Dreams. Then let me know where you write - or where you would love to write, if money and space was no object!