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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Series Order

As the Black Swamp Mysteries series gains in popularity, I've been asked which order to read them. Here's a list of the books and a quick peak into each:

Exit 22 introduces computer hacker Brenda Carnegie and political strategist Christopher Sandige. When Chris is involved in an automobile accident at Exit 22 in North Carolina, he is stranded for the weekend in Lumberton. He meets beautiful but mysterious Brenda Carnegie and is immediately pulled into a double homicide. Now they're on the run from law enforcement - and a hired assassin who wants them dead.

Vicki's Key is the second in the series. After CIA mission goes awry, psychic spy Vicki Boyd leaves the CIA to start her life over in a small town helping an elderly woman. But when she arrives in Lumberton, she finds Laurel Maguire has suffered a stroke and her nephew Dylan has arrived from Ireland to help her. Vicki quickly falls in love with the charming and handsome Irishman. But all is not what it seems in Aunt Laurel's old, rambling home. And when the CIA arrive to pull Vicki back into one last mission, her past and her future are about to collide - in murder.

Secrets of a Dangerous Woman has Dylan Maguire on his first CIA mission: to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when she escapes again, it's obvious she had help from inside the CIA's own ranks. Now, with Vicki Boyd's psychic assistance, she's back in his custody again and he must find out why some in the highest positions in government want her dead - while others will risk everything to help her. And when he discovers she is Vicki's sister, his mission has just become very personal.

In Dylan's Song, the fourth in the series, Dylan and Vicki journey to Ireland for a joint CIA mission: to locate and extract a missing CIA operative. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, it plunges him into a past he thought he'd left behind forever. Now he must confront his past demons before it derails his mission and endangers his and Vicki's lives. And while Vicki discovers the real reason he left Ireland for America, she is harboring a secret of her own.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Musing - Awareness

I met a person recently who bragged about being "totally unaware." It got me to thinking: is it good to be unaware of your surroundings and your environment?

When writing, the main characters must always be acutely aware. There are many reasons for this: their ability to notice things in their environment could lead to clues that the reader should know, particularly in suspense. It also fleshes out the story so the reader gets a sense of where the characters are and what their surroundings help them to experience.

For example, in Dylan's Song as Dylan Maguire is riding his horse through the bogs at midnight, he recognizes the fact that "the ground percolated; it lived and it breathed." Someone who is unaware would not notice the ground at all and lose the richness of the experience.

How aware are you of your surroundings?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Freaky Friday - Expanding Beyond Earth

In the past when a country's population became overcrowded or drought, flood or other natural disasters caused the inhabitants to look beyond their country's borders, they explored other parts of their own continent and eventually the continents around the world.

But what happens when Planet Earth becomes overpopulated? What would happen if a global disaster were to take place?

That is precisely what NASA has been working to answer. And the answer is to find another planet now capable of supporting life.

The Kepler Mission has recently discovered two new planetary systems in what is termed the "habitable zone" - an area the perfect distance from the sun, in which the planet is neither too hot nor too cold for human life and there is an abundance of water to support life.

The first planetary system discovered is called Kepler-62 and it contains five planets orbiting a star that is about two thirds the size of our sun and only about one fifth as bright. Of the five planets, one is 40% larger than Earth and the other is about 60% larger than Earth. They are around 1,200 light-years away from Planet Earth.

The second planetary system discovered is called Kepler-69 and consists of two planets. They both orbit a sun that is about 93% of the size of our own sun and about 80% as bright. One planet is about 70% larger than Earth. It is around 2,700 light-years from Earth.

The Kepler space telescope is the first of its kind that can detect planets revolving around stars much like our sun. So far, it has detected over 2,740 candidates - planets that are in a habitable zone much like our own.

Perhaps one day our descendants will explore new planets in much the same way our ancestors explored new continents.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Social Media

I've been speaking to more and more people who are making important connections through social media.

My sister was the first to tell me that Twitter eliminates the hierarchy; the gatekeepers are gone and the individuals tweeting are usually-though not always-the person himself/herself that is so difficult to reach otherwise.

Then this week I learned of an author who signed with one of the New York publishers by reaching out via Twitter. Another made contact through LinkedIn. Both of these publishers have guidelines that require submissions be made through a literary agent - but both accepted their queries and subsequently offered contracts.

In looking over the list of people following my tweets, I see folks at the top of their game - whether it's in the music industry, movies, books or other pursuits. Some of them I've successfully made contact with which have led to joining forces, most notably at the annual Book 'Em North Carolina events.

Facebook allows me to post pictures and leave longer posts and it allows me to reach a different audience. Again, I've made contacts in the music and movie industries as well as the literary arts. My book covers are all on Pinterest.

How are you using social media to enhance or further your career?

Follow me on Twitter @pmterrell

On Facebook,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Word Count

Word count is probably something readers don't pay much attention to, other than wishing a book was longer because they enjoyed the characters and/or plot or wishing it was shorter because the author digressed too much.

I have been fortunate with the Black Swamp Mysteries series and many of my stand-alones because I've been given the freedom to tell the story without being overly concerned about the word count. But last year I began writing for a different venue in which word count was critical; I was told it could be as short as 65,000 words but absolutely no longer than 85,000 words.

The result: I found I've been tightening my writing and the readers are enjoying it.

My previous books had ranged from 70,000 words to around 120,000. While no one complained about the lengthier book, shorter books are less expensive to produce and take up less inventory space (my publishers have thus far all been traditional, not print-on-demand.) Writing shorter books also allowed me to write three novels last year, as the average length for each was around 80,000 words.

Do you often wish a book was longer? Or do you wish sometimes the author had tightened things up so it was shorter and easier to read?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Technology

In yesterday's post I mentioned the thermal imaging that was used in last week's capture of the bombing suspect.

I use new technology in my books, especially in relation to spy technology. I find it fascinating. It is changing our world like never before.

In Dylan's Song, Sam uses Ground Penetrating Radar technology. It's a step up from thermal imaging. Used via satellite, it can be positioned to a specific longitude and latitude. It then "sees" beneath the surface to the ground below.

The same technology can be used in a variety of forms, including handheld devices. It's currently being used by archaeologists as an alternate to excavating when they're not sure what they might find. It is also used by the construction industry, inspectors, and to locate things such as utility cables and pipes.

Used as spy technology, it can be used to determine what is housed within certain confines - such as nuclear facilities, enemy combatants' camps, and even into buildings which could be useful during a hostage crisis or robbery in progress.

Thermal imaging and ground penetrating radar are often used together in spy technology. Thermal imaging picks up heat sources while ground penetrating radar shows most materials.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Musing - A New Age

I avoid watching the news non-stop but I was glued to my television set on Friday evening, along with millions of others, as I watched the police close in on the Boston Marathon bomber. I don't have privy to all the details but as one watching everything unfold this past week, I have to say that the Boston police and all the police departments who worked with them as well as the federal agencies on the case did such a superb job that this could be a textbook case on how to investigate a crime and apprehend the suspects.

I've been saying on this blog that we live in the Golden Age of Science and Technology and nowhere was that more apparent than in this investigation.

Social media played a huge part as the bombers' pictures were released - due to cameras mounted above the crowds. I'll talk more about cameras later this week.

The thermal imaging done by helicopter was awesome to see. To know that the helicopter continued to hover, using thermal imaging to see where the suspect was in the boat, how he was positioned and where he was moving - was incredible.

The use of the robot to tear away the tarp was also the stuff of science fiction novels. It's the same technology used in warfare today, with robots dismantling IEDs instead of flesh-and-blood humans risking their lives. Had a person tried to tear away the tarp, the suspect could have shot and killed him. But a robot is something the suspect couldn't fight.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Freaky Friday - What Satellites See

In my latest release, Dylan's Song, I used satellite technology as a means of watching the CIA operatives as they traveled into a dangerous region to rescue a fellow CIA operative that is held captive.

But just how detailed can satellite technology get?

From a computer console on Planet Earth, a satellite can be repositioned to a specific latitude, longitude and degree. Because satellites are so high, they can not be detected with the naked eye but as countries become more technologically advanced, some are spying on the spy satellites...

In a successful mission, a spy satellite can detect a dog in the dark of night. And that dog can be viewed with such clarity that the person(s) viewing it can determine the breed and size of the dog.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Defying Genre

I spoke to an author this week about his latest book. When I asked what genre it was, he couldn't tell me. It was a true story but not non-fiction, he said, because he changed a few facts "to protect the innocent." It was a coming-of-age book of a young woman, but it wasn't chick-lit or women's fiction. It had a love story woven throughout but it didn't fit into the romance category. It included a murder but it wasn't suspense and it wasn't mystery and "definitely" wasn't crime. Oh, and there were images of angels but it wasn't inspirational nor paranormal.

The author tried to find a publisher for it but was turned down time after time because they simply couldn't define it. So he decided to self-publish.

And therein lies the problem.

There is a proliferation of self-published authors these days; anybody watching the industry can see it in every direction. But with so many publishing their books themselves, some fail to do the most rudimentary research into what genre they are writing in. It goes far beyond whether a traditional publisher picks it up. It has more to do with marketing, promoting and selling the book.

Before the first word is written, the author should ask himself or herself: Who is my target market?

If you can't define the genre, how do you know who will read it?

More importantly, who will buy it?

When you publish your book for a commercial market (versus something you can hand out at church or work or to your family) the problem is not getting it printed. Any book can be printed quickly and easily these days.

The challenge is how to sell it.

The first rule of thumb is, of course, it should be well-written and meticulously edited. The second rule is: what genre is it?

If it's carried by brick-and-mortar stores or in libraries, how will they know where to place it? In the mystery section? Romance section? Non-fiction section? True crime?

If you're trying to sell it online, who are you attempting to appeal to? And don't say "any adult" because that is too broad. People have distinctly varied likes and dislikes. Especially as busy as we all are these days, your book is competing against everyone else's.

And if you can't define your own genre, nobody else is going to do it for you.

What's more, different genres have different rules. In suspense, which is what I write predominantly, there are sub-genres: political, medical, techno, cozy, paranormal, romantic, woman-in-jeopardy... That's just to name a few. It makes sense to learn the industry before jumping feet-first into it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WIP Wednesday - The Schedule

I often meet readers who think that an author writes only when they feel like it. They envision a romantic notion of the author sitting beneath a tree on a spring afternoon with pen in hand. Perhaps, they think, that occurs every now and then. The rest of the time the author is living a relaxing life of gardening, bird watching or some other pursuit.

With me, nothing could be further from the truth.

Once an author gains a following, it is important that books continue to be released on a regular basis. That means writing - regardless of whether the writer feels like it.

For me, it means being at my desk every day shortly after dawn. I spend the mornings working on marketing and promotional activities, which has increasingly been passed from publishers to authors as the publishing houses streamline. Then I spend the afternoons and often the evenings writing. This happens six days a week - and often seven days.

There are deadlines, among them:

1. the first draft
2. the revised version
3. on the editor's desk for their revisions
4. completing the edits recommended
5. the last read-through and final time for changes

Last year I was contracted to write three books in twelve months, which meant those five deadlines were met within four months for each book. This year, I currently have two books on my plate, which gives me a very long lead time - six months. If a third is added, that time frame will be reduced back to four months.

Once a book is out the door and out of my hands - for the cover design, typesetting, production schedule and all the things I am not involved in - it isn't time to rest. It's time to get started on the next one.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Ricochet

In 2006, my third suspense was released. The name was Ricochet; it had been decided upon and registered two years prior to its release, but the book had been delayed because I was in the process of moving from Virginia to North Carolina. At the time of its release, Sandra Brown's book, Ricochet, was released. Soon after, Sue Grafton's R is for Ricochet was released.

Although the content of books is copyrighted, the name isn't - though I suppose if someone released a title such as To Kill a Mockingbird or Gone With the Wind, the copyright holders of the original books could claim those names are too closely associated with a specific author and plot.

In any event, it was a learning experience. Sometimes fans would tell me they had ordered my book only to have the book store order Sandra Brown's instead. And when anyone searched for it online, Sandra Brown's or Sue Grafton's would bump mine down the list of results.

But just last month, the book was released for the first time in eBook format. It received a new cover, which I was happy to see. It somehow seems more up-to-date. And since it's release, it has had a resurgence of sales.

In fact, this week it hit #2 on the Kindle bestseller list in the category of Immigration - and #14 on the printed book bestseller list, also in the category of Immigration.

The book features Sheila Carpenter, who I had originally introduced in Kickback, my debut suspense. On the evening before she is to begin the FBI Academy, she is shopping with her friend Margaret when a bomb explodes in the food court. Margaret winds up in the hospital fighting for her life while Sheila seems unscathed - though she continues to suffer from undiagnosed injuries. But what is even more significant is she saw the bomber before the bomb was detonated. And when she says as much to a reporter on the scene, she becomes a target.

Her adventure takes her from the FBI Academy at Quantico to her childhood home near Nashville, Tennessee to rural Robeson County, North Carolina as she pursues a plot that takes her into the dark underworld of terrorism, illegal immigration and stolen identities.

The Kindle version can be purchased for just $2.99 by following this link. The printed edition with the original cover can be purchased here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Musings - It's Magic

This is always a great way to start the day, especially a Monday! The video has been around for a few years but it's always worth watching again:

Congratulations to the winners of the three Celtic necklaces that were given away during my spring book tours:

Chelsea Brooks from Mississippi, who won the Celtic Trinity Necklace;

Lysette Lam from California, who won the Celtic Key;

And Mary Preston from Australia, who won the Celtic Circle!

Thank you for faithfully following my book tours!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Freaky Friday - Earth

It's easy to become so fixated on what we're doing in our daily lives that we lose sight of the big picture. We forget the amazing and miraculous variety of animals, plants and terrain on this blue planet we call "home" ... So today, I'll let this video speak for itself. It's well worth a couple of minutes to watch it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - What Motivates You?

I was speaking with a group of authors who spoke of the irritating writer's block that can come on unexpectedly and remain far longer than anyone would like. There are various ways to move through this and for me, it does not involve writing.

My books contain elements of mystery, suspense, romance and a touch of the paranormal. And I find what sparks an interest in any one of these - or all of them - are movies and music.

Last weekend, I stumbled upon the movie Out of Time with Denzel Washington and Eva Mendez. It is one of my favorite suspense movies. Not only does it have superb actors, but the suspense ratchets up to the point where it is almost unbearable. This movie taught me two elements in suspense: the shorter the timeframe, the higher the suspense; and the reader (or viewer) must feel as if something is going to happen in each and every scene. In Out of Time, it was the possibility that Denzel Washington's character would be caught - and his career and his life as he knew it would be over. Below is the movie trailer to give you an idea of how the suspense builds.

If I am having difficulty focusing on a particular element such as suspense or romance, I will find movies that depict that element in a superb manner. Not only will I watch the movie but I will dissect it, scene by scene. By the time I'm finished, I know exactly how to construct my upcoming scenes and how to describe them so the readers feel like they are there - even when my plots, scenes and characters are entirely different from what I am watching.

Music can do the same thing, but because most songs average three or four minutes, it takes many of them strung together (or repeated) for me to begin visualizing the scenes they portray. Music has been particularly helpful to me in writing the romantic parts of the story, as so many songs revolve around meeting someone, loving someone, or breaking up.

What motivates you?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Sunshine Award

It's always such fun to receive an email notifying me that I've won a blog award. Author Sheila Boneham presented me with the Sunshine Award last week, which is presented to those who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere. Thank you, Sheila!

As a recipient, I've been asked to tell you the following about me:

Favorite Color: yellow and blue compete all the time

Favorite Animal: dogs - I absolutely adore my collie Simone but my Jack Russells constantly compete for my love and attention, too

Favorite Number: 7

Favorite Non-alcoholic Drink: Diet, caffeine-free Coca-Cola

Facebook or Twitter? Love them both. I tweet every morning and love the positive tweets I read; but Facebook allows me to say more and post pictures.

Your Passion: writing and literacy; animal welfare

Giving or getting present: giving, always

Favorite Day: Wednesday

Favorite Flowers: Asian lilies in pink/white or yellow roses

And in turn, I'd like to pass The Sunshine Award on to these deserving authors and blogs:

Abyrne Mostyn

Pamela June Kimmell

Christie Silvers

Susan Whitfield

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - River Passage

Only one day is left in my book tour for my latest release, Dylan's Song. I hope you'll join me at SeeJane Publish and also at Liza O'Connor, both of whom are running unique interviews.

The following excerpt is from River Passage, which won the 2010 Best Book Award. It is the true story of Mary Neely and three hundred settlers who ventured west in 1779. They traveled the Tennessee River, moving through Chickamauga Territory at the height of the Chickamauga Indian War. The book was determined to be so historically accurate that the original manuscript now resides at the Nashville (TN) Metropolitan Government Archives for future historians and researchers.

For the first time in her life, she heard an animalistic cry more terrifying than anything she had ever witnessed. It pierced the air and grew with intensity, the sound reverberating through the valley with such force that it seemed to be everywhere at once.

“Get the muskets!” Ike yelled as he leaned into the tiller, pushing and turning the long pole. “Push forward!” he yelled to those with poles. “Gather speed!”

Mary dashed to the cabin, her legs spread wide to keep her balance on the swiftly moving boat. As she raced toward the back, she caught a glimpse of the Jennings boat, the people moving about frantically, trying to navigate further to the northwest to outrun the Indians.

She reached the door and slung it open, grabbing the muskets that stood just inside.

She leaped and lunged back across the boat. Ma was racing toward her and as they nearly collided, she grabbed two of the muskets. “Hurry, Mary, hurry!” Ma screamed as she flew past her, tossing one of the muskets up to the bridge.

Mary could see Ike still frenetically moving the pole through the water, his body leaning forward as if he could will the boat to move faster. He anxiously glanced over his shoulder as Mary passed below him.

“Put down the guns and grab a pole!” he shouted over the din.

Mary quickly laid the muskets on a pile of sack cloth, grabbed a pole and paddled like she’d never paddled before.

“Put your back into it!” Ike was shouting. In tandem, the Neelys sliced their poles through the waters.

Mary no longer felt the hunger pangs that had plagued her for days; she no longer experienced the constant ache of muscles unaccustomed to rigorous labor. She was enveloped in sheer panic as the Indians closed in on the fleet like a pack of wolves descending upon sheep. Terrified, she glanced around her, catching a glimpse of Ma, Jean, Beth, Martha, Billy and Sam rowing like the devil himself was after them.

The Jennings boat was dropping back as only Mr. and Mrs. Jennings appeared to be paddling the small, overstuffed boat.

Ike turned to look in the same direction and then his eyes swiftly searched the boat. Seeing Sam at the stern, he called out, “Sam, keep rowin’, no matter what! Stay in the center, away from the north shore shoals, so’s we don’t get hung up. If any Injuns try to board, shoot to kill. Do not try to help nobody in the other boats. You hear me?”

Mary watched Sam as he nodded grimly and kept slicing his pole through the waters.

Then Ike called out to Mary, “Mary, take a musket and get to the children!”

She grabbed one of the muskets from the sack cloth and with a final glance at Ike, raced through the boat toward the cabin hatch. As she passed each of the Neelys, they looked at her with the same terror-stricken panic—all but Sam, who had a look of anticipation on his face that was more harrowing to Mary than the others’ fear.

“The children—” Ma managed to holler as she worked the pole.

“I’ll take care of ‘em,” Mary shouted as she raced to the cabin.

The cabin hatch faced the back of the boat. When she threw the door open, Meg screamed as though a murderer was bearing down on her.

“It’s me!” Mary shouted, rushing inside. In a split second, she’d taken in the image of Meg in the corner of the cabin, her thin arms pulling six-year-old Johnny and four-year-old Jane as close to her chest as she could. Jane was screaming and crying. “Are the Injuns attacking?” she screamed.

“No!” Mary shouted. “Pipe down! Ain’t nothin’ gonna happen to you.”

She turned back to the hatch and started to push it closed. When the gap was only a few inches wide, she stopped. The boat was gaining speed. “We’re outrunnin’ ‘em!” she shouted to the children. “We’re safe!” She hoped God would forgive the lie, and she wondered at her own method in trying to calm the children. But she couldn’t think with their screams reverberating through the tiny cabin. And she had to think.

The Indians were stopping the chase, she realized as she watched. Dozens of canoes were simply stopping. As if the world had taken on a surreal, slow-motion quality, she saw their heads turning to look behind them.

As the Neely boat continued to put distance between them, she realized the Jennings boat had continued to drop back. They were too near the northern shore, she thought, too close to the shoals in their effort to escape the Indians attacking from the south. The beaches would jut far into the water, the shallows trapping any boat that came too close to shore. Especially a boat overloaded with furniture and heavy boxes.

And around a curve a mile behind them, the Stuart boat limped into view.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Forty Years...

Today I am appearing on Writing into the Sunset and Hope, Dreams, Life and Love. I hope you'll drop in and leave a comment. This virtual tour ends this week and a lucky commenter will win a beautiful Celtic necklace. Plus, you'll see interviews you won't find anywhere else.

Much can change over forty years, a fact that was recently brought to my attention by a friend who has known me forever. It was exactly forty years ago when I left home for the first time. I moved into a trailer that was 12 feet wide and 60 feet long - 720 square feet. In the hot Mississippi Delta summers, the trailer easily soared above 110 degrees. The cockroaches were as long as my fingers and if I awakened during the night and turned on a light, I could see hundreds scurrying down the walls body-to-body like Pickett's Charge.

With my son napping in his crib, I spent my afternoons writing, hunched over an old manual typewriter set on the floor. I saved my pennies - literally - until I had enough to purchase a ream of paper. I carefully drew light pencil marks at the bottom margins so I would know when to insert a fresh sheet of paper.

When publishers rejected my writing and one literary agent openly mocked it, I didn't give up. I believed in myself and I believed in a higher power. I didn't believe that it was meant for me to live out my life in a trailer park.

I was often marginalized; treated as if I wasn't a human being. I vowed then that I would always treat each person I met, no matter what their stature, social standing or the size of their wallet, exactly the same. It's a promise that I have kept throughout my life.

I lived in that trailer for nearly three years before moving out in search of a better life. It wasn't long before I was living out of my car. Just seven years later, I started the first of two successful computer companies without borrowing a dime.

I've been asked to write my autobiography. When I'm closer to knowing the ending, I just might do that.

Until then, I'll live each chapter as it unfolds.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Freaky Friday

I am ending this week at Caroline Clemmons' blogspot, called A Writer's Life. I hope you'll join me there. If you leave a comment, you have a chance to win a beautiful Celtic necklace. The winner will be selected on April 11.

This time in history is being called the Golden Age of Science. More and more is being discovered every day. The knowledge they are acquiring has the power to transform our thinking and our futures. Scientists are unlocking the key to our DNA, discovering our roots, our genetics, and even our future health concerns. They are unlocking the key to the Universe, to the limitless number of galaxies, to new planet discoveries, new stars, black holes, and a universe that is infinitely more active than we ever imagined.

It provides a limitless supply of ideas for authors, whether they write science fiction, suspense, romance, non-fiction, or anything in between. In my latest book, Dylan's Song, I used the very real technology of ground sonar to discover a missing CIA operative held in an underground dungeon. Once only used in submarines, ground penetrating sonar is available to discover anything that exists behind walls or under the surface of the earth. It can even be used to view occupants of a house. This opens up an entirely new world of values - when this technology should be used and when it is a violation of privacy.

But with technology such as this, it means future wars will have the potential to be waged in ways we never could have imagined before.

Many authors have written about the dark side of technology as a warning to future generations of what could happen if humans misuse technology.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday Thoughts on Book Tours

Today I am visiting Long and Short Reviews. I hope you'll stop by and read an interview about my writing - and leave a comment for the chance to win a beautiful Celtic necklace.

Today's post at Long and Short Reviews is about a Day in the Life of p.m.terrell. It's the first time I've been asked to write about a typical day and I enjoyed writing my answer.

I am enjoying these Virtual Book Tours because I find each blogspot and each host has different questions for me or a varied list of topics for me to write a guest post. Their questions make me think and they also take me in directions I would never think to go on my own.

New authors often think it's all about their book. Even the largest publishers will say it's about the book.

But it really isn't.

Once a reader finds a writer they enjoy, they will usually purchase anything that author writes - until the writing is no longer as good or as entertaining as it once was.

I find myself doing the same thing. Once I find an author I enjoy, I will download any eBook they write, even if it takes me a few months to get around to reading it. It often doesn't matter what they wrote, what the plot entails or which characters they introduce. I know if they are a good writer, I will enjoy whatever they've put in front of me.

Which authors do you buy based on the author name alone?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Today I am visiting Beck Star Reviews. I hope you'll join me there as you find out more of the inside scoop about my writing and particularly Dylan's Song.

This year I am working on two books. I was asked recently if I wrote the scene that I was in the mood to write each day or if I wrote the book in chapter order. I don't know why it still surprises me to find out that some folks think a writer writes when they feel like it or they write bits and pieces that later are compiled into a book.

Writing, to me, is a business. It's one I absolutely love doing; one I can't imagine replacing with anything else. But if I wasn't progressing in this industry, I would be working a full-time job elsewhere and writing simply as a hobby.

When one writes as a hobby or "on spec" - meaning the book is written and then a publisher is found - there are no deadlines. But when one is under contract or an obligation, there are many others in the pipeline waiting to do their jobs at a particular point in the process. For me, this means editors waiting for the draft and the revisions; typesetters; graphic designers for the book covers; marketing personnel to plan the promotional efforts and book tours; production people I will never see who get the product into final form... And many more.

It is extremely difficult for an author to make it in this business without a team behind them. And if my deadlines slip, it means everyone along the chain must adjust. Sometimes it means one or more are unavailable at a future date, which means going back to the drawing board for a new schedule.

And in answer to my friend's question, I told her that I do write the book chapter by chapter. There are some instances in which I will write a couple of nonconsecutive chapters because I want to remain in a particular character's point of view. But the vast majority of the time, it is written page by page, chapter by chapter.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Teaser

Today I am a guest at Janna Shay's Fair Play. I hope you'll drop in and leave a comment. This is my fourth book tour since the start of the year, and I have already given away a gift basket from the town of Lumberton as well as two beautiful Celtic necklaces. Another Celtic necklace will be given to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of my current tour.

I've been asked which order readers should read my Black Swamp Mysteries series, so here goes:

Exit 22 was the first book. It was meant as a stand-alone but has been so popular that it developed into the Black Swamp Mysteries series. This book introduces Christopher Sandige, a political strategist who is traveling along Interstate 95 when he is involved in an accident at Exit 22 in North Carolina. Stranded for the weekend in Lumberton, he meets a beautiful but mysterious woman named Brenda Carnegie, and is immediately drawn into a double homicide. He finds himself on the run from a dogged detective--and from a hired assassin. Now he doesn't know if the woman he is falling in love with is a killer.

Vicki's Key is the second book. It introduces Vicki Boyd, a psychic spy who has decided to leave the CIA and begin a new life in a small town helping an elderly woman with her angelfish breeding business. But when she arrives at Laurel Maguire's home in Lumberton, North Carolina, she finds the elderly woman has suffered a stroke and is confined to the third floor of a rambling home. Her nephew, Dylan, has arrived from Ireland to care for her. Vicki quickly falls in love with the charming, handsome Irishman. But everything in the old home is not as it seems. And when the CIA return to coax her into one last job, her past and her future are about to collide... In murder.

In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, the characters from Exit 22 and Vicki's Key come together and what happens to them will forever bind them together through blood or circumstance. In Dylan Maguire's first assignment with the CIA, he must interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when she escapes again, it's obvious she's had help from within the CIA's own ranks. Now he must find her again and also find out why some in the highest levels of government want her killed -- and why some will risk everything to help her.

In Dylan's Song, Dylan Maguire returns to his native Ireland with Vicki Boyd. Their mission: to locate and extract a missing CIA operative. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, it plunges him into a past he thought he'd left behind forever. Now he must confront his demons as his past interferes with his mission and places his life and Vicki's in danger. And as Vicki discovers the real reason he left Ireland for America, she harbors a secret of her own.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Deal Sharing Aunt

Today I am a guest at the Deal Sharing Aunt. I hope you'll drop in and read my interview. If you leave a comment at the site, you could win a beautiful Celtic necklace.

Last Friday, I had the honor of presenting checks to literacy groups - money that was raised through the Book 'Em North Carolina event held on February 22, 2013. It was raining cats and dogs but as a blizzard swept across the northern half of the country, readers and authors traveled from Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia California, Pennsylvania and Florida.

In 2012, we raised $9,000 for literacy and despite the horrible weather, we raised $9,600 this year. The money was given to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to purchase books for children from 1 to 5 years of age; Communities In Schools to buy books for students of all grade levels; and Friends of the Robeson County Public Library for literacy campaigns to benefit all ages. In addition, money was given to the Lumberton Police Department, earmarked for schools. And Chief Mike McNeill has been going into some of the schools and reading to the children. Each group was given $2,400.

In addition to raising money for literacy, the event provided an invaluable resource and networking opportunities for authors at all stages of their careers. When I first began in this industry, I found other authors acted as though I was their direct competition. As a result, none of them wanted to help me find my way or answer questions. I vowed back then that if I ever achieved any level of success, I would help any authors in any way I could. Often, that means connecting them to others who can help their careers. It has been very gratifying to hear from authors who have found publishers or literary agents or answers to their questions.