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Friday, December 5, 2014

Mary Neely

My most popular book to date continues to be Songbirds are Free, the true story of Mary Neely's capture by Shawnee warriors in 1780, her time in captivity and her eventual escape three years later and her journey home through a war-torn country.

Mary's family came to the United States from Ireland in the 18th century. They journeyed from what is now Northern Ireland, County Tyrone, from Glencull and Ballygawley. They came to America in search of more opportunity and a better future for their children and grandchildren.

While many know of Mary's story--the murder of her father at the hands of the Shawnee and later her mother's and brother's deaths during a separate attack, and the struggle all the Neelys endured just to survive in the untamed wilderness of Middle Tennessee (then a Virginia territory) --little has been provided about the Neely family before the brothers' departure for America.

I will attempt to provide bits and pieces of information as I come across it, not only for Mary Neely's descendents, of which there are many, but also to those people who came to love Mary in the pages of Songbirds are Free and River Passage.

A treasure trove of information has come my way as a result of my sister Neelley Hicks' trip to Ireland in November 2014.

Below is a document she obtained in Ireland of the Neely territory in Ireland, the meaning of the name, the ancestors and the coat of arms. If anyone would like a full color copy of the original document, please contact me through my website at and I'll be glad to email it to you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

One of my favorite books as well as a favorite movie is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I'd read the book years ago and just read it again with a new release for eBook platforms.

Josephine Lesley wrote the book in 1945 under the pen name R. A. Dick. It was published only in the United Kingdom and received interest in the United States after the movie was released starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison.

The book and movie are not to be confused with the television series that ran in America from 1968 to 1970; the series was a sitcom with slapstick comedy and not at all like the original book and movie.

Like all great books, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir shows a transformation in the main character. Left widowed at the age of 34, Mrs. Muir must break free of her oppressive, Victorian in-laws and begin life anew on her own terms. She moves her children with her to a seaside town where she purchases a run-down home left vacant for years after the previous owner, a sea captain, purportedly committed suicide there.

Mrs. Muir discovers Captain Gregg early after her arrival and also discovers that his death was accidental and not a suicide at all. He remains with her in the house and when her money has run out and she is facing destitution, he writes his memoirs through her. The book is published to great financial success, allowing her to remain financially independent for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Muir is transformed from a young, naive woman to an independent, self-sustaining woman. Yet through it all, she never wavers from her love for Captain Gregg, even after he disappears from her life and she is left wondering whether he was only a figment of her imagination. In the book, he does not appear visually at all but is a voice that only she can hear; yet with his accent, his colorful language and his memories of life at sea, she could not have mistaken him for imagination. Movies, of course, are visual mediums, so in the movie he is seen as much as heard - but again, only to her -- until she discovers years later that her daughter also saw him and had fallen in love with him as well (though not romantically as her mother had).

I loved reading about the tiny village near the sea and of the old home where Mrs. Muir lived and where Captain Gregg had died. The Victorian era was extremely oppressive and women looked down upon, and I had difficulty reading how she was treated by her in-laws before she managed to break free.

The new release has a forward by Adriana Trigiani and I learned more about the book and the movie. I hadn't known that it was shot entirely in California and that the shots of the sea were taken along the Pacific coast in Malibu. While the movie does not stick with the book entirely, it is a wonderful adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the story (pardon the pun).

I do not know why Ms. Leslie wrote the book under the pen name R.A. Dick. When my first book was released under p.m.terrell, I was asked numerous times if I was trying to hide the fact that I am a female. (For the record, no, I wasn't.) But the idea intrigued me, and I wondered if Ms. Leslie had encountered gender bias in the 1940's and believed her only hope to getting the book published was under a pen name that could be mistaken for a male. She died in 1979 and there is very little about her life on the Internet.

Below is one of my favorite videos; this is a trailer for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir to the music of Alex Band's Wherever You Will Go.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Gone With the Wind

Last weekend, I was in Atlanta and was very fortunate to have the time to visit the Margaret Mitchell Museum. As a writer, I was interested in seeing the place where she wrote 90% of Gone With the Wind. It was a small apartment consisting of a living room, a bedroom, and a kitchen. To get to the kitchen, one had to walk through the bedroom. Each room was very small, and in the corner of the living room she wrote at a small table where she had natural light from two windows illuminating the area. She wrote on a manual typewriter, and whenever anyone would come to visit, she tossed a towel over the table so no one would know what she was doing.

When Opportunity came knocking, she turned it away - twice. She denied she had written a book at all, though one of her closest friends had spoken to a publisher about it. Even after she gave the publisher some of the chapters, she sent a telegram saying that she had changed her mind and wanted it back.

It's to our good fortune - and hers as well - that the publisher ignored her request and offered her a contract. Within three months, David O. Selznick had purchased the rights to the movie and the rest, as they say, is history.

I have seen some authors labor throughout their entire lives and never see any of their work in print. But though Margaret Mitchell resisted seeing Gone With the Wind published, there are some things that seemed destined to happen, against all the odds and against even her own efforts to derail it.

Could Gone With the Wind have been published today? Most scholars say no. It is a fabulously written book, but today's audience doesn't want to read hundreds of pages of backstory - which is what the reader must wade through to get to Scarlett's story. Scarlett herself is an interesting character for a heroine. She is spoiled and in the beginning what we'd refer to as "air-headed". She thinks only of herself and doesn't seem to look much beyond the end of her nose.

War changes all of that, of course. And that was precisely why Margaret Mitchell wrote the book. At its core is the eternal question: what makes some men and women break under the strain, while others rise above it? What do some people have deep inside themselves that keep them going, against all the odds, despite all the obstacles, while others are ready to give up? Why do some people continue moving forward while others spend entire lifetimes lamenting the loss of what they once had? And why do some people dream of someone they could never have, while the one who is perfect for them is right in front of them?

In the end, Scarlett is transformed. At times she is ruthless; at times she is money hungry; at times she is bull-headed, short-tempered and in her own words, a poor mother. But there is something about her character that tells us that we, too, can survive if only we try.

Perhaps a key to the book's initial success was the timing. America was in the grips of The Great Depression. Yet when people had trouble putting food on the table, they were doling out three dollars for a book. Perhaps the story fed their souls, giving them hope, showing them that throughout history there were trials and tribulations that would eventually be overcome. We will never know just how many people were affected by this story; how many were inspired to keep going despite the odds, how many were taken out of their own sorrows and placed into another day, another time, another era. And perhaps that is why the book was published; it was not only a great read but it feeds the soul like few books can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Making of a Psychic Spy - Part 19

When I decided to write the Black Swamp Mysteries series featuring CIA psychic spy Vicki Boyd, I decided I would make her role and the missions she worked as close to reality as possible. I immersed myself in reading true stories of psychic spy missions, much of which is available through the Freedom of Information Act or has been declassified.

One name that popped up over and over again was Russell Targ. You might remember him as a pioneer who helped to engineer lasers and laser technology that we often now take for granted. He is a physicist and an author, and during the 1970's and 1980's, he worked at Stanford Research Institute. His mission there was to explore psychic abilities and what became known as remote viewing. The funding for the project came from the CIA. Yes, that CIA.

As a scientist, Targ looked for proof. The results were often astounding, and led to more than 100 papers he published on ESP research as well as plasma physics and laser technology. One of his more recent books is The Reality of ESP: A Physicist's Proof of Psychic Abilities. He is known for pushing the boundaries of science and exploring the relatively new frontier of parapsychology, of psychic research, of spirituality, and of those things we can not explain in a three-dimensional world.

Friday, September 19, 2014

What Dreams May Come

I was asked recently which authors or books have influenced my writing, and one of the books that came to mind was What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. I read the original hardcover book more than 20 years ago. It was the first book I'd ever read cover to cover without stopping even for a five-minute break. When I was finished reading it, I flipped back to the first page and read it again.

I ended up analyzing that book. One of the most important things I learned about it is that each chapter ended with a cliff-hanger. I would glance forward, see that the next chapter was just a few short pages and I would make the decision to read only to that point. But once I got there, the last two or three paragraphs would entice me to keep reading... And so it went, until I'd read the entire book.

I would categorize the book as a Romantic Fantasy. It begins when Chris Nielsen dies unexpectedly in an accident, separating him from his soul mate. And I do mean that's where the story begins. It takes us through Chris' life after death, and when Annie needs him the most, he risks Heaven and Hell to get to her. It is a powerful book, and it inspired the movie starring Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen and Annabella Sciorra as Annie.

For those interested in New Age teachings, Richard Matheson spent years researching stories of life after death, incorporating common memories or themes from those who had near death experiences into the plot line. It makes for a powerful and riveting read.

Richard Matheson, it turns out, is one of the authors who influenced Stephen King's writing, and when one of his short stories was filmed, a young Steven Spielberg directed it. Perhaps you know him best as the author of I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Omega Man, or a number of Twilight Zone episodes, including my personal favorite, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The White Devil of Dublin

My 18th release, The White Devil of Dublin, officially released this Monday, September 15. It is the sequel to The Tempest Murders, which placed as one of only four finalists in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards (cross-genre category), and brings back Irish Detective Ryan O'Clery, who is now married to Cait and has twin girls, Darby and Dee.

When a noted historian claims to have discovered information about Ryan's ancestors, he arrives for their meeting to find her murdered and her computer stolen. His investigation will lead him to 12th century Dublin, to a time of the Viking conquest on the cusp of the Norman invasion, and to an albino known as Hvitr Bard, or The White Devil. It will also uncover a secret his family had kept hidden for more than eight hundred years. And it will bring him face to face with a serial killer he thought was gone forever, but who is back to finish the job he started.

For a short time, the eBook is on sale for only $2.99. In another week or two, the price goes to $6.99 so this is a perfect time to buy it! It is available on amazon, in the iBooks store, on Nook, and all other major eBook formats. It is also available in paperback for $16.95.

If you don't see the book in your book store, please ask for it! All stores can stock it but not all stores have them on their shelves.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Does Facial Hair Matter?

Last week I posted a fun set of pictures with the same male model with different eye colors. I received so many comments about it on social media - and especially the video with the Musketeers from BBC America's hit show - that I thought I'd try another fun experiment.

This one involves facial hair, and in particular on Santiago Cabrera. Santiago plays Aramis on The Musketeers and I have to admit that he has inspired a character in a book I am currently writing, entitled The Ghosts of Brackenridge Castle.

Here is Santiago in his role as Aramis:

And clean-shaven:

With a five o'clock shadow:

With a mustache (okay, there is a bit of a beard but the mustache is more prominent):

And with a full beard:

How do you think the absence or addition of facial hair affects his appearance? Which do you prefer?

As a writer, this is just one of the characteristics I ponder about each male character.

For more information about this sexy actor, visit IMDB or BBC America's Musketeers website.

And just for fun, here are some reasons why you should love Aramis:


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 18

Remote viewer or psychic spy?

This is a question our government asked themselves when they established the psychic spy program.

Concerned that the general public would not understand the use of the word "psychic" in an official government program, they came up with the term "remote viewer" - someone who views what is happening from a remote location.

In 1994, The Washington Post broke the story that the United States government was using psychics. They seemed to focus only on the negative aspects of the program and not on its successes, and because of that, many thought the program would die. However, the media storm only lasted a few days - a blink of an eye in media terms - and the program resumed just as it had before.

Although some government backers of the program initially distanced themselves out of fear of what their constituents would think of them, others rallied behind the cause. Officially, some of the programs were disbanded but in reality, other groups with more cover resumed the work.

It's important to note that psychic spies are used under strict scientific conditions, and each fact is checked by analysts and by boots on the ground. The more accurate a spy tends to be, the more assignments they receive. They also land larger and more important assignments. Those who have a rate of accuracy more in line with guessing soon find themselves out of the program.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Eyes Have It

How much does eye color have to do with the attractiveness of a person?

At the right side of this blog, you'll see a survey where I'm asking which eye color you'd most prefer to see a leading man or woman have. Just for the fun of it, we took the cover of my latest book, The White Devil of Dublin, and tried different eye colors.

The photograph is of a real man who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. It was taken in black and white:

The eye color was changed to blue for the front cover of the book, because The White Devil has blue eyes:

Here is the same photograph with green eyes:

And here it is with brown eyes:

Which do you prefer?

For the record - the person who posed for this photograph has green eyes.

And to see The Seductive Stare, this is a terrific clip from BBC America's television series, The Musketeers (which I highly recommend!)

The White Devil of Dublin can be preordered for just $2.99 in any eBook format! (Price after the book launches will be $6.99 and the paperback retails for $16.95. Follow this link to order from amazon, and this link to order from the iBooks store. All other eBook formats are available by following this link.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 17

One of the toughest parts of a psychic spy's journey is learning how and when to stop the outside influences from permeating their psyches. It is similar to opening a door in which all manner of thoughts, actions, people and events will pour through. Without knowing when to close the door and how to get rid of all that excess clutter, a psychic can easily get burned out, become less effective or even resort to destructive behavior.

In some instances, psychic spies have turned to drugs or alcohol to mute the voices and turn off the images. There were even officially sanctioned experiments with drugs to determine their effectiveness. The end result, however, is the more drug-free and alcohol-free a psychic spy is, the more efficient and the more reliable they are in their missions.

For this reason, psychic spies undergo extensive testing - not only of their abilities but of their own hold on reality and their own sense of self.

Meditation has been proven extremely effective at keeping the psychics centered and for clearing their minds after a mission.

Physical activity has also proven effective, though the psychics must be careful because their sense of psychic "footing" and stability will be off-center following a mission. Something that would not be harmful, such as walking, is effective until they begin to feel more of a sense of reality. Something such as tennis would not be recommended because their reflexes don't match the level of their psychic activity.

Some psychics listen to classical music, watch movies or participate in a hobby - from stamp-collecting to sewing, from painting to bird-watching.

In Vicki's Key, Vicki is often very tired after a mission and requires sleep. This works well as long as the psychic "turns off" the psychic activity before sleeping; otherwise, they may continue to dream about the mission, its location and events. This occurs often with Vicki throughout the series, and she's begun to realize that her dreams should be taken as seriously as the mission during wakefulness.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 16

In Vicki's Key, I mention some of the side effects of working psychic missions. Vicki witnessed a fellow psychic spy walking out of a building at Fort Bragg after a session, and he almost seems to be sleep-walking. She finds, also, that she requires sleep afterward, as the effort drains her energy.

The side effects were straight from real psychic spies' recollection of what it felt like to perform these missions or witness others doing them. Sleep-walking through the day seems to be a very common thread, as spies feel like they have one foot in one dimension and other foot barely in the physical present.

Here is an excerpt from Vicki's Key after her CIA boss, Sam, and a coworker drop her off a few blocks from her house after a mission to Afghanistan:

The van stopped at the corner of 13th and Walnut Streets as Sam slid the door open.

“You okay?” he asked as he stared at her intently.

“Of course I am,” Vicki replied, though she felt far from okay. As she climbed out of the van, she was almost angry with them for leaving her on the street like this. She knew, and they knew, that it was a common side effect for remote viewers to feel drugged after a session. Today was no exception. It felt intensified, she thought foggily, and she wondered if she was so out of practice that her sessions were throwing her body into a major turmoil. It was similar to awakening in the middle of a particularly vivid dream and feeling as if the dream was reality and her physical world was not. But when awakening, there was still the realization that she had been dreaming, whereas at the moment she felt as though she was still in the Hindu Kush. The little girl’s image was emblazoned in her mind, making her more tangible than Sam, who continued to stare at her or Julia, who, with a push of a button, was rolling down the passenger side window.

Regardless of Sam’s opinion, Vicki knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the little girl had seen her. It didn’t make sense; even as dazed as she felt, she knew it was completely illogical. And yet she knew it was real.

Julia reached across the front seat and handed her a package through the open window. “You got this at Johnny’s hot dog stand,” she said. “The band playing in the Plaza at lunchtime was Black Pearl. They played Love Will Keep Us Alive and Blues is My Business and Business is Good. You sat next to the fountain on a brick wall and listened to them.”

Vicki nodded silently. The information was emblazoned on her mind as if she’d truly spent the afternoon next to the fountain’s mist. She could even hear the songs as they might have been played.

“Elm Street is two blocks over,” Julia continued. “That way.” She pointed to the west.

“Got it,” Vicki answered.

After what felt like a long pause but in reality might have been mere seconds, Sam slid the back door closed. She heard it latch as Julia returned to the driver’s side and the window was rolled up as if she was being dismissed. Vicki stood with her arms hanging limply by her side, watching in a stupor while the van pulled away from the curb and turned north on Walnut Street.

She remained there for a moment longer like a sleepwalker awakening, trying to get her bearings. Her lungs felt strained with the thick, humid air. As she struggled to return to the present, she wondered if the tightness in her chest was due to the coastal humidity of North Carolina or the rapid change from the thin air of the Hindu Kush. Then she shook her head in disbelief. She hadn’t really been there, she reminded herself. It was a dream. It was all a dream.

She strolled down Walnut Street. Her eyes began to focus on her surroundings and yet, even as she faced her reality, she knew it hadn’t really been a dream. It was as real as the beautiful yellow house with the hanging ferns on the front porch. In contrast to the starkness of the Hindu Kush, Lumberton was alive in a medley of colors. She felt like Dorothy closing her eyes in the black and white imagery of Kansas only to open them to the kaleidoscope of Oz. And yet, it didn’t mean that Kansas—or Afghanistan—had been a dream.

Other side effects that psychics have reported include: 

the inability to focus on a conversation afterward; 

not realizing that they've "zoned out"; 

not remembering where they were or what they did directly after a mission;

missing an important appointment or commitment, such as a school event for a child or a commitment with a spouse;

bumping into things, tripping over sidewalk curbs, stumbling or seeming to move as if drunk;

absent-mindedly putting something in the wrong place--one instance reported a psychic tossing his car keys into a dumpster (fortunately for him, coworkers witnessed it and fished them out), or putting something in the freezer that didn't belong there;

exhibiting physical ailments that are related to the body's struggle to reunite with the psyche, such as headaches, stomach upsets, muscle aches and pains;

or overlooking serious symptoms because the psychic self-diagnoses that the symptoms are part of their psychic mission.

  Because of these side effects, each psychic mission also involves a handler; someone who not only witnesses the mission and makes certain it is audio-recorded, visually taped, or notes are taken, but someone who can keep an eye on the psychic until they have their bearings once again.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Close Miss

In July 2012, something happened in our solar system that could have thrown the entire planet back to the 18th century - and I bet you didn't even hear about it.

On July 23, 2012, a coronal mass ejection (CME) passed through the Earth's orbit. If it had occurred just one week earlier, it would have struck our planet - and been as potentially devastating as a massive asteroid.

A CME is the result of an extreme solar storm. In 2012, the CME was the worst recorded in more than 150 years.

Had it hit Planet Earth, it would have likely begun as solar flares that could have knocked out GPS (affecting planes, trains and automobiles, as well as cell phones and mobile devices) and also resulted in radio blackouts.

Anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours later, satellites would have been affected. Next, anything powered by an electric grid could have been fried. Even people living in certain areas of the world would have been unable to even flush a toilet, as many more modern toilets rely on electric pumps.

Had all of this occurred, we still would not have recovered - two years later.

Where did it hit? The storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft. It was the perfect place, because STEREO-A was ideally equipped to calculate everything in the debris field, providing scientists with more information than they'd ever been able to accumulate before. The spacecraft was not damaged because it was designed for use outside the protective Earth shield, so it was ideally suited for this catastrophe.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weigh in on Eye and Hair Color

I'm working on a new, stand-alone book for possible publication in 2015. I will be introducing an entirely new set of characters, and I'd like your opinion.

To the right of this post are two questions. Which eye color do you find sexiest and most intoxicating? Feel free to leave a comment as well, if you'd like to explain why you chose what you did (the poll is anonymous) or you'd like to mention a particular actor, musician or celebrity who has the eyes you'd love to see in the bedroom.

And what hair color do you consider the sexiest? Feel free to leave additional comments below with information about length, style, etc.

And in future posts, I'll discuss the findings and how this new character is developing - with your help.

Feel free to share this poll with your friends. The more responses we get, the more intriguing it will be to see the results!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 15

Well, color me psychic.

An intriguing exercise I came across while researching psychic spies and how they train included visualizing color. An integral part of a psychic spy's abilities comes in the level of detail they are able to see in their mind's eye. The most successful spies are those that can see and memorize blueprints, buildings and landscapes, and even paperwork on a desk or items on a computer screen.

One of the exercises that enables psychics to hone their skills is in seeing colors.

For example, close your eyes and visualize yourself at the beach. White-hot sands, ocean waves, sea breeze, cloudless skies... Focus on that image for a few seconds, and then imagine yourself leaving the beach and walking through a wooded area followed by a field of flowers before reaching a bungalow.

Open your eyes and try to remember what you just experienced. How much detail was there?

Now try this exercise:

Close your eyes and imagine yourself at the beach. The sand is a combination of white and dark, as shadows begin to reach across it. You glance upward at the sky and find it a beautiful blue with fluffy white clouds. But in the distance, there are darker clouds forming, heralding the onset of a storm. The sea is a darker blue, almost indigo, but as the waves gather, you notice whitecaps so large that surfers have come out in droves.

You gather your belongings, which included a bright red beach towel and a yellow visor. You turn away from the sea and begin walking toward a grove of trees. A path winds its way through the trees, which effectively cuts off the sun and plunges you into shadows of deep green and brown.

Just ahead, you see the opening onto a vast field. As you get closer, you find the field is filled with brilliant flowers of deep purple, red, orange and yellow. There is a sea of color as far as the eye can see.

As you make your way across the field to a white bungalow with flamingo-pink shutters, you are amazed at the level of detail you can see in each of the flowers, from those that are cone-shaped to others that are wide and large, and still others that flow like beads on the growing breeze.

Now open your eyes.

How many of the colors were you able to see? The more color you can envision in this exercise, the more you're likely to retain - and see additional details.

In the Black Swamp Mysteries series, Vicki Boyd is one of the best psychic spies the CIA employs. She is able to see vividly the colors of each landscape she encounters. The colors often are clues to where she is and are often used by analysts to verify that she is in the correct position.

The Black Swamp Mysteries series consists of Exit 22, Vicki's Key (the first to introduce the psychic spy), Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan's Song and The Pendulum Files. Check out my website at for information on each of the books, along with chapters you can download.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vikings in Ireland

The White Devil of Dublin, my latest suspense, will be released this coming September. It is the second book in the Ryan O'Clery suspense series. To write this book, I researched the 12th century in Dublin, a fascinating and brutal time in Ireland's history.

The White Devil is a Viking, one of many who settled in Dublin from the 10th through the 12th centuries, transforming it from a sleepy port to a thriving village. They journeyed south from the Scandinavian countries to the Irish Sea, raiding monasteries and villages, raping women and killing men, women and children. They burned homes, pillaged and carried back whatever riches they found to their homelands.

But along the way, many of the Vikings became more Irish than the Irish.

There is a saying "Red on the head where the Vikings tread". Many Irish - among them, my own family on my father's side - lived in areas where the Vikings didn't penetrate. Their hair has always been black. Then there are Irish - such as those on my mother's side - who lived in the east, closer to the Irish Sea, and closer to the lands the Vikings invaded. Those are more likely to have red hair - the hair of the Vikings.

The White Devil is an albino. When a noted historian telephones Detective Ryan O'Clery claiming to have information about his ancestors, he is certain she is mistaken; yet he agrees to meet with her anyway. But when he arrives, he finds the woman dead and her computer stolen. His investigation will lead him back to the time when the Vikings ruled Ireland, a time when a man roamed Dublin known as Hvitr Bard, or The White Devil, and a secret his family kept hidden for over eight hundred years. It will also bring him face to face with a present-day albino serial killer, intent on finishing the job he started.

The official release date for The White Devil of Dublin is September 15, 2014. For the first time ever, you can pre-order the book in any eBook format for only $2.99. After the book's release, the price will go to $6.99 for the eBook and $16.95 for the trade paperback. To pre-order the eBook in any format and take advantage of the special pricing, follow this link. You can also find it in the iBooks store and on Nook. Check amazon on September 15 - they do not currently allow pre-orders for smaller publishers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reincarnation - Do You Believe?

Detective Ryan O'Clery has always had dreams of a beautiful woman. But unlike dreams in which the person may not appear in detail or certain characteristics change over time, his never did. It wasn't until he discovered a journal kept by an ancestor who lived centuries earlier and half a world away that he realized his dreams were actually the other man's memories.

In this scene in The Tempest Murders, Ryan is having a conversation with his sister Claire soon after he meets the woman he has been dreaming about since he was a small boy. He knew immediately that she was his soul mate; she looked identical to his dreams - and the memory of who she was in 1839 Ireland.

Claire cocked her head to study him. “I had a funny feeling you were needing me today.”
“Did you now?”
She didn’t answer but continued to study him. Her eyes were astute and after a minute, he stepped around the island and pulled her to him. He closed his eyes and held her, resting his chin on the top of her head.
“You’ve always known when I needed you.”
“Aye, Re. We’re joined together, you and I.” They stood for a moment in silence before she pulled away. “Are you sad on account of the divorce? It’s only natural, you know—”
“It isn’t that.”
“Well, what is it then?”
He could have gone to his grave with his secret inside him, had she not already known he was troubled. And she always knew. She’d known since she was six years old and he’d never been able to keep anything from her. “You remember the dreams I’ve always had?”
She cocked her head again. When she looked at him, she didn’t blink, as if she was totally focused on every word. “Aye.”
“They’ve become more frequent.”
“It’s only natural, Re, for you to dream about the perfect soul mate when your marriage has just dissolved.”
“She’s real, Claire. And she’s here.”
“What are you saying?”
He gestured toward the back yard. “It happened yesterday. I was cooking outside there. And right before I put the meat on the grill, she just stepped through the hedges there.”
“She just materialized in your own back yard.”
“Aye. Right there between’st the gardenias and the patio.”
“I know it sounds unbelievable—”
“It sounds insane.”
“But I swear it’s the truth.”
“You weren’t hallucinating.”
“Have you ever known me to hallucinate?”
“No. I haven’t.”
“There you have it.”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“My first time to hallucinate hasn’t happened yet.”
She shifted her weight from one hip to the other, her eyes still focused on his. “And what did you do there, after she materialized in your own back yard?”
“We had dinner.”
She raised one brow.
“She’s the woman I’ve dreamed about, all these years. She even had the dragonfly tattoo on her ankle. Of course, in my dreams, it was always a birthmark, but—”
“Lots of women have dragonfly tattoos on their ankles.”
He combed his hair with his fingers but the locks fell back onto his forehead immediately. “It happened so fast. And it felt so right. I’ve always had this feeling, like I had a twin in the womb with me. And somehow, coming into the world, that twin was lost. I’ve always lived with this emptiness, as if someone ought to be there who isn’t.”
“I know you have, Re. I’ve always known you have.”
“When she was here, when we were together, it—it was as though I’d found my twin. The other part of myself. She made me whole somehow.”
“Your twin soul.”
“She is my twin soul, Claire. I know we’ve been together before. I know we have.”

Is reincarnation possible? It is a question that Ryan struggles with. A staunch Irish Catholic, he's been raised to believe in one life followed by heaven or hell. Now he must come to terms with the very real possibility that he has known this woman in another life - and that it may end in murder, just as it did nearly two hundred years earlier.

The Tempest Murders is available in all fine book stores, retailers and online. It is a finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards and a 2014 International Book Awards nominee. You can find it on Kindle by following this link, in trade paperback on amazon here, and for all other eBooks formats you can follow this link. It is also available in the iBooks store and on Nook.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 14

While researching declassified missions conducted by psychic spies, some fascinating facts were revealed about impediments psychics can encounter. I used one of these in Vicki's Key, one of the books in my Black Swamp Mysteries series featuring CIA psychic spy Vicki Boyd.

Vicki is tasked with discovering why there is so much interest in a remote village in Afghanistan - a village that would be impossible to visit in the flesh, because foreigners would be discovered immediately. Yet she is repeatedly repelled by massive heat and unable to continue because of it.

The phenomenon has been reported in several instances. Psychic spies who were interviewed after these missions have reported that they believed they were in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, something so powerful that even when they were not there physically but only through their psyches, it threatened to destroy them. Just as a person can be frightened to death or their minds can lead to physical damage, the same is true during psychic missions.

There is another instance in which massive amounts of heat were felt during psychic missions, causing real-life psychics to turn back. I used this in a scene out of Vicki's Key:

Soon the blackness gave way to the feeling that she was inside a tunnel, moving forward cautiously as a blast of heat began to rise up in front of her. In the distance were the sounds of cries, of panicked children and men barking orders. Vicki touched the wall of the tunnel and peered into the darkness, realizing she had gone in after the children and she was searching for them now.
“Shaista!” she called. “Shaista!”
She tried to move forward but the tunnel walls became as hot as flames, burning her hands and causing her to recoil. Why was it so hot? She thought in alarm. She had to move forward, she had to find the children, but this heat was holding her back. It was as if she’d stepped through the gates of Hell.
She recalled the house built against the mountain and how the heat had risen from the door to block her entry. She had gone through it, she reminded herself, and she can go through it again.
She stepped back and tried to take a deep breath but the air was thick and stale. Dust seemed to be everywhere and it invaded and scorched her lungs. Her chest felt constricted and she knew with a rising panic that if she didn’t go back, she would perish there.
But the children, she thought. She had to save the children.
She tried to move forward again and again but each time, the fiery heat pushed her back.  What is in here? She thought. Her mind raced like a computer searching a database, looking for clues, needing answers.
The Ark of the Covenant, Sam had said. It wasn’t that. She knew it, she could feel it. The Holy Grail? No. It was nothing religious.
She touched the walls gingerly, trying not to pull back when her fingertips felt scorched. It wasn’t emeralds. It wasn’t gems. They were mining something, something so dangerous that her spirit was warning her away from it—
When the answer came to her, it appeared in a rush so forceful that it nearly swept her off her feet, sucking her out of the tunnel. Uranium. They were mining uranium.

For whatever reason, uranium does have the composition to create massive amounts of heat during psychic missions. It has become so documented that when psychic spies encounter it, they know almost instinctively that they are nearing uranium. 

And what of the Ark of the Covenant? Perhaps some day we'll discover it and we'll know when why it's properties are so valuable that it has successfully repelled psychics for millenia. 

Until then, it will no doubt be the stuff of legends, movies and books.

Vicki's Key is available in print in all fine book stores and retailers and online. You can find the trade paperback on amazon by following this link, and in Kindle format here. For all other eBook formats, follow this link or look for it in the iBooks store or on Nook. Vicki's Key was a finalist in both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 USA Best Book Awards.