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Friday, October 28, 2016

Psychic Spies on the Front Line of War

During the Cold War, United States Intelligence Agencies discovered that the Soviet Union was using psychic spies and astral travel to spy on the USA. The CIA and the Department of Defense received funding to determine whether psychic spies and astral travelers were charlatans with no true abilities, or if it was truly possible to “see” without being physically present. Concerned that the term “psychic spy” would alarm the general public, our government named those they studied and worked with “remote viewers” or “RV”.

The theory behind remote viewers is they can enter a trance-like state that separates their mind from their body, enabling them to travel to any area in the world. There are approximately 90,000 pages of declassified CIA documentation regarding The Stargate Project, which was in operation from the 1970’s through 1995. However, the termination of Stargate does not mean that psychic spying has ended; it continues to this day under other code names.

Astral travel is essentially the same thing: by entering an altered state of consciousness, an individual can project their thoughts/mind/soul to another place.

The CIA conducted experiments and then formal training based on science with strict controls. Beginner experiments were used to determine if a person truly had psychic abilities. An example is to place the subject in a chair, their eyes closed or blindfolded. A card from a deck is pulled in another room and the subject must be able to tell the interviewer that there is, in fact, someone in another room with playing cards, and which card they pulled.

As a subject shows psychic tendencies, all of which are carefully monitored and recorded, experiments become larger, covering greater distances and requiring more detail. They might be given coordinates (latitude/longitude) and asked to describe what they see there. The best psychics are also adept at drawing what they have seen, which is later compared to what is actually in that location. It could be the Kremlin, a battlefield, or something mundane such as a simple house or a gravesite of a person who is not famous and whose name would not be previously known.

The experiments form a ladder in which more subjects are discontinued as the tasks become more difficult, requiring more precision, until only the best remain. Even then, all their information is checked by ground operatives and verified through other Intelligence means.

An example of one of the more difficult experiments is described in the CIA declassified document involving Taurus 1 and Taurus 2, in which a psychic spy was placed aboard a submarine, which was submerged. Five hundred miles away, two investigators appeared at a given time but at a place unknown to the psychic. The remote viewer’s assignment was to find the two investigators and describe the place.

In one such experiment, the investigators stood beside an oak tree located at the top of a hill in Portola Valley, California. The psychic described the place and when later shown six similar photographs, he was able to select the correct one based on his vision/remote viewing session.

In 1983, a then-classified document warned that the USSR and China were both actively engaged and fully supported by the highest government levels in psychoenergetics, the study of the links between the human psyche and mystical forms of energy. It is considered a subschool of psychotronics, which encompasses telekinesis. The report further stated that this poses a potential threat to U.S. National Security. (This document was part of the GRILL FLAME documentation declassified by the CIA.)

Since the Cold War, the United States along with more than a dozen other countries have actively engaged in training remote viewers. By recruiting the individuals who showed the highest aptitude in psychic testing, the CIA and the Department of the Army found that training them based on scientific principles and proven techniques, they could increase their abilities substantially.

Declassified documents show that experiments, testing and training proved conclusively that remote viewing could indeed obtain operationally useful information.

I read countless pages of declassified documents in developing the character of Vicki Boyd, the CIA psychic spy, in my Black Swamp Mysteries Series. I often take true stories from previous decades and update them to the present day. The steps Vicki goes through in entering a trance-like state is taken directly from the narratives of real psychic spies. Below is an excerpt from Vicki’s Key:

Vicki took a deep breath and felt her chest rise and fall in a pattern similar to sleep. She cleared her mind of the dozens of details and thoughts that threatened to hijack her concentration and focused instead on the steady sound of the water surrounding her.

Though her eyes remained closed, she felt the room grow white around her and then she was whisked upward like a bird catching its broad wings on a current of air and allowing it to take her away.

She was weightless. It felt effortless to spread her wings and be transported high above the ground, above the treetops and rooflines, soaring toward the clouds. It was a beautiful summer day, the sky a shade of blue that set the Carolinas apart; dotted here and there with fluffy, white clouds that danced with her every movement.

She felt like an eagle. As she glided on the air current, she became acutely aware of her eyesight; it was stronger than a human’s—so strong that she could see a rabbit emerging from a row of hedges nearly a mile away. The tiniest bird was clearly visible and eggs in treetop nests shone like beacons.

She dutifully turned eastward. In the blink of an eye, the clouds were gone. In their place was a solid, deep blue the shade of a passionflower, almost purple in its cavernous intensity. Beneath her were shades of brown. Gone were the flowers of North Carolina, bursting in their kaleidoscope of brilliant colors; gone were the trees with their extensive range of greens that ran the gamut from peridot to deep moss. In its place was the Moroccan desert, its sands stretching in various shades of fawn across the earth. Buildings rose in blocks of yellow- and reddish-brown, their height their only distinguishing characteristic from the shifting sands. She soared above jagged crags that rose from the ground like hilltops created from the variable winds.

“Northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan. Headed toward Pakistan. Foothills of the Himalayas.”

“Your mission,” Sam said, his voice soft but firm in her imagined earpiece, “is to locate a remote village. Only one road leads in through the mountains, isolating it from the rest of the country.”

In a fraction of a second, she had covered hundreds of miles. There was much more to the Hindu Kush to her east—into Pakistan and even further into India—but her focus remained on a relatively smaller area west of the Pakistan border. She travelled northward, then turned to the south, and then back north.

The foothills of the Himalayas rose beneath her, their peaks reaching past the clouds. It was beautiful, even heavenly and yet forbidding. She moved past mountain peaks coated in ice so thick that even the harsh sun so close overhead could not melt them. She peered into cavernous crevices so deep that if they were filled with water, they would rival the depths of the ocean. As she moved down the mountains, she soared past mountain goats whose reddish brown coats almost blended seamlessly with the mountain rocks, their movement the only factor that gave them away. The ground beneath their feet was simply rock and dirt, and she wondered fleetingly how they could possibly survive in such an inhospitable land.

Then she was moving toward a strip of green that stood out from the sandy and mountainous terrain, guiding her inward. As she moved past the mountain range, she noted a passage that could barely be considered a road; it was just a footpath that wound its way around the edge of a mountain. The shoulder consisted of rocks no larger than the palm of a hand, and as a mountain goat navigated it, its hooves kicked pieces that careened downward hundreds of feet.

p.m.terrell is the author of more than 20 books, including the award-winning series Black Swamp Mysteries and the Ryan O'Clery Mysteries Series. For more information and to read more excerpts, view book trailers and purchase her books, visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Best Time to Write Your Fiction Book Blurb

Today I am very happy to welcome guest contributor Glenna Mageau. Glenna is the award-winning author of suspense/thrillers and a fabulous mentor for up-and-coming authors. I recently took her course, Mastering the Art of Writing the Catchy Fiction Book Blurb, and loved it. I highly recommend it for authors of all levels of success.

The Best Time to Write Your Fiction Book Blurb

By Glenna Mageau

What if I told you that only 8% of self-published authors, get it right when writing their fiction book blurb?

I know that I wasn’t one of the 8% for a very long time. I just wanted to run from having to write the thing.

Almost 90% of the authors, I surveyed, waited until they were finished writing their novel before they started writing their fiction book blurb. It’s something that many authors seem to want to avoid. I don’t blame them, I did for a long time, too.

It’s one of those things that seems to be a mystery as to how to make it interesting and compelling and what to choose out of 90,000 words. And many believe they have to have the story written to be able to write their fiction book blurb.

So what are the 8% doing right?

They’ll start writing their fiction book blurb when they start writing their novel. Not many people really think about this but it can make all the difference.


But what if waiting until the novel was completely written was what was making the fiction book blurb all that much more difficult to write?

The truth is that if you start writing your fiction book blurb when you start writing your novel, it will make it so much easier.

I do get asked, why would I start writing it when I don’t even have my novel written?

There is a concern that if you don’t have the whole story written then how can you know what to include in your novel.

Think about this, as you’re writing, you probably get quite into your story and into your characters (or at least I hope you do). You’re right there with them with each step they take, each wrong move, each devastation, each happy moment. I know that when I write, I laugh with my characters, I cry when something bad happens, I talk to my characters to find out what is going on for them. The reason I bring this up, is that when you are in the midst of writing your story, you are immersed in it – the feelings, the intensity, the suspense, the sadness, the journey...

Guess what is naturally going to come through in your book blurb, at this point in time? That emotion, that tone, that feeling that grabbed you, will also grab your reader. And there is no better time to know that feeling than when you are in the midst of feeling it.

You will also know what those key moments are that you need to include in your book description. You’re focus is on only a part of a story not the whole thing so it makes it easier to pull out those key moments. You’re not overwhelmed by the full story.

The fiction book blurb isn’t about telling the whole story, it’s about bringing to life the essence of it - the protagonist, the journey, the hope, the despair…

So join the 8% and start writing your fiction book blurb as soon as you start writing your fiction novel.

To learn more, join me on my FREE webinar, 5 Steps to a Compelling & Interesting Fiction Book Blurb on November 9. More information is coming soon. The best way to keep informed is to sign up for my FREE ebook: 3Keys to Writing a Compelling & Interesting Fiction Book Blurb



Glenna Mageau

Glenna Mageau an award-winning suspense/thriller author, who works with Indie/Self Published authors to create attention grabbing fiction book blurbs. Her first attempts at writing fiction book blurbs were dismal, time consuming and very stressful. Finally figuring out how to write attention grabbing ones, she created a course – Mastering the Art of Writing the Catchy Fiction Book Blurb – to help all Indie/Self-published authors do the same. Learn more here:

Her motto: Escape to read… Read to escape… and Write for the Freedom!




Friday, October 21, 2016

Finding Inspiration in Weather

The past two weeks have felt surreal with the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, the resulting storm surge and subsequent flooding in Lumberton, North Carolina. For those who have read The Tempest Murders, you'll recall that it takes place as Hurricane Irene is barreling toward the North Carolina coast. Lumberton was in its crosshairs and though we received a lot of rain, Hurricane Matthew was far more destructive to the Carolinas.

In the beginning chapters of The Tempest Murders, Detective Ryan O'Clery is investigating the murder of a young woman found along the banks of the Lumber River in clear view of the Robeson County Courthouse. In the picture here, the courthouse is the light tan building near the upper left, and the river is just one block away. It is normally the width of a few cars, but you can see from the picture how it flowed well beyond its banks to flood businesses, homes, streets - and anything in its path.

I was originally inspired to write The Tempest Murders when I came across information regarding one of the most massive storms in Ireland's history, called The Night of the Big Wind. It took place on the day of Epiphany (January 6, 1839), a date that some in the religious community had forecasted the world would end. And the residents of Ireland must have thought the world was ending, because the winds came in at 115mph, literally blowing the Atlantic Ocean across the island as it tracked from west to east. The book actually begins as Ryan O'Clery's uncle several generations back was returning to his home after a trip to Dublin, only to find that the water had washed away whole villages - and his lover.

I was further inspired by Hurricane Isabel. In September, 2003 I was living in Chesterfield, Virginia, a county that lies between Richmond and Petersburg. At 3:00 in the afternoon, the skies became pitch black, the electricity and water abruptly stopped, and I retreated to a room of the house with my dogs. For more than twelve hours, I could hear the sound of 100+ foot tall oak trees hitting the ground and could only pray that none hit the house. It wasn't until the next morning when the sun rose that I was able to look outside. Giant trees had fallen like matchsticks, one hitting the house next door to mine and more than two dozen falling in my yard - but thankfully, none hitting the house. They came down with such force that when one tree with a diameter of several feet was being removed from the front yard, they found another tree the same size embedded in the ground under it.

Then as luck would have it, I was living in Lumberton, North Carolina as Hurricane Irene came ashore. I have been extremely fortunate not to have suffered the devastation that many have, having lived through three hurricanes.

I've chosen to add extreme weather to my books because the weather can be a formidable opponent, one that is impossible to fight - and yet many must make life or death decisions in the blink of an eye. Weather can also place a critical time element on unfolding events, such as Ryan O'Clery discovering that his lover is a serial killer's next target and history is poised to repeat itself.

I find books that pit ordinary people against extraordinary events impossible to put down, like The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, regarding the true story of "the storm of the century", the meteorological events that created it, and the crew of the Andrea Gail that was caught in its crosshairs. I knew as I was reading it that they could not fight an opponent with hurricane force winds and a sea bent on tossing the ship like a paper model, and yet I was riveted by the courage of the men who fought to keep their vessel afloat against all odds. (Shown here, actors portraying the crew of the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm, which also starred George Clooney.)

Hurricane damage may get a lot of publicity in the days after it occurs, but in reality it may take years to recover from loss and sometimes the losses are irrecoverable, leaving an imprint on people for the rest of their lives. The waters are receding in Lumberton. The town is filled with the friendliest people I've ever known, and during this time of need, I have seen ordinary people perform extraordinary feats. Will this experience inspire me to write Hurricane Matthew into a future book? Once the pain subsides, yes, I think so. After all, pitting man against the weather is as old a story as man himself.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books, including two award-winning series set in Lumberton: Black Swamp Mysteries and the Ryan O'Clery Mystery Series. Visit her website for additional information on these books and others.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hurricane Matthew and North Carolina Storm Surge

Only one week ago I wrote an article about evacuating pets and emergency supplies. Little did I know the drama that would engulf my region when I wrote it.

I live in Lumberton, nestled in the southeast corner of North Carolina about one hour from North Myrtle Beach, SC and one hour due west from Wilmington, NC. Hurricane Matthew’s path came closer to shore than expected. Power went out last Saturday and during the height of the storm, countless trees came down on power lines and blocking roads.


During the night—after the storm had passed—people all over this region were awakened by the sound of water rushing into their homes. The storm surge—water pushed in from the ocean by the strong hurricane-force winds—was pushed upstream into rivers that were already swollen from record rainfall the month before.

If you've read my Black Swamp Mysteries series or Ryan O'Clery Mysteries, you know the Lumber River cuts right through the heart of town. The flood has completely submerged the water treatment facility so residents are without water for the foreseeable future (possibly four more weeks), but more importantly, it became a life or death situation for thousands of people here.

One of the most compelling stories I've heard is about a woman whose son drove all the way from Texas to rescue her. He found her in a flooded home surrounded by alligator-infested water. 

( or ) She was able to get one of her dogs out; the ASPCA, hearing of her story, went back after the second dog (see below).

Here are some news reports with video that can more adequately describe the situation here, pictures and video from Lumberton about halfway down:





(Lumberton about halfway down with video with the caption “Lumberton Flooding” in which the Governor said that Lumberton and Robeson County are “the greatest challenge to this state”)


The interstate was washed out here. (Picture at right taken from the service road at Exit 22.) 


If you want to help, here is information from our state representative Jane Smith: Supplies can be sent to Robeson Emergency Operations Center at 38 Legend Road, Lumberton, North Carolina 28358. Monetary donations can go to United Way of Robeson County at PO Box 2652, Lumberton, NC 28360.


p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books, including two award-winning series set in Lumberton: Black Swamp Mysteries and the Ryan O'Clery Mystery Series.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Keeping Your Pet Safe During Natural Disasters

This is a departure from my usual posts. I live in coastal North Carolina and like millions of others, I have had an eye on Hurricane Matthew this week. I have three rescue dogs, Simone (a collie), Eddie (a Jack Russell) and Lucy (a terrier/dachshund mix), all adopted through the Robeson County Humane Society. Two have made appearances in my books - Simone and Eddie.

So one of the issues I hold near and dear is animal rescue. Here are a few things to consider if you are in the path of a natural disaster like a hurricane:

  1. Dog Crates. If you have to leave your home for an emergency shelter, you'll be relieved to know that after Hurricane Katrina, legislation was enacted that requires emergency personnel to assist animals as well as people. H.R. 3858 (109th): Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 was passed ( which modified the Standards for State and Local Emergency Operational Plans to include “the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency in the provision of rescue, care, shelter and essential needs… to such pets and animals.” Even if your pet travels well in your vehicle, they can become disoriented or confused during a storm and when you reach the emergency shelter, you may need to keep your pet restrained - possibly for several days.
  2. Identification.
    Always keep identification on your pets. I have collars and harnesses with my dogs' names and my telephone number embroidered like this one at amazon. Keep tags on your pet, including proof they have had their shots. And microchip your pet. In the event of a disaster, they could become separated from you and their collar could be pulled off. Emergency personnel are required in many jurisdictions to scan lost pets for microchips. Check out Home Again for more information.
  3. Proof of Vaccinations. Place your pet's vaccination records into a clear zipped plastic bag and keep it with items you intend to take with you if you need to evacuate. You may be required to present them, especially if your pet must be boarded at an emergency shelter.
  4. Plan Ahead with Hotels. If you know you are going to evacuate, plan your route and call ahead to make certain the hotel will accept your pets. During natural disasters and emergencies, many hotels will waive their "no pets" policy.
  5. Pet Emergency Kit. Pack your pet's leashes - preferably one long and one short - along with their water dish, feeding bowl, food and bottled water. If they drink water from a storm surge, they can contract intestinal issues like giardia. Bring any pet medications as well.
  6. Beds and Toys.
    This is a very stressful time for your pet, just as it is for you. Bring along items that will comfort them, such as a blanket, their bed, and their favorite toys. (Shown at right: Simone chilling in her bed.)Bringing something for them to chew is particularly useful, as it helps to relieve their stress.
I can't imagine anyone leaving their pets behind to face a disaster on their own and yet, sadly, many do. During flooding, many dogs drowned who might have otherwise lived because their owners kept them tied or confined so they could not escape.

We know that animals feel pain - physical and emotional pain. If you have a pet, you have a legal obligation to care for it.

If you have fish aquariums, check out my other blog - Vicki's Angelfish - for tips on how to keep your fish alive during a power outage.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books in several genres. An avid animal lover, she helped to raise money for the Robeson County Humane Society by auctioning off the role of a dog in her book, The Banker's Greed. Dogs are also featured throughout many of her books.