Interview with Award winning author p.m.terrell

IMG_0033     On February 19th 2012 I was at my sister’s home for the weekend to celebrate her birthday.  We had been shopping all day and were watching a movie or reading quietly in the room together.  I was just browsing around on my I-pad and saw something about a writer’s conference in Lumberton NC, where I live.  I cannot recall perfectly, but I believe it was in a newsletter from the Lumberton Area Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mickey Gregory.

A change in my career path had me thinking about writing, and a very personal event lead me to write a short story in October of the previous year.  This newsletter in February (a month I typically get the winter blahs) piqued my interest because just a few weeks prior I had been looking at a writer’s conference at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, wishing I had time to go.  Needless to say that once I researched the event in Lumberton, NC a little further and found out that it not only was a writer’s conference, but it was a charity event as well I knew I was definitely going.

My interest in this event kept growing and I have to say I was really excited about it and telling anyone who would listen that they too… should go.  Just getting to see the authors and hear them speak was so interesting to me.  The event was a huge success for the Book ‘Em NC Foundation and well, quite frankly for me too.bookem-nc-logo

When I found out about the event, I was interested in writing, but knew I had a long road ahead of me learning about the publishing industry and the craft of writing fiction.  Little did I know that I would leave the event with the business cards of a publisher who was interested in my make-shift cookbook that was really the paperless version of a wine journal I had created just for myself.  It looked more like a cookbook after I put some serious thought into it that night having a fresh glimpse into the publishing world, and meeting Mike Simpson of Second Wind Publishing.

Second Wind indeed picked up the book and it was released in September of 2012.  This year I will be at the Second Annual Book ‘Em NC event in Lumberton, NC on Saturday February 23rd, 2013.  This time, I will be there as an author (no more February blahs for me!).  This gift came to me through God’s grace and two very important people.  My publisher who decided to take a chance on the rough notes I sent him, and the person who created the Book ‘Em NC Foundation, award winning novelist, p.m.terrell.

I devote my blog this month to p.m.terrell, “Trish” and asked her if she would take a few minutes out of her very busy schedule to allow me to interview her.  The Book ‘Em NC event is less than a month away, please join us if you can.  You won’t regret it!

Trish, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming to our town, for being the wonderful example of stewardship, and paying it forward that you are. I thank you for all of your advice and encouragement.  Thank you for taking the time to share your talents with all of us, and for allowing me to interview you for my blog.

Profile Pic Trish Terrell

Award winning author p.m.terrell

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Because I write suspense/thrillers, the first thing I do is plan the crime. Once I know that and how it should unfold, I determine which characters are needed and whose point of view will be needed. I usually have the first three or four chapters floating around in my head before I sit down to write, and I find that my mind stays at least three or four chapters ahead of my actual writing throughout the process.

Your books are very suspenseful and involve conspiracy and the investigative/intelligence community. Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I look for plot ideas by combing through declassified documents and reading reports from members of the Intelligence community, most of whom are retired. I may take a plot involving World War II and update it to the present day or something involving electricity and apply it to oil. I’ll often take two or three plots and weave them together as well. A lot of authors will begin writing with an eye toward the climactic scene, but I set my eyes on a midpoint scene that could be climactic in its own right. So the first half of the book is propelling toward that midpoint. Once that scene is done, it moves the rest of the book forward like a locomotive.

You are a prolific writer with two series in the works. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress and your next release which are from two different series?

In Dylan’s Song, Dylan Maguire is called to Ireland to rescue a CIA operative but he’s pulled into a past he thought he’d left behind forever.

The Tempest Murders introduces Ryan O’Clery, a police detective, who discovers a serial killer has his sights set on the woman Ryan is falling in love with.

Do you have any stories that live in the background, that you keep returning to, intending to write one day? If so, which one is at the top of that list and why do you feel it is so important to you as a story teller?

I had one story that I’d originally written in 1974 that I returned to again and again until I finally polished it. It was released in 2008 and the title was Exit 22. It proved to be so popular that it spun off The Black Swamp Mysteries series. Since that book was published, I’ve written the stories that I most wanted to write so I don’t have any left in the background–though I have plans for many more that have recently come to mind.

Exit 22Vicky's KeySecrets of a Dangerous WomanDylan's Song

            THE BLACK SWAMP MYSTERIES

Who is/was your mentor? What was the best advice you ever received about writing?

I don’t have a mentor but I try to learn from every author I meet. The best advice I ever received about my writing was to make every word count. Because of that advice, I find I don’t slow down and give long, drawn-out descriptions or boring backstory but keep the action moving forward at all times.

You have written a book specifically for other authors about promoting one’s own writing? What inspired that?

I met a publisher, Dave Smitherman of Palari Books, who told me everywhere he went I had either just been there or I was going to be there. He was impressed with my marketing and promotion abilities and he asked me to write a book about it. The result was Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book. At the time I wrote it, I was traveling the country and doing quite a number of book store signings. Because of the Internet, I’ve been able to replace much of my time on the road with blog tours.

Take the mystery out

Are any of your scenes adapted from your life? (Wondering if your drive during the tornadoes will end up in a book)

Yes, and the tornado is right up there at the top! I was driving across Alabama a few years ago when I found myself between tornadoes–trees were across the Interstate, power was out, and it felt like I’d ended up in a scene from War of the Worlds. I used those images when I wrote The Tempest Murders; Ryan O’Clery has just learned that the serial killer he’s been trying to apprehend has targeted his lover and he is trying to reach her during Hurricane Irene before the killer gets to her.

Have you, or would you ever write an autobiography?

I have been asked to write my autobiography many times. I’ve thought about it but if I do write it, I’ll need to be much older. And a lot of people would need to have passed away.

Your book covers are beautiful. Who designs them for you?

Thank you. The book covers are designed by various people, depending upon the storyline and which graphics artists is available at the time the book is in production. I’ve been very fortunate; sometimes I don’t get to see the covers until the book has been published, but I’ve never cringed in horror at one the way some of my author friends have done on occasion!

Describe your writing career in less than five words.

Determined, dedicated, long-term, ever-evolving, fulfilling.

______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks again Trish.  You are a fascinating individual, a talented author, and a wonderful person!

You will find all things p.m.terrell at the official site www.pmterrell.com as well as the following sites:

www.pmterrell.blogspot.com/

www.pmterrell.com/maryneely

www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/pmterrell/

Author of more than 17 books, including the Award-Winning books Vicki’s Key, River Passage and Songbirds are Free; internationally acclaimed suspense Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Exit 22, Ricochet, The Banker’s Greed, Kickback and The China Conspiracy; the how-to book, Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book; and four non-fiction computer books. Look for her latest book, Dylan’s Song!

p.m.terrell is also the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation and founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina.   Find information on the event at www.bookemnc.org or www.bookemnc.blogspot.com

What is the most difficult thing about writing

” A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

Thomas Mann

A recent blog post by a fellow author concerning hitting the wall and having to go off and write another story got me to thinking about why that happens.  There are many theories about the topic.  Tonight I stumbled upon this Thomas Mann quote and made a connection.   The fact is, as an author you are conveying an image that is in your mind and the words have to be exactly what will convey it best to the reader.  I think the wall comes when we don’t allow our minds to be relaxed and to let the stories come as they will.  We stress too much about form, and about what others want.  We need to remind ourselves to do what the story wants.  What is the story?  Just tell it.  You can go back and refine, but get the bones of the story figured out.

Yes, now before you start to blast me.  I do agree you have to nurture the craft, and learn how to craft a story.  BUT… and this is a big word folks.  You have to have a good story before it even matters how you tell it. 

I am working on a series and find the most difficult part of plotting it all out is figuring out the timeline and where certain events fit into each story so that they overlap just so.  I want the reader to be able to go from book to book and say, “Ah ha” that is why she felt that way and that is why xyz didn’t bother her.”  The trouble is not the story.  At least not in this case.  I’ve allowed myself to live with these characters and I love them.  I am in love with them and I don’t want to tell anything but their story.  So it takes time.  There are other projects that can fill in if they want to have a vacation. 

Now, that I have said all of that, what makes me sound so wise… lol

It is easier said than done.  If you hit the wall.  You work while you wait.  I’ve heard many stories about the best seller that came when the writer was at a wall on the story they absolutely wanted to tell.  The other story just came to them, so I figure that letting yourself be a channel is the best way to be at peace with hitting the wall.  In due time, all of our stories will surface.  Some characters and stories, just like some people take time to mature.

In the meanwhile write what is coming through you.  It is of benefit to someone who has experienced what you write about, and if not.  You are surely to benefit, for having kept at it. 

I am learning so much from all the writers in my circle.  It means so much to hear from them that they encounter the same challenges as I do.  

 

What’s cooking today?

Tonight I made homemade pot pies for a friend whose wife has recently had a tough diagnosis, and they just need time to adjust.  Numerous doctor appointments and treatments are their current daily routine.  Sometimes it’s nice not to have to worry about supper. 

Once I was quite sick for nearly 5 years from two unpleasant chronic conditions that were battling with each other, making my life miserable.  Many days it was difficult if not impossible to get out of bed before 9am due to the pain, and then the onset of some unpleasant symptoms would occur.  So by 5pm, I was still working, having started the day late.  When I got home I was either exhausted or out like a light on the couch.  Cooking… what cooking?  There were good days, and during them, I enjoyed making something new or my husband’s favorites.  But on the bad days, I didn’t want to eat, and even if I did, I didn’t want to cook.

On many of those days I would find that an angel had come in and cooked for me.  Sometimes it would be fresh prepared by loving hands; sometimes picked up at the local deli.  Sometimes I would open the freezer to find a wonderful chicken casserole that only needed to go into the pre-heated oven. 

I call these folks angels because when I look back at the situation, they were doing something for me that was truly a blessing.  I mean a real blessing.  Blessing #1 it kept my husband from getting too burnt out on take out or store bought frozen meals.  Blessing #2 it kept me nourished with good food; food that tasted great.  Blessing #3 it kept my husband and I eating a quiet evening meal together which can strengthen the bond, because no one had to decide what to eat, buy or cook.  Blessing #4 these meals were easy to reheat, or just simply eat, with little to no dishes to wash or return afterward.  I could go on and on about how it was a blessing.

It’s my turn, and even though I don’t want to think about what I went through, I do want to remember those who helped me through it.  I want to think about the thoughtfulness of those who fed me when I wasn’t getting in the kitchen! 

If you have a friend who needs some love because they or their family member is sick, think through what to take and find something that can be eaten right away, or frozen and reheated nicely without a lot of left overs or cleanup.  As long as you’re at it, make some for your neighbor who isn’t sick.  It’ll make em smile.     

EASY POT PIES

  • 2 tablespoon(s) butter
  • 1carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 cup(s) whole milk
  • 1 can(s) (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups precooked chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded
  • 1ham steak (8 ounces), cubed
  • 1 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 15oz package store-bought pie dough

               Directions

               Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in the middle. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add carrot,     onion, and cook until crisp tender 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle over with flour and stir to coat and cook out the raw          flour taste. Continue to cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk and broth, alternating and stirring until smooth.   Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens, 5 to 8 minutes.

  1. Remove from heat; stir in chicken, ham, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Divide filling among ramekins or ovenproof bowls; set aside.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out dough to a large enough circl to cut out rounds to fit your ramekins/dishes. Transfer ramekins to a rimmed baking sheet; bake until filling is bubbling and crusts are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Tips & Techniques

To store: Prepare through step 3; let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil; store in freezer, up to 3 months.
To reheat: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Uncover ramekins; bake on a rimmed baking sheet until bubbling and golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving

Nature finds a way, even if it deflates your tires

DSCF4676When I read a recent ABC News Blog, I was reminded of a quote that is on one of my favorite new
paintings by Carol Meetze-Moates that is an inspiration piece for a novel in the works.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tzu

Both the quote and the blog made me pause.  When you see the photo you will understand what I mean by “deflates your tires.”  I started thinking about some possible questions that I may be asked in an interview on Friday.  How did you decide to write a cookbook about NC wines?  How long did it take?  Would you do it again?

I’ll answer those questions if asked in the interview and post a link to it once it is published… but I want to share with you in my blog post today, thoughts on this photo and the quote by Lao Tzu.  “What goes up must come down”, “Things happen for a reason”, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”  You’ve heard these sayings and laws of physics all your life.  We seldom stop to apply them to events in our own lives in any logical way.  It is as if we simply muse for a millisecond to say, “Hmm that’s weird, ironic or interesting.”

The simple act was leaving a bicycle beside a tree to be forgotten.  The kid who left it there, knows what he did, but he probably only thought about it for two weeks after propping his transportation there. Some fifty odd years later the bike is still there and can clearly be seen by anyone in the area.

The tree (nature) continued to do what nature does, and in the process moved up toward the heavens.  Each year, marring its measure board rings with an alien artifact (bike) as it carried it onwards and upwards.  This is true of our life choices.  Our life is the tree.  Continually growing, and changing; still carrying around all of our choices and life incidents.  Just as our lives are comparatively slow, celebrating an anniversary and birthday only until a certain age, at some point we forget and have to count.  “How many years has it been?  “Wait your how old?”  We sometimes forget the things we have laid down in the path of our lives.  Years later they will resurface, and hopefully mostly pleasant memories are retrieved, just as the bike was discovered as a glimpse is seen through the trees.

During difficult times, it is hard to remember, “Things take time, and this too shall pass”.  When losing my corporate finance job, I felt like I was losing everything, but it was then that the resulting void in my life (opening in the trees) revealed a long ago forgotten love, I had lain against the tree of my life.  Today it is held up above many of my other choices and things that have happened to me.  Nature deflated my tires as this tree deflated and warped the back tire of the child’s bike, but it reminded me of something wonderful in my life that I needed to nurture.  The tree never stopped growing, just because there was a bike there.  It simply grew around, through and into the bike, adopting and accepting it and moving on.

I hope I am reminded of this each time life challenges me to lay something down, to quit worrying about it, because in due time, it will be just one more thing that is molded into me so naturally that I sometimes forget it was ever there.  I am thankful that I was reminded of my love of cooking, and writing.  Things I had laid down and stopped doing, because building that certain industry career seemed more important.  Who knows, maybe those too will resurface sometime too.  They certainly have helped make writing and cooking more enjoyable for me.  When I look back at the pace I used to run, and the pace it is afforded today.

Lost Bicycle Swallowed by Wash. Tree

By Kevin Dolak | ABC News Blogs – Wed, Jan 2, 2013 10:45 AM EST

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/bicycle-swallowed-tree-wash-154527745–abc-news-topstories.html

Bike in a tree