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


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 as well as the following sites:

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 or


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–abc-news-topstories.html

Bike in a tree

Amazing Year

I just proofed my next blog to show on my publisher’s website.  Break that sentence down for me would you.  1] I am blogging 2] I have a publisher.

Last year at this time, I was finding my way.  A lot of things I loved had ended, and my heart was broken.  It was the soul-sick kind of heart-broken.

This year, I have so much to look back on and be thankful for.  A year of personal growth.  A year of seeing my mother in law continue to get stronger.  A year of seeing my husband learn to deal with the stress better.

A year in which I thought I would be losing so much and some people quite dear to me, and yet I have made some amazing new friends.  Started a new job.  Celebrated a birthday, anniversary, and a book release.

You cannot imagine how blessed I feel.  *corrects herself* How blessed I AM



What’s on your neighbor’s plate?

Hungriest States of America

#9 North Carolina: 15.7% According to the Food Research and Action Center, Winston-Salem is the metro area in the U.S. with the most “food insecure” families, or households that have a hard time putting food on the table. “You say ‘hunger’ and people think of children in a third world country. They don’t think of the person next door,” says Tammy Caudill of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. “But it is the person next door.”

Taken from

If you use simple logic on this one, and everyone participated and helped their neighbor we could ease this crisis.  Everyone has a neighbor.  Some are four feet away between city building and brownstone windows.  For some their nearest neighbor is 15 miles east on the next farm.  BUT we all have at least one.  Wasn’t there a great command to love thy neighbor as thy self?  If you were hurting, and needed medicine or food, in today’s climate of self sufficiency, the very effective YOU would see that YOU got it.  We should all think the same about the people who live near us.

I have been fortunate to have (for the most part) excellent neighbors throughout my life.  I wish there were more time to spend with them.  Back when folks sat on their porches in the evening to unwind from the day, we knew more about each other.  We could share our burdens and in doing so find out that our burdens are similar, that they are our common ground more often than not. 

When we had one of the worst hurricanes in the last 20 years to hit our town, Fran I believe it was, our neighbors cooked together and ate together from the collective freezers as things thawed up.  It was several days if not weeks before some folks got power back, so we had to share, no we were able to share our water, our shower, our cook stoves and refrigerators.  Did this mean that we quit trying to do for ourselves, and expect others to care for us?  Certainly not!   In times of need, rise to the occasion to do the thing that most will not.  Show up.  Have some good food with you, and the most important thing of all, a nice smile and a good ear.

It is amazing how much good can come from doing simple things.

When November Comes

Isn’t it amazing when you have a story line in your head, and you find something from real life that is even better, that is even more inspiring.  That is how I feel tonight.  There have been several characters developing and their eventualities roaming around in my head.  Tonight their result is sure in my heart.  After witnessing the love my nephew has for his new wife and her son it came to me in a flash what the ending of my characters would be.  I’ve chosen one of the outcomes and it was even a surprise to me.  Maybe one day very soon you will be able to meet these characters and in them see a glimpse of the real love of a family bonded by these words, spoken by my new great-nephew.  “Jim is a great parent, and I am happy today to shake his hand and say welcome to our family Dad!”

I feel so blessed to have been able to witness this love today.  There is nothing like “true” love.

Many blessings to the Unverferth’s


Romantic Autumn

Preparing for Autumn is always a joy. It is my favorite time of year. This year we will be busy and I will not able to plan a romantic trip but I will still think about it this and every fall.

There is special romance in each season. Winter is all about cuddling by the fire, and long nights, reading or watching movies. Spring brings opportunities for picnics and trips to the botanical gardens or a zoo. Summer is that first chance too cool down by a quick dip in the farm pond, a river or mountain stream. Just be careful no one steals your clothes!

Fall is full of things all of the other seasons bring, cool, sometimes cold nights, warm sunny, sometimes dog days hot afternoons, and those first low humidity mornings. Sheer bliss!

Take advantage of the magic in the air and grab your sweetie for a drive through the Carolinas from the coast to the mountains there are lots of festivals, farm stands wineries, restaurants and b&b’s waiting to be discovered.

What Groceries Cost

From time to time we look at each other at the grocery checkout and think, how did we possibly put that much into our shopping cart?  Today I started thinking about grocery shopping in a whole new way.  If you think about it any grocery shopping experience is a luxury.  In most of the world people eat what they have, there are no choices before them.  The only choice is to try to find something, anything to eat, or sit and starve.

So I feel very guilty that I grumble and complain at the cost for it is a true luxury that we are able to eat with such mindlessness and with so many choices in front of us.  Of course there is a premium.  I did nothing to raise the beef I bought nor did I rake and hoe the tomato or potato hills.  Yet I got fresh food, relatively fast.  It should not surprise me that it was costly.  I still do not like the price tag, but I think today I really put this into perspective.

Now if I can keep that perspective, I will feel better, but I am human and sadly used to being a spoiled American.