Over the past two months, I have been cleaning out my office and—gasp!—getting rid of books.
My office is the size of a two-car garage and was built with windows facing all four sides, but I’ve been barely able to see out of them because of the bookcases that stretch from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. I ran out of shelf space long ago so books were placed horizontally along the tops of others or stacked on the floor or shoved into any available nook or cranny.
I came to the realization that many of the reference books I’d accumulated were no longer relevant so I began going through my office one shelf at a time. I am about a third of the way through, and the process has been intimidating, daunting and invigorating.
The process has reminded me of the stages I’ve gone through as an author. Dating back forty years are books that instructed me, step-by-step, how to write well. I had books on character development, plot ideas, rules for writing the sub-genres for thrillers (yes, there are rules), how to structure sentences, how to write dialog, how to tighten a story, and how to self-edit.
Then there were books that chronicled my journey as I attempted to find a publisher and agent: books on writing the perfect query letters, books detailing the editors at various publishing houses and what they were searching for, lists of literary agents, and how to sell books to the film industry.
I had shelves filled with books on the publishing industry as I attempted to understand how it worked and how to further my career. I had a shelf filled with books on how to break the $100,000 a year ceiling, how to broaden my platform through magazine articles and how to get noticed by larger publishers.
Then I encountered the stage after my first suspense was published: the books on marketing and promotion. They ran the gamut from how to get my book on amazon’s bestseller lists to doing physical book tours, grabbing media attention, growing a fan base, and much, much more.
I filled two vans with the books I’ve donated thus far. I decided to keep those books that would be helpful to me throughout a long writing career and donate the others to thrift shops so other aspiring writers could learn as I did: one stage at a time.
For those books that I turn to time and time again, I looked for them in electronic form. I think publishers are missing a huge opportunity to greatly increase their revenues. They have thousands upon thousands of books that have gone out of print; yet if they re-released them now in electronic form, many of them would surely find a rapt audience. Yet I find myself keeping yellowed books with broken bindings because I know I will use them again and again, and they are sadly now out of print.
My iPad has become the best reading buddy I could ever have had. I can store more than 50,000 books on that single device. Lately I upgraded to a new iPad and watched as it went out to some mysterious nether region, grabbed my books off a cybershelf and reloaded them onto my new device.
Someday, if I’m lucky, I might be sitting in an office with shelves filled with curios, my windows unobstructed and the sunlight streaming in, and thousands of books sitting beside me in a space smaller than a notebook.
CIA operative Dylan Maguire joins forces with psychic spy Vicki Boyd to find out who is bombing merchant vessels bound for the United States from China. Their mission will lead them to Black Sites, the high seas and into covert operations. And when an assassin escapes from prison determined to finish the job he started, they find their personal lives and their missions are about to collide in ways they never could have imagined.
She wasn’t quite sure what roused her from sleep. But as Vicki slowly opened her eyes, she became aware of her nude body lying on one side with Dylan’s larger, muscular form curled up behind her. One arm was stretched over her protectively and her derriere rested against his lap, their legs intertwined.
Normally some moonlight found its way inside, but the room was so murky that she wondered if there was any moon at all this night. She narrowed her eyes in an effort to adjust to the darkness as Dylan’s measured, soft breathing remained against her ear.
She nearly gasped as her eyes fell upon a figure just a few feet from the bed. She frowned as it swayed in front of her; it was not flesh and blood—that much was obvious. It was almost opaque and as she continued to stare, it grew more luminous until a tiny woman stood in front of her with long, flowing white hair billowing about her as if blown by the wind.
She wore a thin nightgown that reached from the base of her neck all the way to her feet, and as Vicki continued to stare, she smiled.
“Mam,” Vicki breathed as she recognized Dylan’s grandmother.
Dylan murmured something incomprehensible and held her more tightly against him.
“Be careful what you do, child,” Mam said in a clear voice. “There are eyes on you.”
Vicki gasped and grabbed at the bed covering. “You shouldn’t be watching us!” she exclaimed.
Dylan awakened and leaned over her to look at her face. “What is it, Darlin’?”
Vicki could feel the heat in her cheeks. She half-turned to Dylan to see him watching her with sleepy eyes. “I—” She turned back to where his grandmother had stood, but she was gone.
“Another bad dream, mayhap?” he asked before settling back. “There’s nothin’ at’al to be frightened of, Darlin’. I’ll take good care o’ you.”
She tried to relax against his body once more. She kept her eyes open and her ears on alert but she was met only with silence and a darkness that reminded her that she’d had precious little sleep. Still, she pulled the bedcovers over them, covering their naked bodies.
The grandfather clock downstairs ticked off the seconds, the sound reminding her of just how silent the rest of the house really was. She finally felt herself snuggling into that warm cocoon of sleep.
She could feel Dylan’s breath against the back of her neck; it was the steady breathing of a man deeply asleep. Then she became aware of something else, something against her nose as if someone was breathing on her face.
Her eyes flew open to find Mam leaning down in front of her, her face just inches from hers.
“It isn’t me you need to be concernin’ y’self with, child,” she said. “Other eyes are watchin’.”
p.m.terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books in five genres. A full-time author since 2002, Black Swamp Mysteries is her first series, inspired by the success of Exit 22 in 2008. The books include Exit 22, Vicki's Key, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan's Song and The Pendulum Files. Vicki's Key placed as one of four finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards. Her historical book, River Passage, won the 2010 Best Drama Award, and her romantic suspense, The Tempest Murders, placed as one of four finalists in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her specialties were computer crime and computer intelligence and her clients included the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense. Computer technology often weaves its way through her contemporary suspense/thrillers.
She is also the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of The Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money for literacy campaigns. She also serves on the boards of the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library and the Robeson County Arts Council, and served as the first female president for the Chesterfield County/ Colonial Heights Crime Solvers.
amazon trade paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Pendulum-Files-Black-Mysteries-Volume/dp/1935970097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395929941&sr=8-1&keywords=the+pendulum+files
amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Pendulum-Files-Black-Swamp-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00INC34Z0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1395929941
Smashwords (all ebook formats): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412506