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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Are You Highly Sensitive?

Have you ever been told that you're too sensitive? Perhaps as a child, you were told you cried too much or overreacted to situations? Or as an adult, you realized that others did not react as strongly as you in some situations?

Then you might just be a highly sensitive person.

The highly sensitive person doesn't just hear words; they feel them. They don't just listen to someone speaking; they feel their expressions and the deeper meaning behind what they're saying. The key word here is feel - and they feel it very deeply, very strongly, very acutely.

In today's societies, highly sensitive people have often been taught that their reactions or responses are not acceptable. Boys, in particular, are taught that they need to be tougher; men are told to "man up". Girls or women are often written off as hysterical or overreacting.

In an attempt to funnel what they are feeling into something accepted by society, they will often turn to the arts. These are the people who can make you feel the emotions behind their guitar playing; the people who can bring tears to your eyes by their heartfelt lyrics; the singer who can pull at your heartstrings when they sing.

These are the painters who paint portraits with eyes that are haunting in their depth; photographers who see the sunsets or beaches or mountain peaks as living, breathing waves of color and energy; artists who bring objects to vibrant life.

These are the sculptures, the inventors, the creators of things that change our life or our perception of life.

These are the novelists who funnel their pain, their ecstasy, their agony, their triumphs and their defeats into the characters they create, who cause those characters to jump off the pages at us and who remain with us long after we've finished the book.

These are actors who can get inside another person's skin and portray them as multi-dimensional human beings with positive and negative attributes. They are those actors who can convey a feeling to us simply through their eyes or their expressions.

Without a place to funnel this sensitivity, HSP's may turn to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, gambling or sex in an attempt to stifle their emotions or dull their senses.

They often end up with self-centered people or narcissists. The narcissist needs others to recognize them and the highly sensitive person easily picks up on their emotions and needs. They are often the spouse who tolerates emotional or physical abuse and when they object, they are told they are "too sensitive".

They might retreat from the world for various reasons: they might gravitate toward jobs that require them to be alone for much of the time, or they might shrink from society as a way to protect themselves.

Often they are right under our noses and they have become so adept at hiding their sensitivity that others don't realize how deeply they feel. They may be in all walks of life, though they are less likely to be extroverts or in positions surrounded by people. When they are in positions in which they are surrounded by others, it might be in the form of a priest, clergy, rabbi or in a position in which they are called to help others.

Vicki Boyd, the character I introduced in Vicki's Key, is one such person. As a child, she was told that she was too sensitive, her feelings often overlooked or downplayed by parents, teachers and other adults. But as an adult, she was trained to use those sensitivities.

When highly sensitive people are taught how to use their skills instead of seeking to destroy their feelings, they often become clairvoyant (one who sees something happening beyond their physical presence), clairaudient (one who hears sounds or words beyond that which is within hearing range), clairsentient (one who feels something happening), clairscent (one who smells something not in their physical range), clairtangency (one who perceives history by touching objects), clairgustant (one who tastes without the food or object being in their mouth), or clairempathic (those who can feel the emotions of another).

All of us have these capabilities at one time or another. We might watch a movie in which someone is hurt and for that instant, feel their pain. A mother might be so tuned into her children that she senses when something is not right with them. A widow might smell her dead husband's cologne in an area he had never been in.

In Vicki's Key, Vicki is trained as a remote viewer, or psychic spy. She is clairvoyant, clairaudient and clairscent, which means she can see things happening in her mind's eye, she can hear what is happening, and she can often smell something associated with that scene in her mind.

How does she know - and how does the CIA know - that she is not off her rocker? Why would they employ such a person?

In the real psychic spy programs - operated now in several dozen countries, including the United States, Russia, China and India - individuals are tested. Those with psychic tendencies - any of the "clairs" mentioned above - go on to more stringent testing and training. They advance over a period of years.

In an age in which superpowers can easily program satellites to hone in on a specific GPS so Intelligence and military can see what is happening anywhere in the world, there are still blind spots: inside buildings or structures. If terrorists planned their attacks outside, satellites could view them - but not yet hear them. If terrorists are planning their attacks inside an apartment building, a cave, a house, an office, they are often in a blind spot. It is then that psychic spies - or remote viewers, as the government prefers to call them - are instrumental in Intelligence gathering. What they see, hear and experience is then provided to analysts who use their data as a piece of the puzzle. Their information is verified on the ground whenever possible.

So how do you know if you are a highly sensitive person?

You can take this test: Are You Highly Sensitive?

You can read this article on 20 Signs You're a Highly Sensitive Person.

Read this article on 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People.

Read this article on 15 Signs You are a Highly Sensitive Person.

Or simply search "highly sensitive person" to come up with a long list of articles and quizzes.

p.m.terrell is the author of more than 20 books including the award-winning Black Swamp Mysteries series featuring remote viewer/ psychic spy Vicki Boyd. For more information on her books and to purchase them through amazon, visit

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Dream that Changed a Life

What if a dream had the power to change the course of your life? It seems incredible but that’s what happened to me when I was twelve years old.


Before the age of twelve, I remember hurting every time I ate. It became a running joke in the family; every time I got up from the table, I complained that I had a stomachache. It became so commonplace that Pepto-Bismol was kept in the house so I could take a spoonful after every meal. I was often doubled over in pain, and at the age of eleven, my father took me to a doctor for a medical exam.


I'm the blond standing in front of Dad

The doctor asked me a lot of questions about my mother and why she wasn’t there with me; I explained—as best I could at the age of eleven—that she was at home taking care of my two brothers and two sisters. Then the doctor ordered an x-ray of my heart and told my father that there was nothing wrong with me, and I was complaining because I wanted attention.


So after that, everyone was told to ignore me when I complained.


Fast forward to my Aunt Louise’s visit. She was my mother’s twin sister and she refused to ignore me. She gathered me up and took me to the local clinic, where I waited for hours to be seen. I remember the look on the doctor’s face as he prodded my stomach. I was ordered to the hospital immediately. I remember the nurse wheeling me across the street to the hospital, and I remember vaguely going through painful tests before being wheeled into surgery a short time later.


I had Meckel’s Diverticulum and the intestines were blocked, a condition known as Intussusception. The part of my intestines that were blocked was removed.


What happened next changed my life.


As the anesthesiologist placed the mask over my face and directed me to count, I remember looking at the bright light above the operating table and counting backwards… And then I dreamed that I was above the table, looking down. I saw the doctor looking over instruments as the nurse arranged them, his gloved hands in the air. I saw the anesthesiologist sitting at the head of the table, monitoring a machine. I saw nurses gathering around me and the doctor bending over to slice open my abdomen.


Then I dreamed I was turning away from the operating table. I could suddenly see the hospital as though I was floating somewhere above it. I could see the parking lot of the clinic where I had been hours earlier; I watched as the nurse who wheeled me across the street left the clinic and walked to her car. I could see the streets laid out with a bit of traffic here and there.


And then I turned around.


Everything that I had seen was gone in a flash. I was staring instead at the most beautiful white city I had ever seen. To say it was white is an understatement; there is no white on earth that equaled its brilliance, its purity, its feeling. It literally vibrated.


I found myself inside the tallest building, whose spires were high above the city. Although there were no other humans, I sensed the presence of a number of beings who faded in and out. I knew instinctively that the room I was in was a library, and I was there for research and for study. At times I found myself in a classroom with other souls that pulsed with white energy; at other times, I sat at a table in the library with two souls that were obvious teachers.


By the end of my dream, I did not want to return to earth. It felt dirty to me after being in such a pristine place. But I was told in my dream that I had to go back; it was a terribly imperfect place but I was needed there. I was told that I would be a teacher; for years, I thought that meant a schoolteacher, as that was the only profession I could relate to at that age.


But as time passed, I found myself opening a computer company in Washington, DC. I started by teaching others how to use computers; in the early 1980’s, there were few personal computers in the workplace. Eventually, I would hire a number of others that I would personally train so they could teach simultaneous classes. And when I turned to computer programming and applications development, I taught others how to do what I did. For a time, I collaborated with Microsoft engineers in India on figuring out ways to make things happen in HTML that no one thought possible—and which today seems primitive by comparison.


When I retired from the computer industry, I turned to a different type of teaching: teaching through fiction. Each of my books teaches something in its plot, from how an election could be rigged through electronic voting… to how terrorists could walk into America through our porous borders… to the history of our country and the founding of Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, Tennessee) … to psychic spies and astral travel.


It was while writing Vicki’s Key, which is based on the true psychic spy program used by our government and others that I discovered that many others had experienced the same dream as I had, usually on an operating table, in an accident or a sudden trauma. I wrote the scenes in minute detail, depicting what psychic spies (often referred to as remote viewers) experienced when they left their bodies and traveled to specific points. Vicki Boyd, the psychic spy, has been a recurring character and her missions recurring themes in my Black Swamp Mysteries series. (Vicki's Key was a Finalist in both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 USA Best Book Awards.)


I have taught others how to write; I have taught others how to get things accomplished in volunteer activities, ranging from book events and writers’ conferences to teaching inmates how to train dogs without punishment, to automating Crime Solvers and Crime Stoppers. And much more.


And I am not finished teaching yet. Until my last breath, I am certain I will be teaching someone, somewhere, something.


After all, it was in my dream.


The Black Swamp Mysteries series is available at all fine book stores and online. Visit to view book trailers, read excerpts and click through to order the books on amazon in paperback and Kindle. The books are also available through the iBooks store, Nook, and all other eBook formats.


If you find any of my books available online for free, please be aware that they are counterfeit, usually come from Eastern Europe (Ukraine) or China, and contain malicious software.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Authors Who Frighten: Bram Stoker


Bram Stoker: enigmatic, mysterious, dark, the creator of Count Dracula, a character who will forever change our perception of vampires… But who was he, really?


Bram Stoker was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1847. It was a time in which fairies and goblins, thin veils between the living and the dead, and supernatural creatures that stalked the island were frequent themes in tales handed down through the generations. During the winter months it was often dark by 4:00 in the afternoon and the sun might not rise until mid-morning. As the darkness crept around the inhabitants with only candles to light their way, it was the perfect environment for a young, sickly child to absorb the tales his mother spun.


Stoker met Ármin Vámbéry, a noted traveler who also served as a double agent, in London. Vámbéry shared stories of his childhood and travels with Stoker, regaling him with scenes from his native Austrian Empire (now Slovakia), which led to Stoker’s own travels to the Carpathian Mountains, Slovakia and Hungary. Stoker was inspired to write about the supernatural from the haunting tales of Eastern Europe coupled with the stories his mother spun of Olde Ireland.


But it wouldn’t be until Stoker was 50 years old that his book, Dracula, was published. Until that time he was better known as the assistant to a famous actor, Henry Irving. When Stoker asked Irving for his opinion of his manuscript, the actor told him it was “dreadful”. Irving was rumored to be the inspiration behind the mannerisms of Count Dracula. The name “Dracula” reportedly came from Vlad II of Wallachia, also known as Vlad the Impaler for impaling his enemies on stakes throughout Romania. He was known as Dracul, a Romanian term for “the devil” or “the dragon”. (In Romanian, drac means devil or dragon, and ul means the.)


The original manuscript was titled “The Un-dead” but was changed before publication. Upon its release in 1897, the book garnered critical praise but was not a bestseller.


Stoker died at the age of 62. During the last 12 years of his life, he wrote prolifically. The first movie based on his book Dracula was not developed until 1922, 10 years after his death. It launched a lawsuit by Stoker’s widow, Florence Balcombe, who had not been compensated for the movie rights, and was settled in 1925 in Florence’s favor. However, it was discovered a few years later that Stoker had not complied with United States copyright law in registering his work, and Dracula became public domain in the USA. Outside of the USA, the book remained copyrighted until 1962, fifty years after Stoker died.


Perhaps the most famous movie based on Stoker’s book starred Bela Lugosi and was not released until 1931. It was only then that the tale of Dracula became immortalized. Since then, more than a thousand movies, television shows, plays and books have been written about Count Dracula, and countless more have been inspired by Stoker’s most famous villain.


When Dracula was published in 1897, a genre known as “invasion literature” was very popular throughout the British Empire. Authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson also wrote of supernatural or imaginary creatures who sought to infiltrate England. In 1871, the book Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, told of a lesbian vampire who preyed on a lonely woman, and in 1885, Emily Gerard published a series of short stories entitled Transylvania Superstitions.

Stoker did not earn a great deal of money from his writings, and shortly before his death, he petitioned a grant from the Royal Literary Fund because he could not pay his bills. In 1913, his widow auctioned an outline of Dracula through Sotheby’s of London. The outline sold for two pounds. The original manuscript was found in Pennsylvania in the 1980’s and was sold to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for an undisclosed amount.


Sometimes an author’s legacy lies in what he or she leaves behind. In Stoker’s case, Dracula has perhaps forever changed the way in which vampires and bats are depicted.

The haunting feel of Dracula inspired many of my own books, including the ghostly scenes in Vicki's Key. It had a particular affect on Dylan's Song, which takes place in the haunting Irish bogs not far from many of the places that inspired Bram Stoker's own writing. If you're traveling to Dublin, be sure and tour the Dublin Writers Museum, featuring many of Ireland's most famous authors.



Sunday, August 7, 2016

Authors Who Inspire: Daphne du Maurier

One of my favorite authors has always been Daphne du Maurier, the author of The Birds (made into the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie), Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and many others. But though her books are considered classics today, she was overlooked by critics during much of her lifetime.

In an industry and country largely monopolized by men, she was dismissed as a “romance novelist” which at the time meant her writing did not consist of serious works of art. Today she is known as a mistress of suspense and a master storyteller. She was born in London in 1907. Her grandfather was George du Maurier, the author of Trilby which introduced the character Svengali, a character soon to become a word in the English language that means someone who controls, manipulates or excessively influences another person. Her cousins were the Llewelyn Davies boys, who influenced J. M. Barrie’s imagination so much that he patterned the boys in Peter Pan after them.

Despite the critics’ disdain for her, when Rebecca was originally published in 1938, it became an instant hit, leading to the movie starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Du Maurier enjoyed gothic tales, the sinister and the paranormal. A more recently discovered short story written when she was around 21 years old is entitled The Doll and was about a woman’s infatuation with a male sex doll; in 1928, I can only imagine what a scandal that might have caused had she tried to publish it!

She married Frederick Browning in 1932, who later became known as the “father of the British Airborne”. He was portrayed by actor Dirk Bogarde in the award-winning movie A Bridge Too Far, in which he led Airborne troops during Operation Market Garden. He later became treasurer in the Office of the Duke of Edinburgh under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

Daphne and Frederick lived in a mansion (now an historic estate) called Menabilly, which inspired Manderley, the home in Rebecca. The home is hidden behind acres of woods and cannot even be seen from the shoreline. The home also inspired Du Maurier’s novel The King’s General, in which a skeleton is found in the cellar.

Though her books were dismissed as romance, they are not typical romantic fare, as they tend toward the dark, the mysterious, and to psychological suspense. Her books have influenced my own writing; when I awakened one night in a cold sweat after reading a chapter of Jamaica Inn, I had to sit up in the middle of the night and read it again in an attempt to discover how she caused me to be so terrified. Her heroines almost always caused me to shout out loud, “Go back!” even when I knew they would not; they would venture into places that would put them in peril, causing me to read wide-eyed until the last page.

Daphne du Maurier died in 1989 at the age of 82, having lived 24 years after her husband died in 1965. They had two daughters, Flavia and Tessa, and a son, Christian.

Have you ever read a Daphne du Maurier novel? Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Books and Loss Leaders

In the world of marketing, there's a concept known as a Loss Leader. It's an item that is discounted so deeply that the vendor isn't earning much - if anything - on the sale and could, in fact, be losing money on it. The reason that vendors do this is to entice people into the store and once they're there, they will perhaps purchase additional items that will more than make up for the income lost on the sale item - hence the term "loss leader".

My book, Ricochet, never quite took off though it received glowing reviews. I believe (through pure speculation) that it was due to two books being released about the same time with the same or similar titles: Sandra Brown's Ricochet, which rose quickly to the New York Times bestseller list, and Sue Grafton's R is for Ricochet. This occurred despite the fact that the title was registered with Bowker a full year in advance. And if you search for Ricochet on amazon without the author name, five pages of results are displayed.

So the publisher decided to turn the Kindle edition into a Loss Leader by offering it exclusively on amazon and enrolling it in amazon's Kindle Select program, in which readers enrolled in the Select program can read it for free and presumably the author and publisher still earn income from the experience.

The theory is by offering this one book at a deeply discounted rate (free for readers enrolled) readers will like what they read and return for more of my books which were not deeply discounted.

The gamble has been paying off. Usually around 800 copies of Ricochet are downloaded each month and sales of my other books have increased. Though it's difficult to tell how much the loss leader has to do with it, as advertising, marketing and promotional efforts are also underway, it was deemed a success.

However, last month the book was removed from the Select program. The reason: authors began reporting that once the book was downloaded for free, hackers could easily replicate it and offer it for sale on other sites. And one stipulation for being in the Select program is to agree not to sell the book anywhere except amazon. Once amazon saw the book on other sites (presumably because someone reported it) they were not only removing that book from their website but every book the author or publisher had listed.

So before this happened to me, the book was pulled from the Select program.

I have noticed for years that my books are offered on unscrupulous websites where the books were copied without the permission of the publisher or myself. Each time, the publisher has notified ICANN, who investigates. In every case that was researched, the file also contained malicious software that could infiltrate the reader's computer and retrieve their passwords and sensitive information.

Loss Leaders can be done without being enrolled in the Select program, however, simply by discounting it below the other books. Ricochet continues to remain in the Loss Leader category because while the rest of my Kindle or eBooks are priced at $6.99, Ricochet is priced at only $2.99.

How much does price impact whether you purchase a book?