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#72681 - 03/01/05 06:08 PM The China Conspiracy
pmterrell Offline

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 58
Loc: Lumberton, NC
Hi, everyone!
I'll be here this month talking about my latest suspense/thriller, The China Conspiracy, about the publishing industry, and writing in general. I've been teaching writing/ publishing classes for a few years now, so ask me any questions you want. If I don't know the answer, I'll find someone who does!
Just a little background about The China Conspiracy: the main character is Kit Olsen, a woman in her 40's who works for the CIA as a computer programmer/analyst. She's married to an increasingly absent husband and mother to a 16-year-old son named Tim. She's just trying to get through each day as "superwoman" -- holding down a full-time job with all the demands that makes upon her, trying to figure out where the spark went in her marriage, and trying to do the best she can in raising Tim. Then Tim is kidnapped - a mother's worst nightmare. The ransom is some programming code written in Mandarin that the CIA covertly intercepted. Now Kit is trying to get her son back, and also trying to learn what the code does and why the kidnappers want it. It leads her from a sedentary life as a programmer to politicial espionage and international intrigue... and a political bonfire she never could have imagined.
I'm looking forward to discussing how the whole idea of The China Conspiracy came about (leading back to the 2000 Presidential Election), and your thoughts about Kit as a Boomer Woman... and answering any questions you have about writing or publishing!

#72682 - 03/01/05 07:15 PM Re: The China Conspiracy
Dotsie Offline

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Glad to see you jumped right in.

Here's a little information about patricia:

The China Conspiracy is the second suspense thriller in a series that casts female programmers in the lead roles—women who find themselves caught in life or death situations where they must use their knowledge and their guts to rescue themselves.

"I always have admired strong women," Patricia admits. "I think it came from listening to my father tell us stories about our ancestry, and all the strong women in our family. One ancestor, Paralee Drake, was left at home during the Civil War when her husband joined the Confederate Army. When a group of Union soldiers tried to steal the hams from the smokehouse, she stood in the doorway with her shotgun, and told them those hams were all she had to feed her seven children, and they would get to them over her dead body. Legend has it, they left her, her children and the hams alone."

It's the kind of guts the characters in her books would admire.


Editor Rebecca Brown ( says: “p.m.terrell, author of the wildly successful Kickback, is back with another hair-raising, fast-paced thriller pitting a savvy programmer, a TV news reporter with a painful past, & an enigmatic Chinese-American translator against a dogged police inspector, a newly elected politician & the shadow men of the CIA & FBI… With a nod to The Manchurian Candidate, this modern caper comes out the gate at a gallop, & keeps you hurtling through winter storms & burrowing into the mazes of a shell company, moments before the killers, inches in front of certain disaster.”

Reviewer Deborah Hern ( “This exciting story takes off from the very first page and never lets up for a moment. The pace is fast, the plotting excellent, and the characters are human and believable. The evolving relationship between Kit and Carter seems very natural, never strained. The secondary characters moving in and out of the story are all well-drawn and add intrigue to the mix. My advice: Don’t start this one late at night. You’ll find yourself feverishly turning pages long into the wee hours.”

Patricia Terrell, a Boomer Woman who writes under the pen name p.m.terrell, was born in Washington, DC to an FBI Special Agent and his homemaker wife, the third of five children. Although they lived for short periods throughout the country, Trish (as she prefers to be called) is a native Washingtonian who has lived most of her life in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
Her life, like the novels she writes, took a series of different twists and turns. Until recent years, her writing took a back seat to marriage, raising a family, and earning a living. Through a stroke of luck (or some would say, fate) she was working for a subsidiary of IBM when the first Apple computers rolled off the production lines, and she found herself on the ground floor of a mushrooming industry.
In 1984, when she was known as Patricia McClelland, she opened her first business, McClelland Enterprises, Inc. It was one of the first companies in the Washington, DC metropolitan area that was devoted entirely to personal computer classroom instruction. She personally wrote all of the course manuals that were used in the classes. During this period, three of her computer how-to books were also published: Creating the Perfect Database, published by Scott-Foresman, followed by The Dynamics of WordPerfect and The Dynamics of Reflex, both published by Dow Jones-Irwin. She also wrote a series of columns for The Washington Business Advisor, The Washington Post, and The Washington Business Journal, among others.

Ten years later, she became Patricia McClelland Terrell, and opened her second business, Terrell Computer Services, Inc., which is now known as Continental Software Development Corporation, USA.

Trish is a strong supporter of Crime Solvers, Crime Stoppers, and Crime Lines. She served as the first female President of the Chesterfield/ Colonial Heights Crime Solvers, breaking through the glass ceiling to chair a board that had previously been firmly managed by a “good old boys” network. “It was not a job for the faint of heart,” Trish says laughingly. Using her background in computers, she took the organization into the 21st Century, including establishing a web site that receives almost a quarter million hits per month and has earned a link from America’s Most Wanted.

On April 1, 2004 she was with Virginia Governor Mark Warner when he signed into legislation additional protection for citizens calling Crime Solvers and Crime Stoppers with tips. It ensures that citizens will remain anonymous and can not be called to testify in court.

Although Trish wrote stories growing up, she set aside her literary pursuits until 2000, when she wrote her first published suspense/thriller, Kickback. She’d been working as a programmer and had developed an application for a trucking firm when they approached her and asked her to add a routine that effectively hid their under-the-table kickbacks.

“I was the worst programmer in the world for them to ask,” she says, laughing. “I went straight home and called my dad, who is a retired FBI Special Agent.” He put her in contact with the local FBI field office, and she turned over evidence to them of the kickback scheme.

“As time went by,” she says, “I wondered what would have happened if the FBI hadn’t believed me… or if the trucking company threatened my life.” So the idea for Kickback was formed, in which a much younger programmer enters her first job, right out of college, only to find they want her to write a program to hide illegal kickbacks. Only in this story, the FBI don’t believe her and the closer the main character gets to gathering evidence of illegal activities, the closer the bad guys get to ending her life.

During the 2000 Presidential election, Trish was having lunch with two of her computer clients when they began discussing the problem of hanging, pregnant, and dimpled chads. “I argued that the U.S. would have to computerize the elections; we had come so far technologically that it didn’t make sense to continue with old-fashioned paper ballots with punch holes. But as I thought about it, I realized how easy it would be to “fix” an election if it was computerized.”

So once Kickback was finished, she started on The China Conspiracy. And as The China Conspiracy was hitting the bookshelves, Johns Hopkins University led a study into the real computerized touch-screen technology used by many states in the 2004 election. And their findings were chilling: that the new technology was so security flawed, “even a foreign government could easily infiltrate the system and rig our elections.” The China Conspiracy has received international attention, including segments broadcast into Communist China by Voice of America and a thirty-minute PBS television show.

In August 2004, Trish combined her literary pursuits with her law enforcement connections to co-found The Book ‘Em Foundation (, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to increase public awareness of the connection between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates, increase literacy rates, and decrease crime rates. They held the First Annual Book 'Em Event on October 23, 2004 in Waynesboro, Virginia, which featured 48 authors who signed their books and participated in talks and discussions. Proceeds from the event went to literacy projects and decreasing crime. The event was so successful the City of Waynesboro signed a 20-year agreement (the first in its history) to have the Book ‘Em Event held in their town every October. The next event is scheduled for October 22-23, 2005.

Trish is currently working on her third suspense/thriller, Ricochet, which is due out later this year. She has two more suspense/thrillers scheduled after that. And her agent is currently negotiating the movie rights to both Kickback and The China Conspiracy. You can view more information about her and her books at

#72683 - 03/01/05 07:59 PM Re: The China Conspiracy
Pam Kimmell Offline

Registered: 01/27/04
Posts: 1423
Loc: Warrenton, Virginia
So glad you are here Trish...! Fellow Boomers I'm here to tell you both "The China Conspiracy" and "Kickback" are excellent books, and very fascinating stories. Trish has been so helpful to me over the last year and knows so much about so many aspects of writing and this business in general. [Wink]

#72684 - 03/02/05 08:55 AM Re: The China Conspiracy
Dianne Offline
Queen of Shoes

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 6123
Loc: Arizona
Please share your "trick of the trade" for making your characters more than one dimensional.

#72685 - 03/01/05 09:48 PM Re: The China Conspiracy
pmterrell Offline

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 58
Loc: Lumberton, NC
Hi, everyone!

Dotsie, thanks so much for that great introduction. And my dear good friend Pam, I should hire you as my publicist. I'm always happy to help someone as wonderful as you are.

Dianne, what a great question to get this forum going! I have a number of "tricks of the trade". Sitting on my desk is a very worn copy of "Building Believable Characters" published by Writer's Digest Books. Every single time (without fail!) that I develop a new character, whether it's a main character or a secondary or temporary (one scene only) character, I reach for this book.

Let's say I start out with a nondescript male coworker in one of my scenes. Using the physical description portion of this book, which is divided by eye color, facial expressions, noses, hair, physical body type, etc., I come up with a description, interwoven throughout several paragraphs. The nondescript worker now becomes: a programmer with stooped shoulders, whose hours in front of the computer left him with the muscles of linguini, his fawn-colored eyes so bloodshot they remind me of a parched desert, the cracks deep and wanting, his face doughy from lack of sun...

There are personality traits in this book also, so this coworker becomes an anomie (a person with feelings of alienation and not belonging to society) whose only friends are the pet spider and turtle he keeps in glass containers set side by side... (a spider and a turtle, because they can not be hugged; they are cold blooded...)

I also love to go to a busy coffee shop or cafe, where I can sit and listen to snippets of conversation, observe clothing and mannerisms...

I could go on and on. I love developing memorable characters!

#72686 - 03/01/05 10:43 PM Re: The China Conspiracy
Prill Offline

Registered: 08/24/04
Posts: 201
Loc: Connecticut
Trish-- I'm struggling at this moment--in a hotel in D.C. (I presume you're somewhere within a 100-mile radius)--with the wording to the forward of the Chinese edition of my book. So, true to form, I'm fidgeting and doing everything I can to avoid the hard work of facing the page. (Can you relate?) In other words, I'm checking my e-mail, checking the forum, etc. I know I'll finish today, which is the deadline, but I'm undoubtedly going to be tinkering with a word here, a word there, until the very last moment.

Anyway, despite what I just said, I'm so glad I checked the forum. I want to welcome you. You're off to a tremendous start! I've already learned something from you. I'm going on-line this afternoon and ordering "Building Believable Characters." Can't wait to follow the discussion and see what else you have to say. [Big Grin]

#72687 - 03/01/05 11:17 PM Re: The China Conspiracy
Dotsie Offline

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Trish, following what Prill said about doing everything but writing. How do you schedule your writing time so you aren't distracted by all the things Prill mentioned? Do you write hours a day, when the mood strikes, set word count goals, chapter at a time? What makes you put pen to paper?

#72688 - 03/02/05 01:45 AM Re: The China Conspiracy
jawjaw Offline
Da Queen

Registered: 07/02/03
Posts: 12025
Loc: Alabama's me hon, Queen Jaw Jaw. How are ya gal? So glad you're here with us.

Tell me, where do the ideas come from?
And besides the obvious (novels) do you submit writing anywhere else?

And more importantly, are you bringing the margaritas Friday night to the hotel in October? Pam wanted me to ask that.

What? You expect me to bring my own? I'm a Queen for Pete's sake!


#72689 - 03/02/05 01:46 AM Re: The China Conspiracy
pmterrell Offline

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 58
Loc: Lumberton, NC
Hi, Prill and Dotsie!
Prill, I'm so glad you checked the forum, too! Good luck with your deadline.
Dotsie, I have a goal of writing one chapter per week, which means I finish the first draft within 6-8 months. Then I usually do the rewrite within another 4-6 months.
I am the consummate daydreamer. I live in the minds of my characters. I form whole scenes in my mind before I ever approach the keyboard. I do a lot of long distance travel, and I try to take any road but the interstate. I might be traveling at dawn on a back country road, see a ramshackle house with a waft of smoke coming from the chimney, and I have the basis for a house in my book. By the time I sit down to write, the entire chapter comes out within 2-3 hours (the creative part). Then comes the technical part: adding scent, color, and atmosphere.
When I was writing The China Conspiracy, there was a chapter between a Governor-elect who believed that Tibet was better off under Chinese rule than they had been under Tibetan rule, and a reporter who believed just the opposite. I spent weeks researching China's official stance on Tibet, "brainwashed" myself to believe as they did, and wrote the scene only from the Governor-elect's point of view. Then I cleansed myself of that thinking, spent more weeks obtaining information from official U.S. government transcripts going back to the end of World War II, all the way to the present day... and wrote the reporter's rebuttal to everything his interviewee had to say. Then I melded the two together into a heck of a debate. I spent much more time on that one scene than I do on a typical scene.

#72690 - 03/02/05 03:15 AM Re: The China Conspiracy
unique Offline

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 483
Loc: North Carolina
Awesome description of technique, Trish.
Georgia, don't worry, honey, I'll bring your Margaritas if no one else will. Salt or no salt?
And Trish, do you ever talk to yourself on tape to keep your story line and not forget things? or is your daydreaming so intense that you can just pick up where you left off? Is the story vivid enough to remember it all until you get to a point to write it down? Alz Heimer hangs out at my house - good ideas dissipate like smoke on a windy day.

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