October is the month of Halloween, so I’m hoping to be featuring writers of spooky stories this month. I recently I’ve had the pleasure of following Terri Reid on Twitter. Her books sparked an interest with me as I always had a love for the paranormal, and I’m sure Terri has a few good stories about it to tell. Check out her own story and the multitude of books that she has written which will send shivers down your spine.
Terri Reid has been telling ghosts stories since she was a toddler. Her mother tells of a time when two-year old Terri would sit in her highchair, look past her mother into the dark back porch and say, “Look. Man.” When her mother would turn in horror, Terri would laugh delightedly.
She lives in the same area of the United States as her Mary O’Reilly character, Northwest Illinois. She lives on five acres of rolling land in a 100 year-old farmhouse, with her husband, children, dogs, cats and several dozen chickens (well, the chickens live in the barn.)
Her background is in marketing and public relations, but she has always enjoyed telling stories. For a while, she worked as a freelance journalist for the local paper and wrote the Halloween feature for many years, collecting as many local ghost stories as she could. She gave her collection of local ghost stories to the local historical society to use as a fundraiser, they are now in their third printing.
How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?
I come from a large Irish family – I have two sisters and five brothers – and we all loved to gather together and tell stories. Whether it was an amusing situation we’d encountered that day or a scary, paranormal experience that had happened the night before, we loved besting each other with our tales. I also have a mother who always loved to read, and she would read to us at night. I think that was probably the seed that grew into my love of books.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I love watching the story unfold in front of me during the writing process. First, the surprise when your plot changes in front of you and suddenly, organically, the story becomes something different from what you’d originally imagined. The characters take control and lead you to where they want to go. And then when you find yourself laughing out loud at something a character just said or sobbing uncontrollably when a character you love dies – it pulls on all of your heart strings. It’s probably the best therapy ever invented.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I love this question! I think I would choose an owl. Sometimes an owl is considered a creature of the night, it can be portrayed as something mysterious or spooky. But, in many cases, it’s a friendly and beloved creature, like Owl in Winnie the Pooh. JK Rowling characterized owls as loyal and dependable. We have some owls in the forest beyond our home. At night, I can hear them calling to one another, a lonely sound that floats across the sky. Who? They ask. Who? Who? Who? Perhaps that’s the curiosity of the author spelled out by their spirit animal, especially when the author writes mysteries.
Do you outline or just write?
I read once that Jim Butcher had all his Dresden Files book outlined on a spreadsheet, so he knew exactly what was going to happen when. That really depressed me. Until, I read Stephen King’s book “On Writing” and discovered that Stephen King is a seat-of-his-pants writer. Whew! So am I. I do jot down notes about the main ideas I want to try and cover in the chapters I’m planning on writing that day, but that’s as far as it goes. If I wrote an outline, I’d end up throwing it away by the fifth chapter. My characters never go where I want them to go.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
I just published a book, along with my friend, Ophelia Julien, about true ghost stories. Normally, I write paranormal mysteries, but I have found that people with real ghost stories are attracted to books about ghosts and they are always willing to share a story or two. Ophelia and I have both been blessed(?) to have paranormal experiences of our own. So, we combined our own experiences and some stories shared with us and wrote “Ghosts, Graves, and Groves.” It’s the perfect book for a dark, autumn night.
Generally, my books are about either paranormal mysteries, which can include ghosts, witches or the fae. Or they are fantasy stories. I love digging into the unknown. I love the idea that there’s much more out there than we understand. You will also find in my books, the underlying theme that family and friends are vital to our existence. And that faith, hope and love can conquer anything.
Are you working on another book? What are your current projects? Can you give us a small teaser?
Right now, I’m juggling far too many projects. Every year, at Halloween, I put out a short story called “Tales Around the Jack O’Lantern.” This will be the fifth year. It’s a collection of fictional ghost stories that the O’Reilly family (the family of Mary O’Reilly the protagonist in the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series) share with each other on Halloween night. Most of the members of the family are police officers, so they offer an interesting take on the supernatural. All of the stories (which are family friendly) will leave you with a little chill up your spine.
The second book in the Finders Mansion Series is nearly complete. This takes up after the novella “Maybelle’s Secret.” It’s really the further adventures of Mary O’Reilly after the final book, Book 20, in her series.
As soon as I finish that, I’m going to be writing the second book in the Willoughby Witches series. This time, I’m going to be featuring Hazel, who has such a fun personality. I’m really looking forward to finding the right partner for Hazel and seeing if he can keep up with her.
Here’s a teaser of the next Finders Mansion Series:
Stanley raised his hand and Bradley acknowledged it. “Stanley.”
“I’m thinking we need to get more disguises,” he said.
“Disguises?” Bradley asked.
“Darn tootin,” Stanley replied. “Iffen I keep going to folks’ homes with a cashier’s check and saying I’m from a lottery no one ever heerd about, people are gonna get mighty suspicious.”
Alex Boettcher, Stephenson County District Attorney, nodded. “That’s true,” he agreed. “But I don’t know if disguises are really what we need.”
“I brought some with me,” Stanley continued. “So’s you can see.”
He moved his chair back, reached under the table to a shopping bag next to his chair and pulled out an item. Then he bent forward, placed the item on his head and sat up.
“Stanley,” Mary exclaimed, muffling her laughter. “That’s a mask, that’s not a disguise.”
“Same difference,” Stanley said behind the large rubber mask.
“And you look like our president,” Alex added. “I don’t think it’s going to work.”
“Two things,” Stanley said, his voice slightly muffled by the rubber. “First, it was on sale, so I kept expenses low. Second, if anyone was going to be handing out money, it would be him. He’s got plenty.”
“But you don’t sound like him,” Bradley tried to reason.
Stanley pulled the mask off, his face wet with perspiration. “I can get a recording,” he improvised.
“You don’t think someone in a mask of our president giving away thousands of dollars isn’t going to cause a little commotion?” Mary asked.
Stanley sighed. “Well, I ain’t thought of it that way,” he said. “But we gotta do something, if we want to keep this on the down low.”
What writing/publishing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?
Write the best story you can – because you only get one chance to make a first impression. Think about it, if you rush this story, but assure yourself that next time you’ll take more time, get an editor, pay for a nicer cover – who is going to give you a second chance? There are too many other books out there to pull your readers away from your work. If they feel that your first book felt incomplete, sloppy, amateurish – what is going to entice them to try you again?
Make sure you offer the very best you have and then, go on to the next book.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
I wrote a scene in a book where Mary (a woman who can see and talk to ghosts) is driving home from meeting a little girl ghost who had been abused and killed. The man who killed her had pretended to be a pastor, but he really was a sex-trafficker. Mary has a guardian angel who works with her, his name is Mike. When the little girl saw Mike, she was terrified. To her, Mike represented God and God let the pastor hurt her. So, Mike is in the car with Mary and he asks her something like, “Why did God let her die, Mary? Why didn’t He let an angel come down and save her? He could have done that, why didn’t He?”
Mary turns to him and explains that during her near-death experience (that actually gave her the ability to see and communicate with ghosts) she made one of the hardest decisions that she had ever had to make. She was given the choice to continue to the light or go back and be with her family. She said, “I wanted to go to the light, Mike. But I knew my family needed me, so I came back. God didn’t let her die, Mike. God took her home.”
After the book had been published I received am email from a reader. She explained that she was only a little way into the book, but when she’d read this passage, she knew she had to write to me. She and her brother had been very close. She worked with her brother, he had been her boss. One morning, she came into work and found her brother at his desk. He’d been working late and had a heart attack. He was dead. She said that she couldn’t understand why God had taken her brother. He was a good man, he did wonderful things in the community. Then she read my passage and was filled with peace. God didn’t take her brother, He just brought him home. She told me that she knew that God had used me to send a message directly to her. I will always cherish that email.
Anything you would like to say to your readers?
I am so grateful to my readers. I could not do what I love to do without their support and their willingness to take a chance on an indie author. I love that social media has created a vehicle where I get to know my readers, where I can share their successes and their sadness. I feel like my readership is part of my family. And, I am truly blessed with the best readers on the planet. I’ve had other authors comment to me that they’ve never seen readers so loyal and so willing to share my posts and information about my books. I don’t know what I did to deserve them, but I am so grateful they are all part of this great adventure I’m on.
Thank you, Terri, for sharing a bit about your writing with us. It’s intriguing to hear that you have had paranormal experiences. I’ve always been open to them, but so far none have come forward. The only thing I can say is that the house I now live in, a house where teachers used to live, fills me with a happiness that I haven’t found elsewhere. I am home.
If you want to follow Terri Reid, you can do so via the following social media:
Terri has way too many books for me to put them all in this post. I’ve put a few links of her books in here, but why don’t you guys head over to Terri’s Amazon page and check them all out there!
Don’t forget: all my books in the Suckers Trilogy are each now 99c/99p only!