Monday, April 14, 2014

Terry Odell - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Terry Odell. She is the author of the Blackthorne, Inc., Pine Hills Police, and Mapleton Mystery series.

Author Genre: Romance, Mystery & Thrillers, Suspense

Website: Terry Odell
Author's Blog: Terry's Place
Twitter: @authorterryo
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Author Description:
I was born in Los Angeles and now make my home in Divide, Colorado. An avid reader (my parents tell everyone they had to move from our first home because I finished the local library), I always wanted to "fix" stories so the characters did what I wanted, in books, television, and the movies. Once I began writing, I found this wasn't always possible, as evidenced when the mystery I intended to write rapidly became a romance.

However, my entry into the world of writing can be attributed to a "mistake" when my son mentioned the Highlander television series on a visit home. Being the "good mother" I began watching the show and soon connected with the world of fanfiction, first as a reader, then as a critique giver, and then, one brave weekend, I wrote my first short story.

Things snowballed and soon I was writing my first original novel. Much later, I mentioned something about a recent Highlander episode to my son, and he said, "Oh, I've never actually watched the show, I just thought the concept was cool." Little did he know what he'd started.

I love getting into the minds of my characters, turning them loose in tight spots and seeing what they do. Too often, they surprise me.

My published works include the Pine Hills Police Series, the Blackthorne, Inc. series as well as the Romantic Suspense novel, What's in a Name? and the Mapleton Mystery series. I've also published numerous short stories with The Wild Rose Press.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Deadly Puzzles. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I'm working on my 6th Blackthorne, Inc. romantic suspense, and I'm looking for a fall release. This book features Olivia, who first appeared in Danger in Deer Ridge, and Hotshot, who's been in most of the Blackthorne books, but always as a background character. They're sent to an exclusive "off the grid" resort where celebrities and the ultra-wealthy can hide out after getting some "work done" or to dry out, or kick a habit. They're looking for a missing woman with personal connections to Mr. Blackthorne himself. And, of course, in doing so, things take an unexpected turn.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I'm one who feels the important thing about social media is the SOCIAL part. People don't like being bombarded with 'buy my book' messages. I try to make at least 70% of my tweets about more ordinary stuff. I don't really regard Twitter as a marketing platform at all. The tweetstream moves too quickly, and unless someone specifically makes a point of filtering for your tweets, you have to figure most people don't see them. That's strictly my opinion. I will announce specials for my books, or post a cover, but most of the time it's more of an "office water cooler" site for me.

I like Facebook more, but it's still not a place where you can count on your posts being seen—that's one of Facebook's irritating restrictions; they don't feed your posts to all your followers. They want money to do that, which is their right, but it can be irritating to know you've got 2000 people who like your page, but it's only sent to 100 of their news feeds. I have a quarterly newsletter where I offer special exclusives. I wish there were a way to quantify sales with social media, but it isn't possible.

As far as book "launches" go, I don't do them in the traditional way. Most of my sales are digital, and if you start talking about your book before there's a way to buy it, you're going to have to do it again all over when the book is live. Kobo allows you to collect pre-orders, which is great, as does Apple, but Amazon and B&N don't allow indie authors that perk.

You do a lot of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Actually, I don't do much. I've been very busy in April, but I don't have anything else on the books right now. I'll be going to the Writers' Police Academy in September, and the Novelists, Inc. conference in October, but that's about it this year. When your books aren't in bookstores, and most people ask for the digital version, doing book tours is counterproductive, and far too expensive. I have a page on my website that shows where I'll be live, but most of the time I'm in cyberspace. The best thing for interested readers would be to sign up for my newsletter and follow my Facebook Author Page.

Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?

As I mentioned before, it's impossible to know what triggers a book purchase, so I don't know if there's crossover between audio and other formats. I think for the most part, there's a large portion of audio book purchasers who don't buy the other formats. Overall, though, I think opening any new market is a good thing. Cast a wide net.

You have written several short stories. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

I think it's the other way around. I notice sales of my short stories after I release a new novel. Also, my short stories are contemporary romance, not mystery or romantic suspense, so there's a different audience. I wrote them so long ago, and they're still with The Wild Rose Press, so I can't really track sales. And, to be honest, I find it very hard to write short stories—I'm long-winded I guess. However I do have a couple of mystery short stories that I'll be releasing some time later this year, I think. One was in an anthology and I'm working to get my rights back to publish it myself along with a couple others featuring the same detective.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I don't like pricing my books as free, but I did use Kobo's "First in Series Free" program for my Pine Hills Police series, just to see how it works, since Kobo does advertise those books across its platforms. I ran it for a month, and giveaways were very good, and I am seeing some crossover sales, but it hasn't really been long enough to see if this holds up over time. Amazon price matched the last week the book was free, and I saw a big spike in sales and rankings—including at, which was nice. However, the 'freegans' don't read the books, and if they don't read them, then you're not enticing them to read your next one, so in reality, you're not getting all that many new readers. I do think it can be effective if you have a series, though. At least my experience has shown that.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

As I said above, I don't do book launches. I write the books, have them professionally edited, get with my cover artist to decide on a cover. Then I get them formatted for all the different sites, and upload them. Yes, I try to create buzz beforehand, but until the book is live, I'm not going to garner sales (with the Kobo and Apple exceptions noted previously.) The best marketing tool is word of mouth, so I like to keep people interested in the new book, but it's more a case of sharing the cover, or asking for help naming characters, or providing quick snippets of the work I did that day.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Thanks. I'm glad you like Terry's Place. My goal with my blog is to provide information. I like to talk about the craft of writing, but there are times I'll talk about anything. I share recipes on Wednesday, and do virtual 'field trips' on Fridays. I also host guests once a week. My goal is to interact with people, help other writers, and keep my name visible. After all, I'm only writing about 2 books a year; I want to give people something else during all the other times.

What is the objective for your newsletter? Do you try to build a list of readers? Do you see a carryover to the sales of your novels?

Newsletter mailing list names are gold. Facebook followers are a pretty number, but you don't know how many of them even see your feeds, and you have no way to keep in touch with them if Facebook goes away or takes your page away (which happened to an author I know.) One of the goals of Booklover's Bench is to grow mailing lists for all of our members. And again, it's impossible to track sales, so one can only hope some of the sales we see are a direct result of something we did.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

Reviews are tricky, especially from the biggies like Publisher's Weekly or genre review publications. That's one thing a traditional publisher can do that indie authors can't—or have trouble doing. I ask for reviews from readers at the end of every book. I've also offered advance copies in exchange for honest reviews. I do think that the free books helped me get more reviews, simply because there were more copies of that book out there, but it's a double-edged sword. People who download free books and do take the time to read them often are choosing books outside their reading tastes, and they'll write a negative review.

I like the idea of the Booklover’s Bench. Several of the authors have already been in the HBS Spotlight. How did you get the group started? Can you tell if the group involvement has had an impact on your sales? Have you considered doing a box set with the authors in the group?

The group started after I was blogging about my experiences at the NINC Conference in 2012, where a "Lifeboat Team" panel explained how a bunch of hybrid and indie authors got together to share the marketing. Several people contacted me and we started our group. And, again, we can't point out which of our book sales were due to which promotional effort. Our goal was not to sell books, but to expand our reach, and I think we've done that well. We talked about a boxed set, but haven't made any definitive plans to do one. Right now, it looks like the box sets are becoming less popular. If we do, readers can find out about it at the Booklover's Bench website.

Author's Book List
Deadly Puzzles - Mapleton Mystery Series
Solving a crime is like piecing together a puzzle. But what happens if the pieces don’t fit?

When Police Chief Gordon Hepler’s doctor orders him to cut down on the stress in his life or risk losing his vision, Gordon books a winter retreat at a remote Bed and Breakfast. Hours away from Mapleton, where nobody knows he’s a cop, he plans to relax and try to forget about his eyes.

However, traveling “incognito” doesn’t mean he’s left his cop instincts behind. His curiosity is piqued when one of the other guests at the B&B doesn’t appear to be who she claims. Before he can explore the puzzle she presents, a man shows up, pleading for help. His car’s gone off the road, and his wife is inside.

Although a blizzard is approaching, Gordon can’t refuse the frantic man’s request and agrees to help him search. Fighting the storm, Gordon and the man struggle down a ravine to the car. What they find turns out to be one more puzzle, and it’s not the last Gordon faces.

Are they unrelated coincidences? Or part of one bigger mystery? Or is he seeing a crime where none exists? Well outside his jurisdiction, with his health at stake, Gordon wonders whether he should follow his cop impulses, or remember he’s on vacation and let the locals handle it. When it becomes personal, Gordon has no choice.

- iTunes - KOBO
What's in a Name?
Running for the wrong reason can still get you killed.

Kelli Carpenter has changed her name, her appearance—her life—to avoid being connected to a crime she committed in self defense years ago. But just when she thinks she has nothing to fear, handsome stranger Blake Windsor shows up.

He claims to be the handyman her boss sent to help complete the project she's working on—Camp Getaway—a place where inner city kids will get respite from concrete and drive-bys. Being a loner has kept her alive, and Kelli's instincts tell her to leave. But without Blake's help, the refuge for inner city children won't be completed on time. Against her instincts, she accepts his help.

Blake Windsor is a corporate executive accepted his boss's request to find out if Kelli Carpenter is really a woman his boss thinks he knew years before. He begrudgingly returns to the blue-collar construction lifestyle he vowed to leave behind, hoping doing this favor will advance his career.

The woman he meets bears little resemblance to the woman he's supposed to find, but something about her mystifies him, and he decides to continue with his deception to learn more about her.

When someone makes an attempt on Kelli's life, she runs—but she takes Blake with her. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer is her philosophy. And Kelli is convinced Blake knows something that will link her to her former lover's death, ending her life as she knows it.

What's in a Name? is full of twists and turns as Blake and Kelli try to keep one step ahead of whoever is following them—while they try to figure out why.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Rooted in Danger - Blackthorne, Inc.
Behind the public façade of Blackthorne, Inc., a high-end private investigation company, lies a band of elite covert operatives, and they’re back doing what they do best.

Foster (Fozzie) Mayhew, Blackthorne’s Intel Specialist, is cocky and arrogant, befitting his Aussie heritage. Put him in a helicopter with his surveillance instruments and he can spot the fleas on a squirrel’s balls from five hundred feet. He’s happiest when he’s rescuing hostages, getting them to safety while Uncle Sam is still negotiating. But Fozzie’s boss pulls him from the work he loves and sends him to locate Victoria Hamilton, estranged daughter of a rich client.

Torie Stoker, born Victoria Hamilton, is hiding from her father who needs her at home and married. There’s no love lost between Torie and her family. They shipped her off to a Swiss boarding school when she was thirteen, and at twenty-nine, she’s never looked back. When her best friend, Kathy, dies, Torie settles in Oregon, determined to give meaning to Kathy’s death by continuing the botanist’s quest for rare plants with potential medical applications. When a man shows up with a gun, Torie realizes how badly her father must want her back.

Fozzie wants nothing more than to locate his target, report to his boss, and get back to his real job. When he finds Torie being dragged away at gunpoint, his protective instincts kick in. Soon, they’re racing to discover why her father sent armed men after her. Or could it have something to do with Kathy’s pharmaceutical research to cure orphan diseases? The answers threaten to change Torie’s life forever.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Finding Sarah
Being robbed at gunpoint wasn’t part of Sarah Tucker’s business plan. Neither was falling in love with the detective who arrived to solve the case.

All Sarah wants is success for her gift boutique, the one she and her husband created. Now, she’s living a hand-to-mouth existence. Her husband died a year earlier in a car accident—an accident that was ruled suicide, denying her his life insurance money. Burdened by guilt that she was somehow to blame for his death, Sarah faces one business setback after another. Determined to succeed on her own, she fights off a meddling sister-in-law as well as offers of financial assistance from a former boyfriend. Unaware someone is setting her up for failure, she’s totally unprepared to find herself fighting for survival.

Police Detective Randy Detweiler thinks the crook is a thief who’s been evading cops all over the state. A routine robbery investigation turns into the biggest challenge of his career when he falls in love with the victim, and he starts crossing professional boundaries. When Sarah disappears, he's afraid all his detective skills might not be enough to find her in time to save her life.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Dangerous Connections - Blackthorne, Inc.
The Blackthorne, Inc. covert ops team is back with another action-adventure romantic suspense from Terry Odell. This time, it’s Computer Nerd meets Cartel Lord.

For Jinx, interacting with people is highly overrated. Computers are his life. On the job, he’s an intel gathering expert for Blackthorne, Inc. Off duty, he’s a shooter in computer role playing games. But what happens when he’s sent into the field to face real enemies with real guns?

Josiah Ignatius Nix—Jinx to all who know him—is the glue holding the Blackthorne, Inc. covert ops teams together when they’re on a mission. In the comfort of his basement office, with his favorite companions—his computers— a click of the mouse provides him with up-to-the-minute intel, which keeps the team alive.

Until the intel fails and a hostage rescue mission goes south. Both the hostage and team are captured, and the boss sends Jinx to the jungles of Mexico as an undercover field agent. The cartels have been kidnapping American engineers to build and maintain their private cell phone networks. Jinx’s skills make him a prime target for capture, a way to infiltrate the cartel and rescue not only the company’s client, but also the missing team of operatives.

Soon, he finds himself paired with Elle Sheridan, a cop whose missing sister is in the middle of a human trafficking ring. Will Elle be able to convince Jinx that Blackthorne’s mission needs to be expanded to include rescuing her sister? And if she does, will the two of them be able to stay ahead of rival cartel leaders and get out alive to make some private connections of their own?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Deadly Bones - Mapleton Mystery
A dog finding a bone is no big deal—until it turns out to be human.

Mapleton Police Chief Gordon Hepler and the mayor can't agree about what being a cop means. To Gordon, it's keeping his citizens safe. To the mayor, it's generating revenue by issuing speeding and parking tickets.

When two runaway dogs waylay Gordon on the way to what he hopes will be an uneventful afternoon at a backyard barbeque, more than his afternoon is interrupted. As dogs will do, these have uncovered a bone. Trouble is, it turns out to be human. When it leads to the discovery of more human remains, Gordon needs to find out why they're on the property, when they got there, and who they belonged to. After all, somebody needs to care

Over the mayor's objections, Gordon pursues the investigation of the bones along with an unusual outbreak of petty crimes, accidents, and a dispatcher who seems to be losing it. Before long, he's got more puzzle pieces than he knows what to do with—and no puzzle to fit them into. When people he loves are endangered, no mayoral directive will stop Gordon from saving them.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Nowhere to Hide - Pine Hills Police
The trouble with running away is that you take yourself with you.

After police officer Colleen McDonald is injured in a case gone south and her partner dies, she leaves her job and friends in small town Pine Hills Oregon for a fresh start as a civilian in Orlando. When a deputy sheriff comes to her door investigating a possible missing person, she’s determined to get him out of her life by beating him at his own game.

Jeffrey Walters is missing—or is he? His stepdaughter insists he is. His aunt claims he’s simply out of town on business. His former business partner knows nothing. There’s a stranger living in his guesthouse.

To Deputy Sheriff Graham Harrigan, finding Jeffrey might be his ticket to a permanent slot in the Criminal Investigations Division. He’s determined to prove he’s worthy of the promotion despite an unearned reputation passed down by an unsavory training partner. The attractive woman living in Jeffrey’s guesthouse complicates matters. Their rivalry becomes a partnership that stretches the boundaries of a professional relationship.

Nowhere to Hide features Colleen McDonald, a character first introduced in Finding Sarah, Book 1 in the Pine Hills Police Series. In series chronology, the book would fall between Finding Sarah and Hidden Fire, but Nowhere to Hide stands alone and can be read in any order.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Where Danger Hides - Blackthorne, Inc.
Who do you call when Uncle Sam can't help you? Blackthorne, Inc. Behind the public façade of a private investigation firm–Blackthorne, Incorporated–lies a band of elite covert operatives.

Dalton (just Dalton—nobody dares call him Ambrose), is one of Blackthorne’s best. A charming Texan, he prides himself on blending in, and there’s no one he can’t scam. But his obsession with putting a Colombian drug lord out of the picture threatens to endanger his life and the lives of his team. When Dalton nearly blows a simple undercover assignment at a fundraising gala, it convinces his boss to tether him to a dog-and-pony-show case at a halfway house. Instead, Dalton finds death, drugs, and danger.

Street-smart Miri Chambers wants nothing more than to help everyone at the Galloway House shelter lead new and productive lives, but residents are disappearing without a trace. An unexpected meeting with Dalton at a gala turns into an assignment for him, but Miri doesn’t think he’s taking the job seriously. Trust doesn’t come easy to Miri. When the situation escalates into a combat zone, can she trust Dalton with her life … and her heart?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Saving Scott - Pine Hills Police
Can a dead body in a chocolate shop revive a battle-fatigued cop? Or will it take the owner of the shop to save him?

Homicide detective Scott Whelan lived for the job--until one day he was caught in the middle of a robbery gone bad. Although some call him a hero, he thinks of himself as a coward and a failure. He exists now in what he calls his "Dark Place". He accepts a new job as a civilian with the Pine Hills Police Department, thinking being close to the job will be better than leaving it completely. But when he finds himself in the middle of the investigation. Scott has to choose where his loyalties lie—with his brotherhood in blue, or his attractive new neighbor, who needs someone on her side. And figure out how to get out of the dark.

Against her parents' wishes, Ashley Eagan has split from her unsupportive fiancé and moved to Pine Hills to start her dream business: Confections by Ashley. Faced with countless construction setbacks, she fears her plans for the perfect grand opening will be ruined. When a dead body turns up in her shop, a delayed opening is the least of her worries. Now, she's afraid she's facing murder charges. Her new neighbor has connections with the police department, but he's sending mixed messages. One minute he’s the friendly, handsome neighbor, the next, he's playing cop. Not to mention he's carrying enough baggage for a world-wide cruise. If Ashley's learned anything since leaving home, it's that she's the only one she can count on.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Hidden Fire - Pine Hills Police
Returning from a stint as part of a task force on violent crime, Randy Detweiler is eager to reunite with Sarah Tucker in Pine Hills, but she’s having second thoughts about their relationship. Can she deal with a cop who gets called away at a moment’s notice, especially one who won’t talk about his job?

Their reunion is cut short when a body is discovered and rumors fly that it’s the work of a serial killer. To make matters worse, the Town Council might disband their police department, and Randy's under added pressure to solve the murder before they take action. Forced to work under the radar, Randy struggles to balance work with a shaky relationship.

Sarah can’t cope with apparently meaning less to Randy than his job. Should she force him to choose between his job and the us she envisions for the two of them? All bets are off when Sarah herself becomes a suspect in Randy’s case. Before long, it’s more than their relationship that’s in danger.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Danger in Deer Ridge - Blackthorne, Inc.
What do you do when your life turns upside down? Whatever it takes.

When Elizabeth Parker arrives in Deer Ridge with her eight-year-old son, she's constantly looking over her shoulder, afraid her husband won't believe she's dead, despite the new identity provided by the high-end firm of Blackthorne, Inc. Within hours of her arrival, a man shows up claiming he's there to hook up her gas line. When he keeps turning up, she's wary as to his motives. For Elizabeth, trust doesn't come easy. She'll never let her husband lay a hand on her son, no matter what, and if this man is working for her husband, she wants no part of him.

Mark Grinciewicz, Grinch to everyone who knows him, was Blackthorne, Incorporated's top pilot. When his ex-wife dies, he is left with custody of a five-year-old son he hardly knows, and everything changes. Determined to do what it takes to help his son adjust to a new life, Grinch finds himself tethered to the ground, unable to do what he loves--fly.

When he gets a call from Blackthorne, requesting that he take a simple assignment--teach a woman how to fit into the community under her new identity--he reluctantly accepts the task. Bad enough he's not supposed to let on he's aware of her identity, or that he's on her side. But what he doesn't know is that she has something her husband needs, and the man will do just about anything to get it back. Suddenly, everyone is a potential threat. Can Grinch break through her defenses and earn her trust in time to save her without endangering her son or his?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
When Danger Calls - Blackthorne, Inc.
If someone asks single mother Frankie Castor to clear a room, she’ll smile and find a vacuum cleaner. Ryan Harper, on the other hand, uses a gun. Is it possible they can work together when their lives depend on it?

Frankie’s returned to her childhood home in Montana to help care for her mother. Her biggest worries are balancing the budget and the upkeep of an aging home. When she offers a man a ride home from the hospital, she never imagines she’ll end up having to choose between her daughter’s life and matters of national security that could cost the lives of millions.

Ryan returns to his family home to find a way to prove he didn’t leak vital information on a covert ops mission gone south. As he searches for the meaning of a file he’s kept hidden from the mission, he has no idea that international mercenaries have been searching for it—and him. When the mercenaries come after Ryan, he’s torn. Fighting for his country wars with fighting to rescue people he loves.

Set against a Montana mountain backdrop, When Danger Calls is a story filled with action, adventure, and romance, where the stakes keep getting higher and higher.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle


  1. Great post, Terry! Always great to learn more about you! Congratulations on all your successes and keep those books coming!