The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Phyllis Staton Campbell

header - phyllis campbellI’d like to welcome Phyllis Staton Campbell to my blog as today’s featured author. Phyllis was given 20 questions from which to pick 10 of them to respond. I’m enjoying this format as we get a different insight into each author and it’s interesting to see which questions are selected.

Please enjoy meeting Phyllis and consider checking out he work.

author picture phyllis

  • What do you think are the elements of a good story?

I feel that the elements of a good story, short, or novel, are: Interest point, a conflict, question not answered, action toward the solution, presented by interesting characters and action, and the solution, that leaves the reader thinking.

Waitress with dish of champagne glasses

  • You’re invited to a dinner party are you:
    • The center of attention
    • Off in a corner talking to one or two people
    • Standing by the door waiting for a chance to leave
    • At home reading or writing your latest work Off in a corner, talking to one or two people.
    • Why did you pick the response that you chose?

I like people, but if I find those who interest me, I prefer their company to a crowd of people who don’t interest me.

  • What is the first book that made you cry?

1851400Little Colonel’s Hero by Annie Fellows Johnson. Hero was a dog, and I was around eight-years-old.

  • Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two?

Why Definitely a combination, depending on the person, and their attitude. Some insecure writers seem to resent others, and to me, this not only interferes with their relationship with others but affects their writing. Other side of the coin, writers, who reach out to others are allies with whom I can share resources and the joy of a sale, and the disappointment of a failure.

  • What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Actually, it depends. Sometimes a character intrudes into my thinking, demanding a plot and a setting. At other times, a setting presents itself, and I simply must weave a plot around it, and people it with characters.

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  • Describe your writing space.

My house is old, the oldest part dating back to shortly after the Civil War. My writing space is in what was the dining room, with French doors, opening into the living room, either side of the chimney, and a door into the kitchen. I have a natural gas fire that fills the space with warmth and cheer on cold, wet days.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

  • What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

I use a computer with NVDA as a screen reader. I use the Braille Note Touch when proofreading my work, with the file on the computer as well. When I find an error when I’m reading the braille, I find the place on the computer, and make the correction.

  • Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

Here again it varies. If I’m working on a novel, I usually figure out the beginning and the end, filling in the moving toward the end, sometimes as I go. With a short story, I often just sit and let my mind wander. Sometimes I go to the organ and play, hoping my fingers and my creativity find each other, with at least the beginning of a plot. Sometimes the story is inspired by a news item, or an event.

  • Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

My books have ranged from a nonfiction book requested by the publisher to a supernatural title, they have included, inspiration, autobiography (the requested book) YA adult inspirational and mystery. Most of my work is teared toward giving the public a glimpse into the world of the blind, and perhaps offering a bit of hope to those, who may have lost, or who are losing, their sight.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When not writing, I enjoy reading, listening to music, playing the organ and knitting.

About Phyllis:

Phyllis says that she writes about the things she sees. That she sees with only four senses does not detract from her description of people and settings. Readers who haven’t looked at the “about the author” say that they would have never guessed that she has been blind since birth.

In her writing, she calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition specialist, as she weaves her characters ranging from a sixteen-year-old girl, striving to come to terms with her blindness, to a detective struggling with fear and feelings of guilt. “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” is her seventh book, including a true-crime title, written under contract to the victim’s family, and not available to the public.

She lives in Staunton, Virginia where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran Church, not far from the home she shared with Chuck, her husband, who waits beyond that door called death.

Find Phyllis’s Books:

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Connect with Phyllis:

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Although I have a Facebook page I prefer questions addressed to


The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Judy Penz Sheluk

judy penz sheluk - headerWelcome to my 2019 Author Interview Series. This is the third year that I have featured authors on my blog. Each year, I’ve tried to provide them with unique questions that will tell you, fellow authors, bloggers and readers, a bit more about them.

This year will be interesting. I’m providing each author with a set of 20 questions and they will choose ten of them to respond to. This should provide some flexibility for them and some variety for those that read each interview.

I’m pleased to kick of the series with author Judy Penz Sheluk. I hope you enjoy hearing her story.


  • What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I listen to talk radio when I write, either Newstalk 1010 or Talk 640 – both are Toronto-based stations. Maybe it comes from years of working in a corporate world where there was always background noise, but I can tune out (and tune in) talk radio easier than I can music, with the added bonus of being well informed on local issues, politics, and breaking news. As a writer, I also get a lot of ideas listening to talk radio. It’s fascinating how many differing points of view callers will express on a single topic.

  • What is the first book that made you cry?

in cold bloodBelieve it or not, it was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I was young, maybe grade four, and living in a pre-24/7 news cycle. I remember reading Capote’s description of seeing the corpses lying in the funeral home, “their heads encased in sparkling white cotton, and swollen to twice the size of blown-up balloons” and crying. That’s powerful writing, and it’s the first time I realized that words could paint a picture. I’ve never forgotten that book, and reread it as an adult.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I like to think we are allies. I’m a firm believer in authors helping authors, and have a New Release Mondays spot on my blog to showcase the works of other authors. I’m also on the Board of Directors for Crime Writers of Canada, representing Toronto/Southern Ontario. It’s a nominated, but volunteer position, and it can be a lot of work, but it’s proven to me that most authors are supportive of one another, at least in the mystery world. I’ve also volunteered to be the Left Coast Crime CWC Member liaison for LCC Vancouver, and I’m really looking forward to building more relationships when there. Together we are stronger.

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  • What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)

I always quote Agatha Christie when I’m asked this question: “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” I think of that whenever I’m having one of those “don’t want to, don’t like it” kind of days.

Blank paper with pen

  • Describe your writing space.

When I’m at home, a bedroom converted into an office, with Benjamin Moore Phillipsburg Blue walls and my book covers as wall art. There’s also painting by an old friend, Vladymyr Ruzylo. The technique is called assemblage and it’s and abstract of water lilies. It’s very beautiful. My desk is covered in notebooks, three types of glasses (reading, computer, computer-reading if wearing contacts), and there’s a dish of dog cookies for Gibbs, who likes to sleep under my desk when I’m writing. And I always have a cup of herbal tea on the go (Tetley Warmth, cinnamon rooibos).

When I’m at our camp in Northern Ontario on Lake Superior (the U.S. side is the Upper Peninsula), at the kitchen table watching the water.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

  • What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

At home, on my iMac, but I have a paper notebook (always with a pretty cover) for each work in progress. I’m always scribbling down ideas. I even have a notebook on my bedside table, along with an LED pen so I can write ideas down in the middle of the night without turning on the bedroom lamp.

At the camp, on my iPad, which requires a lot of editing once I’m back home, but is quite freeing since internet there isn’t terrific so I’m not always checking some random fact in the guise of research. The notebooks are always with me.

  • Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I’m a complete pantser, though I’ve tried to outline, it just doesn’t seem to work for me. I start with a premise and then build from there. For example, in The Hanged Man’s Noose, the premise starts with a greedy developer who comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store on the town’s historic Main Street, thereby threatening the livelihoods of all the local indie shops and businesses. We’ve all seen that happen, and I thought, what if someone was willing to murder to stop it?

Image result for John Sandford

  • If you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him/her?

I’m a huge fan of John Sandford’s Prey and Virgil Flowers series and have read every single one of the books in those two series. His pacing and humor is second to none, and he allows his characters to age and mature. If I actually had the opportunity to sit down with him, I’m not sure if I’d be able to speak, let alone ask three questions. But I’d like to know how long it takes him to write a first draft, whether he loves fishing in the way Virgil does or clothes in the same way Lucas Davenport does, and of course, I’d have to ask what his writing process is in the hopes that some of that magic could wear off on me.

  • What book(s) are you currently reading?

I tend to read multiple books at the same time, depending on where I’m doing the reading. Currently reading Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan on Kindle, The Collectors by David Baldacci in hardcover, and Still Water by Amy Stuart in paperback.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

In the summer, I belong to two ladies golf leagues (9 holes) and typically play 2 to 3 rounds of 9 each week. I’m not particularly good, but I’m also not particularly bad, which means that low handicappers will still play with me and not get too frustrated and high handicappers will play with me and not feel intimidated.

I have a 3 ½ year old golden retriever, Gibbs, named after Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. We don’t have a fenced yard, so Gibbs gets three good walks a day, sometimes in the local forest. I also run (or should I say plod) three or four days a week, three miles or so. I used to train for and run marathons and half marathons, and sometimes I think, “I’d like to run another marathon.” Then sanity sets back in.

About Judy:

Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries (The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One) and the Marketville Mysteries (Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present). Her short stories appear in several collections.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the South Simcoe Arts Council, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario.

Find Judy’s Books:

In print and eBook at all the usual suspects, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters.Indigo, Google Play and iBooks. In audiobook on Audible, iBooks and Amazon.

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Come and be interviewed for my new 2019 Author Interview Series

2019It’s a new year and time for a new series of author interviews.

One of the features of my blog that I have enjoyed the most is my author interview series.

Over the past few years, I have posted over 200 interviews. We have learned about many authors, both traditionally and independently published. We have learned what makes them tick and what techniques have worked for them in creating and promoting their work.

whats your storyFor 2019, I’m looking to post weekly author interviews based on responses to 10 questions. To change it up a bit this year, I’m giving authors 20 questions from which they can choose 10. This will make each interview somewhat unique. These 20 questions are brand new to my blog interviews. This means, if I’ve already interviewed you, you are welcome to participate as we will learn even more about you.

If you participate in my interview series you will:

If this interests you, please contact me at

You don’t need to have a new release coming, but if you do, this can help you launch awareness of your work.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Meet Aurora Jean Alexander, Author – From Rachel Poli’s Blog

Aurora Jean Alexander | Author | Writer | Creative writing | author interview | blogging |

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Aurora Jean Alexander. I grew up in a family involved into politics and was blessed with an excellent education in several countries, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in BA. I was very lucky. I’m living by myself with three cats, working a full time job and I am a new Paranormal Romance/Fantasy author. Currently I work on a series with 13 books. My first book is close to be published.

How long have you been writing for?

I doubt I can tell you one particular time or even time frame when I started writing. I felt that’s what I wanted to do. Since I lack a talent in painting and drawing I had to do something with my creativity and decided that’s the way to do it.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Meet Victoria Zigler, Author – From Rachel Poli’s Blog

It’s my pleasure to welcome Victoria Zigler to my blog!

Victoria Zigler, Author | Author Interview |

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Victoria, but I prefer to be called Tori.  I only published under “Victoria” instead of “Tori” because I promised my Mam I would, and I try to keep my promises.

I was born and raised in the Black Mountains in Wales, in the United Kingdom.  Later, I married my Canadian husband, lived in Canada with him for a few months, returned to Wales with him for a few years, and eventually settled on the English coast.  That’s where I now live, in a flat beside the sea, with my hubby and our furkids, which currently consist of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie, a pair of chinchillas named Mollie and Maizie, and a degu named Joshua.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Meet Annette Rochelle Aben, Author – From Rachel Poli’s Blog

It’s my pleasure to welcome Annette to my blog!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Author | Interview | Blogging |

Tell us a little bit about yourself (a quick blurb of the kind of books you like to write)

I was born to be a poet. So, the majority of the books I have self-published are either pure poetry or heavily laced with poetry. As I have found self-help books to be useful in my life, I also enjoy writing books of that nature as well.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was a small child, being published in a literary magazine at the age of 14 gave me the encouragement to continue writing. Throughout my adult life, I have been lucky enough to hold many positions where writing was an integral part of the job.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring D.E. Haggerty


Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write the stories I want to write. I don’t like the idea of writing in a particular genre or for a particular audience because those genres are popular or a certain audience reads more. Sure, I like to earn money from my writing (and would LOVE to earn way more than I do now), but writing is about more than money. It’s a craft, and it has to come from the heart.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

If you want to succeed, you have to be behind yourself 100%. I think most writers doubt themselves and their writing. Of course, we do! We’re a sensitive lot – us writers. But you need to go for it if you want to succeed and not hold back because you’re insecure.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

6433752This is a difficult question. What to choose? I totally cheated and went to Goodreads to see which novels I’ve given five stars but have low overall ratings. I was shocked to see how many people didn’t enjoy The Lacuna from Barbara Kingsolver. I shouldn’t be surprised. My book club – which I forced to read the book – didn’t like it either. I loved it. The vibrancy of Mexico, intermixed with history, and an interesting story – all written by an excellent author. What’s not to love?

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Oh gosh, I can’t believe there are authors who don’t read the reviews of their books. How do they stand it? I’m way too curious. Good ones are cause for celebration. Bad reviews? If it’s a critical review, I try to learn from it. The one thing I don’t do is respond to the reviewer. That path leads to destruction (and tequila shots, but that’s another story).

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really. There are little clues here and there, but I want readers to find them. I want them to be mislead or confused about whodunit.

Do you Google yourself?

I’m starting to understand why curiosity killed the cat. I’m too curious not to google myself.

What is your favorite childhood book?

48811I don’t really know if this counts as a childhood book, but I was absolutely addicted to Nancy Drew Mysteries as a child. I loved the idea of this punky teenager running off solving mysteries with no fear (but always wearing gloves!). Man, I wish I could be her.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I probably should have paid more attention in English class. I had to play catch up with English grammar in college. I could have read more English literature as well. I don’t think my obsession with dead Russian authors has helped much with my writing.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

My murder/mysteries and romantic comedies usually take about four months to write. My historical novels take a few months longer. Although both of those estimations change based on how busy the rest of my life is. How dare life get in the way of writing? It dares. Trust me. It does.

About D.E. Haggerty:

I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances, to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Finders, Not Keepers is my thirteenth novel.

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What do you do with a diamond no one wants? You can’t keep it. Or can you?

While cleaning her ex-husband’s effects out of the attic, Terri finds an exquisite diamond pendant necklace. She’s determined to return the necklace to its proper owner, but the owner was brutally killed, a murder which remains unsolved, and her heirs want nothing to do with the diamond. Terri embarks upon a journey researching charities to which she can donate the diamond. When her research becomes dangerous, Terri contemplates solving the murder herself. Her best friend, Melanie, jumps feet first into investigating the murder, but her neighbor, Ryder, doesn’t want Terri exposed to any danger. Ryder, to Terri’s surprise, also wants to be more than neighbors with Terri. Luckily, he’s prepared to take any measure necessary to keep her safe because someone is determined to stop her inquiries.

Join Terri on her quest to find a home for the diamond, which may result in the unveiling of a murderer – if she survives long enough.

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“How are we going to solve the murder if we don’t even know where it happened?”

“We are not solving the murder! How many times do I have to explain myself? I’m only trying to honor Jessica’s last wishes by finding somewhere to donate the necklace in her memory.”

“We are totally solving this murder.”

“Did you not read the part where she was shot to death! And the police have no fricking idea what happened?”

Melanie shrugged as if she knew people who were shot to death all the time. “We’ll be fine.”

“We? We are not doing anything. I’m the one who is doing this. We are not doing anything.”

“Fine. Fine. So, Ms. Patterson, what are you going to do next, hmm?” She raised an eyebrow, crossed her arms over her chest, and leaned back in her chair.

“I’m not sure.” Terri tapped her fingers on the table. There was a long pause before she suddenly sat up straight. “Where did the obit say donations were to be sent?”

Melissa pulled the obit up on her tablet. “Westside Soup Kitchen.”

“That’s it!” She snapped her fingers. “I’ve volunteered at that soup kitchen several times. I’ll just go check it out. See if they are a good candidate for receiving the necklace.”

“You volunteered at the same soup kitchen as Jessica? Maybe you met her and don’t remember?”

“No.” Terri shook her head. “I saw a picture of her at the Collins’ house. There’s no way I would have forgotten meeting her.”

“Maybe some of the other volunteers or even the homeless people will remember Jessica. You could ask them about her.”

“Stop trying to solve the murder!”

Melanie readily agreed she wouldn’t get involved in investigating the murder, but Terri knew better than to believe her.