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.

Labels with social media icons. Concept.Connect with Judy:









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.