The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Susan Royal

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This edition of my author interview series features Susan Royal. Susan has selected 10 questions from my list of 20 to reveal to us a bit about her writing, motivation and inspiration.

Please enjoy learning more about Susan.


  • What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I tend to do a lot of writing in afternoon and early evening. After everything else is done. If I get stuck, I’ll walk away from the computer and nine times out of ten the solution comes to me.

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

It stays with you until long after you’ve finished reading the book.


  • What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty (First book I ever read from beginning to end. I was probably seven years old.)

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

I was complaining about my story to a friend in a critique group, and he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. “It’s your story. You wrote it. There’s nothing there you can’t fix.”

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

I need to know who my characters are before I can figure out what they would do in any given situation.

Blank paper with pen

Blank paper waiting for idea with mans hand and pen

  • Describe your writing space.

I have small computer armoire in my bedroom. My book covers on the wall to help me remember how far I’ve come. Window to my left so I can see the birds at the feeder. TV to my right. If it’s not turned on, I’m listening to music. A cup of coffee or glass of iced tea and maybe something to snack on. When I’m on a writing roll, I may eat a meal off the metal stool sitting next to me.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench. 3d

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

I keep a small spiral notebook with me to jot down notes whenever I get an inspiration, but I use a desktop computer. Not a laptop. They don’t work for me. My fingers hit everything but the return and I type so hard I wear the letters off the keys.

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

I’m a pantser who does some plotting. More and more these days, depending on the story.

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

My first book was time travel. My second was a fantasy. The last book I wrote was a fairy tale. The one I’m working on now is a paranormal. They all have adventure and romance.


  • What book(s) are you currently reading?

Hidden Legacy by Ilona Andrews

About Susan:

A native of Texas, Susan raised her kids in a 100-year-old farmhouse in the piney woods, and shared it with a music-loving ghost who harmonized with her son when he sang and played guitar.

She comes from a family rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories about farm life in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned about the depression from her father and what it was like to be a teenager during WWII from her mother.

Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of adventures. She’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On, and is working on book three. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy Romance/Adventure, and Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA Romantic Fantasy. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.

Want to know more? Check back from time to time for updates and a peek inside this writer’s mind to see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.

Find Susan’s Books:

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

xanders tangled web-smallXander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)


In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Book trailer

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Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)

Book trailer

Connect with Susan:



The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Tracy Kauffman

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I’m happy to feature author Tracy Kauffman in this edition of the 2019 Author Interview Series. It’s interesting to see which questions authors select from my list to reveal a bit about themselves and their work to those of you that read their interviews.

Please enjoy meeting Tracy Kauffman.


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

I believe descriptive words  relay the story so it makes the reader feel they are there instead of being told the details of the story.

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

I believe other authors are allies because they can help each other in so many ways.  Authors know how to get their work done, published, marketed etc…. It’s always good to keep your author coworkers as friends and allies.


  • What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?

Getting reviews is probably the most effective.  That way others can see what your book and writing is like.   Really any marketing technique is worthwhile so I don’t think anything is ineffective.

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

More descriptions!  Ex. color of hair, eyes, smell in the air, noise in the background, etc…

what am i supposed to do text write on paper

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

The plot, then I write in the characters.  You can always change your characters after your basic idea or concept has been established.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

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

Computer because I believe I can type faster than write with pen and paper.  I can save it strait to a file and send it easy to someone , and corrections are so much easier to edit, etc…

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

I usually have a basic concept of what I’m going to write about, then brainstorm a little on what type of elements will be added to make the story better, then I began writing.  I write on a computer so I can scroll forward and backward to edit details or add details or make sure than I put the correct name to someone, etc…

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

I’ve written in lots of different genres such as historical fiction, but focusing now on Young Adult and kids.


  • What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m reading romance at the moment: The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde.

jane austen

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

Jane Austen, because I love her writing.  If you could write something in today’s world, what would it be?  Did you realize that one day you would be so famous? What was your main reason for writing?

About Tracy:

Tracy Kauffman is a young adult and kids book author from Alabama.  She published her first book: Southern Adventures with Tate Publishing which gave her the courage to continue her writing.  She writes to inspire, edify and encourage others to fulfill their dreams.  Other works include: Richard the Lionheart, Southern Attraction, Gwendolyn’s Wish, My Boyfriend the Squire and Captain Honeybear.

Find Tracy’s Books:

captainhoneybearcoverCaptain Honey Bear-


Southern Attraction-

Connect with Tracy:

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Facebook author page:

Twitter page:

Amazon Author page:

The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Ann Barnes

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I’m pleased to feature author Ann Barnes in this edition of the 2019 Author Interview Series. Let’s take a look at the 10 questions she has selected to give us insight into what motivates and inspires her as an author.

my profile

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

Personally, I think a good story has to have well rounded characters, a plot that moves it forward and the author must hook me in from the first paragraph. If the author throws in a scene that has nothing to do with the story, he or she can pull me out of it quickly.


  • What is the first book that made you cry?

I can’t remember the very first book that made me cry, but Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury was one of the more recent books that touched me deeply. The most recent was Writers Block: A Novel by Hank Garner.

bear trap

  • What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

One of the biggest traps that aspiring writers fall into is being their own worst critic. By this I mean the battle with self-doubt. Not knowing what to write about is another, although many people say that you should write about anything that comes to mind. However, I found that for me, that doesn’t always work. Another thing that I hear or read a lot is that people claim not to have enough time during the day to write. Although this can be a reality for some, it can also serve as an excuse not to put your butt in the chair and start writing.

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

I believe that Indie authors are my allies, because I personally have gotten help and support from authors who are dear friends of mine, no matter whether we live in the same state or country, or not. Many traditionally published authors however, act as competitors. Although there is one Traditionally published author who has answered questions for me, I have commented on something that one of my favorite authors has written or asked her a question on Facebook and have gotten no response.

Image result for author hope callaghan

  • Are there any authors whose work you disliked at first and then grew to like?

There is one author who’s work grew on me. Hope Callaghan writes Christian cozy mysteries. When I started reading Garden Girls and Cruise ship mysteries twelve book box set, the first book or two seemed to drag along, but the more I read, the more I liked her work.

  • Are there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?

I can think of three authors right off the bat. The first is James Patterson. I liked his thrillers at first, because he pulled me into the story and kept me engaged until the end. However, the more I read, the more I disliked his work, because you could tell when his work was ghost written. The book either didn’t pull me in or it was too predictable. Dean Koontz is another one. Although his books are more of a horrific nature, I liked the suspense element at first, but when I tried to read one of his novels in the past few years, the content began to turn my stomach and broke my heart for the protagonist. Thrillers that gross me out, are the ones that turn me off. Stephen King is the third one on my list. I read some of his books several years ago, but the more I read, the weirder they got, with a few exceptions. The Green Mile and On Writing are the two that stand out for me as his best work.

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

That depends on the story idea I’m working on at the time. Sometimes it’s the Characters I see first, then at other times I can see the plot unfolding in my head like a movie. However, there are those times a character will show up in a dream to give me insight into the plot, so it can be six in one hand, half a dozen in the other

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

I’m not an outliner per se, except for the one nonfiction book I’m currently working on, but I will brainstorm plot ideas before I start a story. As for being a pantser, I do a bit of that initially, but I am also what’s called an onioner. What I mean is that I will go back into a story and add layers to each scene, before moving onto the next one. Although, I have done this after pantsing a few scenes into the story.

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

I don’t like to stick to one genre. Mostly what I write is Christian fiction and suspense. However, I do like to throw a little sweet romance into the mix whenever possible

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

I like reading, listening to music and podcasts, and crocheting. I also love spending time with my family.

About Ann:

Ann Harrison-Barnes is the author of four books: A Journey of Faith, A Stepping Stones Mystery, Stories Outside the Box, Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure, an Electric Eclectic Book, and Inner Vision, an Electric Eclectic Book. She has also been published in several anthologies. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional writer. She also crochets bookmarks and book covers to promote her books.

Find Ann’s Books:

Stories Outside the Box:


Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure: An Electric Eclectic Book

maggie's gravy train 3d image

Inner Vision: An Electric Eclectic book

innervisioneecover Book

A Journey of Faith: A Stepping Stones Mystery

a journey of faith ebook



Connect with Ann:

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Labels with social media icons. Concept. 3d

People can reach me via my website at the following link:

You can also connect with me on twitter:

You can also email me directly at the following address


The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Tim Cagle

header - tim cagleIt’s time for another installment of my 2019 Author Interview Series. This week, I’m happy to welcome Tim Cagle. Let’s take a look at the 10 questions that Tim chose to reveal a bit about himself.

Please enjoy getting to know him.


  • What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

I am a semi-retired medical malpractice attorney so my schedule is much lighter than it was as I have not been in a courtroom for a while.  I write constantly and continue to evaluate ideas.  I’ve been lucky because I’ve never experienced writers’ block.  Maybe that’s because I suffer from lawyer’s disease and probably like to listen to myself talk so I have no need to become blocked.

I’m also an ex-law professor and frequently get contacted by ex-students who are now lawyers to opine on cases or answer questions about admissibility of evidence.  I still get ideas for books by reviewing potential legal cases.


  • What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I have two major quirks.  First, I still keep a flashlight, pen & legal pad next to bed so I won’t wake up my wife when an idea won’t let me sleep.  I’m trying to upgrade from pen and legal pad to using my I-pad but old habits die hard.

Also, I love to eavesdrop on conversations in public places to see exactly how people interact in certain situations.  Then, I try to turn that dialogue from the way people actually speak, to the way most people wish they could speak in a pre-designated situation, because most of us like to relive situations where we wish we could have said something in a different way.

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

I believe the key is character development.  The characters need to stand out and the reader needs to care about what happens to the characters they admire while hoping the characters they detest get their just due.

bear trap

  • What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

I believe the biggest trap is trying to be and/or write like someone else. John Grisham and Scott Turow are both lawyers but I do not want to write or analyze like they do.  Our experiences seem to be vastly different and while they are great writers, I want my own distinctive style even though our legal backgrounds serve as a common denominator.

I also believe that many writers fail to do the proper research in areas unfamiliar to them.  By proper research, I mean that in addition to understanding how the mechanics of a particular undertaking work, a writer needs to know how a character would likely react to such a particular situation, and especially how a character would react if that situation did not progress as planned.  That might give a reader the insight he/she is looking for in a story.

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

I think of fellow authors as inspiration.  The best compliment I can give someone is to say after I read a passage, “I wish I would have written that!”

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

There are two pieces of advice I find particularly useful.  First, tell the story to engage the reader.  I hate it when someone says a book they just read really picked up after the first 95 pages.  To me, that’s a complete waste of 94 pages.

Second, show don’t tell what the characters, see, touch, taste, hear and feel to get the reader involved and feeling like they are immersed in the scene.  That’s also a way to develop the character arc we hear so much about.

With regard to the worst writing advice I ever got, it was to listen to and put my faith into agents and editors.  I have been represented by agents without getting a publishing deal.  When I finally went out on my own, I had two books traditionally published almost immediately.  Please do not misunderstand, agents and editors certainly have important roles and can be a great asset.  Unfortunately, like lawyers and doctors, too many of them think they are infallible and give specious advice about areas in which they have no training or experience.

I once pitched the story of two ex-football players who became law partners and had an agent huffily declare: “no football player was smart enough to go to law school, let alone two”.  I told him I would instantly notify ex-Miami Dolphin Nick Buoniconti, attorney and former CEO at U.S. Tobacco, and ex-Minnesota Viking Alan Page, a Supreme Court Justice in Minnesota.

Also, I once had an editor tell me my scene involving a lawyer and potential client was not realistic.  I told her my decades of trying cases, thousands of depositions, and numerous time-crawling-by-waiting-for-a-jury to deliver their verdict said she was vastly misinformed as well as completely off base.

Again, please do not misunderstand.  I certainly do not know everything and am willing to take advice from anyone.  All I ask is that the advisor show me precisely why my way is deficient and substantiate how they arrived at their solution.

what am i supposed to do text write on paper

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

Characters are first.  I believe that the only reason a reader cares what happens to the characters is because they stand out.  Every character is someone who reminds the reader of a person they have probably known.  That lets the reader become involved with how the characters will react   to outside forces.

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  • How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?

I believe social media is over-emphasized for book promotion.  I believe quality reviews are the best way to spread the word about a book.  Social media can be a place to experiment because it is cost-effective.  I use social media to promote my books by determining what kind of advertising gets the most results. Again, I believe it is vital to engage the reader.

I use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and to a lesser extent, Linked In.  I also think it is important  to find a niche and fill it.  For example, with regard to my book about country music, I often present puns about country songs by historical figures in the hope that the reader can identify.  I love parody country songs, like my favorite from Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill, ‘It’s Hard to Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long’, or the blockbuster from Shel Silverstein, ‘Lord, Ain’t It Hard When It Ain’t’.

Those offerings helped me create some of the song titles in my book, like ‘Your Love Was Priceless, My Lawyer Was Seven Hundred An Hour’ or ‘The Kindness of Strangers Led Me To A Week On Penicillin’.

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

I was fortunate to have two books traditionally published last year.  One is a romantic comedy:   “Whispers From The Silence”  Amazon:  the story of two songwriters who fall in love in Nashville.

The other is a medical/legal thriller:  “Unexpected Enemy”  Amazon:  the story of a woman who gets a mysterious stranger’s sperm at an infertility clinic.

One of the biggest reasons I wrote my first book about country music is that it is loosely based on the time I shut down my law practice and went to Nashville to write songs.  Unfortunately, my big break never broke and I learned I would always be a songwriter trapped in a lawyer’s body.  The other reason is that I was told it is unusual for a guy to write romance.

My second book is a product of my career representing victims with catastrophic injuries in medical malpractice, defective products or wrongful death cases.  That story is dedicated to all of those clients I was unable to help because the law or the facts were against us.

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

Music is still my main hobby. I am an ex-professional musician but have not played in public for years.  Lately, I teach guitar to my neighbor’s teenage daughters.  Naturally, there is a musical, as well as age, gap as they refer to my music as “Civil War Campfire Songs”.

I love to watch their reaction when I slip in Springsteen, Chuck Berry, John Fogerty, Sam Cooke, Temptations, Willie Nelson or Eagles songs.

Still, despite the age difference, it gives me the opportunity to show them how music changes while often staying the same.  For example, they love country singer Taylor Swift and her hit “Stay, Stay, Stay” is one of their favorites. I put together a cover of that song while alternating the lyrics from Maurice Williams and his hit song from the 1960’s “Stay”.  It was a great way to confirm my theory that music is a universal language, and it keeps being recycled through the years.

Maybe that’s the biggest reason I love country music.  Today’s country is an extension of 1950’s and 60’s rock and roll.  For example, listen to Garth Brooks’ mega-hit, “Ain’t Goin’ Down Till The Sun Comes Up” and try not to think of Chuck Berry or Don Felder and Joe Walsh of the Eagles playing lead guitar.

Music is the reason why I want my favorite song lyric from legend Leonard Cohen on my tombstone:  “Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.

About Tim:

Tim Cagle is a practicing trial attorney in the fields of Medical Malpractice, Products Liability, and Wrongful Death/Personal Injury law. He has also served as co-counsel to other trial lawyers by conducting the cross examination of adverse expert witnesses during trials.

In addition, he was a law professor and taught courses in Torts, Evidence, Medical Malpractice and Negotiations. He is admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State of Missouri, before the Federal District Court in Boston, and has been admitted pro hac vice for the trial of cases in the State of New Hampshire, the State of Rhode Island, and before the Federal District Court in the State of New Jersey.

He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Kansas State College and a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts.

His memberships have included the American Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar, Academy of Trial Attorneys, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Nashville Songwriters Association, American Legion, Boston Pacemaker Club and Sigma Chi Alumni Association. He served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army, was assigned to Military Intelligence and was honorably discharged.

After playing college football, he served as an assistant high school football coach.  He has written over three hundred and fifty songs, played professionally in groups and as a single performer and spent time in Nashville as a songwriter.  He is also the author of Whispers From The Silence, a novel based on his experiences writing songs and his career as a singer/songwriter.  It was released in June, 2017.  His second novel, Unexpected Enemy (Ultimate Revenge), a medical/legal thriller and the story of a woman who receives a mysterious stranger’s sperm at an infertility clinic, was released in December, 2017.

His biggest regret in life is that he did not spend more time concentrating on guitar riffs, lyrical hooks and finger-popping melodies, and less time learning about when to blitz if the guards pull on third and long, blistering cross-examination techniques and expert witness fee schedules.

Find Tim’s Books:

img_0044Whispers From The Silence  Amazon:  the story of two songwriters who fall in love in Nashville…

screen shot 2017-09-18 at 5.33.50 pm (4)Unexpected Enemy  Amazon:  the story of a woman who gets a mysterious stranger’s sperm at an infertility clinic…

Books Available at:

& BOOKSTORES everywhere!

Connect with Tim:

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:

bvook cover

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.

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.