MICHELLE CORBIER – Medical Doctor / Author / Publisher

Born in Illinois, as a military dependent, Michelle moved between San Diego, California, and Charleston, South Carolina. She enrolled at the University of California Santa Cruz before attending Michigan State University, where she completed a Pediatric residency program. After over twenty years in clinical medicine, Michelle now works as a medical consultant.

As a member of Crime Writers of Color, Sisters in Crime, and Capitol Crimes, her writing interests cover many genres—mystery, paranormal, and thrillers. If not writing, you can find her outside gardening or bicycling.

Murder in Gemini – When not practicing medicine, Dr. Myaisha Douglas writes mysteries. But murder intervenes when the sister of a friend suddenly dies. Myaisha suspects murder. Her writing group investigates the homicide, hoping to publish a true crime story. The investigation becomes deadly when Myaisha uncovers an important secret behind a necklace.

I write mystery, thrillers, suspense, and fantasy stories. The location varies, but I prefer to write at a desk. Long term, it protects my back. Anyone considering a long-term career in writing should use supportive equipment to protect their musculoskeletal health. Carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, and back pain cause serious discomfort.

A window is necessary for my writing. It allows my mind to wander and stimulates creativity. I write piecemeal as ideas arise, primarily on weekends and evenings. Once I get in a groove, I can’t be distracted. It’s not uncommon for me to write for ten to twelve hours straight. My routine is unscheduled and directed by inspiration. Breaks never last over two weeks.

Editing is challenging—not because I don’t like it. I prefer editing to composing an original manuscript. The first step in my process is what I call free writing. Whatever comes to mind goes on the page. After I finish the WIP, I go back and construct a cohesive narrative. The critique group receives the manuscript. I’ll work on the WIP and send it to my developmental editor. Once the editor comments, I review the manuscript again and discuss it with my critique partners. I use ARCs to get feedback and complete another comprehensive review before sending it to the copyeditor. The proofreader is the final step before publishing. Currently, I am working on a standalone suspense thriller.

Before I decided to publish, I joined Capitol Crimes, a chapter of Sisters in Crimes. Serving on the educational committee for SIC gave me insight into the publishing business that otherwise would have required years of experience. I also found my critique group through Capitol Crimes. Crime Writers of Color brought me a support group and resources important to any author.

I write stories I want to read. Therefore, my protagonists are carefully designed—no matter how flawed. As a physician, I work with people. While I never base a character on a specific person, they provide ideas about how characters behave—mannerisms and colloquialisms.

The plan is to continue writing good stories with enduring characters. My characters could be your friend or neighbor. If the stories make you smile, cry, or laugh, I’m satisfied. Books should evoke emotions.

Last year, I started a publishing business and intend to invest time and effort into its success. Longevity is key for the writing career I desire. Publishing has taught me valuable skills and introduced me to inspiring people. I’m enjoying the journey.

I belong to Capitol Crimes, Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Color.




  1. Michael A. Black

    Interesting blog, Michelle. i’m glad you’re taking care of your back by writing at a desk. I assume you use a computer, which is a good thing considering nobody can read a doctor’s handwriting. 😉 (Pardon the bad joke, but I couldn’t resist.) You’ve now joined the annals of other writer/physicians like Arthur Conan Doyle and Michael Crichton. I wish you much success. Good luck.

    • Michelle

      Thank you, Michael. Pun appreciated. Happy writing, and reading.


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SALLY HANDLEY – South Carolina Author of Cozys & Suspense

Current Secretary and Past President of the Upstate SC Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Sally Handley is the author of the Holly and Ivy cozy mystery series and the stand-alone suspense novel, Stop the Threat. Additionally, she writes a series on the new Kindle Vella platform entitled The Adventures of Trixie, written from her faithful companion’s point of view. Finally, Sally writes an occasional blog entitled “On Writing, Reading and Retirement” at www.sallyhandley.com. Also a member of PSWA, she is currently busy writing the sixth book in her cozy series entitled The Toxic Blooms Mystery

On Genre – I consider myself primarily a cozy mystery writer. That is the genre I love to read, so it was just a natural choice for me when I started to write. But after I attended a local Citizens’ Police Academy, I was motivated to write a suspense novel based on a discussion we had with the School Resource Officer. The question of arming teachers came up. I asked myself, “What might really happen if we did that?” And that question led me to write my first suspense novel.

On Writing Process – So my writing process is not very complex. Once I get an idea, I mull it around in my head for a bit, but then I just sit down at my kitchen island and start typing. For me, the story evolves based on the things the characters say and do. When I get to a point where I’m unsure about what comes next, I take a legal pad and pen, and a big mug of coffee over to the couch and plot. I ask a bunch of what-ifs and consider where the story might go depending on the scenarios I consider. That usually gets me back to work. Admittedly, it sometimes takes more than one mug of coffee.

On Characters – Next to plotting, character development, to me, is really the key to engaging the reader. In writing a series, the challenge is creating characters your readers enjoy spending time with so they’ll want to continue reading the series. In Stop the Threat, I had a huge cast of characters ranging from School Board Members to teachers to students and their parents. The challenge there was creating a cast of intriguing characters with whom the reader could identify.

You ask if my characters ever disappoint me. Never. But they do surprise me. I’m better at writing dialogue than description, so oftentimes, my characters will say something, and how another character reacts can be rather unpredictable, taking the story in a whole new direction.

On Association Membership – When I moved to South Carolina, one of the first things I did was join the Upstate SC Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The first person I met was Judy Buch, another cozy mystery writer. We hit it off and formed our own critique group, which now includes fellow authors Wayne Cameron and Cindy Blackburn. They are my most trusted and treasured resource. Because writing is mostly a lonely endeavor, having like-minded partners to read and assess your work is invaluable. And, since all writers are subject to bouts of self-doubt, it’s great to have folks cheer you up and keep you from succumbing to the depths of discouragement. Also, I recently joined the Public Safety Writers Association and have already gotten answers to questions about how police would handle a certain situation from author Michael A. Black. My advice to any writer is join a writer’s group. You won’t regret it.

On Research – I’m not a traditional researcher, but I am frequently amazed at how the information I sometimes didn’t even know I needed just comes to me. My cozy mystery sleuths, Holly and Ivy, are look-alike sisters who like to garden. Their knowledge of plants helps them solve crimes. A few years ago, I took a day trip to an arboretum in North Carolina. Lo and behold, they had an exhibit entitled Wicked Plants, based on a book of the same title by Amy Stewart. That book helped me select the perfect poison in book 4 of my series.

My favorite research story happened very recently. I attended a wedding in New Jersey last November and stayed at a hotel in Morristown. They just happened to be hosting a Goth convention at the hotel the same weekend. Amazingly, in the book I’m currently writing, I have a Goth character. I can’t really say why I chose a Goth character. I just sort of pictured her when I was writing. Anyway, it occurred to me that I really didn’t know very much about Goth culture. So, I introduced myself to a guy on the elevator, explained what I was doing, and asked if he’d be willing to talk to me. Ever so graciously, he invited me to join him and some friends he was meeting in the lobby. I spent about an hour with them. I learned a lot. Talk about serendipity!

I have to say that Stop the Threat involved more research than my cozy mysteries require. I interviewed the School Resource Officer and did lots of online research about guns and gun training. I also read everything I could about schools who had armed their teachers. My critique group and my book club friends were wonderful in forwarding any articles they came across on the topic – another reason to be part of a group. (Wish I had known about PSWA back then.)

The book I’m working on now involves GMOs, and my working title is The Toxic Blooms Mystery. When I began writing this book, I realized, to my horror, that a basic idea that I had about GMOs was erroneous. I knew I had to step back and do some serious research. Then I remembered a young neighbor of mine, who once did some clerical work for me when I was a marketing consultant. She’s now a biology teacher, so I contacted her. We scheduled a Zoom call, and within an hour, she helped me develop a basic plotline for the book. She also agreed to be a beta reader when I’ve finished my first draft.

So, reflecting back on what I’ve written here, I realize there’s a well-known adage that ties it all together –“it’s not what you know, but who you know.” For me, associates, topic experts, and beta readers are the best resources a writer can have.

Where to find me:
• Website: www.sallyhandley.com
• Blog: https://www.sallyhandley.com/blog/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.handley1/
• Linked-in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyhandleyinc/
• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16850782.Sally_Handley
• Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sally-handley

1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Black

    Good interview, Sally and thanks for mentioning me and the PSWA. I read Stop the Threat several months ago and it literally blew me away. (Pardon the pun.) Sally is one of those rare authors who can handle complex and often controversial subjects with both grace and skill. I haven’t gotten the chance to read her cozy series, but I have it on my kindle and I’m looking forward to it. Check our her books. You won’t regret it.


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SUSAN MANGIERO, Ph.D., CFA, and Certified Fraud Examiner – Fraud and Fiction Writer

Susan Mangiero is a newly minted MFA in Professional and Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University. She is writing her first cozy mystery book about a financial advisor who disappears with his clients’ retirement money. Susan is the author of a seminal financial risk management book, half a dozen book chapters, and over fifty articles published in leading magazines and newspapers. Her award-winning investment blog, read by 1.4 million viewers, was a commonsense source of information about important economic issues. A big believer in positive messaging, Susan donated hundreds of copies of her book about kindness to a variety of non-profits. Susan’s insights about fraud and fiction draw from her experiences as a Wall Street trader, testifying investment expert, university professor, and avid reader. Susan is a member of the Connecticut chapter of Sisters in Crime.


Why do you write about trust? The topic of trust is important. We shape our behavior according to the level of trust we have in someone. We buy a book when we trust the writer to entertain or inform us. We donate our money to organizations we think will use it for charitable purposes. We transact with companies we believe will deliver quality products and services. We elect leaders we think will act in our best interests. Trust, including a belief in ourselves, is integral to nearly every decision we make. Broken trust is hard to repair. In real-life, misplaced trust can have disastrous consequences. In fiction, misplaced trust makes for thrilling stories. Agatha Christie quipped, “Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.” Stephen King said, “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.” William Shakespeare said, “Love all, trust a few.”

What are your observations about the impact of fraud? When it exists (and not every fraud allegation equates to actual fraud), fraud creates victims. The fallout from crimes of fraud is heartbreaking for those who had nothing to do with breaking the law. I remember working on a financial reporting matter late at night with a team of accountants and other economists. As I made my way to the break room, I passed rows of unlit, empty desks adorned with family pictures. I feared innocent employees would lose their jobs when news of the fraud became public, and the company lost sales as a result. In another matter, I had to read dozens of victim statements, each describing the loss of savings, the loss of homes, and the loss of businesses due to the actions of the convicted swindler. Another fraud case had me reviewing documents about the significant loss of pension monies for people who had already retired. The result was a lowering of benefits for people on a fixed income. The face of fraud is human.

Is there a fraud personality? The answer is likely yes, but I leave the official diagnosis to psychologists. (My Ph.D. is in finance with a minor in math.) Based on my anecdotal experience, I characterize fraudsters as lacking empathy for others and holding themselves in high regard. You would be correct to think of fraudsters as narcissists. They rationalize their fraud as justifiable. They are risk-takers who are in denial about the adverse impact of their actions on others. Fraudsters typically start small. They boldly cheat on a larger scale if not caught early on. Fraudsters do not wear a sign that flashes, “Beware.” To the contrary, fraudsters are often leaders with positions of authority and influence. They exploit the trust placed in them by others. The best way to prevent fraud is to implement rigid controls that make it hard for someone to steal. 

Do fraudsters make memorable literary villains? Yes and no. Deception drives the plot of a well-written mystery book. To the extent that fraud is a kind of deception, a fictional swindler is a natural villain, especially if their hoax seriously injures a likable protagonist. We feel great disdain for the arrogant insurance executives in The Rainmaker by John Grisham and pathos for Rudy, the leukemia victim who died due to the executives’ corrupt denials to pay for his treatment. In the film titled Sea Change, based on a novel by Robert B. Parker, we sympathize with the character who fraudulently assumed her dead sister’s identity and pocketed money stolen from the bank that employed her sister. We do not blame her since she uses the ill-gotten gains to care for her ailing mother. We barely acknowledge the bank’s faceless depositors and borrowers even though they are victims of her fraud.

Do fraudsters make memorable fictional villains? Yes and no. A villainous fraudster is not always the figment of someone’s imagination. Nonfiction bookshelves are replete with accounts of con artists such as Bernie Madoff, Elizabeth Holmes, and Charles Ponzi. Deception drives the Top of Form Bottom of Form plot of any good mystery book. To the extent that fraud is a kind of deception, a fictional swindler is a natural villain, especially if their hoax seriously injures a likable protagonist. We experience great disdain for the arrogant insurance executives in The Rainmaker by John Grisham and pathos for Rudy, the leukemia victim who died as of result of their corrupt denials to pay for his treatment. In the film titled Sea Change, based on a novel by Robert B. Parker, police chief Jesse Stone looks the other way when he discovers that a kindly woman fraudulently assumed her dead sister’s identity and pocketed money stolen from the bank that employed her sister, to help her ailing mother. We interpret Jesse Stone’s decision as an act of compassion even though the bank’s loss injures depositors and borrowers.

What are your recommendations for writing about fictional fraudsters? Focus on the emotional complexity of both the protagonist and the trickster. What are the circumstances that led the fraudster to act? Why does the main character trust the fraudster? How does the protagonist deal with the fraud once discovered? Is the fraudster vilified? Is the fraudster seeking redemption? Avoid technical jargon and onerous sub-plots. Fraudulent schemes typically take the form of complex business arrangements. The fraudster’s goal is to try to avoid detection. It is unrealistic to expect a lay reader to closely follow the intricacies of a complicated hoax, nor is it desired. If we must constantly look up the meaning of legal or financial terms or try to decipher a Rubik’s Cube of financial finagling, we might opt for a story by another author. 

Reading Suggestions:

Fraud Awareness & Prevention, SAS Institute Inc.
Fraud Prevention Checklist, Bank of America
Occupational Fraud 2022: A Report to the Nations, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
Susan Mangiero’s Social Media and Website Links:
Susan Mangiero Profile – LinkedIn
Susan Mangiero Account – Twitter
Susan Mangiero – Website


  1. Michael A. Black

    Good advice, Susan. I’m glad there are people like you who know how to spot and deal with those unscrupulous crooks. M favorite author, John D. MacDonald frequently used fraud themes in his books. I’m glad you’re reaching more people by writing your novel. Good luck with it.


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LAUREL S. PETERSON – Professor of English / Poet Laureate


Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College. She has two poetry chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds and Talking to the Mirror, and two full-length collections, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? and Daughter of Sky. She has written two mystery novels Shadow Notes and The Fallen. She served as the town of Norwalk, Connecticut’s Poet Laureate from April 2016 – April 2019.

The Fallen –  Clara Montague is dreaming again, and her dreams always lead to trouble. She survives a drive-by shooting that kills a cop but complicates her relationship with police chief Kyle DuPont. The hidden motives behind the shooting lead Kyle and Clara to New Orleans. Will Clara’s visions be enough to keep them safe from Kyle’s past?

Do you write in more than one genre? In addition to writing mysteries, I am a poet with four published books of poetry and two more looking for homes. I’m also working on a multi-genre work of poems and photographs. I tried including essays, but my writing group said they were just poems with too many words! The collection is about grief, so it may never find a home, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding images that would extend my thinking rather than illustrate it.

I started taking photography classes online during the pandemic when, as a community college professor, I spent all my time staring at a screen, grading papers, and responding to frantic student emails. I needed something that wasn’t more words, and I had always wanted to learn to take better pictures. I signed up through a local gallery for a workshop with Thom Williams https://www.instagram.com/tmwilliamsphotography/, a fabulous and patient teacher.

What fascinates me about multi-genre writing is how it fragments forms, which so reflects modern existence. How can writers use that rupture and sense of existential threat to reflect something profound about the human experience? All writers try to do that on some level, but I like to try things that I’m not yet sure I can do.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Writing. Not funny? During the pandemic, a friend asked if I did yoga. Yes, I said, but I’m having a hard time just getting to the mat. Many people I knew in graduate school enrolled to give themselves deadlines for writing. It’s an expensive way to create self-discipline, but hey. If I focus on a project, it’s easier. I recently got involved with Writing the Land, https://www.writingtheland.org/, which pairs a writer with a land trust and asks them to write three poems about it during a one-year period. Being part of the project means I get to go on long walks in quiet places, which feels healing.

What are you currently working on? In addition to the multi-genre work I describe above, I’m also revising an old mystery manuscript. This will require setting and character changes. The original book was located partly in Atlantic City, but since Kyle DuPont is a local police chief, I need to shift the setting to Connecticut. Part of the story will now occur on one of Connecticut’s Native American reservations. It’s fun to see how malleable story can be.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? I base many of my characters on real people. Isn’t writing mysteries at least partly about revenge?

In case you’re wondering about people recognizing themselves, I rely on the Anne Lamott idea that people will either always see themselves or will never see themselves in your work, whether they are there or not. Of course, no characterization is exact. That would be cruel.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Half and half. I write about 80 or 90 pages, and then I get stuck and need to outline the rest so I know where I’m going. That first spurt motivates me because it’s the fun part, where I’m fleshing out the story and trying to create energy in the characters and setting. After that, writing feels more like a puzzle, ensuring I have all the storylines active and intertwined successfully, making sure the characters are developing. There’s a lot of double-checking and rereading while moving forward in smaller increments.

Do you have any advice for new writers? If there’s anything else you can do with your life and still have a great time, do it. Writing eats at you and you can never retire. You always want more from it. (I just want to be published; ok, now I’m published but I want to be in a better publication; Ok, I’ve got a story out, but now I want a novel; Ok, I’ve got a novel out, now I want two or sixteen novels; Ok, I’m published, but now I want to make money at it; Ok, I’ve made a little money, but I want an Edgar…) Do you see? It’s a terrible idea to take up writing. Save yourself.

How do our readers contact you?

You can reach me at my website, www.laurelpeterson.com,
Instagram or Twitter (both @laurelwriter49)
All my books are available at Amazon or on Bookshop

1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Black

    Good interview, Laurel. It’s interesting that you’ve been able to combine the different forms (poetry and novel writing) to produce so much work. I commend you on your accomplishments. Best of luck to you. I’ll keep an eye out for your books.


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KAREN A. PHILLIPS – Author / Boxer / Trailer Fan

Karen A. Phillips enjoys writing mysteries, MG/YA fantasy, and poetry. She resides in northern California and is a proud member of Sisters In Crime and Willamette Writers.. . . and yes, she does take boxing lessons.

Thank you for having me on your blog, George. I’m excited to be here!


A DEADLY COMBO What do boxing and vintage trailers have in common? Meet Raquel (AKA Rocky) Nelson, a retired single woman with an attitude and love for boxing.

Sisters Rocky and Bridget enjoy each other’s company at a vintage trailer fest until they stumble over a corpse. The dead guy is none other than the local trailer restorer Bridget was overheard threatening to kill. Mounting evidence leads police to focus on Bridget as a person of interest. Desperate to prove her sister innocent of murder, Rocky dons her deerstalker cap and goes sleuthing until she runs into police detective Thompson who warns her off his case in no uncertain terms. But Rocky is tenacious, if not stubborn. Combined with a 78-year-old father who becomes her sidekick, Rocky uses her courage and skills learned in boxing lessons to protect her family and keep from becoming the killer’s next victim.

My debut mystery is A DEADLY COMBO – a blend of traditional and cozy genres. The inspiration for my story came from attending my first vintage trailer fest at a winery. About fifteen trailers in all colors and styles were spread out over a carpet of green grass. The owners, known as “trailerites,” invited the public inside their vintage trailers. They loved to talk about how they found their trailer (typically abandoned in a field somewhere) and how they restored the trailer to its former glory. Stepping into each trailer was like stepping back in time. It was so much fun, and then the thought occurred to me, “Wouldn’t this be a great place to find a dead body?” And thus, A DEADLY COMBO was born!

I must admit I caught the vintage trailer bug and did purchase my own trailer. I needed to have first-hand knowledge for my book, right? I bought what I could afford, a square Aristocrat Starliner. However, I quickly learned how much of a money pit owning a vintage trailer can be. Alas, I sold my trailer after a couple of years. If I ever get rich, I will buy an Airstream Bambi. The Airstream is a classic, and the Bambi is a compact model, so easier to haul.

The title of my book, A DEADLY COMBO, is a shorter version of A Deadly Combination. The title hints at how the victim dies and is a nod to the sport of boxing. My protagonist takes boxing lessons. I thought it would be a unique hobby for an amateur sleuth and would come in handy in several ways. Believe it or not, I take boxing lessons. The trainer in my story is patterned after my own coach. Boxing is a great way to stay in shape, and I highly recommend it.

Have you ever been to a vintage trailer fest or owned a vintage trailer? Have you ever taken boxing lessons?

Karen is a member of:

California Writers Club
Sisters in Crime
Willamette Writers

Visit her at https://karenaphillips.com/
Facebook: KarenAPhillips/Author
Instagram: kannphillips
Twitter: @phillips_writes


  1. Ana manwaring

    I must talk to you about trailer
    Life. I’m not ready for boxing, but I’m sure ready to hit the road! I look forward to the book. Congratulations Karen. I love the cover!

  2. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Karen, you show us all the magic of creativity, mixing what we know with what we imagine. CONGRATULATIONS!
    And George, you continue to bring unique and fun writers to your blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. Donnell Ann Bell

    So original, Karen! I’m buying your book today! Love the ideas all around. An amateur sleuth boxer along with her father sidekick, and those refurbished trailers, you’ve shot fresh out of the box! Congrats!

  4. Marie Sutro

    An airstream sounds awesome. Loved Deadly Combo!

  5. Violet Moore

    Karen, my spouse and I owned a vintage trailer so long ago that I forgot the manufacturer. Then we switched to an older Class C motorhome. A money sucker for sure. But things got worse after we moved up to a Class A. Now that I’m alone, no more trailer travels.

    • Karen A Phillips

      Hi Michelle – if you do take boxing lessons, let me know if you enjoy the workout as much as I do!

  6. Michael A. Black

    Hey, Karen, you certainly have come up with a winning combination-boxing and mystery. Your novel sounds like a real hoot. Keep on punching and best of luck with your writing.

    • Karen A Phillips

      Thank you, Michael. I hope you read the story. I’m honored to say I’m getting great reviews!

  7. Chris DREITH

    A Deadly Combo is such a fun read! It makes me almost want to take boxing lessons. Almost.

    • Karen A Phillips

      Ha ha! Chris Dreith, I assure you, if you take boxing lessons you will enjoy it. Maybe too much!


    A Deadly Combo is a fantastic read. It’s hard to believe that it’s Karen’s debut novel. Rocky Nelson is an intriguing and relatable protagonist and her father is a real kick. The twists and turns of Rocky’s investigation kept me engrossed until the knockout ending.

    • Karen A Phillips

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Cindy!

  9. Karen A Phillips

    Hi George – thank you so much for having me on your blog! I appreciate all you do in support of writers.


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GAIL HULNICK – From Broadcast Journalist to Novelist

Gail Hulnick is a former broadcast journalist who channeled her television and radio experience into her first novel, The Lion’s Share of the Air Time. It is a mystery thriller about a celebrity reporter who falls from his high-rise apartment balcony and became Book 1 of the Media Mysteries series.

Since then, she’s written and published five other novels, five travel books, two how-to books, and a collection of short stories. She can’t say where she lives right now, because she is in the middle of moving from Florida to the Pacific Northwest.

Tell us about your new book. Kangaroo Court Along the rugged coast of central California, the intimate life of star quarterback Jesse Tuvornay has come into the crosshairs. At the gym, shopping, driving around town, or on a date with his supermodel girlfriend—his every move is watched, documented, and posted. But this isn’t publicity—it’s a violation. And the scandal is spreading faster than a virus. Kangaroo Court was published in paperback, Ebook, and audiobook in March 2023.

What are you currently working on? I am writing Book 5 of the Media Mysteries, a story set in the New York book publishing world and tentatively titled Monkey Me Monkey You.

What else is in this series? Book 2, A Bird in the Sand, is set in Savannah, Georgia, and it’s about movie-making. It won a Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. Book 3, Sleeping Dogs Lie, tells a story that arises from a newspaper column and was honored with an RPLA in 2022. The newest one, Book 4, is Kangaroo Court, about character assassination on social media. These five novels are darker than the ones in my other mystery series, Resorting. The danger is real, and the stakes are higher. In the Resorting books, the antagonists are not quite so threatening, although they do stir up some dust that needs settling. I’ve done Resorting to Murder, Resorting to Larceny, and Resorting to Fraud, plus a collection of short stories in that one.

Where do you find titles and character names? The titles jump into my head at random. The character names don’t come as easily. I’ve found that the more books I write and the more characters I create, the farther afield I have to reach to find names I haven’t used before. For me, this is an area for overthinking, sometimes, too. I struggled for a while and then discovered a trick while watching the credits roll after a movie. I jot down first names and last names, then mix them up. I often get an emotional reaction to those names that I don’t get when I just try to dream them up. I then double-check them all with an online search and an imdb search ( https://www.imdb.com/ )to ensure I haven’t chosen the name of a public figure that my readers might know. I want them to come to my character without any preconceived reactions because of associations they might have with a name.

Do you outline or discovery write? I tried “pantsing” at first, and it took me a long time to finish a draft. Twelve years. I am trying to pick up the pace these days, and I’ve found that time spent at the beginning, telling my story and sketching it in an outline, helps me move quickly through the stages of getting the scenes down and working with the paragraphs and sentences.

What kind of research do you do? I love the research stage and will happily interrupt myself to go down a rabbit hole for hours or days. I try to be as accurate as possible about the dates when something happened or changed and the methods people use to do something in real life. I also enjoy learning about something new and often collect far too many details than I need for the story.

Advice for new writers? Take yourself on an “artist date,” as Julia Cameron recommends in her outstanding book The Artist’s Way. Fill the creative well regularly by viewing art, listening to music, walking in an amazing natural setting, or reading a new book. Read something written with a skill level far beyond yours so that even if you’ve written and published dozens or hundreds of books, you continue to learn and develop.

How do our readers contact you? I would love to have you join my VIP Reader’s Group. You can sign up at my writer’s or publisher’s websites.

My writer website is http://www.gailhulnick.com/

I also run a publisher website at http://www.windwordgroup.com/, where I post about my fiction, nonfiction, and podcast, The Brainwave.

You can contact me at either one. I am on Instagram using my publisher name https://www.instagram.com/windwordpandm/

I am on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/windwordgroup/ and Author Gail Hulnick.


  1. Michael A. Black

    Excellent advice on writing, Gail. You certainly have devised a process that obviously works very well for you. Best of luck on your new one.

    • Gail Hulnick

      Thank you, Michael! I am now almost finished Book 5 in my Resorting series, titled Resorting to Arson. Hoping to have it out at the end of May.

  2. Karen A Phillips

    Interesting to mix up names from movie credits as a source for story character names. And I especially love, “continue to learn and develop.”

    • Gail Hulnick

      Thanks, Karen! I’m one of the people who sits through the credits at the end of a movie … the music usually makes it worthwhile, too! And ‘learn and develop’ — there’s a wonderful line in a John Mellencamp song that goes ” we were young and we were improving”… I like to substitute the word ‘old’, sometimes.


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