I’m pleased to have author Judy Penz Sheluk from Alliston, Ontario, Canada here to speak about her writing and new release, Past and Present, a Marketville Mystery.
Welcome, Judy. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write
My first short story, “Sylvia’s World,” was published in the Spring 2004 issue of THEMA, a New Orleans-based literary journal. My first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery (#1) was published by Barking Rain Press in July 2015. The sequel, A Hole In One, was published in March 2018. My second novel, Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery (#1), was first published by Imajin Books in August 2016, and re-released by Barking Rain Press in November 2017. The sequel, Past & Present, is being published on September 21, 2018 by Superior Shores Press, which is my own publishing imprint, established earlier this year. I also have two short story collections (Unhappy Endings and Live Free or Tri) and a few stories published in anthologies. Three of my books (Noose, Skeletons, Live Free) are also available in audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
Tell us a little bit about your books — what genre you write, if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.
With the exception of my three short stories (literary fiction) published by THEMA, I’m mystery/suspense all the way. As noted earlier, Past & Present will be out today, September 21st. It’s currently on pre-order in trade paperback and at a special introductory price of $2.99 on Kindle. http://authl.it/afj.
I’m currently working on book 3 on both my series (Glass Dolphin and Marketville).
That sounds wonderful. Good luck to you.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
I have a lot of ideas. I’d like to put together an anthology of mystery stories under the Superior Shores Press umbrella and I’m now in the planning stages for that. I’ve started researching a non-fiction novel (not a mystery). I have a rough outline for a novella prequel for Marketville, and another rough outline for a standalone suspense. How am I going to reach those goals? Hard work. The harder I work, the luckier I get.
I love your positive thinking.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
My mysteries don’t contain overt violence, sex or bad language so they can be read by any age. They can be classed as “cozy” but there are no cats, crafts, or cookie recipes. I like to categorize them as “amateur sleuth with an edge.”
Interesting. There are so many subgenres of mysteries including cozies.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Don’t give up. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was turned down 61 times and it’s brilliant. Hire a professional editor – developmental and copy. Your English teacher, best friend, spouse, writing group etc. are all great resources, but they cannot replace a professional. Consider the amount spent an investment in yourself – much like a college course. Accept constructive criticism and learn from it. Write every day, even if you only have 15 minutes to do it.
Excellent advice. It saddens me to think of all those writers who gave up and had so much to offer readers.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
I’d been a freelance writer/editor for 10 years when I started shopping around The Hanged Man’s Noose. I thought that my reputation, especially my role as Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal, would help. It didn’t. But I didn’t give up, and Barking Rain offered me a contract in 2014. I’d had about 18 rejections before that. It’s a humbling business.
That it is.
Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.
Absolutely. My first Creative Writing Workshop led me to writing the short story in THEMA and I’ve taken a few Creative Writing workshops early on. I also have a Creative Writing Certificate from Winghill Writing School (2003), and a Fiction Writing Certificate from Gotham Writers (2013).
I’m sure you’ve benefitted from all of those.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
I’m a passionate, if poor, golfer, and belong to two ladies leagues. Of course, our season is short – May to October. I used to be an avid runner, but now I’m more of a distance walker, though I still run 3 miles a couple days a week. I love to read and my goal is 40+ books this year. Reading is the best teacher.
I agree. As a librarian, I have my choice of books which is like being a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, working full time and writing, I can’t read as much as I’d like to.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I love just sitting down and writing, letting the words flow and surprise me. I don’t love marketing but it’s part of it. The toughest challenge is finding the time to do everything I want and need to do. It’s a question of balance.
That’s so true. I also love to see where my characters lead me in my books. As for marketing, most writers find it a challenge and have difficulty fitting it into their tight schedules
Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.
Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…
It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?
Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.
It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.
Past & Present is available for pre-order in trade paperback and at a special introductory price of $2.99 on Kindle. http://authl.it/afj. Publication date Sept. 21, 2018.
Thanks so much for the interview, Judy, and best wishes on your new release and future books.