I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for author Judy Penz Sheluk and her new release Past & Present. This is the second book in her A Marketville Mystery series.
Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery
2nd in Series
Superior Shores Press (September 21, 2018)
Paperback: 232 pages
Digital ASIN: B07FYZ6HPF
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.
Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries (THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE and A HOLE IN ONE) and The Marketville Mysteries (SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC). Judy’s short crime fiction appears is several collections. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario. Find Judy on her website/blog at www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews and showcases the works of other authors and blogs about the writing life.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author? What things, if any, influenced that decision?
I’ve always written stories “in my head” – as far back as elementary school. I thought everyone did that. When I was about 8, I read Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) and it’s about a young woman who writes in a journal every day, and dreams of growing up to be a writer. Many moves and many years later, I still own that book: I knew one day I’d be a writer too but it wasn’t until 2002, when I took a Creative Writing Workshop, that I starting writing down the stories in my head. In 2003, I left my corporate accounting job and became a freelance writer. It was risky but I’ve never looked back. I wrote my first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, in 2012-13, received a publishing contract in 2014, and was published in 2015. I now have 4 published mystery novels and a few short stories in collections/anthologies.
With so many cozies being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd?
The Glass Dolphin series (The Hanged Man’s Noose, A Hole in One) is somewhat traditional, though there are more characters than you might be expecting in a cozy, and there are definitely no cats, crafts, or cookie recipes – I like to classify it as amateur sleuth with an edge. The Marketville Mystery series (Skeletons in the Attic, Past & Present) I’d classify as “suspenseful” cozies.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
I’m a total pantser. I’ve tried writing with an outline and it doesn’t work for me. But I do start with a basic premise and build from there. When I’m working on a project, I try to write a chapter a day, and leave each chapter with a bit of a hook, so that A) I’m eager to come back to writing the next day and B) readers want to keep reading. I tend to write short chapters, which helps with the Chapter A Day mantra!
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you do anything special to get those reviews?
I absolutely read my reviews, on Goodreads, Amazon etc. I believe if someone takes the time to read my book and then to review it, I owe it to that person to read the review, good or bad. But I don’t respond, because if you respond to the good, you should also respond to the bad, and there’s no percentage in that. Reading is subjective. I respect that not everyone will love everything that I write. But it’s absolutely wonderful to get a 5-star review. It can make my day.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Follow your dream and write the stories down that are in your head!
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)? Who designs your book covers?
They are absolutely important. Each of my books has had a different graphic artist, that’s just the way it worked out, but I love all my covers. My latest book, Past & Present, was designed by Hunter Martin. It’s my favorite cover so far – maybe because I had the most input on it. I sketched my concept and Hunter ran with it.
Please give us an insight into your main characters. What do you think makes them special?
One reviewer wrote: “Compelling characters with hidden connections and a good, old-fashioned amateur sleuth getting in over her head without the distraction of cats, spirits, or recipes makes Judy Penz Sheluk’s Glass Dolphin series one to read.” I treasure that review because it validates the sort of books I’m trying to write.
My Glass Dolphin Series features Arabella Carpenter, owner of the Glass Dolphin Antiques Shop and Emily Garland, a former freelance journalist. Arabella has a motto “Authenticity matters” and I love that about her. In fact, she’s my favorite character. Emily is a bacon-eating vegetarian, a runner and a bit more even-tempered. Arabella can be a bit irascible at times.
Marketville Mysteries features Calamity (Callie) Barnstable. In Skeletons in the Attic, city girl Callie is thrown into a situation where she’s forced to move to a house in Marketville to find out who murdered her mother 30 years before. In book 2, she stays in Marketville and opens her own business: Past & Present Investigations. Callie is smart, savvy, and has an unfortunate case of “loser radar” when it comes to men. Arabella Carpenter also makes an appearance in both books.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming an author?
That I can take the ideas inside my head and successfully put them on paper. That I can actually stand up in front of a crowd and talk about my books, either on a panel at a conference, or at a library event or PROBUS meeting. I used to be deathly afraid of public speaking, but I’ve forced myself to get over that. It wasn’t easy, but I’m okay with it now. If I was to sum it up, it would be to say that I can do a lot of things I never dreamed I’d be capable of doing.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I am also the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal, so that does take a fair bit of my time every month, but I typically put in at least 35 hours a week on writing and/or marketing of my books. Marketing, including blog posts, is part of being an author and that time has to be factored in. I tend to work 7 days a week, including holidays, though my hours vary widely. I’m definitely not a 9-5 writer. And honestly, I don’t consider writing work. I’m very lucky to be doing what I love.
What do your plans for future projects include?
So many plans! Working on the third book in the Marketville series, and have a decent start on book three of the Glass Dolphin series, plus I have an idea for a non-fiction book of essays/stories, but that requires a lot of research. I’m also researching another non-fiction book, also not mystery. I have more plans than hours in a day, but it’s a good problem to have.
What do you think the hardest part of writing is? What is the easiest?
Hardest? Trying to balance writing and marketing with life in general. Easiest? Writing when the words flow (not always the case) and that feeling of exhilaration.
What type of books do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
I read a lot – about a book a week – and I tend to veer towards mystery and suspense, with some exceptions (Sarah’s Key and All The Light We Cannot See come to mind). I love John Sandford’s Prey and Virgil Flowers series. The late Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, and so sad that there won’t be a “Z.” I enjoy a lot of UK authors. Tana French. Fiona Barton. Paula Hawkins. Those three are brilliant. And of course I’ve read everything by Agatha Christie.
What is the one thing you would like your readers to know about you?
That I appreciate it every time someone reads one of my books, whether it’s purchased or borrowed from their local library. And reviews…I so appreciate every single one.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
I love book clubs! While I can’t visit book clubs out of my area personally, I’m happy to try to set up an online chat with your club, should they select my book. And I’m happy to mail bookmarks, as well. (I will also mail to your local library, if they want them). Folks can contact me via my website: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/contact/ There’s always a way to make things work.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
September 21 – Community Bookstop – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY
September 22 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST
September 23 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
September 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 24 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
September 25 – Babs Book Bistro – RECIPE POST
September 25 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW
September 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
September 27 – Mysteries with Character – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 27 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
September 28 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
September 28 – The Montana Bookaholic – GUEST POST
September 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY
September 30 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 1 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
October 1 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 2 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW
October 2 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 3 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
October 3 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
October 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST