Showing posts with label Judy Penz Sheluk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judy Penz Sheluk. Show all posts

18 June 2024

Compiling a Multi-Author Collection

I am glad to welcome guest author Judy Penz Sheluk today, who is talking about anthologies. Take it away, Judy!

— Barb Goffman

Compiling a Multi-Author Collection

by Judy Penz Sheluk 

Mega thanks to Barb Goffman, who was kind enough to relinquish her regular spot here so that I could celebrate the Release Day of Larceny & Last Chances: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense. As Barb will tell you, putting together an anthology is a lot more complicated than randomly arranging a few stories together, though there is a bit of that. And while I can’t speak for Barb or other anthology editors, I thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at how this editor compiles a multi-author collection. Ready?  

Step 1: Send out the Call for Submissions. I always allow 90 days. This time around, I also capped entries at 80 in the hope that authors would be less inclined to wait until the eleventh hour of the 90th day to submit.  

Step 2: Using a spreadsheet, I log every submission as it’s received with the author’s name, pen name, email address, story title, word count, and state/province/country. I ask for state/province/country merely out of curiosity. In the case of Larceny & Last Chances, there were submissions representing 29 states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada. At this point, I also notify the author that their submission has been received. 

Step 3: I read the stories in batches of two or three, usually in the same week they are received. On my spreadsheet, I’ll include a brief comment to remind me what the story is about. I also keep a column of No or Long List—these are the “maybes”I can’t really make a final selection until all the stories are received and read. 

Step 4: Authors on the No list are notified by email, with a short note explaining why their story is not a fit, e.g., didn’t adequately fit the theme of larceny AND last chances (that, by the way, is the #1 reason a story is rejected). I do this at the time the decision is made so the author can find another home for their story. Authors on the Long List are also notified by email, just letting them know they’re still in the running. In addition to being an editor, I’m also an author. I know what waiting for word feels like. 

Step 5: After all submissions have been read, it’s time to reread the Maybes and start culling down the list. For Larceny & Last Chances, there were 38 on the long list. At this stage, I sent the stories to Andrea Adair-Tippins, a librarian at the Whitby Public Library, for a much-appreciated second opinion. Compare notes. 

Step 6: Send out final rejections or acceptances. Prepare contracts and get them signed. Spread the word. At the same time, I’m working with Hunter Martin, the graphic artist I commission for all my cover art.  

Step 7: Sort the story order. Back to the spreadsheet, alternating by narrator (male/female/young/old) and story length. 

Step 8: Format the book for digital and print (I use Vellum, which I love). Send out ARCs for blurbs/advance reviews (arranged well in advance). 

Step 9: Get the book up on pre-order and schedule promotional opportunities (like this post). 

Step 10: Celebrate Release Day. Whew! Who knew 230 days could fly by so quickly?   

About Larceny & Last Chances: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense 

Sometimes it’s about doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s about getting even. Sometimes it’s about taking what you think you deserve. And sometimes, it’s your last, best, chance. Edited by Judy Penz Sheluk and featuring stories by Christina Boufis, John Bukowski, Brenda Chapman, Susan Daly, Wil A. Emerson, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, Molly Wills Fraser, Gina X. Grant, Karen Grose, Wendy Harrison, Julie Hastrup, Larry M. Keeton, Charlie Kondek, Edward Lodi, Bethany Maines, Gregory Meece, Cate Moyle, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Kevin R. Tipple, and Robert Weibezahl. Find it at: 

About the editor: Judy Penz Sheluk is a former journalist and magazine editor and the bestselling author of two mystery series, several short stories, and two books on publishing. She is also the publisher and editor of four Superior Shores Anthologies. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served as Chair. Find out more at

06 May 2023

Guest Post: Authors Helping Authors

It's been a year and a half since my friend Judy Penz Sheluk posted here at SleuthSayers, to talk about the third book in her Superior Shores Anthology series. I remember that post well--here's a link--and I also recall the enthusiastic response she received from our readers. Judy's been a busy lady since then, with all kinds of writing projects, and today I'm pleased to welcome her once more as a guest columnist. I hope you'll again join me in making her feel at home.

--John Floyd

Authors Helping Authors

by Judy Penz Sheluk

My visit on SleuthSayers today is thanks to John Floyd, who graciously gave up his regular spot so I could talk about my latest book. I've only met John once, at Bouchercon Raleigh in October 2015. It was at a sandwich/diner kind of place, where the food was fast but decent, and members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, of which we are both members, had arranged to meet for lunch.

I was a debut author in 2015, with two published short mystery stories (2014) and a cozy mystery that had released that July, and to say I was intimidated to be in the presence of so many talented storytellers would be the understatement of the year, and yet all I experienced was kindness. I recall John telling me he worked at IBM and me telling him my good friend and running buddy also worked at IBM, albeit in Toronto. A minor connection, but a connection, nonetheless. And I remember the late B. K. Stevens inviting me to post on her blog. I couldn't believe it. The B. K. Stevens! I'd been reading her short stories forever.

There were many others who reached out to me, and memories of that lunch, and many others along my author journey, have made me acutely aware that the one thing that makes the writing life special is the way authors help one another. If there's jealousy among Derringer, or other, award nominees, I'm unaware of it. Rather, we applaud those whose work we admire, often from afar. It's enough to be able to say, "I'm an author," and be part of the club.

I've come a long way since 2015. Today, I'm the author of two mystery series (seven novels), the editor/publisher of three multi-author anthologies of mystery and suspense (John's stories are in two of them), and a handful of short stories. But while I'm grateful for every day of those seven-plus years as an author. It hasn't always been an easy journey, and I've taken my share of missteps along the way.

I've also been "orphaned" by two publishers, one defunct, the other closed to all work but her own. I've very nearly been orphaned by two other publishers I'd queried with "close, but no cigar" results. Both are now no longer in business.

In February 2018, I started my own publishing imprint: Superior Shores Press, and I've discovered that I love being an indie author (I tend to be a bit of a control freak, which helps). Since then, I've also been published by WWL Mystery (a division of Harlequin, which is a division of HarperCollins), and sold some foreign language rights, most recently Skeletons in the Attic, to a Taiwanese publisher for the Chinese market. 

Fast forward to January 2022, when my local library asked if I'd do a presentation for their patrons on publishing paths. I liked the idea of sharing what I'd learned, and the result was an hour-long webinar, Finding Your Path to Publication, which I followed up with Self-publishing: The Ins & Outs of Going Indie. Both were well received, and that sparked an idea. What if I took my hard-earned knowledge and wrote a book? One that demystified the publishing world, provided statistics, and tips on query letters and types of publishing paths, from traditional to self- to social? Unlike my usual mystery writing pantser ways, I'd actually have an outline. 

The result is Finding Your Path to Publication: A Step-by-Step Guide, which released on May 2 in paperback, hardcover, e-book, and large print. If all goes according to plan, Self-Publishing: The Ins & Outs of Going Indie will release this fall.

Authors helping authors. At the end of the day, that's really what it's all about.

Universal buy link:

About the book: The road to publishing is paved with good intentions . . . and horror stories of authors who had to learn the hard way.

For the emerging author, the publishing world can be overwhelming. You've written the book, and you're ready to share it with the world, but don't know where to start. Traditional, independent press, hybrid, self-publishing, and online social platforms--all are valid publishing paths. The question is, which one is right for you?

Finding Your Path to Publication is an introduction to an industry that remains a mystery to those on the outside. Learn how each publishing option works, what to expect from the process start to finish, how to identify red flags, and avoid common pitfalls. With statistics, examples, and helpful resources compiled by an industry insider who's been down a few of these paths, this is your roadmap to decide which path you'd like to explore, and where to begin your author journey.

About the author: A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and Marketville Mysteries, both of which have been published in multiple languages. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. Judy is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served on the Board of Directors for five years, the final two as Chair. She lives in Northern Ontario. Find her at

22 October 2022

A Look Behind the Names

Well, only a little bit is by me today.  Instead, it's my pleasure to welcome friend, colleague, and fellow Canuck Judy Penz Sheluk to these pages.  Judy hits on a topic particularly dear to my heart. I'll tell you why after her post.
— Melodie

A Look Behind the Names

by Judy Penz Sheluk

If you follow me on social media, you'll know I'm the owner of  Golden Retriever named Gibbs (after Leroy Jethro Gibbs of the long-running TV show NCIS). Gibbs, who will turn seven on October 15, is a good dog who lives up to the stubborn streak of his namesake and the Semper Fi (always faithful) motto of the marine corp.

Now, you might be asking what any of this has to do with Before There Were Skeletons, the latest book in my Marketville Mystery series, and I'm getting to that. You see, I've long been a supporter of Golden Rescue, a wonderful Canadian non-profit that connects Golden Retrievers of all ages in need of a home with folks hoping to adopt one. And like so many charitable organizations during the height of Covid, Golden Rescue's primary annual picnic and auction fundraiser was cancelled.

Enter Wanetta Doucette-Goodman, a tireless behind-the-scenes worker who organized more than one Facebook silent auction to raise those much-needed funds.  When I saw the one in the Fall of 2020, I thought, I could donate a book copy or two, maybe even a "name the character" in my next book."

I floated the idea of a "name the character" by Wanetta and she loved it.  In fact, she loved the idea so much that she became the winning bidder.  But Wanetta is the giving sort.  She didn't ask for a character to be named after her, but rather, her daughter-in-law, Kathleen "Kate" Goodman, nee Lindsay.  She also sent me photos of Kate, and told me she had two older sisters, Kelly and Kristine.

I could have stuck to the original bargain - a character named kate Goodman--but what fun would that be? Besides, it's not as easy to come up with character names as you might think.  And so, Before There Were Skeletons has several nods to Wanetta's winning bid:

Kathleen “Kate” Goodman: a twenty-eight-year-old woman who hires Callie to find her mother, who disappeared on Valentine’s Day 1995, following her shift at a local bar in Miakoda Falls. Veronica Celeste Goodman was 18 at the time, and by all reports, a devoted single mom who’d just signed a one-year lease.

 Lindsay Doucette: Veronica’s older sister and Kate’s aunt. Lindsay raised Kate after Veronica disappeared, and, having been duped in the past, is not entirely on board with Callie’s investigation.

  Wanetta Georgina Bulmer: Last seen in Miakoda Falls on January 17, 1995, Wanetta was twenty years old and new to town.

 Kelly Anne Acquolina: Last seen in Miakoda Falls on January 31, 1995, Kelly Anne was twenty at the time.

Kristine Paris: An important character with a secret past.

Of course, Callie’s first instinct upon reading the missing persons profiles of Veronica, Wanetta and Kelly Anne is that they are linked, though the police have never formerly reported that connection. Is she right? Ahh… you’ll have to read the book to find out. But at least now you know what’s behind the names.

Melodie here again: After I read this post, I talked to Judy and we both got a kick out of the fact that I had done something similar — that is, five years ago, donated a character name to a charity auction.

The charity was the Burlington Humane Society, and the winner was a pug called Wolfgang!  (Yes, his good buddy/owner may have put him forward.)  If you look on the cover of Crime Club, you will see Wolfgang in all his glory.  He plays an important part in the investigation as well.



Check out Judy's latest mystery!

About Before There Were Skeletons

The last time anyone saw Veronica Goodman was the night of February 14, 1995, the only clue to her disappearance a silver heart-shaped pendant, found in the parking lot behind the bar where she worked. Twenty-seven years later, Veronica’s daughter, Kate, just a year old when her mother vanished, hires Past & Present Investigations to find out what happened that fateful night. 

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is drawn to the case, the similarities to her own mother’s disappearance on Valentine’s Day 1986 hauntingly familiar. A disappearance she thought she’d come to terms with. Until Veronica’s case, and five high school yearbooks, take her back in time…a time before there were skeletons. 

·       Universal Book Link:

·      About the Author:

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served as Chair on the Board of Directors. She lives in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Find her at