Interview with Judy Penz Sheluk

I’m happy to welcome back bestselling author Judy Penz Sheluk. Today, Judy shares interesting facts about her creative journey and new release, Finding Your Path to Publication.

Here’s Judy!

What was your inspiration for this book?

The germ of the idea started in November 2021, after I’d done a NaNoWriMo debriefing for my then local library— Failing (and Succeeding!) with NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an annual event with the challenge of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. When it came to the Q&A portion of the program, it became clear that most of the attendees were more interested in how to get published than chatting about whether they’d reached the 50,000-word mark. That led to the library requesting a workshop on publishing, and following that, one on self-publishing. Based on the number of attendees, and their thirst for knowledge, I knew there was an interest and a need, but I couldn’t find any single book that covered off all the different paths to publication. I’m a complete pantser when it comes to writing fiction, but with this book, my library presentation—Finding Your Path to Publication—worked as an outline, and I liked the idea of going back to my roots as a journalist.

What is the best part of being an author? The worst?

I love the writing process, whether it’s creating a world, researching, or in the case of this book, sharing would I know. The shameless self-promotion side of things, social media, etc., that doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. If I ever earn Louise Penny money, I’ll hire an assistant to do all of that. So far, I’m not taking applications, but hope springs eternal!

Which authors have inspired you?

I’m a voracious reader. In 2022, I read 56 books. Some I loved. Some disappointed, not quite living up to the hype. But I learned something from every one of those authors, and so I suppose you could say all of them inspired me to varying degrees. Reading is absolutely the best teacher. But if I am to be very specific, I’d say the late Sue Grafton. I read each of her Kinsey Millhone books as they were published, which means it’s been 25+ years since I read some of them. Last year I began revisiting the series in audiobook format. It was only on revisit that I realized how much her writing had influenced my own style. It was quite eye-opening.

What is your favorite quote?

“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.” Agatha Christie

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I’m super organized, the sort of person who has all her business tax records summarized on an Excel spreadsheet and ready for the accountant by the middle of January. I also really dislike clutter or excess. If I buy a t-shirt, I’ll toss out or donate a t-shirt rather than having an extra one I don’t really need. Oh…and I keep the books on my bookshelf in author alphabetical order (okay, and my soup cans in the pantry, too, though sometimes I go wild and put chicken noodle after cream of mushroom, just to convince myself I’m not totally bonkers).

Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?

I took up golf about 20 years ago. After all these years, I should probably be better at it than I am, but I’ve resigned myself to accepting that I’m never going to make the tour! What I love about golf is that it’s a social experience, but unless you’re in a team tournament situation, you’re only competing against yourself. I also love being outside and when the course allows it, I always walk, not just for the exercise, but to stay more connected to my game.

I also walk 90 minutes to 2 hours a day. I have a golden retriever, Gibbs, who keeps me honest on the walking front, regardless of weather.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. Write every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes, even if it’s your birthday, your kid’s birthday, New Year’s Eve, Christmas, or some other special occasion. I have a friend who would set her alarm every day at 5:30 a.m. to write for an hour before getting up to make breakfast for her three kids before sending them off to school (and then home-schooled them during Covid). On weekends, she sleeps in until 6 a.m. She eventually finished her book and landed an agent, but it wasn’t luck. It was hard work. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

What are you working on next?

Thanks so much for asking. I’m almost finished the next book in the Step-by-Step Guide series: Self-publishing: The Ins & Outs of Going Indie. It’s tentatively scheduled for Fall 2023, and I’m really excited about it. So many people think self-publishing is the easy way out. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I like to think this book will make the path easier.

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. With a passion for understanding the ins and outs of all aspects of publishing, Judy is also the founder and owner of Superior Shores Press, which she established in February 2018.

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

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