Local mystery writer a best seller

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Could we soon be seeing The Voyageur’s Lodge’s Apple Fritters in a mystery novel? Best selling author Judy Penz Sheluk, who now lives in Goulais River, is tight-lipped on her new writing project, but anything is possible as she peppers her novels with local facts.
A former journalist and magazine editor, Penz Sheluk, is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. She’s known for her attention to details and research, including referencing local foods and drinks.
“Write what you know, is what they say,” said Penz Sheluk. “I can spend four to five hours researching the content of two paragraphs, but you need to get the small details right. Readers who don’t know are going to trust what I say; but somebody out there will know if I make up something and it will just ruin the book for them.”
Her website http://www.judypenzsheluk.com includes information about: her books (including several mystery anthologies); her publishing company (Superior Shores Press); and herself; but she also has sections for Facts in Fiction, and Food and Drink. She includes the information because some of her favorite fictional stories of her also include factual elements.
The Facts in Fiction page links to pages with additional behind the scenes information on factual elements from several of her novels. One example is her research on Calamity Jane, upon whom her Marketville Mysteries protagonist was named.
Her latest novel, Before There Were Skeletons, is book four in the Marketville Mysteries series, released in October 2022. The cold case mystery draws in Calamity (Callie) Barnstable due to similarities in her mother’s disappearance years earlier, also on Valentine’s Day.
The Food and Drink tab of Penz Sheluk’s website links to PDFs of recipes for some of the food and drink that make part of her work. For example, from The Hanged Man’s Noose, she includes a recipe for almond crescents, a local pub’s signature drink, the Treasontini (a blueberry martini), and their Jailhouse Club sandwich.
Admittedly, from her website, Penz Sheluk says: “Unlike Calamity (Callie) Barnstable in my Marketville mystery series, I’m a dreadful cook. But Callie, bless her cold case solving heart, finds great solace in cooking. In Before There Were Skeletons, Green Beans Almondine plays a small, but surprisingly significant, part to the story line.”
Penz Sheluk has also contributed to two cookbooks, including We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips and Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing.
Born and raised in Toronto, Penz Sheluk moved around the province for a variety of corporate finance jobs, including commuting between Holland Landing and Toronto for a number of years. Before she started writing down her mysteries of her, she thought about them during her commute. “For many years I wrote stories in my head, and I didn’t realize that everyone didn’t do that. My story is the only thing that kept me going on the drive.”
Her husband Mike suggested they buy a property in Northern Ontario, as he’d fallen in love with Lake Superior during his work travels as an engineer.
She’d never been further north than Muskoka. They bought a camp in Goulais, in 2015, but once the COVID-19 quarantines hit and the majority of her author speaking engagements were cancelled, Penz Sheluk thought: “Why not quarantine at a waterfront property?”
Now full-time residents of Goulais River, Penz Sheluk, her husband, and their golden retriever, Gibbs, enjoy the lifestyle here: “I’m now a part of Root River and Crimson Ridge golf leagues and we’re building a life here . Everyone is super good to each other; and you don’t see that in southern Ontario. It’s a good lifestyle and I think it’s going to be good for us.”
2013 was a turning point for Penz Sheluk after she met several Canadian authors whom she admired at a mystery writing conference. “They were all just normal people,” she said. “It got me thinking that I can write a book, so I started dabbling with it. I wrote a chapter a day as a goal and still do. Then I do whatever I want for the rest of the day. A chapter can take three to nine hours.”
Penz Sheluk became a full-time writer and started her own publishing imprint in 2018. When she’s not writing a chapter, she’s ensuring the accuracy of her work by doing research (which may take her north to Batchewana one day). She’s already thinking about a true crime idea and a standalone suspense story that takes place in the area.
Penz Sheluk says she can complete a project in approximately three months. Then the draft goes to her de ella trusted professional editor, Ti Locke, and cover designer, and proofreaders. “With self publishing it’s important to keep standards up and treat projects with the proper respect. I treat it like a business because it is my business and it’s my reputation. I believe it’s working since all of my books have at least four out of five stars on Amazon and Goodreads.”
Her books are available in Sault Ste. Marie at the Artesian at 514 Queen St East, and at the local library. Penz Sheluk’s website also links to different vendors to access her print, digital, and audio books.

Nadine Robinson is a local freelance writer. You can reach her de ella at the.ink.writer@gmail.com or on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @theinkran.

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