How I Got Published: Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk works as a freelance writer, specializing in art, antiques and the residential housing industry; her articles have appeared regularly in dozens of U.S. and Canadian consumer and trade publications.

Past editorial responsibilities have included the roles of Senior Editor, Northeast Art & Antiques, and Editor,Antiques and Collectibles Showcase. She is currently the Editor of Home BUILDER Magazine, and the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – GuppiesSisters in Crime – Toronto,Crime Writers of Canada, and the Short Fiction Mystery Society.

How I Got Published

I’ve been a fulltime freelance writer for the past ten years, but the tools of that trade—writing on deadline with a specific word count on a particular topic—are equally important when it comes to writing fiction. Especially short fiction, where you have to be on point—and get to the point—without a lot of preamble.

That said, I never actually planned to write a short mystery story. But after two years of writing, rewriting, and a lot more rewriting, I’d finally finished my debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, and I was in the midst of trying to find a publisher for it. The thought of writing a sequel to an unsold book felt alternately depressing and overly optimistic. But I’d gotten into the habit of writing some sort of fiction every day (as opposed to writing about construction equipment, Net Zero housing or antique desks), and I sort of missed it.

I’d like to tell you that my first attempt at a short mystery story was wildly successful, but that wasn’t the case. It all started with a Sisters in Crime – Guppies callout for their third anthology, Fish or Cut Bait. Ultimately, my submission was rejected, albeit with some very positive feedback and a lot of constructive criticism from the three judges. Using their input, I rewrote “Plan D,” polished it until it was the best I could make it, and submitted for consideration in the Sisters in Crime – Toronto anthology, The Whole She-Bang 2.

To say I was thrilled when they accepted my story would be an understatement, but it also reminded me of how important it is for writers to accept, learn from, and seek out constructive criticism. In fact, that’s probably good advice for anyone, regardless of their profession!

Find out more about Judy on her website/blog at

15 thoughts on “How I Got Published: Judy Penz Sheluk

  1. Judy, that’s great–both about having a novel ready for submission and getting your first short story published. I do believe that writing both fiction and non-fiction, short and long, stretches our writing muscles. It all helps. It certainly appears it helped you.


  2. Interesting to read, and I agree completely with her comment about constructive criticism. Learning to take (and use) constructive criticism is important for a writer. Though at first, it’s difficult and we tend to take it far too personally, it becomes easier over time, and eventually we reach a point where we actively welcome it. I think that’s probably about the same point where we start to call ourselves writers. 🙂


  3. In the acting world, we’re taught to see “rejection” not as a permanent wall- but a, “just no for today” and to keep auditioning and keep getting better. Wonderful that Judy took that feedback as an opportunity to refine her work and fight the right place ready and wanting to showcase her work. Thanks again for this inspiring series, Carol!


  4. It’s always inspiring to read of wonderful writers succeeding after facing so much rejection. How wonderful it is to receive recognition for our passionate work. Congrats Judy. And thanks Carol for hosting these lovely interviews. 🙂


  5. Congrats and kudos to you Judy, for continuing to write despite previous “encouragements” disguised as rejections. It’s paying off now, and I wish you every continued success.

    Thanks for sharing this Carol!


  6. I like the part about accepting criticism – I joined an on-line critique group. I like having written comments – I don’t lose any of the feedback that way and can ponder on them. Also, I’m free to react without worrying I’ll offend my group. I do need their critiques and I do appreciate the comments, but it’s nice to be able to sulk, just a little, in private.


    • Thanks Kate. It is tough to accept criticism face-to-face, because you don’t have time to process it (and try to be a grown-up at the same time). I think online groups can be a great way to get feedback, as long as everyone in the group is an equal participant. And I’m all for sulking a little in private!


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