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.
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!