Guest Judy Sheluk: A Superior Writing Retreat

News Flash: Angela is Judy’s winner. Congratulations, and please check your email for a message from Judy!

Edith here, so happy to have the amazing Judy Sheluk back as our guest. Past & Present, her new Marketville Mystery, is out today! She’s giving away a Kindle version to one lucky commenter here today, too.pnp3

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present. It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto? Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

Take it away, Judy!

Followers of the Wicked Authors know how much Edith Maxwell loves getting away for a writing retreat. While she makes it sound fabulous, the one time I tried a weekend retreat it was filled with something the organizer (an award-winning poet/author) called “poet’s walks.” While the rest of the group was wandering around aimlessly smelling flowers and twisting branches and leaves between their fingers to feel the texture, all I wanted to do was get back to my Philipsburg Blue home office where I could write without pretense. Or people. (I cannot imagine writing in a coffee shop any more than I can imagine writing while skydiving, not that I skydive, but you get the idea.)

And then, in 2015, my husband, Mike, and I sold the house we’d lived in for 25 years, moved to smaller town, an even smaller house, and bought a cabin an eight hour drive away on the shores of Lake Superior (our place is in Canada, but the Michigan side is known as the Upper Peninsula).

Ever changing water-2

I can still remember Mike coming back from scouting cottages (the Canadian term for cabin). He’d fallen in love with one about 20 miles northwest of Sault Ste. Marie. “Let me get this straight,” I said. “You want to buy a place eight hours away, in Northern Ontario, on a lake that is almost always too cold to swim in? Sounds fab.”

“I know,” he said, obviously missing my sarcasm. He can be annoying like that. We bought the cottage.

Superior Sunset 2

Now, I’m going to fess up and admit I wasn’t in any hurry to get there. I’d never been further north than Muskoka, a prime vacation resort area a two-hour drive from Toronto, and my idea of roughing it is a hotel room without a king-size bed. And then I saw Lake Superior.

Superior Sunset

This past July, I spent a month at the cottage, writing on my iPad at the kitchen table every morning, the ever-changing water in full view, my dog, Gibbs, lying by my feet.

Gibbs enjoys the view

Usually a slow writer, I pounded out 35,000 words on book 3 in the Marketville Mystery series. A hot mess, to be sure, given the limitations of Pages and the patchy internet that doesn’t allow for endless research, but I’ve never felt more connected to anything I’ve ever written. And that’s when I realized what Mike knew from the moment he saw our place: he’d found me my very own writing retreat.

Of course, he’ll never let me forget it. He can be annoying like that.

Readers: Don’t forget, Judy is giving away a Kindle version of Past & Present to one lucky commenter here today. Do you have a favorite retreat? A place you got “talked into” that you now love?

Edith: Here’s my advance review (can you tell I loved the book?): Judy Penz Sheluk nails it with this intriguing Marketville mystery that, as the title says, stitches together an investigation into the past with people’s lives in the present – including that of protagonist Callie Barnstable herself. Her new missing persons agency digs up fascinating dirt, delves into the seams of a vintage traveling case, and even consults a woo-woo analyst to arrive at an answer for both the client and Callie. The characters were real, and the plot twists and turns, with a satisfying but surprising ending. Treat yourself to a new present-day read – you won’t be disappointed.judy-penz-sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries (The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One) and the Marketville Mysteries (Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present). Her short stories appear in several collections.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International/Guppies/Toronto, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the South Simcoe Arts Council, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario.

51 Thoughts

  1. Wow, it sounds like your cottage is great for your creativity. And I have to say, “cottage” sounds so much better than “cabin.” Here’s hoping you get many more books written at your writing retreat!

    1. It sounds wonderful, Edith, and I can see why you’re a big fan of writing retreats. I’ve never been on one myself, but it would be so nice to get away without distractions. And interesting about the term “camp.” It does bring to mind tents and roughing it. But I guess as long as it increases your word count you can call it whatever you’d like!

  2. I would give anything for a cottage/cabin/trailer/camp down in the Laurel Highlands where I could get away for a weekend to write.

    The pictures of Superior are lovely (says the girl who grew up near Lake Erie). And congrats on the new book!

  3. Hi Judy and Edith! The writing retreats I’ve been on have been discussions on industry and plotting. I’d love to get up North and see the sites. The pix are beautiful. Hugs to you both!

  4. Sounds like your first retreat was designed for poets, not novelists. Definitely doesn’t sound like my idea of a good writing retreat.

    And now I really want to read the book written while sky diving.

  5. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Judy. I love the description of Past & Present, and I love that kind of mystery. I’ve been on some great writing retreats–Star Island in the Isles of Shoals for example, and would love to find one that is a good fit for me again–emphasis on good fit. Good luck with the book. Now, off to the Kindle store!

  6. Those pictures are beautiful. Even if your husband can be annoying like that ;-). I don’t like to be part of a group with a schedule so tours and retreats have never appealed to me. As for something or someplace I had to be talked into and have come to love, it’s our backyard pond. What I first thought of as “just more fish” and noisy water has become a soothing place to read and relax and enjoy that bubbly sound.

    I have just discovered your series on another site. Must read for sure! Enjoy that cottage!

    1. Thanks Sally! And my hubby built a gazebo with a pond to one side. The frogs love it, but on super hot days, a porcupine comes to bathe in it. I felt better once I read the porcupines really don’t “throw” their quills, you have to brush up against them.

  7. The book sounds like something I’d like to read. I need to add your books to my list. I haven’t been to any writing retreats but, I have been to sewing retreats and I always have a great time being around others who enjoy the same thing i do. It’s also really nice to be able to just have meals ready and waiting for you to eat at meal time.

    1. Thanks Ellen. I value your opinion so thank you! And yes the cabin/cottage/camp is lovely. Though Northern Ontario in winter…no thanks! Mike goes up (loves it) but not for me. Last winter they got 15 feet of snow!! FEET.

  8. A cabin on the shore of Lake Superior sounds like a perfect place to write! I love the UP and the Soo, it is so beautiful up there. Book sounds like a great read, would really like to read.

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