Welcome back to Cyber Café, Judy! So much has happened since we last got together here. You now have two mystery series, The Marketville and Glass Dolphin series. You’ve published three anthologies and broken into audiobooks!
Judy: Thanks so much for having me back!
Tell us about your new book, Before There Were Skeletons. How is it different from the earlier books in the Marketville series ?
Callie’s back investigating cold cases, but I would say that Before There Were Skeletons is my most ambitious work to date. It’s a complicated plot – five missing women in all, two from 1978 and three from 1995. Weaving all the threads together took some doing! As well, Callie is finally ready to take a deeper dive into her mother’s past…before her mother became a mother. Before there were skeletons.
Readers take note: Before There Were Skeletons, is available in e-book, trade paperback, and large print at all the usual suspects. https://books2read.com/BeforeSkeletons
Judy’s Marketville Mystery Books 1-3, Box Set, reg. $9.99, is available for just $ .99 on Kindle, Kobo, and Apple until the end of November in Canada, UK, NZ, and Australia.
What are the differences between your Marketville and Glass Dolphin series?
My Glass Dolphin series has a much cozier vibe, albeit without the cats, crafts, and cookie recipes. It’s also told in third person, alternating POVs. The Marketville series is first person, all Callie. But none of my books have overt violence, sex, or bad language. That said, they may be PG but they’re not boring!
You are comfortable writing both novels and short stories. Which do you secretly prefer creating?
Definitely novels though I love reading short crime fiction and I’m proud of the handful of stories I’ve written. But for a pantser like me, it’s far easier to write long and do the dipsy doodling that short stories don’t allow. Who knows though. Maybe one day I’ll be invited to become a Madame of Mayhem and then I’ll be forced to write at least one short story every so often!
In the meantime, I have edited and published three multi-author anthologies of mystery and suspense and was delighted to include your story ‘The Moon God of Broadmoor’ in Moonlight & Misadventure. I hope to do a fourth anthology, but they take tremendous energy and time, so we’ll see.
I really envy your amazing energy. You are now in audiobooks. Do tell us about your journey and should crime fiction authors venture here?
If you have the money to hire a narrator, you can use a company like Findaway Voices which distributes widely to every possible retailer as well as to libraries. But good narrators are costly (at least $2,000) and there’s certainly no guarantee of earning back your investment.
I personally used Royalty Share with the ACX route. ACX is owned by Amazon and Royalty Share is Audible, Amazon and iTunes only. Sadly, libraries don’t use those to purchase audio. As well, ACX takes 60% of the royalties and the balance of 40% is split 50/50 narrator/author. Contract runs seven years so lots to consider.
For the narrator, it’s a risk. For the author, there’s no financial risk, but your market share is far more limited and who knows what might happen in seven years? At the end of the day, I recommend that every author do their own due diligence then decide. For me, ACX Royalty Share was the only viable option.
You recently moved to your home on Lake Superior. How has this helped your writing? Do you ever feel isolated from other authors being so far away?
We’ve had our camp (Northern term for waterfront properties) since July 2015. When Covid hit, I began spending 6 months of the year here, May-October, never once going back to our house in Southern Ontario. Last fall, my husband and I decided to move here fulltime. There were a lot of factors in our decision, not the least of which was the 8-hour drive back and forth and feeling as if we never really belonged anywhere.
I’ve now made a few friends here (it helps that I joined two golf leagues!). This summer I introduced myself to the powers-that-be at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. They now have all my books or are in the process of cataloguing them. In October I was invited to be part of their multi-author “Author Palooza” event, which was great fun.
I’ve met other authors there, and one of them, Sault Ste. Marie author, Katherine Walker, was shortlisted for Best First Novel in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence for her debut novel, All is Well. I’m immediate Past Chair of CWC, so, small world, right?
There’s great support in the north for the arts. I also have my books in an amazing downtown shop in the Soo called The Artesian. (@ssmartesian on Instagram) and I was just recently interviewed in the local paper as well as on The Book Cover, a local radio program.
I think if you put yourself “out there” it doesn’t matter where you live. That said, you have to make things happen. If you sit around and wait for your ship to come in, chances are you’ll be at the airport. My mother always told me, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” It’s my mantra.
What’s next for you, Judy?
I’m working on a new project and super excited about it, but I’m very superstitious about sharing details while it’s still a work-in-process. I also have an idea for a true crime novel, which I hope to begin researching in earnest in the new year. And I’m hoping to take a course on playwriting in 2023. Never a dull moment!
Find Judy at www.judypenzsheluk.com