#Mystery Author Judy Penz Sheluk #Tarot in Fiction #MTW #MTW_2017 MysteryThrillerWeek

memediaadsIMG_1287Wow! My next several blogs will be so exciting for you, as readers, because I’ll be featuring fellow authors for the upcoming Mystery Thriller Week Annual Event which takes place on Facebook, Feb. 12-22. Authors in the Mystery Thriller genre, every sub-genre included, will be participating in blogs, readings, takeovers, and let’s not forget giveaways. You’ll get to meet your favorites and hopefully meet new authors whose work you’ll love and share.

As most of you know, the paranormal, metaphysical, and spiritual realms are three of my specialties because they fall into my field of study; parapsychic sciences. When I work with my clients I use what I call Tools of Empowerment: crystals, energy healing, Goddess Profiling, dream interpretation, essential oils, spiritual cleansing, and let me not forget Tarot. Tarot is one of my passions. I’m a Certified Tarot Master Instructor and have been teaching Tarot online, in my office, one-on-one, and in groups since the mid ’90s. My Tarot articles have also been published in professional newsletters.

There’s a big difference between using Tarot in fiction from using it in real life. When I use Tarot, I use it to tell a story. The pictures are so descriptive, a person can look at it and use their creative imagination to tell what it means. The more you look at the cards, the more intuitive you’ll become. I do not use the Tarot to diagnose, mitigate, or prescribe for any illness or disease whatsoever. That would be practicing medicine without a license.

You can imagine my excitement when I posted in the Mystery Thriller event Facebook group, that I’d love to feature authors on my blog who use one of these mediums. Well, Judy responded immediately. Judy’s takeover on the Mystery Thriller Week Annual Event Facebook page is Feb. 15, 1 PM ET. I will give a lesson on Tarot after Judy’s section.

judysbiofullsizerenderSo, it is my pleasure to introduce, Judy Penz Sheluk. How did you choose the setting for Skeletons in the Attic?

Skeletons in the Attic is set in the fictional town of Marketville, a commuter community about an hour north of Toronto, Canada. My protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable refers to it as the sort of town where families with two kids, a collie, and a cat moved to looking for a bigger house, a better school, and soccer fields. The town is loosely based on Newmarket, Ontario, where I used to live, but I’ve taken great liberties with the location.

What are the next steps for your series?

I’m currently working on the sequel, and hope to have book two out in Fall 2017, if my publisher, Imajin Books, is able to do that. Tarot will once again play a role in the story, but I’m a bit superstitious about talking a lot about works in progress.

Yes. So am I. You told me Tarot is a major part of the plot. What made you use this tool to help your protagonist accomplish her goal?

I’m not sure it’s a major part, but it’s definitely an important part. I’ve always been fascinated by Tarot, and one day I ventured into a store in Newmarket that sold a book and Rider-Waite deck of cards. I bought them on a whim and started to dabble. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it would take years to become accomplished. I have great admiration for those skilled in this area.

As an aside, a fictionalized version of the store appears in Skeletons. Here’s a description: Sun, Moon & Stars was a miniscule retail space packed with a treasure trove of trinkets and textiles, most made by local artisans. Here the savvy shopper could find natural stone jewelry, healing crystals, books on the occult, and flowing cotton garments with tie-dyed patterns, shiny beads, and silk embroidery. A hand-painted ceramic incense holder in the shape of a lotus flower held a stick of lavender-scented incense.

judysfullsizerenderWhat five cards did you choose, and how did you interpret them?  

The five cards are on the book’s cover, which I love. They are III: The Empress; IV: The Emperor; VI: The Lovers; The Three of Swords; and XIII: Death. They take on different meanings throughout the book, and she does consult a Tarot card reader at Sun, Moon & Stars. I can’t say a lot about it without spoiling the story.

How did you weave Tarot into the story?

The basic premise of Skeletons in the Attic is that a 36-year-old woman, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, inherits a house in the town of Marketville from her father, who died in an unfortunate occupational accident. The catch? Callie didn’t know the house existed AND she must move into the house for the period of one year and try to find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. A woman she had thought had simply left them when she was six. The tarot cards are one of the things Callie finds hidden in the house. She’s not sure who hid them, or why, and she’s not sure what the significance of the cards are. That’s part of the mystery, and she goes to great lengths to get the answer.


What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

Excerpt with Tarot cards:

It was time to find out what was in the envelope.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t five tarot cards carefully wrapped inside a sheet of pale pink paper, the sort of paper you’d find inside one of those fancy boxes of stationary at the greeting card store.

What I knew about tarot could fit in a thimble, but even I knew five cards was far from a full deck. I unfolded the paper, took note of the softly swirling backhand slant, the turquoise blue ink. The handwriting was unfamiliar, but to my eyes it looked feminine, which made sense given the color of the paper and ink. The cards were listed in order as follows:

1) III: The Empress

2) IV: The Emperor

3) VI: The Lovers

4) The Three of Swords

5) XIII: Death

I laid the cards out on the coffee table and looked at them a while. I realized I had no idea what any of it meant, though the last card, Death, definitely freaked me out.

I could check for meanings online, but it was probably best to consult with an expert. I thought about Misty Rivers, self-proclaimed psychic. As reluctant as I was to involve her in my life, she did have a five thousand dollar retainer courtesy of my father’s will, and I might as well have her earn it. Whether she actually knew anything about tarot was another story.

There was one more thing inside the envelope, a small silk brocade pouch, the sort of thing you’d put jewelry in if you were traveling. I undid the snap and pulled out a rectangular locket with a silver chainlink necklace.

The front of the locket was some sort of opaque glass, delicately encased with filigree silver in a swirling floral pattern. A solitary clear stone was inset in the center. A diamond? Or a rhinestone? The back was solid silver.

There was something decidedly old-fashioned about the style, as if it had been made in another era. I would take some photos and email them to my old school friend, Arabella Carpenter, to see if she could tell me any more about it. Arabella had just opened the Glass Dolphin, an antiques shop in Lount’s Landing, a small town about thirty minutes north of Marketville.

I opened the locket using the tip of my fingernail to find a photograph of a man with fair hair, serious brown eyes, and a chiseled chin tilted ever so slightly upwards. Something about the man looked familiar, though I couldn’t place where I’d seen him before. Had he come to the house when I was a little girl? Or had my mother met him somewhere, with me in tow?

I removed the photograph out of the locket, careful not to bend or damage it, and turned it over to find a handwritten note, the writing small and cramped: “To Abby, with love always, Reid. Jan. 14, 1986.”

January 14, 1986. Exactly one month before my mother’s disappearance. Abby. Not Abigail. A lover’s nickname?

More importantly, who was Reid? And what, if anything, did he have to do with my mother?

Buy Links: http://www.imajinbooks.com/skeletons-in-the-attic


Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life. You can also find Judy on Facebook (facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk) and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk) and on her Amazon author page, amazon.com/author/judypenzsheluk.


The first thing you need to do is get a spiral notebook. The deck I use for teaching and general readings is The Universal Rider Waite. There are six sections you need to have. One for each suit: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles, Court Cards, Major Arcana. Each card within the suit should have a few pages designated to it. You should ground yourself before each session; feet flat on the ground, deep breathing, clear your mind. Look at each card and brainstorm on what each element in the drawing means to you. It’s free association. Don’t do the entire deck at once. At maximum do one suit at a time. Learn Tarot is a long journey. Practice on yourself. There are certification programs, courses through the American Tarot Association. Perfect the craft before you read for anyone or charge them.

book1IMG_1633Aries3dbookIMG_2119If you enjoy reading the paranormal, metaphysical, and spiritual in books, I hope you’ll enjoy my thrillers in The Sign Behind The Crime Series. I use the Tarot in Gemini, book 1, where the killer, Barbara Montgomery does readings to advise her as to what steps she should take with her target. Too bad for her, forensic psychiatrist, John Trenton, knows how to read them, too, and he gives her the reading of her life. My takeover for Mystery Thriller Week is Feb. 13, 6-7 PM ET. So come join me!

 Amazon For both books in The Sign Behind The Crime Series, Kindle and Paperback

Barnes and Noble For both books in The Sign Behind the Crime Series, Nook and Paperback

Amazon CA For both books in The Sign behind The Crime Series, Ebook and Paperback

Amazon UK For both books in The Sign Behind The Crime Series, Ebook and Paperback

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Please feel free to leave comments and questions,

The Sign Behind The Crime,




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