As the winner of the 2013 Poisoned Pen Press (PPP) Discover Mystery Contest, Eileen Brady won $1,000 plus her first publishing contract. PPP will publish her novel, Dog Shows are Murder, in 2014.
“When Jessica Trimble, the publisher, told me I had won the contest, I was so stunned, I could hardly answer,” said Eileen. “It wasn’t until we hung up the phone that I screamed.”
PPP said on their website, “Miss Brady’s cozy about a veterinarian turned reluctant sleuth stole our hearts and our imaginations.”
Dog Shows are Murder features Dr. Kate Turner, a relief vet – someone who comes into a practice when the owner is on vacation, taking sick leave, or the practice has grown and they need a vet at certain times of the year.
“In this practice, she meets a lot of interesting people with funny pets and funny situations, and she keeps stumbling on murders,” said Eileen.
PPP celebrity judge Earlene Fowler (herself an Agatha winner) described Dogs Shows are Murder as “a delightful and lively mystery” and Kate Turner as “a veterinarian with heart, humor and a new penchant for solving murders.” She said that this promising first novel that will leave readers begging for more. And more is what Eileen has planned for Kate Turner.
“My second book is about half way finished,” said Eileen.
I asked Eileen about her journey to winning the contest, publishing her first novel, and finding joy.
“I was given a lot of good advice,” she said.
While attending an adult education class on creative writing at Scottsdale Community College, her teacher recommended that students form a critique group. Eileen joined in. She later read an article written by a published author in Scottsdale, Betty Webb, and contacted her. Eileen submitted her work to Betty, and Betty eventually invited Eileen to join her small critique group.
She believes there is value in critique groups that contain both published and non-published authors.
“Someone who has been in the writing business for a long time can take a deeper look at your manuscript. Others can give you an honest opinion about what your writing evokes from the reader.”
She recommends putting effort into finding other writers.
“Take a class. Go to writer’s conferences. Submit to contests. Local libraries have a lot of days when writers come and have informal critique groups,” she said.
Her second piece of advice to new writers is to adhere to a disciplined schedule in writing.
“Every successful writer seems to write in slightly different ways,” she said. “The thing they have in common is the discipline to sit down and write – whether they measure in pages or words.”
And her final piece of advice is to find joy in everything.
“You need to get in the habit of finding joy,” she said. “The world holds infinite possibilities for joy. You can get into a negative space and dwell in it, but you have a choice in the way you feel. Sometimes, wallow in it for a little while. Then pick yourself up and stop wallowing. Take the dog for a walk. Have some chocolate.”
You can follow Eileen on her new Facebook page.