April 17, 2013

Made It Moment: Dorothy Hayes

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:04 am

Murder At The P And Z

How does a writer decide whether to self-publish or pursue traditional these days? This may be the #1 question I get at writers workshops. I love this Moment because Dorothy Hayes did both–and figured out in a very visceral way which path was right for her. Once she did, she went after it with everything she had…including time. Three cheers, Dot. May your Moments keep on coming, and thanks for making Suspense Your Disbelief one of yours.

Dorothy Hayes

Thanks, Jenny for asking about my Made It Moment.

I had to self-publish my first book, Animal Instinct. That was way back in 2006, before the publishing world upheaval, and the onslaught of e-book publishing opportunities. But I did have a Made It Moment when animal rights organizations I had respected for decades wrote glowing reviews of my book and posted them on their websites. This amazed and humbled me. They are still there.

I had, however, a crisis of faith.

Should I write another book if I can’t get it published?

I soon realized that I didn’t have a choice. I had to write. Since a kid, I had to write things down; as a reporter for five years, I honed my craft. As a staff writer for a national animal protection organization, I not only got paid to write, but paid to write about the animals I loved and respected.

I decided, however, that writing in the ever popular mystery genre would up my publishing chances. Two years later, Murder at the P&Z was finished and I discovered that Mainly Murder Press focused on New England writers and accepted unagented submissions.  I didn’t have an agent, and I lived in Stamford, CT. This was perfect.

But submissions weren’t being accepted for the time being. So, for almost a year, I continued to send out query letters only to receive very respectful rejections. It wasn’t looking good. But I was determined not to self-publish again.

During the summer, I attended a writers’ workshop as a member of Sisters In Crime. I was advised to switch the first and second chapters. Then Mainly Murder Press announced that it would accept submissions in August. I emailed the first 50 pages of my manuscript on August 1.

After several weeks of heart-stopping communications, I got the email that said: “I’m delighted to tell you…” Let’s just say, I was screaming around the house. It only took me seventeen years to get here!

That was the original Made It Moment with this book.

When I realized, however, that a book dealer for the Malice Domestic Conference this May will stock Murder at the P&Z for mystery fans to purchase, and that the Wilton Library invited me to speak and will stock my books, and my local library is also interested—it seems as though the Made It Moments keep-on-coming.

I take deep breaths and enjoy all the special moments, along the way – like this one.

Dorothy Hayes, a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, taught Language Arts, was a staff writer for the Wilton Bulletin, and The Hour and received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists. She also worked as a staff writer for a national animal protection corporation, and wrote Animal Instinct published in 2006. She writes for Women of Mystery and Criminal Element and is a member of Sisters-in-Crime.


  1. Props, as the kids say, to a fellow journalist! Great story.

    Comment by Doug M. Cummings — April 17, 2013 @ 9:22 am

  2. Congrats! Sounds like you’ve experienced the best of both worlds!

    Comment by mountainmama — April 17, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  3. Interesting to read the reserve of my experience. I honed my craft first in Hollywood as a scriptwriter, studied fiction for 3 years then secured an agent and signed a traditional contract in 2009. Despite the 1st book selling well, my published passed on the rest of my YA series to go in a different direction and not continue in fantasy. Since I had an audience and didn’t want to wait for my agent to find another publisher, I went indie (self) in 2010 by creating my own imprint and branding.

    Being traditional and self-published gives an author a unique, and I think, well-rounded perspective of the industry.

    Comment by Shawn Lamb — April 17, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  4. Dorothy,

    You’ve just given the real definition of a writer–a person who has to write.
    Publication is great, but it’s the frosting on the cake. I know deep down that
    I need to write. I can’t help it. Sounds like we have much in common.


    Jacqueline Seewald

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — April 17, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  5. I enjoyed your perspective on publishing and congratulations!


    Comment by janet — April 17, 2013 @ 11:44 am

  6. “Screaming around the house”–I love that. :) Hope you have many more moments!

    Comment by Savvy — April 17, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

  7. Congratulations!

    Comment by Judy — April 17, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

  8. A thank you to Jenny for having this incredible platform for writers and a wonderful bunch of fans. I love hearing from sister and brother writers who are in this thing with me. Learning the biz is a great challenge because it takes us away from writing. And there always seems to be a curve some where. I’m grateful for my Sisters-in-Crime, we meet each month and there is always something else to learn.

    I came to the online stuff kicking and screaming yet here I am getting the chance to speak to all of you, this is another gift.
    Shaun Lamb can’t imagine your confusion but I do feel it. And, I’ve become somewhat cynical regarding the publishing biz, all the difficulties are still there, the prejudice regarding self-publishing for instance.
    I think you’ve braved on in an incredible way, I’ve become little smarter too.
    Jacqueline, Judy, Mountain Mama, Doug thanks for the comments!

    Comment by Dorothy Hayes — April 17, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

  9. Oh, Savvy, didn’t mean to leave you out! Yeah, I loved screaming around the house! I’m pretty excited right now hearing from all of you!

    Comment by Dorothy Hayes — April 17, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  10. Hi to Doug, yeah, a fellow reporter!

    Comment by Dorothy Hayes — April 17, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  11. Jacqueline, we do have the need to write in common. I can’t wait to be once again in my writer’s hovel in mind, spirit, and body, and be damned with everything else. I have that fire in my belly to get back to my next novel. I’m holding off until by library talk at the end of the month and then I’m writing again. To me that is getting back to normal.

    So good to hear from sister and brother writers.

    Comment by Dorothy Hayes — April 17, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

  12. Congrats on your made it moment! That is great! Your book sounds good. It is on my list.

    Comment by Kellie — April 17, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

  13. Thanks, Kelli! So far I’ve got nothing but enthusiastic responses far more than I expected.
    Thanks for dropping in on my moment here with Jenny!

    Comment by Dorothy Hayes — April 17, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  14. Kellie, I should add that I wrote the kind of book I like to read, full of the unexpected! And, so far nobody has figured out who did it! And they are reading to find out what happens next! As a writer, it is the X factor, you never know if it’s going to work until you get the feedback!

    Comment by Dorothy Hayes — April 17, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

  15. Dot, writing the kind of book you’d like to read is always the way to go. May you have many, many more moments to celebrate.

    Comment by Anita Page — April 18, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  16. Really interesting post Dorothy, enjoyed it no end and I am certain you will enjoy many more Made It Moments. Good luck and much success. :)

    Comment by Jane Risdon — May 7, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress