12yr old Kitty Walker decides to enter her Miniature Schnauzer, Spade, into a dog show to impress her mum. Kitty expected it to be difficult, Spade is not the best behaved dog, and she expected it to be embarrassing, Jessica Jones is sure to win, but she didn't expect it to be dangerous.
At the show, Kitty finds a lost dog, but, when she returns it, the owner insists it's the wrong dog. Only Kitty believes the owner and sets out to uncover the mystery of the missing dog. There are clues along the way, but why is someone trying to dognap the little terrier she found? And would someone really be desperate enough to kill to keep the identity of the little dog hidden?
While writing Dog Show Detective, I learned the importance of conflict, pace and most of all, allowing your first draft to suck. I had so carefully planned out the crime, clues and culprit, it was about halfway through I realised I only had one suspect (not much of a mystery'). I learned not to break my pace and go back to rewrite, but to continue as though the beginning was exactly as I wanted it. I add some great suspects, all so appropriate that towards the end of the book I surprised myself and found out it was actually not the person I suspect who'd actually 'done it'. This taught me that although planning helps, you have to leave some room for impromptu changes.
I was terrified about editing, until I took on Holly Lisle's course, How to Revise Your Novel.
I learned how to take criticism from my beta readers and the wonderful readers at http://www.critiquecircle.com/. I learned to edit again. And again.
Now I'm learning to be brave. I've sent my first 1,000 words into a writer's competition and I'm about send out queries to publishers. I wondered at times if I would ever get to this point, but I'm glad for every hurdle I've come across. This has been the best education I've ever received.
I won't stop while the queries go out. I'm doing up my first round of edits on The Costume Maker (a YA fantasy), and during the school holidays, I'll write up my first draft to My Zombie Dog.
So, the only advice I can offer up today, is keep going. It seems like a long road but you will get there.