Standard-Examiner music reporter wins literary award

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:20 PM

Nancy Van Valkenburg

SALT LAKE CITY — Standard-Examiner music reporter Linda East Brady on Friday capped a week of music journalism with one more marathon day of literary creation.

Brady entered the Utah Arts Festival’s Wasatch IronPen Literary Ultra Marathon, which required participants to write a short story, a song and an essay in a 24-hour period, all based on prompts they received in hour one.

Brady won top honors.

“I thought, ‘This will be fun,’  ” she recalled. “  ‘Let’s see if I can do it.’  ”

Brady said she’d always been interested in the IronPen competition, sponsored by Salt Lake Community College during the arts festival.

But Brady had never taken the literary leap. Besides working at the Standard-Examiner, Brady hosts the “Sunday Sagebrush Serenade” on KRCL FM 90.9, and she just finished her second novel set in the world of music.

Brady also took on a part-time job this year, to make extra money after her husband was unexpectedly laid off. Brady wrote, designed and edited the 53-page programs for this year’s Utah Arts Festival.

On Friday evening, Brady took the FrontRunner to Salt Lake City, and at 6 p.m. learned this year’s prompt was a photo of a sego lily, Utah’s state flower. As she rode back to Ogden, Brady made a mental outline of her plans.

Her song and story would take her back into the musical world that served her so well in “Lone Star Ice & Fire,” her 2004 novel for Coral Press, which will publish her second novel, “The Pedigree Blues,” next year.

Her song, by crotchety singer/songwriter Dewey (fictional front man for Dewey and the Don’ts), was “Lily Say Go,” an apology to true love Lily for straying, and being fooled by the wiles of another.

Brady’s story came next, and told of Dewey’s dusty trip home and plans to beg forgiveness. Climbing a desert hill in search of better cellphone reception, Dewey spotted a perfect sego lily, and sent its photo to his love.

Brady took a nap before launching into the third writing assignment, the essay.

“I riffed,” she said of her final work. “My essay was closer to a blog, a little more free form. I wrote about the flowers of Shakespeare. I came up with the idea that the sego lily has a poisonous look-alike, the Death Camas. The native Americans used the sego lily for food, so they didn’t want to get the wrong one.”

Brady turned in her three new literary works by 5:45 p.m. Saturday. Also racing to meet the deadline were about 50 others, including other Ultra Marathoners doing three pieces each, and competitors who had signed on for one challenge apiece, competing in the youth or adult categories.

The next morning, Brady’s sleeping-in plans were disturbed by an early phone call. It was the IronPen organizers, asking her to come to the Utah Arts Festival to perform one of her winning selections. Eleven others read winning works in their categories and divisions. For the list, visit

“There was really some amazing talent there,” Brady said, adding she was especially impressed with the depth of work by young writers.

Besides bragging rights, Brady’s win means her works will be in this year’s anthology. She also got a goodie bag, which contained a certificate suitable for framing, some cake, a T-shirt, tickets to a play and to the Utah Natural History Museum, and a gift certificate for a flying lesson.

“I’m still thinking about that flying lesson,” Brady said. “Small planes make me think of (musician fatalities) Stevie Ray Vaughan and Patsy Cline. I don’t know if I can do that.”

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