Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards (Judges Comments)

Entered my book into the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Although I didn’t win, I got some nice comments from the judges which I wanted to share with you. I copied and pasted the email body text here so you can read it. I’m happy with what the judges had to say. I know I did a good job in writing it.


Below is a brief commentary for your entry in the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. If you received the incorrect review by mistake, please contact Writer’s Digest immediately at this email address. With so many books to judge/record, our judges may accidently input the incorrect review into the system. We do our best to catch all of these, but there are always a few that slip past. Thank you for your understanding~

Entry Title Diagnosed At Seventeen
Author: Ruth Spoonemore
Judge Number: 51
Entry Category: Life Stories

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking. Our system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations. As a result, a “0” is used in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry or a how to manual, would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal and may therefore receive a “0”.

*If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 3

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 3

Production Quality and Cover Design: 3

Plot and Story Appeal: 3

Character Appeal and Development: 4

Voice and Writing Style: 4

Judge’s Commentary*:

There is much more here by and about the author than the title first suggests. While the story indeed starts at age 17, when she is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the narrative extends long past that part of her life. In fact, the reader is taken into the author’s 50s. Along the way, the story shares her journey with a crippling disease and affiliated illnesses and challenges for decades. It started with her fingers (somewhat ironic since she is maintaining a journal and other writing projects). The important factor is that this is not a “poor me” tale. The author shares the other parts of her life. Sometimes, the volume seems to be about everything else but her RA, but the disease and its impact are always lurking in the background. For one, as the author ages, walking and balance prove more and more challenging. This is carried to the point where she is afraid to live alone for fear of falling — something millions of Americans share for various reasons. There are some good writing techniques here (such as the sense of smell); the author maintains a readable voice that mixes quotes italics (to represent her thoughts and emotions) and observations by friends. The cover is a very apt image of a lone, spare tree, perhaps in fall, with a rainbow arcing overhead. This mix of reality and hope seems apropos for the memoir.

Follow up on the last post

PS: I had my MRI last week. Everything is stable and looks good. I will have to schedule another MRI a year from now.

In my last post, I told you about discovering an aneurysm in my brain after falling and having to go to the emergency room. Much has happened since then, and I’ve been trying to digest it all. Here is the rest of the story.

It was supposed to be a “simple” procedure; going up a vein in my leg, entering the brain, inserting a stent and some coils, to stop any further growth. Although still considered brain surgery, the doctor had performed many of these procedures without problems. Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out the way they are planned. What was supposed to be one operation, turned out to be 3 operations in as many days.

During the first procedure, the breathing tube nicked a blood vessel in my throat and I started to bleed. The neurosurgeon went ahead and put in the stent. However, they couldn’t figure out where the bleeding was coming from and decided to discontinue the operation.

They finally figured out the blood was coming from a blood vessel in the back of my throat. The second surgery, done the next day, was going in and cautereizing the area so they could stop the blood flow. I lost a lot of blood, and had to have an infusion.

In the third surgery, the doctor went up the leg again and inserted coils into the aneurysm to encourage clotting of the blood within the aneurysm.

At one time during this whole adventure, I had IVs coming out of both arms, a large one out of the side of my neck, a feeding tube down my throat, and a breathing tube down my nose. I was a sight!

At a follow-up appointment with my primary care doctor, we learned that one time during my stay my heart pumped inefficiently. It was only pumping out 40% of the blood it would normally. (I’m happy to say, after being released, I went in for a stress test and an EKG and my heart is normal again.)

I spent 10 days in the hospital, most of it in the ICU. It was an unnerving situation, one that I never want to go through again!

In September, I go in for an MRI to make sure everything is okay.

I send out heartfelt gratitude to the staff who cared for me while in the hospital. The doctors and nurses, therapists, and all the others, made my stay as stress-free as possible in this situation.

I also want to thank all of you who sent their prayers, and good thoughts. Now that it’s over I’m hoping to get back to somewhat a normal life.