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
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.