Humbling Praise at Thanksgiving Time

Written Review of Castle Danger from Writer’s Digest

I’ve never been comfortable bragging about my successes, but I’ve been forced to work on tooting my own horn now that I’m a published author and I’m trying to sell books to help Big Brothers Big Sisters. So I’m still reluctant to share this with you even though it’s the highest, most legitimate praise Castle Danger has received outside of online reviews.

This morning I received my printed evaluation or “grade” as it were, from the Writer’s Digest reviewer who screened my book. I also got the ratings for the grading criteria from the panel that made the final judgment. Note that I’m not sure what the evaluation process encompasses, so this is my best guess.

Without further ado, I’ve copied and pasted the particulars so you can see for yourself:


A few quick notes~

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.

  • The 1-5 scale is strictly to provide a point of reference; the scores are meant only to be a gauge, and are not a cumulative score, nor are they tallied or used in ranking. 
  • A “0” is not a negative score. Our online review system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations.As a result, we’ve substituted a “0” 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, a cookbook, or a travel guide would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal, and may therefore receive a “0” – indicating that the rating was not applicable.
  • If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 25th 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: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5 

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5 

Voice and Writing Style: 5 

Judge’s Commentary*: 

This was a very a well-done book. You have a strong opening that attracts the reader. You have incredible pacing. The events keep building throughout the book, relentlessly. I was most impressed with the setting. So often the setting is just a throwaway to the thriller, but you made the setting be a character in the novel, which is what the best genre authors do. I’m thinking of Chandler and LA and Connelly and LA (as well.) I was reminded of the works of William Kent Krueger, and that’s a compliment indeed. It should be as no surprise to you that I sent this book on to the next round of judging in the contest. I don’t have very much constructive suggestions to make. I was concerned a few times about the use of multiple points of view. Be sure in future works to try to keep the perspectives to a minimum. At times, the book jumped multiple times on the same page. I would recommend one perspective per chapter. Still, this is not a major issue for the book, and I would be very proud of this book. Have you considered attending Thrillerfest or other conferences that might get you additional promotion for a great book?


Toot-My-Own-Horn Time

Pretty cool, huh? What blew me away the most was simply being mentioned as evoking memories of Chandler, Connelly, and WK Krueger. There’s no way I’m in the same league as those greats . . . (yet! 😉 ). But the feeling of succeeding at one of my main goals, including setting as a character (in the guise of a northern Minnesota winter), is especially gratifying.

One thing I know all too well is that every reader is different. It’s impossible to please everyone with any work of art because taste is completely subjective. I’ve had a few bad reviews as well as a few “rah-rah” reviews by readers who perhaps only have a two-star rating scale: five stars if they liked a book; four stars if they didn’t.

However, assuming this reviewer is experienced in judging contests such as this one, his/her review carries more weight with me, and I hope with prospective buyers.

Small Business Saturday

The official the gift-giving season is nearly here. If you’re looking for a unique gift–such as a book by an unknown local indie author–that has risen above the pack enough to merit your consideration, then patronize your local independent bookstore to find those special gifts that you can’t find at the mega malls and big box stores. Your community will appreciate your support.

Two local bookstores that have supported me and my book have earned your patronage. Little Professor Bookcenter in downtown Owatonna, MN and Sweet Reads Books in Austin, MN.

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