39. Yankee Doodle Dandy!

LATE last year I took the plunge – I crossed the pond to enter a competition run by the most prestigious writing magazine in America.

I wasn’t sure what would happen. After all, you can’t get a more British novel than Crossing The Whitewash. It features rugger, for goodness sake, old chap!

Still, I chose to back myself and entered my gritty urban gangland thriller in the genre category at the 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest self-publishing awards.

For those unaware of its existence, Writer’s Digest has been publishing magazines since 1920. It produces eight a year for writers of all levels. It is also responsible for Writer’s Market, the American equivalent of the Writers & Artists Yearbook.

And recently it combined with Book Baby, which is one of the most-used tools by self-publishing authors.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, just before Christmas I received a congratulatory e-mail telling me that I had won an Honourable Mention in the Genre category (spelt honorable, of course, because the Yanks don’t do proper English!).

The prize amounts to a mention on the writer’s digest website and $50 worth of books – always useful to a bookworm like me.

The judges praised me for my “Evocative, original, unfailingly precise and often humorous” novel. And there was a lot, lot more besides.

If you can bear my gloating any more, here’s the full transcript (links below)…

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, 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook 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: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

 Plot and Story Appeal: 4

 Character Appeal and Development: 5

 Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*:

Our judges all have professional experience in their background, whether it’s as a teacher, editor, publisher, agent, published author, etc. Judges are asked to write a short commentary, which you will find below. Some judges use this as an opportunity to critique, others as an opportunity to review, and others yet may choose to combine the two. Some judges choose to speak largely, or in general terms, about a work so that they can cover as much as possible. Others choose to hone in on a few key points, leaving out larger portions but hopefully giving examples on a smaller scale that can apply to a larger one. 

 ‘Crossing the Whitewash is a gripping, at times poignant, at times funny, story of the problems of fathers and sons. Despite being unfamiliar with rugby and some of the British vernacular, I found myself transported to Gareth’s world. The prose here is excellent: evocative, original, unfailingly precise and often humorous. I was also impressed by the development of all of the characters, major and minor. Arnold is terrifying, but never comes off as a two-dimensional villain. By the end, the reader can see that all of the characters have changed. My biggest criticism of the novel concerns its organization.’

There are some criticisms that go on from there, about how some of the structure was slightly confusing, but there are plenty of plot spoilers in there, so I’ll just say they weren’t happy with everything.

Still, if it has taught me anything it is don’t be afraid to take the plunge and offer your work up. This is the best morale-boosting news I’ve had since releasing the book and has reinforced my determination to carry on writing.

  • For full judge’s verdict click on WDPDF03 below but, beware, there ARE plot spoilers revealing all the twists and turns of the book…