This year I decided to spend some of my paltry marketing budget entering my novels in a few of the many contests offered on the internet.
I may as well have flushed the funds down the toilet for all the good it did. Most contests hastily cashed my cheque and then didn’t even bother spamming me to advise that I didn’t win, place or show.
These for sure are cash grabs for financially beleaguered writing sites, festivals, literary publications or outright scam artists.
The exception so far has been the Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards that provided a brief commentary from an anonymous judge.
So here are Judge Number 54 comments regarding my submission to The 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Not a bad review, but then it did cost $116.45 ($99.49 entry fee + $10.30 postage + $6.66 for the price of the book and shipping)
Entry Title: Abandoned Dreams
Author: Rod Raglin
Judge Number: 54
Entry Category: Mainstream/Literary Fiction
* Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 4
Voice and Writing Style: 4
This novel uses a distinctive succession of first-person sections that combine to offer an incisive perspective on the loves and fortunes of several characters whose lives intersect in tortured relationships. Musings and actions by the characters as the story progresses create a running succession of candid revelations. Along the way, readers get intimate understandings of what motivates the characters, who cross a wide age range, as they seek to reach their social and artistic goals. Literary and artistic matters including the drive for fame and creativity, as well as cutting criticism, are refreshingly realistic and provide illuminating insights into the minds of writers and artists. How the past and present link up and influence their current lives and activities is skillfully portrayed. Generational aspects, including a visit to an ashram in the U.S., are woven into the multiple relationships and ambitions that stir the narrative.
Overall, the dreams of the past blend into the aspirations of the present as the force of character persists.
More suspense in what will happen, especially as the past is recalled, would enhance the book’s drive. More chapters should end on a suspenseful note to make readers wonder what will happen next. The dialogue is snappy with good use of interior monologue while showing the mind-sets of the characters.
The title is intriguing and spurs interest. The first two lines of the subtitle work, but the third one raises the question of who the “they” is. Perhaps “life” could be used instead. The cover image is interesting, but consider placing an easel between the chairs and a manuscript on one chair to better reflect the contents and themes of the novel.
You can purchase Abandoned Dreams from my Amazon Author’s Page at
Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs