21st Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards


Entry Title: Disappearing in Plain Sight

Author: Francis L. Guenette

Judge Number: 45

Entry Category: Mainstream/Literary Fiction

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.

Structure and Organization: 4

Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 3

Plot (if applicable): 3

Character Development (if applicable): 4

Judges Commentary*: This novel seamlessly weaves together a coming-of-age story with several coming-of-middle-age stories. All of the characters in Disappearing in Plain Sight are compelling and complicated people. By making Caleb’s death the central tragedy of the novel, the author does a great job joining together each character’s struggle. Lisa-Marie is, necessarily, a bit more problematic in terms of incorporation into the central narrative. However, her jealousy of Izzy, her pursuit of Justin, and her struggles with Beulah help make her story often as compelling as the adult’s.

However, I did not understand the function of having multiple point of view shifts in each chapter. Shifting from Lisa-Marie to Beulah, for instance, could help progress the plot by showing us what another character sees/remembers. We move so frequently from one character to the next, though, that we often get the same information repeated, and it’s difficult to tell how much time has elapsed between shifts.

Finally, Liam’s comforting of Lisa-Marie was highly problematic for me as a reader. There was nothing in Liam’s character prior to the incident that would have suggested this possibility. I had a hard time accepting that he was able to stifle his desires for the age-appropriate Izzy because she was vulnerable, but was not able to see how what he did to Lisa-Marie had the potential to traumatize her.

*Commentary may be quoted as: “Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards”

There you have it – Disappearing in Plain Sight’s official judge’s evaluation from the Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards. Sure, it would have been nice to score all 5’s and win a big prize – like a trip to New York and maybe an interview with a hot agent. (By hot I mean established with a good track record for landing great book deals rather than hot on any other scale – LOL).

I am very proud of this evaluation. For me, it represents an objective take on my work and, as a writer, that is more valuable than gold. Okay, I’ve got to run because I want to pour through The Light Never Lies for possibly confusing point-of-view transitions and/or repetitions.


8 comments on “21st Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards

  1. Very nice, Francis! Congratulations on an honorable evaluation…you should be proud!

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    You ought to be very pleased with that Francis. Book judges don’t pull punches whereas friends, family and blogging colleagues might.

    • That is what I was thinking, too, Roy. We want to be objective but it’s hard – right? As soon as you like someone or get a bit invested in them, for whatever reason, the subjective begins to creep in. To say nothing of self-interest. So, I’m pleased with this review – cue up the happy dance!

  3. Gwen Stephens says:

    It’s one more feather in your cap, and feedback from a very prestigious contest. Congrats.

  4. gpicone says:

    Great Job! Where and how did you self publish?

    • Nice to hear from you 🙂 For my first novel, I went the route of assisted self-publishing with Friesen Press. Expensive, but they put together a sellable product for me – nice cover, good formatting for print and e-book, medium pricing for bulk book orders. The problem with assisted self-publishing is the loss of control when it comes to pricing, managing royalties etc. For my second novel, The Light Never Lies, I will go it on my own, contracting out when I need to and retain more control. Thanks for the interest.

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