The main objective in entering any book contest is to get a rough idea how your work may be viewed by people outside of your supportive network of family and friends. Unfortunately, for practical reasons most book contests only give you a Pass/fail Win/lose categorical answer that leaves you with more questions than clues as to what things went right or wrong with your labor of love. Writer’s Digest Annual Book Awards, now in its 22nd year, is one of but a few competitions that aim to provide some such feedback to contestants.
It was thus with great anticipation that I was looking forward to the promised judges’ commentary from Writer’s Digest Annual Book Awards, and I’m most happy to share it here with all of you, my friends and supporters. Although I realize that I still have a long way to go, the commentary nevertheless gives me some much-needed positive reinforcement that at least I’ve started out on the right track. So, without further ado, here goes.
Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5
Judge’s Commentary: ONCE UPON A MULBERRY FIELD by C.L. Hoang is a heartfelt story that takes the reader deep into the Vietnam War through characters that ring with authenticity and make us think about the human condition. Those who want to know more about the war in Vietnam would do well to read this wonderful novel. The reader will have no doubt as to why this touching novel took the author six years to complete.
The cover is graced with one of the most lovely pictures I have seen in a long time. I love the colors. The lush landscape and brilliant orange and yellow sunset come to life despite being what could be called “marred” by the presence of the helicopter. I wonder what the young woman is thinking as she looks upon the scene. Very emotional and moving cover. Kudos to the artist.
Immediately I was drawn into the book and wanted to find out what happened. The author chose a point of view that not every author can handle with skill — first person — but the author does a fine job with this perspective. This wasn’t an era I knew much about, but what I especially like about the story is that it goes beyond the events and makes the thoughtful reader contemplate the larger issues of life and death we all must face. With deep inner and outer conflict, romance, characters we can all care about, and a superb plot, ONCE UPON A MULBERRY FIELD is a book well worth the reader’s time. I hope it won’t take C.L. Hoang six more years to write another novel!
In celebration of this wonderful review, I’ve put the Kindle edition of ONCE UPON A MULBERRY FIELD on sale during the holidays ($3.99, or 43% off the regular price of $6.99).
Check out my Amazon Kindle Book Page by clicking HERE.