Writer's Digest Book Award BadgeWe were thrilled to get the news that Psycho-Tropics won a Writer’s Digest award in Genre Fiction in the magazine’s 2015 23rd Annual Self-Published Book Awards contest.

Yesterday the  judge’s full review arrived.  Psycho-Tropics received 24 out of a possible 25 points.  (The book got dinged one point for not having an author photo and a technical issue for not having a “BISAC” code. )  Here’s the judge’s analysis:


Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

The story opens with an audacious line. Soon we realize we are in the mind of someone who is criminally insane. We want to keep reading to understand (if we can) why this happened and what’s going to happen next. When we meet Danny, we think this is a typical guy regretting last night. Until we find out he’s a lottery winner. That kind of twisting off the unexpected path is what will keep readers reading.

Even though we move through different scenes and time periods rather quickly in the first pages, we don’t lose the plot thread. The flashback relates to the reunion and Danny’s decision to go. Additionally, it’s well done and entertaining. The middle and ending of the book have many twists and turns that keep the reader guessing right up until the end. The ending ties up all the loose ends and is emotionally satisfying.

Though we start in the head of the murderer, who is insane no less, we truly are seeing the world through his warped sense of reasoning. And with a touch of humor. When we meet Danny, he’s not a typical band-playing surfer dude. He’s a lottery winner who gives money to charity and doesn’t expect to outlive his lottery earnings. Keeping your characters multidimensional is what keeps readers coming back for more.

The writing is clean with no errors.

The front cover is great, giving us a slightly whimsical view of paradise. The title makes us want to turn it over to see what the book is about.  The back cover copy does a great job of letting us know the plot and the main characters. The author bio is good but an author photo would also be nice. Readers like to connect with authors. The interior design is nicely done. [Here it mentions the BISAC code, which is a code included to tell retailers how to classify a book for inventory purposes.]

Marrying humor with suspense is not easy but it comes across masterfully in your voice. A truly enjoyable read.

Thanks, Writer’s Digest!

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