Writer's Digest



March 13, 2020

Writers Digest is the premiere periodical and website for aspiring and professional authors. Part of the services the editors provide to writers is to enter competitions in a variety of categories and genres. Through the process, the writer gets valuable comments from the judges on his or her work.

Last year, I published Fury Duty, which I entered into the 27th Annual Writers Digest Self-Published Hardcopy Book and Ebook Awards. These are two distinct competitions with different judges. I'm happy to share the critique the judges from these prestigious competitions.

Judge, 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Ebook Awards


The seven works in Fury Duty carry a thread of displacement, flipping from one strange setting to the next. A mishmash of peculiar characters and settings, the pre-trial “Fury Duty” coverage provides nice comic relief. I loved Simmons giving condolences for Carly’s loss of decency. Mendoza's forked tongue and acid blood are creepy reveals, and the sandpaper tongues in “Fury Duty” and “Here is the Church” a vivid commonality. Strong character voices use terms like “butter face” and compare a briefcase to “a loyal dog, often at rest,” revealing individual perceptions. Doris standing up to Mr. Reither with her “hope we live to see another day” philosophy digs the knife in and twists. Nice job stirring reader emotions. 

Judge, 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Hardcopy Book Awards


The author gives us, in this short story anthology, a somewhat R-rated version of The Twilight Zone (a TV anthology overtly noted in the text). The seven stories are short, mostly macabre, and sometimes graphic. The plots range from Juror No. 13 designed also as executioner (in the title short story) to a short story about who's on the menu and, more starkly, what it feels like.


The author mixed points of view, from male to female, and uses lots of very good writing techniques to pace the narrative: similes, alliteration, foreshadowing, sentence fragments, short one-sentence paragraphs, and even puns (as in the volume's title). There's even one story in quatrains.


The first-person narratives also often offer humor, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, but mostly of the gallows variety. There are refreshing themes that echo George Orwell and even a bit of Kafka. The protagonists, chapter by chapter, also are quirky enough, in first-person voices, to be hard to forget. One says to a roadside vulture dining on road kill, "Enjoy your deer tartar, birdie."

The cover is apt for the title story. Each chapter opens with its own image.