“All contest entries will receive a judge’s review.” These words caught my attention and I mused, Friends will give kind, perhaps biased reviews…or be silent…but a contest judge? Who knows?

With nothing to lose other than a small entry fee, I dispatched a copy of Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story to the Writer’s Digest 2017 Self-Published Book Contest.

Months later the results were in. Sticks Stones didn’t win big money, but she did merit some decent grades—a total of 28 points out of a possible 30.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5; Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5; Production Quality and Cover Design: 5; Plot and Story Appeal: 4; Character Appeal and Development: 4; Voice and Writing Style: 5

The book also received the judge’s comments which included the following:

When, near the end of the Great Depression, Mrs. Corey falls in with Mr. Arthur Corey’s plan to give up his job feeding chickens to become a full-time preacher in a backwoods location, it is truly hard to know what to expect.

The reader will become absorbed by the spirit and resourcefulness of the Corey children…and of Mrs. Corey, the true backbone of this family. The author has a gentle hand in describing Preacher Corey’s attitude…and in acknowledging his temper problem.

Overall, the author’s descriptive and narrative skills are finely honed and make following her story an adventure.

“Finely honed descriptive and narrative skills” sounded affirming—affirming enough for me, the author, to post the results of the contest as an update on the journey of Sticks, Stones & Songs.

And affirming enough for me…drum roll…to reveal the birthing of a second book.

Eighteen months ago bells in my brain began ringing with urgency to document more of the Corey story. Thus–before I could lose the will and the way–I embarked again on a paleontological excavation of letters, diaries, photos and interviews. The result: A life story of my parents, Arthur and Margaret, narrated in the humorous but self-deprecating voice of my mother. This manuscript, currently awaiting the refining tools of an editor, is titled, Margaret Corey—My Life: A Primer for Peace in the Pressure Cooker.  

Stay tuned…