Posted by: cobaltmemories | November 17, 2012

Writers Digest Book Review

Last spring I learned about a self-published book contest at Writers Digest and entered our book to see what the results might be.  With 20,000 entries the competition was very strong. Here are the results:

Entry Title: Cobalt:  The Legacy of the Blackbird Mine

Author: Russell Steele

Judge Number: 35

Books were evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.

In some cases, you may see special or out of place characters/symbols in your commentary. For example, you may see that a character/symbol replaces an apostrophe, copyright, and other “symbols”.

These substitutions occur for various reasons – and are unavoidable. They are often [programming] misinterpretations due to encoding, installed fonts, web based content/sources etc.

Since the “content”[data] of the commentary is comprised of data sent from several different computers (programs, fonts etc.,) and from the internet (online entry system), you may at times see an interpretation of what had been an apostrophe, quotation mark etc.

Structure and Organization: 4

Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

What did you like best about this book?

COBALT is a very cool book. I liked that Mr. Steele’s presents his facts clearly and simply. He puts in good details, for instance the fact that pack mules were the only way to get supplies in and ore concentrate out of the mine for quite a while. I found it extremely interesting to learn how mines opened, closed, and opened again based on the price of the materials they mined. Innovative to link the book to a web site where more material can be enjoyed by a curious reader. I liked Mr. Steele’s personal stories of life in the mining town, as well as the photos. Without them, the book would be weak, but with them it’s stronger.

How can the author improve this book?

As for improvement, Mr. Steele does make a few grammatical errors (some consistently, like using ‘it’s’ instead of ‘its’ to show possessive) that could be corrected in the next edition of COBALT. A bit more personal stuff at the beginning instead of strictly mining history could draw the reader in earlier. Or if not that, maybe some more details of the workers’ life, like what the guys might have been wearing during that long trek through the snow, and how they might have felt, and what the ground might have been like. I would have been interested to learn more about the actual technology of mining, maybe even with some schematics showing just how the ore was brought out, then concentrated. But overall, a really interesting book about a way of life that few people know about.

I think was was remarkable for a first effort. I had a huge debate with myself on which should have come first, my stories or the history.  According to the reviewer I made the wrong decision. Live and learn.

I will be adding some of the details that the reviewer found missing. That is one of the strengths of a hybrid book.

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