Living the Story

Some of you may know (most of you probably don’t) that I’m a food writer in my other life. I’ve done a lot of different things in the world of food, but this year presented a new experience to me: judging books in a cookbook competition.16291

Obviously, there are different criteria for judging a cookbook than a novel, or any other book, but there are some common things to consider.

First, there’s the cover. Is it appealing? Does it make you want to open it up and look inside? Does it evoke the contents?

Second, there’s the content. Is it well written, grammatically consistent, and logical? Does it maintain your interest?

Third, is the topic relevant—i.e., will people want to buy/use it?

These are the same qualities discerning readers look for in all genres of writing. There is one major different in judging these two categories of books, though: In judging cookbooks, you have to test some of the recipes to see if they work.


Imagine if the judges in a writing competition had to test out the plots and action in all the novels up for an award?

Hmm….let’s do this.

So, you’re a judge.

You find yourself in kinky romance. Do you put your money into chains and whips, and spend time nailing up the swings and shackles? (But maybe you do, anyway. No judgments here.) Would you clamp your partner’s nipples or pierce her labia? (Again, maybe it’s your thing, anyway.)

Maybe you’re judging the mystery category. Would you feel comfortable getting confined in duct tape and getting dumped into the trunk of a car? Would you skulk around dark, dangerous alleys hunting down a killer? What if it’s a spy thriller? Would you live out your James Bond fantasies, then?

What if you were judging Gill McKnight’s Little Dip? How exactly would you go about dating a werewolf, anyway?

It’s an intriguing concept.

If you had a chance to “test” a scene, or even an entire plot line, of a story or novel, which would it be and why? Tell us, don’t be shy. Live your favorite story!


  1. I would love to be partners with Alex Toles in the Intersection series by Nancy A Healy or buddies with Jameson in JD Armstrong’s By Design series. Maybe be route partners with Tess in JD’s Special Delivery series. Oh yeah, I can’t forget sailing with Grey in MJ Duncan’s Veritas story! I would love to be on Prospo with KC Luck’s Captain Nat in Rescue Her Heart or helping rebuild with the group of strong women in KC’s Darkness Falls series!
    There are so many more stories I would love to wander around in. The worlds you all write about draw us in & hold is hostage!

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  2. I really like this idea. I just finished reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” so uppermost in my mind is testing out what it would be like to live in the White House for a week with a stylist, makeup artist, and hairdresser, never getting to go outdoors without a phalanx of Secret Service people, and going everywhere without carrying keys or money. A week. Just a week, thank you.

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