How these books won the Burt Award

Recently, I shared the call for submissions by the organizers of the Burt Award. Or, thought I did – here it is. Debbie Jacob, chief judge for the 2015 Burt Award, has been telling a few tales from the judging room, with an eye toward, I think, providing guidance to others who may have submitted or wish to submit in the future. I decided to share those articles as well as you continue to write and/or polish your stories. Here are some excerpts (full articles linked below; all bolds mine):

“Of the 33 manuscripts or self-published books submitted for this year’s award, three books stood out for general writing strength, beauty of language, innovative structure, solid themes, riveting plots, strong conflicts and memorable characterisations.”

“…the overarching thing I want more than anything in a story, is conviction. Believability. Do the characters sound authentic? Are their motives credible? Are the pictures clear? Are the incidents believable and yet surprising enough to keep me interested? Do I want to keep reading? When I finish, am I satisfied? Our three titles are the best of the lot. They all have conviction.” (Richard Scrimger)

“Aspiring writers should take note of Verna’s comments about the submissions in general: “It was obvious that all the writers had varying and interesting ideas for a novel, but were mostly failing on the technicalities of executing the ideas effectively. Publishing is a business after all, and publishers are searching for good stories to sell well for profit. I believe that good Caribbean stories have universal appeal and would sell inside and outside the Caribbean.” (the Verna referenced is writer and publisher Verna Wilkins)

“One of the things I thought Dolphin did well, by the way, was even when it shifted to the grandfather’s perspective, it was his memories of a younger self so that it still felt like a perspective relatable to a Caribbean teen, said Joanne.” (the Joanne she’s referencing there is me and the book referenced Diana Macaulay’s The Dolphin Catchers)

“His winning novel, Children of the Spider, is a fast-paced tale of survival where a high-tech world collides with redefined folklore figures who are out of control in Guyana, and it reflects his many varied interests from anime and psychology to stories of monstrosities.” (Debbie re Imam Baksh’s winning entry)

“Lynn, Imam and Diana combined literary genres into a seamless image of Caribbean Young Adult literature with themes that Young Adult readers enjoy: family, friendship, survival, love, technology, the environment.” (Debbie)

“The joy in choosing these three novels for the 2015 Burt Awards is knowing that fans of YA literature and Caribbean literature would be missing something deep inside their reading souls if they never had the opportunity to read these three novels that create a new foundation for bold, innovative writers to remember their roots and reach outward to new literary shores.” (more Debbie)

Read Debbie’s reports in full, here and here.

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