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Positive critique from Writer’s Digest

I entered Sins of Omission in the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. While I did not win, I won all 4’s and 5’s on a five-point scale for Structure, Organization, and Pacing; Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar; Production Quality and Cover Design; Plot and Story Appeal; and Voice and Writing Style.

I was most happy with the positive comments which I present here without editing (warts and all).

For murder mystery fans who like their contemporary plots mixed in with local history, this novel provides a comfortable marriage of the two. The author gives the reader lots of flavor in his narrative style about a many seeking the truth about his late father that ties into secrets decades old. There is also a subtext of the shrinking local newspaper industry that plays a part here. For journalists, this will ring very true.


The author pays lots of attention to sensory imagery. He writes about the “call of barred owls” and the sounds of the wind. He uses alliteration, similes, strong verbs, lots of short sentences, and one-sentence paragraphs ““ strong journalist tools, too ““ to help the story move quickly and in a readable style without bogging down too much in dry history. There are even a few old documents and letters included to counter the pace. The creativity even extends to the chapter titles which are both readable and apt for what’s to come.


What also rewards the reader is the author’s penchant for terse phrases and observations about small town South. “This was a town divided by race and united by tradition,” he writes (page 62). Elsewhere, he observes, “Bad news travels in packs.” This kind of phrasing makes the book, no matter where it goes, readable and refreshing. The cover image suggests a rural river and underbrush ““ not clearly connected to the nifty writing inside.

Both Sins of Omission and its prequal, Breaking News, are available in print and ebook formats.

By James H Lewis

Pittsburgh, PA author, writer, and nonprofit consultant

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