Free book edit contest

Welcome to the free book edit contest 2018

Here are the results, and votes cast
The shortlist: you can still read the entries
How this contest was run
Why were we doing this?
Interview with the winner

I don’t actually need more editing work, so why did I do this?

Everything at Bobbing Around, and all my books, all my work, is aimed at making this planet a good place to live on, in perpetuity. I want my grandchildren — all people everywhere under 25 — to have a survivable future, and a future worth surviving in.

Please look around. If you don’t have the time now, bookmark the site, and come back at leisure. You’ll find lots of goodies here. My words can be funny, challenging, entertaining, informative, and even annoying — but never boring.

If you read just one thing, make it my essay, How to Change the World.

I do have books for sale. If you send me proof of purchase anywhere, in any format, you’ve earned yourself a second title, free. A review is an excellent proof of purchase.


How this contest was run

I edited each submission, and sent it immediately back with helpful comments. So, even those who didn’t make the shortlist benefited. Some resubmitted more than once. Most of them made comments like this:

Thanks again for editing my piece. Your help is a great prize, so I’ve already won!
J. Q. Rose

Wonderfully detailed feedback, thank you so much!
Cole Masters

Although I am a bit disappointed in not placing in the top ten, I needed to let you know that my experience working with you, even on a short and very brief amount of editing, was extremely helpful and enlightening for me… Thank you for this opportunity and for instilling fresh motivation and inspiration to get Passing Loop finished and up to par. I also wanted to let you know that I have had two publishers and one literary agency ask for the full manuscript for consideration. Without having gone into this contest, I may not have had the courage to submit it in the first place.
Chynna Laird

The final version of each entry was sent to Theresa Hortley, who is a teacher. She spent her school holidays on acting as an independent judge, with no personal benefit to herself.

We then compared our selection of 10 finalists. I asked Emeritus Professor Florence Weinberg to adjudicate our differences. She was under incredible time pressure meeting a deadline for her next book, and going to a conference. Oh, she is the author of 10 books that have won 11 awards. She is helping me out of friendship.

So, I told her to look after herself, and at the last minute asked Miranda Miller instead. When I needed a paid editor a few years ago (very rare nowadays), I used her services. Miranda readily agreed — but by then Florence had returned her judgments anyway.


Why were we doing this?

If you look around Bobbing Around, you’ll see that its theme is the desire to convert an insane global culture of greed and conflict into a sane one of decency, cooperation, compassion. For humanity to survive, we need to change from grasping to giving.

I have realized that all living beings are apprentice Buddhas. We are on the road toward enlightenment, and the way to get there is to do our best to act as if we were already enlightened.

That’s the way we are running this contest. And that’s the reason I want to have more visitors to my site.

Please join us.


You’ll find a list of the 10 shortlisted entries below

Each entry consists of a synopsis, the description of the target audience, and an author’s bio. If an entry interests you, a click will display the first 1000 words of the book on a separate page.

Visitors were asked to judge how well this story would appeal to its target audience, not necessarily to themselves. They were asked to vote for THREE items. This was so they could vote for the entrant who sent them along (if any), and selected two others on quality alone.

The 10 shortlisted entries

…are listed here in randomized order.

Glory for the Brave by Georgiann Baldino
Historical women’s fiction (American Civil War)

Charlotte McKay’s Civil War service shattered the Victorian idea of femininity. She served as a nurse near some of the American Civil War’s bloodiest battles. In 1862 when Charlotte volunteered, society condemned the idea of women caring for men outside their immediate families. Army nursing thrust her into a world of violence, alcohol abuse, and prostitution. The average age of a Civil War soldier was 25, but many were teenagers, living for the first time beyond parental and church restraints. The power of public scorn kept some females from pursuing positions altogether. Even if females behaved admirably, serving with the military could ruin their reputations.

Charlotte approached army life with many misgivings, but soon learned that sick and wounded soldiers desperately needed her help. Women like Charlotte found army officers and government officials aligned against them. In the nineteenth century, a lady’s reputation could be challenged at will, and a woman who assumed a public role was met with suspicion. Glory for the Brave is based on the real-life experiences of Charlotte McKay, and her story is one for the ages, dramatizing how she and other women forged a path for the ones who followed.

Georgiann Baldino’s published writing spans numerous categories because she writes about captivating ideas regardless of genre. She enjoys taking in scenery and meeting people who allow her to understand great events on a human scale. She has been writing fiction and nonfiction since 2004, primarily concerning the American Civil War era. Her most recent book, A Family and Nation Under Fire, by Kent State University Press, is a collection of previously unpublished journals and correspondence between Maj. William Medill, 8th Illinois Cavalry, and older brother Joseph, one of the influential owners of the Chicago Tribune. The brothers correct newspaper coverage of the war, disagree with official military reports, and often condemn Lincoln administration policies. When shots are fired at Fort Sumter, the Medills mobilized, unaware how their courage will be tested in the coming years.

Georgiann also provides consulting services to a financial planning group and helps other authors with formatting, so they can reach their publishing goals. She lives in the United States in northern Illinois with her husband. In her spare time she relaxes with non-verbal activities such as gardening and yoga.

Click to read the first 1000 words

Looking Through Rose-colored Glasses by J.Q. Rose

Just like jumping out of a plane without a parachute while holding a one-year-old baby in her arms, Janet and her husband, Ted, leap from the stability of family, friends, and financial security into the uncertainty of fulfilling their dream of owning and operating a floral business. Going against the norms of 1976 believing a woman’s place is in the home, she spends sleepless nights wrestling with how she can balance motherhood with the demands of working outside the home.

With no knowledge or experience operating a business or selling fresh flowers, can they safely land on their feet? The shop owners, Nellie and Jack, whom they’d just met, assure Ted and Janet the flower business is healthy and they will help them learn how to run the operation. But can they be trusted? Janet and Ted face the monumental task together to nurture their baby daughter and their new business.

Follow their inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced by these blossoming entrepreneurs as they travel along the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.

Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.” She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven within the pages of her mystery novels. Her published mysteries are Deadly Undertaking, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard and Dangerous Sanctuary released by Books We Love Publishing. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She spends winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Click to read the first 1000 words

Summer Dreams by Helen Dale
LGBT — Trans Romance

I was David, now I’m Vicky.

Roger found me sunbathing in sand dunes near Bournemouth and changed my life. After spending a heavenly holiday with him as Vicky, I couldn’t face reverting to David. As becoming Vicky permanently seemed impossible, I tried to kill myself.

Roger showed me how life as Vicky was possible.

Summer Dreams tells of my transition journey, coming out to family and friends — and their reactions, some of which were difficult to deal with, especially my twin brother’s homophobic rejection; my medical treatment and surgery.

But being trans is just part of who I am. I have a normal life too, and it tells of our relationship, working together, sailing trips, rescue at sea; our wedding and nearly disastrous honeymoon and our plans for the future.

You meet other transwomen, their various experiences and the discrimination they face: Mia, a young offender in a male prison, despite living as female for years, whom I befriended; Michaela, an older activist who advised on training prison officers on trans issues, Laura, a post-op transwoman desperate for a man to take her post-surgery virginity, Jacqui, an older transwoman who’s ex-special forces, and Marilyn — whom we could have done without.

Helen Dale is a woman with a transsexual history. She has been actively involved in the trans community – as counsellor, chair of several trans and LGBT organisations and trainer – for more than twenty years.
Her early career was in Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing, then IT support. She was the first openly transgender employee nationally in the Probation Service in 1999. She served on national and local Diversity Boards within Probation and National Offender Management Service and received a number of awards for work with transgender individuals, including the Butler Trust Award presented by HRH Princess Royal.

Since retiring, she has become a volunteer with Diversity Role Models and facilitates sessions in primary and secondary schools dealing with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Her debut novel, Summer Dreams was inspired by a true incident from 1966 when she was a 19 year old transvestite and draws on her experience of the trans community to provide an authentic description of the abuse and challenges transgender people face, and their fears. She wants her novels to show they have wider lives, that being trans is just a part of them, and to break down some of the stereotypes while entertaining readers.

Click to read the first 1000 words

The Lip Reader by Michael Thal
Inspirational fictionalized true story

As a toddler, Zhila Shirazi contracted meningitis, losing most of her hearing. She grew up in Tehran with uncanny lip reading ability, but not everyone talked looking directly at her. While in the fourth grade one frustrated teacher, who thought Zhila was being rude by ignoring her, stabbed the child in her temple with a pencil and then sent her outside into a rainstorm to think about her transgressions.

The Lip Reader is Zhila’s story about growing up Jewish and deaf in a Muslim country. At the age of 35, after the start of the Iranian Revolution, she migrated to America in hope of a better life with the anticipation of qualifying for a cochlear implant.

Zhila settled in Encino, California, learned English, became an assistant nurse, married and divorced, and at the age of 49 met her bashert — Mickey Daniels. Their love story and Zhila’s tragic diagnosis of stage four colon cancer eleven years into their relationship cemented the couple’s devotion for one another. Together they fought the scourge until it took Zhila’s life shortly after her 65th birthday.

The Lip Reader is a heart wrenching story of family, deafness, and the miracle of love.

Michael Thal is the author of five published novels — Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series: The Legend of Koolura, Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback, and Koolura and the Mayans.

Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer, composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.

You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website and blog. His books can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print and as e-books.

Click to read the first 1000 words

Trains Only Go One Way by Genya Johnson
Historical: Holocaust
Trains Only Go One Way is set in Poland during WW2 when, like the rest of Europe, Poland was in turmoil.

Luka, a ten-year-old Jewish boy, knows little of what is happening beyond the confines of the room he shares with his mama. The soldiers took his papa some months before. His mama has hidden the truth from him, as she does not want to frighten him.

Whilst in his hiding place, he overhears wonderful news. They are going on a train journey to a special camp. Luka is so excited, but when he goes downstairs, his mama has gone.

As the story unfolds, Luka and his mama and papa are reunited for a short time. Then tragedy strikes, they have been betrayed and Luka, a terrified young boy who knows nothing about the hatred the soldiers have for the Jews, is on his own once again.

Getting on a train is the only answer. Unfortunately, the train takes him to Auschwitz and to the showers.

As he sees the faces of his parents and their open arms, he knows the train has taken him home.

I enjoy writing about children, as they have always been central to my life’s work, both as a teacher and as the founder and director of a charity for vulnerable children and young people. I am also a mother and grandmother.

For many adults, books are an integral part of their childhood memories, where they had a thirst for knowledge, escapism and enjoyed being engrossed in a good story. My stories aim to capture imagination as well as understanding and empathy.

This is my first novel and is set in Poland during World War 2 where Poland, like the rest of Europe, is in turmoil. The story is about friendship, loneliness, heartache, family, joy and tragedy and is told through the eyes of Luka, a Jewish boy as he journeys to find his parents. All he knows is that Trains Only Go One Way.

I have had three children’s picture books published, as well as poetry.

I also write short stories and poetry for adults and have been published in several anthologies.

Click to read the first 1000 words

W is for Wrestling by Keith Manos
Young Adult — bullying

Fifteen-year-old Alex Corrigan never expected he’d end up on the Amherst High School wrestling team.
Those guys are like gods at Amherst High, and Alex is a 100 pound nobody. He’s and has been an outcast so long he’s surprised when the coach asks him to join the team.

Alex lives with his divorced and erratic father who keeps changing jobs and making Alex the new kid. To Arthur Corrigan, Alex is D for disappointing because he hasn’t accomplished anything the last four years. However, when Alex joins – almost by accident – the wrestling team, which is competing for its 12th conference title in a row, he sees his opportunity to prove to his father and new teammates he can finally stop being A for Average. The problem? He knows nothing about wrestling and is starting midseason.

Nevertheless, Alex wants to impress Marcie Sommers, a wrestling cheerleader, who to his surprise confides in him some of her own personal problems, and Nick Cole, the 195 pound state champion who bullies Alex instead of welcoming him to the team. The outcome of Alex’s efforts as a wrestler ends up surprising Marcie, his teammates, his father, and, most importantly, himself.

Keith Manos is a veteran English teacher who in 2000 was named Ohio’s English Teacher of the Year by OCTELA and inducted into the National Honor Roll of Outstanding American Teachers in 2006. Keith’s novel W is for Wrestling emerges from Keith’s extensive experience as a wrestling coach; in fact, in 1988 Keith was honored as the Ohio Wrestling Coach of the Year, and in 2009, he was inducted into the Ohio Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame. He is the author of 9 nonfiction books, including Writing Smarter (Prentice Hall, 1998) and 101 Ways to Motivate Athletes (Coaches Choice, 2014). Recently, Black Rose Writing published his debut novel My Last Year of Life (in School). His articles and fiction have appeared in national magazines like Wesleyan Advocate, School Library Journal, Storgy, Attic Door Press, Teacher Magazine, Lutheran Journal, Scholastic Coach, and Wrestling USA. Keith has a Master’s Degree in English (Creative Writing) from Cleveland State University and a Bachelors from Miami University (OH), where he was the winner of the Greer-Hepburn Award for Creative Writing. You can check out all his books at his website.

Click to read the first 1000 words

The Long Lake Journal: A Father and Son Memoir by Chris Zantow

Don Zantow follows Midwestern values of working hard for an honest day’s pay. He realizes a dream of owning a successful construction company, only to have his partner bankrupt the operation, forcing a sale of the family cottage and unleashing a scramble to rebuild the business. Don’s son, Chris, is too young to understand the upheaval, and later has a hard time comprehending his grandfather’s suicide. Chris chooses to see the world through the opposite end of the spectrum – relaxation while fishing with his father.

In this three-act memoir (Young, Older, Oldest), Zantow and son form a deep bond across all stages of life. Fishing, and remodeling a home and cottage are the backdrop behind snappy conversations with colorful language. The journey between hard work and lazy life in a boat is augmented by incredible grilled food, cold adult beverages, resounding success, and hilarious mishaps.

The Long Lake Journal: A Father and Son Memoir is the story of the ties that bind families together but can be ripped apart by heath struggles, guilt over placing loved ones in a nursing home, and death. It is also the emotional story of moving forward after tragic loss while honoring the past.

Chris Zantow is a longtime corporate writer of training materials and resources for adult learners. Initially a writer for such publications as the Verona Press, he spent several years as a radio broadcaster before returning to writing full time.

His first book is a historical non-fiction work about the Milwaukee Brewers (title TBD) and will be available from McFarland Books in 2019. Readers will follow the fight to return major league baseball to Milwaukee against numerous setbacks and disappointments after the Braves moved to Atlanta. The book then travels through the early years of a young franchise struggling to gain a fan base, create an identity, and build a winning team.

Chris is also finishing a draft of The Long Lake Journal: A Father and Son Memoir. Chris and his father create a deep bond over a lifetime, only to have everything ripped apart by health struggles and guilt over placement in a nursing home. It is also the emotional story of moving forward after tragic loss while honoring the past.

Chris is a member of the Wisconsin Writers Association and you can find him online and on Facebook.

Click to read the first 1000 words

A Taste for Death by Dorothy Day
Murder mystery / Historical
In the second generation after the civil war, there was no middle class in Mississippi. How was a poor man going to get ahead, achieve his dreams? Illiterate and epileptic, Houston did not ask for much — tobacco in the can, opportunity to enjoy the night life, maybe a boarding house so he could have a living and not be out in the fields. But he first needed money to make his dreams come true. What was he willing to do?

Only one person seemed to understand that Houston was not the marrying kind and didn’t have the best of intentions. Elaine Haynes had been his silent victim for too long. Now she needed to find a voice of courage and evidence to show the rest of the world how despicable Houston Rodgers was. He is coming down!

Dorothy taught high school English and foreign languages for 25 + years and was a great writer of tests. She wrote feature articles for the Crystal Springs Meteor, and now does a church column in the same paper. She is the author of Memories of the Sharecropper’s Family, a self-published family history. From that work, she developed this novel, based on the murder of her father’s sister in 1931. The murderer went on to kill three others. She has no previous fiction writing experience other than a ten-thousand word short story that she plans to expand into a novel. She is 69, a former teacher and family counselor.

Click to read the first 1000 words

The Sleeping Ground by Lynette Willoughby

Disgraced court reporter Jade Daly is not a criminal on the run, but she’s made to feel like one after being fired from the job she loves.

Emotionally shattered, she returns home to Cooringie, a country town where the main street is full of For Lease signs. Jade befriends a woman who is visiting Cooringie. She’s not a tourist, so why is she here? Within days, the woman is reported missing. Jade stumbles upon evidence that confirms her worst fears. She is dead. Jade discovers that the woman visited the local cemetery before she disappeared. She was looking for her baby.

An arrest is made, but is the real killer still at large?

The search for the truth seems like an opportunity for redemption — but Jade hasn’t bargained on a vindictive cop with his own agenda and a doctor who not only owns the local hospital but the hearts and minds of the whole town.

There are more and more questions, but no answers.

After an anonymous offer of reward for information on the missing woman, things go from bad to worse. Jade acts on a sudden impulse, unaware that she will come face to face with the killer.

Lynette Willoughby is a financial planner by day, and an aspiring writer by night. She meets once a month with three other women in Bridgitte’s garage (aka The Writer’s Shed) for coffee, cake, critiques and plenty of laughs.

Since completing a 6-week short-story course in 2015, she has experimented in different genres, trying to find her voice. If you are a writer you will understand this search.

She has recently been published in the Forty South Anthology (2017) and Stringy Bark Anthology (2017).

This is her first attempt at something bigger: a crime thriller novella. It has a certain ring to it.

Plot formula: Draw inspiration from real life events, throw in a motive, a body, a quirky location, and stir well. She believes that injecting a story with a good dose of realism will have the desired effect. Readers will ask, “Could this really happen?”
Click to read the first 1000 words

Greenpunk by Monica Friedman
Science Fiction

If power flows through you, be a positive charge.

Big, dumb, and built for hardship, Rip Baker has been cranking along for a decade since his mother’s death, manually generating the city’s electrical power to benefit the common good and balance out his unequal contribution to society. It’s lonely, and it’s brutal, and it’s the only option available to men like him in the strict meritocracy of New Pueblo. Eating little and feeling less, Rip accepts every miserable aspect of his experience until a chance encounter with a dead girl and her very much not dead twin sister casts a new light on this dim existence. Suddenly, he needs answers to questions he’s never thought of asking, and he can’t stop himself until he uncovers the truth, even if he has to lie to get there. Who really controls the power in New Pueblo, and what do they plan to do with it? Now, Rip is consorting with terrorists, reading banned books, and throwing himself into a dangerous storm of treason, espionage, class-climbing, and data mining. What he learns about himself, and his city, could shatter his world, if it doesn’t shatter him first.

Monica Friedman can play the ukulele, stand on her head, and bake a perfect soufflé, but not all at the same time. Professional writer, starving artist, volunteer librarian, indiscriminate reader, and standard bearer for freaks of all nations, she is passionate about childhood literacy, dark chocolate, macrophotography, and dragons. She has been known to lecture strangers about gender, sexuality, and the history of comics, with or without provocation, and has collaborated on visual fiction projects with rural noir writer Bonnie Jo Campbell and horror poet Linda Addison. Her short speculative fiction has appeared most recently in The Weird Reader volume 3, and her contemporary fantasy novel, The Hermit is available on Amazon. You can view her webcomics and graphic design work at or her short reviews of every book she’s read in the last 12 years at Monica lives with 1 husband, 2 stepkids, and a terrible cat in the dry heat of Tucson, Arizona. She is decidedly a niche experience, but you really ought to try it before you decide.

Click to read the first 1000 words

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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24 Responses to Free book edit contest

  1. Pingback: End of 2018 Book Updates | Chris Zantow

  2. So hard to narrow my choices down to three! Some intriguing stories and fine writers here.


  3. So hard to narrow down my choices to three! Some intriguing stories and fine writers here.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you for taking the trouble, Nan, and giving it serious consideration. It was even more difficult to select the 10 finalists. I was tempted to make it 11 or 12, but my fellow judge slapped me on the wrist.


  4. Pingback: Stannington & Ecclesfield Library Writing Groups – STARA

  5. I love that you wrote, “Please vote for the THREE entries you consider the best. This is so you can vote for the entrant who sent you along (if any), and select two others on quality alone.” 🙂

    So many writing contests are based on popularity alone. I’m glad yours includes merit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Susan, you made my day. Personally, I get uncomfortable voting for a friend or contact without looking at the alternatives. So, I may go along with an invitation to vote, then find I need to be “disloyal” to the person who sent me. This way, people can do both. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: November 1 | qwertyvsdvorak

  7. Pingback: Book About Dad – The Long Lake Journal | Chris Zantow

  8. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Thank you, Roger, for the compliment of reproducing my essay on how to use guided imagery to become your character. I hope you enter my contest.


  9. Pingback: A Magic Trick For Writing | rogerpseudonym

  10. Pingback: Free book edit contest from | Deadline for entries is 15th October, 2018. #motownwriters | Motown Writers Network . . . Michigan Literary Network

  11. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Hi Florence. You’re too good to enter. Wouldn’t be fair.


  12. Florence Weinberg says:

    Great idea, Bob! May it bring you many new readers!

    Metta, Florence


  13. Also, even though you didn’t ask, my opinion of your books page: you need short blurbs or tag lines for each fiction book and any nonfiction book whose title doesn’t make the contents obvious.

    Making potential readers/buyers click through to another page PER BOOK to find out if they might want to learn more will lose their interest (I didn’t do it, and I was mildly interested).

    Second-best: put all the blurbs and covers on one page and then longer synopses, buy links and more info can be clicked through from the short blurbs on the blurb page.

    Also, EVERY page should have buy links, anyway. .

    Best to you,



  14. I checked out your books and had to laugh at this tag line for one of them (you need a website proofreader!): “Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s pace in the universe?”

    Better fix that, eh?


  15. Great! Reblogged for tomorrow (Monday, 8/6).

    I hope you get a lot of entries and sell a lot of books!

    Best to you,

    Sally Ember, Ed.D.


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