Inside Ink and Insights: What This Judge Wants

Fortune shone on me as my mum read to me nightly. I’m sure this is where my love of reading began and would one day lead me to reading and judging for the Ink and Insights writing competition. *Pause for effect.*

Okay, I made that much more dramatic than it is, but there is some truth to it. Reading a lot led to writing, editing, and content development. The competition is another branch of this progress ^_^.


You’ve got the background, now here’s a little insider info – Ink and Insights’ judges are given a list of preference choices for genre, age category, etc. We’re then able to let the competition’s organisers know what we love/like, what we’re okay with but would rather not read, and what we definitely don’t want to read. This is a great system as it means each judge is paired with submissions best suited to their tastes and what they’re well-read in. Writers are then able to get well thought-out critiques from four different judges.

I read and write various genres, but like most judges I have preferences too . . .

Speculative fiction/supernatural/creatures

For most of my childhood, I picked up whichever story interested me as most of us do then. After hitting secondary school, a friend introduced me to Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire series (known as Thirst now). The series wasn’t for twelve-year-olds but WHHHOOOO! My love affair with all things speculative, supernatural, and outside-the-box came to play.

I stormed bookstores, libraries, and swapped with friends to get my hands on all the vamps, werewolves, and creatures I could find. They excite me and find their way into my writing too, here, here, and everywhere ^_^.

I’m especially interested in original or modified creatures/animals/hybrids/etc and lore. I’ve been doing it from 2001, revamping supernatural creatures and lore, or developing original creatures like the water-bound vazedii in The Wardens Universe. I even offer Monster Help to writers trying to flesh out or understand their supernatural beauties better. This makes me one of the best choices for submissions featuring these elements, since my background’s dripping in it :).


Mystery/Thriller

James Patterson’s thriller novels had a big impact on my interest in thriller and crime stories. I was there with “Alex Cross” for all the ups and downs – you have no idea lol. As for mystery, that started with good old Nancy Drew Mysteries, and carried on with all kinds including paranormal, historical and, I have a huge soft spot for those with archaeological/anthropological elements.

There’s something about not knowing what’ll happen next. It intrigues and is best when I literally don’t know and can’t figure out in the first ten pages where the story’s going to go.


Action and Adventure

Speculative fiction crosses with this genre so much, it’s a bit obvious I’d be into it ^_^. Going on a wild or dangerous adventure through quality entertainment (books, TV, etc), continues to inspire. I don’t care if the MC (main character) is a dick, a coward, or anything in between. For me they don’t have to be a star from the beginning. It’s great to see character growth, and action and adventure provides perfect soil for this.

To hone in on the action part for a moment. Though sometimes pace needs to be slower for the sake of the story, I’m a huge fan of fast-paced fiction. This is evident in Praesidium’s Orphans, and Scarbor Island. That said, there’s nothing wrong with action coming in slow waves, dropping it in at just the right moment :).


Carib Speculative

This one could have been lumped in with speculative fiction, as it’s a genre within that broad genre. You’ve probably never heard of it though and I’ll tell you why. I coined the term in early 2020. It fits many of my stories featuring Caribbean-based settings, characters, etc. You can learn more about it here. The reason I made it a genre (and yes, I submit to agents with this genre in my queries too), is because I found it challenging at times to find a speculative genre that best suited what I’d written. Sure fantasy and sci-fi fit in a broad sense, but I wanted to get to the nitty-gritty – so Carib speculative it is :).

I haven’t yet, but I’d love to get submissions featuring any of the elements found in this genre. I might not live in the Caribbean anymore, but it’ll always be my hometown and I’d be thrilled to read stories with reminders of my roots.


Odd friendships/partnerships/relationships in general

I love a good buddy-buddy story. Make them complete opposites and have the dynamic work anyway and you’ve got me hooked. It’s like in my episodic The Wardens Series – Erin’s feisty, hot-headed, and impulsive, while Zach’s level-headed and slow to anger. He’s into guns, she’s into dark magic, and together they’re beautiful.

I want weird relationships all over my inbox ^_^.


To close my preferences’ list out, I’d also like to read . . .

Your Voice, No One Else’s

I love when a writer’s voice shines through. If you’re a first time writer I know you may not have found it yet. However, there are other ways your budding voice will be highlighted. It’ll be in the way you use a metaphor, or how your dialogue spills out. It’ll be a character I haven’t seen before, or one I’ve seen a million times but done completely differently. It’ll be you and that’s that.


Submissions are coming in and I’m excited to start reading so if you haven’t submitted yet, get on it here. The other Ink and Insights’ judges and I are waiting :).


The next Pages Unforgotten post is on March 9. Until then, try: Design A Book Cover in Canva in Five Minutes | Don’t Put Off That Thing You’re Putting Off | How Watching TV’s Like Reading a Book and Can Help You Write | Embarrassed About Where You Started? So Was I


This is my fourth year as an Ink & Insights judge and throughout its duration, I’ll share a connected post once a month. Learn more about the Ink and Insights’ writing competition here.


For help with your writing project visit my For Writers page.


Multi-genre reads available on my Fiction page :).


For more info, questions, or comments, share below or contact me :).

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