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By: James Ballard

Author of Poisoned Jungle

I began entering Poisoned Jungle in book award contests as a means to gain exposure for my novel. In a crowded field, I sought the credibility and recognition that winning competitions would bring. Friends and family, of course, were recommending all kinds of venues for marketing my book, but I soon recognized the real challenge was in getting the right reviewer, journalist, and library to take an interest. I needed some way for my novel to stand out. Simply offering another book on the Vietnam War into the market was not enough.

I proceeded cautiously. Using book awards as a marketing strategy will only work if you win a contest. If not, the entry fees will give you no return. I was fortunate to win the Royal Dragonfly competition in the historical fiction and military categories—the first contest entered. It gave me confidence that my work had merit. The novel went on to win silver in the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards for “Best New Voice: Fiction.”

The awards success does not automatically sell books. I see it as a means to gain exposure. I am weak in social media skills, so I have hired a book publicist/marketer to utilize his contacts and expertise to stimulate sales. I see it as a means to give the novel a chance to succeed. Will it work? Stay tuned.


Poisoned Jungle awards:

2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards
Silver Winner: “Best New Voice: Fiction”
2020 Royal Dragonfly Awards
First Place: Historical Fiction
First Place: Military
2021 Independent Press Awards
Winner: Military Fiction
2021 Los Angeles Book Festival
Winner: Genre Based Fiction
2021 Book Excellence Awards
Finalist: Military


“The napalmed children peered at him, uncomprehending, not understanding what happened, and asked him to fix their burns, alleviate their pain. He tried to explain- such a terrible mistake. No words came out of his mouth.”

Poisoned Jungle speaks to the long psychological tentacles war has on the lives it touches, and the difficulty of breaking free of them. Realizing changes have occurred deep within, Vietnam War medic Andy Parks must reconcile his new reality to establish a life worth living-not an easy task. How will Andy Parks ever dispel the images he brought home with him? He can’t live with them-or outrun them. Even in sleep he finds no rest.

In a powerful human saga, Andy teeters on the chasm of survivor’s guilt, desperate to find equilibrium in his life. Deep down, he wants to live but doesn’t know how. Poisoned Jungle is an intimate glimpse into one veteran’s struggle for meaning after experiencing the despair of war.



James Ballard intimately knows the subject matter he explores in Poisoned Jungle. His tour as a medic in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta altered the course of his life. War has consequences, and he has not only lived with them, but spent a lifetime examining the impact of Vietnam on his and other veterans’ lives. In that regard, Poisoned Jungle, the author’s first novel, is a work fifty years in the making. In his author’s note, Ballard writes, “The impact of war is not only transformational on the human psyche-but ongoing.” Retired from beekeeping, the author is free to pursue his passion for literature, reading and writing it. He has other works in progress and continues to write every day. For more information visit james-ballard.net.