Tag: American Christian Fiction Writers

Do You Read Award-Winning Books?

Bookish Question #11: Do You Read Award-Winning Books?

I’ve loved reading ever since I was a child. (Raise your hand if that sounds familiar!)

Most of the early books I read were from Scholastic, courtesy of the Lucky Book Club brochures that were delivered to school every few months. Mum would usually buy us a book out of the brochure. I also found many books from the brochure in the school library.

When I was about ten, I noticed that many of my favourite books had a picture of a medal on the cover—the Newbery Medal. I learned that if I was looking for a book, that medal often indicated a book I’d like.

Then I grew up, and grew out of Newbery Medal-winning books. Were there adult equivalents? My mother bought The Bone People by Keri Hulme, the first book by a New Zealand author to win the prestigious Booker Prize (back before it was sponsored by Man Group). She didn’t like The Bone People—she couldn’t get past the non-standard punctuation.

I think that put me off searching for adult equivalents to the Newberry Medal.

Now I read mostly Christian fiction, and I find there are a huge range of awards for Christian books, fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy following the fiction awards:

I find these four contests routinely have finalists and winners I enjoy—so if a book makes it to that coveted finalist position, I’m willing to give it a try even if I know nothing about the book or the author.

The Christy, Carol, and INSPY Awards all have several genre categories, and a first book category. I love checking out the lists of finalists in my favourite genres.

How many of the books have I read? Which did I like? Which would I pick to win?

I do find myself adding several books to my to-read pile. Sometimes I wonder how and why I missed them when they were first published.

So yes, I do read award-winning books, but only from the Christian contests I trust.

What about you? Do you read award-winning books?

New Releases in Christian Fiction for May 2017

New Releases in Christian Fiction for May 2017!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)


Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh — Three sweet stories of small-town romance by three tried-and-true authors. Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Spring of Weddings by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell — Two Spring wedding novellas, “A Proxy Wedding,” and “Hope Beyond Savannah.” (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

 


True to You by Becky Wade — Former Navy SEAL John Lawson hires genealogist Nora Bradford to help him to uncover the identity of his birth mother. As they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

(I’ve read this, and it’s great!)

Cozy Mystery:

What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman — A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly, Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he’s tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

General Contemporary:
A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal — The heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything. (General Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

(I’m looking forward to A Season to Dance)

Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman — A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. (General Contemporary from Waterfall Press)

(My review of Looking Glass Lies posts today at Iola’s Christian Reads.)

Historical:


Blind Ambition by Carol Ashby — What began as a bored man’s decision to try a different road turns into an emotional and spiritual quest that changes the direction of his entire life. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette — A broken and bitter Canaanite woman dresses as a man to fight against the invading Hebrews, never expecting that she would live to be captured and married to one of her enemies, and certainly not to find love and healing among the very people who killed her family. (Biblical/Historical from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

 

Historical Romance:
The Secret Admirer Romance Collection
by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Penny Zeller — Shy expressions of love lead to nine historical romances. Declaring one’s love can be hard–even risky–especially when faced with some of life’s greatest challenges. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze — It’s a mail-order disorder when newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names. An annulment seems in order–and fast. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca Rice wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . . (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears — They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

(On my to-read-and-review list – I loved the first book in the series)


Road to Harmony by Sherry Kyle — When Jonas returns to Harmony, Elena’s heart is torn between her secret love, and the storeowner her parents hope she marries. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Hills of Nevermore by Janalyn Voigt — Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman — Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it. An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

(I started reading this last night. Big mistake. I did not sleep well. Must finish it tonight …)

April 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction

Just when you thought it was okay to go back to the bookstore without burning a hole in your budget … there are a whole bunch more books to read. And your budget is gone.

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
sandpiper-cove

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

oh-baby

Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

General:

a-fragile-hope

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti — Where does a relationship expert turn when his wife leaves him and carries a tiny heartbeat with her? (General from Abingdon Press)

I’ve read this, and it’s outstanding!

Mystery

sunset-in-old-savannahSunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis — When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)

Historical:

above-rubies

Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith — In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently Published)

I’ve read this as well, and it’s excellent.

Historical Romance:

a-rose-so-fair

A Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson — Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood’s heart, but Rose’s stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she’s named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
under-the-same-sky

Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer — In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
the-pony-express-collection

The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas — Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

plain-targetPlain Target by Dana R. Lynn — Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother’s name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she’d ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he’s also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
dangerous-testimony

Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink — Four weeks before she’s set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband’s memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

deep-extractionDeep Extraction by DiAnn Mills — Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend’s husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

final-verdict

Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch — When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
guardian

Guardian by Terri Reed — When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
witch

Witch by Denise Weimer — Having restored Michael Johnson’s ancestors’ house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael’s been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)

Speculative Romance/Fantasy:

the-fairetellings-series

The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed — Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)

I Won a 2016 Genesis Award!

Yes, I know this week was meant to be my book recommendations for August, but I’ve got exciting news to share and I couldn’t wait a whole week.

I won a 2016 Genesis Award!

Play On, Jordan won the 2016 Genesis Award for unpublished authors from American Christian Fiction Writers in the Novella category!

The results were announced on Saturday night at the ACFW Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I couldn’t be there, so Wellington author Kara Isaac kindly agreed to collect the award on my behalf (which you can see on YouTube at 29:45).

Novella Finalists

My win was unexpected—I only prepared an acceptance speech because Kara asked me to. I didn’t think she’d need to actually read it!

Jebraun Clifford, who currently lives in Rotorua (about an hour from me) won the Young Adult category. Here she is with her plaque:

Jebraun Clifford

You can find the official list of 2016 Genesis Award winners at the ACFW website.

2016 Carol Award Winners

ACFW also announced the winners of the 2016 Carol Awards, for the best in published fiction across a range of genres. The winners were:

Contemporary:

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert, Waterbrook/Multnomah (Random House)

Historical:

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance:

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller:

The Aleppo Code by Terry Brennan

Novella:

A Bride for Bear from The Convenient Bride Collection by Erica Vetsch

Romance:

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

Romantic Suspense:

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

Short Novel:

Covert Justice by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Speculative:

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

Young Adult:

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman, Bethany House

Debut:

The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis

 

More books to add to my to-read pile!

2016 CALEB Prize Finalists

Closer to home, Omega Writers have announced the finalists in the 2016 CALEB Prize. Omega Writers are a group of Australian and New Zealand Christian writers, and I’m a member.

Children’s Picture Books

Same – Katrina Roe
The Word War – Mark Hadley
Fearlessly Madison – Penny Reeve
Hey! Is That How God Made Animals? – Penny Morrison
Jesus Walks on Water – Shan Joseph

Published Adult

Zenna Dare – Rosanne Hawke
The Pounamu Prophecy – Cindy Williams
Too Pretty – Andrea Grigg
Invincible – Cecily Paterson
Empires Children – Patricia Weerakoon

Unpublished Manuscripts

The Peacock Stone – Nick Hawkes
The Boy in the Blue Hoodie – Cate McKeowan
Jurisdiction – Joye Alit
The Fraught Ambitions of Man – Rebecca Hayman
10 Things I Hate About God – Susan Barnes

The winners will be announced at the 2016 Omega Writers Conference to be held in Sydney in October 2016. I’m looking forward to attending and cheering for the winners.

2016 Christy and INSPY Award Winners and Carol Finalists

It’s been a busy week in terms of awards for Christian fiction. American Christian Fiction Writers have announced the finalists in the Carol Awards (with the winners to be announced at their conference in August), and the 2016 Christy Award and 2016 INSPY Award winners have been announced.

Winners of the 2016 Christy and INSPY awards
Winners of the 2016 Christy and INSPY awards

So if you’ve been looking for a Christian novel to read, here are some great choices!

First up, the winners of the 2016 Christy Awards:

Book of the Year and Visionary:

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

Contemporary:

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate

Contemporary Romance/Suspense:

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

Contemporary Series:

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

First Novel:

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

Historical:

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance:

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Suspense:

Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock

Young Adult:

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

The only surprise for me on this list was the winner of First Novel—I attempted to read it, but found the heroine so unlikeable I couldn’t finish it. I can only assume she improved a lot by the end.

The 2016 INSPY Award winners are:

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

Debut Fiction

Jaded by Varina Denman

General Fiction

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

Young Adult

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

Mystery/Thriller

The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

Speculative Fiction

The Shock Of Night by Patrick Carr

I’m Thrilled To See Secrets She Kept On This List As Well—It Was An Outstanding Novel (And, In Fact, Cathy Gohlke Won This Category Last Year As Well, When I Was An Inspy Judge).

And the finalists for the Carol Awards are:

Contemporary:

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti

Historical:

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Historical Romance:

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller:

The Aleppo Code by Terry Brennan

Blessings in Disguise by Nancy Mehl

Finding Amanda by Robin Patchen

What’s interesting about this category is that none of these are from ‘major’ Christian publishers.

Novella:

A Bride for Bear from The Convenient Bride Collection by Erica Vetsch

A Palace on the Plains from The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection by Erica Vetsch

The Archaeologist’s Find from The Homestead Brides Collection by Erica Vetsch

Huge congratulations to Erica Vetsch, who obviously has this category sewn up!

Romance:

The Beekeeper’s Son by Kelly Irvin

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

Romantic Suspense:

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

Submerged by Elizabeth Goddard

Miracle Drug by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

Short Novel:

Covert Justice by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

The Christmas Family by Linda Goodnight

The Doctor’s Second Chance by Missy Tippens

Speculative:

Vinnie’s Diner by Jennifer AlLee

Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

Young Adult:

Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Debut:

The Thornbearer by Pepper Basham

The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis

The First Principle by Marissa Shrock

Another category where all the books are from smaller publishers, which is great news for authors.

What did you read in June 2016?

News!

I’m a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for unpublished writers, in the Novella category. I can’t tell you anything about the story, not even the title, until the results are announced at the end of August. I can tell you it won’t be published any time soon (sorry!).

There’s a simple reason why not.

As I was writing, I realised two of the minor characters needed to have their story told. So I started writing that story . . . only to find that the story I’ve finished is actually the third in the series. Or maybe the fourth.

Whoops. So now I’m working on books one and two.

Favourite Reads June 2016

And I’ve been reading . . .

I offered to judge the 2016 CALEB Award for fiction. The CALEB Award is run by Omega Writers, and celebrates the best in Christian fiction from Australian and New Zealand authors. I had to read the first 50 pages of 22 novels, some of which I’d read before (or edited via Christian Editing Services). But many were new to me, and have added an unnecessary number of books to a to-read pile that never seems to get any smaller.

The best novels I read in June 2016 were:

Medical Judgement by Dr Richard Mabry (click here to read my review.)

The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky (click here to read my review.)

From this Moment by Elizabeth Camden (click here to read my review.)

An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter (click here to read my review.)

Have you read any of these novels? If so, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

All this judging means I’m behind on my personal reading, so I’ve got lots of books stacked up to read in July. What are you planning to read in July? Leave a comment—let’s swap ideas!

 

Introducing the Major Christian Fiction Awards

It’s Christian Fiction Award Time!

It’s coming to that time of year again, when the publishing industry seeks to honour the best of the books published in the last calendar year. Entries to the various Christian fiction awards have closed, judging has commenced, and authors are waiting to find out if they’ve made the longlist or the shortlist or if they’ve won. I imagine each announcement brings a sense of relief for those authors still in the running for a prize, but also a raised sense of anxiety: so close, and yet so far.
Christian Fiction Award

 

Today I’m going to give you information on the six contests I watch every year. Over the next few weeks I’ll introduce you to the finalists in each Award, as they are announced. If you’ve ever wondered what to read next, these lists will provide some ideas—and you’ll see a few of the same titles popping up on several lists.

Introducing the major Christian Fiction Awards

The CALEB Prize

The CALEB Prize is organized by Omega Writers, a writing organization for Australian and New Zealand Christian Writers. Entry is open to Australian and New Zealand authors, and there are two categories for the 2016 prize: fiction, and children’s picture books.

CALEB is an acronym: it stands for Christian Authors Lifting Each other’s Books. That’s why Omega Writers sponsor the CALEB Prize. It’s about giving all entrants a higher profile for their books, regardless of whether they win or not . . . Promoting excellence, for the glory of God, so that the highest quality books are given that little bit of extra ‘oomph’.

The Christy Awards

The Christy Awards are named for Christy, the groundbreaking novel by Catherine Marshall, who wrote over two dozen books which have sold in excess of 25 million copies. The awards were established in 1999 to honour and promote excellence in Christian fiction, and to showcase the diversity of Christian fiction genres.

The Carol Awards

The Carol Awards were established by American Christian Fiction Writers in 2002 to recognize the best in Christian fiction. Both print and ebooks are accepted, but ebook authors must submit print copies. Novels must be nominated by their authors, must be written from a Christian world view, and may be self-published or traditionally published.

ACFW define “traditionally published” as being where the author did not “participate financially in the production or distribution of their book, including any requirement to buy a certain number of books from their publisher”.

Independent authors must apply to ACFW for Qualified Independently Published (QIP) status if they have not previously been traditionally published. In order to achieve QIP status, an author has to show evidence they have earned at least $4,000 from the sale of one novel over a 12-month period.

The Grace Awards

The Grace Awards were established in 2010 to “expand the tent pegs of Christian fiction”. They allow traditionally published and self-published novels, and make no distinction between paper or digital formats: anyone can enter, as long as the book is Christian Fiction, and 55,000 words or longer. Novels should be:

Traditional Christian, Inspirational, realistic and/or gritty Christian and edgy Christian, stories from a Christian worldview, redemptive themed, biblical, Messianic, catholic, faith-based, Christian and/or Messianic mystical themes, values imbued, grace and forgiveness oriented, marriage and family friendly, depicting Christian lifestyle (can be struggling with it), spiritually and emotionally healing fiction

The Grace Awards were founded by a group of small-press and independent authors, so they tend to feature a lot of small press and self-published books that are overlooked by the larger industry awards (which didn’t necessarily permit entries from these authors and publishers when the Grace Awards were founded).

Their process is unique: readers, reviewers and bloggers nominate titles along with a 40+ words outlining why they like the book. All nominated novels are then put to public vote, and three finalists are chosen for each category. A panel of judges then read the finalists and decide on a winner.

The INSPY Awards

The INPSY Awards were established in 2010, and is described as the Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature. The INSPY Awards are only open to print books from a publishing house (be it a large traditional house, a small press, or a micropress publishing as few as two authors).

The Awards are looking to recognize books of exceptional literary qualities including but not limited to: innovative, original writing, and depth of characterization. The book must respectfully grapple with some element of the Christian faith.

Novels are nominated by readers (self nominations by authors are not permitted). The INSPY Advisory Board (also bloggers) determine a shortlist of five finalists in each category. A team of three blogger judges then choose a winner. Judges are chosen by the Advisory Board from a pool of self-nominated bloggers which makes the INPSY Awards unique, as the creators of the award have limited influence on the overall winners.

The RITA® Awards

The RITA® Awards are run by Romance Writers of America, and are named after the organisation’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada. The Awards are specifically for romance novels, in a range of sub-genres (including Inspirational) and lengths (including long, short and novella).
While the RITA® Awards were originally restricted to novels published through a traditional publisher, they now permit self-published novels, and several categories feature self-published or hybrid authors (being authors who have both self-published and been published by a traditional publisher).

Books are nominated by their author or publisher, and nominated authors act as first-round judges (not in their own category, of course). All novels achieving higher than a specific score are announced as finalist, which is unusual—most contests have a set number of finalists (usually three or five), and the top-scoring novels qualify. The RITA® approach caused problems one year, when one category had more than ten finalists and two others (Inspirational and Erotic) had only two each.

I’ll be back next week with the finalists for the Grace and RITA® Awards, and we can talk about our picks for each.