Month: May 2016

Book Review: Invisible by Ginny Yttrup

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If you haven’t, sign up on the right!

Today I’m reviewing Invisible by award-winning author Ginny Yttrup. And if you think Invisible sounds good, it is—but Words is even better.


Ellyn De Mossmid is in her forties, and is the owner and chef of her own restaurant. Sabina Jackson is a counsellor on leave with stress issues and mild depression. Dr Miles Becker is a healer recovering from the truth that he couldn’t heal his own wife, and Twila Boaz is a recovering anorexic who works in her mother’s health food store while waiting to see where God leads her.

Miles describes Ellyn as witty, intelligent and beautiful. Her voice certainly comes across as witty and intelligent, whereas Miles is more distant, his formality no doubt a product of his grief–and perhaps his guilt. Sabrina tries to be upbeat and professional, but there is something there that might be a lie, while Twila has a wisdom beyond her years. They form an unlikely group of friends, each learning from the others… and there might even be a little romance in there somewhere…

Ginny Yttrup’s first novel, Words, was a finalist for two Christy awards and winner of one, and after just three chapters of Invisible I could see why. I am in awe of her writing. What is even more amazing is that the writing is unobtrusive. I wasn’t reading it and thinking ‘oh, this is great writing’. I was totally engaged in her characters and the story she was telling. It was only as I paused to reflect on the story that I saw how good the writing is, how she has managed to write four quite different characters all in the first person (and in present tense, no less), each with their own unique voice.

Invisible is about finding beauty in God’s creation, including ourselves, and understanding that God’s standard for beauty is not the commercialised and sexualised standard we see in contemporary media. It’s a beautifully written reminder that we are created in the image of our mighty God. Recommended.

Thanks to and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Ginny Yttrup on her website, and you can read the beginning of Invisible here:

What Did You Read in May 2016?

My picks of the top Christian fiction for May 2016

What Christian fiction have you been reading over the last month? And what are you planning to read in June? Here are my top Christian fiction picks for May 2016, and a quick look at some of the books I’m planning to read and review in June.

Recommended Christian fiction reads

The best novels I’ve read over the last month were:

Her One and Only by Becky Wade (click here to read my review)

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin (click here to read my review)

Think and Eat Yourself Smart by Dr Caroline Leaf (click here to read my review)

Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson (click here to read my review)

I’m looking forward to my June reads.

I’m especially looking forward to An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter. Her debut novel has been shortlisted for several awards, so I’m expecting great things.

I’m also looking forward to From this Moment by Elizabeth Camden (one of my favourite Christian historical romance authors), and Medical Judgement (a contemporary medical thriller from Dr Richard Mabry).

What were the best novels you read in May? And what are you planning to read in June?

Book Review: Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus

Book Review: Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus

Book Cover - Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep PaulusIf you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If you haven’t . . . sign up on the right!

Today I’m reviewing Swimming Through Clouds, the debut novel from author Rajdeep Paulus. It’s the first in a trilogy, and you’ll want to read them all.

Edgy YA Contemporary Fiction

Talia Grace Vanderbilt is the strange girl at school, the one all the lids call ‘emo’. She’s not. She’s just hiding a home life where her every move is controlled by her father, immigration lawyer Gerard Vanderbilt, and where there consequences for not meeting expectations. She is responsible for caring for her younger brother, Jesse, as their mother is dead.

The whole book is written in first person, from Talia’s point of view.

This means we don’t always get to see or understand the motivations of some of the other characters, like Jesse, Lagan and Gerard. What we do see is filtered through Talia’s understanding, and while she is an intelligent high school senior, her insular upbringing means she is naïve in some respects.
Logan is an equally interesting character. He goes out of his way to befriend Talia, allowing the relationship to develop slowly and almost entirely on her terms. Logan sticks by her, and it’s only late in the book when we begin to get an idea of why.
Gerard, Talia’s father, is an equally interesting character, although in totally the opposite respect. He is, without a doubt, one of the most chilling antagonists I’ve come across is fiction. His entire life is a secret from his family, so we find out very little about him. But what we are shown gives the plot a string of tension that kept me turning the page, even though I was afraid to find out what might be coming. It’s outstanding writing, both compelling and repulsive.

I was particularly impressed by the way backstory was handled.

A lot of writers don’t understand the need to layer it through the story. Swimming Through Clouds dropped hints, so that when when we finally found out about a particular incident from Talia’s past, we wanted to know the details. The author also managed to write some of these scenes so the reader ends up understanding the incident better then Talia does, which is impressive.
This is the first book in a series, and while it had a sense of closure in itself, there were several unanswered questions as well, leaving plenty to cover in the sequel. Swimming Through Clouds isn’t a Christian novel per se, in that God, Jesus and Christianity aren’t mentioned. However, a Christian reader will find Jesus in the story.

Recommended for fans of gritty YA fiction and authors such as Theresa Santy, Trudy Adams and Michelle Dennis Evans. Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Rajdeep Paulus at her website, and you can read the opening here:

2016 Christy and INSPY Award Finalists

It’s Award Time!

Over the last two weeks I’ve introduced you to my six favourite awards for Christian novels (I’d love to be on any of these lists one day!). Today I’m back with the Christy Award finalists, and the INSPY Award shortlists. Lots more books for the to-read pile!

2016 INSPY Award shortlist and 2016 Christy Award finalists

The 2016 Christy Award Finalists


The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (WaterBrook Press)

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon Press)

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House Publishers)

Contemporary Romance/Suspense

Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House Publishers)

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck (Zondervan

Contemporary Series

Anna’s Healing by Vannetta Chapman (Harvest House Publishers)

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt (Howard Books)

First Novel

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale House Publishers)

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Bethany House Publishers)

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House Publishers)


The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert (Thomas Nelson)

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale House Publishers)

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (WaterBrook Press)

Historical Romance

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House Publishers)

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House Publishers)

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (WaterBrook Press)

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander (Zondervan)


The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson)

Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)
Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Revell)


The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson)

A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)

Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin (Enclave Publishing)

Young Adult

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale House Publishers)

Rebel by R.J. Anderson (Enclave Publishing)

To Get to You by Joanne Bischof (Independently Published)


Winners will be announced the last week in June.

The 2016 INSPY Award Finalists


The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham (Vinspire Publishing)

Jaded by Varina Denman (David C. Cook)

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)

Love’s Rescue by Christine Johnson (Revell)

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Bethany House)

General Fiction

A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner (Kregel)

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook)

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale)

Water From My Heart by Charles Martin (Center Street)

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson)

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

London Tides by Carla Laureano (David C. Cook)

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer (Zondervan)

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt (Howard)

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade (Bethany House)

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren (Tyndale)

Historical Romance

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (Waterbrook)

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin (Bethany House)

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz (Revell)

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (Waterbrook)

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin (Revell)

Speculative Fiction

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry (Kregel)

Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse (Enclave Publishing)

The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House)

The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey (Thomas Nelson)

Embers by Ronie Kendig (Enclave Publishing)

Mystery and Thriller

The Last Con by Zachary Bartels (Thomas Nelson)

A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker (Center Street/Hachette)

Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Revell)

Falcon by Ronie Kendig (Shiloh Run Press/Barbour)

The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson)

Literature for Young Adults

Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren (Blink/Zondervan)

Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon (Blink/Zondervan)

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale)

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund (Zondervan)

Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson)


Winners will be announced on 28 June 2016.

Book Review: Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If you haven’t . . . sign up on the right! Today I’m reviewing Feast for Thieves, the debut novel from author Marcus Brotherton. It’s historical fiction with a definite masculine tone—a departure from my romance recommendations—but it’s got an excellent plot, and the writing is fabulous.

This review first appeared at Australasian Christian Writers.

I was asked to review Feast for Thieves months ago, and for some reason never got around to reading it. I was reminded of it again when I saw it was a finalist for the 2015 Christy Awards in the First Novel category, so thought I’d better open it up and see what I was missing.

I was hooked from the first page. And I don’t say that often.

Feast for Thieves begins with Crazy Ake and Rowdy Slater robbing the bank in the small town of Cut Eye, Texas, in the spring of 1946. It’s written in the first person, from Rowdy’s point of view, and right from that first line two things are evident. Marcus Brotherton can write. And Rowdy Slater isn’t your typical Christian fiction hero. After a near escape from death by drowning, Rowdy sees a vision …

Now, I’ve read other books with fantastic opening hooks which simply fizzled out after that one fast-paced and original scene. But Feast for Thieves just kept going. Rowdy decides to return the money, which causes the Sheriff of Cut Eye a few problems. Sure, it’s good that he solves the crime, but the expense of a trial is sure going to put a dent in the county budget, and his chances of re-election. And he’s got another problem: the town needs a preacher. So the Sheriff delivers Rowdy an ultimatum: spend a year as Cut Eye’s minister, or go to jail.

Rowdy knows nothing about God, preaching or running a church, but he knows enough about jail not to want to go back there. Besides, he’s got other problems, and he’s going to need a paying job to fix them. It’s an excellent plot, with lots of twists, yet all making perfect sense, and tied together with a cast of true characters.

Rowdy is an especially fascinating character. He’s a likable rogue, with a little too much rogue to make a good minister. But he has his own unique way of dealing with problems—serving in the Army during some of the toughest battles means he probably knows more about human nature than many preachers.

But what really made Feast for Thieves stand out from the opening line was the voice. Rowdy isn’t an educated man, and his language is earthy (but stops short of being vulgar). What makes him unique is his vocabulary and way of speaking—I could hear every word in that Texan accent, yet there wasn’t a single misspelled word to indicate accent.

There was an Author’s Note at the end in which Brotherton explained how he developed Rowdy’s voice, and it took extensive research and a deep knowledge of the time and place. It took a lot of effort to make Rowdy’s voice seem this easy and this authentic. Writers, if you are ever looking for a way of expressing dialect without apostrophes and misspellings, read Feast for Thieves.

Men, if you’ve been bemoaning the fact that too many Christian novels are sappy romances (especially Amish romances!), read Feast for Thieves. While I’m not a betting man (well, I’m not a man at all, not that you could tell based on the spam email I receive), I’d say even your non-Christian friends would enjoy this one.

But it’s not all manly stuff. There is a solid and real Christian message in here, and even whispers) a little romance. I can absolutely see why Feast for Thieves was nominated for a Christy Award. Recommended.

Thanks to River North fiction for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Marcus Brotherton at his website (and make sure to read his article on why men need to read more fiction). You can read the first chapter here:

2016 Grace and RITA® Award Finalists

It’s Award Time!

Last week I introduced the six awards I look to in the Christian publishing industry. Today I’m bringing you the finalists for two of these awards: The Grace Awards, and the RITA Awards. Next week I’ll be back with the INSPY Award and Christy Award finalists.

Finalists for the 2016 Grace Awards and Christian romance finalists for the 2016 RITA Awards

The Grace Awards

The finalists for the 2016 Grace Awards are:

Womens Fiction/General Fiction:

(Serious women’s/men’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements)

Freed To Forgive by Julie B. Cosgrove (Prism Book Group)

Waters Of Separation by Carol Mcclain (Desert Breeze Publishing)

Annabelle’s Ruth by Betty Thomason Owens

Romance/Historical Romance

(Primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then)

The Thornbearer by Pepper Basham (Vinspire Publishing)

Plum Upside Down by Valerie Comer (Greenwords Media)

Bridge Of Faith by Catherine West (Amazon Digital Services)

Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historic Suspense

(Crime fiction, probably a body)

No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason (Amazon Digital Services)

Trial By Twelve by Heather Day Gilbert (Woodhaven Press)

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House)

Speculative Fiction

(Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Etc.)

Storming by K. M. Weiland (PenForaAword Publishing)

Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan (Vinspire Publishing)

A New Threat by Aaron Demott (Altwit Press)

Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction

(Exploits, quest, daring, expansive)

Saving Eric by Joan Deneve (Write Integrity Press)

Two Days In Caracas by Luana Ehrlich (Potter’s Word Press)

A Lady For The Lawman by Jewell Tweedt (Prism Book Group)

Young Adult

(Including Middle Grade And New Adult)

To Get To You by Joanne Bischof (Mason Jar Books)

Roped by Diane Gates (Prism Book Group)

Stone And Snow by Sibella Giorello (Running Girl Productions)


Winners Will Be Announced On 31 May 2016.


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).

The 2016 RITA finalists in Inspirational Romance are:

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade (Bethany House)

Mistletoe Justice by Carol J. Post (Love Inspired Suspense)

The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes (Zondervan)

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)

The Rescued by Marta Perry (Berkley)

Note that while the RITA® rules say that Inspirational can include any religious or spiritual belief system, it’s rare to see a finalist that isn’t Christian fiction.

Some Christian novels have also been named as finalists in other categories:

Best First Book

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)

Historical Romance – Long

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist (Howard Books)

(I reviewed Tiffany Girl, and was disappointed at the lack of Christian content. I guess this nomination confirms that Gist is now focused squarely on the general market. Readers checking out her earlier books will find them a little different.)

Romance Novella

Toward the Sunrise by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House)

Winners will be announced on 16 July.


Book Review: Close to You by Kara Isaac

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. If you haven’t . . . sign up on the right! Today I’m reviewing Close to You, the debut novel from Kiwi author Kara Isaac.

Extremely Biased Review Ahead

Amazon Description

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

My Review

To the best of my knowledge, Close to You by Kara Isaac is the first novel from a New Zealand author contracted and published by a major US Christian publisher. That alone is worth five stars, at least from this parochial Kiwi reader. Those of you who can’t see the appeal of a romance novel set in the Land of the Long White Cloud (and the land of hobbits) should leave now and go back to … I don’t know. What do people who don’t like New Zealand or hobbits read? Do they read? Can they read?.

Hobbiton, New Zealand

Anyway, on to the novel.

Allie is short of money, as her funds are currently tied up in a messy divorce. She’s working as a tour guide delivering high-class (i.e. seriously expensive) tours of New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie locations, making good use of her PhD in English literature. Unfortunately, she now loathes all things Tolkien.

Jackson’s company has just gone bust, and he’s accompanying a long-lost—and rich—uncle on Allie’s Lord of the Rings tour in the hope he can persuade uncle to invest in his next business idea. Unfortunately, he knows nothing about Tolkien, hobbits or Lord of the Rings … despite telling his uncle he’s a die-hard fan.

Naturally, Allie and Jackson start off on the wrong foot and equally naturally (this is Christian romance!), things change as they start to get to know each other. Throw in a tour bus full of seriously eccentric characters, a wily uncle and a weasly almost-ex-husband, and the stage is set for fun and romance.

Boiling mud from Rotorua, New Zealand

The lush greenery of the Waikato, New Zealand

I loved all the Kiwi touches, from the nail-biting approach to Wellington Airport to the lush greenery of the Waikato, the “scents” of Rotorua, the majesty of Queenstown, and the Tolkien tourist mecca of Hobbiton (which is even better in real life). The writing was good, with a good dose of humour (people actually speak Elvish?) and a subtle underlying Christian theme.

Recommended for fans of Carla Laureano and Susan May Warren. And New Zealand, and Tolkien. So that should cover pretty much everyone.

This review was previously posted at Iola’s Christian Reads. Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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.