Tag: INSPY Award

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?

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


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


Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance:

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund


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


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:


Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti


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


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.


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!


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


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


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.

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.

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.