Tag: Omega Writers

Bookish Question: Would you attend a Christian reader event?

Bookish Question #53 | Would you attend a Christian reader event?

First, what is a Christian reader event?

A Christian reader event is a reader-centric book fair where readers get the opportunity to meet and hear from authors.

The first I heard of was the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat held in 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, the day before the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference. The event attracted many popular Christian fiction authors attending the conference, including Kiwi Kara Isaac.

I also know Omega Writers, an Australasian organisation for Christian writers, have organised successful book fairs in Queensland to promote local Christian writers.

I’ve attended author events such as book launches or writer’s conferences, but I haven’t attended any reader events, much less a Christian reader event. This is mostly a factor of geography: to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a Christian reader event in my country (New Zealand), let alone in my city.

Would I attend a Christian reader event?

Yes, if it was close to where I live (say, within a two-hour drive), or if it was somewhere I was going to be anyway (e.g. the day before or after a writer’s conference I was attending). But I wouldn’t travel any further, both because of the time and the cost. Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied to stalk follow my favourite authors online, through their websites, newsletters, and social media.

What about you? Would you attend a Christian reader event? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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?

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:


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


Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance:

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer


The Aleppo Code by Terry Brennan


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


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


The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

Young Adult:

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman, Bethany House


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.

What did you read in June 2016?


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.