Now that the advisory board is (nearly) done with the task of shortlisting the books nominated in the 2016 INSPY Awards, the advisory board is pleased to introduce you to our 2016 panels of judges. We now hand the job of choosing the winning novel over to them. The INSPY Advisory Board thanks each and every applicant for their enthusiasm and is thrilled to announce the judges for 2016. The shortlists will be announced on April 30 and once these judges receive their respective books, they then have the task of narrowing the list from five novels to the one worthy of the 2016 INSPY in each category.
We welcome these judges and thank them for their service.
Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense Judges
Annie LOVES books – the look, the feel, the smell and the words. She’s an avid reader turned blogger reviewer. She dabbled at sharing her thoughts on her blog, Just Commonly for years (very sporadically), and only since 2015 have she focused on reviewing what she loves best, BOOKS! A widely known book nerd, once you get her started on a book, she might talk your ear off until you just had to get your own copy. She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy. Being a speed reader, she’s happy to be able to immerse herself in more books than normal. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with friends and family, eating and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game.
Becky Ritta is a thirty-something single girl from small town Nebraska. She’s been a voracious reader ever since the moment she realized c-a-t spelled “cat.” By day, she teaches journalism and manages the website and social media accounts for a Christian high school. By night, she reads, blogs, experiments with gluten free baking, and binge watches ’90s TV shows.
Becky began blogging on MySpace back in 2006; in 2008 she moved over to Christian Chick’s Thoughts and posted her first book review. She loves interacting with authors and other book lovers, and her favorite part of reviewing is discovering great new (or new-to-her) authors.
Carrie Schmidt (aka MeezCarrie) is an avid reader, a book reviewer, a story addict, a KissingBooks fan and a book boyfriend collector. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Her passion in blogging/reviewing is to connect readers with a new favorite author or book, especially in the Christian fiction genre. Carrie lives in central Kentucky with her hubby Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu and is the long distance cool aunt to nine nieces and nephews. When she’s not reading or reviewing or “cool-aunting”, Carrie teaches English as a Second/Other Language to international adults. Learn more about Carrie at Reading is My Superpower.
Historical Romance Judges
Alyssa-Faith Washburn lives in the mountains of Northern California amidst Gold Rush country and former Maidu and Miwok territory. She began her reading journey with Nancy Drew and the Lord of the Rings at an early age, and never turned back. Alyssa also loves to write, classic films, music and all things vintage. She’s also very involved in her church as a Sunday School Teacher. She has a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Pro-Life Movement, Politics, Personal Freedom, and an advocate against Human Sex Trafficking. Alyssa is an amateur Genealogist and has found her ancestry to have everything and the kitchen sink. Her stories are a mixture of truth, social issues and happily ever afters, because this world needs more happily ever afters. Éirinn go Brách (Clan O’Neill).
Hayden Wand is a Christian, author, and college student who loves mysteries, musicals, and period dramas. She began blogging in 2010 as a way to share her love of reading and classic literature (and also to inquire if there was anyone else out there who loved The Scarlet Pimpernel). The piles of books stacked under her bed range from Christian fiction and Young Adult sci-fi to obscure Victorian novels and an 800-page biography of George Washington. She pens book reviews at A Tree, A Book, and a Breeze and blogs about everything else at A Singular and Whimsical Problem.
Tressa has been an avid reader her whole life. She grew up listening to her parents read such classics as C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Kidnapped, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, among others. She developed a love for the inspirational and happily-ever-after aspects of Christian Fiction as an adult and busy mother. She also reads in the Young Adult and sweet Romance genres. Tressa blogs at Wishful Endings and is a tour co-host at Prism Book Tours. Outside of blogging and reading, she is active in her church and spends most of her time with her husband, four children, and spoiled puppy. She also enjoys watching movies, cooking, playing racquetball, gardening, sewing, and crafting when she can fit them in.
General Fiction Judges
Amy M has been enthusiastic about reading for as long as she can remember. She has a deep love of history and literature and reads both fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys sharing her love of Christ, books, and reading on her blog, Building Life’s Library, and is always happy to connect with authors and fellow readers there. Amy lives in Virginia with her husband and son, where she practices law. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time outdoors with her family.
Karen Collier writes and reviews Christian fiction, enjoys a good book discussion, and likes to keep an audiobook and an ebook handy at all times. She puts her Master of Library Science degree to use as a substitute librarian for a local public library but spends most days mothering two adorable kids and squeezing in writing and reading time whenever she can. Karen and her husband Dave make their home on a stretch of farmland on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Her full bio, social links, and bookish blog posts can be found at karencollier.com, where she loves to connect with fellow readers.
Literature for Young People Judges
Alyssa is a wife and SAHM to Baby Girl (3 1/2) and Baby Boy (3 months). She has been reading since before she can remember and devours all kinds of books. Her blog Sunrise Avenue is her home for blogging about all things book related. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, Alyssa can be found blogging, drinking coffee, watching Doctor Who, or hanging with family. Find her also on Instagram or Goodreads.
Bekah Malik is a 21 year old living in the Chicago area, homeschool graduate, and college student pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts. She’s a dreamer and you can usually find her with her nose in a book, whipping up a batch of cookies, binge-watching Netflix, drinking coffee, or hanging out with her three wonderful sisters. She blogs over at Will Bake for Books, where you can find recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth and book reviews usually of the Christian fiction or Young Adult genres.
Irene Wesley is a Southern born, quiet, book loving, BBC drama kind of girl.
Which means there’s always some sort of grand adventure going on in her world! She started book blogging a year ago after realizing the joy and opportunity of sharing the love of literature with fellow readers. And as the story goes, she has embraced it whole heartily ever since.
You can find out more about Irene – plus check out book reviews and other bookish fun – on her blog, A Thought Reflected.
Mystery / Thriller Judges
Beckie Burnham is very happily married 31 years (in June) and the mother of three grown children. She has always loved to read, but alas, the years she chased after children curtailed her reading time. As the kids became more independent and able to take care of themselves, Beckie restarted her love affair with the written word. Six years ago she began to share her thoughts online with her blog, By The Book. Still energized by nagging, er, encouraging others to read good books, Beckie also leads three book clubs, including an informal group at the local women’s transitional center. When not reading or blogging, she enjoys time with family (still chasing after kids across the country), leading a Bible study and volunteering.
Rebekah Johnson – I am an avid reader. I love ebooks and paper books too. I started my blog Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews three years ago to take my love for reading and books to share with others. I have just recently branched out in my reading adventures to include Historical Fiction (Civil War, World War II and The Renaissance Eras) and am finding a whole new adventure in reading. I am have also just started discovering “new” and “new to me” authors too. I am loving my new adventures in reading. I am also involved in a Christian Ladies Book club and this even expands my love of reading.
Karen Weido is a wife, mom, blogger, avid reader and Instagram addict. Her blog, Ting’s Mom Books, features new releases from various Christian fiction genres, well as non-fiction and children’s books. She also blogs about her family life at Ting’s Mom Blog. Karen lives in South Arkansas with her husband and two children.
Speculative Fiction Judges
Ian Acheson’s debut novel, Angelguard, is available in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. This is the first release in the Angelguard Chronicles, a series of speculative fiction novels that explore the interconnection of the spiritual and physical worlds and the power of prayer. Ian is busy completing the second in the series.
Ian reads a lot, and a lot, and a lot more. He reads widely in fiction, non-fiction, magazines, web and newspapers. He’s been telling and writing stories for most of his life since early childhood.
When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lives in Sydney, Australia, and shares life with his wife, Fiona, two adult sons and one gorgeous daughter-in-law. In addition, they have two adored kelpies that keep them active.
This will be Ian’s second year as an INSPY judge and he’s excited about getting his hands on the shortlisted finalists. Ian is also a judge for the three contests offered by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the CALEB Awards that recognize Australia and New Zealand’s best Christian fiction.
Meagan Myhren-Bennett developed an early love of reading growing up in a family where books were the gift of choice. This love was the perfect excuse to become both a reviewer and a librarian.
When not at the library, she can be found at home, which is a small farm in rural Northwest Central Wisconsin, spending time with her family or reading with some of the family’s 13 dachshunds piled on her lap.
Meagan’s reviews can be found at Blooming with Books (http://BloomingwithBooks.blogspot.com) where her eclectic reading tastes can be fully appreciated. And she’s more than willing to help other readers discover her favorite authors.
Michelle R. Wood has been an avid reader from a very tender age, since her mother first began reading aloud to her. Eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and English, Michelle has worked as an editorial intern, staff writer, blogger, and print/web designer. Her personal musings and book reviews can be found at her blog, Distractions of Grandeur (www.woodmr.net/blog). She is honored and excited to once again serve as a judge in the speculative fiction category, having previously taken part in 2011 and 2014.