Announcement: Amendment to 2016 Debut Shortlist

2016 debut category

Dear Readers and Authors,

The Advisory Board wishes to apologize for an error in the Debut Category on the 2016 Shortlist. After announcing the finalists, it was brought to our attention that one of the authors nominated did not qualify for the Debut Category and had to be eliminated from contention. Consequently, the Debut Category will be comprised of four shortlisted titles this year instead of five.

The Advisory Board assumes full responsibility for this oversight and offers our sincerest apologies for the confusion and error. We verify each nomination during the longlist open nomination process; with the increase in participation this year, we made a mistake.

The Inspy Awards would not be possible without your involvement. We appreciate your understanding and continued support.

With heartfelt apologies,

The Inspy Awards Advisory Board

2014 Shortlists Announced!

With bleary eyes, paper cut fingers and reading-in-bed hair, the Inspy Awards Advisory Board has come out of reading hibernation to announce the 2014 shortlist contenders. A daunting task was placed before us to pick just 5 books in each category from a long list of 150 nominated by readers and bloggers around the world. After careful consideration and deliberation, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce that the following books have been shortlisted in the 4th annual INSPY Awards. 


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Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay



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When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell

To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

Wings of Glass  by Gina Holmes

Iscariot by Tosca Lee



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Wishing On Willows by Katie Ganshert

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Talon by Ronie Kendig

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Take A Chance on Me by Susan May Warren



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Though my Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof

Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Duchess by Susan May Warren



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Hero’s Lot by Patrick W Carr

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore

Anomaly  by Krista McGee

Memory’s Door by James L Rubart

The Rising by Lynn Chandler-Willis



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Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

The King by Steven James

Poison by Jordyn Redwood

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer



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Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill

Hurt by Travis Thrasher

Captives by Jill Williamson


Congratulations to all of the nominated authors and shortlist contenders! We now turn the job over to our judges to select a winner in each category. Winners will be announced June 28th.

Download Press Release here.

Announcement: Revised Nomination Categories

Do you feel the anticipation in the air? Nominations for the 2014 Inspy Awards open in 27 days!

The Advisory Board has been reaching out to our audience and former judges in order to evaluate our performance in past years and have implemented several revisions in light of the feedback. Most noteworthy is a significant change in our nomination categories and the elimination of self published books from eligibility. For your convenience, please find all of the updated categories below as well as under our nomination tab. Thank you for your patience and support during this process.

Debut Novel: A debut novel from any of the categories that is of exemplary literary quality. Unlike other categories, debut novels will be selected and judged by the Advisory Board. Debut novels may also be nominated in their respective categories.

General Fiction: Realistic stories set in historical or contemporary settings that do not have plots with a central romance. This category may include literary and women’s fiction.

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense: The romance category encompasses all romantic contemporary and suspense subgenres, with the exception of speculative romance. In order to be classified as a contemporary romance, the novel must be set in 1960 to the present. The plot must have a central love story that commonly ends in a happily ever after.

Historical Romance: Any novel set prior to 1960 that includes a plot with a central love story usually ending in a happily ever after. May include elements of suspense and includes all subgenres, such as biblical fiction.

Speculative Fiction: A story with fantastical elements (this includes science fiction, fantasy, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, magical mysticism and alternate history). Middle grade and up.

Mystery & Thriller: Fast paced, action driven stories or mysteries, usually with a clearly defined hero against an evil villain. Includes cozy mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, detective stories, gothic mysteries, historical mysteries, espionage, suspense, crime fiction, psychological thrillers, medical thrillers, and political thrillers.

Literature for Young Adults: Fiction books of any genre, with the exception of speculative fiction, written with a target audience of 13- to 19-year-olds.

2013 INSPY Award Winners

The INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2013 INSPY Award Winners:

10092908General Fiction: The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth (Tyndale House Publishers, July 2011)

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones (Tyndale House, 2011) is a real and compelling story. Many facets of this novel made it shine brighter than the other four fine books in this category: fresh characters, contemporary setting, and the author’s ability to inspire her readers to reach deep into their souls, showing the pain of loss, the turmoil of recovery, and the hope of love. After spending time in Jones’ garden, the reader is left with a new look on faith and life. From the poignant symbolism of its title to the true-to-life issue of faith, The First Gardener exceeds every requirement of the INSPY awards, and we are happy to select it as this year’s winner.

9858514Literature for Young People: With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2011)

With a Name Like Love is a family story with a great plot – a murder to be solved, friendships to resolve, and family decisions to be made – and excellent, heart-grabbing characters. Olivene Love’s daddy is a traveling preacher, as was his daddy before him and his daddy before him, ”all the way back to the time of Moses.” Ollie herself is a good girl, typical oldest child. Ollie’s mama, Susanna Love, is “like living poetry” as she welcomes the people who come to their revival meetings. Ollie’s sisters – the pessimist who gets things done, the daddy look-alike longing to become a preacher like him, the simple-minded but graceful girl who almost has the dictionary memorized, and the eager-to-please baby of the family – fill out this wonderful and down-to-earth family.  Together, the Love family has a character and winsomeness all their own, rivaling other great families of literature such as the the Marches, the Melendys, or the Moffats. With a Name Like Love doesn’t look like much at first, but it is a surprisingly touching – and sometimes tearful – story about family and friends that will appeal to both boys and girls of all ages.

11800313Mystery & Thriller: Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Publishing Group,  a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, 2012)

Written in three unique yet strong female voices, Gone to Ground kept us guessing til the end. With a thoroughly engaging plot, realistic action and believable characters, this is a book we would recommend to anyone regardless of genre preferences. Gone to Ground went above and beyond the Inspy guidelines in terms of literary merit, and though it is categorized as “Christian Suspense/Thriller” Gone to Ground is far-reaching in its appeal to any type of reader.

13511401Romance: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (Bethany House Publishers a division of Baker Publishing Group, January 2012)

Irrespective of the category The Breath of Dawn was judged by, don’t let that fool you; this novel is much more than just a romance. It’s full of excitement, challenges and a heart-tugging romance that blossoms under the sanctity of marriage. Kristen Heitzmann deftly balances romance, suspense, history and a much-needed spiritual message without letting any element suffer out of respect to another. The romance between Quinn and Morgan is tender, yet blossoms into something more passionate over the course of the story. The growing relationship between our hero and heroine is believable, and assisted by fleshed-out secondary characters who begin to feel like family by the end of the novel. Quinn’s appeal grows when the reader learns that she grew up in a cult-like religious community, introducing a backstory that makes her all the more relatable. The discussion of the community is a bold move on Heitzmann’s part, but it is dealt with in a manner that is neither derogatory or sounds like a sermon. The spiritual message in The Breath of Dawn organically grows out of the story, tying all of these elements together to produce a well-rounded, satisfying story.

14291950Speculative Fiction: Soul’s Gate by James L Rubart (Thomas Nelson Publishers, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, April 2012)

We chose Soul’s Gate from a strong and diverse field.  James L. Rubart boldly takes on the unseen world of angels and demons in a very imaginative way in regards to their interaction with Christians. This mysterious and uplifting novel takes readers into a world this is often ignored by humans: the spiritual world all around us. The novel quickly engages the reader, which makes it difficult to set the book down. The author carefully works in fresh ideas about Christian living and the way we live our lives in relation to God and with others. The well-developed characters are motivating, varied and passionate. Soul’s Gate ends in a positive way that will engage and intrigue a far reaching and wide audience. The best news is this is just book one from his Well Spring series!


Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

INSPY 2013 Winners Press Release PDF

The Inspy Awards 2013 Nominations Are Now Open!


2013 INSPYs Nominations Open

December 27, 2012—Nominations for 2013 INSPY Awards — — opened today.

After a hiatus from our 2012 awards season, The INSPY Awards has returned for a third year. The INSPYs were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith and were designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today. This program is organized and judged by book bloggers who have considerable experience and knowledge of books published for both the CBA and general markets.

We welcome the return of advisory board members Lydia Mazzei (, Rel Mollet (, Hannah Nielsen ( , Amy Riley (, and are thrilled to introduce our new member Stacy Millican (

Please note that the advisory board has made the following changes to book eligibility and the nomination process:

  • Due to our 2012 hiatus, the dates of eligibility have been broadened to include books published between July 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012.
  • Individuals can now nominate only one book per category and must include a brief explanation of why they think a book is worthy of recognition.
  • The Creative Nonfiction category has been eliminated this year as we believe the strength of the INSPYs lies in focusing on fiction.

Book nominations are sought in the following genres: Romance, Literature for Young People, General Fiction, Speculative Fiction, and Mystery & Thriller. The deadline to nominate a book is January 16.

Besides nominating the best in faith-driven literature, another way to help today is to spread the word — blog about the INSPYs, tell your friends.

The winners of the third annual INSPY awards will be announced June 28, 2013.

To stay informed, subscribe to the site:


The INSPY Awards:  The Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature

Inspys on Hiatus

The Inspys Advisory Board members have had an exciting year full of life changes, new initiatives and personal growth. Consequently the Inspy Awards will be taking a year hiatus so that we can give our full attention to your nominations next year. We all value your input and the unique process of the Inspy Awards and do not want to give anything less than our full commitment. We appreciate your patience and understanding and hope you will join us next year.

Happy Summer reading!

The Inspys Advisory Board