The INSPYs Advisory Board Announces the 2016 Longlists

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For the INSPY Awards, change was the word as we began 2016.

To help simplify our nomination process, we made some adjustments to our awards program. To that end, instead of publicizing our long list of nominations as they poured in, the Advisory Board kept the list private since the method of nomination involved a process of popular vote. The number of books that received the most nominations (the top 15 from each category) came out as the winners, which then determined the long lists.  

After some behind-the-scene delays, today we are thrilled to announce the results from those votes. From the lists below, the Advisory Board will be narrowing these respective lists down to five books per category which will become our 2016 short lists. From there, the same judging process and practices will follow.

Grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy browsing through the books that YOU nominated, propelling them into “phase two.”

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense:

  1. Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz (Prism Book Group)
  2. Moments of Truth by Sandra D. Bricker (Bling! Romance)
  3. Together with You by Victoria Bylin (Bethany House)
  4. Anna’s Healing by Vannetta Chapman (Harvest House)
  5. Legitimate Lies by Julie B. Cosgrove (Prism Book Group)
  6. The End Begins by Sara Davison (Ashberry Lane)
  7. No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason (Revell)
  8. London Tides by Carla Laureano (David. C. Cook)
  9. To Dance with Dolphins by Bonnie Leon (Ashberry Lane)
  10. Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl (Bethany House)
  11. The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer (Zondervan)
  12. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt (Howard)
  13. A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade (Bethany House)
  14. The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House)
  15. Her Brother’s Keeper by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

Debut Fiction Longlist:

  1. A Light in Bailey’s Harbor by Bethany Baker (Mantle Rock Publishing)
  2. The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham (Vinspire Publishing)
  3. Whitewashed by Amy Blake (Mantle Rock)
  4. To Soar on Eagle’s Wings by Renee Blare (Prism Book Group)
  5. Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan (Vinspire Publishing)
  6. Jaded by Varina Denman (David C. Cook)
  7. Blood of a Stone by Jeanne Gassman (Tuscany Press)
  8. A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)
  9. Love’s Rescue by Christine Johnson (Revell)
  10. Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Bethany House)
  11. Cavernous by Monica Mynk (Mantle Rock)
  12. Broken Dolls by Tyrolin Puxty (Curiosity Quills)
  13. The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea (Whitefire Publishing)
  14. Finding Mia by Dianne J. Wilson (Harbourlight)

General Fiction Longlist:

  1. Hidden Storms by Nancy Shew Bolton (Prism Book Group)
  2. A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson)
  3. A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner (Kregel)
  4. The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (WaterBrook Press)
  5. Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale House Publishers)
  6. Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green (River North)
  7. Tea & Crumples by Summer Kinard (Light Messages Publishing)
  8. The Dog that Saved Stewart Coolidge by Jim Kraus (FaithWords)
  9. The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem (Howard Books)
  10. The Road to Terminus by Catherine Leggitt (Mountainview Books)
  11. Water From My Heart by Charles Martin (Center Street)
  12. Chapel Springs Survival by Ane Mulligan (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
  13. The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson)
  14. The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson)
  15. Final Grace for Reverend G by RJ Thesman (CrossRiver Media)

Historical Romance Longlist:

  1. A Light in Bailey’s Harbor by Bethany Baker (Mantle Rock)
  2. The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (Waterbrook Press)
  3. A Thousand Shall Fall by Andrea Boeshaar (Kregel)
  4. Not by Sight by Kate Breslin (Bethany House)
  5. The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall (Whitaker House)
  6. The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide (Ashberry Lane)
  7. The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz (Revell)
  8. Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep (Shiloh Run Press)
  9. Where Two Rivers Meet by Londa Hayden (Tate Publishing)
  10. Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (Waterbrook Press)
  11. A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)
  12. Guardians of the Heart by Loree Lough (Whitaker House)
  13. The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea (Whitefire Publishers)
  14. Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin (Revell)
  15. Promise to Keep by Elizabeth Byler Younts (Howard Books)

Literature for Young Adults Longlist:

  1. Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren (Blink)
  2. Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black (WaterBrook Press)
  3. A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)
  4. Lightning by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Revell)
  5. Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon (Blink)
  6. The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale)
  7. The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson)
  8. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson)
  9. See No Evil by Mary Hamilton (HopeSprings Books)
  10. The Sound of the Stones by Beth Hammond (eLectio Publishing)
  11. An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund (Zondervan)
  12. Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman (Bethany House)
  13. Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman (Bethany House)
  14. 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia Toney (Write Integrity Press)
  15. Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson)

Mystery / Thriller Longlist:

  1. The Last Con by Zachary Bartels (Thomas Nelson)
  2. Whitewashed by Amy Blake (Mantle Rock)
  3. Gone without a Trace by Patricia Bradley (Revell)
  4. Murder Freshly Baked by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan)
  5. Deadly Doll by Brooke Cox (Mantle Rock Publishing)
  6. A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker (Center Street)
  7. Honor at Stake by Declan Finn (Eternal Press)
  8. Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Revell)
  9. Taken by Dee Henderson (Bethany House)
  10. Falcon by Ronie Kendig (Shiloh Run Press)
  11. Where Hope Dwells by Elizabeth Ludwig (Guideposts)
  12. Desperate Measures by Sandra Orchard (Revell)
  13. The Bones will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson)
  14. Shattered Trust by Chris Richards (Prism Book Group)
  15. Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr (Kregel)

Speculative Fiction Longlist:

  1. The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry (Kregel)
  2. Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse (Enclave Publishing)
  3. The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House)
  4. Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan (Vinspire)
  5. The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey (Thomas Nelson)
  6. Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry (Howard Books)
  7. The Sound of Stones by Beth Hammond (eLectio Publishing)
  8. Embers by Ronie Kendig (Enclave Publishing)
  9. The King’s Scrolls by Jaye L Knight (Living Sword Publishers)
  10. The Sword and the Song by C.E. Laureano (Nav Press)
  11. Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin (Enclave)
  12. Cavernous by Monica Mynk (Mantle Rock)
  13. Found and Lost by Amanda G. Stevens (David C. Cook)
  14. Take and Give by Amanda G. Stevens (David C. Cook)

…and there you have the 2016 INSPYs longlists.

We’d like to congratulate all of the nominated authors and thank all of the bloggers and readers who put forth their favorite reads of 2015.

We’re ready to get to work and find the top five in each of these categories.

2015 INSPY Award Winners

After our panel of judges careful consideration, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2015 INSPY Award Winners. Below are the seven winning novels in their respective categories and a statement from our judges on the reason why they felt it was worth the award…

Book - Miracle in a Dry SeasonDebut: Miracle in a Dry Season (Bethany House) by Sarah Loudin Thomas: 
We chose Miracle in a Dry Season not only because of the talent of the author, but because it is a unique and engaging story. A refreshing tale of miracles, love, and laughter set in the 1950s, Sarah Loudin Thomas pens an intriguing take based around the miracle of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Through the story, characters – led primarily by a male character, Casewell, and events we gain a deeper understanding of faith and what it means to embrace the gifts and blessings God has given us.
Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense: Meant to Be Mine (Bethany House) by Becky Wade: Book - Meant to be Mine

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade is the epitome of Christian romance. The chemistry between Ty and Celia is fabulous, and we could feel the sparks in every interaction between them! While the romance is spectacular, this book has so much more to offer. Beautifully written, it is an emotional experience in the best way. Wade’s descriptions of the characters brought them to life, and their relational, emotional, and spiritual journeys rang true. The other four novels in this category are wonderful, but Meant To Be Mine’s excellence is unable to be denied.

 

saving amelieGeneral Fiction: Saving Amelie (Tyndale) by Cathy Gohlke: 

What a challenge, to pick one winner from five fabulous titles including Biblical, historical and contemporary fiction. We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2015 INSPY Award for General Fiction is Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke, which impressed us all with its complex characters, fascinating historical detail, and bold yet subtle Christian message. The story is set in Germany in the early days of World War II, and plot centres on rescuing the deaf Amelie, from her father and from a regime which prized “perfection” over the sanctity of life. The characters face danger, hardship and uncertainty over the course of this thought-provoking and sometimes harrowing read. We were particularly impressed with the sensitive way Gohlke showed how God can use ordinary people in the bleakest of circumstances.

Book - Mark of DistinctionHistorical Romance: Mark of Distinction (Tyndale) by Jessica Dotta: 

We chose Mark of Distinction because it exemplifies the historical romance genre and confronts unique spiritual themes. Jessica Dotta has woven a story with a captivating setting and characters. The writing style and mystery of the plot draws the reader from the beginning into a Victorian society of restraint, secrets, and consequences. At its center is the theme of full surrender and trust in God. With complex characters and a unique voice, the story unfolds with unexpected twists and romance.

Book - Storm SirenLiterature for Young Adult: Storm Siren (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber:

Our panel decided to choose Storm Siren as the winner for the YA category. Nym deals with insecurities about her elemental powers and wondering why she was born with such a curse. This makes Nym relatable to young women all over the world and from every generation – we have all dealt with insecurities at some point in their lives. To see Nym have to come to terms with how she was created and to use those powers for the greater good shows tremendous character growth. Another reason we chose Storm Siren was because of the amazing and magical world that Mary Weber created. World building is one of the first things in a Fantasy novel that draws you into the story. Oh…and who doesn’t love a map inside their book!Book - A.D. 30

Mystery/Thriller: A.D. 30 (Center Street) by Ted Dekker:

A.D. 30 is a fast-paced adventure that keeps you turning the pages until the very end. Ted Dekker delivers a powerful, faith-filled story that brims with perils – each with their own kind of mystery and suspense, struggles, and most importantly hope. Dekker takes us on a journey to Jesus through the eyes of the daughter of Maviah, a gentile and an outcast, readers rediscover the message of Yeshua, experiencing it as never before. Dekker masterfully conveys the depth of God’s love for us — a knowledge we often hold in our heads, but fail to carry in our hearts. Warring kingdoms, power-thirsty adversaries, and fickle rulers are only a few of the obstacles in Maviah’s journey that keep the reader flipping pages. Whether she will succeed in her quest is a mystery. An uplifting and simple message, encased in a sweeping historical epic, is the primary reason it was selected A.D. 30 to be the winner of this year’s INSPY award.

Speculative Fiction: Spirit Bridge (Thomas Nelson) by James L.Rubart:

Book - Spirit BridgeSpirit Bridge is a brilliantly written story that was thought provoking and yet easy to follow as a standalone novel, though it is the third and final book in the Well Spring series. The story-world was populated with an excellent group of lead characters who were complex and easily relatable in their struggles in both the physical and spiritual realms. Their struggles challenge the reader to examine aspects of their own lives.  The story’s message, dying to self and keeping the enemy from gaining a foothold, was clear throughout, not getting lost in the suspense and action of the story. Spirit Bridge fully satisfies the reader’s expectations of the genre. It is a powerful spiritual thriller, with the speculative elements underpinning the novel and not requiring any further explanation to better understand it. Spirit Bridge is very worthy of the INSPY for Speculative Fiction.

 

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We’d like to thank our judges for their hard work and careful consideration of each title.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

Up Close and Personal with Ronie Kendig

Rapid-Fire fiction author, Ronie Kendig is joining us today. Ronie has been shortlisted for an INSPY in year’s past and just announced her foray into the fantasy genre as well as a new thriller series with Bethany House. This year, her novels  Raptor 6 (Shiloh Run Press) is on the short list for the Mystery/Thriller category and Beowulf (Barbour Publishing) in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic category. Below we chat with Ronie about her favorite TV show being cancelled and get a glimpse of her TBR stack.

Goodreads Raptor 6 SummaryBook - Raptor 6

Captain Dean Watters keeps his mission and his team in the forefront of his laser-like focus. So when Dean’s mission and team are threatened, his Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Failing to stop hackers from stealing national security secrets from the military’s secure computers and networks isn’t an option. Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. And a target. When Zahrah is captured because of her expertise in quantum cryptology, compromising the US military, Dean is forced to crack the lockbox around his heart—a move that might come at the highest cost.

Book - BeowulfGoodreads Beowulf Summary

Former Navy handler Timbrel Hogan has more attitude than her Explosives Detection Dog, Beowulf, but she’s a tough woman who gets the job done. Green Beret Tony “Candyman” VanAllen likes a challenge and convincing the hard-hitting handler they belong together might just get him killed.

When tragedy strikes and Tony’s career is jeopardized, Timbrel must re-evaluate her priorities—and fast! A terrorist plots to unleash a weapon of mass destruction on American soil. Can Timbrel and Beowulf track the chemicals in time? Will Tony surrender everything to save the woman nobody believes in?

 

1.) What are you listening to?

​ Right now, as I type this, I’m listening to the new soundtrack-style album by Two Steps From Hell called Battlecry. It’s the perfect music for writing! ​

2.) What are you watching?

​ Well, I’m actually silently weeping because my favorite TV show–Forever–has just been cancelled. I tried not to watch the last album so it wouldn’t end, but I wasn’t strong enough. I caved. ​

3.) What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand?

IMG_0992

​I started reading The Light We Cannot See, but then got invited to a book club with our Taekwondo school, and they wanted us to read The Girl on the Train, so I bought that. But I also have Lynette Eason’s newest, NO PLACE TO HIDE and Sabaa Tahir’s new An Ember in the Ashes. That’s just what’s on my desk. LOL! So many books, so little time!!!  ​

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Thank you so much for joining us today, Ronie. It was a pleasure to host you here. Learn more about Ronie: Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Website

Up Close and Personal with Becky Wade

Another week and another new month (happy June, readers!) means we continue our shortlist author interviews. We kick off June with shortlisted author Becky Wade. Becky’s novel  Meant to be Mine (Bethany House) is on the short list for the Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense category. Below we chat with Becky about her fun reading list and learn about the inspiration behind Meant to be Mine.

Goodreads SummaryBook - Meant to be Mine

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school–irresistible. When their paths cross again after college–still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia’s ready to be Ty’s wife, but Ty’s not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider; he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia’s buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty’s achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn’t forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

Becky Wade

“You know you’re a writer on deadline when you have a stack of clean clothes this tall simply waiting to be transferred to hangers. Nothing’s been hung up in at least two weeks.”

Author Interview

1.) What are you listening to?  I love contemporary Christian worship music!  I don’t listen to anything while writing except my dog’s soft snores and the background noise of the dishwasher or washing machine.  But when I’m cleaning up the house or cooking or driving somewhere with the kids (on those occasions when they’ll consent to listen to something other than bad pop music) we rock out to praise songs.  Three of my current favorite songs are: Because He Lives by Matt Maher, Come As You Are by Crowder, and Who You Are by Kristian Stanfill.

2.) What are you watching? Sadly, almost nothing lately because I’m ‘on deadline’ with a book due June 1st.  The torture!!  I can’t wait until June 1.

I get my morning shot of TV news from the Today Show.  When I am able to squeeze in solo TV time, my relaxation show is Who Do You Think You Are.  My son and I like to watch the BBC version of Sherlock together.

Becky Wade's Reading

3.) What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand?  I’m currently reading the first novel in my friend Rachel’s Hauck’s Royal Wedding series, Once Upon a Prince.  I’m cheating a little because I’m “reading” it by listening to the audio version on my phone every time I’m alone in my car.  I’m grateful that I can listen my way through books!  The stories make my driving time a treat.

Becky Wade (2)

Becky’s Writing Space

What inspired Meant to Be Mine?  I was inspired by the idea of a ‘Secret Baby’ plot line   I’ve always loved books in which fathers are reunited with children they never knew they had.  I gave that classic romance novel idea my own twist by marrying Ty and Celia in a Las Vegas wedding chapel right at the outset of the book.  I really enjoyed tackling not only the ’Secret Baby’ premise, but also the ‘Marriage in Name Only’ aspects of Ty and Celia’s story.

I’m thrilled that Meant to Be Mine was named to the INSPY shortlist in company with books written by author friends of mine.  I’m honored to be in their company and I’m truly encouraged by the nomination.  Thank you INSPYs!

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Thank you so much for joining us today, Becky. It was a pleasure to host you here. Learn more about Becky: Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Website

Up Close and Personal with Beth K. Vogt

You’re invited to join us in welcoming contemporary fiction author Beth K. Vogt today. Her novel, Somebody Like You (Howard Books) is on the short list for the Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense category. Below Beth shares about her current TV obsession (which I happen to share) and tells us about the books she hopes to read following her latest deadline.

Goodreads Summary: Somebody Like You PW

In this beautifully rendered, affecting novel, a young widow’s world is shattered when she meets her late husband’s identical twin—and finds herself caught between honoring her husband’s memory and falling in love with his reflection.Haley’s whirlwind romance and almost three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he is killed in Afghanistan. As she grapples with widowhood and the upcoming birth of her son, her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her that Sam had been killed?

After a twelve-year estrangement, Stephen hopes to make things right with his brother—only to discover Sam died without revealing Stephen’s existence to Haley. As Haley and Stephen struggle to navigate their fragile relationship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. Haley is unnerved by Stephen’s uncanny resemblance to Sam, and Stephen struggles with the issue of Haley loving him as Stephen—and not as some reflection of his twin. How can Haley and Stephen honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You reminds us that while we can’t change the past, we have the choice—and the power through God—to change the future and start anew.

1.) What are you listening to? What I’m listening to depends on where I am. At home, I open up Spotify, slip on my Bose headphones and click on a favorite Playlist. Right now, since I am on deadline, I’m listening to my “Music to Write By” Playlist. This contains some of my favorite praise and worship music like You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music, Forever by Kari Jobe, This I Believe (The Creed) by Hillsong Worship. Listening to this reminds me that I want to collaborate with God while I write. When I’m in the car with my teen daughter? She controls the music selection – and that’s lots of fun. I’m constantly asking, “Who’s this

2.) What are you watching? My favorite TV show right now is The Flash. My husband and daughter and I take time on Tuesday nights to sit down together and watch it. That show has great writers and besides enjoying the action, I keep thinking, “Oh! Plot twist! I could apply that kind of idea to my manuscript!” Other than that, I might put a favorite movie on the background while I write: Hatari or Hellfighters – classic, non-cowboy John Wayne – or What’s Up Doc. If my Grandgirl #1 is over, it might be The Music Man.

3.) What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? A better question would be “What would I like to be reading?” Since I’m on deadline, my To Be Read (TBR) piles (yes, plural) are piling up. I have pre-ordered books being delivered to my Kindle and my son’s first two novels just came out – he writes ABA fantasy. I want to read my friend, Melissa Tagg’s latest, From the Start. And I then there’s Robin Lee Hatcher’s latest, Whenever You Come Around, and Cathy West’s Bridge of Faith, just to name a few.

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Thank you so much for joining us today, Beth. It was a pleasure to host you here. Learn more about Beth: Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Website

Author Interview with Dani Pettrey

We’re thrilled to welcome Bethany House author Dani Pettrey to the INSPYs blog. Homeschooling mom of two and author of the best-selling Alaskan Courage series, her second novel, Shattered is a finalist in the contemporary romance/romantic suspense category.

Summary from GoodreadsBook - Shattered

A Thrilling New Romantic Suspense from the Genre’s Newest Star

Piper McKenna couldn’t be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed–but despite the evidence, Reef swears he’s innocent. And Piper believes him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon’s career.

With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry–and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

Dani Pettrey

Dani and her family enjoying a vacation – full of fun the McKenna family would appreciate!

What do you do outside the world of books?

I’m finishing up my last year of homeschooling. My youngest daughter graduates in a few weeks so that’ll be a big change, but now we have our grandson who I have the pleasure of watching a couple afternoons a week. I love to read, travel, and spend time outdoors. I’m also a coffee and chocolate fanatic.

What are the challenges or benefits of incorporating faith into your storyline?

I think the challenge is to weave the faith element into the storyline in an organic way. You don’t want to put a faith element in the story just for the sake of having it there or to meet some publisher’s guidelines. You want it to already be part of the story—part of the character’s life and journey. The benefits are vast—sharing the Gospel with others, learning more about God as my characters do, and deepening my relationship with Christ are just three examples.

Landon and Piper

Meet Landon and Piper

What do you hope readers take away from Shattered?

Actually, I think this review sums it up best:

I liked the message that people can change through the transforming power of Christ! Even the greatest of sinners. We’re also reminded that being a Christian doesn’t make our journey easy, in fact, it probably won’t be, but you can have the confidence that it will be filled with purpose and at its end an eternal paradise. That’s hope!  —Sherry Kuhn of Love 2 Read Novels.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life?

The greatest challenge was life at that time. My mom was very ill and passed away the week before Shattered was due. Writing it while taking care of her and seeing her decline health-wise was really difficult. A close friend read the first draft and said she could see my heart breaking through the story. It took some time afterwards and quite a lot of revisions to refine it into the story it is, but I would say that was my greatest challenge.

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Thank you for joining us today, Dani. It was a pleasure to host you. Learn more about Dani’s books, browse fun extras related to her novels plus more, all on her website.

 

Author Interview with Katie Ganshert

Book - Wishing on WillowsWe’re welcoming contemporary author, Katie Ganshert today. The author of three novels all from Waterbrook press, Katie’s second book, Wishing on Willows is a finalist in the contemporary romance/romantic suspense category.

Summary from Goodreads

Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.

So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.

work space

Katie’s work space

What do you do outside the world of books?

Mostly, I’m a wife and a mommy! I do the typical stay-at-home mommy things—cooking dinner, playing with my little guy, finding time to spend with my hubs, keeping the house in a livable condition, grocery shopping, church activities. Laundry, thankfully, is something my husband takes care of (talk about a real-life hero). A lot of my time is also spent in the adoption world. We have an adopted Congolese daughter who is still in the Congo. She’s been a Ganshert since July, but for a variety of complicated reasons, we (along with hundreds of other families in our position) are unable to bring her home. So lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time making phone calls and sending emails to people in our government in an effort to get our sweet girl home.

As book lovers it interests us – What books or authors have influenced you, both as a writer and a reader?

Katie's standing desk

Katie’s standing desk

The first Christian fiction authors I read were Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers. Both of these ladies inspired me to write the genre. The Mark of the Lion trilogy is one I re-read at least once every year. Another book that had a strong influence on me is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I read it in fifth grade and absolutely fell in love with the world of fiction.

What are the challenges or benefits of incorporating faith into your storyline?

I think one of the challenges is making sure the faith element happens organically and weaves itself through the story. I never want it to be something that is tacked on the end as an afterthought. There are many benefits, but probably my favorite is the opportunity it gives me to spend more time in the Word.

What do you hope readers take away from Wishing on Willows?

I hope readers finish the book with a broader understanding of God’s grace and if they need it, the courage to step past what is familiar and comfortable, into God’s best for their lives.

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Glad to have you join us today, Katie! Thank you. Read more about Katie and her novels on her website.

Author Interview with Denise Hunter

Today’s feature interview is with the award-winning contemporary romance author Denise Hunter. Her novel Barefoot Summer is a finalist in the contemporary romance/romantic suspense category.

Summary from Goodreads Barefoot Summer Book Art

Madison’s heart closed the day her twin brother died.

Since losing her twin, Michael, in a drowning incident, Madison has rejected the faith he lived by. Instead, she’s devoted her life to fulfilling Michael’s dream—winning the River Sail Regatta in their small Indiana town, Chapel Springs.

As she trains for the regatta, Beckett O’Reilly is teaching Madison to swim. But he’s keeping a painful secret from her—and as they grow closer, that secret threatens to upend their lives . . . and the lives of both their families.

What do you do outside the world of books?

I’m the wife of a business owner and the mother of three boys (15, 18, and 21). One is in college, another is headed to college in the fall (yikes!) and the youngest has his heart set on becoming a marine. We’re active in our church, which we helped start 11 years ago. I play drums, love to travel, and have a sweet tooth that won’t quit. Oh, and I LOVE to read!

As book lovers it interests us – what books or authors have influenced you, both as a writer and a reader?

Probably the most influential novel I’ve read is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I’ve read it 4 or 5 times, which is the most I’ve ever read a single novel. It’s written with such skill and told in the most compelling way. I aspire to write books that touch the heart like that!

What are the challenges or benefits of incorporating faith into your storyline?

Chapel Springs, Indiana

Chapel Springs, Indiana

The biggest challenge, I think, is to make it authentic. Sometimes things and situations that happen in real life don’t feel authentic on the page. This is where I’ve become a big fan showing, not telling. Show the characters living out their faith. Show them making mistakes and suffering the consequences. Show them coming to realize what’s missing or what they’ve done wrong.

One of the benefits of incorporating faith in the storyline is that I have an opportunity to unpack spiritual issues I’m confused about through the eyes of the characters. I learn right alongside the reader! Sometimes the protagonist is dealing with an issue I’ve muddled through myself and have already found answers to. It’s a joy to share what I’ve learned with others–Isn’t it much easier to learn through someone else’s mistakes?

What do you hope readers take away from Barefoot Summer?

Barefoot Summer CharactersMadison lost her twin brother and, instead of dealing with pain, she shoves it down. I think so often that’s what we do. Sometimes a pain seems to great, and we don’t want to have to feel it. Madison wants to be over the pain of losing her brother without having gone through the grieving journey. She thinks winning the River Sail Regatta in place of her brother will fix the problem. Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. Buried pain has a way of coming out one way or another. I hope the book helps the reader who has buried an old pain. Maybe it’s interfering with their life or causing them to make poor choices or keeping them from a closer relationship with God. I hope they find the courage to take it out and look at it. To feel the pain and go through the journey of healing so they can become the person God made them to be.

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Glad you could join us today, Denise! To learn more about Denise’s fiction, visit her on her website.

Interview with Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris’s novel, Blood Ransom, is on the INSPY shortlist for Romance/Romantic Suspense.

Synopsis of the Book:
Deep in the heart of Africa, two American lives are about to change forever. Natalie Sinclair and Dr. Chad Talcott want to make a difference in under-developed African villages but they didn’t count on risking their lives in the process. Romance and adventure drive this powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.

Why do you write romance?
Ahh…Who doesn’t love a good love story? 🙂 There is something timeless about love and romance. And while I prefer my conflict to come from outside the relationship by throwing in some intense danger and suspense, in the end, the guy always gets the girl. Sigh. 🙂

What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?
I believe that the biggest challenge for me is to make it natural. I see my faith as something that isn’t limited to church on Sunday, but is woven into every aspect of my life as I try to react to the world the way Jesus would. (Not that I always do, of course.) I want my characters to face these same struggles and for the faith thread to show how they respond and hopefully in the end grow in their faith as they are forced to meet daily challenges of life by drawing on their relationship with Christ.

Favourite book – favourite movie – favourite TV show?
This is always so hard. I recently picked up Ted Dekker’s circle trilogy to read again (adding the forth book this time) just because I really enjoyed the series the first time. As for movies, I’d have to say Ever After or Princess Bride–romance at its best). I don’t watch much TV, but really enjoy NCIS.

How do you feel about blogging? Do you have a blog?
While sometimes I find the social networking side a bit overwhelming, I do blog and find it a great way to stay in touch with friends, family, and readers. The best thing to me is that it gives me the chance to connect with people even though I live halfway around the world and are in some ways isolated. The internet and blogging has made the world a whole lot smaller.

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.
There are so many that I could mention, but the one book that really stands out is Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love because of the huge impact that story has made on readers worldwide.


Award-winning author of nineteen novels and novellas, Lisa Harris lives with her husband and their three children in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

When she’s not busy writing or home schooling, she loves traveling, cooking different ethnic foods, and photographing animals and birds in the African bush. Visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com and her blog at www.myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com.

Interview with Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter’s book Seaside Letters is a finalist in the Romance/Romantic Suspense category.

Description from Goodreads:
Their letters could lead to lasting love . . . or expose Sabrina’s mortifying secret.

Sabrina Kincaid didn’t intend to fall for Nantucket native Tucker McCabe, the man she serves coffee to every morning-a man tied to a past she deeply regrets. But she has. And she’s fallen hard.

But she’s kept this a secret from her handsome customer. And now Tucker wants to hire Sabrina to help locate his friend “Sweetpea”-the mysterious woman he’s falling in love with online. Sabrina is not inclined to help, but if Tucker hires someone else, it could spell disaster. Because if someone else sifted through the emails and figured out the truth-then Tucker would discover that the person he’s trying to find is . . . her.

Why do you write your stories?
I write because I need a creative outlet, because I enjoy crafting stories for others to read, and because I see a need for wholesome and faith-filled novels on the bookstore shelves. I’m grateful that I get to do something I so enjoy for a living. God has blessed me with timely opportunities and a wonderful publisher–Thomas Nelson.

What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story? The challenge of incorporating faith into a story is that there’s one extra plate to keep spinning in the air. I often don’t figure out the spiritual theme until I’m nearly finished with the first draft. I let the characters evolve in a natural way and eventually, the spiritual thread becomes apparent. The benefits don’t come into play until the book is published and the reader feedback comes trickling in. There’s nothing more gratifying and humbling to me than hearing that God used my story to change someone.

Favorite book – favorite movie – favorite TV show?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, “You’ve Got Mail”, and “Castle”. You can see the romance thread running right through my selections. 🙂

How do you feel about blogging? Do you have a blog?
I blog at Girls Write Out with fellow authors Hannah Alexander, Kristin Billerbeck, Colleen Coble, and Diann Hunt. We’re also close friends, and I think that camaraderie comes through in our blog, where we’ve developed friendships with many readers and writers. We’re celebrating 5 years of Girls Write Out this month and we just started a Facebook Group

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.
A very recent read that impressed me was “Lady in Waiting” by Susan Meissner.


Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of eight novels, including Surrender Bay and Convenient Groom.

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!