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 Katie Ganshert

Katie Ganshert joins us today. Author of four contemporary novels with WaterBrook Press and a pair of novellas (Zondervan), Katie just recently released the first of her independently published young adult dystopian novels, The Gifting. Her novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful (WaterBrook Press) is on the short list in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic category. We chat with Katie about her favorite worship music and the fabulous nightstand reading she has.

Goodreads SummaryBook - A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?

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Katie’s Writing Space

1.) What are you listening to?

A good friend made me a mix of worship music for my birthday that I’ve been listening to a lot! It has songs like I Lay Me Down, From the Inside Out, and I’m Still Yours. It’s basically amazing and puts my heart in a place of worship and surrender (the best place for a heart to be). Call me cheesy, but I also love the “love songs” channel on Pandora.

2.) What are you watching? 

Daniel Tiger and Wild Krats. Ha! We are super lame when it comes to watching television. There aren’t really any shows that I’m into right now. I think So You Think You Can Dance is going to start soon, and I’m always a fan of that show!

3.) What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? IMG_7358

Currently, I’m reading two books with two more on my nightstand! The two I’m reading now are both on my kindle—Bonhoeffer’s biography (which is fascinating, but loooong, hence the reason I’m still reading it three months after starting) and Emerge by Heather Sunseri (so good!). Next is Katherine’s Reay’s upcoming novel, The Bronte Plot, and then A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade, who is one of my all-time fave authors! I also have The Selection by Kiera Cass waiting on my kindle as well.

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Thank you so much for joining us today, Katie. It was a pleasure to host you here. Learn more about Katie: 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

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.

Author Interview: Kristen Heitzmann

We are thrilled to welcome Kristen Heitzmann to the Inspy Blog.  Kristen is an award-winning author of Breath of Dawn, shortlisted in the Romance Inspy Category.

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Summary from Goodreads~

Morgan Spencer has had just about all he can take of life. Following the tragic death of his wife, Jill, he retreats to his brother’s Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his infant daughter, Olivia. Two years later, Morgan begins to make plans to return to his home in Santa Barbara to pick up the pieces of his life and career.
Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years. Standing up for the truth has forced her into a life of fear and isolation. After a “chance” first meeting and a Thanksgiving snowstorm, Quinn is drawn into the Spencer family’s warm and loving world, and she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship.
The man Quinn helped put behind bars has recently been released, however, and she fears her past will endanger the entire Spencer family. As the danger heightens, she determines to leave town for the sake of the people who have come to mean so much to her.
Fixing problems is what Morgan Spencer does best, and he is not willing to let Quinn run away, possibly into the clutches of a man bent on revenge. But Morgan’s solution sends him and Quinn on an unexpected path, with repercussions neither could have anticipated.

Kristen Pub2 What led you to writing?

All the stories in my head. At first I prayed they’d go away so I could concentrate on what I was “supposed” to be doing. Finally a friend in my women’s group said maybe they were there for a reason and that was what I was supposed to be doing. It was a moment of revelation, and letting them out pure relief.

    What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?

The faith elements in my writing spring from the stories themselves. I don’t actively incorporate religion, just let grace happen. The benefit is that the Spirit works in ways I don’t control and surpasses my abilities and expectations.

    Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

I love books that expand my imagination in ways that magnify God. I’d say the best example of this, though not strictly Christian fiction is The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell.

    Favourite book – favourite movie – favourite TV show?

Love too many to choose one. My current favorite movie is Les Miserables. So redemptive! On TV I like to watch anything with great writing. I don’t care for unscripted, reality shows. I could spy on my neighbors for that.

Kristen's Workspace

Kristen’s Workspace

    What do you hope readers take away from Breath of Dawn?

A sense that even when someone’s life seems fraught with grief, grace transcends the struggle and transforms the heart.

Kristen is a Colorado transplant, mother to four, grandmother to two and wife of 32 years.  A talented author and musician, Kristen advises striving authors that “if you’re not wracked with labor pains, there are easier ways to express yourself. Being a writer is a solitary, eccentric, and often compulsive path that I wouldn’t trade for anything.” To follow Kristen visit KristenHeitzmannBooks.com

Author Interview: Laura Frantz

We welcome Laura Frantz to the Inspy’s Blog.  Laura is the author of Love’s Reckoning, one of the top 5 Romance shortlisted for an Inspy.

13115556On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in York. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege’s daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other’s jealousy destroy their love?

In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man’s choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come.

What led you to writing?

I wrote my first story (a historical – surprise!) at age 7 and never stopped. Back then I wanted to be an author – it’s written in old journals of mine so I believe you’re hardwired to do it at an early age, in my case at least. It’s definitely a gifting I couldn’t possibly work up if I tried. When people asked me how to write a book I tell them I honestly don’t know! I just sit down and write with pen and paper the old-fashioned way and then transfer it to a Word doc. To me, writing is such a joy I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s a little like falling in love – with characters, a setting, a situation – and not being able to stay away from their world.

lauramontereybest!What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?

I don’t care for preachy stories and feel any faith element or spiritual thread should flow organically within the story, woven into the characters’ lives in such a way that it appears natural and not forced. Personally I’ve always been drawn to people who live out their faith and don’t just do lip-service to it. I’m most impacted by books that do this same thing. The challenge would be that fine line between being preachy and losing the spiritual thread altogether. My novels have been called “spiritually subtle” and I think that is a true summation.

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Oh, wonderful question but such a hard one! The first book that impacted me mightily was Christy by Catherine Marshall. More recently I look to Liz Curtis Higgs and her Scottish historicals, Here Burns My Candle and Mine is the Night. Both are stellar examples of rich, deep prose, spirituality that is realistic and not forced, and fascinating history. I am a huge fan of anything Scottish and Liz always delivers. Her novels are always of the highest caliber and I think about them for days afterwards.

Favourite book – favourite movie – favourite TV show?

Favorite book is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables) as it is her ‘adult story’ and a very memorable, romantic one! And one of the few books I’ve read more than once. Definitely a lesser known classic. The hero is to die for.  Favorite movie hands down is the BBC’s North and South with Richard Armitage, another incredibly memorable hero! As for favorite TV show, I became hooked on Doc Martin in May while in Scotland, and watched an episode a night for about 3 weeks straight. Hilarious and moving and quirky and fun.

Laura's Desktops

Laura’s Desktops

What do you hope readers take away from Love’s Reckoning?

I took some risks with this novel, making Eden the heroine very true to her time period/history and a victim of her circumstances. Not a modern-day woman clad in historical costume. Through her journey/struggle as well as the hero’s, Silas Ballantyne, I wanted to show that no matter what circumstances life hands you, God is always faithful and will bring good out of the ugliness, every bit of it. He is the Father who never fails and will be with you through the end, redeeming impossible situations in unexpected ways.

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Laura grew up in Kentucky but went to college in Ohio and England.  An interesting tidbit is that Laura took only ONE creative writing course!  To see pictures of her recent trip to Scotland please visit her Journal and to learn more about Laura and her books please visit her website.

2013 Shortlists announced

We are pleased to reveal the 2013 INSPY Award shortlists:

General Fiction

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell
Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke
The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones
The Messenger by Siri Mitchell
Stardust by Carla Stewart

Romance

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz
Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann
My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Mystery/Thriller

Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins
A Plain Death by Amanda Flower
Placebo by Steven James
Trinity: Military War Dog by Ronie Kendig
Proof by Jordyn Redwood

Literature for Young People

Wreath by Judy Christie
With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo
Dead Man’s Hand by Eddie Jones
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
Cake: Love, Chickens, and a Taste of Peculiar by Joyce Magnin

Speculative Fiction

Caught by Margaret Patterson Haddix
The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo
Freeheads by Kerry Nietz
Soul’s Gate by James L. Rubart
Daystar by Kathy Tyers

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors!

2013-Shortlist-Press-Release.

2013 Judges

The INSPY Advisory Board is thrilled to announce the judges for 2013. The shortlists will be announced on April 15 and once these judges receive their respective books, they then have the task to narrow from five novels to the one worthy of the 2013 INSPY in each category. We welcome these judges and thank them for their service.

General Fiction Judges

Rachel McMillanRachel McMillan loves Christian fiction, tea and Sherlock Holmes. She blogs at A Fair Substitute for Heaven and is a frequent contributor and featured reviewer at Breakpoint and Novel Crossing. She lives in Toronto. This is her third time judging the INSPY Awards and she looks forward to the fun discussions ahead!

 

 

Elizabeth SchulenbergElizabeth Schulenburg got her first library card at age 4 and hopes to be reading as long as her 106-year-old great-grandma. To pay the bills, she works behind the pharmacy counter, but her real passion lies in spending time with friends and family, especially her husband, Jeremy, and twin 2-year-olds, David and Sophia. Among her favorite Christian authors are Ted Dekker, Jamie Langston Turner, Angie Smith, Rachel Held Evans, and Jocelyn Green. If you’d like to see what she is reading, stop by www.needmoreshelves.blogspot.com.

DMSelfDM Webb-Self lives, along with her family and a variety of pets, in the beautiful state of Mississippi. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she has served as a judge in the Carol Awards and Genesis Awards, and is an active participant in the ACFW critique group. Her novel, Mississippi Nights, was released in January 2012 and her children’s devotional, Balaam & the Donkey, was released on the Devokids website on April 1, 2013.

Her studies in art and sociology coupled with her many jobs ranging from bookstore clerk to volunteer firefighter/EMR has produced a plethora of ideas for upcoming books. You can find her at www.dmwebb-writebyfaith.blogspot.com.au/.

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Romance Judges

Susan BaganzSusan M. Baganz is acquisitions editor for Prism Book Group, an author of contemporary and historical romances, and a book reviewer. She loves a happy ending and the journey it takes to get there. She lives in the Midwest and loves curling up with her puppy, a good book, and a cup of spiced chai. Susan blogs at Susan Baganz’s Silygoos Blog.

 

 

Profile Picture Rachel BrandRachel Brand is an aspiring writer who lives in Scotland, where she is finishing her undergraduate degree in English and modern history at the University of St. Andrews. She is the fiction editor of the Christian e-zine, The Christian Manifesto, where she regularly reviews recent releases in the inspirational market. When she isn’t reading a novel or penning her own, Rachel enjoys baking, knitting, watching films and attempting to play computer games with her husband. A romantic at heart, Rachel can typically be found reading an Amish or historical romance, but she does occasionally take a break to enjoy some contemporary and young adult fiction.

 

2012Rissi An avid 20-something reader who is learning to like sci-fi, Rissi lives in the Midwest and is passionate about writing – which may explain why conversations between her current characters rotate through her mind (this can be quite inconvenient). Over the past six years, she’s written film reviews for a small Christian website, which then transitioned into blogging and eventually, book reviewing. A love of a good Jason Bourne mystery means she’s willing to try almost any crime show, and is in fact, addicted to several. British costume dramas are too few in her opinion as is BBC’s Sherlock and she uses the word “rather” too much (blaming this on those British dramas). For nearly three years, she has been fortunate enough to be a part of the coolest e-zine covering the best in literature and film. When not writing, she enjoys good music, hanging out with her family and pursuing other creative hobbies. Since August 2011, her writing haven has been blogging; she blogs at Dreaming Under the Same Moon.

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Mystery/Thriller Judges

photoBeckie Burnham has been a blogger (By The Book) for more than four years, but has been a book enthusiast/promoter (nagger) for much longer. She is the member of three book discussion groups — her favorite being one she co-leads at a women’s rehab center. This dynamic group meets once a week to read books aloud and generally cut up and have fun. The mother of three college-aged children, she works when she has to as the office manager of her husband Brian’s veterinary office. They own one spoiled Boston terrier, four cats, two goats and 10 chickens.

 

DSCN1875Mark Buzard is a Pennsylvania transplant that has lived in northeastern Ohio since 1993. He has a BA in religious education, is single and currently looking for work. Although he has no children, Mark does have three nieces and three nephews that he loves as if though they were his own. Mark spends his extra time playing the piano, taking walks, shopping, and of course reading. He rarely reads secular books, so most of his reading is Christian fiction, the mystery/suspense/thriller genre in particular. At the suggestion of two of his friends, Mark explored the idea a few years ago of reviewing books, and was fortunate to get connected with several publishers, publicity groups and others. Mark really enjoys reviewing books and gets so many that he uses a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. Mark states that he is honored to be a judge for the INSPY Awards and is looking forward to the experience. You can find Mark blogging at Thoughts of a Sojourner.

Tami1Tami Erwin is a book blogger, avid reader and former librarian. Her years in library collection development expanded her interest in a wide variety of book genres, but mysteries have always been her favorite. In their 30 years of marriage, Tami and her husband, Dave, have lived in 13 towns in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. They have three grown children and two grandsons. Tami blogs at Just One More Thing . . .

 

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Literature for Young People Judges

sheilaSheila DeChantal lives in Central Minnesota with her husband and three dogs, two of which are rescues (she has a weakness for hurt animals). Sheila has two amazing boys — one in college and one in the Navy. She spends her weekdays as a family life administrator and special events coordinator for her church, volunteers on the city library board and with Friends of the Library. Sheila is also honored to be a board member for Camp Benedict, a camp for people infected and affected by AIDS.

For fun Sheila loves riding bike, reading, rollerblading, mud runs, cabin weekends, and hanging out with friends. In 2014 she is signed up to run with the bulls. Her hope and prayer is that she is faster than the bulls 😉 Sheila can be found blogging at Book Journey.

sherryearlySherry Early is the author and instigator of Semicolon, a blog about kids and books and homeschooling and communities and sometimes movies and politics and fun links and whatever else she wants to write about on any particular day. Sherry is an evangelical Christian and completely unapologetic about it. She is also a 52 year old homeschooling mom of eight children. Sherry enjoys reading — reading whatever comes her way, including, but not limited to, adult fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, nonfiction history and biography, Christian inspirational fiction, young adult fiction, fantasy and science fiction, children’s fiction and nonfiction, memoirs, cereal boxes, other people’s blogs, magazines, brochures, and picture books. When she’s desperate Sherry will read the notes on the bulletin board and the advertising signs on the wall of whatever establishment she is stuck inside without reading material.

IMG_1729 - CopyEmily Rachelle is the author of ebook novella Sixteen and a teenage girl in love with God and the world He created. Her favorite things include chocolate, pretty trees, the ocean, weddings, crafts, and books — rows upon rows of books, neatly lining library shelves or messily stacked in the corner of a bedroom. She blogs three times a week about writing, books, crafts and DIY projects, media, and society at http://emilyrachellewrites.blogspot.com/.

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Speculative Fiction Judges

author picIn simple language, Pauline Creeden breaks down biblical stories and applies them to real life in new ways. Her methods of teaching have brought new light to old scriptures. Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.

Her articles, reviews, and devotionals have been featured in RUBY FOR WOMEN Magazine, Devotionals for Bloggers, Faith Filled Family Magazine, and Christian Fiction Book Reviews. One of Pauline’s short stories has won the CCW Short Story contest. Other short stories have been published in Fear & Trembling Magazine, Obsidian River, Free Flash Fiction, and Avenir Eclectia. An urban fantasy short will appear in The Book of Sylvari: An Anthology of Elves from Port Yonder Press, and a vampire short will appear in Monsters! from Diminished Media Group. And her sci-fi novel, Catalyst, will be published by Redeeming Tree this year. Pauline can be found blogging at Fat Free Faith.

P1050362Garrett Larson blogs at garrettlarson.info. He is interested in the intersection of pop culture, current events, the way we live our lives, why we make the decisions we do, the American Dream/Dilemma, and the interconnection or disconnection with/from faith in the world we find ourselves living in the present day.

Garrett’s upcoming books include book one of his dystopian trilogy: Mastrick of jala, Inc., and a non-fiction thriller: The American Dream Failed! And You Can Too! He loves art as much as writing and has had two pop-up galleries featuring his work. His art is in private collections nationwide. His art site is: garrettlarsonart.info. facebook page: facebook.com/garrett29

JoshOlds Josh Olds is a pastor, a storyteller and an editor. He is the coauthor of two very different books: Art and the Bible for Children, a combination art lesson and Bible story book, and The Blood Book, a special project coauthored with Ted Dekker. There are many other stories swimming in his head that may someday see the light of day.

Josh blogs at Life is Story, a website he began as a solo venture in 2008. In the years that followed, the site added giveaways, audio podcasts, flash fiction contests, movie reviews, and a web comic. He also serves as a contributor and managing editor for Fiction Addict. You can find out more about Josh at Facebook and Twitter.