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

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 Amy Sorrells

 

The Advisory Board is thrilled to host Amy Sorrels, debut author of shortlisted How Sweet the Sound.  Amy’s sophomore novel Then Sings My Soul released in March, 2015 and she is hard at work on Lead Me Home to be released by Tyndale in 2016.  Amy shares her writing nook {though her sweet dog steals the show} and another favorite spring writing spot ~ her garden!  Please join me in welcoming Amy K. Sorrells!

how sweet the soundFrom a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface. Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama.

Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief. This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.

What are you listening to?

I’m listening to the branches of the river birch brushing against the side of our home, because it’s about to thunderstorm.

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What are you watching?

I’m watching my dog’s nose twitch as he sniffs the breeze coming through the screen of our open window.

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What are you reading?

I’m reading too many books to list, so here’s a picture of my nightstand. (Not pictured: The Kitchen House on audio in my car.)

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Thank you so much for joining us Amy and especially sharing your gorgeous dog with us!  I imagine he has quite the personality!

To learn more about Amy and her writing please visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Up Close and Personal with Kate Breslin

 

The Advisory Board is happy to welcome Kate Breslin, author of For Such a Time, shortlisted in debut fiction category.  Kate has a new book coming out in August, another historical romance featuring a strong, courageous female protagonist.  You can see by her bookshelves below that this author is quite well-read, but what you may not know is that she was also a bookseller for fifteen years!  Join us in welcoming Kate to the Inspy’s blog!

 

for such a timeIn 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

What are you listening to?  I love listening to instrumental artists when I’m writing. Currently, my favorites include Helen Jane Long, The Piano Guys, and the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings. Music that resonates with my story setting really inspires me.

What are you watching?  I’m watching episodes of “Wolfe Hall” and “Call the Midwife” at the moment, and looking forward to the new season of “Downton Abbey” and “Grantchester.” I adore all British historical drama!

What are you reading?  As for reading, I’ve almost finished author Stephanie Landsem’s fabulous Biblical fiction novel, “The Thief,” then moving on to Edwardian England and my next eagerly awaited story, “The Daughter of Highland Hall,” by Carrie Turansky. There are so many books I long to read, and as you can see from my bookshelf, I have plenty of treasure to keep me happily occupied for years. 🙂

Kate's Bookshelf

Thank you, Kate, for giving us a peek into your life and especially at your bookshelves!  I can see spending lots of time in front of those shelves reading!  To learn more about Kate visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Up Close & Personal with Kristy Cambron

 

The INSPY Advisory Board is excited to welcome author Kristy Cambron. Her novel, The Butterfly and the Violin is on the short list for Debut Fiction. In this interview, Kristy shares her “research” style  (who knew watching television and movies were required research skills!) and a sneak peek at what she’s working on now! Welcome Kristy!

thebutterflyandtheviolinfrom Goodreads:

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz–and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover–the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul–who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Kirsty's Home Office

Kirsty’s Home Office

What are you listening to?  I’m writing my next novel now– a foray into the world of Jazz Age entertainers centered on the lives of John and Mable Ringling, and the circus in 1920s America. Because of this story that’s coming alive in my heart, I’m really interested in a sense of enchantment and the childlike wonder in the concept of fairy tale worlds. The circus is very much that – a world with possibilities that bends the rules of convention to create a new reality. The soundtrack for my life right now is centered on those themes in music from the movies: Finding Neverland, Cinderella Man, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women. It’s all about what’s “out there” – the possibilities that exist if we’d only look beyond ourselves (and look to God) in order to find them.

What are you watching?  We authors like to call our favorite TV shows “research”. I’m falling back on the previous seasons of Downton Abbey – in part because the time fits with my current novel. In other part? The costumes and characterization are just so rich, that I love falling into that world over and over! And the channel that is always on my TV? Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I love, love, LOVE classic films and stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper. I’m always going back to these important films because they’re the very definition of “classic”: you can always find something new in them.

Kirsty's Books Currently Reading

Kristy’s Nightstand

What are you reading?  As you can imagine, I’m reading research books on the Ringling Brothers’ circus and 1920s America. But after my novel is turned over to the brilliant hands of my editor? I’m going on a summer reading binge. I’m picking books now that range in: YA/fantasy, Regency, WWI, and even contemporary Chick-Lit. I’m so excited to explore some new worlds in between writing my upcoming novels. Can you say #BeachReads?! (P.S. Got any recommendations for me?)

Oh Kristy, have we got some good recommendations for you!  I’d say the entire shortlist lineup would be a great place to start 😉  I’m sure we have some readers who can offer great suggestions as well!  How about it Inspy Readers?

To learn more about Kristy, visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Author Interview: Lori Benton

16142057We are thrilled to welcome Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky to the blog!  Her novel has been shortlisted in the Debut Fiction Category.

from Goodreads

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage–the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

Lori's Writing Desk

Lori’s Writing Desk

What led you to writing?    The deepest and truest answer to that question is God. I believe He leads us all in every aspect of our lives, when we are seeking Him and His will for us. But if you’re asking what sparked my interest in writing in the first place, that was my childhood friend, Leah. She wrote a story first, and told me about it. Epiphany! It had never occurred to me that anyone could write a story, whenever, about whatever. It seemed like the coolest idea ever, so I gave it a try. That was 1978. I’ve been writing stories ever since.

Favorite book ~ favorite movie ~ favorite tv show?    What I might call a favorite changes month to month, year to year. The Summer of the Danes, by Ellis Peters, is one of my favorite books. Amazing Grace is one of my favorite movies. Leverage is one of my favorite TV shows.

Tell us a book you feel epitomizes quality faith-driven literature.   My mind instantly floods with dozens of titles. Picking just one is impossible, because quality faith-driven literature is a broad and encompassing descriptive. And of course my choice is entirely subjective, based on my particular tastes. But since you ask… Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It’s stood the test of time and has become a classic.

Lori's Inspiration for Writing ~ the History in Her Research Books!

Lori’s Inspiration for Writing ~ the History in Her Research Books!

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life?    Writing from the point of view of any character who isn’t a middle-aged white woman of modern American culture is a challenge. That means every character I write, because even a white woman living in the 18th century isn’t going to view the world as I do, practically, emotionally, and theologically. Getting inside the mindset of characters who are male, or of a different race and culture than me, requires thorough research and a stretching of my imagination and empathy. It also takes realizing that human beings have certain things in common, down through the ages and across all cultures—our basic nature (sinful) and need of a Savior.
What do you hope readers take away from Burning Sky?    I’ve heard it said that no two people who read the same book, read the same book. Each reader brings to the pages a lifetime of experience (opinions, wisdom, burdens, questions, preferences, and dislikes). It’s a wonderful, unpredictable chemistry that happens between the reader and the story world. But if a reader should turn the last page of Burning Sky and find herself reminded that through trials and tears we have a heavenly Source from which we can draw comfort, courage, and strength to help in time of need, I’d be thrilled.

Thank you for joining us Lori!  I don’t know that there’s ever been a truer statement about reading than “no two people who read the same book, read the same book.”  One of the reasons book clubs are so popular!

Visit Lori on her website to learn more about her books.

Author Interview: Jolina Petersheim

We are thrilled to welcome Jolina Petersheim, author of The Outcast.  This modern-day re-telling of The Scarlet Letter is shortlisted in the Debut Fiction Category.

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from Goodreads 

Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.  But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

Jolina's inspiration and Mennonite grandmother, Charlotte Miller

Jolina’s inspiration and Mennonite grandmother, Charlotte Miller

What do you do outside the world of books?

I’m a stay-at-home mom of a toddler little girl, and I’ve got her little sister on the way. So, outside the world of books, I’m busy exploring the world through the eyes of a child. We “cook” in her miniature kitchen, read her two favorite books out of her stack of two hundred, pick flowers, or take walks with our akita, Kashi. I’ve found that in the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s refreshing to set an hour aside and focus on what really matters.

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

My family didn’t have a TV for the majority of my childhood, so I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. This was not always a good thing, as sometimes – at the library – I checked out novels with words like “mistress” in the title (which my mother confiscated and just as quickly returned). But, for the most part, reading from such a wide selection of authors and genres really expanded my love for books in general, not just for one particular topic or series. I continue sampling from various authors and genres today, reading those as diverse in tone and subject matter as Francine Rivers and Isabel Allende. But I do tend to gravitate toward Southern literary fiction with a strong sense of place, outlandish characters, and spiritual threads that stretch the imagination and yet somehow remain credible.

Jolina on her front porch in Tennessee

Jolina on her front porch in Tennessee

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

I want to reach those who may not adhere to the Christian faith, as well as those who do. Therefore, I try to allow the spiritual seeds to grow organically, rather than forcing them to take root under garish, synthetic light. As in everything, you can’t make everyone happy. Some Christian readers have deemed The Outcast unbiblical because of one narrator’s viewpoint from heaven; some non-Christian readers have felt that The Outcast was too preachy toward the end. However, these letters have been few and far between, and I’ve been so touched by those have written to share how their hearts were transformed through Rachel’s story, which would not be as dynamic, devoid of her spiritual journey.

What do you hope your readers take away from The Outcast?

I hope my characters will help my readers understand their own relationships – and their motivations – at a deeper level and will therefore encourage them to rectify these relationships and also pursue a more intimate relationship with Christ.

Thank you Jolina for joining us and we wish you an easy summer of pregnancy and joy-filled days with your sweet toddler!