A Conversation with Morgan L. Busse

INSPYs 2016-Morgan BusseOur shortlist INSPY interviews continue with Christy and Carol award finalist, Morgan L. Busse. Her novel, Heir of Hope (Enclave Publishing) made the final of our 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

We chat with Morgan about what inspired Heir of Hope, her latest box office movie (Editor’s Note: I totally understand the Marvel fangirl feels), plus she gives us a sneek peek into what’s next!

The great city of Thyra has fallen and shadows spread across the land. Rowen Mar, the last Truthsayer, is taken before the Shadonae. But the Shadonae are not who she thought they were, Book - Heir of Hopeand now they want to claim her as their own. Caleb Tala, former assassin and prince, is now a Guardian of mankind. Exiled from his country, Caleb wanders the desert in search of his mother’s past and clues to who he is. These are the last days of the Eldaran race. Rowen and Caleb must find their way along the dark path set before them by their ancestors: to heal what was wounded and love where hatred grows. But the road is narrow and the darkness beckons. If either of them fails, all will be lost… And the human race will be no more. Book three of the Follower of the Word series. – Goodreads | Amazon

INSPYs: What inspired Heir of Hope?

The Follower of the Word series is an epic fantasy series that follows Rowen, a young woman who has the ability when she touches someone to see inside their soul. In other words, she can see what God sees inside of us. Not only that, but she reflects back what she sees to the person she is touching. Learning why she has this ability and that she needs God’s help to use it is ultimately what this series is about. That without God, her power would overwhelm her.

When I first began writing Daughter of Light, the first book, I knew the story would eventually go to a dark place where everything Rowen believed in would be tested beyond her abilities, and that the only way she would survive was by completely trusting in the Word. Those final dark moments came in Heir of Hope.

Why did I write Heir of Hope as a dark story? Because I’ve experienced some very dark times in my own life. Following God does not mean life will be all daisies and rainbows. Sometimes it means walking through valleys filled with shadows of death. Sometimes it means wondering where God is in the midst of pain and tears.

When I wrote Heir of Hope, I drew upon my own experiences: two cancer scares, almost losing my son, when my husband lost his job, when we lost our house, when we couldn’t pay the bills, and when we were betrayed by people we loved. It was during those dark, painful times that I found God was right there beside me. I was never alone.

That was what I wanted to convey in Heir of Hope. There is hope in the midst of suffering. There is light in the darkest times. God is always there with us, even when we can’t see Him.

I’ve been asked what is my favorite novel I’ve written. My answer is Heir of Hope. It was the hardest yet most satisfying book I’ve written. When I wrote the conclusion to the Follower of the Word series, I wrote my heart and soul into that story.

(If you want to check out the Follower of the Word series, Daughter of Light is currently free on kindle.)

INSPYs: Can you give us a peek into what’s coming next?

I am now working on a Victorian steampunk series that is a loose retelling of Frankenstein. Steampunk is a sub-genre that usually takes place in either the Wild West or Victorian era, but with a fantasy/science fiction twist and advance technology run by steam.

Tainted (the first book in my series) follows Kat Bloodmayne, one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. However, she has a secret: when she loses control of her emotions, she unleashes the power to control matter. But every time she does this, it destroys a part of her soul. So she is searching for a cure before her soul dies and she becomes something else entirely.

Tainted is now available in paperback and ebook.


  • What are you listening to? Typically when I am writing, I listen to soundtracks or gentle background music such as The Piano Guys. Currently I am listening to the soundtrack for Morrowind, a fantasy game. It helps set the mood for the story I’m writing.
  • What are you watching? I just saw the new Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War. Excellent story telling, excellent character development. Half of me was watching as a super heroes fan and the other half as a writer and both sides absolutely loved Marvel’s latest movie! Lots of feels!

Nightstand Picture Morgan Busse

  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? When I have a moment between writing, family, and church, I am making my way through Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings (as you can see on my iPad on my nightstand). Currently I am on The Fairest Beauty. It’s taken me a while to get through it since I only have snatches of reading time here and there, but I’m really enjoying it when I get to read. I love Melanie’s stories and recommend it for anyone who enjoys fairytales!

    Thank you so much for joining our author interview series, Morgan. It was a pleasure to chat with you, and learn about what’s next.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORmorgan-busse

I am a wife, mother, and author. I write Christian fantasy and steampunk for the adult market. My work is published with Enclave Publishing, the premier publishing company for Christian fantasy and science fiction.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Billy Coffey

INSPYs 2016-Billy Coffey

Hello. Today, the Advisory Board welcomes author, Billy Coffey. Billy is the author of novels, The Devil Walks in Mattingly and the upcoming novel There Will Be Stars. His novel, The Curse of Crow Hollow (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

Join us in welcoming Billy as we chat with him about what inspired The Curse of Crow Hollow, discuss the challenges and benefits of writing speculative fiction, plus he shares what he’s currently binge-watching.

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Book - The Curse of Crow HollowAlvaretta swore at her husband s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves. – Goodreads | Amazon

INSPYs: What inspired you to write The Curse of Crow Hollow?

I grew up with stories about people along the Blue Ridge who, for myriad reasons, had all but left society. They lived alone and cut off in the mountains. Often these stories turned to legend, to the point where an old woman living alone in a hollow could be twisted by rumor and gossip to become a witch up to no good. Those old tales told to me served as the basis of a story about how fear of some generic Other can lead good people to do horrible things.

INSPYs: What are the challenges/benefits of wiring inspirational speculative fiction?

For me the challenge is to keep an air of realism in an unrealistic situation, or at least a highly unlikely one. The great majority of my stories all involve supernatural elements, but I try to keep those things in the background and the real focus on the characters. I’m not so interested in the speculative bit of my books as I am the ordinary people who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

The greatest benefit, I think, is linked to those ordinary people. Allowing characters to grow and change leaves open the opportunity for redemption. I’ve always thought a good novel is like a mirror we can hold to ourselves, revealing something we’ve never considered.


  • What are you listening to?

American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.

  • What are you watching?

I’ve just recently begun re-watching all six seasons of Lost.

  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand?

Nightstand Billy Coffey

I’m currently reading Charles Martin’s next novel for endorsement, which is as excellent a story as you would expect. I’m a huge fan of Borges. He’s so impossible to describe and his breadth of knowledge seems almost inhuman. And I never go to bed without reading something by Flannery O’Connor.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Billy. It was great to learn more about The Curse of Crow Hollow and read more about the behind-the-scene happenings in the pursuit of a story.Billy-porch-pic-1024x741


Billy and his wife, Joanne, live with their two children in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A product of his small-town locale, Billy counts as assets his rural authenticity, unwavering sense of purpose, and insatiable curiosity–all of which tend to make his front porch a comfortably crowded place.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Patrick W. Carr

INSPYs 2016-Patrick Carr

Hello, INSPYs readers. Today, we again have the pleasure of hosting another 2016 shortlist author. Popular speculative fiction author, Patrick W. Carr joins us. Author of multiple titles, Patrick is a familiar fantasy author name (he’s been shortlisted in the INSPYs, too) in this market . His novel, The Shock of Night (Bethany House) made the final of our 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

We chat with Patrick today about what inspired The Shock of Night, and learn about some of the music his son composed, plus he gives us a sneak peek into what’s next!

When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to Book - ShockOfNightCovercontradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it’s as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that’s not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive. – Goodreads | Amazon

INSPYs: What inspired you to write The Shock of Night?

Patrick's bookshelf, complete with a photo of his wedding day and sons.

Patrick’s bookshelf, complete with a photo of his wedding day and sons.

From the time I learned to read, I’ve always loved detective stories. When I was in elementary school, I would read every book from this series, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators.” Then as I got older, I started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories and when I would visit my grandparents, I would read some of my grandmother’s Agatha Christie books. I’ve always wanted to write a detective series and after I finished “The Staff and the Sword” it seemed natural to go in that direction. At first, I was going to write it as a contemporary fantasy, but my editor and agent encouraged me to keep the story set in a more-or-less medieval timeframe and to try to incorporate the story into an epic fantasy. So, I guess you could say “The Darkwater Saga” is my attempt to marry two genres together. I like to describe it as Epic-fantasy-detective-suspense.

Of course, once I had the story idea, I needed a compelling main character. As usual, I looked to my personal experiences and came up with the idea of having a detective who is suffering from PTSD and dissociative disorder, albeit in a medieval fantasy sort of way. My dad was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force in Korea and Vietnam and, like most of our veterans, returned with a lot of internal scars. The idea of having a main character who is still struggling with his memories of war from ten years ago appealed to me and I latched onto that as a way to honor the men and women in our country who have given so much. What made Willet so attractive to me as a central character is that his flaws keep him from being a reliable witness. Even though the reader is experiencing events through his point of view, whether those events and recollections are true remains in doubt. I have to admit that Willet Dura may my favorite character to date.

INSPYs: can you give us a peek into what’s coming next?

Sometimes, a change of scenery is needed. This is one of the views Patrick enjoys near his home.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is needed. This is one of the scenes Patrick enjoys near his home.

The Shattered Vigil, the sequel to The Shock of Night, will be releasing this fall. Karen Schurrer (my editor) and I are putting the finishing touches on the novel and we’re almost ready to begin the final edits where we’re mostly just smoothing out the language and the wording. All of my beta-readers have told me it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, so I’m pretty excited. This second book in the series will see the return of some characters, the urchins, we met at the end of the first book and will expand on their role. The title is a pretty good indication of how desperate things become for Willet and the rest of the Vigil and there are some consequences to Willet’s gift that he’s only just now beginning to realize. By the end of this book, we know who our ultimate bad guy is.


  • What are you listening to? I’m listening to a lot of jazz right now. My son, Patrick, who composed the music to the book trailer we threw together for “A Cast of Stones,” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqmIFM3T080) is giving me piano lessons and one of the requirements to that is listening to a lot of the great artists like Oscar Peterson and Red Garland. I’m very blessed to have a son who is so patient with me. I’m not exactly a budding Mozart. Of course, I can’t listen to jazz while I’m trying to write, it takes too much of my attention. For that I usually listen to some instrumental music that allows me to focus on the story, something along the lines of Windham Hill Chill.
  • What are you watching? I don’t watch television very much except to unwind after a long day at school. I did catch a few episodes of a cancelled series called “Forever” and enjoyed it, but most of my viewing amounts to channel surfing as I let go of a long day. I do have a few series that I enjoy, such as Sherlock, Daredevil, and Dark Matter, but I plow through those pretty quickly. I’m currently not watching anything of note.
  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? So many things! I finished “The Way of Kings” a few weeks ago and this summer I want to read “The Pillars of the Earth,” “Night Circus,” and “All the Light We Cannot See.” Not that I’ll be able to get to all of them, but they all come highly recommended to me from friends. Much of this summer will be spent working on the third book to “The Darkwater Saga.”

Thank you for joining us today, Patrick. It was a pleasure to talk with you, learn more about what inspired The Shock of Night and talk about favorite TV shows (Sherlock is amazing).


Patrick W. Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of cold war tensions. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale Patrick Carrevery three years until his father retired to Tennessee.

Author Website | Facebook

The INSPYs Advisory Board Announces the 2016 Longlists


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.



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 James L. Rubart

The Inspy’s Advisory Board is happy to welcome James L. Rubart, author of Spirit Bridge in the speculative fiction category!  James was the 2013 Inspy winner in speculative fiction with Soul’s Gate, on the shortlist in 2014 with Memory’s Door, and the 2010 shortlists with Room.

spiritbridgefrom Goodreads:

The warriors riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms. Set captives free. And awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling forth the spirit bridge.

Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in spiritual realms . . . but each is reeling from recent vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.

But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes is a trump card–a hidden strategy set in motion before the Warriors Riding even began–that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he’s just set it loose.

The street-magician Simon–finally free of Zennon’s alternate-reality prison–is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there’s Miyo, a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn’t know about. They will be pivotal in the final war against the Warriors Riding.

If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on.

What are you listening to? I’ve gotten hooked on podcasts lately. One called Serial was fascinating: http://serialpodcast.org/ Also been listening to Writing Excuses http://www.writingexcuses.com/ and How Stuff Works: http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/

What are you watching? Saw the new Avengers movie. Loved it. Been watching The Black List (James Spader is memorizing) and The Flash.

What are you reading? Ted Dekker’s A.D. 30, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader 25th anniversary edition (great variety of trivia, history, personalities, pop culture) and I’m reading Killing Lions with my oldest son.


James’ office ~ enter through the secret passageway {in his son’s closet!}


I spy Inspy-nominated books on that shelf!

Thank you, James, for giving us a peek into your super-secret writing room! As a podcast listener myself, I can so relate to getting hooked on all things Serial!  Isn’t Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader the greatest? My family has been hooked on those books for years ~ it’s amazing the oddball trivia included.  Such a pleasure hosting you today, James!

Learn more about James Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Author Interview: Lynn Chandler-Willis

We’re thrilled to welcome Pelican Book Group author Lynn Chandler-Willis to the Inspy’s blog!  Lynn’s novel The Rising is shortlisted in the Speculative Fiction category.  Welcome Lynn!


18115244Summary from Goodreads:

A dead child that isn’t dead. A cop out of control. When their worlds collide, God intervenes.




What led you to writing:   Although I loved making up stories as a kid, my interest in writing really piqued in the seventh grade when I had to do a book report on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I was simply amazed at the ability of a group of words to take me to an entirely different world.

Tell us a book you feel epitomizes quality faith-driven literature: The Shack was probably the first faith-based fiction I read. It opened my eyes to the fact God doesn’t have to be clothed in a flowing white robe. Faith and spirituality are deeply personal subjects but we are bombarded with ideas of what others think it should be. The Shack allowed me to feel comfortable with my own view of God and any book that can change a way of thinking has set new standards.

Lynn's Work Area

Lynn’s Work Area

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life? Although as a writer, I often play the “what if” game, but with The Rising, I found myself leaning with the main character, Detective Ellie Saunders, in wanting just the facts. Sure, the very definition of fiction is “not real” but it still has to be believable. Once I, as the writer, knew what I wanted to happen to the child in the story, I had to give at least a feasible medical reason for it to happen.

Favorite book ~ favorite movie ~ favorite tv show? Favorite book is Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. The beauty of the way the words work together is breathtaking. Favorite movie is Lonesome Dove. It’s so epic. To me, it defines romance. Not the sexual, man-woman love story but the passion for life, adventure, new things. Favorite tv show is Justified. The characters are absolutely brilliant.

What do you hope readers take away from The Rising? God forgives. I had a reader email me and say how she related to Ellie in how far away from God she had become and because of Ellie, the reader knew God had never moved away from her. If that was the only copy of the book ever sold, it would have been worth it.


Thank you for joining us Lynn!  For more information about The Rising and Lynn please visit her site at LynnChandlerWillis.com

Author Interview with Shannon Dittemore

Welcome, Shannon Dittmore! The author of the Angel Eyes trilogy, Shonnon’s final novel in that series, Dark Halo is a finalist in the speculative fiction category. Read her interview to find out what keeps her busy when not writing and what book influenced her young adult series.

Summary from Goodreads Book - Dark Halo

One halo brought sight to Brielle. Another offers sweet relief from what she sees.

Brielle can’t help but see the Celestial realm. Even without the halo, it’s everywhere she looks. And with the heavens above Stratus ravaged by war, Brielle wishes for another gift, any gift. Because Jake is gone. The only boy she’s ever loved has been taken by the demon, Damien–and she knows if she ever wants to see him again, she must fight.

But fighting is so hard when everything you see makes you afraid.

When she receives instructions from the Throne Room leading her to Jake, she unknowingly walks into a diabolical and heartbreaking trap. Then the Prince of Darkness himself offers Brielle a halo of his own making. With the dark halo, she won’t have to see the fear and brokenness that surround her. She’ll be free of that unbearable burden. And it comes with a promise: the guarantee of a life with Jake.

When confusing details about Jake’s past emerge, and the battle above reaches a fever pitch, Brielle is forced to make a choice. Will she choose the dark halo and the ignorance that comes with it, or will she choose to live with her eyes wide open and trust the Creator’s design–even if it means a future without Jake?

What do you do outside the world of books?

I’m a mom! And a wife! Roles that consume a ton of my time right now. We’re also very involved at our church; together my husband and I oversee the young adult and young married ministries. For fun, I enjoy fangirling. Most any fandom will do, though I’m partial to Sherlock and the San Francisco 49ers. And if life had taken a different turn for me, I’d be on stage performing Shakespearean tragedies. Maybe when the kids get older I’ll give it another go.

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

This question frightens me. I’m destined to forget a favorite, so why don’t I tell you about a single book that influenced me as I was writing the Angel Eyes trilogy? I read The Hunger Games at a very crucial time. It was during a self-imposed edit and I was attempting to make my sentences more active, more present. No one does that better than Suzanne Collins. After reading The Hunger Games, I stopped mid-edit and rewrote Angel Eyes in first person, present tense. Changed everything for me.

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

The challenge (and the benefit, I suppose) is in getting it right. I’ve read so many books that I almost loved. ALMOST! But when it came to the whole faith thing, they just didn’t do it for me. They made it too simple, or too hard, or too Biblically lacking. I wanted, desperately, to represent the truth and Scripture accurately while still allowing my imagination to fill in the blanks. I’m certain there are things I missed, but I did keep that a priority every time I sat down to write.

What do you hope readers take away from Dark Halo?

The truth that they’re not alone. Even when they most feel it. Even when they’re upside down and backward in their struggle. Hear me, friends, you’re not alone. We’re not alone. What we see isn’t all there is and the moment we grasp that—truly and deeply believe it—faith becomes something more than a Sunday morning service. It becomes life. We serve an invisible God who does amazing things and He often scoops us up and lets us be a part. It’s the kind of life we were meant to live. And faith in the Creator is how we get there.

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

Writing with two young children is never easy and my deadlines were tight. So, there was that, but beyond the logistics, Dark Halo was a very personal story for me.

I’ve been in ministry nearly all my life. I was raised as the eldest daughter of a preacher and then I went on to marry one. And while I wouldn’t change it for anything, there have been times when I saw things in people I’d rather not see. There were times when I wished I could unknow the hard realities of the lives people were living.

In Dark Halo, Brielle is given a choice. She can continue to see the invisible world or she can choose spiritual blindness. The invisible world is a beautiful place but there are dark, ugly things to see there as well. Like fear and hatred. Like death and sin. The temptation to walk away from it all is one I understand. But once you’ve seen the world through God’s eyes, once you’ve tasted the truth, can you really ever unknow it? It was a question I puzzled out as I wrote, and that kind of gut-wrenching honesty can be challenging. The writing of this book changed me. I’m better for it.


Thanks for joining us, Shannon! Read more about Shannon, her books and stay-up-to-date on her latest projects by visiting her website.

Author Interview with Krista McGee

Today we’re pleased to welcome young adult author, Krista McGee. Her novel, Anomaly has been shortlisted in the Speculative Fiction category.

Summary from GoodreadsBook - Anomaly

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

What do you do outside the world of books? I am a wife to Dave; we have been married 18 years. I am a mom to Emma, 15, Eliana, 13, and Thomas, 10. I am also a teacher – AP English and Musical Theater – at Citrus Park Christian School in Tampa.

As book lovers it interests us – What books or authors have influenced you, both as a writer and a reader? This is REALLY hard to answer! There are so many writers I admire…C.S. Lewis is a huge hero of mine. I love his versatility, his talent, and his faith. My favorite CS Lewis book is Till We Have Faces. I also love Jane Austen…cliche, maybe, but I never get tired of reading Pride and Prejudice. I was introduced to Christian fiction by the works of Eugenia Price, so she’ll always have a special place in my heart. Tedd Dekker and Francine Rivers are my favorite current writers, though there are dozens of others that I love, too.

Desk picWhat are the challenges or benefits of incorporating faith into your storyline? I have been involved in ministry for almost twenty years, and I love helping believers know Christ better. I have felt from the beginning that my writing is an extension of that ministry, so my goal is to saturate my stories with Truth so that readers come away entertained by what is hopefully a good story, but also encouraged to understand God better and to go deeper in their walk with Him.

What do you hope readers take away from Anomaly? I want my readers to consider how great God is, how involved he is in our lives, and how he has plans for us that are beyond what we can imagine.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life? The greatest challenge was creating a “new” world. Thinking through the logistics of a new government, a new kind of people, new foods and values and standards of right and wrong…that took a while! I also met with a friend who teaches AP Physics to talk through some of the scientific aspects of the story. I wanted to make sure there wasn’t too much fiction in my science! I met with a friend who plays violin, as well,  to better understand that instrument. My husband is a theologian, so I often discussed plot points with him to make sure I wasn’t taking too much biblical license in my presentation of the Designer and his follower in The State.

Thanks for joining us today Krista! Learn more about Krista and her novels on her website.

Author Interview: James L. Rubart

14291950We are happy to welcome James L. Rubart to the Inspy Blog! The author of Soul’s Gate, shortlisted for the Speculative Fiction Inspy, James gives us a peek into his writing life . . .

What led you to writing?

The Chronicles of Narnia. Those books blew my little ten year old mind. After reading them I decided I wanted to someday try to do for others what Lewis had done for me.

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

I’ve honestly never thought about incorporating faith or not incorporating faith into my novels. I simply write the story that is bouncing around my brain shouting to get out. But because my stories (so far) have had a spiritual premise central to the story, I think it’s easier for me than say an author writing a romance, or suspense, where a spiritual theme has to be woven into the novel without feel contrived.

The Secret Writing Room

The Secret Writing Room

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality {Christian} faith-driven lit.

Arena, by Karen Hancock. It won a Christy, but didn’t have stellar sales. I wish it would have. It’s essentially Pilgrims Progress (one of the bestselling books of all time) for the modern age.

James L Rubart headshot 3 '13Favorite Book ~ Favorite Movie ~ Favorite TV Show?

Book(s) Chronicles of Narnia ~ you saw that coming, right?

Movie ~ Tie between The Matrix and It’s a Wonderful Life

TV Show ~ Lost (yes, even with that horrible ending)

What do you hope readers take away from Soul’s Gate?

Freedom.  I believe that’s the core of the gospel and the mission of Jesus. (Gal 5:1, Is 61:1) I want readers to come away from Soul’s Gate with victory over their fears, greater hope, and more freedom than they’ve ever known before. When I get e-mail and Facebook messages from readers telling me that has happened, it rocks my world in a very good way.

James L. Rubart started his career in broadcast radio and has since started his own marketing firm.  He really does {did} have a secret writing room accessed by a tiny closet door.  Read more about the man behind the books {and the writing room!} at JamesLRubart.com

He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.