Presenting the 2017 INSPY Longlists

Hello fellow readers, blogger and authors. Before we announce the 2017 longlists, we first want to recap our year so far. First we welcomed our newest board member, Kara and then announced the inclusion of INDIE novels to our nomination process. Like last year, the following nomination process applied to each of our seven categories.

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.

Due to insufficient nominations or ineligibility, some categories fall short of the requisite 15 novels.

From the lists below, the Advisory Board will be narrowing these respective lists down to five books per category which will become our 2017 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

A Twist of Faith (Firefly Southern Fiction) by Pepper Basham

Silence in the Dark (Revell) by Patricia Bradley

Step by Step (Tyndale) by Candace Calvert

The Wedding Shop (Zondervan) by Rachel Hauck

Just a Kiss (Thomas Nelson) by Denise Hunter

Can’t Help Falling (Howard Books) by Kara Isaac

Tell me Lies (Brown Girls Faith) by Michelle Lindo-Rice

First Crush (Bling! Romance) by Ashley Elizabeth Ludwig

Finders Keepers (Radiant Publications) by Sarah Monzon

How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart (White Rose Publishing) by Candice Sue Patterson

Christmas Conspiracy (Love Inspired) by Susan Sleeman

The Heart’s Hostage (Sheaf House Publishers) by Jen Stephens

Like Never Before (Bethany House) by Melissa Tagg

Her One and Only (Bethany House) by Becky Wade

You’re the One that I Want (Tyndale) by Susan May Warren

Debut Novel

Forgiven (Cerrillo Press) by Carol Ashby

Counted with the Stars (Bethany House) by Connilyn Cossette

Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope (Shiloh Run Press) by Texie Susan Gregory

The Lost Generation (Elk Lake Publishing) by Erica Marie Hogan

Close to You (Howard Books) by Kara Isaac

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake (Thomas Nelson) by Celeste Fletcher McHale

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus (Tyndale) by Beth Moore

Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations (WhiteFire) by V. Joy Palmer

Leaving Independence (Waterfall Press) by Leanne W. Smith

General Fiction

Land of Silence (Tyndale) by Tessa Afshar

Weighed Down (Elk Lake Publishing) by Laurie Bolden

The Feathered Bone (Thomas Nelson) by Julie Cantrell

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens (Thomas Nelson) by Colleen Coble

The Promise of Jesse Woods (Tyndale) by Chris Fabry

Forest Child (Woodhaven Press) by Heather Day Gilbert

Long Way Gone (Thomas Nelson) by Charles Martin

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake (Thomas Nelson) by Celeste Fletcher McHale

The Alliance (Tyndale) by Jolina Petersheim

Of Stillness and Storm (Thomas Nelson) by Michèle Phoenix

Nor Forsake (Presley Publishing) by Julie Presley

A Portrait of Emily Price (Thomas Nelson) by Katherine Reay

Song of Silence (Abingdon Press) by Cynthia Ruchti

Lead Me Home (Tyndale) by Amy K. Sorrells

The Things We Knew (Thomas Nelson) by Catherine West

Historical Romance

The Thorn Healer (Vinspire Publishing) by Pepper D. Basham

The Thorn Keeper (Vinspire Publishing) by Pepper D. Basham

A Flight of Arrows (WaterBrook) by Lori Benton

The Lady and the Lionheart (Mason Jar Books) by Joanne Bischof

The Ringmaster’s Wife (Thomas Nelson) by Kristy Cambron

The Cautious Maiden (Whitaker House) by Dawn Crandall

The Captive Heart (Shiloh Run Press) by Michelle Griep

Newton and Polly (WaterBrook) by Jody Hedlund

An Elegant Facade (Bethany House) by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Heart Most Certain (Bethany House) by Melissa Jaegers

– Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media) by Keely Brooke Keith

The Sound of Emeralds (WhiteFire) by Rachelle Rea

She Walks in Power (Ransom Press) by MaryLu Tyndall

A Lady Unrivaled (Bethany House) by Roseanna M. White

The Confessions of X (Thomas Nelson) by Suzanne M. Wolfe

Literature for Young Adults

Unblemished (Thomas Nelson) by Sara Ella

The Beautiful Pretender (Thomas Nelson) by Melanie Dickerson

The Silent Songbird (Thomas Nelson) by Melanie Dickerson

A Daring Sacrifice (Zondervan) by Jody Hedlund

I’ll Be Yours (Sweet Pea Productions) by Jenny B. Jones

Forever Doon (Blink) by Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp

Gilt Hollow (Blink) by Lorie Langdon

The Glass Castle (Shiloh Run Press) by Trisha White Priebe

One Paris Summer (Blink) by Denise Grover Swank

Siren’s Song (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber

Mystery/Thriller

If I Run (Zondervan) by Terri Blackstock

The Domino Effect (Bethany House) by Davis Bunn

Deep Shadows (Harvest House) by Vanetta Chapman

Dressed for Death (Bethany House) by Julianna Deering

Always Watching (Revell) by Lynette Eason

The Waves Break Gray (Running Girl Prodcutions) by Sibella Giorello

Tangled Webs (Revell) by Irene Hannon

Missing (Revell) by Lisa Harris

Conspiracy of Silence (Bethany House) by Ronie Kendig

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder (Harvest House) by Rachel McMillan

A Lesson in Love and Murder (Harvest House) by Rachel McMillan

Fatal Frost (Bethany House) by Nancy Mehl

When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson) by Carrie Stuart Parks

Cold Shot (Bethany House) by Dani Pettrey

The Progeny (Howard Books) by Tosca Lee

Speculative Fiction

Seasons of Glory (Blink) by Lisa T. Bergren

Light of the Last (Multnomah) by Chuck Black

The Shattered Vigil (Bethany House) by Patrick W. Carr

The Calling (Tyndale) by Rachelle Decker

Accelerant (Enclave) by Ronie Kendig

Merchant of Alyss (Revell) by Thomas Locke

Rebirth (Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing) by Amy Brock McNew

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer (Thomas Nelson) by James L. Rubart

Beast (Enclave) by Chawna Schroeder

A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold (Rooglewood Press) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Far and Near (David C. Cook) by Amanda G. Stevens

King’s Folly (Bethany House) by Jill Williamson


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 2016.

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

Year Seven! INSPYs 2017 Nominations are Now Open

inspys-com-winter-nomination-featureHello, INSPY readers. The advisory board is excited to open year seven of the INSPY Awards, a program for the bloggers’ “best in fiction” award is welcoming a new year and opening the nominations for 2017.

The Inspys were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith and were designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today.  This program is organized and judged by book bloggers who have considerable experience and knowledge of books published for both the CBA, general and INDIE markets.

If you haven’t nominated a book in the past year, please note, we’ve made a significant change to our nomination process. For you, the nominator, the rules remain the same, only difference you’ll note is the lack of a publicized long list. This is because the advisory board will be collecting our long list from the top 15 nominated novels in each category. So, even if you know someone else has nominated your favorite read of 2016 or you’re certain it’s already been nominated, go ahead and add your voice because that nomination could be the 15th vote that gets the book into the top fifteen.

Once the task of the top 15 is calculated and complete, we will publicize our long list, which will be then narrowed down to five books and from there, the same judging process will apply. For more information on the changes, please refer to our announcement post.

Please read through our Nominating Refresher post, and the nomination rules before nominating.

The dates of eligibility include books published in print between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016. If a print book was released as an ebook prior to 2016, it is ineligible.

Books may be nominated in any of the following categories:

Debut Novel

General Fiction

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance

Speculative Fiction

Mystery & Thriller

Literature for Young Adults

For more detailed description of categories please see the Revised Nomination Categories. If you’d like to read more about the nominating process, read our blog post with some tips on nominating the right books in their best categories. Pull out those lists and let’s begin!

The deadline to nominate a book is January 16. Winners of the seventh annual INSPY awards will be announced June 28, 2017.

To stay up to date with all things INSPYs follow along with us on Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads

Or email us with any questions: inspyawards@gmail.com

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

 

INSPYs 2017 | Nominating Changes and Reminders

INSPYs 2017 Nomination ChangesGood afternoon, readers. Today we have an amendment to our nomination process to announce and some helpful reminders to reiterate.

Earlier this month, we announced one of the changes to our Advisory Board. We said goodbye to a longtime board member, Stacy Millican and welcomed new member, Kara Boone. You can read more about this in our official statement.

Today we’re addressing new nomination changes. This year we are integrating Indie novels into our nomination process. We’re excited to open our nominations to the talented publishing world of independent novels, which has experienced rapid growth. Same as with all of our categories and nominations, there are some rules we ask nominators to apply to their nominations.

Rules Specific to INDIE Novels:

+ In order to be eligible for nomination, an INDIE novel must have a minimum 50 reviews on Goodreads.

+ INDIE books must have a four-star rating average on Goodreads.

+ The popular vote rule still applies; the top 15 novels from each category will constitute our longlists.

As an overview reminder, here is our book criteria (which applies to ALL nominations).

-The book must have been published in print in the United States between January 1st, 2016 and December 31st, 2016. Print books that were first released as eBooks prior to 2016 are ineligible.

-Reissues and eBooks are not eligible.

-The book must possess exceptional literary qualities including but not limited to: innovative, original writing, and depth of characterization.

-The book must respectfully grapple with some element of the Christian faith.

-The book must not have excessive profanity or explicit sex scenes.

Our categories are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You may nominate an Indie novel in any of the seven categories listed above. We ask that you please make note of the following criteria before nominating.

Below are a few reminders and refreshers which apply to ALL nominations. Please read through them carefully before you nominate your favorite books on December 27th.

+ When nominating a Debut Novel, please remember, this category is set aside for first-time authors. You can discover an author’s first publication by visiting their respective website or Goodreads page.

+ We reserve the right to move a book to a different category if we deem its nomination is in an inappropriate category.

+ Every nominator is allowed only one book per category.

+ Same as with INDIE novels, the popular vote rule is still in effect no matter the book; the top 15 novels from each category will constitute our longlists.

Nominations open December 27th. We look forward to discovering the books you loved in 2016.

INSPYs 2017 | Advisory Board Changes

INSPYs.com 2017
2017 begins the seventh year for the INSPYs Awards. Seven years ago, this journey began with a group of talented bloggers who led the way for so many of us in this blogging community.

As we roll towards December, the 2017 awards are entering a new season. This means changes accompany the start of a new year. One of these changes is bittersweet.

It’s with a sense of regret and gratefulness we adjust to saying goodbye to one of our veteran board members. The Advisory Board loses a champion in Stacy Millican. We graciously thank Stacy for her years of service and enthusiastic insight, and most of all, for sharing these talents with us. We wish her all the best as she focuses on personal commitments and pursues other projects.

On the heels of this goodbye, we are pleased to welcome new board member, Kara Boone. Kara has been a tireless champion of authors, fiction and book blogging since 2012. Her blog, Flowers of Quiet Happiness, is a testament to her vibrant personality and love of this community. We welcome Kara with excitement, and look forward to the perspective and valuable wisdom she will bring to the Advisory Board.

You can read more about Kara on our Advisory Board page. Please join us in welcoming her.

We will also be making nomination changes. An official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

2016 INSPY Award Winners

INSPYs 2016-INSPY Winners Feature

Following careful consideration, our incredible judging panels chose the 2016 INSPYs award winners in our seven respective categories. Following months of reading (by the Advisory Board and later, our judging panels), planning, author interviews and emails in access, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2016 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…


CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE / ROMANTIC SUSPENSEBook - The Dandelion Field

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer: In a category full of wonderful contemporary romances, we had a tough choice to make! Ultimately though, The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer stood out from the rest with its character growth and true-to-life issues as well as the author’s expressive way with words. Each character in the story was intriguing – from Gin and her daughter Raine, to firefighter Dan and Raine’s boyfriend Cody, to Dan’s big crazy family, Cody’s mom Evie, and even Gin’s coworkers. The romance between Dan and Gin was sweet and built slowly (but not too slowly), and the obstacles between them felt genuine, rather than just thrown in to create conflict. The relationship between Cody and Raine also felt real and sincere. Throughout this novel, Springer deftly dealt with true-to-life issues like single parenthood, teen pregnancy, poverty, and judgment within the church, showing how God can work through the hard things in life to bring healing and beauty. Really, that “realness” is what makes The Dandelion Field a perfect expression of the Inspy Awards’ mission statement, and it’s why we chose it for the 2016 award for Contemporary Romance.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH KATHRYN SPRINGER

DEBUT FICTION

JadedJaded by Varina Denman: Representing the best in debut fiction, Varina Denman’s Jaded is a complex contemporary novel that goes against the security most in its genre exhibit. The faith issues it wrestles with, the efficient snapshot of small-town living, and the quiet yet meaningful prose collide to create a story with depth. The romance is refreshing, not because of the opposition it presents, but because of the characters. Its heroine, Ruthie is a beautifully flawed and relatable character, whose fall from grace makes the lessons of forgiveness impacting, a theme that will stay with the reader long after the final page.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH VARINA DENMAN

GENERAL FICTION

Book - Secrets She KeptOur panel chose Secrets She Kept as winner of the General Fiction INSPY award for its deep emotional impact and for the subtly powerful way its theme of forgiveness is threaded into the story. We loved the way the dual timelines interwove and built on each other as secrets from the past were gradually revealed to modern day characters and to readers. Gohlke’s vivid storytelling and close attention to historical detail immersed us in the historical time period with Lieselotte, even as we discovered with Hannah just how profound an impact the past can have on the present. We found the lead characters endearing, and gladly cheered them on – Hannah toward self-discovery and a better understanding of her mother, and Lieselotte in her perseverance in following her conscience despite danger, betrayal, and hardship. The story as a whole impressed us all, and we are delighted to give the INSPY to this title.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH CATHY GOHLKE

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Through-Waters-DeepThrough Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin: Through Waters Deep was an inspiring story about two individuals who learn that they’re stronger together while trusting in God than they are going it alone. Loveable characters, some suspense and danger, an historical setting the comes alive, sweet inspirational moments, and a romance that builds from friendship, all combine to make a masterly woven story that is engaging from beginning to end. Perfect for Historical Christian Romance readers!Book - An Uncertain Choice

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SARAH SUNDIN

LITERATURE FOR YOUNG ADULTS

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund: An Uncertain Choice stands out with a breathlessly tangible medieval setting, vividly described characters that are constructed in such a way that invites readers to know them better with every page. The writing, the characters, and the romance; every nook and cranny of An Uncertain Choice was flawless! Every page is a masterpiece of relatable storytelling as expressed through its impactful POV. Beyond its beautiful prose, An Uncertain Choice boasts a delicious romance, with three dreamy and chivalrous knights (!).The novel has everything and more any reader could want in the YA historical, or any fictional world, genre!

Book - The Bones will SpeakMYSTERY / THRILLER

The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks: We chose The Bones Will Speak because it draws readers in from the very beginning. Opening a suspense novel should involve a riveting and twisting plot that will hold reader’s attention until the final page. The Bones Will Speak provided just that. Its suspense is top notch, but the main character Gwen Marcey is what keeps us flipping the pages. The nail-biting suspense keeps readers engaged and the shroud of mystery surrounding the real culprit keeps the whodunit a guessing game. Fine writing, complex characterization and a great story make this book a winner.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH CARRIE STUART PARKS

SPECULATIVE FICTION

9780764213465The Shock of Night by Patrick Carr: This novel seamlessly combined the best of fantasy and mystery to create a unique story all its own. The complex tale described a world very much like our own: a nation grown complacent in its undeserved blessings, flawed characters who sometimes failed despite their good intentions, and yet, also, the redemptive work of God through his servants. The protagonist is a man mired by doubts and fears but unbroken by the darkness around and within him. Instead, he pours his heart out in honest, broken prayer, and takes the example of his Lord to heart by striving against the odds to bring good into a world that often does not recognize it. Engulfing twists, delightful wit, and authentic discussions of tough moral quandaries make The Shock of the Night a book not to be missed.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK W. CARR


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! 

A Conversation with Zachary Bartels

INSPYs 2016-Zachary Bartels Feature

Our second interview today welcomes author, Zachary Bartels. Zachary has been shortlisted in previous INSPY awards and this year, his novel The Last Con (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller category.

Today, Zachary shares inspiration for The Last Con as well as the most challenging factor of writing in the mystery genre. (Can you believe tomorrow we announce the 2016 winners!?)


Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and Book - The Last Contwelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord—Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ZACHARY BARTELS

INSPYs: What inspired The Last Con?

I’ve always been interested in con men and grifters as long as I can remember. Books like Catch Me If You Can, TV shows like White Collar, and movies like The Sting and Oceans Eleven have always entertained the heck out of me and maybe ten years ago, I started reading about the real grifters of the 1920s and ’30s, who really lived these lives that sound cartoonish on one level, but were really an empty veneer of deception covering over something so complex. Fascinating stuff!

The kernel of the story that became The Last Con came from a jail visit I made about a dozen years ago. Having done some prison ministry, I was used to being frisked, grilled, marched through metal detectors, etc. But once I presented my ordination certificate at the jail and got on the chaplain’s approved list to visit inmates, I was allowed to waltz right in and out without any of that. It got me thinking, what if there was a guy who used this loophole to run a business, smuggling items and information in and out of the jail? That role became the character Dante. From there, the rest of the crew sort of filled in themselves: Fletcher the brains, Happy the techie, Andrew the mentor, Marcus the muscle, and Meg who was just caught in the middle of it all.

With Playing Saint, I had woven in the characters from a screenplay I’d written, called The Jesuits. They were these Vatican agents operating in the shadows, searching for a hidden church relic. The publisher wanted a similar conspiracy/relic/secret society element for this book and I had been reading a lot about the Knights of Malta, so I decided to try bringing them together. Honestly, I can’t believe how easily and tightly these different elements all came together into one story, spanning centuries and continents, and yet the entire modern day story line taking place in Detroit over the course of four days.

Zachary's Study at his church, Judson Baptist Church.

Zachary’s Study at his church, Judson Baptist Church.

INSPYs: What are some of the challenges/benefits of writing suspense?

One of the greatest challenges of writing suspense, for me, is that I love reading stories that take their time developing characters and slowly-but-relentlessly unfold the conflict. With suspense, however, readers (or at least editors) expect more or less nonstop tension, nail-biting, and edge-of-the-seat sitting from the get-go. I have to force myself to write that way to meet the expectations of  the market. At the end of the day, however, it  works, so I’m not complaining.

As far as benefits, my favorite thing about writing suspense is to hear from readers that they were up till 2 AM reading, unable to put the book down because they had to know what happened next and how the story resolved. It’s humbling, but also the opposite of the humbling to be able to have that kind of an effect on someone, using only a story. Maybe because of this total buy-in from the reader, I find that suspense is also a great vehicle for introducing spiritual themes for readers to wrestle with.

Zachary's office coffee bar - a writer has to stay caffeinated!

Zachary’s office coffee bar – a writer has to stay caffeinated!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What Are You Listening? Andy Mineo’s “Uncomfortable” album, The Moth Radio Hour, ’90s Alternative Pandora station, and the Happy Rant Podcast.

+What are you watching right now? Rehab Addict, Better Call Saul, Voltron: Legendary Defender (with my son), New Girl (with my wife), Turn, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and binge-watching Grounded for Life on Netflix.

+ What are you reading? Tesla: Inventor of the Electric Age by W. Bernard Carlson, Unashamed by Lecrae Moore, Broken: Seven ‘Christian’ Rules Every Christian Should Break by Jonathan Fisk, and With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.


Thank you so much for joining our author interview series, Zachary. It was a pleasure to learn more about the inspiration of your novel (all great inspirations!), and to read about the challenges of writing in this genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHORZachary Bartels

Called “the suspense author everyone is talking about” by Family Fiction Edge magazine, Zachary Bartels is the author of critically acclaimed supernatural thrillers. An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary has been serving as pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan, for ten years. He enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling.

His debut novel, Playing Saint, has been called an “intrigue-filled thriller” (Library Journal) and “a page-turner from the very beginning . . . gripping and realistic” (RT Book Reviews). His newest book, The Last Con (HarperCollins Christian Fiction, 2015) has met early positive reviews. He lives in the capital city of a mitten-shaped Midwestern state with his wife Erin and their son.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Katie Ganshert

INSPYs 2016-Katie Ganshert FeatureAs we come down to the final hours before the INSPYs 2016 winners are announced (Tuesday!), today we welcome Katie Ganshert. A multi-genre author who made the jump to Indie and YA fiction last year, Katie’s novel The Art of Losing Yourself (WaterBrook Press) is on the 2016 shortlist in the General Fiction category.

Katie shares more on the inspiration of The Art of Losing Yourself, and the challenges/benefits of writing organically incorporated faith. Plus, she’s a Gilmore Girls fan!


Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high Book - The Art of Losing Yourselfschool football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole? – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH KATIE GANSHERT

What inspired The Art of Losing Yourself?

This doesn’t usually happen for me, but it was a passage of Scripture—from Ezekiel 37. It’s when the Lord gives Ezekiel a vision, and shows him a valley filled with dry bones. And then the Lord asks, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I was so very struck by the passage and the question, and of course, God’s response. So struck, I wanted to tell a story about God’s ability to breath the dead back to life. In the Art of Losing Yourself, that dead thing happens to be a marriage, a derelict motel, and a woman’s faith.

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

Well, for this book, incorporating faith into the story was relatively easy, as the entire theme revolves around the main character’s faith, or lack thereof. I think the biggest challenge is making sure the faith-element arises organically from the characters and the story, instead of making it this painted-on thing just because the genre demands it. The benefits are numerous! Namely, hearing from readers who have been encouraged in their faith after reading the story. And, of course, being encouraged in my own faith as I seek God and His truth while writing the story.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

What are you listening to?

Katie Ganshert TBR

Katie’s TBR pile.

Mostly, Bible kid songs. We have a Jesus Loves Me soundtrack that plays on repeat wherever we go because my daughter loves it and it’s good for her to try to sing familiar songs, as she has a severe speech delay. Music aside, I love audio books, and am currently listening to Kate Morton’s The Lake House.

What are you watching?

A conglomeration of things—nothing new. We don’t have cable, but we do have Netflix and Amazon Prime. Right now, I’m watching Gilmore Girls and when I’m in the mood for a laugh, The Office. I’ve already watched both.

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

(See Picture) I’m reading 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It’s my first Picoult book and so far, I’m enjoying it. I’m also reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan. And up next is Becky Wade’s newest—Her One and Only.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Katie! We enjoyed learning more about the inspiration of The Art of Losing Yourself, and discovering what’s on your TBR.

ABOUT THE AUTHORKatie Ganshert

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Susan May Warren

INSPYs 2016-Susan May Warren Feature

Happy Saturday, INSPYs readers. Today we welcome the award-winning talents of Susan May Warren. Susan has been shortlisted in previous INSPY awards and this year, her novel The Wonder of You (Tyndale House) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category.

Today, Susan shares about the inspiration of The Wonder of You as well as the most challenging factor of writing a closely-connected familial series. (Plus Ross Poldark makes a cameo.)


Mortified after her year abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough to embrace the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she Book - The Wonder of Youexpects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her place mean leaving home behind? – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN MAY WARREN

INSPYs: What inspired you to write The Wonder of You?

This story, and in particular, the heroine, Amelia was inspired by my beautiful daughter Sarah!  Sarah signed up for a semester in Prague. . .but when she got there, she realized that she was really a Baggins at heart – she didn’t want to leave the Shire, aka, our small town, or at least the safety of Minnesota.  This became a soul-wrenching experience as I watched her wrestle with her fears versus her dreams of seeing the world.  It became the basis for the story question:  What happens when you discover you’re not the person you thought you were?  More, she had disappointed herself… What happens when you fail yourself?  We often deal with characters failing others – like their parents, or their spouse, but failing yourself can be a much more devastating experience.  Sure, a character might be able to forgive themselves…but what do they do with the pieces of their failure?  And what if they fail again?

On a personal level, what does failure tell you about yourself and how can it affect your entire life?  Knowing how to forgive yourself, and what to do next are important – if challenging – life skills, and Amelia has to learn how to combat her failures as well as her fears if she wants to go forward.  So, the title is a double-entre…we are stronger than we realize because God is at work, in us.  It’s the wonder of God in us…to produce an amazing result.

INSPYs: What was your most challenging factor in writing a closely connected six-book series?

The Christiansen family series is a spin-off of the best-selling Deep Haven collection, a collection of stories about the townspeople of Deep Haven, Minnesota, a tiny resort town on the north shore of Lake Superior.  The original series started with a book entitled, Happily Ever After, and grew to include six titles.  However, one family began to stand out and I decided their story needed to be told. I wanted a series about a family with adult children, learning what it meant to carry on the legacy of faith into their lives.  And I wanted to write a series that would really let readers dig into the family, feel like they were a part of their journey.  The biggest issue was how to create both a stand-alone story arc as well as a series story arc that would keep readers glued to the drama of the series. I discovered that I really enjoyed writing this kind of connected series, where the events in one book push the events in the next.  However, I’ve discovered that readers need to enter the series anywhere without being lost—and that can be difficult in a closely connected series. The Wonder of You was a bridge book between two epic events that happen to the family, and the challenge of this story was to carry the story arc while giving the reader a story that could stand on its own.  I think Roark and Amelia pulled it off brilliantly.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+What are you listening to?

Pandora. The Chase Rice station (that I designed).  Contemporary country music.

+What are you watching?

Just finished season one of Poldark.  *sigh*

Photo: ITV

Photo: ITV

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

Just starting another fabulous Lori Benton novel:  The Wood’s Edge.  I’m a huge historical fiction fan. Okay, I’m just a huge fan of well written books, regardless of genre. 🙂

Thank you for having me!!


Thanks so much for joining us today, Susan. It was a pleasure to learn more about The Wonder of You and chat about your current read.

ABOUT THE AUTHORSusan May Warren

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!

She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Becky Wade

INSPYs 2016-Becky Wade

As our 2016 INSPY author interviews draw to a close, today we welcome Becky Wade. Becky has been shortlisted in previous INSPY awards and this year, her novel A Love Like Ours (Bethany House) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category.

Today, Becky discussed how A Love Like Ours came to be and the challenges/benefits of writing a closely-connected familial series.


Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.Book - A Love Like Ours

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend? – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH BECKY WADE

INSPYs: What inspired the story of A Love Like Ours?

A Love Like Ours was inspired by the stories I’ve read and seen over the years about veterans dealing with PTSD. Those accounts of our real life heroes never fail to stir my emotions and my admiration. Thus, I decided to attempt to write a hero who’d encountered trauma on one of his tours with the Marines and has struggled with PTSD ever since. The result is Jake Porter and his journey toward hope, aka A Love Like Ours.Becky Wade INSPYs2

Becky Wade INSPYs

INSPYs: What are some of the challenges/benefits of writing a closely-connected series like the Porter Family books?

THE CHALLENGES

  • Balance. It’s always tricky to weave secondary characters who will star in future books or have starred in past books into the current novel. I’m constantly trying to lay groundwork for the books that are to come or catch up with characters from books that have been published. But I have to balance that with my foremost goal — which is to keep the plot of the current novel clicking along. It’s difficult to find just the right ‘recipe’!
  • Intricacy. Managing the details of a large family, their parents, their friends, their kids, and their town across four books and the passage of eight years in their story world is intricate work! I can’t tell you the number of times I had to cross reference or consult my notes or peek back at previous books to make sure I had the particulars right.

THE BENEFITS

  • Familiarity with the characters. I brainstormed each of the Porter Family characters before beginning book #1, Undeniably Yours. So when I started book #2, #3, and #4, I was already familiar with that book’s Porter hero or heroine. I already loved them and was invested in them.
  • Depth. Working with one family for so many years gave me a chance to really go deep with them, to show them across a whole season of marriages and babies and trials and joys. A writer can’t experience that same level of depth within the page count of a single book.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+What are you listening to?

Audio books! I just finished A Man Called Ove, which was published in Swedish and has since become an international bestseller. It has some language in it, but overall, I found it utterly charming. Hilarious. Heartwarming. I was amazed by how authentically the main character was written. He was a curmudgeon and I loved him a great deal anyway.

+What are you watching?

So You Think You Can Dance is my favorite summertime show! This season, the contestants are kids and they’re phenomenally talented.

+What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Book - The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder

I’m currently reading The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, Rachel McMillan’s debut novel. I think it’s fantastic that she’s reimagined Sherlock and Watson as two women in 1910 Toronto

Thank you for interviewing me here at INSPYs.com! I’m so grateful to the Christian Fiction bloggers who work diligently in support of our genre. What an honor for A Love Like Ours to be shortlisted in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category! Thank you, judges.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Becky! It’s great to learn more about the Porter family and the challenges and benefits they presented.

ABOUT THE AUTHORBecky-Wade5

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine,  A Love Like Ours, and Her One and Only.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Kristi Ann Hunter

INSPYs 2016-Kristi Ann Hunter FeatureOur debut author interviews continue today with novelist, Kristi Ann Hunter. Her debut novel A Noble Masquerade (Bethany House) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Debut Fiction category.

Today, Kristi gives us insight into the inspiration of A Noble Masquerade and shares her greatest surprise about the publishing experience.


Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her Book - A Noble Masqueradeinnermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH KRISTI ANN HUNTER

INSPYs: What inspired you to write A Noble Masquerade?

I don’t think there’s a person alive who is always themselves. We have masks and restrictions we place on ourselves depending on where we are or who we’re with. Sometimes, though, those limits can feel like an abrasive and confining prison despite the fact that we made them ourselves. Never is that more evident than when you find yourself placed in the middle of a new group of people and you have to decide who you’re going to be.

Exploring that idea brought about the book A Noble Masquerade. Because the heroine met the hero under two different circumstances, she presented two different versions of herself and he was able to do the same. In the process of bringing those two ideas together, they each came to a greater understanding of who they were and how they could be themselves more often. I think that’s something everyone could use a little more of.

INSPYs: What surprised you most about the process of writing/publishing a novel?

This is going to make me sound incredibly arrogant, but I think my biggest surprise was that I edited well. After the number of complaints and horror stories I’ve heard from people working with various editors, I was expecting the process to be rather painful. In some ways it was because it was the first time I’d ever gone through my work like that. There were sections that I refused to change in the way they wanted me to, but I did listen to the issues they had with the scene and rewrote it to fix those.

A lot of the credit for the process goes to the amazing editors I worked with at Bethany House who took the time to really see where I was trying to go with the book and helped me get there. By the end of the editing process, though, I was left sitting with a book I couldn’t believe I got to stick my name on and that’s a pretty heady feeling.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+What are you listening to?

Ah, music. It is so very, very important in our house. Right now I’m hip deep in preparations for the launch of the next book in the series, An Elegant Façade, so I’m listening and refining the inspiration playlist for that book. I’ll be unveiling that entire list in July, but as a little sneak peek for you, it includes some amazing songs like Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns and Born to Be Free by Moriah Peters.

+What are you watching? 

Kristi Ann Hunter NightstandWell, the kids are home for the summer and just discovered the old original Power Rangers so I’m getting a nice little trip down nostalgia lane.

Otherwise I’m not watching a whole lot right now. We don’t have cable so I tend to be a little behind and go through spells of watching lots of TV off Netflix and then stretches of nothing. I can tell you what I WILL be watching in a few weeks and that’s the Olympics. WOOHOO! Love me some Olympics.

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

I’m actually reading an ARC right now, Dawn Crandall’s The Cautious Maiden. (Woohoo, author privilege, getting books before they come out!) I’m only a few chapters into it but I’m very intrigued.

Sitting right next to it though, taunting me and not-so-patiently waiting its turn is the new Karen Witemeyer book, No Other Will Do. I actually got that one a bit early, too, but haven’t gotten to read it yet. Sometimes writing the books gets in the way of reading them. Sigh.


Thanks for joining us, Kristi Ann! It was a pleasure to chat with you, learn more about your debut novel, learn what most surprised you about the publishing process (that’s a wonderful talent to possess) and to read about your 2016 Olympic excitement.

ABOUT THE AUTHORKristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter