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 Kathryn Springer

INSPYs 2016-Kathryn Springer Feature

Award-winning romance author, Kathryn Springer joins us today on INSPYs blog! Author of multiple novels, Kathryn’s recent novel, The Dandelion Field (Zondervan) has been shortlisted in the 2016 INSPYs Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense Category.

We chat with Kathryn about the inspiration behind The Dandelion Field, plus she gives us a quick peek into what’s next AND shares what’s occupying her TBR pile.


This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn’t need a man to fight her battles.Book - The Dandelion Field

After Raine s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that s compromised when Raine reveals she s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend’s son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: The baby is mine.

Knowing gossip of Raine’s pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin’s reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin’s feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.” – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH KATHRYN SPRINGER

INSPYs: What inspired The Dandelion Field?

The story started brewing in my head about five years before I actually started writing it. I would be typing away on my computer and characters from The Dandelion Field would suddenly “walk on stage” and interrupt the characters of the book I was working on. I tried to ignore them, tried to tell them it “wasn’t their turn yet”, but they didn’t seem to care!

So. . .I listened. I got to know feisty single mom Ginevieve Lightly and her teenage daughter, Raine, and realized I had to tell their story, too.

The Dandelion Field isn’t what I would call a conventional romance. Maybe because Gin is such an unconventional heroine! She and Dan Moretti don’t get to know each other in a romantic little bubble, sealed off from the rest of the world. They’re sucked into the middle of a small town scandal when Raine tells Gin she’s pregnant. The baby’s father is high school senior Cody Bennett, the boy Dan has mentored for years.

I write contemporary romance because I’m a huge fan of the HEA (Happily Ever After) but I also love to write about people whose lives are a little messy (okay, sometimes really messy!) and complicated, but they stick by each other when life gets hard. Those are also the kind of people who inspire me the most.

So. . .I guess in a way that answers your question!

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

A peek into what’s next. . .

Right now I’m finishing up the second book in my Castle Falls “Bachelor” series for Love Inspired. It’s about three brothers who build canoes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+What are you listening to?

I’m still listening to the playlist I created for The Hearts We Mend, which picks up where The Dandelion Field left off. Although it has to be perfectly quiet while I’m writing, I love music so I do some of my best “plotting” when I’m on the treadmill at the gym.

+What are you watching?

My husband and I live in the country and get a whopping four channels on our television. I really like HGTV, though, so right now we’re watching “Fixer Upper” on Netflix.

+What’s on your nightstand?

Kathryn’s TBR pile!

Kathryn’s TBR pile!

My summer reading list is already starting to get as tall as the dandelions in our yard! I usually have a mixture of fiction and non-fiction so what you see in the photograph are the books that actually fit on my nightstand. I won’t even tell you how many titles are on my NOOK!

Jesus Calling holds a permanent spot. . .I think this is the third time I’ve gone through it. I know there are some authors who don’t read while they’re on deadline but that would be like telling me not to breathe. I stick to the romance genre (no surprise there!) so I picked up Lenora Worth’s latest title Truth and Consequences because I’m a fan of romantic suspense—and if there’s a dog on the cover, count me in! Cynthia Ruchti writes women’s fiction but her characters are so incredibly real I find myself thinking about them long after I finish the book.

There are so many great titles coming out this summer, by the time you read this there will probably be a few more on the pile!


Happy you were able to join us today, Kathryn! It was a pleasure to learn more about the inspiration of The Dandelion Field, and you’re not along: we sympathize with that e-reader count.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR kathryn_springer

USA Today Best Selling Author, Kathryn Springer, winner of the 2009 ACFW Book of the Year Award (Family Treasures), grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child, she spent many hours sitting at her mother’s typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books – which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own.

Author Website | Facebook