Grace Awards

Expanding the Tent Pegs of Christian Fiction

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

And…the Grace Awards 2013 Finalists are…

Grace Awards LogoWhat a ride it has been!!!

The Grace Awards 2013, now into its fourth year, had and avalanche of reader nominations to determine our finalists. The number of reader votes was up significantly from last year, as was the number of novels nominated in each category.

According to the rules, every novel had to have been accompanied by at least a 35 word statement telling why the story was nominated…a sort of mini-review or “notice”. This year the reasons given were astute and outstanding. There is no doubt that today’s Christian reader is both intelligent and perceptive.

And now…the finalists in six categories are…

WOMEN’S FICTION/GENERAL FICTION (serious women’s/men’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements) :

PAINT ME ALTHENA, Naomi Musch (Desert Breeze Publishing) Ava Day lost her way, abandoned her painter husband Ethan and their young daughters, convinced they’d be better off without her…and became “Althena.” She buried herself in painting fantasy-art while searching for herself, and moved in with a tattooed biker. Left alone to care for the girls, Ethan finds strength in his new faith. Danger brings Ava back to Ethan’s protection, but can the broken marriage and scarred family be saved?

THE BELOVED DAUGHTER, Alana Terry (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) North Korean officials arrest a father, mother, and their 12 year-old daughter, Chung-Cha, for their Christian faith. The daughter is thrown into solitary confinement, tortured, and then is sent to a camp where even the slightest infraction of the rules is severely punished. Chung-Cha questions her faith. A Christian woman in the prison camp befriends the girl and she begins to renew her faith.

PILGRIMAGE OF PROMISE, Cathy Bryant (WordVessel Press) As Bo Miller faces stage four cancer, he and his wife Mona Beth face a dusty stack of unopened love letters forcing them to revisit a part of their lives they’d rather leave buried. Only as they retrace history will they learn the truth about the shattered promise that threatens to come between them. But can their relationship endure the deception and sabotage they unearth, or will the experience compel them to trust more fully in the promises that never fail?

ROMANCE/HISTORICAL ROMANCE (primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then)

RIVER OAKS PLANTATION, B.J. Robinson (B. J. Robinson)  Plantation manager,Noah Gautreaux, took vehicles to higher ground in order to escape a super hurricane, but will he make it back in time to save Amaryllis Camilla O’Brien  and his two “pet girls” who are still in the antebellum mansion? Amaryllis, who inherited the house from her grandmother, has discovered an old, yellowed diary in the house and she’s determined will survive the storm, along with herself and Noah’s beloved dogs.

WHERE HOPE STARTS, Angela D. Meyer (CrossRiver Media) New York City restaurant manager Karen Marina is fleeing to her Midwestern home after she loses her job and discovers her drunken and abusive husband is addicted to pornography. She’s struggling between a possible new boyfriend and forgiving the unforgivable when she discovers a secret that could tear her family apart while her angry brother is set on revenge.

FINDING BETH, Linnette R. Mullin (CrossRiver Media) Beth Gallagher’s brother died in a fatal accident, but warned her about Kyle before he passed away. After turning to Kyle in grief, she becomes engaged to him and only then discovers his dark side. In a state of confusion, she flees to the Smoky Mountains seeking God’s will, and discovers a new friend who helps her find answers. But what will it cost? Kyle is used to getting his way, no matter what. So when she returns with her new man, Kyle is furious.

MYSTERY/THRILLER/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/HISTORIC SUSPENSE: (crime fiction, probably a body)

MURDER AT WILLOW SHADE, Jean Kinsey (Desert Breeze Publishing) All Ashley Kennedy wants is to marry her childhood sweetheart and make a go of Willow Shade Stables, but her fiance Kyle gets cold feet and refuses to set a date. Then the builders unearth a skull while digging her basement. The skull is identified as an old adversary and the sheriff suspects Ashley’s mom, Maddy. Before her mom can be convicted, Ashley puts her life on hold and joins several of the town’s women in an investigation to prove Maddy’s innocence. To obtain evidence, the Fearless Five ladies bend the rules which law-abiding policemen dare not do.              .

THE RISING, Lynn Chandler Willis (Harbourlight Books)  Detective Ellie Saunders’s homicide investigation takes a dramatic turn when a young victim of a fatal beating “wakes up” in the morgue. The boy has no memory prior to his “rising” except walking with his father along a shiny road. Ellie likes dealing with facts. She’s not interested in any supernatural talk, but wants medical answers. Will her probing put her in danger?

BROKEN ALLEGIANCE, Mark Young (Mark Young Books) After seeking justice for more than ten years, as well as experiencing intense suffering due to the hit and run death of his young son at the hands of an unidentified gang-banger, Detective Tom Kagan is a broken man. What keeps him going is protecting his wife from an anonymous serious threat. Then a gang member thought to be “untouchable” is assassinated by his own gang. This throws Kagan into the middle of a viscous, internal gang war and places his friends and family at risk.

SPECULATIVE FICTION (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.)

THE EARTH PAINTER, Mellisa Turner Lee (AltWitPress) Holly Scruggs has been corrected by her image conscious parents to the point of brokenness. When she discovers the boy in her high school drama class is actually the immortal who painted the world into being, she becomes the target of another painter who hates humanity.

MERLIN’S BLADE, Robert Treskillard (Blink). When a meteorite crashes near a small village in fifth-century Britain, it brings with it a mysterious black stone that bewitches anyone who comes in contact with its glow—a power the druids hope to use to destroy King Uthur’s kingdom. The only person who seems immune is a young, shy, half-blind swordsmith’s son named Merlin.     

SHENANDOAH NIGHTS, Lisa Belcastro (Oak Tara) The last thing sixth-grade teacher Rebecca O’Neill wants to do during the final week of her summer break is chaperone 25 kids on a one week trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah. But after a desperate phone call from the school principal, she doesn’t have a choice. Worse, the ship is rumored to be “haunted.” Five years ago, during another student cruise, the teacher-chaperone heard voices, saw visions, then disappeared without a trace-from the very same cabin where Rebecca will be staying.

ACTION-ADVENTURE/WESTERN/EPIC FICTION: (exploits, quest, daring, expansive)

CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT, Christine Lindsay (WhiteFire Publishing)  After a daring rescue goes awry, Laine Harkness takes a nursing position at a plantation in the jungles of South India, only to discover that her abusive former fiance is the owner. Laine’s friend, Eshana, is captured by her traditional uncle and forced once more into the harsh Hindu customs of mourning, and doubts freedom will ever be hers again, much less the forbidden love that had begun to flower.                    

STEALING THE PREACHER, Karen Witemayer (Bethany House Publishers)  On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he’s forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he’s haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind–a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.                

BURNING SKY, Lori Benton (WaterBrook Press) The woman who had been known as Burning Sky was a colonial girl kidnapped by Indians before the American Revolution. She then returned to her childhood home after the war as an adult, but finds the situation not to be what she expected. On the border of her parents’ land, she rescues Neil McGregor, a Scots doctor from the East who is in the area to catalog the flora and fauna. Still more perplexing, she finds herself trapped between two worlds, and in a triangle of affection with Neil and the native Joseph. And what should she do when those she thought would support her efforts actively work against her and threaten her survival?

YOUNG ADULT (appeals to ages 14 – 21ish)

THE REVISED LIFE OF ELLIE SWEET, Stephanie Merrill (Novel Teen Press) Ellie Sweet is a good girl, novelist, silent adorer of hunky Palmer. When “outcast” gets added to the list, she decides on a bit of literary revenge. In her book, she’s Lady Gabrielle, of the Italian medieval court. Her once friends are reduced to catty ladies-in-waiting. Palmer is a rake wracked with unrequited love for her. Just as she’s enjoying her fictional world, in real-life things shift. Chase, from the wrong side of the tracks, wants to date her, and so does Palmer. Then her manuscript becomes public and her friends decide to teach Ellie a lesson about using her pen as a sword.

DIVING IN DEEP, Nora Ballew ( CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)  Just as her family’s troubles start to mount in their new home town, Kelly Eberly dives head first into a strict diet and rigorous swimming routine. Kelly wants nothing more than the “nice normal family” her mother talks about. Before long, even within the chaos that is the Eberly household, everyone is noticing her dramatic weight loss. Her aunt is praying. Her brother is lecturing. Even her new friends are studying her under a microscope. How thin is thin enough?

STOPPED COLD, Gail Pallotta ( CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)  Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid and is lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret is angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals who sold the drugs pay. Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean. They are walking a treacherous path and even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside of her, and open her heart to love.

     

Announching Grace Awards 2013 Judges

Grace Awards Logo

The Grace Awards is now going into its fourth year, having been extremely well received during the last three years. This year we have a line up of stellar judges for our six fiction categories.

GENERAL FICTION/WOMEN’S FICTION: serious women’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

Deb KinnardDeborah Kinnard, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and Lead Judge in this category has enjoyed a career that has encompassed Spanish translation, volunteer work at a crisis line, years in assorted ERs that don’t resemble the ones on TV, and a day job at a big Chicago teaching hospital. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), serving as Midwest Zone Director. In 2002 and 2003 she sold her first and second novels, POWERLINE and OAKWOOD to Treble Heart Books. ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN, ANGEL WITH A BACK HOE and DAMAGES are available from Desert Breeze.  ALOHA, MY LOVE, and POWERLINE, a reissue are available through Desert Breeze. SEASONS IN THE MIST was released by Sheaf House in April 2010 and was a Grace Awards 2011 Winner in Speculative Fiction. http://debkinnard.com/

Carol McClainCarol McClain is a multi-published author in the non-fiction market. Her work has appeared in God Still Answers Prayers, Significant Living, Evangel and others. As a long-time member of ACFW, she coordinates the courses offered throughout the year. She taught English for over thirty years and designed the AP English Language curriculum for her school. She created a local writers’ group, Foothills Ink and is a member of ACFW and the Adirondack Center for Writing. She writes a popular blog: Character Counts which can be found at the link below, and will soon launch an editing service. She lives in northern New York with her husband and over-active Springer spaniel. You can reach her at. http://carol-mcclain.blogspot.com

Christine LindsayChristine Lindsay was born in Ireland an is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Phillip when she was a baby. Her great-grandfather and her grandfather — yes, father and son — were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they bear no responsibility for the sinking of the great ship. Aside from being a busy author and speaker, Christine is also VP of the Christian Author’s Network. She makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, with her husband and grown up family. www.christinelindsay.com

ROMANCE/HISTORICAL ROMANCE: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

Naomi Musch, 2Naomi Musch is a Grace Awards Vice-Chair and Lead Judge in this category. She writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin where she and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm near their five adult children and three grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles, whether the story venue is rich in American history or along more contemporary lines.
http://www.naomimusch.com

Joy in OctoberJoy Ross Davis lives in Bessemer, Alabama. She has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and for many years, she taught English at a local community college. She retired to become a caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. She documented her experiences with her mother in a series of articles for a local newspaper. The articles have also been featured in Muscadine Lines, a Southern literary magazine. For several months in 2007, she lived in Ireland and worked as a travel writer and photographer for Tourism Ireland. Currently, she is working on the sequel to her first published novel, COUNTENANCE, is celebrating the release of her second book, and teaching English online for the University of Phoenix. She lives with her son and three rescue dogs. http://joyrossdavis.com/

Bette Thomason OwensBetty Thomason Owens was born in the Pacific Northwest and grew up in such exotic places as West Tennessee and San Diego, California. A retired office manager/bookkeeper, she now lives in Kentucky with her husband of forty years. They have three grown and married sons and six grandchildren. Besides her American Christian Fiction Writers (AFCW) membership, where she leads a critique group, she’s active with Bluegrass Christian Writers , and contributes to a writer’s blog. Betty contributed to the collaborative romantic comedy novella A DOZEN APOLOGIES. She recently contracted with Write Integrity Press for her three-book Legacy series (historical). http://www.bettythomasonowens.com/

MYSTERY/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/THRILLER/HISTORIC SUSPENSE: crime fiction, probably a body

Tammy DohertyTammy Doherty, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and lead judge in this category, is the author of three inspirational Western romances, CELTIC CROSS, CLADDAUGH, and CELTIC KNOT. All three were rereleased last fall as eBooks and are also available in print. Her current projects are contemporary romantic suspense, set in a small town in central Massachusetts eerily similar to her hometown. Tammy lives on a small farm with her husband of 25+ years and their two children. Besides writing, she also manages the family perennial farm and works in customer service for a veterinary supply distributor. She is a reviewer for The Christian Pulse online magazine and has been a first-round judge in numerous contests for unpublished romance novelists. http://tammydoherty.com

Debra MarvinDebra Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor. Her work has finaled in the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, Maggie; twice in the  Daphne du Maurier, and recently the category and Overall Winner of the Phoenix  Rattler. Not too bad considering she’s trying a mashup of gospel and . . .  gothic. www.debraemarvin.com 

Peggy Blann PhiferPeggy Blann Phifer is a author and columnist, book reviewer and author interviewer, whose work has appeared on various web sites and writer periodicals in print and online. A retired executive assistant, Peg now makes her home in northern Wisconsin. TO SEE THE SUN is her debut novel, and Book 1 of the Desert Faith series. Visit her blog, “Whispers in Purple” at: http://www.whispersinpurple.com  

SPECULATIVE FICTION: science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc..

Tracy KraussTracy Krauss, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and Lead Judge in category is a multi-published author, artist, and playwright. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and teaches secondary school Art, Drama, and English — all things she is passionate about. She and her husband have lived in five provinces and territories including many remote and unique places in Canada’s far north. They have four grown children and now reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. She has several romantic suspense novels and stage plays in print. http://www.tracykrauss.com

Tim AkersT.J. Akers has a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s degree in English Studies. He is cofounder of the Scriblerians critique group, a group of YA authors with a growing following on WordPress. CHOCOLATE EYES, his middle-grade novel was a 2012 First Impressions Finalist and a 2013 Genesis Awards Finalist in the YA category. He has judged for the Genesis Awards, First Impressions, and is returning again this year for the Grace Awards. His short story, Necessary Evil, is a part of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution is Too Big anthology. https://www.facebook.com/tj.akers.35\

DeEtte BecksteadDeEtte Anderton (writing as DeEtte Beckstead) started writing in 2007 after her son challenged her to try NaNoWriMo. The manuscript sat untouched with several others until January 2012 when her good friend encouraged her to seek publication. The Christmas Visitors was her first short story, and VICTORY, her first novel. DeEtte spent much of her childhood playing piano, reading, or making up stories. She was active in Girl Scouting, which gave her a wide variety of experiences. While in college, she was on the University of Utah Synchronized Swim team, and taught winter camping and survival for Girl Scouts. DeEtte lives in New England where she writes full-time and works on the editing team of Master Koda Select Publishing. DeEtte’s other interests include swimming, crocheting, reading, dog rescue, and her man grandchildren.

ACTION-ADVENTURE/WESTERN/ EPIC FICTION: exploits, quest, daring, expansive

NikePixNike Chillemi, Founder and Chair of the Grace Awards and Lead Judge in this category, still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Nike has a critically acclaimed and award winning four novel, historical whodunit series, set in the 1940s. Her first contemporary detective novel is set to release in April 2014: HARMFUL INTENT.  http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Kenneth WintersKenneth G. Winters grew up on Long Island, NY. He received his BA from Houghton College, where he met his wife Connie. They live in Norwich, CT and have two grown daughters. After seminary, Kenneth served at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Troy, NH. In 1976, he became the youth pastor at First Congregational Church of North Brookfield, MA. In 1984, he received a commission from the US Navy Chaplain Corps. In the following 20 years, he served with Seabees, Marines, Surface and Submarine fleets. After his retirement from the Navy, he returned to his home church in Massassachusetts as Associate Pastor. Over the span of his career, he founded a teen Christian music group and and two other groups which toured and recorded. He now keeps busy with his denomination, CCCC, the Military Officers Association, and the American Legion. Ken Winters Blog Page

Cathy WestCatherine West is an award-winning author writing inspirational stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England, and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. Her first novel released in 2011, YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW, won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Her second, HIDDEN IN THE HEART, released in September 2012. When she’s not at computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Boder Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.   Http://www.catherinejwest.com

YOUNG ADULT (YA): appeals to ages 14 – 21ish

Marcy DyerMarcy G. Dyer is Lead Judge in this category. She is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age. Her debut novel, Down & Out – Desert Winds Series Book One, is available now. The second book in the series, Out For Blood, will be released on 08/11/2013. In addition to writing, Marcy is a freelance editor. She does editing for individuals, Desert Breeze Publishing, and Prism Book Group. Marcy is an alumni of the Christian Writer’s Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. As followers of Jesus Christ, Marcy and her family are active members of Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas. She can be found at http://marcydyer.com/

Deborah AndersonAs a young girl, Deborah K. Anderson loved to read Nancy Drew mysteries, books like Old Yeller (which still make her cry), and humorous novels. As a teenager, she became a closet poet, until she showed one of her works to a high school teacher. He suggested that she pursue writing. After high school, she devoted much of her time to her ailing father. Soon after his death, she continued her studies in interpersonal communications, nursing, and medical technology at a local college. But, something was missing. She left her job to care for her elderly mother. Remembering her teacher’s words, she took the plunge and began writing. Since then, she has written for Focus on the Family, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and as a monthly columnist for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Her supernatural suspense entry, TALE OF A MAN, was a finalist in the Christian Writers of the West (CWOW) writing contest in the YA category. Deborah recently completed Rapha’s Remnant, a supernatural suspense novel for young adults. She is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and YALITCHAT.org. Married for 31 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she spends her time rescuing cats (and feeding lots of other stray critters), reading novels, and taking nature walks. You can reach Deborah at: deborah@deborahkanderson.com.

AileenAileen Stewart is the author of the children’s book, FERN VALLEY, and its sequel RETURN TO FERN VALLEY, which she releases summer 2014. She is a public speaker, children’s writing workshop host for children K-6, has appeared in the 2011 book, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, and is returning for the second year as a YA judge in the Grace Awards. In additions, she has created a Celebridot for Terry Shay’s Celebridot site. She lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, and three crazy cats: Max, Daisy, and Fluffy, and hopes that children everywhere will come to love reading.http://www.funwithaileen.com/

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