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Grace Awards 2016 Winners ~ in Faith Based Fiction

Grace Awards Badge 2016The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its seventh year, is very proud to announce its 2016 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges. They are multi-published authors, traditionally published ones, indie authors, and avid readers. Our judges commented on how pleased they were with the high quality of the finalists chosen by readers this year. Several judging teams ‘complained’ they had trouble picking a winner because all three stories nominated were so good. This only serves to justify the faith we have in our Christian readers who nominate the finalists. That’s what the Grace Awards is all about.

We’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. After the nominations were counted, finaling titles were given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no contact between the judging teams and the Chair of the Board, except for administrative issues. The teams independently picked winners. Each step in the process was removed and separated from the next step, to insure impartiality.

We are thrilled that our winners showcase self-published works as well as titles from  publishing houses, ebooks as well as paperbacks. Our aim is to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this.

The winners are…

Women’s Fiction/General Fiction: serious women’s or men’s issues, can have humor and suspense element

You Are The Cream In My Coffee

YOU ARE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE by Jennifer Lamont Leo (Smitten Historical Romance) ~ The author has a lively writing voice and captivated the judges’ attention from the start. Set in the roaring twenties era, YOU’RE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE was fresh and fun as small town girl, Marjorie Corrigan, is swept into the frenzied world of 1928 Chicago. The story has the usual cast of characters, stepmother, the hometown love and the exciting new man. We found ourselves rooting for Marjorie to follow her dreams yet fearful that she would succumb to the vices of the day. For a young woman who had sworn that coffee was the strongest drink that would pass her lips, the temptations were real. The author adroitly illustrated how easily we can let our guard down on the little things until we end up on the roof of a speakeasy being raided by the authorities. Jennifer Leo didn’t force the action but allowed it to evolve with interesting twists and she totally sold the story.

Romance/Historical Romance: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

A Reluctant Melody

A RELUCTANT MELODY  by Sandra Ardoin (Heritage Beacon Fiction) ~ This beautiful story appeals to the heart. Though it started out slowly, we were never bored, but intrigued by the unfolding narrative, the promise of secrets to be revealed. We were soon gripped by the suspense, action, and strong undercurrent of romance, and drawn into the lives of the central characters. Though the subject matter is definitely mature, dealing with alcoholism, premarital sex, and spousal abuse, the writer keeps it clean. The interwoven spirituality inspires and encourages. We were very pleased with the ending—it’s not tied up in a pretty little bow—almost like real life.

Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

Much Ado About Murder

MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER by Barbara Ellen Brink (Lapdog Publishing) ~ is a well-written, entertaining cozy mystery. The characters are believable and feel like people you might know in your own town. Blake and Shelby are charming main characters, just the right mix of strengths and weaknesses to keep the pace moving and the plot plausible. Alice and Tucker provide a light, romantic thread while Jack and Oliver add a touch of humor. The setting is presented well and the mystery progresses at a steady pace that keeps the pages turning.

Speculative Fiction: science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.

The Alliance

THE ALLIANCE by Jolina Petersheim (Tyndale House Publishers) ~ This was a very enjoyable book. The use of literary techniques, together with strong, well-developed characters and an engaging premise, made for an interesting read. Unlikely partners were forced to form an “alliance’ of necessity, forcing readers to ask the question, “Would I be able to preserve my core values when faced with horror on every side?” This story expertly demonstrates the struggles that Christians face between religious traditional practice and selfless, Christ-like spirituality. While dystopian in presentation, the author’s focus was on the budding relationship between the two mismatched main characters. The book exemplifies the difficulty in maintaining human dignity despite destruction and possible death. A sequel is anticipated.

Action Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction: exploits, quest, expansive

Imperfect Bonds

IMPERFECT BONDS by Elizabeth Noyes (Write Integrity Press) ~ This novel  struck us as having well-formed, even complicated characters. They could be moody, funny, full of snap and wit, and sometimes just confused, like most people. The set up was immediate, and the sense of danger quickly drew us into the story. There were plenty of twists that kept us entertained and easily turning the pages. Likewise, good rising and falling action kept the plot moving forward, and the romance was smoldering without actually going anywhere beyond a kiss. The book was written from a clean and Christian world view without becoming preachy, and we liked that the main characters were on both spiritual and personal journeys. The theme of fighting human trafficking and the hunt for the bad guys made for an engaging, modern day western read.

Young Adult: includes YA, NA, and middle grade

No Safe Haven

NO SAFE HAVEN by Angela Moody (Amazon Digital Services) is a well-researched, well thought out, based on true events, historical novel for young people. A truly enjoyable book, especially to Civil War buffs. The history and spirituality of Tillie was naturally woven into the story. The war was made very real to the reader: people started out excited, but that excitement dwindled as loved ones were lost and battles were fought at home. Many young people are unaware of what our country has gone through in the past and just how gruesome and heartbreaking it was for the families who lived in the war zones and had sons and husbands off fighting often without communication for months at a time.  It was enjoyable watching Tillie grow and mature as a young woman, facing whatever came her way, even things that were out of her control. She stood up to do what was right and grew spiritually because of that.

 

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Grace Awards 2015 Winners ~ in Faith Based Fiction

GraceAwards Badge 2015px

The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its sixth year, is very proud to announce its 2015 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges (multi-published authors, traditionally published ones, indie authors, and avid readers). Our judges commented on how pleased they were with the high quality of the finalists chosen by readers this year. Several judging teams ‘complained’ they had trouble picking a winner because all three stories nominated were so good. This only serves to justify the faith we have in our Christian readers who nominate the finalists. That’s what the Grace Awards is all about.

We’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. After the nominations were counted, finaling titles were given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no contact between the judging teams and the Chair of the Board, except for administrative issues. The teams independently picked winners. Each step in the process was removed and separated from the next step, to insure impartiality.

We are thrilled that our winners showcase self-published works as well as titles from  publishing houses, ebooks as well as paperbacks. Our aim is to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this.

The winners are…

Women’s Fiction/General Fiction: serious women’s or men’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

Annabelle's Ruth

ANNABELLE’S RUTH by Betty Thomason Owens (Amazon Digital Services)

In ANNABELLE’S RUTH the author triumphs over the challenge of making a well-loved bible story fresh, and relevant to the era of 1950s Tennessee.  Expect to be transported to the small, rural town where Annabelle and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, must find a way to begin again after their husbands’ tragic deaths. Readers familiar with the book of Ruth will be left with a deeper appreciation of God’s provenance.

 

Romance/Historical Romance: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

Bridge of Faith

BRIDGE OF FAITH by Catherine West (Amazon Digital Services)

BRIDGE OF FAITH gives an inside look at American family life. It’s not perfect. And all the frayed ends don’t really get tied up in the end. These people are still flawed, but they love each other and aren’t about to quit believing. I wondered, more than once, Julia Connelly would ever wake up and realize what a gift she’d been given—a second chance at love. The reality is, we’re often filled with doubt and anxiety. We’re afraid to try again, because we know the pain of making a mistake. The judges thoroughly enjoyed the characters in this book. The author did a nice job of bringing them to life and giving them real and believable emotions. Their struggles were so real at times, we almost wanted to stop and pray for them. Yes, the judges supposed the idea of a rich, hunky lead returning to save our heroine from a lonely forever is a tad clichéd, but who cares? It was great fun. The only negative we found in Bridge of Faith, was our inability to put it down. 

 

Trial By Twelve

Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

TRIAL BY TWELVE by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press)

This novel grabs the reader’s attention from the start. The writing is crisp with a fresh and unique author voice. The pacing moves along fast enough to keep the reader hooked but not so quickly as to create confusion. In addition to the mystery/suspense plot, the reader gets a delightful look into the lives of Tess, her family, and friends. Written in first person, the point of view stays steadfast throughout the story except for the letters sprinkled throughout the book which give insight into the killer’s psyche. They do not, however, give away too much and spoil the whodunit reveal. Ms. Gilbert makes good use of red herrings, both with characters and even setting. Though it is obvious that this novel is a sequel, the reader is able to follow character relationships easily. TRIAL BY TWELVE  is a novel all three Grace Awards judges can recommend.

 

Storming

Speculative Fiction: science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.

STORMING by K.M. Weiland (PenForASword Publishing)

STORMING was a pleasure to read. It started with a bang and kept on delivering. It is a highly inventive story with just the right balance of unpredictability and universal appeal. The characters are especially well rounded, their humanity believable as each one’s troubled past was gradually revealed. The 1920s setting seemed well researched; the dialogue and colloquialisms were in keeping with the era, yet a natural feel was maintained throughout. ‘Steampunk’ elements added another dynamic to an already superbly built world, while masterful descriptions never weighed the story down. This book has it all: complex relationships, excellent pacing, wonderfully timed resolutions, and some surprising twists. It was not overtly Christian, but there were definitely elements of faith and forgiveness. It is highly recommended for anyone – readers looking for something different AND readers looking for something relatable. It truly has universal appeal.

 

Saving Eric

Action Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction: exploits, quest, expansive

SAVING ERIC by Joan Deneve (Amazon Digital Services)

Joan Deneve weaves a beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness in this Grace Awards winner. SAVING ERIC  combines intrigue and espionage into a story of learning to forgive and accept mercy. The characters, even the secondary, are believable, engaging, and compelling. Eric, who believes failure is not an option in his life, finds himself on the wrong side of a traitor in the midst of a failed mission. Critically injured, he’s flown to a remote hospital by his friend and helicopter pilot, Toby. Despite a strained relationship between Eric and his father, the scenes between them provide insight into Eric’s character. The growth of their relationship is realistic and touching. The spiritual aspect of Saving Eric felt credible. It portrays the power of redemption and God’s love.

 

To Get To You

Young Adult: includes YA, NA, and middle grade

TO GET TO YOU by Joanne Bischoff (Mason Jar Books)

JoAnne Bischof has brought a new dynamic to young adult fiction. Long after reading the last page of her novel TO GET TO YOU, the judges found ourselves thinking about her unique characters. This story of one young man’s quest to do well and to climb out of a lifestyle of hopelessness, to reacquaint himself with his father, and to help his girlfriend’s family will capture the attention of young adults—and others. So, I encourage you to take a road trip with Riley Kane. You’ll be glad you went along for the ride

 

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Grace Awards 2014 Winners ~ in Faith Based Fiction

Grace Awards 2014

Thanks to Robert Treskillard for the design of our new award seal/badge.

The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its fourth year, is very proud to announce its 2014 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges (multi-published authors, traditionally published ones, indie authors, and a pastor). Our judges commented on how pleased they were with the high quality of the finalists chosen by readers this year. We have faith in the judgement of Christian readers. That’s what the Grace Awards is all about.

We’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. After the nominations were counted, finaling titles were given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no contact between the judging teams and the Chair of the Board, except for administrative issues. The teams independently picked winners. Each step in the process was removed and separated from the next step, to insure impartiality.

We are thrilled that our winners include self-published works, titles from small houses, as well as from moderate and large traditional houses, ebooks as well as paperbacks. Our aim is to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this.

The winners are…

Atonement for EmilyWomen’s Fiction/General Fiction: serious women’s or men’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

ATONEMENT for EMILY by Susan Lawrence (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

This is a very well-written tale about a woman caught in a situation of her making, but never of her wanting—she accidentally hits and kills a young boy with her car. Set in small-town Kansas, the story relates the grief of young Isaiah’s parents and grandparent, and Emily’s all-too-authentic reaction. She embarks on a frantic effort to make up for the accident, to “matter” in a cosmic sense though she starts with no faith basis for her actions. Her efforts imperil her marriage, as she is not at all open with her husband regarding the understandable chaos in her emotions. The end was uplifting and satisfactory. There must be healing for Emily, or the novel would not have satisfied at all. We liked that Nate was still searching on the faith-question rather than too-easily Christianized. We liked the characters immensely. The married pairs, Isaiah’s parents included, didn’t thrash things out as much as they should, and this added to their realism. We found Josh’s attempt to find “closure” true to life. Often it’s said that the loss of a child means the loss of the marriage, so the four mates’ distancing seemed emotionally authentic. Josh’s sister from Colombia at first had little relevance to place in the story of Isaiah’s loss, but it was tied up very neatly in Ramón’s adoption. Perhaps too neatly for real life, but this is, after all, fiction. The pacing was good and we found ourselves reading at times when we were supposed to be doing something else! This novel rang true to the emotional lives of the varied characters. All in all, well written, emotionally satisfactory, and a worthy winner of the Grace Award.

 

KeptRomance/Historical Romance: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

KEPT by Sally Bradley (Salena House Publishers)

This is a beautifully woven story of redemption, and proof we don’t always get what we deserve. It’s a terrific story of the battle that takes place in a young woman—an “other woman”—when she is confronted with reality. It’s also the story of a man who waited his entire life for the right woman. The perfect woman. Though Miska Tomlinson definitely isn’t what Dillan Foster imagined, Dillan is what God imagined for Miska. Sally Bradley’s characters are real. They’re edgy and flawed. And the greatest message of this book is love. But don’t think it’s a sappy, sweet story about how love conquers all. Dillan’s brother and Miska’s half-sister present great contrast, showing what happens when we either are too selfish to care how others feel or too weak to overcome temptation. Ms. Bradley uses these characters to both support Miska’s doubts about Jesus and Christianity and to solidify her growing faith. Seems like a contradiction, but it’s actually so real this story feels more like reality TV (except better!).

 

Harmful Intent 300 PMystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

HARMFUL INTENT by Nike Chillemi (Crime Fictionista Press)

From nearly the beginning of the story we knew we were into reading a potential award winner. Right off the bat, Nike Chillemi brings characters onto the scene that are real, with both strengths and weaknesses, and a plot that gets going right away. She has a real talent for spinning the “hard-boiled detective” kind of story. The fact that she takes her New York bred lady detective and lands her square in the outback of Texas adds real flavor to the tale. As the main character, Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels, learns about her murdered husband’s double life and unravels the mystery of his death, we are thrown along with her through a gamut of emotions — anger, resentment, sorrow, and the promise of closure. The story does not lag. Nike has a great “voice” — that magical thing writers long for — in storytelling. Her use of setting, language, pacing, and especially dialogue sparkles. Nike does a bang-up job of weaving a delicious tale of suspense and romance, catching the bad guy, and tying up all the loose ends, even while leading us into the promise of a sequel to come. Nike set the course for these characters’ continuing journey (personal and spiritual) and it will be interesting to see how their character arcs continue. Nicely done!

 

Chronicles of Steele RavenSpeculative Fiction: science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.

CHRONICLES OF STEELE: RAVEN by Pauline Creeden (AltWitPress)

Pauline Creeden weaves an intriguing tale of honor and romance in Chronicles of Steele: Raven. This ‘Steampunk’ fantasy follows Raven Steele, a ‘Reaper’ who is bound by the strict code of ethics followed by her sect. When she is asked to protect the young baron from his own family, she is thrust into a journey of danger and magic that tests her intensive reaper training, not to mention her mettle. The mechanized ‘Steampunk’ elements are well constructed and fit the genre, while the full bodied descriptions bring the story to life. There are plenty of well written action scenes and surprising plot twists, and the pacing is consistent with very little ‘lag’ time. Woven throughout are Raven’s inner struggles as she tries to reconcile her commitment to the ‘Reaper’ way of life with guilt over her father’s death. It is refreshing to see a proactive female protagonist that takes charge and is not objectified. The romantic sub-plot doesn’t take away from the main story line, but does add depth, as does the development of the relationship between Raven and her young charge. The book delivers in terms of character development and the creative use of speculative themes.

 

Chasing the LionAction Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction: exploits, quest, expansive

CHASING THE LION by Nancy Kimball

From the first page we were drawn into this powerful novel. The hero and heroine are crafted so perfectly that we felt we knew them. Under Nancy Kimballs skilful pen, even those who appear briefly are clear and consistent. The main character, Jonathon, is complex. Manius, his “half-brother,” betrays Jonathon, resulting in a life as a slave and gladiator. Jonathon sinks into doubt and despair. Nessa, the heroine, is a beautifully drawn character. Providing medical care for the injured gladiators, Nessa struggles at times, but ultimately faces challenges with grace and faith. The plot is full of adventure and ever-increasing obstacles for Jonathon and Nessa. The author seamlessly interweaves a story spanning a great number of years. The theme of Christian sacrifice and faith flows wonderfully throughout those years. This is truly an EPIC adventure, as stirring as “Ben Hur,” that kept our judging team reading late into the night. Jonathon’s and Nessa’s lives engaged our hearts. It seems incredible that humans could treat each other so cruelly. But as we look at the daily news of terrorism, beheadings, torture and kidnappings, it becomes clear that humanity hasn’t changed. Evil still exists, faith is still needed.

 

JessieYoung Adult: appeals to ages 14 to 21ish

JESSIE by Rebekah Lynn ( Real Life Books & Media)

This was one of those stories that stays with you after it’s over because of the message it held. While the book was long and very heavy on the details of the space program, it held the message that we all deserve redemption and we all can find that one thing we love to hold onto even through the tough times. Jessie’s dad was proof of this as he found his way back to God. While Jessie suffered beatings at his hands, as the book went along he too learned how to forgive his father and look at him as a man of God again. The use of secondary characters outside of the four Cole boys was very well done and each character was well thought out and paced throughout the book to leave the impact that was needed at that point in the story. The editing of Jessie was without a doubt flawless. Since this book is part of a series there is much more to learn about the Cole brothers and their life experiences. Jessie would be a favorite of most teen boys who enjoy books about space, with a hidden Bible lesson about forgiveness.

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Grace Awards 2013 Winners ~ In Faith Based Fiction

GA Winner Badge 2013The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its fourth year, is very proud to announce its 2013 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges (multi-published authors, first time published authors, writers who specialize in areas of publishing other than fiction, a pastor, and in YA for the second year we had a youth expert who has an extremely popular family and educational blog).

In addition, we’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. After the nominations were counted, finaling titles were given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no contact between the judging teams and the Chair of the Board, except for administrative issues. The teams independently picked winners. Each step in the process was removed and separated from the next step, to insure impartiality.

We are thrilled that our winners include self-published works, titles from small houses, as well as from moderate and large traditional houses. Our aim was to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this.

The winners are…

Beloved DaughterWomen’s Fiction/General Fiction: serious women’s or men’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

THE BELOVED DAUGHTER by Alana Terry (Amazon Digital Services)

In THE BELOVED DAUGHTER, Alana Terry presents Chung-Cha, a young woman who is interred in one of North Korea’s notorious prison camps because of her family’s faith. In this meticulously researched novel, Terry gives readers everything a good novel should—a gripping story, an uplifting theme, encouragement in their own faith and exquisite writing—a story too real to be a simple novel. This tale sweeps us into a world of inhumanity in a geographic area largely ignored by the world. North Korea does everything in its power to destroy those who dissent from their “Beloved Leader.” Chung-Cha’s faith is tested and almost destroyed because of the brutality she faces. Throughout the book, the reader is awakened to the truth behind this dictatorship, yet hope always arises. The struggles the characters face show us the faithfulness of God; remind us that although our lives are hard, others have sacrificed everything for it. It imbues us with the courage the characters displayed. The ending could not be predicted and seamlessly offered a resolution both satisfying and heart rending. THE BELOVED DAUGHTER will leave you breathless. ~~ Judges: Deborah Kinnard (Team Leader), Christine Lindsay, Carol McClain

Finding BethRomance/Historical Romance: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

FINDING BETH by Linnette R. Mullin (CrossRiver Media Group)

When Beth Gallagher runs out of gas on a lonely highway, a door opens to her future before she’s entirely closed one on the past, and the past refuses to let go peacefully. FINDING BETH is both a suspenseful and layered romance with subplots that fill out the story without overwhelming it. Even while watching the hero and heroine fall for each other, there was enough emotional tension and suspension of certainty to keep hanging on to find out how it would happen and how they would overcome their major obstacles. Characters felt real and individual, and story twists built to a powerful dark moment for the main character. The reader will appreciated the way the author handled the thematic depth of the story and what happened in that dark moment. FINDING BETH deals with abuse on all levels — emotional, physical, and spiritual — and the scenes and character’s reactions rang true. While this is Christian fiction, the author pulled back in places that might have become too “preachy” and allowed events to unfold naturally, not offering total solutions, but the reality that the characters would continue to have to work out their faith. Some of the characters were left at the end still trying to overcome their issues, which was good. So often novels with such heavy themes give us the problems sewn up too easily. In FINDING BETH, we’re shown characters heading in the right direction and characters whose lives, like our own, are works-in-progress. As to the story’s main conflict, the antagonist was absolutely heinous! The author did a terrific job of describing the most intense and vicious  scene with just enough description to make us feel the heroine’s horror, and yet she used enough discretion to keep it readable. This is a very good romance, with well-fleshed characters and deep themes that lovers of women’s fiction will also appreciate. ~~ Judges: Naomi Musch (Team Leader), Joy Ross Davis, Betty Thomason Owens

The RisingMystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

THE RISING by Lynne Chandler Willis (Pelican Ventures Book Group-Harbourlight Books)

A young boy has been beaten to death, the extreme violence troubling homicide detective Ellie Saunders. When he suddenly comes back to life – a seeming miracle which Ellie is unable to accept on a spiritual level – the need to find the “killer” becomes desperate. Because the boy also can’t remember anything about himself. What if his parents did this to him? Ellie is desperate to uncover the boy’s past while making sure the one who assaulted him receives justice. The clues are minimal leading first one direction then another. To complicate matters, Ellie get assigned a new partner – Jesse Alvarez, someone with whom she has a history she’d rather forget. Jesse seems determined to protect Ellie and help figure out who is responsible for the little boy’s “death.” Much to Ellie’s irritation, Jesse accepts that the boy coming back to life is a God-thing. Ms. Willis keeps the pacing in this story flowing at a fast clip. The spiritual matters—ranging from believing in God to believing in miracles—are handled in a realistic, credible way. Though Ellie is the child of a minister, her doubts are authentic. She spends work time dealing strictly in facts but when it comes to dealing with family she’s at a loss in regards to her emotions. The reader is hooked on caring both for Ellie’s personal struggles as well as rooting for justice for the little boy. The whole story wraps up with a satisfying and convincing ending that lets the reader choose what to accept as explanation for the boy’s rejuvenation. The author presents relevant, contemporary issues in a non-preachy, non-offensive manner, giving both spiritual and worldly viewpoints and allowing the reader to examine his or her faith to form an opinion. The mystery is well-written, developed at a tempo consistent with romantic suspense. Overall, an enjoyable read! ~~ Judges: Tammy Doherty (Team Leader), Debra Marvin,  Peggy Blann Phifer

Merlin's BladeSpeculative Fiction: science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.

MERLIN’S BLADE by Robert Treskillard (Blink)

MERLIN’S BLADE by Robert Treskillard is a fresh and welcomed retelling of the Merlin\Arthur story. Mr. Treskillard has done his research on the time period and it shows in wonderful detail. There is humor, romance, heroism, and a touch of the poetic. His Merlin is more approachable and human, as well as a bit less mystical than in other retellings. The author’s approach is refreshing and the ending leaves the door open for further exploration. ~~ Judges: Tracy Krauss (Team Leader), Tim Akers, DeEtte Beckstead Anderton

Burning SkyAction Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction: exploits, quest, expansive

BURNING SKY by Lori Benton (WaterBrook Press)

BURNING SKY by Lori Benton is a captivating historical epic novel. The characters, even the secondary and minor ones, feel believable and authentic to the post-Revolutionary War period. Many of whom bear deep and painful scars due to the brutal battles on the frontier, with both the British and Americans having committed atrocities. Ms. Benton moves the characters from one element of the story to the next with great skill. The author did a superb job when Burning Sky, who had been captured by northern New York State tribes, returns home to her family’s cabin and transitions back to thinking and speaking more and more in English as she tries to resume her former identity as Willa Obenchein. Neil MacGregor and Joseph Tames His Horse, two very different men, with dissimilar strengths, both devout Christians, vie for the love of Willa/Burning Sky. The author does a marvelous job keeping the reader guessing how this love-triangle will turn out. The villains are not stereotypes, but rather are well fleshed out. One of them skillfully and horrifically manipulates events. While his younger brother, who has developmental challenges, is a touching character crafted with depth. ~~ Judges: Nike Chillemi (Team Leader), Kenneth G. Winters, Catherine West

The Revised Life of Ellie SweetYoung Adult: appeals to ages 14 to 21ish

THE REVISED LIFE OF ELLIE SWEET by Stephanie Morrill (Playlist Fiction)

THE REVISED LIFE OF ELLIE SWEET by Stephanie Morrill is delightful and engaging. The characters are fresh and well-developed to the point the judges became invested in their lives and wanted to continue reading to see how their story would end. Ellie Sweet is a teenager who turns to writing in order to express her feelings when she feels like an outsider. She weaves a fictional world that contains bits and pieces of her real-life struggles. With this creative outlet, she feels empowered and not so alone. ~~ Judges: Marcy Dyer (Team Leader), Deborah K. Anderson, Aileen Stewart

 

Grace Awards 2012 Winners – in Faith Based Fiction

GA 2012 Winner Badge

The Grace Awards, the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, is very proud to announce its 2012 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges (multi-published authors, first time published authors, writers who specialize in areas of publishing other than fiction, and in YA this year we had a youth expert who has an extremely popular family and educational blog).

In addition, we’ve tried to use, if you will, a separation of powers in choosing our winners. Readers nominated (via email) the finalists in six categories. An individual who is not an author and who doesn’t sit on the Board counted the nominations. Finaling titles were then given to our judging teams. From that point on there was no contact between the judging teams and the Chair of the Board, except for administrative issues. The teams independently picked winners. Each step in the process was removed and separated from the next step, to insure impartiality.

We announced a bit late this year because several teams had near ties for their winner. We’re very happy that the novels nominated by readers were that good!

We are thrilled that our winners include self-published works, titles from small houses, as well as from moderate and large traditional houses. Our aim was to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this.

The winners are…

Harvest of RubiesWomen’s Fiction: serious women’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

HARVEST OF RUBIES by Tessa Afshar (River North)

HARVEST OF RUBIES was meticulously researched. Judges report reading was like viewing this tale from the Persian courts. We watched a spiritual journey with a wonderful resolution. The language used delighted the senses. The reader is caught immediately by the way the author made an ancient time period true to life. Human nature doesn’t change much, but their ways and mores change immensely. The author brought ancient Persia alive to readers who can be persnickety about authenticity. Sarah’s quandary is a captivating story problem — being different yet trying her best to fit in. Throughout, it was easy to care for the characters, Darius in particular. Extra kudos for historical authenticity, particularly useful to those who doesn’t read in this time-period by choice. Convincing and engaging, this is a book to savor and an author to watch.  ~~ Judges: Deborah Kinnard (Team Leader), Carol McClain, Christine Lindsey

Be Still My Soul

Romance/Historical Romance: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

BE STILL MY SOUL by Joanne Bischof (Multnomah Books)

BE STILL MY SOUL is one of those rare novels that makes a person forget she’s reading. Its little-used setting, the
Appalachian hills, springs to life, immersing the reader in its fragrant foliage, rough mountain trails, and harsh, unpredictable elements. For being so quiet and mild-mannered, heroine Lonnie Sawyer makes a bold imprint on the
reader’s heart and mind. It isn’t so much what she says, as what she doesn’t say. Author Joanne Bischoff is
to be commended for crafting a believable character who is at the same time humble and stalwart. Gideon O’Riley is, at first, dishonorable and detestable. To be worthy of sweet and forgiving Lonnie, much soul-changing is in order. Gideon is the epitome of Christ’s redemptive work. Brought full circle, Gideon makes a complete transformation that couldn’t be imagined possible at the outset of the book. Yet the author pulls it off in a way that prompts applause and has other authors taking notes on how to make an unlikeable character
someone to root for. All characters had realistic and relate-able spiritual dilemmas. The Christians were flawed and the unsaved had complex and understandable doubts. Pacing was appropriate. The story engaged without fail, and is without dispute a clear Grace Awards winner. ~~ Judges: April W. Gardner (Team Leader), Janalyn Voight, Marcy Dyer

Wind Over Marshdale, Amazon 2      

Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

WIND OVER MARSHDALE by Tracy Krauss (Astraea Press)

WIND OVER MARSHDALE is a well-written novel with characters who feel like real people facing believable, real world problems. Each character grows in the course of the story, with strong faith elements playing a big part in the plot. The mystery element is very subtle yet the reader is carried along with the desire to see how it all ends. Romance is a key focus and provides a great deal of the intrigue and suspense, wondering who Rachel will choose. The plot points, background information, and development up to the climax and conclusion are well-handled. Rachel’s journey to salvation is refreshingly real and touching. Humor is interspersed, provided mainly by secondary characters. In short time, the reader expects Mrs. Beatry’s commentary, gossip peppered with a healthy dash of irony. Con’s grandmother is particularly delightful with her forgetfulness and bluntness wrapped up in love for family. The author carefully paints everything in the light of God’s grace and forgiveness. And most importantly, God’s timing – that not everything happens exactly like we plan. The struggle each character faces in their faith (or lack of) shows what it’s really like when we stray from following God’s will. The despair of separation from the Lord, the feeling of how can I ever get back, strikes a chord in the reader and reminds us that we need only ask forgiveness. ~~ Judges: Tammy Doherty (Team Leader), Debra E. Marvin, Suzanne E. Williams

Daystar

Spec Fiction: science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.

DAYSTAR by Kathy Tyers (Marcher Lord Press)

DAYSTAR definitely touches a spiritual cord, while taking the reader on a fast paced adventure to unknown galaxies. Even at a daunting 650 pages, the story maintained a great pace and was engaging throughout. There was enough pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo (which Sci-fi writers are famous for) to make the story seem plausible, yet not so much to overwhelm the reader. Her attention to detail was amazing (perhaps one reason for the length of the book) and her descriptions were very visual. Included in the book is a wide cast of characters that were very well developed and the story line was complex. There was romance, intrigue, sabotage – everything to make the book interesting. The book is a Biblical allegory, there is no doubt about that.  Although this was fairly obvious early on in the reading, there were enough surprises and imaginative ways of presenting the analogies, that it remained fresh and unpredictable. It was extremely well written and quite deserving of this year’s Grace Award for speculative fiction.

Walks Alone

Action Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction (exploits, quest, expansive):

WALKS ALONE by Sandi Rog (Whitefire Publishing)

WALKS ALONE is a well written epic novel beginning in Holland and ending in the old west. Loved the way it opened with the tenderness of Anna’s father aboard ship. It was hard not to I get involved in the father’s dream of traveling to Denver City. The scenes in New York City with Anna’s uncle were brutal and fully engaging. After Anna escapes her uncle, travels westward by train, and finally joins a wagon train where she’s not well treated, there is a captivating bathing scene in the river where she allows herself to relax. When half-breed Jean-Marc comes upon her with a small band of angry-braves, the reader is caught between instant knowledge of the hero’s strong attraction to her and fear for the extreme danger she’s in. Ms. Rog understands Native American life in that era quite well. She did an excellent job of showing the anger and murderous rage of the braves as well as the prejudice of the settlers and their inability to see Native Americans as people, which led to Indian massacres. Both Anna/Walks Alone and Jean Marc/White Eagle are flawed and well written. White Eagle’s poetic declaration of how his love is so large and encompassing that he sees and hears Walks Alone everywhere, even in the wind, was superb. He tells her of his pain at having caught her engaging in conversation with his sworn enemy, the man who led the deadly raid against his tribe. Through this, the author conveys how painful it is for Father God to witness His children engaging with idols. Beautifully done. Touches the reader at a deep spiritual level. ~~  Judges: Nike Chillemi (Team Leader), Krisi Keley, Kenneth Winters

Crossing The Deep

Young Adult: appeals to ages 14 to 21ish

CROSSING THE DEEP by Kelly Martin ((Astraea Press)

CROSSOMG THE DEEP fully entices from the alluring cover design to the last page, Ms. Martin has constructed an engaging, age-appropriate story which will keep the readers captivated throughout the book. Rachel Harker joins a church youth group retreat with her close friend and other teens.  During a hike in the Smoky Mountains, she makes a brief diversion from the trail, which unfortunately for Rachel, results in some devastating consequences.  What began as a breezy hiking activity turns into a struggle for survival.  Rachel and her friends find themselves stranded in a cold, rainy environment and must prepare themselves for the possibility of animal attacks, exposure and eventually, despair.  Their faith, endurance, and friendship are tested to the maximum as they desperately search for the “right path”. The characters were realistically portrayed and much is learned along the way about certain events which influenced their lives.  Faith in God is a point of contention for the characters along with an abundant share of twists and surprises.  Despite the challenges facing the characters, readers will find themselves cheering the teens on to victory. This is a well-written tale which readers of all ages will enjoy and appreciate.  Congratulations to Kelly Martin for creating such a marvelous, character-driven story.  ~~  Judges: Tracy Krauss (Team Leader), Shaunna Gonzales, Tim Akers

Romance, Suspense, Women’s Fic, These Authors Can Write It All ~ Here They Share Christmas Thoughts

 Twenty-two talented authors are participating in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. These writers have a great love for Christmas and would like to share with the public their thoughts about what inspires them and their Christmas memories.

Xmas, Bow Border

 

MEG MOSELEY (WHEN SPARROWS FALL, romance, women’s fiction, new beginnings)

Grace Awards: What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Meg: Since I was a little girl, I have loved “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” It’s really an Advent hymn, not a Christmas carol.  The song probably originated as a responsive chant in the Catholic Church many centuries ago, so generations of Christians all over the world have sung it.  I think it’s especially moving when it’s sung by a good choir, a capella. The hymn reminds me that there’s another side to the joy of Christmas: From depths of Hell, Thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave… Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. All is not right with the world, and it won’t be set right until Jesus returns.  As Christmas comes and goes each year, we’re still in the larger Advent season, anticipating His return. “God with us” is the cry of our hearts.

Grace Awards: Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? What about that movie thrills you…makes you tear up?

Grace: When you interviewed Elaine Marie Cooper earlier, I loved her answer to this question because mine is the same. “While You Were Sleeping” is a modern classic and my all-time favorite.  It’s just a goofy romantic comedy, but it’s all about grace, forgiveness, and love—not just romantic love, but also the love of a family that embraces a lonely stranger. But of course they would, when they mistakenly believe she’s engaged to one of their sons!  Lucy (Sandra Bullock) fails to correct the misunderstanding, and she’s finally trapped in lies with no way out. One of the scenes that tugs at my heart is on Christmas morning when Lucy wistfully watches the Gallagher family as they open their gifts.  The gift she longs for is to be truly part of the family instead of pretending to be. There are also many funny and romantic moments as she falls for cynical, adorable Jack (Bill Pullman) who’s supposedly her future brother-in-law.  Their interactions are hilarious.

 

Although Meg Moseley lives near Atlanta, she’s still a California girl at heart.  Wife, mom, grandma, and novelist, she loves cats, motorcycles, easy gardening, and all kinds of good fiction. She’s published with Multnomah Books. www.megmoseley.com

Link to Meg’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Check out her inspiring romance novel. http://is.gd/DHepUh

TRACY KRAUSS  (WIND OVER MARSHDALE, PLAY IT AGAIN, MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, humor)

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Tracy:  I was thinking about all the ‘spiritual’ answers I should give for this question, but in all honesty, our favorite tradition is playing games during the holidays. All four of my children are quite competitive (okay, they are ridiculously competitive – just like their father, of course) and can’t wait to beat one another at canasta, cribbage, or one of the many board games that come out during the holidays. Now that my two eldest are married, their spouses have had to ‘get tough or die’. There is no mercy, even for love! I must admit, my husband and children have more stamina for this than I do. I often end up taking the side of my sons-in-law and we go off to watch a movie while the other five fight it out.

Grace Awards:  What foods do you prepare for the holidays?

Tracy:  We go for the traditional turkey with stuffing and all the trimmings. I insist on turnips as well since this is what my mother always made, even though I am often the only one eating them. We like pumpkin pie for Christmas, although I’ve started cheating and I usually buy a ready-made crust. I do not like cooking or baking, so last year I decided not to bake anything. No cookies, no squares… nothing. I always end up with a ton of it in the freezer which then sits for months until I pawn it off on somebody. (Or end up eating it all myself, which I do not need.) Anyway, my announcement was met with shock and disbelief when my daughters arrived for the holidays. In fact, I had a downright rebellion on my hands. They got busy and made pies, cookies and squares… Guess what? For Thanksgiving this year everyone loved the pie. When I told them it was left over from last Christmas they were shocked. I don’t know why. It was perfectly good and wasn’t even freezer burnt. I just won’t tell them that this year’s Christmas cookies are left over from last year, too.

Tracy is a high school teacher by profession, and aprolific author, artist, playwright and director by choice. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and has gone on to teach Art, Drama and English – all the things she is passionate about. After raising four children, she and her husband 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

Tracy’s link to her showcase on the Grace Filled Blog Tour. Check out her zany romantic suspense novels. http://is.gd/YgNgy5

There will be more author interviews to follow. The authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour want to share their Christmas hopes, dreams, memories, decorating trips, perhaps even a recipe or two. Stay turned as these terrific and very interesting authors share about what Christmas means to them.

Link to access the Calendar of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour: https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/grace-filled-christmas-blog-tour-2012/

Grace Awards 2010 Winners Badge ~ Unveiled

Winners of the 2010 Grace Awards are entitled to place this badge on their blogs, website and other such publicity endeavors.
The Grace Awards wishes to thank Joy Tamson David for creating the design.

Grace Awards Winners & Finalists Invited to ECFL Summer Blog Tour

Grace Awards Winners and Finalists have been invited to participate in the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (ECFL-Ning) summer blog tour.

Hot Summer Reads With Edge ~ 2011 Blog Tour

Link to ECFL. http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/

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