Grace Awards

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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

 

Grace Awards

 

 

 

And…the Grace Awards 2014 Finalists are…

Grace AwardsThe Grace Awards 2014, now into its fifth year, had and avalanche of reader nominations to determine our finalists. The number of reader votes were 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 40+ 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) :

ATONEMENT FOR EMILY ADAMS by Susan Lawrence (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) ~ When Emily Adams hits and kills ten-year-old Isaiah Nelson with her car, she is overwhelmed with remorse. Knowing she cannot undo this tragedy, Emily hopes to atone for Isaiah’s death by good deeds and community service. However, the more she does, the more her life falls apart. With her job on the line, her volunteer efforts fruitless, and her marriage in jeopardy, the final blow comes when Isaiah’s grieving parents file a wrongful death suit. For them, this will be justice and closure, but for Emily this is final proof she will never be forgiven. Not by Isaiah’s parents—not by God. Where do you turn when “I’m sorry” isn’t enough?

DWF: Divorced White Female by Carol McClain (Desert Breeze Publishing) ~ Sassy, unsaved and desperate, Cheryl Chandler realizes one thing will redeem her from her ex-husband’s betrayal. A man. Any man—so long as he’s hot. Finding love in rural New York proves a daunting challenge. Should she find her man, he must meet her quirky teens whose eccentricities range from New Age ideology, to OCD, to religious fanaticism. And a toddler—her husband’s parting gift. What man would love her and accept them? Her kids have the solution—online dating. Here she meets two men. Religious fanatic, Tarrant, charms her, but is too pious. And mysterious Carleton who’s everything her desperation desires. However, nothing is as it seems. Can she sacrifice her family for love?

THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS by Alicia G. Ruggieri (Create Space) ~ A  story of three women in Rhode Island, 1934. Grace Picoletti has nothing going for her – but she’s determined to succeed in life. Born to severe destitution, she claws her way up from the pit of family shame and secrets. Despite her own agonizing emotional pain, childless Emmeline Kinner reaches out to a young woman so far beneath her. She could never have known whom else God would set in her path through her friendship with Grace. Long ago, Sarah Picoletti resigned herself to a loveless, abusive life – and she believes that her daughter Grace must inherit the same fate. Yet Sarah’s own soul cries out for the blessed peace and hope of which the radio minister speaks.

 

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

IN THE FIELD OF GRACE by Tessa Afshar (River North) ~ Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi’s, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation. But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi’s chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from
harm, but his heart knows better. Based on the biblical account of Ruth.

KEPT by Sally Bradley (Salena House Publishers) ~ Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her. Miska runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman. Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again. When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.

SHAKEN by Kariss Lynch (Realms) ~ Idealistic and sheltered with a passion to change the world, Kaylan Richards leaves her comfortable life in Alabama to serve in poverty-stricken Haiti. Despite her inexperience and the opposition of a voodoo priest, Kaylan develops a love for the country and the Haitian people. But something deadly is about to strike. It is the worst earthquake the country has ever seen, and in its aftermath bodies, buildings, and broken lives litter the streets. People she cares about are dead, and Kaylan is caught in the middle of the destruction, questioning a God who said He was good. Navy SEAL Nick Carmichael never planned to find a girl he loved more than his country. Now she is a world away, trapped in a deadly situation nothing could have prepared her for. Can Nick’s love help Kaylan heal and show her the God who never abandoned her, or will tragedy shake even the most rooted faith?

 

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

BETWEEN THE LIES by Joy DeKok (Infusion Publishing) ~ Olivia Morgan was fine. Until the dead guy in the elevator, her married lover’s disdain, the loss of her dream job, and an FBI agent who is looking into the past she’s worked so hard to hide. All she wanted was the perfect life; the love of a wealthy man, a beautiful place to live, and to be an art teacher. She didn’t mind doing what it took to get those things, and for ten years, she had it all – almost. Plus, someone is watching her – someone who knows things and how to get to her without being seen. To prove she’s innocent of at least one of the murders she may have committed, Olivia uses her ability to notice what others often miss, and her art to remember and reveal what she knows. Will her sketches save or convict her?

HARMFUL INTENT by Nike Chillemi (Crime Fictionista Press) ~ Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect. Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted. Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

SHE’S MINE by Tammy Doherty (Amazon Digital Services) ~ Caitlin Harrington has a new job and a new life away from her menacing ex-boyfriend, Adam. Issues with her parents, losing her previous job and the death of her beloved grandmother leave her wondering if God has abandoned her. Two things she is sure of: she’s a lousy judge of character and men just can’t be trusted. Now a volunteer firefighter who has come to her rescue more than once is dangerously close to breaking through her defenses. And not everyone in sleepy Naultag, Massachusetts is welcoming. Someone is leaving ominous notes on her door. Sean Taggart likes being a rescuer. But a failed engagement has taught him to be cautious with his heart and Caitlin is a threat. Women just can’t be trusted. Still, he’d like to save Caitlin from whatever demons have her so spooked. If only she’d let him.

 

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

CHRONICLES OF STEELE: RAVEN by Pauline Creeden (AltWit Press) ~ Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.

RISE AND SHINE by Sandra D. Bricker (River North) ~ Shannon Malone thought she’d found her happy ending when she married Edmund Ridgeway, but a diving accident on their honeymoon left her in a coma. Waking up to the news that she’s thirty years old would have been daunting enough . . . but she also learns that Edmund has lost his interim battle with cancer and the world has marched on without her. Her gorgeous doctor, Daniel Petros, seems to know everything about her and becomes Shannon’s tour guide into a whole new world of madness where reality television has taken over the planet and everyone’s life appears to revolve around a tiny screen on their cell phones!

SHENANDOAH DREAMS by Lisa Belcastro (Oak Tara) ~ “It’s just a dream,” Melissa Smith whispers as she stares into the intense eyes of a man dressed in Colonial clothes, as though he’d stepped out of an American Revolution movie set. A school chaperone with Holmes Hole Elementary, she’d boarded the old schooner Shenandoah for a weeklong educational sail. But they are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They are sailing the waters around the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Yet, when she awakes in Cabin 8, the captain claims to be Isaiah Reed, who sailed the original Shenandoah in the eighteenth century. Melissa knows he cannot possibly be real. And traveling back in time is impossible. But days pass, and she’s still in 1770.  What if Isaiah, who is simply too handsome to be real, is real? What if the fire he ignites in her from barely a touch isn’t in her imagination? Can a dream last for weeks on end? If so, how will she find her way home . . . to the twenty-first century? And can she bear to leave the one man who has captured her heart, when everything in her longs to stay?

 

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

CHASING THE LION by Nancy Kimball (Nancy Kimball) ~ For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half brother wants him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight—and die—for their greed. Rome’s most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul longs for him to return to his faith. What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too—something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior’s journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within. The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy—with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.

HOPE REBORN by Caryl McAdoo (Caryl McAdoo) ~ New York dime novelist May Meriwether decides a heroic Texas Ranger will make a great love interest for her new heroine. Bored to tears and loving adventure, she sets out to the Lone Star State with her constant companion and confidant Chester in tow. Dreams for a husband and children are relegated to the recesses of her heart, the self-confessed old maid deems it too late. But the near-perfect widower resurrects a smidgen of hope. Only his impenetrable, superstitious religious beliefs stand in the path to her falling head over heels, those and his love for his dead wife. Would there ever be room for her in his heart? And would he give up his fanaticism for God? An unexpected romance surprises both. Hope is reborn in God’s unfailing love and grace. Can a life built on lies find the Way to confession, forgiveness, and true joy? In a day when the church offers the only stability on the 1850 Texas prairie, these unlikely players find one another and fall in love. But will it be enough?

ONE NIGHT IN TEHRAN by Luane Ehrlich (Amazon Digital Services) ~ In Tehran, while hiding out from the Iranian secret police, CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians. Compelled by their unwavering faith, the battle-hardened, covert agent becomes a believer shortly before they smuggle him out of Iran to freedom in Turkey. Back in the States and forced to go on medical leave, he discovers a Hezbollah hit man has targeted him for assassination. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Oklahoma has ties to the man who’s trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a beautiful local detective, can be trusted with his secrets.

 

YOUNG ADULT (appeals to ages 14 – 21ish)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS by Pauline Creeden (AltWit Press) ~ Because of one ugly rumor, Chira lives as an outcast at her school. Which is fine with her, because she works better alone. Always has, always will. And at least she has her one and only true friend, Tasha. When Tasha insists that they join a group to visit a possibly haunted abandoned old schoolhouse, she’s wary, but joins her friend. Because of that decision, their lives are in jeopardy as a malevolent spirit targets the group. Tragedies and accidents pick them off one by one, and Chira finds herself drawn to the one person who can see the truth. But can he protect her?

JESSIE by Rebekah Lyn (Real Life Books & Media) ~ The four Cole boys suffer abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father, while largely being left to their own devices by a heartbroken and overworked mother. Their adventures on their island home have become a welcome escape, and one of the only things in life the boys can truly rely on. Jessie, the youngest and a dreamer, becomes enamored with US plans for manned space flight and its race to the moon, stirring his own dreams of one day becoming an astronaut. In a strange twist of fate, it is the space program and the momentum it gains that abruptly brings their beloved island life to an end. The family is forced to move to the city and start anew. Life in town creates new challenges,financial pressures, news of the Vietnam War and the impending threat of the military draft for Max, the eldest of the Cole brothers.

THE QUIET SKY by Joanne Bischofs (Mason Jar Books) ~ Sixteen-year-old Sarah Miller doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when she begins her first day at the one-room-school house in her new hometown of Rocky Knob. But when she meets seventeen-year-old Tucker O’Shay—the boy with the fatal illness who volunteers to tutor her in algebra—she finds herself swept up in a friendship that changes the way she sees the world and a love that changes her life.

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

 

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/

December 31st Kicks Off Reader Nominations For Grace Awards 2013 Finalists

Grace Awards Logo

The fourth annual Grace Awards is thrilled to announce that reader nominations for Finalists will commence on December 31, 2013 at midnight and ends February 28, 2013.

Wow! It’s a New Year’s Eve cyber voting party! Join in the fun!

The Grace Awards is reader driven. That means in the first round readers nominate their favorite novels which results in chosing ”Finalists” in six literary categories.

WHO CAN VOTE FOR NOVELS:

Individuals (not organizations). Readers who maintain a networking page (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, ShoutLife, Linkedin, Ning sites, etc.) created before November 1, 2013. We check each link verifying activity to see if there’s a real person there.

Books, Reading

Readers can only vote for ONE novel in each category.

Authors are also readers and can vote, but not for their own novel(s). DON’T vote against yourself, simply vote in the other genre categories for novels you deem worthy.

Editors, publishers, agents can vote, but not for a book they authored or co-authored. 

Board members and judges can vote, but not for their own novel(s).

TYPES OF NOVELS READERS MAY CONSIDER: Traditional Christian, Inspirational, realistic and/or gritty Christian and edgy Christian, stories from a Christian worldview, redemptive themed, biblical, messianic, catholic, faith-based, values imbued, grace and forgiveness oriented, marriage and family friendly, depicting Christian lifestyle (can be struggling with it), spiritually and emotionally healing, mystical and mythic fiction.

TYPES OF NOVELS READERS MAY CONSIDER: Traditional Christian, Inspirational, realistic and/or gritty Christian and edgy Christian, stories from a Christian worldview, redemptive themed, biblical, messianic, catholic, faith-based, values imbued, grace and forgiveness oriented, marriage and family friendly, depicting Christian lifestyle (can be struggling with it), spiritually and emotionally healing, mystical and mythic fiction.

Books, a stack

CRITERIA FOR NOVELS:

Original novels presenting a Christian worldview written in English, published in hard cover, trade paperback, or in Ebook format.

Traditional publishers, Small press, Indie publishers, self-published works. To us, Pbooks and Ebooks all compete on the same level playing field.

The novel must have been released between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.

Most of all, the novel must reach the highest of literary standards and add something of value to Christian, inspirational, faith and values based fiction, and to the world at large.

BOOK CATEGORIES:

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

Contemporary Romance/Historic Romance — the primary element is love/marriage, then or now

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

Speculative — sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc

Action/Adventure, Western, Historic Epic Fiction — exploits, quest, daring, expansive

Young Adult (YA) — appeals to ages 12 – 22-ish

**Note: submit Urban Fiction into the category where it best fits (ie, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult, etc.)

Books,  Reading 5

READER VOTING SUGGESTIONS:

1. Was the novel well written? Did the author use language correctly? Did it make sense?

2. Was the plotline logical? Did any plot turns surprise you? In a good way, as in what a surprise but this really works — or in a bad way, as in “Yikes” this doesn’t work at all?

3. Did the characters feel like living people? Could you identify with the characters and their situations in the novel? Were the scenes plausible?

4. How about pacing? Did you ever get bored?

5. Was the novel true to its setting: time, place?

6. Was the novel entertaining? Did it uplift, send you on an emotional roller coaster, have you on the edge of your seat, tickle your funny bone (depending on the category)?

8. Did the novel engage your Christian walk in a meaningful way? Did it depict Christian life in a plausible manner (in some genres, this would be symbolic)?  Do you think the work adds something of literary value?

New Year

And…the Grace Awards 2011 Finalists Are…

Grace Awards LogoThe Grace Awards 2011 is now into its second year. What a ride it’s been. This year we had and avalanche of reader nominations to determine our finalists. The number of reader votes was up more than double from last year.

All nominations for any novel must be accompanied by at least a 25 word statement telling why the novel was nominated…a sort of mini-review or” notice”. This year the reasons given were astute and outstanding. There is no doubt that the Christian reader is both intelligent and perceptive.

And now…the finalists in five categories are…

WOMEN’S FICTION:

Fresh Start Summer by Beverly Nault (Lamp Post Inc.) ~ Hollywood movie shoot upsets small town. 

After The Snow Falls by Carey Jane Clark (Trestle Pres)  ~ Can a mother find hope when illness threatens her son?  

When Sparrows Fall by Meg Mosley (Multnomah Books) ~ Mother of six tries to escape Christian cult.

ROMANCE/HISTORICAL ROMANCE: 

Give the Lady a Ride by Linda Yezak (Port Yonder Press)  NYC professional woman vs. Texas bullrider.  

Husband Material by Annette Irby (White Rose Publishing)  Can widower find new love with feisty restaurant owner who has no time for a relationship?  

Burning Hearts by Nike Chillemi (Desert Breeze Publishing) Dressmaker and WWII hero hunt a viscious arsonist/murder, while finding sweet young love.

MYSTERY/ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/THRILLER:

The Witch Tree by Karin Kaufman (Amazon Digital Services) ~ Genealogist finds woman’s body, husband blames her,  modern Wiccans confound the issue, killer targets her.

Goodbye Noel by Nike Chillemi (Desert Breeze Publishing) ~ With bodies piling up in a tiny village, can a pediatric nurse protect an orphaned infant from the killer and trust the stalwart village detective on the case.

Kill Shot by Anne Patrick (Desert Breeze Publishing) ~ Former combat medic is home and somebody is trying to kill her, almost as disturbing is the sheriff who’s trying to save her.

SPECULATIVE FICTION:

Split Sense by Barbara Ellen Brink (CreateSpace) ~ Someone is testing a new drug on pregnant women, enter twins separated at birth who possess paranormal gifts.

Wickflicker by Teric Darken (Treasureline Publishing) ~ College boys combine booze, womanizing, and Ouija, and then it really gets weird when they get involved in an arcane society.

Winter by Keven Newsome (Splashdown Darkwater) ~ Goths aren’t all the same, some are Christians and some have the gift of prophecy.

ACTION-ADVENTURE/WESTERN/EPIC FICTION:

More Precious Than Gold by Lynn Dean (Amazon Digital Services) ~ Woman flees to western frontier but finds she can’t escape the hatred of the Civil War, add new dangers with the quest for land and gold.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West (Oak Tara) ~ Woman journalist covers Viet Nam War to get a Pulitzer, teams up with silent, brooding photographer who is hiding something.

Shadowed In Silk by Christine Lindsay (Whitefire Publishing) ~ After the Great War a woman returns to India with her son and her British officer husband ignores her, but an international spy might be targeting her.

YOUNG ADULT:

Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan) ~ A merchant’s daughter is trapped in servitude to a Lord who is terrifying, but danger lurks for both of them.

Song Of The Ovulum by Bryan Davis (Living Ink Books) ~ A set of twins and their friend are in prison where experiments are being done on them, secrets of the past are being revealed, enter an ancient demon.

Finding Angel by Kat Heckenbach (Splashdown Books) ~ A foster child dreams of a fantasy land and meets a friend with magical “talent” who revives lost memories and leads her to her homeland.

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