Grace Awards

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And…the Grace Awards 2015 Finalists are…

Grace Awards

The Grace Awards 2015 is now into its sixth year. The number of novel readers nominated in each category were up significantly from last year.

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)

FREED TO FORGIVE by Julie B. Cosgrove (Prism Book Group) ~ Shackled by her past, can she be freed to forgive? Abused in her Mexican village, Marisol’s anger is her ticket to freedom in America or so she thinks. But her temper lands her in worse and worse situations. Trafficked and pregnant, she gives up her baby so it can have a better life. Now, ten years later her past returns to haunt her, just when she has caught the eye of Jesse, the one man who wants to know her…and not just her body. Marisol has struggled hard to disguise her past, but will the unforgiving spirit she harbors prevent her from embracing her future?

WATERS OF SEPARATION by Carol McClain (Desert Breeze Publishing) ~ Africa’s secrets resurrect the despair physician assistant Anna Haas buried in America. Her pregnancy and the discovery of boys bound by slavery in the cacao sector of the Côte d’Ivoire revive her childhood guilt. Her mother’s suicide claimed the lives of the two small sisters Anna had vowed to protect. Her failure to save them was unforgivable. It will not happen with these boys. Her interference prompts a corrupt government to threaten the thriving mission and the lives of Anna and her friends. Her action also threaten her marriage. However, doing nothing will destroy her.

ANNABELLE’S RUTH by Betty Thomason Owens ~ After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again. Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee.

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

THE THORNBEARER by Pepper Basham (Vinspire Publishing) ~ When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman? Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and protection as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend’s former fiancé and his own childhood companion.

PLUM UPSIDE DOWN by Valerie Comer (GreenWords Media) ~ Green Acres newcomer Chelsea Riehl is annoyed she’s assigned to farm work alongside the only other single, a faith-filled hippie with a missionary vision.  She’d hoped to organize events and keep her heart safe, not pit plums with annoying Keanan Welsh. Discouraged by Chelsea’s lack of spiritual depth, Keanan is confused when she offers to arrange meals for the church Alpha program he is co-hosting. Maybe he misjudged her, after all.  When fake it ’til you make it gives way to stepping out in faith, both Chelsea and Keanan have some soul-searching to do. And while getting on the same page spiritually is a good start, other barriers may keep their budding romance from flipping right-side up.

BRIDGE OF FAITH by Catherine West (Amazon Digital Services) ~ Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation. When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind. Confronting his past was not in the plan. Now he’s asking different questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still mesmerizes him. Why the haunted expression she wears reaches right into his soul. And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him. They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

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

NO PLACE TO HIDE by Lynette Eason (Amazon Digital Services) ~ It’s not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can’t believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she’s determined to find him and help him clear his name. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one looking for him. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.

TRIAL BY TWELVE by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press) ~ Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa’s back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry. As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey. When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer’s sights have zeroed in on her. As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.

SABOTAGED by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House) ~ Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska’s arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night. Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank’s daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life–but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

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

STORMING by K. M. Weiland (PenForASword Publishing) ~ In the high-flying, heady world of 1920s aviation, brash pilot Robert “Hitch” Hitchcock’s life does a barrel roll when a young woman in an old-fashioned ball gown falls from the clouds smack in front of his biplane. As fearless as she is peculiar, Jael immediately proves she’s game for just about anything, including wing-walking in his struggling airshow. In return for her help, she demands a ride back home . . . to the sky. Hitch thinks she’s nuts—until he steers his plane into the midst of a bizarre storm and nearly crashes into a strange airship like none he’s ever run afoul of, an airship with the power to control the weather. Caught between a corrupt sheriff and dangerous new enemies from above, Hitch must take his last chance to gain forgiveness from his estranged family, deliver Jael safely home before she flies off with his freewheeling heart, and save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates.

ANGELHOOD by A.J. Cattapan (Vinspire Publishing) ~ Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life. Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. She’s going to find peace in the afterlife…as soon as she can convince Vera that living is what life is all about.

A NEW THREAT by Aaron DeMott (AltWit Press) ~ When an alien ship lands unexpectedly in the middle of her clan’s territory, Bast is sent to investigate as part of her scout trial. After an accident, she meets these new visitors. She and her senior scout Rrrark are invited to return with the aliens to their home planet to open diplomatic relations. What started out as a simple diplomatic mission becomes complicated when they discover a pirate scheme that might be more than it seems. Only Bast, Rrrark, and two of the aliens called Pysgens are capable of stopping the pirates.

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

SAVING ERIC by Joan Deneve (Write Integrity Press) ~  Templetons don’t break down. Even when their worlds are falling apart. Eric Templeton’s well-ordered life as a top CIA agent is shattered when a traitor within the agency plots to have him eliminated. Sent on a bogus mission to Africa, Eric is ambushed and critically wounded. A helicopter pilot flies him to a remote mission hospital where Dr. Brock Whitfield and his daughter, Ellie, work to save his life. If Eric survives, his life may never be the same, and he still has to deal with the traitor who wants him dead. Eric wants justice, but Brock and Ellie know that Eric’s survival is the least of his worries. What he needs most is mercy and truth.

TWO DAYS IN CARACAS by Luana Ehrlich (Potter’s Word Press) ~ Titus Ray faces a threat he never imagined. Can he overcome the obstacles and capture Ahmed Al-Amin before it’s too late? In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed Al-Amin, a Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official. Along the way, a family crisis jeopardizes his mission, and an Agency division head threatens to destroy his career. As the danger mounts, he’s forced to partner with an untested operative to complete the mission and bring Ahmed to justice. Will he make it in time?

A LADY FOR THE LAWMAN by Jewell Tweedt (Prism Book Group) ~ On special assignment from the White House to the Nebraska prairie… Crack undercover Pinkerton agent Jason Reynolds gets the toughest assignment of his career. Sent by President U.S. Grant to Omaha to capture a loco ex-soldier accused of stealing Jefferson Davis’ treasury gold, Jason falls for feisty shopkeeper Arianna Quincy. Trouble is, she’s not interested. When the lunatic grabs Arianna, Jason’s skills are put to the test. Can Jason get his man and his woman?

YOUNG ADULT: (including Middle Grade and New Adult)

TO GET TO YOU by Joanne Bischof (Mason Jar Books) ~ To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle. Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it. When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.

ROPED by DiAne Gates (Prism Book Group) ~ Thirteen-year-old Crissy Crosby chases a dream to live up to her parents’ rodeo legacy. But the rodeo championship is two months away and problems beyond her ability to solve stack and teeter like a game of Tumbling-Towers. Meanwhile rival Jodie Lea and her father, Ed Fairgate, contrive to swipe the silver buckles from Crissy’s grasp any way they can. Prejudice, anger, and dark secrets simmer in a pot of family feuds destined to boil over in a tragic nightmare at the rodeo. Will Crissy develop courage and faith to overcome the consequences of her temper? Will her dreams of buckles and titles become reality? Or will the character-building adversities of her life quash her dreams forever?

STONE AND SNOW by Sibella Giorello (Running Girl Productions) ~ Raleigh Harmon, teen geologist, has a seriously dysfunctional southern family, an encyclopedic knowledge of criminal codes, and a literally odd best friend named Drew Levinson. After surviving a terrifying experience, Raleigh’s ready to relax and enjoy the Christmas season with her new boyfriend. But her smart and kind classmate Sloane Stillman is suddenly found dead—by suicide. Only Drew refuses to believe it. Drew says science can prove Sloane didn’t kill herself. And the harder Raleigh tries to show Drew the truth, the more she herself questions the facts, and the people she once trusted. Christmas swirls in like a snowstorm, and Drew spirals downward, burying Raleigh under mountains of evidence about Sloane’s suicide, threatening to destroy everything, including Raleigh’s new relationship with her boyfriend. Desperate to put the pieces back together, Raleigh digs for answers, trying to uncover what really happened on that cold, silent night when Sloane Stillman lost her life.

 

 

 

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

 

And…the Grace Awards 2013 Finalists are…

Grace Awards LogoWhat a ride it has been!!!

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

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

And now…the finalists in six categories are…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOUNG ADULT (appeals to ages 14 – 21ish)

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

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

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

     

Announching Grace Awards 2013 Judges

Grace Awards Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VICTORY by DeEtte Beckstead ~ fantasy in the winter

As we know all writers become an overnight success. Well, that’s “Bah, humbug.” DeEtte started writing in the 2007 NaNoWriMo challenge, as so many authors have. The outcome is this wonderful story called VICTORY.

Victory, Amazon

 

Victory, a town where the people love their country and their neighbors, but what happens when two visitors come to town? One comes with fear and control, slowly taking away the freedoms the people love. The other comes with faith. When darkness overtakes the small town who will have Victory? This is a struggle between good and evil and the victim could be a little girl.

 

Xmas, Angel

 

Gracie, our little Christmas angel, love a good winter fantasy story and she’s thrilled to be interviewing an author with such a love of family and a reverence for life.

 

Gracie:  Have you ever had to handle a significant loss during the holidays? How did you cope?

DeEtte:  My maternal grandmother died the day before my 15th birthday, on December 22. I was very close to her and the loss was great. My birthday was almost forgotten by all of us in our grief. That Christmas was a bittersweet one. We celebrated the birth of Jesus, as well as thinking about how much my grandmother loved each of us. Three years later, my mother died in November. That first Christmas without her was very difficult. I spent it with my older sister and her family.  It is still hard each year when my mother’s Christmas bell is hung on the tree, even after 43 years. However, I try to remember the good times with my mother and grandmother instead of dwelling on the sadness of not seeing them. I have the hope of being with them both in Heaven one day.

DeEtte Beckstead

Gracie:  Do you have a particular Christmas tradition? Perhaps something handed down from generation to generation?

DeEtte:  I am privileged to have the glass bell that was on my mother’s first Christmas tree in 1915. It has always had a place of honor on our tree, and even more since my mother died in 1970. Each year we place it gently and lovingly near the top of the tree. When my children were growing up, I told them that Grandma’s bell would remain on the tree as long as they got along, but if they fought, the bell would be removed until they proved they could be loving to each other. There was only one year I had to remove it at all. It was a beautiful reminder to them.

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

DeEtte: My favorite Christmas movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  It reminds me that every life is important and how each life affects so many others.

VICTORY Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle   http://amzn.to/1cbg46o

Courtesy of Stock.xchng

Courtesy of Stock.xchng

Grace Awards 2011 Winners – in Faith Based Fiction

631The Grace Awards, the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, is very proud to announce its 2011 WINNERS. 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 judging teams. At that point there was no contact between the 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 finalists included titles from traditional houses, small press, self-published authors and ebook publishers. Our aim was to be an egalitarian award, and we believe we’ve accomplished this right out of the gate.

The winners are…

When Sparrows Fall

Women’s Fiction: serious women’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

WHEN SPARROWS FALL  by Meg Moseley (Multnomah Books)

It’s rare for an author to be able to capture a reader’s attention up to the final the final word, and Meg Mosely’s WHEN SPARROWS FALL does just that. With language and imagery that are never contrived, she weaves Miranda Hanford’s and her brother-in-law Jack’s tale with depth and poignancy. This book presents two ends of the Christian spectrum, the strictness of Miranda’s faith juxtaposed with her brother-in-law’s more liberal, mainstream construct. Never was either character condemned for his or her beliefs. This kind of book is highly needed for the Christian community, and for those caught up in “Christian-like” communities on the fringe. The writing was perfect—the plot unfolds logically and uniquely and leaves the reader praying in gratitude for God’s mercy and grace, as well as hoping for more of the book. Though it could have been an advocacy for home-schooling, the author resisted while showing the characters as sympathetic and concerned for doing what is right. This book is everything executable and desirable from the Women’s Fiction category—realistic, warm and likeable characters in a truly human drama that strengthens faith. The writing was superb, deftly and lightly handled so that the entire Women’s Fiction judging team got caught up in the story.

~~Judges: Deborah Kinnard (Team Leader), Carol McClain, Christine Lindsay

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

GIVE THE LADY A RIDE by Linda Yezak (Port Yonder Press)

The story began with action and stayed at a great pace throughout. Each scene successfully drove the plot forward, was believable and full of conflict. The author established setting early on using great imagery and sensory skills. GIVE THE LADY A RIDE stayed true to ranch life and all things cowboys. Not only was it entertaining, but the details of bull-riding provided interesting information a reader could take away from the story. The author’s characters stood out by being well-described physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There were no questions of their motives, which drove them to behave in a believable way—even at their low points. The two female characters’ sisterly bond sometimes made the reader laugh out loud. Minor characters were used appropriately—not simply as filler but to help the main characters either see truth or deter them, adding increased conflict. Yezak’s prose was well written, beautifully edited and her voiced shined. Each character had a clear and unique voice. The dialogue was believable and appropriate for the characters and the scenes. The romance had plenty of tension and was highly enjoyable. It read easily, without confusion, or having to skim back over a paragraph to figure something out. Obviously, a great amount of research went into the book in the areas of estates, wills, ranch life, and bull-riding.

~~Judges: Jessica R. Patch (Team Leader), Janalyn Voight: Rachel Wilder:

Goodbye Noel, Amazon

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

GOODBYE NOEL by Nike Chillemi (Desert Breeze Publishing)

The pacing proved perfect for romantic suspense—even when there was no imminent danger, the threat hung over two people as they fell in love. Ms. Chillemi’s writing is strong and well-researched. Readers are drawn into the 1940s with the setting and descriptions. The depth of detail in setting and character not only show exceptional skill but make it worthy of all the praise it has received. Katrina Lenart is a pediatric nurse and part of the close-knit Czechoslovakian community on the poor side of town. Detective Ian Daltry’s deep love for his daughter brings out his hero qualities almost immediately. Katrina is devoted to protecting the baby whose mother has been killed; Ian is determined to protect Katrina. Their romance is done in a sweet, respectful manner. The mystery of who killed Noel Bauer develops in twists and turns, presenting a number of possible murderers. The setting is perfect for the crime and all the dialog and action fit exactly with the time period. The lasting impression of GOODBYE NOEL is the way people treat others who are different: lower social standing, less well-off financially, or of a different culture. It rings true for then and remains true today. In many ways, this story points out what’s bad about today’s society by showing the evils in a harsher light of a past setting.

~~Judges: Tammy Doherty (Team Leader), V.B. Tenery, Debra E. Marvin

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

SPLIT SENSE by Barbara Ellen Brink (Create Space)

At the risk of sounding cliché, one awesome read! This speculative thriller is full of action, intrigue and a touch of science fiction. The plot twists and turns as we follow the lives of fraternal twins – a brother and sister, each of whom has an unexplainable, seemingly supernatural, gift. Adopted separately as infants, neither knows of the other’s existence until fate brings them together to combat a complex web of deceit and subterfuge that centers around a pharmaceutical company that has been conducting secret experiments on humans. Ms. Brink draws the reader in almost immediately and the surprises keep coming, right up to the very end. From a Christian perspective, the gospel is clearly presented but it never impedes the story or becomes preachy. As well, the supernatural events are woven in seamlessly and are not over explained, allowing a certain sense of mystery to prevail even after the conclusion. If you’re not a speculative fan already, you will be after reading SPLIT SENSE. It’s well written on every level and deserves its place in the ‘Grace Awards’ winner’s circle.

~~~Judges: Tracy Krauss (Team Leader),  April W. Gardner, Randy Streu

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

SHADOWED IN SILK by Christine Lindsay (WhiteFire Publishing)

The story is a page-turner packed with action, suspense, and romance. This is an evocative story of life, death, struggle, intrigue, and love during the post-World War I, Raj period of India’s history. The research done on the time period was outstanding. The descriptions of Indian life, lush and detailed. The author placed main characters Abby Fraser and Major Geoff Richards in an impossibly difficult situation. Inadvertently Abby becomes involved in the machinations of a Russian spy dedicated to stirring up unrest in India. Not only do Geoff and Abby face personally excruciating choices, but the safety of both the British and Indian populations hangs in the balance. The reader enters into what life was like in the 1900s in India with British and Indian characters who are three dimensional, highly believable, and well developed. The reader gets a wonderful glimpse of the world of missionaries and native-Christian life in India at that time. SHADOWED IN SILK has enough twists and surprises to keep the reader up into the wee hours of the night.

~~Judges: Nike Chillemi (Team Leader), Krisi Kelley, Keven Newsome

Young Adult: appeals to ages 14 to 21ish

THE MERCHANT’S DAUGHTER by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)
Today’s Young Adult reader avidly conquers pages of mysticism, brutality, hedonism, and evil the likes of which would burn Nancy Drew’s titian hair right off. It’s a new generation. The judges enjoyed the great conversation this engaging novel stimulated. THE MERCHANT’S DAUGHTER by fairy-tale spinner Melanie Dickerson was, in our opinion, extremely readable and appropriate in voice to the genre. Word choice, characters, and scene were well delivered. The historical elements were true. The characters, scenes of medieval England, drama, and events were period-faithful and easily understood. Faith elements were woven consistently throughout the tale, and the parallel to Beauty and the Beast lovingly underscored.

~~Judges: Lisa Lickel (Team Leader), Diana Sharples, Barbara Ellen Brink

Grace Awards Voting Has Begun!!! Happy New Year!!!!!

Copy and paste the official voting questions below (scroll to bottom) into an email and send it to: graceawards@aol.com

CRITERIA FOR NOVELS:

Original novels presenting a Christian worldview written in English and originally published in English, released 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. Where a question arises, the Board makes the final decision, but it is not our aim to exclude, but rather to be inclusive.

Readers can only vote for novels released between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.

Most of all, the novel must reach the highest of literary standards and add something of value to Christian fiction and the Christian community.

Only one novel by an author can final in a category.

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, 2011.

An individual not affiliated with the Grace Awards (and not in the publishing industry) will tabulate votes.

If a novel is submitted in an incorrect category, the Board’s Voter Panel will move it to the correct category rather than discount the vote. The Panel makes all decisions on what votes will be accepted, but it is not our aim to exclude or disqualify, but rather to be inclusive.

Authors can vote. You are readers too. You can’t vote for your own novel(s).

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

Grace Awards 2011 Voting Questionnaire  – this is the only one that will be accepted!

-Copy and Paste this Official Grace Awards Voting Template onto an email. Send it to graceawards@aol.com

-Vote in as many categories as you wish – one title in each category, only

*****

Copy and paste the Official Voting Questions below into an email and send it to: graceawards@aol.com

Give A Link To Your Social Networking Page (web address to your page put up before November 1, 2011, so we know you’re a real person):  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, Linkedin, a Ning Page, MySpace, ShoutLife, or the like. If you do NOT provide a link, your vote is invalid.

Womens Fiction Title (serious women’s issues, can have humor and/or suspense elements). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words)

Contemporary Romance/Historical Romance Title (the primary element is love/marriage, be it now or then). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words)

Suspense/Mystery/Romantic Suspense/ Thriller Title (crime fiction, there’s probably a body). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words)

Speculative Fiction Title (SciFi, fantasy, horror, etc.). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words)

Action Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction Title (exploits, quest, a feel of wide-open spaces, expansive). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words)

Young Adult Title (appeals to ages 15 – 21-ish). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words)

 

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