Grace Awards

Expanding the Tent Pegs of Christian Fiction

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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.



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




Announcing Grace Awards 2015 Judges


Grace Awards

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

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


Naomi Musch [Grace Awards Board Member, Lead Judge] loves a great story, whether historical or contemporary. She writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where lives with her husband and family as epically as God allows. She has worked as an editor, as a staff writer for an EPA award-winning Christian newspaper, and has published dozens of magazine and internet articles for the encouragement of homeschooling families and young writers. Naomi currently serves on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Writers’ Association. She loves engaging with others and always discovering kernels of a new story. She is available for speaking and book groups. Her eighth novel, The Love Coward released from Desert Breeze Publishing in 2015. Website,  FB: Naomi Musch – Author Twitter: NMusch


Debra E. Marvin is a member of ACFW, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She’s one of the founders of Inkwell Inspirations Blog. In 2015, she released her first two novellas, “Alarmingly Charming” in Austen in Austen Vol 1 from WhiteFire Publishing, and “Desert Duet” from Forget Me Not Romances. Her unpublished successes included contest finals in The Fab Five, The Maggie Awards, the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, twice in the Daphne DuMaurier, and the overall winner of the Phoenix Rattler. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University in upstate NY, and enjoys time with family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends. Twitter, Facebook, Website, Pinterest, blogging at Inkwell Inspirations

Onisha Ellis

Onisha Ellis fell in love with reading in the second grade. Her favorite books were biographies written about the childhood of famous leaders and explorers. She believes that is why she prefers to read character driven novels and is especially excited to be judging women’s fiction/general fiction. When she is not reading she is a blogger for Old Things R New.

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

Deborah KinnardDeborah Kinnard [Grace Awards Board Member, Lead Judge] started writing at age ten, hacked off because “Bonanza” lacked a ten year old girl with her own pony. From adventures on the Ponderosa, she moved to teenage angsty love stories and dreadful poetry. After a career that embraced feeding basketball players breakfast, coping with el-ed majors and various ERs different from the ones on TV, she married the man of her dreams and raised two active girls amongst the books. She sold her first novel, POWERLINE, in 2002 and fifteen others since. Her most recent published series is with Desert Breeze Publishing, called “Seasons of Destiny.” It includes SEASONS IN THE MIST (now available), and the upcoming SEASONS OF RECKONING and SEASONS OF HOPE. Indie-published titles include the “City Lights” series, which tell tales of pop music stars and the people they love. Deb enjoys beadwork, travel, and music. She sings with a medieval/renaissance singing group, Court and Country. While traveling, she loves to people-watch. So if you meet a short-round woman with an acquisitive light in her eye…

Betty Thomason Owens

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers.Her writing credits include Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer Series (2015), a 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series (2014), both through Write Integrity Press. Carlotta’s Legacy, Book 2 of the Legacy Series is due in the Spring of 2016. She writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM. Webstie. Amazon Author Page.

Joy-DeKokJoy DeKok started to dream about being a writer when she was four years old. When her mom read to her at night, she fell asleep excited for the day she’d put her own words on the pages. She is an avid reader and finds that immersing herself in books, she becomes a better writer. When asked which is more important to her, she is quick to declare, “Both. In my life, the two are essential and intertwined.” When Joy came to faith in Christ when she was fifteen, the first thing she did was to write about her experience in poetry. Books by her include Under His Wings (devotional), 2 novels; Rain Dance (contemporary Christian fiction) and Between the Lies (Suspense), and three kids books: It Is Good, Room For Bandit, and Raccoon Tales. Joy and her husband live on thirty-five acres of wildflower fields and woods. Besides reading and writing, Joy enjoys taking her dogs, Sophie and Tucker, for long John Deere Gator rides. She an amateur photographer and loves the way God whispers His love for her in His creation. Website.


Tammy Doherty

Tammy Doherty [Grace Awards Board Member and Lead Judge] is the author of several Christian/Inspy novels, two of which have been on Amazon’s best-selling list. Her first three novels are historical romance with a touch of suspense; the fourth book, SHE’S MINE, is a contemporary romantic suspense set in a small town in central Massachusetts. In addition to being a founding member and lead judge for Grace Awards, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers. Ms. Doherty lives on a small farm in central MA with her husband and two children, where they grow and sell perennial plants.

Peggy Phifer

Peggy Blann Phifer retired from an executive assistant position after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale industry in Las Vegas, Nevada. She came to writing later in life when a prayer she wrote appeared in 2000, in a two-volume Guideposts Book compilation, ‘Prayers for Every Need.’ Her indie-published debut novel, ‘To See the Sun,’ released in January 2012. Since then, her writing has appeared in a number of anthology series’ in 2013-15, and she is now writing a series of her own called ‘Sweetwater River.’ Peg’s second novel, ‘Somehow, Christmas Will Come,’ originally released in November 2014, has been redesigned and was re-released in December 2015.Widowed in October 2012, Peg now makes her home in NW Wisconsin near her three children, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), loves writing, reading, crochet, needlepoint, and coloring in an adult coloring book of Mandala patterns. Follow her blog “Whispers in Purple,” and on Facebook, Twitter @pegphifer, and Pinterest.

Carol McClain

Diverse. If one word can describe Carol McClain, it’s diverse and had been long before diversity became such a ‘PC’ buzz word. She’s a novelist, essayist, and erstwhile poet (Be glad it’s erstwhile and no longer current). She hales from northern New York—so far north, she’s almost Canadian. Eh? She plays the bassoon, creates stained glass, cross-country skis, and is a former marathoner and high ropes instructor. For more than thirty years, she taught English, and she now teaches Bible studies, and edits for fun. In addition to this, she has served on the North Country Habitat for Humanity board for over ten years. In that capacity, she’s held every position except those having to do with money. She may be able to tell you the definitions sesquipedalian, but simple addition baffles her. She is course coordinator for ACFW. And of course, she writes. She’s completed four novels, with DWF: Divorced White Female being her debut.

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

Tracy Krauss

Tracy Krauss [Grace Awards Board Member and Lead Judge] is a multi-published novelist, playwright, and artist with several award winning and Amazon best selling novels, novellas, stage plays, and devotionals in print as well as one illustrated children’s book. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the U of Sask. and teaches secondary school Art, English and Drama. She and her husband, an ordained pastor, have four grown children, one granddaughter, and have lived in many remote and interesting places in Canada’s far north. They currently reside in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. where Tracy continues to teach, direct, write and pursue all of her creative interests. Author Website.

cuffe sisters

Sadie & SophieCuffe have written six novels and three novellas, and have a new cozy mystery coming out from Five Star Publishing in January 2017. In addition to freelance writing, the Cuffe sisters run a small farm in downeast Maine’s Unorganized Territory. They bring Jane-of-all-trades life experiences to their work, and believe God gave them this background to write squarely to the heart of real women who don’t always wear a size two, and who prefer boots and flannel to high heels and the little black dress. They believe with God anything is possible; and that some of the best stories aren’t hatched in creative writing class, they’re composed on the seat of a tractor. Facebook author page. Their blog/books.

Karin Kaufman

Karin Kaufman writes mysteries, thrillers, and children’s books. Although her mysteries and thrillers are written from a Christian perspective, they don’t downplay the evil we confront in this world—or the isolation Christians sometimes feel in what is a largely secular culture. But she rejects the notion that “edgy” books should be dark or oppressive. Because there is also goodness in this world—love, friendship, laughter, faithful dogs, piping hot cups of coffee—and it’s every bit as real as the evil. The Witch Tree, the first in her Anna Denning mystery series, was a finalist for a 2011 Grace Award. Karin lives near the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with Dakota Grace, her crazy but lovable rez rescue dog. You can find Karin on her Facebook author page, at, or her website.

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

Moi 3

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi [Chair and Founder of Grace Awards, Lead Judge] started at a very young age. Her first major work was a Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned as a little girl (colored might be more accurate) about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better. Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in her Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy, HARMFUL INTENT, won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network. BlogFB profile.Get her novels at her Amazon author page.

Barbara E Brink

Barbara Ellen Brink is a multi-published author of mystery, suspense, and young adult novels. Apart from writing, she is a wife, mother, and dog walker. She grew up on a small farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota with her husband and their dog, Willow. In her spare time – when she’s not reading – she likes to ride motorcycles, visit local wineries, and catch up on the latest movies. She is the author of the women’s fiction mystery series, The Fredrickson Winery Novels; a humorous young adult series, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy; and Inspirational suspense novels, Running Home and Alias Raven Black. Her speculative/thriller, Split Sense, won the 2011 Grace Award. She is currently working on the second book in her newest series, Double Barrel Mysteries. Author Website/Blog.

Marcy Dyer 2

Marcy G. Dyer is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age, but never took herself seriously as a “real” writer until about ten years ago when she began taking courses and learning the craft of writing.She currently has four novels from the Desert Winds Series available: Down & Out, Out for Blood, Blood & Lies. Lies & Alibis and is working on Marcy Dyer two new series: The Horde and The Lucky Series.Marcy has served as a judge for the Grace Awards, ACFW Genesis Contest, ACFW First Impressions Contest, ACFW Carol Awards, and the Olympia Contest.

YOUNG ADULT (YA): includes Middle Grade and New Adult (NA)

Fay Lamb

Fay Lamb [Lead Judge] is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted two series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, and A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast. Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads. Anyone interested in learning more about Fay’s freelance editing and her coaching should contact her at

Ruth O'Neil 1

Ruth O’Neil was born and raised in upstate New York and attended Houghton College. She has been a freelance writer/editor for more than twenty years. She has published hundreds of articles in dozens of publications as well as publishing a few books. She has spent the last few years working in publishing, working closely with writers editing their books and preparing them for print. Teaching Writer’s Forums to help want-to-be authors break into print with either freelancing or book publishing has been one of her passions. A couple of years ago she began teaching writing classes at a local homeschool co-op. Here she now teaches younger writers to develop their own freelancing career, write their own novel, or create their own picture book. Teaching the next generation of writers is probably the most fun she’s ever had! You can visit her on her blog, or on her website.

Rebekah LynRebekah Lyn writes character-driven novels, which she hopes will engulf the reader in a great story and leave them stronger in their faith. She currently has six novels published and is working on number seven. Her novel, Jessie, won the Grace Award for YA Fiction in 2015 as well as the Patrick D Smith Literary Award, and was listed as one of Shelf Unbound’s Notable Books of 2014. An early love of history, research and journaling led naturally to a passion for writing. Even at an early age, she immersed herself into her favorite hobbies of reading, writing and dreaming. A God-given talent of insight and skill, and a big dose of His courage, led her into a desire to live her dream.


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.


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.




Grace Awards Summer Book Bash ~ day four


GA Book Bash, Dock

We’re winding up our summer book bash, but it’s been such fun. The authors and novels have been spectacular.

RevengeREVENGE by Paula Rose

A summer vacation, staycation, or a beach read? Enjoy this romantic suspense. As a job coach, it’s up to Olivia Foster to ensure her clients work in a safe environment, understand their positions, and serve their employer’s mission. The death of her brother drives her career choice, and she loves her job. It remains her only focus until one of her autistic clients goes missing. Then Olivia’s employer ends her position and adds her to the suspect list, but she makes plans to bring the missing young man home. Meanwhile, Detective Lt. Phillip Landon is deep into second-guessing his career choice, but his well-honed instincts see major flaws inside this missing person’s case. Surprising contacts, mysterious happenings, and threats can turn deadly. Can he keep Olivia safe, protect his heart, remove the job coach from someone’s target list, and adjust to the new lives of his old family?

Crooked LinesCROOKED LINES by Holly Michael

Thoughtful reading for a balmy summer day! On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her heart on India, a symbol of peace. Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse cultural and religious milieus, he labors toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers. Traveling similar paths and bridged across oceans through a priest, the two desire peace and their divine destiny. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…and buried memories, unearthed. CROOKED LINES, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth.

First and GoalFIRST AND GOAL, What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up by Jake Byrne and H. Michael

A terrific summer read, especially for the guys.  Jake Byrne dreamed of playing professional football. He had the size, the talent, the drive…but at age 14, he found out he also had type 1 diabetes. Still, Jake was determined to reach his goal. And God was determined to guide and empower him all along the way. Jake’s journey to the NFL is the backdrop for this collection of inspiring devotions based on nearly a hundred football terms. Jake takes you to the weight room, practice field, and even across the goal line. You’ll feel as if you’re lined up next to him, facing a very large defender you’re about to take down. He also includes Scripture and then ties up each story in a way that feels real and encouraging. You’ll discover…what to do when God calls an audible in your life, how to respond when God puts you on special teams, why prayer is never an incomplete pass.

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman


Summer is the time to get caught up in a realistic, emotional book that opens your eyes to the real world. Caralynne Hayman is angry and bitter over the abuse and death of her eleven-year- old daughter from the hands of her religious group. Dayne faces men unwilling to turn their backs on the cult training he despises. Cara faces men who follow their leader in abuse toward their wives and the young girls of the group. Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can Cara overcome the feelings that have governed her most of her life? Can she learn to trust Dayne, and most of all a God whom she sees as uncaring—if he’s really there at all? Only Dayne’s prayers and love can reach Cara and show her the way to redemption, and Cara must recognize and accept God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far.

With Music in their HeartsWITH MUSIC IN THEIR HEARTS by Carole Brown

Summertime is a good time to dream, but it’s only when we follow God’s plan for our lives that we have peace–just as Tyrell and Emma Jaine find out in WITH MUSIC IN THEIR HEARTS. Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage? Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

Grace Awards Summer Book Bash ~ day one


GA Book Bash, BeachWow! The Grace Awards 2014 Summer Book Bash is off and running. What a blast! Summer is such a great time for reading.

Lone WolfLONE WOLF by Tracy Krauss

A terrific summer read. Thomas Lone Wolf, from WIND OVER MARSHDALE, is back in this novella length romance. He’s recovered from a brush with death – and from a broken heart. His work of opening a First Nations cultural center at an archaeological site near the town of Marshdale is almost complete. Once his son graduates from high school, he and his daughter will have to move on to the next project. Just when he has resigned himself to being a single dad for the rest of his life, he meets a woman who seems perfect. But can his wounded heart take a chance on love again?

NEIGHBORSNEIGHBORS Complete Series 1 by Tracy Krauss

How well do you know the people living next door? This fun filled romantic comedy series, perfect for a summer read, follows the lives of Lester Tibbett, former rodeo cowboy, his naïve sister Patsi, and a full cast of quirky characters living in an apartment in Calgary. Meet control freak Professor Sherri Chan; her twin brother Sherman, an architect moving back from Toronto; coffee shop owners and civil activists Tamara Spence and Carman Lamonte; newspaper man Steve Russell; Jed Malloy, Newfie redneck who is a bit rough around the edges; and so many more. Full of comical mix-ups, a bit of intrigue, and of course, enough romance to spice things up! NEIGHBORS Book 1 comes as nine separate episodes, each one from a different character’s point of view.

Come Eat At My TableCOME EAT AT MY TABLE by Ruth O’Neil

“You used to love playing in the rain. I would let you and Hope go play in the rain on warm, summer days. You two would get absolutely soaked, but you loved it!” Karin said. Ahh! The beauty of summer days as a child. No worries. No cares. Now, I long for something a little more relaxed, like reading a book. In Come Eat at My Table, Karin longs for the relaxing days of a perfect childhood summer, only her childhood wasn’t perfect and the cat is about to be let out of the bag. Secretive. Angry. Fearful. Hurt. Unforgiving. All these emotions will come raging back to the surface after years of repression and a chance encounter. Until Karin faces her past she and her family cannot face their future. Can she find the strength to forgive?

BelongingBELONGING by Ruth O’Neil

“My dad and I used to go to yard sales every summer. We would find books and buy them all. Then we would come home and spend the rest of the afternoon reading. We went to one huge flea market a couple times a year. There was a booth there full of books. We would spend hours searching through them for books we didn’t already have.” Summer is the time of year when laziness is almost permissible. It’s nice to do nothing but sit in the shade and read a book. In Belonging, Shelly has her own summer memories. Those memories are bittersweet now that her father is gone. Her summer memories help her decide to do some digging. In the midst of that digging God nudges Shelly to get out of her comfort zone. That’s easy for some, but for Shelly it may be impossible.

She's MineSHE’S MINE by Tammy Doherty

“Heart-stopping suspense and breathtaking romance” This summer is going to be explosive for Caitlin Harrington and Sean Taggart. Caitlin dreams of a quiet life teaching math at her hometown middle school. Except someone is leaving ominous notes on her door. It could be her ex-boyfriend or someone else who doesn’t want her back in town. Volunteer Firefighter Sean Taggart thinks Caitlin is beautiful…and possibly crazy. When he finds out the truth, Sean wants to help. Can he save Caitlin before the stalker turns to murder? “Don’t you worry about Sean,” Randy said. “We need to take care of you.” Caitlin pushed him away and looked up the hill. The glow she’d assumed was work lightssuddenly took on an ominous tint. As they all watched, flames shot up into the night sky.

Celtic KnotCELTIC KNOT by Tammy Doherty

Counterfeiting, kidnapping and murder…all in a day’s work for Kyle Lachapelle. Forced to return to Prophecy, Colorado, after the death of her beloved husband, Abby Finnigan struggles to provide for her young daughter. The cruel and callous treatment from her family taught Abby to guard her heart. When she meets Kyle Lachapelle, he seems nice but he works for her father and brother so how can she trust him? Secret Service Operative Kyle Lachapelle is working undercover, investigating a counterfeiting organization. He’s attracted to Abby yet her connection to his case makes him wary. She could provide essential information…or compromise everything. Unless Abby and Kyle risk trusting one another, someone may get away with murder.~ If you want a novel full of suspense, fast-paced Western action and a healthy dose of romance, be sure to take CELTIC KNOT along with you to the beach or on vacation.

HARMFUL INTENT by Nike Chillemi

Harmful IntentA sassy, action-packed read, great for summer. ~ 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.

Darkest HourDARKEST HOUR by Nike Chillemi

Lucinda Byrne is a terrific swimmer, but this summer the water is treacherous for her. ~ A petite widow and sole support of her son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indict her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual and when his report is shoved aside, starts snooping trying to clear her and in the process falls in love with her. When Lucinda discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society fiancée, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, accuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on, shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he’s a ladies’ man. Hank Jansen, the county ME who’s had his share of pain and loss, doesn’t know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she’s too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can’t deny he’s fallen head over heels for.

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?



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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).


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.

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. 

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:  

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.

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.\

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.

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://

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

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 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:

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.

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.


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


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.


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


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

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