Grace Awards

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Grace Awards 2017 Winners ~ in Faith Based Fiction

GA Winner Badge 2017

The Grace Awards, a reader driven awards and the most democratic awards in Christian fiction, now in its eighth year, is very proud to announce its 2017 WINNERS. This year we had an array of widely diverse judges. They are multi-published authors, traditionally published ones, indie authors, and avid readers. Our judges commented on how exciting it was to select a winner from finalists selected by readers who are fans. Several judging teams ‘complained’ they had trouble picking a winner because all three stories nominated were so good. That’s what the Grace Awards is all about.

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

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

The winners are…

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

The Austin Escape

THE AUSTEN ESCAPE by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson) ~ The title is apt. This novel is just that: an escape. Ms. Reay masterfully takes the reader into two different eras—no this is not a time travel novel—while at the same time treating you to tidbits about Jane Austen’s classics. Once you fall into the many layers of the life of Mary, you will not want to leave her world—or is it worlds—behind. Ms. Reay is clearly a scholar of Austen works, and Ms. Reay’s story merges the Austen style with this author’s magnificent talent for writing contemporary fiction.

 

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

Magnolia Storms

MAGNOLIA STORMS by Janet Ferguson (Southern Sun Press) ~ This novel  drew us in to the deep south with its rich sense of place, culture, and family. We liked how the author wove elements of an approaching storm into the story. In the beginning, we were introduced to a blended family, held together by love and respect, rather than intermarriage. The characters are well written and interesting, the romance elements strong. Relationships are mostly well explored. Past and present combine and intermingle as a monster storm takes aim at the Mississippi coastal regions, stirring unwanted memories of Katrina. The well-told story combines elements of single-parenting, and families working together for a common goal. The spiritual content is organic and woven throughout, it never seemed contrived. The drama of the approaching storm, endangering lives and livelihoods, and the promise of a rekindled love kept us turning pages until the end.

 

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

The House on Foster Hill

THE HOUSE ON FOSTER HILL by Jaime Jo Wright is a story told in two timelines, with parallels between the protagonists of each time. In the present, Kaine Prescott refuses to accept that her husband’s death is anything less than murder. Since his death, someone has been playing tricks on her, tricks the police dismiss as the distraught mind of a grieving widow. In desperation, Kaine buys a “fixer-upper” sight unseen, half a country away. When she arrives, the house is more than a fixer-upper – it needs loads of work. To make matters worse, it seems her tormentor has followed her. Kaine has two new friends to help her, both with the house and the mystery of who is tormenting her. A century earlier, Ivy  Thorpe has her own mystery to unravel involving a murdered unknown woman and her vanished baby. Both Kaine and Ivy discover that the house on Foster Hill plays an important part in the mysteries. This novel captivated the judges from the beginning. The parallel stories of Kaine and Ivy are well-paced in presentation, keeping the tension just taut enough to ensure the reader must keep turning the pages. The secondary characters are great support for each timeline. As the end draws closer so too the main characters seem to draw closer. The conclusion of each timeline’s mystery is handled perfectly. This novel delivered in spades!

 

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

The Revisionary

THE REVISIONARY by Kristen Hogrefe (Write Integrity Press) ~ This dystopian novel was engaging and well-paced, reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, with a more modern vibe similar to The Hunger Games. The author uses deep point of view in a first person present style, in keeping with current tastes in fiction. The story never stagnates but keeps moving and surprising all the way through. The plot follows young Portia Abernathy who has clung to the belief that if she excels enough to get drafted into an upper-level educational system, she can change the laws that keep her brother in prison. Her meager existence with her father in a world without electricity or most basic creature comforts is a struggle, but she has learned how to survive and hopes to beat the system at its own game. Portia is shocked when she learns the system is not only stacked against her, but that there are those targeting her for failure. In the midst of the chaos, she finds surprising friends and allies. This volume is the first in a post-apocalyptic series called The Rogues and deservedly takes first place.

 

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

These Healing Hills

THESE HEALING HILLS by Ann H. Gabhart (Revell) ~ When settling into the post WWII story of Francine Howard’s journey to the Appalachian Mountains to learn midwifery and help “catch babies.” One is almost immediately reminded of the classic tale of Christy. The settings, period authenticity, and characterization are very similar. The heroine’s focused, kind, and professional care for all the mountain residents despite differences and sometimes superstitious notions, and her growing love for the mountain makes for a wonderful story. All the judges felt they learned something more about an aspect of history: the Frontier Nursing Service. Most of the characters were vivid and lovable. The male protagonist was multi-dimensional and easy to become charmed by. Ms. Gabhart captures the “mountain speak” of the period without being over the top with her characters, and she has some beautiful dialogue as well as lines of description that sang off the page. We liked that the sense of mountain community is revealed little by little in an engaging way that allows the reader to grow attached to the people, just as the protagonist Francine did. The spiritual aspect in the story of learning to trust God in all circumstances is a common Christian fiction theme, which Ms. Gabhart weaves nicely into the tale so that it isn’t awkward, while the romance aspect of the story was gradual and gentle, and did not overwhelm the other aspects of the story. We would also like to give our compliments on the seamless editing of the book.

 

Young Adult: includes YA, NA, and middle grade

A Trail of Crumbs

A TRAIL OF CRUMBS by Susie Finkbeiner (Kregel Publications) ~This is a well written, original novel. There are so many positives about this book! The story was realistic and touching. There was some sadness and some very serious moments, but those were balanced out with humorous moments that made the reader smile and sometimes laugh out loud. Pearl dreaming about Momma leaving her baby was a very powerful scene. The message of God and His love was expertly woven throughout the story and was a real part of Pearl’s life. It was not preachy and yet the label Christian wasn’t just tacked on. 

 

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Announcing Grace Awards 2012 Judges

Grace Awards Logo

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

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

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

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

Christine Lindsay is the author of the Award-winning Shadowed in Silk. She writes historical inspirational novels with strong love stories, and takes pride in her Irish roots. Her great grandfather and grandfather worked as riveters in the Belfast shipyard, one of those ships her ancestors helped build was the Titanic. On her mother’s side it was stories of ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India that seeded Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj and became the stimulus for her Twilight of the British Raj series.  Christine is excited about her new release this spring 2013, Book 2 of the Raj series called Captured by Moonlight. The Pacific coast of Canada, about 200 miles north of Seattle, is Christine’s home where she lives with her husband, David, and they enjoy the visits from their adult children and grandchildren. Like a lot of authors, Christine’s chief editor is her cat. www.christinelindsay.com

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

April GardnerApril W Gardner, lead judge in this category, is a multi-published historical romance author. She is also published in the children’s genre. Her book, “Lizzie and the Guernsey Gang,” won the 2012 Selah Award in youth fiction. April is the founder and senior editor of the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles and is an editor at Astraea Press She has been a military brat, missionary’s kid, and military spouse. After 21 years in various countries overseas, April happily resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys organizing, baking, and DIY. www.aprilgardner.com

Janalyn VoightJanalyn Voigt credits her father with instilling in her a love of literature at an early age by reading classic novels as bedtime stories. Janalyn soon began creating her own stories, and when she was 12, a teacher noticed her storytelling ability. His encouragement helped Janalyn to later become a published novelist. Her unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams. Janalyn also writes historical romance novels, and will publish in that genre under Janalyn Irene Voigt. She is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary. Janalyn serves as a literary judge for several national contests and is an active book reviewer. Her nonfiction publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press (David C. Cook) and Pentecostal Evangel. Janalyn is affiliated with American Christian Fiction Writers and Northwest Christian Writers Association.   http://janalynvoigt.com

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

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

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

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor. Her work has finaled in the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, Maggie; twice in the  Daphne du Maurier, and recently the category and Overall Winner of the Phoenix  Rattler. Not too bad considering she’s trying a mashup of gospel and . . .  gothic. www.debraemarvin.com  www.inkwellinspirations.blogspot.com/
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Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, photographer, and writer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column forSteves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. To learn more about what she’s doing visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/

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

Tracy Krauss
Tracy Krauss, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and lead judge in this category, is a high school teacher by profession, and a prolific author, artist, playwright and director by choice. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and has gone on to teach Art, Drama and English – all the things she is passionate about. After raising four children, she and her husband now reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. She has several romantic suspense novels and stage plays in print. For more information visit her website at http://www.tracykrauss.com
Tim Akers
T.J. Akers has been an ordained minister for 19 years, fulfilling the roles of street preacher and sidewalk apologist, youth pastor, Bible school teacher, music minister, and senior pastor.  Though no longer pastoring, he is an active teacher and preacher. At his day job, he is an information technology professional at a state university where he shares the gospel with whomever will listen. In 2009 he completed a BA in Creative Writing and a MA in English in 2010. He jumps at the chance to adjunct teach courses like composition, literary fiction writing, genre fiction writing, literature, grammar, creative writing, science fiction, fantasy, children’s and young adult literature and poetry. T.J. Akers has published a treatise on the defense of children’s and young adult’s literature as genuine literature and teaching curriculum for evangelical churches in Russia. He has judged contests for Port Yonder Press, ACFW First Impressions Contest, and the Arizona Rattler’s (ACFW affiliate) Fiction Writers Club. His popularity as a writing coach and fiction judge is on the rise. As a life-long reader of mystery and suspense, he is very comfortable around the genre. https://www.facebook.com/tj.akers.35\
Shaunna Gonzales
A storyteller in her youth, Shaunna Gonzales, endeavored to extend her love of stories to the written word and in 2005 began to write her first novel. Though that manuscript will remain buried, she has continued to learn. Once told by her doctors that she would never leave her wheelchair — due to her Multiple sclerosis. It has been tucked in a closet while she continues pursuing an uninsured protocol to combat the disease. Shaunna has worked as a professional reviewer for InD’Tales eMagazine since its inception, in the spring of 2012. In 2012 she also served as the vice president of  Moonwriters, the on-line chapter of American Night Writers Association (ANWA). She can frequently be found lending her time to judging writing contests of both published novels and unpublished partial and full manuscripts. She prefers to write romantic fiction and has ventured into the Women’s fiction market as well as the inspirational, suspense, and time-travel genres. Her debut novel, Dark Days of Promise was released by Desert Breeze Publishing in 2012. Although she prefers to spend her days writing, she is willing to share what she has learned from the school of life and is often found “giving back.” Shaunna Gonzales currently resides with her family in the greater Seattle area. Married over twenty-seven years, her role as wife and mother of four continue to be her priorities. http://shaunnagonzales.blogspot.com/

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

Me, pix
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi, Founder and Chair of the Grace Awards and lead judge in this category, started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled 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 likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better. 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. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released in July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013.  Nike is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/
Krisi Keley
 Krisi Keley is a writer and artist with a degree in theology from DeSales  University who has also studied foreign and classical languages. She’s the  author of the paranormal speculative fiction novels, On the Soul of a  Vampire and Pro Luce Habere and has published three English  translations of 19th century French stories, including Charles Barbara’s L’Assassinat du Pont-Rouge (The Red Bridge Murder). She currently works  as an editor, translator and book cover artist while writing Genesis, the  third book in her On the Soul series. http://onthesoulofavampire.com/
Kenneth Winters
Kenneth G. Winters  was born in Elmhurst, Queens, NY in 1950; graduated from Farmingdale High School, Farmingdale, NY, in 1968; from Houghton College, Houghton NY, in 1972, and received a Masters in 1976 from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He met his wife, Connie, during my sophomore year of college and we married on August 19, 1972.  They have two grown daughters, Laura and Emily. After seminary, he served at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Troy, NH, working with his mentor, Pastor Christian. In October, 1976 he became Youth Pastor at the First Congregational Church of N. Brookfield, MA. While serving there he founded a teen Christian music group called “True Direction.” They sang throughout the country and recorded an Album in 1981. He served there until 1984, when he received a commission from the US Navy Chaplain Corps. In the 20 years that followed, he served with Seabees, Marines, Surface and Submarine Fleets. At his Navy retirement ceremony, the pastor of his former church invited his to return as Associate Pastor. So, after 20 years in the Navy, Connie and he returned to their “homeport” in Massachusetts.  Since then he have served in that capacity, coordinating small-groups and other ministries. He published his first book, The Lost Crown of Colonnade in 2011. He’s currently working on the second book in the series, The Enchanted Bride of Colonnade. He keeps busy with his denomination, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC) and the Military Officers Association. He was a runner for many years. At 62, He’s replaced running with biking and kayaking.  Other interests include old books, praise music, playing guitar and piano. Ken Winters Blog Page
YOUNG ADULT (YA): appeals to ages 14 – 21ish
Lanny Smith
Lanny Smith, lead judge in this category, is a Christian high school teacher, a former “Class B+” surfer and a veteran of the US Air Force. He is the author of THE RADICAL RIDE, a Christian action-thriller and is now working on a screenplay of the novel.  Lanny currently lives in Florida with his wife and two of three children. You can contact him and learn more about THE RADICAL RIDE at www.TheRadicalRide.com.
Deborah Anderson
As a young girl, Deborah K. Anderson loved to read Nancy Drew mysteries, books like Old Yeller (which still make her cry), and humorous novels. When she became a teenager, she also became a closet poet, until she showed one of her works to a high school teacher. He suggested that she pursue writing. After finishing high school, though, she devoted much of her time to her ailing father. Soon after his death, she continued her education at a local college. Her studies included interpersonal communications, nursing, and medical terminology. But, something was still missing. In 2000, she left her job to care for her elderly mother. During that time, Deborah remembered her teacher’s words. Within four years, she took the plunge and began writing. And with each story she penned, she began to feel whole. 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. She also competed in a novel competition held by Christian Writers of the West (CWOW), an affiliate of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Her supernatural suspense entry, Tale of a Man, was a finalist in the young adult category. Deborah recently completed Rapha’s Remnant, a supernatural suspense novel for young adults. She is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and YALITCHAT.org. Married for 31 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she spends her time rescuing cats (and feeding lots of other stray critters), reading novels, and taking nature walks. You can reach Deborah at: deborah@deborahkanderson.com.
 Author Photo
Aileen Stewart is the award winning author of the children’s books Fern Valley- A Collection of Short Stories, a public speaker, amateur photographer, and a blogger. In addition, she hosts writing workshops for children and holds a degree in Business Administration and a certificate in Sales and Marketing. She resides in lovely Shelby, Ohio with her beautiful daughter, wonderful husband, and their crazy cat Max. Besides writing, she loves to cook, quilt, craft, garden, travel, bird-watch, assemble puzzles, go Geocaching, and volunteer at her daughter’s school and her local library. Her motto is “Kids Who Read Can Do Anything” which was inspired by her late father, the man who instilled in her a love for the written word.  http://www.funwithaileen.com
The Grace Awards is a reader driven awards. Reader voting began on December 31st and ends on February 28th.

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