Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
Bonnie S. Calhoun

Bonnie S. Calhoun is the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for the magazine.

In addition to her passion for spreading the word about Christian fiction, Bonnie is also an author of suspense/mystery thrillers. In the summer of 2009, she signed a co-authored two book contract with Abingdon Press. The first book will be released in 2011 and the second in 2012. She is represented by Terry Burns at Hartline Literary.


When I first heard about this new book award, I could tell right away that it spelled instant success because of the ladies involved. They are highly respected bloggers and book reviewers and after a short intorduction here to the function of the organization, you will meet each of them!

The innovative award is designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today. The INSPYs were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith. To find these works, the INSPYs net is cast wide, accepting nominations of books aimed at the Christian bookstore market as well as those from the general market.

Another factor that sets the INSPY awards apart is that it’s organized and will be judged by bloggers with considerable experience and knowledge of books published in both the general market and the CBA market.

The Advisory Board created the INSPYs Awards and are responsible for the development of the criteria for the books, judges, the selection of the judges, narrowing down the nominations into shortlists, maintenance of the INSPYs site, resolution of issues and conflicts in regards to the awards, and the publicity of the awards.

And now, the ladies of the INSPY's:

Amy of My Friend Amy

If we’re honest with ourselves, Christian fiction has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to using blogs to bring exposure to books of faith. As a book blogger, I was interested in watching the popularity of blog tours increase in the general market while the Christian market had been doing them all along. It only makes sense that Christian bloggers would also seek to bridge a gap between Christian fiction and other excellent faith-driven books in the general marketplace.

I love to read great books and I especially love to read great books that are motivated by faith. The life of the faithful Christian is full of mystery and wonder, the Christian faith expression is varied and rich. I used to think great books of faith were found only within Christian fiction, but I soon learned otherwise. And I learned that not all Christian fiction explores faith as a mystery. I wanted to read certain kinds of books, which were being widely published, not just through Christian publishing houses. If I had limited my search to only, say, CBA publishers, I would have missed out on some great books.

On the other hand, I got tired of hearing that Christian fiction was inferior. Some of my favorite books are Christian fiction and I wanted to help others realize they were denying themselves some truly great books of faith by holding this view. That’s how the INSPYs took shape. It was the kind of thing I could do with other bloggers who would help spread the word, and together we could use our unique voices to tell about great books of faith in the book industry.

We’re excited to see how everything unfolds, and we hope that we’ll be able to expose some great books of faith through the INSPYs.

Hannah of Word Lily

In early 2006 I discovered the Image Journal’s list of its Top 100 writers (with one book by each listed) of the twentieth century. The list references only creative writing by writers of faith and the works must “manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith.” 

At first the list was simply daunting. I’d read so very few of them. I stuck the list in my purse and pulled it out when I was at the library. Less than a month after I started blogging in this space, in April 2007, I made this list a project. I aimed to read all the books on the list.

As I read and posted about these books, my estimation of the books as a group only grew—each one was so amazing! These are the kind of books I love; these are the kind of books that make me happy I’m a reader.

Since then, even as I’ve continued to make my way through the list, a longing has been growing steadily inside me. I’ve wondered, over and over, Where are the new books? Yes, that’s a funny question to ask when your TBR shelf is overflowing with mostly new books. But what I wanted—and still want—is to find new books and new authors whose books rise to the standard of these older ones. Sure, a few of the list’s authors are still alive and writing, but I want more.

After reading a post in March 2010 from My Friend Amy about the state of Christian Fiction, I was inspired to write about my own unmet desire for books that really dig into what it means to believe, what this walk-by-faith thing is about, and do so with writing that thrills me. As much as I dug, as much as I asked others, I couldn’t to see a way to find these books. Sometimes they’re published by Christian publishing houses, indie presses, or large general-market publishers. Sometimes they’re even self-published. And as much as I’d love to, I can’t read all the books published in a year just to find the ones I really want to read.

So when Amy told me her idea for a new award—the INSPYs—that would honor these kinds of books, I was thrilled. Since we launched the INSPY awards this summer, my excitement has only grown.

Rel of Relz Reviewz

When Amy of My Friend Amy sent an e-mail to gauge my interest in an idea she had for a Christian Fiction Bloggers’ Award, she had this to say, “First, I must warn you that this will be A LOT of work.” She wasn’t kidding! Intrigued and excited about another way to promote quality faith fiction, particularly one that harnessed the insight of Christian bloggers passionate about literature, I agreed.

I believe, without exception, writers of fiction bare a measure of their souls when they commit months or even years to writing a story that will often be read in a matter of hours, possibly cast aside or lovingly placed on a shelf, pondered over or become the subject of an scathing review. Some books sell in the tens of thousands based merely on the name on the cover, rather than on literary qualities, while other books gather dust in bookstores despite the brilliance of the story within their pages.

My hope for the INSPYs is that it highlights quality faith fiction that challenges, thrills, stirs, provokes, entertains, or boggles the mind. I love that the INSPYs include books that wrestle with faith matters regardless of their CBA or ABA marketplace. Passionate readers who may not have a forum to share the “best book ever” now have the opportunity to nominate that book, avid book bloggers will judge the nominees based on literary impact rather than units sold, and readers can learn about books that will speak to their hearts and minds.

Deborah of Books, Movies & Chinese Food

I starting reading Christian fiction twenty years ago, when I was eight years old, and I’m still reading and recommending it. I feel that I have seen the genre progress throughout the years and watched it branch out. I have enjoyed seeing the changes in the industry and continue to look forward to see what else happens to inspirational fiction in the future.

The INSPYS are a way for readers and book bloggers to let others know how they feel about what is the best in faith-driven books. Many industry awards are given out each year. The readers determine whether an author is going to make it big or not. An author can have the best publisher, editor, publicist, etc., but if they cannot connect with readers, they aren’t going to make it very far. The INSPYS will showcase what readers enjoy and want more of. To me, the biggest recommendations come from other readers. I hope that these awards will be also introduce readers unfamiliar with, or who have previously stayed away from, inspirational fiction to take another look at the genre. Many wonderful gems can to be discovered in this field, and I hope that through these awards we can help new readers find them.

The INSPY Advisory Board take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of former board member, Carrie of Books and Movies.