Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recommended Reading...and Free Books!

This week The Yielded Quill is pleased to have Susan Sleeman, author, reviewer, and host of The Suspense Zone:

Are you an aspiring writer or even a multi-published author? If so, you’ve no doubt heard that one of the best ways to develop writing skills is to read, read, read. I don’t know who said it first, but as you browse interviews with successful novelists they often recommend reading as a way to grow in your writing. This seems straightforward, doesn’t it? Not only can you polish your writing skills from reading good fiction, but you can also find out what editors are buying by reading the books they publish.

So where can you find a list of first-class books in your genre? Why not start with this year’s Christy Award nominees? For the past seven years, excellence in Christian fiction of a variety of genres has been recognized with The Christy Award. Named after Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, and for her contribution to growth of the fiction Christians love to read, this award is synonymous with quality fiction.

Each year, Christian publishing houses submit novels to the committee for consideration. The books are placed in categories and are then read and evaluated against a ten point criteria by a panel of seven judges. The judges come from a variety of areas including librarians, reviewers, academicians, literary critics, and other qualified readers, None of these judges have any affiliation with the publishers. When judging is complete, the top three ranked books in each category are announced as finalists. Later in the year, an awards banquet is held where the winners are announced. The 2008 award will be held in Orlando, Florida on July 12th.

So why not check out these special books. I’ve listed the 2008 finalists below, but you can find finalists and winners for the last seven years at The Christy Award website, And in celebration of this year’s award, I am giving away copies of eight of the nominated books at my website, The Christian Suspense Zone, , in a contest that ends on July 15th. The books I am giving away are noted below in bold type.

So what are you waiting for? Stop by The Suspense Zone to enter to win a copy from me or go out and purchase your own copies. Either way you won’t be disappointed.

2008 Christy Award Nominees:

CONTEMPORARY (Stand Alone) -

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)
In High Places by Tom Morrisey (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)

CONTEMPORARY (Series, Sequels and Novellas) -

Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Viking Penguin)
A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley (Thomas Nelson)
What Lies Within by Karen Ball (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)


Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

LITS (tie) -

Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Hunt (Tyndale House Publishers)
Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Kregel Publications)
Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck (Avon Inspire, a division of HarperCollins Publishers)


Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour Publishing)
Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney (Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster)
Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


The Cure by Athol Dickson (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group) My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay (Moody Publishers)
The Pawn by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress Publishing Group)
Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress Publishing Group)
The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (NavPress Publishing Group)
In Between by Jenny B. Jones (NavPress Publishing Group)
Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman (NavPress Publishing Group)
Susan Sleeman is passionate about Christian Suspense both as a reader and a writer. Susan is the author of seven Christian Suspense novels and she looks forward to the day her agent finds a publishing home for her work.

Click on the link below to enter The Suspense Zone:


Marcia Gruver said...

Susan, this is excellent advice! I never made the connection before between reading good fiction and writing it. This is one tip I plan to put into action. Thanks for making it easy by linking straight to the source.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

So many of these books are in my TBR pile!! Wish I had time to sit and soak them all in. Great interview, ladies!

Sandra Robbins said...

As an educator, I have promoted reading for years with children, but it's just as important for adults to read. For a writer, I think it is a necessity. Thank you for reminding us of that. Great post!

Sandra Robbins

Jess said...

Good post, Susan. I met a young man the other day who wants to be a writer. Guess what. He doesn't read! LOL

I wonder how the publishers decide what books to enter. Any idea? I imagine it's a tough decision.

Tom Morrisey said...

Two thoughts, Jess -- one is that MOST of the would-be poets I run into don't read poetry ... and then wonder why they aren't published. So it's not surprising to see some of that in prose, as well.

As for the other, I'm one of the Christy finalists this year, and from what I've seen, the major houses tend to nominate pretty much all of their fiction. It really only costs them serious money if they win (the house has to commit a certain amount to marketing and helping to publicize the award winners).

As these are all commercially published works, they've already had the "quality control" of being vetted by an acquisitions editor, an editorial board and a marketing department -- so its not as if any of them are weak going in.

That makes it all the more humbling to be a finalist; you're really going up against every company's entire catalog for the year.

Thanks, by the way, to The Yielded Quill for bringing up the Christy finalists. Much appreciated!

Jess said...

Yikes! Tom knows what he's talking about. The young man I met who wants to be a writer...well, he's a poet who dabbles in novel writing.

And thanks so much for giving us details about the Christy nominations. Very interesting about the financial commitment to publicize the winners. I didn't know that.

Janelle said...

I too wish I had much more time to sit down and enjoy reading good books. I know they sure get a writer energized to go after doing a better job on their own. As I watch my youngest son grow up loving to read, I want to try that much harder to make sure he has great material to choose from.

Word of mouth is an excellent avenue for spreading news but Susan, your site is just as great. Thanks for all your wonderful and hard work.

Susan said...

Hey Lisa, you've got to open them, they don't soak in. LOL. And Janelle, I have a sure fire way for you to read more books. Commit to reading them and writing reviews for The Suspense Zone and then you'll feel guilty if you don't get them done. My amount of reading skyrocketed when I started The Suspense Zone. Course it helps when the publishers keep sending me all the good ones to read. And Tom in case you stop by again, I am going to the Christy Award banquet and look forward to meeting the authors of all those books I've read.

Tosca said...

Susan, thank you for all that you do to promote reading, writing, and authors!
--Tosca Lee

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