Good afternoon, book nerds, readers and friends! Today is an important day in the INSPYs timeline. Today, we formally welcome and announce our INSPYs 2017 judges in their respective panels. Please, join us in welcoming them all.
Before we announce them, I’d like to thank everyone who supports the INSPYs. Those who have judged and are judging, and those who applied. We so appreciate it. Please, consider applying again next year again – whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro. Your time, support and enthusiasm is MUCH appreciated. Thank you.
Without further ado, let us meet our amazing 2017 panels.
INSPYs 2017 Judges: Welcome
Now that the advisory board is (nearly) done with the task of shortlisting the books nominated in the 2016 INSPY Awards, the advisory board is pleased to introduce you to our 2017 panels of judges. We now hand the job of choosing the winning novel over to them. The INSPY Advisory Board thanks each and every applicant for their enthusiasm and is thrilled to announce the judges for 2017. The shortlists are coming your way. They will be announced on April 30! Once our judges receive their respective books, they then have the task of narrowing the list from five novels to the one worthy of the 2017 INSPY in each category.
We enthusiastically welcome these judges and thank them for their time and service.
Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense Judges
Becky Ritta is a thirty-something single girl from small town Nebraska. She’s been a voracious reader ever since the moment she realized c-a-t spelled “cat.” By day, she teaches journalism and manages the website and social media accounts for a Christian high school. By night, she reads, blogs, experiments with gluten free baking, and binge watches ’90s TV shows. Becky began blogging on MySpace back in 2006; in 2008 she moved over to Christian Chick’s Thoughts and posted her first book review. She loves interacting with authors and other book lovers, and her favorite part of reviewing is discovering great new (or new-to-her) authors.
Karen Weido, Ting’s Mom Books, fantasizes about a place where her task list only includes sitting in the sunshine and reading books. But since that is not a reality, she spends her days juggling wife and mom duties while squeezing in books any chance she can. Karen has been writing Christian fiction reviews since early 2014, and loves discovering new authors and characters. Outside of her blog, you can find Karen on her other addiction – Instagram. There she shares her adventures with her husband, two children, one dog, and lots of books. Karen and her family live in South Arkansas.
Bree Herron is the blogger of Bibliophile Reviews. A mom to a young daughter and a student working on her second Bachelors, Bree finds reading to be her relaxation. Books are a source of inspiration and happiness, giving her mind a break from the studying, and every day life. A passion for reading is one that Bree intends to hand down to her daughter, books are the future of our present.
Historical Romance Judges
Annie LOVES books – the look, the feel, the smell and the words. She’s an avid reader turned blogger reviewer. She dabbled at sharing her thoughts on her blog, Just Commonly for years (very sporadically), and only since 2015 have she focused on reviewing what she loves best, BOOKS! A widely known book nerd, once you get her started on a book, she might talk your ear off until you just had to get your own copy. She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy.
Being a speed reader, she’s happy to be able to immerse herself in more books than normal. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with friends and family, eating and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game.
Annie is proud to be one of the founding stewards of the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat. Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR) is a one day event gathering of Christian Fiction readers and authors, 2016 being its inaugural year. The event’s theme is “Honoring God through Christian Fiction” and will feature speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship and author signings.
Maggie Boyd has been an avid reader since the second grade when she discovered the riveting Billy and Blaze books. She found out about Inspirational romance in seventh grade and has been hooked ever since. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two sons and when she isn’t reading she is often writing about reading at either Heroes and Heartbreakers or All About Romance. The things she looks for in a novel are originality, whimsy and a soul deep connection between the hero and heroine. Maggie is an active member of her church Care Ministry team as well as being part of the meals ministry. The book she has read cover to cover most often is the Bible and she collects prayer journals and bible studies at an alarming rate.
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She strives to edify and connect with readers and authors through her blog and on social media. Beth is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories. Beth lives with her husband and their four children in a close-knit rural southern Illinois farming community. They love their laid back lifestyle and small country church family. When she isn’t reading, Beth enjoys indulging in a favorite show or movie with her family, completing DIY projects with her husband, and seeing the country on long family road trips.
General Fiction Judges
Kristi Morgan works in retail management but my passion is reading. I have been reading since before I started kindergarten and always have a book with me; [and] love to blog about the books I’ve read and will talk books with anyone who will listen. I live in Indiana with my husband of 23 years and our spoiled rotten Sheltie and two equally spoiled cats.
Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu and is a co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat. She blogs at Reading is my Superpower.
Alyssa Washburn is born and raised in the West, but Southern at heart. Alyssa currently lives in the mountains of Northern California amidst Gold Rush country and former Maidu and Miwok territory. She began her reading journey with Nancy Drew and the Lord of the Rings at an early age, and never turned back. Alyssa also loves to write, classic films, music and all things vintage. She’s also very involved in her church as a Sunday School Teacher. She has a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Pro-Life Movement, Politics, Personal Freedom, and an advocate against Human Sex Trafficking. Alyssa is also an amateur Genealogist and has found her ancestry to have everything and the kitchen sink. Her stories are a mixture of truth and happily ever afters because this world could use more happily ever afters.
Literature for Young People Judges
Katie is an avid book lover who can never seem to have enough books. The stacks around the house prove it. Along with reading, Katie has been blogging for 5 years about Christian Fiction at Too Read or Not Too Read and can’t wait for another 5 years. Reading hasn’t always been easy, having been diagnosed with dyslexia, but with a determined teacher-mother and 8 years of homeschooling, Katie was able to graduate high school with a college reading level. Now in her early 30’s, she has a preteen daughter to share the love of reading with. Along with blogging, Katie is a library assistant. Books are in every aspect of life!
Rachel is a stay at home mom who LOVES to read. She enjoys good (clean) books of all kinds. However, she has a soft spot for historical fiction. There is something magical that can only be found between the covers a book. Her desire is to share that piece of magic with you. Rachel has been reviewing books since 2014 and simply adores being immersed in the bookish world. Her husband and 2 beautiful children are her life and joy. Among the 500 things she does a day, she somehow still finds time to read.
Tressa has been an avid reader her whole life. She grew up listening to her parents read the classics, which started her love for story-book worlds, especially the various challenges of characters and their happily-ever-after endings. She blogs about her love of books at Wishful Endings and is a tour co-host at Prism Book Tours. Outside of blogging, she’s active in her church, a total Marvel geek, Austen lover, has way too many hobbies, and enjoys hanging with the family (husband, four kiddos, and pup).
Mystery / Thriller Judges
Elizabeth Olmedo loves all things books. Whether reading or writing, she spends most of her waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours lost deep in the world of fiction, especially if they belong to the mystery, suspense, and/or romance genres. To feed her addiction, Elizabeth reviews books for Fiction Addict and Radiant Lit, as well as on her personal blog. Elizabeth lives in Spain with her dog, Ari, and works as a freelance writer, editor, and social media specialist. When she isn’t reading, Elizabeth also enjoys writing, watching movies, and cooking (often while listening to an audiobook). You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook and Twitter, or find her on Eli’s Novel Reviews.
Jessica Baker is an avid reader from Cooperstown, NY. When she’s not busy working as a mortgage lender, wife and mother, she runs A Baker’s Perspective blog. It is here that she shares her love of books with others. Jessica is the leader of the young youth group at church and enjoys spending time with her church family.
Born only a few miles from where Jesse James robbed his first train, Rachel Kovaciny has loved the Old West all her life. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. In her free time, Rachel writes, reads, blogs, bakes, watches movies, and daydreams.
Speculative Fiction Judges
Ian Acheson’s debut novel, Angelguard, is available in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. This is the first release in the AngelguardChronicles, a series of speculative fiction novels that explore the interconnection of the spiritual and physical worlds and the power of prayer. Ian reads a lot, and a lot, and a lot more. He reads widely in fiction, non-fiction, magazines, web and newspapers. He’s been telling and writing stories for most of his life since early childhood.
When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lives in Sydney, Australia, and shares life with his wife, Fiona, two adult sons and one gorgeous daughter-in-law. In addition, they have two adored dogs that keep them active. This will be Ian’s third year as an INSPY judge and he’s excited about getting his hands on the shortlisted finalists.
Michelle R. Wood is a professional freelancer in theatre and web development. Her education included studies in Theatre and English, including classes in London and an internship with Walt Disney World. When not working backstage or on a computer, she continues to enjoy reading, a habit she learned at a tender age from her bookworm mother. Michelle’s personal musings and book reviews can be found at her blog, Distractions of Grandeur (www.woodmr.net/blog). She is honoured and excited to return as a judge in the speculative fiction category for her fourth time.
Meagan Myhren-Bennett developed an early love of reading growing up in a family where books were the gift of choice. And when you move often books quickly become one of your best friends. This love was the perfect excuse to become both a reviewer and a librarian.
When not at the library, she can be found at home, which is a small farm in rural Northwest Central Wisconsin, spending time with her family or reading with some of the family’s 15 dogs, of which 13 are dachshunds who Meagan also leads the Page Turner’s Book Discussion Group in Bloomer, which is a monthly themed book club Where she’s more than willing to help other readers discover her favourite authors.