I am pleased to share the following official press release from Advanced Writers and Speakers Association:
AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) announced the winners of the 2023 Golden Scroll Awards at the Golden Scroll Banquet, Sunday, August 6, at the Central Bank Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Awards were presented by bestselling author Linda Evans Shepherd, founder and CEO of AWSA, and award-winning author Karen Porter, owner of Bold Vision Books and AWSA President.
This is the 15th year that AWSA has presented the Golden Scroll Awards which is open to the nearly 900 members of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.
Michelle Bengtson, who was named AWSA of the Year, has a passion for sharing hope with hurting hearts. Her books, speaking, work as a neuropsychologist, as well as her personal experiences of weathering the storms of life, speaks the message that “life is not always easy, but God is always faithful.”
The Jennifer Kennedy Dean Award went to Carol Kent, a bestselling author, an influential speaker, and the visionary behind the successful Speak Up Conference, which empowers aspiring speakers and writers.
Elaine Helms was awarded the Impact Award for making a lifetime of impact in prayer for a variety of organizations including the Billy Graham Association, My Hope for America, and Prayerlink.
Lee Strobel was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Lee, a former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and a New York Times bestselling author of over 40 books, selling 14 million copies, serves as Founding Director of the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University. In 2017, his spiritual journey was portrayed in the award-winning film The Case for Christ.
The Golden Scroll Book of the Year was awarded to Eva Marie Everson for The Third Path: Finding Intimacy with God on the Path of Questioning (Bold Vision Books).
The Nonfiction Book of the Year Award went to Laine Lawson Craft for The Parent's Battle Plan: Warfare Strategies to Win Back Your Prodigal (Chosen).
The Novel of the Year Award went to Lynette Eason for Crossfire (Revell).
The Children’s Book of the Year was awarded to Sally Metzger, illustrated by Caroline Baker Mazure, for Jesus, Were You Little? (Our Sunday Visitor Kids).
The Youth Fiction Book of the Year was awarded to Lori Z Scott for Inside the Ten-Foot Line (End Game Press).
The Children’s Nonfiction Book of the Year was awarded to Michelle Medlock Adams and Janet Johnson, illustrated by Beth Snider, for Fly High: Understanding Grief with God's Help (End Game Press).
Second place for Children’s Nonfiction Book of the Year went to Michelle Medlock Adams and Cecil Stokes, illustrated by Jonathan Bouw, for I Love You to the Sun and Beyond (Sky Pony Press). Third place went to Crystal Bowman and Michelle S. Lazurek, illustrated by Sandra Eide, for Who God Wants Me to Be (WaterBrook).
The Children’s Fiction Book of the Year was awarded to Michelle Medlock Adams and Eva Marie Everson, illustrated by Anna Jones, for Our God is Bigger Than That! (End Game Press).
Second place for Children’s Fiction Book of the Year went to Rhonda Robinson, illustrated by Dave O'Connell, for The Legend of Christmas: An Untold Story of the Real St. Nicholas (Living Parables). Third place went to Donna Arlynn Frisinger for Bye-Bye Earthsuit: Hello Heavensuit (Good News Express).
The Christian Education Book of the Year was awarded to Denise Wilson for 7 Words You Never Want to Hear: How to Be Sure You Won't Study Guide (Redemption Press).
Second place for Christian Educational Book of the Year went to Dr. Mel Tavares for 21 Days to Improved Mental Well-Being (Simply Right Press). Third place went to Annette Reeder for The Seven Foods of the Promised Land (Bold Vision Books).
The Christian Living Book of the Year went to Patty Mason for Experiencing Joy: Strategies for Living a Joy-Filled Life (Liberty in Christ Ministries).
Second place for Christian Living Book of the Year went to Samantha Evans for You Are Not Alone Love Letters to Miscarriage Moms (Blackside Publishing). Third place went to Tina Yeager for Upcycled: Crafted for a Purpose (Bold Vision Books).
The Bible Study Book of the Year was awarded to Patty Mason for Getting to Know God's Voice: Recognizing When God Speaks Every Day (KP Press).
Second place for Bible Study Book of the Year went to Kathy Howard for Deep Rooted: Growing Through the Book of Romans (Bold Vision Books). Third place went to Erica Wiggenhorn for An Unexpected Revival: Experiencing God's Goodness Through Disappointment and Doubt (Moody).
The Memoir of the Year was awarded to Janet Perez Eckles for Now I See: How God's Amazing Grace Turned Betrayal, Blindness, and Heartache to Shining Joy (JC Empowerment Ministries).
Second place for Memoir of the Year went to Carole Leathem for Are You Ready to Find Joy When Life Gets Messy? (Carole's Journey). Third place went to Debbie Dufek for Holy Interruptions: When God Taps You on the Shoulder (Bold Vision Books).
The Inspirational Gift Book of the Year was awarded to Dr. Michelle Bengtson for Today is Going to Be a Good Day: 90 Promises from God to Start Your Day Off Right (Revell).
Second place for Inspirational Gift Book of the Year went to Kim M. Clark for Deep Waters: Lift Your Gaze Prayer Book (Deep Water Books). Third place went to Jane Jenkins Herlong for Sweet Tea Secrets from the Deep Fried South (Tyndale).
The Devotional Book of the Year went to Cindy K. Sproles for Meet Me Where I Am, Lord (Iron Stream).
Second place for Devotional Book of the Year went to Becky Reeser Terry for Tie On Your Apron in the Kitchen of Prayer (Rebecca J Terry). Third place went to Karen Whiting and Sara DuBose Growing a Peaceful Heart: Devotions of Faith, Encouragement, and Forgiveness from Peacemakers Past, Present, and Future (AMG).
The Mystery/Suspense Novel of the Year was awarded to Mary Alford for Among the Innocent (Revell).
Second place for the Mystery/Suspense Novel of the Year was a tie with DiAnn Mills for Concrete Evidence (Tyndale) and Carrie Stuart Parks for Fallout (Thomas Nelson). Third place went to Dani Pettrey for The Deadly Shallows (Bethany House).
The Contemporary Novel of the Year was awarded to Heather Norman Smith for Songs for a Sunday (Iron Stream).
Second place for Contemporary Novel of the Year went to Deborah Raney for Breath of Heaven (Raney Day Press). Third place was a tie that went to Carol Grace Stratton for Lake Surrender (Carol Stratton) and Kara Hunt for Kite: Paper Dolls (Winged Publications).
The Historical Novel of the Year was awarded to Kimberley Woodhouse for Mark of Grace (Bethany House).
Second place for Historical Novel of the Year went to Cindy K. Sproles for This is Where it Ends (Revell). Third place went to Marilynn Turk for The Escape Game (Barbour).
The Romance Novel of the Year was awarded to Loretta Eidson for Pursued in the Wilderness (Love Inspired).
Second place for Romance Novel of the Year was a tie with J. C. Lafler for Love—What's God Got to Do With It? (Redemption Press) and Kim Williams for A Life Unopened (Kim Williams). Third place went to Jill Kemerer for Guarding His Secret (Love Inspired).
The Novella of the Year was awarded to Deborah Raney for The Wondrous Gift (in O Little Town: A Romance Christmas Collection) (Kregel).
Second place for Novella of the Year went to Melissa Henderson for Second Time Lighthouse Love (Charleston LIght: Stories Inspired by Sullivan Island Lighthouse) (Random Moon Books). Third place went to Susan G. Mathis for Rachel's Reunion (smWordWorks llc).
The Arise Daily Writer of the Year was awarded to Crystal Bowman.
AWSA’s official magazine, “Leading Hearts,” won the first-place Award of Excellence from the Evangelical Press Association Merit after nine straight years of winning the Award of Merit. The Leading Hearts Contributor of the Year went to Saundra Dalton-Smith. Feature Article of the Year went to Lori Roeleveld for “All Words Are Not Created Equal.” The EPA Higher Goals Award went to Linda Evans Shepherd for her Leading Hearts column “Prayer Circle'' and her Leading Hearts Evangelism Article “The Flashlight Revival.”
The 2023 graduating Certified Coaches were recognized: Pastor Jenn Dafoe-Turner, Debbie Dufek, Tracy Glass, Nancy Kay Grace, Teresa Janzen and Carol Grace Stratton.
New ASWA P.O.W.E.R. Speakers were recognized: Dr. Velma Bagby, Marilyn Bay, Debbie Dufek, Angel Dugas, Virginia Grounds, Zoe Hicks, Billie Jauss, Gail Porter, Darcie Stiener, Laurie Westlake and Carla Wicks.
This is the fourth year to present the Christian Market Book Awards. These awards are open to all authors who publish in the Christian market.
The Christian Market Book of the Year was awarded to Sharon Norris Elliott for Didn't See That Coming: When How They're Living Is Not How You Raised Them (Elk Lake).
The Christian Market Devotional of the Year was awarded to Becky Reeser Terry for Tie On Your Apron in the Kitchen of Prayer (Rebecca J Terry).
The Christian Market Christian Living Book of the Year was awarded to Mabel Ninan for Far from Home: Discovering Your Identity as Foreigners on Earth (Harambee Press).
The Christian Market Bible Study of the Year was awarded to Kathy for Howard Deep Rooted: Growing Through the Book of Romans (Bold Vision Books).
The Christian Market Suspense Novel of the Year was awarded to Lynette Eason for Crossfire (Revell).
The Christian Market Romance Novel of the Year was awarded to Hope Toler Dougherty for Forever Home (Scrivenings Press).
The Christian Market Historical Novel of the Year was awarded to Liz Tolsma for What I Would Tell You (Barbour).
The Christian Market Contemporary Novel of the Year was awarded to Chris Posti for Falling Apart, Falling for You (Elk Lake).
The Christian Market Children’s Book of the Year was awarded to Crystal Bowman and Michelle S. Lazurek, illustrated by Sandra Eide, for Who God Wants Me to Be (Waterbrook).
The Christian Market Children’s Nonfiction Book of the Year was awarded to Michelle Medlock Adams, illustrated by Sandra Eide, for Love Connects Us All (Wren and Bear Books).
Second place for the Christian Market Children’s Nonfiction Book of the Year went to Michelle Medlock Adams and Janet Johnson, illustrated by Beth Snider, for Fly High: Understanding Grief with God's Help (End Game Press). Third place went to Linda S. Carter for Devotions from the Earth: Kids Edition—Reptiles and Small Animals (Cedar Ridge Books).
The Christian Market Children’s Fiction Book of the Year was awarded to Sally Metzger, illustrated by Caroline Baker Mazure for Jesus, Were You Little? (Our Sunday Visitor Kids).
Second place for the Christian Market Children’s Fiction Book of the Year went to Wendy Hinote Lanier, illustrated by Jieting Chen for The Dog That Gave My Brother Words (End Game Press). Third place went to Asheritah Ciuciu, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, for Unwrapping the Names of Jesus for Kids (Moody).
The Christian Market Nonfiction Book of the Year was awarded to Cynthia Cavanaugh for The Godly Kings of Judah (Moody).
Second place for the Christian Market Nonfiction Book of the Year went to Andy Clapp for In the Eye of the Storm: Withstanding the Fury of Life's Storms (End Game Press). Third place went to Amber Weigand-Buckley and Lisa Burris Burns for Leading Ladies: Discover Your God-Grown Strategy for Success (Bold Vision Books).
The Christian Market Novel of the Year was awarded to Tracy Higley for Nightfall in the Garden of Deep Time (Stonewater Books LLC).
Second place for the Christian Market Novel of the Year was awarded to Carrie Stuart Parks Fallout (Thomas Nelson). Third place went to Kimberley Woodhouse and Tracie Peterson The Heart's Choice (Bethany House).
A parody, written by Martha Bolton, was performed by Sharon Tedford. Dr. Michelle Bengtson delivered the keynote address.
AWSA, the sponsor of the Golden Scroll Awards Banquet, is an outreach of Right to the Heart Ministries and consists of nearly 900 top women authors who both publish and speak nationally. See www.AWSA.com.
God used a punctuation mark to speak to me recently. I’m certain of it. (Disclaimer: This post is about studying different translations of the Bible. I primarily use KJV, NKJV, and ESV.)
I’ve been meditating on various “rejoice” passages for a couple of days. Today, a verse in Philippians 4 took on a different meaning because of the mechanics used in the ESV.
Here’s the passage:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
All other translations have a period at the end of verse five and start verse six with a capital. But the ESV has a semi-colon at the end of verse five, and the first word of verse six is lowercase. To me, these subtle differences have big implications. I had previously processed “The Lord is at hand” in verse five as a warning; that we need to obey the first part of the verse because God is watching, or because Jesus is coming back. But a semi-colon at the end of verse five makes it clearer that verse six is a continuation of the thought. We shouldn’t be anxious about anything BECAUSE the Lord is “near in time or position.” Wow.
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Do you need reassurance that Jesus is willing and able to rescue you from the storms of life? The Bible offers us this kind of hope. Some storms are rougher than others, but God can bring us safely through all of them.
In John 6, Mark 6, and Matthew 14, we learn about Jesus walking to His disciples on the Sea of Galilee during a storm. This story is a great example of how important it is to read all four gospels to get the full picture of events in the Bible and also of the value of study helps.
Until recently, I thought of this story in the context of Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus, but only Matthew mentions that part. Mark and John don’t talk about Peter (and Luke doesn’t include the story at all.) In turn, John and Mark’s accounts have details that aren’t included in Matthew. It was in the book of John that I first learned things that I’d previously missed about the story, then I compared the different accounts to gain more understanding of the event.
Scripture tells us that the disciples are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had stayed behind to pray after feeding the 5,000 and after learning of John the Baptist’s death earlier in the day. The Bible says that it was around 3:00 am and they were three or four miles from shore in a terrible windstorm when Jesus showed up. Here’s part of the passage from John:
“Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” John 6:16-21 (NKJV)
Mark 6:47,48 gives us more information: “Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.”
There is so much here that I could write an entire Bible study on this story. But here are a few points that jumped out at me from these verses.
The fact that the boat was in the middle of the sea really speaks to me. I never want to stretch to make an application, but I think it’s more than appropriate to say that He will meet us in the middle of our situation. When we feel we’re too far gone to be rescued, He can meet us there. You're not out of His reach. Don’t lose faith.
Jesus didn’t fire the disciples for sleeping on the job in the garden. He didn’t terminate them when they panicked in a storm. He didn’t kick them out of his circle even when they argued about who would be the greatest in the kingdom! Can you imagine? I would have thought they’d be disqualified then and there. But He understood their flesh was weak, and He was patient and so merciful.
Anybody feeling weak?
There are days when it feels like a chore to pray and read the Bible. Yes, I said it. I’ve recognized that when I’m struggling emotionally or mentally, reading and praying is difficult because I often don’t “feel” anything. Then I become more discouraged that my spirit isn’t strong enough to overcome the flesh. BUT...today I recalled a verse of Scripture in a TOTALLY different way than I’d ever thought of it before.
Jesus had been praying before his arrest. He had asked his friends to keep watch and pray with Him. Mark 14:37, 38 says, “And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
I had always read those words as chastisement and rebuke. As an indictment against the disciples. Today, I heard them in my spirit in a tone of compassion and understanding, even sympathy. Jesus knew what it was like to be tired! I heard those words in the same tone one would use when lifting a small child out of their car seat, who had dozed off on the ride home. “You’re sleepy, aren’t you, buddy? I know, it’s been a long day.”
Yes, Jesus’s words are a warning. They encourage us to be vigilant. But there is so much love in them. How often do we miss the love in His voice? I pray we’ll hear the compassion that compels us to come to Him, and not condemnation.
In honor of my latest release, I've compiled a list of 15 Christian Fiction books that have a form of the words "song" or "sing" in the title, and I talk about a few of them below. Here they are!
So many of these books have excellent reviews! I wish I had time to read them all.
Two of the titles that really stand out to me are Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti and Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly, in part because these are so similar to my title, Songs for a Sunday. I love the alliteration!
The Songs that Could Have Been by Amanda Wen is a fantastic book! When I read it, I knew I wanted Amanda to consider endorsing Songs for a Sunday, because I admired her work so much, and because her book has a strong music theme like mine. She was so gracious to oblige.
When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas is on my TBR list (to be read.) Last year, I read The Finder of Forgotten Things by her, and I really enjoyed it. I also love that she writes about the state she grew up in--West Virginia--the same way I write about North Carolina (where I think Sarah actually lives now!)
Now that I've thought about it more, I should probably read Song of Silence and When Silence Sings back-to-back. I'd love to find out what they might have in common!
Which of these "singing" books have you read? What are other similar titles?
I'm using this post to track all the blogs, video interviews, and radio interviews/podcasts about Songs for a Sunday, in one place.
A Modern Day Fairy Tale
Happily Managing a Household of Boys
At Home: where life happens
Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic
The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
Busy Moms Read Too
Reading Is My SuperPower
The Life We Build
Older and Smarter
Click the link below and enter before 2/12/23!
My husband is using Vanna White hands at the top of the unboxing video (no offense to Ms. White,) and I made a ridiculous kind of squeak/snort sound when I saw the book, but I’m happy to share my first look with you all. (The ta-da is him.)
You can order Songs for a Sunday now.
I don't normally blog about books I've read, and I normally try to stay positive in all my online posts, but I recently finished a book that made me so angry, I'm making an exception on both counts.
To preface, writing is an artform, and, on one hand, can be expressed using whatever mechanism the writer is inspired to present. On the other hand, authors have a certain responsibility to readers. That is, if they actually care about readers and hope people continue to read their work. A writer has a responsibility to not betray the reader's trust. Early in a book, a certain expectation is set as to how the book is going to make the reader feel. An unspoken promise is made, and based on that promise, the reader decides to invest their time and emotion in the story.
I spent ten hours listening to an audiobook this past week. On a five-hour drive to a work conference and back, the book was a welcome companion. The narrator is a very talented voice actor. Simply brilliant. And the author is an amazing writer. The story had beautiful, poetic descriptions, deep characterization, and a thought-provoking plot with gut-wrenching conflicts and heart-rending obstacles that had me invested emotionally. I was enchanted by the writing style with lyrical, moving prose in every scene. The book had a solid, well-woven Biblical message and profound insights on important, relatable topics. And then . . . the book had a TWIST ENDING that made me so ANGRY I can hardly see straight even the following day. I feel duped. Not that the twist isn’t brilliant. It definitely is. But I’m still mad about it. I haven't been this mad about a story since Rhett walked out of Scarlett's life and slammed the door behind him. In that case, however, I didn't feel tricked.
This isn't the scenario, but as an example, imagine reading a story and finding out at the end that the character had dreamed the whole thing. It's strange that the "trickery" affected me so dramatically, because the book is fiction anyway. I get that. But somehow, I feel manipulated and like my investment was wasted. I'm not going to name the book or the author, and I understand, from reviews, that hundreds of people disagree with me. They weren't affected in the same way. Some loved the twist! But plenty of reviewers do agree with me.
As an author, I hope to make people cry. It means they connected with the characters and the story. But I also want them to feel that their emotional connection to the story was worthwhile. I want them to feel rewarded for their effort at the end of the book. I never want readers to feel cheated.
To the author's credit, I wouldn't be so mad if she wasn't a wonderful writer. Her words made me care. They made feel. And, even if much of my emotion about the book is anger, I don't regret the experience. I think eventually my view will soften, but this book will certainly stick with me for a long time.
My writing tends to have one overarching theme, found in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." All story has conflict, but within that conflict, I aim to weave the truth that God can make good out of every situation. My work of Southern Fiction/Women's Fiction, Songs for a Sunday, includes many themes under this umbrella.
The main character in the present-day story, Missy, sees herself as a wife and stay-at-home mother of four. As a daughter and a granddaughter. But is there more to who she is? Does she want to be more? In the 1960s, Missy's grandmother, Annie, saw herself as a dancer. But who did she become when that was taken away from her? When the other dreams she held so dear were no longer possible? Ultimately, Songs for a Sunday is about the peace of finding our identity in Christ.
Family is a central topic in Songs for a Sunday. It follows the stories of two sets of sisters in different generations and also explores the dynamics between husband and wife, father and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, and mother and children. The book focuses on the importance of family and the value of being loyal.
3. Faith vs. Doubt:
In the story, the main character in the present day experienced a hurt that she allowed to pull her away from God. As a teenager, Missy felt rejected by a fellow believer, someone she loved, and that rejection caused her faith to crumble. To describe her pain, I gleaned from some very personal experiences. Fortunately, my outcome was that only my faith in people suffered, not my faith in God. But faith versus doubt is a major theme of the story. I hope readers that identify with this struggle will resolve their own debate on the side of faith.
4. Sacrificial Love:
One of my favorite themes in any story is sacrificial love. It's the way we're called to live as Christians--counter to our human nature. How powerful is the kind of love that makes us prefer others wants and needs above our own! The theme of sacrificial love is most on display in the 1960s storyline and is demonstrated by an older sister willing to give put her life on hold and give up her dreams, to face ridicule and uncertainty to help her younger sister. And both sisters sacrifice for the sake of an unexpected baby.
Without giving too much away, Songs for a Sunday carries a clear, distinct message of redemption. All of us need redemption, so the theme is universal. I my story, the character who had abandoned her faith for many years is confronted with the idea of belief again. Like all of us, she has a choice to make: Accept or reject the free gift of redemption.
I'm sure there are other themes we could discuss, but I hope this look at five of the major themes of the story has piqued your interest. Songs for a Sunday is available at Amazon and other retailers.
About the Blog
Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!
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