2019 The Christy Award Finalists (and a Giveaway!): First Novel

Posted November 4, 2019 by meezcarrie in 2019 The Christy Award, awards, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, historical, romance / 33 Comments

Happy Monday (again), my friends! From today through Wednesday I’ll be spotlighting The Christy Award 2019 finalist books in each category – let’s continue on with first novel! Some of the authors were gracious enough to answer a couple of questions for me so I’ve included their answers below as well.

The Christy Award® Gala 2019 is coming up on November 6th at Lipscomb University in Nashville, following The Art of Writing Conference. The Christy Award Dinner Gala will celebrate the art of Christian fiction, announce the 2019 winners of The Christy Award, and feature bestselling authors Patti Callahan, James Rubart and Becky Wade. In addition, they’ll honor the legacy of bestselling author and pioneer of inspirational fiction, Janette Oke, in the 40th anniversary year of Love Comes Softly. (You can still register to attend both events until the day of the conference/gala!)

If you can’t attend this year, watch the live stream HERE

And the finalists for First Novel are….


GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2019
PAGES: 240

The Baggage Handler is a contemporary story that explores one question: What baggage are you carrying?

When three people take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, their lives change forever.

A hothead businessman coming to the city for a showdown meeting to save his job.

A mother of three hoping to survive the days at her sister’s house before her niece’s wedding.

And a young artist pursuing his father’s dream so he can keep his own alive.

When David, Gillian, and Michael each take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, the airline directs them to retrieve their bags at a mysterious facility in a deserted part of the city. There they meet the enigmatic Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed, and carrying it with them is slowing them down in ways they can’t imagine. And they must deal with it before they can leave.

In this modern-day parable about the burdens that weigh us down, David Rawlings issues an inspiring invitation to lighten the load.


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Based in South Australia, David Rawlings is a sports-mad father-of-three who has put words on the page to put food on the table for the past 30 years as a corporate writer. His debut novel – The Baggage Handler – is a 2019 finalist for the Christy Award for First Novel and his second book – The Camera Never Lies – focuses on honesty in relationships. It launches on December 3. Visit him at his website.

why do you write Christian Fiction?

Why? Because I believe in both the power of story and the power of the values in which I believe. Christian fiction enables me to bring them together.

I write stories that take people deeper into life. There was great power in the example of Jesus, who told parables to engage with people. If anyone had all the answers it was Him, and yet in many cases he posed a question within a story to connect with people. This approach is need more than ever today, in a world that discards values or shuts down conversations. Story is a powerful way to get people thinking, challenge behaviour or just encourage people to address the deeper questions in life that really matter.

how have christy by catherine marshall & love comes softly by janette oke impacted you and/or your writing?

By starting an entire industry which I’ve been immersed in as a reader, and now a writer.

We often place pioneers in an historical context – those people who did it tough and did it alone to forge a path for themselves and their families. Those whose courage carved a way forward for those who followed, making their journey easier or, in some cases, possible. Catherine and Janette opened up people’s hearts to the concept of faith in story, and paved the way for people like me to share mine. And for that I’m grateful.

GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2018
PAGES: 400

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines―until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.


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Tara Johnson is an author and speaker, and loves to write stories that help people break free from the lies they believe about themselves. Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, as well as numerous other accolades. In addition to be published in a variety of digital and print magazines, she has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio, Enduring Word radio, television and podcasts. She is a history nerd, especially the Civil War, and adores making people laugh. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas. Visit her at her website.

why do you write Christian Fiction?

Story has a beautiful way of revealing deep, hidden, and raw things to our hearts and minds in an incredibly impactful way. We are lied to so often, and people are yearning for truth . . . but truth is hard to accept in its raw form. Wrapped in story, it tugs the heart and transforms lives. How much more powerful when that message is the Gospel of Jesus.
Go read her full answer HERE because it’s beautiful…

how has love comes softly by janette oke impacted you and/or your writing?

Love Comes Softly was one of the very first Christian fiction books I read as a teenager. Its themes of perseverance and hope amid disaster left an indelible mark on my mind and left me hungry to find more stories filled with redemption and restoration.


Brands from the Burning #1

GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Mountain Brook Ink
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2018
PAGES: 366

Inspired by Actual Events

1942. Pilot Dave Delham revels at the success of his historic Japanese bombing mission. Until he’s caught and endures years of imprisonment at the hands of cruel captors. Despairing that he’ll survive, Dave vows if he escapes, he’ll answer God’s call on his life. He made aviation history in the Doolittle Raid. Now he’s called to make amends.

Osaka, Japan, 1948. Miyako Matsuura longs to restore her family’s shattered honor. After watching her little brother die in a horrific American air raid, she’s been reduced to prostitution to survive. When the pilot whose bomb stole her brother’s life returns as a missionary, her thirst for revenge consumes her.

Two damaged people race along a collision course that could bring eternal change. Can Dave and Miyako transform their tragic histories and surrender to forgiveness and faith?

If you like pulse-pounding AND heart-warming tales of redemption drawn from life, brimming with deeply drawn characters and taut suspense, then you’ll love Linda Thompson’s powerful novel.


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Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an O.C.W. Cascade award winner and a 2019 Carol and Christy finalist. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading–yes, that makes her a throwback–taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from tours of Israel, Jordan and Wales. Visit her at her website.

why do you write Christian Fiction?

The Plum Blooms in Winter was my labor of love for six years, and what I learned is that a novel really has to be a calling. I can’t imagine expending so much blood, sweat and tears for any reason other than to transform lives with spiritual truth. What kept me going through all the rewrites was my confidence that the Lord had called me to write this specific book. The novel is based on a gripping true story from World War II. My husband showed me the story in a history book, and I felt that the way the Lord redeemed these two lives deserved to be known by a broader audience than would read it there.

how have christy by catherine marshall & love comes softly by janette oke impacted you and/or your writing?

Our culture is a gluttonous consumer of story. It’s everywhere around us–movies, TV, video games, the nightly news. And yes, books too, although they have more competition now for attention! But so many of the stories we’re exposed to are dark. I am very grateful for writers like Catherine and Janette for being bold enough to speak light into that darkness. Their contribution has paved the way for a generation of Christian writers to keep spreading the circle of light, rather than abandoning the whole arena to the clamor of a our fallen world.

The Christy Award/ECPA is offering one of my readers ALL the finalist books in one category of your choice. (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? Which of these The Christy Award first novel finalists are on your TBR list? Which have you already read?

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33 responses to “2019 The Christy Award Finalists (and a Giveaway!): First Novel

  1. Elizabeth Litton

    I haven’t read any of them yet. However, after reading the summary of The Plum Blooms in Winter, I am definitely ordering it from my library. It sounds fantastic!

  2. Becky D.

    I loved “Engraved on the Heart” by Tara Johnson! ? It put her on my favorite authors list. Such an intriguing story to follow.

  3. Brenda Murphree

    I have read Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson and won a copy of The Plum Blooms in the Winter but I haven’t had a chance to read it. I have read any book by the other author.

  4. Merry

    Congratulations to all the authors. I have Tara’s second book in the series on my tbr. I am also looking forward to reading Engraved on My Heart.

  5. Donna H

    I’ve read Tara Johnson’s Engraved on the Heart – great historical fiction. Enjoy her writing! The other books look intriguing as well and definitely on my TBR list.

  6. Would be interested in The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson, although all the rest look good as well! I would love to win a print copy! Thanks for the opportunity to enter a giveaway! God bless!

  7. Haley Resseguie

    I haven’t read any of these yet, although Tara Johnson’s is on my kindle waiting to be read! They all sound great.

  8. Paula Shreckhise

    I have read A Plum Blooms in Winter and thought it was phenomenal! So well written and exciting and deep.
    I have Tara’s book but need to read it.

  9. Perrianne Askew

    I’ve read (and loved) Tara Johnson’s Engraved on the Heart. I’ve had my eye on The Plum Blooms in Winter and have heard good things about The Baggage Handler, so there they go onto my wish list.

  10. AmyJo M.

    I’ve been wanting to read The Baggage Handler for a while now, gonna add it to the top of my tbr pile. Thanks for the reminder!!

    • i really liked that one! I’ve read The Plum Blooms in Winter as well (powerful history it’s based on) and The Baggage Handler is in the top part of my teetering TBR tower

  11. Melissa R

    I have not read any of these, but Tara Johnson’s cover is so gorgeous. The Baggage Handler sounds very intriguing!

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