The 2015 Clive Staples Award


2014CSA_Small copyI guess this is the day for announcements.

Since its inception I’ve headed up the Clive Staples Award For Christian Speculative Fiction. This year the organization sponsoring the award is taking the lead (yea!)

Today begins the process of picking the best Christian speculative novel published in 2014. All the information you need to know is below, but I want to point out the first item on the timetable: Nominations will be open for only two weeks. In other words, there’s not a lot of time to make a decision or to read the book you’ve heard such good things about. The time is now, people! Now!

OK, do I sound sufficiently exercised? 😉 Hope so. We really do have a great list of nominations so far, and anyone can add books that aren’t on the list yet.

So without more blathering, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s award.

RealmMakerslogo

Realm Makers is excited to promote this year’s Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction. We will announce the winner as part of the Realm Makers Awards Dinner on August 7th.

Similar to last year, the final winner will be decided by a panel of judges, so the award becomes a hybrid of “readers’ choice” and panel judging, which combines popularity and critical acclaim in the process. We’re very excited to be able to recognize the book that earns this honor, and therefore, the Faith and Fantasy Alliance is once again committing sponsoring funds to the cash prize that will go to the winner.

The nomination period is upon us and will be conducted via an online poll. If you would like to nominate a book for this award, please read the guidelines below before jumping to the poll.

Nomination qualifications

Eligible books must be all of the following:

  • Containing themes consistent with a Christian worldview, whether implied, symbolic, or overt.
  • Published in English.
  • Published between January 1 and December 31 of the current contest’s year. (For example, for the Clive Staples Award held in 2015, entrants must have been published between, Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014.)
  • In the science fiction/fantasy/allegory/futuristic/supernatural/supernatural suspense/horror/time travel category, or any sub-genre or mashup of these.

Nomination guidelines

  • Authors, agents, and publishers may not nominate books with which they are affiliated. Likewise, book authors or affiliates may not campaign for votes on behalf of their books. A conservative number of social media posts to make readers aware of the voting process is welcome. The contest committee reserves the right to disqualify any entry if it is determined a book’s affiliates have campaigned for votes.
  • Readers may only nominate books they have actually read.
  • Ebooks and books in hard-copy print are both eligible

Nomination instructions

  • Add between 1 and 3 books you’d like to nominate. Please include the Title, Author, and Publisher (indicate “self-published” if that is the case.)
  • Submit your answers

After the nomination period is over, the award committee will tabulate the votes and declare the semi-finalists.

Readers’ Choice Semi-finalist Voting

Voters will be eligible only if they have read two or more of the books nominated. We want this to be a selection by readers of Christian speculative fiction, not just the fans of particular authors.

Below are standards to consider.

Standards for Clive Staples Award books

  • Quality writing style and mechanics
  • Believable and well-developed world-building
  • Depth of characterization
  • Well-structured, original, and interesting plot
  • Deftness of integration of the worldview into the story’s plot and characterizations

Contest time line:

5-15-15: Reader nomination period begins

5-29-15: Reader nominations close

6-1-15: Semi-Finalists announced; second round of Readers Choice voting begins

6-8-15: Readers Choice voting closes

6-15-15: Finalists announced

7-7-15: Winner announced at the Realm Makers Costumed Awards Dinner, cash prize awarded

Thank you for lending your voice to help us choose the best speculative fiction out there. Spread the word that the contest is open, and good luck to all you authors.

To participate in the nomination process, record your selections (up to three) on this survey: CSA Nomination Survey.

Published in: on May 14, 2015 at 5:25 pm  Comments Off on The 2015 Clive Staples Award  
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If It’s Friday, It’s Time For Fantasy


GoldenDaughtercoverI haven’t discussed fiction much of late, at least not here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, though I still post about fiction in general at my editing site and about Christian speculative fiction every Monday at Speculative Faith. It feels like it’s time to get back to my blogging roots for a day. 😉

When I first started blogging, Christian fantasy was almost an anomaly. Only a handful of writers were putting out true fantasy with Christian underpinnings. Donita Paul and Bryan Davis burst on the scene to join Stephen Lawhead and Karen Hancock, but back in those days fantasy primarily meant stories written in a medieval-type setting that included the equivalent of magic.

However, as the fantasy genre expanded in the general market to include urban fantasy, dystopian fantasy, fairytale fantasy, and more, the stories Christians wrote also ventured away from the classic form.

In addition, new authors have emerged—Jill Williamson, Andrew Peterson, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Patrick Carr, R. J. Larson, John Otte and more recently Nadine Brandes, Ashlee Willis, and Mary Weber.

Over this time, publishing has changed, too. More and more small presses featuring Christian speculative fiction have come into being. First was Marcher Lord Press founded by the visionary Jeff Gerke. But others soon followed: Splashdown Books, AltWit Press, Castle Gate Press, and others.

This past year Jeff Gerke sold MLP to agent Steve Laube. The house now operates as Enclave Publishing and has just hired a director of sales and marketing. One of the goals for Enclave is to get their books into bookstores, something that can only enhance their visibility, even as the digital market expands.

Publishers with a long standing “no fantasy” policy have broken from their mold and are now joining the ranks of others with a growing group of fantasy authors.

By fantasy, of course, I mean this broader, more encompassing genre, which fans of Lord of the Rings might not recognize. Is this a good thing?

I absolutely think it’s a great thing. All types of fantasy stir the imagination. Dystopian or post-apocalyptic fantasy or science fantasy may not tell stories about sword-wielding, dragon-fighting heroes, but they still create a different world and show a struggle between good and evil. This latter, after all, is the single most important fantasy trope.

Interestingly, the once familiar good or evil fantasy creatures have been turned on their heads. Hence dragons may be good, and in the case of Donita Paul’s minor dragons in her DragonKeeper Chronicles, even cute and cuddly.

Still there remains an identifiable evil that characters must choose to fight. In Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands series, for instance, there was no one villain but a system readers can equate with the world system that finds solutions to life’s problems by escaping into entertainment and pleasure.

Despite this expansion of the genre, epic fantasy seems to retain its popularity, as evidenced by the great success of first time novelist Patrick Carr’s A Cast of Stones and the following two books of the Staff and Sword trilogy.

And I haven’t yet mentioned self-publishing. With the changes in digital publishing, a writer can now publish their book with ease. Finding a readership remains the great challenge, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more and more viable stories out there among the self-published.

One of the functions Speculative Faith plays is to catalog Christian speculative fiction in the Library. Any book written with an overt or symbolic or suggestive worldview pointing toward some aspect of Christianity—regardless of publisher—may be included in the database. It’s a great tool to use to find books that might fit the genre or audience age a person is looking for.

Other developments have also enhanced Christian speculative fiction, not just fantasy—specifically the Realm Makers Conference which is planning for its third year in 2015, and the Clive Staples Award which will be entering its fifth year of operation.

My hope, of course, is that readers are finding these great fantasy books. If publishers are to continue producing them, readers need to buy them.

I’m happy to report I bought a fantasy today—Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s soon to release Golden Daughter. How about you? What fantasy have you recently purchased or read?

Fantasy Friday – The Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction


CSAbutton 2013Over at Speculative Faith I’ve been going on and on for some time about the Clive Staples Award, but I realized today, I haven’t said anything about it here.

After two moderately successful years, the CSA looked as if it might be dead in the water, but this year Spec Faith is hosting it, still as a readers’ choice award, but with the support of an up and coming speculative writers’ conference, Realm Makers.

I’ve posted on the standards a best book ought to have (here and here). I’ve posted on the books eligible for nomination and about the eligibility of voters. I’ve posted the list of nominations and am currently featuring those books in Spec Faith news items, counting down to the beginning of our first round of voting. (See for example, today’s countdown post.)

Pretty much, if it needed saying, I said it. And probably a lot more that didn’t need saying. 😆

But I broke a cardinal rule. I didn’t tell the people I should have been telling–visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction.

The point is, reader awards only work if readers vote. Not as some kind of popularity contest, but as a serious effort to identify which book readers think was tops. Of course, readers can’t vote if they don’t know about the award, so we need you and all your friends to talk up the Clive Staples Award to any and every reader you know, in case by some chance they might be an eligible voter and might want very much to participate.

What, you ask, qualifies one as an eligible voter? Nothing more than having read AT LEAST TWO of the nominated books. Two. Out of thirty-three.

Yep. We had a 57% increase in the number of nominated books, which necessitated us holding two rounds. Round one will determine the five finalists, and round two will pick the winner.

OK, here’s the list of books. See if you yourself might be eligible to vote.

Words in the Wind by Yvonne Anderson (Risen Books)

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse (Marcher Lord Press)

Devil’s Hit List: Book Three of the UNDERGROUND by Frank Creed (Splashdown Books)

Liberator (Dragons of Starlight series) by Bryan Davis (Zondervan)

A Throne of Bones by Vox Day (Hinterlands / Marcher Lord Press)

Mortal (The Books of Mortals) by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (FaithWords)

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore (Thomas Nelson)

The Telling by Mike Duran (Realms Fiction)

Risk by Brock Eastman (P&R Publishing/Focus on the Family)

Live and Let Fly by Karina Fabian (Muse It Up Publishing)

I Am Ocilla by Diane Graham (Splashdown)

Seeking Unseen by Kat Heckenbach (Splashdown Books)

Remnant in the Stars by Cindy Koepp (Under The Moon)

The Unraveling of Wentwater (The Gates of Heaven Series) by C.S. Lakin (Living Ink Books)

Prophet by R. J. Larson (Bethany House)

Judge by R. J. Larson (Bethany House)

Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law (Thomas Nelson)

Fire Prophet by Jerel Law (Thomas Nelson)

The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)

The Wrong Enemy by Jane Lebak (MuseItUp Publishing)

Alienation (A C.H.A.O.S. novel) by Jon S. Lewis (Thomas Nelson)

Curse Bearer by Rebecca P Minor (Written World Communications)

Rift Jump by Greg Mitchell (Splashdown Darkwater)

Bid the Gods Arise by Robert Mullin (Crimson Moon Press)

Prophetess (Winter Book 2) by Keven Newsome (Splashdown Darkwater)

Failstate by John W. Otte (Marcher Lord Press)

Soul’s Gate by James Rubart (Thomas Nelson)

Starflower by Anne Elizabeth Stengl (Bethany House)

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House)

Star Of Justice by Robynn Tolbert (Splashdown Books)

Daystar by Kathy Tyers (Marcher Lord Press)

The New Recruit by Jill Williamson (Marcher Lord Press)

Replication: The Jason Experiment by Jill Williamson (Zonderkidz)

Interesting fact: 15 women authors and 14 men had books nominated. The numbers don’t add up because one book has co-authors and several writers had more than one book nominated.

I mention this gender fact because one person commenting on a blog said something about all those women writers nominated for the CSA, as if that was a slur. Well, I’m a woman writer, so I don’t think it’s a slur at all, but I also believe in being accurate. A list that is mixed like this says a lot about who is writing Christian speculative fiction.

Interesting fact #2: 17 of the nominations were published by “big houses”–ones known most for traditional publishing models and associated with bookstores and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and 16 by smaller, newer, independent houses. Again, that balance seems like a big plus for Christian speculative fiction.

All that aside, the main thing you need to know for now: voting begins on Monday! Tell your friends and followers, please. 😀

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