So this morning, I woke up to the news that my debut novel, His Last Hope: A Contemporary Christian Romance has been nominated for the RONE Awards. I can tell what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the very same thing myself. The RONE Awards? What are the RONE Awards? The RONE awards are an initiative of InD’Tale Magazine (indtale.com), which has the tagline, “News & Reviews for the Self & Small Published Reader in all of us!” and they are making an effort to bring the work of people like me – self-published authors – and those published by small companies to readers.
I came across InD’Tale last year while trying to find reputable sites to review His Last Hope. I’ll be honest, when I submitted it, I didn’t expect to get a good review, mainly because it’s not a site that’s exclusively dedicated to Christian fiction.
I’ve found that Christian readers will enjoy His Last Hope, while others find a lot to criticize in it. It’s just like any other aspect of the Christian walk – people have to taste and see; they have to experience it to understand it, and if they haven’t tasted... if they haven’t had the experience, then they are usually mystified by it. I therefore put it to the back of my mind – so much so that I actually forgot I’d requested the review. It was only months later that I was on Good Reads and saw that they had not only reviewed the book in an issue of their online magazine, but they’d shared the review on Good Reads, as well! And it was a 4.5-star review, too! Here’s an excerpt of Lori Leger’s review for InD’Tale:
M.A. Malcolm has penned a truly unique, inspirational story about redemption, perseverance, and forgiveness . . . it’s a testimony that God does work his miracles in mysterious and wondrous ways! ... This is a truly marvelous read for anyone looking for sweet contemporary Christian romance!
I was beyond surprised; I was thrilled!
So imagine my surprise and thrill when I woke up today and found an email from InD’Tale explaining that because of its 4.5-star review, His Last Hope had been short-listed for their annual RONE Awards. This is what they said about the awards:
We at InD’Tale Magazine have put in an incredible amount of time and effort to create and present the most credible and prestigious award in the industry today. Our three round system of elimination covers every facet - highly reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges. No other award system today compares, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a novel in the publishing industry.
Some of you may remember that His Last Hope was nominated for the CSPA 2016 Book of the Year (Romance), but I was the one who submitted the novel for consideration for that award, the winner of which will be announced on April 25. Since I submitted it, I was aware that it was in the running to be one of the finalists, and I wasn't shocked at all. That said, I feel extremely blessed to be among ten competitors for the 2016 RONE Award in the Inspirational category. Every week between April 18 and May 29, 2016, three categories of books will be up for voting. Subscribers to the magazine (I have a free subscription, I’m guessing you can get one too) will be asked to choose from as many as dozens of entrants per category, and the top books in each group will advance to the final round. Inspirational fiction will be chosen during the week of May 23 - 29. At that time, I will be asking my readers and supporters to vote, vote, vote for His Last Hope so that we can make it a finalist. Afterwards, it will be judged by industry professionals and the award will be in their hands.
The joy of being nominated is indescribable. Those who have heard my story before will know that I never really expected to become a published author. I simply had a personal testimony and wanted to share it with people who needed it, and I found an interesting way in which to package it. My own experience was simply a seed that grew into a work of mostly fiction. Ten months later, my story — a fictionalized version of my testimony — has made its way into the hands and hearts of hundreds of readers. Isn’t God awesome?! This is a true reminder that He will do what He said He will do, and that His words will never return to Him void (Isa. 55:11).
As I type, I have recently finished a short story entitled “Discombobulated: An Alistair Bay Short Romance” and I’m actively working on a novella — one of two planned prequels featuring characters mentioned in His Last Hope. I’m also working on an unrelated children’s story and thinking about doing a non-fiction book based on my experiences with pregnancy loss.
All this from someone who never expected to become a writer.
I’ve written all this to remind you that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that He prepared for us in advance, that we should live in them. (Eph. 2:10, paraphrased) Do you feel like God is calling you to use your gifts to bless others and advance His kingdom? Offer your gifts to Him to use for His glory, and wait to see how He will use that same gift to open doors for you.
I wish you many blessings and phenomenal success!