2017 Christian Writing Contest Winners

Grand Prize:

Sophie Neville
for Makorongo’s War, based on a true story
-$2,500 first prize!

An anthropology graduate, Sophie Neville drove from London to Johannesburg before spending twelve years based in Africa, working as a safari guide and wildlife artist while helping to establish health and welfare projects in the Waterberg.

Now based on the south coast of England, Sophie is a speaker for Bible Society and President of The Arthur Ransome Society, often giving talks on her book The Making of Swallows & Amazons(1974), published by The Lutterworth Press.

After acting in films as a child, Sophie forged a career in television production at the BBC working on dramas such as Doctor Who?, Eastenders and My Family and Other Animals, before producing a series of INSET documentaries and pastoral care programmes for BBC Schools Television. The story of an abrupt change in her life is told in a self-published memoir Funnily Enough, that became a bestseller on Kindle and won her third prize in the International Rubery Book Award 2013. The sequel, Ride the Wings of Morning, tells of her escapades in southern Africa where she still helps lead The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride to raise funds for Christian projects in the area. Makorongo’s War is her first novel. It is based on the wartime experiences of her great-uncle Tony and his friend Makorongo who took her on safari when she was a girl.


Runner up:

Preston Shires
for Knight Time for Paris
-$1,000 award!

Preston Shires and his wife, Sylvie, live on a farm in the rolling hills of southeast Nebraska. In addition to farming, Preston also teaches history at the college level, focusing on Roman, medieval, and American history. He holds a PhD in his discipline and as an undergraduate studied at the Université de Bordeaux, France, where he met Sylvie. After their marriage they lived for five years in Europe, where they led a Protestant youth group in France and where Preston periodically worked as a translator for the U.S. Army. Preston’s passion for French and American history is the catalyst for his writing. His first published work was a historical analysis of the origin of the Christian Right in American politics. He has also published a fictional medieval tale set in Brittany, France, and a translation of André Maurois’s Neither Angel, Nor Beast, a work of historical fiction set in France’s revolutionary days of 1848. Preston’s Knight Time for Paris is a story of adventure and suspense as France’s medieval spirit takes on the country’s post-Christian culture. Currently Preston is working on a mystery series, set in Nebraska’s frontier days with a young lady journalist as his heroine. Preston and Sylvie have four children and eight grandchildren.

Honorable Mention:

Ben Strycker
for Concerning Young Werther
-$100 award!

Benjamin Strycker grew up in north-central Indiana and recently moved to Waco, Texas, where he works as a scientific researcher in the field of atomic, molecular, and optical physics at the Baylor University BRIC facility (Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative), where Texas A&M University has a joint lab. He is in the process of finding a church home and meeting new people. In his spare time he enjoys reading great literature, running, world traveling, and writing.


Honorable Mention:

Denise Griffon
for The Bahraini Pearls
-$100 award!

Born and raised in north-central Ohio (go Buckeyes!), these are Denise Griffon’s debut novels. She credits Athanatos for incentivizing her to finish and refine the series, resulting in publishing both books with Forget Me Knot Publishing, a division of Winged Publishing in September of 2017. With degrees in Zoology and Dentistry, she always knew there were books hiding away in her soul—she just needed to get to the empty nest locale to find them. Her love of romance and history (with a whisper of inspirational faith) became the framework of The Bahraini Pearls series. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Writer’s Digest. Denise, or Dee as she prefers to be called, has two grown sons. When she’s not practicing as a dentist, she enjoys biking, hiking, agility, and kayaking with her rescue golden lab, Clementine. A String of Dreams | A Strand of Hope