2018 Contest Winners Announced - Deep River Books' 2017 contestThe ninth annual Deep River Books Writer’s Contest has come to a close. We had many strong contenders from a range of genres. Congratulations to all entrants for your wonderful manuscripts!

Grand Prize

The House on Lowell Street (fiction)

Rose Morrison leads an enviable life in a beautiful Queen Anne house on Lowell Street, the best address in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her husband, Albert, is a successful banker, and she a popular hostess. Then one night, Rose discovers her husband slumped over his desk, dead of a heart attack at age 47. She is devastated, but her troubles are only beginning. In his desk, she finds he is deep in debt.

For the first time in her life, Rose must support herself and her 17-year-old son. Without any job skills, she turns to a time-tested solution for impoverished widows. She takes in boarders, but only women with impeccable references. Soon overwhelmed by the task of keeping up a 12-room house, she accepts Mildred and Harriet Rutledge, seamstresses at the corset factory, who agree to help with the housework on their day off. Rose is drawn into the sisters’ lives and then into their corset-makers’ union, becoming enmeshed in a labor strike at their factory. While this story is fictional, it was inspired by the actual Kalamazoo Corset Company labor strike of 1912.

Second Place

Bones in the Valley (fiction)

Archaeologists Ava and Oliver Stein are experiencing considerable trouble in northern Israel. Difficulties in their marriage, as well as intrigue with their excavation site, threaten their ground-breaking work. When a stranger claiming to be a soldier from an ancient army appears with an offer of assistance, the husband and wife team must decide if it’s worth putting up with a crazy man to discover the truth about their site. But God soon makes one thing clear: he works in miraculous ways to heal his children.

Third Place (tie)

Transparency: A Cure for Hypocrisy in the Modern Church (non-fiction)

How has church become a place where we must leave our “real selves” at the door—and pick them up later when we head home, more burdened than ever with loneliness, exhaustion and hypocrisy? One remedy for this lamentable situation can be found in Transparency: A Cure for Hypocrisy in the Modern Church.

Leavened with more than 500 Scripture references, the book challenges readers to consider why we aren’t transparent, including such issues as perfectionism, blame-shifting, fear of man—and of course, pride and self-preservation. Likewise, the book shows how transparency can both unify the body of Christ and crucify sin, while also relieving the stress of pretending to be someone you’re not. More important, the text points to transparency in Scripture—in the lives of Job, Moses, and Jesus; in the psalms of David; in the struggles described by the Preacher of Ecclesiastes and the Apostle Paul (Rom. 7). At the same time, it offers a practical framework for making openness work in the local church, with a careful look at when to share and whom to share with, plus material on reproof, exhortation, encouragement and praise—all of which also require openness and authenticity.

Third Place (tie)

You Cannot Grasp the River (fiction)

In the last quarter of the 20th century, the land of Irian Jaya (later known as West Papua), Indonesia, home to the Stone Age Papuan culture, was being thrust into the modern world. Representatives of national and international markets from outside explored the natural riches of this mysterious tropical island and frequently had contacts with remote Papuans. The Papuan inhabitants of this formidable land were distinctive clans who were separated by mountains, rivers, languages and frequent warfare. It was into the clan of the Kotos that Benjad was born. His minority language group was relatively untouched by contact with outside civilization. The tragic loss of his father and then a short time later the death of his mother when he was six years old changed his destiny.

Shaka, an evil Shaman, murdered his parents and destroyed Benjad’s childhood among the closed community of hunters and gatherers. If it were not for an outsider, Clay Burris, soldier-turned-missionary, Benjad would have shared the same fate of his mother and father. With kindness and love, Clay and Alice, his wife, rescued and introduced young Benjad to Christian truths that contradicted his people’s traditions. One tradition consisted of mandatory vengeance.

Certificate of Merit Winners

Martyr’s Manual by Wayne Brouwer

Shadows of Grace by Herman Mendoza

The Cardinal Element by K. Douglas Brown

When the Honeysuckle Smells the Sweetest by Nora Carpenter Atkins

A Gift of Days by Leah Wacek

Confrontation by Kurt W. Mach

Spirit Garden by Anne Schroeder

The Rivers of Our Babylons by Fenton M. Ward

Emerging Christians by Anthony Beard

There and Back by Loretta Benkert

The Five-Fold Ministry in the Local Church by Byron Hamilton