Groveport graduate and current Canal Winchester resident C.E. Hilbert couldn't find the kind of Christian romance novel she was looking for -- so she wrote her own.
Hilbert's first novel, The Wooing of Jane Grey, has been nominated for an Evangelical Christian Publishers Association New Author of the Year award.
"I've found the market was really lacking in Christian romance chick-lit. This is sort of a palate cleanser for what's being sold in the mainstream romance literature," Hilbert said.
The Wooing of Jane Grey follows a young woman "who has to make a choice between a guy who's good on paper and a hockey hunk, and really, she has to listen to what God tells her to do," Hilbert said.
The Wooing of Jane Grey is published by Deep River Books, a company that offers "partner publishing." According to its website, Deep River provides professional editing, marketing and design assistance to authors whose manuscripts are accepted; the writers are asked to purchase a certain number of books.
Deep River Books featured Hilbert and her novel this summer at the International Christian Retail Show.
"We are certainly excited about the nomination," publisher Bill Carmichael said. "This is a great novel and C.E.'s writing style has proven she deserves to be in the running."
The New Author of the Year award winner will be announced in March, and out of seven awards given at that time, a single award winner is then chosen to receive the Christian Book of the Year.
Hilbert credits her supportive family with helping her navigate what has been an "overwhelming" time for her.
"My sister has been like an unpaid agent, getting as many people to follow this on Facebook and buy the book," she said. "This field is so subjective and I'm such a black-and-white kind of person that having people judge my thoughts and emotions is uncomfortable, but I'm really blessed by God to have this family and the Carmichaels behind me."
She said she has been writing her own material for years.
"When I was little, I used to be so excited for the bookmobile to come, and when I couldn't wait, I'd write my own little stories," she said. "I've always written, but a few years ago, I got passionate about finding a way to use this gift from God. I won a contest with Deep River and they agreed to publish my book and the editing process was so enlightening.
"I'd never had that before and it made me a better writer, and the book a better story. All of this has been wonderful, but overwhelming, too," she said.