Winchester author wins Christian book award months after personal tragedy

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Yet when she married her husband, a military veteran and George Rogers Clark High School graduate, she first experienced the Bluegrass state.

“On our honeymoon, when we were coming from Florida, we came through Kentucky…and I fell in love with Kentucky”, she said.

Having been back in Winchester – where she previously lived – since April, Bridgeman can now call herself a local celebrity.

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At the American Christian Fiction Writers National Conference, Bridgeman – a USA Today bestselling author – received the 2023 Carol Award in the romantic suspense category, recognizing the best Christian fiction published in the previous calendar year.

While her novel, titled “Word of Honor,” won the award, Bridgeman was also a finalist for her book “Honor’s Refuge.”

Both books are a part of her Love and Honor Series, with “Word of Honor” being the second book of the series and “Honor’s Refuge” being the third of what is currently a five-book series.

In “Word of Honor,” the main character is FBI Special Agent Lynda Cutler.

Initially investigating an ecoterrorist organization in Alaska, Carter is sent to Istanbul, Turkey, to take part in a joint operation to take down the organization.

To avoid suspicion, she is teamed up with US Army weapons specialist Bill Sanders, who, while competent, has a soured previous relationship with Cutler.

If they hope to complete the task and eliminate all threats the organization presents worldwide, the two must learn to overcome their differences and – at times – hidden feelings.

Bridgeman, an author of nearly 40 books, was first published in 2012 and received USA Today bestselling author status in 2020.

While awards are satisfying, the process is also rewarding.

“Through the writing process, I love the creation of the story how [I can] tie together a personal growth arc, a romantic arc, a spiritual arc that’s part of that personal growth, and then that suspense,” Bridgeman said. “I love sitting there and coming up with that.”

She also stated that writing Christian fiction has helped her positively serve others, especially when confronting real-life challenges.

“My mission statement as a writer is to craft modern-day parables that uplift fellow believers and minister to seekers in our fallen world,” Bridgeman said. “Everything I do as a writer and then as a teacher for other writers is to fall under the umbrella of that mission statement.”

This year, Bridgeman faced a personal real-life struggle.

In April, her 14-year-old son Johnathan was killed after being hit by a passing vehicle along Bypass Road.

As such, she states that winning the award brought out some bittersweet feelings.

“He was my biggest fan on the planet. When we cleaned his room out and unpacked his boxes…we found almost every one of my books in some form or fashion, all read and bookmarked,” Bridgeman said. “It’s been a really rough year. I haven’t written this year at all. It was really hard to decide to go to the conference.”

Knowing that she was a finalist for the contest and was already committed to teaching, Bridgeman did attend.

Although challenging, she expressed gratitude for her time spent.

“I’m really glad I went because the Christian writing community seriously came around us…the entire time we were there was just this affirmation of people praying for us and thinking about us,” Bridgeman said. “It was quite an incredible experience, and I was able to give a speech dedicating my award to Johnathan because he was my biggest cheerleader. It was really wonderful to be able to stand in front of several hundred people and tell them that.”

As far as writing, Bridgeman shows no signs of slowing down.

With a new series featuring four books due to be released soon, she is thankful for the reaction she’s received from readers, particularly regarding the portrayal of elite Special Forces units.

“I’ve always wanted to write a series that made them less stereotype and more realistic and just celebrated the type of people that are in a Special Forces unit,” Bridgeman said.