As if the release of my second novel AND my first time speaking at a writer’s conference weren’t enough adventure for one week, I was also informed yesterday that (drumroll please) Caretaker has been named a finalist for a Whitney Award! (insert my happy dance here!)


Here is the press release they sent:


Whitney Award Winners to Be Announced at the Provo Marriott Hotel on May 7

Josi Russell’s science fiction novel Caretaker was named a Finalist in both the Speculative Fiction and the Best Novel by a New Author categories in the 8th annual Whitney Awards celebrating excellent fiction by LDS authors.

The Whitney Awards program honors the best novels published by Latter-day Saint writers each year. It was founded in 2007 by novelist Robison Wells and named after 19th century Mormon apostle Orson F. Whitney, a writer who preached of the importance of literature, including his famous prophecy that “We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.”

More than 300 books were nominated for consideration in eight categories: General Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Speculative, General Youth Fiction, Speculative Youth, and Middle Grade. Josi Russell’s Caretaker is a finalist in the Speculative Fiction category.

Josi Russell’s science fiction novels explore familiar human relationships in unfamiliar contexts. She currently teaches creative writing and fiction courses as an Associate Professor of English for Utah State University Eastern. She lives in the alien landscape of the high desert American Southwest with her family and a giant tortoise named Caesar.

Josi says she is “captivated by the fields of linguistics, mathematics, and medicine, by the vast unknown beyond our atmosphere, and by the whole adventure of being human.”

The Whitney Awards differs from other literary awards in that they are reader-based. Novels can be nominated by any reader (via the Whitney Awards website). Once a book receives five reader nominations, it advances to the judging round. The top nominees in each category become finalists, and are then are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others.

“The competition grows fiercer every year,” 2015 Whitney Awards president Jaime Theler said. “LDS authors are making their mark—their books on NYT Bestseller Lists, at the top of Amazon sales, and winning other literary awards. Being named a Whitney Finalist is an important achievement. It means these books are the cream of the crop.”

“I am honored and excited,” Russell says of her finalist nomination.

Winners will be announced and the awards presented at the Whitney Awards gala held at the Provo Marriott Hotel on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at 7:30PM, following the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference.

Details about the Whitney Awards and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at