Five Ways to Make Time for Reading

(This week’s post is from our fantastic summer intern, Jessica Pollard. Enjoy her tips!)

Let’s face it. Life is always going to be busy. Even though everyone says summer is the time to relax, you will always have lawn to mow, gardens to weed, and windows to clean. Not to mention no one can remember the last time the pantry was cleaned.

To help you escape the woes of summer cleaning and busy schedules, here are five ways you can make time in your life so you can soak in the summer rays with your favorite book.

Always Carry a Book

Everywhere is a good place to read: the doctor’s office, a sporting event, or even a road trip. (Unless you are driving. You’ll have to settle for an audiobook instead.) We waste so much time between events scrolling on our phones or gazing awkwardly into space. With a handy book in your purse or car, you can save your battery and look sophisticated at the same time. If you think books are too clunky to carry around (or don’t want to save your battery or look sophisticated), you can always have a few ebooks on your mobile device so that instead of mindlessly playing that game you’ve played a million times, you can go on new adventures with your newest character-friends.

Audiobooks

Some summer cleaning is inevitable. Trust me, trying to find an onion for wild rice soup is easier if you don’t have to venture through the menacing forest that grew around them. (Yes, I speak from experience.) However, you can make the work more enjoyable if you spend it with your favorite characters listening to audiobooks. Crossing stuff off your to-do list and reading books at the same time! You will be crowned the best multitasker in the world. Maybe you can even imaging you are the character as they make dinner or clean the house along with you.

Read What You Love

Yes, this may seem obvious at first glance. Of course, you should read what you love…but think of all the things you do read when you are “too busy” to read a book. Random news articles, your social media feed, bills. It only takes one masterfully woven page-turner to keep your attention hooked for hours. You will wonder how you ever claimed you didn’t have time for books. You may also wonder what sleep is.

(WARNING: Sleep is necessary for human function. Follow your doctor’s advice. But then again, if you really need to know who killed that guy…I guess you can read one more chapter…Someone else was killed? Okay, one more…What just happened??? Only two more chapters this time…Whoops, that’s the end of that book. But there was a cliffhanger…I guess you can start the next one.)

Set Goals

As with most things in life, you will get more done if you set goals (and stick to them). You will be amazed how many pages you can read while you’re brushing your teeth, making dinner, or before you go to bed if you know that reading 54 more pages will allow you to check the little box on your list. Making color-coded charts and spreadsheets to chart your progress can be as motivating as a to-do list.

(WARNING: Making color-coded charts and spreadsheets is addictive. You don’t want them to cut into your valuable reading time. It’s best to listen to an audiobook while making them.)

Be Challenged by Peers

If following through on your goals is not your forte, there’s nothing like a little peer pressure to keep you reading. Join a book club or start one with some friends. You don’t want to be the one who shows up to the meeting and responds “Well…you see…” when asked if you thought the main character was justified when she decided to go on a date with Bill instead on Rob in chapter nine. Trust me, you want to avoid the judgmental stares of book-lovers. Their gazes won’t stop after the meeting is over. They will follow you. Everywhere. For the rest of your life.

I think cleaning the pantry can wait for next month.

I hope these tips will inspire you to read more this summer. How do you make time for reading in your life?

July 2019 New Releases

Good thing you don’t need a passport or visa to travel through books, because our two July fiction releases will take you all over the globe, to ancient Israel in Until the Mountains Fall, and to Russia, the Bahamas, Greece and many other countries in Storm Rising. Click on the covers below to read an excerpt of each of these page-turning books, perfect for summer reading.

 

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

Plot Summary: Once lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold ancient secrets—and dangers. Former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe has been tasked with capturing the ancient text, but a Bulgarian operative snatches it, determined to secure her freedom. When a series of strange storms erupts, they must form an alliance to thwart impending disaster.

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

Plot Summary: Recently widowed, Rivkah flees Kedesh, refusing to submit to Torah law and marry her husband’s brother. Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but after her disappearance, he throws himself into the war against the Canaanites and is forced to confront not only his wounds, but also hers—including the shocking truth that has kept her from returning.

 

Since these books both have the protagonists on the cover, what do you feel like you know about them already just from a quick glance?

Prayer for Authors: July 2019

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in July:

Connilyn Cossette
Ronie Kendig

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.”—Psalm 61:2-3 (CSB)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For strength for the additional tasks needed during release month.
  • For safety during any travel, either personal vacations or writing conferences.
  • For the right readers to pick up these books at a time when they need it.

It’s a powerful thing to have a group of readers gathering together to pray for these authors. Thanks for joining with us!

Publishing Vocabulary 101

When I first started working at Bethany House almost six years ago, I remember thinking, “There are so many terms and acronyms in publishing.” If you’ve ever seen an unfamiliar word used in book circles, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve asked some of our staff members to contribute some assorted publishing vocabulary words—take a look at the list and see how many are new for you!

Advance: the non-returnable payment to authors by publishers against which the royalty earnings are offset

AE: Acquisitions editor—finds new projects and works with the author and manuscript through all stages of publishing

ARC: Advance Reader Copy—an early version of the book sent to media and endorsers

Backlist: all of the titles by an author published before their latest release

BOB: Back of Book ad—the final few pages of a book that include author information and book suggestions

Book performance review: a meeting evaluating sales a year or more after a book’s release

Book proposal: information about a book that an author sends to a publisher/agent, usually including sample chapters

Colophon: inscription at the end of a book with facts about its production; can also mean an identifying mark or logo

Comps: either “rough sketch” cover options, or, when used with “titles,” books similar to the one being discussed

Copy: the text on back covers, ads, and other promotional materials

Em dash (—): Per the Chicago Manual of Style, the “most versatile of the dashes,” used to set off material or mark a break

Leaf: a section of the book comprising both right and left pages

Perfect binding: a method where individual pages of a book are glued together as opposed to section-sewn

Positioning: a meeting where marketing, editorial, and sales find a book’s unique fit in the marketplace

Press release: a written announcement that draws media attention to an author or new book release

Proofread: the final step in the editorial process, focusing on cleaning up any small typographical errors

Pub board: a meeting where marketing, editorial, and sales discuss future book contracts

Publishers Weekly: a trade review publication used by booksellers, buyers, and other professionals

Publicist: a marketing role that focuses on creating non-paid “buzz” for a book rather than advertising, such as media interviews

Recto: right page in printing

Royalties: the percentage of profit from sales of a book that the author is paid

Running head: the text at the top of a page that usually contains book title, chapter, or author name

Signature: a portion of paper folded to create several pages, which, when sewn together, create a book

Stet: “let it stand” (Latin); dots beneath and stet in the margin indicate to disregard a marked deletion or change

Style manual: guidelines for the consistent treatment of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, numbers, and other elements in writing and publishing

Style sheet: a document used by copy editors to maintain consistency of character names, dates, and other details

Synopsis: a detailed description of the plot of a book, often given to the publisher before the book is complete

Target audience: a specific group of readers likely to be interested in a particular book

Verso: left page in printing

Which of these words or phrases did you find most interesting?

Ask BHP: How Do Editors Work With Different Authors?

I love some of the fun questions readers had about the editorial process. Here’s our June question to answer: “How does an editor tailor their approach to a specific author’s writing and work style when making suggestions/corrections? Or, are editors and authors paired up because of similarities in their approaches to such a project?”

Of course, because I (Amy Green, fiction publicist) work in marketing, I have no idea how editors do this. That’s why I give you…interviews with the fantastic Jessica Barnes and Jen Veilluex, two of our fiction editors here at Bethany House. Even I learned as I read their answers, so I hope you enjoy them.

 

Jessica Barnes

What a great question! I work with about ten fiction authors here at Bethany House, and all of them have different writing styles. I also have a slightly different editing relationship with each of them. Editors aren’t “matched” to authors here in the way you’re asking; it’s usually more about workload and schedule than personality. But as an editor, I see it as my job to be flexible and adapt my working style to my authors’.

When it comes to staying in an author’s writing style while making changes to a manuscript, my initial reaction to the question of how I do it was, “…I just do?” This is so part and parcel of an editor’s job that I don’t even realize I’m doing it anymore. The best answer I can give is that when I’m editing a book, I’m immersed in the story, the characters, and the writing. So if I think a scene needs an extra line at the end, usually that line naturally stems from what came before it, and it fits both the story and the style. By this point I’m so familiar with how my authors construct sentences and how they tell their stories that I’m able to slip into that same voice and add little bits and bobs (or subtract them) when necessary. It’s no different than people who unconsciously take on the accent of whatever place they’re visiting.

As a side note, here’s something that I hadn’t thought of in years that this question made me remember: My freshman year of college, my writing professor started the semester by giving us short passages from famous writers—Hemingway is the one I most clearly remember—and having us rewrite the passage by changing the subject and content, but exactly copying all the sentence structure. In this way, we learned how it felt to construct sentences and paragraphs in that writer’s rhythm and style. Perhaps that has turned out to be more helpful than I could imagine at age 18?

When it comes to matching an author’s work style, this is more straightforward. Some of my authors are extremely collaborative, and I will spend a couple hours on the phone with them at revisions, brainstorming ideas and solutions to trouble spots. Some of my authors work better alone, and they disappear with their edits for two months and then reemerge with a shiny new manuscript, ready for more feedback. For the most part, I let the author lead the way in how involved they want me in their writing and revision process. So far, it seems to be working!

 

Jen Veilleux

Our editing assignments come from our managing editor, who works with our acquisitions editors to determine which editor has the most availability. Most of our authors are contracted to write a series of books, which means that an editor is going to be working with a particular author for years! So while editor or author preference or experience are sometimes taken into consideration, mostly it’s timing.

When I first started at Bethany House, I made it my mission to read the books of as many of our authors as I could. Reading widely across all genres, I began to get a sense of different authors’ voices and styles, which helped me immensely when I became a line editor and began working directly with the authors. The authors I work with vary from biblical to contemporary, from Gilded Age to Regency, and from fantasy to Amish!

Above all, good editors are working with the author. There is a lot of back-and-forth between the author and the editor throughout the process: rewrites, discussions, e-mails, phone calls, drafts, questions, second opinions, fact-checking, more rewrites. You get to know authors over time, like what method of communication they prefer, what characters they’re attached to or will be important in the next book, what phrases they like to use, and how they like to incorporate faith and God into their writings.

As an editor, I am doing my best to support the author’s vision of his or her book, but I’m also advocating for the reader. While authors’ genres and voices may differ, the basics of a story do not: Does the plot make sense? Are the characters well developed? Should this chapter be cut or moved? If I get hung up on a plot point or a strange POV shift, readers might as well. But at the end of the day, it’s not my name on the book. It’s the author’s.

I am grateful for the relationships that I have developed with my authors over the last several years, and I am so humbled and proud to work alongside them. Sure, it’s great when books sell well, but oftentimes I’m just so proud that these books exist. An author had a dream and did the hard work of writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more, and then, with a little help from me and with a lot of help from so many others at BHP (copy editors, proofreaders, art and design, and on and on), it became something tangible, something you can hold in your hands or scroll with your finger on an e-reader. Editors are kind of like midwives—helping, encouraging, gently correcting—but it’s the authors who do a lot of the hard work. And when we’ve laid the newly created being in the hands of its creator, we quietly pack up our tools and slip off into the night to help bring the next one into existence.

Let’s hear it for editors! Readers, what do you think would be the most interesting part of working in the editorial department at a publishing house?

Summer Activities That Are Better With a Book

Libraries all over the country are beginning their summer reading programs, and we here at Bethany House always love encouraging people to dive into their next great book. But let’s face it: summer is a busy season, packed with events and gatherings. Where’s the time for a good summer read?

Right in the middle of all the fun, of course! Here’s how we think a few of your favorite summer fun activities go well with books.

 

Camping

I love swimming, hiking, making pudgie pies while telling stories around the campfire, and all the other staples of a good camping trip. But when it (inevitably) rains one of the days, you can either sit sullenly on your sleeping bag swatting mosquitos and muttering threats at whoever came up with this whole camping idea…or you can pull out the novel you brought just for this occasion. I think you know which options comes recommended by our team.

Oh, and make sure that either your tent is thoroughly waterproof or that you store your books in a plastic gallon bag for safekeeping. Maybe both…you can never be too careful. Let my soggy fourth-grade copy of Stuart Little be a cautionary tale for you.

Road Trips

I like the license plate game as much as the next person, but that’s not going to make for hours-long entertainment the way books will. If you’re not an ebook fan and have family members who complain about the space you’re taking up hauling around your personal library, remind them that each ten-inch block contains an entire world, so you’ve actually economized. Or just ask if they want to get tied to the roof of the car for the rest of the journey to make space, your choice.

To all of you who get car sick when focusing on lines of text: first of all, I’m very sorry. Second of all, audiobooks were invented for just this purpose! I’ve found that, for me, first-person or epistolary novels are especially fun to listen to, since it feels like the characters are talking directly to you.

Bonfires

Just kidding. Don’t put your precious books anywhere near fire! Ash and smoke aren’t good for them either. Sticky s’mores hands are also a no-no. So basically…no bonfire reading.

Sports Events

Sure, I understand that you’re probably going to this event to watch what actually happens, but is anyone really going to notice if you glance down at a book a few times during a baseball game? Probably not. Or you can at least get a little reading in during intermission—I mean halftime—I mean…[Googles baseball terms] seventh inning stretch? The point is, having a book handy is never a bad idea. You never know when you’ll be able to sneak in a chapter or two…or twenty.

(This seems like an appropriate time to apologize to my cousin, whose baseball games I completely do not remember because I was reading the whole time. Sorry, Jeff!)

Yardwork

This one is more for audiobooks, but nothing makes pulling weeds more fun than immersing yourself in a fictional world. Plus, you can take out your anger at the fictional villains on those stubborn weeds. “Oh, so you’re going to thwart the couple’s declaration of love again, are you? Take that.” [Yank dandelion out by the roots] Highly satisfying.

Lounging by the Pool/Beach

Sure, it’s nice to get a little sun, with the sound of the waves in the background (or, let’s be realistic, kids hollering and splashing). But that can get boring after the first five minutes, so it’s important to tuck a good summer read in the beach bag on your next trip. As a bonus, if you hold it right, it can serve as a sunblock and a shield from sand getting kicked in your face. Bonus points if you pick a book set by the seaside or during summer (not that you can’t read about pioneers surviving a blizzard while you’re sunning on your beach towel, but it would be a little weird).

One caution: the swimmers and splashers around you will need to be made aware of the serious consequences they will face if they intentionally get your precious pages wet. This is the right time to employ the Death Glare, and if you really want to communicate effectively, That Tone. (You know the one I’m talking about.)

These are just a few ideas—I’m sure you can come up with more. Readers, do you have any tips for getting in some summer reading?

June 2019 New Releases

June is all about historical romance here at Bethany House, but what a wide variety of fun stories we have for you! (And some beautiful covers, as well.) Take a look at all four of these new releases, and if you’d like to read more, click on the covers to read an excerpt.

A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

The Bride Ships #1

Plot Summary: After facing desperate heartache and loss, Mercy agrees to escape a bleak future in London and join a bride ship. Wealthy and titled, Joseph leaves home and takes to the sea as the ship’s surgeon to escape the pain of losing his family. He has no intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, they must fight against a forbidden love.

 

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

The Codebreakers #1

Plot Summary: In the midst of the Great War, Margot De Wilde spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But after a sudden loss, her world is turned upside down. Lieutenant Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by a destructive enemy. Immediately smitten with Margot, how can Drake convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

 

Wherever You Go by Tracie Peterson

Brookstone Brides #2

Plot Summary: Mary is one of the best sharpshooters in the country, but unless the man who killed her brother is brought to justice, her accomplishments seem hollow. Journalist Christopher is covering her show, and he is immediately captivated by Mary—but getting close to someone would threaten to bring his past to light. Can they find healing from the past together?

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Plot Summary: After being railroaded by the city council, Abby needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed, and a man she can control—not the stoic lumberman Zacharias, who always seems to exude silent confidence. She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him. But as trust grows between them, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants his heart.

 

Which of these eras would you be most interested in actually living in?

Prayer for Authors: June 2019

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in June:

Jody Hedlund
Tracie Peterson
Roseanna M. White
Karen Witemeyer

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Romans 15:5-6 (NLT)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For patience for the hard times or times of waiting, and moments of encouragement.
  • For those who work behind-the-scenes to get books to readers.
  • For good rest, especially sleep, during busy seasons of writing or marketing.

Thanks again for taking time to pray along with us. I’m always encouraged to know that so many readers care enough about our authors and their books to pray for them.

Ask BHP: Why Do Some Translations Have a Different Cover?

This month’s Ask BHP question is about the hidden world of translated editions: “I’m always confused when foreign language books have a different cover. Can you tell us why?”


The answer to this one is actually pretty simple. Bethany House currently does most of its translations by licensing translation rights to a foreign publisher. That way, we don’t have to have in-house translators—and the publishers in other countries often know what will work best in their market. For fiction, sometimes very United-States-specific stories, like Amish fiction, won’t work as well in some countries as something more universal, like biblical fiction.

This also answers the question some readers submitted about how we decide which books are translated. Sometimes we’ll pitch a particular author for a translation we think will do well, but ultimately it’s up to their team what projects they’d like to take on.

As the foreign publisher works out the contract with our Rights department, they can specify if they’d like to be able to use the current cover art or create their own That’s why you’ll sometimes see different versions. One publisher might decide that for their market, a different image would be better, or they just prefer contracts without cover art rights.

You may occasionally see authors posting about their new translations from all over the world. This is the behind-the-scene process that goes into it! Here are some fun recent examples for you to enjoy.

This one is interesting…the publishers bought the rights to the cover for the novella collection Hearts Entwined and wanted to use that cover for More Than Meets the Eye (it fit better with their other Karen Witemeyer books).