Scavenger Hunt Fun with Jody Hedlund!

Hedlund_Jody1Time for a little summer fun . . . and, of course, here at Bethany House that usually involves books! Join us for a scavenger hunt through Jody Hedlund’s blog tour. She has been stopping by blogs far and wide, commenting about her inspiration for writing novels, giving sneak peeks at Captured by Love, and sharing about the care and keeping of unruly chickens.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the tour, now’s your chance to take a look. And here’s another reason to join the fun: want a chance to win Captured by Love? Here’s how:

  • Find the questions below and write them down.
  • Email the answers to me, Amy, at with the subject line: Captured by Love Scavenger Hunt. (That part is important!)
  • Five winners with correct answers will be randomly chosen! All entries are due by midnight on Thursday, August 7. Winners will be notified via email by Saturday, August 9.

Blog Stop #1: “What Inspired Me to Write the Book”
Question: What is the name of the woman who lived on Mackinac Island during the fur-trading era that helped to inspire the heroine’s character?

Blog Stop #2: “A Research Trip to Mackinac Island (Part 1)”
Question: What was (and still is) the only way to get to Mackinac Island?

Blog Stop #3: “A Research Trip to Mackinac Island (Part 2)”
Question: What war between the British and United States is integral to the plot?

Blog Stop #4: “The True People and Events in Captured by Love
Question: What did the American men have to sign after the British took control of the island if they didn’t want to be forced to leave their families and homes?

Blog Stop #5: “Getting Down & Dirty . . . at the Chicken Farm”
Question: What is necessary for chickens to lay eggs in the winter?

Blog Stop #6: “A Sizzling Romance: Pass Me a Fan!”
Question:  The heroine finds herself in a love triangle between two men. What is the relationship of the men?

Blog Stop #7: “What I Hope Readers Take Away From Captured by Love
Question: Who was the prayer warrior throughout the book?

Blog Stop #8: “Fun Trivia From Captured by Love
Question: What does the name “Michilimackinac” mean?

Blog Stop #9: “The Movie Cast for the Main Characters of Captured by Love
Question: The hero, Pierre, is descended from what nationality combination?

Blog Stop #10: “A Plethora of Pictures of Captured by Love
Question: What kind of canoe did the heroine use (made popular by the natives)?

Captured by Love

Found all the answers? Remember, email me at the address above to enter (don’t share the answers in the comments). Thanks for joining our scavenger hunt!

To hear more from Jody, visit her website or Facebook page. To read an excerpt from Captured by Love, go here.

Summer Reading Dos and Don’ts

Whether your summer looks like a leisurely afternoon in a lawn chair or a frantic buzz of activity with maybe a few minutes for a book while the kids take a nap, we hope you have at least some time to read during this beautiful time of year.


Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your summer reading:

Do: Read outside. Enjoy a little sunshine!

Don’t: Think that “reading by the pool” will make you look like a model on the cover of a magazine, with a perfect tan, no splashing children in sight, and mysterious color-coordination going on between the cover of the book, your swimsuit, and the beach towel.

Do: Take your kids to the library this summer.

Don’t: Take your kids to the library this summer after giving them double-dip ice cream cones to drip over the books.

You can also use fun tools like the American Library Association's summer reading list for kids.

You can also use fun tools like the American Library Association’s summer reading list for kids.

Do: Immerse yourself in a novel’s world and characters.

Don’t: Immerse yourself in a novel’s world and characters when you’re supposed to be the lifeguard on duty at the pool party.

Do: Judge a book by its cover. It can be fun to see a lineup of gorgeous covers and see which one catches your eye.

Don’t: Judge a book entirely based on its cover. Recommendations from others and a first chapter that draws you in are important too.

Do: Read something outside of the books you normally try. (Example: I don’t typically read contemporary romance, but this May, I decided to read Here to Stay, Meant to Be Mine, and Until I Found You in one big contemporary marathon…and loved them all!)

Don’t: Neglect your favorite genre either. There’s a reason it’s your go-to when choosing your next read!

Some of our June titles...I just love the pool image here.

Some of our June titles…I just love the pool image here. Makes me want to dive right in!

Do: Choose a book with a swoon-worthy hero.

Don’t: Actually swoon. People might think you’re suffering a heat stroke.

Do: Leave a review when you’ve really enjoyed a book. Authors love this, trust me!

Don’t: Give anything away in your review. No spoilers allowed!

Do: Take a cute date idea from your favorite romance and give it a try.

Don’t: Try to reenact a chase scene from your favorite romantic suspense novel. Particularly if it involves people shooting at you.

Your turn: what dos and don’ts would you give to your fellow readers?

In Defense of Christian Romances

A few months ago, I got an email from a high school student writing a research paper on this question: Can even Christian romances be harmful to read?

heart of books

Now, before you react with an outraged, “Of course not!” think about why she might be asking this question. I know many wonderful Christians who find romances, even Christian romances, to be a complicated issue. For some, it’s because reading and dreaming about the oh-so-dashing protagonists makes them less content with their lives. For others, it’s more about setting their daughters up for disappointment with tales of conflicts that resolve happily by the last page.

That said, this was part of my response:

Here’s something to think about: God often uses the metaphor of romance to describe his relationship with us. Why? Because there is something uniquely powerful about romantic love and the sacrifice and unselfishness it should inspire. That’s why I think Christian romances can teach us deep and beautiful things about who God is and what our relationships with others should look like.

But also, there’s a fine line between recognizing and longing for something good, such as a romantic relationship centered on Christ, and being discontent with what God has for you right now. It’s the difference between attending a wedding and thinking, This is beautiful, and I hope my story turns out that way, and thinking, God can’t possibly be good if I’m not married/dating right now. The same problems that some people assign to romance novels: discontent, unrealistic expectations, the possibility of taking imagination too far . . . all of those can take place at a wedding as well, and no Christians are suggesting we get rid of those.

So there’s my opinion as a single twenty-something reader. But how about the perspective of a Christian romance author? I decided to pose this question to the one and only Becky Wade, who champions and celebrates Christian romance novels. Here’s her response:

Meant to be Mine

Becky’s newest release.

Passionate romance AND a Christian message can most definitely go together inside the pages of the same novel!

I should tell you that I’m a die-hard romantic. When I started My Stubborn Heart, my first contemporary romance for the Christian market, I knew I wanted to give my reader the same concentrated romantic storyline that I like best as a reader. I also knew that the Lord had called to write for the Christian market.

Thus, while writing and rewriting my novels, I spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out how to pen heart-pounding love stories that are ALSO clean and inspiring faith stories.

Wade_BeckyWhat I’ve discovered?  The things that make a God-honoring real-life relationship wonderful to experience are the very same things that make a Christian romance novel wonderful to read. The beauty of a dating relationship isn’t found in anything R-rated. The beauty and excitement is in the awe of discovering new love, the building emotions, the tension of facing obstacles that could tear the couple apart, the growing devotion of a hero to his heroine and vice versa.

After all, God is the foremost expert on great love!  His people can and do experience devoted love stories worth writing about.

Your turn: why do you read Christian romances? Can you name a Christian romance novel that has had an impact on your life?

For more from Becky, visit her website or watch the video below.

Visit Granite Springs: An Interview with Carol Cox

A good historical fiction novel will make you feel like you’ve been taken back in time, like you can experience events long in the past. But what creates that feeling for the reader is often a lot of hard work by the author! Amy Green (Bethany House’s fiction publicist) here, and today on the blog I’m interviewing Carol Cox, who loves the research process and bringing history to life through her novels. Her newest release is Truth Be Told, and she’ll share some behind-the-scenes information about it with us.Truth Be Told

Amy: Tell us a little about the setting of Truth Be Told.

Carol: Truth Be Told is set in the fictional town of Granite Springs, located in the highlands of central Arizona—one of my favorite places in the state. The variety seen in the landscape is stunning—everything from rolling ranchland to dense cedar thickets to pine-covered slopes. The area also has a rich history of mining, ranching, and lumber operations, all of which are woven into the tapestry of the story.

Since Amelia takes over running her father’s weekly newspaper upon his unexpected death, many of the scenes in the book take place in the printing office of the Granite Springs Gazette. Learning about operating a frontier newspaper in 19th century Arizona was a fascinating experience, and I loved being able to use that research to give the story authenticity.

Granite Springs

The landscape that inspired the setting of Granite Springs.

Amy: Speaking of research, as a writer of historical fiction, what would you say are your three most important resources?

The library—and my own collection of reference books—are often the first places I turn to when I begin my research. I also do a lot of searching online, being careful to make sure the sources I use are accurate. Sharlot Hall Museum, located in Prescott, is a treasure trove of information on Arizona history. And for Truth Be Told, I was thrilled to be able to learn about the operations of a 19th-century newspaper and the process of printing on a Washington Hand Press from Sky Shipley, owner of Skyline Type Foundry.

Amy: You are at a writers’ conference and an aspiring author sits down next to you and asks, “How can I make my historical setting come alive for modern readers?” How would you answer?

I try to gather as many details about the setting as I can from as many sources as I can locate. And if making a trip to the site is feasible, so much the better! I love being able to experience the “feel” of a place for myself. Onsite research lets me soak up the setting’s atmosphere and gives me a host of sensory details I can weave into a story to make the reading experience richer and more immediate for my readers.

Printing Press type

A type cabinet: note the number of pieces sorted in cases.

Whether I visit the setting in person or not, I’ll spend time putting myself in the minds of my characters, imagining what they would see and feel. Books or online research may tell me the streets would be illuminated by gaslight, for instance. But what kind of glow would my characters see from those gas lamps? Would there be pockets of darkness between the lamps (and if so, would danger lurk there)? What sounds would my character hear on an evening stroll through town—the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on a dusty Western street? The heels of cowboy boots thudding along a boardwalk? Digging for details like that not only make for a richer texture overall, but can open up exciting possibilities for story events!

Amy: Are any of the places and characters in Truth Be Told based on fact?

Most of the book is based purely on my imagination, but I enjoyed slipping in a few actual sites and people from Arizona history. The Eleventh Infantry Band, which performs for the citizens of Granite Springs, was stationed at nearby Fort Whipple, and was directed by Achille LaGuardia, just as we see in the story. If the name LaGuardia sounds familiar, you may be thinking of Achille’s son, Fiorello, who spent some of his childhood years at Fort Whipple before growing up to become the well-known mayor of New York City.

The Hotel Burke, where Ben Stone stays during his visit to Prescott, was the original name of the present-day Hotel St. Michael, which stands on the corner of Gurley and Montezuma, across the street from the Courthouse Plaza. I’ve enjoyed a number of meals in the hotel’s dining room, which offers a marvelous view of downtown Prescott.

Amy: Here are a few quick ones just for fun. Carol, fill in the blanks!

  • If I could travel in a time machine, the first place/time I’d visit is… sometime at the end of the 19th century or the very beginning of the 20th. Big changes were taking place in technology, and there was a surge of excitement about the future and the wonders it might hold, along with a sense of optimism and patriotism that often seems lacking today. I would love to witness that firsthand!
  • A style from the 1800s that I’d like to bring back is…those gored skirts with the fullness in the back and the full-sleeved, long-waisted bodices. Fashions for women were becoming less restrictive and far more practical. And bustles were a thing of the past, thank goodness!

    Printing Press

    A Washington Hand Press, just like the one Amelia used, from the Print Shop at Sharlot Hall Museum.

  • My least favorite part of the research process is…having to pull myself away from the research to start writing!
  • A “fun fact” I discovered while researching this novel is…before I started writing Truth Be Told, I was aware that all the type for the stories printed in a newspaper had to be set by hand, but I never took time to think about how many individual pieces of type would be involved in one issue of a four-page weekly. The sheer numbers were staggering! Thousands of pieces of type would have to be set in place each week. And it never occurred to me that every single one of those pieces would have to be sorted back into their places in the type case once the paper was printed. Distributing and redistributing the type was a never-ending process. May I just say how grateful I am for the word processing program on my laptop?

Cox_Carol1  To get to know Carol a little better, stop by her website or like her author Facebook page!

All right, readers, your turn to answer one of the questions I posed to Carol: what style from bygone days would you like to see make a comeback? (Men or women, from Bible times to the Middle Ages to the Civil War to the 1950s…anything goes!)


Prayer for Authors: July 2014

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.

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Authors with Books Releasing in July:

Julianna Deering
Jody Hedlund
Jen Turano

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.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For authors to hear from readers about the way their books have made a difference.
  • For the wisdom to be able to prioritize and know what is worth spending time on during a very busy month.
  • For readers who aren’t Christians to pick up one of these books and be challenged to think differently about life and faith.

Thank you so much for joining us as we remember these authors in prayer. Let’s pray that these stories (that contain the Story of the gospel) reach many people.

Secondary Characters: July Bethany House Books

(Don’t forget to check last week’s post to see if you were a winner!)

They never make the cover. Sometimes we don’t hear what happens to them at the end of the book. And they may not be quite as heroic as the main characters. But I would argue that a cast of strong secondary characters is what makes the difference between a good story and a great one.

As I read our July releases, I was struck by the delightful characters surrounding the hero and leading lady. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

A Match of Wits
by Jen Turano

Match of Wits

My Favorite Secondary Character: Mr. Blackheart

Why: Whether he’s being cryptic about his first name, delivering dry one-liners, or taunting our hero in an attempt to get him to admit his affection for Agatha, this solid, stoic bodyguard is full of surprises. Someone’s got to tell the heroine to stay away from the dynamite, and Blackheart is just the man for the job.

Quote from the Book:
Blackheart: I don’t have feelings for Miss Watson.

Zayne: Everyone has feelings for Agatha. She’s very beautiful, and you have to admit, life would never be boring with her by your side.

Blackheart: I like boring. Continue reading