Bethany House Summer Photo Challenge

It’s the start of summer, and for many of us, that means a chance to relax with a good book in some interesting locations. Whether you’re going across the state to a national park, across the ocean to a classic tourist destination, or across the street to your favorite coffee shop, there’s no summer day that can’t be made better by a good book.

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Jen, one of our editors, came to me with this idea: Why not ask people to share pictures of themselves with a favorite Bethany House book wherever they are this summer? And since I love stealing great ideas from other people, I thought I’d share the fun with all of you.

Here’s how it works: Take a picture of yourself with a favorite Bethany House book, fiction or nonfiction, and show us where you’re reading it.

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Not sure if it’s a Bethany House book? Look on the spine for the BHP logo.

Then enter the contest here by either uploading your photo to the entry form or posting your picture on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #BHPsummerreads. NOTE: the setting of the post on Facebook must be set to “public.” (When posting, you can do this by clicking the button underneath the post and changing it from “Friends” to “Public.”) At the end of the month, we’ll go through and post some of your pictures in a collage here and on our social media (so make sure it’s a photo you’re okay with us sharing).

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In August, we’ll allow you and other readers to vote on your favorite photo from the gallery. (Details are on the contest page.) If you need some inspiration, here are a few BHP examples:

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Amy Green, fiction publicist, reading Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas in a tree. (I actually do this pretty often.)

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Jen Veilleux, fiction editor, reading The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden at a dog park (with an ice cream sandwich!).

Thanks for joining in the fun, everyone! If you have any questions, post them in the comments—someone else might have that question as well. Here are a few FAQs (or questions we think will be frequently asked):

Q: I have two books I really want to take a picture with! Can I submit more than one photo?

A: Sure, go ahead! (Just don’t go overboard and submit a dozen.)

Q: When I went to your contest, it told me I have to give Woobox access to my personal information! I don’t want to do that!

A: Well, that’s not really a question, but let me give you a reassuring answer anyway. Woobox contests all show those disclaimers by default because their forms give us the option to record your personal information and demographics. However, Bethany House does not use that option. The only information we will collect is what you give us, and that will only be used for the purpose of the contest (i.e., mailing prizes). We wish we could make that disclaimer go away, since it doesn’t apply, but we can’t.

Q: I’m a reader from outside the United States. Can I enter?

A: We’d love for you to submit a photo (because it’s fun, right?), but due to shipping costs, we have to restrict winners of the book package to the U.S. Since the entry form requires you to choose a state, you can enter by using the #BHPsummerreads on social media.

Q: If I choose to enter on social media instead of through the form, where do I put the hashtag?

A: Make sure it’s in the caption (not, say, a comment on Facebook or Instagram, which won’t work).

Where will Bethany House take you this summer?

Reading Road Trip with Bethany House!

Is there a state on your want-to-visit list that you haven’t quite made it to yet? Or maybe you enjoy seeing references to the geography and cities of the place you call home. Maybe you’ve even taken up a challenge to read one book set in each of the 50 states (a fun goal for a year!). Either way, this handy list will help you plan your reading road trip.

Here are a list of Bethany House books and their settings (published between May 2014 and June 2015). Enjoy!

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I have this map up in my office marked with author names. Print out your own here.

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Q&A with Cliff Graham: Leaving a Legacy

“We, as followers of Christ, have a chance to build a genuine and lasting legacy that can be carried on by other generations behind us.”

This thought from Cliff Graham really stood out to me—it’s a line from his series of devotionals that will be sent out via email starting on Father’s Day.You can sign up for them here. It’s also the theme of Cliff’s new novel, Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus, which released last month.

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For any of you readers who aren’t aware of Cliff, his novels, and the message he’s passionate about, I decided to welcome him to the blog today.

Amy: What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

Shadow of the Mountain.EXODUS.inddCliff: Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus is the gritty, intense portrayal of the journey from slavery in Egypt through the wars of conquest in Canaan through the eyes of Joshua and Caleb. It’s about the nature of masculine friendship over a lifetime and an indictment of the idea that once you reach a certain age, you can just retire and take it easy. After working many years in ministry and speaking at conferences, churches, and to men’s groups, I noticed the older men in the crowd tended to feel left out of what was happening, and as a result had begun checking out to spend time on the golf course. I thought it was time we had a look at a biblical character who defied the idea of “retirement.”

Amy: What does living like Caleb look like in the modern world?

Cliff: Whenever I hear men in the church complain that there are “no more great battles to fight” and use that as an excuse to disengage, I have to take deep breaths. Last I checked, there are still orphans and widows in the world. Last I checked, there are still Graham_Cliffpeople drowning in despair who need hope. I became involved over the past year with several organizations, including Operation Underground Railroad and Breaking Chains Ministries. These groups, and others like them, fight the evil of child sex trafficking by conducting undercover, government partnership-based rescue missions. It’s more than just raising awareness; it’s about taking action to live out the principles in James, chapter 1, about defending the weak and oppressed. It’s what men ought to be about.

I have been blessed to be a part of the rescue of over 150 children through these organizations through undercover work and sting operations. A drop in the ocean of the problem, but action nonetheless. The duty is to fight and not to give up because the problem is overwhelming. I donate a large percentage of everything I sell to help fund these missions and organizations. It’s a good battle, and not one we should retire from.

Amy: Tell us about your podcast. What do you want listeners to take away from it?

Cliff: On the Good Battle podcast, I sit down with people advancing the kingdom of God in brave and audacious ways. Every man, no matter his past or his occupation, is expected to threaten the Enemy with his life. There are no longer Philistines or Amalekites to battle, but there is still a spiritual Enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. We are designed to make war on this Enemy in the power of a Holy God. The guests I host are waging “Good Battle” to advance the kingdom of God through compassion, love, and righteous ferocity.

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Do you have a biblical character who inspires or challenges you?

Prayer for Authors: June 2015

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 June:

Mary Connealy
Jody Hedlund
Delia Parr
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.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. —Psalm 25:4-5, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For discernment in any major choices, whether career or personal.
  • For a heart for readers that will give motivation to keep working even at difficult or tedious tasks.
  • For the books releasing this month to inspire and challenge readers with the truth they contain.

As always, I’m so thankful to be part of a community of readers who take the time to pray for our authors. You all are such an encouragement to me!

Back in Time: June Bethany House Books

Today, we have the fun of hearing a bit about the story behind the story of our June releases. Each of the authors shared with me what sparked the idea behind their book or series. It’s proof that ideas and inspiration can be found anywhere, just waiting to be turned into a compelling story!

Connealy_MaryMary Connealy: I came up with the idea behind the series when I was researching Andersonville Prison for the KINCAID BRIDES series. I came upon this story of a baby born in Andersonville Prison, even though no one even knew there was a woman in there. She’d been taken captive with her husband and refused to leave him, and at some point Now and Forevershe’d disguised herself as a man. They’d been in a less brutal prison for a while and thought they’d be going home. That’s when she’d gotten pregnant. And then they got thrown into Andersonville. I read a first-person account, written by a guard who heard that baby cry in the night. When I’m researching a book and find something that gives me chills, I pay attention. This woman was surrounded by 30,000 men, and no one noticed she was a woman until that newborn baby cried. I had chills—and I started reading more about women who disguised themselves as men during the Civil War. Out of that came my idea for the WILD AT HEART series.

DeliaParrDelia Parr: My interest in midwifery started many years ago after I read the Pulitzer Prize–winning book A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785–1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. While midwives are an integral part BHP_Midwife's Tale 3.inddof many medical practices today, I grew up in an era where midwives were almost unheard of and rarely, if ever, used instead of doctors. I was both fascinated by the central role of midwives in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and determined to find out how midwives had gone full circle. I found the story of that journey in research, both in libraries and through the internet, and in visits to museums to see the midwives’ tools of the trade—and it is a story of women’s commitment, strength, and skills that ultimately prevail.

Witemeyer_Karen1Karen Witemeyer: There is usually a single spark that get’s a book idea started. For A Worthy Pursuit, that spark was the idea of incorporating gifted children—child prodigies, each having a gift in a different field. And the one who doesn’t consider himself gifted ends up being the one who saves the day, proving he is, in fact, remarkable. I also Worthy Pursuitwanted to play with the idea of opposites attracting. So I chose a refined, educated headmistress who doesn’t trust men and paired her with a man of action and intrigue who practically walks off the pages of a dime novel. Charlotte has to learn to trust the man who was sent to destroy her in order to protect the children in her care, and Stone must dig deep to unearth the patience it will take to win the heart of the plucky woman he comes to admire.

Hedlund_Jody1Jody Hedlund: In the BEACONS OF HOPE series, I’m focusing on women lightkeepers who have been kept in the dark by the more prominent stories of their male counterparts. As I researched for writing a lighthouse series, I came across a fantastic book called Ladies of Hearts Made Wholethe Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service. The book is a tribute to the approximately fifty or so women who served either as primary or assistant keepers in Michigan Lighthouses. I based the heroine in Hearts Made Whole on of one of those women lightkeepers. It’s my hope to bring her and the other women keepers out of the historical shadows and into the spotlight.

Be sure to click on the book covers to read an excerpt and step into the historical world of these four novels—I know you’ll love them!

Is there a historical site, museum, or statue near you that you’ve always thought would make a good story?