Happy Thanksgiving from Bethany House!

13159-MULTI DIVISION Thanksgiving memes_BHPfic

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, here’s one of my favorite verses:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:5-7, ESV

Because God is near and present in our lives, we don’t have to worry. And we replace fear and anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving, both asking for what we need and praising God for what we have. The result? Peace, based not on our circumstances, but on Christ and what he has already done.

Blessings on your Thanksgiving!

Five Reasons We’re Thankful for Readers

About once a year at a Bethany House meeting, someone will read excerpts from reader letters, either sent directly to us or to our authors. Hearing stories of people whose lives have been changed by the books we publish is always very meaningful to me, and it made me realize how much the end goal of what I do—getting great books to readers—motivates my daily routine.

Because of that, and because Thanksgiving is coming up, today I wanted to list a few reasons why we here at Bethany House appreciate readers.

I can't send you all cookies, but you can print this nifty tag here!

I can’t send you all cookies, but you can print this nifty tag here!

One: You give us feedback.

Everyone’s participation in the Ask Bethany House survey has been great, and last January we held a BHP Book Banter where you answered survey questions and helped us brainstorm. Look for that to be coming up again this year! All of that is really helpful for us, and we appreciate you giving of your time. (If you’d like to be invited to future BHP events, add BHP Amy on Facebook.)

Two: You interact.

I can’t tell you how fun it is when people comment on the blog or Bethany House Facebook posts. I love it when readers share novel recommendations, spread around the latest book news, and give feedback on cover designs. Keep it up! There are actual, living people behind author social media, and even (gasp!) publisher social media. And we really do enjoy hearing what you have to say. (And here’s one super-relevant way you can interact: vote for The Secret of Pembrooke Park in the Goodreads Choice Awards final round! I’m so excited that Julie made it to the finals, not just because it’s great that inspirational fiction is represented, but because I loved this book.)

Three: You love books as much as we do.

Okay, some of you may love books more than we do, especially if you measure that by the sheer number of books you read per year! It’s always fun to be around people with a common interest, who “get” your desperate need to know what happens to people who don’t exist (but should).

Four: You pray with us.

Besides our monthly “Prayer for Authors” post, I know many of you routinely lift up both the authors and readers of our books in your prayers, and that’s so important to the success of what we do. Though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: thank you!

Five: You encourage our authors.

This is last on the list, but it was easily the first thing that came to mind for me personally. At Bethany House, we want our authors to feel like part of our family. So, just like a mom appreciates the coaches, teachers, and friends of her kids who pour into their lives, I’m very grateful to those of you out there cheering “my” authors on and encouraging them. Whether that’s in a professional way by promoting and reviewing their books or a personal way by being there for them when life gets hard, your support matters, not just to the people writing the books, but to those of us who are watching.

Thanks, everyone, for being part of the larger Bethany House team. We wouldn’t exist without readers, and the fact that you’re enjoying our books makes what we do worth it.

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away one of our December releases to five random followers of the blog. (You can follow the blog by clicking the little red button on the left sidebar and entering your email. It will send you weekly updates when we post.) If you’re already a follower, there’s nothing more you need to do. I’ll notify you via email by 11/30 if you’re a winner!

What’s something that you as a reader do to encourage authors? (Or, if you’re an author, what’s something readers have done that has been encouraging to you?)

Five Ways To Annoy a Book Lover

If you are reading this, chances are someone you know loves books and wants you to be aware of what you can expect if you commit one of the deadly sins against dedicated readers.

We would highly recommend that you follow the “Suggested Alternatives” given underneath each point. Remember, an angry reader is a dangerous reader. You have been warned.

Damage a library book.

Any book, really, but library books have a special place in readers’ hearts because they know that they will influence hundreds of other readers over the course of their lifetimes. And the only way to make sure that happens is to keep them in good condition.

From Up, one of my favorites, even if Ellie was a child vandal.

Ellie from Up is a good example of a child vandal. Carl’s response is the correct one here.

Suggested Alternative: Stack books neatly, with the greatest care, in a clean environment, and never eat while reading.

Say “The movie was better.”

There may be an exception to this. I’m sure there is one somewhere. But I can’t currently think of any, and there is usually no way to provoke more horror from a reader than suggesting that a two-hour popcorn muncher could get across the full experience in a way the novel could not.

Suggested Alternative: Say “The movie intrigued me so much that I read the book, and I really enjoyed it.” (If you can honestly gush about how the book had so much more depth and character development than the movie, go ahead. If you can’t…reread the book. You’re missing something.)

Interrupt reading time.

I’ve already written about this at length from a book lover’s perspective. Take note. Be warned. There will be consequences if you disturb a reader fully engaged in another world via those pages.

Suggested Alternative: Stay away. Far, far away. Unless there’s an emergency. (And even then…how bad is the emergency, really? Is there blood or fire?)

Call reading a “waste of time.”

This is a general category for any derogatory comments about reading, caring too much about fictional people, or a near-obsessive impulse to buy new books even when others remain unread. Or comparing reading to other clearly less important pursuits like playing video games, T.V. watching, or cleaning. All of these are punishable by death glares and scathing remarks.

You tell ’em, Jane.

Suggested Alternative: Applaud the readers in your life for taking time to expand their minds, increase their vocabulary, and develop empathy with complex individuals who have the extreme misfortune of not actually existing in real life.

Make a “quick stop” into a bookstore

You just wanted to pick up a gift card for a Christmas present, but your reader has become lost in the shelves. You probably should have figured this out by now, but there is no such thing as a “quick stop” into a bookstore. Bookstores are not errands. They are experiences. So get comfortable…it’s going to be a while.

Suggested Alternative: Bring a survival pack with you on trips where you might intentionally or accidentally encounter a bookstore. This should include water, snacks, notepad to write down interesting titles, Band-Aids for any papercuts incurred while browsing, and a rope to tie to your reader‘s ankle so you can give it a yank if it’s been too long without any sign of life. Possibly also a pillow if you’re camping out to wait for a new release.

Your turn: what’s something that annoys you as a reader?

November Bethany House Books: Raising the Stakes

In real life, we’d be delighted if all our friends were leading calm, peaceful lives with no troubles, where the most dramatic thing that happened was an early frost.

But let’s face it: that wouldn’t make a very good novel.

So, for our fictional friends, we often find ourselves reading through situations where conflict is abundant and stakes are high. That’s especially true with our November releases: a new romantic suspense page-turner from Nancy Mehl and the start of an epic fantasy series from Patrick W. Carr.

Click on each of the book covers to read and excerpt and learn a bit about each world, and listen in as the authors share about the conflicts and secrets their characters bring to the story before page one even begins.

The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr

Shock of Night

Plot: After an encounter with a dying man leaves him with astonishing powers, Willet Dura is drawn into an epic conflict that threatens his entire land.

Patrick Carr on the main character: Willet suffers from night walks, a malady that afflicts quite a few of the veterans of the last war, where they walk in their sleep. What makes Willet’s case both different and terrifying is that he only night-walks when there has been a murder. He is, rightly, afraid of what’s in his mind that he doesn’t understand. There’s something terrifying in Willet’s past, and he’s trying as hard as he can to keep from connecting all the dots that link that incident to his current state of mind. He’s very human that way, and I think it’s what makes him sympathetic.

 

Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl

RisingDarkness

Plot: When newspaper reporter Sophie Wittenbauer follows a lead on a decades-old crime to Sanctuary, Missouri, she encounters an old crush and new dangers.

Nancy Mehl on the main character: Sophie was neglected by her mother and abused by her father and has always pushed people away, ashamed of her family and ashamed of herself. She knows what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. To deal with pain and poor choices. All of us have things in our past we need to heal from, and most of us understand how hard it is to set our lives on a new course. Sophie is determined to become someone better, but she’s left God out of the equation. She will have to learn that she can never become the person God has created her to be—without Him.

Can you think of a character with a backstory that immediately raised the stakes for everything that happened afterward in the novel?

Prayer for Authors: November 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.

Authors with Books Releasing in November:

Patrick W. Carr
Nancy Mehl

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.

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” – 2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For encouragement from readers, other writers, and friends during times when writing is difficult.
  • For readers who might never enter a church to think differently about Christianity after reading one of these books.
  • For the ability to manage time well despite many different stresses and tasks to complete.

As the beginning of each month comes around, I’m always thankful to have a great team of prayer warriors lifting up these authors and their work to God. Thank you!