INSPY Shortlist Giveaway

One of the benefits of working at a publishing company is being able to cheer on our various award-winning and nominated books. It’s nice when outside judges recognize the great storytelling we get the chance to work with every day. To celebrate a recent list of finalists, we’re going to give away books from the INSPY award shortlist! (To see all the nominees, or to read fun interviews with the nominated authors, go to their website.)

You can click on each cover to read an excerpt and see why the INSPYs took note of these titles…then enter the giveaway (instructions at the end of the post). Congratulations to all!

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Category: Contemporary Romance

Plot: NFL star Gray Fowler is receiving death threats. Out of concern, his team hires a protection detail, but Gray is indignant when he meets his bodyguard. How can an attractive woman half his size protect him? Former Marine Dru Porter is, in fact, more than capable. But as danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their lives to one another?

Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Category: Debut Fiction

Plot: The young Egyptian slave Kiya leads a miserable life. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, she’s in the middle of it all. Choosing to flee with the Hebrews, Kiya finds herself reliant on a strange God and developing feelings for a man who despises her people. Facing the trials of the desert, will she turn back toward Egypt—or find a new place to belong?

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

Category: Historical Romance

Plot: To impress the politician courting her and help her family, Lydia King is determined to obtain a donation to the Teaville Moral Society from the wealthiest man in town, Nicholas Lowe. But when complications arise, Lydia must decide where her beliefs—and heart—truly align.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Plot: When an archaeological dig unleashes a centuries-old virus, paramilitary operative Cole ‘Tox’ Russell is forced back into action. With the help of archaeologist Tzivia Khalon and FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox searches for answers—and becomes entangled in a web of deception. As the team races to stop a pandemic, a secret society counters their every move.

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Plot: When modern skeletal remains are discovered at Gettysburg, park ranger and former sniper Griffin McCray must confront his past if he, his friends, and charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott are going to escape this web of murder alive.

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Plot: While attending a Regency costume party, Drew and Madeline Farthering are immersed in a new case when the fiancée of a friend dies mysteriously at the event. Drew’s friend insists she was murdered. In the face of a shocking revelation and arrest, Drew begins to doubt his own abilities and finds he is unprepared for the dangerous secrets he uncovers.

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Category: Speculative Fiction

Plot: Despite their recent victory, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover the continent is still far from safe. When unseen assassins begin targeting the Vigil and their gift and his associates scatter—Willet must find a way to defeat this latest threat alone.

And now that I’ve introduced the books, time for the giveaway! Comment below to answer this question, “What makes a book a standout to you?” Next Thursday, we’ll choose three winners who can select their choice of one of these seven shortlist titles as a prize.

The Five Stages of Dealing With Your TBR Pile

Any experienced reader knows the lingering stress of the TBR (To-Be-Read) Pile. As someone who is a reader and also works for a publisher that contributes to lengthening many such piles, I want to reassure you: you are not alone. I’m here to walk you through the process, show you there are others all around you dealing with TBR pile shock, and help you and your Goodreads profile find peace.

Stage One: Denial

I can do this, you think, staring down that list of books the way Rocky/Karate Kid/that quarterback in Remember the Titans faced their respective opponents. Determination. Focus. One page at a time.

(Did I have to look up a list of underdog sports movies? Yes. My greatest athletic achievements are literary triathlons, which consist of reading a book, discussing the book, and explaining why the book was better than the movie.)

Yes, you have a daunting TBR pile in front of you, but it can and will be conquered, you assure yourself, even as the list fills a thick binder. Even as you add three books for every one you check off. Even as you hear the faint but unmistakable sound of your high school math teacher lecturing on statistical probability and laughing at your baseless optimism.

But the more you stare at the list of books you want to read, promised your friends you’d read, and feel an obligation to read to better yourself as a person, reality sets in: your TBR pile may be getting out of control. Which triggers…

Stage Two: Anger

Suddenly, interfering tasks like housework and sleeping seem irritating and unnecessary, all taking up valuable reading time. You may find yourself lashing out in anger at bosses for expecting you to be present at your job, family members for having conversations with you, dust for falling, and anything else that distracts you from a page-turning read. This is normal.

Well, not exactly normal, but we’re book nerds. We have different standards. Continue reading

Ask Bethany House: How Do Authors Do Research?

One of our readers asked this question in our survey: “How much research do your historical authors do to write their novels? What does that look like?” My answer, of course, was: I have no idea. But I do know who to ask!

I decided to get some answers by asking the authors of our two historical fiction releases for this month. Methods, time spent, and overall enjoyment level will vary from person to person, but here’s a little glimpse inside the research process from Melissa Jagears and Connilyn Cossette.

Amy: On a scale from 1-10 (1 being I’d-rather-be-live-bait-at-a-mosquito-farm, 10 being this-is-better-than-pure-happiness-dipped-in-chocolate), how much do you enjoy research?

Melissa: 6. (Using the research while actually writing is much more fun.)

Connilyn: 10! I absolutely love research and spend many happy hours following rabbit trails of information that don’t ever make it into my books or that constitute the background of one line that no one will probably ever notice. But that’s okay with me! I am a well of useless knowledge. Although research paired with chocolate would be even better.

Amy: What’s one research tip you’d pass along to a writer who was working on a historical novel for the first time?

Melissa: Don’t stop writing to check on historical accuracy unless you know it will derail your story or make you rewrite a significant portion if you’re wrong. For example, don’t stop to look up if the word “thingamajig” was in use yet or what sort of car your hero could drive, just make a note in the margin to look it up and go on. You can lose your writing momentum and hours of work in history rabbit holes. Go back to your margin notes and fill in the details when editing, because who knows, you might ax the whole paragraph anyway.

Connilyn: Keep track of your sources so you can find it again later. This was something I did not do for my first book and I sorely regretted it. I like to double-check my facts and if I cannot find my source then I have to waste time in the editing stage searching for it all over again. Nowadays I keep links to most sources in Evernote and Scrivener so it’s pretty simple to check back later.

Amy: What’s one research tidbit that played an important role in your latest novel?

Melissa: For my Teaville Moral Society series, I had to figure out how they’d treat and discuss an infant with fetal alcohol syndrome before anyone knew what it was.

Connilyn: Alanah, my main character, is an archer so I had lots of fun researching archery. My kids just happened to be taking an archery class during that time so that helped, but I also spent a couple of hours watching videos about how to construct a compound bow from wood and sinew, just like Alanah would have in Ancient Canaan. If the power grid goes down and I have to hunt for my own food, YouTube totally has me prepared.

Thanks for helping me answer this one, ladies! If you’d like to see how history is interwoven with these two stories, check out an excerpt of A Love So True and Wings of the Wind.

Readers, is there an era of history you especially like reading about?

Prayer for Authors: May 2017

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 May:

Connilyn Cossette
Dee Henderson
Melissa Jagears
Becky Wade

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.

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts,Be strong, and do not fear.’–Isaiah 35:3-4 (NLT)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For courage to persevere in their writing and their personal lives.
  • For clarity of thought and focus in the midst of distraction (and deadlines).
  • For book buyers, librarians, bookstore employees, and others who connect readers with books.

Again, I love having all of you with me for this tradition of prayer. I know these authors appreciate it as well!

May 2017 New Releases!

It’s a new month, and that means I’ve got some beautiful covers and compelling stories to share with you! Enjoy these sneak peeks at four books that just appeared on shelves this week. (To read an excerpt, click on each cover.)

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Synopsis: After her Canaanite family is killed by the Hebrews, Alanah disguises herself as a warrior and enters the battle to avenge her loved ones. She never intended to survive. When Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, finds her unconscious among the dead, he faces an impossible dilemma: The only way to protect this wounded woman—the enemy of his people—is to marry her.

First Lines: Forging through the teeming mass of Canaanite soldiers in this vast army camp, I’d never felt more alone. A tendril of hair tickled the side of my neck and I jammed the errant strand under my bronze helmet, hoping no one had glimpsed the flash of red against my shoulder. The scaled armor I wore, heavy as it was, disguised my form to good effect. If I was vigilant to keep my guard raised, no one would ever know a woman walked among them until they found my body on the battlefield tomorrow.

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

Synopsis: Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville. She works daily to help get children out of the town’s red-light district, but she longs to help the women there as well. Intrigued by Evelyn, David Kingsman lends his support to her cause. Though they begin work with the best of intentions, complications arise.

First Lines: If David Kingsman had any chance of making his father proud, this next decision could be it. Of course, Father was just as likely to disown him for it, but if David’s projections were correct, it would be worth it. Hopefully.

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

Synopsis: With the public eye fixed on the governor’s new Missing Persons Task Force, Detective Evie Blackwell and her new partner, David, are under pressure to produce results. While they investigate two missing-persons cases in Chicago, Evie and David’s conviction that justice is truly possible for all will be tested to the limit.

First Lines: As Governor Bliss came to the podium, Lieutenant Evie Blackwell dug her hands into her coat pockets, grateful the January cold would keep this press announcement on schedule and limited to twenty minutes. His inauguration just the day before had been sunnier and a few degrees warmer. She did her best to ignore the television cameras trained on the podium, knowing she and the other officers on the stage were now in their view frame, and that this clip would run on the local evening newscast.

True to You by Becky Wade

Synopsis: After a broken engagement, genealogist Nora Bradford decides focusing on her work and her novels is safer than romance. But when John, a former Navy SEAL, hires her to help find his birth mother, the spark between them is undeniable. However, he’s dating someone, and Nora is hesitant. Is she ready to abandon her fictional heroes and risk her heart for real?

First Lines: Finding oneself at the mercy of a crazed gunman isn’t all fun and games. Nope, thought Nora Bradford. Not at all. Not even when said gunman was an actor toting a fake gun and you’d volunteered your time to play the role of hostage for noble reasons.

Are there any books you’re looking forward to this spring? How about sharing the first few lines of a book you’re currently reading?