Prayer for Authors: May 2021

Since it’s Sunday, 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 Lokkesmoe, 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 May:

Ashley Clark
Angela Hunt
Becky Wade
Roseanna M. White

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.

“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 4:6-7 (ESV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For a release from anxiety, worry, and comparison, both related to writing and all life circumstances.
  • For creativity and perseverance in the writing process.
  • For Christian bookstore owners and workers doing ministry work of connecting readers to books to encourage their faith.

Thanks again for taking time to pray for these authors. It’s small thing that makes a big difference, and we really appreciate this community!

May 2021 New Releases

It’s the start of our summer publishing season, and we can’t wait for you to take a look at these latest Bethany House releases. Four strong leading ladies, pictured on the covers, head up these four novels. You’ll see hints at their stories on the outside, but take a look inside by clicking on the covers to read an excerpt. Enjoy!

The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White
Secrets of the Isles #1

Plot Summary: Fleeing to the beautiful Isles of Scilly, Lady Elizabeth Sinclair stumbles upon dangerous secrets left behind by her cottage’s former occupant and agrees to help the missing girl’s brother, Oliver Tremayne, find his sister. As the two work together, they uncover ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

Let It Be Me by Becky Wade
A Misty River Romance

Plot Summary: When pediatric heart surgeon Sebastian Grant meets Leah Montgomery, his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop. And when Leah receives surprising news while assembling a family tree, he helps her comb through old hospital records to learn more. But will attaining their deepest desires require more sacrifices than they imagined?

Paint and Nectar by Ashley Clark
Heirloom Secrets

Plot Summary: In 1929, a spark forms between Eliza, a talented watercolorist, and William, a young man whose family has a longstanding feud with hers over a missing treasure. Decades later, after inheriting Eliza’s house and all its secrets from a mysterious patron, Lucy is determined to preserve the property, not only for history’s sake but also for her own.

Woman of Words by Angela Hunt
Jerusalem Road #3

Plot Summary: Asked by Mary to record stories of Yeshua while the eyewitnesses are still alive, Matthew, a disciple, reluctantly agrees. But the longer they work together, the more difficult their task becomes as they face threats and opposition. And when Matthew works to save his people, he realizes that the job he hesitantly accepted may be his God-given destiny.

How often do you open up a book from an author who is new to you to read the first few lines?

Which of Our April Heroines Are You Most Like?

Want a little more fun in your day? Then hop on over to our personality quiz, where you can choose your favorite answers and see which heroine from our April books you’ll be matched up with.

The featured books are all of our April new releases: Night Fall by Nancy Mehl, A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould, Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter, and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese.

When you’re done, feel free to come back and share what character you matched with!

Giveaway to Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day!

The last Saturday in April is Independent Bookseller Day, and we’re excited to celebrate it with you! We love hearing about readers who have an amazing local bookstore or one they’ve “adopted,” whether in their hometown, a favorite vacation spot, or even that they order from online from a distance away. Booksellers are hardworking small business owners with a talent for connecting readers to great books. Their personal recommendations, special events, and love of reading are an inspiration to us.

Not sure if there’s a store near you that you can visit or order books from? Check out resources like IndieBound, where you can locate indie bookstores to visit. I love checking their site when I’m planning a road trip so I know where I should plan a shopping stop.

To celebrate this holiday, we’ll be giving away one of our spring books (reader’s choice) as well as a $20 gift card to Baker Book House, our own local indie bookstore. (They can ship anywhere in the US. International readers are free to enter as well, but we’ll substitute a different prize.)

You can enter by commenting with an answer to the question at the bottom of the post, but until then, enjoy some of our favorite memes and cartoons featuring bookstores.

To enter the giveaway, comment on this post with the answer to this question: what’s a favorite bookstore you’ve visited, and what did you like about it?

Winner will be contacted by April 30, 2021.

Ask BHP: *Real* Miscellaneous Roundup

So, two weeks ago, on April Fool’s Day, I wrote a post with “answers” to commonly asked questions—all of them silly and made up. (You can check it out here.) A few readers who started out believing the post mentioned that they’d love to hear the real, non-April-1 answers, so that’s what this post is all about!

Why do you have so many covers with the model’s head cut off?

Fake Answer: The printer adjusts the covers and often cuts off the model’s head for space reasons.

Real Answer: Our books are printed exactly as they look on our design department computers (except for the fun details like embossing and textured covers), so no one is decapitating characters at the printers!

The reason for the headless person might be slightly different for each book—in one, we might want to draw attention to the heroine’s playful smile, in another it might add eeriness to a suspense novel, or in another case, it might just balance out the design better. But one common reason for showing only a partial glimpse of a character, or seeing him or her from behind, is so that readers can picture the character in their own way.

What is the Bethany House logo supposed to be?

Fake Answer: It’s a peapod or husk of grain in honor of Janette Oke books.

Real Answer: The Bethany House logo was designed to look like the nib of a fountain pen with a stylized flame inside of it, though some feel the angular part of the design looks more like an open book. But Janette Oke was our first fiction author, and we do love her and her books!

Who is Bethany, anyway?

Fake Answer: It comes from the Hebrew for “Living Oath.”

Real Answer: I think this was the one that fooled the most people! That etymology was completely made up. Bethany House used to be the publishing branch of a mission organization, Bethany International, a reference to the biblical city where Jesus’s friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, and where Jesus taught and performed miracles. I’m told that “Bethany” actually means “house of welcome” or “house of figs.” The first fits our publishing office more than the second. (But also, our receptionist’s name is Bethany, which can get confusing when she answers the phone.)

What happens to a book when it goes out of print?

Fake Answer: We frame the cover in our Archive Room, along with reviews, then give it a Viking burial in a lake.

Real Answer: Honestly, this one just isn’t as exciting. We do have an Archive Room with copies of out-of-print books, all neatly organized and locked away, but there aren’t any fun rituals around a book going OP, other than some database changes and boring things like that. Maybe we should make one up!

What is the point of those annoying paper overlays on hardcover books?

Fake Answer: Dust jackets were developed during the Gilded Age as a prank and caught on.

Real Answer: Obviously, the point of a dust jacket is to protect a hardcover book from damage (although I also dislike them and usually end up getting rid of them). But a little deeper digging took me to this fascinating blog post on the history of the dust jacket. Short version: they began in the 1820s and 30s, but because they were originally meant to be disposable, early dust jackets are extremely rare and valuable to collectors. But it was in the Gilded Age that some dust jackets were printed with artwork, title, and author, so I’m claiming partial credit for my made-up nonsense.

How do your authors come up with their ideas?

Fake Answer: We have a plot generating machine to help authors overcome writer’s block.

Real Answer: The processes authors use to come up with story ideas varies as widely as those stories do, but the closest thing to the mythical Bethany House story idea generator is the fact that our editors often work with authors to hone their ideas before they start writing, and then offer suggestions to help them overcome plot holes or other issues that have them stumped. They’re certainly not artificial intelligence, but I think our editors’ problem solving skills are pretty advanced and worth bragging about anyway.

I hope these real answers help clarify some behind-the-scenes fun facts for you!

What was a favorite April Fool’s joke you experienced, either this year or in the past?

Prayer for Authors: April 2021

It’s the second Sunday of the month (we skipped the first this month because of Easter), and 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 Lokkesmoe, 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 April:

Nicole Deese
Leslie Gould
Kristi Ann Hunter
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.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”—Psalm 23:1-3 (NKJV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For a clear sense of mission and purpose in both career choices and interactions with readers.
  • For readers to pick up one of these books in the time where they needs its message most.
  • For those authors who are working on their next book, for the endurance and inspiration they need to complete it.

We’re always grateful to be able to ask you for prayer for these authors, and it’s a joy to pray for them along with you. Thank you!

April 2021 New Releases

We’re delighted to introduce you to the four stunning novels releasing from Bethany House this month. I’m imagining all four protagonists in the same room: an engaging beauty influencer, a brilliant FBI agent, a daring female jockey, and a compassionate Amish woman. Sounds like the perfect team to me! If you want to learn more, take a glimpse inside each book by reading the excerpt linked to the cover.

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Plot Summary: Molly McKenzie has made social media influencing a lucrative career, but nailing a TV show means proving she’s as good in real life as she is online. So she volunteers with a youth program. Challenged at every turn by the program director, Silas, and the kids’ struggles, she’s surprised by her growing attachment. Has her perfect life been imperfectly built?

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl
The Quantico Files #1

Plot Summary: When authorities contact the FBI about bodies found on freight trains–all killed the same way–Alex Donovan is forced to confront her troubled past when she recognizes the graffiti messages the killer is leaving behind. In a race against time, Alex must decide how far she will go–and what she is willing to risk–to put a stop to the Train Man.

Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter
Hearts on the Heath

Plot Summary: When his reputation is threatened, Aaron Whitworth makes the desperate decision to hire a circus horse trainer as a jockey for his racehorses. Most men don’t take Sophia Fitzroy seriously because she’s a woman, but as she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she finds the fight for Aaron’s guarded heart might be a more worthwhile challenge.

A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould
Plain Patterns #2

Plot Summary: Few are pleased Sophie Deiner has returned to her Amish community, but a sudden illness leaves her no choice. She befriends a group of migrant workers but is appalled by their living conditions. She soon finds her advocacy for change opposed by her ex, the farm foreman, and that her efforts only makes things worse. Has she chosen a fight she can’t win?

Which of these genres (contemporary romance, suspense, historical, or Amish) do you tend to be drawn to?

Ask BHP: Miscellaneous Roundup!

(Be sure to take a look at the date that this was originally posted for context on these answers.)

Sometimes we get questions in our Ask BHP poll that are too short to fill up a whole blog post, but I still don’t want to miss the opportunity to answer them. So here’s a rapid-fire combination of some of my favorite shorter Q&A to take you behind the scenes here at Bethany House. Enjoy!

Why do you have so many covers with the model’s head cut off?

There are a number of reasons for this. Sometimes it’s an intentional design, but other times we allow the printers to make any last-minute adjustments to the covers that would make for a cleaner print. They have a habit of enlarging the author name or title at the bottom of the design, therefore needing to bump the cover up and cut off the head of the main character. (I personally think that our production lead there has a thing against certain types of romance heroines and does these decapitations on purpose, but I have no actual proof of this.)

What is the Bethany House logo supposed to be?

You may have heard that it’s the nib of a pen, or a book with a flame inside, but I can confirm that neither are correct—or, at least, that wasn’t the original intention of the design. By digging into our archives, I found that the original design was supposed to be of a peapod or a husk of grain, in honor of the Janette Oke books about pioneers and farmers that launched our fiction line.

Who is Bethany, anyway?

While I know a number of delightful people named Bethany, the real origin of our company name comes from the Hebrew: “Beth” means “oath,” and “any” (or “ani”) means “alive.” (It’s also the root of words like “animated.”) So, Bethany House means “Living Oath,” which also explains the complexity of the contracts we sign with authors. (I kid, I kid.)

What happens to a book when it goes out of print?

Although most of our books are available in ebook form long after it’s cost-effective to continue printing paperback copies, we have a special honor when a book goes out of print. We create a poster of the book, frame it, and underneath it, we choose a five-star review and a one-star review for that title, displaying both beside the cover. These hang in our Archive Room, and editors are known to walk through it as a way to gain perspective—not every book is for every reader!

When we fill up the available wall space, we take the oldest book and, driving to a nearby lake, give it a “Viking burial” out at sea, to symbolize the journey the book has taken readers on. (No complaints so far about this practice from authorities or environmentalists—Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, so we try to vary the places we go for this ritual.)

What is the point of those annoying paper overlays on hardcover books?

That, my friend, is called a “dust jacket.” Traditional publishing has a history of being elitist, especially in the early days of its history. During the Gilded Age, New York events where the major houses would gather were “tie and jacket” affairs—anyone not wearing a formal suit would not be admitted. One publishing mogul with a sense of humor, Beauregard VonFolio III, decided to bring his latest acquisition to show off to his peers—and he dressed it in a paper jacket. (Stunts like that, incidentally, is how his company got the name of “Random House.”) The trend caught on as other publishers saw the practical value of having a protective covering for their books, and here we are today.

How do your authors come up with their ideas?

It varies from person to person, but one innovation is what we like to call the BHP. No, not Bethany House Publishers, but Baseline Human Plot-generator. It’s an AI machine that, given the genre and style of each author, delivers five elements that an author should work into their plot to attain bestseller status. Now, some authors don’t care to follow through on their five suggestions, but for others, it’s been invaluable when they’re stuck and need something to break free from writers’ block. While we wait for approval on the patent, we keep the location of the machine (inside our elevator that no one ever uses) a closely-guarded trade secret.

Which of these fun facts surprised you the most, readers?

(#AprilFools)

First Line Roundup

Just for fun this morning, let’s talk first lines. I love how authors can set a scene, introduce a character, or jump-start the plot on page one of their stories. Here are some examples from our March and April releases along with my commentary—enjoy feeling like you’re flipping to chapter one while browsing in a bookstore.

If the line is really short, I included a few for context. (Because I’m writing this post, and I get to make the rules.)

Destined for You by Tracie Peterson

“Gloriana Womack was not one to brook nonsense. If her twenty-five years had taught her anything, it was that eight-year-old boys were constantly in motion.”

Thoughts: This opener does a great job of making the main character relatable—haven’t we all had that thought at some point when observing kids?—and draws you into a scene.

Braced for Love by Mary Connealy

“Kevin Hunt came awake with a snap. A metallic clink. He didn’t need to figure out more.”

Thoughts: The first page goes on to describe more of this suspenseful moment, and the action and danger immediately makes me invested.

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman

“The brutal killer put a knife to her mother’s throat.”

Thoughts: The stakes don’t get higher than this! This first chapter isn’t told from the main character’s perspective, but the events set a suspenseful plot in motion, and it grabs you from the start.

My Dear Miss Dupré by Grace Hitchcock

“Willow Dupré twirled on the ice, spreading her arms and guiding her body around the other skaters on the frozen lake of Central Park.”

Thoughts: In just a few words, the author shows us a character in motion and identifies the season and setting, before getting into some fun character interactions.

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

“Hardly anyone was buried at South Park Street Cemetery anymore, and yet Ottilie Russell had spent more time there during her twenty years than any other soul living in Calcutta.”

Thoughts: The emotional impact of this one is paired with some intrigue—who is this character, and why has she spent so much time in this cemetery in Calcutta?

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

“I used to marvel at the way my Great Mimi’s arthritic fingers would pinch her eyeliner pencil and trace a perfect stroke of midnight black along her upper lash line.”

Thoughts: Character voice is present right away in this first-person story, and in a book about beauty and identity, starting with an older woman putting on makeup is a great shifting of expectations.

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl

“Patrick walked next to the railroad tracks as he searched for an open boxcar. November was still especially cold and rainy, and a sudden gust of wind grasped him in its icy fingers.”

Thoughts: The use of description here puts the readers right in this foreboding scene, and there’s a suspicion that something isn’t going to go well here, given the genre.

Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter

“After twenty-two years, Aaron Whitworth should have been aware of his closest friend’s idiocy. Yet it had never crossed his mind Oliver could do something so utterly foolish.”

Thoughts: A bit of humor in the opening works well, as well as showing a strong reaction from the hero to some terrible decision that the reader will want to read on to discover.

A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould

“Five months ago, planting a large garden on the property of Plain Patterns seemed like a good idea to Jane Berger.”

Thoughts: This line does a great job calling back the cover design, and drawing the reader into Jane’s world, both the quilt shop and the new garden, and why her idea might not have been good after all.

Let’s hear from you! Pick up a book nearby and let us know the first line in the comments.

Reader Survey: Give Us Your Opinions!

I’m so excited to announce that Bethany House and Revell are looking for some insider information…by asking all of you a few questions!

We’ll ask you to choose between different back cover copy options, vote yes or no on what catches your attention, and give you examples to choose what works best for you. The survey should only take five minutes to complete.

And, if the fun of giving us your opinion isn’t enough, we’ll also be drawing the names of five participants to pick any book of their choice published by Bethany House or Revell in the past year. We’re so thankful to everyone who takes the time to make your voice heard.

Just go to this survey to get started. Can’t wait to see your answers!