Ask Bethany House 2020!

It’s a new year! And that means…new questions for our monthly(ish) series of posts, Ask Bethany House! I love this part of my job, because it’s super fun to see what questions readers have for us. Even when I can’t answer them myself, there’s often someone on the team who can, and I often end up learning things from the process.

You can take a look at past posts if you want to see what type of question we’ve answered before. Some repeats are okay, but I’ll also look for some totally new questions.

Once you’ve done that, head over to the survey here and ask away!

To thank you for taking the time to come up with a topic, on January 21, I’ll pick three winners from our participants who can select their choice of one of our December, January, or February new releases.

Thanks, all, and happy questioning!

January 2020 New Releases

Welcome to 2020! And what a great lineup of new releases we have to start off a new year! Take a look at each of these page-turning novels and see what stands out to you. You can start reading by clicking the cover. Enjoy!

 

End Game by Rachel Dylan
Capital Intrigue #1

Plot Summary: When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, D.C., FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. As the stakes rise in a twisted conspiracy and allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of them all.

 

Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse
The Treasures of Nome #1

Plot Summary: When her grandfather’s health begins to decline, Havyn is determined to keep her family together. But everyone has secrets—including John, the hired stranger who recently arrived on their farm. To help out, Havyn starts singing at a local roadhouse—but dangerous eyes grow jealous as she and John grow closer. Will they realize the peril before it is too late?

 

On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White
The Codebreakers #2

Plot Summary: All of England thinks Phillip Camden a monster for the deaths of his squadron. As Nurse Arabelle Denler watches him every day, though, she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. But when an old acquaintance shows up and seems set on using him in a plot that has the codebreakers of Room 40 in a frenzy, new affections are put to the test.

 

What elements do you think stand out about each of these covers? (I’m always gathering these little details for future cover discussion meetings.)

Prayer for Authors: January 2020

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 January:

Rachel Dylan
Tracie Peterson
Roseanna M. White
Kimberley Woodhouse

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.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”—Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For all the organization needed to keep up with deadlines and tasks during a busy time.
  • For inspiration and ideas for future books (or ways to revise current manuscripts).
  • For those who recommend books to others to find books with a message that will benefit readers.

We’re always grateful to have you praying with us, readers, but that’s especially true as we head into a new year. Thanks so much!

Randomly Generated Reading Challenge 2020

Hello, readers! After seeing lots of reading challenges around the Internet, I wanted to make my own, but I couldn’t come up with anything especially original.

So, I did what any forward-thinking book-lover would do…I went to a random word generator on the Internet and did some clicking. Here are the words and corresponding challenges I came up with. Enjoy! You can bookmark this list, or print the graphic below and use it as a reminder. Be sure to check off the book that qualifies for each month!

 

January
Word: lost
Challenge: A book you should have read in school but didn’t. (Interpret that however you like!)

February
Word: change
Challenge: A discounted or sale book/ebook.

March
Word: advance
Challenge: A novel set during wartime.

April
Word: complication
Challenge: A book that shows you the main plot problem in the title/cover.

May
Word: language
Challenge: A prestigious award-winning book.

June
Word: favorite
Challenge: A re-read of a childhood classic.

July
Word: popcorn
Challenge: A book that has been or will be made into a movie.

August
Word: idea
Challenge: A nonfiction book on a topic that interests you.

September
Word: refer
Challenge: A recommendation from a friend (or librarian or bookstore owner).

October
Word: grandmother
Challenge: A book where one of the main characters is 65+.

November
Word: freeze
Challenge: A novel with ice or snow on the cover.

December
Word: selection
Challenge: Free space! Pick anything that looks interesting.

On Instagram, we’ll be choosing one book per month that fits into the categories above and tagging our picks with #BHPChallenge2020. Feel free to join us if you like!

After looking at the categories above, do you have any books you’d recommend to others, readers?

Is This Wrapped Present a Book? (A Handy Flowchart)

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m on constant Christmas surveillance to detect my favorite presents under the tree…books! After years of careful research, I’ve come up with some ways to be confident in my guessing abilities.

This is Amy Green, fiction publicist…and sneaky book-present detective. Here is my top-secret method for your instruction and use. Enjoy!

Okay, readers, what tips have you used to determine whether you have any book presents under the tree?

Ask BHP: Does Bethany House Have Any Christmas Traditions?

Next in our Ask Bethany House blog series, a seasonal question! One reader wrote, “Beyond the normal Christmas office party, what holiday traditions does Bethany House have?”

Given that I am currently listening to instrumental carols and watching snow fall gently outside, it felt like the perfect time to share some favorite holiday activities from our offices in Minnesota. Maybe you’ll find a new tradition or two!

Decoration Day

Early in December, Chris from our marketing department gets together a crew to bring out the boxes and deck the halls, from the lunchroom to the stairwells to our tree. On the days when I need to stay late or come in early, it’s lovely to see the golden glow of lights in the dark Bethany House office.

Christmas Potluck

Yes, this is separate from our Christmas party, and it involves SO MUCH FOOD. Everyone brings their A-game for this potluck in particular, and you’ll come into the kitchen to find an array of Crockpots and appetizer trays crowding the counters. Someone always brings cider (the best) and eggnog (why bother?), and it always pays to scope out the dessert table early.

Hope Academy Book Project

We love the mission of Hope Academy in Minneapolis, and every year, we order two books for each child in one classroom to take home (we’re assigned to third grade this year). A lot of kids in the school don’t own many books, and they get so excited every year to unwrap them! Bethany House staff volunteer to wrap the books (not my personal strength; my wrapping jobs are always…rustic), and deliver them to the kids. There’s a fun time afterward where we read the first few chapters of one of the books with the kids in a small “buddy” group. And we always love listening to Hope Academy’s choir serenading all the volunteers with carols!

Julie Klassen’s Booksigning

Not a holiday tradition, per se, but since Julie’s books release in December and she’s one of our few local authors, several Bethany House staff members enjoy attending (and bringing treats to) her launch event and presentation at Barnes & Noble. This year, there was an interactive five-minute mystery to solve to celebrate The Bridge to Belle Island. (The plot: Who stole Julie’s rare copy of Pride and Prejudice? The scheming editor, the flustered first reader, the jealous-of-Mr.-Darcy husband or the well-intentioned assistant?) It’s fun to enjoy the event and see readers buying lots of books as Christmas presents!

The Nativity Scene

This really goes with the decorating bit, but I’m always put in charge of checking our latest titles to see which ones we should add to the office manger scene. From 2019, I decided Mary would be very interested in A Song of Joy by Lauraine Snelling, given her own joyful song, and that one of the angels needed to check out On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White.

Emails About Goodies

Okay, you laugh, but often at this time of year, authors or advertisers will send small gifts to our office—usually in the form of something edible. Once the treats are set out in a common area, an email is the starting gun for a stampede of sweet-seekers. (Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but you do not want to come between me and the last chocolate truffle, that’s all I’m saying.)
There are other festivities that will go on—everything from Secret Santa exchanges to mysteriously-appearing chocolates in the little stockings hanging outside marketing offices—but those are the main yearly traditions. I hope you enjoyed hearing about them!

What are your Christmas traditions, at work or otherwise?

December 2019 New Releases

December at Bethany House is full of traditions, including decorating the office, eating dishes at our famous potluck (which is today), and attending our Christmas service project, but one of my favorite things to celebrate is the release of our new books this festive month! In case you need to snag a holiday gift for a reader on your list, these new releases would be perfect. (Click on the covers to read the first chapter of each.)

 

The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen

Plot Summary: While Benjamin investigates a mysterious death, evidence takes him to a remote island on the Thames. There, Isabelle is trapped by fear and has a recurring dream about a man’s death. Or is it a memory? When a murder brings everyone under suspicion, and the search for truth brings secrets to light, she realizes her island sanctuary will never be the same.

 

Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman
Homeland Heroes #1

Plot Summary: When cybercriminals hack into the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection database and auction off personal details to the highest bidder, FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. Trouble is, he has to work with U.S. Marshal Taylor Mills, who knows the secrets of his past, and the seconds are slipping away before someone dies.

 

The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings
The Fort Reno Series #3

Plot Summary: Caroline Adams returns to Indian Territory craving adventure after tiring of society life. When she comes across swaggering outlaw Frisco Smith, his plan to obtain property in the Unassigned Lands sparks her own dreams for the future. When the land rush begins, they find themselves battling over a claim—and both dig in their heels.

 

Echoes among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

Plot Summary: Mystery begins to follow Aggie Dunkirk when she exhumes the past’s secrets and uncovers a crime her eccentric grandmother has been obsessing over. Decades earlier, after discovering her sister’s body in the attic, Imogene Flannigan is determined to obtain justice. Two women, separated by time, vow to find answers . . . no matter the cost.

 

And now, an important question, readers: how do you request books as Christmas gifts? A wish list? Subtle hints? Clipped-out catalog listings? Inquiring minds want to know.

Prayer for Authors: December 2019

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 December:

Regina Jennings
Julie Klassen
Susan Sleeman
Jaime Jo Wright

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.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”—Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For the ability to have times of rest during a busy holiday season and launch month.
  • For excellence in storytelling as they work on future projects.
  • For those who will receive one of their books (or other books by Christian authors) for gifts this year to be impacted by the message they contain.

It’s a joy to have such a great group of readers joining us in prayer for these authors. Thank you so much for doing so!

Ask BHP: What’s It Like Being Married to an Author?

This question for our Ask Bethany House blog series might just be my favorite yet: “Any chance you can ask some of your authors’ husbands about the interesting/amusing things they’ve lived through while being married to an author? I’d love to know!”

Was this question submitted by a real reader, or a spouse of one of our novelists trying to find out if he’s the only one who finds writers’ quirks strange? We may never know. But I do know that when I asked our authors to submit a line or two from their husbands about being up close and personal to the novel-writing life, I got some great answers! Enjoy.

Dave, husband of Beverly Lewis: “Being married to a novelist means I get to enjoy the roleplaying Bev and I do for some of the protagonist’s scenes and dialogue with her love interest.”

Peter, husband of Leslie Gould: “I get to go along with Leslie on research trips and look, listen, and participate in conversations that turn into stories, from imagining an Amish girl at Gettysburg in 1863 to visiting on the porch with a contemporary Amish family in Indiana.”

Paul, husband of Elizabeth Musser: “As a writer, she guesses (correctly) the ending of every movie we watch. Spoiler alert!”

Ivan, husband of Mary Connealy: “I was reading one of my wife’s books once (I forget which one), but Mary tends to kill off worthless husbands so the hero can come riding to the rescue. Knowing what I’ve heard about authors drawing on their own lives for their books, I couldn’t stop trying to figure out if I was the hero or the worthless husband.”

Mark, husband of Susan Sleeman: “When I come home from work I never know where your mind will be. Sometimes you’re killing people. Sometimes helping people escape from an evil villain, or worse, you’re in the mind of the villain.”

Bill, husband of Elizabeth Camden: “My wife usually has scenes with different ethnic cuisines in her books. Neither one of us are great cooks, so we go out to do ‘research’ at cool restaurants all over town. We’ve been to German beer-gardens, a Polish deli, a Japanese place, and lots of Irish pubs.”

“His Highness,” husband of Becky Wade: “I never get to figure out how a movie ends on my own. She always tells me what’s going to happen before it does.” (From Becky: “I still feel sheepish about ruining The Sixth Sense for him, poor guy!”)

Jacob, husband of Kristi Ann Hunter: “She analyzes. Everything. And I mean e-ver-y-thing.”

Mike, husband of Dani Pettrey: “The most interesting thing is probably drifting off to sleep while she talks herself through the latest way to plot and execute the demise of the victim in her next book. In the morning, my fitness tracker says I basically slept with one eye open the entire night!”

Tim, husband of Nicole Deese: I was married to my wife for over eight years before she started writing her first novel. In that time I witnessed many of the characteristics that contributed to her becoming an outstanding author. Creativity, humor, emotion, passion (and a desire to become an expert in things she was passionate about) and the ability to tell a story that would enrapture any room were on full display before she wrote word one of her first book.

But as she prepares to release her tenth book, the thing that has been the most interesting to me through this whole journey is how…unexpected it was. Hear me. I was first drawn to my wife because of many of the same qualities I just mentioned. I knew she was funny. But I didn’t know she would be able to write humor that would make me snort water out of my nose. I knew she was great at expressing emotion when she told stories, but I didn’t know I’d be sitting on a crowded airplane reading her latest book and trying to cover my man-sobs with a too-small cocktail napkin. No, I didn’t expect that.

I guess I should have seen it coming before she wrote her first book. With her tenth book in process, I definitely should know that anytime I read something she’s written I can expect to be surprised. But the interesting thing is that every time I read something new she’s written I’m totally caught off guard all over again. Maybe I’m just a slow learner. Or maybe she just keeps getting better.

Aren’t these answers heartwarming? What do you think would be an interesting aspect of being family members to a writer? (Or you can speak from personal experience if you are!)