Fiction Celebration Giveaway!

Last week, several Bethany House authors won and placed in the 2021 Selah Awards, connected with the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference.

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

2021 Fiction Book of the Year and First Place in Historical/Biblical fiction

right-kind-of-fool

Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Second Place in Historical Romance Fiction

Forever Hidden

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Third Place (tie) in Historical/Biblical Fiction

Veiled in Smoke

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

Third Place in General Fiction

promised-land

To celebrate these authors and their lovely books, we’re giving away all four of them in a special prize package. To enter, just comment on the blog with one of your favorite places to read a good book. We’ll choose a random winner on 6/16, so be sure to enter before that!

Prayer for Authors: June 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 June:

Rachel Dylan
Laurel Oke Logan
Janette Oke
Susan Anne Mason
Lauraine Snelling
Jaime Jo Wright
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.

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For God to get glory from these new books and authors’ interactions with readers.
  • For good physical, emotional, and mental health for these authors and their families.
  • For readers finding these books to encounter truths that they need to hear.

It’s delightful to have all of you praying along with us here at Bethany House. Thanks for taking the time!

June 2021 New Releases

This June is full to the brim of wonderful new novels, including these six from Bethany House. We hope that you’re able to make time for some summer reading. These releases come highly recommended for that, whether you’re looking for a beach read, a road trip audiobook, or a quiet staycation page-turner.

Sustaining Faith by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
When Hope Calls #2

Plot Summary: With more children on their way from England who need caring homes, Lillian and Grace must use every ounce of gumption to keep their mission alive. But when startling information about the past surfaces and a new arrival comes via suspicious circumstances, they’ll have to decide what is worth fighting for and what is better left in God’s hands.

The Heart’s Charge by Karen Witemeyer
Hanger’s Horsemen #2

Plot Summary: On a mission to deliver a baby to a nearby foundling home, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks encounter two women who capture their attention. When a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. As they work together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?

Power Play by Rachel Dylan
Capital Intrigue #1

Plot Summary: Recruited to join an FBI task force after witnessing an attack, Vivian Steele finds her by-the-book ways clashing with Diplomatic Security Agent Jacob Cruz. When Vivian’s past comes back to haunt her and secrets hidden by the government thrust her into a web of danger, can she accept Jacob’s reckless ways as exactly what she needs to stay alive?

Seeds of Change by Lauraine Snelling with Kiersti Giron
Leah’s Garden #1

Plot Summary: After turning the tables on a crooked gambler, Larkspur Nielsen flees her home with her sisters on a wagon train bound for Oregon. Knowing four women will draw unwanted attention, she dons a disguise as a man. But maintaining the ruse is harder than she imagined, as is protecting her sisters from difficult circumstances and eligible young men.

To Find Her Place by Susan Anne Mason
Redemption’s Light #2

Plot Summary: In the midst of WWII, Jane Linder pours all of her dreams for a family into her career at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. Garrett Wilder has been hired to overhaul operations at the society and hopes to earn the vacant director’s position. But when feelings begin to blossom and they come to a crossroads, can they discern the path to true happiness?

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Plot Summary: In search of her father’s lost goods, Adria encounters an eccentric old woman who has filled Foxglove Manor with dangerous secrets that may cost Adria her life. Centuries later, when the senior residents of Foxglove under her care start sharing chilling stories of the past, Kailey will have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons, including her own.

Where will you be reading a book this summer?

Ask BHP: Who writes the description on the back of a book?

We had a fun question come in asking, “How does the description on the back of a book get written? Do authors write it, or is it Bethany House?”

My name is Rachael and I work in the marketing department at Bethany House. Many of you know me as the Instagram coordinator, but my main job is the company’s copywriter. I’m dropping in today to answer this question because writing book descriptions is one of my greatest responsibilities.

If you’ve never heard the title “copywriter” before, I like to describe it as being the person who writes nearly everything that’s not inside a book. If you see web or print ads, emails, and author bookmarks with our logo on it, that was me! Of all the copy I write, though, back covers are my personal favorite! Not only do I get to spend a portion of my work day reading our upcoming releases, but I also get to interact with our authors and the editorial team to make sure I delivered the plot in the most compelling way possible.

I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into what my process looks like when writing a book blurb, while also showing you a few of the back covers of our June releases!

The first part of my process is to read the book—right now, I’m working on our November releases. When I’m reading, I take notes of important plot points, the characters’ emotional drivers, and captivating phrases. Then I use those notes to really think about the book. What is the reader going to experience when reading this story? Who will they be? Who will they fall in love with? What emotions will they experience while reading? What is the main conflict? Then I use all of this to start my summary.

When an author proposes a new book or series to us, they will write a synopsis which gives us a rough summary of the book and an idea of who the characters are. And though we don’t use a lot of this for the back cover copy, I do like to read these when writing that copy to look for any intriguing phrases or descriptions that I can fit in.

The reason we don’t use an author’s synopsis is because it is so different from the back cover copy. A synopsis is essentially a timeline of the plot, whereas the blurb I write is intended to sell an experience to a potential reader—it’s less about plot and more about escaping through the life of another. Once a reader is drawn to a cover, the back cover copy is what convinces them to pick up the book which is why it’s so important to make it as absorbing as possible.

When I’m finished writing the back cover copy, I run it by the author. It’s important to me that they feel confident in what we are delivering to their readers, and that they also believe it perfectly captures the essence of their story. If they want to make changes, we work together to brainstorm different wording and phrases. Once they give their thumbs-up, it goes on to their marketing and editorial teams for approval. These teams are also making sure that the blurb is engaging and well-worded, and our proofreader fixes any grammatical mistakes.

It doesn’t end there, though! This back cover copy is taken through yet another review process once it’s designed. We see proofs of the copy on the designed back cover (like in the images above). In this stage, multiple teams (editorial, marketing, and design) are reviewing the copy and design one last time and are now asking questions like, Does the text look too crowded? Do we need to use different colors or fonts? Do the images on the back flow with the front? When the copy makes it to the designed back cover, I’ve had some time away from it and use this opportunity to re-read it and make any last-minute changes to what I’ve written.

Then, a few months later, I get to hold the book in my hands and celebrate another exciting release!

What back cover pulled you in recently?

10 Difficult Would-You-Rather Questions for Readers

Today on the blog, we’re going to have a little fun. It’s time to make some difficult choices about hypothetical scenarios that will likely never happen. (And sometimes that’s a good thing.)

Let us know in the comments which way you’re leaning on these ten rounds. Then, feel free to share with your friends on social media and see what they’d say to all of these. I’m interested to hear the answers!

Would you rather go on a road trip to a top vacation spot with your favorite fictional character or go on a road trip to the setting of your favorite book?

Bonus if you tell us where you’re going!

Win a free home makeover to theme one room of your house after a favorite children’s book or win a year’s supply of a food mentioned in the last book you read?

Be sure to share what design or food you’d pick. (I’m choosing between a Hobbit-themed guest room and a year of Parisian croissants—so tricky!)

Would you rather forget the ending of every book shortly after reading it or not be able to re-read a book ever again?

We know, we know. Cruel.

Would you rather time travel to save all of the books from the Library of Alexandria before it burnt down or time travel to bring a cure to Jane Austen so she could live longer and write more books?

For the moment, we’re just skipping past difficulties like whether this would impact other things in the space-time continuum. We’ll save that for sci-fi authors.

Would you rather have a favorite book turned into a T.V. miniseries or have a favorite book used as the inspiration for a local restaurant?

No specification on whether either the miniseries or the restaurant is actually good. Use your imagination!

Would you rather be banned from all libraries for the rest of your life OR Be banned from all bookstores for the rest of your life?

Not sure how they’d do this, but I’m imagining Wanted posters of your face posted all over, Wild West style.

Would you rather find out the villain of the last thriller/fantasy novel you read is trying to kill you for some reason or learn that your favorite author is never writing more books.

Given that I wouldn’t last five seconds against my last villain, and also that my favorite author is deceased…this one is pretty easy for me.

Would you rather suddenly gain an ability/skill possessed by the main character from the last novel you read or suddenly have the job of the main character from the last novel you read?

Can’t wait to hear what you’d be choosing for this!

Would you rather own Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast or have a cozy bookstore and coffee shop within walking distance of your house?

Hmm, the library wouldn’t really fit in with my home style, but I’d go broke if a bookstore was that close…

Would you rather have bookshelves that randomly re-sort all of your books in a different order every night or be forced to dog-ear the page to mark it every time you stop reading a book?

It feels like my bookshelves randomly re-sort anyway. 😊

All right, readers! Feel free to share a few of your favorite answers below.

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?