Judging A Book By Its Cover: Summer 2014 Releases

One of the most common questions I see during our Book Banter events is, “How much say does the author have about what the cover looks like?” or “How are covers designed?”

Because of this, every season, I’ll post our upcoming book covers, along with a “sneak peak” inside Bethany House’s cover design process.

This Season’s Topic: Q&A With Our Creative Director!

Paul Higdon, our creative director, and an all-around great guy, answered a few of my questions about the covers for THE DREW FARTHERING MYSTERIES, by Julianna Deering.

Q: What are the challenges of creating an illustrated cover compared to a more traditional cover?

Rules of MurderA: Creating an illustrated cover can be much more challenging than a photographic and/or traditional cover because the latter is usually driven by photography that is already established, or can be more easily manipulated to suit a cover design. That’s not always the case, but pure illustrative covers require more leg work from the get-go because you’re creating imagery from a blank canvas, and that usually means more heavily involved steps. Finding an illustrator who is a good fit is also an unique challenge, and you have to be able to communicate in visual terms with them.
Q: About how much time does it take to design a cover like this?

Death by the BookA: Each cover varies in time and is unique to its story, setting, and list of characters. Death by the Book was a follow-up title to the first book, Rules of Murder. So there was some advantage when designing Death by the Book because we were able to pick up and continue a lot of the styles established on Rules of Murder.

Rules of Murder roughly took 50 hours, give or take, for art direction and design—composition, layout , typography. That included research, team discussions, Illustrator reviews, art direction, thumbnail sketches, type development, character development, image and inspiration research, and revisions/finessing to nail down an approved, final look.

Once the series was established the following titles average around 15-20 hours, give or take, of art direction and design. The actual artwork by John occurs separately from this process and each cover takes approximately 30 hours, using his computer illustration skills.

Q: Which of the three covers in the series do you like best, and why?

Murder at the MikadoA: This is tough. I honestly like all three covers for different reasons. Rules of Murder will always be a favorite, because it established the series look and feel. We were proud of the final results. Jeff, the designer, is also a huge car fan, so to be able to include a vintage car from the early part of last century was fun for him. Murder at the Mikado is also a stand out in my mind because of the layering, and slightly more abstract perspectives. It was also a fun challenge to depict the setting with a night scene. Because of the overall dramatic perspective I would have say that Murder at the Mikado is my favorite, so far.

And, without further ado, I present to you Bethany House’s summer 2014 books! Click on the picture of the book cover to learn more about the story. Continue reading

Internal Conflict: Writers Weigh In

Conflict. It’s what makes readers keep turning pages late into the night, and what helps writers know what to put on the page next. Some conflicts are fairly obvious: blizzards, runaway trains, or moustache-twirling villains are pretty easy to identify as the enemy.

But what happens when your real enemy is . . . you?

That’s what writers call internal conflict, and it can be subtle.


As I read this month’s releases from Bethany House, I noticed that all of the main characters had a great story arc involving internal conflict. Yes, things are happening outside of them: a mistaken identity, hostage negotiation, impending murder, and blackmail. But what really drew me into the story were the unique and nuanced issues that each character faced. Here, the authors and I talk about the characters’ internal conflicts.


To learn more about Judith and her books, go to judithmccoymiller.com.

Andrea Wilson
From A Shining Light by Judith Miller

Judith’s Take: For several years Andrea Wilson faced the consequences of a bad choice. A choice that destroyed her trust. Now, unexpected events have thrust her into life among the Amana Colonists in Iowa. If she is to ever find the peace, safety, and love she desires, she must learn to trust God as well as the people who have given her shelter. When trust proves more difficult than she anticipated, she must decide if she will rely upon her own understanding or finally trust God.

Amy’s Take: Sometimes communities like Amana are so peaceful that they seem far away from the problems of the outside world. When Andrea brought some of those problems into Amana, I loved watching how the people there loved and protected her. Sometimes trust doesn’t come easily, and I appreciated the realistic way Andrea struggled with that. Continue reading

Twitter Fiction Festival for Authors . . . And Readers

140 characters is not a lot of space . . . which makes it a fun challenge for those who like to get creative with social media.


One creative way Twitter is being used is the Twitter Fiction Festival, taking place from Wednesday, March 12 until Sunday, March 16. Fiction authors and readers will use the short form to share story snippets, picture prompts, and other fun, fiction-related posts.

Amy Haddock of NovelCrossing noticed that relatively few Christian authors had participated in the first Fiction Festival. So she put together these great ideas for each day of the fiction festival, and asked Christian fiction authors to mark their posts with the hashtags  #TwitterFiction and #chrific. Her ideas range from micro-book reviews to a fiction author posting as one of their characters for a day.

TwitterTakeover Continue reading

8 Things to Do While Waiting For the Next Book

Hooked on a series? Stuck on book two of a trilogy that ends on a cliffhanger? (I’m talking about you, Patrick Carr.) Have a favorite author whose next book won’t come out for sixth months?

I’m with you on this one. I may be a fiction publicist by job title, but I’m a reader at heart. And let me tell you, the time it takes to get to the next book can drag on.


If you’re a fan waiting for the next book, here are some fun things to do to lessen the agony of waiting . . . at least a little bit.

One: Cast it. Pretend that you’re a big-time producer casting your favorite book as a movie. Which actors and actresses would you pick for the main roles? Fill out your dream cast list and ask a few friends to do the same. It can be fun to compare notes . . . and explain why your choices are clearly the best.

Some of our authors already do this...here's Gemma Arterton, who Elizabeth Ludwig cast as the lead in No Safe Harbor on her Pinterest board.

Some of our authors already do this…here’s Gemma Arterton, who Elizabeth Ludwig cast as the lead in Tide and Tempest on her Pinterest board.

Two: Start a book club. Why? Not just because books are best shared, but because misery loves company. If you hook all of your friends on your favorite book, then you’ll have a circle of other people to join you in anxiously checking Amazon for the pre-buy of the next one. If you start an official club, check out our resource page for book clubs. But your “book club” could be just getting together with a few friends to chat over brunch about your favorite books.

Three: Make a countdown calendar. This is especially fun if you have friends to join you. Mark the release date on your calendar and do something related to the book once a month as you count down. If it’s an Amish novel, try some new recipes (check out these delicious-looking ones on Beverly Lewis’s website). When it’s a historical romance you’re eagerly awaiting, find out if there’s a historical landmark from that time period nearby (or even make some vacation plans). Maybe your countdown can be reading (or re-reading) one of the author’s previous books per month. Time flies when you’re having fun! Continue reading

Prayer for Authors: March 2014

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 so glad we have readers who are willing to pray for these wonderful authors. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Authors with Books Releasing in March:

Julianna Deering
Elizabeth Ludwig
Judith Miller
Siri Mitchell
Anne Elisabeth Stengl

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 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

General Suggestions for Prayer

  • For the message of the books to come across to readers in a clear and powerful way.
  • For the removal of distractions and frustrations that interrupt the writing process.
  • For energy for all of the events and publicity that go along with release month.

Thank you so much, readers, for joining me in our virtual prayer group. I know you care about these authors and their books, and I know they greatly appreciate your prayers.