Fall Back in Time With a Favorite Book!

***UPDATE***
Thank you so much, readers, for participating in the #FallBackInTime event! Hopefully we’ll get many more readers hooked on inspirational fiction because of the books you shared. And here are the winners, chosen randomly:

Brentlee Taylor, who took a picture with Summer of the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson, won The Brickmaker’s Bride by Judith Miller.

Anna Weaver Hurtt, who took a picture with The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, won Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin.

Rachel Rittenhouse, who took a picture with Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund, won To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling.

Heather E Guerrero, who took a picture with A Most Peculiar Circumstance (and others) by Jen Turano, won A Matter of Heart by Tracie Peterson.

Winners, please email me, Amy, at agreen@bethanyhouse.com with your mailing address so I can send you your book. (And if you already have the book I mentioned and would like to switch, let me know that too.)

Again, thanks for joining in the fun, everyone!

******

Hello, readers!

Daylight Savings Time has always struck me as being a strange event. There is one hour of your life that isn’t marked on any schedule or planner or clock. It just quietly sneaks up on you—spring forward, fall back.

Daylight

Since we’re all readers here, I don’t think you’ll need to much to motivate you to use that extra hour to spend with a new book. But just in case you do, let me tell you about a fun event that’s happening on November 1, starting at 10 AM Central: the Fall Back in Time social media blitz.

The Historical Romance Network is hosting a social media event to fill the Internet with images of people reading historical romances. Starting at 10 AM CST on November 1 (in honor of Daylight Savings), they want people to take pictures of themselves with a historical fiction book and post them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram with the hashtag #FallBackinTime.

This is an event for all types of historical romance, but we would love it if Christian fiction was represented in this event. Think of it as giving a book recommendation to hundreds of readers who might never visit the inspirational section of a bookstore. And besides that…we’ll be hosting a giveaway as well! Here’s your chance to join in the fun and win free books.

Step One: Take a picture of yourself with a recent Bethany House historical fiction novel. (Check the spine for our logo if you’re not sure!)

Step Two: Post the picture on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #FallBackinTime AND tag Bethany House in the picture (on Facebook, this means typing @Bethany House and selecting our page from the dropdown menu; on Twitter, it means adding @bethany_house to your tweet). We’ll search through these to choose our winners at random.

Step Three: Come back to this blog post on Monday, November 3 at 9 AM Central to see who won! We’ll be giving away our historical fiction releases from October to four winners—To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling, Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin, The Brickmaker’s Bride by Judith Miller, and A Matter of Heart by Tracie Peterson.

12103OCT-2014-FICTION-fb-cover-final

Looking forward to seeing some historical fiction readers out there!

Brickworks and Typewriters: An Interview with Judith Miller

Nathan Ham Photography|www.whataham.comI love having our authors visit us on the blog, and this week Judith Miller is answering my questions and sharing a bit about her recently-released novel, The Brickmaker’s Bride. Read on for the inside scoop!

Amy: Historical fiction takes us to a time with different values and conflicts than our own. What do you think modern readers can find relatable in settings so far removed from us? Is there something specifically in The Brickmaker’s Bride that modern readers can learn from?

Judith: Although society has changed a great deal since the nineteenth century, there are many issues and behaviors that remain significant for today’s reader. Historic events, lifestyles, and social mores have changed, but human traits, good and bad, such as greed, selfishness, bigotry, hatred, love, generosity, and kindness still abound. In writing historical fiction, it’s a matter of creating a story in an historical setting that defines the social mores of the time. Unfortunately, mankind hasn’t changed a great deal through the years. Flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths and values are as applicable in historical fiction as they are in contemporary novels. In The Brickmaker’s Bride, readers will learn that a life of integrity may not reap financial rewards, but far greater rewards come to those who trust in the Lord and are willing to make difficult, but godly choices.

Amy: One of the reasons we love romances so much is because they demonstrate what love should look like. What did Ewan and Laura’s story teach you about love?

Judith: Ah, love! Ewan and Laura have a very complex yet sweet love story. Their journey reinforced the importance of being honest and forthright. Life would have been simpler for both of them if there hadn’t been a secret that held them apart.Brickmaker's Bride

Amy: But then there would be no story! As you researched your novel, what’s one thing about modern life or convenience that you appreciate even more now?

Judith: Oh, my—let me count the many things. There are some lovely settings in The Brickmaker’s Bride, but portions of the novel take place in a brickyard where men worked very hard and had no benefits. Because of that, I think the thing I would say that made me appreciate modern life is the fact that the work environment is safer (not yet perfect, but much better than in the nineteenth century), there are forty-hour workweeks, and that children must attend school rather than work in dangerous environments.

Amy: Absolutely! Now, on the other hand, what’s one tradition, way of thinking, or process that you wish we still did the old-fashioned way?

Judith: Spending time going to visit friends and relatives. We’re all so busy, and few of us actually take time to go to a friend’s house and enjoy a cup of coffee and focus on building relationships. We’re too busy sending text messages or communicating through email rather than in person when possible. While I’m thankful for emails and texting when necessary, I’d like to return to a time when we actually “called on” friends.

Amy: That’s a great reminder, and something we could all do more of. Here’s a question just for fun: if you could travel back in time to one era, which would it be and why?

Typewriter1Judith: I write almost exclusively in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, and I’d say that would be the time period I’d go back and visit—probably around the 1880s. There was a great deal of change taking place with so many new inventions and ideas, yet it was a more genteel time and a time when Christian values were embraced.

Amy: Great! And if, while you went back to that time period, you could bring back one item as a souvenir to remember it by, what would you choose?

Teapot2Judith: An old typewriter! My office is decorated with replicas of old typewriters, pictures of old typewriters, typewriter bookends, and even a teapot typewriter—and an old typewriter,but not one as old as I could get if I went back to the 1880s.

Typewriter3Thanks so much for joining us, Judith! Your turn, readers: what tradition of the 1880s would you like to see make a comeback, and what are you glad to leave in the past?

“You Have Too Many Books”: Four Responses

First of all, let’s be clear: there is no such thing as “too many books.” There just isn’t.

Sometimes, though, we readers may need to find creative ways to store our books to convince the skeptics in our lives that we don’t have too many. Which is why I’ve come up with the following tips to help you disguise your TBR pile. (Hopefully lots of the books in it are from Bethany House…check out this post to see what books released this month!)

One: Hide books in your furniture.

Technique: No more do books have to be confined to simple shelves. Here are some examples of books in home furnishing.

Bookchair

Say This: “The books are a key part of the design of our home. They’re functional!”

Two: Create a sculpture.

Technique: Arrange your pile of books in an artful way. Try a spiral around a lamp for some flair. Then fold a notecard in half and write a vague, profound-sounding name for your sculpture. (“Words in Transition” or “A Symphony of Page Numbers,” for example.)

Say This: “Think about it—in a stack of books, you have dozens of perspectives on the world: joy and fear and heartbreak and beauty and the full range of human emotion. If that’s not art, I don’t know what is.”

Three: Bring history to life.

Technique: Arrange your historical fiction books in a timeline on your shelf from earliest to latest. For extra credit, write out the year and major events of the time on bits of paper that you tape to the shelf. If you have a large gap for a certain time period, well . . . you’ll just have to buy a few more books to fill it in! (Here’s a great resource if you need help finding novels from a particular era.)

Say This: “See? It’s educational! Think about all our children will learn while looking at this display.”

Four: Travel the world.

Technique: Hang a sign that says “Between the Pages Travel Agency” over your bookshelf. (Novel Crossing did a great series on author-recommended “book-cations.”)

Travel

Say This: “Plane tickets to places all around the world can be really pricey. And time travel will be off-the-charts expensive if it’s ever invented. Compared to that, this is a cheap alternative!”

What would you say to someone who wonders if you have too many books?

The Printing of a Novel

Last week, I got a sneak peek inside Bethany Press International, the company that prints all of our books.

I’m not sure what I expected—possibly an ink-and-stamp type printing press like something out of Carol Cox’s Truth Be Told. (Okay, I knew it wouldn’t be like that, but that’s immediately what comes to mind when I think of a press.)

Look what I found...the second printing of Captured by Love!

Look what I found: the second printing of Jody Hedlund’s Captured by Love!

What I saw was advanced technology that lets BPI print out millions of books per year. Rolls of paper taller than me. Stacks of glossy and matte covers just waiting to be attached to the stories they illustrate. Presses that churn out signatures—groups of pages in a seemingly random order that somehow fit perfectly when everything is folded and chopped. A bindery that shuffles all of the signatures in the correct order, attaches the cover, glues the spine, and slides out the final books at a speed that makes my head spin.

It takes a lot of paper to make all those books!

It takes a lot of paper to make all those books!

But even more important than the external trappings of the printing press, which were fun to learn about, I walked away from the tour with a better understanding of the people who contribute to different parts of the publishing process.

I was reminded yet again of all the steps that go into getting that novel into your hands, each of them vital. As a member of the marketing team at Bethany House, I get to see more of the process than most people.  I’m there when the acquisitions editor pitches a book to the publication board to see if we’ll give an author a contract.

I’m not directly involved in the editing process, but I know it’s going on right across the building from me—plot flaws being patched up, sentences being hammered into their final form, teeny tiny flaws being polished away until the manuscript shines.

And, of course, I’m ready when the book releases to tell everyone I can about it through ads and social media and reviews and book signings.

But even I’m not aware of all that goes into making a book, and the tour of BPI helped me appreciate many of the other steps I don’t usually see.

The very first covers of The Secret of Pembrooke Park! I'm excited for you readers to find it on shelves soon!

A stack of covers for Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park! I’m excited for readers to find it on shelves soon!

It’s like the way the church works—each part is essential. Take one away, and the whole thing grinds to a halt. There are no unnecessary steps or people.

Or, as Paul puts it in Romans 12: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

I love that image. We need each other. That attitude of teamwork—of family—is something I feel here at Bethany House. We all go about our different tasks, but we know we’re working toward the same goal: publishing  stories that will encourage you, challenge you, and help you picture God’s love in a new way.

Thank you for being part of the process—I would say you’re the most important part. Because without readers, the rest of us would have no reason to do what we do.

What part of the publishing process, from idea to finished book, intrigues you the most? What would you like to learn more about? (It might be the subject of a future blog post!)

Author Recipes: Fun with Pumpkin

When many people think about the Amish, they picture tables filled with delicious, home-cooked food. And what better time to enjoy good food with family than fall? Two of our Amish fiction authors share pumpkin-themed recipes that were big hits in their own families!

pumpkin1

Leslie Gould’s Pumpkin Curry Soup

Love the fall colors on Leslie's newest book, Becoming Bea!

Love the fall colors on Leslie’s newest book, Becoming Bea!

2 large onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
3 Tbsp. yellow curry
2 (28 oz.) cans pumpkin puree
2 (15 oz.) cans coconut milk
4 c. chicken stock
Salt to taste

Sauté onions in coconut oil in a pot, add curry. Continue to sauté for several minutes. Onions should caramelize and curry should brown. Then add pumpkin, coconut milk, and chicken stock. If too thin, add more pumpkin. If too thick, add more coconut milk. (As with many soups, this one is even better the second day!) Stir together and keep over medium heat until warmed through. Serves 10.

GOULD_Leslie1cropLeslie Says: I served this soup to friends and family last year at our annual soup night. It’s one of my favorite evenings of the year. Nothing says fall like pumpkin…and the leaves, colors, warm days, and crisp nights of fall are glorious. All reminders of God’s goodness.

 

Beverly Lewis’s Pumpkin Cookies

The River also has an autumn setting.

The RiverBeverly’s latest novel, has an autumn setting.

½ c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 ¾ c. flour
1 c. pumpkin
1 c. All-Bran cereal
½ c. chopped nuts
½ c. raisins
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Mix together shortening, sugar, and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheet; bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeverly Says: The lovely smell of these cookies, freshly baked, brings back happy memories of returning home from school and finding Mother waiting, all smiles. Good at any time of year, but especially during the beautiful months of autumn!

 

Recipe is taken from the Amish Heritage Cookbook, compiled by Beverly Lewis

For more Amish-style recipes, visit the Cook’s Corner at Amish Wisdom!

Prayer for Authors: October 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 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 October:

Lynn Austin
Leslie Gould
Judith Miller
Tracie Peterson
Lauraine Snelling

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.

For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.” Psalm 52:9, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For encouragement from other believers and through reading the Word.
  • For authors to hear from individuals who have been impacted through reading these books.
  • For focus and the ability to balance many activities at once.

As always, your prayers mean so much to me, and to our authors. I appreciate you taking time this Lord’s Day to pray for these women and their novels…and those who will read their novels.

Author Chat: October Bethany House Books

Ask an author who their favorite character is, and you’re likely to get blank stares or the response, “That’s like choosing a favorite child!” However, asking them to name a character they admire from one particular book helps narrow the choices down a bit. The person they name has to be someone who grows and changes during the novel to become someone worthy of imitation.

See who our October authors chose…and why. And check out the excerpts of each book to see if you can get a sense of the characters’ personalities even in the first few pages!

Matter of Heart

Peterson, TracieTracie Peterson: The character I most admire is the heroine, Jessica Atherton.  The reason for me is that she comes to terms with the girl she is—spoiled, selfish and unconcerned with others. Then rather than remain there, she strives to change and be something more.  Her growth isn’t easy, but she is determined to change with the Lord’s help…and does.

Read an excerpt!

Brickmaker's Bride

Nathan Ham Photography|www.whataham.comJudith Miller: I think I admire the male protagonist, Ewan McKay, the most. Ewan is devoted to his family, even-tempered, loves God, and is a man of his word. You can’t help but love him!

Read an excerpt!

Keepers of the Covenant

Austin_Lynn1Lynn Austin: The character I most admire in my novel Keepers of the Covenant is Devorah. She suffered a great tragedy in her life, and although she wrestled with God, asking why it had to happen, she didn’t lose her faith. Later, when God asked her to do a very difficult thing, she obeyed Him, trusting that He knew best—even if she couldn’t understand it.

Read an excerpt!

Becoming Bea

GOULD_Leslie1cropLeslie Gould: The character I admire the most is the leading lady, Beatrice Zook. She’s an introvert and has avoided social settings throughout her Amish youth, but when she’s plopped down in the middle of a bustling nearby family and a community of Youngie she realizes her comfort zone had been pretty boring. And when members of her new community betray her, although she’s tempted to retreat back into herself, she learns to reach out and trust God in a whole new way. Bea is definitely worthy admiring!

Read an excerpt!

ToEverythingaSeason_mck.indd

Snelling_LauraineLauraine Snelling: My favorite character would have to be Ingeborg (who is the main character of the RED RIVER OF THE NORTH series, but appears in To Everything A Season). I want to be like her when I grow up. She is one I know the best because I’ve written about her for so many books. Why? Her strength and wisdom, all learned the hard way.

Read an excerpt!

How about you, readers? Name a fictional character you admire and tell us what you admire about him or her.

(To see the winners from our Carol Award contest, go here!)