Ask Bethany House: What’s Your Favorite Bethany House Book?

I see you there, cunning reader who thought I’d completely ignore this question because I was afraid of showing favoritism. Or maybe you thought I’d be vague and say, “That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child.” Haha! Guess I showed you.

The question, from our Ask BHP survey was, “If you had to pick a favorite Bethany House book, which would it be?”

And for me, the answer is easy: my favorite Bethany House book is Saint Ben by John Fischer. Since this novel is out of print and was first published in 1993 (check out that 90s cover!), I’d say this is a pretty safe choice, since none of my current authors can feel left out.

That, of course, isn’t the reason I chose it. Saint Ben will always have a special place in my heart for several reasons.

First, while it turns out that many of my favorite Christian children’s series were published by Bethany House, Saint Ben was different. It’s general fiction, almost a coming-of-age story, and really more for adults than kids, but my sixth grade teacher read it out loud to us one chapter at a time. It was the first book that I can remember distinctly shaping my faith, edging out The Silver Chair by a few months. The story, set in the 1950s, was about more than just the Rose Bowl parade or the Edsel or two pastors’ kids playing pranks on their church congregation, though those are all part of the story. It was about doubt and the courage to ask hard questions of God. That’s something twelve-year-old me was just starting to work through, and I loved realizing I wasn’t alone.

Second, John Fischer was the first author I ever met. I don’t know how my teacher worked it out, and I know it was so last-minute that none of us were able to buy a copy to be signed, but John Fischer came in to speak to my little sixth grade Christian school class, which, of course, I thought was the coolest thing ever.

Third, this one stands up to multiple re-readings now that I’m an adult, and it has a depth I didn’t notice my first time around, handling some difficult topics that you don’t often see in Christian fiction.

At the time, of course, I had no idea Saint Ben was a Bethany House book (at age twelve, I don’t think I realized that someone actually published books—I thought they kind of sprang up onto the shelves by magic). In fact, I didn’t make the connection until I walked into the Bethany House offices for my interview four years ago and saw this painting outside the office of our vice president of sales and marketing.

Turns out, it was a favorite of his too, enough that he wanted to display the original oil painting right by his door. So whenever I walk through the halls of our office, I remember my old friends Ben and Jonathan.

If you get a chance, I’d highly recommend finding a used copy of this classic and reading it. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Can you remember the first fiction book that had an impact on your faith?

Behind the Scenes: Cover Costumes

Today, we get a special glimpse into a part of cover design that you might not have known existed…the costumes!

Most of the time at Bethany House, we rent costumes for use on our covers, but it just so happens that we also know a talented seamstress who takes on an occasional project. She is Beth Schoenherr, mother of Julie Klassen’s editor, Raela Schoenherr, and she created both costumes on the cover of the upcoming novel The Ladies of Ivy Cottage.

Aren’t they beautiful? (They’re even more detailed up close.)

She also agreed to answer a few questions on the blog today about the work involved in the process of making an author’s vision come to life.

What were the general steps you had to go through to sew one of those lovely Regency dresses for the cover, just to give us an idea of the process?

I started the sewing process for the Regency outfits by taking the model’s measurements and making a muslin version of the more fitted parts of the dress to ensure it would be a perfect fit before cutting into the actual dress fabrics. Then cut, sew, and—my favorite part—embellish!

How did you choose the colors and patterns for the dresses?

Julie, her editor, and the cover designer discussed and chose the color options for Rachel’s outfit based on what colors were appropriate for a woman in half mourning to wear at that time in history, as well as what a woman of her station would have worn at the time. Mercy’s outfit color and pattern were also chosen by Julie and her editor and cover designer as a good contrast next to the lavender outfit, as well as something that would be typical for Mercy to wear. For embellishment on Mercy’s outfit, I used antique trim for the collar, sleeves, and back.

I brought samples of fabric choices within the chosen color palettes to show the cover designer and editor to decide what would look best in the final cover design. They chose the lavender, pin-tucked taffeta because its texture would add some dimension to the coat that would show up well in photos. I found several sewing pattern options we could work from, and based on some costume inspiration photos from Julie, we decided on the pattern for the long coat.

You can find the pattern used here if you ever want to make your own Regency gown!

Since the approved cover direction meant the women would be seen from the back, we wanted to be sure the backs of both outfits (hats included) would also have some attractive elements.

Is there a particular era of fashion that you find the most fun?

Oh dear! I truly can’t pick a favorite era of fashion. I love seeing all the different shapes and styles throughout history. There’s always some beautiful or interesting or crazy element in every era of fashion.

For more from Beth, check out Tamera Alexander’s interview with her about the beautiful Southern belle dress she created for A Beauty So Rare.

I hope you had fun learning about one of many behind-the-scenes elements of your favorite covers! And now, a question for you, readers: if you were dressing up for a costume party, which literary character would you choose to portray?

Expedition: Still Life – Dani Pettrey’s Tour of Federal Hill!

Welcome to the Expedition: Still Life blog tour! And thank you to my wonderful publisher for joining in!

If you aren’t familiar with this exciting blog tour, or the fabulous grand prize you can win by taking part in it, please visit Expedition: Still Life‘s main contest page for all the details.

Click on the cover to read an excerpt!

Today’s stop is Federal Hill where Avery Tate, the crime scene photographer heroine of my latest release, Still Life, lives. Fed Hill has a rich history. It is one of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods and was noted by Captain John Smith on his voyage up to what is now Maryland, referring to Fed Hill as the “great red bank of clay.”

Fed Hill has continued to grow, becoming the center of the city’s bustling maritime port and growing industrial hub. Today the once red bank of clay is a grass-covered hill where picnickers and stargazers can be found. The neighborhood is filled with cobblestone streets, eclectic shops, art galleries, and yummy restaurants. At the heart is the Cross Street Market—an old-fashioned fresh food market, which opened in 1846.

Some fun facts about this trendy Baltimore neighborhood’s rich history:

    • Federal Hill earned its nickname during a parade celebrating Maryland’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
    • It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    • It served as a defensive stronghold during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
    • The hill on which Federal Hill Park resides has several tunnels and passageways (from the 1800’s) beneath its present parklike setting.
    • It was the destination of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
    • Famous residents include/have included: Former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager and her husband, Henry; The Wire’s David Simon and his wife, writer Laura Lippman, and writer Tom Clancy.

Here’s a video tour you can take of the area. I hope you enjoy seeing where Avery Tate lives!

Avery loves living in such an artsy and historic neighborhood. This Pinterest board will give you an idea of what her townhouse looks like.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside peek at Avery Tate’s neighborhood and home. This is the third stop on the Expedition: Still Life Tour. Be sure to collect your passport stamp to be entered to win the Grand Prize here. (Don’t worry if you get an error message on the entry box. Your entry is still going through!)

To also be entered to win a LifeWay gift card, just answer the question below. After answering the question, visit danipettrey.com/stilllife-contest/ to see all the other stops and giveaways on this tour.

Avery’s home is rustic nautical. How would you describe your home’s (or dream home’s) style? Mine is beachy shabby chic.

April 2017 Bethany House Books

Since we’ve officially (by the calendar, at least) moved on from winter, I can welcome you to a list of great spring books! (Who needs spring cleaning when you can have spring reading instead?)

I’m excited to introduce our lineup of new releases to you, in all different genres and settings. There’s something here for everyone! To take a closer look, click on each cover to read an excerpt. Enjoy, readers!

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis

Sallie Riehl comes to Cape May for the summer as a nanny, yet what the Amish young woman discovers about herself and the broader world during those unforgettable weeks challenges her plans for the future. Has she been too hasty with her promises, or will she only find what her heart is longing for back home in Paradise Township?

 

Invitation by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky

In the first cycle of the Harbinger series, four strangers discover they have extraordinary gifts and are brought together to fight a growing darkness. Meet the members of the Harbingers team—each written by an acclaimed author—in four linked episodes! Fast-paced and ongoing, this thrilling suspense collection reads like your favorite TV series.

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

Naval officer Ryan Gallagher broke Jenny’s heart six years ago when he abruptly disappeared. Now he’s returned but refuses to discuss what happened. Furious, Jenny has no notion of the impossible situation Ryan is in. With lives still at risk, he can’t tell Jenny the truth about his overseas mission—but he can’t bear to lose her again either.

 

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Miss Permilia Griswold, the wallflower behind The Quill gossip column, knows everything that goes on in the ballrooms of New York. When she overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Asher Rutherford, she’s determined to warn him. Away from society’s spotlight, Asher and Permilia discover there’s more going on behind the scenes than they anticipated.

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Hope Irvine always sees the best in people. While traveling on the rails with her missionary father, she attracts the attention of a miner named Luke and a young mine manager. When Luke begins to suspect the manager is using Hope’s missions of mercy as a cover for illegal activities, can he discover the truth without putting her in danger?

 

Confession time: what chore or responsibility are you most likely to postpone so you can read a good book?

Prayer for Authors: April 2017

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 April:

Elizabeth Camden
Alton Gansky
Angela Hunt
Beverly Lewis
Judith Miller
Bill Myers
Frank Peretti
Jen Turano
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.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.–Ephesians 3:16-17 (NLT)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For the ability to show grace toward others and themselves.
  • For curious readers to begin to ask questions about God because of the messages of these books.
  • For moments of peace and rest in God no matter how busy life gets.

Blessings on your Sunday, readers, and thanks for taking a little bit of it to pray along with us for these authors!