Ask Bethany House: What Annoys Authors Most?

This month’s Ask Bethany House question caught my eye because of its focus on readers: “Most of the time, I think it’s great that readers like me can connect with authors easily on social media, through their website, etc. But sometimes I hear stories that make me wonder if there are things that readers say that bother or annoy authors. What would some of those be? (So I can avoid them, ha!)”

First of all, super interesting question! I agree that for the most part, easy access to authors is one of the amazing things about the Internet. Almost all authors love being able to hear from readers and know their books are making a difference.

That said, there are some questions or comments that are harder for authors to know how to respond to. Sometimes they’ll ask me if I have any ideas for good responses, which is how I know which reader comments are more likely to be problematic.

Take these with a grain of salt—there are contexts where saying these things may be totally fine, and if you’ve said one of these in the past, it’s not a big deal. These are just etiquette tips from what I’ve observed working in publishing. (And yes, most authors have gotten all of these in different forms.)

Each individual author’s preferences will vary…but I don’t know of a single author who doesn’t appreciate a spontaneous kind word from a reader. That’s something you can always count on! Continue reading

Character Name Giveaway!

Isn’t it fun to read a book and find a fictional character with your name? (Unless that fictional character is a nefarious villain, of course; that’s a different story.) Just for fun, I decided to list off the main heroines of our novels releasing from May 2018 to April 2019.

Want to enter a fun giveaway? Just comment on this post if you share a name with one of these characters. (Alternate spellings are accepted.) Or, since we know that will leave out a lot of our readers, you can also comment to tell us about a friend who shares a name with one of these characters. On Monday, March 18, I’ll choose two winners to receive the book with their name and another book of their choice.

Sophie: Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan

Willow: Falling for You by Becky Wade

Marianne: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

Katherine (or Kit): A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

Rosalind: A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

Mielle (or Michelle): King’s War by Jill Williamson

Evangeline: More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

Grace: The Best of Intentions by Susan Anne Mason

Kate: Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey

Annalise or Libby: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

Judith: In Dreams Forgotten by Tracie Peterson

Temperance: Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano

Marie or Annie: A Simple Singing by Leslie Gould

Zanna: The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

Tzivia: Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig

Maggie: The First Love by Beverly Lewis

Kenzie (or Mackenzie): In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson

Janelle, Tennyson, or Ruthie: The Cost of Betrayal by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason

Evalina: An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White

Anna: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Sarah, Ruth, Fleeta, or Maddie: The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade

Gwen: The Reluctant Warrior by Mary Connealy

Sofea (or Sophia): Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette

Nilda: A Season of Grace by Lauraine Snelling

Salome: Jerusalem’s Queen by Angela Hunt

Selene (or Selena): Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Hattie: The Lieutenant’s Bargain by Regina Jennings

Kaely: Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

Jane or Mercy: The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

Sophie: Searching for You by Jody Hedlund

Thea or Heidi: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Tayler (or Taylor): Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Isadora: Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano

Daphne: A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

Leisel: A Faithful Gathering by Leslie Gould

Mia: Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan

Catherine: Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Eloise: A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

Penny: The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy

Johanna: Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin

Lizzy (or Elizabeth): When You Are Near by Tracie Peterson

Emmaline: The Highest of Hopes by Susan Anne Mason

Verity: Verity by Lisa Bergren

Cara: The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere

Della: Outbreak by Davis Bunn

Sylvia: The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

Which book above has your (or your friend’s) name twin?

Prayer for Authors: March 2019

This 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 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 March:

Kate Breslin
Mary Connealy
Susan Anne Mason
Tracie Peterson

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 our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”—2 Corinthinans 4:17-18 (NLT)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For patience and perseverance in trials, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
  • For multiplied time to deal with many requests (and the ability to prioritize well).
  • For readers to be reminded of the truth of who God is through these books at just the right time.

Once again, thanks so much to all of you who are “regulars” on these prayer posts. We appreciate you taking the time to pray for these authors and their books!

March 2019 New Releases

For this first month of spring, we have four lovely new historical romance novels for you, each of them exploring a unique time period in history. (Also, two of our historical heroines are wearing pants! Which was a different sort of costume to search for than our design team is used to.)

Which of these new releases will be perfect for you? To find out, click on the covers to start reading an excerpt. We’re so proud of all of these authors and their fantastic books!

Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin

Plot Summary: In spring 1918, British Lieutenant Colin Mabry receives an urgent message from a woman he once loved but thought dead. Feeling the need to redeem himself, he travels to France—only to find the woman’s half sister, Johanna, who believes her sister is alive and the prisoner of a German spy. As they seek answers across Europe, danger lies at every turn.

The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy

Plot Summary: City dweller John McCall never expected to find himself in the High Sierras on a wild-goose chase to find a missing child—and the presence of the strangely attractive wildcat woods-woman Penny Scott only confuses him. When he and Penny are kidnapped out of the blue by a dangerous man, they must find a way to escape before the worst happens.

When You Are Near by Tracie Peterson

Plot Summary: In early 1900s Montana, Lizzy Brookstone’s role as star of an all-female wild west show is rewarding but difficult. However, trials of the heart and a mystery to be solved prove more daunting. As Lizzy and her two friends, runaway Ella and sharpshooter Mary, try to discover how Mary’s brother died, all three seek freedom in a world run by men.

The Highest of Hopes by Susan Anne Mason

Plot Summary: After her grandfather’s death, Emmaline discovers her supposedly deceased father actually lives in Canada. Shocked, she decides to go to him. Accompanied by her friend Jonathan, who harbors a secret love for her, Emmaline arrives in Toronto—to her father’s dismay. Will she give up, or will she stay? And will Jonathan have the courage to tell her the truth?

If you could step into the scene of one of these covers, which one would you pick?

Thanks for the Challenge…and a Giveaway!

For those of you who’ve seen Bethany House Fiction on Instagram, you know we’ve been busy this month. Today marks the end of our “For the Love of Books” Instagram challenge. We posted a picture on a particular theme every day, and readers joined in with over a thousand entries during the month of February! We were stunned by your creativity…if you haven’t yet, you should take a look at all the bookish images we got to enjoy.

We’ll be choosing winners among the Instagram participants tomorrow after February is officially over, but here’s a special giveaway just for our blog readers to celebrate a successful Instagram challenge.

Just go to our Instagram profile and look over our February posts. Pick one that you especially liked, then come back and comment on this blog post with the reason why. We’ll choose a random comment on Monday, and that reader will win their choice of one of the books in the Instagram post they selected. (This is open to US and international readers.)

Thanks so much to all who participated…it’s been an extra-fun February with all the book love you put out there!

Three No-Passport-Needed Book Vacations!

I don’t know about you, but I’m being hit hard with travel ads—it’s the time of year when you’re just about done with the blahs of winter and ready to think about summer vacations. Here at the Bethany House office, where we just hit a February snowfall record, it can be hard to get rid of that pesky cabin fever…which is why taking a book vacation is the perfect solution.

In choosing these deluxe vacation packages for you, I particularly looked at books set outside the U.S. Since international flights are expensive, here’s a cheaper way to see the sights…and have a guaranteed adventure. Click on each cover to read an excerpt (kind of like a travel brochure), and read on for a little glimpse of each setting.

One: Flee from Danger in Moscow with Thirst of Steel


The Tox Files series travels all over the world—in Thirst of Steel alone, I counted Ukraine, France, Republic of the Congo, London, and Israel, and there were probably others that I missed. It’s not exactly a charming world tour, though…most of our characters are actively hunting or being hunted the whole time and a few steps from death at every turn.

Even when Ronie does describe famous landmarks, she manages to make them feel threatening, like this excerpt, set in Russia.

The tower grew as she closed the distance, until finally the glittering white cathedral glared at her. The cobbled foot bridge summoned her across the Moscow River and into the sanctuary. . . .

Crossing the footbridge with its evenly spaced lamps made Tzivia feel exposed. Surely they wouldn’t attack here on the cathedral steps. . . .

Quickly, she stepped inside. She wobbled, momentarily taken aback by the enormity of the cathedral and its lavish, brightly colored stained glass. She might not understand religious fervor, but she could appreciate the beauty of cathedrals. Just as she had reveled in the beauty of archaeological finds. Like the one she’d hidden before this fateful errand.

The ominous drone of voices filtered from the main altar, where—like cultists chanting in unison—the churchgoers offered prayers to the white arches, gilt ceilings, and massive murals.

You know there’s bound to be trouble here. (Not-really-a-spoiler: there is. Just a few paragraphs later.)

Two: Tour Paris in Springtime (and Wartime) with Far Side of the Sea

This WWI spy story travels to locales like Barcelona, Spain, but we start off in Paris in Far Side of the Sea‘s opening. Again, you notice Kate’s contrast of the lovely landmarks you might see on any tour of the city with some details that remind us that we’re not here for sightseeing; we’re on a mission.

A small cluster of soldiers stood in front of the opera house, Americans by their appearance. Pausing to admire the ornately majestic Palais Garnier, they finally moved on, doffing their hats to a pair of matrons who waved them to come over and view their carts full of pink roses, white lilies, and yellow daffodils. Adjacent to the flower sellers, an outdoor market pulsed with activity as women, most clad in mourning black, carried wicker hampers and made their selections from the remains of the morning’s produce. . . .

His gaze swept back along the opposite end of the street, colliding with the gutted shell of what remained of a multistoried stone building. He’d seen the structure upon his arrival at the hotel, one wall still poised drunkenly beside an enormous pile of rubble while shredded curtains billowed through blown-out windows in the light spring breeze. With such normal activity only yards away, the evidence of war seemed bizarre . . . and a glaring reminder of the shells that regularly hammered the city.

Then, later we get past Paris and can enjoy the scenic countryside instead:

At the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, sandbags reinforced the arch against attack. He’d noticed other Paris monuments being protected in the same way.

Beyond the arch, they continued on toward Nanterre and Poissy, leaving behind Paris and her damaged extremities for the more rural farmlands of France. Verdant fields rolled out before them, punctuated with white daisies and red poppies, while cottages with orange terra cotta roofs sprouted among the green. The occasional château could be seen rising among gentle rolling hills, the manors accessible by narrow dirt drives and, unlike Paris, lined with flourishing oaks, maples, and yellow mimosas.

Sound beautiful, doesn’t it? Well, things aren’t all poppies and cottages for long, but it’s nice to get glimpses along the way.

Three: Escape to the West Indies with Keturah


And for something completely different, Keturah (and the rest of the series) is set on the island of Nevis during colonial times. While the island has its share of perils and dangers for three young women alone, the reader also gets to see its exotic beauty.

After the endless day at sea, it felt like a strange dream as they were finally approaching Nevis. The sailors cheered when one in the crow’s nest that morning shouted, ‘Land ho!’ So did the passengers, all rushing to the deck to peer out at the horizon as the West Indies came into view—as one welcome, glorious green dot after another amid the blue sea.

When Keturah and her sisters journey to their family’s plantation for the first time, they get a better look at the island up close.

The road was lined with flowering trees that towered above them and granted them partial shade. There were magnolia and African tulip and pouri trees, all of which she recognized from studying Gray’s illustrated book Agriculture Among the Indies, and below were West Indian ebony bushes. The jungle was alight with bright vermilion, yellow, and red blossoms. She inhaled deeply and detected a mix of jasmine and other sweet scents on the air. Among the trees that lined the road were also fruit trees—mango and guava and palms loaded with coconut. . . .

Between the trees they caught glimpses of the ocean below with its different hues of turquoise, deep green, and royal blue. On either side of the road was nothing but acre upon acre of sugarcane, long stalks of green rustling in the trade winds.”

The exotic descriptions make Keturah and her well-bred sisters stand out as being very far from home and out of place. But can’t you just smell that coconut?

There you have it…three amazing journeys that you can take without ever leaving your home (except maybe to go to a bookstore or library). I hope you’re able to beat the winter blues with a good book this week!

What’s a place you’ve only ever traveled to in the pages of a book?

Ask BHP: How Has Bethany House Changed Over the Years?

Today’s Ask Bethany House will take us back to the past: “Who has worked for Bethany House the longest? What are their favorite things they have learned since working there? What kind of change have they seen?”

I love this question because it doubles as an answer to another question we received: “What do you think is an aspect of publishing that most people don’t know about?”

With that in mind…meet Randy Benbow!

 

If you count years at Bethany House itself, Jim Parrish, our executive VP, has been here longer, but Randy worked in the pre-press department of the print shop that created books and other materials for the missions organization that started Bethany House, back in the 1970s.

His job in the production department of Bethany House started in 1993. What does that mean? Basically, Randy’s job involves all of the unseen technical details that get a book into your hands and keep us running: printing “proof” covers to make sure they’ll look great on the final books, backing up and archiving our files and covers, sending the printers what they need to roll out books and deliver them to bookstores and libraries all over the world, and more.

I asked him a few questions to learn about his job (and had to find definitions for some terms, meaning even I don’t know all of what Randy does). Enjoy!

Amy: Tell us a little bit about how your job has changed over twenty-five years.

Randy: One of my favorite things working at Bethany House is actually looking back…and marveling at how computer hardware and software has improved over the past twenty-five years. When I started working here November 1993 our typesetting system was totally code-driven. My workstation also had an Apple Macintosh Classic II with a teeny-weeny little screen tethered to a larger 22” black-and-white monitor to create…

(Can you guess what task might have been so important to be automated that it was done on one of four computers at Bethany House?)

Barcodes! I still create all our barcodes, but it’s a much easier and faster process now (with a bigger screen).

Back in those days, we only had three other Mac computers. Dan Thornberg was designing book covers on one in the then Art Department (after he hand-painted his illustrations!), while his sister Sheryl designed ads and promo pieces on one in the Marketing dept. Peter Glöege was also designing book covers on a Mac at the time. Those persevering designers pioneered the beginnings of digitally-designing book covers, ads, marketing and promotional pieces…and we still have the files from those first few book covers designed in 1993!

Another task I took on we found we needed was on-site Mac tech support as well as managing a stack of 3-4 hard drives cabled together for our primitive beginnings of a file server—running software utilities (sometimes before they arrived in the mornings, or after the designers left in the evenings), managing backups and archiving our Mac files. Ah yes, those were the days—slow, expensive, inconsistently stable Macs.

Amy: Wow, I can’t imagine doing any production or design work without computers. I’ve seen some of Dan’s original cover paintings around the office. It’s amazing how much work he put into them, although I can see how it would also be much harder to make tweaks and changes like we can now in Photoshop.

What was the most involved process that now no longer takes a lot of time because of technology?

Randy: Typesetting—formatting files for the interior of a book so it can be printed—is very different than it was when I started out. Covers and ads used to involve processing film, while paper for book text involved being pasted in a layout, then photographed. Since I’d had quite a few years’ experience maintaining a film processor for Bethany’s Graphic Arts camera, I processed the film and paper outputs, monitoring and maintaining its chemicals, cleaning as needed.

Now typesetting is done on large screened Macs in Grand Rapids to digital files; no light-sensitive film, no chemicals. Instead of transferring files via “SneakerNet” (by walking or mailing), floppy disks, or larger capacity disks and drives, files are transferred to and from designers, coworkers, foreign or domestic Subsidiary Rights vendors, and book printers via email (if they’re small enough), or Dropbox-like links or other transfer systems if they’re larger.

Amy: I can’t imagine walking files around and the extra time that would take.

What’s a recent experience you’ve really appreciated about your job?

Last February 2018 I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit our parent company Baker Publishing Group’s home office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I got to meet and personally talk to the people I’d been emailing for fifteen years! They were so hospitable, gracious, warm and kind! While conversing with them, seeing their facilities, faces, and workstations, I found we had many things in common at work as well as in our personal lives, which gave me more satisfaction in my job knowing who I work with “on the other side of the pond.” It was great—I loved it!

Anything else you want to share with readers?

Just a favorite joke of mine…do you know why there are RUSH jobs in the printing industry? Back in the day when Gutenberg invented the first printing press with moveable type, his first customer kept the proof over the weekend… <sigh> and they’ve been behind ever since.

Thanks, Randy! How about you, readers? What’s one technological advancement in the past twenty-five years that has changed your life for the better? (Mine would definitely be GPS…)

February 2019 New Releases

Welcome to February! This month if you’re in the mood for a romance…or a page-turning suspense novel…or a historical view of an unusual time period…or a dual-time drama, you can find it here in our list of new releases. If you’d like to learn more, click on the covers to read an excerpt.

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

Plot Summary: Daphne Blakemoor was happy living in seclusion. But when ownership of the estate where she works passes to William, Marquis of Chemsford, her quiet life is threatened. William also seeks a refuge from his past, but when an undeniable family connection is revealed, can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and forge a new path for the future?

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Plot Summary: With a Mohawk mother and a French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it easiest to remain neutral among warring sides. But when her British ex-fiancé, Samuel, is taken prisoner by her father, he claims to have information that could end the war. At last, she must choose whom to fight for. Is she willing to commit treason for the greater good?

A Faithful Gathering by Leslie Gould

Plot Summary: Leisel left her Amish roots for a career in medicine. She has an English boyfriend and big dreams—but these come crashing down when her sister is diagnosed with cancer. Soon nothing is going as planned. With difficult choices to make, will she stick to the traditions of her past—or learn from the story of a WWII ancestor and embrace a life of uncertainty?

A Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan

Plot Summary: When corporate litigator Mia Shaw finds her colleague brutally murdered, she vows to make the killer pay. The accused is a friend of Noah Ramirez, who knows something doesn’t add up. As Mia takes on a case of corporate espionage, Noah becomes her only ally. But can he convince her that the killer is still on the loose—and protect her from growing threats?

A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

Plot Summary: A female accountant in 1908, Eloise Drake thought she’d put her past behind her. Then her new job lands her in the path of the man who broke her heart. Alex Duval, mayor of a doomed town, can’t believe his eyes when he sees Eloise as part of the entourage that’s come to wipe his town off the map. Can he convince her to help him—and give him another chance?

Do you seek out romances during February, or is there a different genre you typically prefer?

Prayer for Authors: February 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 February:

Elizabeth Camden
Rachel Dylan
Leslie Gould
Jocelyn Green
Kristi Ann Hunter

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.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”—Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For opportunities to speak with grace and truth to those who might not agree with the message of their books.
  • For moments of rest and renewal even in the midst of busyness.
  • For those of us at Bethany House and other publishing companies who work to edit, design, market, and sell these books.

I really appreciate these monthly times of prayer. What a joy it is to know that readers are praying for our authors and their books! Thanks so much for joining us.

Join our February Instagram Challenge!

Here at Bethany House, we love books…and we know all of you do too! That’s why we’re launching our first-ever Instagram challenge. We’ll be posting a pretty bookish picture for every day of February based on a particular theme. You can see the lineup below.

Follow us on Instagram if you want to see what we come up with, and join in on whatever days you like by tagging us in your own bookstagram photos. (Find out how to do so by reading our original IG post.) We’d love to see social media feeds filled to the brim with great books.

On a personal note, I’ve been helping our lovely copywriter, Rachael, take several of these pictures. They’re SO FUN.

Hope you’re staying warm with a good book, readers!