Quiz: What Type of Editor Should You Be?

It’s summertime on the blog, and that means it’s time for a fun quiz! I put this together using a deeply complex logarithm of word association and a battery of psychological tests.

Kidding. I made it up from what I know about what our editors do and enjoy. So take this as my disclaimer:

Is this firm career advice? Of course not. In fact, it is almost 100% likely that some members of BHP’s staff will take this quiz and get the wrong position.

But is it fun? We hope so, and you might even learn a thing or two about what goes on behind-the-scenes to get a polished novel into your hands.

Eighteen Gifts and Giveaway Items for Book Lovers

As our fiction publicist, I see lots of author giveaways…and I know it can be hard to come up with the perfect items to include. I’ve also seen that, in general, the best giveaways aren’t the ones with an expensive grand prize like a new gadget or expense-paid trip. In fact…those tend to attract people who have no real interest in the author or books in general, which isn’t helpful if the goal is to gather more readers to social media or a mailing list. Smaller giveaways with items that readers love (and will be excited to share about) are perfect for authors.

And as a reader, I get a lot of book-related gifts (or add them to my wish-list). From experience, I know that while books are always the best present, if you’re not sure what books a reader friend has on the shelves already, a novel-related something-or-other can be pretty exciting too.

That’s why I’ve compiled this non-exhaustive list of fun items for book lovers. Most can be any-occasion gifts, while a few are more specific to authors thinking about what to use in a giveaway.

(Not-a-Disclaimer: I’m not using affiliate links or getting sponsored by any of these people. In fact, the only products Bethany House has a connection to are the coloring books I mention. I just really like this stuff and hope you will too.)

Enjoy, readers! I won’t complain if this link gets mysteriously shared with all of your friends around Christmas or your birthday. And be sure to let us know your favorite item in the comments.

One: Fun Office Supplies

Girl of All Work has some fabulous page flags and sticky notes. Of particular note are the Crazy Cat Lady and Classic Characters page flags. (They have a great lineup of different novels, but I squealed out loud when they recently added Anne of Green Gables.)

Two: Candles

I’ve stopped by the Minneapolis-based Frostbeard Studios several times, and I love what they’ve come up with in the world of bookish candles! They even have tea light sampler packs in different genres and types.

Three: Pizza

One of the wonders of modern technology is that pizza can now be ordered online. That means an author can pick a winner, ask for topping choices, and have a piping hot pizza sent right to a reader’s door on a chosen night. Jill Williamson did this recently, and it was so fun that I had to share!

Four: Clever Accessories

Out of Print has lots of nerdy bookish stuff, but here are a few of the less expensive items: library card socks and a heat-reactive banned book mug…when you pour hot liquid into the mug, the titles blank out!

Five: Setting-Specific Items

If you want a fun tie-in with your book, consider making a gift basket of items from its setting. Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series is set in her own home area, so she’s put together giveaway packages of items mentioned in her books or from shops and restaurants that show up.

Six: Baby Books

Besides the gorgeous artwork and the wink-wink references for those who have read the adult version of the classics, BabyLit board books are just plain fun. Educational too—your reader-to-be can learn opposites from Sense and Sensibility or Spanish from Don Quixote or counting from Jane Eyre (below). They also have puzzles, dolls, and playsets (like the Pride and Prejudice one below).

Seven: Homemade Item

A few years ago, Lisa Wingate made a decoupaged prayer box for a reader. Other authors who are crafty have include homemade cards or a cross-stitched bookmark in a giveaway. Knowing the author made it sets that item apart as priceless!

Eight: Journal

Why have a normal notebook when you can write between the lines of your favorite authors? Novel Journal prints real books in tiny font to form the lines for the journal, from Dracula to The Wizard of Oz to Sherlock Holmes.

Nine: Significant Item in the Book

Several of our authors have had fun choosing an item specific to their book, whether it’s a character’s favorite food or piece of jewelry or music related to the story. (And, no spoilers, but be sure to watch Ronie Kendig’s Facebook page for a super fun giveaway next month related to her release of Crown of Souls.)

Ten: Coloring Books

You can find a variety of adult coloring books on different themes all over the place, but here are two Scripture-based ones: an under-$6 mini pocket version and a high-quality art book. Bonus if you throw in some nice colored pencils!

Eleven: Skype with the Author

Despite what you might think, readers really do love a chance to connect with an author and ask all of their burning questions. This has been a popular “item” every time an author has offered it, especially in something like a Facebook party for fans.

Twelve: Posters

Incidental Comics is one of my favorite whimsical artists, and some of his cartoons are available in poster form. Here are just a few, but there are many more of interest to readers, artists, and writers.

Thirteen: Flowers

There are lots of local flower delivery services you could use to send something fresh and beautiful to a winner from right where you are.

Fourteen: Tea

But not just any tea…Novel Tea! I can personally vouch for the “War and Peach” tea, but any of these teas (and the pretty tins they come in) are likely to be a hit. Check them out for the humorous title puns!

Fifteen: Magnets

Magnetic Poetry has several book or author-specific sets of words, to be rearranged on any magnetic surface to produce works of great genius. (The Shakespeare version on my fridge is a continual riot of iambic pentameter.)

Sixteen: Wall Decor

Litographs is my favorite for this—their prints also contain the text of the book that they represent, printed really, really tiny in the background. Here’s the Nancy Drew poster, but they have dozens of others, from modern to classic.

Seventeen: Homemade Cookies

Sure, there are services that will deliver cookies, but what could be better than something homemade by the author? (Bonus: it’s a lot less expensive!) Here’s a tip: when mailing cookies, empty and cleaned out Pringles jars make excellent packing to send them in.

Eighteen: Postcards

Obvious State has a gift collection of 50 black-and-white postcard prints from different authors. Nothing like book-related mail!

Okay, readers: which of these eighteen items would you be most excited to receive as a prize or present?

Prayer for Authors: August 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 August:

Victoria Bylin
Alton Gansky
Angela Hunt
Todd M. Johnson
Bill Meyers
Frank Peretti
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.

Oh, Lord God! You yourself made the heavens and earth by your great power and with your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you!–Jeremiah 32:17 (CSB)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For creative ideas and the energy to follow through on them.
  • For the ability to prioritize and spend time on what matters.
  • For new readers to discover these authors and their books.

Again, we’re so grateful that you’re joining us in prayer for these authors, especially for those of you who make a habit of it each month. Thanks for being such an encouraging group of readers!

August 2017 New Releases

It’s nearing the end of summertime, but there’s still plenty of time for a few great summer reads!

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This month, Bethany House is releasing four books from four different genres: legal suspense, historical family saga, contemporary romance, and supernatural thriller. When we say there’s something for everyone on this list, we mean it! Read the descriptions, admire the covers, and click on the books to read an excerpt of each.

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson

Plot Summary: Defense Attorney Ian Wells is struggling to build a law practice while caring for his sick mother. When a new client offers a huge sum to take on a simple trust fund case, he can’t afford to say no. But when the investigation leads to a decades-old mystery linking the trust to dangerous criminals, he realizes this case could cost him his career.

 

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling

Plot Summary: In 1910, Signe, her husband, and their boys emigrate from Norway to Minnesota, dreaming of one day owning a farm of their own. But the relatives they’ve come to stay with are harsh and demanding. As Signe’s family is worked to the bone to repay the cost of their voyage, can she learn to trust God through this trial and hold on to hope for a better future?

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

Plot Summary: Nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. Instead, she’s focused on caring for her patients and her teenage sister, Lucy. Mia is shocked when she learns Lucy is pregnant and plans to marry her boyfriend. She’s determined to stop the wedding, but she wasn’t expecting best man Jake Tanner, a handsome police officer with a wary heart so like her own.

The Assault by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky

Plot Summary: In cycle two of the series, the Harbingers team investigates more unsettling mysteries that drive them to the breaking point. Will they be strong enough to keep overcoming the world’s dark forces? Fast-paced and ongoing, this thrilling collection reads like your favorite TV series, with each linked episode written by a talented author.

Here’s a question for you, readers: do you have a go-to genre, or is your reading taste more eclectic?

Share a Book Contest 2017!

Based on the fun of finding a can of pop with your name on it (or not, depending on how creative your parents were when naming you), I thought we’d have a little giveaway!

CokeNames

Why not try “Share a book with…”? There’s something fun about reading a book where the character shares our name. (So take note if you’re looking for birthday presents—every reader I know would love to get a book with their namesake as the main character.)

Just for fun, here are the protagonists of the Bethany House books that have released from August 2016 to August 2017. Look at the list, and if you see the name of one of your friends, comment with the name of your friend and one thing you appreciate about her. Only one comment/entry per person, please! Enter until midnight on August 9 I’ll chose three random comments and send the commenter two copies of the book—one to keep, and one to share with the namesake friend!

Remember, this is “Share a book,” so choose a book featuring a friend’s name, not your own name. Also, really close names count. (Beth for Betsey, Annie for Anne, Catie for Kate, etc. We’re pretty lenient.)

ShareaCoke

• Perla & Ella—A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas
• Ainslee & Levi – The Artisan’s Wife by Judith Miller
• Beth & Jarrick – Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
• Lydia & Nicholas – A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears
• Evie & Gabriel – Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
• Lady Ella & Lord Cayton – A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White
• Esther – The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn
• Clara & Curtis – A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson
• Leona & Gloria – The Wish by Beverley Lewis
• Deirdre & Matthew – Love’s Faithful Promise by Susan Anne Mason
• Shira – Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette
• Deborah & Anton – From this Day Forward by Lauraine Snelling
• Gessje & Anna – Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin
• Loni & David – The Cottage by Michael Phillips
• Wilek (William will also count) – King’s Blood by Jill Williamson
• Mercy & Mark – Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl
• Willet (William will also count)– The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr
• Cole “Tox” & Kasey – Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig
• Jane – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen
• Betsy & Joel – For the Record by Regina Jennings
• Adelaide & Trent – An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter
• Cassidy & Allan – In the Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse
• Julianne – The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green
• Rose & Reuben – Amish Weddings by Leslie Gould
• Drew & Madeline – Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering
• Rebekah & Nathaniel – A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander
• Avery & Parker – Still Life by Dani Pettrey
• Justin & Angie – Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy
• Jenny & Ryan – To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
• Grace & Alex – Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson
• Permilla & Asher – Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano
• Hope & Luke – The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller
• Sallie – The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis
• Evie & David – Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson
• Kate & Tony – Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl
• Alanah & Tobiah – Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette
• Nora & John – True to You by Becky Wade
• Evelyn & David – A Love So True by Melissa Jagears
• Elise & Thornton – With You Always by Jody Hedlund
• Rosalyn & Nate – The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere
• Grace & Amos – Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
• Evelyn & Simon – High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin
• Rosemary & Peter – A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White
• Loni & David – The Legacy by Michael Phillips
• Chava & Cleopatra – Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt
• Hope & Lance – Beloved Hope by Tracie Peterson
• Mia & Jake – The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin
• Ian – Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson
• Signe & Rune – The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snellings

Go ahead, tell us a little bit about a friend who shares a name with one of these main characters, and you’ll be entered to win two copies of that book!

 

Reader Poll and Giveaway!

On August 12, I’ll be representing Bethany House at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat, mingling with authors and booklovers alike. I’m already getting excited! As part of the event, I’ll be moderating a panel—which means they’re actually giving me a mic and letting me ask questions of authors (a very risky move on their part).

Of course, I want to make sure the questions I ask are ones that are relevant to readers…which is why I’m coming to you for help. The panel’s name is “Merging the Imaginary and the Real Worlds,” and it will be filled with five fabulous historical fiction authors.

As a reader, what’s a question you think would be fascinating to know that’s specific to historical fiction? Maybe even something that you haven’t found out by reading authors’ blogs or Facebook posts. When you think about merging the imaginary and real worlds, what questions come to mind?

Let me know in the comments below, and next Thursday I’ll choose two winners to receive their choice of summer historical fiction release from Bethany House!

Ask Bethany House: What’s Next in Christian Fiction?

Today’s Ask BHP question is a big-picture one: “What do you forecast for inspirational romance? More nods to spirituality or a ‘toned-down’ approach to broaden the net?”

Now, isn’t that a loaded question?

You have to be careful predicting the future. Remember what happened to Pippin and the palantir?

There are people I respect in the publishing industry who think Christian fiction will survive by sticking to strong faith themes and overt spirituality—after all, they say, look at the breakout novels in the history of the CBA. Beverly Lewis’s The Shunning created a whole genre of people who admired the Amish culture’s simple faith and family values. Frank Peretti’s books focused on spiritual warfare, the Left Behind series starts with the Rapture, and Redeeming Love is the story of an Old Testament prophet. From Janette Oke’s prairie romances to current apocalyptic thrillers and novelizations of Christian movies, many of the standout sellers haven’t tried to downplay faith; it’s made up the core of what the book is.

That can change, because our culture is changing, argues the other side, claiming that traditional inspirational fiction is more or less dead, but that Christian storytelling will always be vital. Shifting covers and content to more ABA style is the way to go—allegories and family dramas and beautiful storytelling can be faith-filled without having characters eavesdropping on sermons, quoting Bible verses, or even explicitly mentioning God. Looking at the content of bestsellers in the past is no way to determine what will happen in the future, and don’t forget that many Christians writing fiction with ABA publishers have also hit bestseller lists.

So, what do I think? To no one’s surprise, I agree with both. (I promise, I don’t do this so I can be right regardless of what happens.)

Writers create stories they’re passionate about, exploring themes that they find compelling. Readers buy books they’re drawn to, seeking out and recommending the novels that fit their felt needs. Publishers try to get a sense of both of these and find the manuscripts that do both.

There will be writers who are passionate about a story that can’t help but be explicitly Christian in its tone and characters and dialogue. That’s as much a part of the writer’s voice as a sense of humor, love of poetic descriptions, or tendency toward strong female leads. Those writers will have readers who love what they’re doing.

And there will be writers who are passionate about a story that, while deeply true and faith-filled, achieves a different goal with different methods. They will create the stories of their heart and might feel that inserting the moral of the story would defeat the purpose. Those writers will have readers who love what they’re doing.

That’s why I think it’s good that there’s a range of spiritual content within Bethany House novels and other CBA publishers, and I expect that to continue.

I realize that’s not much of a ground-shattering crystal-ball-type prediction, but there you have it. Because I believe deeply that authors and the novels they create are unique, I don’t expect them to uniformly veer in one direction or the other. That doesn’t mean there won’t be trends or breakout novels (and a wave of imitators) that push the market in a particular direction. Just that, at the end of the day, if readers want different experiences, authors and publishers will provide them.

One more misconception I want to clear up about this question: it’s not at all an issue of cliché vs. well-written or faithful vs. sell-out. I’ve read some books with strong Christian content that deserve a place on the shelf with the masters, and others that fell short. I’ve read some books with subtle Christian content that taught me more about faith than a sermon would, and others that felt like watered-down lemonade.

That said, if writers focus on the story they feel called to write and do so to the best of their ability, maybe this question will become secondary. My hope for Christian fiction is the same as it’s always been: that followers of Jesus would let the truth and love of God sink down deep in their souls…and then tell stories.

What do you think, readers? Any big or small trends you think we’ll see (or you hope we’ll see) in Christian fiction in the future?

July 2017 New Releases

Welcome, readers, to another fabulous set of Bethany House books! If your summer reading list is dwindling (and even if it isn’t), here are some great choices for you to pick up. Read a blurb, admire the lovely covers, and click on them to read an excerpt of each novel.

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Plot: Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the thieves that have helped her survive on the streets of London. Pickpockets no longer, they’ve learned how to blend into high society and now work as thieves for hire. But when a client assigns Rosemary to determine whether a friend of the king is loyal to Britain or Germany, she’s in for the challenge of a lifetime.

Why: A spy pretending to be a librarian. We really shouldn’t need to say anything else…but we will. This is the first in a series that you won’t want to miss, following a family of thieves on their adventures in Edwardian England. If you’re looking for a page-turning dash of suspense in your historical romance, this series is for you!

Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt

Plot: Chava, the Jewish daughter of a royal tutor, vowed to be faithful to her childhood friend Queen Cleopatra. But after they argue, Chava is ripped from her family and her privileged life and sold into slavery. When she finds herself alone in Rome, she must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God’s will.

Why: Ever wonder what happened between the Old and New Testament to set the stage for Jesus’ arrival? Even if you haven’t, you’ll love the way Angela vividly brings this time period to life, with all of its conflict and chaos and hope. This one is also starting a series called The Silent Years.

Beloved Hope by Tracie Peterson

Plot: Hope Flanagan survived the massacre at the Whitman Mission, but at a terrible cost. Safe now, her mind and soul are healing. However, this peace is shattered when she is asked to testify at the trial of those responsible. As she confronts the pain of her past, an army lieutenant brings a ray of light into her life. But can she trust him with the truth?

Why: Tracie Peterson delivers her trademark deep historical romance, and this series has the added interest of being based closely on real people and events. The themes of this story are raw and relevant, and you’ll find plenty of moments to cheer for as the characters fight to choose grace for others and hope for the future.

The Legacy by Michael Phillips

Plot: Loni Ford is slowly adjusting to her unexpected inheritance in the Shetland Islands. She is falling in love with the quiet hamlet of Whales Reef, with its simple ways, and with chieftain David Tulloch. But some of the locals have misgivings. When the community faces a major crisis, can Loni and David keep Whales Reef from fracturing apart?

Why: This novel concludes inspiration-fiction legend Phillips’s trilogy set in Scotland, concluding multiple intriguing plot threads (and making you want to book a trip to the Shetland Islands as soon as possible). With part in the past and part in the present, it’s the perfect stay-cation.

Four very different time periods and settings are represented in these new releases…which one would you most want to live in, readers?

Prayer for Authors: July 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 July:

Angela Hunt
Tracie Peterson
Michael Phillips
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.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.–1 Corinthians 15:58 (CSB)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For reminders of the aspects of the process that first made them love writing.
  • For discipline and focus in the midst of distractions.
  • For the books releasing this month to reach many readers.

Thank you so much for taking a moment of your day to pray for these authors. It’s very meaningful to us!

Bethany House Reading Road Trip 2017

Welcome to the annual post where we list off the many places you can travel in the pages of Bethany House books! This is my kind of summer staycation. The books listed below came out from July 2016 to June 2017.

USA

Someday, there will be a crazy random happenstance where my home state (Indiana) or current state (Minnesota) will pull an unbelievable upset and win the state with the most books!

But this is not that day.

This year, though, West Virginia, Illinois, and New York tied for the most common setting, with three each.

There are also a few newcomers to our list this time around. If you’re a US resident, is your state represented in our year of book settings?

Alaska: In the Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Arkansas: Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl

California: To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

Florida: Invitation by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky (also takes place in Washington, California, and other locations)

Illinois: Traces of Guilt and Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson, With You Always by Jody Hedlund (also takes place in New York)

Kansas: A Heart Most Certain and A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

Louisiana: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

Maryland: Still Life by Dani Pettrey

Michigan: Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Missouri: Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl, For the Record by Regina Jennings

Montana: A Beauty Refined and A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson

New Jersey: The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis (also takes place in Pennsylvania)

New Mexico: No Way Up and Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

North Dakota: From This Day Forward by Lauraine Snelling

New York: The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn, Love’s Faithful Promise by Susan Anne Mason, Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Oregon: Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson

Pennsylvania: The Wish by Beverly Lewis, Amish Weddings by Leslie Gould

Tennessee: A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Texas: Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Virginia: Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig (but also set internationally…see below)

Washington: True to You by Becky Wade

West Virginia: A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas, The Artisan’s Wife and The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Other Countries

Belgium: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin (also takes place in France, Scotland, and other locations)

Canada: Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

England: An Elegant Façade and An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter, Courageous by Dina L. Sleiman, A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna White, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering, The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

India: Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig (also Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and others)

Israel: Shadow of the Storm and Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Scotland: The Cottage by Michael Phillips

Other Realms: King’s Blood by Jill Williamson, The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Catch up on our past setting lists from 2016, 2015, and 2014!

All right, readers! Let us know a fun location near where you live, historically significant or otherwise.