Calling All Book Club Members!

Do you love reading and discussing books with other book lovers? Do you like getting book recommendations and exclusive content from authors? If you answered yes, then we have the perfect community for you: An Open Book!

An Open Book is a program specifically designed for book clubs, to help make planning meetings easy and fun. We offer a variety of resources, including a monthly newsletter, book giveaways, and an engaged Facebook community. Our newsletter features a different recommended novel each month and includes a letter from the author, a discussion guide, and an assortment of other extras related to the book:

  • Recipes
  • Games
  • Author Q&As
  • Inspirational photos
  • Downloadable images, like a phone wallpaper or a printable Gilded Age dance card
  • Virtual tours or research expeditions
  • Fun facts
  • So much more!

If you would like to sign up to be part of An Open Book, or browse our resources, you can do so here at bethanyhouseopenbook.com. Or, if you’d like to be part of our Facebook group where you can enter giveaways, get book recommendations from fellow readers, chuckle on Funny Fridays, be a featured club of the month, and more, you can find us here: facebook.com/groups/openbookies.

We hope to see you soon!

Prayer for Authors: August 2021

Since it’s 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 Lokkesmoe, 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 August:

Amanda Dykes
Tammy L. Gray
Todd M. Johnson
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.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For endurance during release month, and as they work on future writing projects.
  • For independent bookstore owners connecting readers with encouraging books.
  • For health and strong relationships between authors and their family members, especially in busy seasons.

Once again, thank you so much for joining us in prayer for these authors and their books. We’re grateful for all of you.

August 2021 New Releases

In this last full month of summer, we hope you’re able to steal a moment to read. We have a contemporary romance, a novel set in WWI, a Regency mystery, and a Gilded Age romance releasing this month, and we love recommending them to readers! Be sure to click on the covers if you’d like to read an excerpt.

Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes

Plot Summary: Mireilles finds her world rocked when the Great War comes crashing into the idyllic home she has always known, taking much from her. When Platoon Sergeant Matthew Petticrew discovers her in the Forest of Argonne, three things are clear: she is alone in the world, she cannot stay, and he and his two companions might be the only ones who can get her to safety.

To Write a Wrong by Jen Turano
The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency

Plot Summary: Daphne Beekman is a mystery writer by day, inquiry agent by night. She happily works behind the scenes, staying away from danger. But when Herman Henderson arrives on the doorstep, desperate for someone to investigate numerous attempts on his life, Daphne finds herself in the thick of a case she’s determined to solve–and finds her heart in jeopardy as well.

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

Plot Summary: As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes defends the poor against the powerful–but that changes when a struggling heiress arrives at his door with a mystery surrounding a missing letter from the king’s regent and a merchant’s brig. As he digs deeper, he learns that the forces arrayed against them are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray
A State of Grace Novel

Plot Summary: After her dreams of mission work are dashed, Darcy Malone has no choice but to move in with the little sister of a man she’s distrusted for years. Searching for purpose, she jumps at the chance to rescue a group of dogs. But it’s Darcy herself who’ll encounter a surprising rescue in the form of unexpected love, forgiveness, and the power of letting go.

Do you pre-order books you know you’ll want to buy, or get them after release?

A Look at Regency England with Todd M. Johnson

Historical fiction fans, rejoice! Today, we have Todd M. Johnson here to share some behind-the-scenes details about the famous Regency period, the setting of his new historical legal thriller, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque. If you’re intrigued by barrister William Snopes and his adventures, you can get a signed copy by pre-ordering the book from Baker Book House before the book releases on August 3, 2021. But now, I’ll turn it over to Todd.

Grand King George III of England finally went fully insane in 1811. People saw it coming. After all, he’d suffered bouts of incapacity for decades – including, some believe, during the American Revolutionary War. Still, England’s parliament had no precedent for replacing a mature but incapacitated sovereign. After much wringing of hands, they settled on the strategy of making the King’s son, George IV, his “regent” to rule in his stead.

That period, 1811 to 1820, became known as England’s “Regency Period.”

Why is such a short period in British history so famed? Probably because it was a time of rapid, unprecedented change—in English literature, music, architecture, courts, and concern for the poor. It was also vividly depicted in the books of Jane Austen– and echoed in the later writings of other great English authors, including Dickens, Thackeray, the Bronte Sisters, and Collins. 

Which is why, in my latest book The Barrister and the Letter of Marque, barrister William Snopes, a lawyer with a heart for the poor and a troubled link to high society, insisted upon being featured in London during this period.

So, what was William’s Regency Period London like?

Early 1800s London was the heart of the growing English empire and a mix of old wealth and rising mercantile affluence; bone crushing poverty and an aspiring middle class of merchants, bankers, priests, doctors, civil servants, solicitors, and (yes) barristers.

As depicted in The Barrister, London’s carriages, cabs, and walkways were shared by the well-dressed wealthy, equally well-dressed pickpockets, investors, muggers, tradesmen, sailors, stable hands, and kidnappers. Restaurants, bars, hotels, and pubs were ubiquitous. Wide areas were unsafe to walk at night (Whitechapel), while a few miles away were neighborhoods of beautiful public gardens and gas lit townhomes (Mayfair).

With that summary in mind, here are some London locales featured in The Barrister.

Gray’s Inn

“Impartial justice, guardian of equity, mistress of the law, without fear or favour rules men’s causes aright.” – The Motto of Gray’s Inn

William Snopes is a member of Gray’s Inn, one of the four “Inns of Court” which British barristers were (and still are) required to join in order to practice as barristers. William’s offices were at Gray’s Inn and, at one point in the story, he is threatened with severe discipline by the Inn for his conduct at court.

Gray’s Inn is the smallest (some would say the most elite) of the four Inns of Court in England. It is located at in posh Central London. Like the other three Inns of Court (the Middle Temple, the Inner Temple, and the Lincoln Inn), Gray’s Inn was (and is) at once a professional body, a source of discipline for its members, and a provider of office accommodations for many of its barristers.

Some more fun trivia:

  • The Hall at Gray’s Inn has a large, carved screen at one end over the vestibule entrance. That screen was given to the Inn by Elizabeth I. It was carved from the wood of a Spanish galleon captured from the Spanish Armada.
  • The Inn is known to this day for its sumptuous gardens, which have existed since at least 1597. William Shakespeare is believed to have first performed The Comedy of Errors there because his patron was a member.

Newgate Prison

How dreadful its rough heavy walls, and low massive doors, appeared to us – the latter looking as if they were made for the express purpose of letting people in, and never letting them out again.” – Charles Dickens describing Newgate Prison in 1836

Before the events in The Barrister, William Snopes, an experienced lawyer, had been forced to visit clients in the horror that was Newgate Prison on many occasions.

The original Newgate prison was built in 1188, but was rebuilt many times, including in 1770 and again in 1782. Divided into two sections, it housed a “Common area” for poor prisoners and a “State” area for those who could afford more comfortable accommodation. These sections on the prison were further divided between debtors and felons. The women’s section alone usually contained 300 women and children. The foul, crowded conditions spread misery and disease—including the dreaded “gaol fever” that took swaths of the prison population at intervals.

In The Barrister, Captain Harold Tuttle, William’s client, is held, inexplicably, in the most isolated cells of the prison: in a basement gallery without fresh air or natural light. It isn’t necessary to conjure a vision of the place—you can visit it. Although Newgate was demolished in the early twentieth century, a Victorian gin house called the “Viaduct Tavern” sits across the street from the former prison site. In its cellar, you can find some of Newgate’s original basement cells, still replete with rusty bars and damp walls.

Perhaps the very ones poor Captain Tuttle once occupied.

The Thames Docks


But she still repeated the same words, continually exclaiming. “Oh, the river!” over and over again. “I know it’s like me!” she exclaimed. “I know that I belong to it. I know that it’s the natural company of such as I am! It comes from country places, where there was once no harm in it—and it creeps through the dismal streets, defiled and miserable—and it goes away, like my life, to a great sea, that is always troubled—and I feel that I must go with it!” –
Charles Dickens, describing the Thames in 1844

Much of The Barrister takes place in and around the Thames Port of London. At the time, that port was the lifeblood not only of London, but of the British Empire and even greater Europe.

As William Snope’s and Lady Madeleine Jameson’s experiences in the book demonstrate, the Thames port in 1818 seethed with cross currents of people and intrigue, commerce and crime. 

At that time, the port regularly squeezed in as many as 2000 vessels at a time. River navigation was “frequently impeded, and the losses, damages, accidents, and plunder” sustained were huge. Cargo was at the mercy of “river pirates,” “scuffle hunters,” and “mudlarks” who stole and smuggled goods from ships waiting up to two weeks to be off-loaded – much of that stock of goods in the form of tea, spices, textiles and furnishings carried by the fleet of 1,000-ton East India Company ships from Bengal and China.

Workers at the port and transient sailors often lived in nearby tenements, ancient and rickety buildings on fouled streets surrounded by wasted pastures. A far cry from London today.

***

So there’s a bit of the London world that barrister William Snopes and his friends and occupied. I hope you enjoy their adventures across the breadth of the city which launched a thousand stories and which, for all its growing pains, each of the characters loved.

Plot Summary of The Barrister and the Letter of Marque: As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes defends the poor against the powerful—but that changes when a struggling heiress arrives at his door with a mystery surrounding a missing letter from the king’s regent and a merchant’s brig. As he digs deeper, he learns that the forces arrayed against them are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

Have you ever visited London? If so, what did you enjoy about it? If not, what would you love to travel to see?

Ask BHP: What Are Your Headquarters Like?

The question for this month’s Ask Bethany House made me laugh out loud, so of course I had to answer it: “What are your offices like? I can’t help but imagine a magical paradise of books.”

Time for a confession: publishing company offices aren’t all that exciting. They’re mostly like other offices: lots of people working at computers, conference call tech in the meeting rooms that I still don’t know how to use, printers that mostly work but occasionally need a swift kick, a mailing room for the many packages that go out our doors. That sort of thing.

Still, there are some fun aspects of the Bethany House facilities that might be fun for you readers to know about.

  • There are more books than your average office. I know, shocking. But whether it’s editors displaying all of the projects they personally worked on, or the large library in our central space where we can check out books from our other divisions, or the marketing library of copies that are sent out for giveaways, interviews, and promotions, books are EVERYWHERE.
  • Far more nerdy bookish décor in individual offices than you’d see elsewhere. Need a map of the indie bookstores of Minneapolis and St. Paul? We’ve got it. Jane Austen bobblehead? Check. A poster featuring women’s fashion throughout the decades and centuries? Yes, even that.
  • The reference library has a sliding ladder. Yes, like the one in Beauty and the Beast (although our ceilings are less vaulted and glamorous). We still think it’s pretty cool.
  • There’s a sort-of secret, locked Archive Room with copies of all of our books, including translations. It probably has buried treasure as well. I’m not sure because I’ve been thoroughly supervised every time I’ve stepped inside, which is probably for the best.
  • Our small conference room is home to the Bell of Triumph, which can be rung to announce moments of great celebratory joy, whether personal (engagements, new babies) or work-related (finishing huge projects or a career milestone).
  • Not the building, per se, but there’s a nice little path and neighborhood to walk around outside at 3:00 break…and we recently discovered that it goes by a wild black raspberry patch.
  • Readers sometimes send us letters to their favorite Bethany House authors, which we forward along to them. It’s always fun to see those stacks of forwarded mail going out!

I’m sure others would point out different favorite aspects of the Bethany House center of command. But while it’s been fun being in the office more now that pandemic restrictions are lifting here in Minnesota, I’m always reminded that it’s not so much the place as the people that make a company feel like home. So if you ever get a chance to meet even one Bethany House employee, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy that more than a tour of our office.

Do you own a fun bookish object around your home or office? Tell us about it!

Five Bookish Reactions Explained for Non-Readers

If you’re not a reader yourself, the book world can be strange sometimes. Fiction readers especially will say or do things in response to your seemingly perfectly-normal statements that might baffle you. But don’t worry, we here at Bethany House are here to help. Read on for a helpful guide to understanding your reader.

Sometimes, crying is a good thing.

I know, I know. Seeing a reader plow through a pack of tissues while turning pages is usually cause for alarm. You’re only trying to be sensitive when you suggest putting the book down for a while. Probably, though, the reaction you get will be a strong one. Sometimes, readers actually want to cry. That can be a sign of a great book. (Although not if those are tears of rage at the author. That’s different.)

The movie is almost never better than the book.

Most of the time, it isn’t even close. So, even if you kind of enjoyed the movie, always nod along to your reader’s strong opinions. Here are a few good lines if you need to say something: “The costume design was fine, but the characters just didn’t have the same depth.” “Do you think the director actually even read the book?” “The parts they left out really changed the tone.” You’ll blend right in. Though chances are, you might not need to say anything—your reader might be content to rant alone for a long, long time. Sit back, applaud your own bravery, and pop the popcorn. There will be opinions.

They’re not “just” fictional characters.

We get it: technically, the people in novels are not real. None of them are really hiding from a serial killer, wooing a duke, or getting pummeled with the successive perils and obstacles the sadistic author decided to throw at them in the name of plot. But here’s the thing: if you remind a reader of that, you do so at your own peril. The beauty of fiction is that it encourages us to empathize—to cheer at ending victories and swoon over romantic lines and threaten the character (and author?) that they’ll face your wrath if they make one more bad decision. They’re not real, but they’re true, you know? Their emotions and situations and growth reflect the world we live in, so it’s not entirely crazy to react to fiction like it’s fact. (Within reason, of course. If your reader has actually started mixing up realities, it might be time for an intervention.)

You can’t really have too many books.

I mean, you technically can. If it’s gotten the point where you could go on Hoarders, or the local fire department checks in occasionally because your book piles are a safety hazard, or a local film student calls to ask if they can shoot a scene in your house set in the Library of Congress, then maybe things have gotten out of hand. Or maybe you just don’t have enough bookshelves. Hard to say. Whatever you do, do not suggest getting rid of books. (Especially not specific books.) Wars have been started for less.

Dropping by the bookstore will never be a short visit.

Never. This is true even if the reader in question claims to be “just picking something up” or “just browsing for a minute.” Not going to happen. So wear comfortable shoes. Cancel your appointments. Pack a lunch…and maybe a dinner, too (but don’t you DARE smear jelly on the precious pages). This is gonna take a while. The same thing goes for libraries, actually. And don’t even get us started on how “just one more chapter” is pretty much always a lie with good intentions.

So, there you have it, a simple guide to the care and keeping of your reader. I’ve just helped you avoid lots of strain on your relationships!

And for all of you readers out there: what are some things you say or do that non-readers in your life just don’t understand?

July 2021 New Releases

We hope that you’re enjoying a summer full of excellent fiction! These three page-turners are the latest from Bethany House, and we can’t wait for you to meet the characters within them.

Forever My Own by Tracie Peterson
Ladies of the Lake #2

Plot Summary: While caring for her grandmother, Kristin encounters the brother she long thought dead. In shock, she volunteers to care for her brother’s injured friend, Ilian. As Ilian recovers, an attraction sparks between them, but both are dealing with problems that have no easy answers. With no clear way forward, can love ever thrive and the past be forgiven?

Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette
The Covenant House #2

Plot Summary: After a heartbreaking end to her friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought she’d never see him again. But when, years later, she is captured in a Philistine raid and enslaved, she is surprised to find Lukio is now a famous and brutal fighter. With deadly secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them, finding a way to freedom may cost them everything.

A Man With a Past by Mary Connealy
Brothers in Arms #2

Plot Summary: Falcon Hunt awakens without a past–or at least he doesn’t recall one. When he makes a new start by claiming an inheritance, it cuts out frontierswoman Cheyenne from her ranch. Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for him and his brothers, and as his affection for Cheyenne grows, he must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future.

What’s a book you’ve read already this summer that stood out to you?

Bethany House Road Trip 2021

Welcome to our annual setting guide for a year’s worth of books! If you like to visit new places through the pages of a novel (or if you want to see if any books are set in your own home area), this list is for you. The books below released from Bethany House from July 2020 to June 2021.

And if you don’t see the setting you’re looking for, try our past road trips: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

United States Settings

Alabama: The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark (also South Carolina)

Alaska: Endless Mercy by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Colorado: A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund, Her Secret Song by Mary Connealy

Illinois: Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

Indiana: Piecing it All Together and A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould

Georgia: Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna M. White, Let It Be Me by Becky Wade

Michigan: On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Minnesota: Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green, Destined for You by Tracie Peterson

Missouri: Courting Misfortune by Regina Jennings, Night Fall by Nancy Mehl

Montana: Love’s Mountain Quest and Faith’s Mountain Home by Misty M. Beller

New York: To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano, My Dear Miss Dupré by Grace Hitchcock

North Carolina: The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey

Oregon: Forever by Your Side by Tracie Peterson, Minutes to Die and Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman, The Way it Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson

Pennsylvania: The Stone Wall by Beverly Lewis

South Carolina: Paint and Nectar by Ashley Clark

Texas: Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray, The Kissing Tree by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese, The Heart’s Charge by Karen Witemeyer

Washington: The Sowing Season by Katie Powner, All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Washington, D.C.: The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden, Backlash and Power Play by Rachel Dylan

West Virginia: The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Wisconsin: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

Wyoming: Braced for Love by Mary Connealy

Other Countries

England: Line by Line by Jennifer Delamere, Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes, An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen, Vying for the Viscount and Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter, A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White, A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

Canada: A Bride of Convenience by Jody Hedlund, A Haven for Her Heart and To Find Her Place by Susan Anne Mason, Sustaining Faith by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Germany: Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig – and Taiwan, Italy, England, South Africa, and more

India: A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy (also England)

Isle of Scilly: The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White

Israel: The Shepherd’s Wife and A Woman of Words by Angela Hunt, To Dwell among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette

Spain: The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser (and France)

How many of these books have you already read?

Ask BHP: Why Do Books Release on Tuesdays?

Good morning, all! It’s time to answer another puzzling publishing question. We had someone contact us with a question that might be on your mind if you’ve paid close attention to multiple authors’ social media: “I’ve noticed that a lot of books release on the same day. Why is that? Why not spread them out?”

Ask BHP 2021

The short answer to this is: most major traditional publishers release books on Tuesday, with the first Tuesday of the month being the most popular. And, well, there are only so many Tuesdays in a month, so you’re going to see some significant overlap in “book birthdays.”

But why Tuesdays? Part of it has to do with giving a book a stronger shot at appearing on a bestseller list. Many bookstores often tab up sales on Mondays, so if a book releases on a Tuesday, it has the maximum time to gain sales to appear on a bestseller list like the New York Times.

Another practical reason is that holidays rarely land on Tuesdays, so there are fewer interruptions. Shipping time also used to be a factor, and warehouse or printer logistics sometimes still is. And, in some ways, Tuesdays is just now a publishing tradition.

From my point of view in marketing, there isn’t much of a need to spread book releases out. It’s actually helpful to have books releasing at the same time, because then we can run ads featuring multiple books, knowing they’ve released on the same day, or authors can join together to run a giveaway or online celebration of their releases. In publicity, sometimes it’s “the more, the merrier!” (Within reason, of course.)

If you Google this question, you’ll find that other publishers have a variety of opinions on which factor is most important, but it’s clearly a mix of reasons. Bethany House follows this tradition as well, so you’ll often see authors celebrating their release date on a Tuesday…and now you know why!

Have you noticed the Tuesday trend before? Or is this your first time hearing that publishers have a date they prefer for new releases?

Fiction Celebration Giveaway!

Last week, several Bethany House authors won and placed in the 2021 Selah Awards, connected with the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference.

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

2021 Fiction Book of the Year and First Place in Historical/Biblical fiction

right-kind-of-fool

Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Second Place in Historical Romance Fiction

Forever Hidden

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Third Place (tie) in Historical/Biblical Fiction

Veiled in Smoke

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

Third Place in General Fiction

promised-land

To celebrate these authors and their lovely books, we’re giving away all four of them in a special prize package. To enter, just comment on the blog with one of your favorite places to read a good book. We’ll choose a random winner on 6/16, so be sure to enter before that!