Stranded in the Library: A Christmas Parody

If you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably won’t relate to this carol parody. Then again, if you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably aren’t reading a publisher’s blog.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from Bethany House!

Stranded in a Library
(Sing to the tune of “Let it Snow”)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the library’s delightful,
By the light of my cell phone’s glow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

There are so many to get lost in,
Like the Brontës, Twain, and Austen,
Or Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Edgar Poe!

When the plows come at last I’ll find,
That I’ll mourn for my reading cut short.
But just look what I’ll leave behind:
A classical tome blanket fort.

Maybe tragedy for a while,
‘Cause Euripides’s my style.
Or the long Russian tales of woe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Romeo!

As the storm goes on, I’ll get to it:
Harper Lee or C.S. Lewis,
Then Emerson and Thoreau,
Let it snow, let it snow, V. Hugo!

Oh, my TBR pile will grow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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And just a little teaser…next Thursday on the blog we’ll have our annual reading challenge! Stop by to see what categories are on our checklist this year.

Did I leave out any of your favorite classic authors? (Particularly if their names rhyme with “snow.”)

Ask Bethany House a Question!

Here’s your chance readers, aspiring authors, and people generally interested in books in any way! I’m collecting questions for next year’s Ask BHP posts, where I answer your questions (or, in some cases, find someone more knowledgeable to answer them instead).

This is an open call for anything you’ve wanted to know: about prices, cover designs, marketing, what frustrates our editors, how to correct a spelling mistake on a cake in frosting (yes, that happened on a cake delivered to one of our company celebrations), or anything else you’ve been wondering.

I won’t get to them all, and we might have already addressed your question in a past post, but that’s okay! Ask away so I won’t resort to making bad book spine poetry every Thursday of 2017.

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Click the quill to enter the survey.

And while I’m at it, thanks for being great, readers! It’s always fun to chat with you on the blog and see your responses on social media.

Christmas Book Title Fun

Every year at the Bethany House decorating party, I prank the nativity scene. This sounds significantly more sacrilegious than it actually is. When we set up the Holy Family surrounded by angels, I simply give the figures a miniature paper book I feel like they’d think was appropriate.

This year’s results are below.

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It got me thinking—what book titles would fit well for all the cast of the first Christmas story? Could I outfit everyone with a Bethany House novel for them?

You can decide for yourselves by the end of the post. (Bonus—titles are linked if you want to read the book’s actual plot, which has nothing to do with Christmas in most cases. But they do make great gifts!)

There was really nothing I could pick for the angel Gabriel but The Messenger (Siri Mitchell). Too perfect.

Besides the nonfiction title in the picture above, I’d give Mary A Lady Unrivaled (Roseanna M. White) or Where Courage Calls (Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan) because agreeing to give birth to the Son of God took some serious bravery.

At first, I thought of A Most Inconvenient Marriage (Regina Jennings) for Joseph, but that seemed a little harsh, so I settled on A Bride at Last (Melissa Jagears) or Beyond All Dreams (Elizabeth Camden) since he got all of the angelic visions.

We had no sheep-related titles (though there are some on covers), but I felt The Shattered Vigil (Patrick W. Carr) described the shepherds well that night in Bethlehem.

For the wise men, I couldn’t decide between Chasing Hope (Kathryn Cushman) or A Shining Light (Judith Miller).

And speaking of that part of the story, how about King’s Folly (Jill Williamson) for Herod? Or we could just be blunt and go with Rules of Murder (Julianna Deering).

How about the little drummer boy? A Noble Masquerade (Kristi Ann Hunter), for sure…because he wasn’t actually in the Bible. Just in some manger scenes and that ridiculous song. I wish I could make this one into a Conspiracy of Silence (Ronie Kendig). But I digress.

Speaking of characters not in the nativity, once I started looking at my bookshelf, I just couldn’t stop, so here are a few bonus rounds.

For Ebeneezer Scrooge, Sins of the Past (Henderson, Pettrey, Eason) seems appropriate, or if we want to focus more on the happy ending, how about A Love Transformed (Tracie Peterson)?

Several came to mind for Santa Claus himself, but our icon has certainly made A Lasting Impression (Tamera Alexander). Runners-up were Undetected (Dee Henderson) for his stealthy present-distribution and Stranded (Dani Pettrey) for that most famous foggy Christmas Eve.

Which leads me to the inspiration for Rudolph’s titles: Shadow of the Storm (Connilyn Cossette) and No Other Will Do (Karen Witemeyer) basically sum up the story in two titles.

Finally, I’d give the Grinch Meant to be Mine (Becky Wade) for his thieving tendencies, and of course, A Talent for Trouble (Jen Turano).

Now, at first, I thought I had the perfect ones for Frosty the Snowman: Fatal Frost (Nancy Mehl) or Refining Fire (Tracie Peterson). Then I realized neither would do, since frost is decidedly not fatal to a snowman and fire is not particularly refining, either. The solution? Fire and Ice (Mary Connealy) captures the plot of his story well.

Your turn! I’m sure I missed some great opportunities here. Feel free to submit any additional titles you can think of for the characters above (or pick a Christmas character I didn’t mention).

Prayer for Authors: December 2016

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 November:

Regina Jennings
Ronie Kendig
Julie Klassen

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.

And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.–Micah 5:4-5, ESV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For moments to reflect on the joys of the writing life and not just the deadlines and demands.
  • For organized minds when accomplishing tasks and making decisions during a busy holiday season.
  • For those who will receive these (and other) books at Christmas to be blessed by them in unexpected ways.

As always, I appreciate that all of you take a few moments out of your busy lives to pray for our authors. It means a lot!

The Perfect Gift for Book Lovers: December 2016 New Releases

As you glance at our December new releases, you may well find yourself asking: were red and green intentionally dominant colors on these lovely covers? (The answer is no, but hey, it works!)

Or you might just find yourself asking how you can get ahold of one as soon as possible because they look so good. (You’d be right on that one!)

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Here’s a quick overview and sneak peek at each title. Click on the cover if you’d like to read an excerpt.

For the Record by Regina Jennings

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Main character: Betsy Huckabee, a curious and charming writer in small-town Missouri.

Plot: Betsy Huckabee dreams of being a big-city journalist, but first she has to get out of Pine Gap. To that end, she pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages of a distant newspaper, using the handsome new deputy and his exploits for inspiration. She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but no one from home will ever know. . .

Recommended as a gift for: Readers who love witty dialogue, fast-paced romances, or Western settings.

Other people say: “This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining storyline. . . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.”—RT Book Reviews

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

I could see either of these cute, old-fashioned-but-still-fun holiday designs fitting For the Record.

I could see either of these cute, old-fashioned-but-still-fun holiday designs fitting For the Record.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

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Main character: Jane Bell, a determined and gracious noblewoman-turned-innkeeper.

Plot: The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane, becomes the reluctant owner. With a large loan due, can Jane and her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, find a way to save the inn—and discover fresh hope for the future?

Recommended as a gift for: Anyone who appreciates BBC series, Jane Austen, or fascinating characters.

Other people say: “Klassen launches a heartwarming new series set in the Regency era that delivers everything fans of gentle historical-romance novels could ever want, including a beautifully realized English village setting, a memorable cast of characters, and charming hints of love for more than one of the residents of Ivy Hill.”—Booklist

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

Something about this just said "classy British read" to me.

Something about this just said “classy British read” to me.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

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Main character: Cole “Tox” Russell, a loyal and courageous paramilitary group leader.

Plot: When an archaeological dig unleashes a centuries-old virus, paramilitary operative Cole ‘Tox’ Russell is forced back into action. With the help of archaeologist Tzivia Khalon and FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox searches for answers—and becomes entangled in a web of deception. As the team races to stop a pandemic, a secret society counters their every move.

Recommended as a gift for: Men or women who enjoy pulse-pounding thrillers.

Other people say: “Kendig keeps the tensions high and the pace lightning fast, with military action scenes worthy of Vince Flynn. Especially noteworthy is watching the character development of elite modern warriors forced to confront and accept ancient history, faith, and supernatural power. Kendig fans will love this opening novel in her new series.”—Publishers Weekly

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

Black because secret operations and danger...and is that mistletoe? Because Tox does have a heart of gold.

Black because secret operations and danger…and is that mistletoe? Because Tox has a heart of gold.

Are you hoping for any books this year for Christmas? Which ones? (I put To Kill a Mockingbird on my list, because I realized to my shock I didn’t actually own a copy.)

Happy Thanksgiving from Bethany House

This Thanksgiving Day, the start of an often-crazy holiday season, I hope you’re able to take a little time for rest. For peace. For prayer and unhurried conversation and good food and laughter.

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If it’s been a long November, dwell on these words from Jesus. They’re as true today as they’ve always been: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”—Matthew 11:28-29

Happy Thanksgiving! As always, I’m grateful for compelling stories, authors seeking to write truth and grace, and readers like you who never fail to encourage me. Blessings on your celebration today!

Author Roundtable: What We’re Thankful For

With Thanksgiving coming up next Thursday, I decided to ask our five authors who have books releasing in November and December a few questions about gratitude. Enjoy! (And be sure to pray for them…these months are especially crazy with a book release added to normal holiday busyness.)

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Amy: What is one “small thing” you’re thankful for, not necessarily the larger blessings like family or freedom?

Ronie Kendig: I’m really thankful for the many vibrant colors of fall, which reminds me of variety (people, foods, idiosyncrasies, flavors) and that everything has a season.

Patrick Carr: I’m thankful for my co-workers’ quirky senses of humor

Regina Jennings: I love my little creamer that I got as a wedding present. I use it every Saturday morning to hold the hot syrup when I’m having my coconut pancakes. It’s the perfect size and it feels genteel.

Nancy Mehl: I love to lie in bed at night and listen to my husband and my dog snore lightly. To know they’re there and I can reach out and touch them makes me feel safe and thankful.

Julie Klassen: With a deadline approaching, I’m thankful coffee doesn’t have calories!

Amy: What is a favorite verse that comes to mind regarding gratitude, thanksgiving, blessings, or the goodness of God?

Ronie Kendig: “Enter his gate with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”— Psalm 100:4

Patrick Carr: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28

Regina Jennings: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17 (NKJV)

This verse reminds us that everything good is a gift from God, but the best gift is that He does not change. Other gifts might age and wear out, but God doesn’t grow old, weak, or out of date. His goodness is eternal.

Nancy Mehl: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”—Matthew 19:26.

It comforts me to know that no matter how dark things look, or how difficult a situation seems to be, God can deliver me and bring victory. Knowing this makes me want to jump and shout and praise my wonderful Heavenly Father!

Julie Klassen: As a mother of teenagers, I admit I sometimes worry. When I do, I am thankful for the reminder in Philippians 4:6 (NLT): “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

Amy: How do you remind yourself to take time to be thankful during the start of a busy holiday season?

Ronie Kendig:  I immediately lower my expectations—of myself and of others—about what should be done or given, and I focus on what’s important: friends and family.

Patrick Carr: I focus on the fact that being WITH is far more fun than buying FOR.

Regina Jennings: The one aspect of the holidays that I dread is shopping. How do I turn that around? While at the mall or the shops, I just look around at all the stuff and think how grateful I am that our needs are met. It’d be awful to actually need everything that crowds those shelves. Contentment is the gift that makes other gifts unnecessary.

Nancy Mehl: We try to find someone to bless during Christmas, and this helps to remind us what Christmas is all about. But honestly, since my husband and I moved to Missouri to be near our son, his wife and now our two grandsons, it isn’t hard to be thankful. Being around them makes us so grateful to God for His wonderful blessings!

Julie Klassen: I don’t always remember to, so this blog post is a good reminder to be thankful. Thanks!

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Your turn readers: what’s one “small thing” you’re thankful for?

Six Reasons It’s More Fun to Discuss Books Than Politics

There’s a time and a place for giving opinions on election results, of course, but here at Bethany House, we think any time and place is a good one for talking about books! Here’s why:

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One: Bringing up a favorite suspense writer or discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of a fictional hero isn’t likely to fill the room with awkward silences and irritated subject changes at holiday dinners. (Unless your family really hates books. If so, I’m sorry! Stop by the blog on Thanksgiving and we can chat about Anne of Green Gables or something.)

Two: Fewer lies, more truth. Okay, a novel is technically a lie in that it is about people who are not real and scenarios that did not happen and words that were not spoken. But given that it boldly announces that fact and that every person coming to a novel is aware that it is fictional, I don’t think that really counts. And anyway, you can learn a lot about truth from fiction, and can’t we all use a little more of that?

Three: Even a terrible book has an ending point, so you can complain about it while knowing that it probably won’t have a lasting impact on your life. (Other than making you wince every time you glimpse a picture of the cover online.) Also, you can throw it across the room if you want!

Four: The most heated arguments when discussing books are about things like charming rogue cowboy vs. witty British gentleman, series vs. standalones, face on the cover or not.

Not that those issues aren’t important…but I like the low stakes and fun tone that those “debates” have even with the most opinionated readers among us. Sometimes it feels a lot easier to “agree to disagree” about whether or not Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre is a jerk or if speed reading is a good idea than it is to graciously disagree about policies and platforms.

Five: If someone happens to vote the same way as you, you probably don’t have much else in common with that person. There is a chance you don’t even like each other.

Whereas if someone also loves your favorite book, there is a chance you should be best friends. Or at least you’re in for a delightful conversation (“Could you believe it when…” “What do you think will happen to him in the sequel…” “Favorite character?”), the likes of which non-readers can only wish they were a part of.

Create real connections. Talk about books.

Six: A political “party” doesn’t always seem like much of a party. But a reader party is always going to be a good time. (So thanks, readers, for dropping by the blog! I love having you.)

Time for a poll of our own! Vote on the three races mentioned in reason four. (Charming rogue cowboy or witty British gentleman, series or standalones, face on the cover or not.) Which side will you take?

Prayer for Authors: November 2016

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 November:

Patrick W. Carr
Nancy Mehl

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.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.–1 Peter 1:6-7, ESV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For the support of family and friends during a busy release month.
  • For peace and direction when making choices related to writing career changes or next steps.
  • For those who are seeking God (even if they don’t know it yet) to get a clearer picture of the Christian faith through these books.

During this month of giving thanks, I’m grateful for wonderful books and authors…as well as readers like you who come alongside us to pray!

Introducing Our November 2016 New Releases

The two Bethany House titles that released this week have vastly different settings, themes, and genres, but they have one thing in common: I can recommend them both to readers who enjoy a great story. Want to give them a try? Click a cover to read an excerpt.

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Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

Summary: When U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan is assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD, she’s forced back into contact with her father and into the sights of a notorious gang. Mercy’s boss assigns her colleague—and ex-boyfriend—Mark to get her safely out of town. But when an ice storm hits and the enemy closes in, can backup reach them in time?

First Lines: “The seemingly deserted street was lined with empty houses, their windows as blank and vacant as the eyes of those who had become casualties in St. Louis’s war on heroine. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan gazed out the window of the black van as cold tendrils of rain slid down the darkened glass next to her, reminding her of tears.”

Favorite Character: Tally! Yes, this is partially because sidekick characters get some of the best lines, but his faith and mentor-like relationship with Mercy were both very compelling dimensions to his character. Add to that a great backstory that came up at all the right moments and a very real internal struggle about whether to continue on in law enforcement, and he’s someone you can’t help but root for.

Other Unbiased People Say: “An out-of-control roller coaster of a romantic suspense novel! The first book in the DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE series has something for every fan of the genre. . . . The characters are smart, cunning and know how to use their wits to get them out of tight situations. The plot is fast paced and is not standard or run of the mill. Nancy Mehl has raised the bar with her new series.” (RT Book Reviews)

Recommended for: This series follows U.S. Marshals, a career I knew very little about, and Nancy’s real-life research shines in tense situations that could be something you hear on the evening news, so anyone, especially romantic suspense fans, who enjoy learning something new would love this book. Fans of Dee Henderson will enjoy finding a new author while they wait for her next release. Once you start, you might find yourself postponing sleep to keep going until the last page to find out what happens!

 

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The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Summary: Despite their recent victory, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover the continent is still far from safe. When unseen assassins begin targeting the Vigil and their gift and his associates scatter, Willet must find a way to defeat this latest threat alone.

First Lines (from the villain’s POV): “Darkness fell within the storyteller’s room, the pain and light of day diminishing, though the heat remained, absorbed and surrendered from countless clay walls and tiled roofs. Nightfall. He relished the dying of the light, the way the sun that blinded him slid beneath the horizon with all the desperate clinging of a drowning child.”

Favorite Character: Can I pick all the urchins? Seriously, the young apprentices who each travel with a member of the Vigil are complex and wonderful. Fess absolutely stole my heart, Lelwin broke it, Mark has an interesting faith struggle, and Rory is hilarious and could easily be the hero of a future series in his own right. (Also, not an apprentice, but if you can read this book without falling in love with little Aellyn, you are heartless.) Far more than an amusing subplot, these young people raise the stakes and give the story added depth.

Other Unbiased People Say: “Carr grips readers from the very beginning, creating suspense that doesn’t let go. Readers are fascinated by Willet and empathize with his struggle in doing what is right when the path is not clear, and every way he turns is filled with danger. Well timed, surprising and intense, this book does not disappoint.” (RT Book Reviews Top Pick)

Recommended for: Anyone who reads fantasy (though there are parts that would be too intense for younger teens). But even if you don’t typically read fantasy, I’d recommend you give this one a try, if only for the amazing characters and thought-provoking insights on faith that you’ll find in the pages. (You should read The Shock of Night first for background, since this one builds on the plot of the first in the series.)

Who was a favorite secondary character from a book you recently read?