#DescribeABookPlotBadly

51152198_2055104334570014_2023964099418783744_nHello, readers! I’m Rachael Wing, the copywriter and “Instagram guru” at Bethany House (right). Amy Green is currently travelling the world and living her lifelong dream of searching for elves and Hobbits, so I’m taking over the blog this week!

If you grab a Bethany House book and flip to the back, you will find the recommended titles—or as we call them, the back-of-book ads (BOBs for short). As the company’s copywriter, one of my main responsibilities is to write those short descriptions. I take what has been written by the authors and editorial department for the books’ short summaries (which appears on Amazon and other retail sites), and have to summarize that in 360 characters or less . . . including spaces. Counting the fiction titles only, I write approximately 20 of these every four months—but counting our nonfiction divisions, I spend over a week writing  approximately 60 of these—so as you can imagine, there is always writer’s block involved, and they don’t always turn out poetically.

#DescribeABookPlotBadly (1)

Inspired by the old Twitter trend #DescribeAFilmPlotBadly and my personal work struggles, I decided to intentionally write terrible short synopses about some of my favorite classic stories to give you an idea of how my first drafts usually turn out—and hopefully a good laugh!

 

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Broody uptown boy falls for feisty downtown girl, and his knack for throwing money at problems softens his terrible manners.

 

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Family drama! Slacking servants! Two teenagers are great at falling in love but terrible at coordinating death plans.

 

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Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: Police officer with the greatest thirst for vengeance and the worst tracking abilities hunts the same criminal for years. Also includes a very detailed description of the French sewer system.

 

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: A lonely monster with thrifted body and a murder complex is desperate for the perfect girl.

 

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Boy-next-door loves his neighbors so much that he ends up settling for the worst sister.

 

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Old lady cannot properly handle her breakup, so she keeps her grudges. And her moldy wedding cake.

 

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Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss: Children are taught about peer pressure through a strange creature who learns why it’s important to accept odd food from annoying strangers.

 

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The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien: A group of diverse dudes decide to cash in on a jewelry return in exchange for the fate of the world.

 

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: The classic case of falling in love with your boss, who “forgets” to tell you about his crazy wife in the attic.

 

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Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery: The uplifting story of a girl who poisons her best friend, can’t dye hair, and has questionable fashion sense.

How would you describe some of your favorite classic tales?

September 2019 New Releases

As the seasons change, we’re excited to introduce you to some new fiction, perfect for a cozy fall day. (Or any other day, really.) This month, we have two books exploring the Amish way of life and two more that take you back to turn-of-the-century America. We hope you enjoy this preview of our September releases. As always, you can click on the cover to start reading the first chapter of each book!

 

The Timepiece by Beverly Lewis
(Releases September 17)

Plot Summary: In this continuation of The Tinderbox, when young Amishwoman Sylvia Miller’s world is upended by the arrival of Englisher Adeline Pelham—whose existence is a reminder of a painful family secret—Sylvia must learn to come to terms with the past while grappling with issues of her own. Is it possible that God can make something good out of the mistakes of days gone by?

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden
Hope and Glory #1

Plot Summary: Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building a successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Tasked with gaining access to the private Delacroix plant collection, Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin unwittingly steps into a web of dangerous political intrigue and will be forced to choose between her heart and her loyalty to her country.

 

Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano
American Heiresses #2

Plot Summary: Fulfilling a bargain made with her wealthy grandmother, Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season. Forced to travel to America to help his cousin find an heiress to wed, bachelor Reginald Blackburn is asked to give Poppy etiquette lessons, and he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

 

An Amish Christmas Kitchen by Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd

Plot Summary: This cheerful and heartwarming Amish novella collection captures the heart of the Christmas season with a trio of heartfelt stories from bestselling authors Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd. All three tales feature a unique Amish recipe perfect for the Christmas table!

What’s currently on your reading list, everyone?

Prayer for Authors: August and September 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. (And yes, I was on vacation over August 1, so we’re catching up with two months of authors this time.) 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 and September:

Elizabeth Camden
Jan Drexler
Leslie Gould
Angela Hunt
Beverly Lewis
Kate Lloyd
Nancy Mehl
Judith Miller
Dani Pettrey
Lauraine Snelling
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.

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”—John 6:37-38 (NIV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For lots of wisdom when thinking through how to allocate time and energy.
  • For good connections and relationships with readers, other writers, publishing staff, booksellers, and many others.
  • For readers who are searching for comfort, truth, or encouragement to find it in these novels.

We here at Bethany House are so thankful for all you do to encourage authors along with us by lifting them up in prayer. Thanks for taking a moment of your day to do so!

Book Cover Lookalike Fashion

Have you ever stared at a novel and wished the beautiful dress on the cover could be yours? Well, we’ve got some good news…they can be! Or, at least the closest modern lookalikes we could find. Last year’s post matching covers with contemporary dresses was so popular that we decided to revisit the bookish fashion runways again to find some modern counterparts to the historical dresses on a few of our 2019 covers. Enjoy!

 

So, the colors are reversed on this one, but we love how the punchy purple of this midi skirt matches the shirt Abigail is wearing in More Than Words Can Say, and the floral necklace hints at the pattern in the material. Although this outfit is dressy enough that you probably wouldn’t want to knead dough while wearing it.

 

The sweater (or “jumper,” if you’re British) that gives a punch of color to The Number of Love‘s cover is updated here with a wine-red sweater dress, and even a necklace reminiscent of the Art Deco style of the era of this novel.

 

Picture this one paired with a purple-striped scarf, but the flowing lines and powder blue of this breezy dress feels like what a modern Rivkah from Until the Mountains Fall might wear (although the current-day sandals aren’t nearly as practical for walking long distances).

 

We loved how the sleeves of this navy semi-formal dress matched Flight of the Raven (okay, maybe they’re a tad less dramatic, but we can’t all be royal dreamwalkers like Selene). The pop of white around the collar imitates the accent color as well.

 

The shade of pink is slightly off—blush vs. peach—but we loved how the lace and bow details on this dress made it seem like an updated version of the gown in Between Two Shores, though with fewer petticoats.

 

From the silky red of this flared dress to the black lace overlay details, we think we’ve found the lookalike for the one Verity is wearing on her cover, although, of course, the length would have been scandalous in the 1700s.

 

Which of these dresses would you be most likely to wear, readers?

Vote in the Inlander’s Challenge!

Here’s something fun, readers: to celebrate their water-themed releases, Dani Pettrey and Amanda Dykes asked their readers to submit pictures for an Inlander’s Challenge.

Photos showing readers plus any body or source of water qualified, and we have lots of fun entries in this photo album on Amanda’s Facebook page.

That’s where you come in. Dani and Amanda are asking readers to “like” their favorite photo (or photos) to vote for them. The winner will receive a copy of The Killing Tide and Whose Waves These Are. So what are you waiting for? Head on over and join in some summer fun.

What is your favorite water-related spot to visit during the summer?

Ask BHP: How Does the Cover Design Process Work?

When we put up our annual Ask BHP poll to collect reader questions about what goes on behind the scenes at a publishing company, the #1 category people asked questions about was the cover design process.

I could write blog posts about that. (I have, actually written a few, like this one or this one, in our Ask BHP archives.) But since cover design is such a visual process, we thought it might be more fun to create a series of videos, about one per month, to share details about the design process of one specific book cover. Those videos are hosted over on our Instagram account (which you should visit if you haven’t already), but I’m including one here for any blog followers who might not be on Instagram.

Enjoy! 

What cover design questions would you like us to explore in future videos?

7 Fun Book-Related Activities

Reading is a solitary activity…usually. But in honor of National Book Lovers Day, which is August 9, here are some ideas for games, events, and other outings that you can participate in with your reading friends or book club.

Dramatic Readings

If you have young kids, reading a book out loud might be a regular occurrence, but if you don’t, this can still be a fun way to share a book with others. Even if you’re not usually a dramatic person, you’ll be surprised at how fun it is to read aloud. You might even start slipping into different voices for the characters. This is great in a smaller group, so everyone can pass around the book and read a few pages.

I’d suggest something shorter—such as a middle grade novel, a memoir with episodic chapters, or a novella collection—so you don’t end up scheduling once-a-week readings for a decade to finish Storytime with Tolstoy.

Book Exchange

Gather some friends and ask them each to bring a book or two that they enjoyed but want to pass along to someone else. (Alternately, they can find a book they loved at a used bookstore.) Tell them to wrap up the book and write a few phrases that describe the book on the outside, such as the genre, setting, or the occupation of the main character. Let everyone choose a new-to-them book to take home with them based on those descriptions.

Book Photo Scavenger Hunt

For this, you can use your home library or journey out to a bookstore. Ahead of time, print a list of prompts for each participant (suggestions below, but feel free to add your own). Then set a time limit and gather again at the end to admire all of the bookish photos. For fun, consider giving a bookstore gift card to the person with the funniest or most original shots!

Sample Scavenger Hunt List: a selfie where you are imitating a cover, a book over 1000 page long, an author who shares your first name (or as close to it as you can find), two books displayed next to each other on vastly different topics, a poem made out of a stack of three or more bookspines, a kids’ book with over 20 animals on the cover, a how-to book you’d never personally buy, and the funniest title you can find.

Find a New Local Book Store

I’ve been in bookstores all over the United States on tours with authors, and I can tell you that no other place feels quite so much like home. You probably know if there’s bookstore in your area, but anytime you’re going on a vacation or even a day trip a few hours away, be sure to do a quick Internet search to see what bookish gems you might uncover.

Whenever I’m in Grand Rapids, I always end up buying something at Baker Book Store—their selection and recommendations are amazing. Here in Minneapolis, Wild Rumpus, a children’s bookstore with a variety of pets wandering around, is always fun for a visit.

Recreate a Cover

Pick some favorite books with people on the cover and do your best to recreate them. Bring along someone to serve as a photographer and prop master…or another model if there’s more than one character pictured. Becky Wade has done several of these with the help of her husband and/or kids, and the Bethany House staff even got into our own competition last year.

If you post the pictures on social media (which you should, because why keep all the fun to yourself?), tag the authors so they can enjoy what you’ve created…and maybe get a few laughs.

Book Balderdash

This one requires a little prep ahead of time. Search Amazon for some quirky book titles and covers (middle grade and YA books are often good for this, try not to pick anything too well-known). Read the plot description and write out a one-to-two sentence summary. Then gather some friends or your book club and show them, one at a time, just the title and cover of a book. Each person then has a few minutes to jot down their best—or most humorous—plot description of what that book could be about. Then mix the real description in with the fake ones and read them out loud, letting everyone vote on which they think is the actual plot.

Or, if you want to be able to participate too, don’t read the plot description ahead of time, just write your own description and then award points based on who came the closest to the actual plot (read it aloud after everyone submits their answers).

Book Recipes

Some books feature food prominently—you know the ones, with mouth-watering descriptions of flaky pie crust (hello, Beverly Lewis and Leslie Gould’s Amish fiction) or characters who work in the fine dining industry and know their stuff. Others might just mention a region’s traditional dish in passing. Either way, jot down these ideas for later, because nothing helps bring a book to life like eating what the characters ate. (Although I will admit to being disappointed that Edmund sold out his siblings for something as thoroughly un-tempting—to me, at least—as Turkish Delight.)

Or, if you and some friends all enjoy a book set in a particular locale, consider doing a carry-in and bringing dishes that fit the setting. The Mark of the King Cajun Night, or a Julie Klassen Regency tea, anyone? The possibilities are endless.

How about you, readers? Any fun bookish games or trips you’d like to suggest?

August 2019 New Releases

Welcome to August, everyone! As summer winds down, it’s the perfect time to pick up a few page-turning novels to keep you awake late into the night. (What better way to enjoy the longer daylight hours than to pretend that you’re just going to read one more chapter?) We’re excited to introduce you to five new releases this month from Bethany House. Click on a cover to start reading an excerpt!

Fire Storm by Nancy Mehl
Kaely Quinn Profiler #2

Plot Summary: FBI profiler Kaely Quinn visits Nebraska to care for her ailing mother. She can’t help but notice suspicious connections among a series of local fires, so she calls on her partner, Noah Hunter, to help find the arsonist. Together they unwittingly embark on a twisted path to catch a madman who is determined his last heinous act will be Kaely’s death.

 

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey
Coastal Guardians #1

Plot Summary: When a Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Special Agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous assignment yet. Complicating matters is the arrival of investigative reporter Gabby Rowley, who’s on a mission to discover the truth. Can they ignore the sparks between them and track down this elusive killer?

 

A Perfect Silhouette by Judith Miller

Plot Summary: To help support her family and make use of her artistic skill, Mellie finds employment at a daguerreotype shop, where she creates silhouette portraits. When romance begins to blossom with one of her charming customers, her life seems to have fallen perfectly into place—but when the unexpected happens, will she find happiness despite her hidden secrets?

 

King’s Shadow by Angela Hunt
The Silent Years

Plot Summary: Two women occupy a place in Herod’s court: the king’s only sister, Salome, a resentful woman who has been told she is from an inferior race, and her lowly handmaid, Zara, who sees the hurt in those around her. Both women struggle to reach their goals and survive in Herod the Great’s tumultuous court, where no one is trustworthy and no one is safe.

 

A Song of Joy by Lauraine Snelling
Under Northern Skies #4

Plot Summary: New to America, Norwegian immigrant Nilda Carlson is encouraged by her wealthy mentor to better herself and the community of Blackduck. While her ideas to help other immigrants meet resistance, she finds delight in her piano lessons with a handsome schoolteacher. But with a detective digging into her past and a rich dandy vying for her hand, Nilda must decide which future she will choose.

Have any of you read a previous book from all five of these authors? (Between them, they’ve written well over one hundred books!)

Seaside Books Giveaway

We stole this idea from Amanda Dykes, who was a guest on a podcast episode of Read-Aloud Revival, talking about various writerly things, but also recommending some favorite seaside-set books.

We figured, why not do a blog post featuring beach reads—meaning books with actual beach-like words on the cover. We expanded it to include recent titles with a water-related word in the title. Here are a few of them:

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis
Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes
To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright
The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller
The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey
Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green
Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin
Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

(For a bonus, we found a few more that had a watery scene depicted on the front cover, just not in the title: Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano, Keturah by Lisa Bergren, Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette, Flight of the Raven by Morgan Busse, Sweet on You by Becky Wade, and Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson. We’re probably forgetting some!)

And just for fun, a giveaway! We’ll pick three winners on August 1 to win their choice of one of these seaside books. To enter, just comment on this post with a favorite watery vacation spot you’ve been to. (River, ocean, hot springs, indoor pool…anything goes!)

Five Ways to Make Time for Reading

(This week’s post is from our fantastic summer intern, Jessica Pollard. Enjoy her tips!)

Let’s face it. Life is always going to be busy. Even though everyone says summer is the time to relax, you will always have lawn to mow, gardens to weed, and windows to clean. Not to mention no one can remember the last time the pantry was cleaned.

To help you escape the woes of summer cleaning and busy schedules, here are five ways you can make time in your life so you can soak in the summer rays with your favorite book.

Always Carry a Book

Everywhere is a good place to read: the doctor’s office, a sporting event, or even a road trip. (Unless you are driving. You’ll have to settle for an audiobook instead.) We waste so much time between events scrolling on our phones or gazing awkwardly into space. With a handy book in your purse or car, you can save your battery and look sophisticated at the same time. If you think books are too clunky to carry around (or don’t want to save your battery or look sophisticated), you can always have a few ebooks on your mobile device so that instead of mindlessly playing that game you’ve played a million times, you can go on new adventures with your newest character-friends.

Audiobooks

Some summer cleaning is inevitable. Trust me, trying to find an onion for wild rice soup is easier if you don’t have to venture through the menacing forest that grew around them. (Yes, I speak from experience.) However, you can make the work more enjoyable if you spend it with your favorite characters listening to audiobooks. Crossing stuff off your to-do list and reading books at the same time! You will be crowned the best multitasker in the world. Maybe you can even imaging you are the character as they make dinner or clean the house along with you.

Read What You Love

Yes, this may seem obvious at first glance. Of course, you should read what you love…but think of all the things you do read when you are “too busy” to read a book. Random news articles, your social media feed, bills. It only takes one masterfully woven page-turner to keep your attention hooked for hours. You will wonder how you ever claimed you didn’t have time for books. You may also wonder what sleep is.

(WARNING: Sleep is necessary for human function. Follow your doctor’s advice. But then again, if you really need to know who killed that guy…I guess you can read one more chapter…Someone else was killed? Okay, one more…What just happened??? Only two more chapters this time…Whoops, that’s the end of that book. But there was a cliffhanger…I guess you can start the next one.)

Set Goals

As with most things in life, you will get more done if you set goals (and stick to them). You will be amazed how many pages you can read while you’re brushing your teeth, making dinner, or before you go to bed if you know that reading 54 more pages will allow you to check the little box on your list. Making color-coded charts and spreadsheets to chart your progress can be as motivating as a to-do list.

(WARNING: Making color-coded charts and spreadsheets is addictive. You don’t want them to cut into your valuable reading time. It’s best to listen to an audiobook while making them.)

Be Challenged by Peers

If following through on your goals is not your forte, there’s nothing like a little peer pressure to keep you reading. Join a book club or start one with some friends. You don’t want to be the one who shows up to the meeting and responds “Well…you see…” when asked if you thought the main character was justified when she decided to go on a date with Bill instead on Rob in chapter nine. Trust me, you want to avoid the judgmental stares of book-lovers. Their gazes won’t stop after the meeting is over. They will follow you. Everywhere. For the rest of your life.

I think cleaning the pantry can wait for next month.

I hope these tips will inspire you to read more this summer. How do you make time for reading in your life?