Ask BHP: Humor in Fiction

Totally relate to the reader who submitted the question for this week: “I love books that make me laugh! I’d love to see a post where you (or authors?) tell us what goes into writing funny stories.”

Thankfully, we’ve got several author who fit that bill. I just grabbed a few of them who have recent releases and gave them some prompts so you can encounter the behind-the-scenes of writing comedic scenes or whole books. Here are some behind-the-scenes sneak peeks into the writing world from Karen Witemeyer, Nicole Deese, Jen Turano, and Mary Connealy. Enjoy!

Why do you think readers enjoy humorous scenes in a story?

Karen: Readers read to be entertained, and humor is hugely entertaining. Whether it’s witty dialogue, a madcap scene of misadventure, or a comedic one-liner, if it spawns a smile, it also spawns joy. And we all need more joy in our lives, don’t we?

Nicole: I think people enjoy taking a break from tension for a few minuteswhether it’s real-life tension or fictional tension from the story they’re reading, laughter provides a much-needed stress outlet for us all.

Jen: I think everyone loves to laugh, and humor in scenes provide readers with that amusing escape we especially need right now during these trying times.

Mary: The basic reason I write humor is because that’s what I love to read. I do not like books that make me cry. I can attest to the talent of the author when he/she makes me cry, dragging me through emotional agony. That writing has power. But I just don’t like it. Life has enough drama in it. I don’t want to add more by reading about it. I always say, “If they’re sassing each other and falling in love while they’re running for their lives, then I’m happy.” That’s what I read, and that’s what I write.

Have you ever used something funny that happened to you (or someone you know) as a basis for a scene in your book?

Karen: Every time I include a pun of some sort, I immediately think of my son, Wyatt. He and I love a good pun. Or even a bad one. While my other kids groan and roll their eyes, Wyatt always laughs. He’s my humor cheerleader.

Nicole: Absolutely–both! I mean, what’s the point of having relationships with people if you can’t write their most embarrassing moments into your books? Hahaha! Usually, I take a seedling of an idea from a true tale I’ve heard or experienced and then develop it further to suit the scene or the character I’m writing.

Jen: I pull a lot of fodder for my scenes from past experiences. Elmer the chicken being carried around like a football came from real-life, although I wasn’t the one carrying the chicken because chickens don’t seem to like me. Another example would be when peacocks attacked in one of my stories – that happened to me when I took my son to the zoo one day. He thought it was hilarious, whereas I thought I was going to be missing a limb after a particularly fierce peacock wouldn’t let go of my sleeve.

Mary: Absolutely. Much of the humor when men and women misunderstand each other is rooted in my own life. My husband is from a family of seven sons. We have four daughters. He spends plenty of time just absolutely confused at the way they behave. The way they chatter and laugh and (horrors) cry. All within the context of him adoring them. There’s a lot of comedy in the way women vs. men react, in my life and now…in my books.

Which recent character of yours made you laugh while writing?

Karen: Barnabas Ackerly is recent to me, though readers won’t meet him until this fall, but his novella in The Kissing Tree collection is one of the funniest stories I’ve written to date. At least to me. Ha! A self-proclaimed stodgy nag of practicality, he has a great tongue-in-cheek internal wit. He keeps dubbing the heroine’s Kissing Tree Inn with all sorts of silly names like the Inn of Smooching Shrubbery and the Inn of Osculating Topiaries. Made me laugh to write it.

Nicole: There were quite a few moments I laughed while writing Before I Called You Mine–one had to do with the meet-cute in chapter two and a certain character pretending to be a T-Rex, another was when I wrote about an alpaca farmer coming to a dysfunctional family’s Thanksgiving dinner as a blind date. I laughed at each of those scenes during the editing rounds, too.

Jen: Miss Daphne Beekman, a character in my new series, The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency. She’s an unlikely inquiry agent because she has a tendency to swoon whenever danger is near, so she’s had me laughing quite a bit over the past few months.

Mary: The hero, Cam, in The Reluctant Warrior, book #2 in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. He was a tough, order-snapping, former cavalry officer. And his daughter, when he was reunited with her after a long, long time, is terrified of him and clinging to the heroine Gwen, who has been caring for her. Cam needs help. Gwen administers the ‘help’ by slapping him in the back of the head every time he barks at people. She’s enjoying herself a bit too much.

Let’s talk…talking. Does witty dialogue come to you in the first draft, or is it something you add in as you edit?

Karen: I don’t typically write in layers, so yes, witty dialogue comes to me in the first draft. Nothing feels better than getting on a roll with fun verbal sparing between the hero and heroine. My favorite thing about writing with humor is that here is no kicking myself for thinking of the perfect comeback after the moment passes, which is what usually happens to me in real life. In fiction, I can go back days later and add the perfect zinger to my heroine’s repertoire as if it had been there all along. Yes!

Nicole: For me, humorous dialogue usually comes the easiest in a new scene I’m drafting… it’s all the other stuff (setting, movement, dialogue cues, the five senses, etc.) that takes the most work.

Jen: I don’t get witty until around edit #5. I have the bones of scenes in place, but it’s not until I really know the characters extremely well that their sense of humor comes out.

Mary: Sassy heroines, clueless heroes, that’s dialogue made for humor right there. Usually some of that comes on the first pass, but every time you go through, it grows. So the funnier it is, very likely, the more revisions it’s been through.

Thanks, amazing ladies! Readers, let us know the latest book you read that made you laugh out loud.

Bethany House Reading Road Trip 2020

It’s time for…your guide to some between-the-pages travel all over the country and the world! Especially this year, with restrictions and extra caution, we know lots of readers are excited to escape to a different place by opening a favorite author’s novel (or, even more fun, one by a new-to-them author). The list below includes Bethany House books from July 2019 to June 2020.

This year, for the first time, Oregon is our winning state for most locations. Yay, Pacific Northwest! (This is partly because both Susan Sleeman and Christina Suzann Nelson wrote books set in their home state, which we love.) Not a state, but Washington DC is also getting a lot of love this year, with four books set there. Check out all the rest of these locations, touring them alphabetically.

Alaska: Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse

Colorado: Aiming for Love and Woman of Sunlight by Mary Connealy

Georgia: Stay With Me by Becky Wade

Idaho: Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Illinois: Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Iowa (And Missouri): Dead End by Nancy Mehl

Minnesota: A Song of Joy by Lauraine Snelling

Montana: Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller

Nebraska: Fire Storm by Nancy Mehl,

New Hampshire: A Perfect Silhouette by Judith Miller

New York: Diamond in the Rough and Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano

North Carolina: The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey, When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Oklahoma: The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings

Oregon: Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman, More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson, Secrets of My Heart and The Way of Love by Tracie Peterson

Pennsylvania: The Timepiece by Beverly Lewis, An Amish Christmas Kitchen novella collection by Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd

Texas: At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer

Washington DC: The Spice King and A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden, End Game by Rachel Dylan, A Single Spark by Judith Miller

West Virginia: When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Wisconsin: Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

Multiple Stop Trips

New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and Arizona: Serving Up Love novella collection by Tracie Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano

England, Texas, West Virginia, and Washington: The Christmas Heirloom novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade

California, Texas, Kansas, New York, Montana, etc: What Comes My Way by Tracie Peterson

Maryland, Russia, Israel, Bahamas, Greece, Turkey, Cuba, Burma, Egypt, Angolan Coast, Botswana, Italy, and aboard a ship on several seas: Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

Maryland, Virginia, New York, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Horn of Africa, China, Italy, Taiwan, France, Afghanistan, Netherlands, and Belgium: Kings Falling by Ronie Kendig

Outside of United States

Canada: The Brightest of Dreams by Susan Anne Mason, The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund, Unyielding Hope by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

England: The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen, A Pursuit of Home by Kristi Ann Hunter, On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White

India (and New York): A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

Israel (modern day Palestine and Israel): Until the Mountains Fall and Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette, King’s Shadow and Daughter of Cana by Angela Hunt

Babylon, Israel, and surrounding kingdoms (modern day Iraq and Israel): The End of the Magi by Patrick Carr

West Indies (modern day Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis): Selah by Lisa T. Bergren

Fantasy Realms

Cry of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

For even more reading travel, check out our lists from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.

Is there a setting you wish authors would feature more often? Tell us in the comments!

Prayer for Authors: June 2020

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 June:

Elizabeth Camden
Judith Miller
Tracie Peterson
Karen Witemeyer

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.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”—Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For God’s “very present help” as they write or edit another book.
  • For the booksellers and librarians with a heart for ministry who have been unable to connect with readers for a time.
  • For these books to reach those who need to hear the message they contain.

Whether you’re a regular at these monthly prayer posts or this is the first one you’ve found, we’re glad you’re here. Thanks for praying with us!

June 2020 New Releases

Welcome to summer, readers! I was telling a friend the other day that while a lot of my summer plans have changed, reading books in a hammock is still at the top of my list. If that’s on your summertime agenda too, then I have some adventurous, hope-filled recommendations for you! This month is a powerhouse of historical titles to take you to a different time and place. Read along by clicking on the covers to get to an excerpt.

At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer
Hanger’s Horseman #1

Plot Summary: Ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries who defend the innocent, but when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they seek out help from Dr. Josephine Burkett. When Josephine’s brother is abducted and she is caught in the crossfire, Matthew may have to sacrifice everything—even his team—to save her.

 

A Single Spark by Judith Miller

Plot Summary: Wanting to do her part in the Civil War effort, Clara McBride goes to work in the cartridge room at the Washington Arsenal. Her supervisor, Lieutenant Joseph Brady, is drawn to Clara but must focus on preventing explosions in the factory. When multiple shipments of cartridges fail to fire and everyone is suspect, can the spark of love between them survive?

 

The Way of Love by Tracie Peterson
Willamette Brides #2

Plot Summary: Faith Kenner is pursuing her dream to become a doctor and use her gift to help the native populations on reservations. When she meets Andrew Gratton, a handsome riverboat captain who has been injured, a friendship grows between them—but will the secret of her heritage and rising tensions with the native people prevent them from finding true happiness?

 

A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden
Hope and Glory #2

Plot Summary: Secretary to the first lady of the United States, Caroline Delacroix is at the pinnacle of high society—but is hiding a terrible secret. Immediately suspicious of Caroline, but also attracted to her, secret service agent Nathaniel Trask must battle his growing love for her as the threat to the president rises and they face adventure, heartbreak, and danger.

 

What’s your favorite summertime reading spot?

Ask BHP: Should Readers Leave Negative Reviews or Contact the Author?

This week’s question is pretty detailed, and since I’ve seen these conversations going on as well, it intrigued me. The reader said, “In online reader groups, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not it’s okay to leave negative reviews. Those who believe it’s not okay often advocate emailing or messaging authors directly with criticisms of their work, so they can improve future writing. How do authors view such a practice?”

Amy Lokkesmoe (formerly Green) here, fiction publicist at Bethany House, trying to give a good answer to this tough one. I’m not sure what approach I would have taken when I was “just a reader” and hadn’t yet started working in publishing. There are good intentions on both sides, and I can completely understand where people are coming from.

You should also know that just like no book will please every reader, no answer to this question will be right for every situation. I can, though, share from my experience and from what I’ve heard authors say.

The Author Perspective

While authors may not like negative reviews (who would?), most understand that reviews are there from readers for other readers. The pros know that someone leaving a criticism of their book isn’t the same as someone insulting them, their character, or their mom (unless it is, more on that later). Readers are trying to help other readers know when to spend or save their money based on their experience with a book.

Some authors, knowing this, avoid reviews altogether. Others have a writing buddy sift through them to pull out any repeated comments so they can improve their writing without having to directly read the (sometimes blunt) reactions to something they put their heart and soul into. They know themselves, and they wisely decide what they can and can’t handle.

Here’s the thing: if a reader directly messages an author, that takes away the author’s ability to make that decision. They can’t have someone else screen it first to find what they think would be helpful rather than hurtful. They can’t choose to look at it on a day when they’re feeling good and have distance from their work. They can’t disagree with the person writing the message, because anything they might say, even politely, will sound defensive.

It’s just there, in their inbox on Facebook or email, waiting for a response. And it’s pretty difficult to think of a good response to someone who, even graciously, told you they didn’t like your book and that you could do better next time when you didn’t request that feedback.

For these reasons, many authors would prefer that readers not send them critical messages directly, especially if that’s the main/only purpose behind writing to them. Same thing with tagging an author in a negative review or posting it to their social media page.

Again, this isn’t true for everyone. A few authors welcome that kind of critique…but there’s no way to know which author will take your note and say, “That fits with other things I’ve heard, better work on that,” and which ones will have no idea how to respond to you and also cry because they’re so invested in the book you just criticized.

 

So…What Should Readers Do?

  • Don’t be mean. This is probably why some people don’t like leaving public negative reviews—they’ve seen ones that felt personal and harsh. There are many ways to mention something you didn’t like about a book without being unkind. And there’s no cause whatsoever to get personal in your negative review and call names.

 

  • Consider not leaving a review. This especially applies if you didn’t finish a book because you realized that it wasn’t your thing (too much war and you like feel-good reads, the narrator’s first-person voice grated on you, you didn’t realize it was going to have a particular kind of content). Or if you’ve disliked the author’s other books and hoped this one was different, and it wasn’t. If you know you’re not the target audience for the book, your review might not help readers who searched for the book because they actually are.

 

  • View one-star reviews as a way to warn people away from buying a book. I’ve personally never bought a book that fits this category, but I’m sure others have. This one is my personal opinion; your mileage may vary.

 

  • Leave a tactful critical review. If you want to help out fellow book-buyers and just didn’t enjoy a book or thought it had flaws that made it uninteresting, I’d suggest an explanation of why it wasn’t for you. You can mention any positives, but at least be polite about the negatives. This will be helpful to other readers.

 

  • Generally, don’t message authors directly with criticisms of their book, even if your goal is to help them improve. For all the reasons I just mentioned, it’s rarely as helpful as you want it to be. Instead, I’d suggest you…

 

  • Find ways to help authors improve their books through other means. If you’re a reader who finds you have a lot of advice to give on how to improve books, I’d suggest taking that passion (which is awesome, by the way) and seeing if you can be a beta reader for authors. There are Facebook groups where authors look for early readers to point out plot problems at a stage where they can actually fix them, and if this is your drive, that might be a good fit for you.

 

That’s my two cents, readers. Do you have thoughts or follow-up questions about this?

Seven Musical Instruments on Book Covers

Tomorrow, May 22, is National Buy a Musical Instrument Day, and to celebrate, I thought it would be fun to highlight some Bethany House books that keep musical instruments front and center. Some of the main characters inside the pages are professional musicians and music teachers, others are amateurs. Either way, I hope you enjoy this collection, especially if you play an instrument yourself.

 

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

Both violin and bow are visible on this cover (barely), and we love how the instrument draws your attention to the thoughtful gaze of the Edwardian protagonist (and vice versa).

 

Morning’s Refrain by Tracie Peterson

Each book in Tracie’s Alaska Song series has a fun use of close-ups of instruments to frame the main scene, and we love the glint of silver from this flute.

 

Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

This music instructor character doesn’t want to take on a teaching job, but we love the class the ornate piano adds to this historical romance cover.

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Not only does this lovely Belmont mansion novel have a violin, but it also showcases a lovely orchestra performance hall in the background. You can almost hear the music!

 

Return to Me by Lynn Austin

Let’s go all the way back to ancient musical instruments for this shofar, a horn used in Old Testament times. Maybe not one you’d perform with today, but still cool, especially in silhouette!

 

The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis

The difference between a violin and a fiddle is in how its played, and this particular fiddle plays an important part in the Amish community during the story.

 

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

So, this piano needs a little TLC, but you can almost hear its haunting melody on this atmospheric cover, can’t you?

What other covers can you think of that feature musical instruments, readers? And what instrument, if any, do you play?

Is Escapism Through Reading Bad?

I read a Forbes article recently heralding the benefits of romance novels during stressful times, saying they “provide the distraction and balm people crave when the world seems to be falling apart” and “offer diversion, excitement and escapism.”

To which someone on social media said (and I’m toning things down a bit here), “This is exactly the problem. Escapism isn’t a healthy way to deal with anything, much less a pandemic. Romance novels have always been guilty of this, and now isn’t the time to start saying it’s a good thing.”

While I can sort of see the commenter’s point, I think there are two important questions to ask before you can sort reading romance novels—or books of any kind—as helping or hurting during difficult times.

Important Question 1: What are you escaping?

This one’s pretty straightforward. Are your children running starving and ragged in the streets like Dickensonian urchins while you lounge about, entombed in your library for days on end?

That is not good. Reading (or doing any activity in a compulsive way) to avoid responsibility is bad. Check.

Okay, so that’s clearly not something most of us have to deal with. On a deeper level, though, if you’re so desperate to escape reality that you turn to books as the primary way of meeting emotional needs, this is also not good.

In other words, if you have a “book boyfriend” you love more than real people in your life, if you regularly put off processing problems by burying yourself in novels, if you long so much for fictional happy endings that you have no interest in dealing with your own life story and its ups and downs…that’s also not healthy.

But…that is also not where most readers are right now. Choose some random people waiting in a library curbside pickup line and ask about what escapism through books means, and they’ll say things like:

  • “I love journeying to a totally different time period, culture, or country through books, especially when I can’t travel in real life. Sure, I’m learning, but it also makes that history or those places come alive to me.”
  • “I like being able to sigh along as characters find romance, knowing it’s not my life and love at stake. I get all the fun conflict and drama without actually having to deal with any fallout. And it helps to know things will work out in the end.”
  • “It’s good to have something that makes me laugh. I know not everything resolves neatly in the nonfictional world, but wow, in hard times, it sure helps to plop down with a book for a while and smile again.”
  • “Daily life isn’t usually that exciting, so sometimes when I read a thriller or an epic fantasy novel, it makes me want to be braver. Or at least lets me cheer when good triumphs over evil. It’s a quick look at how justice should work, even if it doesn’t always.”

(Okay, so maybe not everyone at the library would be ready with a snappy answer like this on the spot, but they would think of these responses on the drive home and wish they’d said them. Trust me.)

You can disagree if you like, but to me, those seem like pretty good things. Especially when you consider…

Important Question 2: What changes when you “return” from your escape?

It’s a classic “quest” arc: the character is forced to leave the comfort of home and routine to accomplish something great. And after many obstacles, they (usually) triumph and return again. In the best stories, they come back changed in some way. They have new perspectives. They’ve gained allies or found true love. They’ve defeated a lie that’s dogged them their whole life. They now know something true that will impact all of their choices from here on out.

So think of yourself as a character going through a journey when you read a book. Sure, you’re not actually experiencing the action (usually a good thing, given that the number of gunfights, drama, dangerous secrets, ticking time bombs, etc. are usually way higher in fiction than real life), but you’re leaving your normal world on an adventure. And, if the author’s done the job well, you should leave it changed.

It’s not usually a dramatic change, although many of us can name a handful of books that triggered a transformation. Maybe you come away from a novel understanding others better, mulling over a theme or profound line, or filled with less stress and more laughter.

Some kinds of escapism—hello, binge-eating tubs of Chunky Monkey ice cream—leave you changed in a negative way. And hey, if novels (or certain kinds of novels) give you nightmares or unrealistic expectations or an excuse to consistently neglect real-life responsibilities…then avoid them. Read responsibly.

But most of the time, for most of us, reading leaves us changed in a positive way. When we close a book, we’re equipped with extra mental, emotional, or spiritual resources to live our own lives as more thoughtful, relaxed, or compassionate people.

So if you’re feeling stressed, there are lots of things you can do to help, and we could all make different lists of what we find most helpful or productive—but I hope reading books is on yours.

 

What do you think, readers? Do you think there’s such a thing as “good” and “bad” escapism? Why do you read, especially fiction, during stressful times?

May 2020 New Releases

Need to travel through the pages of a book? These spring releases have you covered. By opening the pages, you can hunt butterflies on an expedition to India, roam the Canadian prairie, find love in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, and explore Gilded Age New York City. We love this collection of books and hope that you find the perfect novel to keep you turning pages late into the night. Click on a cover to read an excerpt, and enjoy!

 

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

Plot Summary: Determined to uphold her father’s legacy, newly graduated Nora Shipley joins an entomology research expedition to India to prove herself in the field. In this spellbinding new land, Nora is faced with impossible choices—between saving a young Indian girl and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love.

 

Unyielding Hope by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

When Hope Calls #1

Plot Summary: In this sweeping companion to the Hallmark TV series When Hope Calls, Lillian Walsh rushes to a reunion after discovering the sister she believed dead is likely alive. But Grace has big dreams beyond anything Lillian is prepared for. Can Lillian set aside her own plans and join her sister in an adventure that will surely change them both?

 

Stay With Me by Becky Wade

A Misty River Romance

Plot Summary: Led to her hometown by a mysterious letter, Genevieve Woodward wakes in an unfamiliar cottage with the confused owner staring down at her. The last thing Sam Turner wants is to help a woman as troubled as she is talkative, but he can’t turn her away when she needs him most. Will they be able to let go of the façades and loneliness they’ve always clung to?

 

Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano

American Heiresses #3

Plot Summary: When Beatrix Waterbury’s train is disrupted by a heist, scientist Norman Nesbit comes to her aid. After another encounter, he is swept up in the havoc she always seems to attract—including the attention of the men trying to steal his research—and they’ll soon discover the curious way feelings can grow between two very different people in the midst of chaos.

 

Have you read a book that inspired you to visit the setting in person? Tell us about it.

Prayer for Authors: May 2020

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 May:

Kimberly Duffy
Laurel Oke Logan
Janette Oke
Jen Turano
Becky Wade

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.

A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”—John 10:10 (CSB)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For endurance in times when motivation and creativity is wearing thin.
  • For a special blessing on these books and the messages of hope they contain.
  • For Christian booksellers who are experiencing and hard time financially right now.

It’s so great that, in these trying times, we can go together to God in prayer. Thanks for joining us!

Top Ten Things We Miss While Working From Home

At Bethany House, there are four marketing team members who work exclusively on fiction (plus Rachael who we claim because even though she writes copy for fiction and nonfiction, she reads a ton of fiction). While we’re very grateful we can work from home and keep amazing books coming to you, each of us shared two things we miss about being in-office…read on and you might discover some things you didn’t know about Bethany House’s work culture.

Amy, Fiction Publicist

The Lunch Table: Anywhere from 4-10 of us eat lunch around 12:30 most days, and after comparing lunches (the healthy salad, the tasty takeout, the bowl of Lucky Charms—with unicorns!—the half-eaten food from an editor’s kid he didn’t want to throw out) the topics of conversation range from informative to ridiculous. I miss my restaurant recommendations, random trivia, discussion of different punctuation marks, and even the conversations about sports.

Vocab Points and Faux-cab Points: Rachael’s office door is filled with sticky notes, each emblazoned with an impressive word a co-worker used in actual conversation or a meeting. Beneath them are the “faux-cab” points, which are words co-workers used that aren’t really words at all, sometimes accidentally blurted out, sometimes used because the real word proved elusive (“moistrous” instead of “humid”), sometimes invented intentionally because it should be a word. These past several weeks, I’ve paused a few times after using a particularly appropriate word…but there was no one to celebrate it with me.

Serena, Fiction Marketing Assistant

Break Walks: Once the weather is tolerably nice—and sometimes when it’s not so nice—we like to use our breaks to go on walks together. It’s nice to get a little exercise and a chance to chat with my lovely coworkers… unless we decide to try a new direction and end up traipsing through a golf course and down a dirt road for an hour trying to get back to the office. Yes, that did happen. (Amy: okay, that one was my fault. Oops.)

My Lovely Coworkers: I love working with the team at Bethany House, and I miss seeing their faces every day. I miss popping over to Brooke’s desk to ask if a shipment of author items arrived and the random gatherings of people in the hallway because someone is telling a funny story or has a picture of their newborn niece.

Brooke, Fiction Marketing Assistant

Puns: Is it strange to say that I miss hearing Amy Green’s puns? Many a team meeting has been had with Amy interjecting purposeful puns and then shaking her head after and saying it was “so bad” and I really shouldn’t laugh. (I think puns are great and remain undiscouraged in my amusement.) I eagerly await hearing more puns in-person.

Good ‘Ole Brainstorming Sessions: I’m blessed to be on a team of crazy-smart people who are willing to share their ideas and time with me. Whether I’m desperate for a fresh idea for a promotional item to fit a new title or whether we’re problem-solving something new as a team, I know I can come away with something to un-stick me if I’m stuck. Email and Zoom are great in the meantime, but I look forward to brainstorming in the office again and feeling the ideas spark around the room.

Rachael, Copywriter and Instagram Coordinator

Physical Books: While packing my office up to prepare for staying at home, I made sure to grab all the physical books I thought I’d need for the weeks to come—I even printed off manuscripts of not-yet-printed books! But even with that kind of preparation, I still find myself missing my bookcase and the easy access to whichever books I need to reference . . . as well as Brooke, my book fairy, (as I have nicknamed her) who delivers our new releases, hot-off-the-press, to my door!

Instagram Days: At least once a month, I distract Amy and Brooke for an afternoon or evening, and use them as hand models or book-balancers. We get many odd looks from passersby as we attempt new ideas and wander around with armloads of props and books. It’s not nearly as fun trying to photograph alone without witty comments and genius ideas.

Noelle, Marketing Director

My Fiction Team: My team of savvy ladies collectively inspire and intimidate me in the best of ways with their creativity and perspectives. The positive force of that just doesn’t translate as well over email: the new selection from Serena’s delightful hat collection, having Enya run through my head everytime when Amy mutters her oft-used phrase “who can say?” the very sweet Brooke appearing at my door with her mischievous finger tapping, or Rachael’s infectious giggles from down the hall.

The Free Stuff: There are certain counters in our office that are unofficially deemed the free sections (so be careful to not accidentally leave something on them). I’ve picked up so many delightful and random things there, including large home-grown zucchini, new car floor mats, pots for plants, cute woven baskets, a Christmas green table cloth, and a pack of gum. But these areas are known to feature not only items, but food (home baked and otherwise), encouraging many dashes. Though the extreme nature of these has seen its peak in past days*, there is still nothing like having free goodies be announced and hear the excitement resound throughout the office as each person reads his/her email. But beware if you take too long to read your email, lest it all be gone. Sure, I can make my own cookies at home, but where is the surprise in that?

*insert memory of poking my head out of my office after hearing a ruckus to find abandoned shoes in the hallway. Apparently they were deemed too much a hindrance to getting their owner quickly to the chocolate that had been announced available for consumption.

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! Is there anything you’ll be excited about being able to do once we can meet in groups in person, work-related or otherwise?