“Writing gives you the illusion of control, and  then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.”   David Sedaris

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Senior Aquisitions Editor David Long of Bethany House present this look at inspirational publisher Bethany House. Bethany House began publishing romance fiction in 1979, with Janette Oke’s “Love Comes Softly.” They currently publish more than 40 novels a year, 90 percent of which are aimed at women, and 90 percent of those are romances. They publish in many sub-genres, though they are best known for their historical romances. Stories ranges from sweet and light “Little House on the Prairie” type stories, to darker themed tales with more action and adventure. They welcome humor in their books. They want plot-driven stories with strong characters, not necessarily issue-driven stories. Most of the books are set in America, and most take place prior to 1900, though they will consider stories that take place through World War II.  Early twentieth century stories are become more popular, and they do some stories that take place in Biblical times.

 They are actively seeking more romantic suspense stories for their list. Long defined these as “strong romantic stories with elements of suspense.” They also welcome historical romantic suspense. They also publish women’s fiction, which may or may not include romance. Next summer they’re putting out their first contemporary romance. 

They also publish a number of very popular “bonnet books” that take place in religious communities such as the Amish and Mennonites.

Another area where they’re open to submissions is Christian fantasy. These stories are aimed primarily at the YA market and have romantic elements. They also publish some straight suspense titles.

They don’t want vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and aren’t interested in Apocalyptic stories or tales of spiritual warfare. No angels or demons.

The two most common reasons they reject a manuscript are no strong voice and lack of originality. Most submissions come from agents, but if you pitch to them at a conference and they request a manuscript, send a query and a couple of chapters. Their books all come in at around 85,000 words.

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Harper Collins and Create Space are holding a contest for women’s fiction writers. The prize is a critique by women’s fiction novelist Claudia Carroll and a copy of her new novel, Will You Still Love Me, Tomorrow?

Send your novel’s pitch to Pitch.Competition@harpercollins.co.uk. Claudia will choose the strongest pitch and invite the author to send in their opening chapters. Pitches should be no longer than 225 words, but you might want to consider splitting it up into a short (25 words) and a long section (200). Entrants can submit as many entries as they like, but only one pitch per novel. Closing date for entry is August 1.

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As  always, feel free to pass along the info in this blog to others. Forward it, link it, reprint it — all I ask is that you give me credit and include the link to this page. Thank you. Cindi

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I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”  Peter De Vries

I’ll start this first week in November with a look at the Spotlight on Bethany House from the Romance Writers of America conference in Washington, DC.

David Long, Sr. Acquisitions Editor for Bethany House presented this spotlight. Bethany House is owned by Baker Publishing Group. Baker is the fourth largest Christian publisher in the world. In 1979, Bethany House published Love Comes Softly by Jeanette Oke, one of the very first inspirational fiction titles. They are pioneers in the field. Bethany House is known for its beautiful covers.

Bethany House today publishes best-selling and award winning authors. They publish in a variety of genres. Historical romance is a big part of their list. Of the approximately 40 books a year they publish, 18-20 are historical romance. They are usually set in the 1800s in the US. They publish prairie romances, as well as other historical time periods. They do a few books set in England in the Regency and Victorian eras.

They also publish historical women’s fiction or multi-generational sagas. There may be a romance element to these stories, but romance is not central to these books.

An emerging genre of successful inspirational fiction is Amish fiction. Every major Christian publisher is publishing these books right now, which have proved very popular with readers. Bethany House publishes Bev Lewis, one of the first successful authors or Amish fiction.

This has led to other books about closed communities, featuring Mennonites, Shakers, the Amana Colonies, etc.

Bethany has not done a lot of romantic suspense, but they are interested in romantic suspense. Long cited romantic suspense as the area at Bethany where there is the greatest opportunity for new authors. They don’t do cozy mystery type stories. The stories should be darker and more intense and he’s very interested in historical romantic suspense. He’s not so interested in typical roles such as FBI agents and law enforcement characters or serial killers.

Bethany has not published straight contemporary romance but they’re interested in contemporary women’s fiction with romance as a subplot. They don’t do Chick Lit or Mom Lit. They do some romantic comedy.

They also do suspense and mystery and some speculative fiction aimed at teens and twenties. (But no vampires.)

They don’t have a hard and fast word count. They’ve published 120,000 word books (though not a lot) and 65,000 word books.

Bethany’s books are carried in Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) stores, in mass merchandisers such as Walmart, Sam’s and Costco as well as the Christian Fiction sections of general interest booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Borders. Walmart is the number one retailer of Christian fiction in the world.

Bethany House has no formal list of dos and don’t. Content concerns are addressed on a book by book basis. “If you’re looking to get into the inspirational market, that’s something you’re going to have to face and reconcile as a writer,” Long said.

Bethany House is looking for books that has Christian themes woven in in an organic way. They arise from the characters and the issues in the book.

“We are a house that values new writers and new voices.” They continue to buy new authors. They don’t accept unsolicited submissions. They generally prefer agented submissions. However, if you meet an editor at a conference or another Bethany House author recommends you, you can send a query or any requested material.

For more information, visit their website at http://www.bethanyhouse.com

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To celebrate the launch of this blog, Autocrit.com, an editing website for writers, has donated three Platinum memberships for me to give away to three lucky readers of this blog.  You can find out more about Autocrit at http://www.autocrit.com.

Here’s how the contest works. Anyone who posts a comment this week or next week will be eligible to win. The cutoff day for posts is Sunday, November 15. I’ll draw the names and announce the winners sometime after the 15th. Good luck!

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Strangetastic (http://www.strangetastic.com) is a new online publication looking for all kinds of supernatural fiction, from dark fantasy to light horror.  Stories should be between 1000 and 6000 words. Payment is $25. Find all the details at http://www.strangetastic.com/submissions

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Her Christmas Wish is available from eHarlequin.com now. This is the final (for now) installment of my Crested Butte series. You can order the book here: http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=20572&cid=244  Or wait for it to show up in stores December 12.

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Feel free to link to this blog or reprint or share the information with others. All I ask is that you give me credit and print the link to the blog.