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Guest Post — Courtney Clark, blogger at The Green Mockingbird

13 Nov

Today Courtney Clark the fabulous blogger behind The Green Mockingbird is our guest poster. Courtney and I connected several years ago when we both judged for the Inspy Awards. Our opinions tracked then, and they continue to now. If you want to know what books you should read next, you definitely need to read Courtney’s blog. She has been doing this blogging gig for six years, along with all her other jobs — baking, running a restaurant, working at a community college . . . . Not sure when she finds the time to read, but I am glad she does. Courtney knows how to get to the essence of a book, and I depend on her recommendations.

While our friendship has continued on social media and through our blog interactions, I had the greatest pleasure meeting her in person in Nashville last week. What a joy! Cannot wait to get together again.

Thanks, Courtney, for sharing with us today!

 

Three Things I Love About Book Blogging by Courtney Clark

The books!

At the heart of reading and books are the stories. Stories educate, entertain, and increase empathy for other people. When it comes to reviewing books, one happy perk is all the first looks at new releases by my favorite authors. Also, having the opportunity to “read outside of my comfort zone” has allowed me to learn more and discover impactful stories I would not have otherwise considered.

The authors!

It has been a privilege to meet authors through interviews, social media, and the occasional in-person bookish event. Getting to support these authors through sharing about their books and characters is even more special when I can call them friends! Being a book blogger has increased my understanding of the publishing process, too, and all the creative hard work that goes into getting a story on the page.

The blogging community!

The online community of book bloggers and blog readers is fantastic and supportive. I’ve become friends with several wonderful people through blogs and their extended social media. With this interaction I have found new reading recommendations, gushed over the same books and characters, and had ample opportunity to learn from the stories we love. Participation in a few special award events, like the annual INSPYs, has been exciting and enlightening, too!

If you are considering starting a book blog or growing your love for reading into something more, I hope these positive things about book blogging have encouraged you! Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Let’s wish Beckie a happy blogiversary and many more years of reading to come!

 

Top 10 Tuesday (+ A Giveaway) — Bookmarks!

12 Nov

 

 

While I do use bookmarks, I am not above dog-earing corners in a pinch. I even write in books too, but that’s a different meme. 😉 Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is all about bookmarks. I have quite the collection and have a hard time giving them up, even when they become ragged. They remind me of special people, times, and places. Below are just a smattering of the bookmarks that I own.

 

 

Handmade Bookmarks

Bookmarks Commemorating Trips

 

Bookmarks From Favorite Authors

This last picture is what I really use most often, though. A Book Notes Bookmark that I designed to help keep up with the characters, settings, themes, etc. of the books I review.

 

What about you? What is your favorite bookmark?

 

Giveaway!

I am celebrating my 10 Year Blogiversary by giving away a Big Box of Books! Also included are some bookmarks! Click HERE for the giveaway post.

2019 Christy Awards + A Giveaway!

12 Nov

Last week I had the best time road tripping with my buddy, Martha, as we headed to Nashville for the Christy Awards. (A big shout-out to Martha’s parents for having the foresight to purchase a house that was right in the middle of our adventures! 😉 ) We started our big day with a wonderful breakfast with readers, bloggers, and authors at Fido’s, hosted by Becky Wade. I got to finally meet in person a bunch of my favorites.

 

 

That evening we attended the Christy Awards! We sat with a great group of book enthusiasts talking books, book, and more books! We heard James Rubart, Patti Callahan, and Becky Wade speak. And celebrated with all our favorites who took home a Christy.

All the winners can be found HERE.

 

 

The highlight of the evening was a tribute to Janette Oke given by her editor, Carol Johnson. Bethany House has re-released a 40th anniversary copy of Love Comes Softly, and each attendee got one! My gain is yours too! Because I already have one on my shelf, I am including a copy in my 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway Big Box of Books!

Click HERE to go to the giveaway post

Love Comes Softly introduced the characters of Marty and Clark Davis, whose tragic circumstances brought them to a “marriage of convenience” on the frontier prairies during the mid 1800s. The story of how Clark’s patient, caring love mirrored that of the heavenly Father, drawing Marty to faith and to love, has captured the hearts and imaginations of over one million readers on Book One alone!

 

Guest Post — Amy Green, Senior Fiction Publicist with Bethany House Publishers

7 Nov

Don’t judge a book by its cover is the adage, but you know you do! 😉 It is one of the things most readers look to to decide whether to open its pages. Have you ever wondered how publishers come up with that very important element? Amy Green, Senior Fiction Publicist with Bethany House Publishers is here today to give you insider’s info on the making of a book cover. Thanks Amy for sharing with us today!

(Be sure to enter my 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway. Link is at the bottom of this post.)

 

Behind the Scenes of Fiction Cover Design

A lot of people look at Bethany House’s lovely fiction covers in all genres and decide that whatever goes on to create them must be some kind of complicated, mysterious design magic.

Which . . . is completely true.

But, in case you’ve ever wondered, this is how the magic happens.

The book’s editor will ask the author to provide information to help the designer, especially any strong preferences or ideas they’re envisioning. How much information they provide varies. Some will have a full Pinterest board of fashion choices, actors they would cast in their book, setting inspiration, and book covers they’ve loved. Others will say, “Um…there’s this important tree in the plot and the main character has brown hair. I think blue eyes? Let me check.” 

Authors also describe scenes that could make a good cover image, the tone of the book, and the personality of the characters — it wouldn’t make sense to have a carefree, lighthearted hero portrayed as a brooding Mr. Darcy!

After the editor assembles this information with a solid synopsis so everyone knows the book’s plot, representatives from editorial and marketing meet with our creative director, Paul Higdon, for the cover direction meeting. That’s when they plan a general starting point for the design. For example, you might hear things like, “Let’s have an outdoor scene and a more contemporary font to distinguish this series from the last one” or “Be sure to emphasize the rich colors and opulence of the setting,” or “We’re going to go with a backlit silhouette look in a suspenseful pose.”

Once a designer is assigned to a book, they get all of those notes and the author’s information…and get to work! The designer will create several “comps,” or rough sketches, sometimes literally—creating line drawings or using stock photo placeholders to give the team a general idea of layout and composition choices. A larger team of editorial and marketing members (usually about six people) meets to give feedback at this point, choosing a few poses and ruling out other ones.

Now the designer has to get the actual images to work with. Sometimes this means choosing models, renting costumes, and planning a photoshoot, other times it’s searching for and finding the perfect image to buy rights for. (This is especially true for covers that don’t show a person or only show a person in the distance or from behind.)

Now comes the intense design work, mostly in Photoshop, to combine the images with the right author name type, title treatment, color washes or filters, little scrolly corner things that I don’t know what to call (“flourishes,” I’m told), and all the other artistic elements that make a book cover look like a work of art.

After creating several different, much more final options, the creative team meets again to give feedback. This is where things can get crazy. Someone might say they like the background of Option 3 with the model from 5, but the coloration of 2. Another person might thing the model in 5 actually looks more unpleasant than suspenseful, can we do some work to soften the expression? And a third might point out that the cursive font is only readable if you already know the title, so it might be better to switch to a more boring but legible option. 

Arguments are made about what the market (aka readers) would respond to best, votes are taken, and most of the time there’s a clear winner…with a number of tweaks ranging from small (let’s take out the text “A Novel”) to huge (the “Frankencovers” with parts of many options).

[Picture 3]

After that, the cover is presented to both the author and our sales team for feedback. Authors often give the thumbs up right away, but other times they’ll point out changes (the wrong type of saddle for the era, for instance). The sales team usually loves our fiction covers too, but every now and then, they’ll ask for changes because of what they know will work for buyers and customers.

And then, after all that work, the cover goes out to all of you to oooh and ahhh about, usually seven to ten months before the book is ready to enter the world. We often pass along reader feedback to the designers who did all the hard work so they know that others are appreciating their magic-level skills.

If you’re interested in seeing specific examples, hop on over to the Bethany House Instagram account, where we do one video a month about cover design, showing you comps and covers that were almost-but-not-quite the final pick.

So, readers, that was the big picture overview. Is there anything else you’d like to know about the cover design process? Or share in the comments what was most interesting to you. (I’m no designer, but I’m at most of these meetings, so I see how things are done.)

 

Amy Green is the senior fiction publicist at Bethany House Publishers, which means she connects authors to readers through interviews, book signings, reviews, social media, and more. Her debut novel, Things We Didn’t Say, is coming out in November 2020, but for now you can find her blogging about the behind-the-scenes of publishing at bethanyfiction.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Year Blogivesary Giveaway

Be sure to enter HERE.

Guest Post — Carrie Schmidt, Blogger at Reading Is My SuperPower

5 Nov

Carrie Schmidt is a blogger extraordinaire! Her blog, Reading Is My SuperPower, is a must-read for the latest on books and authors in the Inspirational market. Carrie and I first connected through some FB groups and also back and forth comments between our blogs. Don’t believe it if you hear someone say that relationships through social media can’t possibly be real. But our connection is more than just books because of our mutual friend, Jesus Christ. I finally got to meet Carrie in person at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat in April! What a joy!

Carrie is a self-professed book pusher, one of the many things I love about her. Here is her book-pushing journey. Thanks so much, Carrie, for joining my celebration! (Make sure to check out the link to my 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway at the bottom of this post.)

 

Evolution of a Book Pusher — Carrie Schmidt

First, let me say a big HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my friend Beckie and By The Book! Your posts are always a joy to read, and your love for books is contagious. Thank you for all you do to promote Christian fiction and for your heart for God and His Word too. I am so blessed to know you.

Beckie and I are part of a subset of bloggers who are sometimes (lovingly, I’m sure) dubbed ‘book pushers’ for our tendency to shove books at random people with a ‘read this! You’ll love it!’ command. No one is safe around us, unless you already have a book in your hand. And even then, there’s no guarantee that we won’t try to add to your TBR pile. We just can’t help it. Our love of good books overflows from our reader hearts and we just have to tell you about them. 

I’ve always been a bit of a book pusher. My first word was ‘book’, if that gives you some idea of the longevity of my cause. I would follow people around, book in hand, clucking ‘book, book, book’ like a chicken. And even before I could actually read, I had those beloved books memorized and would oh-so-helpfully inform the person reading to me that they had ‘kipped a page’ if they had the audacity to want to hurry through the umpteenth reading of that book. For the record, I still frown on ‘kipping pages. 😊 

I took a break from ‘super-reading’ for about six years, after a botched wisdom tooth extraction left me in severe facial pain. I now refer to this time period as the ‘Dark Ages’ and one of the first things I did after the miracle workers at my dentist’s office found a way to calm the damaged nerve in my jaw was head to the library and stock up on a bag full of books. Oh bliss! to be reading again. I felt like myself finally. 

Once I started reading, I also started talking about books in new avenues that weren’t popular before my Dark Ages began. Now there was Goodreads, and social media had become the place to be as well. As the number of people who messaged me to ask for good books increased, I started exploring the idea of a blog about books. I experimented with a few titles but nothing clicked with me until I landed on Reading Is My SuperPower. With the birth of my blog, my book pushing took on new levels of pushery. (It’s a word if I say it is, right? LOL) About a year later, I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to help start the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat with Bonnie Roof and Annie JC, the first event of its kind for Christian fiction, where authors & readers could celebrate books and Jesus together as friends. What an honor to be part of something groundbreaking like that!! Two years after that, my friendship with Annie and our mutual book pushery led to us starting JustRead Publicity Tours, a company dedicated to promoting books through virtual book tours on blogs & social media. What a crazy ride this love of books has taken me on, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! 

The best part of this ride is being in such good company. Working alongside fellow book pushers like Beckie to get the word out about such great books and authors is so much fun! Congratulations, Beckie, on all your hard work and thank you for loving books – and Jesus – so well. Here’s to many more years of book pushing together 😊

Carrie aka Meez Carrie
Avid Reader. Book Reviewer. Story Addict.
KissingBooks Fan. Book Boyfriend Collector. Cool Aunt.
A little bit Yankee & a little bit y’all.
I love Jesus and THE Story a whole lot.

Follow Carrie at Reading Is My SuperPower, on Twitter, and, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads

 

10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway

Be sure to enter HERE.

 

Top 10 Tuesday (+ A Chance to Enter My 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway!)

5 Nov

Fall has finally arrived in Middle Georgia. We even had some frost last weekend! LOL! Very few trees have changed colors, and the grass in my yard is still green, although we are hopeful the cooler temps mean no more mowing. Yes, it’s hard to get into to the whole Autumn vibe when you live in the Deep South. However, I can always count on books to give me all the feels — in this instance the Fall-ish feels.

Today bloggers are sharing book covers that scream or whisper Fall! Whether it’s soft browns, shining golds, or brilliant oranges, beautiful landscapes or creepy scenes, these books on my TBR shelf give me that fall feel.

For more Fall Book Covers, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

To enter my 10 Year Blogiversary Giveaway, click HERE for the giveaway post!

 

 

Christy by Catherine Marshall

The Grand Scheme by Kathy Herman

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

Minding The Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Miracle in A Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Playing with Fire by Susan May Warren

Practically Married by Karin Beery

Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason

River’s End by Melody Carlson

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Dreadful Titles

29 Oct

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Halloween Freebie. While the books I am sharing this week are not all spooky, their titles do give off a decidedly dread-filled vibe. All are mystery/supense/thirller and reside on my TBR shelves. If you have read any of these books, I would love to know what you thought.

For more Halloween fun, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Dread-Filled Titles

 

A Corpse at St. Andrew’s Chapel by Mel Starr

Deadly Intentions by Lisa Harris

Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

Kiss of Death by Debbie Viguie

Kiss of Revenge by Debbie Viguie

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr