Dutiful Son, Bestselling Duo

Hazardous Duty by W.E.B. Griffin and son William E. Butterworth IV, the ninth book in the Presidential Agent series, debuts at #6 on our Hardcover Fiction list. The American president is having trouble with Mexican drug cartels and Somali pirates, so naturally he turns to Col. Charley Castillo and his merry band to help out.

Griffin is a life member of the U.S. Special Operations Association; Gaston-Lee Post 5660, Veterans of Foreign Wars; the American Legion, China Post #1 in Exile; the Police Chiefs Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and the State of Delaware; the National Rifle Association; the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society; and the Flat Earth Society (Pensacola, Fla., and Buenos Aires, Argentina, chapters). He is an honorary life member of the U.S. Army Otter-Caribou Association, the U.S. Army Special Forces Association, the U.S. Marine Raider Association, and the USMC Combat Correspondents Association.

William E. Butterworth IV has been an editor and writer for more than 25 years, and has worked closely with his father for a decade on the editing and writing of the Griffin books. He is a member of the Sons of the American Legion, China Post #1 in Exile, and of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society, and a life member of the National Rifle Association and the Texas Rifle Association.

Father (who spends most of the year in Argentina) and son (who lives in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area) convened for the Christmas holidays, and thus were able to do a few interviews together for the new book, including one with Jordan Rich on Boston’s 50,000-watt WBZ Radio, which is heard in eight states. - Peter Cannon

Get It Together, Church Members

Publishing and bookselling exec (and pastor) spins blog post into bestseller

Debuting at #18 on our list this week is a book that originated as a 500-word blog post by Thom Rainer aimed at shaking up Christian church members. Apparently, it worked. The post stimulated lively conversations online and in churches, and Rainer—who is not only a pastor, but also the president of LifeWay Christian Resources, parent company of B&H Publishing and owner of 183 bookstores nationwide—expanded the post into I Am a Church Member, published by B&H last May. The book has sold in increasing numbers since—475 copies sold the first week of its release, while 5,918 copies sold last week in Nielsen outlets, with total sales per Nielsen of 14,800. (Note that Nielsen does not capture all Christian bookstore sales or sales through churches, so actual total sales have been higher, but last week, LifeWay, and its 183 stores, began reporting to BookScan.) Rainer calls church members to task for some common attitudes and behaviors, such as being Sunday spectators rather than participants in the life of the church; expecting services and ministries to meet their needs and preferences, rather than reflect the teachings of Christ; and causing division by criticizing leaders and other congregants. Rather than viewing their attendance as a gift to the church, Rainer says Christians should realize the church is a gift to them. The author of more than 20 books and coauthor of the bestselling Simple Church (with Eric Geiger; B&H, 2006), Rainer follows up this May with Autopsy of a Deceased Church (B&H), addressing the critical problem of dying churches and how to save them. —Lynn Garrett

Chiaverini Builds a Series from Scraps of Mary Lincoln’s Dresses

Civil War–era quilting novel finds audience

It was just an old quilt with “shattered silk and broken threads” that first inspired Jennifer Chiaverini to write Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, a fictional treatment of the relationship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her confidante, an African-American seamstress named Elizabeth Keckley. With close to 4,000 copies sold of the 100,000 copies in print, the trade paper edition of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker landed at #19 on our Trade Paperback list. Almost a year ago, the hardcover edition peaked at #10 on our Hardcover Fiction list six weeks after its release.

Chiaverini recalls that more than 10 years ago, she was researching antebellum and Civil War–era quilts for The Runaway Quilt, the fourth novel in her Elm Creek Quilts series, when she came upon the photograph of an antique quilt of “striking beauty.” The photo caption noted that it had been sewn from scraps of Mrs. Lincoln’s gowns by her dressmaker, a former slave. “I marveled at the compelling story those brief lines suggested,” Chiaverini says. Several years later, while researching the mid-19th century for a subsequent Elm Creek Quilts novel, Chiaverini repeatedly encountered references in the secondary sources she was reading to Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, Keckley’s 1868 memoir; she decided to write about the two women after reading the memoir and wanting to know even more about their relationship and its historical context. Chiaverini, an avid quilter, is hooked for now on writing historical fiction set during the Civil War era: The Spymistress was published in 2013, and in her hot-off–the-presses latest release, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival (Jan. 14), which had a 65,000-copy first print run, Chiaverini re-creates the First Lady’s social and political rivalry with the wealthy Washington socialite Kate Chase Sprague.—Claire Kirch