kindle collections

Happy Valentine’s Day to Me – Baggage Claim is Here!

Roses for Valentine's Day and for Baggage Claim

My wonderful, supportive husband brought me TWO dozen roses today: one for Valentine’s Day and one to congratulate me on the release of Baggage Claim. Isn’t he amazing? I sure do love him. In addition to working hard so I can stay home and write, he’s been so patient as I worked on preparing Baggage Claim for publication!

Baggage Claim

It’s a little like having a baby, but instead of nine months, Baggage Claim took me nearly nine years to produce. I started it in 2009 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), All of my sons had finally graduated from high school, and after all those years of homeschooling, I had some free time to do “me” things! Then I got a real job and didn’t have time for writing anymore. I looked at it every so often, made a few edits, changed a few plot points… and then put it away again. After a few years, I forced myself to finish it, and then I set it aside again. I started an outline for a sequel. (Oh – I  was also working on a few other books, all of which followed that pattern. I have a very short attention span.)

Squirrel!

Then I got serious (lost the day job) and decided to write a Christmas novella for a collection with my good friend, Chautona Havig, and two other authors. It didn’t take me long to realize that the novella – Snow Angels – was meant to be connected to Baggage Claim and its sequel. Having a commitment to other people forced me to finish that book and get it edited and polished up for publication. Once the novella was published, I had to get Baggage Claim cleaned up and ready to go.
Baggage Claim by Cathe SwansonIt was then that I realized how truly BAD Baggage Claim was.  It didn’t need to be cleaned up; it needed to be torn apart and rewritten. So I did it. The book needed humor, so I gave the children more distinct personalities and put my heroine into unexpected predicaments. I wanted more suspense, so I made the villain a little more villainous.

I had to update everyone’s ages, so the entire calendar was adjusted. The technology was probably out-of-date when I wrote it the first time!

 

I couldn’t have done it without them…

As I prepared Baggage Claim for publication, I had one advantage that most new authors lack: an amazing team of pre-readers. If Baggage Claim is fit to read, it’s because of their help and input. It was a team effort – and it kept me humble! I love those ladies. And in the end, I love Baggage Claim, and I’m itching to start Real Religion, the second book in the Great Lakes series.

Announcing the winners

Valentine's Day Giveaway

Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway contest! I will be sending paperback copies of Snow Angels to three winners: Olivia R, Debbie M, and TerriSue B!  If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will enjoy it! I think it’s a fun story!

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kindle collections

Front Window by Chautona Havig ~ a review

Front Window by Chautona Havig

Front Window, the newest book in the Hartfield Mysteries series by Chautona Havig,  is now available on Amazon!

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a new Chautona Havig book. It’s partly self-preservation – she modeled a character on me one time, and it was not one of the good guys.  In fact.. well, never mind. Figure it out for yourself. It’s someone in this series.

 

 

 

 

 

Book #1 – Manuscript for Murder

Manuscript for Murder by Chautona Havig

 

Because of that, or in spite of it, the Hartfield Mysteries are my favorite Chautona Havig series. It is such a creative concept – in the first book, Manuscript for Murder, Alexa Hartfield is an eccentric mystery writer living in an idyllic small town. She’s a free spirit, dressing in clothing from different eras to suit her mood and the book she is writing, living alone and enjoying it. Then someone starts turning her murder mysteries into a blueprint for their own killing spree, and Alexa Hartfield teams up with an unusual police officer to solve the case.  This book just delighted me. I loved Alexa. She’s so “comfortable in her own skin.” The pace of the (obviously incipient) relationship with the policeman, Joe  Freidan, was perfect. I appreciate slow romances.

Book #2 – Crime of Fashion

Crime of Fashion by Chautona Havig

 

 

At the beginning of Crime of Fashion, Alexa assumes that her life will resume its previous tranquility. It doesn’t, of course. Things are changing at home and in a new business venture.  I really didn’t want her to get involved in that business. You could see it was a train wreck right from the start.  She and Joe are getting serious in this book.  The ending, unfortunately, left something to be desired. It was a complete shock to me, though, and I can usually solve the mystery by the middle of the book. Not here. I only started getting suspicious in the last few pages.  I still wish it had ended differently.

 

Book #3 – Two o’Clock SlumpTwo o'Clock Slump by Chautona Havig

 

Two o’Clock Slump was a totally different book. Alexa leaves her beloved home and travels back to the place she left behind – a place where she is neither liked nor welcomed, where even her own family (not nice people) cause her grief.  There was considerable character development in this book.  I liked it, but Alexa was depressed there, and I just wanted her to leave. Go back to Fairbury where people like you and you can be yourself, Alexa. Except she can’t, because someone is framing her for murder. She’s on the lam.

Book #4 – Front Window

Front Window by Chautona Havig

 

I don’t want to give spoilers, but you’ve probably already guessed that Two o’Clock Slump has a happy ending. Things are going along pretty well at the start of Front Window. Alexa’s even-more-eccentric aunt Faye is moving to Fairbury, and all of them are looking forward to a happy season when strange things start happening at the retirement village. Aunt Faye is the real star of this book, and she’s a worthy addition to the series! Front Window is an entertaining book with all the best qualities of the series. You’ll love it.

 

 

Have you read any of these books? What do you think? Which was your favorite? Do you think Aunt Faye should have her own book?

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kindle collections

Carpe Diem – My New Erin Condren Life Planner!

hl

My good friend (and fabulous author) Chautona Havig gave me a new planner for Christmas. I’ve used planners in the past, off and on, but these are special. I just finished my first one; it was an 18-month life planner from Erin Condren, starting in July of 2014. I enjoyed it very much. (You can see pictures of some of the weekly spreads HERE. )

There is an important difference in this new planner: it’s a horizontal layout instead of a vertical layout. Now, that’s not exactly earth-shattering, in the grand scheme of things, but it is significant. It’s like choosing between the iPhone and a Samsung. Both phones have ardent proponents, critical of the “other side,” but they both make calls, text and take pictures. People without a preference are just glad to have a nice smart phone. That would be me.

The vertical format looks like this:

eclpoct13

It worked and I liked it just fine, but I approached the new format with an open mind, and I am enjoying it so far. The text boxes are bigger, or at least not broken up into smaller units, which gives me more space for writing, even after I decorate. It is new and different, and I’m looking forward to finding fresh ways to embellish it. The monthly spreads and the notes section in the back are the same – it has a double-sided pocket page, a zippered plastic pouch, some stickers, and ruled paper. It also has a few pages of graph paper, in case I want to design a quilt or something. 🙂 Everything, all in one place.

It makes me happy.

ATTENTION: The link below is my affiliate link. If you purchase a planner through that link, you will receive a $10 discount. And I will receive a $10 credit toward my own next purchase.  ?

~~**ERIN CONDREN LIFE PLANNERS**~~