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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 The technology was probably out-of-date when I wrote it the first time!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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Snow Angels and Christmas Stalkings Christmas Stocking MASH-UP

Last month, I was blessed with a visit from one of my favorite people – Chautona Havig! We have been friends for a long time, and this year, we were part of the Christmas Lights team of authors. We had a terrific time together and came up with lots of good ideas for the future. One of the fun things we did was make a Christmas stocking to give away – a Snow Angels and Christmas Stalkings Mash-up stocking!

Here’s the story from Chautona’s point of view. Opinions expressed may not reflect those of the management…

It began innocently enough–just two friends shopping in Michael’s. We did the usual… you know, finding cool things, spending WAY too much money, laughing! Talking! But… but then this happened:

Christmas Stocking giveaway

And today’s the day!

Yep! It’s time! After terrorizing Michael’s with our incessant videos, we bought the stocking and filled that sucker! I’m a sucker for stockings, so that really does fit. Just sayin’.

What’s in this knitted sock of surprises? Well, if I tell you, it won’t be a surprise! Oh, all right. Here goes! First a couple of pictures….

Christmas Stocking GIveaway

Trip the Light Fantastic

  • A bag of “Life Is Too Short for Bad Coffee” brand coffee!
  • Beeswax lip balm
  • Beeswax lotion (from scandalous “naked bees”).
  • A “complete collection” of Miss Marple books… in miniature. And readable!
  • A set of hand-crafted book-inspired notecards
  • A set of mini notebooks because I love those little things!
  • A notepad for taking notes while reading so you can bless the author with a thoughtful review! (Or do it THIS way and save time and trees!)
  • An absolutely stunning, handmade, beaded bookmark. Seriously. GORGEOUS.
  • Various author “swag”
  • Chocolate (not shown. I ate it and have to replace it. Just kidding. Didn’t buy it yet).
  • Fuzzy socks (to keep your toes warm while you read!)
  • Tea bags (spicy goodness!)
  • Trip the Light Fantastic paperback
  • Snow Angels paperback
  • Christmas Stalkings paperback

A perfect gift for you or any book-loving friend. International entries are welcome, but the stocking will only be shipped to a US or APO address. Sorry. This thing’s heavy!

Of course, the only way to truly appreciate how this Christmas stocking is a “mash-up” of Snow Angels and Christmas Stalkings is to read both books in the Christmas Lights Collection. Of course, we recommend you read ALL the books in the collection. April’s madcap mystery, Vikki’s heartwarming tale of second-chances and the Lord’s provision. But… guess what?

There’s More Stocking Goodness…

Sorta. You see… we have NEWS!!!

New Year's RevolutionsChristmas Stalkings has a prequel/sequel coming out. That’s right, there’s more of Wendy, Neal, Wanda, Peter, and gang! The book is available for pre-order now and will release on 12.31.16. That’s right. New Year’s Revolutions, the “rest of the story” releases on New Year’s Eve! I’ve even got a COOL BONUS for it! Prepare to revolutionize your life in 2017–and watch my progress as I fumble and bumble to do the same! WOOT!

and…

Snow AngelsBaggage Claim, the delightful story that it is, isn’t the only book Cathe has written. She’s coming out with the second book in the Great Lakes Series: Baggage Claim. It’s available for pre-order now! and releases on 2.14.16. Valentine’s Day. It’s like we’ve got this holiday theme going or something!

Ben’s on a race against time and with the last people he ever thought he’d want helping him. His kids are in hiding, and his own life may be in danger. Find out what’s going on at Great Lakes Therapy in Baggage Claim!

and…

Spilled Ink Hidden CoverApril Hayman has the next in her Heirlooms of Deception series coming out in Winter of 2017. That’s right! There’s more to Trip the Light Fantastic! See Landry in his natural environment… and meet Ree! His niece and his arch enemy–his sister!

Stay tuned on April’s site and social media for her upcoming COVER REVEAL! This is just a mock cover to whet your appetite!

 

Here’s an image to share! We’d really appreciate it!

stocking giveaway

(note: links in this post are likely affiliate links which provide a tiny commission for us at no extra cost to you.)
What do you like to put in a Christmas stocking?

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Christmas Lights Giveaway ~ Enter to Win this Gorgeous Nativity Scene

I am happy to announce the release of my first published book, Snow Angels, as part of the novella collection, Christmas Lights. It’s exciting for any debut author, but I’ve been especially blessed in the process. Not only did I get to partner with fellow ACFW authors Vikki Kestell, Chautona Havig and April Hayman, but I had a great team of ladies who helped me with pre-reading, proofreading and promoting the book.  Not many authors have that kind of encouragement with their first book. I’m grateful.

In celebration of the book launch, we are having a special giveaway.  This beautiful 3-piece nativity display is handcrafted in Ukraine and will be shipped to the winner directly from the artist.  Each of the pieces is 8″ tall, 20″ long and 5.5″ deep. Use battery-operated votive candles or a string of lights to create a scene of shadows and silhouettes. You can display the pieces separately or use them together on a mantel or on top of a piano or bookcase. It’s absolutely lovely. In addition to this, we are giving away two $5 Amazon gift cards, just in time for Christmas shopping!

Christmas Lights Grand Prize

CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway, and check out the Christmas Lights website for more pictures of the nativity scene and information about the giveaway.

Christmas Lights - a novella collection

Christmas Lights is a collection of four inspirational novellas, each with a different theme and genre. Vikki’s The Heart of Joy is a beautifully-crafted, gentle historical romance from her Prairie Heritage series.  April’s madcap comedy, Trip the Lights Fantastic, features eccentric characters who will delight you. Chautona’s Christmas Stalkings  is surprisingly suspenseful for a book about a woman who decorates Christmas trees for each of her seven cats!

Snow Angels by Cathe Swanson

 

 

 

My contribution to the collection is Snow Angels.  Lisa, Pete and their friends are oh-so-human, living with human issues in a fallen world. It’s sad and it’s funny, and I think it’s a story of God redeeming the years the locusts have eaten. He washes us clean and gives us hope for the future.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Kind words for Snow Angels:

“I haven’t laughed this hard in a while, nor cried as much. In this funny, poignant novella, Cathe Swanson reminds our jaded world just what the holidays are all about. Looking forward to seeing this author in other works. Highly recommended.”  Andrea S.

This delightful tale is full of surprises and Christmas spirit. I loved how complex the characters were, and how you unfold each story as you weave your way through the book… One of the most wonderful aspects of this book is the humor. If you need a good laugh, and spiritual encouragement this holiday season, “Snow Angels,” is the book for you.”  Kristen S.

It is equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching and deals with some real-life hard stuff while never losing sight of the hope to be found in Jesus. For a debut work, it is stellar! I absolutely can’t wait to read more from this author!”  Tina C.

I haven’t laughed so much in AGES. Cathe Swanson masterfully weaves a rich story of realistic people with genuine faults and problems in such a way that you love them, want to shake them, and cheer when they ‘get it.’  And all the while, she punctuates each scene with humor, grace, and the beauty of what the Lord does in our lives when we don’t push Him back.”  Chautona H.

 

Christmas Lights available on October 15, 2016 – Preorder now!

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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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The Baron’s Blunder by Susan Baganz

This delightful novella from Susan Baganz is part of the  “Love is…” series by Prism Book Group, looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. The Baron’s Blunder illustrates verse six:  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.  

The Baron's Blunder by Susan BaganzThe hero is dashing and brave – and so is the heroine

Lord Charles Percy and the Honorable Henrietta Allendale are both independent, capable people who want to continue in their current single condition. He enjoys the clandestine activities that keep him busy, but an impulsive lie told to avoid discovery leads to complicated deception. She knows he’s hiding something. When Lord Percy confesses the truth, Henri isn’t sure she can trust anything else he says. As much as they enjoy life and engaging in exciting adventures without the encumbrance of a spouse, however, there’s no denying the attraction that pulls at both of them.

 

 

 

The Baron's Blunder by Susan Baganz

 

I enjoyed the pacing of this adventure romance. The main and secondary characters were likable people who seemed more multi-dimensional than those sometimes found in Regency romances. I especially liked the heroine, who managed to be independent without becoming aggressive about it or behaving in an anachronistic way.

Rose Hill Regencies

The Baron’s Blunder is a prequel to Ms. Baganz’s upcoming Rose Hill Regencies, a series of entertaining Regency romance novels for the inspirational fiction market. I look forward to them!

The Baron’s Blunder is available for pre-order now and will be delivered to your kindle device Friday, August 26.

Watch for the author’s upcoming novel, Feta and Freeways,  available for preorder now, releasing on September 16, 2016. It’s the newest book in her Orchard Hill series, and you won’t want to miss it.

Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break.

Tia Bartel loved Niko for the longest time, but it wasn’t until she stepped in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust?

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Christmas is Coming Early for Me!

Snow Angels by Cathe Swanson - Part of the Christmas Lights novella collectionThis year, my biggest Christmas gift is coming in October. It’s very exciting to be anticipating the release of my first published book, Snow Angels, as part of the Christmas Lights novella collection.

Things got pretty wild here for a while – nine days before my editor’s deadline,  I ended up in the hospital having an emergency appendectomy! Laparoscopic surgery is amazing, and it all went smoothly, but the nurse and some of my friends were right when they cautioned me to go slowly.  I feel great, but I get tired out quickly.

I finished the Snow Angels manuscript, revised it, and sent it off to the editor with ten minutes to spare before the deadline – and then I immediately wanted it back again, because I thought of so many things that needed to be changed.  She wouldn’t give it back, so now I have to wait for her first round of corrections and revisions.  I keep pestering her:

     “Are you finding many typos?”

    “What do you think of the sweater scene?”

    “Do you like Pete?”

    “Do you think Lisa’s reaction to the sick child is realistic?”

She’s very patient with me. 🙂

Christmas Lights Novella Collection

I have been helping market books for a couple years now, and I like doing it, so I am very much looking forward to an exciting book launch for Christmas Lights.  I’ve known Chautona for years, and it’s been fun getting to know  Vikki Kestell and  April Hayman as we work on this novella collection.  Look for some fun events as the launch date approaches! We’re even putting together a musical book trailer!

And the cover!

I love, love, LOVE the cover for my book!  It was designed by the multi-talented Chautona Havig, a good friend and gifted writer, and I’m going to be unwrapping it slowly.  She also designed the cover for the entire Christmas Lights novella collection box set. Isn’t it beautiful?

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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**~~

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Black Friday Weekend with Chautona Havig!

Oh my goodness! I think I have most of these books, but now that I know how to give kindle books for Christmas, I’m excited to see this sale!

chautona black friday

And the new one is here at last, with freebies for those who buy it by November 30!

catb kindle

 

QUESTION – have you ever given a kindle book as a gift?

catb kindle

Chautona Havig – Carol and the Belles

catb kindleChautona Havig’s 2015 Christmas novel, Carol and the Belles, is being released on Thanksgiving Day, at 4pm! If you purchase your copy between November 26 and November 30, you will receive a free bonus companion story AND be eligible to win a free Kindle Fire!

CHECK IT OUT!

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Fascinating – Christian Fantasy!

highlands

Highlands, by Chautona Havig

Pre-order this now, for 99 cents! Releases automatically to your kindle or kindle app on October 6th.

If you had told me yesterday that I would enjoy a book in the “Contemporary Christian Fantasy” genre – even one by Chautona Havig! – I would have smiled and nodded politely. I have good manners like that.  Well,  she sent me an advance copy. She’s generous like that. She didn’t even ask me to review it!

 

And I can admit when I’m wrong… this book caught my attention and held it. I meant to just skim, but it sucked me in and I was on chapter six before I realized what I was doing. I have three major projects due for clients, so I pulled out the fabrics I needed and tidied up the sewing room. Then I sat down to read chapters seven and eight. I closed the computer and started quilting. I spent ten minutes on the first table runner and opened the laptop  computer to read chapter nine. And so on.

Ms. Havig drops a modern young athlete (nearly naked!) into a remote, bizarre community. He is confused. He is horrified. He wonders if he has died and is in some sort of afterlife.  And then, with perfect, almost elegant pacing, the story unfolds, revealing a fascinating world in which people have unquestioningly accepted every circumstance as the will of – gifts from – God.  Our hero struggles with understanding their beliefs – and so does the reader. The themes of extreme submission and gratitude are thought-provoking in this context.

I can’t describe the physical effects of the young man’s emotional and  spiritual reactions without sharing too much of the plot, but I will say that the whole concept is FASCINATING. This gifted author continually amazes me with her eclectic creativity.

This is the second in a series. The first, Prairie, was written as a stand-alone book three years ago and is not necessary to the enjoyment of this one.  I’ve had it on my kindle and intend to read it soon.

Highlands is in pre-order right now, for 99 cents! It will be released on October 6th.