Betwixt Two Hearts ~ A Crossroads Collection

I felt very honored to be invited to participate in the new Crossroads Collection: Betwixt Two Hearts. I bought the first three when they came out, and I enjoyed the unique concept – a collection of novellas that are each free-standing book but tied together in a theme, and one full-length book by Amanda Tru that connects them all.  (Note – most of the “novellas” were more like full-length books.)

Betwixt Two Hearts - a Crossroads Collection by Amanda Tru, Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Carol Moncado, Kari Trumbo, and Alana TerryIn Betwixt Two Hearts,  Amanda opens the collection with a story about two people establishing an online matchmaking agency. Not a dating site, mind you, but a real matchmaking agency with the goal of setting up marriages.  Each of the subsequent books is a contemporary Christian romance about two people who meet through the Betwixt Two Hearts agency. In addition to mine, you’ll find delightful stories by Amanda Tru, Kari Trumbo, Alana Terry, Carol Moncado, Chautona Havig. and ME.

Mine is The Swedehearts Glory Quilt, the second book in my Glory Quilts series. It’s lighthearted – mostly – and features some of the same characters from The Christmas Glory Quilt.  David Reid is a sincere Christian man, eager to move on in his life. He’s an engineer, so he’s got a plan.  But is it God’s plan for him, or is it David’s?  Eleanor has no plan. Her loving, well-intentioned family wants to control her life and doesn’t understand why she would abandon the plan they made for her. So Eleanor runs away to find herself.

David signs up for Betwixt Two Hearts because he wants a wife. Eleanor’s motives are not so pure. She wants a fake boyfriend, to convince her parents she’s doing just fine in her new life.

Readers say they like flawed characters, so I’ve tried to make Eleanor a very human, flawed person. Even when she’s most annoyed with her family, she acknowledges that they’re good people.  But she occasionally crosses the line between a reasonable attempt at independence into selfishness and even lying, “gaming the algorithm” to get the perfect match and then being unwilling to confess when she finds out how much she likes the man they choose for her.  I hope her conflicted emotions resonate with readers.

As I write this, I am impatiently waiting for the publication of The Swedehearts Glory Quilt in paperback, repeatedly checking my email and hitting the refresh button on Amazon. I’m hoping to see it today, so I can share my beautiful cover! The picture on the cover is from 85mm Photography in Minneapolis – artistic, amazing wedding photographers.  They’ve “captured” Eleanor and David perfectly. 

I made a new quilt for this book – as is my plan for the whole series! – and will be offering the pattern as a bonus to anyone who purchases (or reads in Kindle Unlimited) the Betwixt Two Hearts collection or the Swedehearts Glory Quilt paperback before March 31.  More on that later.

Betwixt Two Hearts Valentine's Celebration

Right now, we are having a big giveaway as well as a Betwixt Two Hearts Valentine’s Day open house on Facebook, with prizes and fun chat.  Stop by often, to see what’s happening and join the conversation. We’ll wrap it up on February 17th and pick three grand prize winners.

Don’t miss the giveaway!

Betwixt Two Hearts Valentine's Day Giveaway

 

My good friend Chautona Havig is contributing an original painting from Marla Cosner – a vivid portrait of a mandrill. That painting is featured in Chautona’s Betwixt Two Hearts book, Random Acts of Shyness. I’d never seen a mandrill before, and if you’d asked me, I would have assumed it was some kind of bird. It’s not.

I made a wall quilt for the giveaway, using the Swedehearts Glory Quilt pattern. I like it better as a table topper, myself, and it works for both. The quilt is 24″ square, handmade by ME. 😀  I think it turned out very sweet, and I was tempted to keep it for myself, but I can make another one as I write the pattern.

The third prize is a paperback copy of the Betwixt Two Hearts collection. The whole thing – all six books in one handy volume.

ENTER HERE! 

 

In other news….

The Christmas Glory Quilt by Cathe SwansonThe Kindle version of The Christmas Glory Quilt is now available for Kindle and in paperback. (It’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, of course, )

If you read and enjoyed it in the Comfort & Joy Christmas Lights collection, I’d be thrilled and grateful if you’d leave a review on the Amazon page or on Goodreads. Thank you!

If you missed the free Christmas Glory Quilt pattern,  you can purchase it on Etsy. The Swedehearts pattern will be available after March 31.

 

Be sure to enter the Betwixt Two Hearts Valentine’s Giveaway!

ENTER HERE

 

Comfort & Joy Bonus ~ Gifts for early purchasers and readers!

Comfort & JoyIt’s here! Comfort & Joy, the 2018 Christmas Lights collection, has four brand-new books from Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Alana Terry  — and me! My contribution, The Christmas Glory Quilt, features all the most heartwarming things I know: quilts, family, sewing, Minnesota winters and Swedish traditions. Add in a large homeschooling family with fun characters of all ages, a great aunt with an interest in genealogy, an old family farmhouse, and a unexpected family heirloom… what more could you want in a Christmas romance? Oh right… the romance! That’s

sweet and heartwarming, too.

And we have TWO bonuses for early purchasers/readers of this y ear’s collection.   Chautona has a terrific short story to accompany her novella. You can find more information HERE.

 

The Christmas Glory Quilt Pattern

Do you like to make quilts? I’ve been teaching quiltmaking for over 25 years, but this is the first time I’ve featured quilts in a book. It was fun!  As a special bonus for Comfort & Joy readers, I am giving away the quilt pattern for the quilt featured on the cover of the book: the Christmas Glory Quilt. Just forward your amazon.com receipt or a screenshot of a finished novella from Kindle Unlimited for Comfort & Joy: Christmas Lights Collection 2018 to books@catheswanson.com by November 30.  I’ll send out your free quilt pattern in a pdf file within the next two weeks.

The Christmas Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson

The pattern is clear and simple, but if you like to have even more illustrations, I’ll have step-by-step photo tutorials on my GloryQuilts website soon, and I’m also working on a YouTube tutorial series to go with the quilt pattern. You can follow me HERE on YouTube to get a notice when I upload the tutorials.  The pattern will be for sale on my website, GloryQuilts, and in my Etsy shop, after November 30, but you can get it FREE if you purchase or read Comfort & Joy before then.

 And when you’ve made the quilt, send me a picture!

Comfort & Joy Bonus by Cathe Swanson and Chautona Havig

Remember to send your receipt by November 30th to get your Comfort & Joy Bonus!

 

 

 

Comfort & Joy

Comfort & Joy - The 2018 Christmas Lights Collection, with Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, April Hayman, Cathe Swanson and Chautona HavigThis week, I’m finishing up my Christmas novella, The Christmas Glory Quilt. It will be my contribution to the 2018 Christmas Lights novella collection: Comfort & Joy.  This year’s collection is going to be bigger and better than ever before,  with contemporary Christian Christmas stories from Alana Terry, April Hayman, Toni Shiloh, Chautona Havig and me.  Isn’t it a beautiful cover?

Frost Heaves by Alana Terry
The Trouble with Christmas Cheer by April Hayman
Deck the Shelves by Toni Shiloh
The Christmas Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson
The Ghosts of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig

Comfort & Joy will be available exclusively on Amazon on October 15th. We’re looking for a few more launch team members, to help share the news. If you are interested in getting a free advance reader copy of the book and participating in our very fun Facebook group, please click HERE for more information and fill out the form.

 

The Christmas Glory Quilt

The Christmas Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson - in the 2018 Christmas Lights Collection, Comfort & JoyThe Christmas Glory Quilt will be the first in a series with a seasonal quilt theme – Autumn Glory Quilt, Easter Glory Quilt, etc. (I still need to work on those titles!) Being an overachiever, I designed a quilt to go with the book and plan to offer the pattern as a bonus for early purchasers of the book.  It was a busy summer – and I had to write the book! – so it took a long time just to get it pieced.

Yesterday morning, my good friend and book cover designer, the multi-talented Chautona Havig, said, “I need pictures of the quilt, draped around two people. Now.” So I dropped everything and quilted. For nine hours, I sat at the dining room table and quilted. I finished about six o’clock and my husband helped me take pictures. Triumphantly, I sent them to Chautona.

But they weren’t good enough. An iPhone 5S may take good pictures for posting online, even indoors, but they aren’t good enough to use on the front of a printed book. I thought, “All that work, for nothing. I wasted the whole day, when I should have been working on the book, cleaning house, making dinner, taking a shower…”

Have you even done something difficult and then it fell short? Wasn’t good enough? Did it crush you? Make you feel like a failure? In my head, I know that now I have a finished quilt. I need to figure out how to get a better picture. It will be challenging, but I will make it work out. In my heart, I am disappointed. Deflated. Frustrated. I have to do the pictures all over again and I’m further behind on my book.

Redeeming the Time

But there was a grain of something good in the experience, and it wasn’t the quilt or the pictures. For about half an hour, my husband and I had a wonderful time together.

What we needed was a “green screen” picture of the quilt wrapped around two people. Chautona was going to cut out the quilt part of the picture and superimpose it on the purchased picture of these two attractive models. Kind of like paper dolls, if you remember those.

 

 

 

 

 

So the quilt had to be draped just right, to fit the existing picture. My husband hung a black sheet on the wall, and we set the laptop, open to the picture of the models, on a chair in front of us. To get the right angle, we put the phone/camera on top of a stepladder on top of the piano bench. We practiced standing in the right position first, and then we worked on arranging the quilt.

The thing is, those models are wrapped in a soft, stretchy knit blanket. A brand new quilt is stiff. It doesn’t drape. But we tried. We wrapped up in it, as best we could, then we scooted forward to push the camera button and scooted back, trying to get into position before the ten-second timer went off. It was hilarious. We laughed together, harder than we have in years. We have more ‘blooper’ shots than usable pictures. In most of them, we were rolled up like a burrito or shaped like a Christmas tree. Sometimes, the camera snapped the picture before we were ready.

 

And we laughed and laughed. My husband said, “We know how to do Friday night!” It was a good time, and it will be a sweet memory. Marriage is hard, and sometimes the fun is just drained away. Sometimes we – like many married couples – go along from day to day, doing what has to be done. So I spent a day making that quilt, and even though my original purpose wasn’t achieved, the time was redeemed. God knew we needed that “date night” more quilt pictures. Isn’t He wonderful?

Comfort & Joy

I look forward to sharing more about The Christmas Glory Quilt soon. I’m having so much fun writing it!  All of the books in this year’s collection, Comfort & Joy, are enjoyable, so watch for updates on the Comfort & Joy Facebook page. 

Will Not See ~ A Fascinating New Story from Chautona Havig

Will Not See by Chautona HavigWhen my good friend Chautona releases a new book, she goes over the top to make it fun! Will Not See – the second book in the Sight Unseen series from Chautona Havig – is available now, and she’s offering the best-ever bonus to readers who buy it by September 11.

 

If you’re a Past Forward fan, you will love this one:

Willow Tesdall’s Printable Coloring Journal!

Chautona Havig - Willow's Coloring Journal

And then there is the giveaway. You guys should be grateful that my long-term friendship with Chautona disqualifies me from winning this prize, or I’d be all over it. You can earn bonus entries every day of the giveaway. A lot of bonus entries.  I think it’s my favorite prize package so far:

None So Blind Paperback
Will Not See Paperback
Journaling Bible (Choice of KJV or NLT)
Prismacolor Pencils
Christian Hymns Album

And then there’s the book:   Will Not See

Readers will find this a deeply-moving, thought-provoking book, and I know Chautona felt those same emotions while she was writing it. I asked her to share a bit about it here, and in true Chautona Havig style. she sent me a Top Ten list a la David Letterman.

So…. to continue the Tonight Show theme, “HEEEEERE’S CHAUTONA!”

 

The Top 10 Lessons Will Not See Taught Me about Love

Sam Cooke. He studied his lessons well. Well, he didn’t study the history, biology, or science book—or that French he took. But apparently he studied the lessons of love (and at least basic arithmetic), because he knows love.
Love isn’t something we often consider as something to “learn.” It’s something we “feel” or “show” but learn?
Well, apparently, I can learn quite a lot as I write, because I found ten lessons about love in my new release, Will Not See. The second in the Sight Unseen Series, Will Not See shows a second victim to “non-traumatic spontaneous memory loss” as I’m calling it. Because I’m the doctor in the book and I get to.
So, in David Letterman style, here we go

10. Sometimes being loving hurts—both you and the one you love.
When someone in your life needs to hear truth, it isn’t always easy to give it. They might reject what they need most. Not only that, they might reject you. But if they truly need to hear what you might not want to say, love demands you put their needs over their wishes or your comfort. Ouch!

9. As Christians, love is never an option. It’s a mandate.
John 13:35—we all know it. Hey, we’ve sung it for years. “…they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” But that’s the thing, isn’t it? When loving others becomes an option in our minds, we’ve lost the essence of who we are called to be.

8. Showing love costs.
In Will Not See, several people demonstrate love in action and all of them pay a price. Time, money, emotional investment—even physical safety. It really spoke to me and made me wonder how often I shy away from demonstrating love because I resist the cost.

7. Showing love pays.
I also learned that it’s worth it—the cost of love. That sacrifice of time, self, money, pride… whatever it was will never be wasted (well, unless the one you show love to immediately loses all memory, I suppose) Not only that, making a difference in someone else’s life makes a difference in yours. It changes you.

6. The broken cling to and shy away from love—all at once.
At first, I couldn’t understand why Vikki, the main character in Will Not See both clung to anyone who showed true kindness and support (love in action) and shied away from them. Why was she like that? Why had I written her that way. But when I reflected on other broken people I’ve known, I realized it’s how it often works. We instinctively know we need help, we crave it and the connection with the helper, but we run from it as well. Because we know we’re making ourselves vulnerable, and vulnerability is an invitation for more pain.

5. Love truly can be blind.
I always thought the whole “love is blind” thing was just a way of saying love makes it impossible to see flaws. But as I wrote Will Not See and saw different people in new lights, I realized that the “blindness” is often more like how a light shining from one direction makes it hard to see much of what’s behind that light. You can only see the light. Maybe that’s why Jesus is called the light. He stands there, shining and blinding us to everything that would take our eyes off Him. As long as we’re looking in His direction, anyway.

4. Love can make you blind to your faults, too.
When you’re so desperate to know someone cares, it becomes crazy easy to sanitize your perception of yourself in hopes that it will make those you care about blind to them, too.

3. Hate, selfishness… sin can drown out the melody of love with harsh, discordant, blaring lies.
My character, Vikki, lived a horrible childhood—horrible. There were good times woven in among the bad, but those good times were all but obliterated by the sinfulness of those who would take advantage of the vulnerability of a child without real protection.

2. Everyone needs to be and to feel loved.
When you consider how our Creator demonstrated His love to us—to die in our place, it shouldn’t surprise us that we both need to be and to feel love. After all, we were created in His image, and that’s some pretty powerful love right there.

And the #1 lesson I learned?

  1. God’s love never fails.
Even when we fail Him, even when we lose everything about ourselves and don’t know anything else, we know our relationship to God. Sometimes that is a deep, abiding faith. Other times it’s an acknowledgment of His existence. It may be that we know we don’t believe He exists. But even if our memories fade or are ripped from us, the Holy Spirit still indwells His people. We know—even if we don’t.

There they are! The top 10 things Will Not See taught me about love. Thanks, Cathe, for “having me on your program.” 😉

 

Will Not See is on tour with Celebrate Lit:

Check out the tour page to read the reviews and get your entry in for…

Will Not See Giveaway

Order soon to get the bonus journal!

Are you a Past Forward (Willow) fan? It’s a really nice little set of creative printables – 30 pages! You can pretend to be Willow —  Um….  I mean, you can just imagine Willow coloring while she meditates on Scripture , thinks about her day, or plans tomorrow’s work.  You won’t want to miss it.

Get Will Not See HERE and the bonus HERE!

 

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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