Tag Archive | advice

Writer Wednesday: Cathe Swanson

cathesquareToday I want to introduce you to Cathe Swanson. She’s been a valuable member of our ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writer’s) group and just released her first novella! So proud of you Cathe!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I was a reader as a child, and being an author was my dream job. I wanted to create stories, preferably in series like Little House in the Big Woods, Anne of Green Gables or the Nancy Drew mysteries. But I didn’t; I just found more books to read. Later, when I was homeschooling my sons, I wanted to write better stories for boys. But I didn’t; I was too busy teaching them.  I wrote devotionals for ministry events and some articles for a boys’ magazine and newsletters for different organizations, but I never wrote fiction. Then, just after my youngest son graduated, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I finished the 50,000 words in about a week, and I kept going. The story fell from my fingertips. It consumed me. I thought about my characters all the time. I wrote bits and pieces on scraps of paper while I was driving (even more dangerous than texting). I wrapped up that manuscript at about 175,000 words, and then I just kept writing more books.

What’s your pet peeve?

I object to man-bashing: memes or cartoons that mock men, implying that women are smarter than men, or television shows in which the men are portrayed as bunglers and the women are more intelligence. This is not sexual equality. It is sexism.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

My best friend is married to a chief of police in a small town out west. I called her one evening with a question about whether or not a woman could be compelled to testify against her husband in a criminal court case and then more specifically if that woman could be questioned by the police during the investigation and be pressured to answer their questions. She said her husband wasn’t home right then, but she thought it was best to avoid answering any questions without a lawyer there. I thanked her for that non-answer and went back to my story. She called back ten minutes later – she had called her husband out of a city council meeting to ask him what I should do. She thought my question was about ME! Oops.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Self-discipline and avoiding the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” trap. I am easily distracted and have many things I enjoy doing, from gardening to cardmaking, so if I sit down to write and my character has an upcoming appointment, it reminds me that I need to check my planner for the time of my own upcoming appointment. Then I see that one of my grandchildren has a birthday coming up, so I open Amazon to do some shopping. Then I think about party ideas, which is even worse, because I open up Pinterest. Or I might decide to make her a card or go to the basement to get wrapping paper and see a box of Christmas fabric and bring that upstairs and see a piece with holly berries on it and decide to go outside and check on the boxwood tree and pick some branches to make a centerpiece… By then, my husband is home and I need to cook dinner. I love to write, but I am squirrelly.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

As a brand new author, I’ve been very blessed with encouraging reviews.  When the negative comments and reviews come, as I know they will, I might get discouraged for a while, but I usually bounce back quickly. I am pretty good at weighing the value of other people’s opinions and responding accordingly. I hope I will be humble enough to accept criticism.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Um… Snow Angels? Actually, I think my best success is that I have pushed myself to become more open about my work. I’ve written for years without telling anyone or letting anyone read my stories. I tend to be a very private person, almost reclusive, and you just can’t do that as a modern author.

snowangels-bigcoverWhat would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

There aren’t many authors newer than me, but I would tell them:

1.  Find a supportive writing community. That doesn’t mean a group of people who will applaud everything you do, but they should be encouraging you in your efforts – just as you will encourage them – and celebrating your successes. I prefer a group with a Christian worldview because that defines me and my writing. I like online communities because I can engage from home when I have time to do so, but in-real-life groups are very beneficial.

2.  Never stop learning how to be a better writer. Attend workshops and seminars, read writing craft books, find beta readers and critique partners. I am a podcast junkie. I listen to writing and book marketing podcasts while I garden, clean house, drive, or work out (okay… that’s a lie. I haven’t worked out in months.) Most importantly, read good books.

3.  Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do – including writing books – glorify God. Before we are Christian authors, we are Christians. Not everything you write has to be evangelical, but remember that everything you write is a witness.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

Like all Christian authors, I would like to lead others to salvation, bring attention to terrible social injustices, end hunger and bring about world peace. Those are impressive goals, but I think I am better at touching people’s hearts on a more personal level. In Snow Angels, I created characters like Hub, a Vietnam veteran. Instead of just showing his sad plight and having him sitting around being homeless, I wanted the reader to see him as a regular guy with his own personality, engaging in daily life in community with others.  I like to write entertaining stories that make readers laugh and maybe cry a little, but I hope that they will also be inspired to see other people more clearly – not as stereotypes, but as individuals, as God sees them.

What is your current work in process?

I am currently working on revisions for Baggage Claim, a book I wrote for NaNoWriMo a few years ago. It’s part of the Great Lakes collection, set about two years before Snow Angels, and will introduce Phoebe. It is scheduled to be released in mid-February.

Christmas Lights novella collection is going to be FREE From Dec 15 to Dec 19. Also, we are having a great giveaway: http://christmaslightscollection.com/christmas-stocking-mash/  The actual giveaway form is here: https://promosimple.com/ps/abb4  but it doesn’t list everything in the stocking.

My new book, Baggage Claim, is available for preorder at http://amzn.to/2gwfFnW It will be released – God willing – on February 14.

christmas-lights-boxLinks to social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatheSwanson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatheSwanson

Instagram: https://instagram.com/CatheSwanson

My blog: http://catheswanson.com/blog

My newsletter: http://catheswanson.com/newsletter/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/CatheSwan…

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cathe-swanson

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/catheswans…

Latest Book Release :    Christmas Lights – a novella collection



Do you NaNo?

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileIt is now into the fourth day of November. Are you one of the 120,000 or so people around the globe who have signed up to do NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month)? If not, congratulations on avoiding the insanity, especially if you already call yourself a writer.

If you have joined the insanity, however, just know that you are in the company of some of the most wonderfully non-institutionalized crazy people you will meet.

Like me! (no modesty here, I admit to being nuts). Let’s interview myself about this:

What compel a busy stay-at-home mom like me to enter the fray for five years in a row? 

The first year I felt called to do it and had never written a novel and figured it was free, didn’t cost anything and if I didn’t win, no biggie. So I wrote and found out I loved writing.

This is your fifth year? What do you write? 

Yup, five years. I started out writing an inspirational Regency romance as it is my favorite genre to read and there are not enough out there to feed my voracious appetite for fiction. Kind of along the thought of “Write what you would want to read.” Since that first novel had several supporting characters, I’ve been taking one a year. A thread of some evil started to weave it’s way through my stories so it became a five book series with the final culmination in this book. (I have written four rough drafts of other novels outside of NaNoWriMo as well).

Don’t you have a life? 

I still try to go to the Y and I’ve never been much for cleaning anyway and I’ll still meet friends for coffee. So yes, I do have a life. Some of my editing projects I got ahead on so I could focus more on this novel. I probably won’t be so sucked into the black hole of Facebook for as long a period as normal.

How does your family adapt?

They roll their eyes and then pretty much ignore me and the fact that I’m on a quest to not only write 50,000 words – but to actually FINISH the novel within this month (approximately 85K). Thankfully my kids like pizza and hubby is not around enough to care. They are unimpressed by my word count updates.

Any words of encouragement to others who are writing? DSC_0496

  1. Writing can be isolating. Engage on a Facebook page for your area (or create one!) and attend at least one write-in. Post on a forum. Use this as an opportunity to connect to someone new. You never know how God might use that relationship!
  2. Write, write and write some more. Put duct tape on the mouth of your inner editor. If you hit a stall (aka writer’s block) write through it, even if it’s lousy, you’ll up your word count and you might break through to that brilliant part of your story you would have missed. Revising is the time to clean those spots up.
  3. Back up in multiple places. Email your document to yourself. Dropbox is great. Do more than one copy of your document (in case one gets corrupted, um, yeah, it happened to me). Back up often even while you are writing. Don’t count on your auto back up to do the work for you.
  4. Write daily and try for more than 1,667 words if you can. You don’t know what challenges lie ahead in this month. Family, health and other crisis can crop up. If you hit it heavy and hard at the front end, you have a cushion and those interruptions don’t have to keep you from reaching your goal. And don’t let anyone fool you: week two is the hardest, no matter what your word count is going into it.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s easy to think this is going to be your most brilliant work (or the worst). The story I had the hardest time writing was year three – and it as the only one I didn’t finish by the end of Nano. I had hit about 62K but the story wasn’t done. I thought it would be a loss – and yet it’s my favorite to date!  Laugh. Take breaks. Work out. Be disciplined to write through, your novel won’t write itself.
  6. When it’s done -set it aside for a few months before you try to do revisions – you’ll need the space. But go ahead and learn the rest of the craft because writing the first draft is only one aspect. Who knows, maybe yours will be the book that finds it’s way to a bookshelf someday? You never know and we  can always dream big, right?

Those sound good. Thank you for taking time away from your writing to talk with us. 

Your welcome!