Tag Archive | challenge

Dream Chaser

It has been some time since I’ve written here and I wish I could give you some grand excuses as to why. Life has been busy and to be honest, I don’t want to write something just to have a post unless I believe I have something of value to say. If I think long and hard I could probably come up with things, but as a single mom of three Hobbits (that’s what I call my teenagers), life gets crazy at times.

I often use my rare profundity in my real-life, face-to-face interactions with people, whether my friends, or those I meet at conferences when I go to speak, teach, and encourage. 

I admit that life is a challenge at times too.

Depression is an old friend who comes to visit when I least expect, uninvited and unwanted. 

I’m heading into shoulder surgery in a few weeks and that has me a bit scared. Not of the surgery itself, but of the recovery as I am unable to take most pain medications.

I will survive somehow. By God’s grace, I always do. 

I took this photograph in May when I traveled to Colorado. This is south of Pike’s Peak and it was a stunning sight to see I couldn’t help but try to take a picture.

Seeing this display of God’s glory was breathtaking. The mountains, the people I met, the chance to be in a new environment and watch what God would do, was inspiring. 

I realized something very striking.

I live my life too small.

My characters in my novels much more readily go above and beyond in their adventure in living. But not me. I sit behind a keyboard and fabricate stories that hopefully share God’s truths to the reader while entertaining them. Not a bad job by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a lot of hard work for little gain.

That sounds so negative, doesn’t it? Maybe I should clarify that is monetary gain.

God continues to provide for the needs of my family. And sometimes our wants. I get to travel periodically and meet amazing people on my journeys. That’s bigger than the life I used to live by far. And the future holds more promise of the same.

I’ve been challenged recently to dream. To think beyond my daily needs to greater things God might want to do in and through me. What’s surprising is I want to do what I’m doing. I get to write. What an honor to be able to do that. it’s not a smart career move financially but it’s a calling that God has honored. It is hard work. Not all of it is fun by any stretch of the imagination. And I ashamedly get so busy with writing and editing that I sometimes forget that I have a book to promote. Shameful, I know!

But I do want to do so much more than that and not surprisingly it’s not about making money.

It’s about having more opportunities to serve others, encourage them, and watch them dream wilder and bigger.

So I’m praying and have been challenged to dream bigger.

To stretch my imagination with “What if’s” and do things that might help me get there. It means stepping out of my comfort zone. Trying new things even if they scare me…like internet dating!

It means I might fail. I want to be responsible. I have three young people counting on me to be there for them. It might hurt (surgery).

It might mean letting go of some things to make room for better ones. 

So what are your dreams that you’ve been afraid to dream? Can you trust God with those and seek His guidance in reaching for them? If you struggle with depression it can be hard to dream of bigger and better things…but when I look at that photo of the mountains, I’m reminded we have a BIG GOD who can do amazingly, abundantly, more than we could ever think to ask. So I’m seeking Him as I lean into the future and I challenge you to do the same.

What are some of YOUR dreams?

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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

 

What’s With Your Crazy Titles?

I am often asked why the books in my Orchard Hill series are titled so oddly. It’s a great question! Figured this was a good time to answer it.

PestoandPotholes2I wrote a book and titled it Pesto & Potholes because it was a metaphor for the journey my character was going to take. The pothole was her emotional pain from an abusive past. Getting out is a rocky process but takes help. The pesto was because Tony was an Italian chef and that is a favorite sauce in our home. So a savory and sweet romance was born. The ninjas were added because someone challenged me to put them in so, I did!

SalsaandSpeedbumps copy (2)Then a Facebook friend suggested my next book be called Salsa & Speed Bumps. I figured “Why not?” Challenge accepted. I took Renata’s roommate from Pesto & Potholes and gave her a bumpy journey with an unexpected pregnancy due to date rape and the challenge ripple effects of that. Even the unfair judgments of those in her church toward her and her new boyfriend, Roberto, became speed bumps on their way to happiness. Robbie, my Hispanic hero added some spice to the story.

FetaandFreewaysCover copyThe challenge was on to continue with a food theme combined with some road-related term. Book three became Feta & Freeways. I wanted to write a story based on a band I’m a fan of, Burlap to Cashmere. I was inspired by their journey. Since the band has Greek roots, I gave that to my character, Nikolos. Burlap to Cashmere is based out in the New York area – but my guys are from Wisconsin. Freeways – they take a journey – emotionally and spiritually as the band travels around the United States.

Not all titles will continue to be ethnically related, however. Johnny is Niko’s cousin and bandmate in Feta & Freeways. Book four is Root Beer & Roadblocks, due to release February 2017. Sprecher root beer is made in Wisconsin and features in the story. While Johnny is Greek, Katie is Irish in her background. I went with a more American theme. Johnny faces several roadblocks to his happiness.

Up after that will be Pastor Dan Wink’s story. He has a Germanic heritage and since Bratwurst is a Wisconsin specialty, that book is called Bratwurst & Bridges. He becomes the bridge to help his neighbor, Skye (Irish) come to know Christ as she becomes the bridge that brings him back to life from his complicated grief.

Book number six is Donuts & Detours. No ethnicity at all. She’s a baker and he’s a mechanic/tow-truck driver and there are a few detours on their way to their happily-ever-after, including a hidden identity. But we all keep secrets, don’t we?

I hope to write Truffles & Traffic this November, because someone has begged for me to have a title with truffles in it! I guess those will have to be a part of any party or giveaway for that book! The basis of the story is based on a real-life romance I watched happen eons ago. Names and careers are changed to protect the lovebirds.

Food continues to play a role in all the stories as does the ongoing challenge to use road terms for metaphors for the journey my characters take. 

I’m open to suggestions for future titles. Since this series takes place in the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, only traffic or food that can be found there can apply.

Here are some possibilities – so feel free to weigh in on what you, as a reader, would like to see next:

Cream Puffs & Crossroads (cream puffs are a Wisconsin State Fair specialty!)

Ramen & Roadkill (I put this here as a joke but I do have some friends begging me to write this!)

Lattes and Lanes or Espresso & Expressway  or Coffee & Concrete (similar concepts but which one???)

Pickles & Pavement  (seriously, someone suggested this!) Perhaps Panini’s & Pavement?

Apples & Alleys 

Jellybeans & Junctions

Rocky Road & Round-a-bouts 

Go ahead and be creative! Remember – Salsa & Speedbumps was birthed out of a challenge to write it. As will be Truffles & Traffic. Maybe your choice will be the title of a future story too!

burlaptocashmere_cvr-hi1

Feta & Freeways is up for a Goodreads giveaway starting Tuesday, October 4th. The giveaway includes a print copy of the novel along with a compact disc of Burlap to Cashmere’s self-titled album which was the soundtrack I listened to as I wrote the book! It’s hard to get physical copies of music anymore so this was a rare find and I’m sharing it with TWO lucky winners.