Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Author Interview (and a Letter Writing Ministry) - Cathe Swanson

I am so excited to have author Cathe Swanson on the blog today talking about her Love Letters ministry! I've been reading her weekly emails containing letter writing encouragement since January and she's had some great ideas about how to encourage people with a simple card.

Welcome, Cathe!  Thank you so much for spending time on the blog with us today! I absolutely love writing letters and sending cards. Whenever I go to a store, I always check out the books AND the note cards/stationary section (and I usually sneak a peek at the colored pens, too). Writing letters recharges me and I believe it's something God has designed me to do. My heart even sings a little when I see a big blue mailbox because I can envision letters and cards going in. 😊 And of course, I love receiving a card or letter in the mail. When I read about your Love Letters ministry I signed up right away.

How was the idea of your Love Letters ministry born?

Cathe: I have always enjoyed sending cards and letters. When I was a girl, it was common to have a pen pal. I had one who lived in New Zealand! Sending thank you notes in the mail was the polite thing to do, even to local gift-givers. Later, when we lived far away from our family, and especially when we were overseas for a few years, mail was our only affordable means of communication.
When phone calls became less expensive, and then we had the internet, I didn’t send real mail as often. I started making handmade cards just for fun, but I usually just sent them for birthdays and other special occasions.

But then… A few years ago, I sent out some thank you notes to members of a Facebook group who had helped with a book launch project. I had a lot to say in those notes, since those ladies had been an over-the-top blessing, so they were more like letters than just cards.

The response surprised me. Many of them posted in the group or sent me messages thanking me for the thank you notes. I even got a real thank you note in response! It happened again the next time I sent thank you notes. People responded to the personal messages.

In a way, it was humbling. If I can brighten someone’s day with a few minutes of my time and a 49 cent stamp, why am I not doing that more often? The world is full of people who need a happy spot in their day – not only those who are lonely, ill or elderly, but also young moms, college students, military members and families, distant family members and others who don’t outwardly appear to “need” encouragement. Getting a real letter in the mailbox is always a treat!

Could you describe your Love Letters ministry for readers who might not be familiar with it?

Cathe: I decided to be more intentional about blessing others in this easy way, and I thought other people might like to join me. I send out emails to the participants each week, but there is no pressure at all, and you don’t need to be accountable to me! If you sign up, you’ll get a reminder each Saturday– just a gentle reminder with a few ideas and letter writing prompts to inspire you.
Send notes when you can, whether it’s once a week, biweekly or monthly. Write long letters, short notes, or postcards. If you have children, this would be a good activity for you to do together!

How long have you been creating and sending cards?

Cathe: I love paper. I have it all - cardstock in every color, pretty paper, planners, pens and markers, stamps, punches, die cutting machines, embossing machines, notebooks, washi tape, stickers and embellishments. I love it all and have it all neatly organized in pretty paper boxes.
When I started buying paper, my plan was to work on scrapbooks. I sorted all the photographs by year (over 30 years!) and put them in (pretty paper) boxes. I did a few pages. Then I stalled out. Scrapbooking was such a big project!

About five years ago, I realized I could make cards. It’s all the best parts of scrapbooking but it’s instant gratification instead of overwhelming!

Have you ever featured (or considered featuring) a character in one of your books who is involved in a correspondence ministry or had a pen pal or was somehow tied to snail mail?

Cathe: The heroine of my 2018 Christmas novella is a papercrafter and makes cards to sell as well as sending them. She’s also a professional and very expensive dressmaker!

Have you ever received a card at just the right time when you needed encouragement?

Cathe: Yes! I recently received a card from a reader at just the right time, when I was feeling frustrated with slow book sales. It was such an encouragement to me!

Do you have any encouragement for someone who might be sending a note or card for the very first time?

Cathe: Don’t overthink it! It doesn’t have to be a beautifully-composed letter. Just an “I’m thinking of you!” note will make them happy! I include some writing ideas in each of my weekly reminders.

Is there anything else you'd like to leave with us about your Love Letters ministry?

Cathe: I think it’s a simple and effective way to bless others, inexpensive and easy to do. If you’d like to be a part of the Love Letters ministry, sign up HERE to receive the weekly emails. Don’t worry… I will not share your email address with anyone else or use it for any purpose other than the Love Letters weekly reminders.

Thank you so much for visiting with us today and sharing about your Love Letters ministry!

To find out more about Cathe's Love Letters ministry or to sign up, check out her blog post here or sign up here

About Cathe

Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years. They enjoy spending time with their family and being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and fishing, but summer is short in Wisconsin, so it’s important to have indoor hobbies, too. Cathe has been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years, and she enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Her family is growing steadily; she and her husband had three sons, and those boys all grew up and married delightful women and started producing grandchildren: four boys and three girls so far! The long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

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  1. Oh, I've been getting these emails to and I LOVE them!! Such a wonderful idea, and it really is a blessing to both the participant, and the person receiving the notes/letters! Thank you Cathe for this brilliant idea that is so simple and yet something we don't think about. Great interview :)

    1. It's a great ministry! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. :)

  2. You are welcome! I'm glad you are being blessed -- and blessing others. That means a lot to me.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about this today! It's such a cool ministry!

  3. I love making cards, so when Cathe came up with this, my first thought was, "An excuse to make cards!" I even put sending 48 cards on my "48 to do by 48" list. Better get cracking!

    1. That's impressive! You can do it!

    2. I love Cathe's ideas for people we can encourage through cards. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I'm enjoying the promptings to write and send notes! I've collected quite a few "pretty" cards through the years, and now I'm working on sharing them with others! I'm just not a "maker of cards." Thank you for beginning this encouraging Ministry Cathe!

    1. You are a card maker and encourager!

    2. I'm not a "maker of cards", either, but I enjoy sending one from my stash of purchased cards or a quick letter. Thanks for stopping by!