News Release! [Scholarship Received]

Beth with her colleagues at work being surprised by WGU’s representative (not pictured).

Back to school!

Some of you may know, some of you may not know: I’ve recently begun taking master’s classes!

On Thursday I was surprised – no, shocked – when a Western Governors University (WGU) representative walked through the door at work and handed me that massive check! I was so dumbfounded that I had no words.

How had he known where I work? Well, when I applied for the scholarship, I had to submit a resume, and he tracked me down, got approval from my employer, and surprised me with the big check and cookies for everyone at the office.

To make matters more exciting, I hadn’t told anyone at work that I had started taking classes. So, let’s be honest, a lot of people were shocked that day and I had quite a bit of explaining to do. But I have wonderful employers and colleagues. It turned out to be a fantastic celebration, and I am grateful beyond words for the scholarship.

So what does this mean for Wordbender Editing? Well, it means you’re going to get even better quality work once my master’s degree is complete!

I did put a notice on my Editing Services page, however. Time is definitely limited! But I should graduate in May of 2020. So write those books, revise those books, and be ready to send them to me in the spring because I’ll be ready!

Degree in what?

Oh! You’re right. I didn’t fill you in on that. I’m actually getting an English Education degree. I want to learn how to teach my beloved English so I can help students appreciate it and become as passionate as I am about our language. This degree will also help me communicate with you, as authors. Isn’t that exciting?

This degree will compliment my BA in Creative Writing. So here we go!


Fiction or Nonfiction?


Photo of swirling clouds | Wordbender Editing

I recently conducted a Facebook poll. Click here to see the results!

Many people are passionate about what they read. I sure am! Some people only like fiction. Some don’t see the point and love to dive into nonfiction.

And some are like me: I like them both.

Did you miss the poll?

Don’t worry! You can comment below. I would love to hear your opinion on whether you think one or the other is best and why you think so!

Happy reading!

What We Can Learn from a Modern-Day Cowboy | The Faraway Horses Book Review

Photo of the book Faraway Horses

“You hear a lot of talk about mentoring these days. It doesn’t have to be just talk. If we get to troubled kids early enough, we can impress things upon them not by being mean and threatening, but by providing discipline and guidance.

The same thing is true for troubled horses. If you extend the parameters too far because of sympathy, the horse won’t have any boundaries, and you will end up spoiling him.”

—Buck Brannaman, The Faraway Horses

Have you ever watched or read The Horse Whisperer? Did you ever wonder where the inspiration behind this touching story came from? Here’s your answer: the real-live horse whisperer, Buck Brannaman who has gained the respect of such renowned horsemen as George Morris.

If you don’t know any of those names, it doesn’t matter at all. Please read on.

In his autobiography of sorts, The Faraway Horses, Brannaman establishes that the way to communicate, get along with, and establish good relationships with both humans and animals is a balance of love and respect, and, when necessary, discipline. I recommend this book to horsey people and non-horsey people alike because of the level it goes to understand mankind through horses, and vice versa.

Personally, I’ve always been intrigued by the honest way horses and other creatures behave and how they can reflect how humans react to conflict, fear, change, and abuse. Brannaman doesn’t shy away from this. He explores emotional trauma within himself and other people and applies the principles when dealing with those other people and broken horses.

In this book, he tells stories of his childhood, family experiences, his time as a famous “Idaho Cowboy,” and a little on his assistance with the movie The Horse Whisperer, but he always comes back to the importance of valuing others and communicating with them in a way that shows love and respect no matter who they are.

Brannaman has committed his life to helping horse owners with their horses, and along with that comes healing and restoration to both the owners and horses. His book The Faraway Horses will take you deep into the psychology of both horses and people and the healing they’ve found through Brannaman’s methods. Pick up a copy today, or do what I did and listen to the audio version. It’s well worth the short six hours of audio.

Genre: Autobiography


Bethany Swoboda is a freelance editor for Wordbender Books. She has always loved reading, reading, reading, and enjoys helping authors polish and develop their manuscripts. Some of her many hobbies are horseback riding, bouldering, helping work her family’s farm, playing piano, crocheting, and volunteering at her church. She has a BA in creative writing and a minor in professional writing from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.


Rescuing of Princesses in Disney Films: Sexist? Or embedded in our DNA?

Picture of a princess in a red cloak

Folktales strike us as enigmatic because they mix the miraculous with the natural, the near with the far, and the ordinary with the incomprehensible in a completely effortless way. — Max Luthi

 [Author note: This quote really doesn’t have much to do with this blog until the end except for “the ordinary with the incomprehensible” when referring to the great lengths to which a fairy tale prince will go to rescue or see his princess, like in “Rapunzel.” However, I think it’s a nice quote to get us thinking about fairy tales.]

The recent hubbub about men rescuing young ladies in Disney films being sexist—benevolent sexism, to be exact—caused me to remember a fairy tales class I took in college.

There is a theory illustrated with folklore that there are certain elements of a story that, well, make a story. And these elements are so ingrained in us that without them, a story ceases to be a story—or at least ceases to be interesting. In fact, my professor actually argued that these story elements are programmed into our DNA because every culture has folktales that include those elements. (Side note for clarification: not all elements have to be present in each story.) One of those major elements is a man rescuing a woman.

Folktales/Fairy Tales

Let’s remember that many Disney Princess films come from ancient folktales that we commonly refer to as fairy tales. Neither the Grimms nor Hans Christian Andersen made these stories up. They are folk stories, verbally passed from generation to generation until these men took the initiative to write them down.

Fairy tales are one-dimensional on all levels, so there’s definitely a lack of romance to them, and the audience doesn’t really get a lot of context leading up to the rescuing of the female character. Generally, folktales are told with unemotional rigidity. Kind of a “this is how it happened” without an invested narrator, and a lot is left to the audience to interpret.

(However, there is still a lot of literary importance, and not just because they are historical literature. A book I’d encourage anyone interested in the history of stories to read is The European Folktale: Form and Nature by Max Luthi.)

The Rescue

Each of these Disney stories—movies—being criticized lately carries the traditional element of romance. Why do you think that is? I mean, we’re talking old-old tradition. Somehow, generation after generation, the story of a man and woman falling in love is attractive to us. And a man rescuing a woman is still more interesting to us. We want to watch. We want to see how it ends. We love sitting in anticipation for the end when we know the prince or princess and his or her counterparts will finally be together and “live happily ever after.”

I think it’s something so deeply ingrained, so deeply rooted that there’s no getting it out of our system, even across different cultures. And I think we’re actually missing the point on why we like stories about a man rescuing a woman.

Why do I think that?

The Real Rescue

Well, I think it’s an ingrained depiction of Christ rescuing the His bride, the Church. As those of us familiar with Christianity know, throughout scripture, the Church, God’s people, is referred to in the feminine and He is referred to in the masculine. We, the Church, are referred to as the bride, and Christ as the Bridegroom.

As you get into the nitty-gritty of scripture, you find how truly awful the Israelites (and mankind) are toward the Lord and that, even so, He is always ready to swoop in and rescue them when they finally realize their need for Him, mixing “the miraculous with the natural, the near with the far, and the ordinary with the incomprehensible.”

And I think this prince-rescuing-princess romance is a reflection of that.

I’m not saying that women need men to save them. And I’m most definitely not saying women are all horrible toward their male counterparts.

What I am saying is that it seems as though the gospel somehow appears in verbal folktales. How amazing is that?


Grab Your Hot Cider For A Fun Read | [SNEAK PEAK and TONS of Great Summer Photos!]

I don’t know if you noticed it last Friday evening, but, with the blowing in of the northwesterly winds, summer is gone, and, friends, it’s fall. So, wrap your hands around of mug of hot apple cider, and read on.

Fall in the Midwest is one of my favorite times of the year. All of a sudden, the humidity is gone, the air is vibrant and clear, and, as if touched with the barest caress of sunlight, the maples start turning, beginning at the very tips of their leaves on the easterly side and fading gently, perfectly into the still-green portions of the trees.

sunset over lake

What I will miss from summer are the foggy drives into work, watching the sun rise over the tree-covered Ozark foothills, rays peeking through in dark blues and grays and in lighter colors—reds, purples, orange—above the low-hanging clouds.

What I look forward to are the effervescent colors of fall, Happy Apples, deer season, and later, the ice-encrusted trees and snow. Oh, how I love snow.  And how I love fall and winter clothes, the intimacy of warm homes, and people readying for the holidays.

But now, at the close of the summer, before the summer-ness dies off, I want to give you one last peek of my summer—some fun, and a project I’ve been working on that’s about ready to launch.

Let’s take a peek back through summer’s swiftly closing door.

Photo of yellow flowers

The New Addition

Piper. Piper is probably the biggest change that has happened this summer like I mentioned in another blog. One of these days I’ll get around to writing a post that is solely for her, so consider this a teaser.

Puppy leaning on stool

On Memorial Day our dog Nicki, at the age of 11 passed away. She was Aussie #2, and, 4 dead chickens (courtesy of a coon) and a month later, Mom and I drove to Kentucky to pick up Aussie #3.

Puppy between bushes
Piper at 8 weeks at the breeder’s home in Kentucky. Doesn’t she look innocent?

Holy Toledo, two minutes into the drive home, we thought we had picked up an entire pack of coyotes the way she was carrying on! And so, nameless-puppy as she was then, got what she wanted (out of the crate), and was daubed (among other things) “the banshee.” She has been a steamroller. Very stubborn, very smart, and incredibly full of personality, and exactly the opposite of Nicki. Where Nicki was scared of the A/C vents, Piper sleeps on them.

Puppy with ball

Where Nicki was easy to train because she was easy to intimidate if needed, Piper . . . oh Piper. Well, let’s just say that Piper does whatever it is she shouldn’t be doing even faster, and more calculated.

But as she grows and her brain starts to catch up with her teeth (the frantically biting teeth of a teething, hyper-hyper Aussie puppy), she seems to be turning out rather amazingly. I’m pretty sure that’s due to the dutiful training my cat, Elsie, has been painstakingly instilling in her since she came home. I’m not joking.

Dog and cat on the swing

Piper has even started sleeping on the porch chairs like Elsie, if that tells you anything.

Needless to say, our life has been much more interesting (and a lot more work). But more about that another time.

Dog in tunnel
My brother and crazy Piper goofing off in the tunnel.

The Best Friend

Ruth and Maddie
Aren’t these two ladies gorgeous?

Hurricane season blew my best friend to me. So, while many people were dealing with the destruction of Florence, I was blessed beyond measure to hang out with Ruth and her husband and their dog (and Piper’s new friend) Maddie at our farm.

Ruth and Ethan and Maddie

After months and months of trying to figure out how to see each other one more time this year, God provided a paid leave for Ruth due to the impending weather in Virginia, and she got to come to Missouri for about four days. Four days is never enough, but we’re so thankful. Moriah graced us with our “whenever-we-are-together” photoshoot, and she did an amazing job. (Remember, moving puppies, moving horses and general craziness.)

Selfie of me with the dogs in the back seat behind me
Driving the dogs to PetCo for puppy playtime!

Ruth and I . . . well, neither of us is very photogenic, and we’re both super awkward, so pictures are not a strong point for us. But Ruth always says, “We need to take pictures of us together!” and I am usually the one to make it happen even though, when we finally are together, it’s the last thing we want to do.

Ruth and Me with the Dogs

We also got to ride together which is special because that is was the original connecting point of our friendship.

Ruth and me with horses

The Project

Now for the real teaser: The Project. The project I’ve been working on slowly but surely for months.

It’s a book. And not a book by me.

[By the way, would you all be interested in a book written by me?]

This particular book is actually a second edition of a book my grandma wrote years ago. She had originally had it self-published and recently ran out of copies, so we revamped it, made it cool (very cool, with the help of Hannah Shockley and her cover design), and it’s about ready to be released.

Book cover
Cover art by Hannah Shockley

My wonderful grandma is not one for advertising, so here is a teaser of my own:

Are you looking for a practical guide on how to believe for your husband’s salvation?

Set Apart for the Kingdom: God’s Plan for Your Husband’s Salvation is a story of humility and God’s grace and miracles—and how you can apply God’s promises to your life through His Word. In short, it’s a dose of God’s Truth that can teach you how to pray and act in a Kingdom manner and, through trusting in the Lord and building your relationship with Him, win your husband for Christ. This truth can be applied in a much broader sense and I think it’s relevant to most relationships in general.

Real strength is walking in God’s way. – Connie Dailey

This book has been a pleasure to work on, and I can’t wait to release it. God will absolutely be using it to change lives.

I will let you know when it releases!

And with that, I shall close. How was your summer? What do you look forward to most in fall? Tell me your summer stories!

Books under futon
I hit up some book sales, and, well, long story short, they were basically free, so I HAD to bring them home . . . yes, they are stacked under my futon. But they are happy to have a home!

Bethany Swoboda is a freelance editor for Wordbender Books. She has always loved reading, reading, reading, and enjoys helping authors polish and develop their manuscripts. Some of her many hobbies are horseback riding, bouldering, helping work her family’s farm, playing piano, crocheting, and volunteering at her church. She has a BA in creative writing and a minor in professional writing from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Us girls holding the horses