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


For the Love of Jane Austen | Pride and Prejudice Book Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

 Oxford Illustrated edition of Jane Austen

Jane Austen tidbits are always treasures, as is this well-worn book and quote.

Pride and Prejudice has wound its way into the hearts of generation upon generation. We could talk all day on what makes a “classic” and what makes a classic attractive to so many people for over 200 years, but why should we do that when we already know and appreciate one such as this?

This is probably my third time through Pride and Prejudice. I started it during the winter this time, and read a chapter every now and then, savoring it whenever I had a little bit of time to relax and enjoy. I didn’t finish it until recently—mid August! But really, it was not a bad way to enjoy a book, especially one I was already familiar with. I always got really excited when I remembered that it was there, waiting for me to continue reading it.

With all the trashy pop culture books out there now, it’s so refreshing to sit down with a real piece of wholesome literature where the characters reap what they sow with their actions, learn from their mistakes, and . . . well, who doesn’t love a happy ending?

[Side note: one of my professors told the class, “happy endings are for children.” He might be right, but I am proud to say that I will always be a child in those standards.]

I love Lizzy Bennet. Of all the characters I have read, she is probably one of the most similar to my nature. I have some strong Katniss Everdeen traits and some very strong Professor McGonagall tendencies, but I feel like Lizzy encompasses my normal, everyday self. That sometimes quick tongue that gets her into trouble. Her love of subtly defying the norm. Her loyalty to her family.

How she loves to shock people like Lady Catherine.

Maybe I am none of these things and maybe I do none of these things. But I do think that there is much to learn from the situations Jane Austen wrote for Elizabeth to experience.

For instance, there are consequences to something small like when Elizabeth overhears Mr. Darcy call her “barely tolerable.” Elizabeth has to deal with her feelings after that, but at first she creates a prejudice about him that was certainly quite wrong. As her character grows and expands, she then has to deal with her own pride in knowing she was wrong—and wanting it to be so much different.

There are so many levels of “pride and prejudice” in this book. (Read it to find them!)

It makes for wonderful character development.

Are you looking for similar books? Jane Austen has a great selection including one of my personal favorites, Emma. Emma really eats the consequences of her actions!

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Villette are wonderful similar-genre options, too, but if your French isn’t up to par, you’ll miss out a bit on the dialogue unless you have a Norton’s copy or you keep Google translator handy.

Genre: British literature/historical fiction/satire/romance; adult, teen, preteen.

What is your favorite classic? Tell me! And tell me what has you so captivated by the characters and/or story.

Sunset over dark bean field

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.

Appreciate those Life-long Friends

Small girl holding a chicken
I love this picture because this is one of the few times I’ve seen Hannah happy about touching a critter. Most of her animal experience came from my family’s farm, and I’m afraid most of it has not been positive for her…


I have mentioned her before, but let me officially introduce you to my graphic designer, Hannah Shockley.

I mean, you do want to know where I got my amazing, gorgeous design and logo from, right?

Hannah Shockley has been a friend of mine since we were babies. Okay, “friend” might be stretching it a bit because we had one of those “love-hate/I don’t understand you but you’re in my life” friendships because we were so different. But we turned into decent adults and now we’re great friends! And I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have her in my life still. There’s something so incredible about having a friend for 27 years when you’re 27 years old.

Let that be a lesson to all of you youngsters: cherish the good, honest friendships you have now because years from now, you might still have them. I was the rough-and-tumble kid, and she was the quieter, more creative type who would watch me in horror. But, indeed, we survived childhood and are working hard for our own businesses, collaborating when we need to.

Wordbender's Beth Swoboda and Hannah Shockley as kids

Hannah is one of the most patient, kind people I know, and she will absolutely stretch herself to help out.

Wordbender Logo

A stack of business cards

Designing my brand was not an easy task. I know that, and I’m so thankful Hannah took the time to create exactly what I wanted—even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. I basically told her that three things are really important to me (a book, a pen, and a unicorn), and that I didn’t know how in the world she could combine all three while still giving me a snazzy, artistic, simple design.

To make it even more complicated, I really, really wanted it to look like those old medieval wooden tradesman signs.

You all have seen the result of Hannah’s hard work. My logo is exactly what I wanted. Exactly.

Wooden stamp of Wordbender's Logo

I talked about my logo quite a bit in Do Rabbits Lay Eggs? But here’s a brief explanation in case you missed it:

The Book

Classic book

I am a manuscript editor! Books are infinitely important to me and have been ever since I learned to read when I was three. Growing up, I always thought it would be the coolest thing to “get paid to read.” And, well, now I’m living the dream! Someday, I will also have a library in my house. I hope.

The Pen

Pen by Wordbender

Pens are for writing, for creating worlds, stories, characters, for orchestrating thoughts, narratives, and painting pictures with clarity for the mind’s eye. The pen is the basic element of writing.

Besides, quill pens are just neat.

The Unicorn

Silhouette of Wordbender and her horse
My Unicorn – Photo Credit: Luke Swoboda

Fiction. I love fiction. For me, the unicorn symbolizes a more magical touch while incorporating my other passion: horses.

I’ve been riding since I was four or five, and once I started, I never stopped.

Now try to make all of that simple! Somehow, Hannah did it. And I am forever (happily) in her debt.

Hannah and I have a story. When we were about five, my mother saddled up our horse Cocoa and gave us pony rides one day. She set both of us in the saddle and started walking us around. Well, I guess Cocoa got an itch or something, but she shook, like horses do, and the saddle went from being right-side up to upside down! Instead of falling off, Hannah and I clung to that saddle on the underbelly of the horse. I’m pretty sure we squealed something awful, but that horse just stood there until Mom could help us off. I don’t think Hannah has been on a horse since.

Designed by Hannah Shockley

Hannah has been interested in photography and graphic design for as long as I remember. When we were teenagers, her camera was one of her most beloved possessions. And I remember her talent even then. As the years passed, graphic design came more to the forefront for her job.

Well, then she went and got married to a wonderful man we’ve known from church for ages, and now they have a beautiful, blue-eyed, redhead daughter. Recently, now that Penny is a little older, Hannah decided to start expanding her graphic design business, and I’m thrilled to have been one of her first new customers!

She is currently working on business pages, which I’ll update here and on my Credits page when those are ready. For now you can reach her by emailing

Hannah and her husband, CJ, live at the Lake of the Ozarks where CJ is a real estate professional. CJ and Hannah team up to improve houses and resell them.

Hannah is starting to incorporate her photography skills into the realm of real estate.

I just asked her to work on another project that I can’t wait to share with you all! It might be a while still, but I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Designed by Hannah family photo
CJ, Hannah, and Penny Shockley

For all of your graphic design needs:

Hannah’s email:

Real Estate:

Find CJ on Facebook or call at 636-744-2450


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.

Ride the Range with an Old Cowboy

Louis L'Amour Books stacked by Wordbender Editing

I have a confession.

Please don’t judge.

Well, you can if you want, as long as you promise to laugh and wonder what took me so long and not be horrified.

I’ve been listening to Louis L’Amour books, and I might be really into them.

My dad had told me to pick them up when I was a preteen because I was always running out of books to read and there are so, so many. But when I did, they didn’t really interest me. Even with all the amazing horseflesh appearances in them.

So what changed? I’m not sure, but I think it’s the gravelly cowboy voices used in the audio versions. I mean, they’re pretty compelling. As I listen I envision myself sitting at a campfire with the spring peepers and whippoorwills chiming in to the old cowboy’s tale. Every now and then a wolf will howl and a horse will shift in the background. But all through the cowboy’s story, the ebb and flow of his narrative grips my attention, my hands under my chin, elbows on my knees as I lean forward in anticipation.

I’ve always loved frontier-type stories. I love stories of survival, homesteading, and ranch riding, so why wouldn’t I enjoy these? Those Sackett boys are especially fun to read about, and I’m thinking seriously about naming a horse “Sackett.” It would be a good name for a cow horse.

My favorite story is probably The Sacket Brand. In no book have I ever read the equivalent to the male-emotion expressed in this story. When Tell Sackett’s wife Ange dies, the desperation that follows to find the man responsible, all the way to the gunfight at the end that brings all the Sacketts in the country to his aid, is like none I have ever read.

What I’ve really enjoyed, though, is how well L’Amour writes about horses. One can only write about horses like that if one truly understands the mind of a horse and how to partner with him.

b/w photo of Horse and shadow with rider | Wordbender Editing

But could someone please tell me what his thing is about line-back duns being the best cow horses?

Genre: Western/Historical Adventure, Adult and Young Adult

Missouri Wild Grasses with clouds in background by Wordbender Editing

Next week, I am going to introduce you all to my friend and graphic designer, Hannah Shockley. Hannah and I grew up together, and I have some pretty great content to share. Maybe even a picture or two of us as kids. Make sure you click “Follow” on my blog so you don’t miss it!


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.

Another Lame Mid-summer Blog Post (But with great pictures!)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Can you believe it’s the end of July already? I mean, how does that even happen? It’s the beginning of June, and then wham! it’s the end of July, and all of a sudden we’re looking at fall and the start of the school term. Not that I’m in school. I wish I were. I love school. Someday I’ll go back for my master’s in I don’t know what!

But two of my siblings go back to school. Which is sad. Also, I had a friend here for a week and now she’s gone.

And somehow my summer has slipped almost all the way away without my even entering in one horse show. I’m still not entered in one. But I hope to.

And have I told you how fat my mare is? My farrier asked me if she was 7 months pregnant. Sigh. My summer has been way too busy.

Would you like to know what I’ve been up to? Especially since I’ve only posted lame blogs like book reviews and other people’s blogs lately? My apologies, for this is, indeed, another lame blog.

One of these days I’ll get back to the sequel of “What to Do with your Edited Manuscript.” I know you’re waiting for it. Trust me: I am, too.

Back to my fat mare. This is what happens when you don’t have an arena, and it’s been either 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside or it has just rained two inches. Goodbye June. No riding, no giving riding lessons.

As for July, well, I had the honor of being a camp counselor for Newday Midwest for a week! Except for the most itchy, painful chiggers I have ever had, the week was great! I got to lead a wonderful group of teenage girls and see Jesus impact their hearts.

Also, I’m in love with cypress trees. They were everywhere at camp.

Cypress tree in lake

Cypress trees at the edge of the lake

During my time away as a camp counselor, my Colorado friend A.R. Geiger and the author of The Birdwoman and now her new book Of Mice and Fairies used my room so she could attend Realm Makers here in St. Louis. The following week, when I got back we explored some of Missouri’s Missouri-ness that she wanted to experience. Her top three things she wanted to do were visit the zoo, canoe on a river, and see a cave.

Flamingos in the water at the St. Louis Zoo     Giraffe at the St. Louis Zoo

River with trees hanging over it.
Bourbeuse River, Union, MO.
Lily pad room
Onondaga Cave

We also went to a local spring to see the fairies. They were shy, though.

Spring with greenery beneath water level.

Spring peeking from behind pawpaw tree.

She loved them all.

I think Missouri is such a neat state. I love it here. But I don’t think I won her over for moving here. I tried. But I think she said something about the humidity. I’m not sure. I didn’t really understand.

In my free time, which I haven’t had, I’ve been training myself on Scrivener for a book I’m working on for my wonderful, sweet, fun-loving, Jesus-loving grandmother. I’ll post about the book once it’s complete. I’m really excited about it.

I’ve only ever really used Microsoft Word for word processing, so Scrivener is quite a learning curve. I am appreciating the immense capabilities. It is quite powerful, and I can’t wait to fully understand the software. But for now, I’m learning. Slowly. Very slowly.

Do you use Scrivener? Do you love it? Please give me any advice you have in the comments!

Scrivener icon

My family got a new puppy this summer since our old infamous but wonderful Nicki passed away. Our new puppy’s name is Piper. However, she has already earned two nicknames even though she’s barely 12 weeks old. Do you want to know them?

Tornado Puppy.


Can you imagine why?

She looks cute. I tell myself she will be cute.


Puppy on sleeping bag
This is Piper after I got back from camp. She’s lying on my shirt. I think she missed me.

Currently, I’m getting ready to leave for one of two baby showers for friends this weekend. And I just cleaned my place for a housewarming. No, not my own housewarming. I’m currently living in the upstairs of my sister and brother-in-law’s new place. I moved in about a month ago. And moved twice in the last four months. That’s two times too many!

I am so very grateful for finally having a semi-permanent place to relax, though. It’s been a long time coming. My plants are in place, and more importantly, my books are in place (though many line the floorboards).

Books lining the floor

My plans for the future include getting a female betta and naming her Antigone to accentuate my living space with a live animal. I currently only have my sweet plush Tric and Steggy. They like to cause a moderate amount of trouble, but I think they’ll like Antigone even though she’ll have to keep them in line.

Tric and Steggy

My last betta’s name was Electra and I had her for several years. Naming fish after Greek heroes helps them live longer (it’s true!).

I believe this weekend is the end of summer craziness for me. While it’s been fun, I’m definitely ready to take a break! The weather is supposed to be much nicer from here on out, so hopefully I’ll get to spend some time in my new saddle that I just bought yesterday. It’s an old HR that’s been well-used and well-loved, and I’m thrilled to have it after using a Wintec for the last ten years. I haven’t gotten it all fitted and cleaned up yet, but take a look at that breastcollar I bought to go with it. 12 gauge caps instead of bling!?

HR brand saddle owned by Wordbender Editing

The Wintec finally bit the dust with a broken tree about two months ago, and I’ve been trail riding in my English saddle that barely fits my fat, fat mare right now. She’s so fat that bareback is hardly an option. That Wintec will be officially retired unless it is needed for swimming the horses. Which my mare loves so much that she tried to convince Abby it was a good idea. Abby got a little wetter than she was anticipating, I think.

Woman on horse in lake.

While Abby was here my parents were in Alaska taking a long-deserved cruise. During that time, I made sure to be at the farm to help check on the critters when my siblings weren’t there. On one hand, there’s Tornado Puppy and the desperate need for rain. But on the other hand? Sunsets.

Sunset at the farm

Time at the farm is never time wasted.

How has your summer been?

Creek with birch tree hanging over it and a fallen log over it.


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.