• alyssaschwarzautho

I love family traditions—the way they link present and past and bring people together. These unique little traditions can be tied to birthdays, anniversaries, holidays… Maybe your family decorates the house a certain way for Christmas, or maybe there was that desert your aunt always makes for family get-togethers. Whatever it may be, it is the love behind these practices that makes them so special.

There is one such family tradition I look forward to every year, and it’s the Loveland, CO valentine re-mailing program. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember receiving a Valentine’s Day card from my grandma with the iconic Loveland stamp in the top corner. She’d pick out every card, address it, and drop the sealed envelopes in a red box at the grocery store. From there, they’d be taken back to Loveland in early February, stamped, and sent off from there.

Every year, I’d wait for that letter and marvel over the unique stamp and the poem chosen to go along with it. Most of the time, they were cheesy and cute, but that only made me love them all the more. To this day, my mom and I still wait until February to send our Valentine’s Day letters up to Loveland to share the new love-inspired stamps with the rest of the family.

Now, this tradition goes back much farther than my grandma. In 1947, Elmer Ivers, the Postmaster of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, received some interesting mail. Around February, he was sent a few dozen letters with a note to stamp them with Loveland’s postmark. Thinking it a grand idea, he rounded up the Loveland stamp club and began the letter re-mailing program, complete with its own cancellation stamp. Below is an example of one of the many poems that have been incorporated into the stamps over the decades:

Our sweetheart city has a magical way

To brighten up your valentine’s day

When you open your card it will reveal

The spirit of friendship and the love we all feel

After a shaky start, Elmer partnered with Ted Thompson, the owner of the Rialto Theater in town and the Chamber of Commerce, and they formally declared Loveland the Sweetheart City. Ted and his wife Mable, the real Sweetheart Couple of the city, breathed a new life into the program than had ever been seen. Now, over 75 years later, it’s as big an event as ever. Still going after all these years, the re-mailing program sees mail from over 110 countries (spanning from Denmark, to China, to Japan), employs 50 volunteers every year to sort and stamp all the letters, and there is even up to a ten-year wait-list to become a stamper.

So while I continue this tradition because of my grandma, I can feel a part of a larger tradition spanning the years of Colorado’s history. And thus, began the inspiration for my latest novella, Dear Beth, a sweet Valentine’s Day story set against the backdrop of this real-world Hallmark-ish Colorado town.

Dear Beth (A Prescott Family Romance, #0.5)

After finishing his veterinarian training, Tye Prescott is back in Colorado and ready to give his relationship with Beth another chance, only she's made it very clear she wants nothing to do with him.

Beth Walsh is a hopeless romantic, except when it comes to her own love life. In her opinion, love is best left to the storybooks. But when a few nosy octogenarians decide to play matchmaker, she grasps for the only excuse she can think of to avoid another set up.

Set against the backdrop of Loveland's historic Valentine's Day letter re-mailing program, Tye and Beth must work together to convince the town of their rekindled romance. But Tye has his own plans of winning back the woman who got away.

Might it finally be time for Beth to risk her heart again?

Available January 25th, 2022

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  • alyssaschwarzautho

Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered: How exactly did I get here? I know I have. No matter how much you plan, however many checklists and goal sheets you fill out, life seems to have a mind of its own.

When I was a kid, I would scour the house for all the half-empty notebooks and dream up poems and short stories that would never see the light of day. Words were my obsession, and I something inside of me urged me on, as if saying: Here is a passion I have given you. Cultivate it, for one day you will use it. Trust me.

Seven-year-old-me thought that meant I was supposed to go out and write the next best-selling book before I’d reached the second grade. So, like any reasonable person, I sought out my favorite foil-stamped notebook and got to work… An hour later… Nothing. No matter how much I stared at that page, the words wouldn’t come. But God, did You call me to do this? Did I hear You wrong?

Without any further strokes of genius, I set the notebook aside and went on with my life, assuming I had to find my true calling. When I was twelve, I went through that phase where every middle school girl wants to be a marine biologist. I thought it was a foolproof plan, aside from my innate fear of the ocean. But if that was where God wanted me, surely He’d make a way? But that wasn’t the plan either.

On and on this went, me trying to listen to God’s calling while trying to make my own plans. Marine biology turned into physical therapy, which shifted to physics. For each one, I laid out my checklists: degree + internship + job = happiness.

It was then, I felt that same stirring as when I was a kid, and I looked up to find the world of geology. For some unknown reason, the world of rocks, soil, and geological puzzles drew me like a moth to the flame. It had to be the hand of God, I thought to myself, right? And there, among the dirt and mountains, I felt like I had finally found my true calling. It all made sense. The creative brain God had given me came to life at the possibilities beneath our feet. My analytical side flourished while postulating scientific theories, and the writer inside me thrilled at the prospect of writing reports. This, finally, felt like the perfect fit. Confident I was on the same page as God, I planned out my path. First it was the undergrad followed by the Master’s degree, and then a job in the environmental industry stewarding this beautiful earth God had blessed us with.

What I’ve come to realize through all of this is that God’s greatest calling in our lives is to live within His presence. It is there, where we can hear and discern His voice, that He whispers to us words of life, direction, instruction, comfort… We get so caught up in making plans, that it’s all too easy to forget that it is not us who are in control.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

—Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

This is what the main characters in my debut novel are forced to learn. Losing her dream job what not what Abigail planned, and moving back home to a sleepy mountain town and renovating her great aunt’s antiques shop definitely was an unexpected detour.

But as she sifts through the attic and stumbles across another mystery, she quickly realizes God was in control all along: in the tragedy of her past, the circumstances that got her to where she is today, and the future to which it will lead.

A wave does not know on which shore it will break, neither can we see the entirety of God’s story. Like a complex tapestry, only the master weaver can see what the image will become. But we can trust He is there beside us, waiting for us to trust Him and take each next step in faith.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the river, they will not sweep over you.” —Isaiah 43: 1-2 (NIV)

Blurb for The Glass Cottage

Could a nineteenth-century diary be the answer to Abigail’s prayers?

Iris wanted nothing more than to live her own adventure. But on the tails of the Colorado gold rush, a certain discovery could upend her world before it’s even begun.

Over a hundred years later, Abigail Prescott returns to the sleepy mountain town she once called home to help her great Aunt Josie restore the old antique shop, The Glass Cottage. Looking for peace and God’s direction for her life, the last thing she expected to encounter was a ghost from her past—Benjamin Greene—her childhood best friend. The boy who got away. Is this just a coincidence, or could it be the start of something greater?

Together, Ben and Abigail work to fix up the shop and stumble upon an old journal. With more questions than answers, Abigail embarks on a journey of self-discovery to track down the mysterious Iris, but the truth is not always what it seems.

In this tale of friendship, love lost, and love found, Abigail must decide for herself: Is every story worth saving, and if so, at what cost?

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  • alyssaschwarzautho

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm so excited to be able to share with you all things bookish through my new website. If you are here, I assume you are an avid reader of books, just like me. You know the magic that lies behind ink-stained pages. You understand what it means to live a thousand lives without ever leaving your doorstep. Perhaps you've chased alongside Alice as she fell down the rabbit's hole, or followed in the company of some Austin heroine through ballrooms and English meadows. If this sounds like you, your ideal afternoon might include cozying up against a cushioned alcove, rain pattering on the windowpanes, warm cup of tea in hand, and a good book to cary you away to far-off places.

To all fellow book-lovers and literary travelers, welcome! I'm so glad you are here.

(Be sure to sign up for my Newsletter, Book Nook With a View, for more book-related news

and a couple free gifts!)

Cover Reveal

What is it about book covers that makes us stop along the isles of a bookstore or pause our scrolling through the library's online website? Everyone always says not to judge a book by its cover, but in all honesty, that's usually the first thing that catches my eye and draws me in enough to pick it up and read the back cover summary. I am a sucker for a good cover... the images, the colors—the promise of an exciting read.

I could go on about the books that lured me in with their magical wrappings, how I fell head-over-heels for those stories and the characters whose lives lit up the pages, but the list is too long to choose from.

Instead, I would like to share with you an exciting reveal. I've anxiously been waiting to post this particular image, so here goes!

Can you smell the Fall leaves and crisp mountain air? I imagine the stars twinkle bright here as the sun sets behind the periwinkle mountains, and alpine breezes whisper their time-held secrets through the aspens. Don't worry, I won't give away any spoilers!

(Click here to see some of the inspiration behind the characters and setting for this story on Pinterest.)

Q: What about a book cover inspires you to pick it up and read more? I'd love to hear your comments below.

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