The Last Princess of Meigan

Rachel James hit one out of the ballpark with her debut novel, The Forgotten Princess of Emetia. But she follows up with a unique and wonderful sequel in The Lalast Princessst Princess Meigen.

Princess Alena is a widow with a young son living at the mercy of her tyrannical father-in-law, the King of Meigen. Much to her chagrin she’s been offered as the price of an alliance with another kingdom. She departs, leaving her son behind. Escorted by Ryce the Warrior and Sherwin, a handsome physician, she finds herself developing an affinity for the medical man.  As they journey to Elmetia to meet the king and encounter various trials there, Alena finds herself in love with Sherwin even though she’s duty bound to marry the king. Can she obey the order of her father-in-law and risk the dangers of such an action to follow her heart?

Much like J.R.R. Tolkien, James takes the reader to another time and place with a medieval bent except that Ms. James takes us to real-time and place in the early 600’s AD of Britannia. She accomplishes her magic without elves, wizards, dwarves or mystical creatures. With intense research to give her story authenticity she takes what little is known from that time and tells a fictional tale of romance and adventure to please any lover of the genre. Another wonderful story by a fabulous author.



Buon Appetito!

This past week I had the blessing to be at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference Write his Answer at Estes Park, Colorado. Twice some friends took me out to eat.

IMG_20150515_200630 (1)The first night we went to this cute Italian restaurant not far from the gates of the YMCA of the Rockies were we were meeting. It looks small but much like the Tardis – it is bigger on the inside. Also wallpapered in $1 bills! The Dunraven Inn was a delightful place and our waiter, Colin was sweet and funny. The manager wouldn’t admit to the job until we told him we liked our meal. My friends told him about my book and I explained that my main man was an Italian chef.

The manager escorted us into the kitchen to meet their Italian cook.

The poor guy posed for a photo at his managers insistance and we all had fun. IMG_20150516_185035680 (1)

So here is a photo of Chef Marty. Oh, and his pesto was wonderful!
The next night we went out to eat at Ed’s Cantina in Estes Park. My friends asked if they had pesto on the menu. At a Mexican restaurant? Sure enough, they did! We asked if we could take a photo of the chef and the hostess graciously brought out Chef Jose to our table so we could take a picture. Isn’t this great? A little Fonzi pose for the writer from Wisconsin!

I didn’t eat pesto there, but did enjoy mymeal of bison enchiladas. Yummy!

If you check out this contest page where my friend suggested that I run a contest were you get the chance to do what we did. Eat great food. Have some laughs and snap a photo of these chefs who work hard in hot kitchens preparing food for others and sometimes with little fanfare. So go check it out and have some fun going out to eat great food and celebrate the men (and or women) who prepare it for us!  There is an option for those who prefer to cook at home.

Buon Appetito! 


From the Start (Book Review)

from the startMelissa Tagg has scored a field goal with her newest offering, From the Start.

Kate Walker may write romantic screenplays but a broken heart in her past leads her to believe that happily-ever-after is a dream she’ll never achieve. When her career hits the skids she runs back to her hometown of Maple Valley to help out with the aftermath of a tornado.

Colton Greene managed to sideline his own rising star on the football field with one disasterous play leaving him physically unable to return to the game that made him a star. He’s haunted by flashbacks he can’t understand as he tries to work with Kate to write his autobiography. Maple Valley becomes a safe place to heal and sort out his next steps in life.

Neither Kate or Colton were looking for love and direction for their lives and Maple Valley is the flash point for a budding friendship and romance. With starts and stops, working together and time apart, they realize the depth of their love. It’s happily-ever-after you’ll enjoy reading.

Interview with Author DiAn Gates

diane gatesToday I welcome author DiAn Gates to my blog!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to?

I won a church sponsored writing contest at age thirteen, with an article entitled The Basis of a Great Nation is the Christian Home. The original copy is sequestered in my cedar chest and I cringe at the grammar and punctuation each time I come across this tattered piece of paper.

As a young mother I was horrified at children’s color books, so I created my own. And sold copies of my color book babies as I freelanced art shows in the deep south and at Sea World Orlando.

Those color book characters became part of a four book devotional series, The Master’s Plan, I wrote and illustrated to help parents teach their kiddos the Bible. You can’t teach what you don’t know and many parents have a limited knowledge of the Bible and the task seems overwhelming. So it’s easier to ignore and pretend, rather than face questions from a child you can’t answer.

What’s your pet peeve?

I belong to an edit group known as the Literati in North Texas Christian Writers circles. We’ve been together five or six years and I’m the ing, it, was, that, then, and ly Policewoman. We concentrate on writing tight. Our group of seven serious writers spare no feelings when editing one another’s work. And I am grateful for this group who’s become like family.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

Without a doubt, late last year when I received my first contract from Prism Book Group. My computer skills rank toward the low end of the techie scale, so when I had to email Jacqui Hopper and tell her “The computer ate my contract,”  embarrassed would have been a spot-on assessment. Yep, clicked back to print the contract to sign and return, and the sucker had vanished. Vacated. Vaporized. Humiliated would have been another good description, but thank the good Lord, Jacqui has a sense of humor, together with a large portion of the gift of mercy.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Technology. This old gal learned to type on a manual typewriter. You know where the words zipped from your brain to your finger tips and magically appeared on the page. No programs. No delete buttons. No crashes. I detest machines that are smarter than me.

How do  you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Doing better in that department. The first time the Master’s Plan was rejected I cried for a week, knowing they hated my kids, my husband, and the dog too. Now a small cellophane pack of Kleenex will see me through the current recovery process.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Two or three years ago The PageMasters, a group of homeschooled teens, held their first meeting. Since that time all have become award winning writers within North Texas Christian Writers, and two have won national awards within the home school  scholastic organization. These committed teens meet twice a month to edit, encourage and inspire each other. And one of my teens has just contracted for his third article to be published by Encounter Magazine. Can you tell I’m very proud of these talented kiddos?

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

Just three? Oh my!

  • Find and become part of an active, inspiring edit group. Bring your Kleenex and hang in there—there is no perfect manuscript. You will have edits. Lots of them. In red. And they will hurt. Get over it and write some more.
  • Do not let the evil one shame you into a funk of discouragement where you throw your manuscripts in a drawer and let them languish there for years.
  • Never, never, never give up. Writers don’t get published because they quit too soon. If God has called you to write—you must write. Leave the consequences to Him. I’m living proof of the validity of this counsel.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

An encourager. That first draft is such fun. Ideas swirl and fingers fly over the keyboard and fill the pages. Then the work begins—shaping, slicing, and molding creative stories into a marketable book. And many writers are lost in the crevices of despair and disappointment. If I can encourage one person to use the gifts God has picked especially for them, I’ll have served my purpose as a tool in His hands.

What is your current work in progress?

My first YA novel will be released in August. Roped is the first book in this Texas Rodeo series. Two teens are trapped in a generational tug-a-war that explodes into a desperate scandal which will change both girls and their families forever. Crissy Crosby and her family have a heritage of faith in God for generations past. Jodie Lea Fairgate and her family’s heritage is spelled M-O-N-E-Y. And lots of it.

With Rodeo as the branding iron stoking the fire of competition between the girls, Rodeo also snatches the lid of secrecy off the generational sins of the fathers.

I’m half-way through the sequel Twisted, as this boiling gene pool reveals twisted secrets, hidden for generations, secrets threatening lives and destroying dreams of all herded into this canyon of  lies. Who will survive? And what will become of those caught in the sins of the fathers? I don’t know…the girls haven’t told me yet.

But, we’ve agreed it will take a third book to complete their stories.


Texas writer, DiAne Gates, illustrates and writes fiction for children, YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the Church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order as evidenced by her blog Moving the Ancient Boundaries,

Under contract with Prism Book Group for her YA novel Roped, DiAne reported and worked as a photographer for the East Texas Youth Rodeo Association. She had the opportunity to be in the rodeo arena, feel the sting of Texas turf in her face and across her camera lens, which gave birth to this western rodeo adventure series. The sequel Twisted is almost finished, and the third story still spins in her head.

DiAne leads two edit groups for North Texas Christian Writers—LifeSavers for adults, and the award winning teen group, The PageMasters. She facilitates GriefShare, an international support ministry for those who’ve lost loved ones.

Wife, mother, and grandmother, whose passion is to share those hard life lessons God taught her. Lessons that will leap from the page into your heart and play out in family relationships.

DiAne Gates, FB Author page Moving the Ancient Boundaries



The Rocky Journey to Publication

gazebo with titleI was thinking about the journey for my novel Pesto and Potholes. I wrote it on a whim and in under a month. The ninjas appeared because a friend on Facebook challenged me to put ninjas in. I took up the gauntlet and they provided a wonderful comic relief as well as a way to highlight my female protagonist’s character.

A few years ago I attended my first ever writer’s conference. I had the first chapter critiqued as well as my synopsis. Ann Tatlock was so gracious to me with her time and feedback.

As a result I pretty much rewrote the entire first chapter.

I met with an agent at that conference. My first ever pitch session. She prayed with me and was so encouraging. She liked my novel but didn’t want to take me on as a client and referred me to another agent at organization they both worked for because she thought it was more in line with what that agent preferred. Wrong. That agent thought my dialogue was stilted. Hmmm. That is so vague I’m still not sure what it means.

So I revised my novel, again, and sat on it and tried to work on some of my other projects. It probably would have sat there forever except my friend, Cherie Burbach kept telling me how much she loved the title and that I should pursue it. And a mentor, Lisa Lickel kept reminding me that an author can’t sit on a novel forever, waiting for it to be perfect. At some point it has to be submitted. Again.

It takes a village.

I finally obtained a literary agent, but she didn’t want contemporary romance. She’s working to sell my historicals.

I began working for a small press, Prism Book Group and helping other authors make their dreams come true. I submitted my story to another editor with our publishing house. Because I was her editor for her novels she didn’t feel comfortable editing mine. I get that. But my Editor-in-chief decided to take a look, because like me, she likes to make dreams come true. She loved the story.

Pesto 3D-Book-TemplateShe wanted to know if Antonio was real so she could perhaps introduce him to someone she knows. I wish!

There were many rounds of edits with my editor, Carolyn Boyles who made me laugh every time.. We reworked a book cover. There were copy edits, line edits, and proofreading. Ups and downs until voila! I have a novel thrust into the world.

Some liken writing a book to giving birth. A five year pregnancy? Ouch! And a novel is born. No need for it to learn to walk, only for me to encourage others to pick it up and read it and write a review and tell their friends about it.

My brother asked me last year what success would look like for my book.

The materialistic answer would be to sell a minimum of 5,000 copies. More if it’s a “best-seller.” And maybe the financial windfall that could accompany that.

But I want to impact hearts and change lives. Encourage those struggling in their faith.

I can’t measure that.

It’s really not much different than my hopes and prayers for my children as they grow. Sure I would love them to be financially secure and professionally successful. More than that I would hope they would honor God with their lives and He would be able to use them for His glory and purpose in this hurting world.

So as a child, Pesto and Potholes is already doing that and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I’m grateful to the rejections that helped me get there. And that whatever I make on this book I don’t have to share with my agent…

Pesto and Potholes is Finally Here!

Hey, today is the big day. Release day. My debut novel, Pesto and Potholes is finally here. So indulge me in this moment of self-promotion.

Renata tries to escape her past and runs straight into . . . love.

Renata Blake has moved to the Milwaukee area to leave behind a painful past as a victim of abuse. She discovers a family like she’s never had before, at Orchard Hill Church and is drawn to handsome Packer fanatic, Antonio. After all she’s suffered through, could she ever trust a man again?

Antonio DeLuca has a full life with his family, church and his job as chef and manager at DeLuca’s Cucina. Having been betrayed in love, he is afraid to trust a woman again. How would he fit her into his already full life anyway?

As circumstances draw them together and attempt to tear them apart, life becomes a combination of savory pesto and painful potholes as both Tony and Renata learn that with God’s help, and the support of a faith community, they can both learn to love again.

And maybe fight a few ninjas along the way.


“In this dynamic novel, talented author Susan Baganz takes readers on a roller-coaster of events and emotions to remind us that even when life seems off-track, God rides beside us and promises “Have faith, child; you are safe in my care.” Reserve space on your Keepers shelf for PESTO AND POTHOLES!”  Loree Lough, award-winning author of 104 books, including reader favorite SAVING ALYSSA [#3 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “A Child to Love” series], and FOR LOVE OF ELI, winner Readers Choice Best Short Contemporary award [Abingdon’s “Quilts of Love” series.]

“Poignant romance of two lost souls learning about the things that go wrong, humanity’s fault lines and how to grow and love again despite the potholes that inevitably crop up. Baganz manages to throw some laughter and joy into desperate situations in this debut novel. Read Pesto and Potholes for a crazy adventure that makes Italian food with a side of Ninja warriors seem natural.” Lisa Lickel, multi-published author of several novels including HEALING GRACE and THE LAST DETAIL.

Nobody Knows Me Like Him–My Re-birthday

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Today I celebrate.

I’ve walked with God now for thirty-four years of my life. More than twice the amount of years I had lived seeking a relationship with a distant deity.

My early childhood journals include many musings about God and a desire to be close to Him. I believed He was distant. Unreachable. Unknowable. Bigger. Powerful. Beyond me.

I was small. Insignificant.

I’m a different person now than I was then.

I’ve experienced many highs and lows of life. Yet sometimes I still feel alone. The first Scripture I ever memorized was

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” 

James 4:8 (NASB)

I’m hitting a milestone birthday this summer and have no idea how to celebrate that. I never really know how to celebrate this “re-birth” day either. except to remember. To reflect. To be grateful that God saw me as important enough to draw to Himself and love.

This is an old song. But it still rings true. All the years. All the relationships. My journal contains words expressing my continual seeking to draw near to the only One who I could trust to hold my heart.

Nobody Knows Me Like You (Benny Hester)

In the beginning I never knew
Just how much I really needed You
More than a friend, someone I could talk to
You’ve changed me in so many ways.

Nobody knows me like You
You put Your arms around me
You bring me through
And there’s many times I don’t know what to do
Though some know me well
Still nobody knows me like You

All of my secrets to You I tell
You saw each time that I slipped and fell
And all of my faults yes, You know them well
But You’ve never turned me away, no, no, no

Walkin’ in your presence is where I wanna be
You said in Your Word, You said that You would lead me
Yes I love You, oh, I really love You
I’II go anywhere
As long as I know you’ll be there

All of those nights that I was afraid
I stood on the promises You have made
The way that I act sometimes l am ashamed
But You’ve never turned me away, no, no, no