Tag Archive | Lisa Lickel

Spatzle Speaks: Understory (Book Review)

51vvzd4ocslLisa Lickel has  written a multi-faceted story of love, history, intrigue, sex-trafficking, dysfunctional families, and racism. UnderStory takes place in about a week but is packed full of adventure and is almost impossible to adequately describe. It’s a book one needs to experience instead.

Lily suspects something is not right with the job her brother’s push for her to take a job. Fearing for her life and for the safety of her nephew, she escapes but soon ends up wandering through the north woods of Wisconsin in a blizzard.

Cam lives in his cabin with his dogs. He’s faced unjust accusations in the past and is now enjoying peace and quiet while writing a history of his parents. When he finds Lily buried in the snow in the understory of the forest, he does everything in his power to revive her.

That’s where the story starts but it is hard to know what else to describe because I don’t want to give away spoilers. I personally love any book that has dogs in it and Lickel has included two in this story. Unlikely love overcomes insurmountable odds as criminals abound as our hero and heroine discover the truth about all that is happening as well as the ugly secrets of their own pasts. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help see things in a different and better light and in spite of challenges love can grow.

This is different from anything else Lisa Lickel has written, and probably her best book to date. It is a story that will hang with you long after the final page. I give the book five bones, because I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

5 bones for blog

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Spatzle Speaks: Everything About You (Book Review)

EverythingAboutYou smallLisa Lickel tells wonderful stories and Everything About You is no exception. As part of the “Love is . . .” series by Prism Book Group this story illustrates the scripture “love is not proud.”

Shelly needs a movie set miracle but when the original star is unavailable and the clock is ticking, can the rough-edged farmer be transformed into a movie star in five days? Good looks only go so far. Can he master the accent needed? Who knew Wisconsin could be so back-woods?

Danny just needs the cash to expand his farm. He’s eager to please the spunky gal who’s pushing him right and left till he barely knows which way is up.

When Shelly’s old flame who had betrayed her horribly shows up on set everything is about to combust. Shelly has to abandon her own pride and depend on Danny. Will she lose her job? She’s already on her way to losing her heart. I like Danny. But I’m a dog  from Wisconsin so he’s my home-boy since I come from the western side of the state where this tale is set.

Daily vlogs give insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings and while it’s a whirlwind romance the reader comes to feel strongly for Danny and Shelly with their individual struggles. Maybe a down-home country boy from Wisconsin can be the key to a movie maker’s heart. The ending is sweet and worth the read. I love Lisa’s creativity in creating the story.

Pride, trust, humility and accepting people for who they are sharply contrast against one another in this sweet romance novella. I give it five bones. I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

 

5 bones for blog

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 2 of 4)

This is the second installment of answering questions from Facebook.

How is your writing different from others? What is it similar to?

I’m not trying to write like anyone else no matter how much I admire other writer’s style.

I’m a bit more honest in my writing about sexual tension while keeping my stories clean. I think in our culture the reality of sexual promiscuity and the fall-out of that is very real so trying to encourage purity in the midst of a culture that doesn’t value that, is a core part of my character’s struggle. I love romance, but I don’t want to downplay the very real physical attraction and desire that can be part of a relationship. I push the envelope while keeping it clean. My characters struggle with the temptation of desire but not always acting on it because of a higher principle of seeking to honor God.

When you have spare time (just kidding) who do you enjoy reading? Who’s your favorite author? What type of books do you like to read other than your own?

Sometimes I go back to previous books I’ve loved and enjoyed. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel, The O’Malley Series & Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson. The Discarded Heroes Series by Ronie Kendig. And then there are always new books coming out by authors I contract that I have the privilege to read first.

I have so many authors I enjoy for a variety of reasons, so it rather depends on my mood at the time, the reason I need to escape.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? 

Tough question. They are not usually based on specific people although sometimes a composite although not intentionally. I’m not really sure I know where they come from except for my God-given imagination.

Do you already know what the ending of your book will be when you start it or does it develop as you write?

I write “happily-ever-after” endings so that’s all I know when I begin. My guy and gal will be together, married, and happy by the end of the book. Some books they marry earlier on but that doesn’t mean they’ve hit the “happy” part until the end. It’s all about the journey to that destination, that happy moment in time.

What is a typical day like for you?

I have no “typical day” except that it starts early with a cup of chai, and often time with God, then at my computer, checking social media, writing or editing. When the Hobbits are in school, I have to stop to get them out the door and pick them up later. Right now it’s summer so they get up when they want to and harass me for food when they are hungry even though they are old enough to get their own food.

If you could spend a day with a character from your favorite novel, who would it be, and what would you do?

I spend weeks at a time with my characters. A writer friend told me that my relationship with my characters is unusual because to me there are so real. They are! I enjoy being with them.

Now if you were asking about another author’s work? Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders), possibly Darcy Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice) or Fanny (Mansfield Park). They would be fascinating to spend time with. I’m sure if I thought long enough I could come up with soooo many more!

Any other questions you have for me? Or do you have your own answer to any of the questions above? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 1 of 4)

I asked some of my Facebook friends to ask me questions . . . so the next few weeks, I’ll be answering!

Why romance fiction? How long have you had the passion to write?

I’ve always enjoyed sweet romances. In my late teens early twenties, I was enamored of Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney’s Regency romances. Clean stories without the explicit sex. I guess you could say I’m a romantic at heart and I long for that. My characters get the love and romance I don’t.

What made you choose writing? What keeps you writing? What motivates you?

I believe God led me to writing by telling me in a dream to do write for National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) in 2009. I think I had always been afraid to try and once I started the dam broke and I found out how much I love the process of writing a story. I haven’t stopped. Once the characters start forming in my mind and that first scene or general story concept and I start writing, I can’t stop until I’ve come to the end. It becomes like an obsession for me.

Which writers inspire you?

I admire the wit and whimsy of writers like Jen Turano, Mary Conneley and Karen Witemeyer, Brooke Williams, Sandi Bricker and Jan Thomson. I love the characters that Dee Henderson, DiAnne Mills, Ronie Kendig paint in her writing. Combined with suspense it is amazing. Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Loree Lough, and Lisa Lickel . . . I wish I could write like all of them, but I’ve had to learn that I have my style and I need to be okay with that.

How is fiction writing a reflection of your Christianity?

I love to encourage others. Jesus told parables and there is power in telling stories that can show the process of sanctification which I hope my characters will go through. I also believe we need to grow emotionally as well as spiritually. I hope I encourage others to persevere in their own journeys, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. And hopefully the reader will see biblical truths in a new light based on the journey of the characters to motivate them to persevere through the trials that come their way.

Pothole road damageWhat inspired the idea for this story?

For Pesto & Potholes I actually started with the concept of the potholes based on something I learned in my undergraduate studies. The idea that healing—whether emotional or physical—can be a rocky journey out of the pit and not necessarily an upward smooth trajectory. I labeled it potholes, my prof was a little surprised but to me, it stuck.

For the entire Orchard Hill series, for which Pesto & Potholes is the first book, I wanted to explore one of the things I didn’t understand early in my faith journey was why the church was so important. Especially when so many young adults walk away. Beyond worship and teaching, I realized it was about the relationships. While I agree that the theology of origins and understanding how science supports Scripture is important, but I believe the disenfranchisement of younger adults is deeper than that.

Peter Scazzero wrote a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and he posits that when we come to Christ we are born into a new family and need to learn the new rules. Not the “do’s and don’t’s” but how to relate to others in a way that honors God and His other image-bearers. Many times the way we’ve been raised has not been as healthy as the design God has for us in relationships. We are not mature if we only grow spiritually and not emotionally. So . . . I hope that my stories show the value and importance of the new “family” how valuable those relationships are for us to grow up in Christ as well as cope with the ups and downs of life.

More questions will be answered in the weeks to come. If you have some, please write them in the comments below!

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.

PestoandPotholes2

“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.

Sisterhood of World Bloggers

I would like to thank Sharon McGregor, for inviting me to join Sisterhood of The World Bloggers. It looks like a fun gig.
sisterhood
First, before I get started, here are the rules…

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions they’ve sent you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

If you could go back in your life and change one decision you made, what would it be?

There’s a temptation to  want to do this but the fact is there are many blessings that came out of what at times feel like poor choices. I try to comfort myself that I made the best choices I could at the time with the knowledge I had then. I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for those decisions and the consequences of them. Even bad decisions can lead to positive growth and God can use any of our past for His glory when we surrender it to Him. 
What is the most intriguing book you have ever read?

Well, the Bible would top that list for sure. I read a lot so trying to define the creme of the crop would be hard. When I was thirteen I read and reread S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Still compelling storytelling. i memorized Robert Frost’s poem Nothing Gold Can Stay because of that book.

For nonfiction: If I were to look at books I would want my kids to own: Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll, Liberated through Submission by P.B. Wilson and anything by A.W. Tozer. For 2015, the non-fiction book of the year for me was The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams.

For fiction: I love The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade and Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel flow off the top of my head as cherished novels I have read again and again. And anything by Georgette Heyer. I could make a much longer list but that’s a good start.

If you could pick one word to describe yourself what would it be? 

Encourager.

If you could time travel, what period  of history would you choose and why?

Probably the Regency period (1811-1820) I love reading books from that time and would find it fascinating to experience it. Only for a brief period though. Jane Austen had to write everything by hand!

Did you have a role model growing up and if so, what effect did he/she have on your life?

I didn’t have one role model. But I did have a few people who encouraged me in a huge way:

  •  My English and Speech teacher, Orin Mueller was so encouraging of my writing and speaking and finding creative ways to share my faith. That was huge.
  • Pastor Mark Steele was my “boss” for many years at Stonebridge Community Church in Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin. He taught me firsthand about the importance of accountability. I learned that one of the most caring questions someone can ask me is “How is your relationship with God?” Is it any wonder that my contemporary romance series is set in the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee, and revolve around a fictional church called Orchard Hill?

If you could plan a dream vacation, one that may seem out of reach, where would you go?

I would return to Great Britian and spend more time visitng and touring. I was there once on a mission trip and didn’t want to come home. I think now that I’m older I would appreciatet the history and sightseeing even more than I did the first time.

If you could choose any profession to follow, what would it be?

I never planned to be an author growing up even though my favorite thing is to read. Being an editor was even further off my radar. But I think that right now I’m where God wants me to be doing both, as well as speaking at conferences. I enjoy my work.

Pick a card, any card-greeting card that is. What is your favourite holiday?

Probably have to say Christmas . . . that’s when I’m most likely to make my own greeting cards. I used to do over 100 of them but with my life busier now, I’ve had to scale that back and don’t make or send out as many as I used to.

2013-02-12_18-35-21_990What is your favourite pet? Dog or cat? Gerbil or snake? Horse or hamster? Or none at all?

I had a dog when I was a child but we had to give it away because I had terrible asthma/allergy issues. Bingo (Babette Suzette) was a silver poodle. I always mourned the fact that I could never have a pet but we did adopt a silly Quaker parrot about 20 years ago. My husband spoiled him terribly and he’s a snotty brat now. Over time, although I still have asthma and allergies, I learned that some animals didn’t make me sick. Two years ago we adoped our Maltese mix from a rescue. Spatzle is now six and sassy and my shadow and while I’m not especially fond of standing outside with him when it is 10 below zero, so he can relieve himself, I do adore him and am so glad he’s part of my life.

What one thing would you like to see happen in 2015?

My novel, Pesto and Potholes releases March 25, 2015, and I’m thrilled and terrified. I’ve written many books and this is my debut novel, and I think of all I’ve written, this one has more of “me” in it than any other. I hope readers will fall in love with Renata and Tony and find inspiration for their own walk with God in the “potholes” of their own lives. While it would be nice to sell lots of books, I think the greater reward is knowing that something you wrote impacted someone in a positive way. Having someone draw closer to God, is the greater, if intangible, reward.

My ten questions: 

1.  It’s a new year. Do you make resolutions or do you do the ‘one word’ concept? Care to share what either of them are?

2. If you could revisit any time in history, here would you go? What is happening?

3. Favorite beverage?

4. What’s your favorite social media? Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or something else. Why?

5. What is your favorite day/time of the week and why?

6. If you listen to music as you write, what is it?

7. It’s time to celebrate your birthday, what do you plan?

8. What is your most important role in life?

9. Are you a Princess or a Tomboy?

10. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind with your writing?