Tag Archive | Prism Book Group

Spatzle Speaks: Root Beer & Roadblocks (Book Review)

My mom (Susan M. Baganz) writes books. In this one, she had a little boy and I love little kids so Root Beer & Roadblocks is a story I enjoyed. Johnny Marshall is a favorite character, but I was sad that at the end of Feta & Freeways, Johnny’s cancer had returned. I knew then that she would write Johnny’s story and make it a great one.

Johnny had a rough time because he endured a bout of cancer in his past and discovered the truth at the same time his wife served him divorce papers. He’d had his chance at fame as a musician and lost any chance to fulfill his dream of having children.

He sold his home and had moved in with his cousin. Partly because he didn’t see any point in keeping it when he figured he’d likely not survive this cancer battle. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to bother with pursuing treatment because he knew it would be brutal with no guarantee of a cure. He serves at church teaching little kids in Sunday school since he can’t have any of his own.

When he saves a little boy from being hit by a car after church, he gets injured instead. The crash reunites him with an old flame from high school. The one woman, Katie, he never really got over and she holds a secret, one that might give him the will to live.

Johnny is not a victim in this story although he suffers terribly. Matter of fact, in spite of his challenges he often emerges the unwitting hero. His journey and struggle seems hopeless at times, defeated by depression, illness, and cancer, he also finds that because of his struggles there are amazing blessings to be had on the other side as God opens the floodgates to fill his heart (and arms) with more than he could have hoped and dreamed for.

Johnny is still a musician and singer with Specific Gravity although they don’t tour in this book as they make time to allow Johnny the opportunity to fight this battle with his family, friends, and Orchard Hill church by his side. If you enjoyed Feta & Freeways you’ll enjoy the continuation of the relationship between Niko and his cousin Johnny in this story. While both books are connected they can be read as stand-alone novels.

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

I would suggest that Johnny and Katie get a dog, but given the end of this story, I suspect they’ll need a bigger home and some time to adjust to all their blessings. I’d offer to join them but I love my mommy too much and she needs me. They don’t call me a rescue dog for nothing. I give this book five bones, because I don’t have thumbs and don’t do stars. And I’ll give my mom lots of kisses as long as she keeps rubbing my tummy.

Spatzle Speaks: Baby Bunco (Book Review)

babybunco-300-w200-oJulie Cosgrove has emerged with book two of her Bunco Biddie’s cozy mystery series: Baby Bunco and it does not disappoint.

Living in a retirement community known as Sunset Acres, what could be more surprising than finding an abandoned baby in the bathtub of an empty condo?  But that’s exactly the kind of thing that sends Janie and her friends back into their mischievous sleuthing, much to the dismay of her son-in-law, a local detective.

When a woman is also found sliced apart behind a local convenience store the plot thickens and the Bunco Biddies are fresh on the scent to discover just who the baby belongs to, why it was abandoned and what a local maid service might have to do with it all. Of course, you’d think these women were more tenacious than bloodhounds when they get an idea in their heads. Personally I’m not fond of blood hounds but as a dog myself, I am aware that our sense of smell is strong…and in that way I can relate to these sweet ladies (even though Janie has a cat. I think I’d like to get to know her better because I think cats are fascinating).

If you want a lighthearted mystery filled with twists and turns as well as loaded with sweet relationships, then you’ll enjoy this book. I’m not much for hunting myself but any book that makes my mom slow down to read and snuggle with me is aces and that’s why I give this book five bones. Because I’m a dog and I don’t do stars and don’t have thumbs either.

5 bones for blog

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.

 

When a Rejection Bears Fruit

I started writing in 2009. One novel through National Novel Writing Month. Had fun. Kept writing, clueless about all I didn’t know about writing and publishing fiction.

logoIn 2012 I wrote a historical novella A Wisconsin Christmas Blessing. I submitted it to a company called Pelican Book Group who was putting together a Christmas collection of novellas. The submission process resulted in a request for the full manuscript. Naive me – I thought I had it made. I was going to be published.

Not so fast, Susan. 

I got a rejection letter from one of the editors. But I didn’t get just a rejection letter. I received a 1 1/2 page (when I printed it out) email. She said: “I would like to list the most common errors to point out some things  that might help you prepare your manuscript for re-submission.” Six specific areas of growth to be exact. SIX! Talk about humbling.

fragileblessings1-copyDetailed, informative and time-consuming. As disappointed as I was at the rejection, I felt honored at her willingness to help me, a novice writer, grow. I sent her a thank you note for all the time she took to write that email and help me.

prism-new-logoI sat on that story for a few years. Time can often equal growth and wisdom if we let it! After I became an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group another opportunity for a Christmas series of novellas arose so I rewrote my novella using all the tools that this fabulous and compassionate editor had given me. It was contracted, renamed and Fragile Blessings was published in 2015 to great reviews.

Now this is where it gets really weird. Prism Book Group was recently acquired by Pelican Book Group as one of their imprints. This also means that all my published works are now technically Pelican books (under the Prism Book Group imprint). So in essence, Pelican did end up publishing my novella! To be honest, the editor had given me an open door to resubmit that I had never taken her up on. God knew.

So now I will be part of a team of editors who I get to work with, one of whom was integral in helping me grow in my writing. Since that rejection, I’ve published two novellas, a collection of short stories, three novels (and a fourth coming soon) and have seven more books contracted. And another two with my agent.

Here are some of the lessons I learned that hopefully will help others: 

  1. Listen to the feedback you get from rejections. Not all of it will be right – but you can always learn something.
  2. Don’t give up. Maybe that story isn’t the one that’s going to sell, keep writing. Obviously, I didn’t stop at one novella given how many stories I’ve written. Write long, write short. Just don’t quit.
  3. Trust in God’s timing. My story wasn’t ready for publication in 2012 but after some conferences and growth and writing more stories in between, when I went back to that novella, I had better skills to apply to make it publishable.
  4. Don’t burn bridges. Can you imagine if I had sent a scathing note to that editor? She would have told her boss and do you think that woman would have been as eager to bring me on as an editor? It’s a small world in Christian publishing and while yes, we are commanded to forgive, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be trusted with the bigger tasks God might have in store with you down the line.
  5. Relish the new opportunities for growth. That editor is now someone who I’ll be working more closely with now with the books I edit and I hope and anticipate I’ll learn even more on my journey because I hope I never stop improving my stories or my editing for others.
  6. It’s okay to laugh. I am giggling at God’s path that led me here. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined this journey he’s had me on and the blessings of the people He’s brought in my path. Writing (and editing) is hard. Pouring your soul on paper is not without risk and life itself throws us curveballs all the time. I’m grateful for the people God’s placed in my life to help me get to those next steps.

I’ve kept that editor’s name private for now… she knows who she is and my hope is that you’ll treat every editor you meet, not as your enemy, but as someone who really can help you grow, even when you get a rejection letter.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Fragile Blessings tied for second place as an inspirational short at OKRWA International Digital Awards for 2016. Not too shabby for a story that was initially rejected, right?

How about you, if you write, do you have any stories of things you’ve learned through the “rejection” process?

Spatzle Speaks: Hoping for Joy (Book Review)

51sbsfx7llPrism Book Group has released another book in their “Love is…” series of romances based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Hoping for Joy by Penelope Marzec is about love always hoping.

Hannah isn’t your typical blushing bride-to-be. She’s beginning to wonder whether her fiance will ever marry her. He’s preoccupied with helping his father care for his niece, Joy and keeping Joy’s mother, his sister, out of jail as she repeatedly gets in trouble with her addictions.

While Hannah understands the challenges he’s facing, she’s feeling a tad neglected and as if she’s not important to him. He’s not even a believer.

Logan is overwhelmed with responsibilities and really doesn’t think of his fiancee all that much until she’s attacked and almost killed by his sister during a robbery. But how can he balance the needs of Hannah with those of a little girl, a lost sister and a father who’s health is failing. How can he salvage his relationship with Hannah in the midst of all that?

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.

This is a story of lost hopes and dreams giving birth to new ones and as a dog, I adore children so little Joy was my favorite part. That and she has the same name as someone in my house! A romantic suspense that will warm your heart. I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t do stars.

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Speaks: Cowboy Christmas Novellas (Book Reviews)

Prism Book Group is releasing several Christmas novellas about cowboys–just in time for the holidays! Since they all release today, I had no choice but to give them to you all in one post.

A Love Valley Christmas

Mary Ball has written a sweet story of love and faith with A Love Valley Christmas. Susie Aleman is a widow running a mercantile in Love Valley called Spurs. When she’s not working she’s raising her sixteen-year-old son, Zam. Life is comfortable with her work, friends, and faith. When newcomer Ty Porter strolls into her store Susie’s heart beats faster.

Ty’s not looking for a love connection. He’s made his mistakes in his past and faith isn’t something he understands. But it’s just possible that Christmas, a sweet woman, and her son might just hold the life he’s been searching for.

When Susie Aleman isn’t running Spurs, a mercantile in Love Valley, she’s raising her sixteen-year-old son, Zam. She’s content with life and relies on no one but God. Then Ty Porter moves to Love Valley and stampedes into her heart.

This isn’t your young love story – but is a sweet tale of reluctant love over the holiday season.

Crazy Woman Christmas

In Crazy Woman Christmas, author Renee Blare brings us a unique Christmas tale. Bianca Kolceski has made her share of mistakes and after running away from her parents in shame. Having turned her life around, she’s finally decided to return home to Texas for Christmas. A blizzard in Wyoming forces her off the road.

Devon Dawson doesn’t do Christmas as he grieves the loss of his parents. The cowboy is on his way home to hunker down during the storm when he spies a little car buried in the snow. Helping out Bianca he has no other option than to take her to his ranch.

Life is hard in the blizzard and two strangers with painful pasts learn about faith and love during the Christmas season.

 

 

Hats Off!

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Nancy Bolton has given us a wonderful story in Hats Off. This cover is different from the others because it is historical taking place in Oregon in the 1920’s. Kay, a widow, has moved there to be with her brother and his wife. She works making shirts and the lining for custom hats. She’d known love once but could there be a second chance for her?

Aaron is a quiet man who does his job but one night gets drunk and is discovered by Kay who gets her brother Philip to care for the man. He intrigues her in their fiew shy interactions. She steps out and tries new things including challenging the quiet man with his own dark past. Their brief interactions ignite sparks quickly.

Love bloom in the cold of winter as both learn that sometimes, hope at Christmas, is a powerful thing if one is willing to reach for it.

 

Hill Country Homecoming 

61-yqchy2zlJulie Cosgrove’s latest release is a Texas story that takes place in Hill Country Homecoming. Sarah Mansfield is used to living large on her daddy’s dime. The only reason she’s returning home to the ranch is for the annual holiday party and announce her engagement to a rich man, Trey Simpson. The down side is having to see her father’s ranch manager, Travis Wallace, a guy who she sees as a loser. As her dreams are about to come true a harsh reality snatches it all away as responsibility for the ranch falls to her.

Travis sees the beautiful Sarah as beautiful but impossible. But when push comes to shove her perseverance in learning the ranch business begins to earn his respect. As he answers questions about the true meaning of Christmas, he begins to wonder if Sarah might not be the girl for him after all. But only a miracle will convince him of that.

A Christmas love triangle filled with suspense, faith and love.

Mixed-Up Christmas

61fixigogxlDixie Jo Jarchow gives us a sweet tale in Mixed-Up Christmas. Mix Malone is done riding bulls. He’s broken too many bones, suffered too many head injuries to ride anymore in spite of the fame and fortune it has provided for him and his family. He pulls into town in the middle of a snow storm and stops at the Outlaw Cafe.

Blossom Deavers isn’t quite sure what to do with the beaten up cowboy who passes out in her empty cafe. When his family begins to threaten him as she simply befriends the cowboy and listens to his own dreams as hers are falling apart, she decides maybe it is time to move on. Christmas isn’t about dreams anyway, is it?

This is a story about broken dreams, broken families and the hope of Christmas and courage.

 

The Cowboy’s Miracle

61mwix1nxqlPenelope Marzec brings us The Cowboy’s Miracle. Rodeo star and veterinarian, Seth Holmes is running from men who are hunting him down, due to his father’s crimes. He searches for a home that might belong to grandparents he didn’t know he had but instead finds Gariella Cavallo.

Gabriella has been living on the farm of a woman who had been like a grandmother other and Seth threatens to upset the security of her future in raising alpacas, managing a greenhouse and carriage house that she rents out.

When someone targets the alpacas, Seth’s veterinarian skills come in handy. But can Seth penetrate the wall of fear around Gabriella’s heart while protecting her from those who are pursuing him?

Love, suspense, and alpacas. A great Christmas read.

If you like novellas with cowboys during the holidays, any and all of these novellas will fit the bill. I give each one five bones because I’m a dog, and that’s how I roll. 5 bones for blog

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.

 

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

Spatzle Speaks: A Haven in the Woods (Book Review)

a-haven-in-the-woodsNancy Bolton’s recent novella, A Haven in the Woods is another story as part of the Love is . . . series of novellas by Prism Book Group. Finally, a story that has a dog in it! I don’t mind the cat either. I’m particularly fond of cats but mom won’t let me have one because of something she calls allergies. Anyway, on to the book.

Ellen is our leading lady and she got herself in some trouble. An unexpected and unwanted pregnancy has led her to make a choice to hide away in the woods, give birth and then give the baby up for adoption.

Things don’t go as planned. Her isolation is destroyed by Robert who lives nearby and comes to her rescue. As her home falls apart and a terrible winter storm descends, he takes her and her cat into his home with him and his dog. The potential makings of a love story.

But Ellen isn’t in the mood to be loved or trust a man and she keeps Robert at arms length. He, however, falls for the unborn baby and tries everything he can to help Ellen as she nears delivery. I don’t want to give away the story but lets just say he really has to work for this and is an example of love that protects, no matter what.

I’ll give this story five bones. A dog, a cat and a baby? I love babies. And I’m a dog, I don’t give stars.

5 bones for blog

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.