Tag Archive | Susan M Baganz

Spatzle Speaks: Bratwurst & Bridges (Book Review)

My mom loves to write books and she write the rough draft of this one two years ago. She even asked for prayer for when she wrote it. I had to bark to get her attention so make sure I could get outside. Bratwurst & Bridges was a consuming story.

What surprises me is how much of my mom is in this story – her heart. I don’t think she even realized just how much of her is in there. But as her dog, I know.

Pastor Dan’s wife died, and along with losing his best friend, and partner in life, he lost his chance to be a father. His wife had and he had lost several babies due to miscarriages and they had just begun to consider adoption. But now she was gone. A year later, he still grieved but had buried himself in ministry. Finally his boss, Senior Pastor Andrew, forced Dan on a leave of absence to get help and focus on his grief.

It’s not easy for a helper to get help. It takes courage. Could Dan do this? Or would he quit and walk away from ministry?

He’d sold his house and associated memories and moved into a new apartment. A single mom with two rambunctious children lives across the hall. Skye knows about God but doesn’t believe He would be interested in her, but since the handsome pastor has moved across the hall, she finds that her art has changed and she starts to ask him questions.

Zumba, skiing and true love? Can a single mom help a grieving pastor heal? Guess you’ll have to read it to find out! I give it five bones because it’s an awesome story and the way she weaves grief and new life and love together is wonderful. Not that I’m biased because the author is my mom…

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

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What’s With Your Crazy Titles?

I am often asked why the books in my Orchard Hill series are titled so oddly. It’s a great question! Figured this was a good time to answer it.

PestoandPotholes2I wrote a book and titled it Pesto & Potholes because it was a metaphor for the journey my character was going to take. The pothole was her emotional pain from an abusive past. Getting out is a rocky process but takes help. The pesto was because Tony was an Italian chef and that is a favorite sauce in our home. So a savory and sweet romance was born. The ninjas were added because someone challenged me to put them in so, I did!

SalsaandSpeedbumps copy (2)Then a Facebook friend suggested my next book be called Salsa & Speed Bumps. I figured “Why not?” Challenge accepted. I took Renata’s roommate from Pesto & Potholes and gave her a bumpy journey with an unexpected pregnancy due to date rape and the challenge ripple effects of that. Even the unfair judgments of those in her church toward her and her new boyfriend, Roberto, became speed bumps on their way to happiness. Robbie, my Hispanic hero added some spice to the story.

FetaandFreewaysCover copyThe challenge was on to continue with a food theme combined with some road-related term. Book three became Feta & Freeways. I wanted to write a story based on a band I’m a fan of, Burlap to Cashmere. I was inspired by their journey. Since the band has Greek roots, I gave that to my character, Nikolos. Burlap to Cashmere is based out in the New York area – but my guys are from Wisconsin. Freeways – they take a journey – emotionally and spiritually as the band travels around the United States.

Not all titles will continue to be ethnically related, however. Johnny is Niko’s cousin and bandmate in Feta & Freeways. Book four is Root Beer & Roadblocks, due to release February 2017. Sprecher root beer is made in Wisconsin and features in the story. While Johnny is Greek, Katie is Irish in her background. I went with a more American theme. Johnny faces several roadblocks to his happiness.

Up after that will be Pastor Dan Wink’s story. He has a Germanic heritage and since Bratwurst is a Wisconsin specialty, that book is called Bratwurst & Bridges. He becomes the bridge to help his neighbor, Skye (Irish) come to know Christ as she becomes the bridge that brings him back to life from his complicated grief.

Book number six is Donuts & Detours. No ethnicity at all. She’s a baker and he’s a mechanic/tow-truck driver and there are a few detours on their way to their happily-ever-after, including a hidden identity. But we all keep secrets, don’t we?

I hope to write Truffles & Traffic this November, because someone has begged for me to have a title with truffles in it! I guess those will have to be a part of any party or giveaway for that book! The basis of the story is based on a real-life romance I watched happen eons ago. Names and careers are changed to protect the lovebirds.

Food continues to play a role in all the stories as does the ongoing challenge to use road terms for metaphors for the journey my characters take. 

I’m open to suggestions for future titles. Since this series takes place in the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, only traffic or food that can be found there can apply.

Here are some possibilities – so feel free to weigh in on what you, as a reader, would like to see next:

Cream Puffs & Crossroads (cream puffs are a Wisconsin State Fair specialty!)

Ramen & Roadkill (I put this here as a joke but I do have some friends begging me to write this!)

Lattes and Lanes or Espresso & Expressway  or Coffee & Concrete (similar concepts but which one???)

Pickles & Pavement  (seriously, someone suggested this!) Perhaps Panini’s & Pavement?

Apples & Alleys 

Jellybeans & Junctions

Rocky Road & Round-a-bouts 

Go ahead and be creative! Remember – Salsa & Speedbumps was birthed out of a challenge to write it. As will be Truffles & Traffic. Maybe your choice will be the title of a future story too!

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Feta & Freeways is up for a Goodreads giveaway starting Tuesday, October 4th. The giveaway includes a print copy of the novel along with a compact disc of Burlap to Cashmere’s self-titled album which was the soundtrack I listened to as I wrote the book! It’s hard to get physical copies of music anymore so this was a rare find and I’m sharing it with TWO lucky winners.

Spatzle Speaks: The Baron’s Blunder (Book Review)


THE Baron's BlunderMy mom, Susan M. Baganz, wrote a book as part of the Love is . . . series with Prism Book Group.
Now, generally I like mom’s writing but she went and put a bird in a book? What was she thinking? We have a bird in our home but Quincy the Quaker parrot  just makes messes. And his talk? Utter nonsense.

The Baron’s Blunder illustrates the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, “Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth.” While this is part of the Love is . . . series it is also a prequel for mom’s Regency Romances, the first of which will  be available Spring 2017. The Virtuous Viscount at least has a dog. ‘Nuff said.

Lord Charles Percy is wealthy, titled and single. All that Jane Austen would say makes him in desperate need of a wife. Charles isn’t really interested in that. He’s got secret work he does for the British government. (shhh. He’s a spy!). And he seems to have developed a penchant for capturing ne’r-do-wells who would rob coaches.

That’s how he meets the beautiful Honorable Henrietta Allendale, sister to Viscount Remington. She’s a little older than your normal debutante and sees no need for a husband. She’s a bit strong-willed and unbeknownst to anyone, she’s also, gasp! A spy!

Well, he rescues her when she didn’t really need rescuing. He lies. She suspects. She rescues him and then he rescues her but at the expense of . . . well, let’s just say while both start out refusing marriage, one changes their mind.

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.

There’s a lot packed into this novella and it’s a delightful romp filled with wit, adventure and love. So go buy it so mom can afford to purchase me more bully rings. Oh, wait. Maybe you shouldn’t. She might choose to get my hair cut instead and I hate going to the groomers. I’ll give it five bones anyway because she’s my mom and I love her. And in spite of a bird being this story, I know she loves me best.

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Speaks: Salsa and Speed Bumps (Book Review)

SalsaandSpeedbumps copy (2)Mom said I shouldn’t be reviewing her book. But I insisted (as did some of my fans). Mom wrote a cool book called Salsa & Speed Bumps and it’s pretty good even if there is no dog in it.

But Stephanie would like a dog. There’s a scene in there where they talk about it. I guess that’s close enough since her apartment won’t allow them to have one. *sigh* What’s up with human’s and those kinds of restrictions anyway? We’re man’s best friend, aren’t we? I’m Mom’s best friend and her biggest fan.

Here’s the “puppy” scene. It’s my favorite: 

 “Christmas is just around the corner.”
   “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
    “Come on, Mom and Dad didn’t do too bad getting a tree up and decorated.”
    “They did a fine job. Much better than I could have managed with my bulging belly getting in the way.”
   “I happen to be fond of your bulging belly. Reminds me of Santa Claus.”
   “Very funny.” She snuggled up to Robbie’s side. “If you had a wish for Christmas, what would it be?”
   “That forty years from now, I would be as in love with you as I am today.”
   Stephanie smiled. “I like that.”
   “Did you have Christmas wish?”
   “Mine isn’t big enough.”
   “What was it?”
   “You’ll laugh at me.”
   “Come on, I want to know.”
   “I want a puppy.”
   “A puppy.”
   “Yes, a puppy.”
   “We may need to wait a while for that one. Dogs aren’t allowed on our lease.”
   “I know, but you asked. Wishes don’t have to be realistic.”
   “No, they don’t. But how about I lick your face and pant in your ear. Will that do in the meantime?”
   Stephanie grinned and gave her husband a kiss, “Oh, that’ll do.”

If you read Pesto & Potholes, you’ll recognize Stephanie as Renata’s roommate. But Renata has moved on and now Stephanie is facing a big challenge. New life. New love. New battles.

Roberto is a cute lawyer. He has blue eyes. I have one brown and one blue eye. Why couldn’t Mom write a character like that? Maybe someday? Anyway, he’s a stand-up guy trying to do the right thing and not letting Stephanie’s challenge keep him from seeking a relationship with her. He’s got his own issues anyway although looking at him one would never know that. But Mom struggles to with some things that most would never know about (Except me. I am after all her best friend).

As the two of them date they both face challenges along the way. I gotta say that there’s a little more “heat” and adventure in this book than in Pesto & Potholes. Spicy salsa really isn’t my thing but I do like the chips. Nacho cheese is fine too. But I digress. Are there ninjas? Yeah, but not like in Pesto & Potholes. Mom assures me this is the last book they show up in. There are several more in this series and Feta & Freeways is up next (I like cheese).

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.

I appreciate how Mom wove faith into this and it’s fun seeing the down side as well as the blessings of being part of a church and how that hindered and helped Stephanie and Roberto. Mom said it’s so easy, even as a Christian to judge on outward appearances and that sometimes she’s ashamed to admit she does that too. Ooops. That’s probably supposed to be confidential. 

Mom writes historical fiction and she said that there is a phrase in the book that dates back to the early 1800’s and she wants to know if readers can find it. She said it’s in there three times! Guess she got confused what century she was writing for.

I give my mom five bones and lots of kisses for this book. She’s worked very hard on it. No stars, because I’m a dog.

5 bones for blog

 

Love’s Christmas Novellas (Book Reviews)

I should have had this post of up weeks ago but seemed to be deficient in remembering how to enter my blog (in spite of my notes to the contrary. Holiday ditziness? I apologize for that but it is still possible for you to get these books in time for Christmas – definitely on your e-reader (.99 each!) or to get the print copies. Because of this delay I’m not waiting to post this on Friday as I normally would!

I have to confess that with these compilations – I’ve not had a chance to read EVERY novella but since they come from Prism Book Group I’m confident they are great stories!

Love’s Christmas PAST

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FRAGILE BLESSINGS (Susan M. Baganz)

Is it vain for me to promote my own novella first? I wrote this because I was intrigued with pioneer life and set it in my home state of Wisconsin out where my grandparents were raised and lived. I’ve always been fascinated with way people deal with death and in our day and age we expect so much of modern medicine. But back then? They didn’t have the answers . . . so how would one young couple cope? The story took me places I didn’t expect as Grant and Lily live through unexpected tragedy and blessings. I hope you’ll enjoy their journey to love and hope as much as I did writing it.

A MEDIEVAL CHRISTMAS (Rachel A. James)

Tales of old with noble (and not so honorable) knights and ladies of grace and beauty. Set at Christmas-time this story explores the journey of young Nola as she faces the consequences of believing the pretty lies of a nobleman who turns out to be a skunk. When the solution is not as noble as she would prefer and out of a desperate desire to save her family from scandal, Ms. James takes Lady Nola on a journey fraught with danger, wonder and a chance for love if she’s brave enough to accept it.

CHRISTMAS BELLS (Jewell Tweedt)

This is the one story I’ve not yet read but look forward to perhaps during Christmas break. Ms. Tweedt tells a tale of a widow, Connie Rose Simonson, who manages two cafe’s on the frontier and seeking the perfect Christmas for her son. Dr. James Connor has poured out himself in caring for the citizens of an influenza ravaged town. From the description of her story it sounds like heavenly intervention helps these two lonely souls find love. I’m looking forward to reading it!

 

Love’s Christmas PRESENT 

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LOVE AGAIN (Paula Mowery)

Ms. Mowery has a gift for sweet romances and this novella is no exception. Ben Jacobsen has suffered the loss of his wife which meant abandoning his military career to care for his two young children. He moves back in with his parent’s in Myrtle Beach to start life afresh with his in-laws seeking to defeat him at every turn.

Jenna Campbell has moved to the same town to work as a Children’s minister. Coming off a dysfunctional relationship with a guy, she’s not really interested in romance. But something about helping the young widower with his children might have her changing her mind.

But could Ben love again without betraying the memory of his deceased wife?

BACKWARDS CHRISTMAS (Brooke Williams)

Brooke Williams writes a tale filled with humor and adventure. Noelle Richards lives in South Pole, Alaska and enjoys all the holiday festivities of the Backwards Christmas the town celebrates.

Chris Furst has disdain for the holiday. As a sled-dog trainer he loves two things: his dogs and Noelle Richards. The one thing he’s not in love with is CHristmas and the reason for the season. Jesus.

When Chris finds his life in danger though, the tables turn and he’s the one in need of rescue and Noelle and Christ are his only hopes. Maybe love can redeem the holiday for him after all.

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE & ARSON (Sharon McGregor)

I can hardly wait to read this novella by Sharon McGregor. It sounds like a fun romantic suspense! Bella comes home to care for her injured mother, run her mom’s shop and apparently also needs to take on her mom’s role in the Christmas theater production, a musical o less! The theme is a well-known mystery that seems more bizarre as the days progress. Add in a serial arsonist and the fact that her high school sweetheart, Jake, is now police chief and the holiday is going to be like nothing she or this town had ever seen before.

These books are all fabulous gifts – for you or for someone you love who enjoys reading. So order quickly and snuggle up over the holiday, with your favorite hot beverage, the lights on the tree and a fuzzy blanket and enjoy these novellas filled with warmth, romance and adventure. I know that’s what I’ll be doing!

Merry Christmas! 

 

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.

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“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.

Interview with Renata Blake

Renata from Pesto and Potholes

Renata from Pesto and Potholes

Meet Renata Blake. Her story is featured in the novel Pesto and Potholes releasing March 27, 2015.

Renata, how do you feel about your story being told?

Initially I wasn’t too happy about it. I’ve had plenty of bad press in the past and the last thing I need is my family getting wind of this book. They already hate me enough . . . and they don’t come out looking too good in the retelling. But it is real. This is my life. All the ugliness and the beauty.

What do you hope will be the outcome of your story being shared in this way?

That those who are hurting would find hope. As the book cover says, “The road to healing is filled with potholes.” Also that if someone isn’t involved in a good church, that they would seek one out. The relationships I made at Orchard Hill Church were a significant part of my healing process.

PestoandPotholes2Tell us about Antonio.

*giggles* Tony is sweet and handsome, but more than that, he always respected me. That was so new for me to experience. I heard about that book and movie that came out, Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s not love. Trust me, no woman wants a man who is going to control and abuse her. But Tony, he’s one of the good guys and he loves Jesus which I think made a huge difference.

Do you like Italian food?

I’ve always loved Italian food . . . but I have a far deeper appreciation for it now. *she winks*.

Do you still battle ninjas?

(sly grin). I haven’t had the occasion to lately, but suspect I’m still capable.

What’s up next for you?

I’m excited that my roommate Stephanie gets a chance to tell her amazing story next. I don’t know if I could have made it this far without her love and support and I’m glad I got to return the favor when life became difficult for her. I don’t want to give any spoilers away.

One last question. What’s your favorite song right now?

Oh, wow. I love so many but the one that resonates most with my soul is Broken Hallelujah by the Afters.  If I were a songwriter, I could have written that song. Hallelujah means to “God be praised,” and I’m grateful that even when I was weak and broken He could still hear and accept my shattered heart. I look back now in such gratitude for all He’s done. May all the praise and glory be to Him.

Thank you, Renata, or taking the time out of your crazy schedule.

Thank you for sharing about Susan’s book. I’m so grateful she had the courage to tell my story. Maybe others will find healing and hope in Jesus because of it. Pesto facebook header 2 PicMonkey Collage