Today I’m pleased to host an author friend from Prism Book Group, Susan Baganz. Let’s get chatting.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I’m a stay-at-home mom raising three kids, a dog and a parrot. I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and have worked in the field of mental health for years, as well as worked in church ministry (paid and unpaid) for the past 26 years.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
Reading, rubber stamping homemade cards, and sometimes I pretend to play the guitar.
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
I start with characters and most likely an inciting incident. I might have a vague plot but no details. I write romance so I know at the end there will be a “happily ever after.”
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I’m freestyle all the way. I call myself a “panster.” I write like I drive – by the seat of my pants! (thankful for cruise control on my van!). I sometimes do research beforehand but even with my novel due out at the end of April, I was looking up and following the Green Bay Packer’s schedule as I went along as my timelines was linked to that season’s games.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
If I’m writing historical (Regency era) then it’s classical. But for my contemporary series I’ve got a shuffle of songs by Burlap to Cashmere and Steven Delopolous. Love the sound of their music so that’s been my most recent soundtrack. It used to be I wrote to nothing and sometimes I still do. Depends on my mood.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
My contemporary series starting with Pesto and Potholes, takes place in the northwest suburbs of Milwaukee and I used to live and work in that area I write about. I can imagine myself driving on those roads. My historicals take place in Great Britain and while I have traveled there, it was long before I started writing so I do long to return. I have to watch great movies (BBC’s Pride and Prejudice anyone?) to absorb the culture and traditions. I don’t think my husband wants me to return there though as he fears I may never return (he might be right!).
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
How terrible I writer I am. I type fast and I think my fingers struggle to keep up with my brain so the spelling errors and tense irregularities startle me when I read them later. I’m often shaking my head saying “What was I thinking?”
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
Up at 5 a.m. and get ready for the day. Make a cup of spiced chai and sit in my favorite spot for some time with God. Sometimes I read for a little after that. Or go and check my email and Facebook. 6:55 I get my kids up and make lunches and get them off to school by 8. Recently I’ve had therapy appointments so off I go to that, maybe grocery shop and then home to write or work on novels I’m editing. 2:30 pm my alarm goes off to remind me to wind things up. I go get the mail and pick up the kids from school and come home by 3:15. Then it’s often back to editing or writing until my kids complain that they are hungry. Because writing is so isolating, I do try to be intentional in planning a few hours away from my desk every so often to meet with a friend over coffee or lunch. Sometimes great ideas are born out of those times!
Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
My novel is contemporary but I also write historical romantic suspense (Regency period). I also have some contemporary romantic suspense novels that are awaiting attention.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
I have a cranky Quaker parrot named Quincy who is about twenty years old now. We also adopted a Maltese mix two years ago. His name is Spatzle and he’s so unique with one brown eye and one blue eye. He’s my buddy.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I hope they gain encouragement in their struggles. That they can see God at work in the lives of my characters and recognize the work He is doing in their own lives. Most of all I want them to see that the greatest romance is with Jesus Christ. His love, devotion and sacrifice as modeled, in the instance of Pesto and Potholes, in my hero, Antonio.
This series is also set against the backdrop of a church. I want to help show people the value and importance of being involved in a community of believers and how central that can before God’s work in growing us up in Christ.
Renata tries 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.
Sunday was cold. The sun shined brightly, and Renata sat at church surrounded by more of the De Luca clan. Tony winked at her, and they worshipped together. She experienced such joy and freedom in the music and lyrics. This was the new Renata. Free. Joyful. Loved. What a difference from a year ago.
After church, she raced home to change into jeans, sneakers, a sweater and coat. She pulled on knit gloves to keep her hands warm and found a matching knit cap to put on her head.
Tony arrived to pick her up in his car and they went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell for something to eat. Renata laughed when part of Tony’s burrito dribbled onto his sweatshirt.
They arrived at Brown Deer Park early, and Tony suggested they take a walk over by a small pond.
“This is such a peaceful place.” Reverent awe filled her voice as she gazed about.
“Sure is, but watch out for the goose doo doo.”
“Doo doo? Is that an Italian term for poop?”
Tony laughed, “No, that’s me trying to be more delicate since I am with a gorgeous woman in a beautiful place.”
“Awww, Tony, you are sweet.” They walked side by side, not touching. Renata could see their breath in the air.
“Edith agrees with you.”
“Edith? My neighbor?” Renata stopped to stare at him.
“Yeah, the other night she gave me a kiss because you had neglected to do it for her.”
Renata laughed. “Is she my competition for your affections?”
“Are you seeking my affections?” He looked at her with one eyebrow raised.
Renata looked away. Her entire neck and head grew warm.
“You have no competition. No one can compare to you.” His voice was seductive to her ears when he used those words.
“Now you go too far, Tony. I’m not as perfect as you think I am.” She had to reign this in. She didn’t want to lead him on.
“Who said you were perfect? Surely not I.” He placed his hand flat on his chest.
Renata laughed and gave Tony a playful punch in the arm, but was quickly distracted. She pointed to the pond. “Look at the geese coming in to land. They look like they are waterskiing when they put their feet down.”
“Waterskiing geese. Now I’ve seen everything. What will you think of next, Ren?”
“I don’t know. I thought it was your turn to be absurd for a while.”
Tony reached out and tickled Renata. “Stop!” She laughed and started tickling him back and took off running into the grass. Tony ran after her and with his longer legs managed to catch her causing them both to fall on the leaf-covered lawn. Renata grabbed a handful of leaves and tossed them at Tony, and he returned the favor. Soon they lay there in the leaves giggling and gasping for a breath.
“It is beautiful out here.” Renata said. “It’s hard to believe this is Milwaukee.”
“It’s hard for me to believe my good fortune to be sharing this with you.” Tony looked over to Renata and reached to grab her hand to give it a squeeze.
Renata’s shoulder muscles seized at his touch. The touching, the laughter, and the sense they were alone in the world without any past or present or future to worry about, shook her. She needed him too much. No. She wanted him. She desired him. She looked at his face, so close to hers and imagined what it would feel like to kiss him. Stop. This has to stop. No man will ever love you. No man will ever see you as more than a plaything. The messages bombarded her.
The monsters were back.
Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.
She has been published in Splickety Magazine and in the I Choose You anthology with OakTara Press. Pesto and Potholes is her first contemporary romance novel in the Orchard Hill Series. The second, Salsa and Speedbumps, will follow hopefully in December. She is represented by Mary Sue Seymour for her adventurous Regency Romances.