BIO: 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.
Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and serves on the board of the southeast chapter. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.
Welcome, Susan. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I think some of me shows up in at least one of my characters. My first book has more of “me” in it than any of my others, but there are pieces of me scattered everywhere amongst the pages of all my books. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to confess to just how much is “me”! A man from church gave me a hug after reading my second novel and said “I’m getting an interesting glimpse into your head.” I responded: “Scary, isn’t it?”
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I took workshops at ComedySportz in
Milwaukee and even worked there for a time. A
co-worker was a gifted player there. We saw each other at work and began to
engage in a conversation in jibberish. I seriously walked away from that
feeling like I’d had a legitimate and satisfying conversation! The memory still
makes me smile. I’ve also been known to play practical jokes but it’s been
years since I’ve done anything like that. Not everyone can take a joke even
when it’s meant with the greatest of love and best of intentions.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. My ability to write well is what got me through graduate school (MA Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and allowed me to excel in my job as a Case Manager and Admissions/Discharge Coordinator for a Community Support Program. I wrote – a lot! I didn’t realize how much I loved writing fiction until I did National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org), November of 2009. Then I was hooked.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I used to read only Regency romances, then branched out to contemporary and romantic suspense. As an editor I have contracted medieval, suspense, mystery, historical, speculative fiction/sci-fi, and mid-grade/YA adventure stories. I also read nonfiction from theological topics, leadership and psychology. Recently finished, Humilitas by John Dickson, and am wading slowly through Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Just starting the Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay. I can easily be reading three books or more at a time.
I used to only read one novel at a time, but with my Kindle in my purse, I read one novel when I’m away from the house and another at home. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don’t. I’ve recently been challenged to improve my own care of myself. I’ve been walking several times a week before the kids get up for school. I spent three months, earlier this year, on crutches and a scooter and every step I take is still painful, but I am moving, and am back into physical therapy. I also started taking lessons to relearn something I enjoy. Sometimes I color, or binge watch TV shows. I’ve exhausted Psych, Bones (never finished), Lie to Me (only 3 seasons-that was enough), Castle (never finished) JAG and am currently working my way through NCIS. Or movies—anything Jane Austen or Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. I call it research of course.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
For every book it’s different. For my current release I wanted a Greek name and spelling and liked Nikolos (Niko for short). I wanted a female name that also had a Greek feel and decided on Tia. Short and sweet. Last names I just make up something. For my next book though, it’s based on a real-life man named Johnny—but I couldn’t change the name. It was as if the character insisted on being Johnny. So sometimes I can go a little unique and sometimes very basic. I’ve had characters complain. I had one character (a woman) change her name three times as I was writing her story. Finally, she was happy. Sounds strange to those who don’t write—but that’s what it feels like in my head.
I so understand. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My first thought is: Staying alive as I’ve struggled with major depressive disorder my entire life. My second is: Continuing to obey God even when it runs counter to what others think is right for me. All my life it feels like significant people in my life have disagreed with my choices. But if I’m following God’s leading, that’s all that matters. And yes, I’ve survived the censure and slander that’s come along the way. I gotta admit—sometimes it hurts though when people who you think should love and support God’s call on your life—don’t. Makes me all the more grateful for those who have stood by my side, praying and believing God had a plan. There are women who prayed with me when I was only dreaming of being published who rejoice with me now. I am so grateful for them and my pastors who believed in God’s calling on my writing.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A raccoon. They tend to be a bit mischievous and often do their messiest work when no one is looking. And the mask. I’ve always had darker circles under my eyes since I was a child. And I wear glasses…
What is your favorite food?
Oh…if you were to go out to dinner with me, we’d go to Q’doba and I’d get a naked steak burrito (cilantro rice and pinto beans) with queso, mild and verde salsa, cheese and sour cream. We wouldn’t even need the chips.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I hit a “wall of fear” with every full length novel. I’ll believe I’ve written myself into a corner, that this is the crappiest book out there and no one would ever want to read it. I pray. Sleep. And write my way through. In thirteen full-length manuscripts that I’ve completed, I could not tell you where that spot is in any of them. Makes the five star reviews all the sweeter.
Tell us about the featured book.
The idea for Feta and Freeways came after finding out a band I’ve always loved, Burlap to
was back recording. They’d dropped out of the music scene in the late 90’s,
burnt out. Before they could come back though one of the musicians, Johnny, who
is a guitar player and cousin to the lead singer and guitar player Steven, was
almost killed and spent three weeks in a coma after a brutal attack. They didn’t
know if he’d ever play again. Praise God, he can! I fell in love with their
music all over again and decided to write a book about the lead singer of the
band, named Nikolos. The next one, Root
Beer and Roadblocks is due out in February and tells Johnny’s story.
He’d never noticed her…till now.
Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break, touring the country with their manager, Tia.
Tia Bartel loved Niko for the longest time, but it wasn’t until she stepped in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust?
As they journey on the freeway of life and love, they encounter struggles as they are forced to rely on their faith, and friends, to make it through.
Please give us the first page of the book.
The way to love anything is to realize it may be lost.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Sirens wailed, competing with Nikolos Acton’s voice and guitar as they combined with the band’s groove pounding through the speakers. Usually, nothing invigorated him more than the synergy of the mix of instruments and vocals. But today, as the audience joined in with the singing, what might have been a holy moment was marred by the dissonant sounds outside the tent. They played until the applause of the crowd drowned out the final chord.
“Thank you for coming. Our album is for sale at the back table.” With a wave, Niko turned to his buddies.
Emergency lights pulsed off the cars parked nearby, but the sirens no longer rang in the air.
“Wonder what happened?” Johnny scrunched his eyes as he often did when he concentrated.
Niko ruffled a towel over his damp curls and shrugged. “Let’s get packed up. I’m sure Tia will fill us in after we’re done signing merchandise and taking photos.” He tossed the sweaty cloth into the bin. Tia’d collect them later. Outdoor summer concerts tended to be hot.
Marc frowned. “Whatever it is happened backstage.” He stepped closer and elbowed Niko. “Any cute blondes catch your eye?”
“Not interested.” Niko rolled his eyes at his bass player.
“Yeah, right.” Sam winked as he packed his guitar and slid his sunglasses back on. It had been an inside joke that flaxen-haired ladies seemed to love Niko and sought him out after every concert. In spite of their Christian faith and venues, some of the women crossed lines, which surprised him. Not only in the provocative clothing they wore but even with their suggestive remarks and innuendos. It definitely made touring a challenge in the struggle to stay pure.
Niko shook his head at his bandmates. A festival worker in an orange vest motioned for him.
“Be back in a sec, guys.” He headed over.
“We need you out here. There’s been trouble.”
And we want to know what that trouble is, don’t we, Readers? How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Susan, for sharing this new book with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Feta and Freeways - Paperback
Feta and Freeways - Kindle
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