Susan Baganz is a writer and editor who is well-versed in the Christian publishing industry. Please enjoy this week’s interview with her and check out her latest book, Bratwurst and Bridges.
Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. Susan writes adventurous romances.
Susan speaks, teaches and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. She understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She likes snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.
You can learn more by following her blog http://www.susanbaganz.com, her twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, http://www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz
Writing background, education (if applicable/ relevant)
I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Il. My undergrad was a double major of graduate prep psych and philosophy. Let me just say that my brains aren’t what got me through school – it was my ability to write well. That was also what enabled me to work well as a Case Manager for a Community Support Program as well as Admissions and Discharge Coordinator. We supervised chronically mentally ill adults living in the community. Again, good writing skills helped me do my job.
I started writing fiction in 2009 through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org). Fell in love and have won it eight years running (anyone who finishes 50,000 words in 30 days in November wins
Latest project- give a brief synopsis (200 words or less)
Bratwurst & Bridges
Pastor Dan Wink has suffered his greatest loss. His best friend, Sharon, died a year ago. He’s ready to walk away from ministry…and life. But the men he’s ministered to over the years won’t let him. Sometimes accountability sucks. And the redhead next door with her precocious children brings up desires he thought had died with his wife.
Sometimes, God uses our deepest pain to build bridges to His blessings.
Skye agreed to meet him at a ski resort not far from Milwaukee. Old habits were sometimes good ones and for the sake of appearances, he would not ride in a car with a woman alone. Sure it might start out as nothing…but gossip and also opportunity for any kind of slip up were to be avoided. He rented boots, skis, and poles. The gal working the shop helped him get wax on the skis that was right for the snow they made. It had been a cold winter and while there was snow on the ground, fresh powder was nice, and this resort aimed to please.
Skye met him in her lavender ski outfit. “Looking good, Dan.”
“You didn’t need to go to any extra expense.”
She shook her head. “No. I was pleasantly surprised that my gear still fit after all these years. Guess that Zumba helped. How do you feel?”
“I was sore the first day, but better now. Shall we hit the bunny trail?”
“Bunny trail? Is it Easter already?” She let out a full belly laugh. She wiped a tear and grinned. “How about a beginner trail. There’s one over there with a tow lift to the top, but before I do that I should show you some basics, like how to stop, steer, and avoid getting your skis crossed.”
“Can you help me avoid hitting a tree or careening off a cliff?”
“You really don’t have to worry about cliffs on this section so we can skip that for now. As for trees? If you don’t head in their direction they will generally leave you alone.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Well, let’s get this done. I’m eager to try these out.”
Skye guided Dan through the basics and up the hill for the first run. “I’ll go down and you follow.”
“Are you sure I shouldn’t go first so you can pick me up?”
“I’ve already shown you how to get up if you fall down. I think you’ll be fine.”
Skye grinned. “Good. Maybe it will keep you from getting hurt.”
“Why did you ever stop skiing?”
“I fell for a boy and got sucked into the wrong crowd. Doing anything healthy became a thing of my past. Recreation became about sex and drugs…not skiing, art, reading, or even Zumba.”
“You consider Zumba recreation?”
“I get to go dancing a few days a week without someone trying to buy me a drink or proposition me, so, yeah, I do.”
“And you get paid for it.”
“Right, without it being a strip club.” She winked at him. “Catch you at the bottom.”
What inspired you to write this story?
Pastor Dan Wink pops in and out of previous stories in the Orchard Hill series and I wanted to explore what it would be like for the attractive pastor to not only grieve his losses, but find new love—and give him an attraction from someone who might not fit the normal “pastor’s wife” image.
Any special research you had to conduct?
I didn’t have to do much research for this as I’ve served in ministry in the church and worked closely as an administrative assistant to a Senior Pastor in the past. While I haven’t lived the life of a pastor, I’m aware of how challenging it can be to be serving others when you’re limping yourself.
Interesting writing quirks/ habits while writing this piece? How did these help the story progress or increase your investment in your narrative or characters?
The hardest part of this, and one that I asked for prayer about, was wanting to be honest about the messiness and beauty of the church. I didn’t want it to be painted as a place with perfect people, but we are all at different places in our growth. But I also didn’t want the troubles that can crop up from imperfect people, to make a reader, perhaps who is not involved in a church fellowship, never want to participate. The ultimate romance is between us and Jesus anyway.
What is your favorite aspect of this story and why?
I love how Skye is honest about her struggle to believe in God and isn’t afraid to “poke the bear” as it were, calling the handsome pastor out on his own internal hypocrisy. She’s not awed by his “title” or position – and that it even extends beyond him to call it out on someone else from church who doesn’t act in a manner that reflects Christ well. It’s fun to see how this challenge to Pastor Dan is part of what develops an attraction between the two of them.
What previous works have you done?
This is book five in The Orchard Hill series. Each book stands alone, but are even better read in order. They all take place against the backdrop of a fictional church called Orchard Hill. The stories in order are: Pesto & Potholes, Salsa & Speed Bumps, Feta & Freeways, Root Beer & Roadblocks. After Bratwurst & Bridges is Donuts & Detours (May 2018) and Truffles & Traffic (Nov. 2018). I’m working on ideas for more in the series.
What projects are you working on now?
I have another series, historical (not hysterical) called The Black Diamond Christian Gothic Regencies. Whew. Who knew the early 1800’s were not all as sweet as Jane Austin painted it? The series has a novella prequel that is currently out but will get a new cover, called The Baron’s Blunder. It will re-release with the new cover in October as will book #1 in the series, The Virtuous Viscount, to be followed quickly with Lord Phillip’s Folly. Subsequent titles due to release in 2018 are: Sir Michael’s Mayhem, Lord Harrow’s Heart and The Captain’s Conquest. While each book stands alone—there is an overarching storyline that weaves through the books and culminates in the final novel. There is a sweet Christmas Regency novella, Gabriel’s Gift, releasing this December as part of Pelican Book Group’s Christmas Extravaganza.
Any special thoughts or insights on this current process?
Sometimes I feel like a juggler – and the biggest challenge is juggling the revisions for my own stories with editing for authors I work with as part of Pelican Book Group’s imprint: Prism Book Group. Well, that and trying to get my mind in or out of the 1800’s so that the language doesn’t get mixed up. You’ll never hear someone say, “I’m OK.” In 1812!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I’m a “panster.” I start with an inciting incident and two main characters and some idea of where I want them to be—obviously a happily-ever-after ending. I just never know exactly how they are going to get there. The process is like riding a rollercoaster for me. Once the characters take over I just write as fast as I can and buckle in for a wild ride. Writing that first draft is equally thrilling and terrifying.
What do you find to be the most frustrating about writing?
I don’t get writer’s block. I hit what I call a wall of fear. In a full-length novel there always comes a point where I’m bored. I don’t know where the story is going and my mind starts telling me things like: This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever written. It’s crap. No one is ever going to want to read this. I’ll feel like I’ve written myself into a corner. Once I acknowledge the fear, I pray and force myself to just write—even if I don’t’ know where I’m going—I’m fine. I cannot tell you, in the 18 manuscripts I’ve completed, where that spot was.
Links for Susan’s blog, website, etc.
Writing and editing is exceptionally difficult work as it is a long process and requires more time and concentration than you can imagine (if you’ve not done it). If you purchase a book you’ve helped an author tremendously. An extra blessing is if you take the time to write a review on Amazon. Even a short one helps and blesses that author. And tell others about it. Word of mouth is the best advertising we can get.