Monday, April 11, 2016

COTT: Sneak Peak at Salsa and Speedbumps by Susan M. Baganz

One moment of sin leads to a path of pain . . . and unexpected love.

Welcome to Stephanie and Roberto's story! They have serious chemistry, but how many hurdles can they overcome? Both fun and deeply moving, this book will engage you from the start. Here's what readers have to say:

Fantastic read. Riveting from cover to cover. Susan has great storytelling skills that speak volumes. Although the book itself is fiction it did bring to the forefront the reality and seriousness of human trafficking.
Althea Zamzow (Amazon Review)

This book skillfully handles many issues in today’s society: date rape, addiction to pain killers, kidnapping, human trafficking, and the mafia. The well-written story keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and the book is hard to put down. How much more can Robbie and Stephanie take before they’re broken apart by life’s circumstances?
Victoria Pitts Caine (Amazon Review)

Listen in on a conversation from the book:

“Christmas is just around the corner.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
“Come on, dad and I didn’t do too bad getting a tree up and decorated.”
“You did a fine job. Much better than I could have managed with my bulging belling 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 wasn’t big enough.”
“What was it?”
“Really? You will laugh at me.”
“Really, I want to know.”
“I want a puppy.”
“A puppy.”
“Yes, a puppy.”
“We may need to wait awhile for that one. Dogs are not 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 will do.”

So where did this story come from? 

Susan, can you tell us what inspired you to write Salsa and Speedbumps?

The title was suggested by a friend after I wrote the first draft of Pesto & Potholes. I hadn’t really thought of writing a second novel but figured Renata’s roommate, Stephanie, who seemed to have things all together, might need to have her world shaken up a bit. I also knew someone who had been a victim of a date rape but those were words not really used much years ago. She kept the baby, met a great guy, became a Christian and married after the child was born. He adopted the little girl. And Roberto . . . well, I had to get some salsa in there somewhere so having a Hispanic character seemed a good way to do that along with busting some stereotypes about that culture in the process. Roberto’s back issues . . . well, I’ve struggled some with that but have known people with far worse pain like what he experiences . . . so he struggles with an issue many people have but don’t talk about, intense pain while recovering from an addiction to narcotics. The story became far more intense than I ever anticipated too and the heat between Roberto and Stephanie starts to build pretty early in the story.

The bigger question other than the issues was how does a Christian woman and man stay true to their faith and have integrity when life throws curveball after curveball their way. How do they navigate a relationship in the midst of those trials as well? It was fun to explore.

About the book:

Stephanie’s life hits a speedbump in the wake of her boyfriend’s sin. Splitting up with him, she faces a future of difficult choices shaded in shame. She wants to do what is right but the new man in her life leaves her fantasizing about a future that is now beyond her grasp.

Roberto finds his heart and professional world turned upside down by the beautiful bombshell. He struggles with his own inner demons and past so he’s not about to cast stones. When he is accused of immoral behavior, and temptation haunts him from every side, can he stand true to the calling God has given him?

Joining forces to face the future though comes at a high cost for them both as their individual pasts rise up to destroy them and their relationship. Integrity comes with a high price tag. With a deep faith in God and the help of friends at Orchard Hill Church, can they find happiness and love they long for?

Find the book on Amazon

Meet the author: 

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 as well as on the board of the local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writer’s) chapter. Her favorite pastimes are lazy ones—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, her twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page,

Monday, March 28, 2016

COTT: Favorite February Releases!

At Clash of the Titles we make things easy for book lovers everywhere--including handpicking new releases we know you'll love. This week, we present five of Christian fiction's hottest new titles. Surely, one of them will be the right fit for you. 

Introducing, February's New Releases clashing novels...

Don't forget to vote for the one that most catches your interest!

Will the quest for gold tear the Connor family apart?


He receives a diagnosis that alters the course of his life; she is an ICU nurse on the verge of burnout. Faith doesn't come easy for either.


When a pregnant widow returns from the mission field, family and friends rally to help. However she harbors a secret that threatens her relationship with God and may lead to her spiritual downfall.


Two women engineers race the clock to build the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft amid the backdrop of sabotage and murder, and while trying to deal with their own muddled personal lives.


Unwilling to deal with his cancer prognosis, Dr. Steven Moore retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart, never suspecting she might offer hope for his future.


Cast your vote below. Winner announced next Thursday, March 31!

Create your own user feedback survey

Monday, March 21, 2016

COTT: Featuring "Dressed for Death"

A recency-ero costume party should be no more than an amusing diversion, but it seems, wherever Drew Farthing goes, mystery--and murder--are on the guest list.

Drew and Madeline Farthering arrive at a Regency-Era house party at Winteroak House, excited to be reunited with old friends, including Drew’s former Oxford classmate Talbot Cummins. Tal is there with his fiancée, Alice Henley, and though many present seem worried about the couple, nobody is prepared when Alice dies from an apparent overdose. Tal refuses to believe she’d taken the drugs intentionally, and a dark question arises of whether the death is an accident or murder. The police have their own information though, and Drew is shocked when they arrest someone he’s trusted and admired since his childhood—someone who’s been smuggling drugs into the country for years. Stunned by what has happened, Tal begs Drew to get to the bottom of everything, but Drew’s never felt more unsettled. Questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, Drew doesn’t know who to trust, and he’s not ready for the secrets he’s about to uncover—or the danger he’ll bring down on everyone he holds dear. 


About the author:

JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

COTT: FREE Historical Romance

The first three books in April W Gardner's Creek Country Saga have just hit the Amazon shelves! They are now available for purchase, but every subscriber to her newsletter gets the first in the series for

Scroll to nab your copy!

Beneath the Blackberry Moon will sweep you away to another time, then make you sigh and wish you could stay just a little longer.

I cannot put this book down! April Gardner crafts the scenes and character interactions so well, you are there! What a powerful story. 
~Amazon reviewer

This newsletter goes out only a handful of times each year to announce new releases, so no worries--your inbox won't be bombarded. April is generous to her email subscribers. Next month, each will receive another novel, absolutely free! See below to learn more about Better Than Fiction.

About the book:
War, captivity, hunger that will not be denied. And a blackberry moon with enough pull to endure the test of time.

Frontierswoman Adela McGirth has never feared her neighbors, the Creek Indians, but a suspicious encounter with a steely-eyed warrior shakes her confidence. As dreaded, a skirmish with the natives sends her family fleeing into a hastily constructed fort. But no picket is strong enough to hold off a party of warriors who fear nothing but the loss of their ancient ways.

Totka Lawe, a Red Stick bound by honor to preserve his heritage, will do what he must to expel the whites from Muscogee soil. But in the midst of battle, he is assigned to protect those he’s expected to hate and kill. One of whom is the copper-haired woman who has haunted his thoughts since that strange night under the blackberry moon. The war was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a gentle warrior’s spirit he cannot resist.

But what woman would have a warrior whose blood-soaked hands destroyed her life?

Then again...does she have a choice?


Learn more about this saga at 
and Like her on 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Coming soon...

To get your FREE copy of Better Than Fiction
(releases April 2016)

Better than Fiction
April W Gardner and Michelle Massaro

Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive, spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book, Racing Hearts

In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a man’s overalls.

After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her daddy's trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races and take up Russell's offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose everything to mounting debt?

Under Meghan's skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that real life can be better than fiction?

Monday, February 15, 2016

COTT: The 2016 Laurel is here!


If you had a novel release any time in 2015, you're invited to submit to Clash of the Titles' Laurel Award!!

The Laurel is a contest available to any genre of Christian fiction published in 2015. The novels are judged by their audience—readers well-versed in Christian fiction yet not associated with the CBA industry.

Authors write for readers, so why not have readers be the judges?
With a submission fee of only $15, easy electronic submission, a bevy of prizes, and judges devoted to Christian fiction and author encouragement, the Laurel is a contest like no other.

But act quick! Slots are limitedTo avoid overburdening our volunteer judges, we are limited in the number of submissions we can accept.

* All previous COTT champs whose winning novel was published in 2015 have an assured spot (fee waived) in the 2016 Laurel.

The Skinny:

ELIGIBILITY: Christian novels (30,000+ words) of any genre published between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.

PRIZES: One first place winner will be chosen. The winner will receive a special feature on Clash of the Titles' blog, a tour through COTT’s Blog Alliance, a dedicated page on COTT’s site for a full year, an on-line radio interview with author and CAG board member, Cynthia L. Simmons, a digital winner’s badge, and a beautiful plaque to display at home.


Novels participating in the Laurel are judged by their audience—readers who are well-versed in Christian fiction yet not a part of the CBA industry. This contest judges the first two chapters (or 3,500 words) of published novels. Any genre of Christian novel (30,000 words or more) is eligible, including indie.

SUBMISSION DATES: February 4, 2016-February 26, 2016

Learn more about the Laurel Awards HERE.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Indie Publishing -- Getting the Typos Out of Published Books

I ran across an article from John Doppler recently called No, Amazon Will Not Penalize Your Book for a Typo and it made me wonder how my books will weather the latest change from Amazon. 

Seems Amazon is planning to post warnings for books that have certain types of errors. Read Doppler's list for details.

I think I'm okay. I try to make corrections when I learn of them. Other writers I've talked to about this think it will be good for us. There is a lot of junk out there that makes indie publishers look bad.

My latest novel, Murder in Sun City, was launched with FIVE errors that I learned about after the launch. 

My wife found some, a writer friend found several, and a reader reported one. Based on Doppler's article, these errors probably would have been disregarded by Amazon. But they were embarrassing to me. Here are some examples:

  • where for were
  • by for my
  • placed for place
  • it for them
  • an extraneous the

Why is it so difficult to proof my own work?

I'm not blaming my editor. I want her to concentrate on the big things which she does quite well. I should have caught these myself, and I suspect they all happened after she turned the book over to me. 

I read the book from start to finish twice before publishing it. My critique partners say I am good at proofreading and a publisher I worked for seems pleased with my work. 

The good news is that it is easier to update published books

In the past, it took forever for me to make changes to Kindle editions of my books. I'd have to find the chapter, open the chapter file in an XML editor, and make the change without messing up the HTML code.

Now, I have Scrivener. All you have to do is make the changes in the text and compile for mobi. Much faster and no chance of accidentally messing up something else.

Murder in Sun City -- Are all the errors out?

I correct the paperback and the Kindle edition. If you already have a copy, Amazon will replace your Kindle version for free. If you want a correct paperback, contact me.

However, if you find errors in the corrected version, let me know.

Now, if you see any typos in this article about getting the typos out, please let me know.

Murder in Sun City Acknowledgements

Book acknowledgements often go unread. That's why I decided to published this as a blog article.

This book was my first to be written with the help of a critique team. I think it made it my best book yet.
A special thanks to Dorothy Featherling and Wayne Dawson, the other two members of the team. They helped me in many ways. A major reason to join a critique team is to write on a regular basis. Left on my own, I can go for days, even weeks, without writing a word and find ways to justify the lack of productivity. A critique team is hard to ignore. We began with a goal of two-thousand words a week and later upped it to three-thousand a week. Sometimes what I submitted was short and not my best work, but the word count grew.
We met weekly and critiqued each other's work in writing and verbally. We limited the verbal critique to fifteen minutes per person. The corrections and suggestions received were valuable to me and resulted in changes in story direction and character development. In addition, I learned to be a better editor by reading and commenting on their work.
I would also like to thank my editor, Lisa Lickel. She did an excellent job correcting my mistakes and pointing out where more (or less) was needed.
Thanks to Peg Case for talking to me early on about the concept. Thanks to Liz Franklin for helping with the opening based on an oral account of what I planned.

Beta readers for this book were Malia Barth, Nell Newton, and Vivian Davis. A special thanks to all of you. This book wouldn't be the same without your input.

The books that resulted from our year-long critique meetings can be found here:

The Darkness That Could Be Felt by C. Wayne Dawson:

Conventional Murder (Staged for Murder Book 2) by D.A. Featherling:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Goodreads "Murder in Sun City" Giveaway Results

One way to announce a new book is to give away copies. I think Goodreads is an ideal place to use to do so.

Why? They reach a lot of readers.

However, if you're hoping to collect the names and email addresses of those who entered the giveaway the way you can using Rafflecopter, Goodreads is not the place to use. 

Goodreads only shows you the names and addresses of the winners. AND, you're not supposed to contact the winners for any reason other than sending them the book.

I have no problem with that since my goal was to let readers know about my new book.

I ran the giveaway from January 5, 2016 to February 5, 2016 and 1,151 people entered the drawing for ten books. I allowed entrants from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. 

The winners were all from the United States except for one from the United Kingdom.

The United States winners were from: Alabama, California, 3 from Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin.

Since I am an Amazon Prime member with free shipping, I ordered the books on Amazon and had them shipped directly to the winners. As soon as I get notification that the books were delivered, I'll delete the winner's names and addresses.

If you had hoped to win a copy of Murder in Sun City and didn't, order yours here: 

Monday, February 1, 2016

COTT: Winner of the January Clash

Thanks to all of January’s wonderful authors! 

Here’s what readers had to say:

All of these books look like so much fun!
When I first saw The Volk Advent by Kristen Wilks, I was intrigued by the combination of a teen trying to escape murder charges and a pack of wolves, and I like to read historical fiction because I can experience other cultures. 
Cynthia Hickey is a wonderful author. Engaging characters with twists you don’t expect. I love her books! 
Andrea Boeshars’ Seasons of Love—Love reading them.
Beth Wiseman just happens to be the best of the best! Her novels are outstanding at character and plot development
Runaways is a book you start and can’t put down.
Am so looking forward to reading Runaways by Brenda Poulos!!!
Congratulations Brenda Poulos on your new hit, Runaways: The Long Journey Home.
Excellent reading. Great job, Brenda
Introducing Our Winner Congratulations Brenda Poulos!

About the book:

No Mama. An abusive father. A hound dog for a best friend.

A victim of physical and emotional abuse at the hand of his father, Jake runs away following the most severe beating he’s ever endured. Leaving the only home he’s ever known in the backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains, he escapes into unknown territory with only his dog beside him. Jake and Hound face bitter cold and near starvation as they seek a new life--one free from fear, loneliness, and pain. And Father hunts Jake down with the very rifle he used to kill Sam and Mama.

Led by unseen forces. Protected by his dog. Jake experiences acceptance and unconditional love when he is befriended by a kindly older couple.

But, will he be able to put his past problems behind him and embrace a future made possible through the power of forgiveness?

Will he find a new life filled with hope for the future and learn to trust?

And when he is confronted with the biggest decision of his life, will he choose to run away, again, or face his father?

Runaways: The Long Journey Home is available on Amazon
From Brenda:

For years, I had a recurring dream...a boy leaving a wilderness cabin on a cold winter’s night. No coat. No shoes. Totally unprepared for life on his own. And yet, I knew he was desperate to get away.

I was compelled to find out who the boy was, what circumstances he was running away from, where he would go, and if he would survive...

At this point, the dream left off, and the story—Jake’s story—began to take shape.

I sat at my computer day after day for almost two years. Eyes closed, I wrote as I experienced the journey along with this determined and resilient ten-year-old boy.

Reviews for Runaways: The Long Journey Home 

"Brenda Poulos should be a best-selling author! She is a masterful writer. Her ability to develop characters within the context of a compelling and spell-binding story is captivating. If you are looking for a fun read that will leave you wanting more, Runaways is a great selection. You’ll read this and find yourself recommending it to your friends." ~by J. Akerson on Amazon

"Runaways is a book you won't be able to put down. The writing style of Brenda Poulos will pull you in as if you're a main part of the story. You will be on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what's coming next. And I'd bet the emotions of the characters will be felt throughout and will touch your heart. Wow! Perhaps a top-rated movie in the future?" ~A+ by Jon Peterson on Amazon

"Brenda does a wonderful job developing characters you care about while driving a story that is compelling and inspirational. This is a must read for all people who are looking for a story for the soul." ~by an Amazon customer

"I couldn’t put this book down! Engagingly written, authentic characters, pain, and grace all intermingle in a believable way. Poulos lit up my mind’s eye with her vivid imagery. I will definitely read more from this author." ~by Kirsten Samuel on Amazon

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Smashing Selections Brighten the New Year in This January Clash

What an exciting 2016 kick-off for Clash of the Titles. Readers can choose from a teen novel, mystery, suspense/ thriller, love trilogy and an Amish novella collection of sweet romances. One of each sounds good. Peruse the selections, decide which to put at the top of this year's to-be-read list, scroll down, and vote for it on the form below. Voting starts today, January 20th, and goes through midnight PST on January 26th.

An orphaned Siberian teen faces murder charges and an escaped pack of pet wolves.


What Stormi doesn't expect is the final, life-altering gift from Matt's ex-girlfriend. Nor does she expect her bachelorette party to lead to murder.


Jake escapes from the remote Appalachian cabin—the only home he has ever known. And Father hunts him down with the very rifle he used to kill Sam and Mama.


In the novella, An Apple a Day, Dr. Brian Coridan needs a break so he vacations in quiet Blossom Lake, Wisconsin where he never expects to be distracted by Talia Fountain, the town's "health food nut." In September Sonata, Krissy and Blaine's marriage is in its autumn season...or is it just over?—and in Let it Snow, they were once a couple, engaged to be married, until Shari Kretlow ran off with another guy, but decades later, Shari is a widow who finds herself stranded in a Wisconsin blizzard on Christmas Eve, and it's her former fiancé, Brenan Sheppard, who comes to her rescue. 


Spend a year in Amish country with four sweet romances.