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COTT: Vote for Your Favorite October Read!

Posted by Julie on October 24, 2016 in COTT, encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |



Autumn leaves are falling from the
trees, and we’ve raked in some great books for this month’s Clash of the

Vote for your Fave!
Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your fave.
It’s a tough choice, but it’s up to you to determine our Clash
Love’s Faithful Promise by
Susan Anne Mason
Widower Dr. Matthew Clayborne is devoted to two things: his work with
wounded soldiers and his four-year-old daughter, Phoebe. When Deirdre
O’Leary, a feisty New Yorker, arrives requesting he use his skills to
help her stricken mother, he has no idea how his life is about to

Feta and Freeways by Susan M.

Nikolos Action is the lead singer of the band and doesn’t
realize love is right in front of him until their manager, Tia, is
almost killed trying to save his life. After years of ignoring her is it
too late to earn her trust…and her love?

Dangerous Alternative by Kelli

Hollywood grip, Levi Boulter unknowingly puts himself in
the crosshairs of a murder plot. Now, he’ll do anything to keep the
woman he loves safe, even if it means losing her forever.

Inconceived by Sharyn Kopf

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means
and how to handle it is another. And, it would seem, Jolene, Uli and
Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is
trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their
longing to have children of their own.


Child of Dust by Shoba Sadler

After the sudden death of her parents, Vietnamese
socialite Cao Kim Lye steps out of a world of crystal and chandelier to
enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi when she goes to live
with her Amerasian chauffeur and his adoptive family at a shop cum
living quarters.

If you
have trouble viewing the entire survey,
CLICK HERE to load a dedicated page to the survey.

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COTT: Salsa and Speed Bumps by Susan M. Baganz

Posted by Julie on April 11, 2016 in Julie Arduini |
One moment of sin leads to a path of pain . . . and unexpected

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

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
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
“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:

Salsa and Speedbumps by Susan M. Baganz

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

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,

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COTT: Vote for Your Favorite Read

Posted by Julie on March 2, 2016 in COTT, encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |

With four great contenders and a week of voting, we welcome you to the February clash!! Step up and browse the covers, voting for the one you’d love to add to your reading pile. Scroll to the bottom for voting, and support your favorite title! Be sure to leave words of encouragement for your author, including his or her name!

**For those viewing on smart phones and devices that don’t display the
survey monkey below, follow this link to cast your vote: January Release

Happy voting!!!

Finding Love in Sun Valley Idaho

by Angela Ruth Strong

Emily Van Arsdale returns to her home state of Idaho to film her latest
movie, but will finding love with rafting consultant Tracen Lake be enough
to make her stay?

it here


Salsa and Speed Bumps

by Susan M. Baganz

Sometimes God allows speed bumps on the road to redemption.

it here

A Worthy Heart

by Susan Anne Mason

Adam O’Leary, newly released from prison, wishes to make amends to his
family and start a new life, only a certain Irish lass gets in the way!

it here


Just Kin

by Caryl McAdoo

Torn apart by war, rejection, and a letter with news she never wanted,
Lacey Rose takes her shredded heart and runs. Charley figures something
isn’t right, but is duty-bound to the Confederacy until a deathbed order
sets in motion a series of events that test his love, honor, and commitment
to the breaking point.

The Healer’s Rune

by Lauricia Matuska

To save Humanity from extinction, Sabine Rhyonselle must overcome centuries
of lies and prejudice to forge an alliance between warring races and learn
how to manage a dangerous secret that could get her killed.Find
it here

Create your own user feedback survey

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COTT: Vote for What You’d Read During Christmas Vacation

Posted by Julie on December 15, 2015 in COTT, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |
The Happiest of Holiday Reading to
This month we share five books and
seven authors with you — some old friends and some new.
Voting starts today, December 9 and goes through
Midnight December 15, CST.
Vote now and leave the authors a word of encouragement both here and on the
survey form. Share with other book lovers, and Come back
December 17 for the Clash of the Titles champion.
Which cover tickles your fancy? Which book would be next for you?
Scroll down to find the voting form.
Sixty thousand people watched Candace Rodriguez literally fall off the
stage while performing the national anthem, wrecking more than her
self-esteem. Will her new faith in Christ be strong enough to bring her to
an After she could only dream of in her music, health, and love?
Three in One special shorter reads of romantic Christmases Past for the
busy holiday season. From the nineteenth century Wisconsin farm family to a
small town doctor fighting a flu outbreak to Medieval Britain lords and
ladies…all need a Christmas miracle.
In 1903 New York City, Italian immigrant Sofia Falcone learns a family
secret that sends her mother to the brink of insanity. When she meets a
Vaudeville pianist whose own struggles cross hers on the streets of Little
Italy, change is on the way, though it may not bring what they expect.
The stalwart saint fights for faith… the redeemed rebel, fights for
honor. After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers
that faith is sometimes fragile and hope is not as easy as it may

What if the plane crash that killed Amy’s fiancé was no accident?
Some questions need to be asked.

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COTT: Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz

Posted by Julie on June 6, 2015 in Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |


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
Pesto & Potholes
by Susan M. Baganz
About the book:
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
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.

What COTT Voters Had to Say:

–Susan, I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to read your
book. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

–Loving reading this, Susan Bagnanz.

–I’m so excited for you, Susan! Congratulations.

–Going to order this one today, Susan Baganz! Thank you for writing great

–Great job, Susan. Way to go!

–Great cover and great story premise, Susan Baganz.

–Excited about Susan’s book. The title is so intriguing.

–Susan M. Baganz – I like the happy sound of this story!

–Sounds intriguing, Susan Baganz!

–Susan M. Baganz – You are doing great and your stories are so
captivating! Thanks for writing and sharing your gift with


We don’t often get excerpts from

so enjoy this one from Pest and

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? 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.

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?”

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.”

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

About 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

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. 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

You can learn more by following her blog, her Twitter feed
@susanbaganz or her fan page,

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