Monday, June 8, 2015

COTT: Featuring Peso and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz

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 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. 


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 books!
--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 others!

We don't often get excerpts from authors, 
so enjoy this one from Pest and Potholes!

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.

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

COTT Victory Goes To...

We Have A Winner!
Congratulations to Dawn Crandall! Her book, The Captive Imposter, won this month's clash!

Thank you all for voting, and a special thank you to all of our authors this month!

Here are a few of our voter comments:

  • Dawn Crandall is a very gifted writer. She is a master @ blending romance & suspense !
  • Dawn!  You know I love your books so much that I dream about the character!! :)
  • I love the writing style of Dawn Crandall. This is one of my favorite books. Keep up the good work Dawn
  • The Everstone Chronicles series is not to be missed! The characters are so absorbing and their story compelling. Readers, keep a look out for these and future stories by author Dawn Crandall! You will be glad you did. YaY, Dawn Crandall; thank you for sharing your story adventures.


The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone is living under an assumed name in the awkward presence of her ex-fiance. However, as hotel manager Dexter Blakeley, slowly captures her heart, will the layers of family secrets and the knowledge of her true identity end up severing his love for her?

The Captive Imposter is book three in THE EVERSTONE CHRONICLES. Here are some reviews for the series:

“Romantic! Engaging and absorbing! Dawn Crandall brings America’s Gilded Age to life on the page with vintage amour and emotional depth.”— KRISTY CAMBRON, author of The Butterfly and the Violin

“Visit a bygone era filled with romance, intrigue, and characters who will stay with you long after you close the book. Dramatic and engaging, THE EVERSTONE CHRONICLES is one series you won’t want to miss.”— MICHELLE GRIEP, author of Brentwood’s Ward


*Winner of the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence Romance Writers of America book contest

“Delving deep into the human heart with prose as polished as beach stones, THE HESITANT HEIRESS is a marvelous romance and an impressive debut.”— LORI BENTON, author of Burning Sky

“Dawn Crandall is a new author to watch!”— ELIZABETH CAMDEN, author of Against the Tide and Beyond All Dreams 


“Dawn Crandall’s second novel in the Everstone Chronicles is an intense, powerful journey of one woman’s search for true love and true forgiveness. It is a beautiful reminder to us that nothing is too broken for God to piece together with the power of his grace. Lawry is a delightful and consistent hero worth falling for and Meredyth’s desperate longing for wholeness comes to its full completion in being loved well! Absolutely beautiful.”— PEPPER BASHAM, author of The Thorn Bearer (May 2015)

“In THE BOUND HEART, Dawn Crandall creates a cast of broken characters whose struggles spoke to me from the prologue.”— CARA PUTMAN, author of Shadowed by Grace


“Dawn Crandall is a fresh new voice in inspirational romance, and her latest offering, THE CAPTIVE IMPOSTER, does not disappoint! Estella is sweet but imperfect, intelligent but not harsh. Blakeley is handsome: mysterious and contradictory, the perfect Byronic hero. Is Estella the woman to soften his hardened heart and is he the man to help her put her past firmly behind her? Creepy, mysterious settings with lots of lush, sensory details escort the reader through the pages as we wonder—will her secret spill? As more and more people learn the truth about this imposter, that coming reveal might just change everything.”— SANDRA BYRD, author of Mist of Midnight (March 2015)

“A blend of elegant drama and mystery, THE CAPTIVE IMPOSTER tells the story of a love unexpected. Dawn Crandall quickly became a favorite author with her first two books, and the element of hidden identity in The Captive Imposter entwines with the style I’ve come to expect from Crandall—resulting in one satisfying read.”— RACHELLE REA, author of The Sound of Diamonds (June 2015)

Find them all on Amazon:
Book 1, The Hesitant Heiress
Book 2, The Bound Heart
Book 3, The Captive Imposter


{About Dawn Crandall}

Dawn Crandall writes long inspirational historical romantic suspense. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive husband, her three cats [Lilly, Pumpkin and Clover] and their newest addition, a little baby boy named Rhett (March 2014).

A former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn didn't begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn't take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.