Prude-Approved Reads: Salsa and Speed Bumps

‘Prude-Approved Reads’ brings you Salsa and Speed Bumps by Susan Baganz, who also happens to be my editor at Prism Books. I like to think of her as my ‘very own personal editor’ and my nose gets slightly out of joint when I remember I have to share her with several other authors.

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Don’t you love when old sayings are so marvelously right?
For instance, you know fools rush in where angels fear to tread so you refuse to get involved in a facebook spat between your friends arguing who will save America—Bernie or The Donald.

Say you drop a spoon. You know from wisdom passed down through the generations this means company is coming. So you clean like crazy and then your neighbor comes over to bring a piece of your junk mail that got in their mailbox by accident and you grab them by the arm and drag them in for coffee because you dropped a spoon and now your house looks fabulous.

Stephanie and Roberto in Salsa and Speed Bumps probably wish the saying ‘Troubles never come singly,’ or the more colorful ‘When it rains it pours,’ had no basis in fact.
Because the story starts with her pregnant by date rape and him suffering from chronic pain and things just complicate from there.

Am I making this book sound like a tragedy? It isn’t. For one thing (spoiler alert) it ends with hope and a very plausible degree of happiness. Troubles pile up for the couple and while it some may think it pushes against the boundaries of the believable, Susan stops well short of caricature. We all know people who crawl from under one calamity only to have another one hit (debunking ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place’).

You’ll meet Susan in a little bit, but she knows her stuff when it comes to women in crisis and people enduring round after round of heartache. She’s known women like Stephanie, who suffer disproportionate consequences for saying ‘no’ to a man.

Here at The Tuesday Prude things are usually kept light, but a recent tragedy only a few miles from my peaceful village has me thinking about the high price some women pay in relationships. A cashier at a local grocery store committed the crime of treating a co-worker with kindness. When she refused to become more involved with him, the man retaliated. He killed her as she left work.

I only wish the young woman had the same outcome as Stephanie. Salsa and Speed Bumps pulls us, ruthlessly at times, through a story crammed with a vengeful ex-boyfriend, drug addiction, family betrayal and racial prejudice. And high blood pressure. Countering the misery is life and forgiveness and grace. With so much wretchedness in our world, it did my heart good to read about love triumphing over evil.

Susan warned me that this book has a bit more spice to the romance than Pesto and Potholes, her previous book in the Orchard Hill series. But the romantic spice was sort of between a pablano pepper and a jalapeño, nowhere NEAR a habanero.

Salsa and Speed Bumps is a prude-approved read, in spite of some difficult glimpses into the evil men can do and the stresses that even a committed married couple can experience. Sometimes a prude has to move out of her comfortable, mild yellow-bell-pepper zone. Because, as the old saying goes, better late than never.

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Meet Susan:
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 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 www.susanbaganz.com, her twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz/me

Little-known facts about Susan:

What book had the biggest influence on your life?
I’d have to say the Bible. It has opened my eyes to deception, convicted me, comforted me, challenged me . . . and continues to do so as I keep reading it. I try reading at times in different versions to make familiar passages new again—so I don’t skim over them. Outside of that, no other book has come close to having that kind of impact on me and at such a depth.

Why where you given your particular name? If you had to change your first name what would you change it to?
Susan was popular around the time I was born. I always wished I had been named Stephanie. My parents said they had considered that but feared I would be called Stevie and didn’t like that. At this point, since I’ve been Susan for more than half of my life (I went by Sue up till I graduated high school and then decided I wanted to use my full name to sound more adult. Ha! Doesn’t mean I act like it!). I still respond to Sue or Suz but only my Aunt Mary gets away with calling me Suzy.
Because I love the name so much is why gave my main character that name. Initially she had a different name (in Pesto & Potholes) but I eventually realized that Renata, Rachel and Roberto were too many “R’s” in a story. I kept mixing up my girls! So Rachel became Stephanie during one of Pesto’s many revisions and obviously Salsa’s.

You’ve been writing all day. You don’t want to cook. You do want to get out of the house. Do you get pizza, burgers or Chinese?
I rarely have the money for takeout so my kids often get frozen pizza or mac’n cheese. I love Chinese but rarely get take out—my characters often do though. Fortune cookies are so much fun to write! But if I’m really hungry and out and about and don’t want to cook? If I’m in a huge rush I will actually go Mexican! Taco Bell. I know, how sad is that? But if I have the time (and a little more money) Q’doba is my place to be. I love their naked burritos (steak queso with white rice, lima beans, regular and verde salsa AND cheese and sour cream – but no chips). Yum. Now my mouth is watering . . .

Your favorite sport is—
Is reading a sport? No? Bummer. To watch? I really am not into sports and neither are my kids. I love to watch ice-dancing, or dancing (Dancing with the Stars anyone?). Figure skating . . . To play it used to be volleyball. Now I have had too many health issues that make that not good thing for me to participate in. Bummer. In the sand is especially fun. I’m not good at it but if you want to be silly, and don’t care if you win, I’m your player.

How about favorite kind of music?
I love music. I wanted to be a disc jockey when I grew up. I love to talk and enjoy music so what better place for me to be? I also wanted to be a singer. Did that for a short time in the Milwaukee area.
I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes. I listen to classical when I write my Regency fiction. I also enjoy acapella, I love some swing and do-wop. Favorite artists would be: Rich Mullins, Billy Joel, 33 Miles, Burlap to Cashmere, David Meece, Newsboys (older stuff – it has some wit to the lyrics!), Jason Grey, Brian Duncan, Huey Lewis and the News (big band sound! I used to play saxophone). I lean towards more acoustic guitar sounds but great vocals and lyrics are important too. I prefer male voices to female overall. Christy Nockels is the gold standard for female voices for me).

And your favorite song?
Hold Me Jesus, by Rich Mullins resonates with me since I struggle with depression at times. “Sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all. When the mountains look so high, and my faith just seems so small . . .So hold me, Jesus, ‘cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace.” It goes on in the bridge: “Surrender don’t come natural to me. I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want than to take what You give that I need. And I’ve beat my head against so many walls now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees . . .”
Makes me cry to realize just how much I need Him. And I’m so grateful He’s been there in those dark moments, holding me, even when I don’t recognize it at the time.

Would you rather be an Irish line dancer, a hula dancer, a clogger, or a cabaret dancer?
Aw, man. Can’t I do some country line dancing? That sounds like it would be sooo much fun! Or jazz dancing with those jazz hands! (PRUDE NOTE: SOME AUTHORS REFUSE TO COLOR IN THE LINES, OR CHOOSE FROM THE DANCE OPTIONS GIVEN. BUT PRUDES ARE FORGIVING)

What three items would you take with you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island for a year? (FYI: It has fresh water and plenty for you to eat and a flush toilet).
Do I need toilet paper? Please don’t tell me I need to use leaves.
(1) My Bible. (2) A Rubbermaid box filled with empty journals, notebooks and mechanical pencils/colored pencils, pencil sharpener and lead. (3) A toolbox with the basics (hammer, pliers. LOTS of nails, screwdrivers).

You get to be any household item you want in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ What do you choose?
I want to be a comfortable reading chair in the library.

Cooking, baking, or for Pete’s sake can we please eat out?
I don’t get to eat out often. I can cook or bake well. I just hate cleaning up. Take me out. Q’doba’s would be great . . .but I’m open to other suggestions.

Which would you prefer as a second home: Mountain cabin, beach house or big city condo?
Mountain cabin. Something about the wilderness is so beautiful and relaxing.

If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?
Aristotle teaching his students about ethics. The didactic teaching would be fun to watch. Sorry, that’s the first thing that came to mind? I majored in philosophy in my undergrad.

If you could learn any new skill, what would it be?
Play guitar. I mean like really well. Finger picking etc. Or Banjo. That’d be fun. You can never be sad when a banjo is playing. I love it when we have one as part of our worship teams at church.

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Susan has made a big difference in my life, as she has in many others. If you don’t ever have the opportunity to meet her, you’ll get a glimpse of her heart through her books.

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