The Gate of the Year

If you seem to see this poem everywhere, I will take partial blame. Or credit. It is so wonderful that I’ve blogged it before, put it on our Christmas letter, mumbled it in the grocery store. Because 2019 is looming and I’m not prepared for it.




And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the Hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.


There is a quite lovely story behind this. It was written by British poet Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)—actually part of a longer poem called “God Knows” and published in 1908.

1939 was a bad year for England, in the bitterest throes of war, and 1940 didn’t look to be better. Young Princess Elizabeth shared “God Knows” with King George (aka her papa). He chose to share the preamble in his Christmas radio address to his anxious nation.

I choose to share it with you. With a confession that I am moderately hypocritical in doing so. I want the light shown on 2019. I want guarantees for my loved ones, my nation, my church. And guess what? God refuses to give me any guarantee except His presence and everything it entails. And He guarantees me that it all shall be well.

Happy New Year, dear ones. I’m praying that health and strength and blessings galore lie beyond the door to 2019 for us all. I’m confident of this though. God is there already.


The Doctor’s Daughter (by the hobbits’ mother)

Susan Baganz is a personal friend, my very own editor, the reason I am published, and an inspiration! She is mother to 3 curly-haired young’uns and with a last name like Baganz—you can see the connection to my favorite Middle Earth folk!

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In the middle of preparing for a wedding to the man of her dreams, and packing and moving and all the crazy things both entail, Susan agreed to visit the Tuesday Prude with a bit on her Christmas novella, “The Doctor’s Daughter.” It is a Regency-era story of the challenges faced by doctors and the even greater challenges faced by women who practiced healing arts! And since it is written by Ms. Baganz, there is a healthy dose of romance and proof that “the course of true love never did run smooth.”


Miss Silvia Burnett is left without a home after her father, a local physician, passes away unexpectedly. She appeals to a friend from boarding school, Mrs. Katrina Tidley, who resides in the same area where her father’s mentee set up practice. With a calf-love on her part, they’d once agreed to wed each other if she remained unattached at a certain age. But are youthful promises meant to be kept? Would the handsome physician want her now?

Dr. Bruce Miller has watched all his friends from university marry and begin their families. Living in the village of Didcot did not provide him with a wife. When a letter from the daughter of the doctor he interned with in Bristol arrives at his door, hope soars within that maybe this woman is the answer to his lonely nights.

As influenza spreads and Silvia uses her talents in medicine to aid the doctor, will he find her competition or a viable companion? With Christmas dawning, will dreams be shattered or fulfilled?


I had a few questions for this busy bride-to-be:
You write contemporary dramatic romance and Regency era novels. Which is your favorite? And if you ever branch out to another time period to set your books in, what would it be?

Which is my favorite? They both have their fun aspects and challenges. Regency is fun because of the language and the culture. I can use a wider vocabulary and the moral strictures on women and men make it fun to play around with. The challenge is to get the details correct and to not let contemporary slang slip in! Contemporary romance is fun too, because you can delve more into the emotional pain and lingo – the technology makes it more challenging to keep a story relevant and accurate as anyone can fact check so many things I might choose to write about – so one needs to be careful there as well. Another challenge is not to hit too close to home to people and experiences you want to put in your stories, even in a veiled way.

A different time period? I don’t know. I did write a novella set in the last 1800’s in Wisconsin, kind of a “prairie romance.” I’ve dabbled in romantic suspense (contemporary) and hope to co-author some military romances in the future.

Your contemporary novels involve real people with real pasts and honest problems who find love. Yet even then, they don’t necessarily live “happily ever after,” but rely on God to help them work through knotty problems and even heartache. (The question is coming. Honest) How much of your own love story is identified with the lives of your protagonists?

When I’ve done workshops at writer’s conferences, I’ve confessed that there is much of our history that shows up in our fiction. I think I’ve lived vicariously through my characters and some of their struggles have been ones I’ve had at some level. I, however, have not until now, had my own real-life romance. I wrote romance to fill that need and because I believed at my core that even though I had not experienced it, that it existed. Yet for all of that I sometimes feel like I’m living a fairy tale with my new love. It will be interesting to see how a real-life romance impacts my writing from here on out!

Tell us how you came up with the idea for “The Doctor’s Daughter.”

I had the last of my Black Diamond Gothic Regency Romances release this year and knew I wanted to do a novella for the Pelican Christmas Extravaganza – so I figured I’d take a recurring character, Doctor Bruce Miller, and give him a sweet romance – no gothic but plenty of drama! It is fun is to see some of the characters from the series playing a part in his romance.

Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. 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. 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,


I pray for every happiness for this godly, genuine woman. And if you are looking for a quick, inspiring Christmas read, grab “The Doctor’s Daughter” available on ereaders.



Welcome to the Seesaw



teeter-totter-148268_1280We know how a see-saw (aka teeter-totter) works. Let one side be heavier and it will crash to the ground. The rider lands with a teeth-jarring thump. The unfortunate passenger on the opposite side might end up bouncing off into the troposphere. Only with perfectly distributed weight is the see-saw perfectly balanced.

Christians, no matter how learned or discerning or pious, still can get out of balance. But God in His infinite loving wisdom has provided everything we need to keep from either slamming painfully to earth or losing our grip and flying out-of-control off the apparatus.

For Example:

Without faith it’s impossible to please God, (Hebrews 11:6). Right? But start neglecting the good fruits God wants us to display and we’ll slide not only downward into selfishness, but into doubting the truth of our faith and the Father who provides it.

Pray without ceasing, we read in I Thessalonians 5:7. Our entire lives should be constant communication with God. But when those prayers turn into vain repetitions and meaningless babble warned against in Matthew 6, we aren’t communicating any more. We’re just throwing words at God. He reminds us that prayer involves the heart, mind and will. We’re speaking to a real Person!

Examples of Contradictions?

Sometimes Scripture seems to contradict itself.  But could some of these “inconsistencies”  be God’s way of keeping our lives in balance? (I was going to write “keeping our Christian walk in balance” but walking doesn’t work well with the seesaw metaphor.)

Please pop over to Heartwings for the rest of the story!

Christmas Passed (Almost)

Here I told friends I’d love to promote their books on my blog. But not on Tuesdays, because—you know—TUESDAY Prude. I want to save it for my own book.

And then I wake up this morning. TUESDAY. And I forgot to post about my book. So now I’m a blur of trying to get it published before everyone goes to work.

The book is Christmas Passed. Published by Pelican Books. Only available on ereaders like Kindle, Nook, or those clever apps you can download. (No. No print for this book. Sorry. Don’t hate me.)

It’s a suspense romance, set in Milwaukee in early December. Dinah, my heroine, is photographing an old house she loves. While it is being transformed for a series of Christmas open houses, an unfortunate event puts Dinah in charge of the preparations. It’s a dream come true, until she realized she has to work with Mick Wagner, her childhood nemesis. An old secret in the attic results in a very present danger for Dinah. Here is the cover.

Dinah, my heroine, would be slightly surprised at how glamorous she looks, but it is a pretty cover, don’t you think?ChristmasPassed_w5499_680

Some women dream of tropical islands. Dinah dreams of rummaging through old attics. Mickey, her nemesis,  was gorgeous as a rotten kid and just as gorgeous as an irate adult.

Here are a couple of tweets if you don’t follow me on Twitter. (Mental note to self. Put these on Twitter too.)

Ebbie’s unfortunate accident puts Dinah in command. Her troops? Four elderly women.

Mick calls Dinah a brainiac. She calls him a dumb jock. Opposites attract. Or do they?

My publisher wanted me to explain a bit more about Christmas Passed and why I wrote it:

I’m hooked on holidays. Even the ones you don’t send cards for, like Flag Day.
So when I saw (on April 1) that my publisher was accepting submissions for Christmas novellas (due May 1), I set my face away from my spring decorations, turned on Christmas music, and started writing.

A month later and panting heavily from the exertion, I submitted “Christmas Passed” and immediately turned my thoughts to May Day.

Since then, the manuscript was accepted, the cover art designed and a release date of December 1 set. Since then I’ve decorated for Flag Day, Fourth of July, First Day of School, and all things autumn. Now it’s time to get in a Christmas frame of mind.

If you are like me, you enjoy summer beach reads—while it is summer—and Christmas stories beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Moreover (if you are like me) you don’t want your Christmas stories too dark or depressing. Why ruin the most wonderful time of the year with gloom?

“Christmas Passed” is a quick read, but filled with all things Christmas. Want decorations? It has boxfuls. Watery hot cocoa? Check. A possible romance? Possibly. Adorable old folks? Got ‘em. Danger? Of course! I am, after all, a romance-SUSPENSE writer.

Sprinkle the story with a bit of humor, some life-changing history and a solid base of faith, and you have “Christmas Passed.” No matter where you live, your age, or your circumstances, I hope that, if you read it, you’ll get a whiff of Christmas at its best.


Me. In the snow. Drinking coffee. With the gutter in the background, which is why my husband wouldn’t let me use it as a main publicity photo.

Links to Christmas Passed


Barnes and Noble:

Monday at the Prude: MM by LL


I just finished reading “Meow Mistletoe” by Lisa Lickel. This woman is a prolific, intelligent, imaginative writer. (Tell me you see what I did there in my post title. “Meow Mistletoe” by Lisa Lickel.)

Lisa comes up with some of the best names for businesses! How about Mea Cuppa for a coffee shop? And people: Pfannie? A woman as ditzy-yet-inoffensive as her name.

Lisa’s books are peppered with interesting and memorable people. In “Meow Mistletoe,” a prequel to her “Meow” cozy mystery series, we meet Almanzo, Pfannie, Donald, and most importantly, Ivy our heroine and Adam, the man who makes her heart skip beats at inconvenient moments. Did I say they were the most important? The cats Memnet, Isis and Tut, would dispute that statement. I asked Lisa about her own relationship with cats.

Why cats in your books?
I have cats in a lot of my books, don’t I? Except for UnderStory, which has dogs. I grew up with cats and have fond memories of a couple of them, like the Terrible Turk, a Siamese we had for a number of years. He used to chase me and my brother around the house, nipping our heels. Then I married into a family of allergy-prone people, and while my husband’s brother and sister just suffer and have cats in their homes, my husband doesn’t want to. Our oldest struggled with animal allergies, too, so that was that. Oh, we did have gerbils for a while, but they’re not exactly the same, are they? I now have pets vicariously through my stories. Still not sure about dogs, though. Sorry.

“Meow Mistletoe” takes place in one night—a few hours, actually.  Christmas stories are best read at Christmas, I think. The next question for Lisa (who is also a historian) was:

If you could adopt any Christmas tradition from any era or nation or culture into your holidays, what would it be?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen traditions around the world. There are so many unique customs, aren’t there? Our new house has high ceilings. Maybe we could do several upside-down German Christmas trees…hmm, maybe not. I confess to having miniature clip candle holders for Christmas tree branches and have lit them successfully a couple of years without needing to use a fire extinguisher. I still love later Victorian celebrations, including Boxing Day and the Twelve Days of Christmas, bows, small gifts spread over the season, special treats, punch, music, long skirts and mufflers, a group of carolers singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and Tiny Tim being healed.

Knowing how much authors live in the fictional worlds we create, I wondered—

If you could insert yourself into “Meow Mistletoe, tell us which scene you’d love to be part of.

There are a couple of scenes I’d probably curl up and burn with embarrassment like Ivy did. I thought maybe I’d like to be rescued by Adam when Ivy almost got run over, but street burn doesn’t appeal to me…even though there was that almost-kiss. I think I’d like most of all to be part of following the blood trail. That’s the scene that shows they are kindred spirits, unafraid of adventure and would make a good team.


If you want a quick, fun read, well-written, with a quirky and unexpected little mystery, get “Meow Mistletoe!” It’s part of the Pelican Book Group Christmas Extravaganza series.

Amazon –
Barnes and Noble –

Ivy has just cause to be wary of men. Her long-time fiancé backed out of their wedding. The slow fizzle of their undramatic relationship leaves her wondering if romance is a myth. Then, Adam, an intriguing new member of her pet organization, catches Ivy’s attention. Unfortunately, his cat Isis, a beautiful purebred Egyptian Mau, prefers to pick on her cat, Memnet. Ivy would like to get to know Adam better, but with her self-esteem in the gutter and feline fights at every turn, she wonders how to proceed.

When Ivy agrees to help a clingy friend find her missing pet, she learns that true love doesn’t need theatrics. There’s hope for Adam and Ivy, if only their cats would approve.

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Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin author who loves books, collects dragons, and writes inspiring fiction. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater, and loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa is a member of the Chicago Writer’s Association and vice president/instructor for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. She is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at

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