Friday, March 23, 2007

Writer Deb Vogts' Interview

Thanks, Deb, for doing this interview. This past year you’ve become agented. I know my readers will enjoy hearing about your writing journey. Let's get started.

1. When did you first know you were a “writer?”

I’ve had an interest in writing since grade school and began my first “Great American Novel” my sophomore year in high school. Five year’s ago I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (then called Romance Writers), and it was then that I became serious about my writing and actually came “out of the closet” enough to call myself a “writer.” Scary thought. I mean who wants to admit that all you do is create characters and make-believe stories in your head all day? By then I had written two complete books, but I wouldn’t claim them now.

2. What is your favorite genre? Please explain a little about it to everyone.

I enjoy reading Christian fiction, romance, and women’s fiction. Two of the best novels I’ve read this year (and last) have been A River Rising, by Athol Dickson and A Bride Most Begrudging, by Deeanne Gist, both Christy Award winners, and there’s a reason why. Each of these authors captured their story’s world and characters and painted vivid pictures for their readers with some interesting twists. There are many more books in my to-be-read pile, however, so I’m sure I’ll uncover some more great reads soon.

3. What are you working on now? Want to tell us a smidgen about it?

I’m currently writing the second book of a four book series called Seasons of the Tallgrass. It’s contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas, and each book takes place during one season of the ranching year. The book I’m working on now is my summer book, and I call it Seeds of Summer. It’s about a young woman who returns to her father’s ranch to care for her siblings after her father’s death. In a nutshell, she realizes that by giving up her dreams, she opens doors for God’s will in her life, and finds that His dreams for her future are far better than her own.

4. What does it mean to be agented? How did this happen? How soon till you're published?

To have an agent is to have someone in a literary agency working to get your manuscript in the hands of an editor and to continue pushing your work until you are published. After that, an agent handles contract negotiations, and helps with all the other little things that go with publishing and marketing yourself as an author.

My story is odd in that I didn’t search long before I found an agent that was a good fit for me. I believe God’s hands were in it from the beginning. A couple years ago, I attended an ACFW conference in Nashville on a full scholarship. (Again, God’s hands.) While there, I visited with several publishers and agents, and my very last appointment was with Beth Jusino from Alive Communications. She showed enthusiasm for my book series and gave me some suggestions for making it better. She said if I could make those changes, to send the proposal and some sample chapters to her. Which, of course, I did. J After that, she requested the full, and then almost a year from the time I met her, she took me on as a client. I was elated, and even in a state of disbelief that it was happening. Beth is full of energy and knows the publishing world inside out. I am thrilled to have her in my corner.

Currently, we are seeing some interest in the series, but I’m finding that patience is a must in this business. Hurry up and wait. J Right now, I’m holding this project up to God, to take care of in His perfect timing.

5) What is an average day in your life?

As a stay-at-home mom with my oldest daughter in college and my youngest in 4th grade, I have it easier than most. Once the kids are off for school, my day begins with a little bit of housework, then Bible study and devotion, and after that, if I’m good, I’ll go straight to my writing. (If I’m not good, I’ll check my e-mail, which usually equates into spending more time on the Internet than I ought to.) I’ll break for lunch and do some more household duties, and then work again on writing projects in the afternoon till around 5:00 or 6:00.

If I followed my “perfect” schedule, I’d write from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Take a break and exercise, then work on other projects from 3:00 – 6:00, such as web site updates, newsletters, critiques, articles, or my book.

Unfortunately, I don’t live in a “perfect world,” and I have a hard time sticking to this schedule, especially the exercise part. There seems always to be something that interferes like dentist appointments, laundry, or my sweet tooth.

6. How long do you spend daily on your writing?

Ha, ha, see above answer.

7. What are some of your hobbies? A weird habit of yours? Favorite food?

A few of my hobbies include playing the piano (I also give lessons), baking, and of course, reading. I also plant a huge garden in the spring so my summers are pretty busy taking care of that.

I don't have any weird habits (huge smile). My favorite food is either Chicago style pizza or grilled Kansas city strip steak. And chocolate--although chocolate isn't a food; it's a daily vitamin supplement.

8. Do you ever feel like giving up on your writing? Is writing a "piece of cake?" An easy road to travel?

You know, I’m not sure I ever think about giving up. I love writing too much for that to cross my brain. But sometimes I do wonder if it’s God’s plan for me to be published. I think we all have our moments of doubt about that.

No, writing is not a piece of cake. There’s nothing easy about coming up with memorable characters, sensational settings, and page-turning plotlines. And sitting in your chair every day is hard work too, especially when you have kids or a husband beckoning or hear the gentle whisper of a sunny day calling to you. Despite all that, however, and the ongoing insecurities we writer’s face, wondering if we’ll be able to write another novel as good as the last, or if it will sell, and if it does sell, will the next one sell, etc. etc. . . I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollar lottery ticket—and I had to really think hard about that one because it would be wonderful to pay off all of our debt and own a big, fancy house. But what good would all that be, if I couldn’t do the one thing I truly loved doing? I mean, really, it’s pretty awesome to love your job.

9. How do you get your ideas? Come up with character names?

Oh, the ten million dollar question. Most of my ideas come from a variety of places – newspaper or magazine articles, something I’ve seen or remembered from my past, even a dream, but above all, it’s something that strikes my heart as so compelling a thought I have to get it down on paper and write about it. Brainstorming also helps when you need to add conflict to your story.

Character names are a bit easier. I usually refer to a baby name book, and just like naming a child, I give lots of thought to how the name reflects on my character. Sometimes I use phone books.

10. Want to share your blog address with my readers?

Sure, but my blog isn’t a normal blog. Instead, it serves as my web site. I recently added a panoramic photo of the Flint Hills to my header, so I am very excited about that. Plus I now have additional page links for recipes, writer’s tips, and other country tidbits. I call it Country at Heart. Please visit me at

11. Any advice for all the "hopeful" writers out there in cyberspace?

Never give up. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. . .It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col. 3:23-24.

There you have it, dear friends and family. A woman who is VERY close to being traditionally published. I'm so excited for her and can't wait to hear that she's been contracted. But those of us who are "writers" we soon learn that it's a long journey. For some: years. Deb is our critique group overseer and does a great job of it. I'm so happy to be a part of American Christian Fiction Writers and my critique group.

Don't forget to say a prayer for her writing (and don't forget me either! Grin).

Hint for Posterity:
Begin today a journal of you and your family. Don't try to be 'long-winded.' Begin slowly, keep entries short. Start with memories of your children, work on that for several days or even months. Then write about your life, thoughts, and feelings. Advance to your parents life, or even farther back. Write small things, words, or whatever comes to your mind. Just write and keep at it. Someday you'll have something that may be cherished in the future.


Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. --taken from Philippians.



Beth Goddard said...

Great Interview, Debbie!! I loved your answers. So heartfelt. And girl, now that I know how much writing time you have, you better get in that seat!

Love you!

Caroline said...

Thanks for the comment, Beth!

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