It's my pleasure to welcome back author Deborah Vogts to share about her sophomore novel
Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.
CHATTING WITH DEBORAH
JA: Seeds of Summer is a sequel to Snow Melts in Spring. What are the challenges and blessings involved in writing a sequel as opposed to something totally new?
DV: A blessing is that you are familiar with your setting and there is less research involved. I enjoy getting to know my characters deeper as each story progresses, but that may be a negative, because it’s going to be hard to say good-bye to them one day. LOL
It can be challenging to work with ongoing characters, especially when you come upon an aspect you’d like to change, but you’re unable to because it’s mentioned in an earlier book. For instance, in the third book, which I’m finishing up now, I almost wish I would have given Clara fewer children…but I’d already mentioned in the first book that she had three. So I couldn’t do anything about it—maybe kill one of them…but that wouldn’t be nice.
JA: Is there a theme running through this series?
DV: There seems to be one of forgiveness in each book—as well as following the path God gives us rather than our own. Each book also deals with family conflicts. I’d like readers to remember how important family relations are and that we can get through our difficulties if we remember to love and forgive each other.
I also hope to give my readers a taste of the Flint Hills and of how God’s beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.
JA: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
DV: Ever since I was in high school. I began writing my Great American Novel as a junior—Splendor of the Sun. That earned me an A++ in Senior English. LOL
I studied English and journalism in college, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I began taking serious steps to be published. I joined a local writer’s group and ACFW, (an online writing organization). I also joined a critique group, started reading writing how-to’s and attended writing conferences. I met my first agent at the ACFW Nashville Conference in 2005. We hit it off at our meeting, and she gave me some tips on making my book series “bigger.” I did that and submitted my idea to her and she took me on. We shopped my Seasons of the Tallgrass series for a year and had a few bites (one of them Zondervan) but no sale. In the end, she released me, which was a real heart breaker. However, we don’t always see the big picture like God does, and six months later I signed with agent Rachelle Gardner, with WordServe Literary, and we had an offer from Zondervan three months after that in May 2008.
JA: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you dream it up as you go?
DV: When I begin a new book, I like to start off with my characters. I will interview them and create character worksheets for them. It’s a fun process and really helps me to get to know them. After that, I’ll start working on a plot outline, which may be very vague at the beginning. From there, I’ll form a short and long synopsis of the story that will be used for marketing. Once all of these steps are done, I’ll start writing. The plot might change, and the characters may go through transitions along the way, but it’s always fun to see how the story progresses and eventually ends.
JA: Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
DV: Dinner out with the family and total relaxation for a few days at least.
JA: What’s your favorite part of the writing business? What’s your least favorite?
DV: Least Favorite: Writing on deadline. LOL
Favorite: “Fan mail.” This is something I never equated into the “author picture.” I LOVE getting letters or emails from my readers. That has been such a huge blessing to me.
JA: What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a fledgling writer?
DV: Write what is on your heart and don’t be discouraged. Read LOTS of books (especially those in your genre), join a writing group and/or a critique group. Write, and continue learning the craft. Be open to criticism and helpful advice. Never give up.
Right before I landed my second agent, I almost gave up on my dreams, and I am so thankful I didn’t. Not that God would have let me. I searched and asked that he give me scripture answers that would lead me in the right direction. Some of those he gave were: Isaiah 41:13, Deuteronomy 31:8, Proverbs 3:5-6, and my favorite one that ministered to me and still does today, “Be Still and Know that I am God.”
JA: What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
DV: I learned early on to take all contests with a grain a salt because they are highly subjective. One reader may love your entry while another may hate it. If all love it or hate it, maybe there is something you can glean from the contest.
Before being published I entered a few contests—and even finaled and won a few of them—but I also recall crying my eyes out and screaming with indignation at the crazy scores I received—the highs and lows can be so subjective. And this year, I entered my published book in a few contests. Didn’t final in any of them . . .
JA: What's next for you in the writing arena?
DV: I’m currently finishing up the third book in the series, Blades of Autumn, which is the story about Clara, the owner of Clara’s Café.
(Blurb for Book #3) With a café to run and three children to raise, Clara Lambert doesn’t have time for men or loneliness, despite what her heart might tell her. When two handsome cowboys vie for her attention, one of the brothers proves to be her soul mate, but at what cost? Will it tear the brothers’ relationship apart or is blood really thicker than water?
JA: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
DV: I’d be a stay-at-home mom. I’d do more work at home. More gardening and canning. More baking and sewing. More music involvement at our church. And I’d do more quilting and scrapbooking!
JA: Have you ever had a horrendously embarrassing moment that you ended up using later in a novel?
DV: The time I threw up on a small plane. I actually used my own experience in my first book, Snow Melts in Spring, when Mattie gets sick on her trip back to Kansas.
JA: What's your idea of a dream vacation?
DV: A cabin in the mountains or by a big lake like in Golden Pond, or even by the ocean. I’m not particular!
JA: Scenario: You’re about to be dropped off on a deserted island. You can take along one survival item, one book, and one person (living or dead… but they’ll be alive on the island). What and who do you take?
DV: A knife and my husband.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Seeds of Summer is the second book in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series. It’s a heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope.
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Seeds of Summer, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on June 16th. (NOTE: US residents only for this one.) Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!