Friday, June 29, 2012

Author Interview ~ Beth Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”

Her inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International.

Tell us a bit about your current project.

Wish You Were Here asks the question “Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right?” The novel tells the story of what happens when a woman kisses her fiancé’s brother five days before the wedding. Which is the mistake? The kiss? Or the wedding?

We are all about journeys...unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights from your path to publication. 

The first book I ever published was a non-fiction book about late-in-life motherhood, Baby Changes Everything (Revell 2007.) For years, I said I would never writer fiction – I was quite content staying on my side of the writing road. And then I hit a season of burnout when I told my husband I would never write another word – ever, ever, ever. He came home three days later to find me at the computer … um, writing. When he asked me about my vow to never write again (ever, ever, ever), I told him that what I was doing didn’t count. I was just having fun, playing around with an idea for a novel. No one would ever see it. That “just for fun” idea became Wish You Were Here. God used burnout to redirect my life – and allow me to see a whole new dream come true.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.

Self-doubt wants to tag along on this journey, kind of like an unwelcome, invisible companion. The best way to overcome self-doubt is to surround myself with my “security net” of friends – both writers and non-writers. These friends (including my husband) speak truth to me when I’m up on a ledge and want to jump off. They point me back to who I am in God’s eyes and they help me to shake off the self-doubt.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

That idea that you’re going to get it all done one day? It’s not going to happen.

And comparing yourself to someone else? Don’t go there. You walk your journey along the writing road and let them walk their journey. If your paths cross, cheer them on.

What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?

I love weaving real life into my novels. Often story ideas are prompted by questions that I’ve faced and found answers to – or maybe not.  I like letting fictional characters wrestle with the issues we face in the real world. I also love mulling over the question, “What if?”  and getting together with other writers and brainstorming story ideas.

Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel a six foot man…please do tell.

At one time I thought Wish You Were Here was going to be a romantic suspense. Long story short: That was a rookie writer’s attempt to ramp up tension. Several years ago, during my youngest daughter’s spring break, we drove through Rocky Mountain National Park trying to find the best place for a confrontation – complete with a car going over the edge of a cliff. We were marking spots on a map of the park. I kept thinking: If the teacher asks the class what they did during spring break, what will my daughter say? “We tried to figure out how to kill somebody?”

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?
That time is relative in the writing world? That waiting is mandatory? That authors must market themselves? That social media is essential – and can pull me away from my work-in-progress … Oh, sorry. You only asked for one pet peeve.

Share a dream or something you'd love to accomplish through your writing career.

I am thankful to say I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed of as a writer. But one thing I hope to do in the future is encourage other writers – to help them achieve their dreams. I saw my dreams come true because of others coming alongside me and helping me. I want to do the same. 

What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course)?

Relationships with other writers. We “get” each other, you know? And connecting with another writer, talking deadlines and elevator pitches and successes and “try again” moments – all of this has enriched my life so, so much.

Describe your special or favorite writing spot or send a picture if you'd like.

I have three-quarters of an office that is all mine. Or maybe it’s more like four-fifths. It’s large enough for two desks, and so the second desk is where my youngest daughter does homework or where my husband pays bills. But the office is mine – painted the way I like, with my favorite photos and sayings and mementos on the wall. 

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

I grab a new copy of The Book Buddy, written by best-selling author Susan May Warren. It’s an amazing work-text that helps me map out my story – everything from my theme and Story Question, to my characters and my subplots, to my key scenes. By the time I’m done working through “Buddy,” I’ve plotted out enough to begin writing my fast draft.

Have you discovered any successful marketing/promo ideas that you'd share with us?

I had the absolutely delightful experience of being part of the “Debs” with three other authors who debuted in May: Dani Pettrey, Katie Ganshert and Olivia Newport. We joined together to encourage one another months before our books launched. Then Rel of Relz Reviewz and Kelli Standish – who is amazing with web design and all the “techy” stuff – coordinated a live online launch party for us. Our publishers – Howard Books, Bethany, Waterbrook and Revell – supported our combo launch party. We also highlighted Heart of the Bride, a ministry that provides for the needs of orphans worldwide.

Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?

So … what about the llamas? Wish You Were Here is a bit quirky, in that it has a trio of llamas incorporated in the storyline. People often ask “What’s up with the llamas?” I have my husband, Rob, to thank for that. Whenever I would hit a wall and not know what to write next, he would say, “Is this when the aliens come in?” I always told him I wasn’t writing that kind of novel. One day while we were in Estes Park (yes, the same time we were trying to figure out how to kill someone off in the book) we saw some llamas. And my husband asked, “Well, how about putting llamas in your book?”
That suggestion made me laugh – and I agreed.


Kelly Klepfer said...

Thanks for orbiting with us awhile, Beth.

Julia M. Reffner said...

I thought your Deb party was a fantastic idea and lots of fun! Thanks, Beth, I always enjoy gleaning from you and your journey!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Good morning, all!
Life's a bit hectic on my end of the writing world, thanks to the Waldo Canyon Fire. It's nice to get a glimpse of my office, since we evacuated from my home on Tuesday. So far the home is safe -- not sure when we'll get back in. I have appreciated everyone's love and prayers during this time!

Roxanne Sherwood Gray said...

I enjoyed learning how Rob's "alien" idea turned into llamas, and I loved Wish You Were Here.

I'm so glad you're safe from the fire, and I'll continue to pray.

Katie Ganshert said...

Loved this interview - especially the bit about the awkward writing moment. :)

Sherrinda said...

I always love learning more about you, Beth! Thanks for a peek into YOU. I am reading Wish You Were Here right now and am LOVING it!!!! You are an awesome writer!

dtopliff said...

I always love glimpses into your life and writing. So thankful you & your home and neighborhood are safe. The fire has not been a good way to get more writing material, though even from TV newscasts I can tell there are plenty of amazing relational stories. Endless blessings your way.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Yeah, hoping to avoid those in the future. But you never know ...

Beth K. Vogt said...

Thanks, Sherrinda. So glad you are enjoying WYWH. I had a lot of fun writing it -- and rewriting and rewriting. It was all part of the process.

Beth K. Vogt said...

The Debs' Story Soiree was a highlight for me -- and Katie Ganshert, Dani Pettrey and Olvia Newport are precious friends.

Beth K. Vogt said...

True, true, Dee. I've got ideas for a hero, for certain!

Jennie Atkins said...

I laughed at the "alien" idea. My hubby always tells me there has never been a romance novel written that the characters are zombies. I just laugh...he's never read even one romance novel. So how would he know???