I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, May 16, 2011

Debut Author Interview: Beth K. Vogt & Contest

Hi, I'm Roxanne Sherwood and this is one of my all-time favorite posts. Nearly two decades ago, I became friends with another young mom, Beth, who was an aspiring writer like me. During a once-in-awhile get-away from our kiddos, we sat in a restaurant dreaming of being published. It's my joy and privilege to announce Ponderer Beth Vogt received "The Call." She's sold her first novel, Wish You Were Here, to Howard Books, in a two book deal. It's slated for May 2012.

Beth, we'd love to hear the story of The Call.
In March, I got the most interesting email from my agent, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. It said: Not to give anything away, but today or tomorrow might be a very good day. My email response: Oh. My. Word. 

What's Wish You Were Here about?
Here's how I pitched the contemporary romance at ACFW last year: Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right? What happens when a woman impulsively kisses her fiance's brother five days before the wedding? Which is the mistake? The kiss? Or the wedding?

How did you create such strong characters as Allison, Daniel and Seth?
Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I went to the 2010 My Book Therapy (MBT) Storycrafters Retreat and learned about discovering my characters' dreams, their wounds, the truths they need to learn. I also endorse the MBT exercise of asking "why" until you get to the bottom of what motivates your characters.

You first published in nonfiction and said you thought in headlines and that you didn't understand me or other fiction writes who heard "voices." Tell us how you switched to the "Dark Side," as you like to call the fiction world.
I blogged about this over at my blog, In Others' Words. (And my apologies for misunderstanding fiction writers for so long!) I was burned out--not an ounce of "want to" left in me. I dug out two Christian Writers Guild assignments from the Apprentice course and decided to have fun with them--that's all. And I got carried away--all the way to a contract--three years and many drafts later.

Your manuscript began with a serious thread on cutting, then became romantic suspense with a kidnapping, finally turning contemporary romance with some humorous elements complete with llamas--all on your way to discovering your voice. Many authors struggle with finding their voice. What advice would you offer them?
Wow, you remembered all that? All those versions were my newbie attempts to create tension. Need tension? Kidnap somebody, right?
My voice showed up the more I relaxed into the story, and that happened as I gained confidence as a fiction writer. That took time and listening to others who were encouraging me. Sometimes I had to believe what they were saying--that I could do this--more than I listened to my doubts.
Even when I speak to women's groups on challenging issues, my humor usually shows up. And while there's a little fun with llamas, there are some serious themes in Wish You Were Here. And my journalism training still affects my fiction. I tend to write tight.

You're one of the elite few who've sold their first books. How did you learn your craft? 
Everyone has their story. Mine could have the subhead: Never say never. I said I'd never write fiction--and here I am, flabbergasted with my first sale. Crossing-over from nonfiction to fiction was challenging. I felt so comfortable writing nonfiction--I knew that world. There were times writing Wish You Were Here overwhelmed me. Would I ever get it right? I wanted to quit. Finding a supportive critique group is key. And attending--and re-attending--all of the MBT coaching retreats. That's where I found community and learned how to write a deeper story.

Me & my husband Rob

You wear many hats: editor of Connections magazine, writing a bimonthly column for MOMSnext e-zine, helping with Voices, the MBT e-zine, and being the mom of a 10-year-old, as well as three adult children. How do manage to write too? 
There's a lot I don't do--like cook every night and clean house every day. And file. And do crafts. And sometimes life is c-r-a-z-y when I'm dealing with multiple deadlines. I prefer blocks of time to write, and some days that doesn't happen. Sometimes I write in the carpool line at my daughter's school--no interruptions!

How has your family supported you?
My kiddos (+ one daughter-in-love & we're adding a son-in-love in July!)
I've always wanted to write, but there were a lot of years when I didn't. When I finally said, "Now," my family didn't hold me back. My husband has read so many drafts of my novel--and he'd rather read a thriller! My son critiqued my pitch sheets and scenes--he's a writer too. And my two oldest daughters give me feedback and take their youngest sister out to dinner so I can write. Most of all, they believe in me and celebrate with me and cheer me up when I'm discouraged.

Beth, thanks so much for letting me share your news with our readers. You've worked hard to become a novelist. I can't wait to hold a copy of Wish You Were Here and attend one of your book signings. I believe this is only the beginning of a wonderful career and wish you much success!

Contest: For a chance to win a red Moleskin notebook--one of Beth's favorite ways to write drafts of scenes when she's sitting in her car--leave a comment below and tell us about your current work-in-progress (WIP.)


  1. Editing a travelogue.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

    forsurveysonly at gmail dot com

  2. Roxanne and Beth, what a fun interview! It's fun to hear Beth's journey. My current wip is a married romance about a couple whose marriage is in trouble. Secret pasts hinder their present. She thinks ballroom dancing is the way to fix their relationship woes. He thinks he can renovate his way into her heart.

    Thanks again for sharing this fun interview!

  3. Y'all are so creative - you make me want to consider writing fiction, too. The closest I've come to fiction is children's fiction as I continue to work on my "Letter's from Mimi's Backyard" - a picture story book using photos from my Pollywog Creek.

    I'm so excited for you Beth...and what a fun interview.

  4. Congratulations again, Beth! Wahoooo for you!

    I just started a new book tentatively titled From the Ashes. I'm more of a seat-of-the-pants writer with a bit of plotting thrown in so I'm not completely sure where it's going. I'm sure the characters will let me know as we progress. I think it's going to be romantic suspense. I have the first chapter posted on my website. I'm open to critiques and suggestions.

    Can't wait to read your book, Beth!

  5. I'm a sucker for a free Moleskin of any kind! And I handwrite everything first. My WIP is a coming-of-age story of a girl and her family struggling to find redemption after being torn apart by abuse and betrayal. (I know that sounds vague, but I never know how much is ok to reveal online?!?) I'm about 1/2 way through, and running out of note pads. So send me a Moleskin, please! :) And Beth, as always, I'm so inspired by your journey!!!!

  6. OK, so I woke up to an email from my friend Jeanne. She made sure I corrected my typo about who was kissing who when I explained what Wish You Were Here was all about! (Did anyone else see that?!) LOL
    Enjoying all the answers so far. I'm off to celebrate the day with my daughter, Amy. It's her birthday today!

  7. Great post, Roxanne! I am so excited for Beth and can't wait to read the book.

    And I definitely want Jeanne to edit my WIP. I STILL haven't caught the typo.

  8. That's because I corrected the typo, Pat! LOL. I wasn't going to leave that kind of mistake. I don't write those kind of books. ;o)

  9. Thank goodness. I knew I was bad to read what I thought it should be, but really...

  10. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, Beth!!

    Okay, that's out of the way. But yeah, I had a hard week last week, so my response to Beth's news was a little too tempered for my liking. This week, I am all over the giddiness!! Yaaaaayyy!

    As for my book, it's currently titled "From the Ground Up" and is about a TV homebuilding guru up for a mega award...who ends up with three men under her roof - her former fiance, her current fake husband and a reporter out for the scoop of a lifetime. Tagline: She used to dream of his return. He couldn't have picked a worse time. (Not keen on the not-so-strong nouns/verbs in the tagline currently, but that's the gist...)

  11. Congrats again, Beth! I'm so thrilled for you!!!

  12. Enjoying reading about everyone else's WIPs.
    And, Amy, I love Moleskin notebooks. The best! And now all the different colors--so tempting!
    Thanks for celebrating with me, everyone!

  13. Hurray Beth! I can't wait to read the book either. I know you would have let me read a draft if I wanted but I'm patiently (trying) waiting for the final book next year. Let's see, my current WIPs.... my Monday TO DO List (the word count is very high (unfortunately) and our action plans for our new and existing consulting clients. (LOL) For those of you unaware, I am NOT a writer. :) Have fun with Amy today!

  14. Beth, I'm so glad you let me share your story! (I wish I were eligible to win the moleskin notebook. So cute!) Please wish Amy a happy birthday for me. I still remember the cute two-year-old who drank hot juice. ;-)

  15. Sonia, I completely understand your WIP! It's called life!!

  16. Congrats, Beth! I find your story very heartening, as I LOVE to read fiction but have always said I don't write it. Perhaps there is hope for me :)

    My WIP is a personal essay with a twist on the working/stay-at-home mom dilemma.

    Cool giveaway! Who wouldn't love a Moleskine? In red, no less!

  17. My WIP is sociological science fiction. Elevator pitch (or maybe more of an elevator tease): "Interspecies diplomacy begins in the womb." The human colonists and the indigenous occupants on planet Tofar have serious communication difficulties, leading to more and more conflict. Scientist Mara Cadell, who lost her fraternal twin in utero and has kept him alive in her mind as a companion, proposes that host mothers carry fraternal twins -- one of each species -- in the hope of overcoming the communication barrier.

  18. Congrats, Beth!!! And I enjoyed the article, Roxanne! So nice to keep up with friends from the past.

    I'm not officially a writer either, at least not of the pencil (or computer) and paper type. My wip is my family... and a LOT of life... trying to keep the right perspective in the midst of it all. That keeps me plenty busy... in a good way, of course. ;-)

    Hugs to you both,

  19. Wonderful inside scoop by and about precious friends. Who would think we Ponderers would grow so near and dear to each other in this relatively short time. Can't remember not knowing y'all. What a blessed journey.

  20. I'm back from spending the day with my daughter, who is 23 today!
    I found KAWyle's comment & WIP so interesting as I am a fraternal twin! I have a twin sister, Brenda, who looks nothing like me--except we are both female!!
    Thanks, everyone, for posting!

  21. Love the daughter-in-love and son-in-love terms! Totally stealing those!

    So excited for this new chapter in your life story!! And I can't wait to read Wish You Were Here.

  22. Beth I loved reading your story! Finding your own voice can be so hard sometimes; I'm still working on it.

    I'm currently writing 2 stories, one in a fitcional fantasy-land, about a second son, and the other about a over thrown king, trying to live like a normal person.

    Please enter me

    crazi.swans at gmail dot com

  23. Faye, I like both your story ideas too!

  24. Happy Birthday to your daughter. You have a beautiful family!

    I'm working on a suspense. My heroine finds a journal entry a person left anonymously saying she saw a murder. No body has shown up. The only clue that there has been a murder is the journal.

    Congratulations on your book deal!

  25. Great interview Roxanne. Beth-Enjoyed hearing your story and influences. MBT is great. Love your- "Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right?" Perfect. Also, your comments about rewriting. I've lost count now as to what number I'm on now. Lovely family.

    My WIP involves a photographer whose life is out of focus and a rescuer in need of rescue.

    Can't wait to read "Wish You Were Here"!

  26. Hi, Jackie! I've kept journals for many years, so I love stories that are connected with journals.
    And, Julia, how intriguing: a photographer whose life is out of focus and a rescuer who needs rescuing . . . hhhmmmm.

  27. I'm so thrilled for you, Beth! I can't wait to hold your book in my hands!

  28. YAY Beth....I am so proud to call you my friend!

  29. Time out. Beth, you are a fraternal twin? How did I not know this?

  30. Um. yep. I am. Don't know how you didn't know, Ames. Sorry. We must not have gotten to that part of my life story yet.

  31. Can't wait to read this one!! Congrats, Beth!!

  32. would love to read your work, beth...thanks for the opportunity. my current wip is my journal...it's a lot harder to keep than i thought it would be.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com