Debut Author Deborah Vogts Returns

Deborah Vogts visited last November soon after receiving a three-book contract offer from Zondervan for her Seasons of the Tallgrass series (link). Her debut novel released this month, and I’m happy to have her back to share more of her journey with us.

Deborah grew up on a farm in Southeast Kansas with pigs, cattle, horses and sheep, as well as the space to run free. After college, she remembers being in a city park flying kites and having an ache in her heart for wide-open spaces. Her longing for home and country life took her back to SE Kansas where she married a high school classmate. She and her husband have three daughters and raise and train American Quarter Horses on land her grandfather once farmed.

Deborah’s love for the country comes through in her writing, and she’s confident of her audience—those who either live in the country, who moved from the country and still hold it in their hearts, or those who have never lived there but long for the simple life it offers.

The simplicity and quiet are what draws Deborah to country life. Besides writing, her hobbies include reading a good book, cooking, sewing, gardening and garage sale shopping. She enjoys playing the piano and taking walks with their two golden retrievers. She is a 4-H mom, teaches Sunday school and sings in the church choir.

Join me as we learn more about Deborah and her debut novel.
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Deborah Vogts.
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Deborah’s Journey Begins

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•Please recap for us how you got started writing and what led you to create your debut novel, Snow Melts in Spring.

I began my first “Great American Novel” in high school and knew then that I wanted to be a writer. While in college at Emporia State University, I took a Flint Hills Folklife course taught by Dr. Jim Hoy. Along with classroom study, we took field trips into the heart of the Flint Hills and visited with old-time ranchers, schoolmarms and post-mistresses. It was such a delightful experience, especially our drives into the pastures. We would get on these back roads and drive over pasture guards into the open range. We’d travel for miles without seeing another car or even an electric line—just pure, native prairie.

That summer, I fell in love with the Flint Hills and it has stayed with me all this time. I’m so glad I have the chance to share this place with my readers in this book and in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series.
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From First Sale to Firstborn

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You received your contract offer from Zondervan last year due to the efforts of your agent, Rachelle Gardner. I smiled when you said in your earlier interview that your initial response to the news of your sale was “all business.” It’s clear you’re gifted in both the creative and business side of writing. I peeked at your Web site and was impressed. It’s grown! I know that’s only one aspect of the promotion a writer does following her sale.
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•What have you been doing to get the word out since you signed the contract?

The first thing I did was to revamp my blog and create a static web site. I took a lot of time studying other sites that I liked and eventually went with an account at homestead.com. I like that I can do updates myself and the price was right.

My publisher, Zondervan, made some postcards that I handed out to “everyone and their dog,” and I also ordered some personalized pens. As the release date neared, I had some bookmarks made to go along with those made by Zondervan. I figured you couldn’t have too many bookmarks. I’ve also been doing a LOT of blog interviews. Zondervan and I have done some media work, but I can tell you more about that below.

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•What have been the most exciting aspects of having sold your first book?

Wow, I don’t know. It’s all pretty exciting! From the moment I received my contract, and then the first advance check (my husband especially liked that), to seeing the cover in the Summer CBD Fiction Catalog, and then finally holding the book in my hands. All of it has been an amazing experience!

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•What aspects of being a published author have surprised you?

Having been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2002, I’ve heard lots of stories from other writers and had an idea of what to expect, so I don’t know that I’ve had many surprises.

One thing that totally surprised me, though, was when a reporter from America’s Horse, the member magazine for the American Quarter Horse Association,  called me for an interview. The editor had received an advanced reader copy from Zondervan and was interested in doing a story. That was a wonderful surprise . . . and so FUN.

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•What advice would you offer to not-yet-published writers about things they can do now to help them prepare for the day they get The Call?

Probably the most important thing to do is learn the craft and fine-tune your writing skills. Write the best story you can.

Having a web presence is important, too, so you can start collecting a reader base. I created my blog in 2005, so by the time I had my contract, I had a nice following. And blogs are a great way to begin.
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A Delightful Delivery

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I visited your blog and saw a picture of the UPS driver giving you the first shipment of your author copies. Being a scrapbooker, I think it’s great that you had the presence of mind to get that shot. I love how you opened the box and gave him a copy of your book for his wife.
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•What was it like to hold your “baby” in your hands for the first time? Did you laugh, cry or do some of both?

I did a lot of laughing. My youngest daughter happened to be home at the time, so I danced around with her and waved the book in her face for probably half an hour. LOL. It took a little over a year from the time I received the offer to holding the book in my hand—but it was well worth the wait!

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•You had a wonderful launch party in the Flint Hills where your story is set. What were some of the highlights?

I scheduled two launch parties for my book. Because the series is set in the Flint Hills of Kansas, it was really important for me to have a launch there. Cottonwood Falls was the perfect location, especially since it was the basis for my fictional town of Diamond Falls. The entire weekend was so fun. My youngest daughter and my mom and dad accompanied me, and we stayed in their RV, which brought back many old memories. One of the highlights was when my daughter played with the bluegrass band for their music event on Friday night. And I had three “surprise” visitors—KS author and friend, Judith Miller, and my oldest brother and his wife!

My next launch event will be held at my church in Erie, KS. I’m hoping many of our local friends and neighbors will join us for the celebration. We’ll be giving away a beautiful teapot and a handmade quilt, and the book sale proceeds will go to a Kenyan Orphanage Mission Project, so I hope we sell lots of books!
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•I saw that you have a number of book signings lined up. That’s so cool. You’ve already held one. How did things go? What pointers do you have for other authors preparing to arrange signings of their own?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of experience at this since my first signing was my launch last weekend. However, I do have a few tips that might make your events run smoother.

For each signing, try to get some kind of media attention or at the very least, have some fliers made up. In my case, we sent out media notices to local papers, churches, bookstores and libraries. Plus we had an amazing giveaway prize offering a weekend “Getaway to the Flint Hills” that featured a one night’s stay at a bed and breakfast and a dinner for two. Both of those items were donated—did I mention that the people in Cottonwood Falls were amazingly generous!!! But even if you can offer a small gift drawing—it’s a great way to get addresses for newsletters or announcements.

Another tip is to bring someone with you, either a friend, family member or another author. This will help pass the time, and the other person can help with the gift drawing or take money, etc, so that you’re free to give your attention to your readers. Oh, and have some chocolate on the table—for those who pass by and for yourself!!!
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A Warm Welcome

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•You received some great endorsements from some of the top names in inspirational fiction: Karen Kingsbury, Tamara Alexander and Kim Vogel Sawyer to name a few. Wow! When did you learn that they would be reading your book, and how did you feel when you first saw their comments?

Zondervan had asked me for a list of endorsers, so I sent them a list of my favorite writers whose writing was similar to mine. My books are tagged contemporary prairie romance, so this widened the category for me. For each endorsement that came in, I first breathed a sigh of relief that they didn’t hate it (LOL), and then I thanked God for such wonderful blessings!
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•You’ve begun to receive reviews. What are some of your favorites so far?

I’ve only read one of them, and that was one on Amazon.com by Deborah Raney. I was thrilled to read her favorable review and can only hope and pray that I have more like it in the future.
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Deborah’s Debut Novel . . . and Beyond

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Snow Melts in Spring•Please tell us about Snow Melts in Spring.

Mattie Evans, a young veterinarian in rural Kansas, saves a horse injured in a terrible accident. But she also finds herself tending the wounded relationship between a prodigal son and his ailing father. Love, conflict, forgiveness and renewal drive this first book of the Seasons of the Tallgrass series.

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•What can your readers look forward to next?

I’m continuing on with the Seasons of the Tallgrass series. Right now, I’m waiting for edits of my second book, Seeds of Summer, and have started working on my third book, tentatively titled Blades of Autumn.

One of the neatest parts of the publishing process is seeing what the creative team comes up with for a cover. I’m eager to view the cover for Seeds of Summer, a story about a former Miss Rodeo Kansas queen, and her return to the Flint Hills to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two younger siblings.

After the Seasons of the Tallgrass series, I’ll wait for God’s lead to see what happens next.
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Five Fun Facts About Deborah

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~ As a girl in 4-H I showed market pigs and steers. I named my first pig Herbie–after Herbie the Love Bug—and cried buckets of tears when I sold him at the auction.

~ Long ago, in the days of CB radios, my dad purchased one for our home, and we all had call names. My dad’s name was Pig Farmer, my mom’s was Farmer’s Wife, and my name was Country Girl. I guess the title fit and certainly matches my writing brand–Country at Heart.

~ This isn’t funny, but at the age of 15, I was out riding my horse and one of the reins broke. The horse raced for home, about a mile away. She tore through the barnyard and was headed for a fence and on the other side was a deep gully. I knew if she jumped, I would die, so I bailed off. Ended up breaking my arm and wrist and didn’t get on another horse until I was 30.

~ I used to have a pretend restaurant as a girl where I made food for my family. I made mud pies, mud cookies, mud soup, mud cakes. Throw in some grass and rocks and fun creations were made. I still enjoy baking—only now I use store ingredients instead of mud. 🙂

~ I once wanted to be a professional pianist. I wrote and played a song for my brother’s wedding and have since given lots of piano lessons to youngsters. I also managed a youth singing group called Saving Grace, and we made a CD called More than a Song.
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Deborah’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Deborah. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. And now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors. What would you like to know?

Thanks for having me as a guest, Keli. I’ve really enjoyed answering these questions for you. For your readers, I would like to ask–Do you have a heart for country life? Why or why not? And if so, what inspires you the most?
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Learn More About Deborah

Visit her Web site: http://www.deborahvogts.com

Visit her blog: http://www.deborahvogts.blogspot.com

Friend her on Facebook: Deborah Vogts

Follow her on Twitter: DeborahVogts
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Leave a Comment for Two Chances to Win

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My next drawing will take place June 30th. The winner will receive an etched steel magnet with the word Dream scroll cut from its center.

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Dream magnet

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To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by June 30th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On July 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!

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If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and June 30th. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On July 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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15 Responses to Debut Author Deborah Vogts Returns

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome back, Deborah. It must be sooo fun to have your book on the shelves. I have a copy, which is my current read. I’m enjoying your story, although I hurt for the characters. I got teary eyed reading what happened to Gil’s horse. Even though it’s fictional, my heart is aching.

    Country girl? Not really. But I’m not a what I’d call a city girl either. Guess I classify as a small town gal.

  2. Quilt Lady says:

    Hi Deborah, welcome and great interview! I was also raised in the country on a little farm and there is nothing like it. I don’t live in the country now but I sure miss it. I have not had the preasure of reading your book, but it sounds fantastic and I will have to put it on my wish list!

    ghurt110 AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. Thanks, Keli, for hosting me on your blog. Your questions were fun & really made me think, especially those at the end.

    Quilt Lady, I hope you have an opportunity to read my book. I used to work on quilts, but had to put it aside, because I simply didn’t have the time. Maybe one day I’ll go back to it. 🙂

  4. Sherrinda says:

    Hi Deborah! I used to make mud pizzas, using butter lids for “pans” and the inner meat of acorns for “toppings”! Loved it! We lived next to acres of woods that I played in as a child. I love the thought of country life because it seems idylic and slower paced. But alas, I married a man who is not a country boy, so I suppose I will always be a suburban/city gal. 😉 I do love a good country tale though!
    Congrats on the 3 book deal!!! That is awesome!

  5. Anne Barton says:

    Deborah, thanks for the great tips on promotion–hope I can use them some day! 😉

    As a kid I spent a lot of time on the Chesapeake Bay. I can scale, clean, and filet a fish . . . but I prefer not to! I guess that makes me a city girl, but a book about the country is a nice escape. Congrats!

  6. Hi Sherrinda, mud pizza’s –what fun!

    And Anne, I enjoy fishing–especially when the fish are biting, but I refuse to clean them. I’ll catch them & cook them, but hubby or someone else must clean them. Thanks for stopping by to visit! I’m enjoying your stories!

  7. Bill Smith says:

    It would be interesting to research how many published authors have come out of Dr. Jim Hoy’s Flint Hills Folklore course at Emporia State University. I enjoy Deborah’s recollections of that experience each time I see it.

    Positive mention of the Flint Hills always gets my attention! Thanks!
    So happy it brought me to your site. Hope you and your readers visit regularly.

    Our 22 county Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. promotes visits to the Kansas Flint Hills – the website is: http://www.kansasflinthills.travel/

    Best wishes!
    Dr. Bill 😉
    Personal Blog: http://flinthillsofkansas.blogspot.com/

  8. Linda says:

    I remember the photos of the UPS man delivering your books. Thought it was great! I haven’t read your books to date, so would love to win this one. You also mentioned a scrapbook???? Obviously I don’t do scrapbook, but not because I don’t want to. Just could afford the materials.

  9. Jody Hedlund says:

    Another great interview, Deborah! I’m taking notes and watching everything you’re doing!

  10. Jessica says:

    Great interview! I’m so sorry about your horse accident. That must have been horrible. 😦
    Like you, my sisters and I often “baked” with all natural ingredients. LOL
    Thanks for all your tips on signings and marketing.

  11. Hi Bill, Thanks for following my trail of interviews. It would be interesting to know how many students at ESU went on to be authors. Cool!

    Linda – Best wishes on the drawing. Maybe you’ll win the scrapbook!

    Jody, thanks for stopping in. I’m not sure if I’m doing anything noteworthy, but it’s fun!

    Jessica, the horse accident was horrible. I hit the ground and passed out, and then was ambulanced to the nearest hospital when our local hospital couldn’t take care of the wounds. And then after surgery, the doctor ordered me a pizza because the cafeteria was closed! How cool is that!!!

  12. Jane Squires says:

    Hey I would love to win the scrapbook too as well as the magnet.
    Deborah and I have a lot in common. I live in the country. I love reading, cooking, sewing and especially garage sales. I have taught children at church in Sunday School, Children’s Church, Nursery, Royal Rangers and Missionettes for 42 years. I still teach Royal Rangers at age 59.
    I used to sing in the church choir when I was younger. Since marrying, I have not been in a church that had a choir.
    I take that back for 2 years I sang in the Baptist Church choir. But then we went back to our home church since we moved here.
    Please enter me to win.
    jrs362(at)hotmail(dot)com

  13. Edna Tollison says:

    I would like to be entered into the drawing for anything. A win would be nice just to say I won it. May God bless

    mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

  14. Vicki Lusk says:

    I love all your little gifts that you have drawing for, please enter me and if a book comes along that would be nice also.

    vrtlusk(at)charter(dot)net

  15. Melissa Blue says:

    Great interview! Congrats releasing your debut novel, it is very exciting.

    As for your question about tricks for staying married… My husband and I have been together for almost eight years, and married for almost five. Beleive it or not he was my high school sweetheart and I have never looked back. We have our fights, but always make a point of finishing them. We discuss any and all financial and child rearing decisions, and… we keep the romance alive 🙂

    Melissa

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