Thursday, July 08, 2010

Seeds of Summer

In Seeds of Summer, Deborah Vogts brings together a most unlikely hero and heroine. Natalie Adams is a rodeo queen, and Jared Logan is a preacher. What brings them together is her need of help with the ranch her recently departed father left her and her two half-siblings. What keeps them together is what makes for a great story. The more Natalie resists help, the more Jared wants to give it until she gives in and realizes that more hands will make for light work. When her step-mother shows up and wants a relationship with her children, Natalie listens to Jared’s advice and gives Libby a second chance against her own better judgment and that of Willard, an old friend of her father. The decision brings worry to Natalie with near disastrous results. Love, faith, and forgiveness weave their way throughout the story. Deb’s knowledge of rodeos, great characters, a well-plotted story, a few surprises, and a satisfying end make this a great read. I’m looking forward to the third book in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Seeds of Summer Review

Interview Questions:
1. What inspired you to write this series, Seasons of the Tallgrass?- Years ago, I took a Flint Hills Folklife course at Emporia State University. 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 would 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.

2. Where did you get the story ideas? - My husband and I read lots of horse magazines at our house, two of those, Western Horseman and AQHA’s America’s Horse. So, when he’s finished with a magazine, I’ll go through with an eye open for possible story ideas. I’ll tear out pages of articles, or even pictures for possible characters, and then I’ll file those papers in an idea file. When I’m ready to write a new story, that’s the first place I’ll go, sifting through the articles and pictures.

So, for Seeds of Summer, many of the pictures I’d filed away happened to be of past Miss Rodeo America queens. From there, my imagination soared. I also knew that I wanted to include one story about a female rancher. Because we have three daughters who are spread out in age, I started wondering what it would be like if something happened to my husband and I, and our oldest daughter was left to care for her sisters. That’s where the plot originated for Seeds of Summer.

3. You write about rodeos with authenticity in Seeds of Summer, so how much research did you do? – Most of my research for Seeds of Summer dealt with the Miss Rodeo America organization. I was surprised how much these young ladies must know for the interview portion of the pageant. Good grief! They are required to know EVERYTHING about the sport of rodeo, about the horse industry, about the sponsors for the horse industry…not only current information but from years past.

I was also amazed at the amount of expertise required to complete the horsemanship events. Riding with confidence on an animal you’ve never rode before takes a LOT of skill and courage. And carrying those flags, and shining those boots (and blackening the bottoms of those heels). I greatly enjoyed viewing the various leather dresses—and imagining what Natalie would wear. So fun!

I learned a lot about the MRA—and loved every minute of it. I tacked pictures of past queens in various outfits on my storyboard (which is a bulletin board filled with pictures of my characters, their homes, pets, etc.). And because Amy Wilson was the MRA at that time, I followed her story online and in magazines, and strange as it may seem, I felt as though I knew her. LOL. My research pinnacled last summer when I met Amy at her home in Colby for an interview. She is such a lovely young woman, and she honored me by showing me her queen items—which again, leant authenticity to my story.

Another thing I especially enjoyed, was viewing the video clips online of the MRA pageant. This helped me so much with the closing of my story. Because I write in close 3rd person point of view, in my mind, I was living Natalie’s story, so at the end when she is on stage and reliving all that she’s overcome that year, tears just poured from my eyes. I felt like I was there—and I hope you will too.

4. How much of this story is based on personal experience? - I would have to say that Natalie is most like my oldest daughter, Samantha. Very strong, determined and dependable. So when I wrote this story, I would often think to myself, how would Sam have handled this. J A lot of the scenes in the story came from my own experience on the farm. Like Chelsey (Natalie’s sister), as a girl I did much of the cooking for the family, and took care of the house while my parents and brothers farmed. The haying scene in the book came directly from my own experience of raking hayfields and watching the crew stack the bales in the haymow. And Natalie’s horse Jackson was inspired by one of our own horses—a gallant protector. I believe some horses are extremely faithful creatures and can sense their owner’s emotions and will act accordingly.

5. What is the underlying theme of Seeds of Summer?- When the story begins, Natalie has lost both her parents, so obviously dealing with grief is one theme in the story. What surprised me is that Natalie needed to deal with her mother’s death, which happened when she was a little girl. It surprised me that she’d carried it for so long without coming to terms with it.

6. The combination of a rodeo queen and a preacher is unusual for a hero and heroine, what gave you that inspiration? – Good question. When I first thought of the story, my title was The Rancher & The Preacher Man, and my thought was to go with an opposites attract kind of story. So I had a strong, independent woman as the rancher, who was also a rodeo queen and then the desk-type man, who didn’t do much outside, etc. Obviously things evolved in the making of the book.
7. What brings you the most joy in writing? – I enjoy getting to know my characters. During the creation process, I give my characters thorough interviews, so that I know them from beginning to end. I especially like when my characters start taking on a life of their own and do something I didn’t expect, taking the story in a new direction. That’s always interesting!
8. How long have you been writing? - 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. I studied English and journalism in college, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I began taking serious steps to be published.
9. Tell us a little about your own writing journey.- There came a time in my life when I felt God prodding me to do more with my writing or risk having the talent taken from me. At that point, 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.
10. What part has going to conferences and meeting with other authors played in your career? – It’s where I met my editor and both of my agents. The American Christian Fiction Writers conference has the largest number of agents and editors in the business. Not only do they offer top-quality workshops by best-selling authors, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with other Christian fiction authors. I’ve met some of my best friends through those conferences. ACFW is the source of my transition into the publishing world. Without it, I doubt I’d be published today.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Morning for Dove

Dove Morris and Luke Anderson face many obstacles in their quest for love, the most dominant being Luke's mother. After seeing her parents and brothers slaughtered and her sister carried off by Indians, Mrs. Anderson cannot forgive or forget and refuses to acknowledge half-Cherokee Dove or her Cherokee mother. Luke and Dove's journey is one of faith that leads to complete trust in God and His ability to lead us to forgiving even the greatest of hurts as He forgave those who tortured Him.
Come journey back in time to 1897 and the town of Barton Creek in Oklahoma Territory and meet the good and some not-so-good citizens as they struggle with God's plans for their lives.
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