Today I’m honored to have friend and fellow writer Beth Vogt on my blog. I first met Beth on-line then at a Deep Thinkers Retreat in Melbourne, Florida. I’ll never forget walking back from dinner and talking with her about writing fiction. A published, non-fiction writer, she wasn’t sure about coming over to the dark side of writing. But let me let Beth tell you about her journey in her own words…
I know you were a non-fiction writer. How hard was it to come over to the dark side?
I always said I would never write fiction. I was quite happy as a non-fiction writer and editor. But then I hit a season of burnout, which became a bend in the writing road for me. A promise to never, ever, write again became a crazy foray into writing fiction. When I made a commitment to pursue writing fiction as seriously as I’d worked on nonfiction – that’s when I realized writing a novel is hard, hard work.
Were there any particular challenges in writing your first novel?
Besides the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing? Wait – that’s not totally true. I had, for some unknown reason, sat in on fiction workshops at writers conferences through the years. Natural curiosity, I guess. My biggest challenge, i.e. my greatest weakness, was storyworld. Because I’m a journalist, I write tight. So my original approach to storyworld was the “four walls, a ceiling and a floor” approach. Why not let the reader figure it out?
How long did it take you to write Wish You Were Here?
Three years. The first year was just me having fun. I only told one person – Roxanne Sherwood, another writing friend. About a year later, I told another friend, Donita K. Paul – yes, that Donita K. Paul, the bestselling author, who invited me to join a critique group. Things started ramping up then. And then I went to my first My Book Therapy retreat and began to learn the craft of writing fiction and really tore my book apart. That’s also when Rachelle Gardner, my agent, found out I was writing fiction. She originally took me on as a nonfiction writer, so this was news to her.
What sparked the idea for Wish You Were Here?
As I mentioned, I was struggling with burnout and I told my husband I was never going to write again – ever, ever, ever. But then, I dug out an old Christian Writers Guild lesson. I was just having fun. This lesson involved writing a scene from three different points of view (POVs.) I wrote a wedding scene from the POV of the bride, the best man and the photographer. The bride is having second thoughts … And I started asking questions: How did she get here? Is she going to walk all the way down that aisle, dragging those doubts with her, and say, “I do?”
I love the Llamas in the story. Where did that come from?
The llamas were a totally random thought that came up during a conversation with my husband. We were driving through Estes Park, CO and, great guy that he is, Rob was listening to me talk about Wish You Were Here, when he suggested I add llamas to the story. I liked the idea, played with it, did some research … and it became a fun part of the novel.
Wish You Were Here has a very strong faith-based theme. What role has your faith played in your writing?
I believe God gifted me with this writing ability. When I am writing – even on the most challenging days – I feel like I am being who God created me to be. I also believe every writer weaves the truths they believe into the stories they write. The truth of who God is, how he has worked in my life and changed me – these always make their way into the stories I write.
Wish You Were Here is a book that you absolutely cannot put down. Here’s the back copy of the book:
Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after? Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.
Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedlynot the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancé’s trust lead to a true happily ever after?
Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead.
I promise…this is a book you won’t be able to put down! Leave a comment with your email address and be entered to win a copy of Wish You Were Here.