Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 22: Among the Stacks with D.W. Vogel


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
We've known each other for awhile now, but this is the first time you've been on The Gal.  Welcome.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

D.W. Vogel:
I'm a small animal vegetarian, in practice for twenty years.  I'm a cancer survivor, marathon runner, SCUBA diver, and occasional community theater actress.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

D.W. Vogel:
I am a two time Butler County Ohio cake decorating champion.  I’ve run four marathons.  Halfway through training for my fifth, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Five days after my third round of chemotherapy I attempted the race anyway, and managed to slog through eleven miles.  It was the Walt Disney World Marathon, and my goal was to make it through Cinderella’s Castle at mile ten point five.  I made it, and bailed at the next medical station.  They gave me a finisher’s medal anyway, because when a bald chick runs eleven miles, you give her a damn medal.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

D.W. Vogel:
I devoured Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books as a kid, and read most of the Nancy Drew mysteries.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

D.W. Vogel:
I’m currently taking a break from beta reading for friends and re-reading my favorites from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  Which means pretty much all of them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

D.W. Vogel:
I just finished America’s Next Reality Star by Laura Heffernan.  It’s light and fluffy and tons of fun... not my style at all, but as a guilty pleasure, you can’t beat it. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

D.W. Vogel:
Like most authors, I have always been a voracious reader.  All my life I’ve read books and thought, “I could do that.”  Someday I was going to write a novel.  At forty years old, I found out I had cancer. Suddenly “Someday” has a much shorter timeframe.  It was time to sit down and write the book.  Flamewalker was my first novel.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

D.W. Vogel:
I always write at my desk in my office because I have a special Kinesis keyboard that keeps my left wrist from getting too painful.  And I always have a lap cat.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

D.W. Vogel:
I’m not a “write every day” girl.  My life just doesn’t allow that.  My husband is a chef, and works several nights a week.  Since I work days, that’s my writing time.  If I don’t have at least two hours in front of me it’s not worth opening a document, because it takes me awhile to get going.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

D.W. Vogel:
The hardest part is finding the time to do it.  At this moment I have three books in my head... the one I need to write, the one I want to write, and the new one that’s dancing around the back of my head asking me questions all day.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

D.W. Vogel:
Flamewalker was the most satisfying because it was the first time I got to type “The End.”  Since then I’ve written some as-yet unpublished works that are going to blow it out of the water, but it will always be my firstborn child.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

D.W. Vogel:
I’m always loathe to say who inspired my style, for fear that they’ll see this, read my stuff, and go, “No way.   Nothing like me.”  But my books have been compared to Terry Goodkind and Melanie Rawn, and I’ll sure take that any day.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

D.W. Vogel:
Stories are about characters.  Since I write a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, I see too many authors get so caught up in the world building that they forget who the story is about.  If I ask you, “What’s Harry Potter about?”, you don’t answer, “It’s about this school of magic where you take Herbology and Potions and you learn to use your wand.”  You’ll say, “It’s about this boy who doesn’t know he’s a wizard.”  That’s the key. It’s about this boy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

D.W. Vogel:
I have to love something about each one, or they won’t be real. I think agency is the key... they have to be doing something, affecting the story and not just reacting to things.  Even if they’re horrible people, there’s something to admire, if only their determination to be horrible.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

D.W. Vogel:
Of my published novels, probably Sara in Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden is the closest to me.  She’s a scientist studying the dinosaurs of Tau Ceti e, and her thirst for knowledge gets her into a potentially deadly situation. She’s not the hero of the story, but what she knows could save them all.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

D.W. Vogel:
One time I was in a bookstore cruising the sci-fi section.  An employee approached and asked what I was looking for, and I told him the sort of thing I liked.  He pulled a book off the shelf and said, “Here, this is the book you should read.  It’s the best book with the worst cover ever.”  It was Heroes Die by Matthew Stover, and the kid was right... the book is amazing and the cover is dreadful. I would never have picked it up if not for that kid.  For my Horizon Alpha covers, the publisher asked me what I had in mind.  I said, “It should have a dinosaur on it.”  That was pretty much it.  I let them run with it because I’m no artist nor graphic designer, and I knew that whatever they came up with would be better than anything I thought up.  That was absolutely the right call.  The Horizon covers are fantastic.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned from creating your books?

D.W. Vogel:
I would like to say that I’ve learned patience, but in reality I’ve had patience thrust upon me. Writers are in such a hurry to publish.  Traditional publishing is a very slow process, and that’s a really good thing. It keeps a lot of half-baked manuscripts from hitting the shelves. Waiting, cogitating, rewriting... so hard to do when what you really want is to shove your book out into the world so everyone can read it right now.  But that’s rarely a good idea.  All manuscripts need seasoning.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

D.W. Vogel:
For me, the hardest scene is always the last one.  The climax has come and gone, and things are settling into the “new normal” of the conclusion.  That’s the hardest thing for me because it always feels like a letdown after the blood-and-guts action.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

D.W. Vogel:
The epic fantasy genre is full of heroes.  It’s a man’s world, and even if a story has a female main character, she’s often propped up by men.  Flamewalker is a feminist fantasy.  The women of Flamewalker rule the country, and everything is great until a man learns to steal their power.
            The Horizon series is aimed at the Harry Potter/Percy Jackson kids.  The dinosaurs make it unique because I made them up.  They’re dinosaurs that never existed on Earth, and they’re hungry for humans.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

D.W. Vogel:
I think a cover is more important than a title, but I’m a very visual person.  It has to be catchy and stick in the brain.  Flamewalker titled itself; there was never any question.  Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden was my publisher’s suggestion.  It just had a working title of “New Eden” until then.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

D.W. Vogel:
Novels are so much more fulfilling for me.  I love ripping out a short story, but my shorts tend to be super-short, so as fun as they are, they’re a quick commitment from me and for the reader.  Novels take months for a draft, and there’s so much more you can put into them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

D.W. Vogel:
Flamewalker is my epic “feminist” adult fantasy.  It’s about how a world could be if it were governed with empathy instead of raw power.  I hope readers are left with honest questions about gender roles and authority.
            The Horizon Series is aimed at upper middle-graders, but like all sci-fi, can be enjoyed by any age.  It’s about a group of human colonists fleeing doomed Earth.  They find a perfect planet to settle on.  Only one problem… it’s full of dinosaurs. The message of Horizon is that you are stronger than you think you are.
            I also have a “How-To” writing book called Five Minutes to Success: Master the Craft of Writing, written with my co-author Jeri Fay Maynard.  It’s an overview of everything a new writer needs to know, from conceptualizing a story to character development, right through editing and publishing options.  Each five-minute chapter has a workbook exercise to seat the new ideas in your brain.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

D.W. Vogel:
I tend to do less deleting and more adding when I edit.  My writing tends to be very spare, without a lot of fluff.  Editing for me is about “more, more, more”... more character, more setting, more atmosphere. But I can share that there’s a character in Horizon Alpha who died in the original draft.  My publisher didn’t like that and requested a change, which has turned out to be the right call for the rest of the series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?

D.W. Vogel:
I have a half-finished YA contemporary fantasy that bangs at the window of my brain from time to time.  Unfortunately for it, there are at least three manuscripts ahead of it in line.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

D.W. Vogel:
The third book in the Horizon Alpha series has been greenlighted for 2018.  My agent is currently shopping a thriller, a nerve-wracking process.  I have a secret project with my sci-fi publisher which just got pushed back to next May, but promises to pull in a whole new legion of fans.  And meanwhile I love presenting writing workshops at conventions and speaking to school groups. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

D.W. Vogel:
You can find me at my website, follow me on Twitter, or like me on Facebook.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

D.W. Vogel:
Thank you so much for these interesting questions, and for having me as a guest.  To the aspiring authors out there, I would say - write your novel.  Don't wait until "someday."  To my readers, old and new, thank you for going on this amazing journey with me.  The best is yet to come.


About the author:
D.W. Vogel is a veterinarian, marathon runner, SCUBA diver, and six year breast cancer survivor.  She lives in Cincinnati with her husband and a house full of rescue pets.

About the books:
In Saria, women reign.
            Their powers come from the Goddess, and her Flamewalkers wear the scars of sacred magic.  Gifted with the ability to Heal, See, or conjure Fire, they use their powers fairly and wisely.
            Then comes Khalira.  Bestowed with not one, but all three powers, she is feared by even the other Flamewalkers - a freak among the extraordinary.  The leaders suspect that her powers were granted for a reason and, indeed, there is an ominous threat emerging to the north in the city of Banol where Flamewalkers are burned alive for merely being who they are meant to be.
            In Wendy Vogel's first published full-length novel, she explores the roles of women, power, and destiny while taking the reader on an action-filled journey filled with danger and courage as Khalira and her sister Flamewalkers endeavor to bring to an end a madman set on revenge.

We never would have come here if we'd known
            Two hundred years ago, the great Ark Horizon Alpha escaped a doomed Earth and went searching for a new home.  The passengers landed on Teu Ceti e expecting paradise, but instead they discovered a planet stuck in its own version of the cretaceous period.  The humans' one defense against the dinosaurs ravaging the planet is an electric fence, built from the remains of the shuttles that brought them there.
            But Eden base has only days of power left.
            With most of the adult men dead, rookie soldier Caleb Wilde and his unit of teenage boys leave the electric fences of Eden in search of a reactor core lost deep in the jungle.
            The last remnant of the human race waits behind the electric fence for their return.  The dinosaurs wait, too - for the electricity to die and the feast to begin.

It's been two hundred years since the Horizon Alpha ark left Earth to find a new home.  Shiro spends his sixteen birthday among the first humans in centuries to set foot on solid ground and smell fresh air.  But Tau Ceti e is not a welcoming planet.
            Blistering sunlight and punishingly strong gravity keep the older folks inside, and scouting crews come back with fewer numbers, telling rumors of shadowy monsters in the forest.  It's up to Shiro and the other young men to build defenses around the stranded humans' camp.  After all, no one has confirmed any predators larger than a man... yet.

There's someone alive out there.
            After three perilous years on a planet full of dinosaurs, Caleb and his colony have finally found safety.  The 'saurs are kept at bay, the crops are growing, and for the first time in centuries, humanity might have a future.
            But a single voice changes everything.  The colony receives a call for help from a girl they haven't seen since the crash and realize that they are not the only humans still alive.  On an empty beach at the far edge of the continent, the survivors of Transport Seventeen have huddled in terror for three long years.  Now they're out of food and out of time.
            Caleb and his friends must leave the safety of their home to rescue the survivors.  As they travel into the unexplored depths of the jungle, they face danger from above, from the darkness, and from the water.  And soon they discover there are new 'saurs out there, ones that would scare even a T-rex.


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            The path from writer to author is an obstacle course of pitfalls and secret rules.  Five Minutes to Success promises to help you overcome each roadblock on your road to publication.  With exercises and worksheets for each topic, we promise tips and tricks to make your work shine.
            Give us five minutes.  We'll give you the writing world.

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