Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”
Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?
As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?
A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.
Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for this series?
Beth: I brainstormed the idea for a series with my writing friend and mentor, author Rachel Hauck. I loved how a destination wedding series combined two elements that I believe will appeal to readers: weddings and travel.
Brock: Tell us about the main characters. Who are they? What makes them unique?
Beth: Logan Hollister is the hero of Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Vanessa Hollister is the heroine. They meet as seniors in high school. Vanessa is part of a military family – she’s learned how to be the new kid in school, thanks to all the moves her family has made through the years. She’s good at saying “hello” and “goodbye.” Logan is more than his “bad boy” persona – he’s actually a protector – and offers Vanessa something she’s always wanted: stability.
Brock: Give us one fact about each main character that no one else knows.
Beth: Logan had long hair in high school. He grew it long to irritate his dad – teen rebellion – because his dad didn’t support his dream of being a storm chaser.
Vanessa never allowed herself to collect anything growing up because her family moved so much. But if she had, she would have kept books – lots and lots of books – instead of borrowing from the library.
Brock: In three sentences what is this book about?
Beth: What if you discovered that what you thought was your worse mistake was actually the right choice? If you had the chance for a second chance at love, should you take it?
Brock: Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Beth: I use the Book Buddy, a work-text developed by author Susan May Warren, to outline my books. I develop my characters, my spiritual thread, my subplots and/or layers, the main points of conflict or turning points in the story, even the ending. But even with all the outlining and pre-plotting, I then fast draft, which is when I release control and discover more about my characters and my story. I allow things to change.
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
Beth: Doesn’t everyone have a choice they’ve made sometime in their life – maybe a choice they made in high school – and wonder: If I had a chance to change what I did, would I do something different?
Brock: What is your favorite genre to write for?
Beth: I love the genre I’m writing: contemporary romance. I believe there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us. I examine the reality behind romance – how real life and love are messy – in the novels I write. And I like doing that with modern day stories.
Brock: What was the Biblical background for this series?
Beth: As I worked on my Destination Wedding series, I realized that God wove the wedding theme all through Bible. He identifies himself as a bridegroom and calls the church his bride. In Revelation, he talks about the marriage feast. And Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding in Canaa. So, while each individual novel or novella has it’s own spiritual thread, I love how underlying all of the stories is God’s story that embraces weddings.
Brock: How many books are planned for this series?
Beth: Four in all: Two e-novellas and two novels.
Brock: Any certain research required for the book, or is it all from your imagination?
Beth: There’s always a certain amount of research. I researched destination wedding locations in the U.S. I researched wedding and reception details: wedding gowns, music, food, engagement rings, bouquets … that sort of thing. One fun thing that I ended up researching was wedding vows.
Brock: How do you strike the right balance in your book?
Beth: My plotting helps me find the balance – the pre-work I do before I start writing. And then I always look forward to getting feedback from my mentors and my editors – I value their input.
Brock: Are you working on the next book in the series?
Beth: I’ve written Can’t Buy Me Love (the first e-novella), and Crazy Little Thing Called Love (the first novel). I’m working on the second novel, Almost Like Being in Love.
Brock: Can you give us a hint at the next book in the series?
Beth: Almost Like Being in Love asks the question: Just because you’re perfect for each other – does that mean you should commit “’til death do us part”?
Brock: Do you plot or outline the entire series before you begin writing, or do your books take on lives of their own? Or is there a combination?
Beth: I provided my editors with a basic synopsis for all four books. When it comes time to write each one, I expand the synopsis and go from there.
Brock: How do you hope parents will use this book with their kids?
Beth: I’m happy that my adult readers often hand my books off to their teen daughters. I hope that they will discuss the issues that come up in Crazy Little Thing Called Love with them – things like elopement, teen marriage, having to move a lot, struggling to make friends, divorce.
Brock: What do you hope kids take away from this book?
Beth: I wish someone had said this to me when I was a teen: The choices you make now will affect you a year from now … 5 years from now … 10 years from now. I thought about that a lot as I wrote Crazy Little Thing Called Love. (And yes, it’s something I made sure my teens heard from me.)
Brock: Where do you like to write?
Beth: I have a wonderful home office decorated just the way I like it – and that two of my friends helped me organize. I also like to sit in a chair in my family room with my Bose headphones on and write on my laptop – and be right in the midst of all the activity.
Brock: Are you a full-time or part-time author/writer?
Beth: I am a full-time author – in between all the regular life interruptions that come up.
Brock: How long does it usually take you to write a single book? The longest time?
Beth: Three years. The shortest time from first draft to deadline? Eight weeks.
Brock: What do you hope readers take away from the series?
Beth: Second chances aren’t an automatic Yes from God … and they need to be prayed over and treated as treasures.
Brock: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
Beth: I was an avid reader who, when I finished reading all the books I lugged home from the library, would write stories for myself. So, I’ve written stories since I was in middle school. I graduated from college with a journalism major and focused on non-fiction first before becoming a novelist.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Beth: I’ve been blessed to have several writing mentors. Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck are forces to be reckoned with when it comes to growing as a writer. They’ve challenged me, both as a writer and as a believer, to push past my fears, my doubts, and to do this crazy adventure not for myself but for God.
Brock: What’s your view on e-books and the new publishing revolution?
Beth: E-books are here to stay. And I’m okay with that. I will always want “real” books in my life – the kind I can curl up with on my couch. It’s not the same thing, curling up with my Kindle.
Brock: What are your hopes for your future as an author?
Beth: 1) To keep writing and to keep getting better. 2) To mentor other authors so that they can achieve their writing dreams.
Brock: In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?
Beth: For the past ten years, I’ve chosen one word to focus on for the year. This year, my one word is collaborate. I’ve always prayed over the stories I write – prayed for the readers, prayed for the process. But now I want to be so conscious of my writing being a collaboration with God – waiting on Him to help create this story.
Brock: Coke or Pepsi?
Beth: Coke – and when I am on deadline, I drink way-too much.
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Beth: I keep a stash of Jelly Belly jelly beans in my office. I have a special glass jar on my bookshelf and it’s up to me to keep it stocked. I don’t have a favorite flavor, per se, but I avoid the coffee and jalapeno ones.
Brock: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Beth: Romans 5:1-2 (The Message) – especially the part where it talks about finding ourselves where we always longed to be – standing in the wide open spaces of God’s grace.
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
Beth: I do listen to music – and I indulged in some Bose headphones to do so. I like to make up playlists for each of the books I am writing. Sometimes it is the kind of music my hero and heroine like. Sometimes the songs are themed to the book. For example, as I wrote my destination wedding series, I listened to a lot of wedding music.
Brock: Why do you write?
Beth: I write because life is messy. Relationships are messy. And God stepped into our messy lives, our messy relationships, and showed us that we don’t have to be this way. He offers us more. I like to write novels that weave together real life and a very real God.
Brock: What part of writing a book is the most challenging for you?
Beth: The End. I usually rewrite my endings several times before they feel right to me. When I begin a book, I often know exactly how I want to start – and it rarely changes. But landing the ending – that’s been more challenging to me.
Author Website: BethVogt.com
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