Author Spotlight: Karen Vogel

Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Melanie Dobson is Sue Stone! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (ckrumm@litfusegroup.com)

This week Karen Vogel is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of her book, The Amish Doll  leave a comment on this post!

Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?

I live in the best of both worlds: halfway between Pittsburgh and Amish country, (Smicksburg). I love rural life, but I’m not a total country bumpkin…my hubby of 31 years is. We’ve raised our four kids in rural small-towns, homeschooled, but now they’re all in their 20’s. Tim and I were empty nester for two years, but some of the birds are coming back. We’re turning our big old farmhouse into a duplex and my son and his wife will live on one side. Then my youngest daughter, soon to be married, will live in a little guestroom above the garage. Both couples are saving to pay cash for a foreclosed home; unfortunately, there are many out there. I used to work at our family online bookstore full-time, Thrifty Christian Shopper, but I spend most days writing now, and am thrilled about that.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

I’ve been fascinated with the Amish and small-town life for years. Having lived in small towns among the Amish, I felt there needed to be a book about what that would be like, English and Amish living side-by-side. So I like to write with a mixture of these two cultures colliding at times, embracing at others.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?

I love children and have written books for my own four kids and their friends. I’d read them to Sunday school classes and to any child who would listen. I also write poetry and lyrics to songs. A novel seemed like a monumental task, so I shied away from trying, but when my mom and two cousins died three years ago, I started to write as therapy. I imagined what it would be like to live across the street from my Amish friend, Lydia, who also was experiencing grief. Lydia was also single, so I imagined a good friend of mine, Joseph (still single and a photographer in real life) was my brother who came to live with me. What would happen between Joseph and Lydia? It was fun so I just kept bringing in other characters, who are real people. Even real places like Smicksburg, Pittsburgh Mills Mall, SuzyB Knits, and Oakmont Bakery. The complete Serenity Prayer also played a huge part in the grieving process, so I have characters dealing with loss that learn what I was learning in real life. So my first novel was born, Knit Together: An Amish Knitting Novel.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?

The Amish built an addition on the side of our house, and when the door is closed, it means I’m writing and enter at your own risk. ☺ I try to write at least four hours a day, and usually start with bowing my head in complete silence, asking for the Lord’s direction. I do a lot of research too. When a character needs help, I call my counselor friend, Maryann, and ask her about the really tough issues. I also go frequently to Smicksburg, with a list of questions to ask my Amish friends. So it’s not just sitting down to write, but prayer and research, too.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication?

I was shocked that other writers in American Christian Fiction Writers, ACFW, wanted to help me, not being in competition. I befriended several authors through the Mid-Atlantic group on Facebook, run by Carrie Pagels, who looked over my writing. I learned so much from Carrie Turansky, Jennifer Hudson Taylor and Rita Gerlach. I was terribly redundant and I had little imagery. I highly recommend ACFW. It’s fellowship of Christian writers who really care about each other. I also attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference and was in a writer’s clinic with Joyce Magnin, and took classes with Cec Murphey on writing dialogue. These conferences are really worth the expense. My friendship with Kathi Macias, who’s an award winning author, started as a ten minute pitch for my book. She’s helped me improve my writing and has been a great encouragement.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

I never thought I’d have so much fun writing! It’s like creating your own universe and having complete control! In Little Women, I always thought Jo should have married Lawrence. Now, when I write, I can arrange the marriages. And using my creativity daily is simply a joy I can’t really express. I love it!

What are your biggest distractions?

Well, having four wedding in three years! Juggling writing proposals and being a wedding planner is a challenge. But it’s so much fun attempting to have a nice wedding on a budget; it certainly gets your creative juices moving. We have two weddings down, two to go.

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

I’d only been published one month when I got to be on the radio with Beverly Lewis. Now, that’s a way to kick-off a career. It was so surreal, talking about the Amish with my favorite Amish author who I’ve adored for over 15 years. I haven’t really had any major low points yet, being a newbie. So I’m just enjoying the ride.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

I don’t like the isolation, and try to make a good schedule to get out and about. But it’s challenging at times, since I’m writing so much. But having a flexible schedule, being able to stay up late writing, and sleep in, is worth its weight in gold. I’m a night owl and my stories seem to when the sun sets. I used to be a substitute teacher, and it was torture getting up at 5:30 a.m. to answer the phone to get my assignment.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Write about life experiences. They may be familiar to you, but life-changing to others. In the movie, Little Women, the professor tells Jo she needs to stop writing silly tales and write from her heart, If you have the courage. Writing from the heart required Jo to rehash the death of her sister, which would be painful. You might want to write a story based on someone else’s life. I hope someday to write about my grandparents love story…much better than fiction. And my dad’s stories about growing up in the 1930’s during the Great Depression, being bored and making up their own fun, could be Huckleberry Finn 2. I highly recommend the book, Writing Fiction For Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. It’s the best book I’ve found on writing, and is useful for beginning writers as well as seasoned ones.

Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.

My books show the Amish and English together in a small-town, based on true stories.

What’s on the book horizon for you?

I’ll continue to write the continuing series, Amish Knitting Circle. Granny Weaver’s had two knitting circle now, and will be on her third soon, as the women knit for charity. I’m also writing another Amish Knitting Novel, based on an herbalist in Smicksburg, and his daughter. And I love Christmas, so am working on an outline for an Amish Christmas novella.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

You can contact me at www.karenannavogel.com or on my author page on Facebook. My blog, Amish Crossings, is meant to be a place to cross paths with others interested in the Amish or simple living. Please join me there at www.karenannavogel.blogspot.com I also share my Amish photography on Pinterest, and you can follow me on Twitter. My eBooks can be found on Amazon, B&N, Sony, and anywhere eBooks are sold. My paperback, Knit Together and The Amish Doll, on Amazon for now, but soon to be distributed to brick and mortar stores and other websites. Our store, Thrifty Christian Shopper, www.thriftychristian.com (Also on EBay) will carry the paperbacks as well.). You also might find them in your local library. Ask the librarian to get a copy if they don’t have one.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers)

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. Amy C says:

    The Amish Doll souds like a lovely read! Will have to look for it. Thanks for giveaway!

  2. Jean Smith says:

    I’ve always liked the Amish dolls, now i can read about them. Thanks

  3. Jean Marie says:

    Amish Doll Knitting Circle sounds AWESOME.. I’m excited to read this book as I’m a big knitter

  4. Ellen Shullaw says:

    The Amish Doll sounds like a delightful book…can hardly wait to read books by Karen Vogel…thanks for giving us the chance to get to know about great books..

  5. Barb Abel says:

    Sounds very interesting would love to win thanks for the contest

  6. Judy Burgi says:

    I enjoyed the interview with Karen. I don’t know a whole lot about her as she is a new author to me. So, it was nice getting to hear about her life, family, etc.

    I would love to win a copy of, The Amish Doll!

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

    Blessings!
    Judy
    judyjohn2004(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. Linda St Myers says:

    Love reading about the authors you spotlight…and I love reading Karen’s books…would love to add this to my collection….thank you for sharing Karen’s new book with us.

    In Christ
    Linda

  8. I’d love to ready your book, 3 years ago, I’d never read Amish books, now they are my favorite thing to read.

  9. Carolyn Jefferson says:

    I also would like to win a copy of The Amish doll.
    Your interview was great.
    Carolyn
    carolynj63@att.net

  10. Carla Winebarger says:

    Cannot wait to read this! I love books about the Amish, they are so facinating. Thank you for sharing this book!

  11. Sharon Holweger says:

    this sounds like a whole new idea of an Amish book and I cant wait to read it.

  12. Kathy Faberge says:

    Karen is a new author to me. Loved the interview, Suzanne. Can’t wait to read Karen’s books.
    Kathy Faberge
    finulhour@sbcglobal.net

  13. Cheryl Yates says:

    I would love to win the book The Amish Doll. My favorite books I like to read are about the Amish. When I was growing up my parents and I used to go to an Amish farm and buy Amish bread, and cheese and sausage. I went to Tenn. and had the privilege of going to an Amish farm where they made the little Amish pies and I got to go into the place where they made them and saw how they worked to make them. I also bought one of their homemade candles.

  14. A double-wedding possibility?? That would be memorable. Thank you for your interesting interview responses. I especially liked, “Write about life experiences. They may be familiar to you, but life-changing to others.” I would like to be in the drawing for your new book! Thank you. Kathleen
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

  15. Marydon says:

    Love reading the author’s inspirations of life & writing. Her book looks inviting. Would love to receive her book … you don’t want to hear me whine, do you? 🙂

    Thank you for a delightful read today.
    TTFN ~
    Marydon

  16. Barbara Norton says:

    The book sounds like a real treasure!! Sure would love to win one but I am sure I will read and enjoy it either way!!

  17. Teresa Sheroke says:

    Would love read this book!

  18. Rhoda MacMaster says:

    I love reading Amish stories. The Amish doll sounds like a really good read.

  19. martha bales says:

    Hello, this sounds like a lovely book , I don’t knit but I crochet ,,,, I sure would love to read your books , sounds interesting ,thanks for letting us know

  20. Carol Carman says:

    I enjoyed reading about you. I especially like that you use REAL PLACES in your books.
    Please enter me in your contest. I would love to read this book.
    Thanks!

  21. Nat Homgren says:

    Sounds like something I really want to read about now! Nothing like a book and a doll for a gal to be happy!

  22. Joan Crothers says:

    This book sounds very interesting. Hope I can win a copy!

  23. i would love to win this book.

  24. angela chesnut says:

    This book sounds like a good read. I love the title.

  25. Dianna Bupp says:

    I would love to win the book – sounds so good!!!!!!!

    Thank you!!!!

  26. Kathie from Ca says:

    Loved the interview with Karen. Sounds like a great book. I was born in Coatesville, Pa in Lancaster County. I love all things Amish.

  27. Nancee Marchinowski says:

    I’ve read some of Karen’s other books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. This one sounds wonderful. I’d love to win a copy! Thanks for offering this giveaway!
    Nancee
    quiltcat26[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

  28. Murray Pura says:

    everyone loves you guys – so I’d love to have some prize copies on my Famous Authors’ Shelf

  29. Lee Jolley says:

    Thank you for the great interview.. sounds like books I’d enjoy reading.
    Blessings,
    Lee Jolley

  30. mary ellen ashenfelder says:

    Wonderful interview — sounds like a great read. Thank you 🙂

  31. Linda McFarland says:

    Wow what a wonderful interview with writer Karen Anna Vogel….and I would love to win a paperback copy of Ms. Vogel’s new book ‘Amish Doll’…sounds soo good can’t wait to get my hands on a copy too

  32. alice dillon says:

    Sounds like a great book, hope to win a copy! Thanks for the chance!

  33. Tracy Bartlett says:

    I just love all of Karen Anna Vogel’s writings and always am anxiously awaiting the next installment!!!

  34. Pat Moore says:

    I haven’t read any of your books but after reading your blog I’m going to be buying “Amish Doll”. I have to handmade Amish dolls (man & woman) that was made in a nursing home type place that was Amish operated. My friend’s mother lived there (Ohio) and the home’s residents made the dolls by hand and even though they are imperfect by most standards, I love them. It mean more to me than some of the things I’ve had for years. Glad to find a new author to try. Love reading about the Amish.

  35. Kathleen B says:

    I’m always looking for new Amish authors. This looks wonderful! Thanks.

  36. Theresa Crawford says:

    would love to read this book. always looking for new authors

  37. sandi says:

    Love your books an would love too win the doll. Keep up good work an God Bless You. Gizmosandi@hotmail.com

  38. Michele Bodoh says:

    Loved reading the interview. Would love to read the book. Am an avid knitter and love Amish books.

  39. I would love to win a copy of Karen’s book. I have never read any of her books but I will be checking them out.

  40. Juanita Cook says:

    I have got this wonderful book on my Kindle. But would love to have a copy of the paper back version. Thanks for a change to win The Amish Doll.

  41. Jackie Tessnair says:

    I would love to win this book.Thanks and have a great week.

  42. Lenise says:

    I would love to be entered in your contest!!! Thank you for the chance!

  43. Cynthia Fisher Adams says:

    Nice to meet you Karen! I enjoyed reading your interview and can’t wait to read your books!

    Cindy

  44. Linda Landreth says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to read this one. An intriguing title! Thanks and Blessings! Linda❤

  45. Jane Reeves says:

    Would love to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Jane

  46. Snowflakes says:

    I woul be honored and thrilled to read this book 🙂 Amish fiction is sort of my heart’s home. When I am stressed, I love to escape into a good Amish story. Thanks!!!

  47. Thanks for the shout out, KAREN! We are so grateful to have you as our Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the ACFW MidAtlantic Zone. We are a blessed bunch and glad we could help.

  48. felecia says:

    I would love to read this sweet looking story.

  49. Kristie D. says:

    Sounds like a great book. I’m glad that you can still primarily focus on your writing. I wonder if you have an agent and if you do lots of marketing for yourself? Have you found social networks to be useful in making new reader-friends? It’s wonderful that you can focus so much on your writing right now. Not so much after the grandkids arrive. *LOL* Take care! -Kristie
    kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.