Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meet Vivian Zabel!



This month, I get the pleasure of hosting Vivian Zabel, among the many things that she is, the one that we’re here for today is the fact that she is a superlative and brilliant author. Today, as well as the 3rd, is going to be very full with tons of remarkable information to learn from Vivian. First off, we’re going to learn a little bit more about this author:

Vivian Gilbert was born to Raymond and Dolly Gilbert, July 28, 1943, on Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. The base for years was outside the city of San Antonio, but now the city surrounds the base.

With a military father who was transferred around the world, Vivian often changed schools, in fact when she graduated from high school in Limestone, Maine, she had changed schools twenty-two times.

After graduating from high school in 1961, Vivian returned to Oklahoma where she enrolled in Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University, in Bethany, Oklahoma). During the one semester she could afford to attend, Robert Zabel visited his sister, and Vivian and Robert met. They married February 18, 1962 and are still together.

During the next few years, Robert and Vivian had four children, three of whom lived. A story that shows the love and closeness between the couple is found in the short story “Romance Midst Tragedy,” published in Hidden Lies and Other Stories (http://tinyurl.com/8xrz2p).

As she reared her children and was a stay-at-home-mother, with spells of working in the business world, Vivian wrote short stories, poetry, and articles, which were published. Once her children were in school, Vivian returned to college and, in two and a half years, earned her BA with two majors (English and speech).

Vivian attended workshops, clinics, conferences, and classes about writing during her twenty-seven years of teaching. The further education helped her better teach her students and helped her hone her own writing skills. Finally in 2001 she was able to write full time and write longer works, after she retired from teaching.

At present, Vivian has six books to her credit, two co-authored. Her latest books are Prairie Dog Cowboy (written under the name V. Gilbert Zabel) and Midnight Hours (written under the name Vivian Gilbert Zabel).

Her interests besides writing include her family (husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren), reading, helping other people publish their books (through 4RV Publishing), and traveling (which she can’t do much any more).

In a short interview with Vivian, I asked her a couple of questions – I should probably show you rather than tell you –

Heather: How long have you been writing?




Vivian: The first written proof of my writing is some poetry from the third grade. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but my first published work was in the 1960s.



Heather: What started you writing for publication?




Vivian: What started me writing for publication? Reading books, stories, articles, and poetry and thinking, "I can write better than this." And I can.



Heather: Do you have a set time when you write, or just whenever you get the urge?




Vivian: I write every day, but not necessarily on my current project. I may write newsletters, articles, blog posts, or suggestions on material I'm editing. I "write" in my head many hours a day on my current project, even if I don't put pen to paper or fingers on keyboard for that reason. When the characters and plot explode, no matter what else I may be doing, I write on that book.



Heather: Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?




Vivian: I can't say I'm one of my favorite authors. However, those who are alive and are my favorites include Carolyn Hart, William Bernhardt, Jordan Dane, CJ Lyons, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Anne McCaffrey, Stuart Woods, J.A. Jance, Tess Gerritsen,and most of the 4RV authors.



Heather: Have you ever had writer's block, and if so how do you usually get rid of it?




Vivian: I don't have writer's block. I may need to work on a transition from one scene to another, but that is a matter of figuring out the best way to write it. I usually walk away from the computer and let the plot wander through my mind until the right method pops up.



Heather: What do you recommend to aspiring authors?




Vivian: Read, read, read, and read some more. Read the genres you're want to write, but also read other genres. Learn how to write and learn correct grammar and mechanics. I've studied, and even taught, writing for most of my life, and I'm still learning and improving.NEVER think what you write is perfect just because you wrote it. Listen to other people who know, who are experts, who can help you improve. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a writer who has a wonderful concept refuse to listen is her/his editors. Hey, I listen to mine, and my work goes through at least six. Some of those edit each of my manuscripts three times or more.Remember, no one is perfect. Some just work harder to come closer to perfection than other are willing.

Heather: How do you invent your characters?




Vivian: When I get an idea for a book or story, I "daydream" the idea, and the characters evolve. They become so real to me I could answer any question someone might ask about them.Did you know that Lisa always wanted to be a cute little blond when she was a child?Also, I notice characteristics of people that would go well in a protagonist or in an antagonist. I definitely use characteristics of people who are mean, hateful, cruel in villains.

Heather: I know a few authors who keep records (almost like police records) of height, weight, background, etc. of their characters, do you keep tabs on your characters, and if so, what do you usually make note of?




Vivian: I keep note cards on my characters. I include physical descriptions, likes and dislikes, education, interests, hobbies. I outline each one as completely as possible.

Heather: Some authors say that they feel as though his or her characters are real, do you feel this way, and what do you think about this?




Vivian: Oh, my, yes, my characters are "real." I'm half in love with Martin from Midnight Hours. I am in love with Buddy from Prairie Dog Cowboy, because I based Buddy on my husband. Kile, the man in my work in progress, is a hunk, and he makes a great hero.I can relate with my female characters, too. I don't allow them to be "poor, little, helpless" ninnies. I want them to have traits that I wish I had, or good ones I do have. The female protagonist in my work in progress, Amber, has a tendency to want to snap at people, but she smothers those reactions because she owns and manages a conference center. Part of her believability is she is human enough to want to react negatively but smart enough not to do so.All my characters are not perfect. They have weaknesses as people do.


Now we’re going to take a look at Vivian Zabel’s Prairie Dog Cowboy, a description, a review, and a short article, scroll down farther and take a look –

Genre: middle grade/ young adult / historical fiction
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
http://4rvpublishingllc.com/
Hardback, 180 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-9797513-5-6
ISBN-10: 0-9797513-5-7

Time passes so quickly and history is getting rewritten all the time. So much of our heritage is lost with those changes. It is refreshing to see a slice of reality portraying the daily life of 1899 Oklahoma in V. Gilbert Zabel's latest literary work, "Prairie Dog Cowboy".

Buddy Roberts is but a small boy at the start of the story. It isn’t clear right away why his mother is set against the child. Although he has an older brother, he's tending to the cattle at the age of five, all alone with only his dog to keep him company. Buddy is a mindful child, doing what needs to be done, even at such a young age, hoping some day to grow up to be a cowboy. Instead of him and Patch doing the work on foot, he dreams of herding cattle on horseback someday.

Neighbor rancher Caleb Hyman is impressed with Buddy. He wonders, too, why the child works hard while his older brother, Jake, is doted on and spoiled. But, Caleb can see the man that Buddy will become, encourages him, and teaches him to rope. Once Buddy can rope a prairie dog, Caleb promises he'll give the boy a job on his ranch. Not an easy thing to do, but Buddy works hard to reach his appointed goal.

Through the years, Buddy becomes a part of Caleb's family, a friend of Caleb's twin sons, and the unknowing object of affection for their younger sister, Katie. Life begins to take a turn for the better as he approaches manhood. An ironic twist at the end brings the cycle of life in full circle.


Prairie Dog Cowboy by V. Gilbert Zabel

Time passes so quickly and history is getting rewritten all the time. So much of our heritage is lost with those changes. It is refreshing to see a slice of reality portraying the daily life of 1899 Oklahoma in V. Gilbert Zabel's latest literary work, "Prairie Dog Cowboy".

Buddy Roberts is but a small boy at the start of the story. It isn’t clear right away why his mother is set against the child. Although he has an older brother, he's tending to the cattle at the age of five, all alone with only his dog to keep him company. Buddy is a mindful child, doing what needs to be done, even at such a young age, hoping some day to grow up to be a cowboy. Instead of him and Patch doing the work on foot, he dreams of herding cattle on horseback someday.

Neighbor rancher Caleb Hyman is impressed with Buddy. He wonders, too, why the child works hard while his older brother, Jake, is doted on and spoiled. But, Caleb can see the man that Buddy will become, encourages him, and teaches him to rope. Once Buddy can rope a prairie dog, Caleb promises he'll give the boy a job on his ranch. Not an easy thing to do, but Buddy works hard to reach his appointed goal.

Through the years, Buddy becomes a part of Caleb's family, a friend of Caleb's twin sons, and the unknowing object of affection for their younger sister, Katie. Life begins to take a turn for the better as he approaches manhood.

"Prairie Dog Cowboy" is a testament of a time when life was hard, but people weren't afraid of hard work. The day-to-day occurrences represented are an accurate telling of the time, history that should not be lost. Teens and young adults can learn much from this story and I, for one, am thankful that Ms. Zabel has documented this slice of American history.

Reviewed by Jena' Galifany
Author, Editor, Reviewer
http://jenagalifany.bravehost.com/


Setting for the Hyman Ranch in Prairie Dog Cowboy

The seemingly flat, barren land stretches as far as the eye can see in modern northwestern Oklahoma, just as it did over a hundred years ago. Although paved roads and highways now crisscross the landscape, people who travel through often miss the hidden beauty found in river floodplains and unexpected gullies blooming with life.
Ranches and homesteads, many of which have existed for over one hundred years, dot the miles between Hardesty on Oklahoma Highway 3 and Hooker on U.S. 54. Often the land changed owners over the years; however, a few places have remained in the possession of descendents of the original family. One such historical place is the Mayer Ranch, located between Hardesty and Hooker.
The Oklahoma Historical Society declared the Mayer Ranch eligible for the Oklahoma Centennial Ranch Award in 1990. Dallas Mayer, wife of fourth generation rancher James K. Mayer, accumulated the necessary documentation for the ranch to be recognized. Some of the information in her documents makes interesting reading for those who like western history and history of what is now the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Jim Beasley (James Sergeant Beasley), as a teenaged drover, passed through No Man’s Land on cattle drives from Texas to the railway at Dodge City, Kansas. The drivers and cattle often camped along the Beaver River, where grass grew to the edge of the deep, narrow waterway. He and friend Walter Danilson planned to return and stay as soon as they could. Jim knew someday he would settle where he watched wild mustangs browse along the river side. A few drives, and he and Walter returned and didn’t leave. The plans of two friends began a saga that ended in an Oklahoma landmark.
What is now the Mayer Ranch home place became the setting for the Hyman Ranch in Prairie Dog Cowboy. Information about the real ranch and the real homestead set as the setting for the Roberts farm are discussed in the “Learn More” section at the back of the book.


Thank you all for reading, do remember to come back on Saturday to take a look at Vivian Zabel’s latest book, plus an article on Internet Predators.

20 comments:

Holly Jahangiri said...

Vivian can't say she's one of her favorite authors, but I can! What a wonderful interview. I loved Prairie Dog Cowboy, too. I think I was one of its first readers, even before it had a cover. I'm rather partial to the cover artist, as well.

Darcia said...

Heather, thanks for helping us get to know Vivian!
Vivian, your books sounds great! I wish you tons of success.

DarcĂ­a Helle
www.QuietFuryBooks.com

Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks, Heather, for the awesome buildup. I appreciate all you did for this post.

Thank you, Holly. You've shared with me that you liked Prairie Dog (which thrills me), and of course you are partial to the illustrator -- Jordan brought Trockle to life.

Darcia, thank you for stopping by and leaving a message. I hope you get a chance to read some of my work some day.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I always love learning more about Vivian. And hearing from her little coop of authors. What an amazing group. Thank you for this!

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Tweeting tips for writers @frugalbookpromo

Stephen Tremp said...

I appreciate your comment, "I usually walk away from the computer and let the plot wander through my mind until the right method pops up." Writer's block doesn't happen just because a writer isn't typing away, sometimes you have to step back and allow an idea to germinate for a while, then go back and type it out.

Stephen Tremp

Vivian Zabel said...

The "little" group of 4RV writers is growing larger and larger. Wish we could take more, but until we build another wing on the house, we can't. Ish.

Heather is a remarkable young woman.

Nancy Famolari said...

Excellent post on Vivian. I enjoyed hearing about how she works with her characters. I do the same thing, imagine them until they're real.
I hope you all read "Prairie Dog Cowboy" It's an excellent portrayal of the West.

Vivian Zabel said...

Aww, thanks Nancy. I'm rather partial to Prairie Dog Cowboy myself.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Very nice feature post! I always enjoy reading and learning more about Vivian and her writing. I liked your thoughts on "writers blog" I'm much the same. And somehow in all the posts I've read about you I'd missed that you were born on a military base - learn something everyday, eh?

The Old Silly

Margaret Fieland said...

Vivian, it's interesting to hear that you walk away from the computer and let the plot ripen in your mind. Lately I've found that many of my best plot ideas come to me when I'm driving.

Heather, thanks for the great interview.

Vivian Zabel said...

Yes, Marvin, I spent eighteen years in the Air Force but never received any pay or retirement.

Margaret, I walk away from the computer sometimes because I'm aggravated. *laugh* However, I do plot and "write" in my head almost all the time.

Heather said...

Oh, wow! This is a pretty lively place today! Thank you all for stopping by and commenting.

Vivian: It was my pleasure to create the blog post, you are a very interesting person, and you can't all fit in a miniature little blog slot. You need a good blog post to do you justice. ;)

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

Heather, you did a great interview!

I've learned even more about Vivian through it. I have Prairie Dog Cowboy on my to read list.

Karen

Aidana WillowRaven said...

Awesome interview!

I had the honor of working with Viv on 'Midnight Hours' for well ... hours ... and hours ... and hours ... lol.

She even came up with the cover concept and handed a rather plain photograph she took to me and told me to do my thing ... lol.

I was so surprised by what came out of this sweet grandmother, when I read it over line by line with her, while doing the copy editing.

Vivian really impresses me with her skill and attention to detail.

Aidana WillowRaven

kathy stemke said...

Heather you did a fantastic job on this post!

Vivian, the more I learn about you, the more I admire your talent and professionalism. I've read both of your featured books and thoroughly enjoyed them!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I enjoyed this interview and it sounds like I have another good book to add to my to-read list. By the way, my characters are real to me, too!

Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. I'm glad we could liven up Heather's blog.

And those of you who have read any of my books, thank you very much.

Crystalee said...

Vivian is such a fascinating and talented person, no wonder you had enough info on her for days worth of posts!

Liana said...

Vivian, you have accompliced so many things,I wouldn't be so diligent! I like reading about you!

Thanks Heather for the great post!

Liana

Vivian Zabel said...

Thank you for all the wonderful things you've said about me. I feel rather overwhelmed. I know authors are supposed to be "full of themselves," but I don't fit in that mold very well.

I'm flattered and do appreciate the kind thoughts.