On Grandma's Steps
Deborah (Swiler) Vogts, a country girl at heart, grew up in the country and had a storybook childhood. When you read her debut book, the first in a series, Snow Melts in Spring,you get to see a bit of her heart and passions in the setting, which is one of the last tall prairie grass regions in the world.
I know you are going to enjoy this glimpse into Deborah's past as much as I did!
As a girl I had high aspirations of becoming a concert pianist, or an artist or clothing designer, and then in high school I decided I wanted to be a writer.
Fondest Memory (then):
That’s hard. I had a very idyllic childhood. We lived in an old farmhouse built in the late 1800’s with a lovely L-shaped porch. I had two older brothers and our bedrooms were upstairs. Summers were hot and winters were cold—very cold. I can still feel that frigid wind seeping through the uninsulated walls, and the wood floors were so cold beneath my bare feet. Brrr.
As for a fond memory, though, there was an old storage shed next to our house that was falling apart. My folks had abandoned it for anything useful, so I took it over and turned it into Debbie’s Café. I made mud cakes, mud lemonade, mud pies, mud hamburgers, and a host of other items. What was really fun, though, was when my brothers or mom and dad would come up to the “restaurant” and order food from me. They were very good at feeding my imagination. So fun.
My First Job:
My junior year in high school I became a Princess House Consultant (fine crystal dealer.)I scheduled 2 home parties a week and did this for one year. This job helped me out of my shyness. I’m still an introvert, but I can be bold and outgoing if I have to. LOL
Hmm. I’m not sure if this is really an indulgence or not, but I’m going to say homemade ice-cream. My dad LOVED homemade ice-cream, (still does, for that matter,) so we made it often—at least once a week, sometimes more—on an old hand-crank machine. Mom would dish what was left from the ice-cream freezer into little containers for us to eat later. I recall many mornings waking up and eating rock-hard frozen ice-cream with my dad for breakfast. I think that qualifies as an indulgence…
Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Oh, that’s a fun question. I think I may have been around 8 years old, which would mean it was 1973. Mom bought me a pair of denim bell bottoms that I adored, and also a red, white & blue leather belt to go with them. I think I often wore a red sleeveless shirt with it. Loved, loved, loved this outfit. LOL. Oh, and I wore cowboy boots with it, of course. ;)
Favorite Childhood Movie and/or TV Show:
Little House on the Prairie, but also I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Gilligan’s Island and Happy Days!
Favorite Childhood Book:
Little House on the Prairie, The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, and Misty of Chincoteague.
Favorite Childhood Activity/Pastime:
Reading and playing with my dolls. I had LOTS of dolls, from baby dolls to Barbie dolls. One of my favorites was a Timey-Tell Doll, and then there was my Velvet Doll (I think those were the only two whose hair I didn’t cut off). And then there was this really cool Dusty Doll. She was like a Barbie only she had “real” features. A thicker waist, small bust and short hair. LOL. Mine played golf, but there were others that played tennis, softball, etc.
Playing with My Dolls
Oh, I almost forgot our Johnny West collection. Every winter, (usually during our Christmas break from school) my brothers and I would get out our Johnny West dolls and set up the “ranch” in our living room. Between the three of us, we had quite the setup. My brothers collected the cowboys, Indians, and outlaws, and my collection included Jane West, Josie West, and Princess Wildflower, along with a “Flame” horse. We also had a cardboard bunkhouse that we set up, along with cardboard furniture. All of this burned in a house fire, but I recently found a Jane West at a thrift store and bought her to show my girls and future grandchildren. Maybe I’ll try to find more of the set to start my collection again.
Fonzie. I was even a member of the Henry Winkler fan club. LOL
Any childhood pets?
- Of course…a collie named Lassie, a horse named Strawberry, lots of kittens and puppies and even baby piglets. Oh, and one winter, I remember my oldest brother bringing an orphan lamb into the house when it lost its mama. That was really cool. So cuddly and soft.
Deborah on her horse, Strawberry
Greatest spiritual influence (when you were a child):
My Grandpa Swiler. He was a very faithful man and loved to sing hymns, often leading songs during Sunday school at our church. I don’t recall him being a great singer, but he was loud and always had a grin on his face.
Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer you have become?
– I grew up in the country with lots of space to roam and the freedom to dream big. I remember climbing to the top of one of our grain bins and looking out over the countryside, thinking that I couldn’t wait to get out on my own and start my life. Then, only a few years later, I recall being in a city park and flying kites with my youngest daughter and longing for “home” and for the wide-open spaces of the country.
Little did I know as a girl, that my strong bonds of childhood would bring me back home to the country. And that’s what I write about today. Country at Heart is the tagline I use for my writing, as well as what I call my blog. It’s what I know, and it comes from the memories that I draw upon.
Thank you so much, Crystal, for allowing me to stroll down memory lane with you. It’s been such a joy recalling all of these fond moments from my childhood. Blessings to you and to your readers!
You can find Deborah at her web site and on her blog! Do check out her web site for a book trailer on Snow Melts in Spring, recipes and more about Deborah, including tips if you are interested in writing.
Deborah has also graciously offered a free copy of her book,[UPDATE: Sarah Rupp won !! ] Snow Melts in Spring published by Zondervan. If you'd like a chance to win a copy, leave a comment with your contact info (email, but leave spaces or spell out the ISP) to be included in the drawing. And all of you Johnny and Jane West collectors or who had those action figures as a child, tell us about it! (I had the West collection, too, so I related a lot to Deb's childhood on several points.)Her book has become one of my favorites this year because of the setting, characters and story.
Don't forget that you can request a copy be acquired at your local library, if you can't get your own copy.
Deborah's debut novel: Snow Melts in Spring
Snow Melts in Spring
Book #1 ~ Seasons of the Tallgrass Series
When an aged horse is severely injured on a gravel road in the Flint Hills of Kansas, country veterinarian Mattie Evans accepts the challenge to save him. But she finds herself in the middle of a longstanding feud between the horse’s owner, pro quarterback Gil McCray, and his ailing father—who is also her dear friend.
As the snow melts in spring, Gil’s return to his estranged father’s ranch brings a chance for new beginnings and reconciliation, but when he falls in love with Mattie, he must face the truths that haunt him or run from his past. Meanwhile, Mattie encourages Gil to return permanently to Kansas rather than retire in California.
Their love collides when Mattie’s sister arrives on Gil’s doorstep, causing Gil to come to terms with the jealous acts leading up to his brother’s death and seek forgiveness from those he loves most. Can he accept God’s forgiveness, and will that be enough to make him stop running from his memories of home? In turn, if Mattie forgives, she’ll be forced to choose between the man of her dreams and the land she dearly loves.
The Seasons of the Tallgrass series captures the spirit and dreams of ordinary people living in the Flint Hills of Kansas--one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world. In writing this series, I hope to share my passion for this place, showing that God's great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.
Order at amazon.com christianbooks.com or zondervan.com
ISBN - 0310292751
ABOUT THE FLINT HILLS OF KANSAS: The Kansas Flint Hills is a strip of land stretching from Nebraska to Oklahoma, two hundred miles long and fifty miles wide, that refuses to be tamed because of the flint rock embedded in the hills. Although farmers once tried to run plows through it, they abandoned their efforts, leaving it to its original native grass. That is why it remains as one of the largest tallgrass prairies in the world.
FROM DEBORAH's WEB SITE:
Some of you may be writers. My writing career really took off when I joined the online writing group ACFW. Many wonderful authors took the time to help me, and I want to do the same. Visit my writing page for a few meager tips.
When I'm not writing, reading or working on the Internet, I enjoy taking walks with our golden retrievers. I also love to cook and have included recipes to share with you. This page will be updated each season, so check back regularly.
It's always fun to hear from my readers. If you'd like to introduce yourself, please sign my guest book or contact me. To help stay in touch, I invite you to join my newsletter, visit my blog, or maybe I'll see you at one of my future book signings!
It's been fun sharing my life with you. May God bless you. ~ Deborah