Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vivian Gilbert Zabel - Part 2

Oh, Boy! We’re back with Vivian Zabel!

I want to start out by letting you know that I had a choice between an article, Writing for Children, by Vivian, or this interview. Well, having an author/publisher on hand, I just couldn't pass up the interview.

So, today, we have 7 questions about life, writing and publishing that Vivian candidly and generously answers. For those readers out there who may be suffering with debilitating and chronic illnesses, and for women in general, Vivian is a source of inspiration. With determination and effort we can accomplish amazing things. Okay, you men, don’t feel left out, that goes for you too!

Now on to the Interview:

1. I was surprised to read in one of your interviews that you have a serious illness. I know the affects of dealing with an ongoing health problem; it slows you down to say the least. How do you manage running a publishing business, and what’s the most difficult thing?
Some days are more difficult than others, especially when I’m having trouble sleeping. Then I’m not only in pain but am extremely tired. However, I’m also extremely determined.

2. Were you ill when you started 4RV Publishing? If so, what made you decide to take on such an undertaking?

I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus since I was quite young. I decided that I would have as full a life as possible any way, for as long as possible.

3. What do you think about authors who self-publish?

Authors who are self-published are hurting themselves in a way, because self-publication has a bad reputation. Yes, some good, well-written books are self-published, but the problem is that too many poorly written, full of errors books are self-published all the time.

I don’t have an answer, either. However due to the fact that authors don’t have many options when the major publishers go mainly for already-famous people as authors, whether they can write or not, 4RV tries to fill the gap between self-publishing and vainly presses and the “big boys.”

I wish we had the funds to put out more of the good manuscripts submitted.

4. What advice would you give to a writer who is about to self-publish?

Oh, my, that’s a rough question. Any writer about to self-publish needs to be sure
1. the book is extremely well-written
2. the book has been professionally edited at least twice
3. a good marketing plan is in place

5. What’s the most important tip you could give a writer who is just starting out?

First, know how to write, including knowing correct grammar and mechanics, and be willing to continue to learn.

6. Do you think that some writers are just not cut out for writing for children, or do you think anyone can learn the craft?

I don’t think everyone can learn to be a good writer, but all can learn to be better writers. Writing for children does take a special talent and desire, though.

7. What are some of the writing tools (books, courses, etc.) that you’ve found helpful, or that you think would be helpful to others who are just starting out or want to hone their craft?
All through the nearly thirty years I taught writing, I attended workshops, clinics, and classes to improve my writing. I still attend writing conferences and classes. One is the Muse Online Writers Conference, an intense week of working on writing at my computer ( Another is the yearly OWFI (Oklahoma Writers Federation – writing conference with sessions to help authors.

I read and learn from writing magazines, such as The Writer and Writers’ Digest.

Thank you, Vivian.

Wow, what wonderful insight from an accomplished author and publisher. I’m sure this advice will be a huge help to our readers, especially those starting out and those headed for the self-publishing road. Thank you so much, Vivian, for being our guest this tour.

Here are Vivian’s links for you to learn more:

To get a copy of Prairie Dog Cowboy:

You can also find it at local book stores and Barnes &

Thank you, Vivian, for being our guest this tour; it's been an honor to have you here!

Talk to you soon,


Nancy Famolari said...

Excellent interview, Karen and Vivian. I certainly agree with Vivian, live life to the fullest.

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

Ha,Ha, you're an early bird too, Nancy. I'm online doing a few things before my grandsons come at 9am.

Thanks for stopping by!


Dianne G. Sagan said...

What a great interview! Like you, Vivian, and others life can be challenging but I believe it is really important not to let physical conditions stop me from writing. I hope you have more good days than bad ones. You offer great advice!

Deborah Weed said...

Hi Vivian,
You are such an inspiration! You are not only an author, but you champion other writers with your publishing company. This takes courage and tenacity. Especially with what you must go through on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing with us all on a deeper level!

The Old Silly said...

Always a pleasure to read about Vivian and learn from her experience. I tend to agree with the self-pub advice, although frankly for most novice 1st-time authors self-pubs are the only ones that'll give you the time of day (for a couple thousand dollars - lol)

Fortunately for me by the time I had my 2nd book ready to pub I landed a co0ntract from a small traditional press.

Now to land one of those big fat Wal-Mart deals, right? (wink)

Marvin D Wilson

Stephen Tremp said...

I like Vivian's inspiration writing. Life's too short not to live it to its fullest. And writing is one of the best outlets. Thanks Vivian.

Stephen Tremp

Vivian Zabel said...

Thank you, Karen, for hosting me this week, and thanks, everyone, for your kind comments.

What a hectic day so far. Whew.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

You know, I just have to say what an involved publisher Vivian is. That is so rare. She worked with my LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books booth for a couple of years now. Everything she does, she does well. Everything she does she tackles as a participator, not just an observer.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick

Vivian Zabel said...

I just do what I think is right, what I would like others to do.

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks for the great interview.

My best wishes of health to you, Vivien. I admire your work and determination in spite of your obstacles.

Gayle said...

Great interview!

Anita said...

Vivian, I luv that you said, "Writing for children does take a special talent and desire.." You obviously have both of these qualities!!

Holly Jahangiri said...

Vivian reminds me of my own mother, in many ways. I used to marvel at my mom's ability to keep going, never letting pain or illness slow her down. She had fairly frequent migraines, but she didn't take to her bed and pull the covers over her head. I asked her how she did it, and she said, "You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You've GOT to keep moving." She made it sound so much easier than it is, but people who are cursed with chronic pain or health problems also seem to be blessed with the determination to put that in a box and live life to the fullest - maybe better, sometimes, than those of us who face fewer challenges. I admire them; I certainly don't envy them. But sometimes, they make me feel like such a slug! :)

Vivian hardly mentions her own writing, here. She is not only a publisher who cares very much about her authors and their books, but she is an author in her own right. And she promotes others as vigorously - maybe moreso - than she promotes her own work.

I'm pleased to know Vivian, and I wholeheartedly echo Carolyn's sentiments. She's a active, enthusiastic participant in all she does - she doesn't ask others to do anything she's unwilling to do, herself.

Crystalee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystalee said...

Very true words, Vivian.

For a short time, I read manuscripts for a vanity publisher. I was shocked at the kind of work that came through there. Riddled with punctuation and grammar errors, poor or just plain boring storylines, formatted in odd ways- I've seen it all. I wish more people would see that self-publishing is harder in some ways than going through a small publisher. At the very least, they need to prepare their manuscript with the same care as if they were submitting to a traditional publisher.

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

Thank you all for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

And, thank you, Vivian for the great advice and insight.


Vivian Zabel said...

Thank you, each and every commenter and Karen.

kathy stemke said...

I love Vivian's books. She's a fantastic writer who creates believable characters that you can care about.

Liana said...

Vivian, thanks for all that very useful information. It's hard to get a new book out in the vast marketplace-now I know that! But I am glad I did this step and learned so many things about books and publishing!


Linda Asato said...

This posting for Vivian is done well. I like to see Vivian recognized for the fantastic person she is. Such a kind and gentle spirit with such a strong desire to survive. That is commendable.
Linda Asato