Monday, September 29, 2008

Interview with Children's Author and Publisher, Vivian Zabel

Publisher, Children and Young Adult Author, Vivian Zabel talks about her writing and publishing career. Read my review of her YA book Case of the Missing Coach here.

Hello Vivian, I want to thank you so much for taking time to take part in this interview. You are one busy lady and I can tell that you give the word retire a bad reputation. You wear many hats and there are many words to describe you, author, publisher, entrepreneur, marketer…

Carma: How do you balance all the various aspects of your writing and publishing business?

Vivian: The fact that often I can’t sleep helps. However, if the business keeps growing, I’m going to have to have more help.

As I’m working with business needs of 4RV Publishing, often I’m “working” at the back of my mind on something I’m writing or about to write.

When I was younger, I could multi-task better than I can now, but thankfully, I still can to some extent.

I depend on notes plastered all around the computer to keep track of myself. You do realize, don’t you, that the purpose of name tags is to remind me of who I am?

Carma: What are you most passionate about outside of writing?

Vivian: That’s an easy question to answer: my family. My husband, three children, ten grandchildren, and four, soon to be five, great-grandchildren are the foundation of my life.

My faith is the only thing that comes before all of them.

Carma: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Vivian: Maybe a better question would be what have I done with my life. I’ve been the receptionist for a hotel, car hop, inventory clerk, office manager, insurance office manager, and then a teacher for twenty-seven years. If I weren’t writing, I guess I’d give up finally and vegetate.

Carma: Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

Vivian: I always knew I was going to be a writer. I started writing poetry when I was eight, but I told stories to my siblings and friends from the time I could talk. I remember the first time I shared my dream of writing a novel with a “friend” in the seventh grade. She laughed and spread the story, trying to make me a figure of ridicule. I didn’t talk about my plans any more: I just did them.

I’ve had poetry, short stories, and articles published for many years, about forty years in fact. My first book was a collection of short stories written by me and by Holly Jahangiri, Hidden Lies and Other Stories, which is listed on an online text book sight as a literature book.

Carma: You recently launched a new book called Midnight Hours; tell us a little about it and what was your inspiration for it?

Vivian: I have an online friend, who “adopted” me as her mom, yet she continued to be extremely secretive. I had no idea where she lived, except a general area. I couldn’t contact her. Other people I knew who “knew” her wondered why she was so mysterious. With my vivid imagination, I took her need to hide and developed Midnight, an online predator who targets disabled men. In fact, the friend helped with details and ideas developed in the novel.

And, no, the friend is not anyone dangerous, just a single woman who needed to protect her identity for valid reasons.

Carma: What other books or projects do you have coming soon?

The last of October, Prairie Dog Cowboy, a novel for younger teens but can be enjoyed by anyone, will be released. My husband was a cowboy and broke horses when young. I took some of his experiences and wove them into a story about a young boy who wants to be a cowboy. The young rancher next to Buddy’s family farm promises to hire him when Buddy can lasso a prairie dog. The setting of the book is the late 1890s through about 1913, and the historical aspects are well researched.

Next year, I hope Stolen will be published. We’ll see. The novel shows the struggle Torri Adamson faces as parts of her life are stolen. She works to rebuild her life after each traumatic experience, until her children are taken. She doesn’t know if she can recover or not.

Carma: What can readers expect when they read your books?

Vivian: I hope they find believable characters, realistic stories, and, even if the book doesn’t have a “happily ever after” ending, hope.

Carma: I noticed you have quite a few published authors at 4RV Publishing and it seems to be growing. Tell us what motivated you to start a publishing company?

Vivian: A friend, Jacque Graham, a daughter-in-law, Janelle Zabel, and I talked about the struggle authors, even very good writers, have little chance of being published with a major company. Finding a credible agent is almost as difficult. The already famous, whether they could write or not, have books out, but not many of the people who write and write well. Self-publishing has a bad rap because of the abuse of the process by too many people who “publish” just anything, and vanity presses produce, uh, well, not quality books.

We decided that someone, some company needed to fill the gap between the poor self-publishing/the vanity presses and the major publishing houses. After a couple of years of reading, studying, examining, asking questions, I started 4RV Publishing. Jacque and Janelle are my right and left hands.

Carma: Are you currently accepting unsolicited submissions? If so where can writers find your submission guidelines?

Vivian: Yes, we are accepting unsolicited submissions. The guidelines are found on on the Services page.

Carma: Do you prefer writing one genre over another? If so which one and why? If not, why not?

Vivian: I like most mysteries, and I like a bit of romance where possible. However, I write several genre. I don’t like excessive, gratuitous violence or sex. Let the readers use their imaginations.

I don’t write, read, or publish erotica or even excessive, unneeded violence, profanity, or sexual activity.

Carma: Describe a typical writing day if there is one or a typical day in your writing/publishing life.

Vivian: *searches through calendar and memory to find a typical day* I don’t think such an animal exists in my world. From the time I climb out of bed until I get to climb back in, I’m working on editing, marketing, promotions, answering email, sending contracts or rejections (which I hate to do), and squeezing in some writing of my own. Of course, when necessary I format books, set up accounts, order copies, pay bills, and prepare for book festivals, book blog tours, conferences, and whatever else needs to be done.

Carma: Is there a place or address where readers can reach you?

Vivian: My email for 4RV is My personal email is

Carma: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you and your works? Take as much space as you need.

Vivian: I post information about my work, 4RV authors and books, and other aspects of writing on I post writing tips on and writing tips for children’s and teen’s books on

My goal, other than being a good writer, is to help other authors and illustrators publish good books.

Carma: Thanks again Vivian.