RANSOM — It’s not everyday a person can truly say they achieved a dream, but that is exactly what Todd Vogts, of Arnold, has done.
Vogts, a journalism teacher at Western Plains High School in Ransom, has published his first novel, and he will be hosting a book signing at the Ransom Public Library on Dec. 17.
His book is titled “Murder at St. Alfanus.”
The event will be held from 10 a.m. until noon.
The library is located at 411 South Vermont in Ransom, and copies of the book will be on sale for $16.50 per copy.
Vogts said he has been waiting for the right time to host a book signing in the area he now calls home.
Kim Stumpf, the wife of Western Plains Superintendent Roger Stumpf, was the driving force behind setting up the book signing.
“Roger and I were thrilled to hear about the publication of his book,” she said. “We understand how difficult it is to have achieved this goal since Roger’s mother is also an author and worked all her life to get her first book published. Being published was something on her bucket list, which she succeeded in her 70s. For Todd to have achieved this at such a young age is a great accomplishment, and we wanted to acknowledge the achievement and show our support.”
Stumpf said to plan the event she contacted Vogts to see if he’d be interested. She also contacted Debbie Erb, from the Ransom Public Library. Erb said she’d like to and told Stumpf Luann Horchem previously had approached her about it as well.
Vogts said he was excited to do it, especially since Dec. 17 is the same day Santa Claus will be at the Ransom VFW for local children to stop by and tell him what they want for Christmas.
“The library is typically busy on Saturday mornings because of the many useful services it offers,” Stumpf said. “I think patrons can easily plan their day and take advantage of the book signing and still have plenty of time to prepare to see Santa Claus later that day. I am hopeful that people from all over western Kansas will attend the book signing in support of a local author.”
Vogts said he figured a few weeks before Christmas would be a perfect time.
“I think my book would make a great gift. It would fit nicely in a stocking or under the Christmas tree,” he said.
“Books always make great Christmas gifts,” she said. “If you have people on your Christmas list who love to read, consider wrapping a signed copy of ‘Murder at St. Alfanus.’”
For Vogts, part of the excitement was simply getting the chance to sign books in Ransom.
“Since I now live in Ness County and consider it my home, I want to share something that is very exciting in my life with everyone in this great part of Kansas,” he said.
Growing up outside of Canton in McPherson County, Vogts said he grew to love small-town Kansas.
“It is truly the best place on Earth to live,” he said.
At the signing, Vogts will be selling his book, and he said he would love to sign any and all copies of his book he sells or people bring in to him.
“This is one of my biggest dreams come true,” he said. “I have been writing short stories since I was in the fourth grade, and I’ve wanted to be a real author ever since. For a long time I’ve wanted to walk into a bookstore or library and see my name on the shelf. Now I have achieved that.”
Having the drive to chase a dream is something, Stumpf said, worth taking note of.
“Most people would not even think about trying to write a novel, much less having it published,” she said. “Writing is a gift and for Todd to be able to juggle his teaching responsibilities, volunteer firefighter duties, part-time dj business and publishing the novel shows his level of dedication to writing. Todd’s passion is writing, and as a parent of a high schooler in his journalism class, I can appreciate how this accomplishment shows my daughter that it is possible to achieve your goals with hard work and dedication.”
Vogts said his book is about college journalists who try to uncover who committed a murder on their college’s campus.
According to the book’s blurb, the story follows the life of Tyler Fox, who is from Goessel, Kan. Tyler and his fellow student journalists attend St. Alfanus, a private Catholic college near Hooks in Bowie County, Texas. Tyler is also an up-and-coming golfer. One night while jogging on the golf course, he comes across a murder scene, and soon he and his friends are hot on the trail of the killer because the victim was the college president’s daughter and the local law enforcement isn’t doing anything to solve the case.
Having the story center on journalists was the obvious choice for Vogts. He studied journalism throughout college and ran the weekly Moundridge (Kan.) Ledger before moving to Ransom to teach the subject he loves.
Vogts said he decided to make his main character be from Goessel because he wanted to tie the book back to the area he grew up in.
“My parents’ live just a few miles away from Goessel, and I remember going to the Goessel grocery store when I was little,” he said. “The school system there has a golf team, and since I wanted Tyler to be a golfer, it seemed like a good fit. Of course, I didn’t leave out the town I call home. Canton is referenced in the book as well when I talk about The Canton Pilot, which was the local newspaper years ago.”
Vogts said he is proud of his first novel.
“I wouldn’t have gotten it published if it weren’t for all the support from my family and friends,” he said. “My mother, Karen Vogts, deserves thanks for instilling in me the love of reading. She also proofed it once. And I can’t leave out my brother, Troy Vogts, and my father, Steve Vogts, for my love of golf. Since I was very young, I remember playing golf with those two, and now I enjoy going out whenever I can.”
As proud as he is, Vogts said he would be even more proud when his next novel comes out.
“I am working on another one,” he said. “It is in the early stages right now. I don’t know when I will finish it, but when I do, I hope to get it published too.”
Many people have purchased “Murder at St. Alfanus” already, Vogts said.
“I’ve been getting good feedback,” he said. “I think people who buy it are looking for a good mystery to curl up with, and I like to think I’ve written just that. Regardless, though, I’m just so thankful for the support of everyone. It means the world to me.”
Vogts said he is looking forward to being at the library.
“I hope to see everyone there,” he said. “If you choose to buy my book, that is wonderful, and I hope you enjoy it! But even if you don’t buy it, I hope you’ll stop by and just say hello.”
Stumpf echoed this sentiment.
“Many people have express interest in obtaining a copy of the book and wondered when or if there would be a local book signing,” she said. “Since this is not an event that is common in Ransom, many people are eagerly waiting for this opportunity.”
For more information about “Murder at St. Alfanus,” visit www.sbpra.com/toddvogts.
Vogts graduated from Wichita State University in 2008 with his bachelor’s degree in communication. He is currently completing his master’s degree in education through Fort Hays State University.
At WPHS, besides advising the student newspaper and yearbook, he does public relations for the district, coaches Forensics, directs the school play and drives a school bus.