“Vikki writes the kind of fiction that hooks you within the first few pages, will not let you go until you have finished, and leaves you wishing for more.”
–Janis, Seattle, Washington
“Her books are not just for ‘chicks’! I was amazed how engrossed I became in the lives of Vikki’s characters, and how much I could relate to their situations.”
–Ed, Los Angeles
TDBW: When did you start writing?
Vikki: First, thank you for having me and allowing me to share. I appreciate it.
Interestingly enough, I wrote my first book, A Rose Blooms Twice, in 1988, but nothing came of it. Instead, I went back to school, earned three degrees, and immersed myself in the corporate and government work world.
When I decided to publish A Rose Blooms Twice on Amazon in 2012, I rediscovered my passion for writing. Since then, I have published eight additional novels and one short story.
I now write and publish two books a year and make a decent living at it.
Much more important than the financial success, my books are ministering far and wide to thousands of readers each month. Being an independent publisher isn’t for every author, but it is a perfect fit for me. Every Monday morning I get up thinking, “Yay! I get to do what I love best all day and all week!”
TDBW: What genre is your most preferred?
Vikki: I write mostly historical fiction, but I also write sci-fi or techno thrillers, all from a Christian perspective. I love to read just about anything that is well written.
I also have a Bible study series titled GROWING UP IN GOD.
TDBW: What challenges you the most in your writing?
Vikki: The most challenging thing is managing my time and energy. I love that I write full-time, but time is still a limiting factor. I just don’t have enough time to write all the books running around in my head!
TDBW: What is your favorite thing about being an author?
Vikki: Really, I love every part of it. I get to go to bed Sunday evening NOT thinking “Ugh! Monday!” Rather, I look forward to the start of every week.
TDBW: What do you like least about being an author?
Vikki: I think some people—not many, but a few—think that writing is a leisurely pasttime, that my time is my own, and I can finish up a book any time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I write to an exacting schedule and discipline myself to writing 2,500 words a day. On top of that is revision, proofreading, cover design, formatting, and marketing. It is a full-time job.
When those individuals act as though my work isn’t really a job? Well, the conversation gets interesting.
TDBW: How many books do you currently have available?
Vikki: I have a six-book (soon to be seven-book) historical fiction series, A PRAIRIE HERITAGE, that follows the same family from the 1860s through the 1990s. Book seven of this series comes out June 2! Hurray!Tabitha is the first book a series that spins of of A PRAIRIE HERITAGE.
And in June of last year I published STEALTHY STEPS, Book 1 in the series, NANOSTEALTH. It is a hard-science techno-thriller.
This book is near to my heart because it takes place in Albuquerque (where I live) and is set in the old Manzano Weapons Storage Facility on Kirtland Air Force Base. I worked for the Department of Defense, and when I became familiar with this facility I thought, “What a perfect setting for a book!”
I should also say that my novels are good, meaty reads averaging 100,000 words or more, filled with strong people, suspense and mystery, and a touch of romance. No matter the genre, I write what I call Faith-Filled Fiction™, meaning my books are a vehicle to portray—as accurately as I can—how the people who belong to Jesus live out their faith, especially through difficult and adverse circumstances.
I don’t write fluffy books. I like to keep it real.
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Visit Vikki Kestell’s Amazon author page for more exciting books
TDBW: What projects are you currently working on?
Vikki: As I mentioned earlier, I will release ALL GOD’S PROMISES, Book 7 of my series, A PRAIRIE HERITAGE, June 2.
Then it’s on to STEALTH FORCE, Book 2 in my NANOSTEALTH series, due out in November.
TDBW: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Vikki: I love so many authors—Jan Karon and her Mitford series, Bodie Thoene’s Zion Chronicles, and Brock and Bodie Thoenie’s AD Chronicles.
TDBW: Which book(s) inspire you the most?
Vikki: Anything that is redemptive in nature, meaning books that demonstrate the power of the Gospel to change lives.
TDBW: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what band(s) do you play?
Vikki: No! No music while I’m working, please. It confuses the characters running around in my head. Have you TRIED to stop a dance party with a cast of fifteen?
That doesn’t mean that music isn’t important to me—just not while writing. I serve as a singer on the worship team at my church, and love doing that.
TDBW: Tell us some more about yourself including your website and where we can find you on social media sites:
Vikki: My “official” bio reads,
Vikki Kestell’s passion for people and their stories is evident in her readers’ affection for her characters and unusual plotlines. Two often-repeated sentiments are, “I feel like I know these people” and “I’m right there, in the book, experiencing what the characters experience.”
Vikki holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technologies. She left a career of twenty-plus years in government, academia, and corporate life to pursue writing full time. “Writing is the best job ever,” she admits, “and the most demanding.”
Also an accomplished speaker and teacher, Vikki and her husband Conrad Smith make their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The bio leaves out our ELEVEN grandchildren. Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies!
Sign up for my newsletter on my website: http://www.vikkikestell.com
Please find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheWritingOfVikkiKestell
And my Twitter handle is: https://twitter.com/FaithFilledFic
TDBW: Care to share a bit of one of your books with us?
Vikki: I’d love to! All my books have strong female characters, women who, no matter the era or circumstances, are the kind of women my readers can admire and aspire to be like. I think some authors portray their female characters as being either headstrong/immature or sort of syrupy—you know, the kind of women whose virtuous qualities are so pristine as to not be believable. (Ugh. Just had a sugar shudder.)
My books focus on the characters’ spiritual growth—and Tabitha is a perfect example of this. I don’t waste much time on irrelevant details or directionless conversations. I desire for my readers to relate with my characters’ everyday struggles—and with God’s provision. I hope my readers grow in their faith through my stories.
Here’s an excerpt from TABITHA:
Tabitha is FREE 3/17/16 – 3/21/16
ARIZONA TERRITORY, 1895
I sighed and wondered again what was keeping Cray from his dinner. Sweat and dirt ran down the back of my neck and I swiped at it.
I was angry, of course. I was almost always angry lately. Bile and discontent had taken up residence in my belly. They lived and thrived there, seething and churning, until they climbed up my throat and erupted in heated words.
“Here I been a-cookin’ an’ bakin’ over this hot fire and he ain’t got th’ decency t’ come eat?” I grumbled. I was incensed at Cray’s thoughtlessness. “He can’t leave off a-workin’ when day is done?”
Down in my gut the anger swirled. I wanted to say more, much more, but I wanted to say it to Cray’s face. I held one hand over my eyes and squinted west into the scorching light, scanning the path that wended down the hillside not far away. I saw no sign of Cray and his mule.
The late afternoon dragged on toward sunset, and the sun still burned, hanging like a bloated, shimmering orb in a blindingly blue sky. The day’s heat was beyond anything I had endured in my short fourteen years. Even the scorching skies of west Texas, under which I had spent my childhood, had been nowhere near as merciless as the searing desert of southern Arizona.
During the day the air inside of our small tent grew so hot that it sucked the moisture from my lungs: If I inhaled, fiery billows seared my chest. So I spent the long hours outside, hunkered down in the tent’s scanty profile, the single refuge to be found for miles.
Every hour of the day I had to shift the box upon which I sat so as to remain within the tent’s shadow; every hour of the day the sun’s blazing furnace intensified.
When blessed night arrived, the stifling heat retreated but slightly; by daybreak the temperature was already clawing its way up to blister and torture the land—and us—once more.
And we had been camped in this awful place for two weeks. I lifted my dry eyes to the path that led up the craggy hillside.
Still no sign of Cray.
Four months back, Cray had begged me to leave my folks. He pleaded with me to leave them, leave their pretty little patch of land alongside a seasonal Texas creek, and venture west with him to seek fortune and glory in the Arizona gold fields.
“There’s gold to be had in Arizona Territory, Tabitha, just by pickin’ it out of the sides of hills,” he bragged with shining eyes, “and the price of gold is goin’ up like fireworks on the Fourth o’ July. Why, once I get my share, we’ll be set for life. I’ll never have t’ work again.”
The first time Cray came to call on me, my folks had studied him with misgivings. They were not educated people and they did not come out and say as much, but I knew they did not care for Cray.
Then I overheard Daddy tell Mama, “Thet boy ain’t got the sense God give him.” A moment later he added, “And he’s wild. A dreamer. Too much like her.”
It was true. I had an unruly streak as wide as the day was long, and I was drawn to Cray, pulled to him by the thrilling, adventurous future he painted for me. Life on my folk’s little spread was spare and it was good—but it was the same, always the same, day in and day out, year after year.
I rebelled against a life of monotony, of that dreary sameness—a future that held nothing different, only more of what I already knew and, with youthful contempt, despised.
My wild streak was companion to an even wilder temper, and I often allowed my temper to rule me. I was an only child—spoiled, headstrong, and willful. My folks loved me, but they scarcely knew how to curb the unrestrained young woman I was growing into.
To listen to my mother, my hot, rebellious disposition was a great weakness. I know now how right she was, but at that time? When I heard what Daddy said—about Cray being too much like me?—it rankled my temper, and I set my jaw and my obstinate will against my folks’ wisdom.
And Cray? I think he was bedazzled by my red hair. He raved over what he called “the unflawed beauty of my milky complexion” and “the glowing flames of my long tresses.” My young, inexperienced ego swelled, and I preened under such high praise.
Cray certainly had a way with words! And as the days went by, he pressed me harder to leave with him.
The life Cray promises will be better than this dismal old farm, I had assured myself when Conscience raised its unwelcome head. Oh, I knew that running off with Cray was not right. It went against everything Mama had taught me about decency, and I told Cray as much. I challenged him to prove my folks wrong.
In response Cray had pledged me a ring, a church wedding, and a house. Oh, he promised so many things! But always, “As soon as I make my fortune.”
Finally, I gave in.
One cool morning, Cray and I headed for the Arizona gold fields. I rode behind Cray on his pony until we reached the southwest edge of the New Mexico Territory and entered Arizona Territory. There Cray traded his pony for a pack mule named Sassy. He poured most all of his cash into the tools and supplies he would need to work his mine. Last of all, he bought a claim, a claim that (he was told) would yield more than enough gold to set us up for life.
What we had found when we arrived at the claim was uninhabitable desert, vast wastelands, and an empty, gutted pit in the side of a mountain. The claim may have boasted of gold at one time, but its treasure was long gone when Cray paid good, cash money for it.
Disheartened and with little cash left, we bought what supplies we could in a disreputable boomtown called Fullman. Then we walked on into the desert where rumors promised better prospecting. Sassy carried our tools and tent, a couple of weeks’ of food—if we were careful—and two large casks of water.
When we arrived at this spot, two weeks back, weary in foot and heart, I spied a patch of green at the base of the hillside over yonder. I called Cray’s attention to it because the green was so out of keeping with the bleak shades of brown surrounding us.
We searched for and found the spring that fed the green patch. It was not much more than a slow seep, really. The tepid liquid dribbling up from the ground was likely the only water source for miles around. Cray studied the rocky hillside above the water and decided the looks of it suited him.
“That there rock face has gold in it, or m’ name ain’t Cray T. Bishoff,” he had muttered.
We dug a basin in the earth to catch the water from the seep, and each day I strained what pooled in the hole through a scrap of canvas. It was not much, that little bit of water, but it was enough to keep us and Sassy alive day to day.
Cray erected our tent on a low mound nearby, one of the thousands of mounds just like it dotting the desert around us. Then fourteen long, scorching days dragged by.
As the sun drooped closer to the horizon, I stood and put my hand to my eyes to shade them. In every direction I turned, the view was the same. Undulating dunes and gullies. Sparse cacti and brush. The same landscape in every direction except for the hillside Cray had climbed with Sassy this morning.
The low hill just west of our tent, the one Cray had staked our futures on, was the lone geographical variation within sight. Not another marker stood in the wild, barren land to hint at where we were. Not another vestige of human life stirred.
I again stared into the distance. Not for the first time did the notion of being left alone and adrift in this bleak wasteland cause my breath to hitch in terror.
“Where is he?” I whispered.
Cray never missed an evening meal, little though it was.
Cray had been enthusiastic when we had arrived at this place. “I’ll find gold here. I know I will—that hill has the look of it,” he boasted. “And when I’ve made my fortune, we’ll go back to Texas. I’ll buy me some land and some cattle.”
He had stared with fierce determination at its rocky face. “Yep. I’ll get the gold first. Land and cattle next.”
“And then we’ll get married?” I had demanded. My words were sharp. The shine had worn off our relationship in the few months we had been together. We quarreled more than once during our fruitless travels, and I often gave Cray the rough side of my tongue.
“Oh, sure, sweetheart. Sure. We’ll get married.” But he had frowned and seemed distracted as he said it.
Cray had left off reciting the promises by which he had lured me into coming with him. The very absence of such assurances frightened me.
“Like you promised,” I insisted, my temper—and apprehension—ratcheting up another notch.
He had rounded on me then. “Y’know, Tabitha Hale, no man can abide a nagging woman. You’d best consider that.”
His cold, detached tone and the way he had clenched his jaw shocked me. I recoiled as surely as if he had slapped me.
Later, after my distress calmed, I finally admitted to myself that I had made a mistake—a horrible mistake. Cray was not the man I had thought him to be, any more than I was the sweet, biddable woman he had thought he was getting.
Cray had begun his prospecting that first morning with optimistic energy; he returned that evening wordless. The next day he clamped his lips together and, with Sassy in tow, hiked up the hill again. That night he came back to camp, dour and uncommunicative.
I did not question him. I already knew what he had found. Nothing. No sign of the precious ore he yearned for. Yet he kept at it, day after burning day. Each morning, with the mule following on a lead, he went in search of his treasure. Each evening he returned, sullen and less talkative—until fourteen sunrises and sunsets had passed and our supplies were spent.
The following morning, Cray seemed easier and . . . lighter of heart. He packed his gear on the tired mule with purpose and added extra water for the animal. He ate the small breakfast I prepared for him with dogged determination and took his packed lunch from my hand. For a change he said goodbye to me instead of grunting his thanks and stalking wordlessly toward the hill.
Now, hours later, the sun at last slid down the golden horizon. Long, deep fingers of shadow—the heralds of approaching night—lengthened around the tent and across the desert floor. I used the sticks I had gathered during the day to build up the fire. Cray would need light to find his way to me in the dark.
I hugged myself and tried to recall the exact words he had muttered when he tugged on the mule’s lead and turned to leave. What was it he had said?
“Goodbye, Tabitha. You wish me well, now.”
I licked my chapped lips. I was restless. Edgy. The hours dragged on and Cray did not appear. I lay down on the blanket inside the tent but could not sleep.
The next morning, before the sun commenced its ponderous journey across the sky, I hiked up the hill to Cray’s dig. It took me two hours to reach the rock face where the holes and tailings from his pick and shovel were evident.
No sign of the mule. No tools or pack. No Cray.
I dragged myself back to our campsite. Exhausted and near to panic, I drank my fill of the water that had accumulated in the seep. Then I collapsed in the tent’s shade.
I have to know for certain, I told myself. I have to know.
I took a deep breath and ducked inside the tent. There I rummaged through our scant possessions. As my alarmed imaginings had suggested, most of Cray’s clothes were gone. He had left only the few ragged things he wanted me to wash and mend.
To keep me from suspecting.
I shuddered. Cray was not coming back. He had left me. Left me by myself in the desert!