Vikki Kestell has more than 20 years of career experience as a writing, instructional design, and communications professional in government, academia, semiconductor manufacturing, health care, and nonprofit organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technologies.
Vikki is an accomplished speaker and teacher and belongs to Tramway Community Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she teaches an evening Bible study for working women. She and her husband Conrad Smith make their home in Albuquerque.
Enjoy all the books of A Prairie Heritage as they become available:
Book 1: A Rose Blooms Twice
Book 2: Joy on This Mountain
Book 3: The Captive Within
Book 4: Wild Heart on the Prairie
Book 5: Stolen, June 2014
Book 6: Title to Be Announced, November 2014
What inspires you to write?
I wrote my first book during one of the darkest periods of my life. It was 1988. I had a notebook and wrote in it everywhere I went. In three months I had a complete story—and was amazed.
Someone offered to let me use their computer—a Commodore 64! If you don’t know what that is, let me say that a) it didn’t have a hard drive, b) you had to install the software into (wait for it!) a whopping 64k of RAM, and c) you have to save your writing to five-and-one-half-inch floppy disks! In any event, I learned to use it and have been a technophile ever since.
When I wrote my first book it proved to me that I could start and complete something difficult, and it gave me the courage to go back to school at age 39. I worked and went to school for the next 14 years! I earned my bachelor’s degree in English/professional writing, took a semester off and went back to earn a master’s degree, took two years off and went back to earn a Ph.D. in organizational learning and instructional technologies.
After working and earning three degrees, guess what? I figured I could write more books! LOL! That is exactly what I am doing now.
What inspires me to write? My mind is continually fermenting storylines and characters—and I derive such a sense of satisfaction when I see them onscreen and then in print.
My highest motivation is to present the goodness of God through stories that include the difficulties, tragedies, and injustices we all encounter. I write from the perspective of Christians who have personal relationships with God through Jesus and who desire to respond to life—life in all its pain and discouragement—in ways that honor him.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m both an “outliner” and a “pantser”–writing by the seat of my pants. Often my books take on a life of their own. I live by the adage, “What gets measured, gets done.” and so I track how much I write. I keep a spreadsheet and, while I’m writing a book, track how much I write on a daily and weekly basis.
While I’m working on a book, I set daily word goals and try to reach or exceed them. I’m not legalistic about it, but I make sure I consistently write 1,500 words a day; a good day is 2,500, and a great day is 3,500. Over a week I look for 10,000 to 12,000 words. Do that and you’ll have a book in 9-10 weeks! Even on days when I am not writing good stuff I know that when I revise I always find the thread to what I’ve written and make it “right.”
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Wow. I have SUCH a vivid imagination that it’s hard to say exactly where my characters come from. All life is fodder for my writing, but once I have a character in mind, he or she becomes my companion and we have conversations, arguments, and discussions while I walk, exercise, sleep, and write. I love to write good dialogue—conversations that make my characters as real and as close as my own family.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write. Write every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. Come back and re-read what you’ve written a few days later and revise. You’ll find moments of brilliance and utter trash on the same page—but you would never have written the brilliance without also writing the trash.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to become an indie publisher (Faith-Filled Fiction) when my first book, “A Rose Blooms Twice,” did so well as a Kindle book. Now, more than 60,000 downloads later and working on the fifth book in that series, I am fully committed to my process and my loyal, growing readership!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Technology always moves forward, never backwards. I heard recently that ePublishing is about 25 percent of the market right now, but guess what? Tomorrow and next year and the year after, it will grow that market share. Eventually printed books will be a very small part of the market–and ePublishing will be the majority market share.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Christian historical fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print