Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Vikki Kestell

Good morning, friends! Glad you’ve joined us for another edition of Women of Faith and Fiction. This morning we welcome Vikki Kestell.

Vikki’s latest series is a sci-fi/fantasy thriller! So without further ado, please give her a warm welcome.

Thank you for joining us here at CHW, Vikki!  Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you for having me today! Well, I wrote my first book in 1988 during a very difficult period in my life. Nothing came of that book, but I have a stack of lovely rejection letters in my files. Then, in 1991, I left my husband of twenty years and moved from Montana to New Mexico to be close to family.

I had to figure out how to support my three children, so I went to work, but I also went back to school. Over the next twelve years, I worked and earned a B.A. in English, professional writing, an M.A. in communication, then a Ph.D. In 2012, almost 25 years later, I published that first book, “A Rose Blooms Twice,” on Kindle. Since then, I’ve added seven books to the series and have written two other series. Isn’t God’s timing amazing? After all that education, I’m now back to doing what I started in 1988: writing full time.

I agree, Vikki. God’s timing is amazing! This month’s theme is Kindness. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Hmm. I’ve come to think that kindness is more an approach to life than merely an attribute. How we make decisions on a daily (even momentary basis) can include or exclude the needs and feelings of others. Kindness is an ongoing awareness of others and their needs. Kindness is related to humility: I am not better (or less) than anyone else, and my needs are not more important than the needs of others. Following the leading of the Holy Spirit is essential to living a kind life.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all followed that line of thought? Now, Vikki, life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to have kindness toward another? How did you overcome?

Since I am naturally more task-oriented than people-oriented, I can tell you that kindness is hard for me. Being aware of and sensitive to the feelings of others is a battle I’ve fought for decades. But God is good! Spending more time with Jesus—finding and abiding in his heart and his word—is what has changed me.

My life verse is found in 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” It has taught me that humility is the hallmark of a follower of Jesus, that only when my desires are submitted to him will I be lifted up.

For the record, I think you’re a nice person! 🙂 In what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

I love a good story, regardless of genre. In the same way that I’m not a one-genre reader, I’m not a one-genre writer. In fact, you could say I’m all over the map!

I have an eight-book historical series (A Prairie Heritage), a follow-on historical series (Girls from the Mountain), a three-book sci-fi/fantasy thriller (Nanostealth), a short story called “The Christian and the Vampire,” and six Bible studies on Christian maturity. See? LOL. I told you I was all over the map!

What will you find in my series, A Prairie Heritage? You will find dauntless, faith-filled immigrants forging new lives on America’s unforgiving plains—and their children challenging the savagery of human trafficking in Denver, circa 1910. Once you arrive at Joy on This Mountain, Book 3 in the series, I promise you will be hooked. I seek to write good, meaty, reads of about 110k words or more. For your readers who are interested in exploring this series, Book 1, A Rose Blooms Twice is free on four major eBook retailers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

My publishing house is “Faith-Filled Fiction.” What all my novels have in common is that they are redemptive in nature—not merely “clean” fiction or “romance” with a little church or Jesus thrown in. My books focus on the realities of life and how Jesus comes into those realities and transforms my characters. Everything about Jesus brings the dead to life—and that’s what I seek to portray in my writing.

“Everything about Jesus brings the dead to life.” I like that statement! Vikki, thank you for sharing your heart and your writing with us.

Click to Tweet: “Everything about Jesus brings the dead to life.” ~ Vikki Kestell

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Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Betty Thomason Owens

Goodmorning! Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Betty Thomason Owens. I met Betty when I became a crew member for Writing Prompts Thoughts and Ideas Oh My! She’s a wife, mother, and a grandmother. She’s the author of Annabelle’s Ruth (The Kinsman Redeemer Series, Book 1).

Her second book, Sutter’s Landing (The Kinsman Redeemer Series, Book 2) comes out today! Yay! So let’s show her some love by sharing and commenting.

Welcome, Betty. Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up the daughter of a nomad. Travel was in Dad’s

blood. He couldn’t be still. I learned resilience. I learned how to adapt to circumstances, good or bad. I learned that a better world existed just around the bend. That last one is not necessarily a good thing. You might call me a dreamer. That sounds better, doesn’t it? It was during those long trips back and forth from one part of the country to another, that I began to create stories in my head. I noticed the scenery—the badlands and desert out West—and fantasized about the people that may have lived there. I still dream and create stories, but now, I write them down.

I’m a dreamer, too. There are usually hidden circumstances with dreamers. Thank goodness for stories. Betty, this month’s theme is patience. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Quiet, steady perseverance—I love this definition of patience. It is often defined by using words like difficulty; hardship; trouble. There’s a reason for that. In my mind, patience is quiet and steady strength. Some of us have it, some don’t. And many of those who seem to have it, well—don’t look too deeply into their lives. Sometimes, it only lives on the surface. I may appear patient, but inside—turmoil and rebellion dwell. The trick is to keep those more subtle feelings at bay. Those are the things best handled by prayer. Let patience win—it goes hand-in-hand with love. Love is patient…love is kind…

I agree with you. Prayer is definitely a key to patience. Life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to have patience? How did you overcome?

Oh, my goodness. Yes. Right now is a good example—this past year is a good example. It’s been a real stretching time for me, when I thought maybe it was time to rest and relax a little. But it’s not time for the rocking chair yet, so I’ve had to go back to work on a part-time basis. This requires a complete overhaul of my schedule. I’m normally very laid-back and on the surface, very patient. Underneath, where only God and I can see, I’m not patient at all—especially with me. The only way to overcome this is to face it head-on. I carry it to God in prayer and ask for His help and leading. Like many, my personal expectations can be outrageous. Of course, I can’t do all that! And God knows and understands this. I just need to trust Him.

I hear ya! I believe everyone could use a big dose of patience with themselves—along with a splash of grace. We certainly can’t do it all. Now, in what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

I started out writing historical, swerved into fantasy, then back to historical. But even my fantasy writing was historical! I love reading and writing about the past. I’m inspired by stories of faith and family.

I hope my faith shines through my writing. I’m not usually preachy, but I write about people whose faith is at the center—the heart—of their existence. Sometimes they lose their way, but there’s always someone in the background, praying for them and believing they’re going to make it. That’s where I often stand. Praying. Believing.

Praying and believing is a wonderful place to stand. I’m so glad you agreed to come and talk with us. Thank you, Betty, for a lovely interview. If you would like to know more about Sutter’s Landing, scroll down and read my review.

img_9428 copyBetty Thomason Owens is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of their Louisville Area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Along with the upcoming Sutter’s Landing, Book 2, Kinsman Redeemer series (June 2017), her writing credits include a 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy (2014), Carlotta’s Legacy (2016) Books 1 & 2, Legacy Series, and the Grace-Award-winning Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer Series (2015) (Write Integrity Press). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Amazon Author Page

http://bettythomasonowens.com

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https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com

Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Sonja Anderson

Good morning, dear reader! This month we have a fifth Tuesday. Woohoo! To celebrate, I want to introduce you to Sonja Anderson.

Sonja, welcome to Women of Faith and Fiction. Please, tell us about yourself.

Sonja Anderson Profile PicI grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio, with a twin sister and two younger siblings, in a Christian home. I loved to read more than anything, and characters in novels were like beloved friends and companions. I actually felt pained when a book ended and I had to separate myself from them. As a result, I re-read my favorite books many times!

College and graduate school took me to exciting cities like Chicago and Boston, and then my first teaching job was at an international school in Tokyo! I’ve been happily settled in Seattle, Washington, for over 25 years now.

Wow! Tokyo. I can only imagine your excitement. I know what you mean about the characters and beloved friends. I have favorites also. When I’m not sure what I want to read, I pick up a favorite. Sonja, this month’s theme is Peace. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Sophie Topfeather’s search for peace is a major theme in Sophie’s Quest, so I’m delighted that this is your theme for the month! Isn’t God amazing the way he puts things together like that? When I think of peace, I think of John 16:33, where Jesus prepares the disciples by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I also remember the song that compares peace to a river, and it reminds me that when I have Christ’s presence in me, I don’t need to react to the world’s commotion with anxious ups and downs. Christ steadies me and carries me, no matter what else is happening.

I am continually amazed how God directs our paths! Now, life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to have peace? How did you overcome?

The two times in my life when I seriously questioned Christ’s presence in my life are, of course, as I look back, the two times when I found it the most difficult to have peace! The first time was when I lived in Japan and knew many lovely Buddhists. How could they all “be wrong”? I dove into a Bible study with friends and took God at His Word in a way I had never done before. When I read a promise, I held Him to it. By the time I returned to the United States, I was stronger in my faith than ever before and wanted to share Jesus with everyone in sight.

I thought nothing could shake my sense of peace again until I began to write Sophie’s Quest. I worried—could I discuss different religions in a way that respected the people God created and show Jesus to be uniquely Immanuel, God with us? I began to seriously wonder if a book like this should be written, despite the fact that I had felt clearly called to write it. My peace was shattered. One night, I was washing dishes and distinctly heard a voice behind me asking, “Are you sure Jesus is the only way?” I nearly panicked and prayed earnestly that God would clearly answer that question. The very next Sunday, I was visiting a church in Oregon, and the minister preached on this very question! Now, I work in a public elementary school in a very diverse community, and Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus check out my book every day. What a privilege and a blessing!

 Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sonja. I know others who’ve dealt with similar situations. It’s good to know we’re not alone. True, God’s always with us. But it’s comforting to have a kindred spirit on our journey. 😉

In what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

My published novels are children’s fiction for ages 8-12, my favorite genre to read, too! I’ve also written several picture book stories that also point children toward God, but I’m still waiting for God to point me toward the right publisher!

My faith has everything to do with my writing. It is my dearest hope and prayer that kids will find their way to Jesus through these novels. In fact, I almost stopped writing completely when someone once challenged me to “leave Jesus out of the novel” so it could get published more easily!

I also try to point kids to the idea that reading the Bible is an amazing adventure. One of my happiest moments since the books were released was a day in my public school library when two girls (who had just finished reading Sophie’s Quest) began crying over who would get to check out the only real Bible we had at the time. To me, that meant “Mission accomplished!”

I would have to agree with you, Sonja! Thank you for sharing your heart with us today.

To learn more about Sonja and her fantastic book visit:

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