A Novel Calling

by University Relations

Writing isn’t her job—it’s her calling. Drawn to the craft since high school, Kiersti Plog ’09 attended APU to study English with an emphasis in writing in hopes of someday penning a book. But not any time soon. Books, she believed, should be reserved for well-established authors further down the writing journey. So Plog settled into a discipline of writing magazine articles and short stories, deferring her dream until what she considered a more appropriate time.

But true callings are not orchestrated by human hands or human time schedules. Plog not only had a novel in her, but an award-winning one at that. The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) named Plog’s Beneath a Turquoise Sky its 2013 winner in the Genesis Contest, Historical category. The Genesis Contest honors unpublished Christian fiction writers in a number of genres, and offers the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers’ work by published authors and experienced judges. Christian publishing house editors and literary agents then read the works of the category finalists, and many winners become published after receiving the award.

Beneath a Turquoise Sky began as a screenplay for Plog’s Creative Writing: Drama and Film class, taught by APU’s David Esselstrom, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of English. “Kiersti is a gifted writer who brings to the page an honest voice that persuades through gentleness,” said Esselstrom, who encouraged Plog to turn the screenplay into a novel. “Her voice is neither silenced nor repulsed by truth’s tough skin and daunting barbs.”

The book tells the story of a young woman going West to teach at a Navajo mission boarding school in 1911, and stems from Plog’s experience living near a Navajo reservation in her youth. “I entered the Genesis Contest because it has become known as a wonderful place for unpublished novelists to get feedback from professionals and exposure to the Christian publishing world,” said Plog. “The proposal for my novel is under review with more than one publisher right now, so we’ll see what God does!”

In the meantime, Plog’s day job keeps her busy—she’s a writing consultant at Pasadena City College—while she works on a sequel, as well as another novel that combines a contemporary story with the historical thread of a World War II Navajo code talker. “I do feel writing is something God has called me to do,” said Plog. “He works in my life through the stories He gives me to write, opening my eyes both to history and hurts I hadn’t known about, and showing me the greatness of His redemption and love. I hope He can use my stories to touch other people’s hearts, too.”

Follow Plog’s writing at kierstiplog.com.

Originally published in the Spring '14 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.