InterviewsRead, Listen, Watch
An interview with Robin Reshard (HEARD TV) and Vicki Hinze, author of DEADLY TIES. DEADLY TIES is book 2 in Vicki’s Crossroads Crisis Center series (trilogy). FORGET ME NOT is Book 1 and coming in February is NOT THIS TIME, Book 3. The last Crossroads book planned by Vicki at this time.
Awesome Gang Interview
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Having been at this a while, I’ve written well over thirty books, and I have nearly as many that I haven’t published because they’re just not like I want them…yet. I’ve also written some nonfiction books, hundreds of articles and for years, I’ve written a weekly column for the Social In Global Network. I’ll never forget the feeling of selling my first book, which I dedicated to my mother. When I put it into her hands, she burst into tears as only a lifelong book-lover would. It was one of the most memorable moments in my life and meant far more than winning awards or the times I’ve made the USA Today Bestsellers list. Moms have awesome power, don’t they?
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Her Perfect Life is the book that has my focus now. I first wrote it several years ago, but then rewrote it and made it part of the Reunited Hearts series. There are three of them–all reunion stories–but atypical reunions.
In Her Perfect Life, Katie has been a POW for six years when she’s finally rescued. Dreams of getting home to her family kept her going all that time, but when she does, she discovers home isn’t there anymore. The sexy co-pilot who’d been with her just before her capture is still there. Her husband and children buried her and moved on. He’s remarried and the children love their step-mom, who’s a good woman. Katie can’t even not like her!
She’s suffering PTSD, and trying to determine what’s real and what’s not, and that’s hard. So is trying to come to grips with the perfect life she’s lost. But with her co-pilot, she discovers something amazing: her perfect life hadn’t been so perfect. And so now she’s determined that her previous captors will not take any more from her. She will rebuild and create a new perfect life. Katie’s courage, her coping with loss and yet trying to do the right thing for everyone for the right reasons made writing this book irresistible to me. I laughed, I cried, I rode the roller-coaster emotions with her. And what a ride!
The inspiration for the book was a news clip I heard on TV. It was “no man left behind.” Yet there was a solider during the first Iraq war who was left behind. But he wasn’t forgotten. That’s been resolved now but it hadn’t been when I wrote the book. I wanted to remember. I didn’t want to forget him or his family. Katie came to mind and stayed. CD proved to be a wonderful hero, and I really fell in love with him. I had to write the book. Just had to know what happened to them.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Unusual? Well, I guess that depends on how you define unusual. I love writing. It’s been a lifelong love affair. My habit is to write as much as I can all the time, except for Sundays. That’s about the only true habit. I love taking risks. I love trying to mix genres and disparate things that don’t typically belong together. I love different and unusual and twists. I really love twists.
Oh, I thought of a habit. Before starting a new novel, overtime I tell myself I’m going to write a simple story. I fail a hundred-percent of the time. But that’s okay. When you love twists and the unexpected, you’re bound to cruise right past simple. I’m fine with that.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Nina Coombs Pykarre probably had the greatest influence on me when it comes to writing. She edited (read that: bled red) over my first three books. No one pen could hold as much ink as showed up on my pages. I chuckle as I write that because I was mortified at the time. Today, I’m just so grateful for all her work. She made me a better writer, and she did it constructively. I’m grateful.
For years, I was a top ten bestseller junkie. If a book was in the top ten, I read it. So all of those authors influenced me. So did several others, where I read their books and skipped large chunks because they were boring me to death (I try really hard to leave out those parts in my books, and that too is influence).
What are you working on now?
A few months ago, I wrote a book called THE MARKED BRIDE, which is in the Shadow Watchers series. Right now, I’m working on the next book in that series, THE MARKED STAR and I’m researching for the third book in that series, THE MARKED GENTLEWOMAN.
I introduced the Shadow Watchers is my Crossroads Crisis Center books, and hooked up two Shadow Watchers in it. But that left three good men. I had to write their stories! So Tim’s is in Bride, I’m writing Nick’s in Star, and then Sam’s will be in Gentlewoman. My Alabama redneck is going to hook up with a Senator! What fun!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I send out a newsletter to readers who sign up for it, letting them know when I release a new book, or when books go on sale. (Everyone needs to save money these days!) I also post on my website, in the news and coming sections and there’s a spotlight also.
If I can manage it, I’ll do a chat video to share news, too.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Tons and tons of it. On my website (www.vickihinze.com) there’s a section called Writers Zone. In it there are videos and podcasts, chat sessions and hundreds of articles on writing–craft, business and life.
There are many more articles that pertain to writing in the blog–My Kitchen Table, which is also on that website.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Love what you write. If you can quit, do it. If you love it, you won’t be able to quit. That love will give you the discipline and enthusiasm you need daily to give readers all you’ve got to give–and if you can’t give readers your all, don’t bother writing. They deserve your best.
What are you reading now?
I’m researching and writing so I’m not reading within my genres right now. I am taking James Patterson’s Masters Class.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Well, I have over 50 projects in some stage on my computer to choose from at the moment. So I’m not sure. I’d thought to go for one specifically, but then I got this really amazing idea for a book that is nagging me to death because this woman finds herself in a baffling situation and has no idea how she got there, why she’s there, or who is trying to kill her for being there. I’m totally intrigued by her and her situation and I think I’m going to have to write her story to find out the answers. She can’t hardly tell me what she doesn’t know, so I guess we’re going to have to write to discover the truth together. I’m worried for her, though. Who did this stuff to her? How? Why? And how in the world is she going to find out?
I don’t have a clue–yet. You see why she’s snagged me. Yes, I think I’m going to have to write her story. Can’t just leave the poor woman hanging there!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The Bible would be the first. If I’ve got to cope with all that, I need ammo. Definitely the Bible. If something’s happened to a human being, it’s in there. So with it, I’m covered.
Suspense Sisters Interview
INTERVIEW WITH THE SUSPENSE SISTERS
Text from a recent interview with the Suspense Sisters…
SS: How long have you been writing?
Since grade school. I started with political essays as a game with my dad. We’d read the front page of the newspaper, then I’d write taking a position, and we’d discuss it. From there, I went into poetry, decided I lacked the disposition for it, so I tried a few short stories, but felt too confined. I need room to sprawl out, so I tackled writing a book.
SS: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?
I am a full-time author and have been for many years. Before then, I was Director of Operations for a corporate chain, and before then a Certified Escrow Officer handling commercial transactions. Before that, I worked for a Congressman, a legal firm handling escrow real estate transactions, and earlier still, I worked in a department store. I got trained as a Cosmetologist while in high school so I could pay my way through college.
SS: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?
When the very first printed book arrived at my house—it was dedicated to my mother—and I placed the book in her hands. Before then (I’d been writing a long time), I felt like a writer, but that was the defining moment when I felt like an author. My mother loved books and read all the time. I passed her that book and she burst into tears. That was the most memorable moment for me. I still get choked up, recalling it.
SS: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author?
Until her death, my mother. From my earliest scribbling forward, she was steadfast in her faith and support. There’ve been many who have helped me along the way, but she’s the one that glued me back together with the, “Try one more time. Just one more time.”
SS: Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?
I write in many genres because I like many genres, but all my stories have suspense. Without it, I don’t love the story, and my one rule is to never write a story I don’t love. Suspense fascinates me. Especially taking innocuous things or situations and cloaking them in suspense. It proves that emotion is in the heart of the beholder. Anything can be suspenseful, given the right circumstances and conditions. As an author, that spells fun, interesting explorations and that’s entertaining. It also dovetails well with my author theme which is healing. Every book I write has a healing theme, and suspense is a wonderful vehicle for it.
SS: How does your faith play into your writing?
I don’t think faith can be separated from a person. It’s ingrained. It governs perception down to the tiniest details. We notice what we notice through our personal prism and our lens is one seated in faith. We process what we see and translate it into our stories, all from within. So if we’re people of faith, we can’t divide ourselves into segments and remove parts of us. It’s not just what we see and sense, but how we see and sense it. Why we notice that specific thing and deem it worthy of space in our book. So for me, whether I’m writing a book specifically for the inspirational reader or one for readers of general market fiction, seeds of faith are always in the stories and the people.
I’m a bridge-walker. I have one foot in the Christian world and one foot in the secular world; I walk the bridge doing what I can where I can. Like so many other authors, my goal is to shine light in dark places so those stumbling in the dark can see that there is light and find a way to it. That’s my hope for each book. So faith, overt or subtle, infuses everything, especially my writing.
SS: If you couldn’t write, what else would you want to do?
Honestly, I became a writer because I wanted to do so many things, and I refused to choose just one. Lawyer, teacher, ambassador, social services, doctor, scientist—you name it. It all fascinates me. But my dream job? Well, years ago, I saw a sign and I loved it. So it’s on the wall in my office. It reads: When I grow up, I want to be a Fairy Godmother. Wouldn’t that just be the best job? To help make other people’s dreams come true?
SS: Tell us about your current release.
My newest book is Down and Dead in Dixie. It’s the first book in my Down and Dead, Inc. series. Light suspense, heavy topics, but I’ve introduced a humorous element for balance. This is a clean read, and while there is a Christian perspective, it’s not an inspirational novel. In it, the heroine is in real trouble through no fault of her own. She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she’s alone, beside herself, and in her series of foster homes, she never really learned to pray. A classmate once had told her if she prayed wrong, God would get angry with her. But as a woman, she’s been exploring her spirituality and she’s quickly overwhelmed by circumstances. She needs God, and so she dares to pray. I just love that part of this book. And of course, she realizes what we know, that the Father who created her, created her exactly as she is, and He loves her unconditionally. I love that, too. And the colorful, wacky cast of characters. They’re endearing.
SS: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
It was a gift book. One of those where the whole thing—plot and characters and everything comes to you in a flash. That was in 2008. It didn’t fit with what I was writing so I made detailed notes and put it aside. From time to time, I would think about it, and so I began writing a few pages here and there. I laughed and so enjoyed my time on the book. Then last October I had some medical issues and it occurred to me that some things shouldn’t be postponed indefinitely—whether or not they fit your current plan—and if a story keeps nagging at you, you really need to write it. So I pulled Dixie off the shelf and read what I’d done. I ended up throwing out all but three or so of the roughly hundred pages of the story I’d written, but I still loved the story and the characters, so I wrote the book.
I had such fun that I wrote a second project, a short story in the series, too. And I’m now working on a third one.
NOTE: Daisy Grant, the lead character in Dixie, disclosed she nagged me into writing the book. You can read her account of it HERE. Silly me. I actually thought I chose to write it. You’d think I would know better by now…
SS: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?
What I mentioned about the heroine. She wasn’t raised with faith, but needed it and she knew it. She sought God and found Him. That nothing about you is a surprise to Him. He created you exactly as you are and loves you exactly as you are—warts and all. And you might feel alone and think you’re alone, but you’re never alone, and what you need will be provided.
SS: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
I would have to say the heroine’s senior next door neighbor, Lester. He’s hilarious. A brick short and yet wise. Not all together but fragmented and yet constant and steady. He’s a wonderful character and even just writing about him now, I find myself smiling.
SS: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?
I’m torn on this—because the villains are grieving and fearful for their children and that touches my compassion and my mother’s heart. But there is a female character who is referenced in the book that is my least favorite due to her actions toward the heroine. Yet even with her, I find myself wondering why she did what she did the way that she did it. I can not like her actions, but I can’t not like her. I don’t know if I like her. But she is my least favorite character because the consequences of her actions are far-reaching, and she might be paying a price for that, but so are two others. The costs to them were and are very steep.
SS: What are you working on now?
I’m working on another Down and Dead, Inc. book, Down and Dead in Fern. I’m being self-indulgent and working my way down the alphabet in the titles. Dixie, Even and now Fern. These are the names of places in the stories. You first meet the lead character in Fern in Even. She . . . intrigues me.
I’ve also just finished rewriting Duplicity and Her Perfect Life. Both novels were original written for the general market. When I got rights back on them, I decided to rewrite them as Clean Read Books. So those will be available within the next week.
SS: A tough question: Where do you want to be career-wise in five years? Ten years?
In five years, I want to be content wherever I am. I believe that things work out the way they’re supposed to work out. So you look at what is in your path, seize opportunities presented and discovered, and then do your best wherever you are. Same answer for ten years. Writing. Walking the bridge. Doing my best for something I hope holds value.
SS: Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.
In small ways I’ve tried to be a fairy godmother to others. But I would love—LOVE—to be a full-fledged fairy godmother to someone. It appeals to my desire to help others fulfill their dreams, to encourage them to dare to dream. And that appeals to the whimsy in me. If I could do those things anonymously, all the better. For me, that’s the ultimate dream.
The second thing on my bucket list? To repeat the first thing on my bucket list. I’m not being glib. It’s just that in the bucket-list kind of way, this most matters to me.
SS: What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
Now that would take a book! Maybe a series! When I sold my first book, I told the editor I was very happy, I’d always wanted to write for her publisher. Only instead of her company I named a competitor. That was pretty silly and ranks right up at the top of the list.
But at the very top of the list was when I taught my little granddaughter how to spit. We were on a walk in the woods, she asked, so I taught her. When we got back to her mom, she was so excited, she had to show her “something.” She spit right in her mother’s face.
We got punished. Time-out in those little bitty chairs. Thirty whole minutes. I remember sitting there, thinking: Note to self. When teaching the angels to spit, remember to tell them when they show their parents to turn their heads. No spitting in their faces. And: Note to self. Probably ought to buy some bigger time-out chairs…
My daughter did let me off, though I couldn’t not do the hard time with my angel. I’d done the crime, and what kind of example would that be? But I have to tell you, I couldn’t wait to get out of that tiny chair.
SS: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
Planning my brother’s funeral. I was thirteen. My dad had a heart attack that day and my mother was in shock. I had to be the rock and I was barely a pebble. But we got through it. Wait. No. That wasn’t hardest. Hardest was watching my mother grieve my brother and my dad, and then her suffering a long illness and watching her die day-by-day and minute-by-minute. That was definitely the hardest.
SS: Where can readers find you on the internet?
SS: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
Thank you for inviting me to spend some time with you today. I appreciate your interest very much. And thank you for the thought-provoking questions. You made me laugh and cry. Not sad cry, but bittersweet cry. Memories, even hard ones, are good.
I hope you’ll give Down and Dead in Dixie a try and join me on the bridge!
The Suspense Zone Interview
VICKI HINZE INTERVIEW
Vicki Hinze interview with Susan Sleeman
A. I’m a woman, wife, mom, grandmother and a writer.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. In 1987, though I started writing before entering elementary school. I was a corporate director of operations and my family moved often because of my husband’s military career. It was move and start over, move and start over. I’d dabbled in writing all my life, but I began writing in earnest in 1987. Hubby had moved on to a new assignment and I stayed behind, working, caring for the kids, waiting for school to let out for the year, and waiting, trying to sell our house. It was a horrible time to start writing, but I did and wrote a book in five months with all that going on. I was hooked on writing full-time from then on and still am.
Q: Could you give us the highlights of your professional writing career including how you got your first writing break?
A. This can vary a great deal, depending on how one defines success. What I’m saying is the highlights (like winning awards on specific books and for career achievement, while important, aren’t what I recall as highlights. So I’ll share mine with you.)
1. My mother loved to read and loved writers. She was always extremely supportive. Putting a copy of my first book in her hands and seeing her read the dedication and burst into tears was absolutely the superbowl of highlights to me. No one I know loved books more, and what that meant to her . . . it still chokes me up.
2. When I began writing, I didn’t know any other writers. I learned by making mistakes and via the school of hard knocks. I promised myself that if I ever learned anything, I’d share, and try to spare other writers from hitting all those same mud puddles. I’ve tried to do that in a variety of ways. So imagine how moved I was when RWA’s PRO named me as their first Mentor of the Year. I was up for a RITA that year, and there’s no way that could have meant to me what the mentor award did. It was proof I’d kept my promise to never forget how hard and confusing it can be for new writers and to help them as best I can.
3. In 1998, my dad passed away and I wrote a book, mourning him, working through the loss. That book was “too different” and didn’t sell until 1994. Publishing was delayed for one reason after another and finally the book came out in 1996. One day, I get a call from a stranger. She’d just lost a nephew she’d been raising like a son. He’d committed suicide. She felt such guilt because she hadn’t realized something was wrong, and she couldn’t cope with his death or see her way forward in life. Her young daughter and she were at a store, and her daughter grabbed this book I’d written all those years before on losing my dad off the shelf. She told her mother she needed to read that one. The mother asked why and the girl told her, “It will help you.” By this time, during the phone call, I’m weeping, but what the woman said next made me sob. Through that book, she said, she found her way back to life. She hadn’t seen how she could go on, and now she did. She thanked me for that. I’ve never forgotten that, or the power in the impact writers can have on others. It’s kept me determined to write with passion and compassion, and to never forget the timing on that book. If it’d come out when I wrote it, it wouldn’t have been there for that woman on that shelf when she most needed it. Since then, I think in terms of God’s perfect timing and not my own, and what a blessing it was to be shown so plainly how deeply writers can touch lives.
There’ve been many highlights, but these are the things that most matter to me.
My first writing break.
I was doing interviews for an RWA publication and did one on Lucia Macro. She showed it to then editor, Melissa Senate, who liked my writing style. I had written a book and told my agent to try submitting it to Melissa Senate. She did and two weeks later, Melissa bought the book. I was so excited—and so sure she’d made a mistake I didn’t answer the phone for two days because I just knew she was going to call back and say she’d made a mistake. She’d meant to buy someone else’s book. I’m chuckling as I write this now, these fifteen plus years later, but then the knots in my stomach were very real.
Q: Would you tell us about your current book release?
NOT THIS TIME is the third and last book in my Crossroads Crisis Center series. It’s Beth and Joe’s story (both were introduced in the prior book, DEADLY TIES.) They are great characters and in a world of trouble. The book opens with police arriving at a wedding and finding everyone sprawled in the grass. It’s clear there’s been a terrorist attack. Now Beth and Joe must find out who and why, and the odds and time are just not in their favor.
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for NOT THIS TIME?
A: As with many of my stories, I married a news report with a magazine article. The internal conflicts are about torn loyalties, doing the right thing when it costs you everything, being betrayed, used, falsely accused, and courageous enough to do the right thing again anyway and open yourself up to be hurt. It’s about having faith but also doubts, and finding your feet in this world and spiritually.
Q: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
A: No matter what happens, you’re never alone, and no matter how far you stray, you’re never out of God’s reach or beyond redemption. And when your instincts warn you that to trust is dangerous, it’s very possible that’s not your imagination but honest warnings that to trust is dangerous. We really need to attune to our instincts and listen to them.
Q: What is your favorite scene/chapter from the book?
A: I LOVE the opening scene at the wedding. For other reasons, love the scene of the police at the rusty shed. And for still others, I LOVE the scene where Beth and Joe have an honest dialogue about why she fears him. That was touching and took as much courage as facing the terrorists.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A. Many things, but mostly people. Issues that impact people. The situations and events that impact people and how they react to them. I’m fascinated by people and so their lives and circumstances and ideas and attitudes all interest me. I write to make sense of things. Making sense of things, understanding them, that inspires me. More than anything, I so fervently want to help those who are broken find a constructive way to heal.
Q: How has being a published novelist differed from your expectations of the profession?
A: I spend a great deal more time on ancillary aspects of the profession than I anticipated or expected. Of course, that’s become so over time as the industry has evolved, and I expect it will do so for the foreseeable future. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s a very good thing. Stagnant anything dies. Evolution keeps things fresh and replenishes.
Q: What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?
A: Never settle for “good enough.” Strive for excellence. Keep reading—not just those with whom you agree, but with those you disagree. Study your market and understand how publishing works. The market is changing rapidly. You need to know how and the ways it impacts you and your work. Remember ethics and integrity and don’t compromise on them. Always play fair with your readers; respect them. Keep your sense of humor and remember that today’s “no, thank you” can be tomorrow’s gateway to a “yes, please” so mind your manners and hold yourself to high standards on personal conduct. Remember that when you fail to meet your obligations, like deadlines, you impact others’ schedules negatively. Allow yourself ample time to write, allotting for things that come up as much as humanly possible. And most importantly, never, never write a book you don’t love. It shows in the work, and that’s bad. Look, your time is your life. If you value your life, then don’t waste it by writing something chasing a market or a publishing slot. Write books that mean most to you. Love them. That creates slots and opportunities and ask yourself this: If I write something I don’t love will I be content? Fulfilled? Enough said.
Q: Would you share with us what you are working on now?
A. Well, in the last few weeks, I’ve been working on multiple projects. I just finished the second book in a new series, and am about to start the third. They’ll be out at the end of next year. I finished a new venture for me and got an enthusiastic response on it from my agent, so it appears we’ll be moving ahead on that. I just received a two-book offer on a third series and am debating on whether or not I want to write it right now. Also finished the final on a short story that will be out in April and another one that is coming out in May in collections. And I’ve been working on a stand alone novel in my spare time. I’ve wanted to write this story for a long tine but couldn’t fit into my schedule. I finally decided the only way I’d get to do it is to just do it in spurts when I have a few minutes here and there, so that’s what I’m doing. Otherwise, it’s blogging the new Inspire Me! Series of video blogs, and the typical other things that always need doing. The to-do list is under four pages for the first time in a month, so I’m happy.
Q: What is something your readers might be surprised to learn about you?
A. I don’t yell. When I’m not happy, to let others around me know it, I dye my hair red. No one messes with redheads. My family cringes at the thought of me going red, so I haven’t had to do it in a while. Just mention it and whatever is making me crazy straightens up. <g>
Q: When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
A. I love remodeling projects on the house. I used to love to oil paint and sewing projects. Now I spent non-writing time with Hubby and the grands doing whatever they want to do. Being with them is my favorite thing.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
A. Only that I thank you for your interest in me and my work and for being so supportive. That’s a gift I treasure and I’m grateful for it. And I hope that you’ll love NOT THIS TIME. It’s my personal favorite in the Crossroads books. I think because I have such admiration for Beth and for Joe. I’ve talked a good bit about her, but not so much about Joe. He’s special. You’ll see what I mean.
What a pleasure to visit with you today. Thank you again!
Bayard & Holmes Interview
By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes
My blogging and spy novel writing partner, Holmes, and I have been restless lately. Fidgety and irritable. Unable to sleep at night. Piper even found herself re-arranging the objects on her writing desk into alphabetical order, muttering about blog hideouts, interrogations, and best selling authors. That’s when we knew it had happened. It was undeniable. We had become Best Selling Author Serial Interviewers.
Rather than deny ourselves the pleasure of talking with more greats like Sandra Brown and James Rollins, we began stalking our new target, Award Winning, Best Selling Author Vicki Hinze. We believe she is the perfect
prisoner guest for the Romance Doctors in this season of Valentine Love.
Vicki Hinze can write anything. She has several popular series from romantic suspense to military thrillers to Christian fiction and non-fiction books on the writing craft. She has published over twenty-five books in as many as sixty-three countries and won multiple awards since her writing career began in 1987. A kind and sharing lady who enjoys associating with others, Vicki Hinze is also one of the charter sponsors of International Thriller Writers and served on its Board of Directors.
We are honored today to welcome Vicki Hinze to our blog.
Please make yourself comfortable, Ms. Hinze…. What? Open a window? I do apologize, but that actually isn’t a window. We just put up some curtains because we knew you were coming and wanted to make the cement walls a bit cozier.
Thank you so much for allowing our black helicopter to bring you here to our blog hideout.
I appreciate the opportunity and the ride. You know I have a special fondness for all things military and those that fly. (I married a Hurricane Hunter I asked to get into something safer. He went into Special Ops. )
You have a well-deserved reputation for the sort of kindness and generosity that pays it forward. Who were some of the people who helped and influenced you when you were new to the publishing world?
There have been many. First, I’d have to say Nina Coombs-Pykarre. At the time she’d published about 60 novels, and yet she invested a great deal of her time bleeding red on everything I wrote. That was two decades ago, and I still in my head ask myself, “Would Nina buy into this?” Susan Wiggs has been another mentor. She’s a very savvy business woman and since the first time I met her has always been home when I’ve had questions or needed to talk over business issues. There’ve been many mentors over the years, and I’m grateful to all of them. In this business, you rarely have the opportunity to pay back those who help you, but you can pay it forward, and I’ve tried hard to do that and will so long as I’m able.
You write romantic suspense, military thrillers, science fiction, Christian thrillers, and pretty much everything else. Is there any correlation between events in your life and the types of book you prefer to write at any given time?
Honestly, I write about what I’m fearing most at the time or about something that sets me off like a rocket. For example, I was midway through a three-book contract for paranormal romance novels when I went to the commissary (grocery store on a military base). Anyway, this young airman and his wife were standing in the aisle debating between buying a jar of peanut butter and a can of tuna–they couldn’t afford both. I was stunned to hear that, went home did some research and discovered the lowest four pay grades in the military were eligible for food stamps. I went postal. They put their lives on the line for us, their families sacrifice too, and they’re eligible for food stamps? I went on a “this has to change” binge with elected reps (and it has now) and called my editor. I wanted to write military romantic suspense/thrillers that depicted the special difficulties soldiers and their families face. Like custody battles due to deployments. Military romantic suspense/thrillers hadn’t really been done, but the editor trusted me and we went for it. That gave me the opportunity to write about a lot of fears–environmental terrorism (before the phrase was coined)–fear of our water supply being poisoned, our food supply, dirty bombs. I wrote about all of those things in the mid 90s before they were totally on everyone’s radar.
It’s God’s sense of humor, when you get down to it. I hate to cook, so where do I have the most epiphanies? In grocery stores. And in a quirk I can’t explain, I marry my fears to them. That often results in a new sub-genre, or something being done differently than it has been, but I’m okay with that. It’s interesting and challenging. I gravitate toward challenges.
Your books or articles are published in over 60 countries. When publishers in countries that are very different from America contract for your books, do they ever ask you to change things to appeal to their local cultures?
Typically in these situations that’s established in contracts. That publishers can alter content so that it is consistent with the market in the distribution area. When you think about it, it’s it everyone’s best interest. Something that is ordinary and totally acceptable in one culture could be extremely offensive in another. The objective isn’t to isolate or irritate readers. Now, authors are seeing more contracts call for world rights and those contracts do retain rights on that front. Since the objective is to provide great reads, it’s a common sense thing to give the work the best possible chance for attaining its objectives.
Christian fiction is a relatively new publishing genre, if you don’t count the Book of Esther. Some people think Christian fiction is all about prayer meetings, devout pioneer women, and girls in fluffy dresses giggling over boys at youth camp, but your books include such gritty turns such as murder and human trafficking. How would you describe the Christian (faith-based) thriller genre to people who are not already familiar with it?
That’s a common misconception about the Christian fiction market and I’m not sure why it exists. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from life’s problems or insulate you from realities occurring in the world. What it does do is give you tools to cope with those challenges and an understanding that whatever you face, you don’t face it alone. Christian fiction is as diverse as human beings. You will find people struggling in relationships, struggling against bad things that happen to them, hard times, and all the rest. It’s a solutions-oriented genre, and one that embraces constructive solutions to everyday problems as well as ones we hope we never have to face.
Often what happens is out of our control. But how we react to it is in our control. Faith provides a foundation to sustain us and knowledge of faith provides us tools and constructive solutions. You’ll find the same diversity in the challenges, obstacles or conflicts that you encounter in any thriller.
Your newest faith-based thriller, NOT THIS TIME, was released yesterday. Would you please tell us about it?
This is the third book in my Crossroads Crisis Center series. The books all stand alone and you need not have read FORGET ME NOT or DEADLY TIES first. It’s a story about two friends that started what’s become a very successful business. One marries a man that the other can’t stand. When he goes missing, is kidnapped, and reported murdered, she becomes the prime suspect. Her partner, the man’s wife, is hospitalized, and this suspect, Beth, must choose. More than anything she’s wanted this man out of their lives. Now she suffers torn loyalties. Does she do the easy thing or the right thing? Does she put her effort and energy and resources into protecting him? It’d be right and best in her judgment to not lift a finger, but can she live with herself if she takes that route? And unless she finds the truth, will she be blamed for everything that’s gone wrong? Terrorism rocks the town and all signs point to someone close to her being responsible for it. She fears the truth. Fears uncertainty. And she fears the answer to a question she must ask: is anyone so evil that they’re beyond redemption?
Hard questions, and sometimes not-so-pretty answers. But we eventually have to face what is. Not what we wish or want to be reality. Yet when we do, we gain gems. New insights, bits of wisdom that help us endure and grow and move on in life stronger for the experience. Sometimes we discover that what we thought was true wasn’t true at all, and we face our futures with that expanded vision.
We have a big fan of yours here who would like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind a bit of dog hair.
Not a bit. I love pooches. Especially this rascal.
*crosses to intercom* Rolf, please bring in The Love Pooch.
Daisy. She had this opportunity to do this final interview with Ms. Hinze shortly before passing on.
It’s so nice to meet you, Ms. Hinze. *lick, lick, wag, wag* I love your books. You really know how to appeal to your dog readership with all of that action and romance. Dogs are all about being active and loving people.
Loyal, too. *scratching scruff*. It’s great to see you, Daisy.
My pet human tells me you enjoy oil painting. I know at least one of your books, BEYOND THE MISTY SHORE, involves a mysterious painting. Do you often incorporate art and painting into your books?
I don’t. Well, once in a while I do. It’s hard to get a lot of action and adventure going on there, and since 1995, most of the books I’ve done have had heavy military influences. Not much art or time for painting in between fighting terrorists and preventing biological, chemical or nuclear attacks, you know? Yes, Misty Shore, the first Seascape book, is about a mysterious artist and a particular painting of the mystical Maine, Seascape Inn. I also have an artist play a pivotal role in FORGET ME NOT, the first Crossroads book. Otherwise, it just hasn’t fit.
I know you also enjoy home improvement. I like home improvement, too. I’ll bet you can do much more with your opposable thumbs and tools than I can do with my teeth. Do you draw on your love of home improvement for any of your novels?
True about the thumbs, Daisy, but your teeth are far stronger, to be sure. Actually I finished a proposal for a mini-series of books on home improvement recently. I’m not sure yet I’ll write them, but you know the idea holds appeal. I love home improvement projects. A couple years ago, my pet human, a.k.a. Hubby, got tired of the racket and domestic upset and asked for a six-month moratorium on me knocking down any walls. I opted for a year. Then last February, we did two major projects. Both are done now except for a few tidbits. One more big project to go. Gutting the kitchen. Hubby’s an amazing woodcarver (usually of fish and ducks since I tried to kill the carved rattlesnake he had the poor judgment to leave on the kitchen bar overnight) and I’ve conned, er, asked him to build the cabinets. He agreed and wanted to get started now, but I suggested we wait until after hunting season. He liked that idea. Between you and me, Daisy, I did, too. I need the rest from all that hammering.
Would you mind dropping by Piper’s place and helping me fix a door frame I chewed? There was this little thunderstorm, you see, and….
I totally understand, Daisy. *rubbing scruff* Alex–I was her pet human–hated thunderstorms. She handled bombs being dropped on the range that jarred windows and teeth just fine, but lightning made her a nervous wreck. She loved to chew ice. Do you like ice? Alex would bat the icemaker on the fridge door and get her own. That worked out fine until we had a hurricane and no electricity. She batted and batted and got no ice. She was not a happy puppy about that.
Now, Daisy, it’s not appropriate to ask Ms. Hinze for home improvement assistance. She’s our guest.
*crosses to intercom* Rolf, would you please take The Love Pooch?
Wait. *Smooch* Bye, Daisy. You stay in touch and here’s a “cookie” *dog biscuit* for later when your pet human says it’s okay.
Thank you, Ms. Hinze. *lick, lick, wag*
Ms. Hinze, can you tell us anything about your current project? Will it be another faith-based thriller, or are you returning to one of your earlier genres?
I’m working on a new series, actually, called Lost, Inc. Two books are done. I’m just starting on the third one. Don’t know the title of it yet, but I think it’s going to be My Deadly Valentine (obviously a February planned release). They are faith-based romantic thrillers.
You know, every novel I’ve written, regardless of genre, has had suspense, mystery and romance. The defining factor has been which of those three elements gets emphasis, and to know that I have to develop the story or write it to see what happens. The Lost, Inc. books are romance with a mystery/suspense element in a faith-based setting. NOT THIS TIME is a suspense with a mystery and a touch of romance in a faith-based theme.
What comes after this third Lost, Inc. book? Honestly, I’m not sure. I have two others in progress that are unrelated, three possible new series, all of which are in some stage of development, a great idea for a new mainstream thriller series, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading in a genre I haven’t tackled to see if I want to tackle it. Could be fun, but the jury is still out. I need to read more books in it before deciding for sure.
When I finish this Lost, Inc. novel, I’ll know. One of the projects will start haunting me, nagging me, waking me up during the night with ideas, and that’s the one I’ll focus on next.
Are there any questions you wish we had asked you here today, or any further comments you would like to share with us?
If you don’t mind, I’d like to expand just a bit on your last question, for your readers who are writers, enough to say that it’s far easier to build a career by writing one type of book. You build a readership that knows what to expect from you and that helps gain momentum. I obviously haven’t done that. I’ve known that I should, but my mind doesn’t work that way and forcing it to violates my vision of success. I’m a purpose writer of healing books. So I follow where that takes me. Self indulgent? Yes. Harder to build a readership? Yes. Gratifying? Oh yes. But if you can write one type of book in one genre, that’s clearly better for building a career–provided it’s the career you want to build. Just tossing that out there because it’s worth making deliberate choices not drifting onto harder roads.
Thank you so much for sharing your time with us and visiting our blog. It’s been an honor. We’ll have to ask you to put the blindfold back on before you leave, but you’re welcome to take it off before you parachute out over your home. You might like to keep it though. It makes a lovely sleep mask.
Why thank you. I appreciate the lovely gift, and getting to visit with you here in the cave. I’ve read about it, of course, but visiting firsthand is a whole different experience. And my very best *hugs* to you and Holmes, Piper. Oh, wait. I nearly forgot. I brought gifts. A gold pen for you, Piper. No, that’s not your name inscribed on it. It’s the guarantee. “Thou shalt never experience writer’s block.” And this is for Holmes. *passes box.* I know how much Holmes loves things that go boom, so here’s a new ACOG scope for his Sig. All the bells and whistles–aim is everything, dahlink.
What thoughtful gifts! Thank you so much, Ms. Hinze. You are every bit as gracious as your reputation foretold.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ms. Hinze is safe once more in her writing cave, and our interview-junkie shakes have calmed for the moment. Our sincere thanks to this lovely, talented lady whose heart is becoming legend in the writing world. You can find her new book at NOT THIS TIME, as well as all of her books at her website, Vicki Hinze. Also, you can find NOT THIS TIME at a bookstore near you. Find a Christian bookstore near you.
The Big Thrill Interview
Not This Time by Vicki Hinze
Award-wining, bestselling author Vicki Hinze likes to delve into the deepest fears that most of us face at one time or another. Her quest is for her characters to face these fears and then seek constructive solutions. When asked what fear inspired her most recent novel, NOT THIS TIME, the third book in her Crossroads Crisis Center series, she sighed and said, “Can a person get to a point beyond redemption? Mess up so bad that he or she can’t get back? That’s what I’m wondering.”
Her success in building a suspenseful plot with exciting characters is evident in the many rave reviews she’s received. Here are just a few:
“Tense, breathless, multi-layered – and highly recommended.” –Lee Child, International bestseller
“Vicki Hinze’s new thriller, NOT THIS TIME, hones suspense to a razored edge. Riveting, relentless, and fraught with betrayals, here is a novel that cuts both to the bone and to the heart. NOT THIS TIME should be retitled NOT TO BE MISSED.” –James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of the DEVIL COLONY
“In NOT THIS TIME, Vicki Hinze has created a tense, suspenseful story, peopled with vivid characters and set against a backdrop of deadly danger. I know I can always count on Vicki for an absorbing story I’ll remember long after I’ve closed the book, and NOT THIS TIME was no exception. Do yourself a favor and pick this book as your next read.” –Kay Hooper, NYT bestselling author
Here’s a glimpse into NOT THIS TIME:
Sara and Beth built a multi-million dollar business and work as anti-terrorism consultants. Now their business and friendship are strained because Beth is leery of Sara’s husband. When he goes missing and is verified kidnapped, authorities consider Beth their prime suspect.
Then their hometown, Seagrove Village, Florida, is rocked by an act of terrorism, and Beth doesn’t know who to trust. Someone close to her is connected to the attack, but who? Is there a connection to Crossroads Crisis Center? In the midst of the confusion and fear, Beth finds herself attracted to a man from her past, the former Shadow Watcher, Joe. She knows she shouldn’t fall in love with him–she can’t resist or even explain their bond. And as her world unravels around her, she wonders…Will the truth set her free or ruin her life?
NOT THIS TIME is a thriller about torn loyalties, being falsely accused. About facing your worst fears and doing the right thing when it costs you everything. It’s about being confronted with all you hate and discovering who you really are. It’ll be released February 21st.
Vicki began her illustrious writing career at a young age when her father encouraged her to develop a love of reading. However, Vicki wanted to read the newspaper comics and her father wanted her to read something more substantial. Before she was allowed to read her favorites, her father made her read the headlines and more, then tell him what she had read. This led to her writing brief descriptions. And, in turn, she acquired a love of writing.
Today, Vicki writes continuously. She has penned 30 novels and nonfiction books, and countless articles. Clearly, she loves to write!
The King Interview
King Interview with Vicki Hinze, award-winning, multi-published author and lecturer.
I’m a wife, mom and grandmother who loves all things writing.
2. What inspired you to write your first book?
Both my mom and dad loved to read. I started doing political essays–it was a game with my dad–very early on. Later, I wrote poetry, but I learned quickly, I need room to stretch. I wrote a couple short stories but required more than stretching room, I needed the space to sprawl. So I tried a novel. Hubby, who was military, had already moved to what would become our new home. I was working full time (Director of Operations for a corporate chain) and the kids were with me finishing out the school year–it was the worst possible time to take on a big project like a novel, so of course, that’s exactly when I did it. Novels fit perfectly. I wrote one, and then another and another . . . and I just haven’t stopped.
3. You’ve written in many different sub-genres of romance, including contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance, not to forget the inspirational and technical books. Of all that you have written, do you have a favorite genre or sub-genre?
I have written a lot of different types of novels. I love genre-blending and blazing trails. The most sure-fire way to get me to try something “different” is to tell me it can’t be done. Then I’ve just got to go for it. As far as a favorite genre, I hesitate to name one. I love suspense, mystery and a little romance in a book. I love books that inspire. So all my books regardless of what genre they’re in, or including those not classified in a genre, have those things in common. I can’t say suspense or mystery or thriller or romance is my favorite. It takes them all, and I’m not picky about which one the story focuses intensely on. Sometimes it’s the thriller element. Sometimes it’s the suspense. Sometimes it’s the romance. So long as a book is well done with all those elements, I’m happy. Guess that means my favorite is the “suspense and mystery and thriller and romance” genre where the stories heal the broken and inspire. Whew, that’s long-winded, but it is accurate.
4. What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
Many have had strong influences on me. My mother. She loved books, and encouraged me ceaselessly in writing. Steadfast support. That was priceless. Nina Coombs-Pyakarre mentored me, and still today I ask myself what she’d think about this or that in my books. If what I’ve done is up to her standards. (Nina bled red ink on many a page for me for a very long time. She was hard but fair and never permitted good enough to be good enough.)
Along the road, there have been many others. Many, many others, and I’m grateful to each and every one of them.
5. What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?
Coloring between the lines. I like many different kinds of books and I want to write–and have written–many different types of books. That’s frustrating to editors who need the same kind of book only different rather than different and different and different. I can do that–write the same kind of book–I’ve just chosen not to do it very often. I love the challenge of blazing trails and trying different kinds of books to see if I can do them. Totally love that. It’s not the easiest way to build a career, but I wasn’t and still am not just interested in building a career, I’m interested in building a life. Writing is a huge part of my life–very important to me. To live that life well, I can’t color within the lines all the time. It just doesn’t work for me that way. So I go where I’m drawn to go and do what I’m drawn to do and hope for the best.
6. What is your writing schedule like? For example, do you write any time of the day or do you prefer a specific time of day? Do you write for a specific amount of hours or a set amount of pages?
I have written all those ways. When the kids were small and still home, I had to be extremely disciplined about writing time. I’d get up at o’dark thirty and write for an hour or two before getting the kids up and off to school and leaving for work. Then after dinner and homework and getting them down for the night, I’d write some more. Now my schedule on writing is more relaxed. It depends on where I am in the story. If fevered, I work until I fall asleep at the computer. If not, I try to get fevered. It makes for the best stories. The long and short of it is that I schedule deadlines out far enough that I’m generally done way before deadlines. Occasionally something will happen that pushes me against the wall on them, but then I just buckle down and get the book written. If that means writing nearly around the clock, then that’s what it means. (I hate the idea of being late. To me, it’s just rude to mess up other people’s schedules unless it absolutely cannot be avoided.)
7. How long does it take you to finish a book?
It depends on the book. Some are very quick–a month, maybe two. Others are years. The fastest I’ve written one start to finish is two weeks. The longest–well, I’ve rewritten one five times and I still don’t like it. The vision in my head doesn’t match that on paper. I first wrote it in 1995. I’ll let you know when it’s finally done. On an average, four to five months is good. But it truly depends on the book and the vision for it. If it’s clear and comes full blown, it’s fast. If it’s nebulous and murky, it takes longer. You can’t predict, book to book. Or I can’t. What I can say is that it takes what it takes to get it the best you can make it at that time.
8. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
I haven’t, but I’ve only been writing a little over two decades, so it might be it just hasn’t hit me yet. I know it’s real, it happens. I know writers who have suffered horribly. But for me the challenge is an abundance of stories I want to write, need to write, must write. I have the opposite of writer’s block. It can be a mess too, because you must focus and be disciplined to get things done.
I think the reason I’ve avoided block thus far is I’m constantly refilling the creative well. I love people. Love to study them, watch them, listen to them, figure out what makes them tick, what ticks them off, what fires them up, leaves them cold. I am into issues and anything to do with healing. I love science and history and so many other things. It’s all so interesting. I have to work at it to cap my creative well long enough to hang onto thought and ideas that pertain to the book at hand.
9. Are you a plotter or panster? If you’re a plotter, do you have any plotting tips?
I’m both. For a long time, I plotted. I was writing in spurts and it was hard to recall what happened when and details. So by using a plot board–squares on a page where each square is a scene in a chapter–it made spurt writing easier. I spent much less time reviewing what I’d already written. That was helpful and a great time-saver. I’ve also written books where I had no idea what would happen next. I had to write to find out. Those are fun. Again, it depends on the book and what is going on in my life. I rarely get to write one book at a time. That makes plotting helpful.
A great tip, in my opinion, is to respect the way your mind works and use whatever methods are in harmony with it. To some, plotting equates to the story being done. The desire to write the story diminishes because the writer knows what is going to happen. That’s not good. So play panster. If you write yourself into brick walls and end up spending more time rewriting than writing, try playing plotter. You’ll see which works best for you–and it might be a combination of the two that’s your perfect fit.
10. What is your personal writing goal?
My personal writing goal is to create healing books that inspire and lift up people who are struggling or broken. To show them through the characters and stories that no matter how hard times get, we get through them, and there’s a lot of good life on the other side of challenges.
11. If you could choose anywhere in the world to write, where would it be?
The beach. Course, I go there and get caught up in the horizon and the sounds of the surf, which is great for dreaming but might not be conducive to . . . yes, the beach. It’s my favorite place.
12. Describe your writing space, that one corner of the house that is all yours?
My office was the entire upstairs until I fell down the stairs. Now I’m in a bedroom on the lower floor and never go upstairs, which is great but the office is not half as big as the old one, so it’s messy in here. There are two desks, two book cases, two file cabinets, two chairs, another shelf, another two cabinets and stacks. All kinds of stacks. Books. Books waiting for endorsements. Manuscripts. Partials. I can’t see what else. My computer screen is big and blocks the view–and I like it that way. My book covers are framed and on the wall. I have a collection of sayings and tapestries and goodies that are inspiring and religious in nature above and around an altar, which is a sacred space in my office. On its top are several items of importance to me. One is a compass. So I never lose my way. In the corner beside the altar is a pot with sticks in it that the grandkids gifted to me. Little branches. I hang ornaments of angels on them. I’ve always called the grans my angels. Mmm, and more stacks. Lots and lots of those!
13. What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life?
Boy, I don’t know. Raising the kids, definitely. My goal was to get all three through college where they started their adult lives with no debt. I’m thrilled about that, but they did the work. I’m very proud of my family and I have enormous respect for the kids. That’s a lovely thing. But again, that’s the people they chose to be, not really my accomplishment.
I think one of the highlights of my life was putting the first copy of my first book in my mother’s hands. She shook she was so excited. And when she read the dedication, she burst into tears. That was an amazing moment. I’ve told you how much she loved books and how supportive she always was of me writing. To give that to her meant the world to me.
14. What is your current work-in-progress, and can you summarize it in a few lines?
Well, there are two Lost, Inc. books. That’s a new series I’m doing for Love Inspired Suspense that debuts next October with SURVIVE THE NIGHT. I’m editing the second one, CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN, and writing the third, TORN LOYALTIES. These all center around a small agency helping the lost find their way home.
I’m also finishing up a Kali Kaye book, GIRL TALK: LETTERS BETWEEN FRIENDS, I’ll be publishing very soon. It’s different–hence the Kali Kaye name so readers know to expect a different type of story.
I’m writing a proposal for a new series that is a departure for me but one that captivated me in the research phase. I planned to wait a year, but I got too invested so I have to write them sooner.
And I’ve just begun the first book in another series that is Christian fiction also. It’s kind of an exploratory project. I love the idea of the story. Now I have to see if I’ll love the book. If so, I’ll write it. Have to write some to know.
15. I know you’ve written many technical writing books, but what you consider the most important advice you could give a writer? If you want, you can break this into advice to beginning writers and advice to advanced.
MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE:
Never write a book you don’t love. Your time is your life. If you invest it in a book, you should love it. That love shows in the work in a thousand ways, and if it’s missing, that shows, too.
Know your purpose for writing and then view everything you do professionally through the prism of that purpose. Will this (whatever this is) enhance or detract from your purpose? Only invest in that which enhances your purpose.
Adopt “the best” as your mantra and do everything within your power to never settle for less. Good enough is never good enough.
Much in the business of writing is out of your control. Accept that. Know how the business works, and be content controlling what you can: the quality of the work. On quality do not compromise.
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