USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
DESTINED TO THRILL. FATED TO HEAL
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Some of My Favorite Quotes:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” -Hebrews 11:1, KJV
“If we will not be governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.” -William Penn
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” -Charles William Elliot
And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain.” ~Habakkuk 2:2
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9
Little Known Vicki FAQs
Fact 1 She began reading at three and as a child wrote political essays on current issues as a game with her father. She then wrote poetry, and moved into short stories before writing her first nonfiction book, and then finally tackled a novel. She’s been hooked on books her whole life.
Fact 2 She wears a Mickey Mouse watch given to her by her daughter with the advice to “Not take life so seriously all the time.”
Fact 3 Because she can’t yell, when irked, she dyes her hair red. The redder it is, the more trouble somebody is in!
From your web site, you are an advocate for authors, so why aren’t you on the Board for any of your writing organizations?
I was on the Board of Directors for ITW and served as the Awards VP, but I prefer to work behind the scenes. I’ve headed many committees for RWA, worked on many more, and I’ve served as a consultant to its Board of Directors. I’ve also served as a liaison and mentor for the entire PRO program, as website director, and as newsletter editor for several chapters. Serve similarly as a Board Consultant for Emerald Coast Writers and assist with various other programs. I handled merchandising and work to gain member benefits for ITW—International Thriller Writers–and also served on its marketing committee. I answer questions for members of MWA—Mystery Writers of America and Sin-C—Sisters-in-Crime. Additionally, I started and ran the Bombshell Authors group and created and maintained the IT Girls website.
Those commitments aside, for many years, I’ve helped writers on a daily basis in my Writers’ Zone(formerly Aids4Writers) program, and through the Edna Sampson Benevolence Fund, which helps writers in financial straits. In 2009, I co-sponsored and will annually the Edna Sampson Award of Excellence, honoring the writing of an as yet unpublished author. Edna Sampson was my mother, and she held a deep love and respect for books and for writers. Involvement with these awards named in her honor is a privilege and a pleasure.
This isn’t a complete listing of my organizational involvements, but I hope it’s enough that you get the idea. I do get involved and try to do my part to make the organizations beneficial–it is, I believe a member’s duty to do so–I just don’t talk much about what I do on those fronts.
How do you work?
The short answer: Hard, and all the time.
The long answer: I’m a goal-oriented person and extremely organized for a creative professional. I want to do a lot of things, and to be able to, I have to be disciplined and organized. Otherwise, I get mired down, and then I’m miserable. I never intentionally court misery.
I do work at order, starting with an annual review. I look at what I’ve done, how I’ve done it, and then choose what to keep and cull the next year. I focus on mind, body and spirit and work on all three every year. There’s a FEATURE ARTICLE , “Why We Need a Plan,” which goes into this topic in specific detail. There’s even an example of my annual Dream Sheet in the Writers’ Library, which breaks down by category my focus.
To some, I’m sure that sounds anal. But to live my life on my terms–I have many irons in many fires, and to juggle them without losing my sanity–I need structure. So I’ve created a plan that works for me.
Am I at my desk by 9:00 every morning?
No. Often I’m at it at 2:00 in the morning or until 2:00 in the morning. I ignore clocks. They’re a pet peeve. I work when I work, and stop when I’m done. I have daily goals and a lengthy, prioritized To-Do list and that keeps me on track and productive.
Do I work on one writing project at a time?
No. I typically work on four projects simultaneously, each one in a different stage of development. I have worked in a linear fashion on a single book from start to finish, but it’s an oddity, not normal for me.
How long does it take to write a book?
Speaking as honestly as I can, it depends on the book. Some come to me full-blown. I test them for strength, depth and worth, and breeze through the writing, averaging between 20 and 30 pages per day, with many 50-page days. Other books come slowly, element by element, and require a lot of background work, research, and intense development on all levels. And then comes the testing, which often results in even more work being required before the first word of the book is ever written.
In the end, which kind of book it was doesn’t show. But there’s an amazing amount of difference in creating them, and I never know which kind of book one will be until I tackle it.
What I can say is that it takes what time it takes. You work with it until it’s the best you can create at the time. If that’s weeks, super. If it’s months, that’s pretty normal. If it’s years, it’s years.
Do I write at the computer or elsewhere?
I write all kinds of ways and in all kinds of places. At the computer keyboard, in longhand, on the edges of newsprint—you name it. Writers often get locked into thinking they can only write one way. I fight that by writing whenever, wherever, however.
I write in my recliner or at the beach, the park, local restaurants, my back yard deck or in the car (though not while driving; I pull over), using the laptop or pen and pad or a little Sony voice recorder.
In the office, I usually write on the computer—sometimes keying in, sometimes with MacSpeech voice recognition software.
If I get stuck, (feel puny, or I’ve written myself into a wall), I write at the kitchen table. When I was a kid, my dad told me 99% of all genius is created at a kitchen table. It’s never let me down, failed to unstick me, or to punch a window into that wall. (I suspect, largely because I expect that table to work magic, so it does.)
What is your favorite non-writing thing to do?
Family anything. Talk or be with my husband, kids, and/or my grandchildren. I don’t care what we do; that’s not important. My most recent favorite thing was a “breakfast date” with my daughter and two of my angels (grands). They had been on an outing to the library and my eldest angel had seen some of my books on the shelf and some of her grandpa’s wood carvings there. She was so surprised and excited. She drew a picture that the restaurant owner thought was so fabulous she hung it on the wall. So now my angel says she’s like her Gran and G-Paw. Her artwork is in a special place, too. Precious moments like these. How could they not be favorites? And, yes, that includes my new favorite restaurant for making my angel feel special. I expect I’ll get some weird looks when asked and I claim Waffle House as my favorite restaurant. But truth is truth, and the nurturing that owner did for my angel was a treasure. I won’t forget it. Ever. My second most favorite thing is remodeling, but Hubby made me promise to not knock down any more walls for at least six months. That’s expired, but I can tell he’s just not yet ready for more.
Send Vicki a Question
Do you have a question for Vicki? If so, send it in!
Questions from Readers Click the + sign for the answers.
How do you choose where you go to do workshops or lectures?
Like many authors, I receive far more requests than I can accept and still write books and have a life. I select using a couple of criteria:
- Need. If I can really be of help to a group, then I’ll work around all I can to do so.
- Timing. Requests that fall at opportune times between deadlines make saying yes a lot easier.
- Scheduling. I typically set my travel schedule for the following year in November, so requests received before then are more likely to be worked into the next years’ schedule. I try to accommodate others, but the earlier, the better.
- Purpose. Workshops or lectures that are associated with events benefiting literacy, eduction, libraries, abused women, children or writers in dire straits are given priority on preferences. (This can be as simple as a signing or raffle that benefits one of those groups or a specific writer in trouble.)
- Drafted. Friends and members of my writers’ organizations draft me now and then, and if I can, I let them. (So when the need arises, I can draft them, of course.)
- The bottom line is that I can’t always say yes. I do what I can in person, then supplement with online chats, podcasts, blog articles and the Writer’s Zone group, where I answer questions for other writers almost every day.
I hate having to sign in to use the writer’s library on your web site. I always forget passwords. Why did you do that?
Why: Sorry about that. I was backed into a corner, and when that happens, I act. As you know, any writer is free to use the library and I don’t charge anyone a cent for the articles. But I had several occurrences where visitors were copying and then selling my articles to other writers. Bluntly put, that ticked me off and I needed a way to restrict them from my library. Signing in is how I did it. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but others selling what I write and offer for free just isn’t acceptable.
Last year, I tried again to have the library in an open forum (no ID, no password required). This time, some were snitching snippets of my articles and connecting them to unsavory products and services. I can’t have and don’t want those associations, so I had to go back to the ID and passwords. Before you get upset about that, let me say that many who use the library are minors and I feel a responsibility to do what I can to protect them. Unfortunately some of the snippet-snatchers were attaching my name/material to nude photos and worse. Can’t have it. So as an alternative to closing the library, I returned to the restricted access.
The good news is this is no longer required. Just go to the On Writing Blog. No signing in.
Do you ever do critiques for other writers?
I did a lot of them for many years. But, by agreement with my agent, I now critique only contest entries in established writing competitions or fundraisers (i.e., writers without insurance or their family members needing medical attention, funeral expenses, American Cancer Society, MADD, domestic violence, child abuse). I do judge many local, national and international writing competitions.
Do you have a critique group or partner?
I had a critique group for over ten years, and still would, but deaths and moves and illnesses brought it to an end. I do have a critique partner, though we’re a bit atypical for the classic definition. We bounce unusual ideas off of each other and if we’re uncertain whether or not something is working, we’ll ask the other to read it. On occasion, we read for each other before sending books in to our agents and/or editors. It really depends on the project and our personal comfort level with it.
I’m a fan of your lady books (Lady Liberty, Lady Justice). Why did you write those Bombshell books instead of the next lady book?
Because I loved them. I’m not being snarky about this. I love the lady books and the Bombshell novels and I really wanted to see the Bombshells succeed so I invested in them. I’m all about encouraging and inspiring women to take care of business and even when they don’t have all the tools, trusting that if they’re doing something for the right reasons, the tools will come through their own efforts. It’s how I’ve lived my life. In short, I related.
That said, the Bombshell imprint of novels failed. Do I regret having invested? Not at all. I still love the books. So I’m not giving up my Lady books–they’re empowering and have smart, savvy women, too. I’m just broadening horizons, writing books I feel compelled for one reason or another to write.
I’ve been compelled to write Christian fiction. I’ve finished my first two series of inspirational thrillers (yes, they have romantic elements), CROSSROADS CRISIS CENTER series, and the LOST, INC. series, and I love them. So I guess there’s a trail-blazer aspect to this, too, though I don’t typically think of it in those terms. I love genre blending and doing something to expand current markets and entice new readers to read.
Currently I’m working on DOWN AND DEAD, INC, a series of Romantic Cozy Mysteries with a humorous element (born out of characters). What fun!
What is your #1 rule on what you write?
I will not write a book I don’t love. Just won’t do it. Don’t care about the money, the prestige, or any other benefit that can come from it. Writing takes time, and my time is my life. That’s valuable to me, and I’m not wasting a second of it writing something I don’t love. This is, by the way, my only writing rule.
Where did you get the name Caron Chalmers in Mind Reader? It’s my name and I’ve never before seen it in a book.
I made it up. I loved the name Caron. When I was a kid, I went to Dallas for the summer and met a neighbor’s daughter. Her last name was Chalmers. I hadn’t heard the name before (heavy French influence in New Orleans, where I grew up). I never forgot the name, and I thought of it when I named Caron. I loved the sound of the two together, so Caron Chalmers (the fictional one in MIND READER) was born.
Do you give quotes on other writer’s books?
I usually have a stack of books waiting to be read and considered for quotes. I do them as time allows and endorse them when I believe the endorsement will benefit the book. If it’s a good match, I’m happy to endorse. If not, I don’t. When I don’t, I’m not denying the value of the work, just coordinating with reader expectations to avoid challenges for both the writer of the book and me. Reader expectation, in my opinion, should never be violated.
Seascape, Lady, War Games—why do you write so many books in series? I like it, I’m just curious if you do it because it’s advantageous or what?
Actually, I do it because it’s how I think. I rarely get an idea for a single book. Ideas usually come to me in clusters. Even books where I have written only a single book, like The Prophet’s Lady, characteristics are built in (The Elders) where I could go back and write more books using the same premise, making it part of a series.
I don’t know why I think this way, but I do, and rather than fight it, I work with it. I love the stories and the people in them, so it might be that I just hate letting go and, by writing series, I don’t have to let go as quickly. That could be part of it, but honestly, it’s just the way I think. One reviewer said that I write each book like a TV series episode. I hadn’t thought of it in that way, but I can see truth in it.
I’ve missed several of your books. How can I make sure I know when a new one is coming out?
That information is always on the writing web site (www.vickihinze.com). But if you need a reminder, just sign up for the mailing list on the CONTACT page. I never share my list, and you will get a note to let you know a new book is out. The Newsletter or just the Remind Me Note–either will work.
How many books will be in your WAR GAMES series?
I’m not sure. The three “Double” books and a novella all center on one SASS unit (Body Double, Double Vision, Double Dare, Smokescreen) make 4. When Bombshell ceased, I had just finished the first book in a trilogy of “Zone” books set in a second SASS unit under the same Commander, Sally Drake. Medallion Press picked up the series, and KILL ZONE, the first of the Zone trilogy with the new Special Abilities SASS. By the time it came to contract for more, I was tied up with other projects. I might write more of them. To be honest, I haven’t decided at this point.
What irks me most about not writing tons of SASS books is that when I started, I didn’t know Sally Drake commanded other units. Now I know there are many different types of units under her command. If I don’t write them, I’ll never know what they are, who is in them and what exactly they do.
I’ve asked Drake to just tell me, but she’s not talking. (It’s the nature of her job.) So if the questions keeping nagging, I expect I’ll be writing to find out the answers.
Are you ever going to write Serena’s story? I need a Miss Hattie fix.
You know, I’m stunned at how often this question comes up. I haven’t written in the SEASCAPE series in over a decade, but I’m asked at least once a month about this. I enjoy visiting Seascape Inn, and, I confess, I’d really like to know who is in that third grave on the island. The only way to find out is to write the book. I’m not opposed to writing another SEASCAPE novel; I just haven’t gotten to it.
In 1995, I shifted from writing novels with paranormal elements to military suspense and intrigue. Then I branched out into suspense and I’ve just sort of been in that mode and mindset. Now the Christian fiction has my head and heart and I expect it will from now on. It’s exciting, incorporating full-fledged all three aspects of human beings. I positively love it that the spiritual conflicts are as prominent as as the suspense and emotional conflicts.
That said, these requests on SEASCAPE coming in so often have my attention. Additionally, my dear friend, Elizabeth Sinclair, nags me for a new Seascape novel often. She’s pretty persistent, so we’ll see how the schedule works out…