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Interview with Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze is a multi-published, multi-awarded, multi-functional superwoman who only sits still long enough to write entertaining and engaging stories to keep you plastered to your seat. (big breath)

(LOL! Couldn’t restrain myself.)

Vicki, I ran out of breath while reading the list of your accomplishments posted on your website. What is your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other projects and responsibilities?

One would expect that it’d be slivered focus, and that can present challenges, but honestly it’s ideas. They bombard me (and most writers) all the time. So I had to find a way to stop them from nagging me while I focus on other projects/responsibilities. When a good idea comes, I pause, jot it down in an idea file, and then return to the project or responsibility I was working on. This assures I don’t forget or lose it, but also that I don’t get distracted from what I should be doing for long periods of time. There are days when Plan A turns to Plan ZZ, but life works that way. You learn to be flexible but also organized, persistent and focused. At least, that is what works for me. It’d probably be annoying to someone else, but I need those things to work efficiently and retain sanity.

Do you keep to a writing schedule with so many hours or words per day?
My problem isn’t in writing it’s in stopping. I ignore clocks as much as possible, so it’s work until I’m done, or until I can’t think anymore. Then I stop. When I have tight deadlines and I’m in create-mode, I well might set specific daily goals of 20 or 30 pages. If revising or editing, I might set page goals. I work best by a prioritized list. The most important thing is addressed first. That assures me that I get the most urgent work done before it becomes urgent and that keeps me out of working in crisis-mode. I avoid crisis-mode as much as possible. Keeping the listing also assures I don’t forget important things. One of my personal pet peeves is a concern that I’ll mess up someone else’s schedule. If I’m late, then on down the line others have to shuffle their schedules. That’s okay if it’s an emergency and unavoidable, but if it’s not, it’s heartless to do to others. So I try really hard to avoid putting others in that position.

Your books have been labeled as action-packed romance. Which idea usually comes first: the romance or the action?
Usually it’s a situation, the action. Or some issue that incites the action. The romance develops as an outgrowth of it. I love suspense, but to love a story enough to invest my time (my life!) in it, I need that romantic element. It can be light, it can be subtle, but for me to love a book, it must have both suspense and a romantic element. My entire career, I’ve had only one writing rule: I will not write a book I don’t love. So any of my books, regardless of genre, will contain both suspense, romance and some mysterious element. Those are my three must haves in any work I tackle.

Deadly Ties is Book 2 in your Crossroads Crisis Center series. The first book, Forget Me Not, was your first venture into the CBA market even though you already had over 2 dozen published books. What made you switch?
I’ve always had spiritual elements in my stories, but I felt increasingly uncomfortable in the general market because of changes in its direction. A medical incident was the catalyst. I left the doctor’s office one day thinking I was terminal, and for some reason test results and subsequent test results were delayed. I did a lot of thinking during that time and bottom-line, I looked at my life and what I was doing with it, and I decided I’d loved well and been loved well and that was good for real life. I had many heart-to-heart talks with God, and on the way to the doctor’s office, I prayed. If this is the way it goes, I’ll see You when I get home. If You pass this cup from me, then I’ll do my best to serve you--Your will, not mine. When I got to the doctor’s office, I discovered a clerical error had occurred and the test results were not mine. I was fine. In short order, God sent two Christian editors to come get me. They both contacted me and used the same verbiage in their notes. I took that as confirmation that He wanted me to do this—to write fiction for the Christian market. You see, I’d thought about it many times, but I didn’t feel good enough or holy enough to do it. During the course of the trials, I learned you don’t have to be good enough or holy enough, you just have to have a willing heart. When you do, and you do your best, God will do the rest. So the two editors seeking me out affirmed and confirmed that this was the direction of His will. I willingly followed (admittedly with my jaw on the floor, where it is still—that He would take such care and bother so much with a simple woman like me.)

Will you focus on the CBA market now, or write for both?
I want to write books that inspire others, that embrace the whole person: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We all have challenges. My greatest hope is show through the stories that constructive solutions that honor God and all aspects of your nature, exist. If characters can find them in their situations, then readers can too. How those books will be marketed, I don’t know—I’m following—but God will be in those stories and in the lives of the people in them. I’m focusing on Him and trusting that He’ll choose the venue He wants chosen to accomplish the purpose He’s set for the works. My job is to write what I feel He’s directing and guiding me to write. The market, well, He’ll direct and guide my agent on that. Since he is an agent who seeks guidance and heeds direction, I’m totally at ease on that.

How much of your spiritual life is reflected in your books aimed for the CBA market as opposed to the ABA market?
As I mentioned, my books have always contained spiritual elements, though in the ABA novels, that was by necessity more subtle and less overt. But the values and ethics were there. Those ABA stories too sought to inspire and encourage. The biggest difference in my CBA and ABA books is that in my CBA books, I am free to write the way I think. Not the way I think, then tone down to get that subtle effect. It’s been liberating, writing for CBA, and fulfilling. So many people are hurting and are in spiritual crisis. So many have wrongful images of what is required to be a Christian—images like I held. In my stories, I want to help on that front. To show no matter what mistakes you’ve made, you’re never beyond redemption. There really are no cookie-cutter Christians. God fashioned each of us with care and deliberately. And we all experience spiritual crises, spiritual warfare too, and many need to be reminded of these things, and of course, of grace. In some small way, I want to be a positive influence, encouraging others to open those doors and embrace all that is there, awaiting them.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
A reader contacted me who had lost her nephew, who was like a son to her. He’d committed suicide. She said that she was lost, that she knew nothing was wrong, and the guilt was hammering her. She couldn’t see a way to go on. Well, she and her daughter, who was very young, were at a grocery store. That little daughter picked my book up off the shelf and told her mom, “Read this one.” She did, she said. And in it, she found her way back to life. She could go on living now because she saw how God is connected in every way to everything in our lives. He never abandons His children. That was amazing. Spectacular. Better than any award, any honor, any anything else.

It was made all the more special because I’d written the book eight years earlier. It was deemed too risky and didn’t sell until six years later. Publishing was delayed for two additional years. So eight years after I wrote it is when the book actually showed up on that bookshelf.

If it hadn’t been delayed, it wouldn’t have been there for that child to pick up when she did. That mom in crisis wouldn’t have found, bought and read it.

Oh, I’m sure she would have gotten what she needed elsewhere; God would see to that. But that He chose my book, that one, as He did, well it taught me a great deal about patience and to trust in His timing and to not pay much attention to my own. You see, I wrote that book right after my dad died. My emotions were raw, I was mourning, and I believe it was through those things that the reader connected.

There have been many good moments, many blessings and heartfelt notes and letters that have meant a lot to me. But that woman contacting me with her story… it was just the most humbling and amazing, greatest moment of my writing career.

How has today’s technology helped you as an author?
In many ways. It’s easier to get in touch and stay in touch with readers. I genuinely love people and spending so much time alone writing has always been a challenge. Technology offering ways to connect has been a wonderful blessing. I started writing on a typewriter. Computers are fabulous for revising and editing and transmitting—enormous time-savers. I have more time to devote to a variety of special projects. More opportunities to try new means and methods. It’s changed the way things are done and certainly the amount of work one person is now capable of doing. Terrific, positive advances.

Looking at the Kid’s Faith Zone on your website, is a children’s book on the horizon?
Actually, I started the Kid’s Faith Zone a few years ago because my eldest granddaughter wanted to know why I write so much but write nothing for children. She couldn’t yet read at the time. So I wrote little articles and recorded audio so she could follow along. Then I learned to do videos and did little ones talking to young children. I’d never considered writing a book for children.

But a few days ago I met this same granddaughter at school for lunch. She’s in 2nd grade now. Afterward, we attended the school bookfair. I looked at the selection and my heart just sank. Tons of horror and picture books, but not much on values or morals or ethics—stories with the tools kids need to develop good judgment. I was just so sad about that. So yesterday I did some research to see if maybe those kinds of books just weren’t at the book fair. And when I was done, I started making a list of the books I want to write for children around my other projects. They need stories of consequence. Not soapbox stories. But honest ones of actions and reactions.

So, if you’d asked me if I had a children’s book in mind on Monday, I’d have said no. But after Tigress Tuesday (lunch and the book fair), I have to say I am considering not a book for children, but a bunch of them. I’m thinking that this was a two-part nudge, and I just got the second half.

Finish this sentence. If I could fit just one more thing into my daily life, it would be...
One-on-one video chats with writers I mentor, helping them address their challenges. Email is great, but sometimes gems are hidden not in what is written, but what is said and the way it’s said. Expressions. Body language. You know what I mean. There are times when words are insufficient to convey all we’re experiencing. So the video chats could be really helpful in getting the full scope in situations.

Any parting words?
I just want to say thank you. For your interest, for welcoming me, for the many kindnesses that have been extended my way. I’m very grateful for it all. There are similarities in the CBA and ABA, but there are many differences, too. It’s a blessing to have people share and seek expertise and to engage in the free exchange with such care and warmth. I’ve just been overwhelmed by that—in the nicest way.

Thanks for sharing with us, Vicki!
Thank you.

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