USA Today Bestseller Vicki Hinze — A Publishing Pioneer

By Bayard & Holmes

 

USA Today Bestseller Vicki Hinze

USA Today Bestseller Vicki Hinze

 

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 thirty-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.

Vicki, 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. 

You’re known through the publishing world for your original ideas, such as creating limited edition, multi-author ebook collections. In keeping with your reputation, you just launched a new web site that allows your readers to connect on a private social media site. Could you please tell us more about this?

Readers Group News Community is a community I created for my Readers. Those who get my Newsletter are eligible for the Community and everything there. I’ve gotten to know many of my readers, and they’re great people. I thought they might enjoy having a place where they can meet and get to know one another. I also didn’t want our conversations and interactions to always be all about me. I want to know more about them, too. A community where we can chat and interact seemed like the answer, so I thought we’d give it a try and see how they like it.

So far, I’d say they like it very much. There are recommendations for books that are free and on sale, virtual exercise buddies and virtual walk videos (Venice and Australia and other cool places). A place to share recipes. Contests. A place to celebrate whatever anyone is celebrating, chats–and well, all kinds of things.

Readers Group News Community is new, but the responses and feedback thus far have been great. The site has been busy, that’s for sure.

Anyone signing up for my newsletter receives an invitation to join us. People are encouraged to do as little or as much there as they like. It’s not supposed to be “another thing I have to do” for anyone. It’s supposed to be a place where you can get support if you need it, someone to cheer with you, or you can recommend a book you read and enjoyed so others can read and enjoy it, too.

My goal in creating Readers Group News Community was to give Readers a place that isn’t so overwhelming and is more intimate and focused, where you can interact and grow friendships. Readers clearly like the idea of it, so that bodes well for the community long-term.

Sounds like a brilliant way to connect with your readers and provide them with a way to connect with you and each other. We predict many authors will follow your lead, as they so often do, and reader communities will become familiar throughout the writing world.

Thank you so much for sharing your time and insights with us. It’s been an honor to have you at our site today.

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Vicki The Marked Bride

 

Our sincere thanks to this lovely, talented lady whose big heart and talent are legend in the writing world. Her latest release is THE MARKED BRIDE, first in the Shadow Watchers series. Would you turn to the man that you dumped at the altar and ask him to risk his life for you? When terrorists kill and threaten to kill again, do you really have any choice? You can find this and Vicki’s other bestselling books at her website, Vicki Hinze, along with inspiring posts, common sense, and resources for both writing and life.

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The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Funeral Selfies

Funeral Selfies? Yes, They Do Exist

Proving once again that bad taste on social media has no boundaries. Apparently, taking selfies at funerals and other serious places like Chernobyl, Pearl Harbor, ad Auschwitz is the new trend.

Click on the title for the text version.

gFuneral Selfie

For the rest of the Mashup and the Campaign Style Question of the Week, come on over to our new site, and remember to subscribe when you get there. We want to bring you all with us!

Bayard & Holmes

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . .

Funeral Selfies

Rise of the Machines and the WANAMama

By Piper Bayard

She has many names–WANAMama, Writerchik, the Death Star–but you may know her as Kristen Lamb. Fiction writer, blogger, and social media maven. I met her just over three years ago on a patio in Ft. Worth. She was gesticulating wildly, glass of wine in hand, and Texas-twang-talking a mile a minute about antagonists and log lines. It was a watershed moment in my career.

Author Kristen Lamb

I thought I was safe behind a few other writers as I listened, hoping I wouldn’t catch her eye. Then she looked straight at me and asked me, “Do you blog?”

Me: “Blog? . . . Isn’t that cousin to The Creature from the Black Lagoon?”

Kristen: “In the Internet Age, every writer needs a social media platform if they are going to be taken seriously and be viable in today’s market. But here’s the good news. We are not alone.”

And so it began. She was writing a book about her approach to author platform building on social media–WANA, standing for We Are Not Alone. She adopted me as her guinea pig for her methods because she had never met anyone who knew less about social media. As her experiment, I began to blog and started Facebook and Twitter accounts. Major steps for a technophobe.

The result? In three years, I have a social media platform that reaches over two million people. My debut dystopian thriller, FIRELANDS, hit #21 at Amazon for Science Fiction/Genetic Engineering the day I announced it, and it now has a dozen or so five-star reviews from people I’ve never met. After six weeks, FIRELANDS is still sitting at #11 for Young Adult/Dystopia at Kobo, which is pretty amazing since it isn’t even a YA book.

The point of telling you this is not to toot my own horn. It’s to let you know that Kristen’s WANA methods really work. Since I met her, Kristen’s WANA method has developed into three best-selling social media books, a popular new social media site for authors called WANA Tribe, a bi-annual online writers convention called WANACon featuring first class teachers and author keynotes, a series of online writing and social media classes, and her latest achievement, Rise of the Machines.

Rise of the Machines Cover

No one has the ability to interpret social media and what it means to authors and the changing publishing industry like Kristen does. She can take the most complicated information and translate it into a digestible and entertaining form, making it useful to noobs and New York Times best sellers, alike. I can’t recommend Kristen’s books or the WANA method highly enough.

Rise of the Machines is and author’s best friend. You can find it at Amazon.

This week over at Kristen’s site, she is devoting her efforts to an Apocalypse Week to celebrate the success of her guinea pig (me). Please visit her at Kristen Lamb’s Blog and enjoy her hysterical voice as she explores the more humorous aspects of total annihilation. Who else can talk about the Kardashians, e. bola, and apocalypse at the same time and make it funny? It starts here . . .

The Stuff of Legends–Creating a Character Apocalypse

by Kristen Lamb

Have a great week, everyone! Bayard & Holmes will be back next Monday with an update from Holmes on the Syrian situation.

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Field on Fire Canstock

FIRELANDS

Available from Amazon in Paperback and on Kindle

Also in e-book at Barnes & Noble and Kobo,

and at iTunes for iPad and mobile devices.

Everything I Need to Know about Twitter I Learned from Hospice

By Piper Bayard

As some of you know, I volunteered with Hospice for a time. I am also blessed with the best tweeps (Twitter friends) on the planet. So much so that lately a few people have come to me for advice about how to find such amazing tweeps. It’s simple. I treat everyone like they are about to die.

George Washington on His Deathbed by Junius Steams

No, I don’t ask them for their stuff. . . . Well, okay, there was this one woman. But I knew her melodramatic threats to kill herself with a spork while reading my first manuscript were completely insincere. I mean, she doesn’t even go camping to own a spork. Though come to think of it, I haven’t heard from her for a while. But I digress. . . .

This calls for a list. When people are dying . . .

1. We don’t judge them.

Their Judgement Day will come soon enough, and the Big It needs no assistance from us on that score.

2. We do listen to them.

In that moment, they are more important than we are so we keep our mouths shut and our ears open.

3. We do let them know they are heard.

This doesn’t mean we agree with everything they say. It means we validate that they said it. One way to let them know we heard them is to say, “That sounds . . .” Difficult, painful, amazing, intense, etc. I mean, when someone tells us their mom is in the ICU, it’s not hard to find an adjective. It does sound painful and intense. When they tell us the book contract came through, it does sound joyful.

4. We don’t argue.

Letting people know we heard what they said is not the same as agreeing with them so we are not violating our integrity when we refrain from disagreeing. “It sounds like you feel quite passionate about that.”

5. We don’t offer unsolicited advice.

Most of the time when we want to fix other people’s problems, it has nothing to do with being nice people. It’s because their misery is making us uncomfortable. So we understand that other peoples problems are not ours–we have plenty of our own–and we simply provide our presence unless they specifically ask for something more. “That sounds like a difficult situation.”

6. We don’t whine about our problems.

It’s one thing when we share the truth of our lives, such as our allergies, our sudden hospitalizations, or our sadness when a child leaves home. It’s another to whine about our hemorrhoids. (Note: Hemorrhoids are those pains in the butt that never really go away, like wretched stepmothers, drunken relatives, or abandonment issues.) Dying people may be interested in us, but NO ONE wants to hear about our life’s ‘hemorrhoids’.

7. We do validate their feelings.

When they say they are angry because a new jerk on their HOA board is going through their neighborhood counting dandelions and sending out violation notices, “I can see why you would be upset about that.”

8. We do validate their lives.

We read their words and comment on their pictures, and we let them know we are a witness to their existence. People need to know we see them.

9. We do find sincere, positive things to say.

We notice their accomplishments. We notice their efforts. We notice the beauty of the day.

10. We do show our gratitude.

We say thank you. Because every single time they share themselves with us, it is a gift we may never experience again. And every single time, they didn’t have to do it.

Making great Twitter friends is simple, because it’s like life. What we give is all that matters, and we may never get the chance to give to this person again. So treat everyone like they are dying.

Or, as William Shatner says, “Live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna.”

I’d love to chat with you while we’re here. Please follow me on Twitter at@piperbayard and say hello. I always follow back humans. You can also find some awesome Twitter friends at the hashtag #theconnecter.

What social media tips would you like to share, and how did you learn them?

My sincere gratitude to each of you for sharing this moment in time with me.


Enlarging Our Twitter Audience: Guest Post by Professional Network Builder Lonny Dunn

Today, I’m honored to welcome Lonny Dunn of ProNetworkBuild. Lonny is an amazing social media networker and the author of How to Use Twitter for Local Business, the only book ever written on how to build a large local following on Twitter and make meaningful, useful connections with Social Media. I’ve personally watched him grow Twitter accounts by over 50k followers within the past year. And they were real people, not just followback teams or bots. Today, Lonny is sharing his wisdom on why Twitter accounts that aren’t actively growing are stagnating.

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Enlarging Our Audience On Twitter

By LONNY DUNN

Twitter suggests we follow people when we open an account.  But, strangely, for various reasons, people stop following.  Maybe they hit a plateau or lose interest? Not following new people on a regular basis means we are not using Twitter properly. The reasons are highlighted in the short film clip above. Our audience is basically dying off faster than we can get new followers. As soon as we get 100 new followers, within a month, only 25 of them may still be active daily users.

We must pick a time to follow new people regularly.  If you are a big fan of FollowFriday, then start following on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.  If you follow 1,000 new people over the course of two days, you can expect at least 250 to follow you back, and about ten of them will say “Thanks for the Follow.” Engage those who reach out. An alternative system may be to follow 200 new people daily, stick with it, and create a pipeline of energy.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:

Writers tend to be supportive of other writers for example, but we are not exactly enriching the greater world if we are only supporting one another. We need to try following various groups and sample which groups work best. Sometimes I type in “Like My Facebook” into the Twitter Search feature. This means there are people who are crossmarketing on Facebook, and I will tweet to them, asking for the same kindness. Or we could look up “Pinterest” in search. We can use the Search feature to begin writing down names of accounts with like interests. Follow their Followers.

I use Tweepi to follow new people.

It is a free tool available to anyone, and I do not use the “Paid” version. At Tweepi.com you can log on, skip Step 2 and go right to “Follow New Tweeps” button. Also, it is important to click “Columns” and then Number of Followers, and Friends. I also click the Follower Ratio. I never follow anyone over 125% following ratio.

Did you know that your tweets appear at the top of the new follower’s timeline?

What a boost! After following you, your next tweet will pop up on the top of their list. What better form of advertising is that?  People who do not follow regularly don’t even realize this feature exists. It is like an auditorium, or movie theatre which rotates a new audience everyday or at intervals. When networks are expanding, they take on a life of their own. When they are stagnating, they burn out and lose influence.

Learn to Unfollow

This is important, especially when trying to get around Twitter follow limit of 2,000. When you reach this point, you will want to unfollow unproductive people, or those who haven’t tweeted in months to free up space for active tweeps. I use Tweepi for this. An article on this subject is available on my blog, Building An Audience On Twitter.

Pick a Number and Stick with It

Twitter’s daily follow limit is 1,000 which takes about an hour. You might not want to devote this much time to increasing your audience, but that gives you a good standard to work with. Whatever number you set, be disciplined and stick with that number for at least a month. After a day or so, you will see that new people spreading your content for you is far more exciting than older non growth accounts retweeting you.

Engage, Engage, Engage

As new people follow back, some will thank you for following them. Many of these are implying that they have followed you back, a good sign. The more we practice one on one engagement, the better we get at it.  Keep engaging. It is NOT cool to tweet them a link to your blog, and ask them to send it out. We must plant and sow before we harvest.

I will take questions you might have below. Instead of saying “Great Article, Lon” take this chance to ask some questions that you might have of a technical, strategic, or tactical nature. I will be glad to help you as best as I can, and in any way that I can to enlarge your audience.   Do you have a reluctance to grow your account?  Having problems figuring which accounts to follow?  Let me know, and I’ll answer your questions.  Bookmark this page. Maybe you’ll benefit from other people’s questions.

Lonny Dunn

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Lonny Dunn wrote The Thesaurus News online stockpicking newsletter from 1995 to 2001, focusing on Telephony Stocks, and Wireless Infrastructure.  Since then, he has helped small to medium businesses grow their online presence, managed Twitter Accounts for Celebs, and taught people how to use Twitter effectively and properly.  You can upload his latest book, How to Use Twitter for Local Business, using the free Kindle for PC application.

Lonny Dunn tweets at @ProNetworkBuild. Be sure to say hello. He’s one of the finest tweeps in the Twitterverse.

Thank you, Lonny!

Social Media: Costco or Lost in Space?

By Piper Bayard

I took the plunge into FaceBook and Twitter this week. You computer savvy folks might well ask, “So what?” To that I would answer that when I was growing up, technology was a dishwasher that didn’t have two feet and answer to “Junior.” This was a big deal to me. So let me tell you what I found as an alien on my own planet. . . .

In the beginning, Facebook was like my first trip to Costco. So much stuff! So many people! There’s the buddy who got me into social media over by that stack of self-help books, the extended family who probably don’t remember me next to the mashed potatoes, and the “Is she really still alive?” on the chair in the pharmacy section. How cool is that? I was like a kid stumbling with wonder through Toyland.

Then it happened. I tripped over that friend of a friend I hadn’t spoken to in twenty years. The one who knows too much. The warning went off in my head. “Danger, Will Robinson!” That’s when I realized that my jaunt through surreal surprises of seemingly endless stacks of stuff might be more like one of those sci fi shows where you think you’re in paradise, only to find you’re really Lost in Space.

Allow me to explain. If you think about it, everything that ever happened is still happening if you just look from the right vantage point. For example. Anyone 20 light years out in space can look back and see exactly what you were doing twenty years ago. Sort of a creepy thought, huh? Someone could still see you TP-ing their prized, new truck on a damp night so that it would set into a “body cast,” or tying your college suitemate’s door shut to make her boyfriend have to climb out the second story window. *whistles innocently* Anyway, though such things are long past in our awareness, they’re still happening if you’re looking from the right spot in the time/space continuum.

Facebook is the same way. Sure enough. There’s Truck Boy. Wonder how long that TP stuck in the crannies between the cab and the topper? And Suitemate. Has Hell frozen over yet for her to forgive me? (That was her timeline, not mine.) I pause with trepidation. To friend request, or not to friend request? Will the memories of stolen kisses, wild road trips, and shared losses be enough renew the latent bonds of ages past? Or are there still good reasons we didn’t keep in touch? . . . What the hell? Space is supposed to be an adventure, right?