Vicki Hinze's Blog, page 3
August 2, 2014
August 1, 2014
©2014, Vicki Hinze
This is, once again, a tough time for believers.
We’re bombarded by news of Christian genocide occurring in an astounding number of nations. Anti-religion attacks are abundant and the challenges created directly impact our lives to varying degrees. We watch a nation condemned and challenged for self-defense against a broadly funded terrorist organization, and we are stunned at the hypocrisies being voiced by so many on so many fronts that it’s hard not to become depressed, not to feel oppressed, and it’s harder not to resent.
A spiritual war is being inflicted—without and within.
Believers struggle to embrace the tenants of their faith and to reject the impulses and temptations to give in and give up when all these challenges in the physical world diametrically oppose the instructions, directions and laws of the spiritual world.
We are flooded with and strive to absorb all that’s wrong and attempt to slot it, to put it all in its proper place, to view it through our spiritual prism and process it in a constructive way. Often, we succeed. But there are times—moments or seasons—when we fail, and a despondency sets in. And if we didn’t know we become acutely aware that it’s a long fall from spiritual calm to spiritual chaos.
But at those times, when we are so close to losing our tenuous grasp on hope, something happens that restores our spiritual balance. Something happens to remind us that goodness and beauty remain and the precipice of the chaotic fall no longer threatens us at core level.
Yesterday, we all had the opportunity to experience such a moment. An opportunity to witness true spiritual liberty within being released into the world and its ability to impact every single witness open to being impacted. (In other words, everyone paying attention or noticing.) That opportunity came, as these spiritual-balancers often do, through an unusual source: Eboli.
Yes, the deadly virus infecting and killing so many in Liberia. That Eboli. And, no, I haven’t slipped over the edge into insanity. Bear with me. Inspiration truly does come in all forms and bad can indeed be turned for good.
Photo Credit: wral.com
There was a doctor and a nurse who went to Liberia to treat the sick. That in itself is an affirmation that goodness in people still exists, is present and active in today’s beleaguered world. But then tragedy struck. The doctor and the nurse, being in close contact with the afflicted, were infected with Eboli.
Eboli doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t separate good and evil, people helping or hurting others. It just kills. And there is no cure.
The physical condition of both the doctor and the nurse deteriorated. An experimental serum provided a glimmer of hope. But there was only enough serum for one patient—the doctor or the nurse.
How does anyone choose which one of them gets it? Picture yourself, agonizing over making the call. Giving one the glimmer of a chance to live and denying that glimmer to the other. What a horrific burden, this decision. We cringe, grateful we weren’t the one being forced to make it.
The doctor, who no doubt realized the agony of the burden, removed the challenge from others and took the decision upon himself. He instructed the health care professionals to give the serum—and the experimental glimmer of a chance—to the nurse.
He chose to sacrifice himself and very likely his life for the chance to spare another. That she might live.
Some will say that’s proof chivalry isn’t dead. Some will say the man was crazy; being equal, the doctor and nurse should have flipped a coin or some such impartial thing to decide. But then there are others.
There are believers who, familiar with the Scriptures, know we are charged to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) And that mandate logically leads us to associate the doctor’s selfless act to John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
People all over will interpret this one action by this one man in a variety of ways. Selfless. Befitting one who subjected himself to his Hippocratic oath. Amazingly generous. Crazy. Noble. Some will likely even call him sexist.
Before rendering an opinion, few fault-finders, I submit, will put themselves in his shoes, or in those of the nurse, and view the incident from their perspectives. More’s the pity because it is there we encounter understanding and seeds of wisdom. But that’s their free-will choice to make.
People of faith are apt to pause to view everything through its spiritual prism. In it, they will see the spiritual war. A man—a husband and father not eager to leave his family—choosing not just to talk the talk of faith but to walk the walk in faith. In it, they will see an admirable but ordinary man make an extremely difficult choice that put all he had to give on the line, and he didn’t punt, hedge or run away; he made the toughest call. He took up his cross and projected outwardly the man he is inwardly. In it, they will see a man who had a lot to lose willingly choose to sacrifice to spare another.
He might or might not even know that in doing so, he ignited a spark that grew to a flame in the hearts of millions of total strangers. Actually, I think that news would stun him. But truth is truth and he did ignite that spark and encourage the flame. He proved by his actions, by his character, that hope isn’t dead, and it isn’t weak. It’s strong and courageous, brave and honorable and heroic—worthy of emulation and admiration, and deserving of our respect and unstinting gratitude.
He proved to us all that hope lives.
At the time of this writing, we don’t yet know whether or not this doctor will live. He took a serious turn for the worst last night. What I do know is that either way he has gifted this troubled world with a legacy that is a blessing. Either way, he will never know how many lives he’s touched. Either way, he will never know how many others he inspired to embrace the character he has exhibited.
A few more tidbits for thought:
When the doctor made the decision to give the serum to the nurse, if he did so from a place of faith, he fully submitted his own fate, honoring and trusting as we all are urged to honor and trust.
A word on the nurse: Imagine how conflicted she must be. Faced with this choice. Fearing losing her glimmer of a chance, and fearing losing her life. Hearing what the doctor had done—given her the serum. How relieved she must have been—and oh-how difficult to receive this gift! Because on the heels of her elation she would feel the emotionally flooded, blunt-force weight of his sacrifice. Imagine…
Photo Credit: wral.com
Please pause a moment today and join me in responding to the prayer request (photo above). Let’s pray for the doctor and nurse. In gratitude for them and their efforts, for the restoration of their health, and for the gift of the affirmation of hope. *
July 31, 2014
Everyone Dies. Does Everyone Really Live?
Braveheart. Mel Gibson. In the movie his character commented that he didn’t want to die, but we all die. We don’t all really live.
That was the first time I heard that comment phrased in exactly that way, and it struck me as profound, as comments such as these often do. It also set me to thinking… Do any of us really live? And if so, how do we do it?
I’ve often thought of death and dying. When you sit in an ICU waiting room for six months watching your mother die, you think about it a lot.
You wonder a great deal, too. During that time, my mother and I discussed many things. She spoke often of her grandmother… a woman who died long before I was born.
Our essence is woven into those we leave behind.
Yesterday, I spent the day with my granddaughter. I was recovering from a medical procedure and my angel (4) was home with an ear infection. It seemed like the perfect day for a PJ and movie day together, so her Mom went off to work and my Angel spent the day with her Gran.
We played board games and Uno. She taught me how to use her Leapster. We pulled out my mother’s jewelry and polished our nails. We talked about all manner of things, including my mother and her love for reading and ancient history. But we didn’t go back beyond that generationally, and I realized that we hadn’t.
I recall reading in the Bible that generations pass and are forgotten. I understand why. If we focused intently on the past, when would the upcoming generation look forward to the future? And yet realizing that saddened me. My angel had never met my mother, and while my daughter could tell her a great deal about my mom, I could share far more. And she was a remarkable woman.
I looked back. I recall many things about my grandmother, but we weren’t close in the way I am with my grandchildren. We lived away, and that makes for different bonds. And so I look ahead to my grandchildren and see that they’re in pretty much the same position when it comes to my mother. Unless I talk about her, they really have no frame of reference. No sense of personal history.
And I realize that the same will be true of the next generation and the next. We will pass down tidbits about those who came before us, but we can’t justly translate their essence.
And so when nap time came yesterday, and my Angel curled up on one end of the sofa, and I on the other, and she drifted off, so did I. She drifted into sleep. I drifted into thought.
Every woman wants to leave an immortal mark as much as any man ever wanted to do so. If there’s a difference, I think it’s in the type of legacy we leave behind. It isn’t about the things we owned or the wealth we’ve amassed. It’s the essence of us. Who we were, what we thought, what mattered to us and why.
Each generation must come into its own, but if our legacy is strong and good and solid, then they can go further in their lives than we did in ours because their starting point is further down the line and more developed. We, their predecessors, were their foundation. And that, I think, is our true legacy–being the shoulders upon which they can stand to extend their reach.
Every mother wants better and more for her child. But does every mother define more clearly? Better and more what?
We want our kids to have things we didn’t have. Opportunities and possessions. But we want other things for them, too. Important things. We want them to be at peace with themselves. To be strong in the face of inescapable challenges and capable of caring for themselves. We want them to feel confident and content, and most of all, we want them to be well loved.
These are not things we can pass from generation to generation via a Last Will and Testament. These are not things we can just tell them and they’ll embrace and own them forever.
These are things they grow into and through by living. The way we live is an example to them of our history. It is the manifestation of our essence. They witness and know us. They see us face challenges and how we react to them. They grasp us at soul level, and it is that essence they embrace or shun as part of their own because it is or isn’t something they want to become part of their own essence, in their own lives. If we love them well, then they know what being loved well and loving well is, what it entails and its value.
We are our history. Our kids carry bits of us in them and make those bits a part of their history that they pass on to their kids, and that passage continues on, generation to generation.
Ancestors’ names might be forgotten or never known. Occupations might be mysteries. Circumstances of daily life might fade into the hands of time.
But our essence is interwoven into the fabric of those we leave behind.
I watch my granddaughter sleep the sleep of the innocent. I look at her pink cheeks and the way her mouth parts just a bit. I study the steady rise and fall of her little chest, and my heart is full.
Yes, everyone dies. I accept it. I’m not eager to do it, but I accept it. Does everyone really live? Yes. Everyone lives. Some just live better than others.
But that, I now know, isn’t the real question. The real question is…
Do we pause and look outside ourselves long enough to notice?❧
July 29, 2014
Last weekend, the largest writing organization in the world held its annual conference, which includes an awards ceremony honoring choices for novels of the year in various categories.
Since then, I’ve been flooded with questions about how writers should slant what they write, or choose what to write, based on increasing the writer’s odds of their novels winning awards and honors.
Let’s keep it simple. Don’t.
Awards and honors are lovely. They’re affirmations of honing craft and confirmation that others notice the extra pains writers take to choose just the right story, characters, details–all of the things that writers must choose to craft their best possible novel.
Some say to do this–to craft novels for specific purposes like contests or competitions, which is, at bottom line, just another way of saying: write to the market. And many writers who have done so, have been successful in their efforts. Many more, have not.
So how have the ones who have been successful managed to be successful?
If you examine the work closely, you’ll see that the writers who are best at this are ones who choose to write commercial fiction that is in line with their own author’s theme. Author theme. What does that mean?
It means the author is writing stories and characters that are natural to him or her down to perceptions like which details should be included in the stories and why. Every author, no matter how objective s/he strives to be, will gravitate toward and view every aspect of the novel through his or her personal prism. S/he can’t escape that because it’s ingrained down to the way the author thinks, how s/he structures, even his/her thought patterns. Cause and effect are run through the writer’s filters. Bluntly put, everything runs through the author’s filter. What s/he deems important, insignificant, worthy–heroic, villainous; personal philosophy is as ingrained as the author.
So if a story comes naturally to a writer, and its elements are aligned with a contest or awards program or a specific market, naturally odds for success in that competition increase. If not, the odds are diminished. It’s not a case of a better book, it’s a case of a more aligned book.
Aligned to what?
Aligned to the competition dictates and to reader expectations. Yes, judges are readers. If they’re judging a thriller, they expect thriller elements. If a mystery, then they expect mystery elements. Romance? You’ve got it–romance elements.
If a writer is studying craft and writing for commercial publication, early on s/he learns the golden rule: Never mess with reader expectations.
That’s not to say you can’t surprise a reader, but if that reader bought a mystery, there’d better be one in the book. Substituting a Nobel worthy literary piece isn’t going to result in a happy reader. S/he wanted a mystery, you published a “mystery” (or submitted a mystery to a competition) and there’d best be one in the book or fur’s going to fly.
If writing to competition expectations isn’t natural to you, and you aren’t wholly invested in the writing, you might do a competent job but the work will lack the magic. What’s that?
It’s all the intangibles that come together with all the novel elements that make the writing and storytelling special. The subliminal tapping of emotions that can’t be injected, applied topically, or faked. The writer has to feel it to include it, and either way–feel it or its absence–the reader senses it, knows it, and reacts to it.
That reader might not be able to tag it specifically, but s/he will be aware that something is missing and the work suffers for it.
So if you’re going to write for awards and honors, or for a commercial market, then make sure you’re entering the right competition and targeting the right market for you. One that is aligned with your author theme. One that fires your enthusiasm and your emotions. One that embraces the story you are burning to tell and celebrates the way you choose to tell it.
In other words, write for your readers.
I’ve long been an advocate of writing for a specific purpose. But that purpose has never been to win awards or be honored. It’s always been tied to healing. That’s my author theme. When someone reads one of my books, my hope is the reader who is suffering a similar challenge can be encouraged. If the character can survive, endure, find a constructive solution to his/her challenge, then a constructive solution exists. And if the character found it, then the reader can, too.
Note that this purpose impacts the writer on multiple levels. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically–all of which will be manifested in the story because they have manifested in the writer. By creative osmosis, they then will be in the book and available to the reader. That’s purpose with . . . well, purpose.
Now many of the books have won awards. But that wasn’t the driving force in writing them. And that’s worth noting.
I love quotes and sayings, as most of you know. I’m recalling one that goes something like Where the mind goes, the body follows. No clue who wrote it, but when I hear it through my author filter, what I hear is: Where the heart goes, the body and mind follow.
If you love what you write, it shows. It obvious ways and in ones that aren’t obvious to the eye but are absorbed with the mind and felt in the heart. Those are the books that touch the minds and hearts of readers.
Some times those books win awards. Sometimes they don’t but they touch the lives of readers. In my humble opinion, that is the best win. And the sweetest reward.
I hope this helps!
P.S. There’s an article on Author Theme in the On Writing Library on www.vickihinze.com in the On Writing blog.
July 25, 2014
What’s in Your Body of Work?
I love and collect quotes. I came across one a couple days ago that totally speaks to the writer in me:
“In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
I read Mr. Emerson’s words and thought, “Perfect. Exactly the right goal and aspiration and tone for a writer who writes first with purpose.”
And that made me wonder. How many writers actually identify their goal for their writing? Not what or how much or when they write, but what they hope the work will achieve? What message it will convey to readers? How many writers have defined that message? How many have a clear sense of self and the role it plays in their work?
Is this something that most writers think about? Or do they drift story to story, writing the books they choose for a purpose defined only by that work and not by their entire body of work?
I’ve pondered on this quite a bit lately–sitting with one’s eyes closed can assist one in seeing the less-than-obvious quite clearly (eye surgery)–and I know writers who do both. Or ones who flip from one position–by the book–to the other–by the body of work. And that got me to thinking about Author Theme.
If we examine an author’s body of work, we do see a recurring theme in all of the books. It doesn’t matter what genre they’re written in, what classification tags have been assigned to them; plot and tone and characters can vary widely, but the underlying author’s theme remains intact.
It is the reflection of the author herself. Her perspective, ideas, attitudes and dreams. Readers see and believe and are led to accept what the author wants us to see and believe and accept. We react to the assets the writer employs. That theme might be healing or redemption or cowardice. It might be independence or protection or betrayal. Loyalty, abuse, or dealing with issues such as illness. Small town, city life. Regardless, every author has a theme.
Writers often say, I want to make the bestseller list. I want to be published in hard cover. I want to be sent on tour. I want larger print runs, more money, broader audiences. All of that is fine–and business aspects should be addressed by those writers who write to sell. But can writers write-to-sell and have a defined goal for their body of work? Do they? That’s the question of interest to me.
When I first started writing, I set a standard for myself on the books I write. I must love them. That’s shorthand, of course, and I know what it takes for me to love a book enough to be willing to invest a share of my life into writing it.
For me, that love includes purpose. Every book I write, every story I plot, has a purpose that resonates with me and that I hope will resonate with readers. So that they will see something just a little differently after reading the book than they did before reading it. Something that turns on a light, broadens a perspective, shows that options exist and anyone can utilize them if they choose to do so and act on the choice.
So writing with purpose isn’t a new concept to me. But those goals have defined the purpose for writing a specific book–each specific book. I’ve never before considered them in relation to the body of work I’m creating.
My body of work has not had a defined purpose. It has not had a single goal that can be attributed to all of the books except in the broadest of terms. I’ve been remiss!!!
So begins my exploration for that specific body-of-work purpose–and Mr. Emerson’s quote, for me, defines it perfectly. I have a starting point,
I am a genius. Not bragging or complaining, just stating a fact with no more or less importance placed on it than on the fact that I am a woman. I had nothing to do with either designation or attribute; the characteristics were divined, like having blonde hair, blue eyes and a crooked nose. But recognition of the human condition? That, I–we all–can choose to do. To notice, acknowledge and either accept or reject. And I can choose the value I place on that recognition. Every human being can. Every writer can.
And that’s now the mission. To clearly define my goal for the body of work I’m creating, recognizing the human condition and the value in it.
Mr. Emerson’s insight humbles me. How brilliant he was to recognize and verbalize the importance of this. At times, our own rejected thoughts do come back to us both alien and majestic.
And at times, from a mere few words strung together with purpose by someone who has pondered life and humanity and the human heart, we glimpse the mysteries and discover that which we had failed to notice or recognize. We become aware of what we had neglected.
That awareness is a valuable gift. In it is an opportunity to change that circumstance. A chance to redefine our purpose, to hone it so that it becomes clearer to us in our vision of what we want to do with our lives.
Writing requires physical work, yes. But it carries equal demands on our emotions–the method through which we connect with readers–and spiritually–our shared perspectives, attitudes, fears and ideas and hopes and dreams. We relay our experiences, define the world and people around us. We attribute qualities that appeal and repulse us. Through our stories and the characters in them, we live.
And life, being precious and elusive and ours for only a short time, should be lived with intention. The clearer our vision of what we hope to accomplish through our writing, the more successful we are at defining and fulfilling intent.
I’m reminded of something I once heard about the end of life. I can’t quote it directly; it’s been a long time since I heard it. But it was about not reaching the end of life neat and tidy. It was about skidding in sideways, exhausted and used up, thinking, “What a ride!”
Used up, as in replete, content and satisfied that you’d explored all that most mattered to you. Without regret that you’d always played by the rules and always ended up on the short end of the stick without much satisfaction to show for a tremendous amount of effort.
All mortal life ends. It’s how it’s lived that matters. I kind of like that skidding in sideways visual image–so I’m going to keep it and Mr. Emerson’s insight in mind and further define my body-of-work goals.
Hmm. Two lines of text and it’s been on my mind for three days. I’ve read hundred-thousand-word books that didn’t linger three hours. Haven’t you? Imagine… To have that kind of residual effect, to have someone read your book and then ponder on it as it relates to their own life… Now that’s a goal for a body of work, isn’t it? ❖
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Christmas Countdown (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website:Facebook. Books. Twitter. www.vickihinze.com. Newsletter. Notice New Releases.
July 24, 2014
July 21, 2014
The new CLEAN READ Edition of Duplicity takes the torch to continue the Independence Celebration!
Military Romantic Thriller
Please note: Duplicity was first published for the general market by St. Martin’s Press. In 2014, it was rewritten as a Clean Read novel and published by Magnolia Leaf Press. (Clean Read: no foul language, no excessive violence, and any bedroom doors in the book are closed.)
Would you ruin your career for a man you know is guilty?
On the cusp of realizing her dream as a career military attorney, Captain Tracy Keener is ordered to defend Captain Adam Burke, a Special Operations officer who caused the deaths of his entire team. Everyone knows he’s guilty and defending him will cost Tracy her career, but she has no choice.
Captain Burke swears he was framed. Swears he’d acted under orders. Swears things that can’t possibly be true: breaches requiring corruption at the highest levels, the deliberate sacrifice of an entire military team. Impossible!
Until they’re proven fact. Under cease and desist orders and then threats to drop the case and let Burke go down, Tracy and Adam rebel, push for truth. . . and are targeted for assassination. To their horror, they discover others too are marked for death—millions of Americans Adam and she swore an oath to defend at any cost, including their own lives.
Yet to really succeed, Tracy and Adam must risk more than their lives. They must risk their hearts. That proves far harder, trapped in an intricate web of Duplicity.
Special Event on HER PERFECT LIFE Continues…
20% of net proceeds support the Wounded Warrior Project
c2012, Vicki Hinze
On awakening, like everyone else, I have my rituals. One of them is to read from the Bible and then to pull a quote for the day and reflect on how the two–the reading and the quote–interrelate. The quote for today is:
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” -Edith Wharton
There are a lot of ways to look at that quote. And I expect one sees in it what they’re looking for at the time. Today, my interpretation of it is that we’re all both candles and mirrors at different points in time on different issues and in different situations.
I think that’s a good thing. When we’re capable of creating paths (whether we really want to walk them or we feel compelled to walk them for the greater good), of doing things that need doing (pleasant or not), or we take action to make situations better, we’re the candle.
When we are the candle, we emit light into shadows and darkness and others see it and find their way or reflect it, emulating us, like mirrors. When your children mimic your actions. If you ask them for something and always say thank you, then they automatically do, too. When you treat others with respect, conduct yourself with dignity and grace, then others are more apt to treat you that way, as well. Not certain to, but more apt to. With free will, that’s the best you can do: be responsible for yourself.
When you’re the candle, you choose what light you cast. Knowing others reflect it, you should aspire to have it be the best you have to give.
When others are the candle and we act in harmony with them, then we are the mirror that reflects their light. This is why it is so important to choose those you surround yourself with carefully. If the light they cast is negative, harmful, hurtful–either inflicted directly or condoned–then you reflect it. If it is positive and constructive and helpful–either inflicted directly or condoned–then you reflect it.
c2012, Vicki Hinze
When you’re the mirror–and at times we all are–then you don’t choose good or bad, right or wrong, negative or positive, or destructive or constructive. You simply reflect.
I’m being nudged this morning to write this post, and I never question spiritual nudgings. But this reads like a lecture on life, and I guess when you get down to it, it is. Yet like everything else it does apply to writing.
Writing is all about characters–people–and if you don’t believe that, take Scarlet and Rhett out of GONE WITH THE WIND and see what you’ve got left. Since writing is about people, it is a mirror that reflects light.
Which makes the point of this that every author is a candle. And all the fiction the author produces is a mirror that reflects the light from her candle. That is a compass for authors to consider the impact of what they write. To consider the light they emit that others will mirror and reflect.
Carrying this one step further, solely into the fictional world, the characters are candles or mirrors, too. As writers, we serve them well by remembering that.
I hope this helps–and because I know someone is going to ask, I’ll just answer the why question now.
I get these nudges often, and when I do, I heed them and post. Without fail, someone who gains some something from the post emails to say so. That’s held true in all the ten years (or whatever it’s been now) that I’ve done writing posts. At first, I considered it coincidence. Now I accept that in these posts, I’m not the candle. I’m a mirror.
* * * * * *
July 18, 2014
ARE YOU FRIGID?
Years ago, I was doing a workshop at a writer’s conference and opened the session asking that simple question: Are you frigid? It caused quite a stir, but it shouldn’t have. It is a question that every writer should ask him- or herself continually.
First, what is a frigid writer? It is a writer trapped in shackles. One who is so fearful of others’ reactions to what s/he is writing that the writer tiptoes around, backs off, backs away from any-and-every thing and becomes frigid—blocked from writing anything worth reading.
Writers do this when they edit so much that they edit the voice right out of their stories. They do it when they don’t write a story in the way they feel it should be written because they worry about reactions or commentary—that of their spouse, children, readers, editors, agents, or their pastor, friends—you name it. Someone, the writer fears, will take exception to the story and give the writer a hard time. Someone will shame or embarrass the writer before other people. In his or her own way, the writer compromises, takes a path of less resistance. The story suffers for it, but the writer is more at ease.
Writers get frigid when a story element doesn’t fit inside the proverbial box. It pushes the edge of established boundaries or the dictates established for a genre. It’s different. Odd. Unusual. Rather than going with one’s own instincts, the writer will pull back, crawl back inside the box and do the expected, the normal, the typical. That’s a frigid writer.
The frigid writer plays it safe. That can work out well for him or her or be a disaster, and there’s no way to predict which way it will go. Let me explain.
Safe writer might find it easier to get and stay published. The work is competent and fits nicely into an established marketing niche. The agent/editor reads the work, recognizes the typical marketing hooks, typical conflicts, typical resolutions. S/he knows s/he can sell x numbers of copies to readers already reading these types of books. So the editor buys, publishes and the books sell as expected.
Conversely, catch that same editor or agent on a different day with the normal, typical story/characters/plot, and s/he sighs, yawns. There’s no enthusiasm or excitement. Now remember that agents/editors view hundreds of queries, stories per month. This is one more of the same, the same, the same. Today, this agent/editor is looking for something different. Something that incorporates the typical but takes it in a new direction. Twists expectations and travels to a new place. That arouses excitement, interest, enthusiasm. It’s risky, but the risks are manageable. The editor sees how this work will fit into its existing publishing program and still break new ground. That gets the blood pumping…today.
The question becomes which day is the right today for your book? You have no control over that. The book goes to the editor—either direct or through the agent—and when the editor chooses to take a look, s/he does. A bit random, you see, so definitely out of your control.
Whether it’ll be a I want a safe project or I want a trendsetter project day, even the editor might not know. In either, the work must be strong enough to convince that editor/agent that this work, typical or atypical, is special enough to warrant publication.
Because of that stroke of luck being out of the writer’s control, the writer really should weigh his/her choices on content and make a decision on playing it safe or setting a trend (potentially) deliberately. What’s right for one author won’t be right for another.
I don’t advocate any writer ever write something that s/he finds embarrassing, humiliating, or degrading. That isn’t exercising avoidance and being frigid. It’s exercising good judgment and common sense.
A writer is the utmost advocate of his/her work. S/he must therefore believe in the work. See value in it. Support it. Stand up for it. If what the writer has written puts the writer in a position where s/he can’t or won’t do that, then it’s the wrong thing to do. Change the story until you can get behind it without reservation.
Do think about your work. Ask yourself if you’re being frigid to avoid negative reactions or if you’re restraining to exercises good judgment and common sense.
The first, the frigidity, will come through in the work. Readers will sense it. Perhaps not consciously but on a subliminal level, they’ll sense it and detach. Actually, that sense will inhibit them from ever attaching to the work. That’s breaking the bond between author and reader, and that’s a sacred bond no writer deliberately breaks.
The bottom line is that the writer needs to ask and answer the question. To know the risks and the costs of either decision. S/he can afford to take chances. S/he can’t afford to be frigid. It alienates readers and honestly it will be a heavy burden for the writer to carry also. One that can not only steal the joy in writing but alienate the writer from writing just as it alienates readers.
So again, I call the question and strongly advise every writer to answer it: Are you frigid?
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.