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Kansascity http://socialinkansascity.com Join The Fun! Thu, 15 Mar 2018 06:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Color Me Happy–Again and Again and Again http://socialinkansascity.com/color-me-happy-again-and-again-and-again/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 06:00:00 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/?p=5015 Color Me Happy, Vicki Hinze

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Color Me Happy—Again and Again and Again


 Vicki Hinze


Inspiration can come at you from any direction, at any time, and in any form.  The thing isn’t whether or it will come, it’s whether or not we’ll notice it when it comes.  And beyond that, if we’ll notice that it comes again and again—and then again.  Let me explain…


In 1994 or so, I wrote a trilogy of books set at Seascape Inn, a bed and breakfast in Maine.  St. Martin’s Press published them, and they did well.  That was that—or so I thought.  What I couldn’t have known then is these books would be back.


Almost two years ago, I licensed the books a second time, to Bell Bridge Books.  They reissued them with spiffy new covers (and disclosed to my readers the original publications so there’d be no confusion.)  Then Bell licensed large print and audio and then asked if I’d be willing to do a “clean reads” version of the books for another license.  I did, so now there’s a general market version, audio, electronic, trade print, and a clean read version in electronic and hard cover.


Who could have expected all this on three books I wrote nearly two decades ago?


Now a little history.  When I wrote the books, they were part of the first known open-ended continuity series of single title novels.  I co-created this series and received a career achievement award for this new trail, which was a perk—I love doing what hasn’t been done, trying to make something new work!  Anyway, my point isn’t how it resulted, but that it was new and different and risky.  So much so that my then agent didn’t want to submit the books to publishers.  I said fine and did it myself.  I submitted to five publishers and four were interested.  I went to New York and discussed the project with them and went with St. Martin’s.  The editor was excited about the project, bouncing in her chair.  So while she didn’t offer the most money, she clearly had captured the vision and bubbled enthusiasm.  That most mattered, especially because this was new and risky.  Oh, I fired the non-visionary agent, too.  (If she opposed risks, it wasn’t a good match, though she’s a good agent.  Just not right for me.)  So everything worked out well for everyone.


Fast forward to 2011 and the new licenses to Bell.  I’m going to include an article I wrote at the time because it speaks to mindset, but also to your writing never being done and over and finished.  Writers need to know that, and to understand that it isn’t a matter of repurposing books, though that can be done too, it’s that stories written with purpose, based on universal principles, can find homes in human hearts indefinitely.  That’s the message I want to share today in this article.


Here’s the original article—Color Me Happy!

I heard on the news this morning that a study’s been done and if you’re an optimist it’s because the frontal lobe in your brain is malfunctioning.  Have you ever heard such utter nonsense?


Look, life’s tough.  Nobody reaches puberty much less adulthood without enduring a broken heart, emotions that run the breadth of the stratosphere, and a couple head-on collisions with brick walls.  That’s called life and growing up.  Not brain malfunction.


Optimism is a choice.  The day is coming anyway.  It’s going to unfold anyway.  Now it can unfold with me having a good attitude, making the most I can make of the day, or it can unfold with me having a bad attitude, wasting the chance to make anything good of the day because I’m tied up griping about it, being depressed about it, or being snagged and tossed into the pit of despair.  Regardless, the day will unfold.


The griping, depressed, pit of despair doesn’t sound at all appealing so I’m not going there.  Period.  I choose to use my functioning-fine brain and see the glass as half full.  It’s a choice.  A choice I make. That’s fair, since I live it.


Color Me Happy, Lemonade, Vicki Hinze

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com

I didn’t just get this attitude; I’ve had it as long as I can remember.  It’s probably a pretty good thing because life sure throws us a lot of opportunities to make lemonade, now doesn’t it?  I got lucky.  I happen to love lemonade.


So I was having not a single glass but a pitcher full, and this truth about life settled in.  It’s a choice.


I was contemplating my next writing project and deciding what path I wanted to take.  I stood at a proverbial crossroads, so to speak.  Anyway, that it’s a choice kept going through my mind. And then reaching for a fresh glass of lemonade, a thought struck me:  What if you didn’t seem to have a choice?


Ooh, I didn’t much like that.  It shot holes in my theory.  Made leaky my façade that I at least had a little control of my life.  No one likes those kinds of theories becoming sieves right before their eyes—and yet I couldn’t shove the thought away.  What if I didn’t have a choice?  Mmm, couldn’t fight it.  I was intrigued.


So what happens?  Say you are pretty banged up from life battles and you’re chugging lemonade by the barrel.  Say you’ve looked at the problems and now you’re focusing on the solutions only there are none.  You’ve been robbed.  Your choice is MIA—and you’re stuck.  I don’t mean figuratively.  I mean literally.  What do you do now?


That’s the situation that led to the Seascape novels. Led to the first one, Beyond the Misty Shore, specifically.

Being stuck doesn’t exactly inspire you to be in the most receptive frame of mind.  Sunshine is arrogant when you’re grieving, right?  But isn’t it true that the worst possible time is always when the most important things happen?

It has been in my life, and it is in T.J.’s too.  He’s the guy stuck in Beyond the Misty Shore.  Toss in a woman who loves to hate him, and the wise Seascape innkeeper (who seems to know everything but won’t just tell anyone anything because “some things are best learned firsthand”), a colorful cast and Maine cliffs and a little otherworldly intervention, and, well, T.J. has his work cut out for him, doesn’t he?


Don’t feel too bad for him.  We’ve all been there.  And, you know, sometimes when we’re broken, we have to really hurt to ever get beyond the pain.  We have to figure out that we can heal before we do heal.  Eventually, we get it.  And when we do, magic happens.  We no longer just survive.  We truly live.


Gee, I’m misting up here.  I think I’ll pack a bag and go visit Seascape Inn again . . . just as soon as I finish this glass of lemonade.


So okay, that’s the original article and how inspiration for a series came:  news article, a truth about life revealed (we choose our reactions), and noticing inspiration had arrived and its purpose.


The book, I’d thought, had served its purpose.  I was wrong.  I discovered it on this series, in the new opportunities that kept arising.  And I also became aware of a few opportunities I missed.


So the overall point?  Color yourself happy, notice inspiration, and just because you think you’re done, that doesn’t mean you’re done, so continue to notice and act on sparks of inspiration.  Remember, inspiration can come to you in any form, at any time, from anywhere.  Knowing all that potential is there should color us all happy!


 * * * * * * * * * * *

writing live

Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze


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. Some releases are: Beyond the Misty Shore (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: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.



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SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers…Taking the Fiction Out of Fiction http://socialinkansascity.com/spycraft-essentials-for-writers-taking-the-fiction-out-of-fiction/ Tue, 13 Mar 2018 02:44:23 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/spycraft-essentials-for-writers-taking-the-fiction-out-of-fiction/ Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes




What do the main intelligence agencies do and where do they operate? How do they recruit personnel? What are real life honey pots and sleeper agents? What about truth serums and enhanced interrogations? And what are the most common foibles of popular spy fiction?

With the voice of over forty years of experience in the Intelligence Community, Bayard & Holmes answer these questions and share information on espionage history, firearms of spycraft, tradecraft techniques, and the personalities and personal challenges of the men and women behind the myths.  

Don’t be fooled by the title. This book is for anyone who wants to learn more about the inner workings of the Shadow World.

*   *   *   *   *   *    *    *   *   *   *    *   *  

“As a writer, I’m always looking for those books that open my eyes to the shadowy ways the world truly works. I found just such a resource in the insightful, well-researched, and oftentimes humorous book by Bayard & Holmes, Spycraft: Essentials for Writers. For any author, this is the new bible for crafting stories of espionage. It’s also perfect for anyone who wants to know the lengths nations will go to keep or steal secrets and the methods they will use to do so. This is a bombshell of a book.”

—James Rollins, NYT bestseller of The Demon Crown

“Bayard and Holmes have done readers and writers of the espionage genre a great service. This tome illuminates the ‘inside baseball’ terminology we often see used, providing valuable context to the reader. Importantly, they do not just focus on the CIA, but go broader and cover some of the differences in other parts of the US Intelligence Community. From novices to experts, I suspect everyone will find something in this book that they did not know before.”

—Doug Patteson, Film Technical Advisor and Former CIA Officer


Now available on pre-sale at Amazon! 


SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers

Where Did I Go? Reclaiming Your Life http://socialinkansascity.com/where-did-i-go-reclaiming-your-life/ Thu, 08 Mar 2018 06:00:00 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/?p=5008 woman mirror canstockphoto2203496 copy

Photo Credit: canstockphoto.com

WHERE DID I GO?:   Reclaiming Your Life


Vicki Hinze


Life is a minefield.

We navigate through it, getting bruised and battered and weary, enjoying a few successes, a few setbacks, and a lot of changes.  Some changes we want.  Some we don’t.  They’re upon us either way.

Some of us put our heads down, duck and hope we stay out of the line of fire.  Some of us jump with both feet into the middle of things, take the fire and hope to forge our own way.  We know it takes a lot of heat to temper steel—and us, too.

But most of us find our place somewhere in between ducking and jumping.  We choose which battles to fight and go for it, and we choose not to fight other ones.  We win a few, lose a few, and at some point, we discover our life is out of control.  We’re not mastering it, it is herding us—and we don’t like where it’s going.

This epiphany makes us aware in a way we can’t ignore, so we stop and take stock, but more often than not, we look at all that needs work in our life to reclaim it and we feel overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed, we unfortunately tend to do nothing.  The work is too hard, too time-consuming, too bit or tough to tackle.

That marks us.  It means we’ve given in (or up) and the next time we pause to take a look, we find ourselves in the same rut or tough place that we don’t like or want even more than we didn’t like or want it the first time we took stock while aware.  Our life, we can’t deny, has spun so far out of control we don’t recognize it anymore—and we’re not sure we recognize us.

Scary stuff.  One where we have to choose.  Duck (again), jump in and embrace change, or try everything in our personal arsenal to be content where we are, ignoring the fact that we don’t have the life we wanted and we’re not the person we want to be.  It’s our call, and honestly, some of those choices appeal, even though we know we’ll be stuck looking at our whirlwind life and the stranger in our mirror and not liking either.  So we have to act.  We have to do . . . something.  But what?

We need to call the question and be brutally honest with ourselves in answering it.  What question?  Do we really want to reclaim our life, and go on as we are?  Or do we want to build a different life—a different us?

Either we do or we don’t.  This life or the one we really want.  We must choose.

Neither answer is right or wrong.  And the answer is up to us.  Either way, odds are good that we’ve got to do something different or we’ll end up in the same place with the same results.   That, we don’t want.

Life is a series of ups and downs and if we gain nothing through those ups and downs . . . well, something’s got to change to make the journey worth making.  Of course, life is all about the journey and definitely worth the trip, so how do we assure different results?

We take a different approach.  We start building ourselves from the inside out.  Looking honestly at who we are and who we want to be.  We know that to move forward and attain better, long-lasting results, we need a solid, sturdy, strong foundation.

That doesn’t start with where we work or what activities we do.  For writers, it doesn’t start with what or how we write. It starts with what we think.   And so we begin by defining what we think about the big things:


Each moment of each day we choose who we are and what we believe.  With the power to change in our hands, what is to regret?  Learn from mistakes, resolve not to repeat them, and then move on, wiser for the lessons learned and grateful for the ability to change.  So how do we avoid regret?  We hold ourselves to our highest standards.  Regardless of what others do, say, or how they act, we set our own standards and live by them.  This is right since we live with the results.


What we do today defines our future tomorrow.  We create our reality.  If we plant good seeds, we’ll reap a good harvest.  If we don’t, we won’t.  It’s that simple.  So we need to know what our reality is, what we want it to be, and how we can get from here to there, and then act on those things.  That fosters a different result.  We inch closer and closer with each measured effort.

Doing the Wrong Thing

It is a rare occasion when we discover we’ve committed a wrong after we’ve done it.  We wanted to do it so we did, and only later (after being caught or exposed, or after suffering the weight of a guilty conscience) do we regret it.  The thing is, we all pay for our actions.  Now or later, we pay.  So before we act, we need to exercise self-discipline.  If it’s wrong, choose not to do it.  It spares you the recriminations and repercussions later—and we’re more content without the drama and upheaval—and we have more energy without drama and upheaval to focus our energies on creating what we really want in our reality.  I know no one who wants the fallout of doing wrong in their life.  It’s destructive.  Choose to be constructive instead.

The Company You Keep

Choose your friends and associates with care.  You will be judged by their actions.  If they behave like thugs, you will be assumed a thug or you wouldn’t befriend thugs.  If your friends and associates are ethical, you will be assumed ethical or you wouldn’t be befriended by those who are ethical.  If you’re striving to be a worthy human being in your own eyes—and that is the ultimate mortal measure—then surround yourself with worthy people you respect.  Some say they don’t care what others think, but we live in a world where we’re interdependent—remember that saying that no man is an island?  Well, no woman is either.  Our standards and ethics, our way, which is one in which we are content with our behavior and conduct.  No regrets, no remorse.  That’s the path to contentment.  When it comes to peer-pressure, remember:  You are the peer.  Set the example.


Respect is an innate right, given freely, but retaining it requires constant renewal earned through conduct.  Be respectful, worthy of respect—especially your own.  If meeting your own eyes in the mirror makes you cringe, then it’s time to take another look at yourself and fix what’s broken.  Your goal is to meet your own eyes and others’ gladly and without hesitation, reflecting your respect for yourself and for others.

Depression Armor

 We all get sad.  Life is hard on us all.  You can either wallow in sadness or work through it.  A tip I learned long ago:  When you’re down, look outside yourself to others.  Someone is always suffering more, enduring more, coping with more than you.  If you want the finest armor against depression, count your blessings.  With an attitude of gratitude for the good in you and in your life, you shift focus off what’s wrong and onto what’s right.  Hold it there, and then then look for someone else to help.   When you seek to brighten someone else’s world, you often succeed and brighten your own.  It doesn’t take much.  A smile, a kind word, a little compassion—all go a long way to someone who’s been knocked to their knees.


Be reluctant to judge or condemn others. Their choices might not be your choices, but that doesn’t make them wrong, only different.  Honest evaluation is required, and not having the “inside track” on why that person made the choice s/he made, you can’t honestly assess the best choice another should make.  You might conclude their choices aren’t right for you but unless an act is grievous and causes harm to another, it isn’t your place to condemn or to “fix” them.  They have their own path to walk, and you have yours.


Happiness means different things to different people.  We’re all human but individual and that should be respected.  No one is happy all the time.  Don’t expect to be.  Instead, seek the joy that lasts—contentment and peace with the sum of your character.  What makes you happy might drive another person up the wall.  Be happy for others when they’re happy.  Console them when they’re not.  Ask the hard questions of yourself so you know what you need (not what you want or what someone else thinks you should want or have).


The world has and will always be challenged, but that doesn’t mean that peace is elusive.  It is attainable by every single person.  It resides within.  If it eludes you, seek it by being the person you want to become.  Work at it.  Invest in it.  Behold it.  Have your dreams and aspirations, but be at peace wherever you are with who you are.  That’s the peace that lasts.


 Simply put, to have a friend, be a friend.  That pretty much covers it.

Broken Relationships

 Some relationships are long-term, some are for a season.  You come together for a purpose and are close while seeking to fulfill it.  When you have, the season is over.  You don’t necessarily part so much as drift in other directions.  This is a normal, recurring event in life.  Long-term relationships are a series of hills and valleys—good and bad times.  You each have a role to play, and often exchange roles.  Sometimes you’re the strong one, sometimes you lean on the other.  The breaks in long-term relationships often occur when the balance of wants and needs is off, or one person loses their commitment to the other.  Does that mean all is lost?  Of course not.  It means, you’re trudging through a valley.  You can hang on to each other to get through it and make the climb together up the hill, if both commit to the climb.  A lifetime together never promised a bed of roses.  It promised better or worse, baldly stating that there will be plenty of both.  Sometimes, in the end, one person turns away from the relationship and by common sense should.  But most often it’s easier to walk out than work at the relationship.  If that’s the case, before you turn away, turn toward the other and work together.  Relationships are messy because every person in them is messy.  Together, snag a broom and clean them up.  Remember, hard times forge deep bonds.

A story about this.  There was once a couple who decided to divorce.  They couldn’t afford one.  So they sat down, developed a plan and worked together to save the funds needed.  They celebrated each success toward their goal.  And then they reached it.  But by then, working together, they rediscovered each other and got reacquainted with all the reasons they’d married in the first place.  And neither still wanted a divorce.  Their broken relationship had mended.  They’d worked through things together, renewed their appreciation for one another.  It can be done.


Success is in the eye of its seeker.

Your success might be my vision of hell, or mine yours.  Identify your vision for yourself, seek it for yourself, enjoy it yourself.  Walk your own path, and enjoy your own journey.  Ultimately, you are responsible for your thoughts, actions and deeds.  You’re accountable.  So shouldn’t you seek your vision of success rather than anyone else’s?


 Make your own choices—with your head and your heart and your conscience.  You’ll live with them, good or bad, and either be at peace with them or regret them.  They should be yours, not imposed on you by others.


 Seek wisdom with all your might.  Fortune and fame come and go, but wisdom endures forever and shapes your life eternally.   Think of celebrities from twenty years ago.  How many can you name?  Forty years ago?  Five years ago?  Fame is fleeting—a mere twinkle in time.  Fortune makes as many people miserable as it does happy.  But wisdom… we all are blessed by wisdom.  It gives us insight, understanding, balance and perspective.  We know what most matters and why, and what matters not a whit and why.  That’s a broad canvas with lots of room for lots of life!


Love endures and honors.  Love is…


 Civility is seated in respect—for yourself, for others.  It does not mock, does not inflict, does not adopt the guise of humor to do or say things that cause others pain.  It does not set out to shock, degrade, or belittle others.  To do those things exhibits a profound lack of civility and respect for others, but even more so for oneself.

Trash Talk

Trash talk is the sign of a weak mind.  Your mind isn’t weak, it’s powerful.  You can, or can learn, to express yourself clearly without degrading yourself by indulging or engaging in trash talk.  Lift yourself and others.  Don’t disrespect them or yourself.  All deserve better.

Hard Things

When slammed with hard things, give yourself a few minutes to emotionally react.  Then switch focus to constructive solutions to the hard thing.  Put your energy there.  Then put your actions behind your resolutions.  That gets you through the hard things intact—and often has you coming out of them stronger.  No one ever solved a problem complaining about it.  Find a solution and implement it.  That solves problems.


You can be miserable with or without it, which means it’s good only for what you do with it.  If it helps you achieve your deeper purpose, great.  If not, you don’t need as much of it.  Basic needs met, it’s how you use it.  Wisely, and money’s a good thing.  Unwisely, and it’s not.   Don’t fall into the trap of thinking money is the answer to all problems.  It causes just as many as it solves.

So now it’s time.  Ask yourself the big questions.  What do you think?  Is your foundation strong?  Are you the person you choose to become?  What must you do to become that person?

We change and grow.  Some say a person gets this foundation when young or not at all.  I don’t believe that.  Once you become an adult, regardless of what’s happened in the past, you become aware that there are different paths and different choices available to you.  It is up to you to exercise the will to embrace them.

If your life is out of control, you have the ability to reclaim it.  Before you rebuild your house, get reacquainted with your foundation.  If it’s strong, you’ll never suddenly stop, feeling forced to ask yourself:  Where’d I go?   And that foundation will hold whatever house you choose to build. *

Note:  If you’re of a mind to think this article isn’t about writing, I ask you to reconsider.  Everything in it applies to people, and characters are people, too!



© 2013, 2018 Vicki Hinze


* * * * * * *

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. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Contact.



Moments of Grace http://socialinkansascity.com/moments-of-grace/ Thu, 01 Mar 2018 06:00:00 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/?p=5003  

Moments of Grace

By Vicki Hinze


When you write, everything relates—it’s all fodder.  Every single incident, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, eventually relates. Sometimes incidents combine and we don’t notice them. We’re too busy with the mundane details in life. Sometimes we ignore them, because to notice them requires we step outside our comfort zones and actually do something we don’t want to do.

But then there are other times. Ones when we are graced (or body-slammed) with these magnificent insights.

At times those insights flow over us like heated silk and, like the butterfly, we emerge from them transformed. At other times, we rebuff the wisdom and then too often we’re later sorry for having done so.

But we shouldn’t be sorry, and I guess that’s the message in this–at least, for me. We get what we need when we get it and when we need it.

That’s been the case with me in understanding relationships, in seeing the forces that drive healthy ones into a bond that runs so deep it’s hard to tell where one person stops and the other starts.

I’m not talking about the physical chemistry between two people, I’m talking about the merging of lives, the compassion and understanding, the striving to be understood.

The comfort and joy of a relationship so special it can’t truly be grasped by anyone outside it.  Love is powerful, able to contend with the worst and best in life.  Able to overcome horrific circumstances and trials, and seeing two people work together to face what comes, well, that’s a beautiful thing.  This happens in many romance and inspirational novels.

Sometimes to gain insights in life or to catch that lucky break, we have to wait for events and wisdom to line up like the proverbial ducks, so that we have the foundation we need to be able to grasp and interpret accurately the value and worth of what’s coming to us.  That happens often in romance, inspirational and women’s fiction novels.

Perhaps, if we grasped the wisdom too soon, we would misinterpret it. Then, in following it as we inaccurately perceive it, we miss the true wisdom and it misses its proper place in our lives.  We do more harm than good.  Miss out on the best.

These are common meanderings that have gone through my mind while reading mysteries and inspirational and thriller and romance novels.  While searching for answers as to why things happen as they do.

As a writer, I’ve spent a lot of time in the past two decades wondering about a lot of things.  I’ve studied a lot of topics and subjects, places and history.  I’ve jumped with both feet (on a wing and prayer) into situations that were far outside my comfort  zone.  I’ve learned a lot.  About the power of love, the redemption possible in it, about cause and effect, consequences for actions (and inactions), and about forgiveness.  Understanding.  And so much more.

In writing about this now, I realize what I’ve most experienced are those amazing moments of grace that bypass the mind and speak straight to the heart.

Characters, like real people, have all kinds of experiences that shape them into the people they become.  They’re more complex. They’ve known sadness and joy, they’ve feasted and hungered, they’ve lived. They’ve been kicked hard for crossing proverbial lines. And they’ve been blessed with unexpected moments of grace.

Whether in reading a novel or in living a life, we all have amazing opportunities to embrace a moment of grace. Sometimes we want to embrace these moments and we do, and sometimes we’re inspired to, yearn to embrace them, but for some reason, we let those moments pass.

We know too that there are times when opportunities only knock once.  I’m reminded of a woman who in her old age was asked why she never married. She responded that because the last time she’d been asked, she hadn’t known it was going to be the last time she would be  asked.

That moment came to mind in a novel I recently read and I worried, hoping that the character hadn’t blown off her one chance to be content and loved.

As I got nearer and nearer to the end of the book–just pages away–I had absolute knots in my stomach because there was no sign of that second chance. I prayed, pleaded, begged, but it just wasn’t happening. And honestly, the writer in me was pitching a fit inside and I was grumbling.  XYZ (the author) had better not leave me hanging.  I’ve trudged through the muck with this character and I want a happy ending!

The writer, woman and justice-seeking human being in me dove deep into full out rebellion and mutiny was but a few pages away.

Don’t give up.  Don’t give up!  I told myself that over and over.  I hung onto hope by a thin thread, but this was a romantic thriller novel.  Of course, I dared to hope.  Of course I did.

And then, on the second to last page, there it was.  That moment of grace.

And she took it.

So I suppose it’d be safe to say I’ve learned a lot both reading and writing novels.  About love, about people, about life.

And I’ve learned that when you write, it is all fodder and merit wears many faces in many places in all moments of grace. ❖


* * * * * * *

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. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Contact.


March Presidential Proclamation Observances http://socialinkansascity.com/march-presidential-proclamation-observances/ Thu, 01 Mar 2018 01:01:00 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/?p=4890

Outrage and a Grain of Salt: What is an AR-15 http://socialinkansascity.com/outrage-and-a-grain-of-salt-what-is-an-ar-15/ Tue, 27 Feb 2018 06:00:00 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/?p=5027 Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

The Great Triumvirate of today is Big Media, Big Politics, and Big Business. They all profit financially and politically when they keep the public worked up in fear and/or outrage. Let’s take some of their power back with a few facts. The current focus for outrage and fear is the AR-15 and “assault rifles.”




Throughout “American” media, a war is raging over the availability of the AR-15.** Some condemn it as an unnecessary “assault rifle” that is killing our children. Some praise it as a fine-tooled machine that is actually far less dangerous than most rifles.


*   The AR-15 is a “semiautomatic” rifle,” meaning one trigger pull = one shot.

 *   It fires .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO ammunition. These calibers are less powerful than most calibers of ammunition commonly used in hunting rifles.

*   Cartridges are loaded into a magazine, not a “clip,” and the magazine is loaded into the rifle.

*   The standard AR-15 magazine holds thirty rounds.

*   The US military does NOT use the AR-15.

*   The AR-15 is considered a starter rifle by many shooters, and kids and adults at rifle clubs often use them for target shooting competitions because they are lightweight, low caliber, and easy to control.


CA-legal AR-15 w/Stag receiver and fixed 10-round magazine Image by TheAlphaWolf, public domain.

CA-legal AR-15 w/Stag receiver
and fixed 10-round magazine
Image by TheAlphaWolf, public domain.


*   The letters “AR” do NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” The letters “AR” stand for “ArmaLite rifle” after the company that developed the rifle in the 1950s.

*   The AR-15 has no automatic weapon capabilities.

*   Automatic weapons, which are weapons that fire more than one round per trigger pull, can only be acquired legally in the United States in two ways since the ban of 1986. First, a person can get a special tax stamp that allows the purchase of one made before the 1986 ban, or second, they can obtain a firearms manufacturing license and get a conversion kit to modify a semiautomatic rifle for automatic firing. Both processes are expensive and tedious.

*   The AR-15 is frequently referred to by politicians and the media as an “assault rifle.”

*   The origin of the term “assault rifle” is widely attributed to Adolf Hitler. Hitler used the German word “Sturmgewehr” for propaganda purposes to refer to the Stg44, which was a select fire military rifle used by the German Wehrmacht. “Select fire” means it can be switched from firing one bullet for each trigger pull to firing more than one bullet for each trigger pull. The translation of sturmgewehr is “storm rifle,” or “assault rifle.”

*   The AR-15 is not a select fire rifle.

*   The term “assault rifle” has no universal definition and is interpreted differently by each state.

*   There is no special attribute to the AR-15 that distinguishes it as an “assault rifle.” 


Bayard & Holmes Opinion

This is an election year, and the AR-15 is at the center of a propaganda war with much political posturing. We must all keep in mind that just because we might agree with the goal of propaganda, whatever that goal may be, it is still propaganda. In this war of agendas, we are the prize.

We encourage everyone to thoroughly research their topics beyond the click bait and meme fodder of Western media and social media and to remember that conclusions reached in ignorance, whatever those conclusions, only compound the problems.

All the best to all of you as you navigate the Misinformation Highway.

**We put the word “American” in quotes when referring to media because some of the largest stockholders in “American” media are foreigners with their own political alliances and agendas to push–something to keep in mind when evaluating information.

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Piper Bayard is a recovering attorney and an author of espionage nonfiction and international spy thrillers. Jay Holmes is a veteran field operative and a senior member of the intelligence community. Together, Bayard & Holmes are the bestselling authors of THE SPY BRIDE.

Look for their upcoming release, SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers, due out this spring.



To follow Bayard & Holmes, sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing, or find them at their site, Bayard & Holmes. You may contact them in blog comments at their site, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or by email at BH@bayardandholmes.com.

© 2018 Bayard & Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.


Life-Defining Moments and The Power of Choice http://socialinkansascity.com/life-defining-moments-and-the-power-of-choice/ Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:17:46 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/life-defining-moments-and-the-power-of-choice/        

Life-Defining Moments

By Vicki Hinze

Life-defining moments. We all have them. Yet when we think of them in abstract terms, we think they’re these huge events. But the keys are often not in huge events. They’re in small, seemingly insignificant events that truly define to us who we are and who we choose to be.

As you’d expect, these defining moments don’t all happen at once, but over the course of our lives, and all through our lives we’re presented with opportunities to change our minds. That’s a good thing, because sometimes we take wrong turns, or as my darling daughter would put it, “We don’t make wise choices.” So we’re given chances to redefine ourselves.

Let me share a few examples.

In second grade, I had a buffalo-head nickel and a comic book that said it was worth a lot more than a nickel. We also had a jar on the window ledge in our classroom at school that was for donations. I had to choose. Do I keep the nickel for myself or put it in the jar to help others?

That doesn’t seem like a monumental choice, does it? A little thing for a little girl. But it was a life-defining moment. I could put my wants/needs first or try to help others. I knew it. Something inside me told me this was a big decision. I chose the jar. And it became a theme in my life. Oh, I didn’t define it as one then. But it did influence my focus and future decisions until as an adult it became a conscious way of life.

I chose the jar. And that put me on a path that had me adopting “I Serve” as a personal motto. When I can, I help others.

At about twenty, I was struggling. Money was tight, and, well, it was one of those times we all have where everything was hard. Like trying to keep your head above water when the water is molasses. Anyway, I went into a store and made a small purchase. The clerk made a mistake and gave me $20 too much change. That was a lot of money then. A week’s worth of groceries. Gas for the car for a month. I was broke and times were hard and I had to choose: keep it or tell the clerk she’d made a mistake. In that position, it was a mental war and the temptation to do the wrong thing was powerful—a life-defining moment.

That money would have made my life a lot easier, but my conscience would have hammered me. What kind of person did I want to be? I knew I was deciding that, standing at the drugstore checkout counter. I chose to be honest. Not noble. Had to, or I’d never have been able to meet my own eyes in the mirror again without feeling like a thief because that’s exactly what I would have been: a thief. So I gave the money back to her. That moment insignificant? Hardly. Definitely life-defining.

Later still, I was grown; a wife and a mother. I went grocery shopping and put a book in the top part of the cart so it wouldn’t be wet by the cold stuff. My handbag sat atop it. I checked out, paid for the groceries and went to my car. When I unloaded the cart and lifted my purse, I saw the book was there. I hadn’t paid for it. I checked the receipt to be certain, but sure enough, the book wasn’t on it. Yet another life-defining moment. Did I get in the car or go back into the store and pay for the book?

I went back and paid for the book. I still wanted to be honest. I didn’t want to feel badly (read that, feel like a crook) every time I walked into that store, and if I hadn’t paid for the book, I would have because I would have chosen at that moment to be a crook.

Those are three examples. Seemingly small things but they’re significant to note because they were not huge events and they were not major incidents. In the grand scheme of things, they were little things. A nickel, twenty dollars, and a paperback novel aren’t exactly fortune-making or breaking. But they are character-making or breaking things. And that makes them huge things worthy of note in life and in writing.

In each case, I was totally aware that I had to choose. Each time, I knew that I had to decide how I would define my life. And I knew that I alone was responsible for the decisions I made.

We all have life-defining moments. Many of them. I didn’t always make the right choices. But when I have made the wrong choices, I have always been given future opportunities to change my mind and make wiser choices. From my observations of others, we all are given second and third and more chances to change our minds. To choose the type of person we want to be.

And that is my point. We choose. We might have endured horrific things, wicked events in our lives where we have every reason—some would say every justification–for being adults lacking character. But the truth is we become adults. As adults, we experience life-defining moments where no matter what we’ve endured or suffered or experienced, we decide. We innately know our options and we choose.

Once we choose, we are not the person we were. We are the person we have become.

Beneath all the mind-clutter, we discover that our own decisions define our lives. We are the people we choose to be in the ways that most matter. A lesson from my daughter: choose wisely. You will live with the choices you make.

The choices you make define your character. And your character defines how you feel about yourself. That image of you is projected in hundreds of ways to others–not by others, by you.

So today, you have homework–for yourself, and if you’re writing, also for your characters. What have been your life-defining moments? Who have you chosen to be?

And, yes, you may consider this an opportunity to revisit those choices and make wiser ones.

That, my dear friends, is the purpose of this post. ❖

© 2012, 2011, 2018 Vicki Hinze


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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. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.      

12 Strong–The Horse Soldiers Movie http://socialinkansascity.com/12-strong-the-horse-soldiers-movie/ Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:56:45 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/12-strong-the-horse-soldiers-movie/ Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

12 Strong is the true story of the Green Beret Task Force Dagger–the first US Army Special Forces team to go into Afghanistan to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attack that brought down the Twin Towers.



In this dramatization based on the best-selling book Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton, Task Force Dagger is ordered to team up with Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance in the mountains of Afghanistan to open the way through hostile, mountainous territory to Mazur-i-Sharif.

Once the team arrives and makes contact, they find they must proceed on horseback. Oh, yeah . . . And they only have three weeks to do it. Real life team leader Captain Mitch Nelson pretty well sums it up in his famous response to an impatient senior officer awaiting a report: “I am advising a man on how to best employ light infantry and horse cavalry in the attack against Taliban T-55s [tanks], mortars, artillery, personnel carriers and machine guns — a tactic which I think became outdated with the invention of the Gatling gun.”

A Jerry Bruckheimer production, 12 Strong was filmed in New Mexico in and around Albuquerque as well as in caves south of Alamogordo and on White Sands Missile Range. Chris Hemsworth does a great job as Capt. Mitch Nelson, and he’s backed up with excellent performances from Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, and Navid Negahban, who play Sam Diller, Ben Milo, and General Dostum, respectively. Both the armaments and the social challenges the team met with in the course of their mission are faithfully portrayed. And speaking of those armaments . . . bring earplugs. LOTS of explosions.

12 Strong is an excellent representation of what US Army Special Forces concentrate on and do best.

As the film accurately portrays, Task Force Dagger did a great job of quickly inserting into a hostile area, meeting up with indigenous forces, and gaining their trust enough to work together to influence the strategic situation in Afghanistan. Such missions are the bread and butter of the US Army Special Forces.


First Meeting with General Dostum
Scene from 12 Strong


We would only make one critique of the film’s portrayal of Task Force Dagger.

The movie shows these Green Berets being a bit out of their element with the primitive conditions they found in Afghanistan. In real life, US Army Special Forces are always careful to never, ever appear to be surprised by anything or challenged by any environment, whether that environment is geographic, climatic, cultural, or tactical domain. They will be careful to appear to be absolute masters of whatever domain they inhabit. In other words, they would smile and play poker with Satan and pretend to enjoy the warm weather if they found themselves on a mission in Hell.

Unlike many war movies, 12 Strong addresses the impact war has on the warriors’ families.

Families also suffer and sacrifice. According to Holmes, the hardest thing in the life of a warrior with a family is how their children pay a cost that was not of their choosing. It’s hard for them to wake up and find out that dad left at 3:00 a.m. Eventually, the kids figure out dad isn’t on a beach in Maui, and it leads to the unavoidable fact that families bleed, too, in their own way.


Attacking on Horseback
Scene from 12 Strong


As usual with any movie about military success or heroism on the battlefield, some reviewers who clearly have no experience whatsoever with any battle beyond fighting with their lovers for control of the remote dismiss this movie as “flag waving.” We completely disagree. 12 Strong is an excellent recounting of the true story of a handful of brave men who got the job done.

While we would love to give 12 Strong our highest rating, a .44 Magnum*, for sentimental reasons, we must give it our second highest rating, a .357 Magnum.

That’s because even though it is a solid war movie with excellent production and acting, it is not particularly life-altering. That being said, it is, indeed, a solid war movie with excellent production and acting, and, therefore, worth seeing. We recommend this movie to those who are prepared for a realistic combat movie with one caveat—don’t take the kids. This is not a movie for children.



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*Bayard & Holmes Movie Ratings

  • Dud Chinese-manufactured ammo: Stay home and do housework. You’ll have more fun.

  • .22 rim fire:  Not worth the big screen, but ok to rent.

  • .380: Go to the matinee if someone else is paying.

  • .38 Special: Worth paying for the matinee yourself.

  • .357 Magnum: Okay to upgrade to prime time if you can stand the crowd.

  • .44 Magnum: Must see this. Life-altering event.

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Piper Bayard is a recovering attorney and an author of espionage nonfiction and international spy thrillers. Jay Holmes is a veteran field operative and a senior member of the intelligence community. Together, Bayard & Holmes are the bestselling authors of THE SPY BRIDE.

Look for their upcoming release, SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers, due out this spring.



To follow Bayard & Holmes, sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing, or find them at their site, Bayard & Holmes. You may contact them in blog comments at their site, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or by email at BH@bayardandholmes.com.

© 2018 Bayard & Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.


February January Presidential Proclamation Observations http://socialinkansascity.com/february-january-presidential-proclamation-observations/ Thu, 01 Feb 2018 01:01:00 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/?p=4888

Stealing Joy: When Others Know They’re Hurting You and Do It Anyway http://socialinkansascity.com/stealing-joy-when-others-know-theyre-hurting-you-and-do-it-anyway/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:47:05 +0000 http://socialinkansascity.com/stealing-joy-when-others-know-theyre-hurting-you-and-do-it-anyway/ SJ


By Vicki Hinze


In short:  When Others Feed on Hurting You, Control You


We all have our soft underbelly; the one we avoid confrontation with whenever possible.  We’ve been there before, and we know how much it hurts.

Whether we call it someone stabbing us in the back, stepping on our toes or driving nails through our hearts, we get the feeling, and we’ve dealt with the many side-effects.

Joy, like life itself, is a fragile thing.  And it seems we’re all blessed (or cursed) with at least one person in our lives who is hellbent on making sure that they steal ours.  Whenever things are going well, or even when we’re in an unsettled state but we’re cooping well and still finding joy in our lives, in comes that person to steal our joy and make us miserable.

Maybe the thief isn’t getting enough attention.  Maybe s/he’s secretly unhappy and can’t stand the sight of anyone else being joyful in their imperfect life.  Maybe s/he thrives on upset.  Or feels that tearing others down builds them up.  It could be the thief is a control freak and feels threatened by you, so s/he makes it his or her business to not let you be too happy to keep you humble.  Or the thief could just not give a damn.  So what if you’re hurt?  It’s not his or her fault if what s/he wants negatively impacts you.  Or–and this is the worst possible case, of course–the thief takes joy in deliberately hurting you and stealing your joy.

Yes, sad as it is to say, there really are people who thrive and blossom and find happiness in making other people miserable. Particularly people, who for one reason or the other, don’t like them.

When someone steals your joy once, you’re inclined to be forgiving and consider it an accident.  But what if the thief does this over and again?  Always at significant moments, or over events that are significant and meaningful to you?  What do you do then?  How do you cope?


OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT.   When you’re on the receiving end of joy stealing, being objective is all but impossible.  Still, we have to do our best or remain a victim.

Try to determine why the thief is stealing your joy.  Only when you grasp their motivation can you deal with the problem constructively.


UNDERSTAND THE STAKES.  In these type situations, most often there’s something at risk. Something that puts you between the rock and the hard place.  Whether it’s your job, your reputation, or someone you love.  And you have to understand that cause-and-effect, action-and-reaction is hard at work.

So think through scenarios.  If the thief does this, you do that, where does that leave you?

What do you have at stake and are you willing to lose it?

Sometimes being the victim doesn’t enable you to avoid the penalty.  You’re caught in an emotional blackmail or hostage-type situation.  When the thief does this, anything you do results in the loss of x.  So before you do anything, you need to understand and accept that you well might lose.  Are you willing to live with that loss?


CONFRONTATION.  We typically hate it.  Some of us are better at it, more diplomatic, less emotional than others, but normal, healthy and stable people don’t relish confrontation or conflict or the upset both carry along with it.

Yet when our joy is being stolen, we have little choice.  We can step up and deal with the confrontation or allow ourselves to be victims and robbed of joy.

One or the other.  We must choose.  And we must live with our choices.

They’re never easy ones because of what is at stake and the risks of what we can lose.  More often than not, it means a great deal to us or the thief wouldn’t be trying to steal it.  So we must weigh the situation carefully and then choose.


CONSEQUENCES.  As unpleasant as confrontation and conflict is, if we’re able to work through it and come out a better place, it’s worth the effort.  Whether or not we’re able to get to that better place isn’t just our choice.  The thief gets a vote, too.  And when s/he weighs in, that vote can take many forms.  Anger, denial, outrage, justification, the false attribution of motives that are supposedly yours that are alien to you–any or all of those reactions are as apt to arise as a peaceful, imperfect solution to the problem or even a resolution with which you can be at peace.

The consequences could be alienation, distance, separation or divorce.  The loss of the job.  The loss of a loved one.

Steep consequences are possible.  Very possible because reason and logic are skewed by emotions in these situations and because our perspectives are a complex network of experiences and events–some of which are related to our interactions with the joy stealer and some that go beyond that relationship and into other areas of our lives.  Things that happened with other people, back when we were kids.  Professional things.  Personal things.

The sum of all our experiences shape our perspective and the lens through which we see the thief and the joy s/he steals.


CONTROL.  The bottom line is that we can’t control others’ actions.  We can only control our reactions to their actions.

We can choose to confront or withdraw.  To accept or distance ourselves from the thief.  To try–often for the umpteenth time–to be blunt and honest with the thief, about the pain they’re inflicting in the hope that they will choose not to deliberately hurt us again.  Or we can accept that the thief, regardless of motivation, is going to continue to hurt us and steal our joy and walk away.

In the end, we choose how much control and power over us we give the thief.

It is rarely an easy choice.  Rarely simple or free from many shades of gray.

It is seldom a choice we look forward to making or one we wanted to be placed in the position of having to make.  Yet if we do not, then doing nothing–willingly being the victim–does nothing to resolve the joy-stealing, only adds baggage to it.

So we assess the situation, no matter how much we wish we didn’t have to do it.

We understand the stakes, no matter how much we wish we never had to put things this dear to us at stake.

We endure the confrontation, even if it makes us sick for days or weeks afterward and our hearts yearn for peace.

We steel ourselves and accept the consequences for the course of action we’ve chosen to take, even if enacting it brings certain grief and mourning.

We control ourselves, our actions, making hard choices because we know that while avoiding them would be easier, living with avoiding them would not.

And we endure this, suffer through the upsets and losses we incur stopping the thief because when we look at life, its fragility and brevity–we are here but a moment–we know this truth:

If we are living without joy, we are already dead.

And that penalty is far too costly to pay.  ❧

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© 2005, 2013, 2018, Vicki Hinze.

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lostinc4Vicki 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. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.