Stephanie Hurt – Author/Accountant/Children's Minister

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Tuesday Writing Tips…

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, we made it through Monday so yeah to us…

This morning I wanted to talk with you about writing. What’s that? Yes, I love to talk about writing. I receive dozens of emails each week asking me about writing. So here goes and first let me say this is my way of writing, it may not be your way.

Writing Tips by Steph – Catchy phrase, well maybe not but that’s my first tip I want to discuss and it’s the title of your book. Many authors have asked me how I get my titles. It’s a tough question, but when it comes to you it will be like a light coming on in the dark abyss of the writing brain. Some of my titles have come before the story, odd but true. Then others as I’ve been in the process on writing. It’s very important to have a notepad close by as you write. Ideas pop in your head as you write and if you don’t write them down at that moment they could float away into the vast abyss of a writers brain. Make sure that your title isn’t so long that it loses something. Some titles are one word wonders. Also don’t call it “Christmas Mystery” if it’s not a mystery.

Cover – Oh this is one of those things that could make a reader walk by without a second glance. Make sure your cover inspires or brings out something from the story, but don’t give away any secrets. Also don’t overdo it. Some authors try to put several elements on their cover, but then you overcrowd and it causes confusion. Simple covers, but effective are really good. When I talk with authors that call on Horseshoe Publishing to design their covers, I always say, “What does your book say to you?” Does it scream horror or sweet romance? Does it need to be really warm or cool in color?

Blurb – Oh the horror of writing a blurb for the back of your book. The hundred word blurb is harder to me to write than the 50,000 word book in most instances. A couple of my books actually happened backwards. I wrote the blurb before the book, but I don’t always suggest this. Make it simple, but mysterious. Don’t give a spoiler that will make the reader put it back.

Author Page – This is very important. Tell a brief bio and then put a list of your books. I always separate mine by series and stand alone’s. I also try to include an excerpt from an upcoming release at the end just before the author page. It helps sell it too.

Editing – Make sure that when you hit “PUBLISH” that your work is the best it can be. If you just write it and publish it without a second glance, well most likely that’s the only glance it will get. I checked out a book the other day and read the sample that was provided, let’s just say within a couple of sentences I knew it wasn’t making my TBR list. The spelling and grammar were terrible and that was just the first couple of sentences. What’s worse is it was simple mistakes that were blatantly obvious. Always read over your manuscript after you do a quick edit. Then edit it again. I usually find so many errors in the second edit that I missed. Then I read it out loud. Amazing how many changes you make after you hear it. Remember we’re writers and we’re not perfect, yes I said it, we’re not perfect.

I hope some of these tips helped you in a way. I love writing and talking about it. It’s always fun to get emails on the subject. If you need help with any of the above just jump over to www.horseshoe-publishing.com and let us help you make your manuscript stand out among the millions of others.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Gone With The Wind – 75 years old today!

Good Monday morning to all! It’s a beautiful chilly morning here in Georgia. Of course I feel like I’m coming down with my son’s cold. Oh well, tis the Season to have a cold! But I do have exciting news, Gone With The Wind is 75 years old today. If you’ve followed me very long you know this is my favorite movie.

I have posters, snow globes, figurines, newspaper articles, puzzles, pictures, music boxes, etc. of anything GWTW. Shall I go on? I have the book, the 2nd installment not by Margaret Mitchell, but still good and even the book The Road To Tara. And last but not least I have the official 50th anniversary VHS of the movie with extras. I did splurge last year and purchase the DVD. Would you say I like anything GWTW? Well yeah.

I you’re not familiar with the movie then all I can say is “REALLY?” It’s a well written book that was made into a stellar movie. With so many talented actors and actresses it was immediately a smash. Even though it was written about Georgia, it was filmed in California. But when the movie premiered happened it brought all the stars here to Atlanta which was great for publicity.

Of course I have many beloved movies and books, I still go back to this one on rainy days or cold ones for that fact… I just adore Clark Gable. He’s such a charismatic actor and with his looks he played the devilish Rhett Butler with spunk. Then you have Vivian Leigh as Scarlett. Hard to believe she wasn’t a southern lady. But who can forget Hattie McDaniel as Mammy for which she won an Academy Award.  I just loved her and her spunky attitude as she told Scarlett exactly how she felt. I just love when she leans out the window to yell at Scarlett, makes me laugh every time. Scarlett needed Mammy’s stern hand and love.

If you haven’t seen it or read the book, Christmas time is a great time to sit down and catch up.

As always, Good Writing and May God Bless You…


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If your story falls apart, use duct tape?

Duct tape is a house staple, just as salt, sugar and flour are food staples. For many years people have fixed almost everything with duct tape. At Church we even fixed a broken Christmas tree with duct tape, no really we did. It’s strong and durable. Also you can get it in any width and color so it’s versatile.

What if you’re story is falling apart? We all have those manuscripts that start out really good and we have a phenomenal ending planned, but the middle has so many holes and fractures that it puts a real stink on the beginning and ending. Well, put a little duct tape on it. What am I talking about? Well, here goes the answer in a nutshell.

By duct tape I mean sit down with your beginning and ending. Then really look at it. Where is the character headed? The middle needs some suspense or issue that needs to carry the reader over the hump to the end. It needs something that only the ending can shed some light on. This is where the duct tape comes in.

As I said above, duct tape is strong and durable with lots of versatility, so the middle of the book needs to be taped up neatly. But be careful not to just add fluffy filler that makes the reader fall asleep with boredom. If the first of the book is power packed, then make the middle explode with tension. This is the strong duct tape. Add an element of complete surprise. Let the main character have a major problem that needs solving, or maybe a secret that is threatening to come out, but the secret has to be life altering.

But make sure that it can mesh with your great ending. I did this one time and a book that started out being only around 30,000 words went over 50,000 words with a little duct tape application. Crazy, but true. I had this really great beginning that pulled you in and the ending left you breathless, but the middle was just a bunch of fluff. As I did my first read through I was almost dozing and that’s not good. I sat down and spread out the beginning and ending, then totally restructured my characters. I added a whole new dimension to them that took them on an adventure that meshed well with the ending and soon I had a complete story that I was proud to hit the publish button on.

So, get you some duct tape and pull that story together. If you use the right duct tape it will hold together nicely.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Live Life; Follow Your Dreams…

Today I turn 46! Wow, it’s hard to believe I’m almost half a century old. But I don’t feel 46 and I sure don’t act it. Actually most people say I act 10 but that’s another story for another day. I live life and enjoy it immensely. We’re only give one so live it. Many people tell me I don’t get out and do things enough, but the truth is I live my life the way I love to live it, by following my dreams. No I don’t go alot of places and do a lot of things outside of my job, my writing, the Church and my family, but that’s the way I like it. Am I a hermit? No, because the definition of a hermit is someone who lives their lives in complete seclusion from the outside world. I do leave my house occasionally.

How do I follow my dreams? Well for one thing I have a phenomenal life with a great family and wonderful friends. I follow my call to serve my Lord, Jesus Christ by ministering to children, I love Accounting and get to work everyday doing just that and then there’s my writing. I followed my dream and get to write romance novels which has been my dream for more years than I want to count. Do you live your dream? If not, get to it, because we’re not promised tomorrow and today is only 24 hours.

As far as acting my age, not a chance. I don’t feel my age so why act it. If you act your age you’ll get old before you need to. I love to giggle, cry, laugh out loud, share my joy, sit in the floor with the children and sing, cartoons, children’s movies, and so many more things, not to mention extra marshmallows in my hot chocolate. Oh and sprinkles on my cookies, doughnuts, and cake, did I mention I love sweets!

Do you live life to the fullest? It doesn’t take a lot of money to live life. All you need is a dream, a desire to follow it and a supportive family. I stop and smell the roses, do you?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Wrap up a Pirate for someone…

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Good morning all! It’s Tuesday and it’s cold here in Georgia. As I snuggle under my throw with my coffee at my side and the fire crackling I have to smile. It’s cozy and warm with Christmas cheer in my den. I love this time of year. The Christmas tree is twinkling beside me as though it’s saying Merry Christmas Stephanie!

As for presents, are you finished with your shopping? Me, well, almost, but I still have a couple of things to pick up. If you need a stocking filler or a gift for a reader, why not check out Safe in the Pirate’s Arms. It’s an adventurous love story with suspense, romance and pirates. Several readers have commented that they felt like they were on board the ship as I described every detail. I want my readers to experience the book, not just read them.

Here’s a little tidbit and then some links to buy:

Lightning streaked across the clouds just ahead of them. Caleb widened his stance and prepared for the battle with the storm. He’d been through worse.

The first drops of rain caused the men to move faster. All of the cargo had to be tied down. Serena helped by handing out coiled rope to the men. She never thought about the rain causing her clothing to cling to her body.

Caleb looked down to check the progress of the men when he noticed the boys clothing was wet. Then he did a double take. That wasn’t a boy at all, but a woman. A chill ran down his spine as he realized they had a major problem. Tom saw Caleb’s expression and followed his gaze. He swore when he saw what Caleb did. Caleb motioned for him to take the wheel.

He quickly made his way to where the woman stood handing out rope. Luckily the men were so busy that they didn’t notice. He spun her around and their eyes collided. “You need to get to your quarters.” When she just stood there he looked down at her soaked clothing. “Now!” He barked.

She looked down and saw the problem. It only took her moments to cover herself and run to her cabin. Caleb was on her heels. The look in his eyes was murderous and she knew it wasn’t going to be good.

As she opened the door and turned to shut it, he stopped it with his hand and followed her in. Then he slammed the door, leaving them alone in the small cabin. He made the cabin seem even smaller.

“What in the world were thinking? A woman on a ship with a bunch of men is dangerous and foolish.” He ran his fingers through his wet hair in exasperation.

“I was desperate.” She said in a small feminine voice.

His head snapped up in recognition. Reaching out he snatched the hat off her head causing her dark hair to tumble down around her shoulders. He grunted with frustration.  “Serena!”

She looked up at him and blushed. He turned around and grabbed the blanket off the bed. “Cover yourself.” He was a good man, but even he had his limits. “Why’d you stow away on my ship?”

Suddenly she burst into tears and sat down on the little cot. “I didn’t have anywhere else to go.” She started to openly sob.

He’d never been really good with women’s emotions. He sat down on the cot beside her and lifted her chin to look up at him. “What happened?”

“After you left last night, my mother died.” She sniffed and tried to get her composure. “Then I overheard my stepfather telling a man that he was going to end your trip and get you back for taking his shipments. He said he’d watch The Lady go to the bottom of the sea.”

He sat there for a moment. It was evident when he’d been at Edwards home that something was wrong. The man seemed crooked. It angered him that the man was part of the pirate’s that he fought against.

“My mother’s last words were that I needed to leave before my stepfather came upstairs. She said I was in danger. So I packed a bag and made my way down to the docks and then onto your ship.” She looked up at him pleadingly. “Please let me stay on the ship. I’ll work for my room and food. I won’t let anyone know I’m not Toby.”

Standing up quickly he looked down at her. He could only imagine why her mother was worried. That man was pure evil and he was glad she’d gotten away, but a woman on a pirate ship, even though his men were all good men, they were men.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Monday Thoughts and Writing…

Good Monday morning to you all… I hope you had a wonderful weekend. As for me it was a busy one. Saturday I spent the day at the Church decorating for Christmas with friends and then Sunday was the Children’s Ministry Christmas party. Let’s just say it was busy but satisfying. I’m pleasantly tired this morning…

As for my writing, I’ve grabbed a few minutes here and there this weekend to work on Ridge, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Ridge has been prodding my brain all weekend wanting his story told. For those of you that have messaged me about the upcoming release, let’s just say I’m working on a specific date, but as of now no release date yet. I’m thrilled that others are as excited as I am to have Ridge’s story published. It’s turning out to be quite a story and I can’t wait for you to read it.

Make sure you go to my website and enter the Rafflecopter to win a audiobook copy of Faith Through The Tears. Enter everyday if you want to. The response to this story has been really wonderful. On Audible.com I’ve had so many beautifully sweet reviews and some made me cry. This story tore at my heart one moment and made me giggle the next. One woman wrote to me and said that I should give away a box of tissues with every copy.

What are you doing on this fine Monday morning?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Writing in layers, like our lives…

As I sit and ponder writing, life and the many things we do, I see the layers of it all. Layers are all around us. We have the family layer, life layer, work layer, faith layer and so many more layers it’s crazy. As writers we have even more layers than most.

Some days my layers overlap and I have to push them apart so that I don’t get overloaded. Some layers are heavier than others but in the end they’re what makes us who we are. My writer layers come in multiples, sometimes when my writer layers overlap I get knocked to the wayside. That’s when my mind can’t stay on one story and the characters start running over one another.

Do my layers of life and writing run into one another? Yes they do. I’ve seen many days when I struggled with the writing layers, but that’s what makes a writer work harder. As the characters run around trying to get heard, I wrangle them into the stories that flow out of my fingers. The layers of a story unfold and then a new layer starts. Oh the life of a writer’s mind.

How many layers do you have? If you peel them back carefully can you find your true self. As for me, when I peeled back my writer layer I found myself. I hadn’t realized that I needed that layer peeled back. For many years I left that layer piled under so many life layers and once I revealed it I started a fresh start. My writer layer has brought me into a new world of wonder and other worlds.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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