Thursday Throwback… My 1st published book…

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been publishing books since 2012. Ten years! To say it’s been an experience is just the tip of sword. This has been the best, most rewarding experience. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people through this journey. And some of those were authors I admired, which has been an absolute thrill.

My first published book was Ghost Lover. This book started when I was a teenager, but was put in a drawer for over many years. When my niece found all of my stashed manuscripts and wanted to read them, I was like, ‘sure, why not’. But after three days, she came to me with a plan. I was skeptical, but now I’m glad I took the leap. Ghost Lover became my first bestseller.

Here are the many covers over the years that have graced Ghost Lover… The changes have been many, but the story has stayed the same. It’s one of my favorites and I’ll never forget the feeling I had as a teenager when I first penned the words that became the book. And when I say penned, I mean, pen and paper.

The first Ghost Lover cover… Let’s say I’ve learned a lot about cover design since this one!
Cover 2 was quite exciting. I received a lot of response when this new cover was revealed.

And this cover was born after I revised the first edition. Many changes, but still the heart of Ghost Lover remained…

The current cover. Let’s see who haunts your dreams…

If you haven’t read Ghost Lover, then give it a try. This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster. Enjoy! https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lover-Revised-Stephanie-Hurt-ebook/dp/B00NDI5AYW

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Technically, it’s my Monday…

Good morning! I do hope everyone had a safe and Happy 4th of July! It’s always rough the first day back to the real life after a three day weekend. So, as the title suggests, today is my Monday. And of course I’ll have to wrap up two days in one.

As for my writing, well… Yep, got another chapter finished and I’m on the final stretch to the finish line. This book is pulling me from every direction. It’s been a wild ride into a new realm. I’ve written western romance as well as historical, but never about a wagon train. The things I’ve learned have been eye opening.

Television can romanticize the old west and the wagon train experience. But the facts are staggering and sad. Life on a wagon train was hard. The struggle to get to a new life was tough, but many made the trip.

I’ve tried to keep it as close to real as possible, but at the end of the day, it is fiction. And that brings me to another subject. Why do reviewers continue to say, ‘this book doesn’t fit into real life or real life scenarios’? Think about it. If you write fiction, it’s just that, fiction. In the world of fiction, anything can happen. If not, we wouldn’t have some of the best books out there. And if you think some of that really happens, then I need to enlighten you. It can’t.

Writers open up themselves to scrutiny every time they hit publish. Whether it’s a blog or book. But it’s part of it. And as a fiction writer, there will always be something that doesn’t really happen in real life. The reader wants to be taken to another place or time. They need that out of this world experience, if only for a moment.

So, take this from my post. Yes, most writers try to keep close to real life, but in fiction, the rules go out the door.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Wednesday Wisdom or not…

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In this journey we call life, there are many bumps in the road. Some are worse than others. But it’s how we handle it that makes the bumps less ‘bumpy’. Or so they say.

As a writer, the bumps come and go. Lately I’ve been on a rut filled road that is full of unexpected potholes and speed bumps. But, I finally arrived to the nice, bump free road called creative process. My muse decided to take a vacation, but thankfully the vacation is over and my muse is back!

Now, the little bit of wisdom that I gained from this little excursion was this, keep writing even through the muddy, rutty patches. I didn’t follow my own advice that I’ve given to so many writers. I let my muse leave and that put me behind. I’ve regained control now and am back to my daily writing. Amazing how much it helped. So, if you don’t get anything from this post, get this. Write daily, even if it’s just a hundred words. But keep your muse busy or they will take a vacation. Just glad I got it back.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

The name game…

Good morning! The name game… As writers we all do it. The book idea comes into our head and then we have to give the characters a name. It may seem easy enough, but after publishing over 50 books, it gets hard.

A character in one of the first books I published had the name ‘figure it out’ for almost half the writing process. But I knew that I could search that phrase and insert the name once I figured it out. Why is it so hard? Well, let me enlighten you…

When naming a character, you want it to fit the character. If it’s a strong male lead, you want the name to be strong. And don’t forget the time period. A name can make or break how you see the character. Imagine some of the most popular characters you’ve read about or seen on screen. Then imagine them with a different name. It has to fit.

And I mentioned the time period. If your book is set in 1500’s England, well, you need to know the names of that period. Maybe it doesn’t seem important, but believe me when I say there are fans that see it as very important. Oh, and country of birth is also a factor.

So you might be asking yourself, how do you figure it out? I have a couple of methods. One is Scrivener. They have a great name generator that has many variables. And it works for me. But I also from time to time check out baby name generator apps. They work as well. But with Scrivener they help with the last name.

I made the mistake of using the same name for two main characters in two of my books. It did not sit well with some of my fans. They let me know that I’d made that goof. But it was two of my favorite character names, Wes and Sara. So, I try not to do that again.

If I hear a name in conversation, or meet someone with a unique name, I make a mental note about it. So, don’t worry if you see your name in one of my books, remember, it’s only fiction…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

P.S. Keep watching for Jenny to release soon…

Monday Coffee Talk…

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Mondays are made for coffee and contemplating the new week. Some Monday’s are harder than others. But somehow we get through them, one coffee at a time. Now, if you know me, you know I love my coffee. It’s what keeps me going on Monday’s like today. After a busy weekend, this might take the whole pot and then some…

Now, as for my writing. I’ve been a little off my game lately. Today is a new day and my WIP needs some attention. So, I’ll say good morning and happy Monday. Now on to getting some words written before I go to the office.

Good writing and May God Bless You…

Saturday Promotion

It’s Saturday morning, so I’m sitting here sipping coffee and writing. One of my favorite things to do on Saturday morning is to work on my current WIP and maybe dabble with something new in the works. But this morning I want to talk about my In Harm’s Way Series. Three in the series have been released, but there are two more to come.

This Christian Suspense Romance series has surprised me. When I stepped out of my usual sweet romance style writing into something a little more edgy, I was scared. But the response from my fans has been wonderful. I even get emails asking when the next one will be released. And I have to admit that writing suspense and mystery is fun. There’s so many twists and turns.

So here’s a look at the three that are out:

Hadley never thought she’d be living out one of the stories she wrote. Not until one trip to the park changed her whole life. She finds herself in the middle of a horror story. One that will change the way she looks at everything and everyone around her. If she lived through this, it would be a miracle. She had one chance at safety, but he was making her break out of her comfort zone.
Drew left everything to find solace on his Wyoming ranch. His world had been filled with espionage, murder, and keeping the country safe as a member of an elite Navy Seal team. But now, all he wanted was peace. That would change in an instant with one meeting with Hadley. Drew couldn’t go back to that life, but now he has no choice if he was to keep her safe.
They are thrown together to solve a mystery, one that could change her own past. Both have their own inner demons to get past. Can her faith help her, and can she teach Drew to have faith? As they get closer, both realize that there is more than just investigating happening between them. But Drew knows that it’s something he can’t explore, and Hadley doesn’t understand when he pushes her away.
This novel is a faith-based suspense romance. If you’re looking for a clean, faith-oriented thriller novel, then look no further than one of the In Harm’s Way novels.

Abusive husband… Old love… Tested Faith…
Harper…
Harper was trapped in a nightmare. Every morning she woke expecting it to be her last. How could she have married a monster? The only light in her dark world is the faith that she holds close to her heart.
Reid…
Reid has struggled for years to forget the one woman that was everything to him. While doing rounds at the hospital, he comes face to face with her. He sees the truth to her injuries, but she quickly denies them, leaving the hospital before he can convince her to get help. Now he can’t get her out of his head. She’s in trouble and he needs to help her.
To his surprise, she shows up at his front door needing his help. She risks everything to get help. When she learns more of her husband’s secrets, she knows she must leave Reid forever to keep him safe.
Reid is frantic to find her before her abusive husband does. Will he be too late to save her? With not much to go on, the police extend the search, but they may not get there in time. Reid fears he’ll never see her again.
This is a story of abuse, suspense, faith, and lost love…

Ginger just wanted to get to the photoshoot safely. She leans on her faith and takes a chance driving into a blizzard. But when she becomes snowbound, her only place to take refuge is an old cabin she saw before she ended up in a snowbank.
Dakota can’t believe who’s at the door during the worst snowstorm in years. The woman that had haunted his dreams since that fateful trip to Paris. Now he was on the run from the law, but he couldn’t just close the door in her face.
While they are stranded, they begin to grow closer. A call informs Dakota that the men after him are headed in his direction. Dakota must keep Ginger safe, but how? They are forced to take a chance and brave the frigid cold to get to safety. When tragedy strikes, Dakota must step out of hiding to get her help. That one move ends with Dakota behind bars for murder.
There is more to what’s happening than anyone would believe. And Ginger must prove it, or Dakota will never be free again. She’s forced to step out of her comfort zone to help this man. She leans on her faith and begins to piece things together. But nobody expected what would happen next. Not to mention what is revealed about Dakota’s identity.
It all comes down to the place it all began for Dakota and Ginger. Will their faith help them find each other again or will they lose everything?
A Christian Suspense Romance that will keep you guessing up until the end…

So, if you’re in the mood for some suspenseful reading this weekend, then grab one or all three.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…

Following Through with a Plan

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Good morning! Yes, I’m back. It’s been a crazy couple of months. Between writing and tax season, I’ve been so busy. But I’m getting back on track and ready to get this blog back up and running. So, here’s to the rest of the year!

How many times have you made a plan and then didn’t go through with it? Maybe you set a book release and you couldn’t finish the book in time. It’s always good to make sure you write down your plan and try to keep to it. This keeps you from procrastinating. But what happens when everything is against you such as time, life, and all the things in between? Here’s a couple of tips for making things happen when you need them to…

I’ve been trying to finish my latest WIP and somehow I let my busy schedule take over. This is the first time in a long time that I didn’t meet my deadline. And yes, I procrastinated to the point that the book went to the back burner. As a writer, that hurts. 

Let’s talk planning. When you have a book idea, excitement bubbles up and you’re pumped. But there’s more to it than just the idea. You’ve got to focus on the idea and make sure that it can be fleshed out into a book. This step needs a plan. 

Look at it like framing a house. Without the frame, you wouldn’t have the house. A book plan is the same thing. Here are the steps to getting that book into the hands of your readers…

  1. The Idea – Yes, this is the exciting stage where you get the spark. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the moment you’re sitting there and all of a sudden you have the best idea for a new book or series. But not every book idea comes to life. I’ve got so many ideas written down that didn’t meet the muster. 
  2. The Outline – Ok, I know some of you are more of a seat of the pants writer, but let me tell you, an outline can be the make or break for some ideas. When I have an idea, I sit down and figure out how it can go. Even if it’s just a simple, beat by beat outline, it helps you to know if you can make it work. 
  3. Flesh it out – Now that you have the idea and the simple outline, you can go back and give it some flesh. Fill it out and see if you have enough to make it a book. This is the point of no return or return to the pile of idea. Here is where you make sure that the idea can go the full gauntlet or get chopped off before it’s even finished.
  4. Scheduling – Here’s where you need to be honest with yourself. If you think your idea can go 25,000 words, don’t schedule a release in 25 days. Maybe you can get it written in 15 days, but there’s so much more that goes into it than writing it. Make sure that you schedule every step of the writing process. I had to learn this the hard way. Here’s a couple of items to think about when scheduling: A. Cover design B. First Draft C. Revisions D. Read Through E. Editing F. Prerelease Marketing G. Final Draft, and this is just a few steps.
  5. Writing – Now, here is the fun part. You finally get to put words on the page. The first draft isn’t perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Get the bones on paper, then go back and fill it in. 
  6. First Draft Read Through – This stage is fun. The bones of your book are there. You’ve finished the first part of the process which to me, can be the hardest part. This is the stage where you’ll know it the idea will actually make it. If the outline didn’t catch it, the first draft will.
  7. Edit, Edit, Edit – Now, read it out loud as you edit. This is important before it goes to your editor. My editor has asked me before if I even read it before I sent it to her. LOL! 
  8. Cover Design – This process for me comes first, but a lot of writers don’t design theirs until this stage. Sometimes the cover comes to me with the idea. Make sure the cover represents your work. Don’t do something to deceive your readers. And simple still works… 
  9. Marketing – Plan your marketing early in the process. Set a budget and schedule some prerelease ads. You don’t have to spend a bundle to get results. Just make sure to stagger your ads. Don’t overwhelm yourself. 
  10. Release Day – Make this a party. Setup a blog post. Send out Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest, TikTok blurbs, and any other social media you use. Make it fun and relaxed. 

I know this was a little crazy, but putting a book out to readers needs a plan. And my way may not work for everyone, but it does for me. Hope it helps in some way.

 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 

Writer’s Block… It happens!

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Good morning! What do you do when the mental page goes blank? It’s a writer’s worst nightmare. But it will happen, whether you like it or not. I’ve struggled with it lately. Thank goodness it was just a passing thing. It could’ve been worse.

The thing to know about writer’s block is that you can push past it. If you can’t get your mind to focus on your current work in progress, then work on something in your to-be-done stack. Step away from it for a moment. That’s what helped me. I had to cleanse my mind of the whole project in order to get my focus back.

A couple of steps that help me:

  1. Realize it’s a block before you try to push through the project and totally mess it up.
  2. Pick up an upcoming project and outline it. Put your focus on it.
  3. Don’t push yourself too hard. But if you have a deadline, take a day or two to get your head cleared.

I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I’ve been working on this project longer than I wanted to. It’s still there, but somehow I had pushed it in a corner. I’ve dug it out of the corner and now it’s flowing again. Thank goodness because I’m beyond ready to experience the ending that I’ve already got in my head.

So, if you’re struggling with the infamous block, try these steps and see if it helps. Everyone is different, but it helps me.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Oh, and if you get a chance, check out book 1 of the In Harm’s Way Series, SAFE…

Sleepy, but writing! Dawgs Win!

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Good morning! Sipping my coffee as I write this post. Some days coffee is needed more than others. If you’re a Georgia Bulldog fan, then most of you need a lot of coffee this morning. It was a late night, but a good one. But with the morning light, I have some words to put in before I head to the office.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I sat down and made my writing schedule for the year. Of course, it can change in the blink of an eye. Kind of like that score last night. I have two new series coming out this year and will be finishing up In Harm’s Way. So, it will be a busy year.

What are you up to this cold morning? Have you penciled in your writing schedule?

As always, good writing, and May God Bless You…

Good Monday Morning!!!

I’m back! I know I’ve been missing in action, but for the most part, I’ve been writing and working. Sometimes you just have to take a break from things. For me, it was blogging and podcasting. With the holidays, tax returns, life, and a bit of writer’s exhaustion, I just needed to let my brain rest. But now that I’m back, I plan on making up for the lost time.

So, let’s start with my upcoming release. I haven’t set a release date, but it’s coming soon, I promise. My In Harm’s Way Series has been met with reader love. I’d planned on releasing Storm before Stay, but that was one of the reasons I needed a break. Storm had come to a halt in my brain and Stay took over. Storm will come this Spring, but for now, Stay is coming up next.

I do have two new series coming this year. I’ll highlight some of that in another post. So for today, we’ll focus on the book Stay. This book has been plaguing me for months, so I had to get it started or my brain would have exploded. Not really, but writers understand what I’m talking about. Anyhow, Stay got a shiny new cover on top of becoming just a winter book, not a Christmas book.

Stay is about Ginger and Dakota. She’s a model agent and he’s a photographer. But the first time they met in Paris, it was not a good time. They clashed almost immediately. So when she gets stranded in a snowstorm and ends up at his front door, the tension builds. This is the worst thing that could happen, to both of them. For him, he’s got a secret that has him hiding out in the mountain cabin, for her, he’s the man that has haunted her dreams since Paris. Now they have to figure things out. His secret could get her killed and he has to keep her safe.

I’ll leave it there for a little bit. All I can say is, grab your choice of warm beverage, and dig in when you read this one. The suspense ramps up rather quickly and lasts up until the end. So, for now, I’ll leave you with a thought, Why do people love suspense so much? I think it’s because romantic suspense is more than just a love story, it’s also a heart-pounding adventure that keeps you thinking.

As always, good writing, and May God Bless You…

Happy New Year!