Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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When writing a death scene…

I’ve been working on a piece that includes death scene. I’m not talking about a shooting or stabbing death, but a death caused by cancer. Death scenes can be tricky, especially in these circumstances. If you’re having a character killed off you just have them shot or stabbed and there’s a moment of dying then that’s it.

But in this instance the character is in a hospital spending her last moments with her loving husband. Yeah, I cried all the way through writing the scene which took several days. It was mentally and physically draining. The scene spanned a chapter or two as this was a pivotal point of the story line. It sets the scenarios for the rest of the book. And no it’s not a tear jerker all the way through. It’s a really sweet romance from start to finish.

The main character is just such an amazing man. He’s so full of Faith, family and love that you can’t help but fall in love with him. I’ve cried with him, laughed with him and now it’s at another pivotal life changing event and I’ve just sat and sighed with him. Let’s just say it’s going to pull you up in your seat.

In a death scene such as this, you have to be careful. I wanted the death scene to flow easily but not too quickly. The emotions and the last words are pivotal in the mechanics of the main characters decisions later on. Yes, I even put some romance in the death scene which is hard to do, but with these two it’s easy. Their love was immense and totally empowering. 

It’s also a little eye opening for my own life. I’ve lost so many family and friends to cancer so it was a little sad. It also made me think of my own immortality. How would I handle my last minutes on earth? Could I be as brave as Rachel? Would I be a complete mess? How would I handle my last moments with my child and my husband? It’s something to think about. I spent a little time digging into my own heart. It was a reality check for sure.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…

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Time Travel – Something new…

As I work on my latest manuscript I have to sigh. Have you ever gotten so lost in your work that you react to every detail? This has been such a step away from my normal writing, but I’m really enjoying it. I have some surprises in store for the readers with this one. And yes before you ask, there are horses and a handsome cowboy. I mean it’s me writing it.

I’ve based this story in one of my favorite cities, Savannah. It’s so rich with history and beautiful places. I love history. That was my favorite subject in school beside literature. I wonder why I like literature…

I thought I’d give you a little sneak peak of “Finding The Right Time” and as it happens, this books will not be coming out for a little while. I made a huge decision Saturday to enter this manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Last year I entered “A Love Never Lost” and it made it through to the 2nd round which was exciting. Fingers crossed and hopes abound.

Well, here’s a little bit:

Rafe walked around in front of her and held out his hand. “Would you like to dance?”

“I don’t know how to dance to this, but if you’ll lead.” She smiled up into his handsome face which was full of mischief.

“I’ll lead you anywhere my dear.” He said as he pulled her in amongst the other couples waltzing around the makeshift dance floor. Which actually was just a marked off area of the dirt road.

She grabbed his hand and he gently placed his other on her waist. “You smell wonderful.” He put his nose to her hair as he pulled her closer.

“It’s lavender from your grandmother.” She smiled. It was heavenly dancing close to Rafe. His muscular chest was under her cheek. Every movement caused his muscles to ripple.

“This feels right holding you in my arms. Thank you for staying tonight.” He kissed the side of her head as he held her close. He didn’t care what anyone thought at that moment. All he could think of was holding her for possibly the last time. Could his heart take it if she decided not to come back?

She closed her eyes and almost forgot where she was. Suddenly someone started to sing an old Irish sounding tune. She smiled up at Rafe as he didn’t stop moving to the music. Neither was aware of the whispering among the town. They were mesmerized by the couple in the middle of the dance floor.

Brody sat down beside Mrs. Emma and put his arm around her. “Gran, I do think our boy has finally given his heart.”

“As do I Brody. She’s a wonderful girl. I do hope she’ll make the right decision and stay with us.” Her voice quivered with worry. She’d seen the uncertainty earlier in Lily’s eyes. She knew that feeling only too well. She’d made the right decision for herself, but what was Lily’s?

“Do you think she’ll leave again?” He watched the couple and had his doubts. He saw the love in their eyes and it was mutual.

“I hope tonight will give her reason to stay.” She watched the couple. Then she looked around and everyone there was watching them and smiling. Everyone could see it, but would Lily? She just prayed it would become crystal clear tonight.

After five songs Rafe pulled Lily off to the side. “Let’s get some air.” She followed as he led her to the edge of town away from the buzzing crowd. When they were out of sight of everyone, he turned and pulled her into his arms.

His lips were suddenly on hers and she was lost. He pulled her close to his body. He’d held his emotions all evening, but he was about to snap. It was as though she was his water and he was thirsty. He drank of her as though he’d been without for years.

She wound her arms around his neck and pulled him into the kiss. As she deepened the kiss he groaned. This felt so right to her, but could she leave everything. For tonight she’d be his.

He ran his hands up and down her back. It was as though he couldn’t get her close enough. When he finally released her it was only to pull her between two of the buildings. He pressed her against the side of the building and kissed her passionately.

Their breathing was ragged as passion took over their bodies. He knew he needed to stop but he couldn’t seem to muster up the strength to let her go, not yet. He wanted her badly and the knowledge that this could be their last time together was almost his undoing.

She was the first to push at his chest. If they went any further she’d never be able to make a clear decision. This was so hard to not just give in to her desires. She knew it’d be so easy.

He leaned his head against hers as he tried to control his breathing. “Lily please forgive me. I don’t know what came over me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive. I wanted you too, I still do, but this will not help my decision.” She pulled away from his embrace and leaned against the wall. He put his hand on her shoulder.

“If you want me as badly as I do you, then the decision is made.” He looked down at her face. It was hard to see her expression in the darkness. He knew his want was from mostly love and what he knew was also lust.

“It’s not that easy Rafe. I don’t want to make a decision based on passion. That’s not love. I want my decision to be true to my heart, not my body. Can you understand that?” She turned to look up into his face.

“I’ll have to understand it. I just want you to be my wife.” He ran his fingers through his hair in heated frustration. He could use another dip in the cool stream behind the house. He’d had several of those since Lily had come into his life. That’s where he’d been the night she’d seen him from her window.

She realized he’d just laid his heart on the line. “Oh Rafe, you’re such a wonderful man. Please give me until the morning.” She laid her hand on his heart and it was beating wildly. He reached up and covered it with his large hand.

“I am a man of my word. I’ll give you until the morning, but I will tell you this. If you decide to stay, I want us to be married as soon as possible.” His voice was stilled ragged with passion.

“If I decide to stay we will be married before the next setting sun.” She reached up and grasped his face, pulling it down to hers. It was the most passionate, sweet, heart wrenching kiss. It touched her soul in a way she’d never expected. Rafe touched her soul, but was it enough?

I know that was more than a bit, but I just love this part. It’s going to be hard holding back on the publishing of this one. Hopefully I can restrain myself. I have to make my final decision before February 16th. If I get an offer for it before then, I’ll jump but keep your fingers crossed. This book will be a game changer for me.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…


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Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Good Monday morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend filled with joy and lots of writing. Of course today is a school holiday so I got to sleep in. That’s always a plus. As I sat down in my office I was met with a really cold chair and desk. My fingers are struggling with this post due to the cold. It was a little warmer on Friday when I left, so I didn’t set the heater to come on as much over the weekend. That’s what I get for not looking ahead at the forecast. It’s freezing this morning.

Have you ever heard the old saying, “Cold Hands, Warm Heart”. That’s me this morning for sure. I always have cold hands. Since I’m a hopeless romantic I guess you could say I always have a warm heart. When I love I do it with my whole heart. I don’t love half heartedly. It’s just not in my makeup. Maybe this is why I’m drawn to writing about love. I love every aspect of it. It mesmerizes me and draws me into it’s depths until I’m lost in it’s beauty.

Now don’t get me wrong. Love can be a tedious thing, like walking on a tight rope over a deep canyon. As you know, I’m afraid of heights so I try to keep off the tight rope as much as possible. I’ve had so many readers ask me if my writing comes from life experiences and I usually laugh. A writer never fully reveals the secrets behind their craft. I will tell you this, I’ve loved and lost, but in the end I’ve loved for eternity. There it is, a writer’s answer. We love to write in riddles, never really giving it all away.

When I was a teenager I looked for Prince Charming. He’d come up on his white horse, of course, and he’d have on a crisp white Stetson with a winning smile. You know the type, the one that’s only in your mind. Oh yeah, I had it bad. I’d read one too many romance novels, if that’s possible. Sometimes it can be dangerous for a girl coming of age. She looks for that one special man. Poor boys, I left several along the road side wondering what they’d done wrong. Hey, I didn’t leave them literally by the roadside, but you get what I’m saying. 

One reader asked if I had a cowboy in my past, well I’m from the country and that’s a resounding yes. You can’t throw a stone without hitting at least one cowboy or country boy. As a writer you have to pull from things that are familiar but then you have to make them stand out and interesting.

So, do you have a warm heart? Do you pull from your past experiences when writing? 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Saturday Self Promotion

Well it’s Saturday and I do hope everyone is making the most of it. I’ve got a morning of cleaning ahead of me, then an afternoon of writing which I’m looking forward to. Today’s post is going to be a little bit of self promotion so forgive me ahead of time. I haven’t done this in a while so here goes.

ImageFriends since early childhood, Lilly and Zane have always been inseparable. After four years apart, will their relationship change? Upon seeing Lilly again after such a long absence he realizes his heart belongs to her. When a wealthy ranch owner from Texas offers Lilly the job of a lifetime, will she leave knowing the effect it will have on Zane and their relationship? Will her new boss expect more than just an employer/employee relationship? Just how far will he go to win her over? Will Zane be able to pull her from the ties of the ranch or will it be A Love Never Lost?

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This is a collection of Cowboy romances from author Stephanie Payne Hurt. All three have a Cowboy hero and a heroine that can’t resist her cowboy. Each book is full of heart filled romance and suspense mingled in. 
Ghost Lover 
The dying words of Jess’s mother are for her to find the love of her life. But with an overbearing father, will she have that chance? When he gives her a horse and riding lessons for her 21st birthday, her life changes. Is the cowboy behind the Black Stetson her soul mate? When her father’s partner decides to stake claim on her, who will win the fight? Suspense, tragedy, romance and a stranger in the shadows lead to a dramatic final showdown. 
Moonbeam and Roses 
Sara is an artist with a passion for horses. Wes is a cowboy with a passion for Sara, but he knows she’s out of his league. Pushing her away he leaves for Montana, leaving her lost and heartbroken. Will she heal her heart with another man? He rushes home when she’s almost killed, but is he too late? Will he lose her forever? 
A Love Never Lost 
Lilly has her life planned. Go to college, meet a wonderful man, and have children. Zane has a plan too and it includes Lilly, but he only realized that when he went off to college. Frustration fills him as he watches a new man in her life sweeping her away. One kiss tells him she feels the same way, but the new man has other plans. Will she choose the right man or go down the wrong path?

 ImageFind the magic of Christmas Love inside the pages of this sweet romance about two broken hearts that need a little nudge… 

When Lacey Dannon gets left at the altar she’s stunned. Her best friend acts quickly and puts her on a plane to the destination of her dreams, Switzerland at Christmas time. The destination also includes staying in a chalet with a grieving Cowboy, Drake Tyler. He has his reasons for staying in the Alps alone. When their eyes meet for the first time, they know it’s something special, but will their past pull them apart or will the love of Christmas Open the Heart…

 

Well, I didn’t want to overdo this so I only listed 3 of my books that are out. I hope everyone has a great Saturday and get some writing in 🙂

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Friday and Romancing the Coffee

Good Morning! It’s Friday people. It’s the last day of the work week for most, but for an author that works a full time job it’s the start of the long work weekend. I work everyday on my manuscripts. Some days not as long as others and especially at this time of year. I have deadlines all around me. There’s W-2’s to finish, end of the year balancing, 1099’s, Tax return prep, manuscripts that are being finalized, covers to design, editing to do, VBS pre season prep, and dare I go on, on my! 

As I sit here nursing my second cup of coffee, I contemplate my morning. I have a hour or so of social media, blogging, and a little editing before I go to the office. It’s funny the life of a writer. I sit down at my computer and my fingers automatically go to the keyboard ready to write. It’s just natural for me to put my thoughts in writing. 

Do you use your morning effectively? The morning hours are very productive for me. It’s the mid day that I sometimes get a little foggy, but then as I sit down after dinner I get creative again. Generally I’m not a morning person, but after about two cups of coffee I start to wake up and get inspired. This morning I have a crackling fire going and a sweet little bird on the banister outside the window watching me. Of course he probably thinks my head is a nest as I’ve yet to run a brush through my hair or even get dressed for that matter. This is “Me” time. The sun is spreading across the front lawn and the world is starting to come alive. 

As you know, I love romance and in the mornings I love to write a little and feel the power behind romance. Have you ever felt it? If you’re a romance writer or reader for that matter, you’ve felt that power. It draws you in and refreshes your faith in life. Yeah, I’m a romance advocate. I had a reader tell me the other day that they don’t believe in romance, well they received a long talk about the possibilites of romance. Needless to say they laughed and said they’d give it another try. But they have read all my books. That’s a start.

Well I’m almost done with my Friday morning rambling, but I must leave you with this question. Do you believe in romance? It’s a simple question. I’m curious about your responses. With romance being the best selling genre in books, I’m pretty sure at least more then 50% of you do. 

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


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3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self Publishing

As you know I’m a self published author. When I decided to publish my manuscripts I studied the market. I’m an Accountant and I have a strong analytical background so that pushed me to make a study into this. I looked into both the traditional market and the self publishing market. One thing I realized was that more and more traditionally published authors are going to the self publishing market. But let me tell you this, in order to do it right you’ve got to keep up the traditional publishing standards strictly enforced.

Here are 3 of the ways Authors can improve Self Publishing:

1: Editing: This is a very important part of publishing and this is where several self published authors fail at. It’s also part of why some people will not pick up a self published book because they’ve been burned before. You’ve got to read your manuscript and read it again. Also you need to either get Beta Readers or someone that will be critical and unbiased to read your work. When you read your manuscript pull yourself away. Read it as though you’re a reader and are you inspired to read it again. If it falls flat, then how can you expect anyone else to get into. Have you corrected all the spelling errors, grammatical errors, and just plain out story line disasters?

2: Covers: I can’t stress this enough. Covers can sell even a badly written book. This is the first thing that a reader sees. This is the first line of selling rank. If you don’t spend money on anything else, please spend a little on this. There are so many talented cover designers out there. I’ve been so fortunate to have a awesome cover designer. I’ve seen some really cool covers and then some really horrible attempts. Your cover needs to tell something about what’s inside. It need to pull the reader in. I’ve purchased so many books just from the cover.

3: Book Blurbs: I stress about this with all my books. This is the hardest part of writing to me, no kidding. Make sure you don’t give away too much in the blurb. Too many authors tell the story on the back of the book. This is not good. Be very descriptive and use complimentary words that will draw in the reader. I’ve done a study on this with my very own books. I put out a blurb on a couple of my books that I was somewhat happy with, but I noticed a lag in sales. Then I sat down and poured over the blurbs changing some of the key words and adding some small elements. This helped the sales dramatically. Try it and see if your sales go up.

It’s hard to be an author, period! When I say I’m an author, people come back with yeah, I could write a book. Well, yeah, anyone can write a book, but can they write a book that will go anywhere? Do they have the drive to publish that book and do all the marketing? Being an author is not as easy as it looks and being self published is brutal at times.

But let me tell you the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. The first time a fan comes up to you at the grocery store and says, “Oh my goodness you’re that author.” The first time this happened to me I was so embarassed and excited at the same time. When you get emails from fans excited about your work it makes you smile all day. I’ve gained so many new friends from all over the world that some days I’m just amazed. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. 

Have I thought about traditionally publishing? Yes. I sent Ghost Lover to a traditional publisher and never heard a word. Then I decided to self publish it and it was all uphill from there. It was my introduction into the publishing world and the response to that book has been really great. I’ve had a couple of big publishers call me about coming on board with them, but they couldn’t offer my anything different from what I do now, so not now. I do have a work in progress at the moment that it’s been in my heart to send to a publisher that I contribute to as a blogger. We’ll see how that goes. 

So, my advice to you is to go for it, but be prepared to do it right. This is your name you’re putting out there, so make it shine. If you need any help with it, I’m in partnership with my editor/cover designer in a publishing service, Horseshoe Publishing. We’ll help you iron out those wrinkles and make your work shine like a new penny.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Romance A La Carte…

I’ve noticed some changes in romance since I was a teenager. There’s many different categories to choose from and it get’s more advanced with each year. When I was a teenager and new to romance novels, (No I will not say how long ago that was) let’s just say it was a while ago, anyway, romance novels were pretty much categorized as romance, heated romance, historical romance and I do remember romance mystery.

Today when you go to a site to order a romance novel the choices will astound you. Well it does me. How do you choose? Well, it’s like sitting at a restaurant and looking at a menu. You go in knowing you want steak, but do you want a baked potato or fries? Do you want that baked potato covered and smothered or just lite butter and sour cream. Then you have to figure out how you want the steak. Will it be rare or well done? Oh let’s don’t forget the salad. Do you want a salad? Do you want dressing on the salad or on the side? Croutons anyone?

It’s the same with choosing what type of romance you want. I have the hardest time categorizing my romance novels. Someone asked me one day how I choose the categories that I put on my books. Well, it’s not easy. I have the generic solutions in my head like Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Historical Romance, but if you do the math, they’re used way too much. Funny huh…

Do your homework? I usually go to Amazon and start with the most generic search of Romance. Do it, you’ll be amazed how many there are to choose from. That’s where the A La Carte sub categories come in handy. Look at your book. No I mean really look at your book. What makes it different? Does it have mystery? Don’t just stop at Romantic Mystery, go one step further. Is it a Romantic Thriller Mystery, a Romantic Murder Mystery, or just simply a Romantic Mystery, but do look up that category and see how many other authors labeled their books that way. It makes a difference.

Romance has come a long way over the years. Let’s don’t even get into the many Erotic labels out there, I’ll blush, no really I will. I did my search of these also as I do have a publishing service so it’s an important piece of my work. I’ve started actually making a list of possible categories as I write my books. Maybe it’s a pivotal point in the main part of the story that inspires the category. Since I write mostly Cowboy Romance, try searching that one, yeah it’s huge. I have to see what makes my Cowboy Romance books different from others. Well, maybe put Sweet in front of it, or Clean. But search it first. When I put Western in front of my category it worked well for a while, but guess what, others did that too and now I need to rethink my categories, maybe tweek a couple of them.

So, check your A La Carte menu, which for us writers is our categorization of our work. Make it appealing to the eyes. Make it stand out amongest all the others, but don’t choose an out there label that only you understand. Give your book it’s best chance to be seen in this world of way too many choices. It makes a difference, believe me, I’ve played with this and it made the sales either go up or down.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…