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…

 

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

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…

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…

Monday Morning Writing

Well it’s Monday again! Were you ready for it? Me, well not so much, but it’s a fact that it comes every week. Some Mondays I do better than others. This morning is cloudy and dreary yet again and I’m sleepy, but work beckons and it’s the start of my busy season. The reason for my grogy ramblings is I sat up way too late last night writing. I guess you could say it’s a writers lot to be sleepy and have blood shot eyes on Monday morning.

I couldn’t pull myself away from the current WIP. It’s funny how a story gets under your skin and you just have to get past a certain point before you pull away. I know other writers know this feeling. You know the point where you can stop but until you get to that point you don’t have the courage to stop. Does this sound obsessive, well maybe so? Writers are often carried away into obsession and that’s what makes a good writer.

Someone once asked me where all my stories come from. They often laugh and say that I must lead a very colorful life to bring about so many stories with vibrancy and life. I live my life just as anyone, well I guess that’s true. A writer’s mind goes beyond that of someone that doesn’t have writing in them. I can look at the simplest object and spin a story around it. A writer’s mind is constantly working on over load. Sometimes I think my mind actually spins around like a top.

As for the unfinished manuscript I found the other day, well I’ve been spinning this one in my head, but I’ve put it to the wayside. I remember somewhat the path I was headed in with it, but it just doesn’t feel right at the moment. For me, and I’ve talked to other writers about this, if the story is not with you, it’s best to put it down and come back a little later. Unfortunately that happens in series too. You finish book one or two and when you start the next part and it totally goes out of the realm.

So, how’s your Monday going? As for me I’d love to get some love over at Twitter or Facebook. Come by and follow me on either one. I’m trying to get over the Twitter hump per say. Also, I’d love to have some likes or follows on Facebook. Let’s put our heads together and have a follow Monday.

Here’s my links:

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/StephaniePayneHurt?ref=hl

Facebook personal page: https://www.facebook.com/stephanie.hurt.330

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephanieHurt4

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…

Yes! I talk to myself, don’t you?

As a child I was always taught that you didn’t talk to yourself because someone would think you were weird. Umm, well, I guess that philosophy was lost on me. My son told me the other day that he was looking for homes to put me in. As I tried to explain to him when he caught me arguing with myself, yes I know, that’s a little overboard, but I’m a writer. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 🙂

Sometimes when I’m writing and trying to work out a story line I say it out loud. The only problem with that is I most of the time write while in the room with my husband and son. I catch myself hashing out an argument with my characters and I start arguing out loud. Then I realize that I’m not alone. I usually turn to see my son and hubby looking at me like I’ve completely lost it. I just grin and start excitedly telling them what the argument was all about and that’s when they roll their eyes and wave me off. They don’t get into romance. Now if I wrote a romance about a fisherman or hunter maybe, but not my kind. 

Now you can’t say you haven’t fussed at your computer out loud, or hashed out a story out loud. It’s just easier for me to read a part of the story out loud. It makes it sound different than in my head. I guess it’s like I filter it when I silently read, I don’t know. 

I do try to hold back when I’m in the general public. Although sometimes when I’m somewhere and a story hits me I’ll laugh out and say something like, “Ooh that’d make a great one” or “Yikes I shouldn’t have killed her off.” Yeah, that last line really clears an aisle at the grocery store. Could this be why most writers are loners? 

What’s bad is when I’m talking to myself and then start answering myself? My son has started just turning and leaving me alone with myself. 

I was so lost in a story line the other day that I didn’t even realize I was actually doing a crazy giggling sound and some sort of clicking of my tongue. My son finally tapped me and asked if I needed medication. I just waved him away after giving him a look.

So, do you talk to yourself? Come on you know you do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

You Know You’re a Writer When…

This is so true for all writers!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

We’ve been talking about some heavy stuff the past several posts, so I figured it was time for a bit of levity. We writers are different *eye twitches* for sure, but the world would be SO boring without us.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’ve learned that regular people are cute, and no longer get offended with this conversation.

Regular Person: What do you do?

Writer: I’m a writer.

Regular Person: No, I mean, what’s your real job?

You’ve come to understand that writers are a lot like unicorns. Everyone knows about them, they’ve simply never seen a REAL ONE.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

The NSA, CIA and FBI no longer bother with you. Likely, they know you by name and now outsource to the creepy ice cream truck to just make a few passes and check to make sure you’re still at your computer.

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You Know…

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Getting to know your characters…

It’s funny how asa writer I become close to the characters in my books. I know they’re fictional people but when they’re in your head all the time they become real to you. I guess that’s what helps us as writers. They have to be real in order to tell their story.

Sometimes I get so into a story I’m working on that I feel like they’re not fictional. I’d really like to meet some of my characters. They would be fun to talk to and meet up with for lunch. Some of them I’d like to get to pop up side the head, but I guess that goes with the territory.

I’m currently working on the 2nd installment of The Winner Series. I love this story line. It’s a little reality mixed with fantasy. Who doesn’t want to win a trip with a handsome movie star? Then to get to spend the trip in a romantic snow covered chalet. It does sound like a great thing to do. 

I sat last night getting in three chapters and almost 2000 words. It may not sound like much, but I kept having to go back to the 1st installment to get facts straight. Actually to tell the truth as I was looking up a part that would be mentioned I got lost in reading the 1st book. My son looked at me and I know he was wondering why I was reading my own book. If you can’t enjoy reading your own work then how can you expect anyone else to.

So my advice is this, make sure you know your characters. You need to know who they are, what color their hair is, their eyes, their likes and dislikes. It’s like a bio for them that you need to think of. Ask yourself questions and interview your character. If you know more about them then their story will unfold and you’ll fall in love with them. 

Have you ever seen a live person somewhere and thought they looked like what you see in your character? I have done this so many times. It’s actually fun when you do this. All of my characters can be seen in my head. If only we had a program that could read our thoughts on our characters. Then we could put their picture on the cover. I think that’s what makes designing the covers so hard. I have a idea in my head of what they look like and I won’t settle for anything less. I drive my cover designer crazy…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Do you know how it will end?

When I sit down to start a new story, most of the time I have an idea of how it will end. Sometimes I can see the whole story and other times it comes to me as the story unfolds. It’s funny how a story comes to you suddenly and you just have to sit down and sketch it out.

I love it when the whole story comes into my head, but then sometimes that makes it difficult because you rush to the ending and leave out the filler. The filler is the heart of the story in most cases. It’s the descriptions, the character building, and the ins and outs of the story that make it build to the last page.

Have you ever knew how it ended, but not the filler? I have done this so many times. I know how it starts and I know how it ends, but not the filler. But the filler will come.

But what happens when you don’t know how it will end? I have written what I thought were stand alone books and then when I neared the end I couldn’t end it there. I had to continue the story. Sometimes it’s the end that is far away in my mind which causes a series to be born. I can see many angles of the first story or bringing out the side characters in a story of their own. 

So we as writers don’t always know how it will end. I have so many people ask me how many books are going to be in a certain series and I really can’t tell them. They always ask why. Well it’s usually not something that comes readily. If the story is compelling enough it could go on for several books, or if I see the story starting to wane, then I put a The End on it. The story decides how it ends and sometimes I just don’t know how it will end or when.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Editing, a writer’s worst nightmare…

Imagephoto credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/indigoskies/11527801016/”>Indigo Skies Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a 

 

Editing is a process not to be taken lightly. Sometimes I look forward to this process because that means the manuscripts is almost done, but other times I dread it like a shot in the arm. But it’s a process that if you don’t do it you’ll regret it, believe me.

I talked with a fellow Indie author one day about editing. She said the only thing she does is run spell check and grammar check. I was horrified. Can anyone say “Oh my goodness”? That’s what I said and then I sat down with her and we had a long talk. I then picked up her finished manuscript and when I was finished reading it there was more red than black. She was shocked and mortified. She now goes through a detailed editing process.

When I finish a manuscript I always step back for a day or two before I even start editing. That way I’m not too excited to do what I need to do. When I start I always run the spell and grammar checks just to get rid of those pesky extra spaces, oopsy words (you know the ones) and the bad grammar that always follows a wild writing marathon. This helps to make the editing process go a little smoother, but only a little.

Then comes the fun part, I sit down and read the manuscript. Have you ever read over your finished manuscript and wondered at what point you lost your whole brain? Well I have. The things I’ve done while writing amaze me. I know I took english and writing in college, but sometimes when I read my own writing I laugh out loud. Where the heck did that come from? Surely I didn’t write that sentence.

Have you ever changed a characters name mid book? Come on, don’t be shy. Well, I’ll admit to doing that on a couple of occasions. I was reading a manuscript the other day and a minor character went from Betty to Betsy. I had to read the chapter over again to make sure I hadn’t fired the housekeeper in the previous chapter. But alas, no, she should have stayed Betty. Easy fix, not hardly, but it was taken care of by the nice little editing tool called “FIND”.

Now as you are the writer, do make sure that someone other than your closest friend reads it too. My editor is my niece, but let me tell you she can be strict. I have been working and felt someone boring a hole in my head. She’d be staring at me like I’d grown two heads. Then she’d point out something totally off the wall that I typed. She has asked me several times if I was drinking something stronger than hot tea as I was writing.

Let me give you some honest advice from someone who learned this the hard way. If you don’t want to spend the money for a professional editor then please find several people who will be brutally honest and let them read it. You can’t do it yourself. It’s your baby and you don’t want to change a thing. Believe me, nobody writes a perfect manuscript from the get go, NOBODY! I was reading a NYT bestselling book the other night and I felt pretty good with some of my errors. There in black and white was some really big goofs that had not been caught. It happens people, so get over it and try to do better.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…