Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Genre… How do you choose?

Wow! We made it people, we’re halfway to the weekend… I have question and it’s one that’s been asked of me, plus I’ve asked it myself. What is the genre you write in?

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It’s like sitting down to watch a movie. You have to choose what you want to watch. If you love Rom Com’s, then you’re not likely to choose a Horror Flick. Same with books, people are specific when they look for a book.

So, you’re probably saying, you write romance, that’s easy. But, when you put your book on a publishing site, it’s not that easy. Ok, the main genre is romance for me, but there are many styles of romance. It’s endless and sometimes gives me a headache. How do you break it down?

For example, when putting a book on Amazon for instance, you have to list 2 categories and then 7 keywords. Yikes! And if you get it wrong, you won’t explode, but your sales may not either. If you get it right, you nail it!

Now, the categories for romance are long and sort of specific. Yes, I know that I don’t write Dystopian Romance. To be honest, I had to look up Dystopian, just to clarify. And no, I don’t write Erotic Romance. But, does my book fall into Contemporary, New Adult, General, Comedy, Western, etc… The list goes on.

My best advice on this subject is to go to writers that write like you. See where they have their books at and always, always, look at the bestsellers in that style. Because if they aren’t bestsellers, then they may be doing the same thing as you, trying to wrap their head around it.

Oh, and don’t forget the keywords. This is something that I change up often and I mean often. Of course, sometimes Amazon will put your book in other keywords or categories, like if your book is short, it could be listed under Kindle Read under 2 hours. Do your research!!! Let me repeat that so that all of those in the back heard me, DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! Don’t you hate shouty capitals. Well, I hope I got your attention.

Go now and look at the book that’s not selling as well as it should. No, really, go now. You can’t afford for your book to be sitting in the wrong spot. It’s like a cook book that’s put under historical romance. Wrong! So get to it. And let me know how it goes. Make sure that you keep a spreadsheet on sales before you make the change, then after. See if it works and if you haven’t see a change in a couple of weeks, tweak it.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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The Structure I use to outline…

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m cozying up with my coffee cup. Morning’s are so hard, but after a couple more cups of coffee, I’ll have this thing in hand…

Ok, so I promised part 2 of my outline process would be about structure. And I always do my best to live up to my promises…

Structure!

Outlining gets me through the writing progress, but as I stated in my last post, there needs to be structure, the bones to the writing.

Now, this is the way I structure my writing process. It works for me and I hope it works for you.

  1. Start your book by introducing your main character. Don’t overdo the backstory, but let your reader know who the main character is all about, what they are looking for, or what they need to happen. Maybe it’s looking for Mr. Right or solving a mystery.
  2. Then, of course, things can’t go exactly right with your character, that would be boring. So, something needs to happen that changes their course, maybe setting them up for an exciting change. Maybe it’s an obstacle that’s put in front of their goal.
  3. At this point, the character will want to give up, but they press forward.
  4. In the middle or somewhere near it, your character should be at their breaking point. Your reader should be asking, what will happen next? I call this the top of the hill.
  5. As you start to let things happen that go right for the character, you need to toss in one last zinger. Your reader has started to feel like they know how it will end, but then…
  6. Now, and only now do you let your character have victory. This is when they slay the dragon, win the love, or find the killer.
  7. This is the closing out of your story. Your character marries their love, sees the killer put in prison, or whatever their turmoil was, ends and they see the rainbow, so to speak. Then they walk into the sunset, or fall off a cliff, if it’s a cliffhanger for the next book in the series…

Now, I now this was a very relaxed explanation, but that’s how I roll. I don’t get into fancy words, because that just confuses the situation. This is how I do it and it may or may not work for you. It works for me!

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

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Book 3 in The Journal Series


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Here’s an outline strategy that works for me…

It’s finally Saturday and what does that mean, well, for me that means that I’ll be writing and working on the outline for my next release. Outline? You mean you don’t do outlines for your books? Well, let me enlighten you to how I outline my books to make writing them a little more streamlined.

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Ok, let’s get a little into why I outline over winging it. To start building a house you have to lay out the plan, build the foundation, then the walls, and so on. Get the picture. It’s the same with writing a book, or so it is with me. I need to set up the groundwork first. That’s why I have a notebook for each series that lays out the details so I don’t have to go back and forth trying to remember if Ridge has blue eyes or if Sara is an author. But back to the outlining. Here goes:

1: Start with a blank paper. Don’t give yourself any distractions. Then get lost in the story that is unfolding in your mind. And remember, the outline doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re the only one that will see. So just write.

2: I separate my outline by chapters. But you can just do it like a book report, down the line, separating by paragraphs. It’s up to you. This is your outline, nobody elses!

3: At this point you should try to remember a couple of things. Even though you’re just putting down the bones of your work, you need to also remember that those bones have to hold up the story, so make sure that you have a start, middle, and end to each chapter or section of the book. Start your first plot, then build on it, bringing the reader to a moment of what’s going to happen. Then your main character hits a roadblock, something that keeps them from solving their problem or mystery. You’ll lead your reader on an adventure where they are left wondering if the problem will get solved.

4: At this point, you’ll be at the midpoint, or close. Make sure that you’re at the top of a hill with a looming cliff that the reader feels like they’re about fall off of, then toss them a rope. Give them hope for their hero or heroine. But as a writer, you’ll want to have a cut in that rope so that the story stays interesting up until you rescue your character and have a happy ending, or lead up to the next book if it’s a series.

5: Yep, I know. How the heck do you do all of this and not go crazy? Well, for me, I have to think of it like building that house we talked about earlier. If your bones aren’t strong enough, your house or story in this case, will crumble. And the point to all of this is to make sure your story holds up in the storm and by storm, I mean readers!

Part 2 of this post will be the structure. So, stay tuned for the next post and don’t forget, even if you don’t outline, make sure it has a rise and fall or your reader will give up before they ever find out the fate of the main character.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

And since I’m all about pirates this week, don’t forget to check out Captain Tanner in Safe in the Pirate’s Arms!

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Pirates! Who loves Pirates!!!

Argh! Hello me matey’s! NO, I’m not going to continue my pirate talk! I promise! But I am planning to talk about pirates, well, pirate romance to be exact!

My newest book release was released on Saturday. The Pirate of Her Desire is the 3rd book in The Journal Series. It’s my 3rd Pirate Book that I’ve released. I enjoy writing about pirates and the women that love them. They have always been known and dastardly men, but my pirates, they are devastatingly handsome and ruggedly protective of the women that capture their hearts. So, let me introduce you to 3 pirates!

Meet Captain Caleb Tanner. He’s known to be pirate by many, but to Serena, he’s hero and a good man. Although she was a stowaway on his ship, he meant to protect her with everything he had.

Serena’s breath caught in her throat as the white sails came into view. She watched The Lady sail into port grandly. Although it was a known Pirate ship she couldn’t help but admire it.
• • •
Captain Caleb Tanner wanted to see Serena again. He’d only caught site of her quickly on the docks. Who was she? She’d been like a breath of fresh air.
• • •
Their fates were entwined. Although he was deemed a pirate by most, those that knew him were aware of the truth. He would protect her…
With his life.
• • •
Their lives were changed forever the moment she stowed away on his ship.

Our 2nd pirate is First Mate – Tom Breckin

Tom Breckin knew the moment he saw the masked woman across the dance floor that he’d lost his heart. Then she disappeared only to reappear as a stowaway on his ship. What would he do with a woman on a pirate ship? Things are about to get interesting, but very dangerous.

And last, but certainly not least, meet the dashing Captain George Drake!

Sometimes when a dream becomes reality things don’t turn out like you imagined.

Since the first romance novel Amber read, she’d always dreamed of living on a pirate ship and capturing the heart of the captain. When the journal sends her to 1750 where she comes face to face with captain George Drake she realizes she might be headed for disaster. Is she prepared for the life on a real pirate ship versus the romanticized versions she’d always read in novels?

Captain George Drake, the most well-known pirate of his time can’t believe his eyes when he sees Amber on his ship. He is filled with anger but one look into her blue eyes and he’s not sure what he is going to do with his beautiful, feisty stowaway. Tensions rise as he struggles to hide this woman from his crew and keep her safe in the midst of a harsh battle. Can he make himself believe a simple journal brought her to his ship?

Will he risk the respect of his crew and everything he has worked toward for the woman that has dropped into his life or will he send her back to her own time? Will he be able to let her go? Will he have a choice?

Their story is action packed but will unfold into a love story to last for all time.

Now, didn’t that make your Thursday! Three handsome pirates to give you something to daydream about.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Make bad reviews work for you…

Good Tuesday morning! Let’s talk about reviews. Yes, I know, some say don’t read them. Some say read them. Me, I read them. But how do we react when we read them? Anger? Confusion? Laughter? Happy? Sad? There’s a lot of things that go through your head when you read reviews of your work. But I have a couple of things to discuss with you about them.

Make them work for you…

What am I talking about? Well, hear me out… Bad reviews can go two ways, one being they are just nasty and have no meaning for your writing, or two, they are well thought out reviews that can tell you something about the work.

Let’s talk about some ways to use bad reviews to make your work better. Here goes:

1: There are misspelled words and grammatical errors!

                We know that it doesn’t matter how many times your work is edited and even if it’s by the best editor out there, mistakes can be missed. I’ve read some of the bestsellers out there that have some mistakes that weren’t caught. SO, use that bad review as a reason to read through your work just one more time with a critical eye.

                Now, do remember, some people are not experts and what they think is a grammatical error, really isn’t. But, I still go back over my work, just in case I missed something, or my editor did. It’s worth the effort in the end. Especially if you get several reviews about the same problem.

2: The book was left on a cliffhanger!

                Ok, this one shocked me the first time I read it. When I read a book that’s part of a series, most of the time I expect a cliffhanger to get me to read the next one. Think about a series on television. They always leave you at the end of the season wondering what the heck just happened and what will happen next. The reason I put this one in my post is because if you get this and it bothers you, then insert a sentence in your description that says, ‘This book ends on a cliffhanger’. That way you don’t have to worry about a reader not understanding that it’s a series and can end on a cliffhanger.

3: The characters were not fleshed out…

                If you get this one, maybe look back at your work and see if you never described your main characters. I know that as a reader, I love to be able to picture the characters in my mind. I’ve received this type of review before and realized that I was so into writing the story, I never fleshed my character out. Yep, that was a facepalm moment for me. Go ahead and add a little description, because as a writer, you know in your mind that you have a picture in your mind of the character.

4: The book was too short… or This book was too long…

                Now this one took me by surprise. But yes, reviewers have opinions on the length of your book. There are those that don’t like them too long and those that don’t like them too short. My thoughts on this are, input in your description, at the end, ‘This is a novella’ or ‘This is a full-length book’. Maybe that little key point will stop some of those lower star reviews.

5: The story doesn’t flow well…

                Now this can be a problem if your story doesn’t flow well. My suggestion is to read the manuscript out loud and don’t do it as the writer, do it as a reader. Meaning, in your mind, you’re the reader wanting to be entertained by the story. Believe me, I do this with my books before I publish them and its eye opening. Sometimes I wonder what on earth was I thinking…

Now there are many more aspects of reviews to look at. Also look at the good ones. This keeps you motivated and let’s you know what your dedicated readers loved. Of course, there will always be those that give a bad review just to do it. I’ve had those.

If you do have a review that’s particularly nasty and doesn’t match your book, report it to the distributor whether it be Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iTunes. I had one that mentioned characters that weren’t even in my book. I reported it to Amazon and the review disappeared. But I had one that didn’t represent my book and they didn’t take it down.

The moral of the blog is this, use even the bad reviews for good. Let them roll off your back and move forward. Now, if you get only bad reviews, then I would definitely take another look at the work. But hey, smile and keep writing. A writer has to have a thick skin. Sometimes when I get my work back from my editor, I have to thicken my skin and push through it. So, keep up the good work!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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