Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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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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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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Monday Writing Tips

Now, on to today’s writing tip. You know when you have a story in your head, but you have a deadline looming on another story. Yeah, that’s a problem for a writer. But I have a solution, one that helps me out.

Good morning! I do hope everyone had a great weekend. For me, it was awesome.

When a new story idea comes into my brain, I have to get some of the idea down on paper or it will interrupt my other work. So, this is my tip. Give yourself at thirty minutes to write it down or put down an outline. Once you’ve given the new story a voice, it will help you to get back to the previous piece of work. Trust me, it helps.

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


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Women of Magnolia Hill is coming to a close…

Good morning! It’s Wednesday and we’re halfway there.

As I work on the final book of the Women of Magnolia Hill Saga, I feel drained. Why is it so hard to end a series?  Characters and places that fill our head also fill our heart. But saying goodbye, well, that isn’t easy.

This series began a long time ago with the first book, Victoria. It was filled with a spirit that engulfed me. As the series progressed, so did the years and the times. It went from Emma Rose to Lily and now in the final chapter, Georgia. But, what will be the fate of the loved Magnolia Hill? Will it still stand or will it fall from time?

Here’s a short, short snippet from Georgia:

Georgia whirled around, anger filling her eyes. “I’m not leaving my home. He wants a fight, well he’s got one. There’s one thing you don’t know about the women of Magnolia Hill. We don’t give up at any cost.”

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As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Writing from your heart…

Good morning! It’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been super busy getting my latest manuscript finished and sent to my editor. I want to share with you what I’ve learned over the last couple of months while working on my newest project.

1: Write what’s in your heart. Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t write, all that does is tamp down your inner voice. So, fill your pages with what your heart gives you and trust it.

2. Give your writing all that you have. When you get done writing each day, you should feel drained because you’ve put everything into it, but also feel accomplished because you’ve given your muse free reign.

3. Never write something that doesn’t feel right. If it doesn’t feel right, then it shouldn’t be put on paper. Go with your instinct.

SO, do you write from your heart? That’s what I did with the manuscript I just finished. I’m satisfied with the results, which is surprising because I always have that little doubt with each piece of work. But not this time.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

black ball point pen with brown spiral notebook

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Mondays, Memories…Coffee!

Good Monday morning! Why are Monday’s so hard? I think somehow the weekends have grown shorter or is that just me?

Yesterday, I took a short walk outside. It was short due to the high pollen count outside. My allergies are not fans of pollen. But, anyhow, as I walked I saw the two things in the pictures above. As a country girl, these two items are part of my pleasant childhood memories. The dandelions were fun to blow on, sending the little fluffy white seeds floating into the sky, of course as children, we didn’t know we were spreading the flowers everywhere. Then, of course, there were mad searches in among the patches of clover for the elusive 4-leaf clover. I’ve found a couple in my lifetime, which usually ended in a wish. But the memories are heartwarming. It makes me sad that children today, for the most part, don’t take part in this kind of fun.

Several of you have emailed me, asking about my latest manuscript. Well, I can tell you that the first half is in the capable hands of my editor. I’m working on the second half, which is exciting. As you know, I outline, so I’m seeing the ending coming and all I can say is, it’s different from anything I’ve published thus far. So, keep watching for release dates and snippets, which are coming…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

P.S.: It’s Monday, so grab an extra cup of coffee for the road.

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It’s Release Day…..

Breakwater Lane Front Cover

Good Thursday morning! It’s release day! Do I sound excited? Well, I am… Breakwater officially released today and I’m beyond excited. This series is so much fun to write and I can’t wait to hear from my adoring readers.

**Small Town Romance**

When Jordan Reed inherits her grandfather’s deli in small town Wishful Harbor, her life is turned upside down. Things start to look better when her childhood crush, Skylar, turns out to be her new contractor. When someone tries to intervene in Jordan and Skylar’s relationships the mysteries of Jordan’s family start to unravel. What she learns could change her life and her family’s reputation forever.

If you didn’t preorder your copy, it’s still only .99 for today only! So grab it now…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

https://www.amazon.com/Breakwater-Lane-Wishful-Harbor-Book-ebook

 

 

 


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Easter Sale!

For a limited time, my bestselling Christian Historical Romance, A Light Upon My Heart is on sale for only .99!

A Light Upon My HeartFront Cover https://www.amazon.com/Light-Upon-My-Heart-ebook/dp/B01DIEH8GI

 

Naomi Harris is only 18 when she’s sent from Georgia to Montana to marry a stranger. Joseph Walsh is a wealthy, 30-year-old, ranch owner, but he’s lonely and in need of a Christian bride. Naomi’s poor home life doesn’t prepare her for life on a large ranch and Joseph’s not sure how to react to the innocent young woman that he brought across the country to be his bride. Many obstacles stand in their way as they strive to make their marriage work, but can they get past them? The worst one is the secret that Naomi keeps, it could destroy what they’ve worked to gain. She can’t go back home, ever…

 

Tax season will be over on the 18th and then you’ll get an overload of me 😉 See all of you when I find my way out of the pile of returns… In four days!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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That moment…The perfect ending!

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Good morning! It’s halfway to the weekend, you can do this!

As I sat this morning, finishing the last minute edits on Promises Made, I read the last paragraph and sighed. Have you ever just really knew when you typed the perfect words to end a book? Well, that’s the moment I had this morning. But, with that being said, I also cried knowing what those last words meant for my characters and also, knowing I can’t say a word yet!!!

Promises Made is taking me to new heights as a writer. It’s different from my other historical romances and has brought me so much excitement for the storyline. I can see all three books in my head and I can’t wait for you to meet Nash and Joy. You will fall in love with them.

Joy is this sweet young woman that believes in romance and love. She’s lost everything, but gained more than she ever expected. Her humble upbringing has made her a strong woman with good morals.

Nash Collins is a rich rancher that was born as a half-breed), his mother was Cheyenne. He is fiercely loyal and needs a wife. The moment they set eyes on one another, Nash knows that she’ll be his one day. But he also knows that it could be impossible until fate turns the tables.

So, be watching for the release that is coming this Friday!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Where did January go?

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It’s hard to believe that it’s already February! I feel like I just got settled into the new year and then, bam, another month has passed by in a flash. My grandmother always said, the older you get, the faster times goes by. Of course, when I was young, I thought that was the silliest thing ever. Now, I get it.

So much water has flowed under this bridge that some days I can hardly believe that I’m nearing the half-century mark. Don’t go there! I don’t feel my age and I certainly don’t act it, but it’s there none the less. And to think, my baby is graduating high school in May, what???

Another milestone I’m facing this year, but it’s a good one is that I’ve been a published author for five years. May 12th will mark Ghost Lover’s fifth year in publication. To think, this time five years ago, I was still skeptical about putting my name and work out to the public and now I’m nearing the publication of my 30th book. Yes, I said 30! That’s another thing that baffles my mind. I guess the old adage is true, time flies when you’re having fun!

This Sunday, the hubby and I will celebrate 23 years of blissful marriage. Some days it feels like just yesterday, then other days it feels like we’ve been together our whole lives. That’s what romance does to you, it blows your mind. I wouldn’t take anything for all of the adventures we’ve had and the things we’ve shared.

Now, as I sit here, getting ready to do my morning writing, I’m gazing at my calendar. Yep, I had better get off this post before I fall further behind and have to deal with my assistant’s frown. She has a tendency to look at my writing calendar and tsk tsk at me. LOL!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You!