Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Friday Editing Thoughts…

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Good Friday morning! It’s been a crazy week in the tax office. Between deadlines and paperwork, I’ve been swamp. My reprieve is my writing. Yesterday I was able to get lost in my words for a whole thirty minutes. And that was an accomplishment. But for those thirty minutes, I was somewhere else…

Now, with this new book, I’m trying something new. Although I started sending my editor two chapters at a time during my last book, this time I’m editing some before I send it. And yes, I normally edit as I go anyway, but this time is different. I’m delving into my words even deeper the first time around.

I’ve been really working on the words that I tend to use a little too often. It’s funny how we lean on some words more often than we should. So, I’m finding new, more colorful words to take their place. Take for instance the word ‘look’. I seem to have a love for that word, lol! That is one word that I’m having a hard time letting go. I am replacing it with gaze, glimpsed, focused, stared, gaped, etc. You get the picture.

With this new form of editing, I’m using the thesaurus a lot. It’s a tool that is most important to a writer. And they say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but this one is learning so much from viewing the thesaurus. See, I’m using a new word.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Toss a stone… Watch the ripple…

As I sit here, sipping my coffee and getting my mind ready for the day, I’ve been thinking about my current WIP. It’s been such a refreshing new project that I’ve enjoyed working on.

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Now, I could have stayed with my usual genre and kept the water smooth and ripple free. But, that wouldn’t be fun. I’ve been writing romance for several years. My genre ranged from sweet romance, to paranormal. So, how is my current WIP different?

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My current WIP is a Christian Suspense Romance. What is that you may be asking? Well, it’s a clean romance that has Christian elements, along with suspenseful and thrilling parts, but as always that some romance sprinkled in. And with it being Christian, you know that it won’t be too over the top gory or crude.

So, I went from keeping the waters calm and smooth, to tossing a pebble and wrecking the calm waters. And it’s the best move I’ve made in a long time. I can’t wait to get it out to my readers because I think they’ll fall in love with the characters and be glued to the story. It won’t be anything you expect either.

Ripple the water… Make a change… Get a refreshing new look at romance…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Show, Don’t Tell… Writing to inspire…

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It’s barely above 25 degrees this morning here in Georgia. So, burr… It makes my coffee that much better, if that’s even possible. Anyhoo, today we’re talking Show, Don’t Tell… What? Yes, that’s I said. So here goes!

Have you ever read a book and you felt like you were there? Why? Because the writer put into words what the character was seeing. Of course sometimes in our own imagination, we see the world the writer creates. But, it’s important for a writer to let us see their world that is being created with words. Help the reader take the journey with you. And as a writer, you know what I’m talking about. We see the story in our head, but the reader doesn’t unless we let them in on the whole thing, not just the words.

What do I mean? Well, if your character walks out and it’s bitterly cold, then you want your reader to shiver. But how do you do that? Let’s go through an example:

Telling: Rose walked outside and it was cold. She got the mail, then went back to the house to warm up. (Ok, so here in this example, the writer is telling you it’s cold outside, but you don’t know how cold or anything further than it’s cold. This would work, but let’s try this again.)

Showing: Rose opened the door to an artic blast hitting her as she stepped outside. The temperature had dropped to well below freezing and the wind seemed to slice through her thin coat. The walk to the mailbox was bone chilling as she struggled to keep her jacket tightly around her. When she turned to go back to the house, she looked forward to the crackling fire that was waiting for her. The moment she shut the door, leaving the bitter cold outside, the warmth of the fire seem to melt the ice from her as she held up her hands to give them a good thaw. (Now, you feel the cold, the wind, and the characters reaction to those elements. Not to mention, it was more wordy so you made more of a punch. See the difference.)

So, with that, think about how you express things in your writing. The reader doesn’t know the wall is red until you tell them. But remember, tell them the shade red, how the red makes the character feel, etc. Get it. Now, go out there and write up a storm, literally.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Writing scenes ahead…

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Good morning from icy Georgia! It’s below freezing and the precipitation falling isn’t rain… Time for the bulky sweaters that collect dust, but I keep them for just this sort of day…

Now, on to the post. Have you ever wrote a scene ahead of time? I keep a notebook beside my laptop for just this thing. And I label them as what they are. About 90% of the time I know in my head how the book ends and if I’m working on the first half and hit a snag, I’ll write the ending. It inspires me to push through the fog that clouds my thoughts sometimes.

But, will those scenes change and evolve as the writing prior to them does. Certainly, but it keeps you focused on the upcoming events. I’ve written several pages of scenes, then totally deleted some of them as the characters went in another direction. But it’s exciting to step ahead and see the future.

Did I say I could see the future? Yes, in my writing I can. So don’t ask me to read tea leaves or anything like that. I can’t see that kind of future. So, start looking ahead in your WIP and see what can be. It will help with the current part of the process.

As always, good writing and <ay God Bless You…


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What’s up with Safe…

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Good Friday morning! I’m getting so excited about my current work in progress, Safe. It’s taking me on a journey that I never thought I’d take in my writing. This book is a new adventure and I’m ready for it.

So, you may be wondering what’s up, well… I’m learning how much adrenaline comes in when you’re writing suspenseful mystery. One scene had me so tensed up that every sound in the house made me jump. It’s amazing. I’m so pumped up when I finish writing scenes that I have a hard time stopping to go to work.

I can’t wait to get finished with it so that I can get it out to all of you. The two main characters are such polar opposites, but yet they seem to be drawn to one another. The fun part is, they don’t even realize it. Drew is such a protective soul and Hadley is an introvert with a dislike for the outside world. Together they are explosive. The dark place that both of them are in comes from two very different sources, but together they seem to get darker. They have to fight to keep the darkness from over shadowing the light at the end of the tunnel. And the mystery that surrounds them in this spine tingling romance will have you guessing until the end.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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The story that dies slowly…

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I have several books that started out really good, but then the story lost something. Sometimes when we’re working on a manuscript it loses something and maybe even we lose the story for a moment. Usually I can sit it down for a little while and pick it back up later.

Although some stories do come back in slowly, others just don’t make the cut. I went through my files this weekend and eliminated some stories that started out as a ‘great idea’, but when I tried to create the bones of the story, it flopped. It was like ripping off a Band-Aid, I did it quick and took a deep breath. Maybe one day those ideas will flow back in.

In order for a story to live and become something worth publishing, it has to be strong enough to flesh out. If you can’t even create the bone structure of the story, then how will it ever get to the final stages. After all these years of writing, I’ve learned not to dwell of the things that just don’t work. If it’s starting slow, then put it to the side, work on something else, then come back to it. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 


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Indie Publishing… Growing

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3 Ways Indies Can Improve Self-Publishing

As a writer I see a lot of writers come and go in the spot light. It’s amazing how many books are appearing on Amazon and other platforms daily. When I started publishing my work in 2012, you could stay on the front page of new releases for at least 24 hours. Now you’re lucky if you stay there for 24 minutes. 

I’ve found out a couple of things about some of this craziness and that’s the indie authors that haven’t done their homework. Here are 3 of the many ways indies can improve self-publishing and the stigma that goes with it. But also, things have changed on that front too. Now more people are self publishing that ever before.

1: Editing. How many times do you edit your book? I know how exciting it can be to get to the words ‘The End’ and want it out there right then, but that’s a mistake. Make sure you read your work several times and one of those needs to be out loud. I recently went in and revised one of my first published books due to the fact that I put it out there way too fast. Editing is a very important part of the publishing process and as a self-publisher that’s up to you the writer. Also, there are many great editors out there that don’t cost you an arm and leg to hire them. It’s well worth the money and your work will benefit from an extra eye.

2: Cover Design: This is critical. When I look back at my first covers that I designed, I seriously laugh. They were so boring and uninspiring, but being an accountant I didn’t train on creative design software. That’s when I put me assistant to work as my cover designer. She took one look at my work and said ‘not happening’. She went to work and designed the awesome covers that now grace my books. This is the first thing that a potential reader sees. If it doesn’t inspire them, they will go on to the next book. And on top of that, make sure it’s relevant with the book and make it vibrant.

3: The Book Blurb: As a self-publisher this is solely your responsibility. This is one of the hardest things to do for me. Don’t get too out there. Make sure it’s very expressive and use lots of expressive words, but don’t give a lot away. If you give away the ‘who done it’ then there’s no sense reading the book. Make several different ones and have some other people read it. See what they think. Also, in the blurb, give the person a sense of thrill for picking up your book.

This was just a few of the ways that help a self published author. And remember, these are important parts of your book. Of course, the inside is important, but to get someone to actually see the inside, you need to get them to buy it first.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Groundhogs…Coffee…Writing

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It’s Groundhog Day! Let’s hope it doesn’t go like the movie. Anyway, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so six more weeks of winter. Whether you believe the groundhog or not, it’s fun to see what he does and if his predictions come true. But, whatever happens, we can’t do anything to change it, so life goes on.

Here in Georgia we’re finally seeing the sunshine this morning. As I sip my second cup of coffee, I’m reviewing two more chapters of Safe, my current work in process. With temperatures in the upper 20’s, this coffee helps warm me up. These hardwood floors are mighty cold this morning. But, one step outside and I’m reminded how warm it really is inside. The icy air hits your face like a ton of bricks. So, wrap up and stay warm today.

As for writing, this is the month for romance. The question of the day is this, can you squeeze in romance in a crime thriller? The answer is yes. Even a horror can have some romance element without taking away from the story line. For me, adding an element of romance just makes for a better story. Of course, that could be that I’m a romance writer and I try to put romance in everything I do.

With that being said, my new WIP is coming along quite well. It’s full of suspense, dabbled with excitement and a couple of spine tingling moments. I’m starting to really enjoy this new added genre in my romance books. The thrill of mystery keeps my fingers typing and my mind working. I was so enthralled in the story last night that the dog barked and I almost jumped out of my skin. But that’s what makes it fun, to get lost in the story.

In other news, I’ll have a featured article in the Southern Writer’s Magazine a couple of days before Valentines Day, so keep watching for it. It’s such an honor to be able to talk writing on such a wonderful platform. As writers, we need to be able to spread our wings.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Writers stay healthy!

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I have the rainy Monday morning blahs… But sipping some strong coffee, so hoping this feeling passes. So, let’s dive into writers and their health. It’s a double edged sword…

If you’re like me, you work a day job and write in your free time, which leaves precious little time to exercise. Even full time writers don’t take the time to exercise. So, what do we do? The fact is, it’s important to get moving as much as possible. Yes, we love to chase the words, but are we doing it at the cost of our health.

Let’s look at some things you can do to help stay healthy and keep up with your word count:

  • Get in those steps! Try to get in at least 10,000 steps a day. Yes, I know it’s hard, but even on a rainy day you can walk inside. I’ve set a timer on my phone to make me get up and move. Today is my first day of keeping track of it better. I’ve been slacking since I had a book deadline, not to mention it’s tax season. So, get up and march in place for a few minutes, or walk to the mailbox a couple of times a day. Whatever it takes to get those steps up? Give Yoga a try. It’s a great mind clearing way to get healthier and stay in shape.
  • If you have to snack while writing, then grab something healthy. A couple of examples are: 1. Freeze some grapes and eat when writing. 2. Cut up an apple and get a little peanut butter to dip it in. 3. Eat low salt nuts such as almonds or cashews. 4. Yogurt with granola. 5. Cut up veggies such as carrots or even bell pepper and dip in ranch.
  • If you grab coffee, like me, then opt for no creamer, or less creamer. Maybe even grab some decaf at times. Also, remember those fancy coffees from the coffee shop add a lot of calories to your day. Opt for a simple cup of joe.
  • Tea is great, unless you’re southern like me and love it sweet. Change it up to green tea or herbal with antioxidants to help you out.
  • Last, but not least, stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. I keep a bottle of water with me all of the time. Get in your allotted amount of water a day. If you can’t handle plain water, then grab some of those no calorie flavorings. I love those. But staying hydrated is important.

Remember, the only way to get that bestseller seen is to be healthy enough to finish it. If you’re not here, then it won’t see the light of day. And as your fellow writer, I want to see you succeed and stay healthy. This goes for me. Let’s start this today!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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When you cry at the end…

Good morning! I’m a little emotional this morning. I typed THE END on the Mistletoe Ranch Series late last night. To say I’m sad to see these characters go away is an understatement. This has been one of those series that totally filled me with joy.

Today marks the first day after the Mistletoe Ranch. That may sound strange, but to a writer, it’s all too clear. You spend almost everyday with these characters and it’s surreal when they no longer fill your writing time.

But as with anything, you step away and start a new manuscript. So, I say goodbye to Denver and Maddy, but maybe one day I’ll revisit them. You never know, I am a writer and we’re a different people. We love our characters fiercely and have a hard time letting go of them.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Release date: January 29th!

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