Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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It’s Friday… Excerpt time!

Good Friday morning! Since it’s Friday and I’m beyond excited about my upcoming release of Safe, I’ll share a short excerpt from this fun new book that I’m working on the end of.

Drew couldn’t believe he let Rob talk him into this. When Rob called him an hour ago, he was furious with Hadley. He explained about the fire and her dismissal of the danger. His concern was beyond that of a sheriff for a woman in the community, there was more to it, but he didn’t have time to wrap his head around the technicalities.
The bulk of his night had been spent going over some of the people that Rob thought might be behind the man in the park. The evidence hadn’t been processed yet, so he didn’t have specifics, just suspicions. Tobias was at the top of Drew’s list.
“Drew, this is serious and she’s not taking it that way. I need for you to take her away from here until I can figure this out. This is more than just that man she saw in the park. I think whoever shot that man was there. Maybe she saw them, or they think she did. All I know is she’s stubborn and will need some coaxing in order to get her away from here. Make sure that she goes with you, no matter how you have to get her to do it.”
That made Drew smile. He’d dealt with stubborn soldiers before and she was a lot smaller than most of them so this should be a breeze. Then again, he’d seen that glint in her eyes that spoke of something deeper that could get in the way.
He’d planned on staying a couple of days, but even he knew there was something happening that directly affected Hadley. He walked up her front steps, knowing this wouldn’t be received well. But, he had a job to do and protecting her was now his job. He knocked on her door, his eyes moving to the nonexistent window to his left. He shook his head in disgust.
Robert assured him that he would call Hadley and let her in on the new plan. Although he was sure she wouldn’t go along with it. When he knocked again, his brows bunched in concern as out of habit, he reached for the gun on his side. Was she gone? Then he heard her coming toward the door. Her footsteps were light, but the gait told him she was weary.
Hadley opened the door only a couple of inches as she peered out at him. “What do you want?” Her voice was raspy as though she’d been sleeping or crying. Either way, he had to harden his heart to those beautiful, doe like eyes staring up at him.
“As Rob should have told you, pack a bag and come on. I don’t want to be driving into the middle of the night.” Drew said, his tone one of authority. Rob’s words rang in his head. ‘She won’t go willingly, but she’s in danger. They gave a distinct warning last night with the fire. The next thing will be worse, much worse.’
“I haven’t spoken with Rob since he brought me lunch. My phone went dead over an hour ago. As I told him earlier, I’m not going to the hotel.” She started to close the door, but his strong hand stopped it.
“Dead phone or not, I’ve been hired to protect you. So, go pack a bag. I don’t have a lot of time.”
Hadley turned and left him standing in the doorway. “I’m not going anywhere with you or Rob, so you can go back to where ever it is you came from.” She said over her shoulder.
Drew stood there for a minute, wondering what he was doing here. Then he thought about this tiny woman trying to fight off what he thought was coming at her. There was no way he could let that happen. “Please, just pack a bag. Don’t make me have to take matters into my own hands. You won’t like it.” He raised his brows, putting his hands in his pockets as he leaned in the doorway.
“Don’t threaten me.” Hadley grumbled, walking up the dark hallway.
“Lady, I don’t make threats. I only speak the truth and if you’re not out here with a packed bag in ten minutes, then I’ll be forced to handle it myself.” Drew’s voice was deep as he stepped into the den, his tone not wavering. He took in the burnt furniture. As he shook his head, he noticed that she’d come back into the room with him.
“Why do you want to help me? You don’t even know me.” Hadley crossed her arms across her chest as she waited on his answer.
“Rob is one of my best friends and when he’s worried, that makes me worry. The only way to keep you safe is to take you far away from here. I’ve been hired to escort you to somewhere safe until this is taken care of.” Drew said.
“What do you mean, far away from here?”
Drew took another step into the den, the scent of burnt wood making his eyes water. “I’m taking you to my ranch four hours north of here. There you will be safe and I can keep an eye on you.”
“No you’re not. I’m staying here in my house.”
“As I said, that’s not an option. The people who seem to have a problem with you are not playing games. The next attack will be worse. They tried to burn the house down around you, so what do you think will happen next?”
Hadley shrugged. She’d made up her mind earlier to just ignore all of this. Although that most likely wouldn’t make the situation go away. The fact that she was afraid of what was happening only heightened her sense of awareness that Drew was inside her house. In her own introverted way, she thought that if she kept her mind occupied, then it would all just go away. And in another thought, she knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“Would you like for me to enlighten you on how these types of people work?” Drew waited for her to respond, but she only kept her back to him. He knew she was listening. “Ok, I’ll tell you. First they gave you a broken window as a warning. Then before daylight today, they tossed a lit bottle through your window as a wake up call. The next warning will send you to the hospital if not worse. And I don’t intend for that to happen. At least not on my watch.”

I hope you enjoyed this small tidbit of Safe, the first book in my new series, ‘In Harm’s Way’.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Murder in a romance novel…

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Ok, so who am I murdering? That’s a secret… No, I’m not murdering anyone for real, just in my manuscript. But you may be say, ‘you write romance’. Yes, I do, but I’ve expanded into the suspense, mystery romance side of things. So, murder is on the menu.

But, how do you solve a murder mystery while still having elements of romance? Well, that’s not as easy as it sounds. The trick is to know how to multi-task. You’ve got to keep your investigation going in the foreground while having some romance going on in the background. In a lot of suspense, mystery romances, the romance side is filled in between the mystery conversation. The characters can have romantic dinners, share some eye contact that lingers, and stolen kisses while investigating.

So, yes, you can have romance and solve a murder mystery all at the same time. Just make sure that you don’t do romance overkill. In a suspense, mystery type romance, most readers want more of the mystery suspense than the romance. Or at least that’s what most readers have told me.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Write what you love… Not what’s expected!

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Good morning! I’ve been swamped with taxes and office work, so I’ve been a little absent lately. But don’t worry, there is still writing going on in the background. Safe is almost complete and I’m so excited to bring it to you soon. Now, on to the post.

There are so many trends out there right now that it makes my head spin. So many authors fall into the trend hole and can’t seem to climb back out. Yes, it’s alright to write following those trends, but not if it puts your writing style in a cramp. Sometimes current trends are not what you excel at and that’s alright. Be yourself, not what others expect.

Every writer has their own voice. And we have a passion for different things. Me, I love writing clean romance that inspires others. And now I’ve added mystery and suspense to that love. But for so long I wouldn’t add that element for fear that it wouldn’t be accepted in my genre. I was mistaken and now that I’m almost done with the first novel in that genre, I know that I made the right choice. It’s unexpected, but wonderful. I’ve never felt more excitement over writing as I do at this moment. I feel that this is a huge step for my career.

Now, you need to sit back and figure it out. What do you love to write about? If it’s a couple falling in love over a lost puppy, then write about it. What’s important is writing about what you’re passionate about. Just focus on that.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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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…