Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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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…

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

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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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What’s your favorite writing season?

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It’s the first day of Fall! Fall is one of my favorite seasons. The beauty is bountiful and then there’s pumpkin spice. Yeah, I know, I’m obsessed with pumpkin spice, but it’s so good…

Anyhoo, for some reason, my writing brain goes nuts in the Fall. Maybe it’s the cooler temperatures or the feeling in the air. I just know I write faster and more in the Fall, it’s crazy but true.

So, what’s your favorite writing season? Why?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Stories filling my head…Yikes!

Good Wednesday morning! It’s halfway to the weekend, so relax a little. You’ve got this.

As a writer, sometimes the stories fill my head and I can’t get them out fast enough. Some days it’s hard to focus on one story without the other stories trying to edge their way in. That’s my problem at the moment. I have so many stories running through my head that sometimes I think my head might explode.

The picture I have of my brain is a little hamster running on her wheel. Yep, that’s my brain for sure. So, how do I prioritize12551866924_826fc1afef this craziness filling my head, I outline. I have so many stories pushing for first place in line, but only one or two can hold that spot at a time. To help with the breaking in line syndrome, I sit down and outline the fussiest, pushiest stories. At least that puts them at ease, for a time, but soon they are pushy again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a problem exactly. As a writer, this is a good problem to have, you just have to learn how to keep your stories in line, which is the hard part.

So, how do you wrangle the stories running rampant through your brain?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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It’s Monday…all day…

Good morning! Why are Monday’s so rough? It might take the whole pot of coffee this morning. But on the good side, it’s slightly cooler this morning, so, I’ll be doing a little writing outside this morning before I head to the office.

As I’ve been telling you, I’m working on a Scottish Highlander series. I was almost done with the first book when it happened. I know, you’re asking what ‘it’ is, well, let me explain. Ok, I was typing along, loving the storyline when all of a sudden the story took a detour. It went downhill from there, but I kept trudging through, thinking it would get better, but alas, it didn’t.

Needless to say, I pulled back, read it from word one and found where the story went wrong, then did the unimaginable, I pressed delete for two whole chapters, two! It hurt, but on the other hand, it felt liberating. When I started back up, the story took on new meaning and the story is now going well.

It’s funny when you know something isn’t working, but you keep going anyway, just hoping it will change. Now, I’m working on getting back the two chapters of work and finishing up. Since this one will be sent to the editor that wants highlander romances desperately, I’ll be working on the synopsis for the two books that come after it. Yep, I’m submitting for a trilogy. Fingers crossed!!!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…2350462608_44a5fa8914


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Covers…Edits…Excitement

It’s Friday! Plain and simple, I’m ready for the weekend. It’s been a busy week in the accounting office, along with the fact that I’ve had a summer cold which has made put me in slow motion, so my writing has suffered, but hopefully this weekend I’ll make it up.

As for my book Tuscany, which is in the hands of Solstice Publishing, is moving forward. I turned in the last of the heavy edits this week. I’ve learned a lot during these edits. My editor from Solstice has been wonderful. She actually made it a learning process. Her comments were inspiring and some were even comical, which made it a fun time, which is unusual for editing.

Yes, I’ve seen the cover that has been designed for Tuscany, but I can’t share it yet. As soon as I’m given the go ahead, I’ll be sharing it. Let’s just say, I’m excited. The book is beyond the first editing process and now will go on to the run through to make sure that everything was addressed before it goes to publication. So, hope to have some publishing news soon!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Cinnamon in my coffee…

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Good Friday morning! Yes, I said Friday… Although I’ll work through the weekend trying to finish the tax returns on my desk, I still have a writing deadline looming. But, to keep things exciting, I added cinnamon to my coffee this morning. It’s good, you should try it.

But, now on to my post and the cinnamon is part of it. Adding the cinnamon just gave me a different taste and that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I was given the pleasure of becoming a guest blogger on the site Reading As My Therapy and I’ll be a regular on Melissa’s site. It’s an exciting new place to give authors a voice and place to showcase their work. It’s also available on Facebook, so come by and follow here on WordPress to keep up, but don’t forget to go to Facebook too for a follow.

Here’s the link to my first post: https://melissacl.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/a-light-upon-my-heart/

Things are getting exciting with my writing career and I can’t help but smile at the response to my work. I’ve met so many wonderful people that added cinnamon to my life, in other words, all of you make my life special, just as the added spice to my morning coffee. I thank you from the bottom of my heart…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Dust Bunnies of the brain…

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It’s Monday folks! Does your brain feel like this dust filled pan? Mine does. I actually timed my writing this morning so that I did my allotted work before I attacked social media. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could pull out a pan from our brain and clear the dust and cobwebs?

I have several exciting announcements coming up in the next couple of days and weeks. Along with some preorders going up and then a series announcement that has me excited, I’ll be doing a cover reveal for a couple of upcoming books.

If anyone is interested in helping me make these announcements, especially the cover reveals, just let me know. I want to get the word out, far and wide. I’m just bowled over with excitement about the new covers for the works in progress. When you see them, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

So, how’s your Monday so far? Here’s to hoping it’s great…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23408922@N07/23807288069″>Project 366 #4: 040116 Harder To Breathe</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;


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Putting it in perspective

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Good Wednesday morning! Today’s the day I find out if I made it to through the 1st phase of the #manuscriptmatch writing contest for Love Inspired Historical from Harlequin. Keeping fingers crossed and saying many prayers!

Do you organize your writing? By that I mean, do you put it into an organizer and set up your writing schedule? As you know from other posts, I’ve began to organize my writing so that I’m more aware of my deadlines and word count needs.

Of course, I have my handy journal calendar that has my deadlines for things like, word count daily requirements, also I have to give my manuscript to my editor, when it needs to be put into Amazon to meet the preorder requirements and when it officially releases. But this past week, I went one step further. I made a file for all of my releases for the next eight months. I now have a place to put research that I print, outlines, and a page with all of my important dates regarding the manuscript. I can even put a copy of any ads I’ve run on that one book.

It may seem like a lot of work, but it actually cuts down on the workload. I have all of the files in this nice, vinyl accordion file that looks nice and keeps all of the paperwork from cluttering my writing space. Try it, you won’t regret it. This is especially helpful when you also have a full-time job. I now have everything at my fingertips. Of course, I have a lot of this in my Scrivener program too, but this way I can do plotting without opening my computer if I don’t want to.

As always, Good writing and May God Bless You…

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/58612482@N07/12551866924″>02.07.2014</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;


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Patience is a Virtue!

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Patience… What exactly does ‘Patience’ mean? Well, according to Google, it means the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Umm, wow, do writers need patience? Yes!

I’ve always been a mostly patient person on the outside, but on the inside, I’m a nervous wreck. Like today, my brain is a ball of mush because the #ManuscriptMatch with Harlequin is over at 1pm tomorrow, so I have to wait. But, I need to be patient, because as my grandmother used to say, ‘a watch pot never boils’.

As a writer, we have to have patience and here is a couple of reasons why:

  1. Of course, we have to be patient as we write the manuscript. That can be a hard one. The story goes through most writer’s mind faster than our fingers can type, but we have to be patient that the story will be finished when it’s finished.
  2. Waiting on the edits, that can be hard. You’ve worked hard to get that manuscript done, now it’s time to wait.
  3. If it’s on preorder, then you have to wait for the final release day. This one can be hard for me. I get excited when it’s all polished and pretty, just sitting there, staring at me as the clock slows to a snail pace.
  4. And contest, yep, that’s the mode I’m in now. You enter, then you wait, if you win a phase, then you supply the next part, and you wait, then wait some more. At least this newest contest is only a couple of hours away. It can really make you a wreck.
  5. Here’s a good one and one I’ve heard from fellow authors, you turn your work into a publisher and have to wait for a response. That wait can be grueling. I have two submitted to Avon and I’ve been curious, but trying to hold on.

So, are you a patient person or writer. What do you do to keep from gnawing your nails to the bone or eating everything around you?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Just a little additional mention, my newest book ‘Seaside Beginnings’ is taking off. The response has been humbling, to say the least. I’ve received some of the sweetest emails about it. Ladies are flocking in to ask for more of the over forty books. I’m excited to say that by the end of 2016 there will be another one, but I have several coming out before it. So thanks to all the wonderful response, it makes this writer smile with joy.

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85608594@N00/24938724510″>Melody Beattie Believing that things happen too slowly or too quickly is an illusion. Timing is perfect</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;