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…

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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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Still holding on…

This morning it looks like fall outside, but by lunchtime it will feel like mid summer. The summer feeling is still holding on, even though fall is pushing hard, trying to slip in. By the end of the week, it’s looking like fall might win.

It’s the same with writing. We start out pushing our first story, then wait. How will it be received? Will it make it to a best sellers list or will it flop? Will I be able to push another story out?

I’ve spoken with authors that work on stories for years before they try to publish them, then others, like myself, push out several stories in one year. But how many of us make it to the next stage, full time writer. Surprisingly enough, not many make it to that status.

We push ourselves, and our work, sometimes to the point that we think it’s pointles, then that sliver of hope comes over the horizon, like the sliver of a moon that stays in the sky after dawn. Maybe it’s a contract with a publisher. Maybe it’s the bestseller list that you hit. Or maybe it’s a great review. Whatever it is, it helps you hold on.

For me it’s the pursuit of the story. My head is filled with them, sometimes to the brink of exploding. I have to get them out, and writing does it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to write full time. So I push forward, I strive for my goal.

My advice to all my fellow author is to push forward, keep your goal in your sites and don’t give up. All it takes is one book to send you to the top, so keep writing and posting. You never know, the one you finish today could be the one that catapults you to a top ranking author.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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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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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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Cloudy Morning Writing…

Good Tuesday morning! It’s one of those, ‘I want to stay in bed longer’ kind of mornings, but alas, I had to get up and fix breakfast then lunch for my son before school. Now, two cups of coffee later, my eyes are still heavy. Menopause, I blame that for my lack of sleep.

Now, the good side of not sleeping and lying awake; story ideas! As I lay there in the middle of night, refusing to get up and read, I worked on part of my pirate romance that was stumping me. In my mind, I had it figured out. The funny thing is, when I did drift off to sleep, well, I dreamed about pirates. That’s not a bad thing, I like pirates.

So, this morning as I start back on the manuscript, I’ll put the newly thought out part into words. I’m so loving my new pirate romance. It’s pulling me into the story. But of course, all of my books pull me in and envelope me. That’s how I keep my head in the work.

With the cloudy, dreary morning, I struggle with my sleepy eyes, but hopefully, the third cup of coffee will do the job. Especially since I have to get my act together and get to the office in a couple of hours!

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


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Deadlines keep you focused…

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Deadlines are all around us! We have deadlines for tax filing, bill paying, publishing our manuscripts, getting to work, the list goes on. Some days the deadlines seemed to crowd in and boggle our brains, but to put it in perspective, deadlines keep us on track!

As with my work, I’m an accountant which means I’m on a constant deadline. There’s payroll taxes due, sales tax due, income tax filing, and many more items that make your head spin. Maybe that’s why a lot of accountants are introverts, we don’t have time to be anything else!

With writing, you have deadlines for publishing, completed book covers, blurbs, contests, dare I go on. I heard that groan from the masses, yep, you know where I’m coming from. But the deadlines keep us focused. So, maybe we don’t keep up with our word counts and end up putting twenty thousand words in two days, but we get it done 😉

SO, do deadlines help you or make you crazy?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

By the way, I met my deadline for the finished manuscript for Lily with 24 hours left over. That made me give myself a high five.

Lily Release ad!

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7815007@N07/16931340822″>Educational Postcard: “A deadline is helpful….”</a> 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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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.

Seaside ad

 

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;


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Reading in bed…

Literature Onboard

It’s finally Friday folks! I can tell you this, thank goodness it’s Friday, but of course, I’ll be working all weekend. At least, it’s a more laid back work situation on the weekend.

How many of you grew up reading in bed? For me, when I was younger, I’d sit in bed and read every night. After my parents told me to turn out the light, I’d pull the covers over my head, with my trusty flashlight, then continue the story that had me spellbound.

I read many different genres back then. Some weeks I’d be hooked on suspense-filled mysteries. Yes, I was a Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew kind of girl. I’d devour them with such a thirst that soon I would be rereading until I could get to the store. It wasn’t like today, I couldn’t just scan and buy on Kindle.

Of course, as I grew older, my nightly reading turned to paranormal, fantasy type books. I’d read books about witches and ghosts. Then I moved to romance, which changed my young life. I would get lost in the romance of the story, the faraway places that the book took me to, it was great.

Everyone gave me books for Christmas, Birthdays, every occasion. I carried a book with me all the time, reading at lunch during school, on the bus, just about everywhere I could. I still have many of the books from my teen years, especially the ones that pulled me in. But they’re yellowing, packed in boxes, ready to be visited again. Often I pull out some of my favorites and read them again, enjoying the thrill of the story and remembering the first time I read it. My collection of Harlequin romances is extensive to say the least.

I still read at night, usually sitting in a warm bath, trying to lose myself for a little while. Some nights when I can’t sleep, I’ll go to the den and curl up in a blanket, then get lost in another story.

The cool thing about my love for books, it fueled the fire to write. I’ve penned books since I was a young teenager and all of this came from reading in my bed at night, usually with a flashlight as the rest of the house slept. Who needed sleep when the heroine was falling in love with the knight in shining armor and needed rescuing?

So, did you read in bed, or maybe you still do…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…