Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Series Writing…What I learned…

 

img_2612Good morning! I hope you’re having a blessed day. Me, I’m in mama mode, or as my son calls it, flood mode. By that I mean, our son graduates from high school tomorrow night and every time I think about it, I cry. I’m so proud of him and happy for him, but as a mama, well, I get a bit nervous and anxious, knowing he’s about to embark on a new chapter in his life. It’s hard to let go, but we do have to let them spread their wings. Ok, enough of thought, salty tears in my coffee isn’t very good.

Series… Have you written one yet? If you have, then you know the struggles. The first one goes pretty well as writing goes, but when you start on the second, if it’s a continuing series, well, the problems start. Do you remember this about a character? Do you remember the neighbor’s name that will be appearing some in the other books? What did you name the dog? Wow, yeah, that’s where the fun really begins…

Here’s what I learned, the hard way and hopefully it will help guide some of you into writing series without the struggle… I’ve attached a picture of the front of one of my series notebooks for the Sky Ridge Series.

When I first started writing, I decided to do a series where a couple of the books were connected. The problems didn’t start until the second book. I was constantly looking back to see about facts and such. It was horrible. I had so much to write but between the looking back and double checking facts, it took longer to write the next couple books.

So, when I started the Women of Magnolia Hill Saga, I began a journal on the series. I kept a timeline, character sketches, and places. Since this is a historical romance series and I tried to stay in line with history, somewhat, I printed out a timeline of the time period and marked where each book started and ended. This helped some with details.

Then the fun really begins. I had to keep up with who the oldest sibling and youngest sibling were. Also, in this series, it spans many, many years, so, sadly some of the main characters from the earlier books die. I had to keep up with their age when they died and how. That way when a character looks back, it’s factual, not pulled from my brain which doesn’t remember a lot these days.

The character and place parts are very critical. If your character has a child, well, you can’t just go on with the story and not include the child. That child will eventually grow up and surely he or she isn’t kept in a dark closet until future episodes. So, detail is very important.

In the Magnolia Saga, there is a magnolia tree in the front yard where every member gets married. I have to remember where it is. In my mind and my notebook, I have a sketch of the property. It helps.

With my newest series, I have a composition book for each series and I include the outline, characters and where they all cross paths. Since the Wishful Harbor series is all around the same time period, I have to make sure to keep up with the comings and goings of everyone, even the mailman. LOL!

I’ve sketched the town of Wishful Harbor and plan to have the sketch at the front of each of the five books in the series. That gives the reader a sense of knowing the town and lets their mind live in that town. I’m so excited about this series because it intertwines together to make a beautiful story about a sweet town. But, it couldn’t happen without my notebook of facts.

So, how do you keep your series straight? Does this help you to possibly tackle a series in the future? I hope it does. But remember, I’m always here if you have a question.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Stepping up the game…

Good Monday morning! Wow, the weekend seemed way too short, but today is a new day. With a new day, starts a new game…

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, well, it’s promotion of our books. Look, you know as well as I do that the competition is steep. We have to make sure that our book outshines the thousands of other books in our genres. Some days it seems useless, but then the writer in me say, keep pushing.

For me, I’ve stepped up my game. How you might ask? Well, here’s how. I’ve stopped trying to be on every social media site out there. That’s just plain out exhausting and a waste of writing time trying to keep up with all of it. My main goal is to blog, keep my website interesting, and promote on a few social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Also, I’m making sure that all of my more than 30 books are on Allauthor.com. If you haven’t checked out this site, I suggest you do. You can put up to four of your books on there under the free membership and then set up automatic tweets. With as many books as I have, I went ahead and did the paid membership.

Don’t forget to build up your newsletter subscribers. I’ve met so many wonderful people through my newsletter and blog. Which if you can, keep posting several times a week. make it interesting and fun.

So, how will you step up your game?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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When the plot changes…

Well, it’s a foggy Saturday morning in Georgia.  That sounds like the opening line of a story. Yes, I’m in a writing mood this morning, so watch out word count, here I come.

Speaking of writing, have you ever been in the middle of a manuscript and the plot changes. I mean, you’re headed in one direction, then the story takes a turn in a different direction. That’s what happened in the manuscript I just finished. You see, I had it all figured out. I thought I knew where the characters were headed and what the ending would be like, but guess what? The plot changed. (The plot is the direction the story is going, like directing the main events that lead to the ending, you know, the backbone of the storyline.)

Sometimes when you’re writing a story, the characters seem to have a mind of their own. In Highlander’s Son, I had it all in my mind, but something wasn’t working. Now, the outline looked good and when I sat and plotted it out months ago, it seemed to work well. But once I was deep into the manuscript, over halfway completed, I realized that the plot was changing. I had to make a change or the story would flop.

It’s scary to change the plot of a story when you’re almost done. But once I got it in my head where the characters had to go to complete the story, I was on a roll. It turned out that the plot change worked and the story was complete.

Highlander’s Son took a turn in the plot and headed in a totally different direction. It’s at that moment that you throw the outline out the window at 70 mph and never look back. I have to say that when the plot changes, sometimes you have to just follow it’s lead or you’ll end up with a manuscript that is cut up in the editor’s floor, never to see the light of day.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Here’s a look at the cover for Highlander’s Son, which is coming out very, very soon!

highlanders son front cover


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Smile! It’s Friday folks!

Good morning! Smile, it’s Friday! Smile

So, what are you up to? Me, I’m finishing up Highlander’s Son and Lacey’s Choice for my editor. It’s been a productive couple of days. So, I’m smiling.

Now, time to get in 2000 words before I head to the office. Have a great Friday and be inspired by all that’s around you. Don’t let anything turn your smile upside down.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Finding your voice…

Good morning! Life is good…I’m up and the sun is shining. Yes, it’s a good day!

As a writer, have you found your voice? I was told by an editor at Harlequin that I had a voice for romance. Do I mean the voice that comes from my mouth? No, I mean the one that comes from my head. That editor, although she was sending me a rejection letter, which by the news that came out this week, I’m glad I got that rejection in many ways, but she told me something that has stuck with me. She told me that they loved my voice as a writer.

There are writers that if you follow their work, you’d know it anywhere. I’ve been told that my writing is that way. What about you? Does your voice stay steady? Does your writing show the inner you?

In writing workshops, they always harp on finding your voice. I used to sit and think, my voice, I don’t have laryngitis. LOL! Now I know it’s the way I tell a story, or as the Harlequin editor said, the way I spin a tale.

So, have you found your voice?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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My inspiration…

It’s already Wednesday! This week is flying by.

A week or two ago, I shared the symbol for the new series that I’m working on, ‘Wishful Harbor’. Several people have asked how a Georgia girl gets inspired to write a series based in a small New England seaside town, well, here’s the story.

In June of 1993, I took a tour of the New England states with my parents and their friends. It was exciting and I saw so many places that could inspire, but the little seaside town that we encountered has never left my mind or heart. I don’t remember the name, but I remember every detail of the little town.

It was situated off the main road and as we drove down a tree lined lane, it appeared. I remember the minute I saw the little town, my heart skipped a beat. I actually told everyone in the van we’d rented that when I grew up, LOL, I was already, well, let’s not go there. But, when I grew up, I wanted to live in this little seaside town. It was on the backside of an inlet and from the edge of town, you could see the sailboats in the inlet and the little marina where they served the most delicious clam chowder.

To say it was magical doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling I had. The little shops were owned by locals and they were so quaint. I fell in love. My writer’s brain was spinning even back then. As I walked up the sidewalk, looking up into the tree branches that spilled over the road and partially shaded the little shops, I took in the salty air. Yep, this was a little piece of Heaven.

This little town has always pulled at me, but when I decided to write ‘Wishful Harbor’, I decided to design it around that little town that made such an impact on me back then. Every detail in the descriptions for the book is based on that little town. So, as time goes on until the release of the first book, I’ll be sending out little tidbits of inspiration from my little New England town that still holds my heart to this day.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

wishful harbor design


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Hashtags – Useful or not???

#23173416364_e8f8ee489e_sGood morning! Hope all is well with all of you.

Hashtags, do you use them or not? Well, I’ve been in and out on this subject, so I did several posts on Instagram and Twitter, using popular hashtags and the response was surprising. I started gaining followers and the retweets, likes and even comments went up in numbers. Not to mention my sales did a nice run up the scale.

Now, is this coincidence? Could be, but I think not. The reasoning behind this comment is that I have over thirty published titles and I did the test on only a couple of them. One was a back stock title.

I used the promotional methods that I learned in one of my latest promotional studies. Everything pointed at using hashtags that were similar to your book.  For example, I promoted Tuscany with #Italy #Tuscany #Oliveoil #amreading #truelove and I had several followers from the tourism industry and even some from the olive oil industry. (If you have read Tuscany, then you know why I hashtagged olive oil).

I even went one step further with the test, just to have a random selection. I used pictures from my personal everyday life and hashtagged the different things pertaining to the picture. Like our bbq chicken on the grill. My husband laughed at this one because, within minutes of posting it, I received several likes and comments from grillers, bbq restaurants and the like. It was great. Now I had my answer.

So, do hashtags work? Well, according to my little study they do. Have you had success with hashtags? Either way, let us know.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…