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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Monday Writing Tips

Now, on to today’s writing tip. You know when you have a story in your head, but you have a deadline looming on another story. Yeah, that’s a problem for a writer. But I have a solution, one that helps me out.

Good morning! I do hope everyone had a great weekend. For me, it was awesome.

When a new story idea comes into my brain, I have to get some of the idea down on paper or it will interrupt my other work. So, this is my tip. Give yourself at thirty minutes to write it down or put down an outline. Once you’ve given the new story a voice, it will help you to get back to the previous piece of work. Trust me, it helps.

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


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It’s Release Day…..

Breakwater Lane Front Cover

Good Thursday morning! It’s release day! Do I sound excited? Well, I am… Breakwater officially released today and I’m beyond excited. This series is so much fun to write and I can’t wait to hear from my adoring readers.

**Small Town Romance**

When Jordan Reed inherits her grandfather’s deli in small town Wishful Harbor, her life is turned upside down. Things start to look better when her childhood crush, Skylar, turns out to be her new contractor. When someone tries to intervene in Jordan and Skylar’s relationships the mysteries of Jordan’s family start to unravel. What she learns could change her life and her family’s reputation forever.

If you didn’t preorder your copy, it’s still only .99 for today only! So grab it now…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

https://www.amazon.com/Breakwater-Lane-Wishful-Harbor-Book-ebook

 

 

 


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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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Monday morning… Really!

It’s back to work I go this morning after my short time off. The time was too short, but I did manage to finally get all the wallpaper off my bathroom walls, then paint it. I’ll post pictures once I get the decorations in place.

I’m still working on my surprise that will be announced one day this week. Also, my newest manuscript in the works is “The First Mate’s Lady”. It’s the companion book to “Safe in the Pirate’s Arms”. So many of my wonderful fans wanted to know more about Tom Breckin, so his story is coming. As I write it, I have to lose myself in the time of the pirate. I have to think salty air, tar covered decks and the sound of waves crashing against the ship. Crazy the things I remember from reading so many books about Pirates.

So, here’s a little snippet from “The First Mate’s Lady”:

     His gaze moved across the dance floor, meeting the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Stopping in his tracks, he watched the woman in a gold and silver mask. For a long moment, Tom forgot how to breathe.
     Before he knew what was happening, he was walking toward her. Reaching out, he took her hand and led her to the dance floor. As he bowed to her, she dipped down, smiling beneath the mask. Her eyes never left his as they danced, both pulled into the moment. The music drifted into another song, neither noticing. When he tightened his embrace, she pushed out of his arms, almost running from the room.
     Tom raced after her, finding her at the garden wall. She didn’t look his way as he touched her shoulder. “Sweet lady, I know you felt the same draw I did. Please look at me with those blue eyes that make a man lose his senses.”
     Kaly turned, but when her eyes looked up into his, they were filled with sadness. “Sir, I felt nothing and if I did, I wouldn’t dare say so, for fear that it would give you the wrong idea. Please forgive me, but I must leave.”
     “Can I please know you’re name, for your beauty mesmerizes me.” Tom reached out to lift her hand to his lips.
     “As this is a masquerade ball, I prefer to stay a mystery to you.” Kaly looked up into his searching eyes, causing her heart to flutter wildly in her chest. She knew who this man was. Kaly had watched him from the docks earlier. He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen, but she could never be anything more than she was to him now, a mystery.
     “Please, my lady, remove your mask so that I may look upon your full beauty.” Tom reached up, removing his mask. “I need to see your face.”
      Kaly smiled, then she reached up to caress his handsome cheek. Then pushing up on her toes, she touched her lips to his, feeling his surprised smile caress hers. Tom pulled her against him, deepening the kiss. Kaly felt sad, knowing this would be the only kiss they’d ever share, for she would disappear afterwards.
     Tom pulled back, looking down at her blues eyes, the moon dancing in the tears that filled them. He reached out to wipe away the tear that escaped. “What could put such sad tears in such beautiful eyes?”
         “This you shall not know, but know that you’ve made me happy, for just this moment, but I must leave you.” Kaly pulled out of his arms, turning to go.
“Don’t go,” Tom said as he pulled her back, close to him.
     “Sir, you don’t know the reasons I must leave you, but know this, if I ever set eyes on you again, I shall never leave you.” Kaly knew she’d never see him again, but she enjoyed the hope in his eyes. It made her feel like maybe he would help her.
     “A promise I hope you’ll keep, for I’ll search for you in all my endeavors.” Tom saw the desperation in her eyes, so he released her arm, letting her slip into the shadows beyond the garden. For a long while, he watched the darkness, hoping she’d return, but knowing she wouldn’t. That lady, beautiful and enchanting as she was, had something to run from, but what? 

Did I say, Tom’s a charmer and Kaly is on the run? I love my cowboys, all of you know that, but I also love my Pirate’s! So, “The First Mate’s Lady” is coming out June 5th. Stay tuned for more excerpts and some possible giveaways.

first mates lady Front Cover

It’s good to be back!

As always, good writing and may God Bless You…

 

 


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The Free Book Debate…

Good morning! Hope all is well with you on this beautiful morning. Georgia is having a beautiful day today, but the weather will be here for Thursday and Friday, so we need to enjoy today and tomorrow!

As for today’s topic, it’s permafree books. There’s much controversy about this strategy. Most authors split the fence on this topic. I’ve played with it periodically through the years, but my newest try at it has been a success. Why do I say that, you might ask? Well, here’s why…

Do you see the number just above this sentence? That’s where Ridge is at the moment. Since I put it on permafree several weeks ago, it has stayed in the top 100 in this category and notice it’s not the free category. You’re probably saying, ‘but it’s free so you’re making nothing on all those downloads’, well that’s true, but here’s why it’s a good thing.

The week that Ridge went free, there wasn’t a lot of change in sales. But the next week and all the ones to follow showed a huge difference in my sales. suddenly it was like I could follow the readers journey. Each book in this series started selling in order of the series, then my other books started in the same way. It’s like the readers are buying the Five Oaks Series, then working their way through each of my series. Kind of like watching dominoes fall in a row. I’ve also started selling my older published books, which a couple of them had to be dusted off from sitting on Amazon so long 😉

SO, I’d say my trial period worked. Ridge will stay free. My suggestion is to wait until you have a couple of books in your series out before you go free with the first one. That way the reader has a direction to go in. Then sit back and watch it do the work for you. It’s like free advertising!

Have you tried this? How did it work for you?

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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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;