Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Editing is like Detoxing for writers!

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Good morning! As you can see, I’m eating healthy. This week I’m doing a mild Grapefruit detox, trying to get the bad stuff out of my system so I can jumpstart this summer weight loss. So far it’s working, but we’ll see…

Editing… That word that writers have a love-hate¬†relationship with. But if you think about it, Editing is like detoxing the work. When we write, we go straight to the point of the matter, but sometimes, we need to take a step back. We need to analyze what we’ve written.

Take for example: Words misused or misspelled. If left to sit in the gut of the manuscript, it will weigh your work down. Here’s a piece of advice from someone that sent out a piece of work that had some extra unwanted weight, for this example we’ll call it sludge. Don’t let your baby go out without making sure everything is clean and ready. I sent out a manuscript, to the world, and it wasn’t ready. Some of the comments were nice, but held a little advice, ‘go back and edit’. They all said it was a good story, but it needed to be looked at again to make it a great story. Needless to say, this was in the first year of my publishing career.

So… I went into detox mode. I sat down with my manuscript, printed in double space and a red pen. Yes, a horrid, red pen. A writer’s nightmare, but I took a deep breath and did it. I actually cringed with the first page and it got worse from there. I printed every comment I received and used them as a guideline. As I delved deeper into the story, the sludge was so heavy that I couldn’t believe I’d actually sent this out into the world.

Needless to say, I almost used up all the ink in the pen. Now, don’t get me wrong, the story itself stayed the same, but the wording was a little different. I gave it a lot of grapefruits, I mean editing and to my surprise, when I sent it back out as a revised edition, some of the same people reviewed it again. They loved it. I’d taken the heavy bags of sludge that kept my story from taking flight and it became a bestseller within a couple of weeks.

So, when you finished your masterpiece, go back through it again and again. Then send to your editor. If you can’t afford an editor, then you have to be the chief and pull on your gloves. Make the hard choices, delete the bad grammar, and make your work soar!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Can’t sleep…then write!

Good Monday morning! It’s rainy and dreary here in Georgia, so I’m half asleep and needing a nap…

Have you ever had a night where no matter what you did, sleep just wouldn’t come? I had one of those last night. Finally, after tossing and turning for over an hour, I got up. I wasn’t in the mood to watch television, so I wrote. It’s amazing how well your mind works in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. I finished a chapter and started another.

As I sat in the quiet of the night, not a sound from anywhere, I wrote. Even though sleep wouldn’t come into my brain, the story flowed like a river in the rain, freely… Finally, after I got that part of the story out of my head, I was able to close my laptop, walk to the bedroom and fall asleep. Needless to say, I feel sleep deprived this morning, but I was able to further my story…

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…

 


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Beginning…???…Ending

Has this ever happened to you? You sit down with a story in mind and it’s a great story. You know it like you know yourself. Your fingers hover over the keyboard. The words flow easily from your fingertips. Everything is good with the world, then snap… something happens and you stop writing. The words are gone…

This happened to me recently. I was working on a manuscript that I’ve been trying to finish for some time and it was going along good, then …………. Yep, that’s how it went, nothing. It’s like I had the beginning and the ending, but the middle was a huge, gaping black hole. I couldn’t see it for nothing. The sad thing is, I had it completely outlined, but the middle part wouldn’t come together, at all.

So, you might ask, what did I do? Well, here’s what I did and if you’ve ever experienced this black hole, I hope it helps you too. Of course, this is not a tried and true method…

1: I stepped back. I looked at the screen before me and it was blank, just as the story had gone in my head. That’s when I took a deep breath, stood up and walked away from my laptop. I had to put distance between me and the story. That’s not easy to do when the characters are screaming loudly in your head.

2: After a cup of coffee to clear my head, I picked up the outline, knowing there had to be a way to get this story flowing again. I knew I had it right there in the outline, but it refused to come out. So, I read the outline, several times, but nothing.

3: In complete frustration, I put aside the notes, outline, and anything to do with the story. Now, don’t think the characters were quiet. No, they were ticked off at this point. They were screaming so loud, that I had to do something, so I started the next manuscript that was in line on my schedule. It helped quiet them somewhat, but they were still pulling at me.

4: As I worked on the other manuscript, pieces of the other story filled my head. You as writers know all too well the problems that can cause. I pulled out my notebook for the other story and as things came filtering through, I wrote them down. But, I didn’t work on it, I just jotted down notes. Pretty soon I had a couple of pages of notes.

5: Then, one morning as I sipped my coffee, scanning through my emails, social media, and work in progress, getting ready to start my writing session, it came flowing in. At first, I was afraid to give it a chance. I was afraid that if I got started again and it quit, I’d end up chucking it altogether. But, that’s when it hit me, write the ending. So, that’s what I did. I wrote the ending that I knew so well in my head. The moment I hit the end, I knew the middle as though it had been lurking there the whole time, it just needed the guts to move forward. Once I knew where the story was headed, the middle came in so fast that my fingers could hardly keep up.

So, sometimes you have to iron out the ending to get to the guts of the story. That’s what happened with ‘Highlanders Son’. I had to know that my characters would be alright and that the story would hold up. Once I finished the first draft, I could breathe again. It was done.

I’ve written things in the wrong order before, but never because it was the only way to finish the story. Most of the time I do it because the ending comes to me louder than the beginning, but it’s always there. With Highlander’s Son, it wasn’t there anymore. I had to get it back straight in my mind. The funny thing was, once it was completed, I looked at my outline and it was just as I’d envisioned it, to begin with. With a smile, I printed it, handed it to my editor and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that if that happened again, I’d immediately go to step five above and finish the story…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

“Highlander’s Son” is coming soon…

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Coffee…Writing…More Coffee

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Good morning! Are any of you having a hard time getting awake this morning? I’m struggling after the three day weekend. It was a great holiday, but my body and mind seem to still be on vacation.

Oh well, this will be a pot of coffee morning…. I’m working on getting my word count in this morning. I finished Highlander’s Son last week and hope to finish Lacey’s Choice this week. Both of these books have been in the works for a couple of months, so I’m trying my best to get caught back up. Tax season really slammed me this year and it affected my writing like no other year has.

It doesn’t help that my two new series ‘Sky Ridge’ and ‘Wishful Harbor’ are knocking on my mind, wanting to stay inside. Every time I push them back for a day or so, they jump back in with full force and win. But this week, I plan to finish a couple of in-process manuscripts before I go back to the newest ones. Let’s just hope I do.

So, what are you working on this week?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Proud mama!

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It’s Graduation Day! As I sit here, sipping my coffee, I can’t believe that I have a son ready to graduate from high school. Where have the years gone? The memories flood in and the tears slowly roll down my cheek, but I’m so happy for him. He’s about to embark on a whole new chapter in his life. It’s scary for all of us, but I know he’s got what it takes to be all he wants to be.

So, to all of those graduating today, good luck and May God Bless all of your endeavors!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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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…