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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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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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…


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Just a little hint…

Good Saturday afternoon! Hope everyone is taking some time to enjoy life today. I’m finally sitting down for a little bit to write and blog. But, I have a little tidbit about my upcoming new series to dangle in front of you… so here goes…

1: There will be five books in the series…

2: The series is based around a small town on the northeast coast.

3: Each story has a connection to the other stories, so yes, they are connected.

These stories will be heartwarming and make you smile. I’m really excited about this new series and I can’t wait to introduce you to it. All five covers are completed and the series symbol is ready.

Hope you have a great Saturday and stop by my website at www.stephaniehurtauthor.com to sign up for my newsletter and stay up to date on all of the new releases as they come.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Monday wonderings…

Good Monday morning! Yes, it’s Monday people. It’s a new week, so let’s make the best of it.

Have you ever wondered how much what you watch, listen to, or read affects your writing? For the last 35 years, I’ve written manuscripts, journals and such, but the surprising thing is that all of this affects my writing. It gets into our minds and hearts, strengthening us as writers. Should I say, beware of what you watch and listen to, LOL!

I watched several movies and shows on Highlanders, hence, a Highlander series. I watched the Love Comes Softly series, hence, a mail order bride series. Now I’m hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, but three seasons behind at the moment. Will I write a medical series? LOL! I don’t know so much about that, but it would be fun…

Oh, then music, yes, wonderful, stimulating music. There are so many country songs that fill my head with cowboys and romance, then there are classical pieces that inspire historical romance, oh and pop classics that inspire romance in general.

As writers, we’re artists, so everything around us inspires us. Even the blowing of leaves in the trees can inspire us. So, go outside, listen and be inspired. Watch, read and listen to things that inspire you.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Moment to Reflect…

Good morning! It’s been a while, but tax season has been crazy. You know it’s been busy if I haven’t been able to write in a couple of weeks. Yeah, I know, that’s not good. I’ve missed it, but now I’m back in action…

So, how’s everyone doing? I’ve missed interacting with all of you. Now that I’m back, you’ll be overloaded with posts, books, and lots of promotions. So get ready… get set…. go…

To my first post, I go…

While I’ve been away, ‘A Light Upon My Heart’ became an Amazon bestseller. Yep, I did a little happy dance at my desk… Glad no one could see me. If you haven’t check out this one, then grab it while it’s only .99.

Naomi Harris is only 18 when she’s sent from Georgia to Montana to marry a stranger. Joseph Walsh is a wealthy, 30-year-old, ranch owner, but he’s lonely and in need of a Christian bride. Naomi’s poor home life doesn’t prepare her for life on a large ranch and Joseph’s not sure how to react to the innocent young woman that he brought across the country to be his bride. Many obstacles stand in their way as they strive to make their marriage work, but can they get past them? The worst one is the secret that Naomi keeps, it could destroy what they’ve worked to gain. She can’t go back home, ever…

The sale will only be for a limited time… so get it before it goes back up!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Inside a Series…

Series Article

Good morning! As you can tell from the picture above, I’m talking about Five Oaks Ranch, my bestselling series.

Have you written a series? If so, did you have a hard time keeping the stories straight? This series was a work in progress that kept me on my toes. The idea for the series came as we drove back from our Florida vacation a couple of years ago. The road signs were passing by and each one seemed to spur an idea. So, by the time I got home, I had a skeleton map drawn on my notepad. Since I get car sick easily, it was a horrible looking thing, but I had it in my head and heart.

Over the next couple of days, I put together the book names, the character sketches for the five main characters and ideas for how their stories would go together. This series was the most fun as they almost wrote themselves. Each book fed off the other and it was as though I wrote one long manuscript and cut it into five books. I know, there were six, but the Christmas book only came into my head toward the end of Luke.

Several people started writing to me that they wanted to know more about the parents. At first, I was like, but this is the story about the five children, hence the series name, Five Oaks Ranch. Then as I sat thinking about it, I came up with the idea for the Christmas story that would bring it all together. So, A Christmas to Remember was born. By the way, at the end of the Christmas book, I’ve put several of my own family recipes that have been passed down through the generations.

The family tree is introduced in the Christmas book. You’ll notice that some of the kids haven’t been born in any of the books, but I wanted to let my readers know that the characters went on to lead love-filled lives together.

So, have you started the Five Oaks Ranch series yet? Ridge is free! This book stayed in the top 100 of free books on Amazon for over a year, which made me giggle with excitement everytime I looked at the stats. And you’ll notice a pretty, shiny silver medallion on the cover of Ridge. He was honored with a five-star review from Reader’s Favorites! Here’s the link to the whole series if you’re in the market for a new series to read, but here’s a warning, you’ll fall in love with the Cauthen’s.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…