Thursday Throwback… My 1st published book…

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been publishing books since 2012. Ten years! To say it’s been an experience is just the tip of sword. This has been the best, most rewarding experience. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people through this journey. And some of those were authors I admired, which has been an absolute thrill.

My first published book was Ghost Lover. This book started when I was a teenager, but was put in a drawer for over many years. When my niece found all of my stashed manuscripts and wanted to read them, I was like, ‘sure, why not’. But after three days, she came to me with a plan. I was skeptical, but now I’m glad I took the leap. Ghost Lover became my first bestseller.

Here are the many covers over the years that have graced Ghost Lover… The changes have been many, but the story has stayed the same. It’s one of my favorites and I’ll never forget the feeling I had as a teenager when I first penned the words that became the book. And when I say penned, I mean, pen and paper.

The first Ghost Lover cover… Let’s say I’ve learned a lot about cover design since this one!
Cover 2 was quite exciting. I received a lot of response when this new cover was revealed.

And this cover was born after I revised the first edition. Many changes, but still the heart of Ghost Lover remained…

The current cover. Let’s see who haunts your dreams…

If you haven’t read Ghost Lover, then give it a try. This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster. Enjoy! https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lover-Revised-Stephanie-Hurt-ebook/dp/B00NDI5AYW

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Following Through with a Plan

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Good morning! Yes, I’m back. It’s been a crazy couple of months. Between writing and tax season, I’ve been so busy. But I’m getting back on track and ready to get this blog back up and running. So, here’s to the rest of the year!

How many times have you made a plan and then didn’t go through with it? Maybe you set a book release and you couldn’t finish the book in time. It’s always good to make sure you write down your plan and try to keep to it. This keeps you from procrastinating. But what happens when everything is against you such as time, life, and all the things in between? Here’s a couple of tips for making things happen when you need them to…

I’ve been trying to finish my latest WIP and somehow I let my busy schedule take over. This is the first time in a long time that I didn’t meet my deadline. And yes, I procrastinated to the point that the book went to the back burner. As a writer, that hurts. 

Let’s talk planning. When you have a book idea, excitement bubbles up and you’re pumped. But there’s more to it than just the idea. You’ve got to focus on the idea and make sure that it can be fleshed out into a book. This step needs a plan. 

Look at it like framing a house. Without the frame, you wouldn’t have the house. A book plan is the same thing. Here are the steps to getting that book into the hands of your readers…

  1. The Idea – Yes, this is the exciting stage where you get the spark. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the moment you’re sitting there and all of a sudden you have the best idea for a new book or series. But not every book idea comes to life. I’ve got so many ideas written down that didn’t meet the muster. 
  2. The Outline – Ok, I know some of you are more of a seat of the pants writer, but let me tell you, an outline can be the make or break for some ideas. When I have an idea, I sit down and figure out how it can go. Even if it’s just a simple, beat by beat outline, it helps you to know if you can make it work. 
  3. Flesh it out – Now that you have the idea and the simple outline, you can go back and give it some flesh. Fill it out and see if you have enough to make it a book. This is the point of no return or return to the pile of idea. Here is where you make sure that the idea can go the full gauntlet or get chopped off before it’s even finished.
  4. Scheduling – Here’s where you need to be honest with yourself. If you think your idea can go 25,000 words, don’t schedule a release in 25 days. Maybe you can get it written in 15 days, but there’s so much more that goes into it than writing it. Make sure that you schedule every step of the writing process. I had to learn this the hard way. Here’s a couple of items to think about when scheduling: A. Cover design B. First Draft C. Revisions D. Read Through E. Editing F. Prerelease Marketing G. Final Draft, and this is just a few steps.
  5. Writing – Now, here is the fun part. You finally get to put words on the page. The first draft isn’t perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Get the bones on paper, then go back and fill it in. 
  6. First Draft Read Through – This stage is fun. The bones of your book are there. You’ve finished the first part of the process which to me, can be the hardest part. This is the stage where you’ll know it the idea will actually make it. If the outline didn’t catch it, the first draft will.
  7. Edit, Edit, Edit – Now, read it out loud as you edit. This is important before it goes to your editor. My editor has asked me before if I even read it before I sent it to her. LOL! 
  8. Cover Design – This process for me comes first, but a lot of writers don’t design theirs until this stage. Sometimes the cover comes to me with the idea. Make sure the cover represents your work. Don’t do something to deceive your readers. And simple still works… 
  9. Marketing – Plan your marketing early in the process. Set a budget and schedule some prerelease ads. You don’t have to spend a bundle to get results. Just make sure to stagger your ads. Don’t overwhelm yourself. 
  10. Release Day – Make this a party. Setup a blog post. Send out Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest, TikTok blurbs, and any other social media you use. Make it fun and relaxed. 

I know this was a little crazy, but putting a book out to readers needs a plan. And my way may not work for everyone, but it does for me. Hope it helps in some way.

 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 

Promotions that work…

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We’re halfway to the weekend and I feel as though I’ve been back pedaling. So much to do… So little time…

My latest book release went better than I expected it would. And I owe the success to the stacked ads and promotions that I ran surrounding the week of release. I’d read about doing this and was a little skeptical, but now I know it’s the thing to do. But for today, I want to talk about the biggest boost promotion that helped me.

I did run about 5 different ads for the release of SAFE. The sales began to rise, but they weren’t spiking enough to hit a bestseller list. That is until my double ad that I ran on https://faithfulreads.com/. Within an hour of the promotion hitting the Faithful Reads website and social media accounts, my sales began to go up at a rapid rate. All through the day they continued to rise.

Now, you may be saying, how do I know it was the ad through Faithful Reads that helped so much. Well, I kept up with all of my sales on the days that the other ads ran. And then when the Faithful Reads ad began, it was evident what worked. By the end of the day of the promotion, I was sandwiched between four top authors. It was exciting as I watched the rank rise. Then as the promotion was about to end, I hit #3 on the Amazon charts. The first and second place books were top ranking authors, so I was thrilled to be #3 behind them.

Over the last couple of years I’ve used Faithful Reads many, many times. They’ve always proven successful. And the fact that to run even a double ad with them is reasonable only adds to the awesomeness of using them. But remember, this promotional site is for clean books, no erotica books and no short stories, only books over 50 pages.

Their prices range from $30 to $65 per ad. They join with eReader Cafe for double features which cost the $60 or $65. And I can tell you this, it’s money well spent. They never disappoint. As an author, I’ll always use them for my promotions, and I hope you will as well.

www.faithfulreads.com

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Notebooks, Journals, & Pretty Note Pads…

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Good morning all! Most writers have a love of notebooks, journals and pretty note pads. There’s something about a colorful notebook that just inspires you. Then there are those that are so pretty that you hate to write in them, but you just have to. It’s like some sort of code.

My husband and son just roll their eyes when I buy another one. I have them everywhere so that when the mood strikes, I can make a note for a story. Is it a problem? For me, no it’s not. But others think that it is. Good thing I don’t set my ways on what others think.

There are so many different kinds. Spiral, leather bound, lined, plain, colored, floral, designer, sticky, big, small, thick, thin, the kinds are endless. But it doesn’t matter, they are work the way you want them too. Each of my series have their own notebook, not to mention numerous notepads with notes on characters, places, and scenes.

So, are you itching to buy a pretty notebook or a nice journal? I do think I might need to run out and get another one, just in case I use all the many I have now.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Finding time to write…

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Good morning! Do you struggle to find time to write? I know that I do. Some days are harder than others. Especially during tax season. But, it’s important to find that time.

But how? Sometimes we have to just become more organized with our time. If you do better writing in the morning, but you have to be at work at 9, just get up a little earlier. You could even make sure that everything for your morning routine is ready the night before. Go ahead and set your clothes out. That gives you an extra few minutes the next morning.

If you want to reach a certain word count when you sit down to write, then time yourself. If you can write 1000 words in thirty minutes and you want to get in at least 1500 words everyday, then you need to set aside forty five minutes to write. Now that you have an idea of the time you need, then schedule your morning to make time to write.

One thing that helps me is having an outline. I try to get in one chapter a day or more if time allows. Since I use Scrivener, when I finish a chapter, I stamp the section of the outline as done. This gives me a feeling of accomplishment. And I don’t know about you, but when I get to write in the mornings it just makes my day go much better.

So, get yourself a schedule and make it happen…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

P.S. Safe comes out on May 12th, so preorder now to have it ready for you to dive into on Wednesday!

Midweek Writing Tip…

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It’s already Wednesday, but the weekend seems so far away. I’m snatching a few minutes out of my morning to write and blog.

Speaking of snatching minutes to write… Today’s writing tip goes along those lines. It’s important to a writer to have time each day to write. It could be just a few minutes or if you’re lucky, maybe a couple of hours. Either way, try to sit down and write everyday if you can.

Why do you need to write everyday? Well, for me it helps my sanity. The characters running around in my head go crazy when I don’t at least get in a couple of minutes. But maybe it’s to meet a deadline, or just to keep up with your commitment to yourself.

So, if it’s early in the morning before anyone else gets up… If it’s at lunch… Or maybe you’re a night writer. Grab some writing time and keep up to good work.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Writing scenes ahead…

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Good morning from icy Georgia! It’s below freezing and the precipitation falling isn’t rain… Time for the bulky sweaters that collect dust, but I keep them for just this sort of day…

Now, on to the post. Have you ever wrote a scene ahead of time? I keep a notebook beside my laptop for just this thing. And I label them as what they are. About 90% of the time I know in my head how the book ends and if I’m working on the first half and hit a snag, I’ll write the ending. It inspires me to push through the fog that clouds my thoughts sometimes.

But, will those scenes change and evolve as the writing prior to them does. Certainly, but it keeps you focused on the upcoming events. I’ve written several pages of scenes, then totally deleted some of them as the characters went in another direction. But it’s exciting to step ahead and see the future.

Did I say I could see the future? Yes, in my writing I can. So don’t ask me to read tea leaves or anything like that. I can’t see that kind of future. So, start looking ahead in your WIP and see what can be. It will help with the current part of the process.

As always, good writing and <ay God Bless You…

Edit until it hurts…

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Why does editing hurt so bad? For one thing, you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into the work, so yes, it will hurt. The other thing is, it’s hard to cut out what you think needs to be there.

But I have some advice, and I had to take this advice myself. In order to make the work the best it can be, then you’ve got to trim the fat. And believe me, it hurts, but once you’ve done it, you’ll see the better product. Sometimes I look at my editor and shake my head. But, once I see it in another light, then I’m better with it.

So, here is what you need to tell yourself, it only makes it better. Yes, you will have to do this multiple times.

Repeat after me… It only makes it better!

Now, let me tell you the worst thing that can happen, and this happened to me. One of my previous editors told me to get rid half a chapter and I had a meltdown, but once I took the plunge, I saw it worked and flowed better. And in the end, that’s our goal, to make our work flow. If it doesn’t, then the reader won’t enjoy the read.

So, edit without mercy and keep the tissues close as you do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Writers stay healthy!

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I have the rainy Monday morning blahs… But sipping some strong coffee, so hoping this feeling passes. So, let’s dive into writers and their health. It’s a double edged sword…

If you’re like me, you work a day job and write in your free time, which leaves precious little time to exercise. Even full time writers don’t take the time to exercise. So, what do we do? The fact is, it’s important to get moving as much as possible. Yes, we love to chase the words, but are we doing it at the cost of our health.

Let’s look at some things you can do to help stay healthy and keep up with your word count:

  • Get in those steps! Try to get in at least 10,000 steps a day. Yes, I know it’s hard, but even on a rainy day you can walk inside. I’ve set a timer on my phone to make me get up and move. Today is my first day of keeping track of it better. I’ve been slacking since I had a book deadline, not to mention it’s tax season. So, get up and march in place for a few minutes, or walk to the mailbox a couple of times a day. Whatever it takes to get those steps up? Give Yoga a try. It’s a great mind clearing way to get healthier and stay in shape.
  • If you have to snack while writing, then grab something healthy. A couple of examples are: 1. Freeze some grapes and eat when writing. 2. Cut up an apple and get a little peanut butter to dip it in. 3. Eat low salt nuts such as almonds or cashews. 4. Yogurt with granola. 5. Cut up veggies such as carrots or even bell pepper and dip in ranch.
  • If you grab coffee, like me, then opt for no creamer, or less creamer. Maybe even grab some decaf at times. Also, remember those fancy coffees from the coffee shop add a lot of calories to your day. Opt for a simple cup of joe.
  • Tea is great, unless you’re southern like me and love it sweet. Change it up to green tea or herbal with antioxidants to help you out.
  • Last, but not least, stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. I keep a bottle of water with me all of the time. Get in your allotted amount of water a day. If you can’t handle plain water, then grab some of those no calorie flavorings. I love those. But staying hydrated is important.

Remember, the only way to get that bestseller seen is to be healthy enough to finish it. If you’re not here, then it won’t see the light of day. And as your fellow writer, I want to see you succeed and stay healthy. This goes for me. Let’s start this today!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Tuesday Tax Talk…

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Good afternoon! It’s that time of year to get your tax papers organized and ready for tax time. Yes, I know, it’s a hassle if you’re not organized. Even organized people struggle with this time of year. Do I have this form? Did I make that donation before the end of the year? When did I buy my laptop for writing?

As an accountant, I understand the struggle. But, just take it one day at a time. Sit down with your check register and scan it. Make sure you grab all of your expenses for your writing business or the business that you’re in. Also this is a good way to find donations you made during the year.

Here’s a list for writers to use for expenses and other business can use it too…

  1. Writing programs – Microsoft office, Scrivener, Adobe, etc…
  2. Writer Group Subscriptions – Romance Writers of America, All Author, Bigstock, Etc…
  3. Writing Supplies – Pencils, Pens, Notebooks, Copy paper, ink, journals, etc…
  4. Equipment – Laptop, Computer, printer, etc…
  5. Advertising – Any advertising you’ve paid for…

The list goes on from here, but this gives you a good idea of where to start. And believe me, once you get into this, you’ll find more.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…