Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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What’s in a character?

Good Tuesday morning!

So, how do you form your characters? Do you develop them as the story goes forward? Or do you write a character sketch before putting the first word into the manuscript? In Scrivener, I always start out with a blank page for each character. Of course, I know basically who my character is. When I start a new manuscript, I develop their main character sketch, but what is included?

Name – Oh, this can take hours for me. I play with first and last name combinations. It’s crazy, but as a writer, I know that when the right combination comes across, it will pop. So, I scan name lists, Scrivener’s name generator, and even newspapers. Sometimes things just stand out.

Flaws – Ok, so maybe your main characters don’t have flaws, but I try to make mine less than perfect. Of course, my first books had perfect characters, but I want my readers to relate to my characters, so I add flaws. It could be as simple as having an attitude, but I make it a flaw at the time.

Looks – Does my character have blonde hair and blue eyes? That’s something important because you don’t want to suddenly say something about their auburn hair halfway through. You need to know what they look like or at least have an idea so that it stays consistent throughout the book.

Career – What does your character do? Are they a lawyer, doctor or maybe a rodeo king? It’s important to know this so that you can add elements of what they do to your character.

Hobbies – This is not as important as other attributes, but if it’s going to play a role in the book, then you need to remember if they knit or oil paint. Changing it midway can confuse the reader at times.

You may be saying, but why are these important? Every writer is different in how they do their work. For me, I like to get to know my characters. As I write, I like to know what my character might say or do and why. In Scrivener, I always have a character note that details things and I can add to it as things happen. Believe me, it helps to keep the process going forward.

So, how do you create your characters?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Snow Day Today…

Good afternoon! It’s a cold, but beautiful day here in Georgia. We’re enjoying the snow,IMG_4015

which isn’t something we get to enjoy very much. I love to watch it snow, but it snowed while we slept, so I get to enjoy looking out at it.

Now, with a huge pot of chili simmering on the stove and a warm fire crackling in the fireplace, I’m sitting with my laptop, enjoying a rare mid-week writing time. At this time I’m normally elbow deep in accounting, but not today. It’s a rare treat which I’m getting to take part in.

So, what are you up to on this beautifully cold day?

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…


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Christmas Memories…

Christmas memories are covering my tree. I have several ornaments that hold special meaning and decorations that have been passed down for generations. It’s those special tokens of a time past that make me smile as I lovingly hang them on the tree or place in a safe place on the mantel.

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Take for instance this little bear. This was hung on the tree for our son’s first Christmas. Every year when I hang it, I can see his little eyes filling with wonder at all the lights and trying his best to reach the ornaments from his walker. Those were such special moments that I cherish.

 

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Of course, then I have the many ornaments that our son made over the years. Each one is a treasure. I have a special box that holds those ornaments. Every year they grace our tree and bring on memories.

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Now, this little reindeer is older than me, which we won’t discuss how old that it. This ornament was my grandmothers and every year she let me and my brother hang ornaments on her little tree. It was only about three foot tall and set on a round table by the window. This little reindeer was the ornament I always hung. Although it’s looking worn and if it wasn’t made of plastic, it would’ve fallen apart a long time ago, it still graces my tree.

These memories are what fill my many Christmas romances that I’ve published over the last couple of years. I always put a little of my experiences in each one. Like with A Christmas to Remember, I put some of our families favorite recipes in the back.

And one of my bucket list items is to go to Switzerland around Christmas, which is what happens with Lacey in Open the Heart…

And then there’s this years Christmas release, which offers a look into my world of reading and loving bookstores. Hideaway Lane has a quaint little bookstore that is all decked out for Christmas…

I’ve written several Christmas romances but this is just three of the memorable ones. So, what are your Christmas memories?

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…


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Throwback Thursday…Ghost Lover

Ghost Lover 2 full cover

Ghost Lover was the first book I published officially. It’s my baby of sorts… So here’s a chapter from Ghost Lover…

Chapter 16

She walked into the stables and leaned on a post just inside the doors. She sniffed the air for a hint of the scent she’d smelt earlier. It wasn’t long before the scent went by her nose. She stood very still and let the wind direction lead her nose. She could tell it was coming from the back of the stable around the door that led to the back field.

Her eyes had gotten accustomed to the darkness. She searched the shadows for any sign of movement. She was holding her breath. What could it be? Suddenly there was slow movement in one corner. She put her hand up to her mouth. Her feet were rooted to the floor. Was she in danger? But she felt perfectly safe.

A shape formed out of the shadows. It was a man in a cowboy hat. She couldn’t see his face only the dark shape. Was this an illusion or ghost? She was drawn to the shadow by some unknown feeling.

“Who are you and why are you here? Do I know you?”

“You know me, but he won’t let you remember me.” The voice was low and haunting.

“Should I be afraid of you?” She suddenly realized that she should be afraid, but she couldn’t move.

“I’d never harm you.” He slowly moved closer but still in the shadows.

“Why’re you here in the shadows? Why don’t you come into the moonlight so that I can see you?” She noticed he lowered his head and then looked back at her.

“I don’t want you to see me this way. I want you to remember me before you look at my face.” The sadness in his voice did something inside her heart.

“What’s wrong? Have you been injured in some way?” Her heart went out to him.

“Yes, I was burned in an accident. I want you to remember what we had before you see me.”

“What was our relationship?” Her heart was racing. She thought it would come out of her chest it was beating so hard.

“You’ll remember it. I don’t want to rush your memories. When you remember, you’ll know me.” Why did she want to reach out to this person so much?

“Were we friends?” Could this be the man in her dreams that she couldn’t see his face? Had he been scarred when she knew him before her accident?

“Yes, we’re very close. I know you have me locked in your memory and it’ll come out.” He reached his hand out of the shadows and stroked her face. His touch set off an electrical charge through her veins.

“Are you a ghost?” He laughed softly and the sound set her mind reeling.

“What do you think?” She tried to see him through the shadows, but couldn’t see his face.

“I think you’re the man that has haunted my dreams since I lost my memory.” Her voice was little more than a whisper as she spoke.

“How do you feel about me in your dreams?” He was slowly moving closer.

“I feel confused because I can’t see your face and remember who you are?” She reached her hand up to try to touch his face, but he gently grabbed her hand and put it to his heart. She could feel it beating wildly.

“Can you feel my heart beating? You’re what keeps my heart beating.” His voice was rough with emotion.

He looked up suddenly and pulled her into the shadows. She gasped, not out of fear, but surprise.

“Someone’s coming, but I need you to promise me that you’ll keep Thomas at arm’s length. He’s a danger to you.”

“What kind of danger? He said he’s my husband.” She could hear the footsteps getting closer.

“Just trust me; he’s not your husband.” He put his hands on both sides of her face and kissed her so gently that she almost lost her footing. “Don’t tell him about me. I’ll be here waiting for you tomorrow night at midnight.” He slowly went back into the shadows. She could hardly catch her breath.

“Jess, are you in here?” She could hear Thomas calling her, but her brain wouldn’t let her speak. He grabbed her arm and turned her toward him.

“What are you doing down here at night, alone? Have you lost leave of your senses?” She could tell he was angry and worried.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I came down here to check on Ghost Lover. I’m fine; no harm’s come to me.” Her eyes kept going to the shadows. Had she just kissed a man or a ghost? Was she losing it?

“Well, let’s go back to the house. You don’t need to be roaming around by yourself at night when nobody knows where you’re at, especially in your condition.”

They walk back to the house. Her mind completely lost in thought. All she could think about was what she’d experienced. Was he real or her imagination?

When they got inside and were on the way upstairs Thomas stopped her. “What were you thinking? It’s almost one in the morning. What if you’d fallen or someone had grabbed you?”

“I was completely safe. I doubt very seriously anyone would’ve been in the stables at midnight and I didn’t fall. I needed some air.” She started back up the stairs. Remembering what she’d heard the man or whatever he was, say about Thomas.

He followed her into the bedroom. She climbed into the bed and watched him come around the other side. “What are you doing?”

He looked up and smiled, “Well, we are married and this is where I usually sleep, beside my wife.” He grinned and got into bed beside her. He planned on acting like a real husband soon. He could only hold himself away for so long, especially when her warm body was lying beside him at night. He was hoping to sweep her off her feet.

He leaned over her and she pushed him away. “Have you lost your mind? I still don’t remember being married to you and I can’t have that kind of relationship with you until I do remember.” She jumped out of the bed and grabbed her pillow. “I’m going down the hall to one of the other rooms. Goodnight.”

He just laid back and smiled. She’d be putty in his hands before long. He just knew he was getting through to her.

She had a very restless night. She dreamed of a beautiful cabin. She could see herself walking toward a stable door. She was looking for someone, but whom? She was almost to the door when the stables exploded. She woke up screaming and sweating profusely. Thomas came through the door running and pulled her into his arms. “Not another nightmare. You should’ve stayed with me. Come on back to our room.”

“No, I’ll be fine.” She couldn’t even stand to be near him all of a sudden. Why’d she feel this way about her own husband or was he? Could the man in her dream be right?”

“Okay, but I’ll be right down the hall if you need me.” He walked out and left the door open.

She finally was able to fall asleep, but her dreams were restless. She had to make sure that she was in the stables at midnight. She had to know if he was real or part of her imagination, but he felt too real. Her heart was pounding hard just thinking about him. Why’d she react to a man she didn’t know? Why’d he warn her about Thomas?

As I said, this was my first book I published. My writing style has changed so much since I published this one. But my heart is still with romance.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thursday and keep on writing!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Perfect grammar… LOL!

Good Tuesday morning! This morning I have a wee bit of a rant. And you know I don’t rant often, but this morning I have to get this off my chest, so get ready and here we go…

As a writer we’re supposed to have perfect grammar, right? Well, I need to ask something. Do you always speak with perfect grammar? I read an article last week about your characters needing to have normal conversations and don’t make it too formal, but then writing 101 says to make sure you use perfect grammar. We don’t always in normal conversation talk in perfect grammar, so what are we supposed to do as writers?

So, I’m going rebel. What does that mean? Well, it means that I’m going to write my dialogue like I talk, which may make editors cringe, but I want my readers to enjoy the work I publish. I’ve had comments on previous work stating that it was too formal and normal people don’t talk like that, so I am going rogue…

Also, to further give my rant a purpose, I’ve read several books by famous, best-selling authors that use normal talk and they do well. Some are even horrible in the grammar department, but they are best sellers and the readers don’t seem to mind at all.

Now, with all of that said, I don’t mean using the wrong form of a word or wrong punctuation. I’m talking about in the dialogue between my characters, so don’t think I’m putting up my English 101 book.

Of course, this will make my editor happy.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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When the story knocks on your door…

Good morning! It’s Friday. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner? Wow! Time is flying.

So, as a writer, I’ve had so many stories running through my head. But sometimes I feel like a story doesn’t hold enough punch to actually publish. Then there are those stories that come at you and take your breath away. Those are the ones that make you push everything you’re working on aside to get them written.

I’m working on one of those at the moment. It’s been simmering for a while, but it was just simmering, not boiling over. Well, in the last couple of weeks it’s beginning to move past simmer into boiling. It’s like I can see everything so clear. The characters, the places, and the story, but as a writer, you know how it goes when you start to put it on paper, there are holes that need to be filled in.

The first day I worked on the manuscript, I typed the whole first chapter without slowing down. It was exciting. The funny thing is, I haven’t outlined it, yet… And if you’ve read my blog long enough, you know I’m an outliner.

So, what are you working on today? Anything that took you by surprise, or maybe just slipped in gradually?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Closing a story…

It’s looking to be a rainy Monday here in Georgia, but I’m smiling. This weekend I published Promises Forgotten, the 2nd book in the Sky Ridge Series. I’m super stoked about that release. But I have another surprise for my readers…

I published a book in 2013 that was left on a cliffhanger. The book held my heart in many ways, but the 2nd book seemed to stay just far enough away that I couldn’t get it to work right. Every time I started to write the 2nd book, it would slip away. Well, it all came flowing in a couple of weeks ago, coming in like a tidal wave. Then on Saturday, I wrote the last word with a satisfied sigh.

It’s so crazy. When I was writing the first book, Open the Heart, the continued story was at the tip of my tongue, but then it just went away. So, as some authors do, I put it away until it came back. I didn’t want to do the first book injustice or the characters. I’m excited that Lacey’s Choice is about to be published.

So, as I drift through this haze of accomplishment, I hope all of you have a fantastic day!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Lacey's Choice front cover