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…

 

 

Knowing how to let go…

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Good morning! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I’m back at it. My current WIP is almost finished. Every book I write gets into my heart and it’s always hard to say goodbye. With each word I write, the end comes faster.

But, when you type that last word, how do you say goodbye to the characters that have filled your thoughts for months? How do you get them out of your head? When I finish a book, it’s like the characters are still there somewhere there, but I have to let them go. Every once in a while they come back to me and I wonder if they need to have more of their story written. Maybe a holiday special that brings all the characters together again.

Now that I’ve said that, some of the characters in my head are cheering, so maybe there will be something special coming for the holidays. Let’s just see which set of characters will win the coveted Christmas special. Keep watching for upcoming news on a release.

Oh, before I go, I want to let you in on a special post that will be coming tomorrow. The cover to Broken will be revealed tomorrow and a little snippet of the next book in the ‘In Harm’s Way’ series will be on the post too. So join me tomorrow for some exciting stuff.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

A little Thursday Throwback…

As writers, sometimes we forget about our back titles. Well, we don’t exactly forget about them, but sometimes we push them aside for our newer titles. I was cleaning out some files and was thrown back to when I first started publishing my work in 2012. It was an amazing time as well as stressful. But those older titles are what got me to this point. They are not as polished as my newer books, but they are where I started.

So, with that being said, I want to throw it back to my first published book. It was reworked several years ago, but it still holds a place in my heart. Also, it came from a story that I started way back when I was a teenager.

Let me reintroduce you to Ghost Lover.

The dying words of Jess’s mother are for her to find the love of her life. But with an overbearing father, will she have that chance? When he gives her a horse and riding lessons for her 21st birthday, her life changes. Is the cowboy behind the Black Stetson her soul mate? When her father’s partner decides to stake claim on her, who will win the fight? Suspense, tragedy, romance and a stranger in the shadows lead to a dramatic final showdown in Ghost Lover…

And then there’s the letter!

There have been a couple of covers for this one. Let’s go from first to current…

I love the newest cover. If you’re interested in falling in love with their story, then drop by amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lover-Revised-Stephanie-Hurt-ebook/dp/B00NDI5AYW

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Indie Publishing… Growing

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3 Ways Indies Can Improve Self-Publishing

As a writer I see a lot of writers come and go in the spot light. It’s amazing how many books are appearing on Amazon and other platforms daily. When I started publishing my work in 2012, you could stay on the front page of new releases for at least 24 hours. Now you’re lucky if you stay there for 24 minutes. 

I’ve found out a couple of things about some of this craziness and that’s the indie authors that haven’t done their homework. Here are 3 of the many ways indies can improve self-publishing and the stigma that goes with it. But also, things have changed on that front too. Now more people are self publishing that ever before.

1: Editing. How many times do you edit your book? I know how exciting it can be to get to the words ‘The End’ and want it out there right then, but that’s a mistake. Make sure you read your work several times and one of those needs to be out loud. I recently went in and revised one of my first published books due to the fact that I put it out there way too fast. Editing is a very important part of the publishing process and as a self-publisher that’s up to you the writer. Also, there are many great editors out there that don’t cost you an arm and leg to hire them. It’s well worth the money and your work will benefit from an extra eye.

2: Cover Design: This is critical. When I look back at my first covers that I designed, I seriously laugh. They were so boring and uninspiring, but being an accountant I didn’t train on creative design software. That’s when I put me assistant to work as my cover designer. She took one look at my work and said ‘not happening’. She went to work and designed the awesome covers that now grace my books. This is the first thing that a potential reader sees. If it doesn’t inspire them, they will go on to the next book. And on top of that, make sure it’s relevant with the book and make it vibrant.

3: The Book Blurb: As a self-publisher this is solely your responsibility. This is one of the hardest things to do for me. Don’t get too out there. Make sure it’s very expressive and use lots of expressive words, but don’t give a lot away. If you give away the ‘who done it’ then there’s no sense reading the book. Make several different ones and have some other people read it. See what they think. Also, in the blurb, give the person a sense of thrill for picking up your book.

This was just a few of the ways that help a self published author. And remember, these are important parts of your book. Of course, the inside is important, but to get someone to actually see the inside, you need to get them to buy it first.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Organizing your Published works…

It’s another cool morning here in Georgia, but I’m warm and cozy under my blanket with my laptop. Today we’re discussing how to organize your published works. You may be asking what I mean, well, let me enlighten you.

With over 50 published books, sometimes I get lost in where every book is already published. I can’t remember which book is on which platform. Organization is needed even if you only put your books on one platform. So, here is what I do…

Platform Organization

First, I sit down and make a spreadsheet. The header includes all of the platforms that my books are on. The first column lists all of my books. This way I can mark off the books that are already on certain platforms. And this also helps when republishing older works with new covers. Doing this, I don’t miss out on having my books everywhere.

The moment I started working with this spreadsheet, I realized that I was missing several platforms for some of my books. This is missed opportunity, so everyday I work on at least one platform, updating files and getting my books everywhere.

 PublishedAmazonKUB&NKoboAppleSmashAudibleGoogle
5 Oaks Ranch Series         
Ridge         
Oakley         
Chase         
Luke         
Maggie         
A Christmas to Remember         
5O Collection          

Book Organization

Now, you may be asking how this is different. Book organization is a spreadsheet similar to the above one, but this one is book formats. In this one, I just copy the previous spreadsheet and change the header. In the header I input Ebook, Print, Audio, Front Cover, Back Cover, Blurb, and Publish date.

This has helped me to keep up with what needs to be done for each book. It’s like a checks and balances, but for books.

 outlinecharacterfrontebookblurbexerptprintbackspine
5 Oaks Ranch Series         
Ridge         
Oakley         
Chase         
Luke         
Maggie         
A Christmas to Remember         
5O Collection          

I do hope this helps you in some way. It’s helped me a lot.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Two Releases in ONE DAY!

You heard me right! Today I released two books. A Christmas Romance and a children’s Christmas book. Now I’m breathing a sigh of relief. Sometimes things just line up and well, today was that day…

Here’s a look at the new releases:

A collection of stories to warm the heart…
Susie’s Christmas Miracle
A story of a little girl looking for her purpose and finding it in Jesus.
Emma & the Spirit of Christmas
Emma thought Christmas was just gifts, trees, and decorations, but a short trip back in time with Santa changes everything for this little girl.
The Christmas Star
Through a simple Christmas star, Lily finds Christmas means more now than it had in previous years.
Three stories to help explain the true meaning of Christmas to children of all ages.

The trouble with pretend marrying your best friend is that it can only end one of two ways…

Baron
Her best friend.
Her first kiss.
Her protector.
The friend everyone wanted, but he was all hers and she knew he’d do anything for her.

Abriana
His whole world.
And she could stop his heart with a smile.

They were inseparable. If you saw one of them, you saw the other. But something about their friendship was about to change. Abri needed to get married in 30 days and the only person she trusted was Baron. But it was just pretend. Right?

With a pretend relationship comes many trials. Could they pull this off? Would this turn into a complete disaster, tearing their lifelong friendship apart? Or would this be a new adventure for them both?

One overly traditional Italian father
One sneaky cousin who wants to destroy everything
One surprise kiss

Which one of the two ways will their pretend marriage end?

So, if you’re looking for a romance or a children’s book, then here’s one of each.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Why authors are important…

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Good Saturday morning! I want to share a little something with all of you. Not long ago I had a fan message me. She went on to tell me that my book had made her day. It helped her through a bad day, making things seem not as bad as it seemed.

Well, that message got me to thinking about the importance of authors in this world we live in. With so much uncertainty and despair, we as authors can spread a little joy. Or at least give someone a way to get lost for a while. As for my way of thinking, I consider authors important to our sanity. We have to continue writing the words that fill the imaginations of people all over the world. It only takes one book to give someone a chance to step out of reality, if only for a moment.

Romance authors have the chance to take someone to another time or place and give them a little romance to warm their heart. We can help someone realize that they are not alone in this world, but that love is all around us.

Mystery authors can add some intrigue to someone’s life. They give them a purpose, such as solving a crime or getting lost in a crime thriller.

Horror writers take us on a roller coaster ride with exhilarating chills. Fear can make the adrenaline flow in a sedentary time.

Self help writers can teach us ways to do things differently. We all need some help from time to time.

Now, there are many other genres to talk about, but for now, this will have to do. I have a deadline and maybe I’ll be able to get lost in a book for a while today.

As always, Good writing and May God Bless You…

Wishful Harbor

Well, another series is in the books so to say… Wishful Harbor will be complete on the 7th when Bay Street releases. It’s so sad to see the characters go, but this series has brought me so much joy. So, let’s go to wishful Harbor for a moment…

This is a series about the small New England town of Wishful Harbor. Each story can be read as a standalone or part of the series. They are filled with romance, mystery and small-town charm.

Book 1

Breakwater Lane

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.

Book 2

Hideaway Lane

When a small fire in Julie’s bookstore brings the firemen, she’s shocked to find out one of them is her old high school crush, Paul Wells. Paul can’t believe his luck, so he asks her to the town festival. He’s now the owner of the Christmas tree farm on Hideaway Lane, the one Julie has been going to all her life. But, when the bank threatens to take the farm from him, Julie steps in to help. Romance blooms in this story of old crushes, Christmas spirit, and small-town charm.

Book 3

Inlet Circle

In the small town of Wishful Harbor, life is good, that is until things go wrong. When Lacey, the owner of One More Cup, the local coffee shop slides on the ice and right into the side of Chip’s truck, the sparks fly. Chip has come to town to take over ownership of the Inlet Cove Inn. Neither of them is ready for anything more than friendship, but when they’re stranded at the Inn with no power for twenty-four hours, they think that maybe love could heal old wounds. But, only time will tell in this sweet, small-town romance.

Book 4

Pier Cove

A SmallTown Romance filled with adventure and sweet romance…
Marly loves anything old, so what starts out as a hobby, turns into a business. Since she’s a treasure diver in her spare time, she’s thrilled when the opportunity arises to run a store in the historical seaside town of Wishful Harbor.
Liam is a third-generation owner of the Wishful Harbor marina. He is interested in knowing more about the new resident of Wishful Harbor. They hit it off as friends almost immediately.
When she hears the old tale of a shipwreck off the end of the lighthouse cape, she enlists Liam’s help to find the treasure, although he’s not a fan of taking her to the wreck. When her old boyfriend gets wind of it, he shows up wanting to take what she’s trying to find.
Together, Marley and Liam work to find the treasure, along with Liam’s granddad Liam. The friendship starts to make a turn into something more, but neither are sure as their pasts try to keep them from having a future.
This is a sweet romance, full of adventure and laughs. The small town of Wishful Harbor is a treasure to be found, and everyone there is family.

Book 5

Bay Street

Bailey Garrett moved to Wishful Harbor looking for a new start. A month before moving to Wishful Harbor, her mother died, and she found out her stepfather was a liar, a thief, and a con artist.

Sherriff Scott Wick hears who is opening the souvenir shop in town, he makes it his business to keep an eye on her hoping she isn’t anything like her stepfather.

Then as mysterious things start happening around Bailey, it doesn’t take Scott long to see that darkness follows Bailey around every corner. Will Scott be able to keep her safe or will her past consume both of them?

In the exciting conclusion of the Wishful Harbor series there will be mystery, adventure, and romance.

Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

What’s coming up…

It’s Friday! With the tax deadline coming up quickly, I’m excited that it’s Friday because I need a break. But, I’ll be writing this weekend as I have deadlines there too!

Do you plan your year of writing? I do. I’ve already got my writing for 2021 planned out and the covers are in process. Of course, as writers know, something new could be added during the year, it’s just the way our minds work.

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Here’s the remainder of 2020 schedule:

To be released October 17: Timeless Love-Marina’s Story (4th book in The Journal Series) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DFGK8JB/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i12

To be released November 7: Bay Street (Wishful Harbor 5th book in the Wishful Harbor Series) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DF89LB8/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i23

To be released December 4: Wine, Wedding & The Cowboy (Book 3 of the Tangled Vines Series) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DF9JC3V/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i15

To be released January 29: Double Take at Mistletoe Ranch (Book 3 of the Mistletoe Ranch Series) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DFBY6PR/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

As you can see, I’m finishing up 4 series in the above releases. I’m sad to see those series end, but I’m excited for the new series that I’ll be starting for 2021. And it will be a little different from my usual. I will give you a little info now. There will be 5 books in the series and they will be somewhat suspenseful. But I’ll fill you in on more about that soon.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…