Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Outlines, Notebooks & other such things…

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It’s Saturday morning and I’m ready for a little rest and restoration. Of course, you know I’ll be writing, it’s my Saturday thing to do. When you run a busy accounting office, most of your intense writing comes on your days off.

Take notes... You'll need them later...

Now with intense writing sessions, you have to use your time wisely. This is where detailed notes and outlines come in handy. When I sit down to write, I like to have everything at my fingertips. If I’m writing a book, say, for instance, Breakwater Lane, I want to have my character information close at hand. Why? Well, it helps me to just look at the character list beside me. If I forget a secondary characters name, I just glance at the list and keep going. But without this list, well, I’d have to go back to where I last wrote about them to check. That takes away valuable writing time.

Outlines are helpful…

I’m an outliner, most of the time. When a story comes into my head, I like to sit down and outline it while it’s fresh. If the story comes in bits and pieces as some do, then I just write down the basics of what has come to my head. As with Sky Ridge Series, I have in my head what each of the three books will be covering, but without the outline, I’d overtake the story from the next book. I want to make sure that each book covers its own situation.

Don’t let a lack of organization throw you off track…

Some people say that outlines mess them up and that’s ok. Everyone has their own style. It’s the way we’re made. But for me, outlines keep me focused on the story at hand. You might ask if I’ve ever changed a story from the outline? Yes, several times. Take, for instance, Finding the Right Time. I had it completely outlined, but my characters would not behave and they went off script. If you’re not a writer, that might sound a little off, but it’s true. Characters can have a mind of their own and they go off down the rabbit hole, leaving the outline in the dust. That’s when you pick up the outline, dust it off, then adjust as needed. It works, believe me.

Notebooks… Notebooks… Notebooks…

Now, I have notebooks for each of my series. I keep details about characters that are in each book. That way I keep up with who died, who left to never be heard of again and such as that. On my stand-alone’s, I don’t always have a dedicated notebook, just an outline with notes in the margins. I put the characters at the top, then the outline. But the notes in the margins can be added characters, character flaws or just location descriptions. Anything you think will be needed later, add it.

It only takes a second to lose that train of thought…

So, to sum up, my rambling from above, if you feel disoriented or unorganized when writing, it’s normal. But there are ways to make it easier on yourself. These are just a couple of the things I do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

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Changing up…

Before I published my first book I did a lot of investigating. The general comment that I saw from several well known writers was to keep writing. They said that the more you write the better your craft and the better the sales. Well, I wondered how this would pan out for my future career as a writer. 

Now that I’m coming up on my two year publishing anniversary I can say that this is a fact. It’s funny that when I read my first published book I shake my head. I’m in the process of revising a couple of my first books. I’ve learned so much about the process and writing in the last two years. I changed a lot of how the process goes. Also, I’ve slowed down a bit. Of course that could be age, but let’s get past that point.

I’ve seen a huge difference in sales. The first 6 months after publishing my first book my sales were minimal. Every month after that I’ve seen a upswing. I’ve also learned to put a decent price on my work. Even though you might sell less in numbers, the end result if a larger profit. 

As for my covers I’ve stepped up the game. Now I put more effort in making each new cover pack a punch. I want them to stand out in the enormous crowd of other newly published books. I study other covers that I see and what the current trends are. I get a lot of response on my covers which makes me smile. 

One thing I’ve learned from multiple published books, I’ve added more descriptions. I’ve added more insight into the characters and more information on the surroundings. Some of this comes from fans writing to me. They tell me that my earlier books were good, but they wanted more from the characters. I’ve listened to the readers and now I write further detail into every book. Patience has been a hard thing for me to have in my writing. When you can see the end and your excited, sometimes you press it too quickly and lose the middle structure. 

My publishing process has become very detailed. I’ve slowed that process too. Now I do a little more marketing than before. As you’ve noticed in my blogs I’m working on several manuscripts that have been in the works for a while. I also have a couple of surprises coming up, but that’s for another blog down the road. 

As always, good writing, and May God Bless You…


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Being whatever we want to be…

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I’m a big kid, not just at Halloween as you can see, but in everyday life. My way of thinking is this, if we stay a child at heart how can you grow old. I know in numbers I’m almost 45, but in my heart I still get giddy at Halloween, Christmas and all the other holidays. My heart still pounds when I see buckets of candy. Well, that could be the chocolate rush, but it still beats harder with excitement.

Last night was our annual Church Trunk or Treat and it was a blast. We had so many children come through and they were very creative with their costumes. It was wonderful to see all my little Children’s Church peeps and the many guests dressed in their favorite theme or character. Of course being the Children’s Minister it’s only right that I go all out with my costume and my decorations. I included my sons pumpkin on the tailgate with balloons, posters and buckets over flowing with candy. The weather held up for our celebration.

As a writer you can be whatever you want to. You can be that character and feel that characters happiness, sadness, anger, love or whatever they feel. We are able to change the ending, making it what we want. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a writer? Well for one thing it’s not as easy as it looks.

You have a story come into your mind. At first you think, this is going to be easy. You may sit down and write the story in your head and then realize it only lasted 5 pages. As a writer you have to expand that story. The descriptions have to be expanded to allow the reader to be drawn in. Remember the story you hear in your head is real to you, but the reader doesn’t have it in their head the way you do. You have to put it in their mind. We have to help the reader see it as we do, which means it has to be detailed out.

If you say, “I see a rolling green hill”. Well the person reading this will only picture a hill of green grass. If you want them to see more then say it more like this. “As I sit here, I see a hill that goes beyond the eye. It is covered in wildflowers that are vibrant with color. The sky is dotted with a few fluffy white clouds and the blue is in deep contrast to the green grass. It is a breathtaking sight to behold.” See how you draw in the reader and help them to see what you see.

Hope everyone had a safe Halloween and take it easy on the candy.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Writing a book description

One of the hardest things in writing is the book description. Well at least for me. It’s so hard to put into a short paragraph the book you’ve poured your heart into. How do you summarize thousands of words into a short space. Here are a couple of pointers that I go by:

1: Don’t over write the description. This means that you don’t need to overdo it. You don’t need to tell everything. If you go into too much detail you lose the reader before they even get started.

2: Use a lot of descriptive words. You need to make the reader want to read your book. By using descriptive words you can lure them in.

3: Don’t give away too much. I read a description one day that actually told the plot of the book. I realized I didn’t want to read it after reading the description because the writer told what happened to the characters. It’s like telling who did it before you even know the players.

4: Remember you’re trying to sell your book. Think about it as writing an ad for your book. You want to hint at the best aspects. Maybe write it from the main characters view.

5: Some of the best book descriptions are short and to the point. So just get to the point and leave it. 

This is just a couple of ways I try to describe my books. Maybe it will help you when you get ready to write your description.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Writing Emotion

How do you write emotion? To someone that doesn’t write you may think this is easy. Well, it’s not easy to put emotion on paper. In life we feel so many emotions. We feel happy, excited, angry, grief, depressed and the list goes on. But how do you put it on paper? How do you get the reader to feel the emotion themselves?

I’ve read books that made me laugh, cry and even get angry. But how do you relate that feeling in your own writing? It’s all in the way you describe it and put all you have in it. Make sure you put every detail in so that it brings the reader into the situation. If you leave out some of the details it could make the reader become detached.

The words you use to make the description more vivid is key. Go for the gusto, use a Thesaurus if you have to, but make every word count. When making someone cry over a sad part, tell how the tears streamed silently, or their lip trembled as they held back the sobs. Don’t just say they looked sad. To bring about the emotion, you need to describe the facial expressions, the feelings they have and how it’s affecting those around them.

I had a fan tell me that one of my books made her cry from sadness at one point and then from deep happiness by the end. In her review she put to have a box of tissues close by when reading it. I smiled broadly and realized that I’d done my job. 

So, don’t forget to fill in the descriptions and if you laugh as you write or cry, you’ve probably achieved your goal.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Outlines and writing between the lines.

If you’ve read my blogs before you know I like to do an outline of my book ideas before I start writing. Most of the time that is. Sometimes when I get the inspiration for a book I can’t quite see the middle and end, but if I do I make sure to jot it down in the order I see it happening.

The problem is sometimes the filling in of the chapters between the outline sections. One of my reviewers wrote that they loved the book but wanted more descriptive matter. They wanted to know more about some of the characters. So, in my latest works I’ve been really working on more descriptive matter. But on that same note I’ve been careful not to just jumble up words for the sake of words on a page.

Have you ever read a book that had too much descriptive matter and not enough actual needed matter? Recently I read a book that was just such a creature. I ended up skipping parts of the book as I got bored with the long drawn out descriptions given. That’s what I’ve tried to keep from doing in my work.

So how much is too much or too little? I guess that’s up to the writer. Regarding the review of that one book, some of the places that I didn’t elaborate, I felt like it didn’t need any further explanation, but that was just the way it came into my heart. But when the reader reads it, they may not get the point that I’m trying to make with less words and more heart. It’s a double edged sword. 

Oh well, we can’t please everyone. One article I read from a well known author said to just please yourself and make it your own. She said if you strive to please everybody all the time you’ll lose that part that makes your own work special. It makes sense.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Does your cover reveal too much?

As with any writer I always struggle with my cover design. Sometimes I’ve got a picture in my mind of how I want the cover to look. During the writing of my books I’m constantly thinking of the cover. Some parts of the book inspire the cover.

It’s so discouraging to pick up a book and look at the cover expecting one thing and reading the book to find something totally different. I’ve done this several times as I know you have too. For example, the book has a vampire on the cover and the only thing about vampires in the book is a short part from a nightmare with a character. So why put a vampire on the cover when the book is not about vampires at all but about something totally different.

Then you get into the aspect of revealing too much with the cover. Let’s say that in the book there is a secret that will not be revealed until the middle or end of the book. You don’t want to put something about that on the cover if it will tell the reader what the secret is. This just spoils the whole suspense plot. 

So in my opinion the cover has to be thought over quite a bit. The cover can reveal a lot about the book. When my assistant and I designed the first couple of covers it was so wrong. We quickly revised it until we were happy. I was careful not to reveal too much about the plot but I also made sure the cover was relevant. 

Hope this helps if you’re working on your cover. It’s often one of the hardest things to me as a writer other than the dreaded description, but that’s a whole new blog post 🙂

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…