Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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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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Covers…Edits…Excitement

It’s Friday! Plain and simple, I’m ready for the weekend. It’s been a busy week in the accounting office, along with the fact that I’ve had a summer cold which has made put me in slow motion, so my writing has suffered, but hopefully this weekend I’ll make it up.

As for my book Tuscany, which is in the hands of Solstice Publishing, is moving forward. I turned in the last of the heavy edits this week. I’ve learned a lot during these edits. My editor from Solstice has been wonderful. She actually made it a learning process. Her comments were inspiring and some were even comical, which made it a fun time, which is unusual for editing.

Yes, I’ve seen the cover that has been designed for Tuscany, but I can’t share it yet. As soon as I’m given the go ahead, I’ll be sharing it. Let’s just say, I’m excited. The book is beyond the first editing process and now will go on to the run through to make sure that everything was addressed before it goes to publication. So, hope to have some publishing news soon!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Editing, it’s very important!

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Good Tuesday morning! It’s nice to be back in a regular schedule. Vacations are really nice and relaxing, but then I start losing track of my days and that makes my brain turn to jelly. Not good when I’m on two book deadlines, and have accounting to catch up on.

While on vacation I downloaded three books to my Kindle to read while at the beach. I was so excited about one of the books, but as I started the first page things didn’t sound right. I struggled through a couple more pages and put it down, thinking I was sleepy. I picked it up the next day and more of the same. The story line was really great, but the writing or rather the editing was bad.

I’ve heard authors say they found books that were hard to read because of the poor reading, but usually I can muddle through. This one wasn’t like that and the sad thing is the book is by an author that I really like and have read before. It has me thinking really hard about my editing process. I’m constantly reading articles about editing and writing which helps keep me educated on the craft. This book would have been covered in red marks and comments. But I really wanted to find out what happened to the two characters. Eventually I’ll pick it back up and try again.

Some may ask if I plan on putting a bad review on this book. The answer is no! I don’t believe in downgrading an author, especially one that’s written some great books. It’s very possible that this book was downloaded from the wrong file. I did that with a reviewer one time. Now that was embarrassing. I might send her a email and inquire if she’s checked the finished and published product. I just don’t like to be negative to my fellow authors. We’re all in this craft together and should support one another, not tear one another down.

So, do you make sure that your editing process is what it needs to be? Also, make sure if you’re paying an editor, double check their work too. Everyone can miss something, even the experts.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Not perfect, well it’s the first draft…

First off, let me get this out there. My March Madness Sale is ongoing on my website. Today is Slide3

SO go by my website and get 20% off my paperbacks. Everyday is a different deal and some days are a mystery amount that includes a mystery gift…

Well, on to today’s soapbox drama… How’s your first draft look? If it’s perfect then you put too much work into it. I know, you’re looking at the screen and thinking I’m crazy, well you’re half right. Your first draft should be just that, your first draft. This is where you get the story down in words, not the perfect, ready for publishing manuscript. That’s why it’s called the first draft.

My first draft’s always look like a murder scene after I get through with them. They’re grammatically horrible and so out of sorts. This is where I throw everything I have at the keyboard and pay no attention to the details of spelling and paragraph breaks. Especially when I use my dictation program on my phone.

I sat the other night in a warm bath with my favorite lavender/ chamomile bath salts. A idea for my current work in process came into my mind, so I grabbed my phone and started dictating the idea. The next morning when I downloaded it into my draft document I laughed until I cried. It was horrible. If you’ve ever worked with a dictation program then you know what I mean. Many times I was so caught up in the story that I forgot to say ‘new paragraph’ or ‘open quote, end quote’. It was plain out pitiful.

It took me a few minutes to clear up the mess. Yes I do go ahead and clean the downloads from the dictation program so that I understand what the heck I was saying. I’ve actually deleted several paragraphs of my first drafts and that’s painful, but needed. Some days I get to about 3/4 of the way done and realize I don’t like where my first draft is headed, so I change the direction.

I do recommend editing your first draft before you send it to your editor. If your first drafts are like mine then it’s a must because my editor would put it back on my desk and say ‘what?’.

So how’s your first draft look when you hit the end?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Foggy Fall Morning

When I woke this morning it was foggy outside. To me a foggy fall morning is beautiful. The fall colors become a soft emerging color through the fog. It’s as though you’re alone in the world as the fog closes in around the house. As I sit here looking out the window I can only see a little ways and then you meet a gray wall. For some reason when it’s foggy as when it snows everything is quiet. It’s as though the creatures outside are afraid to make a sound or maybe they’re just in awe of natures shadowy appearance.

Hopefully the foggy morning will not seep into my brain. I plan on doing some writing today. I need to get Open The Heart out and ready to go. Also, I need to do some promoting for Monday. I will be featured on Southern Writer’s Magazine’s Blog page called Suite T. This is so exciting. They’ve been so wonderful to me and my writing. If you’re a writer you need to subscribe to their magazine. It’s very inspirational and informative.

I’d also like to recommend a website that’s very good for a writer and a reader. If you’re like me and grew up reading Avon Romance books, then you need to visit http://www.avonromance.com. It’s a great site to catch up with other romance readers and get to know their editors and authors. I’m proud to be able to contribute to their wonderful website. I recently went through some of my old romance books in the attic and was surprised at how many of them are Avon Books. When I was young I would look for the Avon logo on the spine and that always told me what was inside would be great. 

Avon Books carry some big author names. If you haven’t checked them out, then you’ve been missing out. I’ve found several new authors to read and recently was excited when I saw an older author of romance write a post on there. It’s funny how much I enjoy the posts on this site. Some of the posts even give you interesting insights into their world.

As for me, I’m feeling pretty good this morning. I was able to spend a couple of hours last night with my nieces. One of them is my editor and cover designer. She’d been away at University of Georgia. I was so glad to get to talk with her and catch up. I was able to surprise her with a paperback copy of Victoria which was the last book she designed for me before she left for college. 

Wishing everyone great writing, and May God Bless You…

 


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Brain faster than fingers

As a writer when an idea comes through your brain you either have to write it down or put in your computer almost immediately. I’ve learned as I get older, my memory can’t hold for very long. Sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing and write the thought down on anything available. My editor just loves my notes. Napkins work really well 🙂 That’s clean napkins!

Sometimes the way my brain works my fingers can’t keep up. I’ll be typing as fast as my fingers will let me, but my brain is ahead of me. That’s when it gets crazy. I get frustrated because my brain is spitting the story out like a battalion leader, but my fingers are still at start. 

One day I got so frustrated that I actually sat down with a pen and paper and wrote the story. My editor just looked at me and laughed. When I didn’t say anything she was like you didn’t really hand write this did you? I smiled and said at least it got out of my head. She usually just shakes her head and starts typing. Sometimes I think she wants to throw things at me. 

Is your brain faster than your fingers? 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Steps to Writing a good story…

Ok, so we’ve all wrote a story at some time or another. Whether it’s a school report or as a writer. But have we ever sat down and thought about the steps it takes to write a story, good or bad?

As a writer I’ve got several things I do. First, I’ve got to be inspired. I have people all the time telling me to write about this or that. Well, for me it doesn’t work that way. It’s got to come to me in one way or the other. Sometimes it’s in a dream or just a daydream. Those are the best. My novel “Ghost Lover” came to me in a dream. Well most of it anyway. It was as though I was possessed by the stories and characters. They ruled my life for a while as I put the thoughts in my laptop.

Second, most of my books have had a general outline. When a story idea comes to me I immediately try to sit down with pen and paper and write down the story in outline form. This way I don’t forget the basics. It would be nice to sit in one sitting and write a finished novel. If you have, please relay the story to me? What’s funny is sometimes as the story evolves so does the outline. Most of the time I make each line in the outline into a whole chapter.

Third I write a character sketch. As I get older my memory slips some 🙂 I hate to constantly be going back in the story to remember a name or place. As I add to a character or introduce a new place or person I write it down. This helps speed up the process.

Fourth, now this is the important part. If you’re writing and you lose the momentum in a certain spot, just make a note of a key spot to come back to. Then go forward and most of the time that inspires you to go back and finish the lost spot. Most of the time continuing the story helps. I usually know the outcome of the part, but the middle is somewhat fuzzy. Writing the ending helps to give you inspiration for the middle.

Fifth, keep the interest. Don’t give away the ending mid way. That really makes a story dead to me when I’m reading a book and the author gives away the whole story by the middle of the book. Then the ending just goes stale. So keep the momentum building. Maybe even have several momentum building moments that build on each other.

Sixth, the writing process does not end with the words “The End”. I’ve said this in several blogs. It is very important to read your story to yourself, even out loud. If you just finish and hand it to your editor, you’ve left off a big step. Every time I read a story over it brings on extra thoughts. I’ve added whole chapters just in one reread. Do it, don’t leave it to the editor. You’re the writer, take charge.

Seventh, Now that you’ve reread and rechecked details, now you’re ready to hand it to the editor. To me this step is the hardest, you’ve got to write a description. How on earth do you condense a huge novel or even a short novella to a couple of lines? Well, make sure you leave the reader guessing. If you give away the whole plot on the back of the book why would they want to read the book itself?

Eighth, so the writing is over, the editor has it and you’ve got the description. Now if you haven’t already set up the cover, now’s the time. Make sure the cover has something to do with the book. A vampire on the cover isn’t good if the book is about a horse ranch. Make it interesting and eye catching. Yes, you’ve got to pay a little to get the good pictures, but it’s well worth it. My first couple of covers were totally stocked pics from office. Not cool!. After they were published I said “YUCK”. My editor is an awesome cover designer. I tell her what I have in mind and she usually finds the pictures for me based on my idea. What’s funny is the latest book ‘Rekindled Flame’ had a completed cover before I was anywhere near finished.

Ninth, now just sit back and wait for the finished product. Go publish it and enjoy the knowledge that you’re a published author. Don’t worry at this moment if someone likes your work. Just check that off your bucket list. Wait a little while before you worry about if people like your work. Remember you’re going to have those that don’t like your style writing and others who love it. Go with you gut and enjoy yourself. If you get nothing but bad reviews you might want to recheck your work, but if you get good and bad then you’ve probably done alright.

These are just the steps I go through, maybe you do your steps totally different. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You!