Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Romance is like coffee…

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Good Friday morning. Hope all is well with all of you. It’s Friday, so let’s have some fun and enjoy the day. Yes, there’s still several hours until the weekend, but it’s almost here.

With romance readers, there is always someone who wants something different. There are so many different genres to choose from. It’s sort of like coffee. Everybody likes it a different way. Some like it black, no sweetener or creamer, just straight from the pot. Some like it with a little sugar and a lot of cream, then others, a lot of sugar and a little cream. And don’t even get me started on the many flavors of creamer. As for me, I love mine with just french vanilla creamer.

So, here’s to hoping you find the romance genre you like and a good cup of coffee the way you like it. Whatever way you like your romance, I hope you enjoy it. Read a little romance and get lost for a couple of hours, it helps the mind and soul…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

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Encouraged, not discouraged…

Good Monday morning! Hope all is well with you and hope my northeastern friends are warm and safe. We received a little dusting of snow here in my part of Georgia Saturday morning, but by lunch it was all gone. But it was nice to watch the flakes float down from the sky. Snow falling always soothes me and sets me for a great mood, but since I’m fighting a cold, I didn’t go outside to catch a snowflake, I stayed by the fire.

Now to my post, well, as most of you know I submitted my book Tuscany to Harlequin. After a wait, which I thought would be worse on my nerves, but for some reason wasn’t, I received a response. Of course it’s not the one I wanted, but as a writer, it’s part of the process.

Yes, they sent one of their really nice rejection letters. Of course I could’ve sat down and cried, gave up on writing or just shredded the manuscript, never to let it see the light of day again. But that’s not the way I do things. I saw it as encouragement, not discouragement. Why? Well, let me enlighten you.

The letter gave me some things that they thought I should change and some great advice on picking the particular genre of theirs that I submit to. To me, this was a great letter, not a devastating blow, as some writers say. It encouraged me to step up the game on Tuscany and delve into some deep edits. Of course some of the things they mentioned aren’t drastic changes, just some twists to the story, which I really like.

You might be saying, ‘she can’t be taking this that well’, but I’m a writer, this happens and I still have the fact that Tuscany made it to the top 55 of the contest with Harlequin, so I know it has possibilities. In my opinion, this is like getting a critique from some of the best editors in the business. So what some think of as a loss, I find interesting and plan to do what they said.

So, have you received a rejection letter before? How did you deal with it? Did you make the changes and resubmit?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Friday Writing …

It’s Friday and the day before a holiday here in the States. I’m like a big kid when it comes to any holiday. I enjoy the family gathering together and eating lots of food. Yes, I remember that I’m on a low calorie diet, but I get one day a week to splurge and I’m picking tomorrow. But I’ll be as good as I can 😉

This morning I’ve been working on part of the manuscript that’s a surprise. I’ve stepped into a new world with this one and I’ll give you a little, itty, bitty hint, There’s no cowboy in this one! Oh no, not a cowboy in sight. Yep it’s hard not to add some boots or Stetson to someone. But don’t worry, I’m not giving my cowboys away, not at all. I’m just trying something different, we’ll see how that goes.

Have you ever stepped out of your normal writing genre? How did it go?

I’ll be giving a little away later, but for now this is all I can give you. Exciting things are happening and this is part of it. Maybe it’ll lead to something bigger and better. We’ll just have to see.

Hope all of you have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend! Here’s an early Happy 4th of July for my fellow Americans.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Free to the best home…

No, I’m not giving away puppies. I’m talking about book pricing today. When I started publishing it was one of those many decisions that I had to make. You’d think that would be easy, but let me tell you this, it’s not. Other writers talk about the ‘sweet spot’ and then others tell about making the first book in all their series free. Well here goes some things I’ve found out during my publishing process. 

By the way, this is not in anyway a rant, but the things I’ve figured out through my writing.

1: Do your homework? By this I mean go on a book site and check other books in your genre. Check the pricing of those that are the same length and same genre. Let me also remind you, those on bestseller lists can price a little higher and sell, if you’re not on the bestseller list you might want to aim your pricing arrow slightly lower, but don’t undersell yourself.

2: Beware of the freebie backlash. You might be wondering what I mean. Well as soon as you start offering your book for free you open up yourself to the ‘freebie reviewers’. For some reason as soon as your book goes free, the slashing starts. I’ve actually looked at several bestselling authors that put up some free books and they see the same kind of reviews after offering their books for free. This doesn’t mean don’t put them up for free, I’m just warning you first. Offering your first in a series is a great way to drive readers to your others in the series. Also offering other stand alones free for a time is a great promotional advantage.

3: The Even amount myth. I read an article about this over a year ago. The author said that everytime they post a even number price such as $1, $2, or even $3 their sells went down, but if they added .99 to said price sells went back up. Not sure why, but I’ve tried it and it does seem to work. Odd but true.

4: Don’t undersell yourself. I did this for so long, but have finally decided to stop doing it. Yes the numbers can be good when you sell your book for .99, but think about this, you may sell several at the lower price, but bump it up a couple of dollars and even though you may sell less, you will still see a higher profit. You’re worth it so go ahead and try it out.

5: Look at the length of your book. If you price your 5000 word book at 5.99, more than likely you’re not going to sell it. As I said in number 1, do your homework. Don’t over price your shorter books.

This is just some of the observations that I’ve made. You can try it or not, it’s entirely up to you. Just keep writing and put more out there.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…


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Are you using your voice?

Ok, I know that’s a strange question, but hear me out. I’m talking about your author’s voice. That voice that speaks to you and drives you to write. You know that voice, it’s the one that wakes you in the middle of the night, the one that keeps your mind off everything around you, and it’s the one that nudges you to write that next chapter before bedtime. Yeah, you know it. All writers hear it, some ignore it, but you hear it.

But the question is, are you using your voice? Have you listened to others and changed to suit them, but not you? Yes, we need to listen to our critics, but if we totally change our voice aren’t we denying our inner talent. When you write from your heart it shows. When you listen to that voice in your head you use your writer’s voice.

If you change that and don’t listen to your own voice, then where does the story come from. Well, it would have to come from somewhere outside of your head, which means you’re not using your voice. It’s your writer’s voice that makes you the writer. It’s that voice that gives you the stories you write, the emotions, the complexity of characters. So, if you don’t use your own voice, then what next?

Did you know that your voice determines the genre you write in? If your voice leans toward romance, then you write romance, if it leans toward science fiction, then you’ll write science fiction. You get the picture, right? Well, I’ve talked to writer’s that listened to critics and other people and they changed their voice. But it wasn’t a good change, it was a tragic change. Their writing went downhill. Yes, we all need to edit our voice, I mean we’re not perfect in no means, but we don’t need to edit our voice.

I had a reviewer tell me one time that I needed to add some tequila shots to one of my books. She went on to explain that she thought it needed to have more heated love scenes. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s not my voice.  She liked the book, but wanted more steamy sex scenes. My writing voice leans more toward the calmer romance voice. I have no problem with steamier books, but it’s just not my voice. That’s why we have authors that write in that voice. I lean more toward the heart warming romance. But that’s just the way I write. I have many great author friends that write steamy romance and I love their books. They in turn read mine and appreciate it also. We understand that all of us has a different voice.

So, are you following your voice? Are you listening to that inner part of you that makes your writing exclusively yours? Remember to follow your heart and not follow what’s popular now. You never know, you could start a new voice or popular culture. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Friday and Romancing the Coffee

Good Morning! It’s Friday people. It’s the last day of the work week for most, but for an author that works a full time job it’s the start of the long work weekend. I work everyday on my manuscripts. Some days not as long as others and especially at this time of year. I have deadlines all around me. There’s W-2’s to finish, end of the year balancing, 1099’s, Tax return prep, manuscripts that are being finalized, covers to design, editing to do, VBS pre season prep, and dare I go on, on my! 

As I sit here nursing my second cup of coffee, I contemplate my morning. I have a hour or so of social media, blogging, and a little editing before I go to the office. It’s funny the life of a writer. I sit down at my computer and my fingers automatically go to the keyboard ready to write. It’s just natural for me to put my thoughts in writing. 

Do you use your morning effectively? The morning hours are very productive for me. It’s the mid day that I sometimes get a little foggy, but then as I sit down after dinner I get creative again. Generally I’m not a morning person, but after about two cups of coffee I start to wake up and get inspired. This morning I have a crackling fire going and a sweet little bird on the banister outside the window watching me. Of course he probably thinks my head is a nest as I’ve yet to run a brush through my hair or even get dressed for that matter. This is “Me” time. The sun is spreading across the front lawn and the world is starting to come alive. 

As you know, I love romance and in the mornings I love to write a little and feel the power behind romance. Have you ever felt it? If you’re a romance writer or reader for that matter, you’ve felt that power. It draws you in and refreshes your faith in life. Yeah, I’m a romance advocate. I had a reader tell me the other day that they don’t believe in romance, well they received a long talk about the possibilites of romance. Needless to say they laughed and said they’d give it another try. But they have read all my books. That’s a start.

Well I’m almost done with my Friday morning rambling, but I must leave you with this question. Do you believe in romance? It’s a simple question. I’m curious about your responses. With romance being the best selling genre in books, I’m pretty sure at least more then 50% of you do. 

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


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Romance the genre

Have you noticed the number of genre’s in the romance field. It’s amazing how many sub genre’s there are. When setting up for your book to be published they ask what genre. You have to make sure you hit it right.

One of the first publishers I looked for in a romance was Avon. They always had a great selection. I remember years ago you had historical, contemporary or series. The historical covered anything not contemporary. Now you have the different time periods. You have so many sub genres. What’s funny is some of them are so new that I have to google them to see what they include.

When publishing you have to make sure you put your work in the correct genre. Then let’s don’t forget tagging. That’s for a whole new blog post.

But for me romance is romance. Everyone needs a little romance no matter how you get it. I’ve been reading romance since I was a teenager and it’s still the same. Now you just have a lot more to choose from. I used to sit and wait for the next book to come out, but now you just go to your favorite book site and choose from thousands and thousands in every subject you want. If you tried to read everyone of them, you’d never make it.

If you want to check out some great romance and reviews go over to avonromance.com. They offer a great selection of romance and commentary that keeps you intrigued. I’ve enjoyed being a contributor on their site. I know you won’t be disappointed.

As always, great writing and May God Bless YOU…