Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Five Oaks Ranch…

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Good Wednesday morning folk! I do hope all is well with you and yours. As for me, it’s the beginning of my busy season. Since I’m an accountant, and tax season is now up and running, well, that means I’m a busy lady. Not to mention I have a couple of book deadlines looming too…

Today I want to talk about my Five Oaks Ranch Series. Even though Ridge has been out for coming up on three years, it’s stayed in the top 100 Free books for almost a year. The rest of the series is doing well too…

A little back story into this series… When this series came to me, we were driving back from our Florida vacation. I’d been playing with ideas for a cowboy series, and I wanted it to be based around a family, but I didn’t have the exact specifics. As we drove into Georgia, I was sitting there, lost in thought when street signs started coming into my view. At once, I knew it would be based in Georgia. Then the names started flashing by, my mind whirling with ideas. At that moment, Five Oaks Ranch was born.

By the time we arrived home about one and a half hours later, I had the book names, the cover ideas and had started my character sketches. Of course, I can’t write and ride because I’d turn green, but I had my notepad beside me. I wrote on it without looking, as the words streamed in, almost at once.

When we arrived home, I had to unpack, but my mind was still on beginning Ridge. I have to say, Ridge’s popularity has surprised me. The outpouring of support for this book and the series has been humbling, to say the least. This series came straight from my heart and from the responses I’ve received by email and direct message, it’s touched others.

My writing style has changed a lot since I published Ridge. I’ve studied writing a lot, as most writers do. Some of the things I’ve learned have spilled out into my writing. The first book, Ridge and the second book, Oakley are different in the style of writing, but it still has my heart in it.

To say I’m excited about where the Five Oaks Ranch will go in the future is an understatement. I’ve received emails from readers that would love to see it on the big screen as one big movie or mini-series. Now wouldn’t that be awesome.

Ok, so with your writing, which work has made you a proud author?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

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Author Website – Do you have one?

Good Monday morning! As always I hope you had a great weekend. Have you noticed how short they seem sometimes? Well, on to Monday and the countdown to my book signing. Yikes I only have a few days…

Today I want to talk to you about websites. Do you have one? Have you thought about it, but didn’t know where to start? For a long time I thought about it and put it off. Well, now that I have one I’m glad I made the jump. It’s been a great way to meet need readers and spread the word about my books and releases. I can honestly say it was well worth the money to get it up and going.

If you’re unsure about the whole thing I give you some pointers to help make the decision.

1. Websites give you the ability to advertise to a wide variety of people. If someone searches a particular topic, then you could pop up.

2. Your fans will have somewhere to go to keep up with you and to know what’s new with your writing.

3. You can attached your blog to the website and add a new element.

4. Newsletters are easy when you ask people to subscribe to your newsletter through the website.

5. It’s makes you look more professional as a writer and you can sell your books directly from the site…

If you’re still unsure, just shoot me your questions. I’ve recently added Website design to my list of services at Horseshoe Publishing. Put your name out there and watch what happens.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Tuesday Writing Tips…

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, we made it through Monday so yeah to us…

This morning I wanted to talk with you about writing. What’s that? Yes, I love to talk about writing. I receive dozens of emails each week asking me about writing. So here goes and first let me say this is my way of writing, it may not be your way.

Writing Tips by Steph – Catchy phrase, well maybe not but that’s my first tip I want to discuss and it’s the title of your book. Many authors have asked me how I get my titles. It’s a tough question, but when it comes to you it will be like a light coming on in the dark abyss of the writing brain. Some of my titles have come before the story, odd but true. Then others as I’ve been in the process on writing. It’s very important to have a notepad close by as you write. Ideas pop in your head as you write and if you don’t write them down at that moment they could float away into the vast abyss of a writers brain. Make sure that your title isn’t so long that it loses something. Some titles are one word wonders. Also don’t call it “Christmas Mystery” if it’s not a mystery.

Cover – Oh this is one of those things that could make a reader walk by without a second glance. Make sure your cover inspires or brings out something from the story, but don’t give away any secrets. Also don’t overdo it. Some authors try to put several elements on their cover, but then you overcrowd and it causes confusion. Simple covers, but effective are really good. When I talk with authors that call on Horseshoe Publishing to design their covers, I always say, “What does your book say to you?” Does it scream horror or sweet romance? Does it need to be really warm or cool in color?

Blurb – Oh the horror of writing a blurb for the back of your book. The hundred word blurb is harder to me to write than the 50,000 word book in most instances. A couple of my books actually happened backwards. I wrote the blurb before the book, but I don’t always suggest this. Make it simple, but mysterious. Don’t give a spoiler that will make the reader put it back.

Author Page – This is very important. Tell a brief bio and then put a list of your books. I always separate mine by series and stand alone’s. I also try to include an excerpt from an upcoming release at the end just before the author page. It helps sell it too.

Editing – Make sure that when you hit “PUBLISH” that your work is the best it can be. If you just write it and publish it without a second glance, well most likely that’s the only glance it will get. I checked out a book the other day and read the sample that was provided, let’s just say within a couple of sentences I knew it wasn’t making my TBR list. The spelling and grammar were terrible and that was just the first couple of sentences. What’s worse is it was simple mistakes that were blatantly obvious. Always read over your manuscript after you do a quick edit. Then edit it again. I usually find so many errors in the second edit that I missed. Then I read it out loud. Amazing how many changes you make after you hear it. Remember we’re writers and we’re not perfect, yes I said it, we’re not perfect.

I hope some of these tips helped you in a way. I love writing and talking about it. It’s always fun to get emails on the subject. If you need help with any of the above just jump over to www.horseshoe-publishing.com and let us help you make your manuscript stand out among the millions of others.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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What are you waiting for?

Lately I’ve received several messages from writers that talked about not publishing their work. My question is always, ‘Why not?’ It’s so easy nowadays. Of course I was skeptical when I hit the publish button the first time, but over 10 books later I haven’t looked back. 

It’s such a rewarding feeling when you sell the first book. But the feeling of accomplishment far out weighs any of the nerves I had. It’s funny how the nerves always hit before I publish my books, even several books in. I always get anxious and wonder if anyone will like my work, then I hear from some of my dedicated fans and I smile.

If you put your heart into your writing, why not put it out there? Don’t let those manuscripts just collect dust. I did that for so many years. Take the leap and put it out there. Whether you self publish or go with a traditional publisher, do it. It’s worth the try and you won’t regret it. Don’t let the years go by and the books fade away.

If you need any help with covers, editing, social media setup for your books or anything with the publishing, check out the tab at the top of my blog. I own Horseshoe Publishing along with my editor. We help take the pain out of publishing. Just sit back and write.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Cover Reveal – The WInner Takes All

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Every book needs a great cover and when you have an awesome cover designer it makes things go smoothly. I just love this new cover. This book has been a long time in the making. I had to step away from it for a little bit. Sometimes we writers have to do that. But now I’m into the editing and so glad to be almost finished. I love this series.

This cover took alot of thought. What’s funny is it started out totally different and by the time we were finished it was this gorgeous concoction. The original cover was very vibrant, but my designer decided on using these subtles hues of beige, gray and white, which to me looks totally awesome. 

Here’s an excerpt to give you a little tease:

The next morning it was rainy and dreary outside. She woke up in a bad mood, which was unusual for her. When she arrived at the office, Abigail had her a cup of coffee on her desk as soon as she saw her face.

“Stacy, what’s wrong? You look like you didn’t sleep well.” She looked a little concerned. She’d never seen her like this.

“I went to bed with a bad headache and it seems to have woken up with me.” As she reached for the coffee her engagement ring twinkled back at her. She smiled through the pain.

“Let me see that gorgeous ring. I heard about the engagement. Congratulations.” She looked at the ring and smiled. “That’s quite a stunning ring. You’re a lucky woman.”

“Thanks Abigail. I am a lucky woman with a lot of hard decisions.” She sat down and sighed.

“Alright, what’s up?” Abigail sat down in the chair on the other side of the desk.

“Guess when he wants to get married?” She propped her head in her hands.

“In June?” She said quietly.

“Oh, June I could work with. He wants to get married on Valentine’s Day.” She looked at Abigail and made a face.

“This Valentine’s Day?” Abigail’s eyes became huge with surprise.

“The very one.”

“No wonder you have a headache. I guess he’s not a patient man.” She grinned and gave her a wink.

“Well, that’s not very long to plan a wedding and it’s about to get really busy around here.” She sat back and sighed heavily. “What are you going to do?”

“I guess I’m going to attempt to put a wedding together in six weeks.” She looked up again. “That’s not the only decision that has to be made.”

“Let me guess, where are you two going to live?”

“Abigail, why does life have to be like this? Here I am with a dream come true groom to be and now I have to decide so much in a short time.”

“Honey, that’s life. I’m sorry you have to go through that part, but I’m happy you found a good man.” She gave her hand a pat. “You have a client coming in at ten.”

As I said, it’s in the editing department of Horseshoe Publishing, so it should be ready really soon. I’m excited to have it completed and ready to go. It’s crazy how relieved I always feel to have the cover completed. The editing is a process that excites me, but the cover is always so pivotal for the book that sometimes this part of the process is so stressful.

Horseshoe Publishing is so happy to have such a great designer. If your book needs a cover and you’re struggling, give us a shout and we’ll help you out. We’re reasonable and ready to help you today…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Where are you headed? Not Sure?

That’s a hard question sometimes. Most people have no idea where they’re headed in life. They just take like as it comes and usually don’t make plans for the future. Do you have a plan? Have you got your future in mind or just living in the past?

Life is full of turns, curves, stop signs, yields and just plan out warning signals that go unattended. How do you plan to see it through? Do you live life by the seat of your pants, never knowing which way to go when you get to the fork in the road? Most of us stand that this fork and stare straight ahead, confused and not sure what happens next. 

This happens so many times with writers. You write your manuscript, but now what? Do you publish it? Do you take a chance with a traditional publisher, but then again do you take a chance self publishing it? This is a hard question to ask yourself, but if you want to become a writer, it’s a question that needs an answer. What’s your goal?

Here’s a couple of road blocks that can come along:

1: Turns: This happens after you type The End. Are you self disciplined enough to self publish? Are you patient enough to wait on a traditional publisher? 

2: Curves: Well you’ve made the decision as to how you want to publish your work. What now? If you decide to self publish the road can have many curves and you have to be disciplined enough to take those curves and move forward carefully. If you decide to send it to a traditional publisher, then the curves can be a long time coming and then when they do can you handle the possibility of a 90 degree curve when they either accept it or reject it?

3: Stop Signs: This is when you come to a complete halt. Either your manuscript is completely rejected by a traditional publisher or you decide to self publish and you have no idea where to go from here. That happens, how do you pull away from that stop sign?

4: Yield: With self publishing you have to know when to slow down and take the next step carefully. You need to be patient and slow down before going forward. This is also a good way to handle turning over your manuscript to a traditional publisher. Have you had your manuscript edited by someone other than yourself? One of the easiest way to be rejected by either way you publish is to send in your manuscript before it’s ready. Don’t run straight through the yield without slowing and taking a second look.

5: Warning signs: Also follow the warning signs. Don’t jump into the frying pan without being ready for the burn. If you don’t handle the business as it needs to be handled you will end up getting burned, rejected and ignored in the market. Remember writing is a business and the second you decide to publish, you’re a writer and that’s a business. Run it with that in mind. 

So, where are you headed? Do you know your plan? Before you take that huge step into publishing, figure it out. Know what you want to achieve and make a plan. Don’t go into it without knowing the risks.

If you want to self publish and don’t know where to go from the words The End, check out the publishing service that I’m a partner in, Horseshoe Publishing. We strive to help authors move forward and put out the best product they can. The link to what we do is at the top of my page. We are offering a Spring Into Action 25% off special, so check us out.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…