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…

 


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3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self Publishing

As you know I’m a self published author. When I decided to publish my manuscripts I studied the market. I’m an Accountant and I have a strong analytical background so that pushed me to make a study into this. I looked into both the traditional market and the self publishing market. One thing I realized was that more and more traditionally published authors are going to the self publishing market. But let me tell you this, in order to do it right you’ve got to keep up the traditional publishing standards strictly enforced.

Here are 3 of the ways Authors can improve Self Publishing:

1: Editing: This is a very important part of publishing and this is where several self published authors fail at. It’s also part of why some people will not pick up a self published book because they’ve been burned before. You’ve got to read your manuscript and read it again. Also you need to either get Beta Readers or someone that will be critical and unbiased to read your work. When you read your manuscript pull yourself away. Read it as though you’re a reader and are you inspired to read it again. If it falls flat, then how can you expect anyone else to get into. Have you corrected all the spelling errors, grammatical errors, and just plain out story line disasters?

2: Covers: I can’t stress this enough. Covers can sell even a badly written book. This is the first thing that a reader sees. This is the first line of selling rank. If you don’t spend money on anything else, please spend a little on this. There are so many talented cover designers out there. I’ve been so fortunate to have a awesome cover designer. I’ve seen some really cool covers and then some really horrible attempts. Your cover needs to tell something about what’s inside. It need to pull the reader in. I’ve purchased so many books just from the cover.

3: Book Blurbs: I stress about this with all my books. This is the hardest part of writing to me, no kidding. Make sure you don’t give away too much in the blurb. Too many authors tell the story on the back of the book. This is not good. Be very descriptive and use complimentary words that will draw in the reader. I’ve done a study on this with my very own books. I put out a blurb on a couple of my books that I was somewhat happy with, but I noticed a lag in sales. Then I sat down and poured over the blurbs changing some of the key words and adding some small elements. This helped the sales dramatically. Try it and see if your sales go up.

It’s hard to be an author, period! When I say I’m an author, people come back with yeah, I could write a book. Well, yeah, anyone can write a book, but can they write a book that will go anywhere? Do they have the drive to publish that book and do all the marketing? Being an author is not as easy as it looks and being self published is brutal at times.

But let me tell you the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. The first time a fan comes up to you at the grocery store and says, “Oh my goodness you’re that author.” The first time this happened to me I was so embarassed and excited at the same time. When you get emails from fans excited about your work it makes you smile all day. I’ve gained so many new friends from all over the world that some days I’m just amazed. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. 

Have I thought about traditionally publishing? Yes. I sent Ghost Lover to a traditional publisher and never heard a word. Then I decided to self publish it and it was all uphill from there. It was my introduction into the publishing world and the response to that book has been really great. I’ve had a couple of big publishers call me about coming on board with them, but they couldn’t offer my anything different from what I do now, so not now. I do have a work in progress at the moment that it’s been in my heart to send to a publisher that I contribute to as a blogger. We’ll see how that goes. 

So, my advice to you is to go for it, but be prepared to do it right. This is your name you’re putting out there, so make it shine. If you need any help with it, I’m in partnership with my editor/cover designer in a publishing service, Horseshoe Publishing. We’ll help you iron out those wrinkles and make your work shine like a new penny.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Vibrant Colors

On Wednesday my son does not have to be at school until 9:05 and that’s wonderful. We can sleep in a little longer. As I drove home I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I love my hometown. It’s so beautiful any time of the year, but at Fall time it really shows out. The trees almost glowed in oranges, yellows, reds and some a little touch of brown. Simply breathtaking.

It’s the same with book covers. If you don’t step out and go beyond the box on your cover, then you just as well to box it up and close the shop. When shopping for a book in this world of millions of books to choose from, you’ve got to stand out. Don’t go so flashy that you get gawdy, but a splash of vibrant color will catch the eye.

As the bright orange or yellow tree will catch your eye among the green tree tops, so will the splash of color on your cover. To me the cover and the blurb are very important. Make sure you put extra care in both of these areas. One of my books was lagging in sales and I changed the blurb a little. Amazingly enough the book started to take off. Crazy but true.

Check out the link at the top of this post to the publishing service I started with my assistant. We go beyond the box with covers and help you make your book stand out in the crowd.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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2nd Cup of Coffee and Cool Fall Morning

I just love this time of the year. It’s so cozy curled up in the corner of the couch with my throw and coffee. I feel invigorated. The leaves are on the verge of change and the air is so clean. It’s amazing what God has given us.

I am nursing my second cup of coffee as I type this post. Yes, I’m still on vacation, so no hurry to shower and get dressed. I actually typed 4000 words yesterday. It was a very productive day. I have my outline beside me now and am pumped about today’s word count. If you’re a writer you know what I mean. It’s fun when the story is just spilling from your mind to your fingertips. The only problem I have is I want to get to the happenings of chapters ahead of where I am. Funny thing about a story is it unfolds sometimes in a crazy order. I can see the last act so clearly and it guides me through the middle story which leads you up to the final words. 

I’ve taken some advice from a fellow blogger and writer that has helped so much with this manuscript. I am so guilty of editing and proofing as I go. It’s a slow process when you do it that way. I’m bad about going back and rewriting parts or correcting spelling or grammer. As she said in her post, don’t do that until the first draft is complete. It does hinder your rhythm as you work. If you stop and go several times your brain gets in a fog. I typed yesterday continuously and refused to go back and edit even though at times I wanted to sooooooo bad.

How do you write? What’s the pet peeve of your writing? If you have a finished piece of work and need some help with the polishing, go to the Horseshoe Publishing tab at the top of my page and check out our polishing services. Your hard work needs to be out there, so get it polished and shiny and ready for the public to ooh and awe over it.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…