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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Writing a book is easy!…

Hello, Sunday morning…. What happened to Saturday? It went by too fast and now the weekend is almost over.  I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, yet… Oh well, life goes on.

Here’s a question… How many times does someone come up to you and say, ‘Writing a book is easy, I can do that with my eyes closed.’? I’ve lost count of the people that have told me that when they found out that I’m an author. Usually. I just say, ‘Go ahead, give it a try.’ I know that they haven’t looked into what it entails and probably wouldn’t see it through.

If you’re a writer, you know what’s involved. It’s not the easy job that most think it is. There’s more to becoming a writer than just writing. Most people think that if you’re a writer, then all you do is sit and write. LOL! There’s more to it than that. So, here goes a short list of what goes into the writing of a book, and this is a short list, so it doesn’t get into everything.

1: A story comes to you… This could be the whole thing or just an idea.

2: You begin to outline or put together notes on the idea for the story. At this point, you’re setting up the characters, setting, and plot.

3: You start to write the story. This process could take you a week or couple of years according to how fast the story comes to you or the time you have to get this process completed. Sometimes the story doesn’t come as fast as you want it to.

4: As you write your story, you develop an idea for the cover and at that point or somewhere down the road, you design a cover that goes with the story. (This isn’t as easy as it sounds.)

5: Alright, you’ve written your story, designed your cover, now what? Edit, edit and edit some more. Then you read your story and possibly write more or change some of the story. At this point, I’ve deleted whole chapters that hurt the flow of the story, yes, I said whole chapters. It hurt but had to be done.

As you can see, this is just the start. There are so many other steps to writing a book. This is just a quick, condensed version, but you get the idea. It’s not the easy process that some think it is. But, it’s a rewarding process once it’s done and you’ve published your work.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…IMG_1489

 


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Monday planning…

How many of you make lists? I make them all the time. It helps me to realize my goals, finish tasks and stay somewhat organized. I make grocery lists, to-do lists, cleaning lists and my favorite, writing lists.

Writing lists? It’s my way of keeping up with what I’m working on, future projects and the maybe-one-day projects. Here’s how I go about making the writing lists…

Now projects list: This is the list of things in the hopper now, like the manuscripts that are due out soon. They are already outlined, just waiting to be completed. I keep a current list so that I don’t lose track and it also keeps me in focus on my release dates.

Future projects list: I love this list. It’s the list of projects that maybe are already outlined, but are on the back burner until my now project list is whittled down some. These are the books that I can see the whole story in my mind. This list gets a long look each week as I long for the characters and their unfolding lives. I have to strive not to dip into this list until its time.

Maybe one-day projects: Here’s where I play sometimes. All writers will understand this one. You’re sitting, playing with story ideas and something sneaks in, but the whole idea isn’t quite there, just yet. I put these in this list for future writing. If the story suddenly and without warning comes through and into focus I bumped it to the future projects list.

Included in all of these lists are items like finished covers, finished blurbs, characterizations, etc. Usually, I just mention that these items are saved in the books dedicated file on my hard drive.

Funny how the mind of a writer works. Mostly I’m just willy-nilly and let the characters take over where they may, but for the sake of my sanity I try to keep up with what’s happening. So, I do lists…

Hopefully one day I’ll be doing lists for a big publisher or I’ll be doing writing lists that will fill my day with writing, not just accounting and taxes mixed in 😉 A girl can dream, right?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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What’s true love?

What is true love? It’s a question I’m asked a lot because I’m a romance author. That doesn’t put me into the category of an expert on the subject of love. Although I do read a lot about love and romance, it’s part of the job as a writer.

So, what is it? Some say that true love is a myth, what do you think? For me I’m a firm believer in this thing called true love. It’s a real thing. But true love is met by many skeptics. Here are few definitions of true love that I’ve found:

1: From the Bible (My favorite definition by the way)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

2: Dictionary.com –

noun
a sweetheart; a truly loving or loved person.
3: Webster’s Dictionary-
True´love`
n. 1. One really beloved.
That’s only 3 of the many definitions you can find when you look it up. Does this define the words? Somewhere in between all of these definitions you’ll find the true meaning of love.
Here’s my feelings about it, so sit down and get ready. Remember before you read this that I’m an author of romance, so I warned you…
True love comes from deep inside your soul. It’s the purest, deepest kind of love that you can experience because as the words say, ‘true love’, it’s true, not just lust or infatuation. Your heart beats for someone else. It goes beyond those feelings you had in high school, beyond the fast beating heart, it’s the reason your heart beats. True love is more than words spoken, gifts given or even a look, it’s a feeling all of it’s own. Nothing compares to true love and I know this, because when you find your soulmate, true love, you’ll know it. Everything else that you’ve thought was love suddenly becomes untrue.
Remember I warned you, I’m a sap for true love. So, what’s your meaning of true love? Do you believe in it or are you a skeptic?
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…16302678259_653027e186_m


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Character lists, organizing them…

As a writer you learn many tricks of the trade. For me I outline almost every book from start to finish. Of course as the story develops so does the outline. One of the most important factors in the writing process is the character list. It helps keep you from renaming a character mid book. Yeah, I did this. *Grinning* Also helps you remember the different aspects of the characters that don’t take forefront in the story.

Of course I didn’t learn this nifty little practice until about 5 books in. It really stinks when you’re in the midst of writing and suddenly you can’t remember what one of the side characters does for a living. I always keep my character outline at the bottom of my screen. It sits there ready for action when I need it. I just pull it up and get the info and bam, I’m back to writing.

The book that I used this the most was ‘Victoria’. She had 5 brothers and they had wives and children too. All of the characters played a part in the story so I had to remember what wife went with what brother. Also, in this one I had a timeline beside me too. I’ll get into that in another blog. But if I didn’t have that list, it would have been a nightmare. 

This outline started out on paper, handwritten, but after I lost it once I put it in my computer so that it was available at a moment’s notice. This also helps with series. That way you can pull from this all the way throughout. You can add new characters and new additions to old characters. It’s a wonderful tool and so easy to set up. 

So, if you’re writing a book and don’t have a character list, then I suggest setting one up. It helps immensely to have a mini bio on your characters. List their likes, dislikes. If your character  has blonde hair, put it down. If they are vegetarian’s thats important to make a note of. Also if they have a scar or disability, definitely worth a mention in the bio. This also helps if you decide to do a question answer session with your characters. These are really fun!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Don’t forget that “Finding the Right Time” is available for Pre Order on Smashwords.com. It should be up this week on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple iTunes. It’s only .99 while on Pre Order, but will go to $3.99 on March 31st when the official release date hits.


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Behind the Books

As a reader you don’t know what goes into the books you read. You walk in a book store or browse through the lists of books on your computer, but have you ever thought about what happens behind the scenes to make that book that you hold in your hand possible. Well, let me enlighten you.

As a writer I can tell you there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make that book real. It’s a work in process, it’s the heart of the writer, and it’s the work of usually more than one person.

Steps to the birth of a book:

1: The inspiration – Without the idea or inspiration for the storyline, there’s no book. The author’s ideas, memories, or just inspirational thought puts the story together. If no idea comes about, how could you have a book. 

2: Now for me, the next step is the outline. Some authors don’t outline their work, but I have to do an outline as soon as the inspiration hits. For me storylines comes in huges waves. Most of them I know the beginning and the ending, but have to fill in the middle. Some come in a rush of completeness. 

3: Now is the time to put words to work. Fill in the outline. Make the story flow and ebb with the emotions, characters and time that it takes to make a story come alive. This process is the longest part to me. The inspiration can come in an instant, but to put it to play takes a little bit of time. Some writers could take years to put a story to paper and others on a mere week or two.

4: So your story is on it’s way to birth, but it needs something else. It needs a name. Wow, that’s a hard one sometimes. A couple of my books were named before the story was written, but most of the time the name comes well into the books pregnancy. But when it hits you, it’s automatic. You just know, yeah, that’s it. But at sometimes you struggle with the name. This is a big selling point of your book.

5: Ok, so you’ve got the story, the outline, the name, but what else is there. What about a cover? Every book needs a cover. Some covers are simple, yet expressive, some are extraordinarily elaborate. Your cover is what can stop a reader in their browse for a book. When I browse through a book store, more than anything, the first thing that grabs me is the cover. I’ll stop and check it out if the cover entices me, draws me in.

6: Well, the cover draws you in, but the description can make you say yes. This is the hardest step to me. How do you put a 300 page book into 400 words, give or take? It’s almost impossible. I have sat for hours working on this very thing. It impacts the sale of your work so you have to make it just right. I’ve actually published a book and then six months down the road went back in and rewrote the description. It actually started selling after the change. Amazing…

7: Well, now you think, you’re ready for publishing. No! A huge, wopping, No! It’s time for editing. Not just your read over, get someone else, maybe two or three others and preferrable people that are critical. This is very important. If the words don’t flow right, maybe you don’t see it, but someone not familiar with the story can. This is your baby, don’t you want it to be the best it can be. Don’t take constructive criticism to heart, but use it for good. It can make the difference between selling 5 or 500.

8: Well, it’s polished up and so shiny it gleams. What now? Well now it’s time to publish. Whether you go with a traditional publisher or you self publish, it’s a big step. 

9: Here we go, it’s time to advertise. This is a hard thing to do when you have to keep your name active on social media and everywhere a reader could find you. But during this time you’re trying to write other books and most of us work a full time job, run a household and do everything else that comes with life. A writer’s life is very busy. Remember that when you send fanmail and don’t immediately get an answer. That author may be shoulder deep in edits, stories or advertising.

10: Final step, not hardly, but the final one for this blog. Sit back, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the glow of having a finished novel.

Maybe you have a few more steps to add. Hope this helps if you’re new to writing or even a veteran. Just enjoy the process.

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

 


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Top 5 Things I’ve learned about self-publishing

Well, I’ve been self publishing for over a year now and I can tell you this, it’s not as easy as it looks. Here are the top 5 things I learned:

1: It takes dedication. As a self publisher it’s you that does the social media, the advertising, basically everything. You’re the one that’s got to make sure to post your tweet, update your Facebook, make a great blog post and first and foremost get your book everywhere.

2: Self Publishing takes patience. You don’t have that big publisher backing you or putting your work everywhere that as a self publisher you have to struggle to be. You have to remember that you’re starting out from scratch. It’s a waiting game to see if you’ve written the big one.

3: Self Publishing can be self satisfying. To know you did it yourself is an accomplishment to be proud of. When you sell the first book you can sit back and say “at least I sold one, that’s one more than if I’d left it in a drawer collecting dust.” 

4: I’ve learned a lot about social media. Wow, I was definitely not a social media butterfly before all of this. In one year I’ve started a couple of blogs, a couple of Twitter pages, I’m on Facebook (Said I’d never do that), and everywhere else that will let this country girl post.

5: To me self publishing is a great way to start out as a writer. You can build a platform and get noticed. Maybe if you’re lucky a big publisher or agent will notice you tenacity and give you a shout. It’s always possible. Look at all the self publishers that have turned into best selling authors. If it’s your dream, then go for it. Try it out and make a name for yourself. Who knows you better than yourself?

As writers we’re always looking at this or that to improve ourselves. Well, let’s work together. I’ve started a monthly Newsletter that will feature a Author Interview and three different book showcase spaces. Also I’ll be adding writing comments and pointers from my friends in the writing world.If you want to subscribe to it, please email me at hurtsbusiness@att.net. Also, to be a featured author just message me that you’re interested. It’s free so what have you got to lose.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…