Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Finding your writing niche…

Good Tuesday morning! Hope all is well in your corner of the big world. Have you ever thought about changing up your writing style or even the genre you write in? Many authors do this with a lot of success, some not so much. Let’s talk about the in’s and out’s of changing things up.

To get things started let’s say you’re a romance writer. Well, the romance genre is a widespread market going from the sweet innocent romance to the hardcore erotic style. Some writers just have the knack to write certain types of romance and when they try to go up the pole or even down they don’t seem to excel. But maybe you’re not doing well in the category you write in, what next? Try something new? Maybe…

I’ve talked to several authors that have tried many writing niches. Many authors go from romance to mystery without missing a beat, but others struggle with the change. One author changed her romance writing niche. She normally writes paranormal romance which is racy and at times dark, but then she tried a romantic comedy. It was a hit. But of course she’s known for her paranormal romances, what does she do? Well, she dabbles with both now. I’ve read both by her and have to say they’re great. It was a great transition.

Another author friend tried to step out of writing mysteries to try writing romance. Let’s just say she struggled. She told me that writing mysteries just coming easily, but trying to write a romance novel gave her a headache. I suggested just writing a mystery which is what she does best and sprinkle in some romance. Well, she’s doing that and it seems to work.

As for me, I’ve been writing romance for a long time. I’ve tried Christian Romance, Time Travel Romance, Cowboy Romance, and several others, but they’re all in the romance genre. But, I just published my first children’s Christmas book and I have to say it was fun. Now I’m working on a children’s series and it’s challenging. By no means am I leaving romance writing, I’m just venturing out a little.

So, what’s your writing niche and could you change if you tried?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Strange Things That Writers Do…

Ok, admit it, writers are a different breed. We think different from other people. Our thought processes are strung out amongst several things and stories. It’s amazing how many things a writer has going on in their head. We’re constantly thinking of the story in the works or the story not yet written.

Here are some of the strange things writers do:

1: Sleep with a pad and pencil beside the bed. You wake in the middle of the night with a story or character idea and you just have to get it on paper.

2: Google strange topics. When you’re writing there’s always that one topic that you’re not that familiar with and you have to google it. Let’s just say some of the things you google could get you watched by the powers that be. Think about some of the things you’ve googled lately. Yeah, those are the one’s. 

3: Someone tells you something that happened to them and you suddenly start taking notes. 

4: You’re watching the evening news and get a sudden urge to start a new story. Yep the top story just inspired you to write.

5: You have notes written on anything that you can find. I’ve used napkins, envelopes, corners of newspapers, whatever is available.

6: Stare off into space. Yep, the story is taking over your brain and you get lost in the thought.

7: A story unfolds in your brain as you sleep, you wake up and struggle to go back to sleep to see how the story ends.

8: You talk about your characters as if they’re real people. To a writer they are real.

That’s only eight, send me more. The list could go on forever. Writers are different and we’re alright with this.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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What makes a good romance for you?

Romance novels come in many genres. It’s amazing how they’ve changed since I first picked up my first romance. I remember the intense feelings that the book brought out. It was based in Europe in the World War 2 era. I remember crying, laughing and being inspired to find my Prince Charming. I also remember finding out through reading that my Prince Charming would not always be perfect as the fairy tale goes.

For me a good romance needs to take you to another place. I want to be taken away from my normal world and transported into a exotic place, mystical place or just another time. I want the book to carry me away with emotions. The writer needs to make me think I’m there with the character, feeling the emotions, the anger, the sadness, the love, and especially the romance. I want to be able to still feel it even after I put the book down.

I can’t even imagine how many romance novels I’ve read in my lifetime. Recently I went through my collection of novels that are stored in my attic. I had to put them in plastic storage boxes as the boxes were falling apart from age and over use. It’s amazing how many times I’ve read some of them over and over. I even pulled some of them out and read them again. There’s nothing like the feel and smell of a aged book. The yellowed pages pull you in and keep you engrossed. 

I had several authors that I bought everytime I saw a new book in their collections. As I reboxed them I separated them by author. The publishers of most of them are still around, such as Harlequin, Avon and many others. I always knew if it had the Harlequin or Avon symbol on the side that it would be great. I remember going to flea markets and browsing hungrily through the many shelves of used books. As a teenager it was like a scavenger hunt for more titles from some of my favorites. 

A couple of my favorite books have been purchased a couple of times. You may be wondering why, well let me explain. I would lend them out and they never got returned. Then I would go on a mad search for them. When I’d find them again, they would stay with me.

So for me a good romance needs to make an impression. I want to think about it again and again even after I’ve read The End. I want to read it over and over and still fall in love. The characters need to pull at my heart strings. I want to be able to see them in my mind’s eye and carry that throughout the book.

Recently I heard from one of my dear fans. She told me that the descriptions of my characters made her see them clearly. She said that she felt like she knew them personally as she read through to the end. I was pleased that I’d accomplished that goal. Sometimes that can be a hard thing for a writer. You have to make sure that your character is well thought out and explained. If they are blonde, make sure they are blonde throughout. I read a book not too long ago and the main character started out as a blonde and the writer somehow I guess forgot and by the end their hair was ebony. And no they didn’t change hair color out of a bottle. It totally blew my mind.

I love to read a romance that makes me cry. It doesn’t have to be from sadness, but it could be just the sweetness of the romance. I have several books that I read over and over that make me cry every time. It’s just such a sweet, tender romance that it draws out the emotional part of me. 

So as you write, think about what draws you in. If you like time travel, then write about time travel. If you like a good, sappy romance, then write that sappy romance. If it’s erotica you love, then write erotica. Everyone has a niche and you have to find that niche. For me it’s the tender, sweet love story that builds throughout the story. I try to throw in a little intrigue and mystery, but in the end it’s the romance that draws you in.

So, as always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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If your cover could talk…

As a writer sometimes the cover comes before the writing. Odd, but true. Does your cover truly express the heart of the book inside? Does it totally blow the plot? Does it give away too much?

Have you ever picked up a book and wanted it just for the cover. Guilty as charged. I’ve seen a cover and just fell in love with the concept. It just inspired me to want to hear the story. I did that just recently and here’s what happened.

I was scanning through some of the books on Amazon. I do that from time to time to get ideas on cover design changes, fonts, etc. I come upon this book and the cover totally blew me away. I immediately purchased the book. I couldn’t wait until I had time that night to dig into it.

It was one of those moments when I put the book I’ve been reading aside and pick this one up. Well, I shuffled it around on my Kindle. The cover have a handsome cowboy and his trusty horse, but the background around it was just inspiring. The problem started when I read the first couple of pages. 

It wasn’t that the writing was bad, but it wasn’t following what I thought would be a cowboy romance. No ranch, no horses, no cowboy, nothing about this at all. I thought, well maybe it takes getting into the story to get to that part. Most of the book was about a businessman and woman. It was based in the city and not the country. Ok, well, maybe they are going there soon. Kept reading and nope. Close to the last couple of chapters they visited a ranch and then went back to the city. What??? That was it. 

The point to me telling you this is make sure that your cover tells the story. If it has a cowboy and his horse on it, then that’s what the reader is expecting. You know me, I love a good cowboy romance and I was left unsteady and very confused. I knew then that I’d been duped into this with my eyes. I should have read the blurb on the back. 

Make sure your cover gives a little mystery. If your character is going to go through a love triangle, maybe include all three involved, but don’t give away which the character will pick.  Leave a bone for the reader. Don’t leave a dinosaur though. If it’s such a mystery that you get to the end and say “WHAT?”

So, think about your cover long and hard. Maybe even design two slightly different and put them on your blog. Let your friends and readers vote. That’s always a fun concept.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Polishing it up!

When you start a new manuscript your mind is on the content. Which it should be, but there comes a time when you have to polish the writing. A time to create a cover that will represent your words.

A big polish is the editing. Is it important? Well, yes. If you just write the book and publish it without going back over it, that would be writers suicide. I’ve found throughout my short writing experience that the first read through after finishing a manuscript usually prompts changes, additional wording and even total chapter eliminations. It can really open your eyes for character changes and minor tweaks.

After the editing is done, are you happy? If you are like a lot of writer you may never be completely happy with your work. I know I’m my worst critic. I over analyse my work. Even after it is published I’m constantly saying “I wish I would have written that part differently.” My editor just shakes her head and laughs at me. I can’t help it, I can be a worrier.

Then you have the almost impossible task of writing a paragraph that will sum up the whole book. How on earth do you describe your book in just a couple of words? This is harder than writing the whole book. If you don’t say just the right thing will people even give it a second look? Will you be able to express the real feeling of the way the book should be perceived? The next time you read the back of a book, remember the author had only so many words to describe their whole piece of work, don’t judge a book by it’s description.

Also, sometimes don’t judge a book by it’s cover. When you select your cover art you have to put into one cover the whole feeling of the book. If you write romance you have to express a feeling pulled from the book into the cover. If you write horror you have to put some of the fear into the cover to pull in the reader. But you have to be careful not to show the end results of the book. You have to leave some mystery.

Well, that’s just a few of my writing ramblings. Maybe some of this helped you, maybe not. It’s just the opinions of one writer.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you!