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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Life…As a Writer

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Good morning! Hope everyone had a great, productive weekend. Let’s make the best of the week ahead.

Life as a writer is sometimes crazy. There are stories running through our heads at every turn. Some days it’s hard to do my day job because a character is knocking on my brain, wanting out. But, when I finally sit down to let the character out, they are stubbornly sitting there with arms crossed refusing to come out.

Then, when you get a couple of days to do some serious writing, everything else has to be done. I try to do social media posts and write on weekday mornings. Of course, I need to train myself to wait on the social media posts until after I’ve written my designated word count for the day. Social media is like a leech, it sucks the time out of the morning.

What’s fun is when you have a great story come into your mind, but you’re in the grocery store… LOL! That’s why I have notes on my phone. Usually, I’ll stop where I am and at least get the basics down, if not, I’ll forget them until a much later time.

Oh, and then you have a deadline, but also a list of things to be completed. That’s when you get creative with your time. Even eating breakfast while typing. Ok, so my laptop has crumbs in the keyboard, but it still works.

So, how do you juggle things?

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


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Series Writing…What I learned…

 

img_2612Good morning! I hope you’re having a blessed day. Me, I’m in mama mode, or as my son calls it, flood mode. By that I mean, our son graduates from high school tomorrow night and every time I think about it, I cry. I’m so proud of him and happy for him, but as a mama, well, I get a bit nervous and anxious, knowing he’s about to embark on a new chapter in his life. It’s hard to let go, but we do have to let them spread their wings. Ok, enough of thought, salty tears in my coffee isn’t very good.

Series… Have you written one yet? If you have, then you know the struggles. The first one goes pretty well as writing goes, but when you start on the second, if it’s a continuing series, well, the problems start. Do you remember this about a character? Do you remember the neighbor’s name that will be appearing some in the other books? What did you name the dog? Wow, yeah, that’s where the fun really begins…

Here’s what I learned, the hard way and hopefully it will help guide some of you into writing series without the struggle… I’ve attached a picture of the front of one of my series notebooks for the Sky Ridge Series.

When I first started writing, I decided to do a series where a couple of the books were connected. The problems didn’t start until the second book. I was constantly looking back to see about facts and such. It was horrible. I had so much to write but between the looking back and double checking facts, it took longer to write the next couple books.

So, when I started the Women of Magnolia Hill Saga, I began a journal on the series. I kept a timeline, character sketches, and places. Since this is a historical romance series and I tried to stay in line with history, somewhat, I printed out a timeline of the time period and marked where each book started and ended. This helped some with details.

Then the fun really begins. I had to keep up with who the oldest sibling and youngest sibling were. Also, in this series, it spans many, many years, so, sadly some of the main characters from the earlier books die. I had to keep up with their age when they died and how. That way when a character looks back, it’s factual, not pulled from my brain which doesn’t remember a lot these days.

The character and place parts are very critical. If your character has a child, well, you can’t just go on with the story and not include the child. That child will eventually grow up and surely he or she isn’t kept in a dark closet until future episodes. So, detail is very important.

In the Magnolia Saga, there is a magnolia tree in the front yard where every member gets married. I have to remember where it is. In my mind and my notebook, I have a sketch of the property. It helps.

With my newest series, I have a composition book for each series and I include the outline, characters and where they all cross paths. Since the Wishful Harbor series is all around the same time period, I have to make sure to keep up with the comings and goings of everyone, even the mailman. LOL!

I’ve sketched the town of Wishful Harbor and plan to have the sketch at the front of each of the five books in the series. That gives the reader a sense of knowing the town and lets their mind live in that town. I’m so excited about this series because it intertwines together to make a beautiful story about a sweet town. But, it couldn’t happen without my notebook of facts.

So, how do you keep your series straight? Does this help you to possibly tackle a series in the future? I hope it does. But remember, I’m always here if you have a question.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Character Sketches…

It’s Friday! Yea! But I have some work to do. With two new series starting up this year, I have several things to do and one of those things is character sketches. If you’re asking what the heck is a character sketch, well, let me fill you in…

Alright, here goes… When you start a new book, there are several steps, but one of the most important during the writing process is the character information. Let me explain how I do my character information sheets.

1. I grab my notebook that will be for the series notes and I keep all my information in it. This notebook stays in my writing bag for quick retrieval. This is very important to have at your fingertips because if you’re halfway through book two and can’t remember what someone’s name is or what they do, you’ll need to be able to grab that without having to read book one to jog your memory.

2. First off, you need to name your characters, starting with the main ones. Then add the details. Let’s face it, when you’re writing that character, you know what they look like, but your reader doesn’t unless you show them. So, under the character sketch, you put every detail you can. I include A. Name

A. Name

B. Description: Hair color, eye color, height, build, disposition, age, birthdate, etc. You       get the idea.

C. Family that might show up in the stories. Brothers, sisters, parents, etc.

D. Where are they from and where do they live now?

E. Now, this is where the fun starts, leave plenty of room for added notes. As a story     unfolds, you’ll build the character sketch. If they get a new career, get married, have children. Add anything new to the character. This helps down the road and keeps you from having to keep looking back.

3. Make sure you have one for every character you add. Well, if they are only making a one time appearance, leave them out, but if it’s even just the store owner and your character occasionally goes to the store, then you need to add them.

So, do you prepare character sketches? I didn’t for a long time and it was so frustrating, but through writing studies, I’ve learned how to make life easier. Writing is a crazy world of names, places, plots, and so much more that you have to have a way to keep it straight.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 

 

 


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Valentine’s Day – A Romance Author’s Favorite Day…

Today of all day’s is for romance. Maybe you don’t have a significant other, but you can still curl up with a good book of romance or a romantic movie. Romance is in the air as we start this day. Luckily here in Georgia the sun is shining and the ice is almost just a memory as it faded into the soaked ground.

As most of you know I love anything romance. I’m like an old soul with romance. I think it is needed in any relationship. I know, you’re saying that it’s not possible in some relationships, but it is. It could be the look in your eye for your lover, or maybe the little things you do to make things special. Maybe it’s a little note in their wallet or on their pillow that can just have your kiss on it to make them smile. Romance is such a simple thing that can so mystifying. 

I was drawn to romance as a teenager with my first romance novel and it’s been all uphill since then. I’ve always pined for that moment in a book when their hands touch and you just know it’s the real thing. I get so excited that I’ll sit up half the night reading to get to the end, hopefully a happy ending.

Today is an important day to bring in some romance. Go all out. Everyone has candles in their house. Light a few. Even if you have children, make it a family thing. The kids have to go to bed eventually. Send him a look across the table that promises romance to come. You have to make time each week for each other. It’s important to keep the romance and surprises going. It doesn’t cost anything to leave a cute note for them. So try it and let me know how it goes.

If you need to find a great romance novel, go to avonromance.com and you’ll find anything you need in romance novels. It’s a great site to shop from. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Happy Valentine’s Day!