Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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My writer’s bag of goodies!

As I promised in yesterday’s post, here’s my writing bag. This bag goes with me everywhere, even the beach. Also, one thing, if you’d like a writer’s bag, I’ll set up one like mine for a fee. I love helping authors get started in this amazing business.

So, here’s the full package:

Ok, so I know you’re curious what everything is, so here we go:

1: Most important, the bag. It needs to be large enough to hold everything and have a padded section for your laptop. Also, pockets on the inside help keep everything separated. This bag was purchased at Walmart for only $20 and it is perfect and roomy as you can tell in the picture on the right.

2: I always keep a couple of notebooks handy for notes. The large black spiral book is for scene breakdowns and the cute smaller one with the leaves on it is for upcoming projects along with notes for characters. Of course, with notebooks, always have a couple of pens, sharpies, and pencils on hand!

3: The yellow binder holds my schedule, which I’ll share another day this week. It’s a special schedule that I’ve set up for myself which helps and I’ve changed it several times until it was just right for me. It also has pockets and extra pages for additional notes.

4: The large green accordion folder is labeled by month. Each month holds a folder for each individual book that is to be written that month. Inside the folder, I put notes, outlines, character sketches, and pictures that inspire things in the book.

5: My wrist brace is always with me. Yeah, I know, I’m getting older and need a little help every once in a while, but it’s always available for when my wrist gets stiff or painful.

6: Index cards are also included for quick notes and plotting. I like to number them and lay them out beside me as I write.

7: Of course my laptop is included along with a mouse and my trusty laptop lap desk, which of course doesn’t fit in my bag. But if you’ll notice, it has a handle so I can hold it along with the bag.

8: Headphones are essential for listening to inspiring music, which I’ll also post something on in the coming days. I always have a couple of pairs, just in case I misplace a set or one goes out.

9: Last but not least, my Kindle. It’s for research!!! Authors need to read a lot in their genre, to keep fresh. So, when I’m stumped, I read 😉

Ok, so you know some of my secrets! Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone that I’m somewhat organized because it will totally throw off my reputation.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

 

 

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It’s almost Christmas!

Good Monday morning folks were you ready for Monday yet! Me neither! As you know, I love my coffee, but this morning it’s not good at all. Since I was half asleep when I put the coffee together last night, it’s highly likely I put one too many scoops in the filter. Oh well, I’m still gulping it down with a cringe. I’ll probably be running on high octane in about an hour.

Can you believe that Christmas is almost here? It’s in a couple of days, are you ready? I have a couple of gift cards to purchase, then I’ll be ready to go.

I’m pleased to announce that I did what I promised myself I’d do, I finished the Five Oaks Series before Christmas. All 6 books came out this year! Whew, I’m exhausted, but happy with the results. The Christmas book actually rounded the whole series out, with little bits of everyone’s life joined into one book.

Since the series is complete, I’ve been taking a couple of days to take a breath and go over my schedule for 2016. Can’t wait to reveal some of the books in the works, but my assistant would have a coronary if I tell everything 😉

Speaking of my assistant, she’s home from college for Christmas, so she’s busy creating wonderful covers for upcoming projects and yes, I’ve promised to keep them secret, but it’s so hard. She even talked me into this really cool calendar/journal. It stays beside me all the time. All my publish dates, finish dates, proofing dates, etc. are in there!

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I just love it! The things inside of this fancy cover are top secret, well for a little while, but I’ll sneak some stuff out when I can.

So, are you finished shopping? Have you finished what you wanted to this year? If not, hop to it, the end of 2015 is almost here.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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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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Forgotten Work!

Well as you noticed in yesterdays post I’ve been cleaning my office, which is a rather large job. As I was cleaning out some file boxes I ran up on an rather large notebook. When I opened it I found a spiral bound notebook inside. I pulled it out and was going to put it in the office supply pile, which was growing rapidly. I have a bad habit of losing office supplies only to be found later when I open a clients file and there it is. I drive my assistant crazy 🙂

On with what I found. I decided to open the notebook to make sure it had paper left in it. Well to my surprise I had started a story inside this hidden notebook. For a moment I just stared at it wondering when I’d started this hidden story. Since I was in a cleaning mode I put it to the side to check out later. My eyes kept straying to the notebook on the corner of my desk.

I carried the notebook in my house and opened it like a child opening a Christmas present. I was so excited because truly I did not remember this story. As I read the first couple of paragraphs I was taken back about five years. This was a story that came to me suddenly in a dream. Of course I was so excited when I finished reading. It was actually about twenty pages of writing. The story started to come into focus and well as any writer would do I started getting excited.

It’s funny how these things happen. I know what you’re thinking and yes I will be finishing my works in progress. I had strength and put the notebook beside my chair. I know this story has a ending in my mind, but I’ve promised my wonderful fans that I will be finishing the 2nd books in three of my series. I do have deadlines to follow, but boy this story has taken a toll of my brain.

So I will reveal a bit of it really soon, but for now I’ll finish up my works in progress. But who knows, maybe I can multi task. No, promise I’ll be a good little writer and finish what I’ve started 😉

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…


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Time to recharge for new year!

Ok, the holidays are over so it’s time to buckle down. As an Accountant it’s time to close out the year on all my clients, do W-2’s and 1099″s. Not to mention the start of Tax Season… But as a writer it’s time to buckle down and get out more manuscripts, clean out my work to be done file (It’s rather large 🙂 ) and get all my writing expenses together.

You may be saying oh nooooo… But if you have a method of doing this it helps. I’m here to help. The first thing you need to do is sit down at your work area and declutter. Clutter clouds the mind, or so they say. Funny thing is I know my clutter well and can tell you where anything and everything is in my clutter. 

Ok, once the clutter is somewhat organized make sure all your invoices, papers and such are filed in their correct files. This makes tax time so much easier. What if you didn’t print all your invoices off your email, well now’s time to declutter your email. I always forget to print those pesky things off email, because once they get to the bottom of the list they’re forgotten. So, print all your invoices and remove them from the email. It will make your system run smoother too…

I like to sit down and get all my royalty reports off the many sites I’m on. This takes a moment, but well worth it. You need to know what you can expect in 1099’s. Yes, people, royalties are considered income. I’ve been asked this question multiple times, but writing is a business, so run it as such.

Then sit down and separate all your miscellaneous files such as donations, medical, and office expenses. So many people miss out on tax deductions because they just simply don’t want to take the time to get the paperwork out, but I consider it money in my pocket and who doesn’t like that. Just plan an afternoon in front of the fire sorting paperwork. That’s how I do my own paperwork. I can spread out and have multiple piles. 

Don’t forget any equipment you might have purchased during 2013. Did you get a new laptop, printer, keyboard, mouse, well you know where I’m going with that. Also subscriptions, yep that subscription to the writers magazine is deductible to a writer 🙂 Then of course you have royalties paid to photo sites, yep bet you forgot about those didn’t you?

Then you have all those little expenses that we often forget such as postage, advertising, long distance calls to editors, agents or such as that. Don’t forget any programs you bought that help your writing. They can be costly and are deductible.

These are just a couple of things. Once you’ve cleaned out those packed files or drawers, start the new year off right by setting up a filing system and keep it straight. When you pay bills, or order something online, print that invoice right then and file it, deleting the email. This helps next January be a little less stressful.

I do hope everyone had a great 2013 and look forward to a blessed 2014. 

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…


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Lists & Writing

As a writer I’ve had to get better organized. Not that Accounting didn’t already have me organizing, but in writing it’s different.

Someone asked the other day where I advertise and where I sell my books and where all I blog. Funny thing is sometimes I get so caught up in the whirlwind of it that I have to sit and think. That’s where the lists come in. 

Here are the lists I have to keep in order to keep up:

1: Books (Funny enough after about book 4 I lost count and had a hard time remembering names)

2: ISBN numbers – very important to keep up with when entering other book sites.

3: Advertising Sites

4: Social Media Sites

5: Where your book is currently listed

6: Most importantly the user ID’s and Passwords to all the above sites. This can get tricky.

7: Characters for each book. Yep I forget sometimes who went with what book. Sign of my mind growing old 😦

8: Blog sites 

9: Books in process (Very important so that if I mention them on a blog I can identify them later.)

10: A list to keep up with the lists. Yep, I have a 4″ notebook with all this organized in it. Thank goodness my editor and partner in crime keeps this book up to date. My way is sticky notes in a box. 

As for you, this may not help. You may add more lists that you need, but this is just the ones I keep up with. May sound like a lot, but it keeps you from going crazy, well for me crazier.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…

 


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Steps to Writing a good story…

Ok, so we’ve all wrote a story at some time or another. Whether it’s a school report or as a writer. But have we ever sat down and thought about the steps it takes to write a story, good or bad?

As a writer I’ve got several things I do. First, I’ve got to be inspired. I have people all the time telling me to write about this or that. Well, for me it doesn’t work that way. It’s got to come to me in one way or the other. Sometimes it’s in a dream or just a daydream. Those are the best. My novel “Ghost Lover” came to me in a dream. Well most of it anyway. It was as though I was possessed by the stories and characters. They ruled my life for a while as I put the thoughts in my laptop.

Second, most of my books have had a general outline. When a story idea comes to me I immediately try to sit down with pen and paper and write down the story in outline form. This way I don’t forget the basics. It would be nice to sit in one sitting and write a finished novel. If you have, please relay the story to me? What’s funny is sometimes as the story evolves so does the outline. Most of the time I make each line in the outline into a whole chapter.

Third I write a character sketch. As I get older my memory slips some 🙂 I hate to constantly be going back in the story to remember a name or place. As I add to a character or introduce a new place or person I write it down. This helps speed up the process.

Fourth, now this is the important part. If you’re writing and you lose the momentum in a certain spot, just make a note of a key spot to come back to. Then go forward and most of the time that inspires you to go back and finish the lost spot. Most of the time continuing the story helps. I usually know the outcome of the part, but the middle is somewhat fuzzy. Writing the ending helps to give you inspiration for the middle.

Fifth, keep the interest. Don’t give away the ending mid way. That really makes a story dead to me when I’m reading a book and the author gives away the whole story by the middle of the book. Then the ending just goes stale. So keep the momentum building. Maybe even have several momentum building moments that build on each other.

Sixth, the writing process does not end with the words “The End”. I’ve said this in several blogs. It is very important to read your story to yourself, even out loud. If you just finish and hand it to your editor, you’ve left off a big step. Every time I read a story over it brings on extra thoughts. I’ve added whole chapters just in one reread. Do it, don’t leave it to the editor. You’re the writer, take charge.

Seventh, Now that you’ve reread and rechecked details, now you’re ready to hand it to the editor. To me this step is the hardest, you’ve got to write a description. How on earth do you condense a huge novel or even a short novella to a couple of lines? Well, make sure you leave the reader guessing. If you give away the whole plot on the back of the book why would they want to read the book itself?

Eighth, so the writing is over, the editor has it and you’ve got the description. Now if you haven’t already set up the cover, now’s the time. Make sure the cover has something to do with the book. A vampire on the cover isn’t good if the book is about a horse ranch. Make it interesting and eye catching. Yes, you’ve got to pay a little to get the good pictures, but it’s well worth it. My first couple of covers were totally stocked pics from office. Not cool!. After they were published I said “YUCK”. My editor is an awesome cover designer. I tell her what I have in mind and she usually finds the pictures for me based on my idea. What’s funny is the latest book ‘Rekindled Flame’ had a completed cover before I was anywhere near finished.

Ninth, now just sit back and wait for the finished product. Go publish it and enjoy the knowledge that you’re a published author. Don’t worry at this moment if someone likes your work. Just check that off your bucket list. Wait a little while before you worry about if people like your work. Remember you’re going to have those that don’t like your style writing and others who love it. Go with you gut and enjoy yourself. If you get nothing but bad reviews you might want to recheck your work, but if you get good and bad then you’ve probably done alright.

These are just the steps I go through, maybe you do your steps totally different. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You!