Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Make bad reviews work for you…

Good Tuesday morning! Let’s talk about reviews. Yes, I know, some say don’t read them. Some say read them. Me, I read them. But how do we react when we read them? Anger? Confusion? Laughter? Happy? Sad? There’s a lot of things that go through your head when you read reviews of your work. But I have a couple of things to discuss with you about them.

Make them work for you…

What am I talking about? Well, hear me out… Bad reviews can go two ways, one being they are just nasty and have no meaning for your writing, or two, they are well thought out reviews that can tell you something about the work.

Let’s talk about some ways to use bad reviews to make your work better. Here goes:

1: There are misspelled words and grammatical errors!

                We know that it doesn’t matter how many times your work is edited and even if it’s by the best editor out there, mistakes can be missed. I’ve read some of the bestsellers out there that have some mistakes that weren’t caught. SO, use that bad review as a reason to read through your work just one more time with a critical eye.

                Now, do remember, some people are not experts and what they think is a grammatical error, really isn’t. But, I still go back over my work, just in case I missed something, or my editor did. It’s worth the effort in the end. Especially if you get several reviews about the same problem.

2: The book was left on a cliffhanger!

                Ok, this one shocked me the first time I read it. When I read a book that’s part of a series, most of the time I expect a cliffhanger to get me to read the next one. Think about a series on television. They always leave you at the end of the season wondering what the heck just happened and what will happen next. The reason I put this one in my post is because if you get this and it bothers you, then insert a sentence in your description that says, ‘This book ends on a cliffhanger’. That way you don’t have to worry about a reader not understanding that it’s a series and can end on a cliffhanger.

3: The characters were not fleshed out…

                If you get this one, maybe look back at your work and see if you never described your main characters. I know that as a reader, I love to be able to picture the characters in my mind. I’ve received this type of review before and realized that I was so into writing the story, I never fleshed my character out. Yep, that was a facepalm moment for me. Go ahead and add a little description, because as a writer, you know in your mind that you have a picture in your mind of the character.

4: The book was too short… or This book was too long…

                Now this one took me by surprise. But yes, reviewers have opinions on the length of your book. There are those that don’t like them too long and those that don’t like them too short. My thoughts on this are, input in your description, at the end, ‘This is a novella’ or ‘This is a full-length book’. Maybe that little key point will stop some of those lower star reviews.

5: The story doesn’t flow well…

                Now this can be a problem if your story doesn’t flow well. My suggestion is to read the manuscript out loud and don’t do it as the writer, do it as a reader. Meaning, in your mind, you’re the reader wanting to be entertained by the story. Believe me, I do this with my books before I publish them and its eye opening. Sometimes I wonder what on earth was I thinking…

Now there are many more aspects of reviews to look at. Also look at the good ones. This keeps you motivated and let’s you know what your dedicated readers loved. Of course, there will always be those that give a bad review just to do it. I’ve had those.

If you do have a review that’s particularly nasty and doesn’t match your book, report it to the distributor whether it be Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iTunes. I had one that mentioned characters that weren’t even in my book. I reported it to Amazon and the review disappeared. But I had one that didn’t represent my book and they didn’t take it down.

The moral of the blog is this, use even the bad reviews for good. Let them roll off your back and move forward. Now, if you get only bad reviews, then I would definitely take another look at the work. But hey, smile and keep writing. A writer has to have a thick skin. Sometimes when I get my work back from my editor, I have to thicken my skin and push through it. So, keep up the good work!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

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Just when…

Good Monday morning! With tax season officially over, I’m finally getting my head wrapped around my works in progress. As deadlines loomed over my head for taxes, my writing took a hit. My brain wouldn’t focus on the words that wanted to be written. But, I’m back in the saddle and loving the feeling. I’m writing this morning with a fresh head.

As a writer, we need positive response to our writing. This weekend I received one of the most amazing reviews of Highlander’s Heart. The reviewer saw the vision behind the book and the review showed it. She saw what made this book tick for me. To say I was amazed, well, that doesn’t even begin to express my feelings. If you haven’t read the first book in the Cowen Clan series, then maybe this will encourage you to grab a copy.

Here’s the review:

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

Highlander’s Heart is the first novel in the Cowen Clan Series by Stephanie Payne Hurt. Evina McLeod is trying to escape the clutches of the cunning Laird McKinney. Sadly, being a woman, she cannot run far away unless she has a powerful guardian to protect her. That protection appears in the form of the handsome Laird Ewan Cowen. Ewan is enamored by her beauty and he is ready to provide her with protection as long as she agrees to marry him. They weren’t expecting to fall in love with each other and they weren’t expecting to be loved in return. However, the reach of Laird McKinney is strong and long. He has a plan in place and he will not stop until he has what he wants. Ewan and Evina are just pawns in a game that he plans to win. What are these two going to do?

This was an intense story of love, acceptance, and safety. I loved the dynamic between Ewan and Evina; they were perfect for each other in the most satisfying way possible. The author has done a wonderful job creating a plot that is believable, enjoyable and perfect for readers who enjoy historical fiction. Ewan is a provider and a protector who thinks he doesn’t need love, but once Evina melts his heart, he realizes how important love is. Evina may seem vulnerable at the beginning of the story, but she blooms and develops to become a protector as well. The flow was amazing, the narrative was beautifully intricate and the plot was fast-paced enough to get you involved in the story. This is brilliant!

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/highlanders-heart

I’ll leave it at that! Didn’t I tell you it was amazing.

Have a great Monday and May God Bless You…


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Release day is coming!

Beyond One Moment Front cover

Good morning! It’s Thursday, which means it’s only a couple of days until the big release of Beyond One Moment. I enjoyed every moment of writing this one and can’t wait for all of you to fall in love with the Whispering Oaks Vineyard.

Here’s a little tidbit:

“This is amazing.” Vanessa couldn’t keep the awe out of her voice as she gazed at the natural wonder. The ground was covered in green moss where the sun didn’t come through the thick canopy of oak trees that covered the sky above.

“Listen for a moment.” Jason said, closing his eyes as he took in the peace of this place.

Vanessa leaned forward, “What am I listening for? All I hear is the water.”

“Such a city girl,” Jason laughed, “Listen as the wind rushes through the oaks above us.”

Vanessa sat quietly, straining to hear something, but what? Then the wind picked up, ruffling the leaves around them, then she heard something. It was a low murmuring like sound, but what was it. “It sounds like the trees are talking.” Vanessa said with a curious look on her face as she craned her head to hear it again.

“It’s what the Indians used to call, the whispering oaks. The wind comes down the mountainside, rushing through by the river. As it does, the sound of it going through the leaves and limbs sounds like whispering amongst the trees.”

I hope you enjoyed that small little tidbit. If you’d like to give a review for Beyond One Moment, please let me know and I’ll get you set up.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Perfect grammar… LOL!

Good Tuesday morning! This morning I have a wee bit of a rant. And you know I don’t rant often, but this morning I have to get this off my chest, so get ready and here we go…

As a writer we’re supposed to have perfect grammar, right? Well, I need to ask something. Do you always speak with perfect grammar? I read an article last week about your characters needing to have normal conversations and don’t make it too formal, but then writing 101 says to make sure you use perfect grammar. We don’t always in normal conversation talk in perfect grammar, so what are we supposed to do as writers?

So, I’m going rebel. What does that mean? Well, it means that I’m going to write my dialogue like I talk, which may make editors cringe, but I want my readers to enjoy the work I publish. I’ve had comments on previous work stating that it was too formal and normal people don’t talk like that, so I am going rogue…

Also, to further give my rant a purpose, I’ve read several books by famous, best-selling authors that use normal talk and they do well. Some are even horrible in the grammar department, but they are best sellers and the readers don’t seem to mind at all.

Now, with all of that said, I don’t mean using the wrong form of a word or wrong punctuation. I’m talking about in the dialogue between my characters, so don’t think I’m putting up my English 101 book.

Of course, this will make my editor happy.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Submit, reject, Submit again…

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As a writer, you write… you submit… rejection comes… you continue to write… you submit again… It’s just the way it goes. In some instances, you submit and it is accepted. This is a time to celebrate.

I’ve had many ask me how I take rejection, well, I tend to think of it as a chance to make things better, especially when the rejection includes well-written advice on what needs to be changed. Of course, there are those that simply don’t give advice, they just tell you they’re not in need of your work at this time. What that means could be several things…

My advice to all my fellow writers is to keep pushing forward because one day, your day will come and it will be all worth it. The rejections will have less of a sting if you push forward, never giving up on your dream.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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The Struggles of a Writer…

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Good morning… If you’re a writer you know some of the struggles of a writer. Maybe you’re not a writer and you ask what I’m speaking of, well here goes. As a writer you have many struggles and I’m listing just the top five.

  1. Time – A lot of writers aren’t full time. They work other jobs and have to fit their writing in between business meetings, job hours and family time. It’s a true struggle to meet deadlines and get everything else done. But as a writer, you strive to get that few minutes here and there to write. The story has to be told.
  2. Being seen – This is a real struggle in a market that is bursting at the seams with other writers just like you. You have to find the right niche, then make sure you stand out among the thousands, in some genres, millions of other books.
  3. Money – If you haven’t had that break out moment, then you’re having to pay for a lot of advertising and promoting. It’s a struggle when you spend more than what comes in.
  4. Reviews – Oh yeah, this is a struggle for traditional and indie authors. You don’t want to buy reviews, you want genuine, heartfelt reviews that draw in more readers. But more and more I hear fellow writers say it’s almost impossible to get their readers to post a review. Reviews help us authors build our reader base.
  5. Respect – Wow, this one is hard to gain. Most people look at you strangely when you say you’re a writer. Some even say, oh I can do that, but don’t have the time. Then they say, can’t you find a better way to spend your time, or you need to do something other than write. In my opinion those people don’t have a clue as to the draw of a writer to the writing. We have to do it.

So, do you feel the struggle?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Editing, it’s very important!

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Good Tuesday morning! It’s nice to be back in a regular schedule. Vacations are really nice and relaxing, but then I start losing track of my days and that makes my brain turn to jelly. Not good when I’m on two book deadlines, and have accounting to catch up on.

While on vacation I downloaded three books to my Kindle to read while at the beach. I was so excited about one of the books, but as I started the first page things didn’t sound right. I struggled through a couple more pages and put it down, thinking I was sleepy. I picked it up the next day and more of the same. The story line was really great, but the writing or rather the editing was bad.

I’ve heard authors say they found books that were hard to read because of the poor reading, but usually I can muddle through. This one wasn’t like that and the sad thing is the book is by an author that I really like and have read before. It has me thinking really hard about my editing process. I’m constantly reading articles about editing and writing which helps keep me educated on the craft. This book would have been covered in red marks and comments. But I really wanted to find out what happened to the two characters. Eventually I’ll pick it back up and try again.

Some may ask if I plan on putting a bad review on this book. The answer is no! I don’t believe in downgrading an author, especially one that’s written some great books. It’s very possible that this book was downloaded from the wrong file. I did that with a reviewer one time. Now that was embarrassing. I might send her a email and inquire if she’s checked the finished and published product. I just don’t like to be negative to my fellow authors. We’re all in this craft together and should support one another, not tear one another down.

So, do you make sure that your editing process is what it needs to be? Also, make sure if you’re paying an editor, double check their work too. Everyone can miss something, even the experts.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Summertime and feeling it!

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Good morning! We’ve made it halfway through the week… It’s been a really crazy couple of weeks. For one the heatwave that we’re in here in the south is almost too much! With the high temps and really high humidity, you walk outside for just a minute and you’re soaked. Where’s the rain when you need it? Although my family says I’m crazy, I’ve been completing my 4 mile walks three evening a week and yes about one mile in I’m questioning myself. But I’m on a diet and exercise is part of it.

Another thing which is awesome, I’ve received two wonderful reviews of “Ridge”. One came from one of Rosie Amber’s review squad, which by the way is a great team to get to review your book. Here’s the wonderful review:

By Lynn F. on June 6, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition

This is a love story that follows Ridge Cauthen. He is the eldest son of the Cauthen clan. Ridge fought in the war in Iraq. He is now back home and working on his family’s ranch. He by chance meets the new Veterinarian, Mallory. Ridge is dealing with PTSD from his military service. PTSD that includes nightmares, flashbacks and mood swings. Not an ideal time to try and make someone fall in love with you. My favorite part of this story was the amount of love, patience and forgiveness Ridge is shown by his family and friends. I would hope all Veterans would receive the same treatment. I’m not going to tell you if Boy gets Girl you just have to read it for yourself 🙂
Then two weeks later I received an email from Reader’s Favorite stating that I had a review posted and maybe it’s not a big deal to some, but to me it’s really cool to have that emblem to put on your book. Here’s this review:
5 stars! 
Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

In Ridge by Stephanie Hurt, meet an ex-soldier who is struggling through life with PTSD, until the day he meets ‘the One’ and his world turns upside down. Ridge is the oldest Cauthen boy. He grew up in a big, happy family. Ridge is kind and caring, always looking out for his younger siblings and others who need help. So when the time came, he enrolled in the army and served his country. But two years in Iraq broke him. There is so much a kind heart can take, and his heart has taken and seen enough.
Now he is back home and working at the family ranch. Getting away from the war didn’t help much. He is still fighting off the enemies in his mind. Every night is a struggle with nightmares, but they never end. His family loves him and is kind to him, but how much longer are they going to stay that way? When luck brings Mallory (a new vet in town) to him, he is not sure he wants to have her in her life. Can she truly love him? Can she accept him with all his broken parts inside?
Ridge by Stephanie Hurt is a novel that will fill your heart. You will feel so much compassion and kindness for Ridge that you will tear up. Ridge is such a nice guy; he is kind and very sweet. This novel showed how pointless wars have destroyed the lives of many men and how they are suffering because they pledged to protect their country. When you sit down to read the novel, keep a tissue box nearby because you will need it. A really good novel.

And I got this nice label for my books: 5star-flat-hr

So, this made my month, but then it got even better! How could it get better you might ask, well, I received an email that a bookstore about an Hour & a half from me asked me to come do a book signing, which made me smile. We’re working on a date in September, but I’ll give more info as it comes.

It’s just been an exciting couple of weeks which kept the really hot weather even hotter because with the excitement comes major hot flashes (Wink-Wink) don’t you just love those ladies!

So, how’s your summer going so far? Is it hot where you are or for my friends across the globe how’s your winter?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Check out all the great reviews on Rosie’s page:

https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/


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Is it your opinion or not? Truthfully!

Good Wednesday morning! Hope all is well with all of you. As for me I’m a little perplexed to say the least. Being a writer I use social media to advertise and promote my work. I’ve grown a tough skin over the last couple of years regarding the remarks that can be scathing and my opinion is it’s your opinion, or is it?

You may be wondering why I say it that way, well here goes. I was scanning Facebook last night and came across several really scathing posts regarding someone local. The bad thing is it all started from one side and it wasn’t pretty. It actually put a bad taste in my mouth regarding social media etiquette. Should you comment on a post that you’re not personally familiar with? It would be like posting a review of someone’s book without ever reading the book, just going with the flow of what others say. Is it right to do that?

Why is it that in today’s world we follow the leader and don’t go with our own hearts? We jump on the social media band wagon and destroy someone without knowing the facts. The problem with this is that every story has two sides. When we don’t know the whole story we shouldn’t push forward. It’s called everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty, it’s the American way, or have we steered away from that? As I sat and glanced over some of the comments I was amazed at the audacity of some of them. The pitchforks were raised and the witch hunt was started. Does anyone remember the ramifications of the witch hunts? Yeah, that’s what I’m saying, get both sides before you share or comment because someone’s life is at stake and many times these types of things affect more than just the person that you’re directing your anger toward. Think about all those that can be affected in the background.

I’ve written many posts regarding reviews, the good and bad. If you put yourself out there, you’re setting yourself up for people to throw darts or compliments at you. Have you ever noticed that if you get a good review, other reviews similar start appearing, but also goes with bad reviews. I’ve received some really great reviews and I’m eternally thankful. Of course I’ve received some nasty reviews, but I always use the ones that are done in taste as a learning experience. I actually followed one critical review with a rewrite. The rewrite actually went to the top 10 on Amazon charts for several weeks. It was a good review in my eyes. But then you have those that see a bad, scathing review and they suddenly want to add to it. The funny thing is, well actually it’s sad, a couple of bad reviews I’ve received were obviously not from an actual reader. They even got the story wrong in the review. It’s the same with the witch hunt’s that span across social media.

Should we learn social media etiquette? I think we should use tact when sharing or commenting. Can you imagine a social media without all the negative thoughts? I’ve seen more and more people stating this on social media. They want to see the negativity brought down a little. Of course some negative posts are beneficial if handled correctly, not just for the benefit of someones ego, but full of facts.  It would make for better reading in the early morning as I sip my coffee, but of course this is my opinion, possibly not yours.

What are your thoughts on social media etiquette? Would you enjoy a nicer experience?

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…


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Support the Author…

Good Tuesday morning. I hope everyone is safe and well. We’ve had a nasty round of weather here in the South and let’s just say it’s still really dark here.

When you pick up a book you’re taking a chance on that author. What if it’s an author you’ve never read or your favorite author? Either way you’re supporting that author. If you like the book it’s really important to send out a review. But what if you’re not too keen on the book, well still do a review, but don’t be nasty.

My rule of thumb when doing a review is to be honest and think of how I’d want a reader to respond. If it’s great then shout it to the world. If it’s alright, then give it a review that states it’s an alright read and maybe give some of it’s attributes if it has any.

But what do you do if it’s horrible? I’ve read some books that I just barely finished and others I never finished, even though I really truly tried. It’s time to review, but what do you do? Well, I think you need to leave a kind review. What’s that mean? It means don’t degrade the author with comments like “I couldn’t finish this book because it was horrid” or “This book stinks, don’t go near it”. Maybe say something like “This book wasn’t my style, but I tried it out”, which leaves it open for others to try. I like the reviews that mildly state a couple of issues with the book, but not by cutting the author to the quick, but by making a couple of suggestions. I’ve actually used some of mine to refresh my skills.

A comment I had on a review one time that really steamed me was that I left the book on a cliffhanger to get more money out of the reader by making them want to buy a book. She went on to say she wouldn’t buy another of my books because of it. The funny thing is that it clearly states it’s part of a Saga, which should have clued her in that it didn’t end with that book and she read it all the way through. Oh well.

My point is this, give your authors some love. We work really hard and spend a lot of time writing to get that book out there so give us something to work with. Good thing we don’t price our books by the hours we work on them. But it’s so worth every hour spent over the keyboard.

As always, good writing and May God Bless you…