Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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How hooked are you?

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Good morning! I do hope all of you are safe and well after those nasty storms that came through the southern US. As for me, did you notice no post from me yesterday. Well, I had no power for most of the day. If you know me well, or even if you just know me from social media interaction, then you know I try to post most days. 

While my power was off and I was unconnected to all of my electrical devices, I had lots of time to think. Think? Wow that’s a large word when you think about it. How often do we just sit and think? No really, how often? Yes we use our brains, but most of the time it’s connected to some sort of electrical device, especially internet driven devices. Whether it’s your computer, smart phone, or whatever it is that you use to do everything, you’re probably hooked. 

I sat here thinking about how much power means to us today. It’s like life shuts down when the power does. But if you think about it, we’re so hooked on the gadgets that make life easier that we can’t function when it goes south. I sat down on my couch and tried to figure out what I would do until the power came back on. The sad thing was, I had payroll for a client to complete, but my computer addicted brain had a hard time dealing with the process of manually completing the task. That’s when I sat down and took a hard look at me life. When it’s quiet and nothing is happening you can do that without interruption. 

I realized that I’m addicted to power. Whatever happened to actually doing something for ourselves without relying on a gadget to do it for us. I stood up and walked to my office with determination. Of course I had to drag my teenage son with me so he could hold the flashlight. I pulled out the employee paperwork on each employee, I dusted off the payroll tax sheets and I grabbed some checks and a pen. Oh yeah, and the solar powered calculator. I sat down with a old oil lamp and proceeded to figure payroll the old way. My son sat watching and shaking his head. He kept saying, ‘Can’t you wait until the power comes back on?’ I just kept going and soon I had a completed payroll ready for delivery.

The hard part was the social media disconnect. I sat for a moment wondering if I made any sales during the night, wondering how all my social media friends had faired the night of storms and wanting desperately to check my Twitter feed. Sad, but true. I realized again I’m addicted to everything power connected. 

Unfortunately, most of my work is connected to power. My clients files are loaded on my laptop, which has a battery of course, but my accounting program drains that battery really quickly. I did a couple of things that didn’t require my laptop, but I was limited. I did work on some of my manuscript outlines. I still do those old school long hand. It’s just the way I am. I tried putting those on the computer, but it’s easier to have them beside me as I write, not in a file that I have to pull up.

So, my question is this, How hooked are you on electricity or even the internet and social media? If you were without power for a week, would you pull your hair out or make the best of it? 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Struggle for Writing Time!

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Do you have a hard time finding quality writing time? Do you struggle for a few minutes a day to put your thoughts and stories on paper? Does life, career and just general everyday chores get in the way? Well, if you’re a writer, it’s a real possibility that this has happened to you.

For me it’s a constant struggle. If you’re not ready to be a full time writer, then of course you have a job which takes up a lot of your weekday time. Not all of us have the luxury of writing being our full time job. That would be nice, but most writers are inevitably part time writers. But can we even go as far as calling ourselves part time writers. Let’s get real with the numbers. If you have a part time job, then it’s considered less than 30 hours a week. Most of us, me included, get less than 10 hours a week to actually sit down and write.

Oh yeah, then you have the need for quality writing time. This is time when it’s just you and your writing. There’s no outside interruptions, just you and your laptop or pad and pen, whichever is your preference. 

Do we have the obedience to make the time happen everyday? Even if you have obedience, life can take over and throw that in the trash can. Let’s be truthful, it happens, so get over it. But, does it help to set aside time. Maybe even discuss it with family and state, “This is my writing time, so don’t interrupt me for an hour or so.” *Laughing uncontrollably* Sorry, but it doesn’t happen that way. 

For me I try to schedule my writing time in the mornings after my son gets on the bus and my hubby leaves for work. It’s quiet except for the news low in the background. I also write at night as the family watches television. That way they’re into what’s on the tube while I write away. Some people ask how I concentrate with the tv in the background, well, it’s called totally immersed in my manuscript. Most of the time when I’m totally into a piece, I can get lost completely. I shut out everything in the background and it’s as if I’ve entered my characters world. If I’m having concentration issues, I just put on head phones and listen to one of my playlists. I say one of them, because it’s according to what I’m writing that decides the playlist. I have several by the way. 

So, do you struggle for writing time? How do you set your times, or does life set it for you?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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The delete button is painful…

Ok, how many of you have had to hit the delete button? If you’ve ever worked on a computer you’ve eventually hit the delete button. Some of you are probably wondering what I’m talking about. Well, for a writer, delete can be a dreaded, horribly painful button. Your finger hovers over it fighting with you not to do. Your finger screams “NOOOOO”, but eventually you force it to do what you’ve told it to do.

Now, let’s get past my dramatic description to the meaning of this post. I was working the other day on one of my books when I hit a brick wall. The unfortunate thing about this brick wall is it was very high and wide, no way around it. Suddenly the story just ended suddenly. What do you do when you hit that dreaded brick wall in a story? Is it too early to end the story, or do you just end it there?

Well, in some instances the story just ends there, but what happens when you know the story needs to go further in this book? If it’s a part of a series, well you just start the new book on the other side of the wall, but if it’s a stand alone, well, you’ve got to get past that wall. But how?

I sat staring at my screen, unable to think about the inevitable. After much thought and wondering what happened, I finally took a look at my outline. I was confused because it was going along so well and then I ran smack into a wall. Why? Then as I read down the many lines of my outline I realized what I’d done. Duh!!! Ok, so I’m blonde, I’m given at least one, maybe two blonde moments in a day. What I’d done was skip a couple of pivotal story line turns. For some reason I’d totally jumped over some very important happenings in the book. I’d actually skipped several chapters. 

You may be saying, how on earth did you do that? Well, if you’re a writer you may be saying, yep, been there done that. That night I didn’t start writing until late in the evening after a long day of tax return preparation. I was exhausted and just wanted to get lost in my manuscript. That’s the problem, I got lost in my own manuscript. Sometimes when you’re really tired, you just need to step back and do something else. Maybe design a cover or work on some character descriptions, but beware if you step into a manuscript.

I had to delete three chapters, yes you read it right, three whole chapters. I’d totally skipped several chapters of important parts that would lead correctly up to the end of the book. My brain had literally skipped some of the main plot rendering parts of the manuscripts. As I read through what I’d typed it began to become obvious. All I could do was delete.

You may be asking why I didn’t copy the work and then paste into the end after I entered the needed work. Well, the ending I’d typed did not actually go along with the missing work. That’s another reason I map out the work that comes into my brain. If life steps in and walks all over my memory, well then I have some reminders written into the outline. It totally saved the manuscript. Needless to say, it will take a little longer to finish, but at least it will be complete as it should be, not just a quick ending to the story.

So, a little piece of advice. If you need some help with your manuscripts flow, sit back and take a deep breath. Then try out an outline, it really saved me this time and definitely saved the story.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Monday night writing…

Monday is always crazy in my office. Today was no exception. I worked a little later than usual and then did my 4-1/2 mile walk. Now I’m sitting down finally and getting ready to work on the last part of my latest manuscript.

It’s funny how you need more than 24 hours in a day. Especially if you’re a writer. Sometimes I’m just getting into my good writing mode when everyone else is heading to bed. When I was younger I could easily pull an all nighter, but the older I get that doesn’t seem as apealing.

Since I have a couple of deadlines regarding my writing, I guess I’ll be put in some midnight oil. It’s going to be a great writing evening. My hubby and son went fishing and left me alone for a couple of hours. I can usually write through anything going on around me. It’s as though I get into a world of my own. 

Hope all is well with everyone.

Here’s to good writing and May God Bless You…


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Friday, it’s finally here…

Anyone that works during the week look forward to Friday. It’s the final day of the work week for most people. It’s the day that you usually do a little less as your mind gets ready to shut down for the weekend. 

Funny thing is as a writer your work is never done. You work when everyone else sleeps. You work in the evening, morning, lunch time, and anytime you can spare a moment. I sat last night half watching television and half working on a current work in progress. My family knows that when the laptop goes in my lap that it’s work time. My laptop stays on my desk in my office all day doing accounting and then to my lap at night. 

Friday’s are laid back in my office. I have several payrolls to complete but usually I shut down early if possible to get my son from school. It’s a special time for us. We usually get groceries then come home to either relax for a moment or I go back to the office to finish up.

So enjoy your Friday and relish the knowledge that in a couple of hours you can go home and not go back for 2 days. It’s your day, so be inspired.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Taking time for ourselves…

Some might say, what does it mean to take time for myself. It’s funny when my accounting clients come into the office and see my books on the table beside my desk. At first they glance at them and then they do a double take. The look that comes over their face is priceless. What’s unsettling is they look at me seriously and say when do you have time for this? Will this affect what you do for me?

I actually laugh when they say that. I look at them and say ‘I don’t live in this office 24/7. I do have a family, a home and need time for myself. I shake my head and think don’t you take time for yourself. Why is it that people expect you to live for them? Just because I take care of your accounting does not mean that I live to do only that.

I realized last year during tax season that I was spending too much time catering to everyone but myself. I would spend 12 to 15 hours in my office working. What hit home was when one night I was pulling a late night and my hubby and son came to the office to visit me. That’s what they called it. I felt horrible. Then my doctor (A good friend) told me I needed to start taking more time for myself. He reminded me I was middle aged. I do not consider 44 middle aged, but evidently he does.

So I started right then and there staying in the office less, taking on less responsibilities and living life. God gave me this wonderful life and He didn’t promise me tomorrow. So why was I spending my life behind a desk. The next night I was in the house and cooking dinner when my family got home from work and school. My husband walked back out the door and came back in. He said he thought he went to the wrong house. My son was excited to have me home for a change. It took five years off my life.

Then I started publishing my books. That made me start looking at my future. I know I can’t  do taxes and accounting forever. I love my job don’t get me wrong, but tax preparation can be down right frustrating with the changing laws and constant issue drama. So I decided to start making little changes like turning over more stuff to my assistant. Some work days we spend the whole day just searching ideas for new book covers or research of the next book. That’s something I would never have done this time last year. It has helped my health, my home life, my work life, and especially my sanity. Well, maybe not my sanity, I’m not a sane person, but who is if you really get down to it 🙂

So start today, this minute thinking of yourself. Give yourself some time. Start spending some time each week just for yourself. Take a bubble bath, read a good book, take a leisurely walk, play a game with your family, watch a sappy movie or just sit and watch the clouds go by. But live like today is it. Live like you have no tomorrow. Love more intensely, take romance to another level and hug your child more than just when they are leaving for school. (Hint, if you have a teenager it might be met with a ‘really mom’ but do it anyway.)

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