Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Outlining the story easier…

Good Tuesday morning! With tax season in full swing and a couple of manuscripts on deadline, I’ve been a little behind on my posts. But I found something that has helped me a lot.

So, as most of you know, I use Scrivener to get my manuscript typed up and ready to go. But, I had never taken the time to look into the outline part of the program. I’ve always typed my outline in Word or wrote it longhand, which was alright, but I had to keep it beside me, sometimes losing my place while going back and forth.

But now that I’ve taken the time to figure it out, I don’t know how I worked without it. In the program, you can have the outline points for each chapter on the same page that you’re typing on. It’s amazing. And you can also scroll the outline points back or forward while working, which helps you to keep on focus. This concept has made a huge difference in my writing.

If you haven’t started using Scrivener for your writing, then I suggest you give it a try. It’s great and keeps you on track. Not to mention your character bios are always at your fingertips and places. But now with the outline set up, wow!

As always good writing and May God Bless You…

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What’s in a character?

Good Tuesday morning!

So, how do you form your characters? Do you develop them as the story goes forward? Or do you write a character sketch before putting the first word into the manuscript? In Scrivener, I always start out with a blank page for each character. Of course, I know basically who my character is. When I start a new manuscript, I develop their main character sketch, but what is included?

Name – Oh, this can take hours for me. I play with first and last name combinations. It’s crazy, but as a writer, I know that when the right combination comes across, it will pop. So, I scan name lists, Scrivener’s name generator, and even newspapers. Sometimes things just stand out.

Flaws – Ok, so maybe your main characters don’t have flaws, but I try to make mine less than perfect. Of course, my first books had perfect characters, but I want my readers to relate to my characters, so I add flaws. It could be as simple as having an attitude, but I make it a flaw at the time.

Looks – Does my character have blonde hair and blue eyes? That’s something important because you don’t want to suddenly say something about their auburn hair halfway through. You need to know what they look like or at least have an idea so that it stays consistent throughout the book.

Career – What does your character do? Are they a lawyer, doctor or maybe a rodeo king? It’s important to know this so that you can add elements of what they do to your character.

Hobbies – This is not as important as other attributes, but if it’s going to play a role in the book, then you need to remember if they knit or oil paint. Changing it midway can confuse the reader at times.

You may be saying, but why are these important? Every writer is different in how they do their work. For me, I like to get to know my characters. As I write, I like to know what my character might say or do and why. In Scrivener, I always have a character note that details things and I can add to it as things happen. Believe me, it helps to keep the process going forward.

So, how do you create your characters?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Words on a page…

Good Saturday morning! I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was wonderful. Now the Christmas season is officially in full swing, which excites me. This is my favorite time of year.

As for words, sometimes as a writer, the words are slow to come. It’s the dreaded ‘writer’s block’ that every writer fears. That happened this month with my Christmas book that’s being released in a very, very short time. The words were there, then I developed a horrible cold, needing medication which made my head go fuzzy. Well, the words came to a halt.

I sat with my fingers hovered over the keyboard, trying to form the story that was inside my head. I could see it, hear the characters screaming, but for some reason, the words wouldn’t come out of my fingers onto the screen. It can get frustrating when you’re up against a deadline and the words just seem to be within reach, but won’t come.

But then, as I lay awake, coughing like a crazy person, it all flowed in like a wave of a storm. The areas that I was unsure of, came rushing in. That’s when another problem reared its ugly head, I couldn’t type fast enough and my time became limited, with holiday preparations and life. But now, it’s on the page and almost ready for release day. Some stories come in like a lion, then others hold back, waiting until just the right moment to stream in.

The funny thing is, if I’d rushed the story, it wouldn’t be what it is. This story is such a sweet story and I know that taking the time to listen to my characters and taking a short break helped build the story.

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…Hideaway Lane Cover


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Closing a story…

It’s looking to be a rainy Monday here in Georgia, but I’m smiling. This weekend I published Promises Forgotten, the 2nd book in the Sky Ridge Series. I’m super stoked about that release. But I have another surprise for my readers…

I published a book in 2013 that was left on a cliffhanger. The book held my heart in many ways, but the 2nd book seemed to stay just far enough away that I couldn’t get it to work right. Every time I started to write the 2nd book, it would slip away. Well, it all came flowing in a couple of weeks ago, coming in like a tidal wave. Then on Saturday, I wrote the last word with a satisfied sigh.

It’s so crazy. When I was writing the first book, Open the Heart, the continued story was at the tip of my tongue, but then it just went away. So, as some authors do, I put it away until it came back. I didn’t want to do the first book injustice or the characters. I’m excited that Lacey’s Choice is about to be published.

So, as I drift through this haze of accomplishment, I hope all of you have a fantastic day!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Lacey's Choice front cover

 


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When do you take the next step?

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Happy Labor Day everyone… I do hope all of you are having a great day!

Ok, so I’ve been pondering something for a while, but I’m still undecided. It’s the same feeling I had just before I pushed the button to submit my first book, Ghost Lover. The feeling is gnawing at my gut and won’t let me sleep, but as I’m a thinker, I’ve been thinking a lot.

So far, I’ve self-published 35 books, made it to the top 55 of Harlequin’s SYTYCW contest, received awards, but there’s still something missing. There’s further to go, but how far? How far do you go beyond where you thought you were going? As I said, it’s gnawing at me and I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of something, but what?

As I’ve researched, read, and followed the publishing world, I realized what I’ve been missing, an agent. So, I reached out to a couple of big time authors that have commented on my work and their consensus seems to be, I need to reach out to a literary agent. But, as this is a big step for me, and if you know me, that’s saying something. Do I do this? Do I give up some of the freedom I’ve had as a self-published author?

You may be wondering, will she or won’t she? I’m going to push forward and do it. This is the week that I put myself out there and see what happens. If nothing happens, I’ve lost nothing, but if something does happen, well, I’ll let you know.

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


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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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As we grow older…

Good morning! Last night I attended my 30-year class reunion. I don’t feel like it’s been 30 years since we were all crazy high school students just making our way through class and life. But the funny thing is, it has been.

We all grow older, but the heart stays the same in many ways. As I spoke with everyone last night, I realized, we haven’t changed that much in 30 years. Everyone has the same smile, the same laugh, just maybe a few added wrinkles from many years of life and laughter. But at the heart of it, we’re all still the same people we were 30 years ago when we walked across that field, scared to death of what lay ahead, but sure we’d make the world a better place.

It’s crazy the memories that flood in when you get together with people from your past. Some are good, others sad, but mostly, you remember all the many aspects of those years together. Most of us were in school together all the way through, which meant we spent a lot of time together. Even after all these years, we know one another and nothing can erase the memories we’ve shared, even time.

So, now you know I’m a sap, not that you didn’t know that already. And yes, as I watched the video of our pictures scrolling by, I had a tear dot the corner of my eye. We can’t go back to that wonderful time, except in our minds, but we can remember the days when we were fresh and new beings just trying to get by. We can remember the ones we’ve lost over the years and smile, knowing that we were part of this great thing we call life.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…