Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve...

Well here in the US we only have hours left in 2013, but many of my friends abroad are celebrating the New Year. For those of you that are already in 2014, Happy New Year. I wish you well in the New Year. I hope that everyone has a great New Year's Eve. It's a time to reflect on the year going out and on the possibilites of the new year. For me I am excited about the coming year. I've set many goals that are exciting and extremely positive. I'll let you in on them as they unfold, but for now I'll just keep them under wraps. I have several books in the works that will come out in 2014. That's exciting and scary. Why does it always scare me when I hit that publish button? The work will have gone through many edits and rewrites, but it's still a anxious time. Will my readers like it or will it be a huge disaster? I guess that's the art of this line of work. As you celebrate the new year remember those that were lost in 2013 and those that were born. It was a year of many changes and so many laughs. I'm honored to have been featured in three magazine articles in 2013 and I gained many new friends through my blog and writing. I want to thank all of my wonderful, adoring fans that write to me and make my work worth while. Thanks to all my colleagues who support me and give wonderful advice and sometimes even a high five when something goes right. So, celebrate and be safe on this New Year's Eve. I love you guys, you're all wonderful. See you in 2014! As always, good writing and May God Bless you...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Monday of 2013!

It's weird to say that. I've been thinking back to 2013 and it's been a great year. There's been good and bad throughout the year, but for the most part it's been great. It was the first full year of being a published author. How are you spending the last two days of 2013? As for me I'm working today, but taking tommorow off. I'm trying to finish one of my books before midnight tommorow, but maybe not. It's funny how you plan on time to write during holidays and then life steps in and you don't get it done. What are your plans for New Year's? We spend it at our Church. We have the best time eating finger foods and singing. Then we bring in the New Year at the altar. It's a great way to thank Him for the past year and for the new year to come. Of course I have games and prizes for the kids. They even get to wear their pjs which helps parents just put them to bed when they get home. Hopefully everyone has set their writing goals for 2014. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What makes a good romance for you?

Romance novels come in many genres. It's amazing how they've changed since I first picked up my first romance. I remember the intense feelings that the book brought out. It was based in Europe in the World War 2 era. I remember crying, laughing and being inspired to find my Prince Charming. I also remember finding out through reading that my Prince Charming would not always be perfect as the fairy tale goes. For me a good romance needs to take you to another place. I want to be taken away from my normal world and transported into a exotic place, mystical place or just another time. I want the book to carry me away with emotions. The writer needs to make me think I'm there with the character, feeling the emotions, the anger, the sadness, the love, and especially the romance. I want to be able to still feel it even after I put the book down. I can't even imagine how many romance novels I've read in my lifetime. Recently I went through my collection of novels that are stored in my attic. I had to put them in plastic storage boxes as the boxes were falling apart from age and over use. It's amazing how many times I've read some of them over and over. I even pulled some of them out and read them again. There's nothing like the feel and smell of a aged book. The yellowed pages pull you in and keep you engrossed. I had several authors that I bought everytime I saw a new book in their collections. As I reboxed them I separated them by author. The publishers of most of them are still around, such as Harlequin, Avon and many others. I always knew if it had the Harlequin or Avon symbol on the side that it would be great. I remember going to flea markets and browsing hungrily through the many shelves of used books. As a teenager it was like a scavenger hunt for more titles from some of my favorites. A couple of my favorite books have been purchased a couple of times. You may be wondering why, well let me explain. I would lend them out and they never got returned. Then I would go on a mad search for them. When I'd find them again, they would stay with me. So for me a good romance needs to make an impression. I want to think about it again and again even after I've read The End. I want to read it over and over and still fall in love. The characters need to pull at my heart strings. I want to be able to see them in my mind's eye and carry that throughout the book. Recently I heard from one of my dear fans. She told me that the descriptions of my characters made her see them clearly. She said that she felt like she knew them personally as she read through to the end. I was pleased that I'd accomplished that goal. Sometimes that can be a hard thing for a writer. You have to make sure that your character is well thought out and explained. If they are blonde, make sure they are blonde throughout. I read a book not too long ago and the main character started out as a blonde and the writer somehow I guess forgot and by the end their hair was ebony. And no they didn't change hair color out of a bottle. It totally blew my mind. I love to read a romance that makes me cry. It doesn't have to be from sadness, but it could be just the sweetness of the romance. I have several books that I read over and over that make me cry every time. It's just such a sweet, tender romance that it draws out the emotional part of me. So as you write, think about what draws you in. If you like time travel, then write about time travel. If you like a good, sappy romance, then write that sappy romance. If it's erotica you love, then write erotica. Everyone has a niche and you have to find that niche. For me it's the tender, sweet love story that builds throughout the story. I try to throw in a little intrigue and mystery, but in the end it's the romance that draws you in. So, as always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Writing Goals For The New Year

Goals... Do you set goals? Do you have a word count that you try to meet everyday? Do you try to put out a couple of books a year? Well for me I try to work everyday on my manuscripts. Sometimes life steps in and I get side stepped, but I plan to make up for lost time this weekend. For me goals are important. If you don't have something to strive for then what's the point. I have set goals on my book releases and also my accounting business. Life is going to be getting very busy in January. If you haven't read my bio, I am an Accountant and that means tax time is right around the corner. What's funny is the last two years when I would get the busiest in my office, the characters would get restless and I'd actually have higher word count outputs. Weird but true. I had an accounting colleague ask me last year how on earth I wrote during tax season. Well it's really easy when you need something to decompress with at night. I usually work really long hours from January through April, but when I do get to sit down and focus, I can just spit it out like a rushing river in a flood. Amazingly enough I actually have my daily schedule set up this year for writing to be intertwined with accounting work. That way I can decompress during the day too. I have several goals set for the new year. I want to get my 2nd books in the Lean On Him series, Alpine Romance Series, The Winner Series and The Women of Magnolia Hill Saga out and going as soon as possible. I laughed as I worked on my goals for 2014 and realized I had several series going along with some stand alones. Funny how writers can have several dramas going on at one time. So, what are your writing goals? What are your expectations for 2014? Do you have a plan? As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Good Morning After...

Well, all's said and done on this Christmas season. The gifts are opened and the food consumed (Sighing heavily)... As I walked into my den this morning I groaned. I was met with the mess that I ignored last night. It looks like Rudolph and all his reindeer trampled through my den and did the two step. I quietly poured a cup of coffee and waded through the empty gift bags, wadded up wrapping paper, Christmas balls and sat down. Sighing I took a long sip of coffee and clicked the heating pad on for my back. It's over. The hustle and bustle of Christmas is behind us. Now for the clean up and return lines. Yeah, did I mention I didn't read my sons new wireless controller for his game system. I bought the wrong one. I'm not game savvy ok... Now's time to get things in order and get back to work on my manuscripts. Especially since I have one with a deadline of January and two February. YIKES!!! So much for resting til New Year's. HEHEHEHEHEHE... What's your plans for the next couple of days? Are you writing, cleaning, or a combo of both? I'll be doing both as I ponder the new year. I wonder what the new year will hold for my writing career. I have some plans for submitting a couple of manuscripts to Avon. We'll see how that goes. Last week I was surprised by a wonderfully sweet card from a reader who received one of the giveaways in December. She was very appreciative and said she couldn't wait for the rest of the Saga to come out. Of course I'm talking about the giveaway of "Victoria". The next book will be coming out in the Spring, so keep an eye out for updates. I do hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve...

Good chilly morning to all... I do hope everyone is ready for Christmas. I've still got some baking to finish and payroll to complete, but the gifts are bought and wrapped. Well all but one and I tripped over it this morning in the bedroom, LOL. I'll wrap it when I get back from delivering payroll. 'Tis the season to be jolly and why is it that most people this year are not jolly? My son and hubby are not in the Christmas spirit. It's driving my insane. I'm going around singing Christmas carols and decorating everything that's not standing still. They just sit and look at me like I've lost what's left of my brain. Well, maybe I have, but it all went into my books. Last night I was thinking of spending it finishing up the latest manuscript that's captured my little brain and then it hit me. "I've got to put some Christmas spirit in these men of mine." So I whipped out "Frosty The Snowman" and "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and told them to sit down and enjoy. Of course I giggled like a school girl and they just sat there and made fun of Rudolph's red nose. Oh well, I tried. Speaking of manuscripts, I'm hoping to spend some time off from accounting this week and finish up "Finding The Right Time". It's been taking over my brain this week. While I was up and down last night with my pulled back muscle I played with the idea of pulling out my laptop and just working through the night, but my back told me otherwise :( So here's hoping you all have a wonderfully Merry Christmas Eve and hope Santa is very good to you. Remember to smile at someone you don't normally smile at, hug your loved ones and sing carols even if they're out of tune. Put the Christmas spirit in your whole day and enjoy the season of joy. Don't forget the reason for the season as you celebrate with family and friends. Tell Jesus Happy Birthday! As always good writing and May God Bless You...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Eve Before Christmas Eve

Well it's been another rainy day here in Georgia, but now the temperature is dropping and it's feeling more like Christmas. As I sit here by my Christmas tree with a crackling fire I'm thankful for so many things. First off I'm glad to be almost rid of the cold I've been figting for over a week, hence the long stint without a blog. Now I have a pulled muscle from coughing, sneezing and all that comes with a cold. Oh well, could be worse :) Second I'm excited because tommorow is Christmas Eve and if you've followed my blog for the last two years you know I love Christmas. I get to be with family and friends being all Merry and happy. Third I'm working on several manuscripts getting them polished up for a after New Year's release. My writing has been an inspiration and a big stress reliever. I've gained so many new friends and fans through this blog and my writing. I'm excited about what 2014 holds for my writing. At the bottom of this post I will be giving you a sneak peak at the cover for one of my newest works that's coming out after New Year's. Christmas spirit is filling my heart and soul. I almost want to write another Christmas romance but alas it's a little late for that. Maybe it'll keep until next year. I'm ready to celebrate the Savior's birth on Wednesday. It's a wonderful time of year to do something nice for someone else. Make sure you tell everyone you love them and give them a hug. Give a little Christmas spirit everywhere you go. As always, good writing and May God Bless You... Here's a sneak peak at the cover for Finding The Right Time. It's a time travel romance and I'm really excited about this one. Take a look at this awesome cover that my cover designer created. We spent several hours on this one and I think it's our best yet. Image

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Romancing the Real World...

In this world of tech savvy readers and writers it's hard sometimes to gain the interest of fans. With so many wonderful romance writers the competition is large and wide. But the wonderful thing is that as a writer we get to write our own niche. We get to change the world of writing because if you are your own person then that's your niche. I've talked to many fans that say you've got to be different to stand out. Well, maybe your writing is different. Some publishers say go with what's popular, but what you really need to do is stand out in the crowd. If you want to write about cowboys and everyone else is writing about vampires then go for it. Make your voice heard loud and clear. Give it your whole heart. As for me I write mostly about cowboys and horses. That's my niche and my fans follow that niche, thank goodness. I've got a couple of books that don't include cowboys, but only a couple. Cowboys are what's comfortable for me and inspire me, so with me you know what you're getting. But I do try to go a little different in the angles of my stories. Take for instance my newest Christmas book, Open The Heart. It has a handsome cowboy, horses and romance, but it's based in snowy Switzerland on the side of a mountain in the Alps. That's a niche in its self. So carve out your niche and make it spectacular. Give it your whole heart, not someone elses. Write about what you love and it will show. Today's reader is complex and they're looking for that special romance that will warm their heart and in some instances curl their toes. Some readers want hot, steamy sex scenes, but others just want that warm fuzzy feeling you get from a real world romance. That's what I try to carry on to my readers. A romance that could actually happen. Something real and reachable. Try it and you'll be rewarded with smiles. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Picking the right cover photo

I know I've harped on this before but I can't stress enough the importance of a great cover. I was looking at some of the new books on Amazon and to tell you the truth a couple of the covers were non imaginative. They were just bland and didn't exactly go with the book description. But of course there were some that I was just stunned at the creativity and dare I say 'beauty'. Your book cover is the first thing potential readers see. If you go the extra mile it will help you tremendously. Like right now I'm scanning photos for my newest work in progress. I have in my mind what I want and it has to be perfect. I've looked at thousands of photos and let me tell you, it's a lot of work, but the payoff makes it worth it. If your cover doesn't fit the book, why even go there. If you write a Christmas romance and put a Easter bunny on it, well you get the picture. Don't give away too much with your cover either. This means don't put a picture of the ending on the cover. If all the way through the book you keep the reader in the dark about if the couple is going to marry or get pregnant, you might not want to put them in a wedding dress or looking pregnant. But then again that could increase sales. Sometimes it's a catch 22, you just have to know how to make it work. Also, one last thing that's a huge, big piece of advice. For next to nothing you can purchase a picture from a reputable site and make it really pop. Don't just pull something from the family photos and make it work, unless it really goes with the book. I use several sites, but my favs are bigstockphoto.com and istockphoto.com. There are several, but these are the two I use. As always, good writing and may God Bless You... By the way, don't forget that my publishing service designs great covers. Check out the tab above for Horseshoe Publishing on my main blog.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Putting Tags On Your Books...

This is very important for your books. When you set up your books this is a part of it. But unfortunately this is a hard part, well it is for me. How do you tag your book where it’s not lost in the crowd? Well here is some ways I figure this out: 1: Sit down and write down every key word you can think of that goes with your book. 2: Go on Amazon and search each key word. See how many are listed there. 3: Pick the top key words that aren’t bogged down by thousands of selections already. 4: Sometimes the oddest keyword is the best choice, but make it a logical keyword. 5: Hint: Romance is bogged down, make sure you put more detailed descriptive keywords. As I always tell you, these are just suggestions. I don’t guarantee these will work for you, but they did for me. As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Morning Ramblings...

Well it was a busy weekend for me. Our Church put together showboxes for the local Family Children Service and then yesterday I had the Children’s Ministry Christmas party. Which this meant that I had to start my Christmas baking. I baked cookies, made rice krispy treats and smores. Not to mention red velvet and cream cheese bites. Needless to say it was a busy weekend. As I sat yesterday afternoon just enjoying being with my family and having nothing at all to do, I received a call. It was my cousin calling to tell me a friend of ours has cancer. It was hard to hear. I’ve known him all my life and we’ve always been friends. It’s always hard to hear that word ‘cancer’. I prayed for him and knew he was in good hands. My writing has been in the forefront of my mind lately. I have a couple of books in the works and am impatient to get them completed. I guess that’s just the life of a writer. I have to keep my focus on the writing instead of the finish. If I focus on the finish too much my writing will lack some of it’s luster. I don’t want to rush through the last couple of chapters. I don’t know how one of the books will end exactly. Most of my books I have them mapped out in my mind and usually have a good idea how they’ll end, but this one book has changed as it has unfolded. As each chapter develops and the characters get their chance at the story it’s changed and evolved. I’m happy with the many changes, but am anxious to see it to the end. Several fans are chomping at the bit for the 2nd book in the Alpine series. It was such an exciting book to write. I can’t wait to get started on it. All of my books are on sale for .99 until December 26th. I want to do this as a thanks to all my devoted and beloved fans. It’s been an awesome year for me and my writing. As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Spirit, Love and Sharing

Image Today's post is a step away from my normal writing and publishing blog. I want to ask you a simple question, Do you have the Christmas Spirit this year? I'm not talking about the I've got to go shopping today, the ornaments are up , but the Christmas Spirit. You may be saying, What are you talking about? Well, it's quite simple really. Have you done something for someone less fortunate this Christmas season and not just to get a tax benefit, but from the heart? Have you spent time with family and friends and thought about someone or something other than yourself? I went with my family out to eat last night for Christmas. It was great to be with my uncle and aunt and couisins and their families, not to mention my mom, her friend, my brother and his family and my hubby and son. I sat there looking around the table thinking about how much our family has grown. We've gained lots of new members in the last twenty or so years. But it was nice to take a moment out of our busy lives to just be together. Yes it was crowded in the small room we'd reserved but the point was to be together. As we left I felt sad that we didn't get to spend more time together, but life takes over sometimes. Tommorow at Church we're getting together as a Church family and putting together boxes for the families at the local family and children services. These families won't have much for Christmas so we try to give them something special to unwrap on Christmas morning. Some gifts are as simple as a doll or car, toothbrush and toothpaste. Actually things we take for granted but they'd be thrilled to have. Even hairbows and brushes, pencils and school supplies, things that they need but don't have. It warms my heart to help with such a special cause, but it's never enough. Why can't we just spend a couple of dollars to help those less fortunate? It's not about the huge, pricey gifts. It's the thought. No child should wake up Christmas morning without at least one thing under the tree. Christmas is by no means just about the gifts, it's about our Savior's Birth. But we need to teach our kids the spirit of giving which He spoke of so often and for some reason we've stepped away from it. It could be something simple like a warm blanket and coat. You may be warm in your house, but what about families that can't afford heat. Give them something warm to wrap up with. But why not all year long. Why do we only think of those less fortunate at Christmas? We should keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts year round. We should follow His word and give to those in need all year. Think of the troops that are away from home. They are not just away at Christmas, they're away for months to years at a time, but most only think about them at this time of the year. So my challenge to you is this. Do something nice for someone. Maybe set a goal to do something for someone every month of the year. Plan a special project you can do for someone in need. It could be as simple as cooking a meal for a shut-in or just collecting cans and donating them to a family in need. The smile you'll receive and the feeling will get contagious and dare I say it, you might become an habital giver. As always, good writing and May God Bless You... photo credit: Rdoke via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advertising and Promotions?

Well I forgot to turn the heater on in my office this morning. It's a balmy 25 outside and inside my office it's real close to that. My fingers are numb, but I ran into the house and warmed up my sweater by the fire. I'm sure my neighbors think I've gone nuts running back and forth between the office and the house, but it's too cold to merely walk. On to this morning's writing topic. How do you advertise or promote? Well you may be saying, what's the difference? I'm going to give you my view of the differences and then a few pieces of advice. To me advertising is something you pay for and promoting is getting your book out there via any channel you can get your two cents in. Advertising Advertising is a hot topic among authors. Do you pay a hefty fee and hope that someone will see the ad and buy your book? It's a catch 22 really. I believe that you need some paid advertising to get your book in front of a different audience than just Facebook, Twitter and various other places. But choose wisely. I've heard of too many authors that paid for advertising and never saw the ad or much less found it on the site. Don't choose too quickly from an exciting email you get from a "advertising firm". Take for instance, yesterday I received an email from a company that said they'd put my book on many sites for a fee. They went on to paint a pretty impressive picture of their company. Funny thing is when I Googled their firms name I didn't find anything, nada, nothing! That was a major red flag for me. They then went into their fees. WHOA!!! Let's just say, I'd have to sell hundreds of books to even make it back. Needless to say I deleted said email and went on my merry way. If you find a reputable place to advertise and it's fairly reasonable for what you're getting, then by all means go for it. If they say their service tweets and facebooks your ad, go to Twitter and Facebook to see the traffic they garner. If they only have 10 followers and no responses or few retweets you'd best move on. 'Nough said. Promotions Now this can be fun and tedious at the same time. Don't over promote in a day. The reason I say this is, I've tried to analyze the results from a study I did. I tested this theory on Twitter and was amazed. I spent two days just blowing up Twitter with nothing but promotional stuff from my books. I tweeted from every book site I had and yada yada. Then I watched as my Twitter followers started dropping off like wasps in a nest after they met Raid. Well, it's obvious that this wasn't a good plan. Then I did this in a more laid back way and gained several new followers. I only tweeted a couple of times during high traffic times and added in books from other authors and funny sayings or just daily writing tips. Amazing the difference. Even had several nice retweets, especially thankful ones from the authors I tweeted. Yes, the first test garnered a couple of retweets, but only from my most dedicated Twitter followers. A lot of sites say they'll do the tweeting and posting for you, but let's get real, we can do that ourselves for free. Well, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Here's a couple of the places that I've done paid advertising and seen results: http://www.rwa.org/ Romance Writer's Of America - I put an ad in their monthly magazine and had some great results. It's not very expensive and it reaches many readers that actually read my genre. They're really easy to work with and totally worth it. Also join their organization to get the monthly magazine and all their wonderful help on their website. http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/about-ian.html The Independent Author Network. This is a great site also to promote and advertise. The authors here work as a team to tweet and retweet each other's books. I always notice a big upswing in views and sales when I go in and help other authors. Very reasonable to join. http://bookclubreading.com Book Club Reading is a new one I'm using for both areas. They help you to get your name and books out to book clubs. Their advertising is fairly reasonable and it's helped with sales of my Christmas book. Promotional sites I worked with that are free and easy: www.prlog.org This is a press release site. I use the free option and they produce great looking press releases that you can send out to all your social sites and they put them into several channels. It's fairly easy to use and set up is easy. Goodread.com Goodreads is a great promotional area. Set up events for upcoming promotions and join groups that are in your genre. It promotes your name and get's you some great advice to boot. Shelfari.com Shelfari is a great place to put your books and gained followers. You can download your books directly from Amazon and even your reading list. I've made some great friends on this site. http://worldliterarycafe.com/ This site is a wonderful promotional tool and I've learned a lot from them. Join their group on Facebook and ask what you need to know or just read what others have asked. Of course on the Facebook group don't promote your books. That part of their site is only for Q & A or helpful hints. Now these are just a couple. There's so many great sites out there and I know I didn't mention even half of them. As always good writing and May God Bless You...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

45 Years Of Blessings...

Many people try to ignore birthdays. For me I'm so blessed with each year I'm given. The fact that I got up this morning is a blessing in itself. I have so much to be thankful for. This morning I woke to my wonderful husband and son wishing me a Happy Birthday. Then when I opened my computer my email was blowing up with Birthday wishes from family, friends and fans. It's amazing the support I've received from my family, friends and my adoring fans. The Birthday wishes have been coming in from all over and it's such a blessing. My writing has been a blessing and to be able to publish my long, hard work. It's been a dream of mine since I was a teenager and guess what, I'm a published author. This blessing has gained me so many new friends and I've met some great authors that I've been reading for years. It's been such an awesome time. So many don't realize their blessings. They leave them in a closet somewhere and refuse to acknowledge them. Blessings are meant to be acknowledged, appreciated and thankful for. But most of all they are meant to be passed on to others. It's like the Christmas Spirit should be kept in your heart 365 days a year. Celebrate life daily and be glad for every minute in our short lives. That's why all my books are .99 through Christmas. I want to give something back to my readers. Have a wonderful day and know I'm passing on my blessings and well wishes for you all. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Writing To Inspire...

What does your writing do for you? No, I'm not talking about the royalties or the fans. I'm talking about the inspiration. Does your writing inspire you? Do your characters inspires you to change things, make better decisions, or even change something in your life? I've had messages from fans saying some of my books have inspired them. That's the best message you can get as a writer. One fan said that one of my books inspired her to follow her dreams of writing. One said they inspired her to follow her heart in regards to a past love. Then one said she was inspired to reach out to her faith and renew her relationship with God. I've been honored to hear the comments and inspirations. Writing to inspire is writing from the heart. If you write like a drone and never put feeling in your work then you've only acheived the writing goal, not the inspirational goal. What you put between those covers is important to your reader. If you just put words there and don't feel anything then what have you accomplished. As a writer I cry, laugh and feel anger when I'm writing. I enjoy what I do and I pour out my heart with every chapter. Most of the time when I type The End I'm emotionally exhausted. I have to rest and recoop. That's in my opinion what makes it a work of inspiration. What inspires you? Is it something in your life or in a book you've read? For me it's a myriad of it all. I can be inspired by so many things. My faith leads me to many inspirations and that's a big factor in my writing. I hope that your writing leads your inspirations and leads to inspiration... As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday Morning and The Coffee's Flowing...

I love Saturday mornings. For one thing I get to sleep in for a little longer and when I get that first cup of coffee I can sit and enjoy it. This morning is no different. I sit here sipping coffee and eating the biscuits my hubby pulled out of the oven as I walked down the hall. It's wonderful to wake up to breakfast already cooked and the aroma of coffee drifting into the bedroom. The day in Georgia will be dreary and rainy, but it's Saturday so no matter. My day will be filled with decorating our Church for Christmas. I look forward to this every year. As I've said before several times, I love Christmas. It's a fun time as we gather together to adorn His house with garlands, trees, snowflakes, ornaments and whatever else we can get out. When we're done it's transformed into another place, a place of excitement and enjoyment. The children will come in tomorrow and their eyes will let us know if we've accomplished our goals. It's the same with our writing. If the reader isn't taken to another place or setting we've failed. I try to push the envelope. When I was writing Open The Heart I knew it would be different. I strived to put an element of the wow factor. I wanted you to feel the icy cold chill of a Christmas in the snowy Alps of Switzerland. I've had readers that said they felt like they were there. That's a writer's goal. Take the reader away from their everyday stressful life, if only for a moment. When I read a book I want to be transported into another time or place. I want to see it in my mind through the words of the writer. If you can't pull them into the story you've cheated them of a experience. When I wrote Open The Heart I could see every detail and I wanted my reader to see it and feel it. One time during a particular scene where they're in the snow literally I actually had to wrap up. I had a chill as I wrote the story but when they were inside by the fire I shed the blanket. Funny how your writing affects you... So, enjoy this day and make it your own. Embrace the world you live in. Do something for yourself today. It's Saturday!!! As always, good writing and May God Bless You... One more thing, Check out the new link to my book at the bookclubreading.com at: http://bookclubreading.com/open-the-heart/ and go over to avonromance.com to pick up some great Christmas romances. They've got a great selection to choose from.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Open The Heart

Open The Heart
Check out my new post on bookclubreading.com

What's your goal?

A goal is something that we strive to get to. Maybe it's a financial goal where you want to pay off a bill. Maybe it's a raise on your job. As a writer most of us want to write full time. Is that your goal? Do you know how to achieve it? As for me that would be nice, but I still work full time in my accounting office. Some writers go into writing expecting instant gratification. Well, I'm sorry to tell you it doesn't work that way most of the time. Now don't get me wrong, some authors have actually made it pretty big in a short time, but it's not always the case. Some writers I've talked to said it was years before they made enough to even think about quitting their full time job. One thing I've noticed with my writing is that patience is a virtue. Well it may be a virtue but sometimes it's frustrating waiting on that sale to come through. One big author that I've always looked up to and read everything she published messaged me one day. Which for me that was a success in it's self. She told me to keep up the good work and not to worry about sales that they would come. Her advice was to get out several books and make sure my name was out there. She said it took over two years for her to really see a big up flow of sales. This totally took me by surprise. In my mind I figured she was living the good life, but as she stated, she's doing well now but it wasn't always that case. I left the conversation feeling lots better. I've turned out 11 books and have several in the works. As I studied my sales over the last year and a half, I see a trend. And you know, she was right. The more books I have published the more they sale. It's strange how it works, but I guess a reader picks up a book by an author and if they like the authors style they pick up more of their books. It also helps to have several series going so that the reader is in wanting of the rest of the story. Don't forget that as in any business you have to keep up with expenses and royalties. Some authors don't think about this until it's too late. Every website expense, writing program, notebook, computer, advertising expense and postage to send books out are expenses to keep up with. Make sure you start a business plan as soon as possible so that this part of your writing life is not swamped with needless stress. Enjoy your writing and the sales will come. Write what's in your heart and make it the best you can. Give it the tender loving care it deserves by editing, editing and editing some more. Make the cover a dreamy concoction of what the story means to you. As a writer usually you have in your mind how you want it to look. Then tell everyone about it. Do a social media blitz and show the passion you have for the story. It will be contagious and soon people will catch the passion. Don't get discouraged. You're a writer. It's an awesome thing and you now have the ability to touch the lives of many, many people. As always, good writing and may God Bless You...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Social Media is Time Consuming

If you're an author you know the importance of social media. It's the backbone of your publishing and selling strategy. The only problem is we try to get on every site we can and then when we sit down to our computer we spend an hour searching all the sites for any inkling of a notice from fans or readers or anybody other than spam mongers. I sit every morning going through my sites and then I spend what time is left before going to the office writing. We have to make sure we use our time wisely. I am trying to limit my site checking to twice a day. I try to post a blog everyday, but some days I may forgo my usual post for a shorter post or save it up for the next day. That way I have more time for my writing which is important. Since I have a full time job and a family I need to keep my time steady and straight. Following the right course is very important. As for my accounting office I've changed the times I work and added in tidbits of writing time during the day. It helps break the monotony of everyday accounting work with a little writing time. I make sure that every detail is taken care of in it's own time. Time with my family is very important too. It's become common place in my house for my laptop to be in my lap during tv time at night. My hubby and son are used to that's writing time, but I'm still with them and not closed up in another room. It's funny the small things that make a difference. I guess raising a child in an accounting office taught me alot about focus. I can depreciate an asset while doling out snacks. So in turn I can now write while watching tv with my family, helping with homework, and cooking dinner. So, how do you spend your time? Do you waste time on trivial things? Have you got a plan and do you stick to it? As always, good writing and May God Bless You... Here's a link to a great blog about Time from a blogger all writers need to follow: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/killing-time-is-a-crime-embracing-speed-by-redefining-life-play-work/

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Series or finish in one?

When you're writing the book and the story just keeps going and going, so you finish the story or do you make it into a series? Series can be a continuation of the same storyline with the same characters, they can be a continuation of characters that in the first book were in the background, or it can be just a continuation of the same type of story but entirely different story. What will it be? For me a couple of my books have stood alone completely. I knew and felt good with ending them at the words The End. But some of my stories needed more. Some were supposed to be stand alone but the characters just pulled at me to be more. In my latest book, Open The Heart, I originally planned on it being alone. As I delved into the story around 3/4 of the way in I knew it had more to tell. You may be saying why not just go ahead and make it a mega novel with 50,000 or more words, but in some instances it's good to just end on a cliff hanger, leaving the reader wanting more. In Victoria I knew at the start that it would be a Saga. I knew as I was writing the first chapter how it would end and I built it up to that major cliff hanger which of course has garnered lots of readers writing to me stating that they were hanging on pins and needles. I just smile and know I did the right thing. It's had several asking when the next book could be expected. What's funny is they always ask what happens? I can't tell you until the next book comes out is always my response. So, what will you next book be? It's sometimes a hard question. Does your story line have the stamina to carry on for several books? Does your general premise for the book have series quality? Well, let me know how you figure it out. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Have you got a character you don't like?

When you're a writer you get the chance to meet many characters through your books. Sometimes the characters leave a lasting memory on you. I've fell in love with many of my characters. Wes in "Moonbeam and Roses", Jared in "Ghost Lover, and Drake in "Open the Heart" just to name a couple of them. It's amazing the way characters in your writing get in your heart. But then there are the characters that you love to hate. Those are the characters fans tell you they don't like which is exactly the point to their bad ways. Take for instance Thomas in "Ghost Lover". He's a real snake in the grass. He's handsome and tries to make everyone including Jess think he's a wonderful man. But his true colors start to show when Jared comes into the picture to still Jess's heart. He does everything including attempted murder to get her to love him. Oh, then there's Ty in "A Love Never Lost". He uses his wealth and horse ranch to woo Lilly. But he is obsessed, not in love. He resorts to kidnapping to try to get what he wants. That's just not nice at all. Then you have Brent in "Open The Heart". He leaves Lacey at the altar and then tries to guilt her back. But he soon finds out that true love wins in the end. Here are three traits that make a bad character: 1: Jealousy - It gets them everytime. Jealousy can cause a character to take drastic measures and make bad decisions. 2: Obsession - Sometimes an obsessed character can do some nasty things to get what they want and usually their wants are not the same wants as the one they're obsessed about. 3: Evil - Now evil can really make a bad character. They will stop at nothing, even murder to get what they want. Sometimes the bad characters have fans too. It's amazing how some people only remember the bad characters in a book. Some of my fans write to me and ask how some of these nasty characters were started. Were they based on people I know? But usually the good ones are based on people I know, not the bad ones. So as you write your characters, try to put in a couple of bad ones. It makes for an interesting read and can enhance a romance as they try to break it up. Some bad characters can even turn good. Wouldn't that make a good twist? As always, good writing and May God Bless You... Here a couple of links to some of my nasty characters: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-Lost-Stephanie-Hurt-ebook/dp/B009IQ0LQ0 http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lover-Stephanie-Hurt-ebook/dp/B00COQZI5K http://www.amazon.com/Open-Heart-Alpine-Christmas-Romance-ebook/dp/B00GW6T6AQ

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Christmas romance "Open The Heart" is on sale at Amazon

Since it's the season to be generous I've put all my books at a lot cheaper prices. Most are .99 and my new Christmas Romance is now only .99. My Cowboy collection of three books in one is now only $2.99. So if you get a chance, run over to my Amazon store. The link to the store is to the right of this post and you can find my Christmas romance at http://www.amazon.com/Open-The-Heart-Christmas-Romance-ebook/dp/B00GW6T6AQ. Let me know what you think with a review. I love to hear from my fans.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Choose Your Words Wisely...

Words can be powerful things. They can inspire anger, love, romance, tears, and even envy. As a writer that's our chosen task is to inspire with our words. Whether it be a mere 5000 word short story novella or a 80,000 word novel, we strive to inspire every emotion in our words. Sometimes the words we choose don't inspire at all, but encourage. Words have many different meanings. They can have many facets that follow down a path of the story. Some words mean different things with just the change of scenery. It's amazing the changes words can bring about in a story. One word can stop the breath of the character or bring about a gasp of love. As writers we strive to craft a masterpiece just as a sculpture uses a chisel and stone, we use a thesaurus or dictionary to craft the perfect piece of artwork.We chisel at a story and shape it to our way of thinking. We work at it hard and steady shaping out every detail so that the reader is transported to another world. Our characters have to be given the same care as a fine piece of marble ready for the chisel of a master. In order for the reader to understand or know the character we have to choose the right words to describe the character just as a sculpter chisels the features of the face of his art. It's amazing how a well crafted story can give you a new outlook, a small sense of accomplishment and maybe even a new set of fans. As I craft my stories I try to put everything at my disposal. Using different words to mold the story into reality can give the reader a new outlook as well as yourself. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Friday, November 29, 2013

The day after the feast...

The day after the feast and I sit here feeling like I'm still full. I don't even think I can eat breakfast. Although I will make room for a cup of coffee. I always have room for that. It's crazy the feeling I have on the day after Thanksgiving. The excitement of the Christmas season is stirring around in my mind. I feel the decorating bug coming on heavily and know that by the end of the day my house will look like as my hubby would say "Christmas threw up all over the place". I'm not a shopper like most on black Friday. Going out into the wilds of shopper frenzy is not the least enticing to me. Now cyber Monday is my day to shop. I can sit in my living room and shop til my fingers cramp. No hassles, no crowds, no fighting over the last sale item, just me and my laptop. Now that the Christmas book is finished and the other books are in the works I feel a little better. But the stories dance in my head like sugar plums. I'm trying to finish the works I've got started, but the stories keep popping in and taking over. So as I sit here and enjoy a long leisurely morning of movies, coffee and Christmas decorations my mind is whirling with stories and covers and other bookish things. Why is it a writer never takes a vacation or holiday? Since my accounting office is closed until Monday I don't have figures dancing in my head, but the writer in me stays awake at night with thoughts and ideas. I watch movies and ideas pop in my head, I listen to music and ideas pop into my head, I see a picture and ideas pop into my head. yeah I've got it bad. Someone asked me one day, 'Don't you ever run out of things to write?' Well, sometimes I have writer's block on a certain story line. That's when I move on to the other work in progress and eventually I move back the one that was blocked for a little time. As a writer your mind is usually on overdrive. Crazy how it works. The only bad thing about the stories whirling in your brain is the times you want them to stop they usually speed up. As I slipped into bed last night I thought I was sleepy, but as soon as my head hit the pillow I knew it was useless. I lay on one side and then the other, fighting with sleep, try desperately to win. Finally I sat up realizing it was futile. I grabbed my Kindle and headed to sit by the fire in the den. I needed to clear my head so I read for three hours, yeah three hours. When I looked up at the clock I was glad that I didn't have to go into the office the next morning. As I sit here this morning watching Sabrina and enjoying my coffee the stories are pushing past this post, wanting to escape. I know what all needs to be done to get ready to decorate, but the writer in me wants to just sit here all day with Christmas movies in the background and my laptop in my lap. Oh I love this life. But alas, I do need to make my house look festive as this is my favorite time of year. So buckle yourself up and get ready for the ride because from now until Christmas I'll be in high gear. Let's get our Christmas on... As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Many Thanks

As I sit here typing this post I'm thankful for my family, friends, and adoring fans that have made my writing dreams a reality. I'm greatful for the warm fire crackling, the cinnamon rolls on my plate and the delicious coffee in my cup. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is coming on and I sit here waiting as if I were a child for all the floats and then the big guy himself Santa. I've had so much to be thankful for this year. I've been honored to be included three times in magazines, my sales have been steady thanks to my faithful fans, I've been for the most part healthy, I made it through my son's football season without losing my mind, and most of all thankful for my wonderful family and friends. I've been blessed with an adoring husband, wonderful son and even though they're not my blood children, two wonderful stepchildren and a step grandson. This year our family was graced with the addition of a son in law and his adorable daughter. It's been an awesome year so far. As for my writing it's been a stellar year. I've published several books and expanded my distribution channels. I've been included in the Southern Writer's Magazine and Fleet Life in the UK. My blog has seen many new followers from all over the world. I've cherished each and every new friend. It's amazing the friendships you gain through blogs, books, and social media. As for the rest of my family, I have a loving mother, motherinlaw, brother, sisterinlaws and brotherinlaws. I'm a lucky woman to have the awesome family I have. We love one another without pretense and are there for each other through thick and thin. I have a wonderful Church family and my faith has been multiplied this year with every step of life. I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving today and when you sit down with your family be thankful for the food God has blessed you with and the family gracing your table. It's through Him all of it is possible. As always, great writing and May God Bless You...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Print books, Ebooks, and Audio books, which way do I go?

Writers have a lot of decisions to make. The process does not stop when you type ‘The End’. You have to decide how you will publish your work. Are you going to self publish or send it to a traditional publisher. Then if you decide to self publish you have to decide if it’s going to be an Ebook only or will you be doing a print book also. When you decide to do a print book it’s a process. With an Ebook you have just a front cover to design, but when you do a print book it’s a whole new design ball game. This process is a little more complex. You have to get your page count and then figure the size of the cover including front, back, and end. If you’re off very much the cover will roll to the back or front, bleeding over. Yep, been there. It’s a decision you need to make sure you’re ready for. Then of course you have to decide who you’re going to print through. I use CreateSpace powered through Amazon. They’re easy to work with and using Expanded Distribution by print books go out to larger distributors and book stores online. I’ve set up an account with Lightning Source but only have my Ebooks listed right now with them.They have a hefty setup fee that I’m having to decide if I want to do right now. Another decision is the type of cover and paper color. The first run I did was a learning experience. I did the white paper and didn’t like it as much as the cream colored paper. The white paper has a different feel. Of course all of mine are paperback, but you can do a hardback. Also you can do matte finish now on the cover. Decisions, Decisions… The publishing process is a many faceted thing. You don’t just write the book and step away. Well you can, but you’re not going anywhere if you do that. As for me I choose to go all the way. I have my books in print and Ebook. Oh and there’s another side to publishing. Audio books… I took the leap into audio books back in the summer. It’s a new type of process. I’ve enjoyed meeting the narrators of the books. It’s fun to listen to someone read your book. I use ACX with is through Amazon also. They’re easy to use. Just set up an account and download your book. Then start listening to excerpts from various narrators. When you find one you like send them a message asking them to audition for your book. Once you get a couple of auditions then pick one and go with it. You can make pretty good on audible books. So are you ready to publish that work. Sure you are. Just take the step forward and go for it. If you need any help just check out the link at the top of my site, Horseshoe Publishing. We’re here to help with the process. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. As always, good writing and May God Bless you…

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rainy Day In The South

Well, I woke this morning to the pitter patter of rain. A very cold rain. It's dark and dreary outside, but inside it's warm and cheery. My writer's mind is writing it as a sunny, beautiful day. That's the fun thing about being a writer. I can rewrite the day in my pretend world. You may be saying, Stephanie, honey, your writing is not life. I'm well aware of that, but writing is part of my life. You make your feelings the way you want to. If it's drab outside you can control how you feel about it. You either let it get you in a crabby mood or you smile and say it's a beautiful day. It's the same with writing. You are the one that chooses the feeling of it. It can be sad, happy, scary, or whatever you want it to be. As I sit and work on finishing a sad to happy book it's a good day to write the happy part. You're in control of your life. Well most of the time. Don't let emotions control your life. I used to struggle with this. I'd let the day control me. If it was raining I'd be down and out. But I realized one day that I could control that. No I can't control the weather before you ask, but I can control how I react to it. It's the same with my writing. I control the destiny of the characters. If they're happy or sad it's up to me.So as I sip my warm coffee, laced with pumpkin spice creamer I smile and say rain, rain, go away, come back another day. But I smile. Live every day with a smile. Come on, you feel that smile coming, just let it out. I hope every one of you stay safe in this rolling storm system because of the icy side of it. As always, good writing and May God Bless you...

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Release and the holidays...

My new Christmas book is up and running. This has been a joy to work on. As you all know I love the Christmas season and adding cowboys and Switzerland which is on my bucket list just adds to it. I've been researching Switzerland for many, many years and to get to use some of that in this book has been awesome. What's funny is this was supposed to be a stand alone book, but this writer's heart just couldn't stop it at that. It's going to be a whole series on romance in the Alps. I'm really excited about this series as it explores the country I'd love to visit. Since I will probably never visit this beloved country, I'll live it through fiction. I do hope everyone is enjoying this week of Thanksgiving. Don't forget to thank those you love and those you need to love for the many things they do. I hope those that don't have romance can find romance. It's wonderful! Everyone needs it in their lives. Here's an excerpt from Open The Heart - Alpine Christmas Romance: When she emerged from the bathroom thirty minutes later totally refreshed, she saw lying on the bed a Christmas ball. She giggled. Where had he found a Christmas ornament? She opened her bedroom door and found bright red tinsel stretched all the way to the stairs. She picked it up and rolled it up as she walked. She glanced over the balcony and found him elbow dip in a huge box of Christmas decorations. She let out a laugh that echoed across the high ceilings. The look in his eyes when he looked up was like a young boy waiting on Santa. She joined him on the floor by the fire. “I thought you didn’t celebrate Christmas.” “I said I hadn’t celebrated in a while, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have decorations. These were some my mom had given me the year before…” He trailed off. Then he cleared his throat and turned toward her. “I’ve loved Christmas all my life. I just stepped away from it for a while.” She grinned and looked in the box. They had everything to decorate the house and a tree. “Do you have a tree?” He laughed and stood up, grabbing her hand. He pulled her to her feet. “That’s a funny question. We have a whole mountain of Christmas trees. I have one of the horses saddled and a cart attached just outside the door. The snow is falling lighter right now, so we’re going hunting.” She giggled in excitement. It had been years since she’d been out in the woods hunting a tree. “Do you have an axe?” She gave him her most serious expression. “Oh, you’re funny. Don’t you think I’d think of that first?” He hugged her and pulled her hat up and tied it under her chin. “Let’s go get a tree before the next storm hits.” This is just a snippet of the fun these two have in their snow filled Alpine Christmas adventure. As always, good writing and May God Bless You... Here's the 2 links already up and running: http://www.amazon.com/Open-Heart-Alpine-Christmas-Romance-ebook/dp/B00GW6T6AQ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/381389

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Exploring Your Heart...

I'm a hopeless romantic and if you haven't gotten that through my blogs where have you been? In my writing I express the romance and love that's in my heart. I hurt when my characters hurt and laugh when they laugh, of course my son thinks I've lost my mind much of the time. I'll just laugh out as I'm writing. He just looks at me and shakes his head. Oh well, I have to be a little crazy to be an artist, right. Since I've been working on my Christmas romance I've experienced many feelings. I've been angry, happy, sad, mournful, cold, and then excited. This book runs the whole lot of feelings. I've tried to carry my reader into a new world. Hopefully one that they will want to explore further with the second book. Whoops did I just give away a secret? Yes I did. Well the cats out of the bag, There will be a book two for The Alpine Romance. It's funny how it just hits you when something needs to be carried to another plateau. I've also been working on finishing book two in the "Lean On Him" Christian series. This one has to be visited in spurts. The book has taken a toll on me emotionally. A couple of months ago I put an excerpt on Avon Romance submission pages and a kind lady came in to tell me how emotional that scene made her. It brought a smile to my face. My editor read the first chapter and when she turned to me she had tears in her eyes. Yep, it's going to be a emotional romance. I just hope it inspires my readers to find romance and hold on to it, because you never know when it will slip away. Sometimes we lose the love of our life, but there's always the chance to find love again, you just have to open your heart. So to me, writing romance explores your own heart. Can you write romance if you don't believe in it? I really don't think so. I think you have to believe with all your heart that romance is real and that love can be found in the oddest places. Every book I've written has taken a different angle of love. Maybe it's the love lost, then found again, or new love found, but held away by force. Whatever the way, the love always shines through. That's what makes romance one of the top genres right now. We all need something to hope for, to wish for, and to know it exists if only in fiction. My challenge to you is this. Explore your heart to find the part of it that expresses how you feel. Pull on it until you're just drained and then you're ready to pour it out in fiction. Some days when I close my laptop I'm exhausted, but content. I've explored the many emotions of my characters and made it through. That's what draws in the reader, the pull of your heart to theirs. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Living my dreams through writing

If you're a writer you know where I'm going with this. As a young, starry eyed, very impressionable, soft hearted, dare I go on, teenager I started reading romance novels. As I picked up the first one I opened it with excitement. This was a new era for me. I could smell the new paperback smell, which of course is Heavenly. The book drew me in and pulled out the romantic in me. After that I was hooked on romance. This started my desire to be a romance writer. I'd sit for hours writing, that's handwritting for those that don't remember that, many manuscripts. I kept most of my old manuscripts. Of course now they're old and yellowed now, but I still pull them out and read them now and then. Actually a couple of my books started from those old teenage dreamy romance manuscripts. Of course I had to do some changes to get them a little more up to date. Through my writing I can live out childhood dreams. I've always loved horses. If you've read any of my books you will usually read about a horse or two. I have to say it's helped with my desire to own a horse. I get to own them in my writing, even have a horse ranch in my writing. Sound crazy, hardly, just writing from the heart. Then there's my dream of traveling to Switzerland. I've had that dream for as long as I can remember. When I was in school I actually did a report on Switzerland. I even went as far as writing to the Swiss travel center and they sent me a whole package of information. I still have that package. In my newest book, Open The Heart - A Alpine Christmas Romance, I travel to Switzerland. I've enjoyed researching every aspect of it. It's been my Christmas present to myself to revisit my dream through my writing. It comes out this weekend and I hope you will check it out. What are your dreams? Do you work on making them come true or do you write out your dreams? Sometimes your dreams can inspire you in many ways. Mine inspire me to write. Writing from the heart is the best kind. It shows your true colors and your true heart. So as the Christmas Season gets into full swing do something from your heart. Make a dream come true for either yourself or someone you love. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm back, did you miss me?

Well, I've been with internet since Monday afternoon. It came back up yesterday long enough for me to pay bills and bloop there it went. It's just come back up this afternoon so I'm quickly doing a post before it goes again. Hopefully it won't because I have a Christmas book to get published. Hope everyone has been doing well this week. I can say this that I was able to really knuckle down and finish my Christmas book and now to the edits for a 2nd run through. I'm so excited about this one. I can't wait to share it with all my faithful readers. As for writing I've been piddling with a couple of other stories as usual. Also working on my Valentines book which is the sequel to The WInner Is Love which was last years CHristmas Romance. I've had several people asking when it was coming out and now I can tell you that it should be out in January or early, early February, just in time for Valentines Day. If you get a chance run over to Avonromance.com and check out the many Christmas romances they have to offer. I think you'll be well satisfied. I will do a longer post tomorrow, that is if my internet is behaving. As always, good writing and May God Bless you...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Southern Writers: Suite T: How Do You Balance a Full Time Job and Writing?

Southern Writers: Suite T: How Do You Balance a Full Time Job and Writing?: By Stephanie Payne Hurt Juggling a job and family can be hard to do sometimes, but when you add writing into the mix it can get h...

Check out my blog on Southern Writers Magazine blog site

http://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com/2013/11/how-do-you-balance-full-time-job-and.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SouthernWritersSuiteT+%28Southern+Writers%3A+Suite+T%29

The Writing Process Blog Tour

The Writing Process Blog Tour This blog tour is where writers and authors answer questions about their writing process and I was honored to be a part of this cross promotion. My friend and fellow author Ana Calin posted hers last week. You can check out her writing process here: http://anaatcalin.com/2013/11/11/the-writing-process-blog-tour/ On with the questions… What am I working on? I am currently working on a couple of things. The one closest to the finish line is “Open The Heart – A Alpine Christmas Romance” and it should be out before Thanksgiving. This is a book close to my heart as it hits on one of the items on my bucket list – going to Switzerland. It’s a heartwarming story of love that is unexpected. Also I’m working on a sort of time travel romance “Finding The Right Time”. I hope to have it out before Christmas. I’m working on several other manuscripts that are still in the works, but very exciting time. How does my work differ from others of its genre? I feel like my writing is different because of the style. I write from the heart and of course most authors do. My romances are clean, yet passionate, but your teenager would be safe reading these. I try to make the characters real, not something that comes out of a box. I want my readers to relate to them on a natural level. They have everyday problems and solve them in everyday ways. Why do I write what I do? I write romance because I’m a passionate person. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was 13 and fell in love with them. I love to help my readers feel like it’s possible for them to be happy, or even find happiness in the relationship they’re in. Maybe my writing will carry them away for a moment or two. I also want them to realize that you don’t have to be rich, or a beauty queen to have romance. A lot of writers only write about billionaires and people that are superficial, but I try to write about real life people. How does your writing process work? My writing process is quite simple. A lot of my ideas come to me as I lay awake at night, but also when I’m people watching. I love to sit and just watch people. After the inspiration hits I immediately sit down and outline the story out from start to finish while it’s still hot in my mind. Then I expand each line of the outline into a chapter or two. Sometimes as I write I change up my lines, but the story stays on the same course as the original inspiration. Hope everyone has a great Monday. As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Foggy Fall Morning

When I woke this morning it was foggy outside. To me a foggy fall morning is beautiful. The fall colors become a soft emerging color through the fog. It’s as though you’re alone in the world as the fog closes in around the house. As I sit here looking out the window I can only see a little ways and then you meet a gray wall. For some reason when it’s foggy as when it snows everything is quiet. It’s as though the creatures outside are afraid to make a sound or maybe they’re just in awe of natures shadowy appearance. Hopefully the foggy morning will not seep into my brain. I plan on doing some writing today. I need to get Open The Heart out and ready to go. Also, I need to do some promoting for Monday. I will be featured on Southern Writer’s Magazine’s Blog page called Suite T. This is so exciting. They’ve been so wonderful to me and my writing. If you’re a writer you need to subscribe to their magazine. It’s very inspirational and informative. I’d also like to recommend a website that’s very good for a writer and a reader. If you’re like me and grew up reading Avon Romance books, then you need to visit http://www.avonromance.com. It’s a great site to catch up with other romance readers and get to know their editors and authors. I’m proud to be able to contribute to their wonderful website. I recently went through some of my old romance books in the attic and was surprised at how many of them are Avon Books. When I was young I would look for the Avon logo on the spine and that always told me what was inside would be great. Avon Books carry some big author names. If you haven’t checked them out, then you’ve been missing out. I’ve found several new authors to read and recently was excited when I saw an older author of romance write a post on there. It’s funny how much I enjoy the posts on this site. Some of the posts even give you interesting insights into their world. As for me, I’m feeling pretty good this morning. I was able to spend a couple of hours last night with my nieces. One of them is my editor and cover designer. She’d been away at University of Georgia. I was so glad to get to talk with her and catch up. I was able to surprise her with a paperback copy of Victoria which was the last book she designed for me before she left for college. Wishing everyone great writing, and May God Bless You…

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Fear Of Failure

Who's ever had a fear? Come on, you know you've had some kind of fear in your lifetime. We all do, but how do you handle that fear. When I started writing many, many years ago, the biggest problem was I had a fear of publishing. Why? Well, think about it, it's putting yourself out there. You're putting your name out there, your reputation and sometimes your creativity. Ok, so I have fears. I've had so many writers message me about this. They've written one or more manuscripts, but they fear publishing it. I always tell them to go with their heart. If they get some people to read their work and they like it, then go for it. Here's a list of reasons I feared publishing and sometimes still have a couple: 1. I feared what others would think. (I've gotten over that. Now I just don't worry about it as much. I've learned to just write what I love and put it out there.) 2. I feared putting my name on something that would go all over the world. Actually it's been a blast. Have only had a couple of weird encounters, but mostly have gotten over this one. 3. Crazily enough, a fear I still have every time I hit publish is that I've accidently downloaded the wrong file and it will be the character list or outline and not the manuscript. I did actually put the wrong cover on CreateSpace one time, but when I did the file check I discovered it and made the correction. That was a close one. 4. Reviews. You may think this is the same as #1, but it's not. This is the fear of the dreaded bad review that just makes you feel so deflated. But I've learned to deal with those also. I've only had a couple of bad reviews and fortunately if anyone reads the review they'll realize that in some instances the person didn't read the book to begin with. One bad review was because the characters names were the same as one of my older books. Really! One fan said a negative review of one of my books actually caused her to get the book and she loved it. Funny how things work out. 5. The fear of complete failure. It's so real in every author's mind when they publish their work. What if nobody buys my book? I had that fear at first, but as the sales went up I realized that maybe that wasn't a fear worth having. I'm not a bestselling author, but I'm pleased with the sales I've had. Since I've only been publishing for a little over a year, I can't complain. Well, what's your fear when publishing, writing or even blogging? As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Amazon Associate - Yep I'm on board now.

I've looked into the Amazon Associate program for a while, but hadn't decided to jump until this week.Well, I'm now an Amazon Associate member and have a Amazon Store. I like having the actual buy links to my books. Of course, since I'm not the most computer literate person, I've been unable to attach the buy links to my WordPress Website, but I do have them on my Blogger website over at http://stephaniehurt-author.blogspot.com/. I know I'll figure this out for my WP website, but after a couple of hours of reading help pages and trying everything, I had to step back. As for thee program itself, it's fairly easy to set up. If I can do it, then most everyone can do it. So if you get a chance click over to my new Amazon Store and let me know what you think. http://astore.amazon.com/stehuraut-20. Now I'm just going to sit here by the crackling fire and sip my coffee as I finish my Christmas book. I'm so excited about this one. Can't wait to give you a little snippet, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Check out my new Amazon Store

Just to let everyone know, I have a new Amazon store. Just click on the link to your right labeled Amazon Store. Then you can view and purchase my ebooks, paperbacks and audio books.

What Category does your book fall in?


First off I want to send out my prayers to all my friends in the Philipines. I hope all of you and your families are safe and unharmed. 

Categories!!!
This is a quandry for most writers. There are so many genres now. When I was younger you had Romance, Historical Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery, Christian, and Non Fiction. I’m sure there were more, but that’s the ones I remember in the book stores. Now there’s everything from Young Adult to Shifter Paranormal and beyond.
As a writer this is something that always blows my mind. If you put your book in the wrong category it may not sell as well as in another category. But how do you choose? On Amazon and Smashwords I do a lot of research. It takes a little time, but it can help you to move up in the ranks. 
Here’s how I research:
1: I write down the top 5 categories I think my book would fit in. I look at the many facets of my book. Does it have any suspense? This could put it in a suspenseful romance category. Does it have paranormal aspects, mystery, horror, or historical? All of these things play into the choosing.
2: Don’t fall in love with these 5 categories because this step could throw them completely out of the list. Then go to Amazon or Smashwords and search that category. I learned a lot from doing this. I used to put all my romances in the Romance category. Then after researching it, that category is overrun with books. That means it will be harder to climb the charts. Then I started stepping out of the general category box and pull out the big guns. It really helped.
3: Amazon has a nifty little tool in the help section. It gives you the list of the most popular categories and the side lines that go along with it. Go to your KDP dashboard and then to help. From there all you need to do is type categories in the search box then it will give you the main categories then just click on yours and there you are. It help my sales immensely.
This is just a couple of ways to select your categories. Believe me that is a big part of your book sales. 
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Monday, November 11, 2013

Writing is like dead heading mums...


I know, you’re say, what the heck? I was out dead heading my mums the other evening with a flashlight, yep I said with a flashlight. I had my time scheduled out so that I could get some things taken care of like dead heading my mums. This helps them to rebloom sooner and even better. Well I forgot to weigh in the time change, which made it dark at that time. So I got it done and felt a little better.

As for writing, here’s what I’m saying. When we first have the thoughts for a book it’s like the seedling of our little mum. It’s fresh and vulnerable. Then we water it and fertilize it so that it grows chapter by chapter into a mature, stabile plant. But once it’s mature and the blooms are in full blossom, that’s not the end of it. We have to keep it watered and the dead blooms pinched off. That essentially means in writing that we have to make sure we’ve edited it and eliminated all of the badly spelled words and terrible grammar that comes along in a frantic first draft. 
I know, sometimes my analogies are a little strange, but some people like to have a for instance situation. I don’t like that part of writing. Of course it’s a very important part of the process. Nothing’s worse than finding a huge error and knowing that you just published it and will have to unpublish to correct. So get it dead headed to start with.
Hope all is well on this Veteran’s Day. I want to thank all of the Veteran’s out there for your huge sacrifice for our freedom. Also a salute out to your families as they also sacrificed while waiting for your return. Love you all. So take a moment today for a little silent time thanking those that fought and a prayer for those still fighting for the freedom we know today.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cover Reveal for: Open The Heart - A Alpine Christmas Romance

As I’ve been telling you for a couple of weeks, I’ve got a Christmas Romance coming out really soon. So soon that today is the cover reveal. I’m really excited about this one. It actually follows one of my lifelong dreams and part of my bucket list.
The book starts in Atlanta and then crosses the Atlantic to Switzerland. Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas in a cottage in Switzerland? But what about who you spend it with? Well, I’ll be giving you a few tidbits along until it is released. 
Hope everyone is having a wonderful day. It’s really cold here in Georgia. Bring on the Christmas feeling. It’s my favorite time of the year so the posts will be getting really giddy in the next couple of weeks.
Here’s the cover for “Open The Heart – A Alpine Christmas Romance”
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As always good writing and May God Bless You…

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vibrant Colors


On Wednesday my son does not have to be at school until 9:05 and that’s wonderful. We can sleep in a little longer. As I drove home I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I love my hometown. It’s so beautiful any time of the year, but at Fall time it really shows out. The trees almost glowed in oranges, yellows, reds and some a little touch of brown. Simply breathtaking.

It’s the same with book covers. If you don’t step out and go beyond the box on your cover, then you just as well to box it up and close the shop. When shopping for a book in this world of millions of books to choose from, you’ve got to stand out. Don’t go so flashy that you get gawdy, but a splash of vibrant color will catch the eye.
As the bright orange or yellow tree will catch your eye among the green tree tops, so will the splash of color on your cover. To me the cover and the blurb are very important. Make sure you put extra care in both of these areas. One of my books was lagging in sales and I changed the blurb a little. Amazingly enough the book started to take off. Crazy but true.
Check out the link at the top of this post to the publishing service I started with my assistant. We go beyond the box with covers and help you make your book stand out in the crowd.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Monday, November 4, 2013

Following The Crumbs...

I'm just going to say it. Yes, I started another work in progress. I readily admit I have a problem. It's called writers overload. I have way too many stories spinning in whats left of my brain. The story is the Christmas story that should have been started over a month ago, but I was working out the pieces and how to's. I'll give you a little hint, it's going to be part of a lifetime dream of mine. I'll get to live out my dream in fiction.
As for writing, we have to follow the crumbs to get to the goal. Each chapter, each outline piece is a crumb. Sometimes the crumbs are more visible than others. When the crumbs are large and right in front of us we can write for hours without stopping. Then other times the crumbs are so small that we have to search for them. That's when writer's block comes in and our mind strays away from the task at hand.
When writer's block hits you have to step back. The more you try to get it back, the further you'll push it away. Maybe it's another story that needs to be finished that's taking over. Maybe it's something in your personal life like a load of laundry that's calling out to be put away. Go put it away and then sit back down. 
Another problem I have is the inevitable sore neck from sitting over the laptop tapping out my thoughts. I've learned that when my neck gets tense I have to step away for a little bit. The tense feeling overwhelms the writing ability. It takes over the thoughts and ideas. Usually I do some neck rolls and stretch, then take a little walk to loosen up. If you're not careful it will compound itself and the next day will be out completely.
Hope everyone is having a great Monday. Enjoy this day and remember, it's only another day of the week, try not to think of it as Monday. Yeah... Right... Time for more coffee :)
As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Being whatever we want to be...

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I'm a big kid, not just at Halloween as you can see, but in everyday life. My way of thinking is this, if we stay a child at heart how can you grow old. I know in numbers I'm almost 45, but in my heart I still get giddy at Halloween, Christmas and all the other holidays. My heart still pounds when I see buckets of candy. Well, that could be the chocolate rush, but it still beats harder with excitement.
Last night was our annual Church Trunk or Treat and it was a blast. We had so many children come through and they were very creative with their costumes. It was wonderful to see all my little Children's Church peeps and the many guests dressed in their favorite theme or character. Of course being the Children's Minister it's only right that I go all out with my costume and my decorations. I included my sons pumpkin on the tailgate with balloons, posters and buckets over flowing with candy. The weather held up for our celebration.
As a writer you can be whatever you want to. You can be that character and feel that characters happiness, sadness, anger, love or whatever they feel. We are able to change the ending, making it what we want. Why wouldn't anyone want to be a writer? Well for one thing it's not as easy as it looks.
You have a story come into your mind. At first you think, this is going to be easy. You may sit down and write the story in your head and then realize it only lasted 5 pages. As a writer you have to expand that story. The descriptions have to be expanded to allow the reader to be drawn in. Remember the story you hear in your head is real to you, but the reader doesn't have it in their head the way you do. You have to put it in their mind. We have to help the reader see it as we do, which means it has to be detailed out.
If you say, "I see a rolling green hill". Well the person reading this will only picture a hill of green grass. If you want them to see more then say it more like this. "As I sit here, I see a hill that goes beyond the eye. It is covered in wildflowers that are vibrant with color. The sky is dotted with a few fluffy white clouds and the blue is in deep contrast to the green grass. It is a breathtaking sight to behold." See how you draw in the reader and help them to see what you see.
Hope everyone had a safe Halloween and take it easy on the candy.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Spice and Everything Nice...

It’s Halloween and I love it. I don’t get into all the scary stuff, but I do love to dress up. Last year I was Noah in the Ark. What will I be this year? Hummmmm…… I have several ideas but no reveal until tonight at Church. We’re having our annual Truck or Treat and I always go all out with my costumes for the kids. I’m a big kid at heart so why not show it to the world. I’ll be posting a picture of me tonight.
As for the Pumpkin Pie Spice, I purchased my first seasonal coffee creamer of the season. It was heavenly this morning as I took the first sip of the creamy concoction. It made my day seem so exciting and mysterious. As the clouds roll in setting up for the rain to come later tonight, I’m working on my second cup of deliciously flavored coffee and thinking about a third. Why not? 
As for everything nice, my book sale is up on most of my sites, but not on Barnes and Noble yet. Hopefully by the end of the week. I’m excited about my upcoming blog post in the Southern Writer’s Magazine Suite T blog which will appear November 18th. Things have moved along pretty quickly with my writing and I’m just riding on this wave of awesomeness. 
Looking into a couple of advertising areas that have been recommended to me. Let me know your thoughts on these two sites: BookBub and Blodads.com. Have any of you used these sites and how did it go? Do you have another recommendation?
Hope all is well on this spookiest day of the year. Happy Halloween and stay safe, but have a marvelous time being someone or something else today.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When The Words Flow...


Have you ever had a moment when the words just flowed from your fingertips? As a writer this is wonderful. It’s the times when your fingertips seem to stop up that’s a problem.

Another problem is when too many stories flow from your fingertips. That’s my problem, again. It’s of course a good problem to have, but then your mind seems to be a web of stories. As you work on one story, the other lobe of your brain is working out the outline for another story. I actually dreamed about one of my stories last night. It’s filled my head so much that even my subconscious can’t get past it.
So, hopefully the five different stories I’m working on will come together quickly. My brain is on overload and with tax season over I have a little more time to finish and polish. I’m just giddy with the aspect of five stories before Christmas. One is a Christmas story so that’s a good thing. 
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crazy Maybe, Thankful Definitely

How many writers have been told they’re nuts? I know I have. It’s almost hilarious the looks you get when you say you’re a writer. Some give you a sympathetic look. Some give you that ‘you can’t do anything else with your life,’ look. The one I love is the one where they look like ‘you’re nuts.” Ok, well maybe I am, but it’s something I love. 
Now anyone can say they’re writers, but how many can say they’re published writers? The first question usually asked is, “How’s that working out for you?” I always laugh and say it’s going wonderfully for me. I can finally say what I dreamed of years and years ago, “I’m a published author and am making money with my dream.” 
As for the “you can’t do anything else with your life”, well if you’ve read my bio you know I do a lot with my life. We are only given one chance at the pie so why not dip your fork into every slice you can. I run a successful accounting business which I built through experience and passion for the work. I’m a Children’s Ministry Director and dearly love what I do to minister to children. Then I get to do what only some sit and dream about. I get to put my dreams and thoughts into writing. I get to put romance, love, tears, heart and other emotions into someone’s life through my words. It’s a very humbling feeling to hear from my fans. Good or bad I have some faithful fans that ask when’s the next book coming out, where’s this character going from here, and so many more questions.
So where am I going with this post? I’m so thankful for the fans that support my writing. I’m thankful for the ones that write the adoring reviews and emails that I love reading every morning. This past year I’ve made friends all over the world and it’s been a very exciting time in my life. So, without further ado, I want to announce a huge sale. I’m doing a sale that will start today and run throughout Novemeber to show my thanks to all that follow me and even those that don’t but might start later.
The sales will be on all my stand alone books, not the bundles as they’re already reduced based on the amount of books included. You can find them at http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Hurt/e/B00850W7U8 and https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StephaniePayneHurt and http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Stephanie+Payne+Hurt.
Soon they will show up on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony and the other sites where my books are located. It usually takes about a week for the prices to show up on these sites, but the above link should start showing today and tommorow. So thanks and if you feel like it, give a review. I love to hear your thoughts.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…