I Am So Angry! #HurricaneMatthew #NCFlooding #RedCross

I never do this, but I can’t help myself this Sunday morning, October 9, 2016. I AM ANGRY!

Yesterday, a downgraded (Cat 2 / Cat 1) Hurricane Matthew slammed North Carolina (my home). This morning, my heart is breaking as I watch the coverage on The Weather Channel of people who obeyed the mandatory evacuation orders, had evacuated low-lying areas before the hurricane hit, NOW BEING EVACUATED from the inland hotels where they sought safety and shelter, because those areas are now flooded.

Seven people have died in NC in the past 24 hours due to this storm. WHERE IS THE MEDIA???? Jim Cantore and The Weather Channel seem to be the only “national” media covering this story. There have been HUNDREDS of water rescues in eastern NC in the past 24 hours.

Of course, it’s not nearly as exciting or dramatic for reporters to watch rivers/waterways rise as it is to stand on a beach with waves crashing behind them, especially in well-known, tourist-driven areas that everyone knows by name.

NC’s greatest danger now is flooding of the many rivers that criss-cross the low-lying eastern part of our state, many of which won’t crest (2-3 feet above flood stage) before Monday or Tuesday. Hundreds of homes are under water, with many more threatened with the fresh-water flooding to come.

If you want to help, please make a donation to the Red Cross.
http://www.redcross.org/…/north-c…/eastern-northern-carolina

As in Louisiana several weeks ago, people have lost EVERYTHING.
Also, as in the Louisiana floods, these people in my home state will be the forgotten victims of Hurricane Matthew.

Please #retweet and share this. And thank you for listening…

The American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina Chapter is a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides disaster relief and helps people during…
REDCROSS.ORG

Come On, Admit it…It’s Happened to You~

You’re sitting in a dark movie theater, and suddenly there’s a face on the screen that takes your breath away!  The sheer beauty of it makes you ache as your mind wonders, “Who is this guy?”

Come on, admit it. It’s happened to you.

You rush home and search his name on IMDB and Google, and are thrilled to find a long list of movies, TV shows, interviews, and appearances on talk shows. You devour them all as you fall in “love” with the face on the movie screen. You feel a bit silly over this obsession, but it’s something you can’t control. The more you find out about him, the more obsessed you become.

And then, one magical night, you actually meet him! Live, and in-person! That beautiful face is even more spectacular, up-close, without make-up, without a filter of any kind. He opens his mouth and speaks, and the sound of his voice, talking to YOU, turns your insides to jelly.

Let’s take it one step further. The moment you meet your movie-star crush, there is a mutual and instant connection between you, a coup de foudre…the thunderbolt. It’s real, and impossible to ignore.  You have a conversation, share a dance, and then the evening is over. It’s a moment you’ll tuck away in your heart to remember and cherish the rest of your life.

And then he calls you.

You’re torn between your desire to give in to his potent and seductive charm as he woos you, and the warning in your head that this isn’t real. Every fiber of your being tells you not to trust it. After all, in your “research” you’ve discovered that he has a long history of short but intense relationships with actresses and supermodels…an endless stream of women in and out of his bed.

What happens now?

This is the story of Cara Mears in At That Moment, a contemporary romance, Volume #1 of The Eyes of March series. Book #2 of the series, as yet unnamed, will be published in the late fall.

Amazon Review:  http://amzn.to/2aZj8rt

We’ve all been there. In the dark. The music comes up, the lights go down, and there is that face: those expressive eyes, that gorgeous hair, that wicked mouth. The face of an actor, perhaps, or sometimes just a movie star. It does not matter. It is a face that we can’t get out of our heads. It’s burned on our retinas. We are gaga for that face–and probably the rest of the poor guy, too. We hide our gaga feelings from our friends or sometimes we share. Mostly we just wait impatiently for the next film, the next time “that face” is in the dark. With us. DVDs help, but there is nothing like “that face” on a big screen. It’s a good thing we are already sitting down because “that face” always leaves us weak in the knees.

What makes Scarlett Hartgrove’s book so much darned fun is that she takes this situation and “that face” and makes them both real. What would you do if you turned around one evening and there he was, walking towards you with a lop-sided smile, extending a hand to introduce himself? Out of the blue, there are those blue eyes looking back at you, but not on the big screen this time. In life. Real life. Faint? Maybe. But Cara Mears is built of stronger stuff. Mostly.

This story is well-written and packed with loving details. The plot does not give you a moment to breathe. The characters are as real as the big screen is not. Cara is a strong woman, with a career she adores and sturdy friends who support and love her. Dylan (“that face”) is an actor committed to his craft. But he is looking for more in life. And he finds it. Then the fireworks begin! The dialogue between these two is rich and dramatic and often very funny; I did not find a false note anywhere. By the end of this first novel in the series, we are left with a cliff-hanger of the most gaga-inducing proportions, but it would not matter much if we did not care about what was going to happen next to these two!

Keep writing, Ms. Hartgrove. Keep writing!

At That Moment is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Check it out!

14183-atm2bteaser2b1

paps teaser 2

When Worlds Collide… #amwriting #indiebooksbeseen #contemporaryromance

Cara Mears is a control freak. A beautiful, confident, talented control freak.

At the age of 34, she has lived more life than many people twice her age. She has lost both parents and has survived a bad marriage that ended with a nasty, bitter divorce that almost destroyed her.

But Cara Mears is also a survivor.

Emerging from the devastation of the divorce, she invests her heart and soul into the creation of Happenings, an event planning business which has become very successful, and is the center of her world.  Cara runs her business the same way she lives her life: well-planned, methodical, and deliberate. Her exacting control over her life and work has restored a sense of peace and safety to her life…just the way she likes it.

Dylan Madigan is a movie star, charming, devastatingly handsome, with stunning sapphire eyes that have seduced women all around the world.

At the age of 44, he is an international celebrity, star of stage and screen, author, film director, and an incredibly accomplished actor. And Cara’s long-time movie-star crush.

Throughout his childhood and adolescence in Ireland, Dylan defied the traditional ways, railed against the rules, and to his mother’s delight and his father’s scorn, pursued a career in the arts. Now, as one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, he is at the top of his game, but still, at times, fighting conventional expectations. He lives his life publicly and full-speed-ahead, seizing every opportunity for a new, exciting experience, always in the harsh  glare of the press.

On a Saturday night in March, these two worlds collide, leaving both Cara and Dylan thunderstruck, shaken to the core from the intensity of the moment. Cara’s world is turned upside-down as they begin their seductive dance…inexplicably drawn to each other. Dylan’s bigger-than-life world threatens Cara’s quiet and anonymous existence, and holds the power to expose her most deeply held secret. Cara’s world causes Dylan to re-examine and question his plans for his future.

Their journey begins…perilous and wildly romantic…

What happens when fantasy and reality collide?

#ContemporaryRomance

ac59f-at-that-moment-front-rgb2b252812529

Amazon:  Kindle   and   Paperback

Barnes and Noble:  Nook Book

iTunes:  iBook

3 teaser 6666 03 20 16 BB with shadow frame

tuxedo TEASER 06 07 16

3a3e5-atm2bteaser2b2

paps teaser 2

 

 

A Personal Note… #twitter #tweeps #friends

Fountain-pen-calligraphy-writing-thank-you

It’s time for me to slow down for a few minutes and share what’s in my heart with anyone who might take the time to read this.

Time is my most formidable enemy these days.

Many changes have occurred in my life over the past six months. I’m still reeling, and trying desperately to regain my equilibrium…to manage my time so that I can meet my responsibilities while also setting aside a few minutes each day to do what I WANT to do.

Unfortunately, the one thing that I enjoy the most is what has suffered the most: my social media. Twitter, in particular.

Six months ago, I had time each day to pop on Twitter to chat with friends, to re-tweet my favorite authors and bloggers, and share and respond to tweets that made me smile, that interested me, that touched me in some way.  That isn’t the case anymore.

I’ve made some wonderful friends on Twitter. I’ve been very lucky that, in some cases, casual tweets have actually turned into cherished and personal friendships with the person behind the tweets.

When I published my book in March, I also entered the realm of Facebook, because everyone said “You need to be on Facebook!” I’ll admit, even though I set up a page there, I’m still somewhat lost in Facebook-land, but that’s okay. I’ll figure it out eventually. Hopefully. *laughs*

I just want to express my heartfelt thanks to those on Twitter who have stayed with me, and ask for your patience with me. I’m not ignoring you. I appreciate every “Hello” and every re-tweet. Just because I don’t always respond with a personal “thank you,” it doesn’t mean that I didn’t see it and appreciate it.

Thank you.

That is all.

Have a lovely Sunday! And if your dad is with you, give him a big hug and a kiss. No matter how busy you are, you’ll never regret making time for Dad.

~Scarlett
xx

avi with name

  •  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

 

 

 

What color is “teal”? and what does it have to do with my writing? #WriterWednesday #amwriting #author #writer #writersproblems #blindness #NFB

What color is “teal”?  Imagine, for a just a moment, trying to describe that color, or any color, for that matter, to a blind person.

Crayola---Crayons-64-Pack-with--pTRU1-2908038dt

I grew up with blind parents. This had its disadvantages, of course, but the older I get, I realize that there were important advantages, too.  More on that later…

A few years ago, “teal” became very popular in fashion, design, and decorating. I took my mom shopping for a new outfit one day, and was describing an attractive suit to her as she gingerly touched the dress, feeling the collar, the sleeves, and the way the dress was made.

“What color is it?” she asked.

“Teal,” I responded.

“What color is teal?”

Hmm.

Have you ever tried to describe a sunset to someone who has never seen a sunset? Have you ever tried to describe a color to someone who is blind?

sunset

And what does that have to do with my writing? 

workstation-336369_1280

As a reader, sometimes I find myself getting annoyed with long, detailed “description,” and begin to skim the page.

As a writer, I admit, I am guilty of superfluous description, and spend a great deal of time editing my manuscripts to correct that issue. It is a natural tendency I possess, and more often than not, I’m unaware that I’m doing it. I suppose that is the result of having spent my life describing the world that I see to my parents.

My mom was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease of the retina. As a young girl and through her teenage years, she could see well enough to see colors (she has a vivid memory of the primary colors) but she quickly lost her remaining sight as she became a young woman. For a while, she still had “light perception”… best described as walking into a dark room where there is a light on and being able to see the contrast between dark and light…but lost even that bit of her remaining vision when I was a young child.

My dad lost half of his sight as a child due to deep cataracts on his eye. At that time, they didn’t remove the cataract, they removed the eye. He had a prosthetic eye, and developed another very large cataract on his other eye, which progressively diminished his remaining vision.By the time the laser surgery for cataracts was perfected, the cataract was so large and so deep, the doctors were afraid to remove it, fearful that he would lose what little vision he had left. Dad had what we call “travel vision”… he could see just enough, in most cases, to get around by himself without a guide dog or a white cane.

My brother and I have had a wonderful life, despite our parents’ handicaps. My mom has always said, “My biggest problem with being blind is a sighted person’s misconception about blindness.”  I have tons of stories to illustrate that point. Perhaps some day I’ll write a book about it.

But back to the subject at hand…

I have had writer friends ask me to read their WIP, asking if they have enough “description” in a particular passage. This always makes me laugh, thinking “You certainly asked the right person about that!”

Hopefully, in my own writing, I have avoided droning on and on in my description of a scene. Maybe I’ve reached the right balance, since many who have read my book have made comments like “I felt like I was in the room!” or “I could literally see your book unfolding like a movie before my eyes as I read it.”  These comments, while completely unsolicited, make me smile, and make me feel as if  I’m successfully avoiding “description overload” with my writing.  It truly is like fighting something that is part of my nature…something unconsciously ingrained in the way I write and the way I talk.

So, what color is teal?  What color is fuchia? Burgundy? Silver? Turquoise? Azure?

How would you describe a sunset, or the ocean, or a shuttle launch, or a tabby kitten’s fur to someone who is blind?

Just think about it…

BA2274-001

shuttle launch

tabby-cat3

********

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Resolutions – “*the eighth in June*” #birthdays #gratitude #celebrate

Today is my birthday. Big woop, right? Yeah, that made me laugh, too.

Birthdays have never really been a big deal for me. I don’t say that to elicit sympathy, because being a “big deal” and being “special” are two completely different things.
All my birthdays have been “special,” because those who love me have made them so.

As a young child, when I learned that June 8th was my birthday, I would announce to my parents that “The eighth in June” was my birthday. *smiles at the memory* (Yes, Daddy, I miss you so much today, the eighth in June.)

I didn’t grow up with a huge birthday party every year. There were a few, yes, and they were awesome. But as an adult, usually I’ve been working on my birthday, and except for the cards, phone calls, lunches, drinks, or dinner out, the day has been the same as any other day.

But a few years ago, I decided to approach my birthday differently.

I decided to make it a “me” day, to celebrate myself by spending the entire day doing only what I wanted to do, for me, myself, and I.
happy birthday to me

Yes, often that is a considerable challenge, but during the week before, I really work for it. I fulfill my responsibilities, take care of my business, and work “ahead,” so I can truly have a day off, just for me.

I’m constantly reminding friends to celebrate themselves every now and then, because I celebrate them all the time!

For those who allow their birthday to slip by without any kind of acknowledgement or celebration (and you know who you are…), I say “STOP THAT!” Everyone has their own special gifts, and we all deserve to take just one day each year to celebrate ourselves!
birthday no one is youer than you
Even if it’s only celebrating the fact that we’ve made it through another year. Ha-ha.

So today, I’m celebrating ME! The celebration may involve a trip to the spa, lunch with friends, a delicious afternoon nap, relaxing on my deck while soaking up some sunshine, catching up with friends and loved ones who call with their good wishes, enjoying a favorite bottle of wine, catching up on some reading, something “forbidden” for dinner… without guilt, without feeling selfish.

Just one day each year… all mine!

Tomorrow, I am back at work, in my regular routine, business as usual.

But today, I will celebrate my *sparkle* and thank God and my family and my friends for my life.

I am filled with gratitude.
birthday don't let anyone dull your sparkle 2

So, Now What? #WriterWednesday #indieauthor #writersproblems #amwriting

 

Two months ago, I published my first novel…a really great story (in my humble opinion) that took years to come together.  So, now what?

I wrote, worked with beta readers, cut, added, rewrote, edited, edited and edited. I engaged a cover designer, an editor, a proofreader. I had a launch. I’ve tweeted, set up a Facebook page and a blog. All my writer friends agree, if you haven’t done this yourself, you cannot possibly understand the incredible amount of work, stress, and angst that goes into actually seeing the finished product listing on Amazon, or wherever you choose to sell your book.

At That Moment is the first book in a series, a story that includes a bit of fantasy, a great deal of reality, and many questions that women in their thirties (and all ages, honestly) face from time to time. I know it’s a great story…I’m just wondering how to spread the word now. I’m anxious to get the second book out, mainly because I’m also a reader, and personally hate to wait…and wait…and wait…for the next volume of a series I’m reading and enjoying.

This is the conundrum. Do I write? Or do I push back my plans to get the next book out as soon as possible, and spend my time working on promotion and marketing of the first book?

Like many self-published indie authors I’m privileged to know, I’m not rich. I can’t hire a PR firm to promote my book, nor do I have unlimited funds to spend on book promotion. I don’t have a Personal Assistant I can assign these tasks to while I write. And also, like many indie authors I know, self-published or not, I don’t have unlimited time to devote to either writing or promotion. I have a busy life with responsibilities and people who depend on me. So, I’ve been searching for help.

There is no lack of promotional “help” out there… “We’ll tweet about your book for 3 days for $14!” “List your book with us! We’ll tweet about it for 7 days for $50!”  and on and on.  What is an author to do?  Who sees the tweets?  Do they reach readers who enjoy my genre? Will they be worth my hard-earned money? Just researching all of these sites is extremely time-consuming and exhausting.

There are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of blogs out there giving writers advice, outlining what they should do to get their books noticed and jumpstart their sales. “Long before you even publish, build a platform.” ie: Set up social media sites, collect a huge following, develop a mailing list, create a newsletter with interesting content. Well, no, I didn’t do that. Shame on me.

The simple fact is, word of mouth sells books. Most people don’t have a clue how much a review posted on Amazon helps an indie author. There are some inexpensive (and sometimes even free) promotional opportunities available, if you search hard enough. But quite a few of them require a minimum number of good reviews posted on Amazon to qualify for their services.

If you have enjoyed a book, please take a few minutes of your time to go on the book’s Amazon listing and rate it. You don’t even have to have purchased the book from Amazon (Thank you, Amazon!) to leave a rating and review on the page. And a “review” doesn’t have to be a 3-page analysis of every aspect of the book. It can simply say, “I liked this book and recommend it to others who enjoy this genre.” A short and sweet review of that fashion may not seem like much to you, but it counts as a “review” and can mean the world to an indie author…the best “thank you” for the incredible amount of work that goes in to writing and publishing a book. And it can simply make an author’s day, providing a sometimes much-needed shot of confidence.

I am extremely grateful to those who have posted such awesome reviews of At That Moment. Each one builds my confidence, and makes me so happy that others are understanding what I have written, relating to my characters, and are enjoying the read. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart.

I’ve written a story that I truly love…a contemporary novel about a woman who experiences an incredible life-changing moment, and it explores the age-old question, “Does she have the courage to take a leap of faith?”  Or does she cling to her comfortable, predictable life where she’s in control of the outcome? (Yes, I know that’s a myth, but isn’t it one we all believe?)

A few years ago, I shared the first draft with a few close friends who badgered me almost daily, “You HAVE to publish this!  This is a great book! People will LOVE it!” I swallowed my fear and doubts, and published it.

So, now what?

Do I push on with the next chapter of the story, and just let my book languish on Amazon, hoping that someone will notice it? Or do I let the next chapter sit in my computer while I spend my available time marketing and promo-ing my book? Unfortunately, sometimes it comes down to one or the other.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not spending my time this morning writing this to elicit pity or just to take up time that I could otherwise be using to write my second book, or promote my first. I’m truly interested in hearing what others have done to meet this challenge, because, the truth is, this issue has almost paralyzed me to the point that I can’t seem to do either.

Thank you for taking YOUR valuable time to read this post, and to respond, if you have any words of wisdom to share.

Are you an indie author? Have you faced this same conundrum? What did YOU do?

12121212

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned.

It’s been two months since my last post, and I have decided, if I’m going to maintain this blog/site, I have to do much better.

My last post, “An Unplanned Post…” was the result of possible good news about a dear friend who was very ill. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way…she passed away the following week, and I went into deep mourning. Never again will I find her sometimes funny and always thoughtful emails in my inbox. Never again will we enjoy laughter and conversation on the phone. She’s gone. Period. I know others have felt her loss, but that doesn’t, in any way, diminish my loss.  My parents always taught me to live my life with gratitude, but it was difficult to be “thankful” when mourning the loss of someone I loved.

I have learned many lessons this year, especially as I look back on the adventure of publishing my first book. They ranged from “Oh yeah!  So that’s how you do it!” to “I truly cannot believe this…” As far as publishing the book is concerned, I know the second volume of the series will be easier because of what I’ve learned.  If I don’t use those lessons to do better in the future, then shame on me.

I imagined taking a well-deserved and much-needed break at the end of March. That never happened. You know, the old “Best laid plans….” thing.

During February and early March, I knew I was experiencing some health issues, but I was so focused on the release of my book, I ignored them. Shame on me. Shortly after publication, I went to my doctor for a physical, and everything was diagnosed. Thankfully, (there’s that “gratitude” thing…) some turned out not to be as serious as I imagined, and the issues that were indeed, serious, are being successfully treated.

During that time, as I spent every week at a different doctor’s office having tests, or at imaging centers for scans and xrays, there was also an extremely serious issue going on with my mother’s health. Between my own health issues, taking care of my family, work, and as always, trying to “be there” for friends who were experiencing their own difficult times,  I was unconsciously depleting my energy, both physical and mental.

And then one day, the Wicked Dark Depression came knocking at my door.

depression

However, I am thankful (there’s that “gratitude” thing…again) that I had responsibilities, both personal and professional, that made me keep going, when all I really wanted to do each and every morning was crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and shut out the world. Instead, I defiantly held my head up, taunting that dark shadow. “You won’t get me this time!” Many things gave me the strength I didn’t realize I possessed, including a small group of friends whose supportive, cheerful words made me smile at least once a day.

Even with my own health issues, I’m thankful they’re treatable. Unfortunately my friend was not so lucky. I am very aware, that no matter how bad my “problems” seem to be, I never have to look too far to see someone whose issues are much more serious than my own.

I am also aware that my success as a writer, AND as a person, depends on ME. One of the more painful lessons I’ve learned is that I can’t always depend on others to do as they say they will.  Conversely, one of the most wonderful lessons I’ve learned is that help and support sometimes comes from the most unexpected sources. And sometimes, there will be that one person who appears at that precise moment I need help and encouragement the most.

We live, we learn.

I am grateful to have my life, to have friends and family who care about me, and to have the ability to realize that sometimes, I really don’t “know it all.”

I’ll take those lessons and use them all to be a better version of ME.

Thank you for reading, for sharing, and most of all, for your support and encouragement.

And now, I shall return to what I love the most… writing.

Stay tuned…

Scarlett

writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unplanned Post on #ThankfulThursday…

Today is #ThankfulThursday. I usually try to post a few #ThankfulThursday tweets on Twitter, but this morning, my heart is full…and Twitter is only 140 characters.

I am thankful for so much in my life, and try to live each and every day with gratitude in my heart. I can always think of “more” that I want, but never let what I “want” overshadow all the things I “have.”

1

This morning, I am #Thankful for friends who always respond when I need help in the middle of the night.

This morning, I am #Thankful to learn that a dear friend who is very ill is still with us, and hopefully, doing better.

This morning, I am #Thankful for the #unconditionallove given to me by my family.

What if you woke up this morning.png

We have so many blessings in our lives, some so small we may not even think of them as blessings.

I can flip a switch on my wall, and suddenly my house is warm on cold nights.

I can go to my pantry for a snack, and always find something to eat.

I can turn a lever and have fresh water.

I can pick up the device of my choice and be in touch with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

I can learn something new every single day, broadening my world and expanding my horizons.

I can write and publish a book.

Be-thankful 2

There is always something to be #thankful for.

Yes, I want a new computer, and yes, I’d love a new car. But my computer is working, and my car is comfortable and dependable. I’m #thankful that I have a computer, and a car.

Mostly, I’m #thankful for my #family and my #friends. And #thankful that my Dad, even though he’s been gone five years now, still touches my life every now and then.

Life gets busy and chaotic. Most of the time, actually. But I know I’m a better person when I live my life with #gratitude in my #attitude, and take the time to “smell the roses.”

Try it.

what-if-today-we-were-just-grateful-for-everything