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!

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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

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Amazon:  Kindle   and   Paperback

Barnes and Noble:  Nook Book

iTunes:  iBook

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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.

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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?

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And what does that have to do with my writing? 

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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…

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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?

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