A Reason to Celebrate #WriterWednesday

Every so often, something special happens in my life to make me stop and reflect. I received this a few days ago, and it was one of those very special moments. Please allow me to share…

 

Dear Ms. Hartgrove,

I recently read your novel At That Moment. As I began to write my review, I found myself wanting so much to tell you directly, how much I love the story you have so eloquently written.

No story has ever captured me as much as At That Moment has. I’m held captive by each beautifully descriptive word and I never want to be released from this splendid romance.

This breathtaking romance comes to life and details every magical, heart stopping moment in full vivid display. Cara Mears has lived with the fantasy of meeting sexy heartthrob, Irish actor Dylan Madigan for over a decade. Then, like lightning in the dark, in one brilliant moment, Cara’s eyes, her hand, and her heart are held by Dylan Madigan himself. Dylan crashes from Cara’s fantasies right into her real life. You craft a truly enchanting meeting between the characters and the fairytale only continues from there. At that moment, Cara’s reality becomes more intense than her fantasies ever were… and At That Moment pulls me right along for the ride. AT THAT MOMENT IS PERFECT ROMANCE!

The ending left me right on the brink, it’s not a gut-wrenching cliff hanger, all the factual details are known but it’s clear that it isn’t the end—there’s much more to this story… and I will be waiting with bated breath for the continuing story to be revealed. There’s a new super couple who have claimed my heart. DYLAN AND CARA ARE SIMPLY AMAZING!

I’m not sure this short note really communicates how much I adore the story you’ve written. But, I do, so much. Dylan Madigan can crash into my reality—ANYTIME! And I assure you, he will. I know that I’ll be slipping back into Cara and Dylan’s world again and again.

Thank you for your perfect knack for storytelling and creating a vibrant world for readers to disappear into with your well-developed characters.

Warm regards from a very satisfied reader.
~DC

P.S. He’s mymadhandsome! 😉

 

Dear DC,

You have no idea what this means to me. I published AT THAT MOMENT almost a year ago (March 17, 2016). Since that time, I have finished writing Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 of the series, The Eyes of March. I had a stroke in October, which could have taken my life. Luckily, it didn’t, but it affected the “language” part of my brain. I thought my days of writing were over.

This encourages me, more than you could ever know, to finish the series. I hope to have the second book out soon.

Your words mean the world to me. Thank you so much.

Scarlett

AT THAT MOMENT is participating in Smashwords’ Read An Ebook Week now, through March 11. If you would like to check out Cara and Dylan’s story, you can download it for FREE during this promotion.

Find it here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/624867

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A Stroke Can Ruin Your Plans #grateful #ThankfulThursday #Stroke #writersplans #writer #gratitude

What is “a plan”?

A fabulous idea? A well-thought-out decision? An established work routine? A detailed project?

My life has always been full of plans, defined by all of the above descriptions.

I have been absent from social media (and much more) since October 26, 2016: the moment when all my “plans” were put on hold.

I had a stroke. A stroke.

I can’t believe, even at this point, that I’m saying those words.

Even though I always struggle to lose a few pounds and could exercise more, I’m a writer and spend a lot of time sitting at my desk on the computer. In the past few years, I’ve always tried to eat healthy, no sugar, no salt, no fried foods. I haven’t had any problems that would have prepared me for this. My only bad habit was not getting enough sleep sometimes, or not managing my stress very well.

On October 26, I slept in for a bit. I had a busy day planned, and was looking forward to making progress on my edits on Book 2 of my series.

I woke up at 8:30 a.m., stood up, and collapsed onto the floor. My right side was paralyzed, although my conscious mind didn’t realize it at that moment. I’m a tosser and turner when I sleep, and I guess I thought I had slept wrong, that my arm and leg were asleep. I pulled myself back onto the bed and went back to sleep.

Much later that afternoon, I woke up and got out of bed. I was able to walk, although shakily, into the hallway, and then hit the floor again. As I lay there trying to determine how to get back to my bed, I fell asleep again. Another two hours passed before I was awake again, still on my back on the hallway floor. This time, I knew something was wrong, but the word “stroke” never entered my mind. Somehow, I was able to drag myself back to the bed, and before I could figure it all out, I was asleep again.

I finally made it to the hospital later that night. Most of the next thirty-six hours of my life are gone from my memory, although hopefully not forever. Once in awhile, I do remember bits and pieces, but I was diagnosed with an ischemic stroke – superior left temporal lobe. My arm and leg were very weak, but no longer paralyzed. But I couldn’t speak. I could understand the conversations around me, but I couldn’t answer the questions the doctors were asking me. My mouth didn’t work. And those of you who know me know what a disastrous situation that was!  I tried to write notes on a pad, but I couldn’t write, either.

I spent a week in the hospital under the care of the most wonderful doctors and nurses who kept my spirits high, and who celebrated with me as I was able, slowly but surely, to speak again. They are my heroes.

The weeks that have passed since have been very hard, but I’m not complaining. I could have come home in a wheelchair, unable to take care of myself, or with serious disabilities that would alter the rest of my life. God’s hand was on me, that’s a fact.

Since November 2, I have been to more doctors than I ever wanted to see in my life. I have had some tremendous help from skilled and talented therapists. My speech therapist, Jenny, has saved me! I’m still having language problems (aphasia), some short term memory problems, and a few physical (muscular) issues, but I seem to be getting better every day. The doctors and therapists say “Slow down, be patient, it takes time.” These are not my most endearing qualities, but I have come to realize now that I have no choice. My body with heal at it’s own pace. They say it may be a year or more, but they expect me to recover. (Thank God for that!) So, it is what it is.

The tests have not yet indicated what caused the stroke, but they think it was atrial fibrillation. I am now wearing a device planted in my chest over my heart that sends an EKG to my doctor’s office every 24 hours, monitoring my heart for the irregular, random heartbeat that will confirm that diagnosis. (Technology is incredible.)

The reason I’ve bored you to death with all this is three-fold. First, I wanted to explain where I’ve been since October.

Second, I wanted to share this life-changing experience. Someone who reads this might recall it if they have a similar situation; be able to recognize what is happening so they can get help right away. There is a clot-busting medication that can be given if they catch a stroke in the first three to four hours that can prevent too much brain damage. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what was happening to me, and I missed that window.

This has been an incredible learning experience for me. It is one thing to know that you should take care of your body so you can live a healthy, fulfilling life, but it definitely takes on a different meaning to look at the same subject from the other side of the equation after an experience like this.

Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, stroke kills 2 times as many women as breast cancer. Stroke kills almost 130,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 out of every 20 deaths. On average, one American dies from stroke every 4 minutes. Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. About 75% of those are people 65 years old or older, but the remaining 25% happen to anybody at any age. It can be the result of an injury, plaque in blood vessels, a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain that deprives oxygen to the blood cells.

If you don’t know much about a stroke, I invite you to educate yourself on the subject. Take some time for yourself and your health, and read about high blood pressure, stroke, and atrial fibrillation.

Visit http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/ or http://www.stroke.org/ or https://www.stroke.org.uk/   to learn more. Read about children, teenagers, conditioned athletes, and men and women of all ages who have had strokes. Realize that it can happen to anybody.

The third reason for this blog today is because I wanted to see if I could “write” again. This is the first time I have tried to write anything since my stroke. I hope my words make sense to you.

As I continue my recovery and deal with the physical and emotional toll that this takes on me, I realize this has changed my life in many ways. It has strengthened my faith, it has given me a new definition of “hope,” and has given me a close-up look at what I am able to achieve every day.

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I want to thank all of you that have stayed with me on Twitter and Facebook. I am grateful for your messages of love and support.

Thank you also for retweeting my book in my absence. I have the next two volumes of the series written and have received the edits back from my editor. As soon as I am able to get those done, I will be publishing.

Thank you to my close friends who have kept in touch all this time, encouraging me and caring about me on this journey. You know who you are, and I love you all. You feed my spirit.

And thank you for taking the time to read this.

Today, and always, I am #grateful.

-Scarlett

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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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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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