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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Are You Ready? #bookboost #tw4rw #romance #contemporaryromance

It’s time to relax a bit and find a good book series to enjoy through the spring and summer.

AT THAT MOMENT, Book 1 of The Eyes of March series, is a spellbinding contemporary romance tale of a everyday businesswoman who unexpectedly meets her movie-star crush.

This is your chance to grab it FREE during #Smashwords  #ReadAEbookWeek March 5 through March 11.  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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A Personal Note… #twitter #tweeps #friends

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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

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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.

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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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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