2021 Update

Dear readers,

2021 has been a year of hard and heartbreaking lessons. For those of you who’ve followed me from the start of my journey into self-publishing, you’re most likely aware of my dad’s stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis back in 2018. He fought for three long years and was in remission for six months.

This past May, my dad collapsed from a seizure while on vacation and was put on steroids to combat the inflammation in his brain. There was no clear cut explanation to why he had a seizure. The scar tissue in his brain from where the cancer had spread was shrinking because of his immunotherapy treatments.

The following weeks my dad’s health took a downward spiral after weeks of manic and strange behavior. My mom took my dad to the ER on June 15th when she noticed his breathing was labored and not normal. His oxygen saturation was at 49% and his lungs were inflamed on the chest x-ray. He was suffering from hypoxia, but the ICU doctors were unsure if the cause was from COVID, pneumonitis, or something else that was causing his pneumonia.

We made the decision as a family to intubate when his condition didn’t improve and he was flown out to Colorado Springs. After testing negative for COVID numerous times, an ICU doctor decided to test my dad for a fungal infection called PCP that only attacks immune-compromised individuals. He tested positive for this fungal infection and we were told 21 days of antibiotics.

He never reached the 21 days.

My dad died on June 28th, 2021, He fought for his life for nine days on the ventilator before his body started to give up and shut down. He died with my mom and I at his side.

To say the past two months have been hard, is an understatement. The past three years of fighting cancer had taken a toll on my dad and it took a toll on my mom and I, too.

I don’t know what the process is going to look like going forward for me, but I know deep down my dad would not want me to fall into depression and give up on my dreams of being an author. I’ve made a promise to myself and to him to keep going forward in life and in this journey of being a self-published author.

With that said, I will be doing a massive edit for all my books that are currently on Amazon over the next two months.

I was in the middle of writing Say I’m Still The Only One when my dad died. For now, I am going to shelve it because it was the last thing I was working on before my dad died and I can’t read the last page of what I wrote without bursting into tears and having an anxiety attack.

A year ago, I had started drafting a series called Color Me and I have decided to focus on this series of of standalone romance books until I can focus on my other writing project.

The first half of Color Me Gray is my comeback and will be published in an amazing anthology called A Woman’s Demons. This amazing group of authors and I are donating 50% of the royalties to a charity. The full book of Color Me Gray will be released on November 30th, 2021.

Thank you all for being so patient and understanding during these hard and turbulent times of grief.

With love,

HC

Say I’m Still the Only One

Each road can take you either to the past, present, or future.
Which one do you take?


Hi everyone!

Just wanted to write a quick blog post and update. Finding Sage, a steamy and contemporary romance novella, will be available this Friday! Just in time for a quick weekend read. If you’re like me, I adore snowy weekends when I can curl up with some hot coffee (or tea), my Kindle, and a heavy blanket to snuggle with.

My other books are currently on sale through the rest of the week. You can find them on Amazon by following this link https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Carter/e/B07RN4MPP3/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

I’m also happy to announce that I am currently writing a contemporary romance series based around a small mountain community called Silverjack, Colorado. The first book, Say I’m Still The Only One, will be available on Amazon this May, 2021! If you like a good old fashioned romance series with spicy love scenes that sends tingles down to your toes in the best way possible, then please hit the contact button here on my website to subscribe to my newsletter, or follow me on Facebook.

The above photo is a small glimpse into the high country where my two main characters in Say I’m Still The Only One, Sophia Lark and Dak Scott, grew up and fell in love with each other. A sequence of tragedies tears the two of them apart for six years until an unexpected homecoming reignites an old flame when a new one is just beginning…

Second chances don’t come easily when you have the past, present, and future colliding all at the same time.

Which road is the best?

Stay tuned.

With love,

H.C

How I Survived Quarantine & Remote Learning Without Losing My Mind

The night I learned that a student in my daughter’s first grade class cohort had tested positive I was editing the first chapter of Finding Sage (you can read here Finding Sage – Hope Carter Books ). I kept wondering how realistic is it for a small mountain community to be under strict public health orders banning outsiders to prevent the spread of a virus when the school district sent the message: quarantine for 14 days and to seek COVID testing.

Then, I remembered it’s 2020. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. The word “quarantine” is used in everyday jargon now and every single state is under public health orders. It’s not so far-fetched.

My mind instantly went to how the next 14 days were going to go and what to possibly expect if my daughter turned out to be positive. How could I keep her healthy and make her time in quarantine as easy as possible? How can I juggle remote learning along with work and writing? What can I do to get my family through this without any of us losing our minds in the process?

If you’re reading this, then you’ve asked yourself similar questions. No matter what your thoughts and opinions are on COVID, and how it should be handled, the word quarantine and self-isolation isn’t an easy pill to swallow for anyone.

So, here is how I handled those 14 days of quarantine.

  1. Self-isolation is only physical isolation.
    This pandemic has put a phenomenal amount of mental stress on every single person. The suicide prevention hotline reported a sharp and drastic uptick of calls since the month of March. Fear dilutes a lot of important information, so it was a much needed reminder that quarantine didn’t mean we had to stop talking to other people. I made it a rule to at least make one phone call a day to my family. I texted and messaged two of my closest friends who listened without judgement when I talked about the emotional and mental strain we were all under in addition to every day life. Human contact, even if it’s virtual and temporary, is important to help fight off the depression that can come from being physically isolated.
  2. Let go of a normal routine.
    When my daughter returned to in-learning school, the both of us settled into a routine. The second our quarantine started, I knew that routine would have to be adjusted or let go of temporarily with a lot of patience. I knew from previous experience that trying to insert a school routine into home, a place for her to unwind and not think about school, was a dumpster fire that put everyone in tears. In between Zoom classes, she’d do one assignment and then play or veg out for thirty minutes before picking up another assignment. As her teacher put it, “As long as work is getting done on their own terms, then there’s nothing wrong with it.” While my daughter was in Zoom meetings, or quietly working on assignments she didn’t need help with, I challenged myself to see how much I could get done within a 40 minute time periods. I did numerous writing sprints as well.
  3. Create lists.
    Organizing what needed to be done, for myself and my daughter, into lists made quarantine smoother. I didn’t feel like I was drowning in trying to figure out what needed to be done for the day. I created grocery lists, too, and a menu of what we were going to do eat throughout the week. The lists helped us both to concentrate on what needed to get done, but to feel like we were in control of our day to day lives. Life, to various degrees, is unpredictable, but taking control of small tasks helped the days surprisingly go by faster. Being productive with tasks throughout the day helped fight off the lethargy of being home all the time.
  4. Set boundaries.
    The following day after receiving the message we needed to quarantine and seek testing, I sat my daughter down to establish some firm boundaries during our time at home. We both needed to respect each other’s space when it came to schoolwork and work. I set the following boundary– if we were sitting our designated work spaces, then we needed to respect each other’s time and space with minimal distractions. We set an alarm for when it was a brain break for us both to get snacks, talk, or do whatever else we wanted and needed to do. The boundary helped us avoid being constantly frustrated and even irritated at one another. My sassy seven-year-old told me recently she liked that I took a step back and didn’t hover because it meant showing respect to how she manages her schoolwork.
  5. Be honest with yourself about how you feel.
    I know. It seems cliché, but fighting off the overwhelming emotions that come with a possible exposure only amplifies it. I worried every second until we got the results back (thankfully negative) and I allowed myself to feel that way. I encouraged my daughter to express her own emotions, too, to help clear it all out and curb an emotional break down.
  6. Go outside.
    Staying cooped up in your house 24/7 will drive you insane. It snowed three days out of our quarantine and temperatures dipped below freezing, but we took short walks around our block when the sun was out. I even agreed to pull out the bouncy castle for an hour in the backyard and we jumped around together. As the saying goes, “Sunlight is your best source of vitamin D.” It not only helps boost your immune system and help your serotonin levels, but there is developing evidence that vitamin D might play a critical role in the severity of illnesses– including COVID-19.
  7. Embrace the time you have.
    After losing one of my close friends to suicide, two extended family member’s deaths, and my dad’s cancer diagnosis, I learned that life is timed and short. All of those events along with the COVID-19 pandemic, only enhanced the need to live life to the fullest and to be grateful for what I have– not what I don’t have. It’s easy to see quarantine as a disruption to our lives. It’s even easier to feel cooped up and restless when you’re home all the time, but taking time to watch movies together and even baking some holiday cookies is a great reminder that one day we won’t be able to stop and have these moments again.



Stay safe and healthy, folks. Don’t mentally isolate yourself away from your loved ones and do what is best for you and your family.

All love,

HC

Writing Through The Unknown Of 2020

I’ve seen a post circulating around Facebook asking the question, “What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?” If you haven’t seen it yet, look up the name Leslie Dwight. It’s a beautiful piece of writing. 2020 had a lot of plans for everyone. We all wanted to do things. We cancelled and adjusted the best we could. It wasn’t an easy process to let go of certain things.


Like everyone else, I had pinned 2020 as the year for a lot things. This was the year I was going to go back to the gym. I was going to start eating better. For the past year, my physical health hasn’t been ideal. I was in and out of the ER for pain in my stomach, so I had committed myself to figuring out what was going on.

This was also going to be the year I got back on track with my mental health. I’ll be point blank and honest here: I struggled with depression in 2019. I’ve gone through it before, but this time it was different.

I was struggling to cope with the grief of losing someone to suicide. I was struggling to function under the weight of my dad’s stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis. I was struggling to be a good person and mother. I’d drop my daughter off at my parents house and drive home thinking about how I just wanted to take a bottle of Tylenol PM and lay down and never wake up. I was that far down. I was that close.

Yes. No one could guess it was going on just by glancing at my social media, or even talking with me. It was a isolating and private struggle. I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone. I clammed up. I put on a fake smile and told myself to just keep going forward. Keep getting up everyday. Keep writing. The truth was, I was empty and emotionally numbed out.

By the end of 2019, I realized that I couldn’t write until I re-aligned and re-connected with the reason why I wanted to be a writer. I started the process in January 2020 by re-writing Color Me Blue. This time, it didn’t feel like I was sprinting down a dark tunnel because I thought the light at the end would fill the holes I was desperate to fill. I was writing because I was in love with it. I was writing because I found the joy inside of words.

I was able to write because I came to a point of healing after painful growth. I didn’t want to face the ugly and intense emotions of suicide grief and cancer grief, but I knew I had to embrace it. I had gotten to the point of giving myself a day to feel whatever I needed to feel and then start with purpose the next morning.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Everything went sideways real fast. Schools were cancelled. Businesses were shut. Life went to a screeching halt and it felt like whiplash all over again. And when the video of George Floyd surfaced in the media, I was horrified by it. Just like that, the world changed all over again and this time it was burning.

For any of you wondering while you’re reading this, I was raised to never judge a person by the color of their skin. I was raised to see the heart and soul of a person because that’s all that matters. I do not support or tolerate racism of any kind. I am 100% supportive of peaceful protestors who are genuinely concerned and want to see change. On the flipside, I don’t support violence. I don’t support destruction. I don’t support justifying violent behavior. I have not publicly commented about any of this because I wanted to hear the messages and to truly understand it. Where could I do better to help in the future? I realize that a lot of people won’t agree with this, but it’s where I stand. I don’t fight fire with fire.

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast about self-care through current events. I was relieved to hear someone say that it’s perfectly okay to take a step back and focus on your personal growth. It’s not selfish. It’s not you being complicit. It’s not that you don’t care. It’s because you can’t do a damn thing if you’re suffocating or stretching yourself to thin. Put the oxygen mask on before you help out with the cause. And if someone says, “It’s not enough. Do more. Do this.” You tell them that you are doing what you can on your own terms. Change is not a knee-jerk reaction. Change is a marathon and you’ll run out of breath if you use up all your energy within the first mile.

So, here is 2020 still being pinned as a year of painful growth and change. Writing on this precipice of unknown and change is like writing a book with no end goal in mind, but eventually the end will come. That’s the greatest thing about being a writer. It’s an adventure for us to figure out where we are going to go. It’s a learning process.

And 2020 is a new system of learning.

How To Write On The Days You’re Falling Apart

I took this picture on Snapchat last night because I wanted to see how I looked. Before you all think I’m a shallow and vain person, let me explain.

I’m a writer like many of you. It takes self-discipline. It takes practice. It takes an insane amount of courage to sit down and face a blank screen. That’s just on a good day. The bad days… well, it’s an entirely different ball game.

And yesterday was a bad day.

Not because of an argument. Not because my five-year-old refused to get ready for school. Not because I stood in my kitchen looking at the pile of dishes in the sink and thinking, “I really need to clean this house. I’m slacking.”

It was a bad day because I spent the better half of it wondering if my dad is going to live past this weekend. I walked into 2018 completely traumatized and numbed out with the suicide of my close friend. Then, my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It didn’t click in my head that 2018 would be a year of hard growth until two deaths in my boyfriend’s family happened only a few days apart. Mix all of that together, and well, it gets draining.

Life happens. So, does death.

I took that picture above because I wanted to see the strength I managed to find after writing only 456 words.  I did it to show everyone else that it’s okay to show up writing on the bad days– even if it’s just a few words.

I collected some valuable tips on how to write on and after the days like I had yesterday. For anyone struggling with their emotions, and trying to self-regulate themselves because they have families and bills to be paid, here are some things that have helped me:

  1. Set a timer. I only wrote for thirty minutes yesterday. I told myself not to self-edit either. Just let the fingers type words. If it sucks next the morning, I can delete it and start over. That’s the beauty of being in control of your own work.
  2. Take care of yourself. I didn’t do a damn thing yesterday. We were in and out of the cancer clinic all afternoon and morning. When you’re emotionally strained, you don’t think of your body. It wasn’t until my boyfriend came home that I realized I couldn’t even make dinner because I was weak from not eating either. Have food that you like to eat. Drink a nice cup of tea. Take a hot bubble bath like I did to just unwind and get your muscles to relax. Whatever you feel like you need, do it first and foremost.
  3. Be easy on expectations. I have a list in my calendar book of what I want to accomplish, and what I need to do. I had a list all set out yesterday. Write a chapter for #RememberingEmma. Work on a short fiction piece. Pay this bill. When you don’t get to what you wrote down, don’t feel panicked. Don’t talk yourself down. Remind yourself that you’re getting another day to accomplish what you want to do. Someone else didn’t get that blessing.
  4. Rely on your support system and self. I am a mom. I juggle everything in our house– cooking, cleaning, laundry, appointments, errands, etc. Fitting my writing in there is a juggle. I have to drop several things sometimes to fit in a chunk of writing, but on the bad day, I have to trust myself to reach out and tell my support, “I had a bad day. Please help me.” I realized quickly that my support system doesn’t know when to be a support system if I don’t ever say that I need help.
  5. Go back to your schedule the next day if possible. I think about the pressing deadlines I have for my writing too. I mentally tell myself losing two days of writing will put me behind, but the truth is, you can catch up. What good are you to your characters and plot if your emotionally drained? I woke up this morning thinking to myself, “I can’t write today. I’m exhausted.” Those were the first two thoughts in my brain, so I know that it’s okay to focus on other things today. Like writing these tips. Drinking a cup of coffee. Reading a book. When I’m ready to go back to my writing schedule, I will do it with charged batteries. Not drained.

Take care of yourself always. Your characters are like your friends and family. They will be understanding when you tell them that you can’t meet them because you’re having a bad day. They’ll be there tomorrow and the day after that.

All love,
HC