#writerwednesday – When it all starts to go wrong

writer-wednesday

It’s July. We are more than halfway through this strange and crazy year. And it’s #campnanowrimo. I didn’t take part in April because I was laid up with COVID-19. I’m still struggling with the after-effects, but have been writing for a few months. I’ve spent those months (since I received my rejection from Mills & Boon at the end of April) working on getting my MC romance trilogy ready for release over the coming months. I’m so pleased that after a number of YEARS working on it, it’s finally done. Sinful came out on July 1st, and will be followed by Taken (September 1st) and Possession (November 1st).

This meant I was free to start a new project for #campnanowrimo. Last November I set a goal of 1000 words per day and managed to stick to it despite having lupus and going to my day job. For July I set a goal of 750 words per day. I’m still recovering from COVID, my Mom is gravelly ill, and the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket, so 750 words a day seemed like a nice, manageable number.

For the first 9 days I smashed my target, often writing 1400 words in two 20 minute sprints. I had it. I could do it. I was amazing. I was riding high and the writing was flowing despite everything else. Then I hit a wall. My chronic fatigue flared up so badly I could barely move off the sofa, let alone think about opening my laptop.

The mind was willing – I had so many thoughts and ideas, so many ‘things’ I needed to be doing as a writer: promote new books, promote back-list, get a cover made for a upcoming Christmas release, write new words. On top of that, I have a number of things going on with my Mom’s personal home care to sort out from a distance, and dealing with my own recovery. Yet I still continued to push myself – I needed to keep up my morning routine (yoga, journal, meditate) because I believe it made me more productive and that’s what successful authors do – have a morning routine. I baked, I gardened, I wrote, I promoted, I cleaned like a whirlwind.

And I burnt out. Again. If I could smack myself on the forehead without causing myself more pain, I would. I have this cycle. Doing, doing, doing, bust. Burnout. I ignore the signs of my body telling me to rest because I put all these expectations on myself. Especially as an indie author trying to build my community and producing consistent releases. If I take one day off from the schedule I’ve set myself, regardless of what is happening in other areas of my life, I berate myself – I’m not good enough, I’ll never make it, I’ll never be good enough to write full time and make a career out of it, I’m just lazy.

Because of that nagging voice, I set myself gruelling schedules – for all areas of my life. And then I get burnt out and the cycle starts all over again. It’s classic boom and bust, which then leads to me not doing anything writing wise for months.

The last few days I’ve taken a complete rest, mainly because for a few days I could barely move. It’s made me re-assess. Again. Cut things from my schedule. Focus on what I really want to do. What my body and mind can handle. I don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS. Just a little every week. I need to be more mindful of recognising the signs. Of not fighting my body. It’s not failure to take some time for rest or self-care. I need to realise this more.

goals

This week sees the beginning of a new schedule. A gentler, slower schedule. I enjoy meditating and journaling, so I’ll keep that in my morning routine, but I also like to read. So I’m taking out yoga and putting in reading. I’m going to write 3 times a week in longer chunks, immersing myself in the story instead of stopping at a designated word count. The other four days I’m dedicating to resting and self-care activities – gardening, baking, knitting, yoga on 2 days and a walk on most. Movement helps me mentally and gives my inspiration, so it’s something I’d like to keep up – body dependant.

My new schedule is more about flow and doing what I feel like doing rather than what I SHOULD do. It’s probably going to be trial and error again, but I’m not going to give up.

I wanted to write about this for #writerwednesday because I want this blog to be real. In the past I’ve wrote about how my new daily writing schedule was amazing, and productive, and totally working for me. And it was. Until it wasn’t. As writers it’s okay to let go of what doesn’t work for you anymore. There are so many videos and articles talking about the hustle – the need to go, go, go to be successful. Sometimes you go through periods like that, but it’s not sustainable for different seasons of your life. It’s okay to change your writing habits. It’s okay to let go and try something new. You are not a failure if you want to try a gentler, slower flow.

So I may not meet my #campnanowrimo goal this month, but I’m going to keep doing what I love – writing, creating – and I’m going to listen to my body, listen to my mental health. Being a writer is about being in it for the long haul (for me anyway).

My mantra for the rest of the year: it’s a freaking marathon, not a sprint.

Here is to a slower, gentler, more focused and creative month.

My first book release in three years, how I’m feeling about it, all the cake and #campnanowrimo

Meet Zeke KNight

This week marked my first book release in 3 years. Sinful (Knights of Hell MC #1) came out Wednesday, and I’ve been going through a barrage of emotions. It’s amazing and wonderful and scary as hell.

I’m super excited because it’s the first book I’ve put out in 2-3 years. During that time, so much has happened in my personal life – illness, my Mom being sick, moving house, etc. I never thought I’d been able to finish anything again. But I DID. And it’s out there, in the world, and people are reading it. I celebrated with a special cake because, come on, the occasion definitely calls for cake (or as my husband would say, any excuse for cake in my eyes).

you can never haveenough

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who pre-ordered, reviewed, purchased or promoted Sinful in the last few days. You are awesome and I can’t thank you enough for all the support.

As well as excitement, there have been moments of sheer terror. Oh god, I have a book out in the world. What will people think? Are they going to like it? Wow, there is so much to do from editing, to marketing, to uploading the book, to creating ARCs and finding readers…Not to mention the weeks I’ve spent arguing with Amazon about Sinful being a romance. They don’t agree and have labelled it “erotic romance”, so it’s not visible when people search for “contemporary romance” or “biker MC romance” 😦

The last time I really published anything, I had a publishing house behind me. Now I’m doing it all by myself. It’s scary and rewarding. I have complete control, which means if it bombs, it’s all on my head.

Like I said, soooo many emotions.

But I am proud of this book. Proud of this trilogy. Zeke and Grace’s story has been with me for 5 years. Yes, 5 long years it’s taken me to write and get their story out there, and I wouldn’t change a thing. They are finally ready to be released into the world, to be shared and (hopefully) swooned over.

As with all my books, Zeke and Grace DO get a HEA, but they have a hell of a ride getting their. Zeke is president of an MC club, so of course there are going to be dangers and pitfalls. The chemistry between Grace and the bad boy biker is off the charts hawt.

If you like steamy romance, bad body bikers and feisty heroines, maybe try Sinful.

There is a sneak peek of chapter one below. Right now I’m going to eat some more cake, make a cup of coffee and continue on with #campnanowrimo. I’m working on a new steamy romance series which I’ll be sharing more about in the coming weeks.

For now, enjoy a peek into Zeke and Grace’s world…

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Chapter One

She wasn’t spying. Technically, spying involved binoculars and stealth. It didn’t involve looking up from a book every five minutes and checking the street. Or so Grace Burton tried to convince herself as she settled further into her window seat.

She was waiting for them.

Grace had only been in town six weeks. Four of them spent in her new house. Most of those nights she’d ended up cozied into her window seat, lights dim enough to still read, spying on the man who lived across the street.

She’d moved here to escape the claustrophobia of New York and the neighborhood was exactly what she needed. Quiet. Suburban.

She never expected someone like him.

A rumble hummed in the distance. The roar of motorcycle engines grew louder as they approached.

She checked the clock. 2.15am. Although they always came back after dark, they were much later tonight. She rolled her eyes, ashamed she’d become so aware of their schedule.

Six gleaming Harley Davidson’s pulled into the large driveway across the street. The male riders removed their helmets. Three of the men were good looking but only one captured her attention, had done from the first night she saw him. From watching them together, she assumed he was their leader.

Despite pulling into the driveway first, he removed his helmet last. He hooked it on the handlebars before swinging one toned thigh over the saddle. With crew-cut dirty blond hair, a chiseled jaw encased in a beard and shoulders a line-backer would kill for, the man commanded attention. He oozed masculinity and projected a dangerous edge that excited Grace.

She couldn’t stop the physical reaction every damn time she saw him. Her heartrate quickened, her nipples tingled and the flesh between her thighs pulsed with unsated desire.

It had been a long time she’d had someone in her bed.

A very long time.

Maybe she was just desperate. Maybe if she had sex, she’d finally stop fantasizing about her neighbor. That’s what she tried to convince herself after she touched herself in the bath and imagined his rough fingers bringing her to orgasm.

God, she was delusional. Who fantasized about having sex with strange man they spied on?

It wasn’t as though he was a complete stranger. From the patches they wore of devil skeletons holding swords, she knew they were a motorcycle club. As a trauma nurse in NYC, she’d treated numerous men like him.

He was most likely trouble. Trouble she didn’t need. She’d come here to get away from trouble. To break away from violence and death.

But that didn’t stop her from looking. And wanting.

Five guys crowded around the oldest man in the gang. His arm hung at an odd angle and he couldn’t walk on his own. Two of the other members helped him towards the house. She narrowed her eyes, squinted, trying to get a better look. As they passed into the porch light she caught the unmistakable gleam of dark ruby on the older guy’s white t-shirt. His whole side was soaked through with blood.

That amount didn’t come from a scratch.

Shit. 

Acting on pure instinct, Grace dropped her book and bolted from her hiding place. She ran to the bathroom and grabbed the extensive med kit she kept beside her vanity. It looked more like something an EMT would carry than a regular home med kit. She liked to be prepared.

You could take the nurse out the hospital but you couldn’t stop her from being paranoid.

She slipped on a pair of sneakers and jogged across the street. Her heart hammered in her chest. Silently she prayed the men weren’t too belligerent or pissed off by her intrusion. At best they might label her a nosey neighbor. At worst they would see her as a threat.

As she knocked on the black front door of the spacious two store house, she made a mental note to make better choices in the future. Especially if she were still alive and not bundled into a freezer somewhere.

The door cracked open a few inches and she came face-to-face with one of the younger men. Black hair curled slightly at the nape of his neck, stubble shadowed his jaw and his piercing blue eyes narrowed when they focused on her. “Yeah?”

Grace swallowed, tried to moisten her dry mouth. Despite his good looks, fear danced along her spine. Too late to back out now. “I saw your friend was injured. It looked serious.” She patted the med kit. “I’m a nurse. Was. In New York. Just moved here.” The babbling wouldn’t stop. The words continued tripping off her tongue. “I live right across the street. I came to help.”

The guy was about the shut the door in her face when a smooth, deep, sexy voice asked, “Who is it?”

Tall, dark and dangerous responded. “Chick from across the street. Said she’s a nurse come to help.”

She heard a few curse words, a snort and some laughter. Grace tapped her foot while the man deliberated. The foot tapping was a nervous habit she picked up as a child waiting to go in for tests. She hadn’t done it in years. She was wayyyyy out of her comfort zone.

After what seemed like an eternity but couldn’t have been more than five seconds, sexy voice shouted, “Let her in.”

Tall, dark and handsome scowled as if he were about to question the decision, before shrugging and opening the door wide enough for her to slip inside. She brushed against his chest, caught a hint of zingy male cologne mixed with cigarettes and tequila, and blushed. Despite throwing off a badass aura, he was extremely attractive.

He jerked his head in the direction of the kitchen, completely oblivious to her reaction to his closeness. “That way.”

She walked into the kitchen and five pairs of eyes turned on her. Four of the guys still wore their patched leather vests. She felt like a museum piece on display as they appraised her, seized her up and assessed her motives. The air hung thick with tension. She’d learned the art of processing information without meeting a person’s gaze in the ER. Sometimes patients hyped up on drugs or booze disliked being looked directly in the eye. Back in the early days, some patients had attacked her for looking at them and she still bore the scars.

Two of the gang members stood idling against the counters. One was older with a shaved head and tattoos covering his neck and arms. The other was younger and could have been tall, dark and handsome’s twin brother.

The three other men, including her patient, were seated around a small kitchen table.

The injured man had long blond hair laced with grey. He kept it tied back in an old fashioned cue. They’d removed his patch and cut his t-shirt so his arm and shoulder were exposed. She could see the ink on his chest, but the injury grabbed her attention. There was cylindrical hole in his left shoulder. The puckered wound was small compared to some of the stuff she’d seen, but the ripped flesh oozed a steady stream of blood.

Gunshot wound.

Her instincts kicked into overdrive and she pushed forward, hauled her kit onto the table and muttered under her breath. “Jesus Christ.” Addressing her patient, she unzipped the bag and pulled out some latex gloves, snapping them on before saying, “I’m Grace.” The injured man grimaced. “Jay. Nice to meet you, Grace.” She appreciated his polite tone even if it did come through gritted teeth.

She gently gripped his arm and leaned over his shoulder. Exit wound. Good. She didn’t want to go digging around muscle to find the bullet.

“Through and through. Clean wound. Didn’t hit any major arteries.” She met his gaze and focused on his dark brown eyes. His pupils were wide but not enough to indicate shock or inebriation. “I’m going to probe around the wound and it’s going to hurt. You ready?”

Jay nodded.

Grace inhaled. “Okay then.” She poked around the flesh and a fresh trickle of blood ran out. Jay grunted but took the pain like a pro. “Good news is there are no early signs of infection. Bad news is I need to stitch it.”

“You have the provisions to do that?”

Grace turned towards the sexy voice she’d heard from outside. She looked directly into the whiskey colored eyes of him—the man she’d been fantasizing about for four goddamn weeks. For a few brief seconds, she lost herself in the intensity of his stare. Electricity danced across her skin. Lust slammed into her gut.

Surely a huge fucking lightbulb flashed above her head reading ‘fuck me now’.

Trying to hide the embarrassment of her visceral attraction, she snapped off her gloves and rummaged in her kit, distracting herself from his penetrating gaze. “Of course. This is a fully functional medical kit used by medical professionals. It’s a mini triage kit and can be used in most emergencies.” Her words came across prissy and haughty. Another one of her defense mechanisms.

“I’ll take your word for that, Doc.” She risked a glance in his direction to see if his face matched the condescending tone. His features spoke of concern for his friend and a hint of curiosity. Nothing more. “Can you fix him?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“Good. I’m Zeke by the way.”

Zeke. It sounded wild and untamed. It suited him. “Nice to meet you, Zeke.”

“Likewise.”

She snapped on a pair of fresh gloves, ignoring the pitter-patter of her thrumming heartbeat. The hint of pain from the latex sting pulled her back to the task. Focus. She needed to focus.

“She handles latex well,” the guy with the shaved head snarked, dripping sexual innuendo.

She injected a local anesthetic just below the wound site to numb some of Jay’s pain. As she set up a needle and thread, she answered the snarky comment, “It’s from years and years of anal examinations. If you’d like, after I’m done, I can show you how well I handle that too. I’m so good, I don’t even use lube.”

Bellows of laughter erupted from the kitchen as she began sewing together the torn flesh. She concentrated on repairing the skin, ignoring the men. Someone said “I like her” and she smiled. Maybe she wouldn’t end up chopped into tiny pieces.

She did a mental eye roll. She’d been watching way too much Netflix. Just because they were an MC, didn’t mean they were Sons of freaking Anarchy. Most motorcycle clubs were about brotherhood and bikes. Not guns, drugs and murder.

So how did one of them end up with a gunshot wound? A niggling voice questioned in the back of her mind.

She couldn’t ask. It would be rude. And really, she had no desire to get involved in whatever shit they were in to. She was here for one thing—to heal.

It took less than ten minutes to sew and dress the wound. She removed the gloves and rolled them into a ball, along with some soiled gauze and thread. Looking around she located a trash can, got up and disposed of the material before heading to the sink to wash her hands. Now the immediate crisis had past and the adrenaline worn off, she felt uncomfortable surrounded by men she didn’t know. She was all too aware of their gazes on her.

She covered her anxiety with medical chatter. “You should only have a small scar. Take painkillers if it hurts. Keep the area clean and no showering for a day or two. You might have some restricted movement for a few days. Stiffness. If it starts to burn, gets really red or hot, you’ll need to see a doctor.” She dried her hands on her shirt and turned.

Everyone stared at her. Their emotions—sexual curiosity, slight animosity, gratitude—overwhelmed her. She needed to leave ASAP. She had no business being here.

Jay tested the movement in his shoulder and grinned. “Seems good. You did a good job, Doc. Thanks.” As though sensing her unease, he scowled at his friends. “You big brutes are scaring her. Where’re your manners? You know my name, and Zeke’s.”

She refused to look at the object of her deepest lust lest it show on her face.

Jay pointed at tall, dark and handsome. “The guy that let you in is Rafe. Latex boy here is Tiny. The guy next to him, Gabe, is Rafe’s brother. And finally the dude sitting opposite me is Sammy.”

She should have guessed Gabe was Rafe’s brother. They both rocked the dark, brooding thing and the resemblance was clear. She’d not really had chance to look at Sammy so she directed her attention at him. Much younger than the rest of the crew, she put his age around early twenties.

He practically beamed at her. “Hiya, Ma’am. Nice to meet ya.” He was like an excited puppy.

She couldn’t help smile at his sunny disposition. “You too, Sammy.”

Tiny ribbed him for being so polite and a blush heated his cheeks. The dynamics between the men fascinated her. They communicated without using words. It was obvious she was an outsider and that made her uncomfortable.

Unsure of how to extract herself from the situation, she began gathering her things. “I’m done here, so I’m just going to…” She closed her medical kit and gripped the handles, evading eye contact. She prayed she could make it out the door without any repercussions.

A large, warm hand covered hers and she started. Zeke stood less than an inch away. His scent—leather, cigarettes, tequila, citrus, man—seeped into her and she wanted to lean in and inhale his spicy, erotic scent.

What the hell was wrong with her?

“Let me get that for you.” His brushed the pad of his thumb across the back of her hand. “I’ll walk you back.”

Grace swallowed. Fantasies were fine. They were safe and could include anything her heart desired. Reality never lived up to fantasy, but the briefest touch from Zeke outstripped anything she imagined. Her skin tingled where he’d touched her. Her whole body primed, ready for his next move. Nipples hardened. Knees weakened.

She wanted to tell him no. That she could make her own way back across the street. Instead, she let go of her bag. “Okay. Thanks.”

Jay rose and gave her a quick, one arm hug. “Thanks again, Doc.”

She walked towards the front door in a daze. Once outside, the cool night air hit her heated body and she took a deep breath. With the adrenaline wearing off, her heart pumped blood around her body so fast she thought she might pass out.

Silently, she chastised herself for racing across the street. They didn’t know a thing about her and she’d bulldozed her way in to their house.  They probably thought she was crazy, or a groupie, or worse, an undercover cop.

“Grace, you okay?” Zeke’s broad hand caressed the base of her spine through her shirt. A soothing gesture that did nothing to dissipate the heat licking along her nerve endings.

When she looked up at him, his whiskey eyes were a mixture of concern, wariness and, dare she hope, need. Confusion replaced desire.

Men like Zeke didn’t lust after women like her. Looking like he did, like sex on a stick, he could have any woman he wanted. Why would he lust after her? She was average in every sense—boobs slightly too big to be called perky, hips a little too wide. Boring and unexciting for someone like him.

And she was totally okay with that. Life wasn’t a romance novel.

She stepped away and moved towards her house. “Fine. Just thinking. Sorry for barging in. I’m not usually this impetuous.” A few more steps and she’d be in the safety of her own home. Away from the erotic pull of bad boy Zeke.

“It’s not every night I get a woman banging on my door.”

She gave him a droll look. “I find that hard to believe.”

His deep, husky laugh sent shivers down her spine. “Okay, busted. It’s not every night I get an intelligent woman banging on my door.”

She climbed her porch steps and fumbled with her keys. She unlocked the door, stepped over the threshold and turned for the medical kit, eager to go back to her normal, boring life.

Zeke put it beside her on the floor and idled against the frame. He leaned down, filling her personal space, crowding her. She could step back, away from his masculine presence, but she didn’t want to. She was completely enraptured by him. And for a few heartbeats she wanted to entertain the fantasy that Zeke was interested in her.

“So, Grace, how did you know that Jay needed help? It’s well after midnight. Shouldn’t good girls like you be in bed dreaming of pretty princes?”

She bristled at his patronizing tone. “I was getting a glass of water and saw you come back. I saw the blood in the light and came to see if I could help. It’s what I’m trained to do.”

Not a complete lie, but not the whole truth either. He didn’t need to know she’d been spying and drooling.

“So you haven’t been sitting in your window seat for the past four weeks watching us?” His amber eyes blazed seeing directly into her soul.

Busted.

Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I beg your pardon?”

He reached up and flicked a strand of her hair. “At first I wondered, new tenant in the neighborhood. A woman who likes to spy. Maybe a threat. Maybe sent by the authorities. But now I understand.”

His soft, baritone voice lulled her. She watched his sensual lips move. Zeke was dangerous. Extremely dangerous. She knew that now, yet she couldn’t move back. Moth and flame came to mind, and she was going to get burned.

“What do you understand?” Her voice sounded huskier than she wanted it to be.

Her breasts swelled and tingled inside the confines of her bra. She yearned to reach out and run her palm across his bearded jaw, feeling the wiry hair abrade her skin.

“I understand you aren’t a threat. You’re a voyeur. You like to watch don’t you, Grace? When you came into the kitchen, I wasn’t sure which one of us you wanted to fuck. Rafe and Gabe are real pretty. You wouldn’t have to choose between them—they’d do you together if that’s your thing. But it’s not them, is it?” He didn’t wait for her to answer. “It’s me you want to fuck.”

She inhaled, started to protest even as her body screamed yes.

Yes, she did want to fuck him. Deep and hard and all night long.

He stopped her with a finger pressed to her lips. “Ssshhh. No need to lie to me.” He rubbed the pad of his thumb across her lower lip. Zings of pleasure followed in its wake. “If I kissed you now, I’d have you naked and under me within five minutes. I’d probably be the fuck of your life. I like sex. I like beautiful women.” He waited a beat, rubbed her lip some more. “But there is one problem.”

“What’s that?” Her mind was still trying to process the image of him, naked and on top of her. She had no doubt he’d be an excellent lover.

He pushed the tip of his thumb gently inside her mouth. “I don’t fuck good girls.” He cupped her cheek. “I’m not a good man, Grace. I’m bad and dangerous and damaged. You may think you want me, but you don’t. Now go back to bed, get out your conventional vibrator and bring yourself off thinking about me. And then forget I exist. I’m not for you.”

He brushed his lips across her cheek in a tender, brief kiss that ignited her senses. And then he was gone. He’d set her body on fire and destroyed her with his words.

Arrogant, conceited asshole.

Anger bubbled in her gut. Where did he get off presuming to know her?

Not wanting him to have the last word, she called after him. “Zeke?” When he stopped and looked over his shoulder, she continued. “I’m not a good girl.”

She flipped him the bird and slammed the door.

Good riddance to the misogynistic asshole.

 

Sinful (Knights of Hell Book 1) Copyright © 2020 Scarlett Sanderson PLEASE DO NOT REPRODUCE THIS TEXT WITHOUT PERMISSION

My experience with COVID-19 – the symptoms, the fear and the aftermath

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What strange times we are living in. I truly hope you and your families are all well and safe. I’m sending hugs to everyone who is struggling at this difficult time – whether will illness, finances or the emotional toll this is taking on all of us.

 

I’m writing this blog post to share my own experience of COVID and how it’s affected me physically and mentally. I’ve had suspected COVID-19 and complications since March 13th – 74 days and counting. It’s been one of the scariest, most frightening times, and it’s still dragging on. For people who think “it’s just the flu”, I am telling you now, I’ve had flu, I’ve even had walking pneumonia and I have never experienced anything like this.

As many of you know, I have lupus. This means it isn’t unusual for me to take time out of writing. I can be gone for months at a time whilst dealing with a flare-up, or a particularly busy time with work and my mother (who has terminal cancer). But usually, in the background, I’m still hammering away writing. Since March 13th I haven’t been able to do anything. COVID hit me hard and I’m still experiencing symptoms 74 days in.

The first week I got sick I had a temperature, a bit of a cough and a tight, sore chest. For 7 days I foolishly believed that it wasn’t so bad. That I could manage it like I do my lupus – with rest, painkillers and fluid. By the second week I was struggling to breathe. On the Thursday of the second week I was gasping for breath so much, my husband had to call an ambulance. The sheer terror of not being able to get air into my lungs and having a paramedic dressed in full protective suit (complete with respirator) was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through. Although my oxygen levels were good, because of the underlying lupus they recommended I go to hospital. However, I refused. There is no guarantee I would have been tested and without the need for oxygen at that point, I was at more risk of infection if I went to the hospital. After all, although everyone was pretty certain I had COVID, what if I didn’t? I chose to stay at home and continue with antibiotics, painkillers. I also had a very irrational fear – what if I was taken to hospital alone and never came out?

I just want to say a big thank you to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service here. They arrived quickly, we’re amazing and stayed for a few hours to make sure I was okay. I cannot thank them enough for their assistance at such a scary time for me and my husband. They were brilliant. And immensely reassuring.

I won’t bore you with the mundane details, but some of the symptoms I was having over the following weeks including extreme fatigue (and this from someone who deals with fatigue on a daily basis), shortness of breath which meant I could barely walk a few steps without panting, a chest so tight it felt like my lungs were being constricted, vomiting and upset tummy. At one point in the last few weeks I even had conjunctivitis.

74 days in and I am still getting some of those symptoms. Yes, my temperature is down. Yes, I’m not coughing as much. The breathing, however, can still be horrific on some days. And the tiredness is off the charts. If I try and do too much, I’m back on the couch, symptoms reoccurring with a vengeance. This is 74 days in. That’s not taking into account the total paralysing fear that comes with having shortness of breath flare up – is it coming back? Am I reinfected? How bad is it going to be? Is this the time I’m going to have to go to hospital and risk being put on a ventilator? With no guarantees of immunity, I’m living in daily fear of a killer I cannot see.

In the grand scheme of things, I am lucky. So, so lucky. I’ve not been in hospital, I’ve not been in an intensive care unit, but the aftermath of dealing with the disease is debilitating. I’m still not working my day job as I can’t manage more than an hour or so at my computer. I need to sleep lots and physical activity is very limited.

My husband has been amazing. He’s supported me every step of the way. He lifts me up on days I’m sobbing and don’t feel I can stand another episode of breathlessness. He goes out to the supermarket to get food and prescriptions, risking his own health so I have food and medicine. He’s taken over all the household duties, despite still working from home. He is truly my rock. I can’t thank him enough or tell him how amazing he really is. He is my ultimate romance hero.

The other thing this disease has robbed me of is visiting my sick mother. She lives miles away and since lockdown has been in place, she’s been extremely ill. And I’ve been unable to travel down and be with her as I would be risking her and myself. The guilt is almost as crippling as the symptoms of COVID. My Mom is my best friend. Not being able to hold her, hug her when she’s crying or in pain, is one of the worst things imaginable.

Relatively speaking, I am so much better than I was at week 4 or even week 8. It’s been a tough ride. There have been setbacks. There are going to continue to be setbacks if you read the reports about people recovering from COVID. It’s comforting to know it’s not just me.

One thing this journey has made me realise is the life I was living before lockdown wasn’t serving me. I was super stressed out about the smallest thing. Day job stress was through the roof. I was bouncing from one thing to another – home, work, my sick mother, hospital appointments for me, always doing, doing, doing. Yet all the time resenting myself because I wasn’t taking care of myself or my mental health. I wasn’t taking small, productive steps towards the life I want for myself – becoming a full time writer. And all of that was leading to resentment.

During lockdown I’ve reorganised some of my priorities. Sure, I have days when all the fear and doubt and resentment comes back into play, but I know what I want now. I know how I want to feel in life.

Joyful. Creative. Calm. Resilient. Optimistic.

My priorities are my health, my husband and family, my creativity.

With these in mind, I’ve completely re-thought how I structure my days. Obviously this will change once I am back at the day job, but that’s where resilience comes in. Go with the flow. Don’t sweat the smaller stuff. It doesn’t matter what people of think of me (having a chronic illness makes me over achieve, over perform, so people don’t think I’m lazy), it only matters how I feel about myself.

The past three weeks have seen me take a completely new outlook on writing. Even though I’m still sick, I’ve managed through small steps to finish editing two books of a trilogy I’ve had written for a while, and create a whole marketing plan for those books. I’m now on to editing the 3rd book and every single day I feel joyful to get to work. To be creative. I’m even finding joy in doing the things I used to hate like writing blurbs, creating teasers images and revamping my website.

One thing I am grateful to COVID for – giving me back my passion and joy for creativity.Untitled design (4)

There is a long road ahead in which there will be illness and grief, but there is also light and laughter and joyfulness. There is hope.

Take care and stay safe,

Scarlett

Happy 2020! What do you have planned for the year?

Pink & Gold Simple New Year Social Media Graphic

Happy 2020 to everyone! It’s a new year and a completely new decade. How exciting.

I hope you all had a great festive period and got to spend time with people that make you happy. I took some time off over Christmas to spend with Mister Scarlett and my parents. As most of you know, my Mom has terminal cancer so it was a quiet Christmas with lots of laughter and some tears. But the most important thing was we all had a great time 🙂

This week marks the beginning of a new decade. I can’t believe where the time went! 2010-2019 was a great decade for me. Of course, there were some lows, but the highs were amazing.

I got published with Ellora’s Cave in 2011 – something I’d been hoping for since I started reading their books. It was a dream come true (for a while, but that is another well publicised story) and I met some wonderful readers and authors – you are all amazing!

I got married to a wonderful man who is everything to me. Loving. Handsome. A great friend and champion of my writing. I love him more than words can say.

We had some beautiful holidays in places I’d never been. Got a lovely new house and a garden where I can grow veggies and plants.

It also saw my lupus and chronic illness restrict what I can do. I had to drop my work hours to part time and then my Mom – my best friend – got cancer. We got the terminal diagnosis not long after, and I know the next few months are going to be very hard, but I’m still blessed to have her here.

Bokeh Lights New Year Quotes (1)

What are my hopes for this year?

Well, I’m on a regular writing schedule. Woohoo! So the motorcycle club romance trilogy I’ve been promising you for years will finally be released. I’m working on those books this month and by spring, the first book WILL be available on Amazon. I’m also going to submit the manuscript I wrote during #NaNoWriMo to the Mills & Boon Dare line. *Fingers crossed* you’ll see that some time this year!

pens

As a child, I always got a fancy fountain pen for Christmas and this year Mister Scarlett surprised me with one in my favourite colour. So there will be definitely be lots more writing.

I did the Good Reads challenge last year and managed to read 111 books. I’m not setting a goal this year for reading as it pressures me into the mentality that I’ve “gotta read”, but I am committing to one hour per day.

Other goals include increasing my strength and fitness. I love to go for walks, but since I’ve been ill that is so much harder. I’ve started exercise routines in the past that have crippled me over the weeks, and diets which have made me ill. This year is about strength. Emotional and physical. As with my writing goals it will be manageable. Slow and steady.

Finally, I got some circular needles for Christmas. I’ve never been able to knit in the round, so this is the year I want to learn 🙂 If you have any patterns for beginners, leave me a link below. I’ve already started and, after a shaky beginning, seems to be going well.

knitting

So to sum up, my goals for 2020 are:

  • Write and release more books with a regular writing schedule.
  • Manageable strength and fitness for my health
  • See family and friends more – make time for them
  • Grow my edible garden
  • Knit in the round

2020 is a new page, a new chapter. Let’s make it a good one 🙂

Let me know what your goals, hopes, resolutions. I’d love to hear them!