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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday: Paws of War

It's Giving Tuesday, a day to provide generously to those less fortunate during the holiday season. As part of my list of charities for the coming year, here's one for animal lovers and patriots alike.


Paws of War rescues dogs from shelters around the country and trains them to become service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury.

They're an all-volunteer organization and all donations go directly to the dogs and the vets.

They also offer low cost vaccinations (free for veterans!) to the public's pets.

Be a hero for someone who's already proved him/herself a hero to us. Please give.

Thanks!

Gina


Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Friday, November 18, 2016

Giving: The Second Half of Thanksgiving



Many years ago, when I was a young teen, my dad lost his job right before the holiday season. We were a big family, living on my father's meager income and supplementing that income with our own homegrown fruits and vegetables and fish from the local waters. But to lose that income in the middle of autumn didn't make it easy for us to subsist, and then, of course, there were the upcoming holidays.

I remember sitting in my family dining room with my mom one night, planning the homemade gifts we could make (I had just learned how to sew in Home Ec at school) when there was a knock on our back door. When Dad opened it, the first thing I saw was a ginormous basket wrapped in plastic and tied with a huge golden bow. Friends and neighbors had taken up a collection for us and presented us with everything we needed for a Thanksgiving dinner: a turkey, stuffing, nuts and fruit, two pre-baked pies, and even a bottle of wine. I'll never forget the expressions on my parents' faces: an enormous weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Even as a cynical teenager, I was moved by the sheer generosity and kindness shown to us that night. It's why I always strive to give as much as I can during the holiday season.  

There's a food drive going on in my area of the state today for Island Harvest, a local foodbank. If you're a Long Island resident, please visit their website and make a contribution to help ease the holiday stress for a family or two. If you're not on Long Island and want to help someone near you, find a local foodbank or pantry in your area.

I just want you to remind you: kids are poor, too. They can't do much to help, but your help can ease their parents' burdens a little bit and maybe, put a smile on an otherwise stressed face. Give generously. Choose love.


Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When It's Time to Change

Notice anything different? 

Yep. I've updated my blog...again. Over the years, I found the red and gold a little too heavy, through new updates I've discovered difficulty in getting the fonts at a good size, photos weren't popping up on social media the way I liked, and my social media share buttons had disappeared. So, for my benefit and yours, I spent some time cleaning and streamlining this haven for book news, recipes, and my outlook on the world.

This kind of minor upheaval is not that unusual for me. Every half-dozen years or so, I feel the need to declutter, to update, to make a few changes. It's not just online. I'll change my hairstyle (and color--more to come on that!), I'll clean out my closet and update my wardrobe, and I'll renovate a room in my house. 

Sometimes, like now, it coincides with my husband being out of the country. I think it has to do with a sudden switch in my priorities. If I'm not worried about cooking dinner or running errands, I can focus my energies elsewhere. Don't get me wrong. I'm not chained into the Happy Housewife role when he's around. It just seems to be easier to get things done when he's not underfoot or voicing opinions. 

Or...

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm closing in on The End on another book and I'm dragging my feet?

Yeah, that could be it, too.

Either way, look at my new blog! Ain't it pretty? What's next? Probably my website. Stay tuned.

Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Charity Spotlight: Trinity Place Shelter

Each month, I'll focus on one of the many charities out there doing good work, in the hope it will inspire you to give something back to those in need.

This month, meet Trinity Place Shelter. From their website: 

"...our mission is to help homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ*) youth and young adults in New York City to safely transition out of the shelter system and grow into independent, positive, and productive adults."

Over the last ten years, this shelter based in New York, has sought to provide a safe haven for LGBTQ youth through education, counseling, career guidance, and other benefits. Those with nowhere else to go can find a loving home and safe environment within their walls. Most of all, they receive *acceptance.* Residents learn they are worthy of respect and love and find the strength and support they need to become thriving adults.

Please take a moment to visit their website, learn about what they do, and how you can help!

Thank you. Remember, we're stronger together.

Gina
Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Do We Do Now?



The election is over and many of us have been left stunned, horrified, or maybe a bit of both at the results. Since Wednesday morning, we've heard the comments to "get over it," "give him a chance," and "focus on 2018 or 2020." Sorry, but I don't think we can wait. Not with the potential for so much damage worldwide in the coming years.

I admit, I've always steered away from discussing politics on my blog and social media sites because I didn't want to alienate readers or writer friends who see things differently than I. But when it comes to people (whether I know them or not) suddenly facing the loss of their rights, their very humanity, under the country's new leadership, I can't remain silent. Book sales and readership don't mean squat if someone or a group of someones could have been helped by my speaking up about injustice and I kept silent to maintain my neutral position. That's not who I am.

Now, I'm a middle-aged white woman, an atheist, secure in my middle income life. I didn't vote for Trump; I headed for the Hills from the get-go because I honestly believed she was the best candidate for the job and never bought into the smear campaign that has dogged her for thirty years. So, technically, I don't have a lot to lose in the next four years. Except my self-respect if I sit back and do nothing for those who aren't as fortunate.

A few days ago, over on the Authors of Main Street blog, I asked everyone to join me and "Choose Love." Here, on my personal blog, I intend to elaborate on that ideal because, clearly, going around hugging strangers isn't going to help anyone. What is?

Action! Going forward, I'll be fighting in my own ways. I've always donated to my pet causes. Now, I plan to give more. To more organizations. On both a national and local scale.

No longer will I wait for the local Girl Scouts to take up a collection for the homeless outside my local supermarket, allowing me to buy a half dozen items from a prescribed list and leave, after handing over my piddly donation, feeling good about myself. No. I will buy an extra bag of groceries, health and beauty items, warm socks, etc. whenever I go shopping and turn those items over to my local shelters or pantries.

I'll donate time by volunteering. I will open myself up to those who need my help and pitch in wherever and however I can.

And most important of all, I will be watching. I won't tolerate bullies, ignorance, or selfishness from those I know. And when I see our politicians attempt to enact some heinous legislation, I won't just shake my head or chuckle along with my favorite liberal comedians on television and radio. I'll be contacting my representatives. I'll call them, write them, let them know that they don't represent the small sliver of society I'm a part of, but all of society. And P.S. not only do I vote, I post on social media and I name names.  

If they try to take away the right to decent medical care for twenty million citizens, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

If they try to delegitimize the marriages of half a million people, based on who they love, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

If they try to deport eleven million people who fled poverty and/or death threats for the chance at a better life, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

If they try to control women's rights to determine our own healthcare needs or worse, criminalize those decisions, I will do everything in my power to fight them.  

If they ignore the warnings about climate change and try to create legislation that will do more harm to the planet, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

I will use my voice, my pen, my money, and my vote to fight. And I'll be sharing much of this with you, friends. Here. On Facebook. On Twitter. In real life.

Care to join me? Feel free to tell me (here, on Facebook, on Twitter, in real life) about something you've done to turn the tide, and I'll find a way to reward you. Writers might receive a review, a free edit, a promo opportunity from me. Readers might get free books or their name in a book I write as a character or a dedication. Anyone could get a gift card or a sweet surprise. 

Choose Love and Fight Hate.

That's what we do now. We don't leave the country. We get up and we fight to be the country we always believed we were: full of hope, full of generosity, full of love of our fellow man.

Here are some places to start:

National Resources Defense Council

Lambda Legal

Feeding America

Fair Immigration Reform Movement

Human Rights Campaign

Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Planned Parenthood

Find Your Congress Representative

Contact Your Senator

and of course,

The Clinton Foundation


Thank you for reading. 

Gina

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's Release Day for Homecoming!

HOMECOMING IN NOVEMBER is live and now available for purchase. I want to first thank all my readers who pre-ordered their copies. Check your Kindles, friends. It's there, ready for your reading pleasure. And please, when you're finished, be kind enough to leave a review (good or bad). Your opinion actually does matter!

How? 

Well, first, it helps other readers find me. Readers do check reviews: some only read the very good and the very bad reviews; some only read the middle-of-the-road reviews; and some read all the reviews, good, bad, or indifferent. But they do read the reviews, absorb the comments, and make up their own minds about purchasing.

Second, it helps Amazon find me. The more reviews a book receives, good or bad, the more the book shows up in Amazon's crazy botland and gets bumped up out of the sea of books available to customers. 

Lastly, it helps me decide what to write next. If a reviewer states (s)he can't wait to read a character's story, there's a possibility I might not have considered writing that character's story. Now, maybe I will.

But enough about the business. Let's have some fun! Let's read a sample, shall we?

I stifled the excited screech straining to escape from my lips and stared out the windshield at the line of scrub pines adjacent to the parking lot. Rain dripped off the needles and onto the blanket of dead leaves that had blown there on some other day’s blustery wind. I don’t know why I noticed them. Since finding sobriety, some of my senses had grown stronger, no longer dulled by alcohol. Nowadays, I noticed a lot of things I hadn’t before: the smell of the air before a heavy rain like this morning’s, the softness of a puppy’s fur, the tang on my tongue when I drank orange juice. All of it was new and exciting. Which brought me right back to tonight’s invitation, also new and exciting, and my heartrate kicked up a notch.
Breathe, kiddo. Play it cool. Don’t be a dork.
When I finally got some semblance of control again, I texted back. What time?
Be ready by 5?
Two hours’ notice? Was he kidding? Or did he think I’d just spent the day waiting for him to text me and invite me someplace? Don’t answer that. I know I did, but that didn’t mean I wanted him to know it—or even think it. Okay, how did I answer him without looking like the dateless loser I was?
I took another deep breath, let it out slowly, then did it again. I toyed with the leather tassels on my keyring and continued the slow breathing exercises I’d learned in rehab.
My time-wasting ploy had nothing to do with drinking, of course. I didn’t want to look too eager. Let the famous Max Trayham think I had to consider my options. As if I had any other options, besides sitting home with a nuked frozen dinner while binge-streaming some television series from my childhood. Addicts like me never really get over their addictions. We channeled them into other habits: smoking, coffee-drinking, or in my case, TV-watching.
While I wasted time, I wondered what he was doing on the other end of our conversation. Did he worry I might say no? Was he staring at his screen like I was? Or was he scrolling through his contacts list, seeking out better possible dates? That thought had my palms sweating and my heart galloping again, so I typed a quick one-letter reply.
K.
Crap, I was such a dateless loser.
This time, his response came back almost immediately—as if he had it already typed out, just waiting to hit Send.
Don’t shatter the fantasy for me, please. Just go with it.
Great. I need your address so we can pick you up.
We. Right. I should have realized he already had a date. He did say he wanted me to be his guard dog. That’s all I was to him. His sober buddy. Still, I was going to a party in the Hamptons. That was a PBD: a pretty big deal.
What should I wear? I asked.
Whatevs.
Really? That was his answer? Didn’t he understand the horror of being under- or overdressed at an event? Women sweated and died, stressing about looking just right. Maybe not “died,” but I bet the pressure shaved a few minutes off their lives. Add that up over a lifetime…
Is it dressy or casual? I texted.
Both, I guess.
Oh, for God’s sake! My thumbs hammered the keys on my cell. Can you at least tell me where it is? If I knew the venue, I might have a better idea of the dress code.
At a friend’s house.
Nope. Not a clue. I tried again. What are you wearing?
The usual.
Aaargh! The man was no help at all. I’d have to muddle through on my own, come up with something casual but dressy. Rather than prolong my agony, I surrendered on the topic of clothing and sent him my address.
Great. See you at 5. Tx, Terri. You’re my angel.
Heh. He called me his angel.
Trust me, I texted back. I’m nobody’s angel.

With a satisfied smile, I tossed my phone into my purse, started my car, and headed home. I was going to have to seriously rummage for something “whatevs” to wear.

Go on. Click here to buy your copy. And don't forget to check out the other books in the Calendar Girls series if you haven't already!

Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Duet in September - FREE - for a limited time

I'm celebrating the upcoming release of HOMECOMING IN NOVEMBER (Book 3 of the Calendar Girls series), available for preorder here, and readers get the bennies.

For the next two days, Book 1, DUET IN SEPTEMBER, is available on Amazon for free! You'll not only meet the twin heroines and their sexy heroes, you'll come across a few characters who'll feature in Books 2 and 3 (or in an upcoming book). Snug Harbor is a charming resort town where you'll feel at home during every visit.

Snug Harbor earned its name because the town bordered large water on two sides. On the southern coast, the Atlantic Ocean offered miles of pristine beach with soft white sand, ideal for the tourist trade. The rocky northern coast sat at the edge of the Long Island Sound, creating a perfect waterway for fishermen. Whereas the south end of town prospered due to multi-million dollar properties, five star restaurants, and upscale boutiques, this side—the north crescent—catered to a very different clientele. No-frills motels, bars, delicatessens that opened at four in the morning to serve breakfast for early rising mariners, bait shops, and takeout restaurants ruled here.
The north side also had a wilder beauty than the south, thanks to less development and a more rural flavor. At least, that was my opinion. Buildings were erected farther apart, with lots of open space between. Bulrushes caught the breeze and rustled. Seagulls hovered, squawking as they sought leftover food to scavenge. Across the rocky inlet, the Coast Guard station stood sentry with its lighthouse and flapping flags.
The one exception to this pristine homage to Mother Nature was Coffield’s Wharf, a miniature version of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Our replica boasted a popular clam bar where tourists and locals could grab fresh-caught seafood and pitchers of frosty beer while dining outdoors at picnic tables. For higher end clientele, there was also one five-star restaurant with spectacular water views. The various outbuildings housed a few souvenir shops, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, an expensive toy store, and of course, a Coffield’s Bluff wine store that offered free tastings on weekends. When Nia and I were kids, our parents often took us to the wharf in the evenings for ice cream or fried clams, or just to walk over to the docks next door to see the party boats sailing back with the day’s catch. At ten on a Saturday morning, I figured most of the crowds would be elsewhere: the beach, breakfast (obviously), aboard party boats, or wherever else tourists went on beautiful sunny days.
The simple joys of childhood echoed around me as I cycled toward the wharf. I passed the old elementary school Nia and I had attended. Behind the school sat the playground where I’d had my first kiss from a boy. Darren Simmons had been eight and I was seven. His family moved to Texas a few weeks later and for a while, I thought my scandalous behavior was the cause of their abrupt departure from Snug Harbor. When I’d finally confessed my deep dark sin to my mother, she’d laughed and explained Darren’s father had been offered a transfer from his company. The peck on the lips I’d shared with Darren was probably his way of saying goodbye. Of course, only a year later, my mother became the poster child for “scandalous behavior,” but at the time, her comments made perfect sense.
On the next block, I rode past the public library, a frequent hangout in my school years—before the existence of the Internet.
Everywhere I looked along my route sparked a memory to make me smile.
Why hadn’t I done this before now? My legs pumped for an uphill climb, then relaxed my feet on the pedals as I coasted down the other side. I felt exhilarated, powerful, and a little bit sexy. No wonder people raved about the endorphin rush that came from exercising. This was amazing!
A higher hill came into view, and I shifted gears to prepare. I had to pedal a bit harder than I’d anticipated, but I pushed myself, knowing I could coast down the other side. Once I reached the other side. Funny how I never noticed how steep this road was when I drove it every day in my SUV. My thigh muscles ached, and I actually rose off the seat to get more power into my pedaling. Sweat broke out on my forehead. Still, the bike and I climbed. My pace slowed with my exertion, making every motion harder to complete. At last, I crested the hill, but only found a plateau. No downhill break to catch my breath. I had to push on.
A few yards ahead of me, a man walked a large, lean dog near the curb that ran along the shoreline. The man had a great build with broad shoulders packed into a tight t-shirt and long, muscular legs in khaki shorts. Nice buns, I contemplated as I drew closer. A good handful, but no excess.
Beeeeeeep! A car horn blared from behind me, and I swerved to keep the front tire straight. The bike veered onto the road’s shoulder and slid on a patch of sand, nearly upending me.
The expensive convertible roared past me at a speed I surmised was double the town’s limit. The blond driver, her long hair whipping with the wind, flipped me the bird as she sped on down the road.
“Nice,” I shouted after her. “I hope you get arrested!” Where was a cop when I needed one?
“Paige, is that you?”
Oh, good God. Mr. Yummybuns looked at me over his tasty shoulder, and I groaned. Why had I wished for a cop right now?
“Hey, Sam.” I tried to play nonchalant as I braked my bike next to him. “Did you see that moron?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, but I’m off-duty right now. If it makes you feel any better, though, Tonya’s at the top of the next ridge with a radar gun.”
Imagining the blonde’s upcoming surprise, I laughed. “No lie?”
“Nope.” Sam’s grin sparked fireworks in my belly.
In the dim hallway last night, I’d found his smile dazzling, but in the light of day, I could easily understand Nia’s attraction to the rest of him. He looked like a sun-bronzed god, all sinew and golden skin with eyes the color of honey and the lushest lashes I’d ever seen on a man.
If only he were mute…

Hurry! This deal ends tomorrow!

Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16