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

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Left My (Something) in San Francisco

This past week was the RWA® National Conference in San Diego. Because my husband had to be in Los Angeles on business the following week, we thought it might be fun to fly into San Francisco the week before my conference, spend a few days in the City by the Bay, then take the Pacific Coast Highway down to San Diego for conference week. 

I should probably mention that Hubster and I are polar opposites. He's a Type A sun-worshiping sports enthusiast. I far prefer indoor activities that require little to no sweat. Still, we do our best to compromise with each other. So when we started to see ads for "Biking the Bridge," I knew he'd want us to do it. 

It was supposed to be a leisurely four-mile ride, about an hour and a half, and then we'd catch the ferry back to town when we were done. Okay. I can do that. Can't I?

Apparently not. 

First off, a lot of the four mile trek is uphill. Having never owned a bike with speed gears as a youth, I still have trouble figuring out when I should downshift and when I should upshift. (I know, it's not rocket science, but I totally screw it up every time). And with my bursitis, arthritis, and herniated discs, I experience an awful lot of pain when I overexert myself.

Also, that four miles gets you to the bridge. It's another mile over. And then three more to the site where you catch the ferry to go back. 

I'm woman enough to admit, I cried. A lot. By the time I made it over the bridge after multiple stops for me to ease my aches and pains (four hours into the ride), I could no longer feel my legs. And because I wasn't prepared for the trip, I hadn't applied sunscreen. Remember, I always say I'm the girl who could burn under a 60 watt bulb. Along the grueling trip, I could feel my skin tightening and I knew I'd pay for my negligence within a few hours. It's been over a week now since this experience, and I'm still peeling from my elbows down to the backs of my hands. Why the backs of my hands, you may ask? Because my hands were curled around the handlebars of the bike for four hours.

When we finally reached the ferry pier, I was ready to kiss the ground. Until I saw the two-hour wait line to "catch the ferry back." We wound up spending $40 on a taxi instead because I just couldn't move more than my eyelids at this stage.

I will admit we took some lovely photos along the way. And the views were spectacular. We even saw whales.





My husband was patient with me (for the most part) and when I talk about the day now, he reminds me that I can boast that "I biked the Golden Gate Bridge." Personally, I'd rather brag I typed "The End" on my next book.

It's all about priorities, I guess. 

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