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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Music being part of her writing life

by

Gina Briganti

Press play to listen to the Deep in the Dreaming playlist while you read the rest of the blog post.


Music

Sometimes I’ll listen to the same song until I feel like it has got it’s message across in how it relates to the character, scene, or story I’m writing. Wake Me Up by Avicii was key to unlocking how and why Draper ended up spending most of the last decade in the Dreaming. I listened to the song at least ten times while I was exploring Draper and creating his past.

Girls Like You cover by Walk Off The Earth. When Draper’s attraction to Elena continues to deepen, he decides that they could be special in each other’s lives, and that she understood him. Listening to this song while I was writing the book didn’t vibe 100% because Elena wasn’t doing what Sarah is singing about here. Not Elena. And Draper’s addiction history mean no ganja or alcohol. There was no escaping the song at the time because it was on most of my radio stations and in my playlist, just like Draper and Elena found themselves in the same places at the same time.

This playlist is influenced by the infectious energy of my favorite band, Walk Off The Earth. My daughter and I met the band during their November 2018 tour in Dallas. It’s a moment I hope to remember forever. What an amazing group of musicians they are!

I Like Me Better by Lauv perfectly describes how Draper feels when he’s with Elena and it’s why he faces his personal demons and steps up when Elena needs him most. This is another example of a song filling in pieces of a character’s emotional landscape.

We’ll jump way ahead in the story with the Love Lies cover by Walk Off The Earth. There comes a point when Draper has to wonder if Elena is more dedicated to (spoiler) than she is to him. I was feeling pretty bad for Draper when I wrote this part and so was Draper. Listening to the song helped put me in the right frustrated, confused head space that Draper was in.

Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne clicked when everyone was struggling. Were you glad to see Avril back with such a strong song? I was! I know this song speaks to people going through tough times. I needed the angst in this song to infuse scenes I wrote, which it did.

Drag Me Down cover by Walk Off The Earth illustrates the determination Elena needed to overcome her biggest obstacles in the worst place anyone can imagine, a parallel dimension where confusion, treachery, and evil reign supreme. Draper stands behind her. A truly awe-inspired moment in the story. My family loves this song, including my three-year-old granddaughter who sings it and stomps her feet on time with the video. Yep, that melts her G.G.’s (Grandma Gina’s) heart every time.

That’s Amore by Dean Martin was a fun addition to the playlist because it speaks to Elena’s roots and one of Draper’s favorite places to vacation. They needed a love song to celebrate with. These two could definitely appreciate Martin’s light-hearted vibe after what they went through.

I listen to playlists I’ve made from books I’ve written in the past and ride the nostalgia wave created by the music, which feeds into writing scenes for characters from previous Natural Gifts books. The playlist for Desert Sunrise (Book 2 of the Natural Gifts series). includes Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big and Rich and Indian Outlaw by Tim McGraw. Those songs give me a good sense of Lucy’s playful, saucy spirit and help put me in her head space when I wrote scenes for her in this book and in future Natural Gifts books.

Music has always been a huge part of me, enriching, inspiring, consoling, and entertaining me through all phases of my life. I’m a closet songwriter and if you’ve seen someone singing and dancing to a good song in a store, that was me or someone channeling me.

I want to hear about your relationship with music in the comments.

Thank you for reading!
Gina

Deep in the Dreaming Ad 1 (1)

Elena Zucchero has lived and lost in reality. Now she fills her heart through her work as a hypnotherapist by helping her patients improve their lives. But when a nightmare plagues her sleep, she learns her friends have gone missing in an addictive alternate plane. And the only way to save them may require feeding the demons of her handsome new client…

Draper Montgomery painfully resists the call of the Dreaming. But despite his dangerous cravings, he senses his enchanting therapist has a wound he can help heal. And to satisfy his heart’s desire, he may just have to risk the very foundation of his mind…

As Elena and Draper discover a deeper soul connection, the therapist struggles to keep her distance in the hunt for her friends. If the people she loves even want to be saved…

Will the perilous hunt to rescue her friends lose them their lives and their souls?

Deep in the Dreaming is the fourth standalone book in the captivating Natural Gifts paranormal romance series. If you like mysterious worlds, conflicted characters, and love that conquers all, then you’ll adore Gina Briganti’s enthralling tale.

Buy Deep in the Dreaming to slip into another world today!

 

Watch the YouTube video here.


Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. She also writes about Reiki (a relaxation technique) and self-help. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina’s Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, , and Instagram

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Eris Field talking about hoarding.

Image by Deedee86 from Pixabay

Hoarding is a clinical disorder that affects 5% of the population. It tends to start when the person is 12 to 13 years old, often after a loss—death of a loved one, parents’ divorce, or losing cherished possessions in a fire, flood, or hurricane. It has a genetic component. That is it tends to run in families. It also has a neurobiological basis. It has been found that there are abnormalities of certain brain structures (areas of the brain). These brain structures are involved in decision making, attention, organization, and regulation of emotions. Their impairment of functioning is evidenced in emotional responses, thinking, and behaviors that are different from people who do not have a hoarding disorder.

In addition to their compulsive hoarding disorder, 25% of people will have co-existing illnesses such as depression and anxiety. In addition, people with hoarding disorder often experience problems with planning ahead, making decisions, and having an unrealistic desire for everything to be perfect.

Symptoms of hoarding include:
• Experiencing severe anxiety over the thought of discarding possessions because the saved items give them a sense of security
• Buying or saving things that are unnecessary, worthless, or useless
• Accumulating huge amounts of objects that have little or no value such as old magazines, telephone books, clothing, shoes, hats, bottles, boxes, and empty food containers
• Having numerous animals such as cats that they cannot care for
• Inability to organize space for items—hoarded items take over space needed for activities of normal living

The effects of hoarding can be severe and often affect family relationships, work, health, and everyday life activities such as cooking, shopping, sports, and having friends, children or grandchildren visit.

Hoarding disorder often results in:
• Crowded, dangerous (risk of fires or falls), and unsanitary living conditions including the presence of vermin and mold that may endanger the person’s health
• Loss of a cooking space, eating area, and living room, bedroom, halls, closets, basement, garage, porches, and yard due to accumulations of hoarded items
• Loneliness
• Family conflicts and isolation from loved ones
• Inability to perform work as expected
• Financial problems related to compulsive purchasing of unneeded objects or the care of an accumulation of a large number of pets
• Legal problems such as threats of eviction.

What you can do to help:
• Encourage them to seek professional help
• Suggest self-help groups such as Clutterers Anonymous
• After treatment, help them with their belongings if they ask for help. Remember that many feel great anxiety if anyone touches their things
• Remember that hoarding is an illness like other illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease,
• Don’t remove things without their permission
• Don’t expect perfection or constancy

My novel, The Gift of Love, is a story of hoarding and the perils of the disorder. I hope it helps you understand the problem so many people must face.

Laurel, a 26-year-old slightly impulsive pediatric nurse learned her survival skills through early years in foster care. Her life dream is to provide a home for six abandoned children. But, before she can do anything about the dream, she must sell the huge old house her adoptive parents left her. She must sell it before she falls even deeper into debt. To put it on the market, requires tackling the escalating compulsive hoarding of her reclusive half-sister who lives with her. Paper of all kinds is filling the rooms and hallways of the house. She has tried reasoning, nagging, and threatening. Now in desperation, she borrows from her Union’s Retirement Fund to go to a conference on the latest treatments for Compulsive Hoarding.

Andrew, a 39-year-old psychiatrist, is never impulsive. A reticent, somewhat austere man, he limits his interactions with people to his work. His life is strictly planned and modelled on the life of his grandfather who was one of hundreds of orphaned boys raised by Father Baker. Despite the scorn of his father, an entrepreneurial plastic surgeon, he prefers to practice psychiatry in the underserved communities of Buffalo, New York. Being handed Jamie, the mute two-year-old grandson of his father’s second wife, as he is about to leave for the conference where he has agreed to fill in for a colleague is definitely not part of his life plan.

When they first meet, a series of unfortunate events cause Laurel to view Andrew as arrogant, rude, but disturbingly attractive and Andrew to view Laurel as a dangerous distraction to be avoided. Faced with a crisis, they are forced to work together, but will they be able to put aside their protective armor and trust each other enough to let love in?

Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.

As a seventeen year old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges. After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

After taking time off to raise five children and amassing rejection letters for her short stories, Eris earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. Later, she taught psychiatric nursing at the University and wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—a wonderful rewarding but never to be repeated experience.

Eris now writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, Eris’s interests include: Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders; Eradicating Honor Killings, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about Turkey, Cyprus, and Kurdistan.

Learn more about Eris Field on her website. Stay connected on Facebook.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The chill in the air and all things that go bump in the night that are about to happen. Time to curl up with a good romantic thriller by Tina Griffith .

On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning, the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations, divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.

Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in love with.

Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.


Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The regency historical romance author Vonnie Hughes bringing us her newest captivating book that transports you into 1800s Britain. Be sure to get your copy today!

Regency historical romance at its finest is what you get with this compelling novel by Vonnie Hughes. This book sweeps you back to Britain into the early 1800s where life for the wealthy was filled with elegance and grand parties. But there is more to the era of great achievement both politically and in the fine arts. The rich attended soirees while the poor scrounged in any way possible for food. Hughes touches on the reality of the era and its costs to the people. Definitely a book to read.

What happens when a man achieves his secret wish at the expense of a brother he despises? How does he then live his life?

John Trewbridge is destined to spend his life in the British army. If he had been thinking clearly, he’d never have enlisted with the 71st regiment. But Serena ripped the heart out of him when she said that he was only a second son and therefore of no account. She was echoing the words of John’s older brother, Spencer, who has spent years crowing about his future plans for the marquessate he will inherit. Yet it is John who loves the Trewbridge estate and everything that goes with it. When he is sent home from Corunna, injured, he discovers that Serena is about to marry Spencer.

On a raw winter’s day John meets Marguerite Ninian. Crippled from birth she hides from the world and John, despairing and disillusioned, lashes out at her, telling her that instead of feeling sorry for herself and should pity the injured soldiers who had limbs amputated. Not an auspicious beginning.

But over time her humour and intelligence help John to understand that second is just a word, not a value judgment or a statement of mind. Cautiously John and Marguerite move toward a tentative friendship until Spencer implodes and smashes the Trewbridge family apart.

EXCERPT

Spencer’s arm was trapped beneath the phaeton. The pain must be excruciating. John tugged off his glove and held tight to Spencer’s free hand. “No, Spence. I envied you Trewbridge, not the title. Oh, and sometimes I envied your famous way with the ladies. But I didn’t want to be you.” He noticed he was talking in the past tense and reined himself in. How callous could he be?

“No. I’m too dull to enjoy racing around, trying to keep ahead of my conscience.” Spencer ignored the last comment. “Dull,” he rasped. “I told her that would singe your whiskers.”

“For a time it did,” John murmured. “But I’ve found someone who needs me and doesn’t think I’m dull. And I have an estate that will not give me sleepless nights like the responsibility of Trewbridge would.”

There was a long silence and John felt the world shrink down to just the two of them, in the dark, with the sounds of rescue far away. Then Spencer’s cracked voice whispered, “But you will have it all now, while I dance with demons.”

“I don’t think so. We’ll get you out of here. More men are coming. We will lift this damned phaeton off you and—”

“No!” Spencer’s voice rose again. “I do not want to be saved.” He gave a slight huff that might have been a laugh. “Never did.”

Buy Links

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The paranormal and urban fantasy of Yasmine Phoenix and her new book The Chronicles of the Red Silk Dress. Book Two in the Witches Brew series that is a stand alone novel perfect for all fantasy lovers. Here’s a peek.

When love stalls, who are you going to call? Red a mystical and magical red dress created to help women discover love and recognize their self-worth.

Delphine Richards is the founder and CEO of Plum Events a successful party planning company in Chicago. The holidays are the busiest and Valentine’s Day is the last one of the season. Her employees work hard to create spectacular parties and stay out of Delphine’s way. She hates this day for lovers.

Kevin Poe, her fiancé, broke up with her a year ago on Valentine’s Day. Since then she’s dedicated her life to growing her business. Love won’t destroy her again.

Kevin Poe loves Delphine but her constant interference in his teaching career drove a wedge between them. When one of Kevin’s students needed him, Delphine neglected to tell him. That was the final straw. If Delphine couldn’t stop trying to change him, then they shouldn’t be together.

Enter Red, a mystical and magical red dress sent to help Delphine rediscover love and realize she can’t control everyone and everything – including herself.

Yasmine ‘Yas’ Phoenix was born and raised in Virginia but calls Chicago home. She loves tennis, professional and amateur and plays in local leagues. Her writing block is the four major Grand Slams, Indian Wells, and other tournaments. No, she can’t tape then watch. Yas loves to read, especially murder mysteries. She is a Terry Pratchett, Discworld fan, and scans the news for potential plot ideas. Melding romance and paranormal in her stories is her goal. Yas always asks the question, “What if?” She is a sucker for old black and white movies like Casablanca on one hand, and Deadpool on the other. She believes her family is her greatest gift and support.

Learn more about Yasmine Phoenix on her website. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines on the book

The Elusive Mr. Velucci a passionate love story that will have you rooting for the hero and heroine to succeed while they fight against all odds. In paperback or e-book, this is the ideal gift for those that truly love a good romance. Or maybe get it for yourself?

Sadie was twenty-one years old when she met the very handsome and charming Enrico Velucci. Even though they were both aware that he would only be in New York for a few months, they ended up falling deeply in love. When it was time for him to board the enormous ship back to Italy, they were sobbing while uttering their final goodbyes. We
ll keep in touch every single day! they agreed as one heartbreaking voice. The passionate promise lingered in the air like a delicate mist while the large vessel sailed away from American soil.

Since that fateful day, life had become tattered with many surprises and unexpected complications. Sadly, it was enough to keep the young couple separated for much longer than they had hoped. And after not speaking for a little more than twenty years, Enrico was shocked to find himself standing face-to-face with Sadie Adams the mother of the girl who his son wanted to marry.

How could Sadie tell Enrico that he is the father of her daughter? Because she still loved him, she knew she had to, and it needed to be done as soon as possible.

AMAZON BUY LINKS E-BOOK PAPERBACK

Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Friday Features’

Guest tells about

Mom’s Orange Cake

by

Nancy Kay

Nothing says Holiday to me better than my mom’s famous cake. Every year she filled the house with the beautiful aroma of baking and we all loved it. This year I’d like to share a little of our family tradition with you.

MOM’S ORANGE CAKE

1 orange
1 cup raisins
⅓ cup walnuts, chopped well
2 cups four
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ plus ¼ cup whole milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease a rectangular cake pan (aprox. 11 x 15 inches).

Peel orange, but save the skin. Juice orange in a small bowl. Seed and quarter the orange.

Combine orange, skin, raisins, walnuts in a blender or food processor. Blend only enough to break up the skin.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Blend in shortening and ¾ cup milk. Add eggs and remaining milk. Mix well.

Fold in the orange raisin mixture.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 40-50 minutes.

Remove cake from oven and while still hot drizzle with reserved orange juice.

FROSTING
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Mix three ingredients together. Sprinkle mixture over the warm cake.

You know every cook should taste their masterpiece before they serve it. Therefore, pour your favorite beverage and then slice off a piece of cake. Sit back and enjoy while you take a peek at my romantic holiday story.

Federal Wildlife Officer Michael Donovan faces a dilemma. Christmas is days away, a blizzard looms, and Mike must either track an injured moose or deliver bad news to Samantha Gates about her grandfather.

Samantha is determined to reach her grandparent’s cabin for Christmas. She’ll soon be off to veterinary school and this holiday is special. Hampered by driving snow, Sam ditches her SUV avoiding an injured moose. Mike discovers her aiding the wounded animal, and they get the ungainly patient to shelter, but as Sam doctors the moose the blizzard traps them.

As the storm rages outside, alone inside attraction sizzles between Sam and Mike. Outside danger escalates. Sam insists all will be fine by Christmas. Mike isn’t so sure. Will the storm end and bring a Christmas miracle? Or will Mike’s news ruin the holiday and their chance for a future together?

BUY LINKS


Nancy Kay resides near Lake Erie in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, a former member of the Marines and the Pennsylvania State Police Department who provides valuable insight for her stories. Nancy is a long time member of Romance Writers of America. Her stories are set in small towns and inland communities scattered along the shores of the Great Lakes. They focus on romance, intertwined with the love of hearth, home, and family. Yet, they are sprinkled with suspense, danger, and intrigue. Learn more about Nancy on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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