Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Tour and Giveaway: Memories in December (Calendar Girls #4) by Gina Ardito

Title: Memories in December
Series: Calendar Girls #4
Author: Gina Ardito
Publication Date: November 7th 2019
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance 
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Siobhan Bendlow is struggling with her recovery from an eating disorder and the financial downturn of her photography business. The last thing she needs is to become the sole caretaker of her wacky grandmother. Especially since the man of her teenaged dreams, Jimmy Vais, has moved back to town, newly single and available. So has his pesky younger brother, Justin. One Vais is fun, but juggling two is a problem.

Althea Bendlow may be in her seventies now, but she still craves all the things she wanted in youth: joy, comfort, laughter, and happiness for her loved ones. If gaining the latter means performing some matchmaking magic for her only granddaughter, she’s up to the task. As long as her own past doesn’t keep distracting her, in the form of Captain Lou Rugerman, a man who meant the world to her for one night only.

Welcome back to Snug Harbor, where the memories of a lifetime can become the dreams of tomorrow…

**Easily read as a standalone!!**

The sudden opening of the driver’s door ushered in another gust of icy wind and had me sucking in a sharp gasp.

“Sorry,” Jimmy said as he climbed inside. “Didn’t mean to startle you. Here.” He handed me a plain white paper bag.

I took it with hesitation. “What’s this?” A dead rat? Dog poop?

“Peace offering.”

I unfurled the top and peeked inside with trepidation, half-expecting something to blow up in my face. A chocolate chip cookie the size of a dessert plate looked back at me alluringly. Okay, maybe not. But it sure seemed that way.

“I remember you had an affinity for sweets.”

Was that a dig? I wasn’t sure. I rolled the top down again to seal the temptation from my eyes. The holidays were tough enough for former bulimics like me without the intention of well-meaning saboteurs. “You’ve been gone a long time,” I replied airily. “I don’t have that same sweet tooth anymore.”

“Oh? Good for you.”

That was definitely a dig. I wanted to hit him, I swear.

He sipped whatever he’d bought himself, settled the cup into the center console holder, buckled up, then started the car. “Next stop?”

I looked at him, my brain still imagining his naked and oiled body slowly turning on a rotisserie spit—but not in a sexy way. “Yeah?”

“I’m asking. Where do you want to look for your grandmother?”

My brain got sucked into a black hole. I had no idea. My confusion must have shown because he pressed the issue.

“Any friends she’d visit? Favorite places she likes to go? Maybe out for breakfast?”

I shook my head. “I honestly don’t know.”

He sighed. “Wow. You really thought this through, didn’t you?”

“I’m sorry,” I snapped. “It’s not like I hang out with the lady all the time.”

“Well, when you did hang out with her,” he said with equal animosity, “where would she take you?”

I scratched my temple to wake up my memories and keep my growing temper in check. I should have made him buy me one of his expensive fancy coffees. “I don’t know. I was a kid at the time. I guess she’d take us to the usual places a grandma would take her grandkids: the movies, the library, the petting zoo.”

“None of which are open at this time of morning. Anywhere else?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.” I placed a palm against my forehead where a dull ache throbbed. “Just drive wherever you need to go. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

“Lucky.” Jimmy snorted. “That’d be a first.”

Something was definitely wrong with this guy. I surreptitiously checked the back seat for a rifle or an axe. When I came up empty, I convinced myself to relax, but in the recesses of my mind, I prayed for a lot of luck. The faster I got away from Jimmy Vais, the better.
I kill houseplants. There. Now you know one of my greatest shames. I'm not boasting. I just figure that if you're reading this, you're looking for more than how wonderful life is as a writer. You get enough of that elsewhere. Ditto for political rants, how to lose thirty pounds in a week, and creating gorgeous crafts with nothing more than twine and soup cans. My goal is to connect with you, dear reader, even if you're not a writer, not a New Yorker, not a mother, not a female. We're human (unless one of us is a spambot), and what we have in common is flaws. So here are a few more of mine:

I sing all the time. I sing songs most people don't know--jingles from television, crazy stuff I used to listen to on Dr. Demento, Broadway and movie soundtracks, and I can even bum-bum-bum through instrumental music. I sing in the car. In the shower. While I'm grocery shopping. And I headbop while I sing. When I'm not singing, I talk to myself. Just ignore me and move on. You get used to it after a while.

I don't eat my vegetables. Seriously. I only started eating salad about ten years ago, but I'd still rather have a cookie.

Given the option, I would live in a mall where I would never have to worry about freezing temperatures or too much sun. I'm extremely fair-skinned and could burn under a 60-watt light bulb.

I can't sleep without background noise so the television's on all night. If it's too dark and too quiet, all I have are my thoughts. And even *I* don't want to be alone with my thoughts.

Don't ask me to Zumba, line dance, or march in the parade. I have absolutely no rhythm.

I color outside the lines. Not because I'm a rebel, but because I suck as an artist. My artistic ability is limited to being able to draw Snoopy sleeping on his doghouse. And I don't even draw that well.

Regrets. I have more than a few.

My favorite activity is sleep, and I'm pretty good at it. I don't clock a lot of hours, but I can powernap like a Persian cat and rejuvenate within ten minutes.

I consider shopping and dining out excellent therapy for anything wrong in my life.

My feet are always cold. Always. My husband of more than a quarter century claims it's because I'm an alien sent to Earth to destroy him. (He might be right about that.)

Coming to my house for a visit? Unless you've given me plenty of advance notice, be prepared. My floor will not be vacuumed, there will be dishes in my sink, and I only make my bed when I change the sheets once a week (I'm climbing back into it ASAP. Why make it?) Housecleaning is not high on my priority list. Okay, to be totally honest, it's not on the list at all.

I can resist anything...except ice cream.

Since this is our first date, I figure I've revealed enough secrets for now. But if you've read this bio and think I might be the author for you, pick up one of my books or stalk my website.

The Music of Memories in December
by Gina Ardito
I can’t write in a vacuum. There always has to be some kind of noise around me, most often, music. If you asked me about my process, I’d confess it’s kind of like a crack addict. I feel the need wash over me, and I grab my laptop, my iPhone, a pair of Bluetooth headphones and blast music while I pound away at the keyboard. I don’t stop until satisfaction fills that empty space in me. While I never plot a story, I do create a musical playlist before I start writing, and I add to it as I go along or as a song strikes me that I feel adds an element I hadn’t considered before.

I start with theme songs for the main characters. These particular songs will help me create personalities, backstory, and emotions for the players. After I have those, I layer in happy songs for the lighthearted scenes, sad songs for the blacker scenes, poignant songs, and so forth. You’d think with “December” in the title, the playlist I created while writing this story would be full of Christmas tunes. Guess again.

Here’s how the playlist for Memories in December looked (with links if you’d like to sample songs you’re unfamiliar with or play along at intervals in the book to see if you can figure out how they fit):

Siobhan’s theme: Hunger by Florence and the Machine

Althea’s theme: It’s Got to be Real by Lisa Stansfield

Jimmy’s theme: Often by Robbie Williams

Justin’s theme: Be My Mistake by The 1975

Lou’s theme: Out of the Blue by Vertical Horizon

Additional songs for mood, setting, and characterization (in no particular order): Perfect by Jon McLaughlin, Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth with Emelie Sandé, Crazy by Kat Dahlia, Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex, This is Me (from the Greatest Showman) by Keala Settle and ensemble, Black and White Movies by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Newborn Friend by Seal, Sand In Your Shoes by This Providence, Snap Out of It by Arctic Monkeys, Wear Me Out by Skylar Grey, Cry by Angie Aparo, The Age of Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension, Born Bob Dylan by The Veronicas, Out of Reach by Gabrielle, Haunted by Poe, Thursday by Jim Croce, Every Other Man by He is We, At Last by Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves, Out of My League by Fitz and the Tantrums, Anna Sun by Walk the Moon, Buttercup by Hippo Campus.

See what I mean? Not a single holiday tune in the mix. Check out the songs. See if you can figure out what song played when I wrote a particular chapter. For example, The Age of Aquarius inspired this little scene in Chapter 3:

On my wedding day, I walked toward my groom in an ivory-colored Gunne Sax dress to hide my little belly, a floppy Scarlett O’Hara-style hat with sunflowers around the brim, and bare feet. I’d always dreamed of an outdoor wedding in a field of daisies and butterflies. An elementary school’s football field was the closest we could get on short notice. Instead of the daisies, we were surrounded by star jasmine, their peachy perfume wafting on the humid air. My butterflies were mosquitos, whose drone created a steady buzz in my ears. Archie wore his army fatigues with a single sunflower pinned to the point of his collar. The shoulder-length shaggy hair I used to love to run my fingers through had been shorn off nine weeks earlier when he’d first come down to Fort Polk for basic training. 

No family had taken the trip to Louisiana with me, so my father wasn’t there to give me away. Mom and Dad were less than thrilled with their daughter being in the family way without the benefit of marriage, which, I argued, should have made my wedding a relief and a time of celebration for them. But, no. I’d shamed them unforgivably, so I was on my own. My maid of honor turned out to be the girlfriend of Archie’s best man, a squad mate he’d met in basic. The newly wed Mr. and Mrs. Archie Bendlow spent one wedding night in a local Holiday Inn off the interstate, then he was back on base to continue infantry training and I drove home to New York alone. Well, not entirely alone. Baby and me, ready to take on the world.

Not bad, right? I hope you’ll enjoy the eclectic variety of music that got my creative juices flowing! If you’re on iTunes (I’m not a fan of Pandora or Spotify), I can share the playlist with you. Just contact me at gina@ginaardito.com.
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70 comments:

  1. I appreciate getting to hear about your book. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. How long did it take you to write your book?

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    1. This one took over a year. Thea was a joy to write but Siobhan gave me fits. Generally, a book this size takes me about 6 months.

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  3. The cover art seems appropriate for the book. Good job.

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    1. Thanks, Paula. I’m fortunate I have a great cover artist who gets my weird linear creative brain.

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  4. Nice and romantic I like it.

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  5. Thanks, Barb. Lou and Thea are especially romantic without getting sappy.

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  6. Sounds like a book I will enjoy reading.

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    1. I hope you’ll give it a try, Rita. Everyone needs a Thea in their lives!

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  7. Beautiful cover and I loved the synopsis and excerpt. This sounds like a must read for me. Thank you for sharing your book and author details

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    1. Thank you, Bea. I hope you’ll pick up a copy.

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  8. Oh the cover is so adorable! This sounds like my type of read :)

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    1. Aw, thanks, Ana! I appreciate hearing that. I hope you'll give it a try!

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  9. How many books do you write in a year?

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    1. It depends on my writing schedule. I aim for three new releases per year. I hit it last year and this one. Next year, I want to release 3 new books and re-release at least one old book I acquired the rights to.

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  10. Such a sweet cover! Looking forward to reading!

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  11. The book cover looks sweet.

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  12. This sounds awesome I'm really looking forward to it.

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  13. Replies
    1. Thank you, Nicole. The story's fun and sassy, too!

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  14. I like the cover-thanks

    tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

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  15. This sounds good. I'm glad to see someone recovering from an eating disorder in a romance.
    Flyergal82 (at /yahoo !dot ?com

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    1. Thank you! I try to give all my main characters realistic challenges.

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  16. I love the cover. It is so romantic.

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    1. Thanks, Jeanna. It's inspired by a scene in the book.

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  17. very nice book cover and the book sounds interesting.

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  18. Great excerpt & I love the romantic cover!

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  19. Sounds like a great gift for Xmas!

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  20. Very nice cover - perfect for the season.

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    1. One of my readers described it as the perfect book for a cold day with a cup of hot tea.

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  21. I think that's a very appropriate cover for the book. It looks like a good seasonal read.

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  22. I like the cover very much- looks like the models have good chemistry.

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    1. LOL! I hadn't thought of that, Cindy, but they do look like they belong together.

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  23. Sweet cover and I liked the excerpt.

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  24. The cover is nice and the story sounds sweet. A perfect Christmas read. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Debra.

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  25. First I love that you kill plants. I always joke that my home is a hospice for plants. They just have days to live when they venture over my doorstep. About the book: Did you have to do much research on eating disorders? I had several friends in college who suffered from bulimia. Thanks for the interview

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  26. I love this cover! I also enjoyed the guest post.

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  27. I think the cover is sweet and perfectly fitted for the lovely story inside!

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