How Many Shopping Day Are Left?! Top 10 Reasons For a Family Gift Registry

"Shoppers on Dundas, near Yonge" by Ian Muttoo - originally posted to Flickr as Alone / TogetherUploaded using F2ComButton. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpg

“Shoppers on Dundas, near Yonge” by Ian Muttoo

It’s the first full day of Fall 2014, which means 92 shopping days left ’til Christmas. Since nearly every retailer has had decorations on display for weeks, I got to thinking about my own gift-giving list.  There’s a lot to be said for the idea of implementing a Family Gift Registry.

Now I know both sides of the aisle have started barking at me already, but you decide whether a Family Gift Registry (FGR) is either a parody of ghastly nonsensical consumerism, OR just plain common sense. In the meantime,

Here are my Top 10 Reasons

for a Family Gift Registry:

#1: The sweaters that mom sends me are hideous. Or the closely related, who buys someone chartreuse hand towels?

#2: I would really rather have preferred the hip-high fishing waders, not the knee-highs. Or the red wine, not white.IMG_0415

#3: My mother-in-law keeps buying me cooking utensils, but I do not cook. Or hairstyle magazines,  but I like my hair the way it is.

#4: My child drinks a lot of milk and has already outgrown his/her entire wardrobe, and it’s back to school time again.

#5: My entire wardrobe is so “last season.” Or the closely related, my waist has outgrown all of my pants.

#6: How do I buy for the person who has everything? Or hates everything I ever buy him/her? Or hates me?  I’d love to donate to their favorite charity instead.

#7: I’m not sure what my niece/nephew is into right now. Frankly, what I think they’re into is scary and ridiculous, and I’m not sure where I’d go to buy something like that.

#8: My friend is disabled, and I’d love to buy him/her something she could really use, instead of just another sweater.4bb69592617bc_130315b

#9: I’d never spend the time and/or money to buy that for myself, but drawing farm animals is my favorite hobby and my sketch pad is full.

#10: How do I tell friends/relatives that I could really use a grocery/gas/home improvement gift card instead of another blender?

After perusing the Top 10 reasons for the concept of FGR, it really comes down to these fundamentals:

  • Preference,
  • Style,
  • Charitable donation,
  • Waste management, and
  • Need

Think about it. A couple gets married, and they set up a Wedding Registry. Why don’t they just maintain it, adding and deleting items as the years go by? They’d get what they need or desire most during the changing times/needs in their life together, and your gift giving checklist is widdled down in a day.

The same couple has a baby, and they set up a Baby Registry. Simply maintain it as the child grows, allowing for updates in the clothing or diaper sizes, changes in the style of the child’s room, or any unexpected costly special needs items that a group may chip in on. When the child is of the age to start asking for new sneakers, a video game, or Lite Brite, then others can easily pick and choose for their child’s birthday, Hanukkah, or graduation. With size and preference updates, the child gets what it wants/needs (NO rival team Zubaz from Grandma for the 5th year in a row,) and there is no wasted time, money, or effort, as regular quantity or “item received” notices are provided.

Similar to an online family website that may be private or public, where people share photos and news with loved ones near or far, every family could establish a Family Gift Registry, that’s mobile, password protected, and possibly linked to favorite stores, or linked to preferred charities for giving donations instead of gifts, or listing gift cards in various denominations, etc. FGR’s would provide a separate page with distinct profiles for mom, dad, child, grandpa, the dog, etc. that each would regularly update in time for the next occasion.

What’s more, an FGR App could stem from the registry, downloadable to any device, so that last minute shopping is convenient and painless, both for the shopper and the recipient who rack their brains for last minute ideas, while party-goers are waiting for cake.

Of course, there’s still something to be said about spur-of-the-moment gifts, like a bottle of wine for a dinner party, a bracelet for that special someone, flowers for mom, a juicy mystery novel for a great friend, or a restaurant gift certificate for a shining employee. Spontaneity AND variety are truly the spice of life. And don’t let your significant other forget it.

SculptorCoverWithBlurb

But, say goodbye to Boxing Day holiday, Canada…there’ll be no more cause for returns. The entire dynamic of the day-after-a-holiday would switch from battling traffic, weather, and fellow patrons traveling store to store with arms laden with returns/exchanges, to strolling through the park with loved ones and a picnic of leftover turkey sandwiches. Black Friday would still be black for retailers, but so would many other days, as the need for returns becomes obsolete.

Sure, you can put together a site yourself, but here’s a quick list of some Family Gift Registry sites that offer to do the work for you:

So make a list, and check it twice…because Santa’s job has never been easier! What do you think? Does a Family Gift Registry take the magic out of gift giving? Or does it provide a money- and time-saving way to choose THE perfect gift? Let me know what you think…

Virtual eBook Launch Party for Gina Fava’s THE RACE

GF_Race

 

You’re Invited!

What:  The eBook release of my brand new suspense novel–

THE RACE:  A HELL Ranger Thriller 

When:  Sunday, July 14, 2013, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Where:  Virtual Party on Gina Fava’s Facebook Page

Rolling out the same day as the Sprint Cup NH 300 and the Honda Indy Toronto races, my first book in the new HELL Ranger series hits the virtual streets on launch day, available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, iPad, and more! 
(Stay tuned for the print version at indie booksellers and at Amazon.com to follow in a few weeks.)

From 9am to 6pm EST on July 14, US residents can register at my website by entering their name and email for a random drawing at http://www.ginafava.com/Contact.html
to win either:
1) a 4-pack of Regal Cinema Tix for Turbo, about an aspiring Indy racing snail, or
2) an Olive Garden gift certificate for Italian dining, or
3) a free signed copy of the print version.

There’ll be chances to win other spot prizes throughout the day, along with the announcement of a reviewer contest that will run through Nov 22 (US Formula One Race day) and a chance to win the championship prize.

Need more details? I’ll reveal more prelims on my website at
http://www.ginafava.com/Novel__The_Race.html
as the day draws near.

In the meantime, take a sneak peak at an excerpt from The Race to wet your whistle.

Then, JOIN ME on Facebook on THE RACE day for my virtual eBook launch party! Let’s roll…

 

 

 

 

 

Murder Mystery Show

murder and mayhem

 Come on out on May 10th to Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown, NH at 7pm to see who’s murdered and who dunnit!

ToscanaUno 040

Join fellow authors and thespians CJWest, Steve Ulfelder, and Michele McPhee, and me, for a one-night-only performance.

Tickets just went on sale. The last 7 shows all sold out, so if you want to be in the crowd of 200 super sleuths, get your tickets right away. This event is in Sandown, NH and is $35 per person.   Your admission includes the choice of a novel from any one of the authors, including my debut novel, THE RACE:  A HELL Ranger Thriller.  Hope to see you there!

Adding a Few Sips of Wine to My Editor’s Italian Itinerary

Amanda’s Italian Itinerary

While sharing a bottle of Castello Banfi’s Rosso di Montalcino 2006, with my editor and friend, Amanda, (more on her professional editing company later), we poured over photos from a recent trip my family and I had taken to Italy.   She told me that she and her husband had dreamed of visiting Italy someday as the ultimate anniversary gift to each other.  They even had their ideal itinerary planned, which included such cultural gems as Florence, Rome, and Venice.

I told her to scrap the plan.  (Cue the scratch of the needle on the vinyl album.)

Romantic anniversary, trip to Italy, lovers of fine wine?  Redo.  Add some wine to this itinerary, and now you’ve got something to write home about!  A trip with such promise MUST incorporate a drive through the hills of Tuscany.

Here’s some advice:  Before you leave the States, check any imported bottle of your favorite Italian fine wine, search the web for the location of the producer, and then add it to your itinerary.  Any travel agency can hook you up with accommodations and wine tours, such as AAA or check the internet for a reputable company like www.tuscanwinetour.net.

Better advice?   Ditch the train schedule, rent a car (we went through www.AutoEurope.com for the best rates,) and lose the GPS.  Instead, get lost on the single lane road (S222) that winds through the vineyards, olive groves, and castle-dotted estates of central Italy.  Pull over at any roadside enoteca di vino (local wine shop) to sample and purchase gorgeous wines, or tour a larger producer’s facility to learn how wines are made.  Countryside towns like Montepulciano and San Gimingnano boast enoteche built atop subterranean wine cellars centuries ago.  Other towns, like Montalcino, have an enoteca built right into a castle.  Villas and countryside inns abound between Siena and Florence, often offering homemade meals and self-produced vintages.  Drive, sample, stay overnight, repeat.

One of Italy’s oldest and most renowned vintners is Castello Banfi.  Last summer our family made it a point to include this producer in our own drive through Tuscany, just outside Montalcino center.  It MADE the entire trip.  Here’s why:

  • Banfi set us up with a private tour of their magnificent facility.  Even my children were amazed at the immense maze of pipes that connected the gargantuan barrels inside the factory and the warehoused cellars.
  • After, we enjoyed the best dinner of our lives at Taverna Banfi, where we feasted on a five-course Tuscan menu paired with their finest wines.  You don’t have to be a sommelier like my husband to know what a treat this is.  Click on the link to get a taste of their sumptuous multi-course menus and pairings.
  • Had a little too much to eat?  Imbibed one too many?  Or just want to stay a little longer to tour the castle, balsameria (homemade balsamic wine tasting), glass museum, and grounds? Stay the night in one of their luxury rooms or suites at Il Borgo.

Needless to say, I’ve convinced Amanda to explore Tuscany, and, while Rome, Florence, and Venice are truly places for which my heart always yearns, no trip to Italy is complete without a tour of Tuscany.

Who’s Amanda?

Who is this lovely friend who hopes to one day embark on this super-adventure?

Amanda Clark is the President and Editor-in-Chief of Grammar Chic, Inc. based in Charlotte, North Carolina.  According to the Grammar Chic website, “Grammar Chic, Inc. is a full-service Literary Consultancy that offers professional writing services that can address any need within the sphere of the written word.”  Amanda and her exceptional team professionally edited both of my novels, The Race, and The Sculptor.  I’m very pleased with the job that she did, and with her top-notch professionalism.

Well, I hope I’ve convinced you, dear reader, to incorporate a Tuscan tour into your Italy plans.  Let me know if you need more details, and remember to drink responsibly.  I’d love to hear your adventure stories of Tuscan travel!  Do you have a favorite winery, comfy villa, or superb cheese shop to pass along?

Shark Attack: Top Five List of Shark Entertainment

Paying homage to the Discovery Channel’s 25th Anniversary of Shark Week, I’m offering up my Top Five List of Shark Entertainment.

But first, here’s what’s NOT on the list:

  • A list of the most recent shark sightings off Cape Cod (What media outlet hasn’t jumped the shark on that one?)
  • The episode of Happy Days, where Fonzie jumps the shark
  • Jaws movie sequels (They don’t even come close to the original.)
  • Sharks in Venice (2008, with Stephen Baldwin)–unless you’d like to see what is arguably one of the worst plotted movies ever made
  • Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (2009, Jane Austen, and Ben H. Winters) It doesn’t make the Top 5 because I have not read it, but I’ve been told that Mr. Dashwood gets eaten by a hammerhead shark, so read it at your own peril.  At the very least, click on the link for the sick book trailer.

Top Five List of Shark Entertainment

  1. Jaws (1975)–From the actors, to the director, to the author, to the theme song, to the great lines, to the blood in the water, it’s a true movie classic.
  2. Peter Benchley‘s novels:  Jaws (1974, on which the movie was based); Beast (1991); White Shark (1994, on which a solid TV movie named Creature starring Craig T. Nelson was based); and Creature (1997).  Benchley was an author and an ocean advocate; click on this link for more information.
  3. Deep Blue Sea (1999, with Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, and LL Cool J)–great movie.
  4. Steve Alten‘s Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (1997).  Listened to it as an audiobook; it would make a great movie.  Click on the link to check out a number of other related megalodon shark titles published by Alten.
  5. Shark Spotting:  When you’re done reading this post, and Discovery’s marathon of true shark tales has ended, you may be tempted to go shark spotting on your own.  Aside from getting up close and personal with sharks off the coasts of Australia and Cape Cod, consider spotting these awesome creatures from behind a pane of thick glass.  Check out the gigantic tank at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA, plus here’s a link to some of the Best Aquariums for Shark Watching in the world, including ones in Las Vegas, California, Japan, and possibly one near you.

That’s just a small bite of the many shark-infested movies and novels that are out there.  I’d love to learn and share more.  What’s your favorite movie or novel about sharks that you just can’t shake off your tail?

Thrillerfest 2012…in the Books

Thrillerfest 2012 was a success!  ITW organized quite a conference:

  • Panels from established authors offering keen insights and helpful advice,

    Joseph Finder and USMC Capt Jack Hoban,
    Orchestrating “Ethical Warrior” fight scenes

  • A variety of prestigious agents to pitch at Agentfest, and
  • Plenty of opportunities in which to connect with writers and readers alike (book signings, cocktail parties, and a thrilling awards banquet.)

2011 Thrillermaster R.L. Stein and me

Thank you ITW board members, organizers, authors, and agents for all the fun and education.  Congratulations to all the winners of 2012’s Thriller Awards.  Check out ITW’s website for information on the conference and PW’s website for a list of the winners.

New York City was a blast!

  • My interview and “ride along” with one of NYPD’s finest, Officer Sheryl Puletz, and her “partner” Eddie was unforgettable.  My hat’s off to all those who serve and protect everyday.

    NYPD Officer Puletz, and Eddie

  • My visit to the 9/11 Memorial was heartfelt, but my country pride swelled at the sight of just how much we’ve rebuilt.

    World Trade Center

  • No visit to the city is complete for this writer without paying homage to the NY Public Library.
  • Of course, after a full day of Thrillerfest, nothing beats chomping down Five Guys fries while copping a squat in Bryant Park.

    NY Pubic Library

It’s great to be home, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!  Hope to see you there.

Drop me a line…I’d love to hear your Thrillerfest stories, too!

Welcoming Connection

Writers seek to relate to readers with every piece of writing that we create.  We also associate with other writers for camaraderie, information, and empathy.  We crave connection, the essence of community.

Today, I invite you to connect with me.

Welcome, officially.

The purpose of this blog is all about skeletal recomposition:  I add flesh to bare bone.  That is, as a thriller  writer, I regularly post information and then categorize it according to some of the typical elements of a thriller novel.  Let me flesh out the categories for you:

  • HEART (Characters):  Brings the Story to Life
  • SPINE (Plot/Scenes/Structure):  What Holds the Story Together and Moves It Along
  • SKULL (Style/Voice/Theme):  Getting Inside the Reader’s Head
  • FEMURS (Setting/Description):  Legs to Stand On
  • BLOOD (Spattered Information):  Miscellaneous Posts
  • SKELETAL REMAINS…OF THE DAY:  Book and Movie Reviews

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A little bit about Gina Fava, and why I leap at every connection:

Born 20 minutes from the Peace Bridge that connects Canada with Buffalo, NY, and residing somewhere between the Boston Zakim and the Cape Cod Sagamore, I attribute my writing philosophy to taking the plunge at every opportunity.

At 9, I stood with my dad on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy.  He pointed to a rainbow and told me to “dream farther than the end of it”. I took the leap and filled three journals about it.  I’ve never stopped writing, or dreaming.

Later, the young man who’d rescued me from a bomb threat to our university in Rome asked me to marry him under the Bridge of Sighs after braving Venice’s Grand Canal, inspiring my suspense-driven novels and short stories, and many thrilling years of marriage.

My bios at Twitter (@ginafava) and Facebook both read:  Gina Fava, Writer of cliffhangers.  Bridge jumper.  Now you know why. I hope you’ll connect with me there, too.

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THE RACE

Connecting with Readers

I’ve recently embarked on a journey toward the publication of my two novels.

The first is a thriller, entitled THE RACE, about car-racing covert agent Devlin Luccesi, who must save Rome from annihilation and rescue his young son from an elusive international criminal and his race of followers.

THE SCULPTOR

The second novel, entitled THE SCULPTOR, is a suspense novel in which Mara Silvestri is the only woman who can stop the Sculptor from murdering Rome’s female grad students, and the one woman he truly covets for his collection.

Please take a few minutes to explore my website at www.GinaFava.com.  I hope you’ll find something that grabs you, perhaps a novel synopsis, or one of the many photos that inspired my novels, maybe a short story, or a link to another great resource that resonates with you.

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Connecting with Writers

Please take note of my blogroll.  Each one represents a part of my community, and they all truly mean a lot to me, personally and professionally.

A) Initiation Blogs

These blogs initiated me into the industry.  I still turn to them when I need succinct, sometimes brutal, always honest, never shy advice about writing and publishing.

B)  Life Support

I’ve come to rely on these blogs for great lessons in craft, or just plain old positive energy.

C)  Colleagues-in-Arms

The people who write these blogs are those authors who’ve gone above and beyond the call.  They’ve been there to kick me into gear or pat me on the back, with a post, a message, a tweet, a coffee, or a phone call, when I truly needed it.

To all of the writers listed above, I am truly grateful.  Also, not a day goes by that I’m not pleasantly surprised by a newly discovered blog, one that tickles my phalanges or inspires murderous thoughts (in a good way, I’m a thriller writer!), so be sure to check back for new ones that might pop up on my blogroll in the future.  It might just be yours.

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Coming Soon

Getting back to skeletal recomposition, consider these juicy bones to chew on in future posts:

  • Chernobyl, 25 years later
  • F1 Racing in America, professional and amateur tracks
  • Household weaponry
  • Using international slang to spice up dialogue
  • Fava bean recipes
  • Italian museums, churches, and artwork that are often overlooked
  • Reviews of great thrillers, that just might be yours
  • And many more…

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Thank you for reading this blog.  I invite you to link up with me, and the rest of the writing community, at our usual haunts.  We’d love to connect with you.  Do you have a favorite blog you’d like to recommend?