Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Feature and Thoughts On the Meaning of Love

I normally don't post on Fridays so don't be surprised if this post is still up for next Monday!  But there was no way I would miss out on a chance to host Kelly Hashway's cover reveal for her hot new release, Looking For Love published under her other pen name Ashelyn Drake.  Kelly was part of the first group of people I met within this amazing community of authors.  She is a very talented and dedicated writer and I am looking forward to reading her new book!


 

Fans asked, and Ashelyn Drake agreed. Mike from the Campus Crush companion series needed another story. The final installment of the Campus Crush series, Looking For Love, will release on March 17th. Because this is a companion series, the books stand on their own and do not need to be read in order.

Right now, you can read the other books in the series for FREE. Find them on Kindle and Nook as individual books

or all together in one boxset. (The boxset does not include Looking For Love.)


And now for the cover of Looking For Love!


Mike Hannigan is looking for love in all the wrong places. Maybe that’s because having his heart torn to shreds by who he thought was the perfect girl left some emotional scarring. But that’s about to change. 

Summer Patterson isn’t like anyone Mike’s dated before, and he can’t help but be intrigued by her. Now if only he could keep his foot out of his mouth long enough to win her over. But when a secret involving Summer brings Mike’s past crashing back to the present, he’ll need some backup from his best friend and wingwoman, Mindy, to sort out the mess.

Will Mike find love before he leaves Timberland College for good?

Add it on Goodreads.

*This is a New Adult title and is not suitable for younger readers.*


Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.







My Thoughts on Love

In celebration of Valentine's Day, I am sharing my thoughts and experience, so far, with love.

Ever since I was 15, I have been "in love" with the idea of "love."  Seriously.  This was also the same age I began my first relationship with a guy who not only was my lover, but became a kindred friend for years to come.  He was my high school sweetheart and I was infatuated with him.  This person was also four years older than me but his charm, wit, looks and humor won my parents over.  He also treated me like a princess. 



Sadly, I did what every young, frivolous girl did and left my high school sweetheart for the bad boy from Brooklyn, New York.  Yep, this born and bred South Jersey girl decided it would be a good idea to go AOL and meet up with a drop-dead-gorgeous Italian guy who's charm and lips could melt the panties off of any girl.  Remember those AOL days?  When our computers had to dial up and it took FOREVER to connect.  My, how the times have changed!

Needless to say, I was blinded by a lifestyle I had only read articles about in magazines like Vogue and watched on shows like Sex and the City.  My heart was in the wrong place and by the time I was a freshman in college, I was burned by this guy's temper and cheating ways.



Obviously, the two of us didn't work out so when I entered my freshman year of college, my self-worth was at an all-time low.  And I only wanted to be "loved" and "adored" by men so I let them take advantage of my most sacred gifts.  I didn't love myself back then so how in the hell could I expect someone to love me?

I had been abandoned by my biological father (still am) because he chose his new wife and kids over me.  I guess some people never really mature or learn how to love, even when they are almost 60 years old.  My other dad who was there for me until I was 17 was shot and killed.  I entered college a year later and no longer having him in my life left me broken, alone and damaged.



I believe something catastrophic happened to me which finally woke up my soul.  I had been in a tumultuous relationship with someone who actually did love and adore me for five years during my 20s.  However, since I didn't have much love or respect for myself, I often took advantage of this person.  I was empty inside and unable to give him the love he deserved. 

So when my old high school sweetheart died of a brain aneurism six years ago, I knew things had to change.  His birthday would have been last week on February 7th and he died on February 6th.

I had been estranged from home until this person died.  But his death brought me back to my hometown and friends I hadn't seen in years.  It also brought my sister and I closer because my high school beau was like a big brother to her.  She was there in the hospital, sitting next to me, while I held his hand on the very last night he took his last breath.  She was also there as I sobbed for hours that same night while we looked through my old photo albums of me and him.

Watching him die erupted chaos within my soul.  But it wasn't bad chaos.  It was like my soul was shifting in more ways than one and I didn't know how to control it.  And as silly as this sounds, deep down, I knew exactly how to control it.  I had to change.  I had to follow my heart.  I had to learn what the word "love" really meant before I was ready to love someone again.



This started with loving myself.  And by loving myself, I had to follow my passion of writing and becoming a children's book author.  For the first time, I put my career and studies ahead of anything else.  My mind became stronger because instead of constantly battling with my heart, the two were working together.  My mind was at ease because my heart started listening instead of being destructive and impulsive.



Fast forward to the present and learning how to love myself, I have finally found the love of my life.  We have been together for almost four years and our love grows stronger as each day passes.  He makes me want to work harder and push myself toward all of my dreams and goals.  When I am wrong, he doesn't let me get away with it.  We talk, compromise and don't let things go unsettled.  He holds me, warms up my car and shovels it out of the snow in the winter, cooks for me, buys me flowers, and makes sure to text me with an "I love you, XOXOXO" text every single morning.

We met on Match.com almost five years ago but were not romantic in the beginning.  He often pursued me but I still wasn't ready for a relationship because I wanted to continue on my publishing path first.  We were friends for a long time when suddenly, during a marathon we ran together, something sparked inside of me.  While we were running side by side, sweating out all of the sweat and glory, it suddenly dawned upon me.  He was the one.  My runner.. my lover.. my handsome man.. my rock.. my best friend.

Here we are running at the Long Branch marathon down the shore.

So my final thought on love this Valentine's Day is to love yourself before you try to love someone else.  And when we love ourselves, we have passion for success, family and our inner and outer skin.  Many years are wasted when we try to fill our empty voids with love.  Instead of doing this, fill it with dreams, goals and passion.  Fill it with love for who you are and what you do for this world.  Then, you will find the love.



And if you have been married for one, two, ten, thirty some years, congrats!!  You obviously know what you are doing.  Hugs to you all and have a safe and warm Valentine's Day!  And Liz, I hope you don't get anymore snow!

What are your thoughts on love?  What are you doing for Valentine's Day?
Don't forget to grab Kelly's new book, Looking For Love, once it is released.  I hope you all do! 


42 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing my cover, Gina!

    I loved your post about love. I had a similar experience. You really can't love someone if you don't love yourself.

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  2. Of course, Kelly! Looking forward to reading your book=)

    You really can't love someone else until you love yourself. You can try, like most of us have done, but will fail over and over again.

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  3. I can't wait to read Mike's love story!!!! March can't come soon enough. :)

    I'm so sorry about you high school sweetheart. That's so heartbreaking.

    I agree that we must first love ourselves before we can love another.

    Beautiful post!

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    1. Thanks Chrys! I am really looking forward to reading Kelly's book!

      It was devastating to see him die the way he did. But I know I have one more guardian angel hanging out with Daddy C.

      We sure do have to love ourselves first! And speaking of love, Felix surprised me with ANOTHER rescue kitty! This one he brought home from the shelter he volunteers at. He totally had me fooled because he said no more cats!! He's been keeping it a secret. We are trying to figure out a name now but this little guy is gorgeous=)

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  4. Wow, what a beautiful post, Gina! You're walking the talk with an important message. It has taken me a long while to figure this love thing out. You've hit the nail on the head with your love advice.

    What a perfect book to promote today. I'm adding it to my GR list! Nice work, Kelly!

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    1. I'm so happy you are adding Kelly's book to your GR list! Fantastic!

      And thank you for your kind words regarding my post. I think once we begin to figure the love thing out, everything else seems to fall in its place. And not only finding someone but learning to find ourselves.

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  5. Love baffles me! I enjoy writing it but living it? I don't think I'm very good at it, ha! so sorry to hear about your h.s. sweetheart--so incredibly heartbreaking. But I loved the story of how you met your man...gives all us single gals hope! <33

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    1. Yes, there is hope! I think we all have counterparts out there but in order to find them, we have to find ourselves first. And I highly recommend joining a dating site. I had a lot of fun going out on dates. Some were jerks and some were nice.
      But I won the lottery when I met my boyfriend on match. He is definitely my other half... my counterpart.

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  6. Congrats to Kelly on her cover :) And I completely agree with the rest of your post. This has taken me forever to learn, but it's worth all the struggle. Also, your story with the marathon--cutest love story ever!!!

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  7. Awe, thanks Meradeth! I almost didn't run the marathon. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I didn't!

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  8. What an awesome cover! Wishing you much success, Kelly. I'm sure this is going to be a runaway success.

    Hope you are having a great day, Gina dear.

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  9. Thank you, sweet Sandra! Still trying to split attention on both kitties, lol. Luna is not happy but I am sure it will take her some time to adjust. Simba is just too darn sweet and affectionate. And he loves his belly rubs!

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  10. I can totally relate to your love journey Gina. I was in love with the thought of love for the longest, yet ironically hadn't fallen in love with ME. It's still a process, and I'm still growing, but I'm enjoying the whole process. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs on the path of love.

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    1. The process is definitely more enjoyable once we start to figure things out. Even after my friend passed away, I still made mistakes. Those mistakes were mostly picking the wrong guys to date! I was still learning and now that I have found the love of my life, we are learning more about "our love" each day we spend together.

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  11. I have the first book in the series in my list...at least I think it's the first book. I'd better check! I always hate when I download a book and start reading and realize it isn't the first book!

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    1. Lol, me too Stephanie. I've downloaded several books without realizing others came before them!

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  12. All those dreamy covers and beautiful people! Perfect for Valentine's Day.

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  13. We learn so much about ourselves as the years pass. I've though about being hurt and who I've hurt. I also didn't completely love myself when I was young, even though I thought I did.

    I love the Campus Crush series. I finished Looking for Love last night.

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    1. Oh, wow Medeia. Can't wait to hear your thoughts about Looking For Love!
      We do learn a lot about ourselves as the years go by. It's strange, though. Sometimes I think when we start looking for love, our intensions are in the right place. Then this area becomes blinded by always wanting what's on the other side of the spectrum. Or the unknown.

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  14. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by to check out the covers, Kelly!

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  15. Greetings, ladies. Happy Monday.
    Gina, I still need to grab my award. Thanks again:)

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  16. Of course sweet Sandra=)
    Happy Monday!

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  17. Yay for Kelley and her fabulous new book! Some of us have a quicker journey to love. Mine started at the ripe old age of 16 when I met my sweetheart, and three years later we got married. Have I wondered sometimes what it would have been like if I'd waited until I was older? Sure. Do I have any regrets? Absolutely not. Having my best friend beside me for this journey the last 15 years has been amazing.

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    1. Wow, Crystal! What an awesome love story. I sometimes wonder what may have happened if I married my high school sweetheart..
      But thank God I found someone that makes me feel like I am a school girl every day:) Hopelessly falling in love with my best friend.

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    2. Gina, I hear you! I'm so glad you found the love of your life too.

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    3. Thank you, Crystal! Wouldn't be right without him=)

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  18. Ok, first, congrats to Ashelyn!!

    Second, Gina, what a beautiful, heartfelt post. You write so courageously and openly, and it's beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing your story, and for the message - which I wholeheartedly agree with. You can't love anyone until you love yourself. It's not a complete lesson, I think - loving ourselves can take a long time to do fully and constantly - but the realization of the need to do so, and to start learning, changes us, opens us, widens our hearts.

    This was such a lovely Valentine's day post. And thank you for the shout-out at the end!! We did get more snow...sigh...but I'm trying to laugh about it now :) And I will get to your sweet award next week!!

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  19. Awe, thank you for reading, Liz. And thank you for your sweet afterthoughts:)
    I saw how much snow you have gotten, you poor thing!! Have a great time in Vermont and see you back here next week!

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  20. What a great cover! Congrats to Ashelyn/Kelly!

    I definitely think we have to find the love for ourselves before we can truly love someone else.

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    1. Isn't her cover awesome?!

      Indeed, we do, Cherie.

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  21. Oh my, what a touching story about your high school sweetheart's brain aneurysm and how his tragic death affected your life. I think we sometimes get myopic about our own lives - little things and problems seem so important and affect how we treat others. But serious health problems or deaths can sure wake us up! We need to be open to change, and I'm so glad you found the right path and are happy now! :)

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    1. Thank you, Lexa! Sometimes, it really does take something so tragic to wake us up and put us on the right paths. I never saw someone on the night of their death before. It was heartbreaking and eerie. I definitely knew then that something had to change.

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  22. i want to thank the great Chief Priest Amros for helping me with his love binding spell that brought my girlfriend back to my arms. with so much joy in my heart i am really amaze with the love spell he did for me ever since my girlfriend came back to me she has be the kind of girl i want her to be and now she show me so much love and respect and now she is so committed to me more before. i will also advice everyone with a broken heart to contact Chief Priest Amros via his email address holytempleofsolution@hotmail.com or call him via +2347060458342/+2347052079645 to reunite and restore your broken relationship.

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  23. Gina, I am long overdue for a visit. :) I've been MIA for a month now, in the trenches with writing, editing, and working. But I'm so glad to finally catch up on my blog reading!

    Can I just say how many wonderful parts of this post made warmed my heart? I can absolutely relate to your love story. And I am so, so sorry that you lost your HS sweetheart to such tragedy. :( Giving you the biggest virtual hug right now.

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    1. Awe, I missed your sweet thoughts, Anna! But I am happy you took the time to focus on your work. We have to do this at certain times of our lives. I am slow to respond to some blogs this week because of my volunteer work for low income schools and literacy. I had three schools this week, besides the day job! I will head over to your happy space as soon as I can.

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  24. Best of luck with Looking for Love, Kelly. It looks like a keeper.
    I'm sorry you had to deal with such emotional turmoil. Hugs.

    Gina, how are you? How's the kitties?

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    1. Oh boy, the kitties are not doing well together. Cheex wants attention from Luna and he always greets or looks for her to say Hi. He never hisses while she is constantly angry and hissing at him=(
      I hope this changes overtime. He's super sensitive and cries/purrs/meows when Luna ignores or hisses at him.

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  25. I knew one of your closest friends had passed away and that shook you hard, but I didn't know it was your high school sweetheart. Rest his soul now, he doesn't have to worry about you. You can take good care of yourself, Gina, and when you can't, your dear will be there to take care of you. :) I hope you two had a nice Lunar New Year celebration.

    Congratulations to Kelly on the latest release! She is doing so well and such an inspiration to all of us.

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  26. Enjoy whats left of the weekend, Gina. Sorry the kitties are still at odds. I know that's stressful. Luna apparently thinks she prefers being an only child, but she will eventually get over it.

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