Interviews With Inspiring People: Meet Blue of BluedarkArt

I first encountered Blue’s art through a reblog of one of her designs by our blogger in common, Sherri of Palm Springs.  The vibrance, playfulness, and imagination of Blue’s designs drew me in right away.  In time, I discovered that Blue would be the designer who inspired me to start playing with design as more than an easier way around copyright drama in my blog posts.  Blogging has brought many rewards.  My friendship with Blue is one of them.

Blue is also the only designer I have purchased art from to promote my Natural Gifts book series.  Remember these?

Creatures Velvet Meets VectorCreatures Velvet Meets in The Dreaming

Saunders + Velvet with text VectorVelvet and Saunders’ First Kiss

The more I interacted with Blue, the more impressed and curious I became.  That’s why I asked if she would like to answer the ten questions.  She graciously accepted, and now we can all get to know Blue just a little bit better.

Thank you for everything, Blue!

Gina:  How did you become the inspiring person you are today?

Blue: This question is so beautiful, and also very generous, Gina. I have always believed myself to be a lucky and inspired person, rather than inspiring. Or maybe both are connected. I think I’m the person I am today mainly thanks to my parents (both artists: my father a pianist, my mother a singer), to the place where I was born (the colorful and vibrant Brazil), to the various places where I then lived in the World (especially Africa, South America, Caribbean), to the many people I met, and I still meet on the path of life … The incredible connections between all these facts, and even more, have shaped my “being.” That’s why I consider myself to be an inspired person, and the simple idea of transmitting this makes me think of an “exchange” between me and my surroundings, a sort of gratitude for what I had and learned .. .and that I am still having and learning.  😀

Gina: How did you get started in graphic design?

Blue: Since I was a kid I loved drawing.  Growing up I started painting, and about 12 years ago my parents and my brother gave me a computer for my birthday, with a beautiful software for Vector Graphism. I first started learning to use both (never had a computer before!), on my own, fascinated by this new experience! And slowly, time after time, patiently, I started to build what is now my job for a few years now: computer graphics 😀

Gina: What advice do you have for those who are getting started in graphic design today?

Blue: The graphic design world is in constant evolution, and requires not only our skills, our creativity, but also curiosity, enthusiasm, tenacity, perseverance, patience and an inexhaustible desire to learn and discover, every day!

Gina: What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not designing?

Blue: Oh! There are so many things! Walking, swimming, reading, listening or playing music, making little objects with bamboo or palm tree parts, and so many other things! It depends on what part of the world I am in, on the weather, on the opportunity life offers or that the moment offers. 😀

Gina: Please finish this sentence in your own words: The best things in life are?

Blue: Well, it’s almost impossible for me to choose just some among them.  There are a lot of best things in life! But there are two things, in particular, that have the potential to bring us to the best things in life: knowledge and respect.  For ourselves, for others, for nature.  Knowledge, because learning, even every day, is one of the best and important things in life. Respect, because this is the best “passport” for different aspects and pleasures life can give us.

Gina: What advice do you have for those who are struggling right now?

Blue: I know it sounds simplistic, but my advice is to never give up, accept any losses (as we learn to understand our limitations, our weaknesses, and thus strengthen us), never force destiny, but let it guide us through the mental path chosen by ourselves. This means that sometimes we may feel dissatisfied, or even betrayed, and maybe we will be forced to make detours that we would not have wanted to do, but a careful reading of the events will always give the answers, these same answers that will help us to never give up.

Gina: Do you have a muse?

Blue: I’m sure it is Mother Nature, her wonders, her secrets, her incredible beauty. Everything in nature is art and harmony.

Gina: Do you have other creative outlets?

Blue: For a few years I have been working on this strange and fascinating world of graphic design, but I’m also an ex-ballerina, a painter, a musician (pianist, like my Father). Dance is no longer an outlet for me (well, I’m not young enough anymore), but painting and music are still part of my life, even though my work actually is computer graphics, and it takes a lot of time! 😀

Gina: What inspires you most about the world we live in?

Blue: I know I am repeating myself, but the wonders of Mother Nature are for me one of the most valuable sources, inexhaustible, and always surprising, in all its aspects. Our deep roots are there, even if we (human neings) forget it, too often…

Gina: What is something you wish everyone knew?

Blue: I would like everyone to know, they have the awareness of the great, wonderful adventure that gives us life, and how important it is to learn to live in peace with each other, respecting each other, could make us live in a world of harmony. I wish the privileged persons, like me, who live in areas of the world where there are no wars, realize how much luck they have. I would like us to make all aware of the importance of taking “time to live” (“Le Temps de Vivre”): Of course, is not the “amount” of time that counts, but the “quality.” Each of us has preferences, and this “time to live” can be found in admiring the beauty of a flower, or a monument, or being surprised by the shape of a cloud, or listening to the deep vibrations of a melody, and thousands of other things through which we all can find ourselves in the right balance with our surroundings.

Blue’s responses are exactly how I thought they would be – honest, and beautifully inspiring.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Blue better.  I know I did!

Have a look at her wonderful art on her wordpress site:

As always, thank you for spending time with me.


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Interviews With Inspiring People…Meet Melissa Barker-Simpson

Interviews With Inspiring People

Please welcome Melissa Barker-Simpson, image-for-website

a woman who inspires me daily with her enthusiasm for all things, her kindness, her support, our shared love of family, her uniquely wonderful writing style, and so much more. I’ve enjoyed three of her novels so far, and I’m looking forward to reading everything else she has written and is now writing.  I rated her latest release, Hands of Evil, five out of five stars.


Melissa, thank you for pausing your many writing projects to answer some questions for us.  I love learning more about you, and making it possible for others to learn more about you.

Gina: I have a few standard questions that I ask every Inspiring Interviewee, and today I’d like to start with one of them. Mel, what is something you wish everyone knew?

Mel: That everyone is connected in one way or another, and we are never truly alone. It sounds a little trite, perhaps, but I genuinely believe our lives can be touched by the simplest understanding.

Gina: I agree with you on that, Melissa.  I find that comforting.

Now I want to move to a specific question that I don’t think you’ve answered in other interviews. If you have answered it before, I didn’t see it. The question is: how did you name your Morgan and Fairchild series?

Mel: I must admit, I struggle with titles. The series as a whole was a simple choice. Brad Morgan and Kelvin Fairchild created the agency, so in a way the stories all link back to them and the team they brought together. Individually, Sins of the Father was the first title that fit, the only one I was happy with. I didn’t have a clue when it came to naming the second in the series. For the longest time it was just JJ’s story! Then my sister suggested Hands of Evil and I liked it so much, I’ll be hounding her again when the time comes!

Gina: Titles can be challenging for me, too.  It’s wonderful that you can consult your sister for future titles.

What would you say to anyone reading this interview who is going through tough times right now?

Mel: I have a favourite quote, which I think sums it up – “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s what I’ve always believed. Don’t let go of the light. Even in the darkest moments it’s there, burning inside. We can’t always see it, sometimes it’s easier not to, but it’s there.

Gina: Very nice!  This is a new quote for me.  I can see why it’s  a favorite.

Who, and/or what, has influenced you to be the inspiring person you are today?

Mel: My Dad, for his quiet patience and gentle soul. My mum, for her bubbly, effervescent personality. My sisters for making me laugh and always being there when I need them. My brother for inspiring me with his strength and sharing my love for science fiction. My childhood friends for accepting who I am and being there for me, and more recently my online friends, for their acceptance, support and encouragement.

Gina: We share a love for paranormal romance. Do you remember when you first discovered the genre? What book, or author, was it?

Mel: I think it was probably The Donovan Legacy Series by Nora Roberts. I love her work, and I particularly enjoyed those four books.

Gina: That’s one of her series I haven’t read yet.  Now I’m really excited about them.  Nora Roberts also introduced me to paranormal romance with her Three Sister’s Island trilogy.

You are currently a self-published author. Would you consider signing on with a publisher if the contract was attractive enough?

Mel: I never say no to anything, that’s one of my weaknesses! I do, however, like to weigh things from different angles and though I love the independence and freedom of doing my own thing, I would never rule out collaborative working.

Gina: My final question is a fun one. I read in another interview that you enjoy travel. What is one of the best trips you’ve been on?

Mel: It has to be Pisa. The history, the magic, the culture – it all drew me in. The view from the top of the Tower of Pisa is simply breathtaking. I loved Italy, especially Rome. But Pisa holds a special place in my heart.


I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting with Mel as much as I have.  Please feel free to ask questions if you’re curious about anything.  She’s wonderfully warm and inviting to talk with.

As always, thank you for reading,


Interviews With Inspiring People…Meet Peggy McAloon

Interviews With Inspiring People

Please welcome Peggy McAloon, a talented author, mother, grandmother, beauty queen, and all around wonderful person.  She inspires me with her desire to empower children in abusive situations, with her compassion, and with her strength of character.  Peggy has agreed to share her thoughts with us on a couple of tougher questions, because I felt that she had important answers to share.

Image of Peggy M. McAloon

Peggy’s debut novel inspires children in abusive situations to speak up and get the support they need:



Gina: What was your publishing experience like?

Peggy: I was determined to get the book out as quickly as possible so that children would have the opportunity to be inspired by Elle’s story. That desire made it impossible to go the route of standard publishing so I chose to explore indie publishing. I talked to an author I met at an event for writers here in Menomonie at the historic Mabel Tainter Theater. Dick Edwards is the author of Mom, Dad…Can We Talk? and a man I highly respect. He recommended his publishing company and I didn’t check any further. The publishing firm arranged for the editing services on the book, managed the printing company and putting the manuscript in format for kindle, nook, etc. They handled everything including setting up my website.

Would I do things differently if I had it to do again? I probably would. I have learned a tremendous amount in a very short period of time. I went into this with no knowledge of how the publishing industry works. My background was in commercial finance.

The majority of the process went very smoothly. I have had some disappointments with the process and some successes. This is a process that can be incredibly expensive if the author does not do due-diligence. I’m still learning more about the process and definitely wish I had done some things differently.

Gina: What is your favorite part of the Elle Burton books?

Peggy: As an abused child I would definitely have to say the most important part of the book for me is the hope it can give to a child in trouble. It’s difficult to explain the terrors a young child faces to someone who has never experienced it. Children who are abused live in a world of constant fear and turmoil. I created Elle as the girl I always wanted to be…a child who could stand up to the abusers and the bullies and come out a winner. That is what every child dreams of who has experienced the social injustices I did. Elle became a character who I knew could touch the hearts of children and the minds of parents everywhere. We all believe we can protect our children. I have learned that is not the reality of the world we live in.

Gina: You’ve been through a lot of adversity in your life, including being disabled in a car accident, and now you’re extremely inspiring. How did that happen?

Peggy: Gina, you ask some difficult questions. Looking back on my life I would have to say my personal healing began when I confronted my abuser back in the 60’s. I offered forgiveness and that was met with the response, “You were the one who wanted it!” All I could think of was the little seven year-old child in pigtails who cried herself to sleep every night. I walked into that moment with an open heart. I believed I needed to forgive in order to move on and live a productive life.

That was the moment I realized pure evil does exist in this world and there is no logical way to change it or deal with it. That was the moment I turned away and finally realized that I was an innocent child who was totally incapable of doing anything to inspire the abuse I suffered. My desire to help others in trouble intensified at that moment. I became committed to the desire to make certain it doesn’t happen to others.

After the car accident, I was told I would never work again. The specialists who were treating me recommended that I sign up for Social Security benefits for the disabled. Quite honestly, that was the second day in my life when I was driven to suicide. Instead of taking pills like I did as a teen to get beyond the pain, I called a neighbor. She spent the entire day with me. I think she was the only person in the world who felt the same sense of total loss I did. Her husband and the father of her three children had recently been killed in an airplane crash. I thought if I were dead, my husband could marry again and find someone who could raise the boys.

The next morning, I woke up angry. I knew I was the only one who could protect my children and instill in them the faith my mother has raised me with. That was the incentive that kept me working every day to prove the doctors wrong. I believed that if I could overcome the abuse I had suffered as a child that I could also overcome the traumatic brain injury that had taken my sense of smell, taste, left side control, and short-term memory away from me. I knew if I could only work hard enough, I could learn to talk properly and use another part of my brain to remember things. It was difficult and took nearly five years of struggle, but I was able to land another job as a part-time employee and within three years work my way up to full-time.

During the years I was employed, I used my passion to help others by writing the book “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” and conducting seminars that helped businesses avoid losses due to both fraud and the honest inability of some businesses to be profitable. In the back of my mind I have always had the desire to find a way to help children who have been hurt. The Elle book seemed to be something that no one had ever tried before…a fantasy that could inspire children to have courage in times of tremendous stress.

As for inspiring: I am a simple woman who has a dream. My dream is for children everywhere to have the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe and happy environment. Can we reach that dream during my lifetime? We probably can’t, but we can start to actively pursue the answers and solutions that will allow children to grow up unafraid.

Gina: What advice do you have for readers who are going through tough times right now?

Peggy: You have two choices. You can give up or you can fight to survive and thrive under the harshest of circumstances as I did. I pray you chose the second path.

Gina: Please finish this sentence in your own words. The best things in life are_______.

Peggy:  the love of your children and the lessons you can teach them through love and understanding of the challenges they face daily.

Gina: This is one of the tougher questions I’ve asked, but I’d appreciate your insight on this; what advice do you have for adults who still associate with an abuser from their childhood when there are hard feelings? I know a number of people in this situation.

Peggy: This is a very important question. Obviously my abuser was my father. I was raised by my mother to be a Christian. That meant I was supposed to forgive. Forgiving wasn’t the problem. The problem was forgetting. I promised myself that I would never teach my children to hate. That was not the message I wanted to share with them of the important lessons in life. They were allowed to make their own decisions about the people in their lives.

I want to make it perfectly clear here: There was never a moment…not even a second, when I left my children alone with this man.

As we traveled to Iowa one year for Christmas, my youngest son asked if we had to go visit (he used his grandfather’s actual name here).

I was stunned, I asked when it changed from Grandpa to “name”.

His response was quick and determined: “Grandpa is a name that has been earned. He has never done anything to earn the name from what I’ve seen of other kids and their grandfathers. So, I decided I wouldn’t call him grandpa anymore. But, I really don’t want to take time out of my Christmas to go see him. Do we have to?”

I asked my other son what he thought and he agreed he didn’t want to go visit this man either.

My children were extremely bright. They knew this was not a man they wanted to spend time with. I had the luxury of never having to teach them to dislike or hate another individual. I had taught them respect and honest love. They knew the qualities they wanted in a grandfather and this man didn’t possess any of them.

So, my answer to the question is simple: These people will always be abusers in our eyes. Our job is not to judge or to condemn. Our job is to make certain that they never hurt another under our watch. We have the choice of keeping the secret forever or of taking their power away completely by finally being honest with the world around us.

Gina:  Your compassion inspires me, Peggy.  I hope others can find strength through your experience.

Gina: Who, and or what, has inspired you to become the awesome person you are today?

Peggy: My Grandpa Burton was the kindest man I have ever met. When I was a teen, we were at his house for some holiday and a special report came on the television that the Boston Stranger had been apprehended. We all sat spellbound as the special announcement played out on the small screen. Grandpa sat in his rocking chair, rocking, and puffing on his pipe. When the news special ended, his words were short but life-changing: “Humph, something terrible must have happened to that boy when he was young to have caused him to do all those horrible things.”

Grandpa never judged another human being. His heart was so filled with love and compassion that he was not capable of judging others. He could only pray honestly for their salvation.

Gina: What are some things you wish everyone knew?

Peggy: Evil can exist under your own roof without your knowledge. Take off the blinders and ask questions if you suspect anything is wrong.
The majority of the people on this Earth are honest and compassionate. If you’re in trouble, find someone to confide in.

Most children are terribly honest. They may be threatened if they tell a secret, but if you ask them a question directly they will most often tell the truth. I truly believed my grandmother had eyes on the back of her head. She was a master at getting information out of me by making me believe she already knew the answer. I so wish she had suspected I was being abused, but that was not something she ever guessed. Ask your children frequently if anyone has hurt them recently.

Gina: What are some things you loved to do as a child that you still love to do?

Peggy: I loved to read. I escaped the reality of my life by becoming the hero or heroine in the books I read.

I also loved playing the piano and organ. If I was sad, the music I played would start with a melancholy tune and slowly evolve into a fast-paced song of exuberance. If I was angry, the song would start out loud and fast until I finally wore myself out and started playing slow and soft songs. These were the ways I escaped the pain of living from day to day.

I also loved to play and be in the water. That is one of the reasons we retired to a lake home.

Gina: If you could travel by wish travel, as Elle Burton does in Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals, where would you go?

Peggy: My first wish would be to find my Grandpa Burton in heaven. I so miss talking to him! He was not a famous person or a wealthy person. In the end, those things don’t really matter. What matters is the heart and how it leads you to treat others.

Gina: Where can we find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @peggymcaloon

If you have any questions for Peggy, feel free to ask. I hope you enjoyed getting to know this inspiring lady as much as I have.

As always, thanks for reading.


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Interviews With Inspiring People…Meet Lynn Burton

Interviews With Inspiring People


Please welcome Lynn Burton, a friend, mother, wife, painter, photographer, traditionally published author, editor, poet, and so much more. She inspires me with her passionate personality, her friendship, her creativity, her curiosity, her tenacity, her love of books, and her never ending support of her friends and family. To know her is to love her.


Lynn is familiar with the interview style we use here on, so I’m going to jump right in with my questions.




Gina:  Lynn, thank you so much for visiting with us today.




Lynn:  Thank you, Gina.  I’m honored to be here.




Gina:  Okay, first question; you have a poetry book publishing soon.  Will you grace us with one of your poems so that everyone can experience your work?




Lynn:  I’m excited about the poetry book!  Hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer for it to make its appearance.  I’d be glad to share one of my poems.




Where Do I Begin?




I begin at the end


because that’s where I send


remnants of you and me


embers to ashes


love has faded


I can’t hold on to


what could never be.


Curved as it bends


there’s nothing to mend


emotions in a heap


twisted and strewn


bloodied and bruised


your heart was


never mine to keep.
Gina:  I’m honored.  We’ve known one another a long time, and shared a lot of writing with one another.  I feel honored to share your poem here today.  Thank you.




Gina:  Most people do not know this, but you and I are co-authoring a Natural Gifts cookbook.  I’m curious to know, what is your favorite part of writing a cookbook so far?




Lynn:  My favorite part of writing a cookbook so far is tweaking recipes to our liking, experimenting with different ingredients, and sharing feedback with you.  It allows me to explore my love of food with your nutritional knowledge, and try things I might not have tried otherwise.  It’s also an opportunity for readers to benefit from healthy eating.  A win-win as far as I’m concerned.




Gina:  Who, and/or what, has inspired you to become the inspiring person you are today?




Lynn:  Life inspires me; the little, every day things.  You inspire me.  My future daughter-in-law inspires me with her creative talents.  Favorite authors who can turn out book after book with writing that’s always fresh and new.  Discovering new music.  I could go on and on with this one.




Gina:  Please finish this sentence in your own words; the best things in life are _______________.




Lynn:  Shared with friends and family.




Gina:  Many people do not know this either, but it was your interest in writing contests that inspired me to start writing for submissions.  You were published before I met you, which inspired me as well.  What advice do you have for aspiring writers who have not been published, or self-published, yet?




Lynn:  Write and don’t give up.  Surround yourself with other creative types who encourage and support you.  Whether you join a writing community or find one person to critique your work, get your work out there.  And while you’re busy writing and honing your craft, read.  Read.  Read.  Read.




Gina:  What are some things you wish everyone knew?




Lynn:  How to be gentle with themselves, and others, when we mess up.  To know how to enjoy the quiet moments, and just be.




Gina:  What advice do you have for someone who is going through tough times right now?




Lynn:  Take things one day at a time.  Find your inner peace, whatever that may be, and learn to relax.  I think of my way of ‘letting go’ as my own sort of personal meditation.  There’s no strict form about it.  We all have tough times that can result in anxiety or worse.  Our minds chase around all kinds of horrible scenarios.  For me, I feel that anxiety build up right in my core, and when I do and I know I can’t do anything about whatever the problem is at that time, I focus on slow, relaxed breathing.  It may not solve the problem, but the anxiety dissipates, and I’m able to clear my mind.  The body will follow.




Gina:  You have been married for a long time now, and it’s going well, which is an achievement many of us admire.  What’s your secret?




Lynn:  I’m sure the secret is that that there is no real secret.  We enjoy each other’s company and can respect each other’s space as well.  We laugh.  A  lot!  I think having a sense of humor is a big plus.  We’re two completely different people, with our own interests, but somehow we make it work.  At the end of the day, I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else.
Gina: Can I pause right here and say “Awe?”  As a romance author, I don’t think I could have said it better myself.  Now, back to your creativity.




Gina: Your experiences with painting are new, and growing quickly.  What art projects do you have planned?




Lynn:  More watercolor and acrylics.  Those are my two favorite mediums, and I’d like to build on what I’ve learned so far.




Gina:  Are there one, or more, aspects of your adult life that you planned for as a child and realized as an adult?




Lynn:  I’d have to say no, for the most part.  In second grade, I wanted to be a school teacher.  I wonder if volunteering at my own kids’ schools later on was some kind of half-fulfilled thing.  In junior high, I wanted to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band.  At some point, I’m not even sure when it was, I wanted to be a marine biologist.  Yeah, that’s pretty random.  I love the water and dolphins.  That was going to qualify me, right?  I think the only thing that’s always been constant is my love of books and reading.  I never thought about writing until I was much older, but maybe the seed was there.




Gina:  Thank goodness for that seed being there.
Gina:  It’s always wonderful to learn new things about my favorite people.  Thank you again for answering ten questions with us today.




Lynn:  Thank you for having me.




Gina:  Lynn welcomes questions, so if you’re curious, ask away!




Here’s where you can find Lynn around the internet:



Interviews With Inspiring People…Meet Cyhndi Mora

Please join me in welcoming Cyhndi Mora! Cyhndi


She is a wonderful person whom anyone is lucky to call “friend.” I’ve known Cyhndi for eight years now. She never fails to inspire me with her creativity, knowledge, sense of humor, insight, writing, compassion, or her music. I could go on, but she is also humble, so that would embarrass her.

Cyhndi: Thank you Gina! (Grins and blushes) The pleasure and honor are all mine.

Gina:  See, she’s humble. Cyhndi. I’ve prepared a set of random questions for you. If you’re ready, let’s go!  She’s ready!

Gina: Cyhndi and I connected strongly because we traded my holistic nutrition consulting for her Reiki treatments and trainings. Cyhndi, can you share your Reiki story with us?

Cyhndi: Well, my journey with Reiki has been a long one! It began when my good friend Diana Briscoe introduced me to SpiritWind about 20 years ago. They are/were both amazing healers and artists and hugely helpful and inspirational to me. At the time I was going through a lot of ‘stuff’ and sought out SpiritWind for healing. She noticed that part of my problem was that I was picking up the ‘stuff’ that I was helping others to heal and she felt that Reiki would help me with that. She was absolutely right about that and I studied with her up to the Master Level. She also encouraged me to get my Master Teacher attunement from Tina Carey. SpiritWind passed away a few years ago but she ran Native American/Celtic healing circles as well as doing traditional healing sessions and Reiki right up to her passing. Diana is now running spiritual and healing circles and is an Opera singer.

My Reiki journey continues here in Montana both as a way of life and continued study. I have been a bit shy about connecting to the local Reiki community, but am meeting more folks recently that practice as well as connecting with the Buddhist community. It’s a bit of a tight circle here due to the strong ‘right’ presence in this area. There are still many folks who feel Jesus has sort of cornered the market on “Laying on of Hands.” It’s complicated, many practice in relative secrecy.

Gina: What advice do you have for any of our readers who are going through tough times right now?

Cyhndi: Go with the classics: Breathe. Breathing causes you to pause, gives you an opportunity to move from the reactive to the proactive and it’s something you can control with practice. It’s more difficult to come up with a solid, thought-out plan when you are in fight or flight mode. Finding a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself while you are breathing is good, too. If you can associate the affirmation with a beautiful visual, that is also helpful. And once your mind is clear and focused, tackle the problem or let it go.

If you can’t fix it, there’s no point in giving it energy. (Emphasis, mine)

Gina:  I like the last part of your response so much I italicized it.  This is an example of the wisdom I am privileged to learn from you.

Gina: Please complete this sentence in your own words. The best things in life are __________.

Cyhndi: always with you.

Gina: Excellent answer!

Gina: What are some things you wish everyone knew?

Cyhndi: This may sound funny, but I wish everyone knew themselves well enough to entertain themselves and love themselves completely, that they already have all they need and that we are all more alike than not.

Gina:  It doesn’t sound funny to me.  I think many challenges may never happen if people had these qualities in place reliably.

Gina: What do you love to do with your downtime?

Cyhndi: Honestly, I love to watch movies. I’m not as fond of rom-com’s and dramas as I am fantasy and science fiction. I really enjoy silent films and films from the early days of cinema (pre 1970). I also enjoy reading, crocheting, gardening, music, cooking and baking. I’m big in to DIY and ‘up cycling’ projects, but that’s a book unto itself. I’ve also been working on a novel…for more than 20 years…it’s complicated, lol.

Gina:  About that novel, lol.  Yes, we will all be happy when the novel is finished and in the hands of readers.

Gina: Who, and/or what, has inspired you to become the inspiring person you are today?

Cyhndi: Honestly, I find inspiration everywhere and just about everyone I meet inspires me in one way or another. We’re all in this together, right?

Gina:  We are.  As the saying goes, the time of the lone wolf is over.

Gina: How does being a singer, writer, and guitar player effect the way you listen to music? For example, the first time you hear a song, what goes through your head?

Cyhndi: That’s a really good question. Unfortunately I don’t really have a point of reference. I started playing piano when I was 7 or so years old and was singing and ‘writing” songs even before then. My Grandmother, Mother and Uncle are all musicians so music was always on when I was a child…so I’m not sure if what I hear is different from what other people hear. It seems to me that I pay attention to lyrics more than most people. I find it interesting when something is appealing to me when it’s technically ‘incorrect’ in it’s construction, but I never studied music long enough to get too annoyed with technicalities. As a healer I also often notice what a piece of music could be used for, how it could be helpful in someone‘s healing process. One person’s nerve-jangling cacophony can be another’s purge before reset. I usually ‘feel’ the music first and if it’s pleasant I’ll take it in…if not I move on to something else. I try not to dissect it too much unless I need to play it or recreate an element of it or if I can’t figure out why it’s so popular.

Gina: We can talk for hours, about any subject. My favorite is spirituality and intuition. Have your read any books on the subject that you recommend?

Cyhndi: I would totally recommend your books, of course  I enjoy both your fiction and your Keep It Simple workbook. I would also recommend anything by the Dalai Lama, especially his book on ethics. Heaven is for Real is on the top of my reading list, but I haven’t cracked it yet, so I can’t really recommend it.

Gina: Wow, thank you for the compliment and the recommendation. Maybe you can visit us again if you enjoy “Heaven is for Real” so we can talk about it.

Gina: You own your own business, Blooming Clean Housekeeping, which follows an environmentally conscious model of non-toxic cleaning products. Could you share a tip with us about which cleaning products you truly trust? Or perhaps a recipe?

Cyhndi: Unfortunately I can’t recommend anything mass-produced as that whole process does more damage to the ecosystem than helping it. I totally recommend making and using your own products, however. It is so easy and inexpensive you’ll want to laugh. For example, to make your own glass cleaner and disinfectant: Fill any spray bottle 1/3 of the way with plain, white vinegar. Add a couple squirts of your favorite dish soap, 10 drops of Lavender essential oil and top off with water and replace the nozzle. Agitate gently to mix the ingredients and clean what ever needs cleaning. You can also fill a jar with rags and pour this mixture over them. Use as you would a ‘disinfectant wipe’ and toss in the laundry when you’re done. I post tons of recipes like this on my facebook and am always happy to share if you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for on the Internet. I mostly just use the disinfectant spray and baking soda when I clean for my clients plus a homemade air freshener and a steam mop. Easy peasy. A gallon of vinegar costs $3 and change, the dish soap is already there and a bottle of lavender will last a long time…you get the idea 😉

Gina:  Fortunately, I do get the idea when it comes to making our own cleaners.  I use your recipes all the time.

Gina: What do you have going on your project table lately?

Cyhndi: Hmmm. Well my workroom, ironically, is always a work in progress. I am also working on a sweater, my potted garden and crocheting dryer sheets. I am in talks with some former bandmates about recording a couple of songs that we never got on to disc back in our ‘punk’ days, but not sure whether that will pan out or not. And of course the novel…everything else is still in my head so I’ll hold off on mentioning for now.

Gina:  If you want to guest post about a DIY project here with us, let me know.  We would love it.

Gina:  Thank you, Cyhndi, for visiting with us today.

If you have any questions for Cyhndi, I urge you to ask them in the comments below.  She is always happy to share.

Next month’s inspiring person is Lynn Burton, my co-author, editor on “Desert Sunrise”, and published author.  I hope you’ll join us.

Follow this blog to see all of my posts, and sign up for my newsletter for exclusives and exciting announcements.  There are new features coming in the August edition, and a brand new short story from “The Dreaming”.  Yes, we all get to see how it went “When Dana Met Joe’s Family”.

Thank you for reading,


Interviews With Inspiring People…Hannah Kaminsky

8446970911_590b2315e0_zPlease join me in welcoming Hannah Kaminsky.



She inspires me with her talent, her incredible photography, her warmth, her humility, her success, and her compassion. She is the author of four delectable cookbooks.  I’m excited to share the news that some of her cookbooks will soon be  available in French, with wonderful new covers!

Hannah’s Latest Cookbook:



Hannah’s First Cookbook:



I met Hannah through a wonderful recommendation from blogger Janet Webb. Thank you, Janet! Looking at Hannah’s blog, I was drawn to learning more about her approach to veganism. Hannah was very happy to talk with me today and to answer her ten questions. She has read some of my interviews before, so I expect that she expects random questions. I did not disappoint.

Gina: What advice do you have for people who want to take photographs that are as colorful and cheerful as yours?

The key is to add a wide variety of complimentary colors into every composition. If you shoot a brown cookie on a brown plate in a brown scene, the results will be predictably drab. Shake things up and don’t go with standard palates! Try unexpected shades, like rich jewel-tone amethyst and turquoise instead of simple purple or blue. Whenever you’re working with such bold tones though, always remember to use plenty of whites for relief, to prevent the color from becoming overwhelming.



Gina: Do you have any plans to publish a savory cookbook?

Well, I have plenty of ideas and dreams, but no serious plans yet.


Gina: Finish this sentence: The best things in life are ________.

Shared! I always travel alone and frequently work alone, but the most wonderful, memorable, and marvelous moments in life are those that are experienced with other people.


Gina: Who and/or what has inspired you to become the awesome person you are today?

There are far too many people and things to cover in just a few sentences, but I would have to say that the two biggest influences have been my decision to go vegan 11 years ago, and the guidance of my good friend and former boss Sue Cadwell. Becoming vegan has taught me compassion for all living things, given me my culinary point of view, and opened up my eyes to an entirely new world of foods. Sue was the one who got me started cooking, teaching me everything from knife skills to food safety.

Gina: What advice do you have for people who want to publish a cookbook?

Have a clear plan; know what you want to say, who your audience is, who your competition is, and how you will promote your book. These days, writing the book is the easy part! Getting it the attention it deserves and into the hands of your adoring fans is the real challenge. Consider contacting a literary agent before approaching any publishers, since an agent can get you a better contract than you would be able to negotiate for yourself.

Gina: Have you created any recipes combinations that no one thought would work, but turned out fabulous?

I always have crazy ideas, and although my family tends to be hesitant about the particularly unusual pairings, I’m lucky that they’re open to at least trying anything once. My blueberry-beet pates de fruit were one of those questionable treats that turned out to be a big hit, even amongst the beet-haters! That recipe ended up getting published in Vegan Desserts.

Gina: How much time does it take to put one of your blog posts together? They are among the most beautiful of any I have seen.

Why thank you! Each blog post comes together bit by bit, so I don’t often think about the total amount of time it takes for each to be completed. For a recipe post, I’ll usually make the recipe twice before styling and photographing the results, and that whole process probably takes about 2 – 3 hours. Editing the photos takes about an hour after that. Finally, I have to actually write the post, which I would guess takes around 1 ½ – 2 more hours. I spread all of those steps out over the course of many days, but a whole lot of time goes into each post that you see!

Gina: What advice or resources can you offer to those who would like to become vegan, or stay vegan, but have concerns about getting the right nutrients?

If you’re worried about getting the proper nutrients and being a healthy vegan, always seek the advice of a nutritionist who’s well-versed in alternative diets. Most doctors are shockingly inexperienced when it comes to working with vegans, so your general practitioner may not be the best person to ask in this case. Even if there is no one locally who fits the bill, search online and reach out to anyone with an email address. There are plenty of people who can help you remotely, so there’s no reason you can’t get the help and expertise you need.

Gina: Can we clone you? Please, please, pretty please?

Haha, I wish you would! I could really use a second pair of hands to wash all the dishes, at least. 😉


Gina: What advice would do you have for any readers who are going through tough times right now?

My favorite quote of all time comes from Winston Churchill: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” Even when things seem impossible to overcome, you’ve got to keep your head above water, and you’ve got to keep on swimming. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, just keep going- eventually you’ll get somewhere.

Thank you for joining us today, Hannah! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better.


Hannah Kaminsky is the author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan a la Mode, Vegan Desserts, and Easy as Vegan Pie, and creator of the award-winning blog She is a baker, writer, and photographer, working towards her BFA in commercial photography. In addition to authoring cookbooks, she contributes regularly to VegNews, Allergic Living, and Laika magazines. She has developed recipes for “Health in a Hurry” restaurant, the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, as well as food manufacturers such as VitaSoy and So Delicious. Recognized for her talents in many facets of the food industry, she has won accolades from Bravo, VegNews, the Well Fed Network, among others.

Hannah has been fine-tuning her sweet tooth since birth, but has only been baking since going vegan at age 14.

Interviews With Inspiring People…C.V. Larkin – Enjoy, and Enter to Win a Free E-book!

Interviews With Inspiring People

C.V. has just released her first book, “Ash to Embers”. I took the opportunity to ask her to join me for some Q & A right away because, you know, we paranormal romance authors gotta stick together. Our characters fall in love, and stay in love, under very, er, interesting circumstances. Lucky for me, and you, Tian and Sio are no exception. In fact, Sio sees Tian (though he doesn’t know it’s her at the time) naked, in a fireplace (yes, a fireplace), in the first chapter. Where do they go from there? I had to know. I just had to.

C.V.’s Facebook Fan Page gave me some happy chills when I read this – “Enter a world beneath perception. Live long enough to enjoy your stay, and please remember, villainy is a matter of perspective.”

Villainy is a matter of perspective? If my appetite was wet before, now I need a bib.

I’m honored to ask C.V. some questions so that we can all get to know her better. She inspires me with her creativity, warmth, and courage. Some of you know what it’s like to share controversial writing with family and friends. That moment when someone in your family says that you write something they used to (we hope) consider porn…is not for the timid. So, what did she say? Read on.


Gina: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

C.V.: Truthfully? It was about half way through Ash to Embers. There’s a little inky scribbling here and there, and then there’s dedication to making a living as a storyteller. I don’t think I fell into the latter category until I realized I had something to say; until I realized that I was irrevocably and obsessively in love with the Courting Shadows world and everyone in it.


Gina: What are some of your favorite parts of “Ash to Embers”?

C.V.: The characters. Always the characters. I am forever in awe of them. For me, getting to really know a character is like getting to know a stranger in confessional. They tell you things good and bad, because they want you to really see them and understand; to write them with dignity. It’s absolutely never a what you see is what you get sort of proposition. No one is.


Gina: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?

C.V.: Don’t be shy with your passions. Write what you love. Always strive to improve your craft. And “On Writing” by Stephen King is still the best book about writing that I’ve ever owned.


Gina: When can we expect another Courting Shadows Chronicles release? Again with the bib. This is getting embarrassing, C.V.

C.V.: You’re incredibly kind. Book 2, “Silver and Dust” should be out in April 2015, but there will be plenty of interesting things in store for readers on my website, in the coming months.


Gina: Complete this sentence in your own words – The best things in life are ______.

C.V.: Fey


Gina: What are some things you wish everyone knew?

C.V.: I want so badly to talk about The Progeny, Royal and Xavier, here, but…spoilers. They’ll each get their own book.


Gina: Where did the idea for “Ash to Embers” come from?

C.V.: Nocturnal wanderings, a childhood obsession with Faeries, and this strange feeling that I’m lucky enough to catch a glimpse through the curtain at the Courting Shadows hidden world. It’s worth sharing.


Gina: Who, and or what, have inspired you to be the inspiring person you are today?

C.V.: I’m lucky to have wonderful family and friends who inspire me daily, but beyond that, I am and always have been deeply inspired by good storytelling in all of its guises. I binge on TV shows, watch ridiculous numbers of movies, get embroiled in existential conversations with artists whenever possible, and immerse myself in music of all genres. I read everything I can get my hands on. I’m actively searching, I think. I want to feel it.


Gina: We share a love for paranormal romance. What was your first PNR?

C.V. Oh boy, we’re going back a ways. It’s entirely possible that it was “Guilty Pleasures” by Laurell K. Hamilton.


Gina: My friends and I all need more time to read, and most of us feel that house chores are the most unwelcome usurper of our precious reading time. Can you help us out with a magickal solution to house chores?

C.V. I am told that Pixies have a deep abiding love for Cream Puffs and can, on occasion, be bribed into cleaning. The downside is they’ll drink your booze, mess with your preset stations, and shiny bits and ends will go missing only to reappear covered in pigeon feathers.


Thank you so much for joining us here on today. It has been illuminating! I limited myself to ten questions, as I always do, but I have so many more. I’d love to have you come back for another ten sometime.

C.V. is a generous soul and will be giving away an e-book copy of “Ash to Embers” to one lucky reader who does these three things: like her Facebook Fan Page, follow her on Twitter, and leave us a comment letting us know you did.

The winner will be announced in one week, on 5/19/14.  Good luck!

More about C.V. Larkin:  C.V. Larkin lives in an odd, well wintered, little corner of New England with her husband and their dog that is not a dog, and one that should have been a dragon. There, she drinks copious amounts…of tea, obsesses over imaginary worlds, listens to deafeningly loud music, renovates on a timetable that would put the Winchester Mansion to shame, and steals away to unexplored places whenever the opportunity presents itself.







Interviews With Inspiring People…Meet Queentutt and Enter to Win an E-book! (Psst…Contest Closes at the End of the Day)

Interviews With Inspiring People


Interviews with Inspiring People: Ronda Tutt – aka: Queentutt

Ronda, who can be found blogging at queentuttsworldofescapism, was one of my first friends on GoodReads. I’m inspired by her warmth, her knowledge of books, her intelligence, and most of all, by her love of books.

Ronda, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Ronda.  The handsome fellow in the picture with her is her husband.    Phil and Ronda 15 year anniversary CROPED

Q: Ronda, you have reviewed a whopping 664 books on GoodReads. How did you get started writing book reviews?

A: Hi Gina, thank you very much for having me here today. I’m honored by your introduction. I love meeting new people and making friends. I joined goodreads in 2009 when I accidentally found it online. I had never written a review until a couple of months after I had joined and the reason I started writing is because of some of the friends I had made kind of inspired me to put down my thoughts.

I believe after about 3 months of reviewing a friend from goodreads ask me to share my reviews on her blog called “Bitten By Paranormal Romance”. Before I knew it – I was reading and reviewing anywhere from 15 to 30 books a month depending how long they were. Also before I knew it – I had tons of Review Request.

A year later I started my own blog called Queentutt’s World of Escapism and from there I just kept reading and reviewing.


Gina: Will we be seeing your name on the cover of a book?

Ronda: Actually I already have something published. I published a poem in a book called “UNCOVERED DREAMS The International Libr4ary of Poetry” You can find my poem on page 86. There are various authors within the book with other poems as well.

I really don’t advertise myself as an author because when I did the poem I never imagined it would be published. I just wrote stuff down for the heck of it and out of being crazy one day I set down and wrote the poem in a 15 minute setting. I have written several poems since then but I have never tried to get them published.

So who knows, maybe one day I will try to publish a book but right now I just speak through my reviews.

My Poem – Published – Copyright 2002 – Library of Congress – ISBN: 0-7951-5130-6

Being down and out
Gives you a lot to think about.
Having bad luck.
Feels like having no luck.
Being sad and having the blues.
Aren’t you glad you have no bad news.
Laughing and crying.
Is like living and dying.
Moods come and go.
Like footballs flying through goals.


Gina: Where does your love of reading come from?

Ronda: Good Question! LOL Acutally the first book I ever read was Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews back in 1983 – and I knew I liked to read. However, getting married, raising, 3 kids didn’t allow me to read because I was busy all the time. In 1993 I thought I was going to have more time because the kids were old enough to do things on their own but I had a mid life crisis at the age of 30 and joined the U.S. Army – So much for having time to read – LOL I got out in 2003 and that’s when I discovered I had more time for myself and started reading but most of it was for college. In 2009 is when I really started venturing into the different genres and found my favorites.


Gina: Who, and/or what, has inspired you to be the awesome person that you are today?

Ronda: First I have to say that I think most people gain their personality when they are very young from being around their family members. I have 3 brothers, 5 Uncles, and 5 Aunts and we are all close in age like a year apart. Growing up in a big family kind of inspired me to be funny, caring, and just down to earth towards other people.

My family is not only big but they are hilarious – we are all constantly picking on each other. I was raised as a tom boy and so considered as one of the guys. I could out do them in everything and especially when it came to sports to include football and track. I could even beat some of them up – LOL

So growing up the way I did and then joining the military just put my whole being towards the way I am now. I loved every day I served. I had so much fun and highly recommend everyone to serve if they are able. I also recommend that everyone at least once in their life go visit another country so when you come back you appreciate what you have and the people you love. Life is too short to let days slip by and not do nothing.


Gina: What are some things that you wish everyone knew?

Ronda: Don’t get me started – LOL If there is one thing I would want others to know that would be that I am very independent – womanly, mentally, and politically. Womanly – means that I am a independent woman who can do anything a man can do – with the exception of having a different body part that a man can pee out of – LMAO!

Mentally independent means I think for myself and I don’t let others make decisions or speak for me. I am very blunt and to the point. I’m very open and live in reality. I don’t hide behind secrets.

Independent Politically – I hate Republicans and Democrats – I believe in Freedom but I also believe that everyone should live in harmony and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. If you want to be religious then be religious without forcing your religion on me. If you want to be gay etc.. then be gay etc… I don’t hate you and I will still talk to you – I will never be ashamed to have you as a friend because I like you for you and not because of who you are having sex with. I believe in guns and protecting myself and I believe having an abortion is the womans choice – it’s her body – let her do what she wants with it and not what government or religious sects say she can do with it.

I could go on and on but those were the main points. Basically I am down to earth and I accept everyone for who they are and not what they do.


Gina: If you could bring a character from a book into your life, who would it be and why? If you can’t choose only one, tell us about the ones you can’t choose between.

Ronda: Oh boy! I don’t know if I’d want to bring anyone into our crazy world. I think I’d rather live in theirs. LOL But if I had to choose I would want to bring Boudica from the book “Dreaming the Eagle” by Amanda Scott into the future so she can see how Rome did fall and that people did gain their rights and independence from socialistic idiots. I love Boudica because she was brave, straight forward, and a leader for her native people. She is my hero. I know that the book is mostly fantasy but some truths exist from the history books.


Gina: If you could be in a book you love, which one would it be and why.

Ronda: Wow there are some many worlds I’d love to live in – LOL For Paranormal I’d love to be in one of Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld Series books. Or Lisa Beth Darlings Of War Series. Or Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter Series, or Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed Series , Kresley Coles Immortal’s After Dark Series. For Historical Romance I’d love to live in Tarah Scott’s Highland Lords Series, Any of Paula Quinn’s books, or Vonda Sinclair’s Highland Adventure Series. For Sci-fi I’d love to live in Jael Wye’s Once Upon a Red World Series. For Fantasy – I’d love to live in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones Series or Terry Brooks Sword of Shannara Series.


Gina: Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, or hardcovers? Why?

Ronda: I prefer e-books because on my iPad Mini I can adjust the font size to large.

Usually when you buy paperbacks the font is so tiny and most people don’t realize that the older you get the worse your eye sight gets – I never buy paperbacks. I rarely receive paperbacks for review but if I do than I just suffer through it because they were nice enough to send me the copy.

Now I love Hardcovers but only buy them if the author is one of my favorites. I only keep the favorite authors on my bookshelf.


Gina: We share a love for paranormal romance. What was your first PNR?

Ronda: My first Paranormal Romance read was Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice when it first came out. Many years later I read Twilight and then I got back into reading because I fell in love with vampires all over again.


Gina: Please complete this sentence in your own words: The best things in life are Sex, Love, and Rock n Roll.


Gina: Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today, Ronda!  Your offer to give a book to one of our commentators is beyond awesome!


Ronda: Thanks Gina for having me. It was really fun answering those questions. You will have to come visit me next time. Have an awesome day!



As a Special treat and because I love books so much I’d like to buy a commentator an $1 to $5 (Must stay in price range) e-book from Amazon (Their choice). Please comment telling me which book you would love to have and why you want it so much. I’ll choose a winner the next day.