Monday, March 12, 2012
FEATURED AUTHOR: Gina Conroy
Cherry Blossom Capers Collection
Four townhouse neighbors encounter romance and mystery near our nation’s capital. In State Secrets, White House assistant chef Tara Whitley and FBI agent Jack Courtland stop a plot to sabotage a State dinner—and find love still hidden in their hearts. In Dying for Love, attorneys and opponents Ciara Turner and Daniel Evans uncover love while searching for justice. In Buried Deception, archaeologist Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter dig up love while uncovering a forged artifact. In Coffee, Tea and Danger, amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martinelli find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.
Gina's Novella: Buried Deception
Mount Vernon archaeology intern and widow Samantha Steele wants to provide for her children without assistance from anyone. Security guard and ex-cop Nick Porter is haunted by his past and keeps his heart guarded. But when they discover an artifact at Mount Vernon is a fake, Nick and Samantha need to work together, set aside their stubbornness, and rely on each other or the results could be deadly. Will Samantha relinquish her control to a man she hardly knows? Can Nick learn to trust again? And will they both allow God to excavate their hearts so they can find new love?
Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she's leaning on the Lord to show her the way. She is the founder of Writer...Interrupted where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God's timing is perfect, even if she doesn't agree with it! ;) She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity and twitter she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
How did you start out your writing career?
I remember discovering the power of words and the freedom and peace of jotting down my private thoughts in a diary when I was about nine. And I’ve kept a journal every since, though nowadays I call it blogging, and it’s not so private.
Then in 1992, right after I got married, I started my first novel, then had a baby two years later and stopped writing. I didn’t know I could write and raise a family until I found ACFW in 2005. It was then I also discovered there were rules to writing and my first novel didn’t follow any of them! I started learning the craft and struggled with balancing writing with raising a family and homeschooling. I started http://writerinterrupted.com/ to figure it all out, got to know Chip MacGregor who would later become my agent, and finally after seven years and much sweat and tears, I got the call for my first contract.
The short story of my writing break is after I couldn’t sell my first novel, I was invited into a romance anthology group by friends who believed in my writing and wanted to see me published. But the project got rejected, then about two years later, the line was open to what we had originally proposed, so we sent it in and a week later got accepted to Barbour’s Romancing America line.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned how to edit down a 56,000 word to manuscript to 21,000 and survive! After the first draft novella didn’t sell, I added to the story and pitched it to publishers, but it didn’t sell. Then a few years later, it sold as a novella and I had the daunting task of cutting down this romantic mystery (with all clues in tact) to meet the word count. It was painful, but I did learn enough to share some of my editing insights with others which I do on my blog and in my talks.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
Besides being a fun and engaging mystery, I hope readers realize that the theme of my novella is “surrender.” The hero and heroine in the story have different reasons for fighting to stay in control of their lives, but when they try and do things on their own, it just gets worse. If they don’t surrender to God who has their best interest in mind, their lives will never be complete. Surrender is something God has been teaching me over the last several years. I know from experience it’s not easy, but it’s necessary for growth.
What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?
The plot idea came first. Back in 2005, I was homeschooling and our family took an east coast tour, hitting all the historical spots. Mount Vernon was one of them and as I was walking through the mansion, especially George Washington’s office, I kept thinking about the antiques and if they were real or replicas. Later, when I wanted to write a mystery I kept coming back to Mount Vernon. We were also studying Egypt and archaeology at the time, so I thought it would be fun to explore the “What if someone discovered that an artifact at the Mount Vernon Mansion was a fake?” The characters, story, and plot just grew from there.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I didn’t have many expectations of being a published author and knew it would be a lot of work, and it was. But I think the biggest surprise is when people get excited to see me, a published author, and the confidence I have playing the role when in reality I’d much rather be an introvert.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love the romance stage of writing where I’m getting to know my characters and learning their story. I love characterization, finding each character’s unique voice, and I especially love when characters surprises me by their actions, or I learn something I never knew about them. My least favorite aspect of writing is writing the proposal! It’s tedious and grueling, but must be done in order to sell my story.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
1) Fighting for what is not yours is much harder than surrendering to what is. And surrendering brings a lot more peace.
2) Be content in all things! Enjoy the moment or the season of life you are in. This is something I’m still learning, but I’ve come a long way. I often look to the future instead of enjoying the present. But in the last six years or so, God has been teaching me to slow down and enjoy where I am.
3) Believe God has your best interest in mind even when you think you know better! As someone who likes to be in control, I’m still trying to swallow this one!
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Give yourself permission to write a lousy first draft and don’t let writing become your life! I’m still working on these two, but have already found some freedom from years of obsessive editing and a writing schedule that took on a life of its own.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Writing is not just what I do, it’s who I am. Many friends and family members think my writing is a hobby like playing golf or scrapbooking. It’s not! It’s a calling and hard work, and frankly, sometimes I wish it was a hobby so I could just take a break from it. But I can’t. I write because God created me to write and without it, I’d be lost.
Tell us something few know about you?
I spent a summer on a mission’s trip to Nigeria, Africa in 1987 during my Junior year of college, then traveled alone through the Lagos, Nigeria airport the following year and stayed for 8 months on a Missions/Journalism internship. It was an amazing and humbling experience preaching to village churches with an interpreter and working on a Benson Idahosa’s ministry magazine. It was also not all I thought it would be, and through the pain and trials God met me in an intimate and sweet way.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I try, sometimes unsuccessfully despite popular belief, to manage a household consisting of a husband, two teens and two preteens who all have various goals and dreams. It’s hard balancing everyone’s schedule with my own, but I try to make time for my own recreation which most recently has been ballroom dancing. I especially love swing dancing and the Latin dances like Cha Cha. It’s become my guiltless obsession. Dancing feeds my mind, body, and soul. You have to be mentally alert and physically fit, and when I connect with a dance and the music, there’s a feeling of accomplishment and pride.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I crave interaction with readers, not just a monologue where I do all the talking. I’m easy to find. If you can’t find me on the internet, it’s because you haven’t looked. For a more personal account of my life and triumphs and trials as I pursue my dreams alongside my kids' dream, you can find me blogging at Defying Gravity. There I share my writing insecurities and celebrations, but also share fun stuff about my family like when my kids got a Disney audition call back! After all, my blog is all about helping people follow their dreams, and I have to include my own children!
For posts related to all types of writing, I blog ever Friday at Writer...Interrupted, the site I founded when I was trying to figure out how to balance raising my family with pursuing my writing career. The rest of the week writers, agents and editors guest post and the archives is full of great information for the busy writer!
You can also LIKE me on my Facebook Author Page and FOLLOW me on Twitter. I also have a Facebook Page just for Writer...Interrupted. And did I mention I LOVE to hear from readers!!
Our theme for this issue is Resources On The Net. What resources on the net have been helpful in your writing?
ACFW is a great community of multi-published and pre-published writers. Other invaluable sites include:
My Book Therapy and Your Writer’s Group are great membership sites that give you one on one feedback and teaching Writer Unboxed Writer…Interrupted, of course, which I designed to be “Your One Stop for the Busy Writer” and where I seek out blog content I want to reference later!
And dozens of other author blogs devoted to helping writers succeed.
Who was the first author you ever met?
When I was ready to pitch my first story, I attended a small writer’s conference and met author Rene Gutteridge. She was very kind and encouraging, and we’re friends to this day.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know that I am loved by God who created me for a purpose only I can fill. I know that He may not always show me where I am going, but He will always lead me in His time.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
I have two projects I’m working on that need a home.
Digging Up Death has the same feel as my novella Buried Deception and is about an archaeologist and single mom interferes in the FBI investigation of a missing Egyptian artifact to prove her ex-husband’s innocence, but instead digs up a murderer.
I’m also working on a women’s fiction historical based loosely on my grandmother’s story as a Rosie the Riveter raising three children after she kicks her no-good abusive husband out of the home in 1943.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to stop by and connect at http://writerinterrupted.com/
You can also find me almost daily at:
Facebook Author Page
Writer…Interrupted (on Facebook)
Twitter @GinaConroy and @Writerinterrupt
Thanks so much for having me here, it’s been a pleasure!
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