I’m excited to have Gina Conroy as my guest today. Her novella, “Buried Deception,” appears in Cherry Blossom Capers. The collection of four stories, which was released this month, is part of the Romancing America line from Barbour Publishing.
Gina is “an ordinary mom, serving an extraordinary God.” She is learning and growing in her faith, parenting, and writing while trying to balance family life, which includes one workaholic husband and four high-spirited kids.
When Gina isn’t busy homeschooling, chauffeuring her kids, or avoiding housework, you can find her at Writer…Interrupted, blogging with honesty and a down-to-earth perspective on the everyday challenges of finding balance in life. For a play-by-play of her hectic life and musings on brown recluse spiders, visit her on twitter @GinaConroy.
Now that we’ve had a brief introduction, let’s learn a little more about Gina.
You say in your Twitter bio that you’re a wannabe dancer. If you had the time and money to master a certain style of dance, which would it be, and why?
I’m currently taking ballroom dancing lessons, and I especially love swing dancing and the Latin dances like Cha Cha. After going swing dancing two summers ago with Susan May Warren and NOT knowing what I was doing, I promised myself I would take lessons for my birthday. I did and was hooked. Now I search for little ways to make money to pay for my private dance lessons, like charging my kids 50¢ every time they forget to do a chore and I end up doing it. You’d be surprised how the money adds up! In between private lessons, I’ve discovered other affordable ways to learn the dance steps, including different dance parties in town where I learn as I go on the dance floor.
As to the why this obsession/addiction with dancing? It feeds my mind, body and soul. You have to be mentally alert and physically fit. When I connect with a dance and the music, there’s a feeling of accomplishment and pride! And when I don’t get a certain dance, it just makes me more determined to master it. I’ve got a long way to go at mastering any of the dances, but as I see it, I have the rest of my life to learn!
You’ve lived in some interesting places, including Italy, New York City, Nigeria as well as Washington State and Idaho. Which stands out as your favorite, and why does it hold that spot?
It’s hard to say since so many different places correspond to parts of my life story. I grew up on Long Island and love to visit the City (NYC). I spent eight months on a missions and journalism internship in Nigeria as a college student, and God used that experience to stretch my faith. I had amazing highs and lows, and the people are very dear to me. The summer before my senior year in high school I spent six weeks in Italy, three of those weeks with a group of Italian teens. It was the first time I felt like I really fit in, and I didn’t even speak the language!
So do I have a favorite? Not really, but one of my dreams is to go back to Italy and live there for a couple of years. But under the right circumstances I could say that about Nigeria and New York. All totally different cultures and experiences I’d love to experience again. But then again, there are other places to explore.
So, what are your thoughts about brown recluse spiders? Are you a friend of those eight-legged creatures, or do you find them fascinating? What’s been your most interesting or scariest encounter with an arachnid?
Before I ever saw a brown recluse spider, I was terrified of them. Growing up in New York, we didn’t have poisonous spiders roaming around. Now I live in an area that has them. In our old house, every time I saw a spider I had to examine the back. Did it have a fiddle? We lived there for 12 years, and I never saw one—until we moved into our current home that had been vacant for two years.
It was terrifying reading up on the brown recluse. (Don’t ever search the internet for photos of their bites!) How was I going to live in the same home with these creatures? Precautions, prayer, and an exterminator. The first year as we were flushing the creepers out, we had many interesting experiences. Like spiders in the shower and sink…crawling down the hall, up the wall. There even was a time a spider landed on my 8-year-old daughter’s arm. When I heard, I freaked out, but she said she simply flicked the spider off! She was definitely braver than the rest of us. For the first year, every little unidentifiable mark on my kids’ body got this charcoal paste we kept in the fridge to suck the poison out, just in case. It’s still in the fridge three years later, probably expired.
Though I see dead brown recluse every now and then, I’m not as terrified as I was. In the spring we spray every month and sometimes I have to wonder if the poison we’re spraying is worse the brown recluse themselves. Still, I’ll take the exterminator over the eight-legged creatures any day!
You lived in Italy, and you speak Italian. I’m curious. Does that mean you love Italian food? If so, what’s your favorite Italian dish to eat? To prepare?
Yes, I love Italian food, but the carbs do not love me. We used to eat a lot of pasta. Now I only eat pasta occasionally, and I’ve found ways around the carbs. Did you ever eat spaghetti and meatballs without the spaghetti? Just add a helping of mozzarella cheese, and YUM!
My go-to Italian dish is baked ziti. It’s fast and easy. I hardly ever make lasagna because it’s too much work. A holiday favorite that I make is manicotti. The funny thing is all these dishes have the exact same ingredients, though the noodles and the amount of cheese varies. I think I have the recipes on my blog if you’d like them!
Then there’s sausage and peppers, pasta fagioli, and chicken parmagian. When I go out to eat, I love the pasta dishes with artichoke and spinach… Great, now I’m getting hungry!
Want a couple of cooking tips? Homemade Italian sauce is so easy to make and it freezes well. And never substitute cottage cheese for ricotta! Might taste good, but it’s just not Italian in my book!
If some of your fans were to spot you at one of your favorite hangouts, where would they be, and what would you be doing there?
That’s an easy one right now. It would be at swing dance on Saturday nights! I used to think I loved to write. And I do. But writing is more like a job I love. Swing dancing is a hobby that feeds my body, mind and soul. It’s hard to explain, but once it gets into your soul, you can’t get it out! I find myself putting on Pandora swing channels just to put me in a good mood and it works! Maybe I’ll take you some time to show you what I mean! 😉
Gina’s Question for You
Besides writing, what are YOU passionate about? Do you have a secret dream you’re afraid to pursue because of time, money or insecurities? What will it take to awaken that dream?
In the beginning, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to follow my dream of learning to ballroom dance. Sometimes we have to do what makes us uncomfortable to get what we want!
What do you want, and are you willing to do what it takes to follow your dream?
Learn About Cherry Blossom Capers.
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 “Coffee, Tea and Danger,” amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martinelli find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.
And, drum roll please, here’s a description of 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’s Drawing for a Copy of Cherry Blossom Capers
Gina has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of Cherry Blossom Capers.
To enter the drawing, leave a comment by Thursday January 26. (Be sure to provide your email address in the appropriate field so I can contact you if you win.)
I’ll select the winner on Friday, January 27 and post the name here and in a comment.
Congratulations to the winner, Dyanna Pelella!