Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!

Who can forget that beloved Ms. Frizzle who inspired her class to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”All but play-it-safe Arnold loved Ms. Frizzle’s field trips that took them to places they’d never been before, often leading them into scary and unfamiliar territory. But oh the adventures they had! Even Arnold would end up enjoying himself when he finally quit focusing on the danger.

Sometimes I feel like Arnold, wanting to remain in the comfort zone, showing my work only to safe people, people I know will love it. But to go places I’ve never been before (like publication) and to experience the excitement and wonder of taking chances (getting a contract,) I first need to get messy and not dwell on the mistakes I’ll make (writing my manuscript.)

The other day before I sent my proposal to my agent I reflected on Ms. Frizzles words again and felt a bit like Arnold. I’m still only learning to write a first draft without editing the whole thing as I go. It’s not easy to leave my mess on the page and move on. It’s not easy to see mistakes in my plot and know I must plow forward before I go back and fix things. And it’s not easy to take chances and hit send on my words before I believe they’re ready to be viewed by professional eyes.

But that’s what I did. I hit send on my proposal to my agent because ACFW conference is in few weeks, and I’d rather look like an idiot in front of him, then in front of an editor. It’s not easy to get feedback on our mess, but it’s necessary. In fact, it was my agent who once told me “you can’t fix nothing!” So I figured he, if anyone, would understand my mess!

The email response came today. Before I opened, I took a deep breath, then hesitated. Then dove into the email, taking a chance, again. To my relief he said, “my writing is really good.” Of course, he pointed out a mess I needed to clean up before I showed an editor, but I took a chance and I’m glad I did. Now I can move forward with a little more confidence than before.

Are you taking chances or are your messes and mistakes keeping you from your next adventure?

First published September 2011 Though the details are different the sentiment still holds true today!

Are You Weary in the Waiting?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

It seems that if a writer isn’t writing, then she’s waiting… Waiting to get edits back from a critique partner.Waiting to hear from a potential agent or editor. Waiting to sell a manuscript. Even when a book is sold there’s still waiting!

Waiting can often bring weariness, especially if there are other areas in your life where you’ve been waiting on God to move. And weariness often brings a loss of hope, even defeat. It might even cause you to give up on your dreams!

Believe me, I’ve been there, but what keeps me pushing toward my dreams during the seasons of waiting is wondering if the moment I give up is when God has something wonderful for me. So what do I do in the meantime?

In the past I would whine and cry and question why the answer wasn’t coming fast enough, why I had yet to be published? Then I’d suck it up and trust God. After all God knew best, and if he wan’t giving me the desires of my heart, then it was for a reason. It was for a good reason. I had to believe that! I had to or else I’d go insane waiting and wondering when the answer would come.

Today I’m waiting yet again, but there’s not really any weariness. There’s a little anxiousness, but the obsession in wanting to know or sell my current manuscript is gone. Have I become content in the waiting? I don’t know, but I think I’ve learned how to surrender without whining to God about not giving me the results I want.

Maybe I’ve become weary in the whining.

Maybe I realized it’s futile to complain about things I can’t change. Have I truly learned to be content in where God has me? I’d like to think so, but I also hold on to the hope that maybe God has something far better than I can even dream!

And maybe that’s the real reason I’m not weary!

First published March 2012

Getting Real About Parenting

First posted March 2006: I’ve come a long way, baby. And yet so far to go.

Yesterday I had one of those horrible home school days. I wish I could say they were few and far between, but they’re not. From the moment I woke up until the kids went to bed, it was one emotional rollercoaster ride for me and my kids. It began with my 11 year old and trickled to three of the four kids. Thank God for my steady second child. Though he had a small meltdown at bedtime it didn’t compare to my other three.

I have so many questions for God? Why did He give me these high spirited, high needs kids, and why did He want me to home school them? I couldn’t possibly be the best person for the job. I have my own issues and struggles I’m dealing with. How can I be the mom they want me to be? How can I meet all their needs and do it all?

I don’t have the answers, but encouragement came through a friend’s email today. I read it earlier in the day and then had to return to it tonight. It offered some encouragement, though I still dread the thought of doing this all over again day after day.

“The strongest steel breaks if kept too long under unrelieved tension. God knows exactly how much pressure each one of us can take.”

Yesterday I felt like breaking! I’m not sure if steel can bend, but I was doubled over and waiting to SNAP! It’s days like these I question whether God really knows what He’s doing and if He does, does He REALLY care. The answer came, I think…

“Slowly you will discover God’s love in your suffering. Your heart will begin to approve the whole thing.”

Okay, that’s a little hard to believe at this point in time, but I’ll accept it in faith. Still, I’ve got one more question…HOW SLOWLY?

 

To Goal Set or Not to Goal Set?

Creating you to be

I belong to a really great online group that’s packed with encouraging people who want to help everyone reach their full potential. So when I was offered some free coaching, I couldn’t say no. Of course, with the way my life plans have been going, I was a bit skeptical. Do you know how many life goals I’ve set over the past 20 years? I know some of them came through, probably more than I realize, but what about my big life goals? I’m afraid to look because I already know the answer.

God has taken my life on a couple of detours seemingly away from my goals. Why? Because I wasn’t working hard enough or maybe it wasn’t my time? I’m not sure. I wanted my blog Writer…Interrupted to be this amazing place where busy writers could connected and share and find encouragement, and some did. But it didn’t have the numbers like those other blogs. or the comments. I’m sure it was all that to some, but it didn’t meet my BIG dream expectations.

I wanted to write best selling novel after novel, and in the last 20 years I’ve only completed 3. (Sold 2) And I have about a half dozen half completed novels. Is it because I didn’t work hard enough or write fast enough? Probably, but when you’re dealing with other serious life issues, who has the emotional energy to write?

It’s becoming more and more clear that these past 10 or 20 years wasn’t really about what God wanted to do through me (though I know he did some great stuff,) but I think it was more about creating me to be the person he wants me to be so I can do the things I am called to do.

But I thought, if someone wants to give me free coaching, I’m all for it. I started filling out the coaching goal sheet and was stumped right from the start. I’m not sure why it’s hard for me to set a 5 year goal. Maybe because I have no idea what tomorrow or next month will look like. Maybe because I’ve been trying and striving and doing for the past 20 years with no real results, and I’m tired. Maybe because I’ve had to put my trust and faith in God to steer this ship through the dead of night on very troubled seas.

And one thought led to another. Do you think there’s a time to goal set and a time to do nothing? I’m not sure. Maybe instead of 5 year goals I need 5 week goals. 5 hour goals if I’m keeping it real! I don’t know what the answer is, but all the work of goal setting seems exhausting, and I need every ounce of energy just to make it through today.

All this pressure to do and create, and all I want to do is be.

Nothing wrong with being a Mary when all my life I’ve been a Martha. Guess I’ve reached that goal! Thanks for listening to my random ramblings. Now where did I put that “to-do” list?

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth

I’ve just been interrupted!

As with all interrupted writers, we go through seasons of change and well, interruptions in our writing. This blog has been dormant as I work toward some personal and professional goals. But GOOD things are coming for you and me ! If I listed all the projects I’m in the middle of you might not believe me. Some days I can’t even keep track.

The short version is I’m reorganizing this site and taking my popular fiction writing courses and putting them in a format to make them available to everyone. So stay tuned, and if you’re new here, welcome! Please comment and introduce yourself and tell me why you came and what help you need to reach your writing goals.

Valedictorian Son Graduating
Valedictorian Son Graduating
Lion King Rafiki: Plays, and more plays
Lion King Rafiki: Plays, and more plays
Ballroom Dance
Ballroom Dance Team
House for Sale
House for Sale
Tulsa Library Creative Writing Contest
Doing Interviews
Painting and House Decluttering
Painting and House Decluttering
Teaching novel writing classes
Teaching novel writing classe

Interrupted by Vacation: Long Island, New York Edition

It’s been years since I’ve been to New York.

Years since I walked the streets where I grew up, ate the BEST food in the world, and hung out with the craziest, funnest, and most loving people on earth! My family!

No kids. No husband… And I’m having the time of my life!

I thought I’d do more writing, but that’s okay. I’m doing some research for some of my current WIPs and let me tell you, I’m getting lots of fodder for future story. Family is good for that.

So my encouragement for you today… live in the moment! I’m a dreamer, a planner, so it’s REALLY hard for me to enjoy the present. But I am. If you don’t believe me, just have a look…

Food

New York Bagels

New York Pizza

Sushi at Kashi's

Italian Cookies

Family

NY Kashi Cousins

The girls!

Italian Family

 

Three Generations…

NY Italian Cousins

 

First Cousins! Grew up with these girls!

NY Florids Cousins

First Cousin! Spent my summers in Florida with this girl!

Fun

 

NY Wedding crowd2

 

NY wedding dance

NY wedding reception

NY first cousins All the first cousins together again!

Nothing like a New York Italian Wedding or family!

New week: Interrupted by Vacation: The New York City Edition!

Why I Hate the Christmas Season

Now before you start labeling me a Scrooge, read on.
Scrooge

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. I love Christmas trees and hot cocoa by the fire, and snowy nights with no where to go and Christmas music. And baby Jesus in the manger. And Santa. Even Santa, but what I can do without is everything else that makes this season the most stressful time of year.

Decorating:

Why is decorating always so stressful? Because who has the time or energy? And the thought of doing all that work for a month or so is crazy! (That’s why my stuff stays out til mid January.)

So when my kids came to me saying they didn’t like the hodge podge tree filled with ornaments I collected over the years, and they wanted a pretty tree, I balked a little, then thought…SCORE! The last couple of years they’ve been decorating the tree without my help, but I end up wrapping all those priceless ornaments and putting everyone in its place. This year it’ll be easy cleanup, especially since I didn’t put out every single Christmas decoration!

Gift Giving:

While I LOVE gifts, I hate the stress of choosing and buying and wrapping and returning gifts. Nowadays kids come to you with their list and we spend the time searching for just the right thing  to make our little “angels” happy! Whatever happened to the surprise gift under the tree? Now not only do kids (and adults) get what they want, they get more than they want (or need)… really? Is that what Christmas is all about?

I’m so down on the whole gift giving thing this year that most of my kids will probably get their gifts before Christmas (yes, I still give what’s on their list and maybe this makes me a hypocrite, but I’ve learned to pick my battles…) because what is the real point of waiting? Yes, there will be surprises under the tree, but why wait when the kid have the make and model of the thing they must have (then play with for 6 hours and forget) and they have done the research?

Baking:

Do people actually do this anymore? I really would LOVE to if there was more time (see next category) Thankfully, I have a son who is more talented in the baking department than I am, and lets me know it every time I say, “Do we really need that ingredient?”  or “I’m sure I can find a substitution.” Needless to say, he’ll be doing most of the baking again.

Christmas programs:
Talk about stress! I think I’ve aged ten years this holiday season. In the last 2-3 weeks my four kids have been involved in:

A Christmas Story (Community Theatre) with a 6 show run (in which my son was called to understudy Flick, a part he hadn’t even rehearsed an hour and a half before opening night. BTW, he rocked the part!)

White Christmas (high school musical) where my oldest was the lead and 2nd son had a part in the chorus. I attended 3 of the 5 shows with various other family members at the others.

One Cello Performance at the Mayor’s Home in which 2nd son had to rush from the last performance of White Christmas to the mansion, but what an HONOR to be one of two students chosen!

Dance Troupe performances 6 or 7 performances over 3 weekends, 2 of the weekends which coincided with theatre productions and 3 of those performances this weekend!

Throw in…

Piano/Drum recital during the White Christmas weekend

Youth Symphony Performance

Extra Cello concerts to close out the year including Open Concert this Friday night (which by the way is invitation only and I’m very proud of my son)

and I’m sure I’m forgetting half a dozen other things that where a blur these last couple of weeks…but you get the point! It’s enough to get any God fearing Christian to yell ENOUGH! Is this what Christmas is all about?

So when I say I hate the Christmas season, what I’m saying (as if you couldn’t figure it out) is that I hate all the STUFF that comes with the Christmas season. Even Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tend to be a whirlwind of activities.

My favorite part of Christmas happens from the afternoon of Dec 25th through Jan 30th. That quiet, nothing-to-do time where we really get to connect as a family (if our new gadgets don’t get in the way.) It’s a time of welcomed rest and in that rest I think that is where we can find and really enjoy Christmas!

May you find that rest in Him this Christmas season!

Oops! Forgot to Mention My Book is Available

This poor neglected blog may be seeing some new activity. I’ve been busy at http://writerinterrupted.com blogging my writing journey, but there’s more to my story. And I need to start writing about other things here related to life, kids, dreams, dancing, and whatever I feel compelled to talk about, like tomorrow’s post on Why I Hate the Christmas Season! You don’t want to miss that one!

Oh, and about my new release, Digging Up Death, here are the details!

But NOW
On KINDLE
NOOK
KOBO
iTUNES

Leave a review on GOODREADS

“Dig into a fun story with Digging Up Death. It’s got all the dirt you want–a tangled mystery, a quirky heroine, hints of romance, and page-turning action. Conroy keeps the story real and delves into the clean and the not so clean parts of life. Highly recommended.” Christy Barritt, author of the Squeaky Clean Mysteries series

“Gina Conroy has written a smart, fast-paced mystery in which vulnerable characters rise to the occasion. Single-mom Mari’s life is anything but mundane. Scars from her past mingle with the danger of her present while romance and a journey of faith impatiently wait their turn for a walk in her five-inch leather boots.” Tanya Dennis, writer, blogger, editor

Summary:

Archaeology Professor Mari Duggins is adjusting to life as a single mom and trying to balance a television career, but gets caught between the pull of her former flame, a field archaeologist, and her ex-husband who is wanted by the FBI on an antiquities crime. Then her colleague is murdered, and she gets in over her head as she searches for truth in a desert of lies. Mari Duggins’ life caves in as she tries to excavate the truth, but realizes only God can dig her out of the hole she’s created. Will Mari sort through her muddled feelings and put her trust in someone else before her world caves in? Or will the truth bury her alive?   

Take a sneak peek at the inspiration behind the book on PINTEREST!

 

Interrupted by American Idol Auditions & Lessons Learned From The End of the Journey

This last week has been a whirlwind of excitement for my son and our family as we focused on his dreams instead of mine. American Idol auditions.

It started with a simple press release I sent out last Monday with the hope that some local media would respond to the subject line: Local Teen Wins Dream Ticket to American Idol Auditions This Summer. Then the calls and emails started coming in and as of this writing he’s been interviewed for the newspaper, radio,and television several times.

Here’s a snippet of the newspaper article by reporter Rita Sherrow:

 

While visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, the 17-year-old and his cousins spotted the American Idol Experience…

“We thought, ‘It sounds like fun, so let’s try that out,’ ” Conroy said in a recent interview. “We were all surprised when I won.”

At the end of the day, the winners from all the previous rounds were invited to sing again. Conroy performed “Stand by Me,” a classic song he had never heard before that day and one to which he added his own “pop twist.” The audience liked what they heard, and he won a golden ticket to move to the head of the line for the “American Idol” auditions…All the daily winners of the “Experience” are invited to try out for the real thing.

It was an exciting interruption in my life and as you read this we have concluded our Idol journey. It didn’t work out as we hoped, and we are processing everything knowing God has a purpose and is in control. I will share more pictures and specific details in a post to come, but through this whole process I learned a few things that I will touch on briefly here, then write out more thoughts in a future post or two.

Sometimes Being Helpful isn’t Helpful

I took it upon myself to send out press releases thinking my son would enjoy the media attention, and he did, but there were other repercussions I didn’t anticipate. I also gave him unsolicited advice from time to time which only stressed him instead of helped him. I’m still learning what a parent’s support role to an almost 18 year old looks like!

Being Hopeful is Different Than Being Expectant

I’m still learning this balance. On the day of the audition a tv reported asked me about my expectations. I rambled off something like “I have no expectations and just wish for my son to do his best.” In retrospect that wasn’t completely honest. At the time I didn’t know it. We all had expectations of him making the first round auditions. And he didn’t. More thoughts to come later…

Sometimes Failures Lead You Down a Different Path

Even though we didn’t make it past the first round auditions, an other opportunity has already presented itself to my son, and I’m a tad envious and very excited for him. I’ll share more when I have more details.

A Child’s Disappointments Are Often Felt Hard by Parents

I touched on this a while back, but I didn’t expect to be hit this hard again. I think it goes back to my unintentional expectations of him getting through to round 2, and he didn’t. But his “rejection” just intensified my own writing rejections I’ve felt over the years. I’m still dealing and processing with all the emotions of that and the weekend Idol experience.

When Disappointments Hit Hard Offer Space and Grace

Whether you’re a parent or a kid, when disappointments hit we need to give each other space. I know when I’m dealing with a rejection I want to be left alone and so that’s what I tried to do with my son. I also offered grace as my family needs to do with me when I get a writing rejection. A lot of ugly oozes out of our rejection sores, but I tried to remind myself it’s only the hurt talking and I’ve oozed my fair share or ugliness.

Yes, our Idol experience is over and once again if we were completely honest with ourselves, it never really was my son’s  “dream.” In fact, if he hadn’t won the Dream ticket, he might not have auditioned and the perks were sweet.

Having the Dream ticket opened up new doors for him, but it could have been the thing to lock that Idol door. (More on that later) Then again, if Idol was not part of God’s plan for his life, better to keep that door locked!

Now your turn:

How do you deal with your child’s disappointments and rejections? What have your learned?

 

Embracing Life's Layovers

Sometimes I feel as if I’m on a layover to my final destination. A stop on the way to something better, more exciting—My destiny.

You would think a stop, a pause in travel would be restful, and I guess sometimes it can be, but if you’ve been on a layover in an airport, then you know it’s an uncomfortable place to be.

Sometimes it can be crowded with too many people, too much worry. How long will I be waiting for my next flight to take me closer to where I want to be? Will I be able to survive on what little money I have? Where will I lay my head? Will I even sleep at all?

Being in a layover can be an uncomfortable place of worry and longing, but it can also be a place of renewal, growth, and friendship.

Layovers rarely happen alone. If a plane is grounded, look around. You’re not the only one stranded. There are other weary travels just like you. You just have to take your eyes off yourself and make an effort to see them. Or you can choose to close yourself off to those around you, thinking it’s not worth engaging in conversation. Maybe you truly are weary and don’t have the energy to reach out. It’s okay to close your eyes for a while, but when you’re rested, you have a choice. You can choose to step out of your world into the lives of others, offering companionship, hope, encouragement, or you can sulk in the corner and worry about things that are beyond your control.

If you choose to look outside your circumstances and reorient yourself from your destination to your present by engaging in the lives around you, you’ll find that the layover doesn’t last as long as you thought. And you might just help someone on their journey. And maybe, just maybe, they might help you get closer to your final destination.

Where are you on your journey and who have you helped (or helped you) along the way?