Friday, November 16, 2012

Welcome Guest Shelley Hitz!

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author and speaker Shelley Hitz. What I know about Shelley is that she is one energetic lady, juggling so many amazing projects simultaneously, it's mind-boggling--even to a serial multi-tasker like me! In spite of her ambitious schedule, she is always there to offer suggestions and answer questions posed by other authors in our group. She is an encourager and a marketing dynamo. So, Shelley, thank you so much for joining us today. May many be blessed by your inspiring words!

21 Ways to Celebrate Gratitude
Idea #17:Be Tree-mendously Thankful

Guest post by Shelley Hitz

Thanksgiving season is soon approaching and this year, I encourage you to take the opportunity to celebrate gratitude.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, take a moment (or two) to celebrate gratitude.

Don’t forget to check out the free book giveaway below. Please take a moment to listen to a short video!


Idea #17:Be tree-mendously thankful this holiday season.  Create a large paper tree and cut out ornaments to write out what you are thankful for on each one.  Then tape these ornaments on the tree as a reminder throughout the holiday season.

See all 21 ways to celebrate gratitude this Thanksgiving at Shelley’s website:

Free Gratitude Resource:

On November 14, 15 and 16th, 2012 you can download a FREE Kindle copy of the book, “21 Stories of Gratitude:  The Power of Living Life With a Grateful Heart.”

Book Description:

Are you living life to the fullest? Or are you merely surviving from day to day?

One way to live life to the fullest is to live each day with a grateful heart. In this book, we share 21 stories of gratitude to give you encouragement and hope in your own journey. Gratitude is possible! Even though many times we cannot change our circumstances, we can change the way we see them. We can ask God to empower us to change our thoughts.

Our prayer for you is that you find encouragement within these pages. And we pray that you will ask God for His strength to renew your mind with His truth and the hope He offers each one of us every day. It is only through Christ renewing our minds that we can truly live each day with a grateful heart.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

Other Gratitude Resources:

·         21 Days of Gratitude Challenge:  Take the 21 days of gratitude challenge to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  You can do this by yourself or as a family.

·         21 Prayers of Gratitude:  Read a prayer of gratitude for 21 days to focus your heart on God and all He has given us.

 About the Author:

      Shelley Hitz has been writing and publishing books since 2008. She is also the author of the website,, that reaches thousands of girls each month around the world. Her openness and vulnerability as she shares her own story of hope and healing will inspire and encourage you.

      Shelley has been ministering to teens since 1998 alongside her husband, CJ. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley’s main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements.
      You can find more about Shelley at or invite her to speak at your event here:

Thanks again for visiting with us, Shelley! 

And to everyone out there in Cyber-land, don't forget to capture the stories of loved ones during the holidays. It's an opportune time to engage older relatives in conversation about events in their lifetimes. Keep a small voice recorder handy, and don't forget to turn it on so you will preserve those stories. Someone can transcribe them into a document any time, but you have to seize the moment to catch those important memories! 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing provides a long list of questions you can ask the relatives or use for formulating your own stories. See for available formats, and order your copy today. Future generations who read those stories will be so glad that you took the time and effort to preserve family history. Happy Thanksgiving and Blessings to all!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Featuring author Gina Conroy

A warm welcome today to our guest, Gina Conroy!

Fighting Through Insecurities to Reach Your Dreams
by Gina Conroy

Ever since I can remember, I've dreamed of being a dancer. I remember watching Flashdance, Fame, and all the other fun dancing movies and thinking how much fun it would be to do that. But to achieve that goal would take hard work, discipline, and talent. We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but when I was ten I took my first dance lessons. To this day, I can remember the recital. I also remember feeling chubby, uncoordinated, and self conscious in a class of older girls. So I quit something I loved for fear of ridicule.

When I went back to take dance lessons at 15 years old, it was obvious I'd never be good enough or catch up to the level of the other girls. My insecurities had held me back from reaching my dream of dancing.
Fast forward twenty plus years and my secret desire is taking form in ballroom and swing dance lessons. After attempting to swing dance in sandals last summer and suffering through insecurities and my ignorance on the dance floor, I thought it necessary to take lessons just in case I ever got the opportunity to go swing dancing again.

So I signed up not just for swing, but salsa, rumba, cha cha and a whole slew of dances I was "expected to master" in just seven hour long classes. Okay, I admit, I didn't plan on mastering them all, and the dance studio's gamble won out when I purchased another set of lessons. And after 20 plus hours, I still didn't master any of the dances. But I've made a conscious decision not to quit, no matter how tough, no matter how insecure I got at times.

I remember one particular lesson when my instructor arrived 20 minutes late with a scowl on his face and threw me into a salsa turn immediately when I was still trying to get the footing down. I tried my best, but I was perfectly fine with my bent legged salsa. Unfortunately, he was not. I guess we had two different definitions of "mastering" salsa. We spent the next 30 minutes trying to get my leg to straighten. I just couldn't get it. And the more I tried, the worse and more confused I got, and the more flustered we both got.
There was a point he kept pushing me that I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and quit, and say "This is not Dancing with the Stars."  Instead, I asked him if I could practice at home and if we could move onto East Coast swing.

And we did. And he threw me into a spin again when I was still adjusting to the footing, but by this time he had apologized for his attitude because he'd just quit smoking that morning AND had come from a stressful, life altering situation. We laughed through my own klutziness and made progress. I worked through my insecurities and inadequacies and kept pushing until I figured out what I was doing wrong. The point of this story? If I had given into the voices in my head that told me I'd never get it and my instructor thought I was hopeless, I never would have succeeded and learned.

It's the same with our writing or any other dream in our lives. When insecurities start to shout “I'm not a good enough writer, no one will ‘get me,’ and my story isn't good enough to show my agent yet,” I have to push through the inadequacies I have, real or imaginary. My work may not be perfect, but who better to show me how to improve it than my agent who wants me to succeed?

I might never be worthy of Dancing with the Stars, but I'm not quitting. And too bad if I have bent salsa knees, at least I'm on the dance floor! 

Let’s Talk: What dreams have you buried for fear you’re not good enough or they’re impossible to achieve? Are you ready to face your insecurities and risk ridicule to do something you’re passionate about?

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she’s learning to embrace life’s detours. After seven years of dream pursuit, she held her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, in her hands and Digging Up Death, her first full length mystery will come out Thanksgiving 2012. Gina founded Writer...Interrupted  to encourage busy writers and 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, or pursuing her new passion — ballroom and swing dancing!
Connect with her on
: @GinaConroy
Author Gina Conroy

Thoughts by Mary Anne:

I’ve always heard that the cover design of a book is critical in attracting readers. The cover of Cherry Blossom Capers by Gina Conroy and friends caught my eye a few months ago, and the book didn’t disappoint.

My Amazon review stated: “This was an entertaining collection of four modern, snuggly mysteries rolled into one delightful book. With backdrops of various locations in Washington, DC, the friendships of four women have formed via the proximity of their condos at Cherry Blossom Estates.

In separate sagas, the girls find themselves involved in precarious situations, as well as navigating tumultuous paths that might just be leading them to find the guys who could potentially become their lifetime loves.

Light and breezy, all four segments marvelously meshed to represent a pleasantly engaging read!”

GOOD NEWS--Gina is currently launching a new book entitled Digging Up Death, which is definitely on my “To Read” list. This is the scoop:

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?   

“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

Personally, I LOVE devouring a modern day story that includes romance and inspiration. I’m allowed to escape into the issues, accomplishments and disappointments of the life of someone else for just a little while. Check out Digging Up Death. I know I will!!

A HUGE THANK YOU to Gina Conroy for stopping by today. See you soon with a visit from another author friend, Shelley Hitz. She’ll be talking about GRATITUDE just in time for Thanksgiving!

God bless,
Mary Anne