Friday, August 1, 2008

Meet Mary Connealy - Interview & Book Giveaway

Mary ConnealyIt’s my pleasure to introduce the always delightful Mary Connealy. Let’s meet Mary!


Mary Connealy is the author of Calico Canyon and Petticoat Ranch. Alaska Brides, a Heartsong anthology containing her book Golden Days will be out in August. She has recently signed an exclusive contract to write for Barbour Publishing for the next three years. Mary’s dream is to tell love stories that make people laugh. She lives on a farm in Nebraska with her husband, Ivan. She just moved her youngest child to college and the nest is so empty it echoes.


JA: Please tell us about your latest book, Calico Canyon.
MC: Calico Canyon – Lassoed in Texas Book #2 is a suspenseful, inspirational, historical western, romantic comedy. In Petticoat Ranch I talked about a man who’d never been around women, dropped into an all-girl world, so I decided to do the flip side of that story in Calico Canyon. I took prissy, Miss Calhoun, the school marm, and shoved her, completely against her will, into an all-male world.

MC - Calico CanyonThe thing with trying to do this is to focus on their complete fish-out-of-water story, make it as extreme as possible and still have the hero be heroic, the heroine be delightful and loveable. Not that easy when she doesn’t understand anything about his wild, ill-mannered boys, less about him and nothing about marriage.

The main trouble between Daniel and Grace isn’t the fact that they loathe each other—although that’s huge. It’s the fact that Daniel completely blames himself for his first wife’s death in childbirth, plus how brutally hard it was for him to survive with newborn triplets. He is so deeply traumatized by it that he won’t risk having another woman be with child. But he has a God given, perfectly natural attraction for his new wife—once he calms down and accepts his fate of course.

So there’s a war inside Daniel and, torn between desire and terror, he handles it as badly as humanly possible. And Grace? Well she’d been rejected so many times in her life that she expects it. Convincing her to risk their heart would be hard for anyone, but nearly impossible for the man she married.

JA: Your heroine, Grace Calhoun, made a brief appearance in Petticoat Ranch. At that time, did you plan for Grace to get her own storyline?
MC: Yes, absolutely. In fact Grace did NOT appear in Petticoat Ranch as I originally wrote it. Nor did Daniel. I went back and rewrote the book specifically to create book #2 in this series. I did this all long before Petticoat Ranch got published.

JA: I love the internal conflict you gave Daniel Reeves and his constant push and pull with Grace. What’s your favorite thing about Daniel?
MC: I wanted Daniel to be the result of absolutely no female influence. For five years he’s completely committed his life to raising his sons the best way he knew how so I wanted him to have a really wonderful, loving heart, but be a savage. Just absolutely none of the refinement living with a woman might give you. And maybe that’s not done in a fair way. Men can have manners and be totally civilized. But Daniel wasn’t and neither were his boys.
Here’s a moment with Daniel I loved. He’s ‘teaching’ his son Mark.

“Grace...uh...that is, your here to stay. So, we’ll use our smarts to figure out a way to get along with her.”

“And Miss Calhoun is smart too, or least ways she kept acting like she was.”

Daniel shrugged his shoulders. “She might be smart. No sign of it anywheres I can see. And besides, there’s smart and there’s smart.”

“What’s that mean, Pa?” Mark scooped up a handful of snow and seemed to be studying the house.

Daniel had to bite back a smile. “It means—smart is what you do with it.” Daniel nodded his head at the house. “I’ve known a few real educated men, got through high school ’n everything, who didn’t have a lick of sense. And I’ve knowed some men who couldn’t read nor write, who didn’t have a day of book learning, but I’d trust ’em with big decisions about real important stuff, like my cattle, even.”

“So, we’ll just see what kind of smart Ma turns out to be.”

Daniel sighed again, this time the sound seemed to come all the way from his toes. “Yep, the good news is, since we’re stuck with her for life, she’s got a lot of time to learn.”

I think this was a pretty common mindset back then. Common sense, practical skills and hard work trumped a shiny diploma nearly every time. And Daniel’s respect for those practical skills over schooling were typical. But he’s trying, in his own lunk headed way, to teach his children.

MC - Petticoat Ranch JA: You do a great job tempering serious topics with humor. So tell us, have you always been funny?
MC: Humor just happens in my books. I seem to be unable to resist letting my heroine sass the hero. I love it when the hero, knowing he’s hit on a sensitive subject, looks his woman in the eye and chooses the worst possible way to respond to her. That’s entertaining to me, to write like that. And I pretty much write to entertain myself, like a normal person would play golf, so of course I’m going to go for the laugh.

JA: What do you hope people take away after reading Calico Canyon?
MC: I look at the different ways Daniel reacted to his sons and Clay reacted to his daughters and all the mistakes they made and all the wrangling they did with their wives and I hope the love comes through. People do their best and they fail and fail and fail. I think the primary motivator for most mothers especially is guilt. But if you truly love your child that will come through and it’s what makes a child into a good adult. Not the exact right word or the perfect level of discipline. Just your whole life with your children and your spouse heavily seasoned with love.

I also loved the moment when Clay finally finds out Parrish has been terrorizing Sally. I think this kind of trust lays a foundation for a child that they carry with them all their lives.
Clay looked at Sally and crouched in front of her. “Let me see your hand, darlin’.”

Sally held her palm up. The bruising was dark and there were several cuts in her tender flesh.

Pa gave her hand a kiss, then lifted her into his strong arms as he rose and hugged her tight. He pulled back far enough to look her square in the eye. “You could have told me. I’d’ve listened. You’re not a little girl to tell lies and I’d’ve trusted you.”

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
MC: I’ve got a three book Heartsong series coming soon and a three book cozy series. And the sequel to Calico Canyon comes out in February. Gingham Mountain, it’s Hannah’s story. And Hannah, the way she kept collecting children in Calico Canyon, despite the hardship to herself, well, she finds a whole lot of children to save and an adoptive father who is nothing like her own. But he’s got his hands full convincing Hannah of that.

JA: You’ve signed an exclusive contract with Barbour Publishing for eighteen books over the next four years. Big congrats on that! What was it like when they approached you about this?
MC: I suppose nothing is a sweet as that first contract. Such a fantastic moment. But once you’ve got that contract you immediately start thinking am I a one-book wonder. My dream beyond getting a book published to begin with was, “I wish I could have a career.” Well, with eighteen books coming from Barbour, I’d say I have one. So it was a dream come true that I barely dared to hope for.

JA: Is there something people would be surprised to know about you?
MC: I honestly consider myself to be the most normal person imaginable. That fact that I have books in bookstores is so wildly beyond any hope I ever had that it’s stunning. I’m mostly a homebody. I have a full time job teaching GED. I was a stay-at-home mom for twenty-seven years. Pretty normal stuff. No great glamour involved in being a writer, just hours alone in front of a computer. That suits me fine.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
MC: My website has my books listed and their release dates and contact info if anyone wants to email me.
I’ve got three blogs. Two with groups of authors and we have so much fun on them. Seekerville about writing contests:
Petticoats and Pistols about western romance:
And my personal blog that has current news about my books:

Thanks for hanging out with us, Mary. May God continue to bless your writing journey!

If it seems like you’ve read this review already, you probably have. I posted it during Mary’s CFBA blog tour in June. But I thought it would be nice to run it again with Mary’s interview. Don’t worry… you’re not going crazy!

I absolutely loved Petticoat Ranch so I had very high expectations for Calico Canyon. I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I found this book to be even stronger than the first, which is saying something.

Mary Connealy knows her way around emotions. She can make you laugh out loud one minute and tug on your heart the next. In Grace and Daniel she's created two characters you love and root for, even while they are contemplating knocking each other silly. It's a match reminiscent of classic movie pairings like Tracy and Hepburn or Gable and Lombard. Grace and Daniel are just as much fun... and romantic.

She also has some interesting secondary story lines which will almost certainly pop up in her next book in the series, Gingham Mountain. While this book can stand alone, I think you'll enjoy it more if you read Petticoat Ranch first. Not only will you have a proper introduction to Grace, but you'll get to read another fast-paced and fun romance.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Calico Canyon just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on August 8th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for having me on.

I enjoyed the interview questions. :)

Cheri2628 said...

Hi, Mary. I first "discovered" you at Petticoats and Pistols, and I just recently read Petticoat Ranch. I loved that story because it had all the elements of stories I love...humor, some suspense,the old West, family relationships, finding love, friendships, and faith. I am looking forward to Calico Canyon now that I have met the characters in Petticoat Ranch.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Cheri. We have so much fun over at Petticoats and Pistols. :)
I'm glad you stop by there.
Thanks for the kind words about Petticoat Ranch.

Good luck in the drawing.

Cheri2628 said...

Oops! I totally forgot about leaving my email address. I definitely want to be entered in the drawing! :-)


cathikin said...

A really good, informativve interview. Fun to read, too. Those quotations from the book really gave a lot more insight; sounds like Daniel had a lot to learn!

Cathi H.
chassan2 [at} hotmail [dot] com

artst4christ said...

Hmm a western now that would be a totally outlandish thing to read in Texas :-D Orrr maybe not . . . sign me up please !

windycindy said...

I very much enjoyed your interview! Your books are wonderful and I love the humor! Please enter me in your drawing for this great book! Thanks, Cindi

Mary Connealy said...

Cathikins, Daniel DID have a lot to learn.

One of my favorite lines in Calico Canyon is Grace saying about Daniel, "I'm going to make an impression on that man, even is I have to use a hammer to do it."

(or something like that)

Mary Connealy said...

arts4chrst, Texas is a big draw to a writer.

My next series is called Married in Montana but you know what? It's still cowboys. :)

Mary Connealy said...

windycindy, thanks for the kind words about my books, I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Mary and Jenn! The book sounds like lots of fun to read - my favorite kind! Please enter me in the drawing.

Deborah Piccurelli

Vickie said...


As a mother of four boys, I'm really looking forward to reading your new book. I know it will be fun.

Congratulations on all your contracts!! Awesome!

bookwurm70 said...

Great interview, I can't wait to meet the characters in your books. Please enter me in the contest!

bookwurm70 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Donald James Parker said...

I loved Petticoat Ranch. I'd like to win this one.
Thanks for hosting, Jennifer.
Donald James Parker

Connie Arnold said...

What a delightful interview and review! It's wonderful to find out about an author I didn't know, and Calico Canyon sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Thank you for this opportunity!

tetewa said...

I have Petticoat Ranch and I'm looking forward to Calico Canyon! Enjoyed the interview!

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hello, all, and a big HELLO and thanks to Mary for stopping by to chat!

Everyone, you will love this book. Mary is one of my favorite authors. My only gripe is that now I've read all of them! Of course, with 18 books coming out over the next four years, I've got nothing left to complain about!

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Vickie. Four boys?? And you've lived to tell the tale??? :)

I've got four girls and of COURSE you know girls are best. LOL

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Donald. I think we're on ever social network on the planet together. Shoutlife and Facebook and Myspace and Edgy Inspy Authors, just meet up with you everywhere. :)

I hope you have as many kind things to say about Calico Canyon as you did about Petticoat Ranch. I love hearing from men who've enjoyed it.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Connie and Gail, good luck in the drawing. thanks for stopping in.

Mary Connealy said...

tetewa, I'm so glad you enjoyed Petticoat Ranch.

I've been told the books stand alone fine but there's a lot of fun in reading them in order too, because you'll know more about what the McClellen girls are up to.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Deborah, thanks for stopping by. :)

Smilingsal said...

I'd love to be considered for this book giveaway. My email address even sounds western!

Crystal said...

What a great interview... and a lovely picture too! :-)
Your calico books sound awesome!
Please enter me in the drawing.


haras w said...

enjoyed your fitst book. can't wait to read this one. please enter my name in the draw.

Doreen said...

Great interview! Would love to read this book, thanks! purposedrivenlife4you(at)gmail(dot)com

Carolynn W. said...

I have been wanting to read this book since it first came out, i look forward to enjoying it. Thanks for the chance to win!

Pam said...

I would love to win a copy! Thanks for the contest.
aw97bw(at)yahoo (dot) com

Cheryl said...

This book sounds great! Please enter me in the contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

~Ley said...

I can't wait to read this book! It sounds even better than the first. Which is saying alot! Enter me in the drawing please.


Maureen said...

I would love to win this book. It looks like a great story.

annie said...

WOnderful and excellent interview. Your books are always great. Thanks for this chance.

cpullum said...

loved the interview my kind of a book!!

Pamela J said...

OH, PLEASE enter me if it isn't too late. I'd love to read this. Thanks.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Jennifer AlLee said...

The winner of Calico Canyon is... Connie Arnold! Congrats, and thanks to everyone who stopped by :+}