Monday, April 6, 2009

Spotlight shines on Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy is the author of Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. She will be releasing historical romantic comedies for Barbour for the next three years, including the first book of a new series, Montana Rose, coming in July.

Mary is married to her high school sweetheart, Ivan, a Nebraska farmer/rancher. She is the mother of four beautiful daughters Josie, married to Matt, Wendy, Shelly, married to Aaron and Katy. She’s got one beautiful, brand-new granddaughter, Elle.

Mary has offered a signed copy of Gigham Mountain to a lucky reader so be sure to leave a comment and follow the rules at the bottom to enter the drawing.

What is your Gingham Mountain about?

A rancher runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he's made slave labor out of eight orphaned children.

Grant Cooper crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she's so pretty and she isn't really bad to his children, it's Grant she can't stand.

Who is the most important influence in your life besides God?

I’ve found…to my surprise…that there are threads of biological info in my books. So I’d say my family, just because between my husband and I we have 100 relatives, close relatives, that gives me lot of characters to play with.

Let’s pretend money is not a factor, if you could go anywhere is the world where would you go?

I have this longing to find a truly beautiful spot in the mountains, rent a cabin and just explore. Natural beauty is a huge draw to me. There’s so much of America I haven’t seen yet. We’ve never done a lot of traveling. I’d like to make a bucket list and go visit a hundred places. Maybe I’ll do that—make the list—as soon as I have some spare time.

I would recommend the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. My husband and I have gone twice. They are beautiful.

What book are you reading now? What books are found lying around your home?

I just bought Marcia Gruver’s latest, Chasing Charity. I loved Diamond Duo, book one in this series and I’ve heard book two is even better. So I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got to finish MaryLu Tyndall’s The Red Siren, first. I’m completely hooked on that one.

What is your favorite children’s book?

I’ve got four that I love. The Big Orange Splot by D. Manus Pinkwater. It’s this beautiful, lyrical, funny book about loving yourself and ignoring peer pressure. Tootle by Gertrude Hampton. It’s about staying on the tracks. The combination of The Big Orange Splot and Tootle is wonderful, be yourself, but don’t make indulgent mistakes that take you down the wrong path. A Child’s Garden of Verses by the very best of the best, Robert Louis Stevenson. I read this to my children so many times we could all quote long stretches of most of the poems. “How do you like to go up in a swing? Up in the sky so blue?” And finally, just for pure fun and for how beautifully the English language is used for poetry, a book length people called Maude and Claude go Abroad by Susan Meddaugh. I am just delighted by that book every time I read it.

What do you find most challenging about writing? What do you find most rewarding?

I think the hardest scenes to write are the ones I like best, but at the same time I sort of dread them because I know how much work it is to get them right. Comedy scenes and action scenes are a ton of work for me because I like chaos. I like movement and comedy, dialogue and confusion. In Gingham Mountain, I love the scene where the townspeople come into school and demand Grant remove his children because they’re a bad influence on the rest of the students.

Hannah’s defending her own teaching skills. Grant wants to take his children and leave. Some of the parents are on Grant’s side, most are against him. It’s a big blow up of a scene. Then Grant and Hannah have a big fight, mainly because they’re so stirred up, which turns into a kiss that just makes everything worse. That was lots of fun to write and I changed it around a lot, tweaking, mixing in dialogue and tags and movement.

I love writing. There is no aspect of it I don’t love. I love the first draft. I love revisions. I love tweaking a scene to make it sharper. I love daydreaming about the scene I’m going to write next.

What are you working on next?

My next release is Montana Rose, coming in July and I just adore this book. I try in this book to change things around a bit so I don’t get stale. I picked a wimpy heroine. Scared little mouse of a woman. Then I put her through what I needed to on her road to toughness. It came out really well. I ended up loving sweet, scared Cassie so much. And her hero is one of my favorite characters even.

If your book was being discussed at a book club what do you think the focus of the discussion would be on?

I’m always interested in trying to find a balance with characters being clumsy in their dealings with the opposite sex, but keeping them from being jerks. I love hearing if readers feel like I’ve hit that mark or gone too far. I also find a recurring theme is that people don’t really change. They can change the focus of their lives, toward faith and using their personality as the Lord intended, but their basic personality just IS. So while they’re changing in some soul deep ways, in other, more surface ways, the goal is to be accepted for themselves.

I think you do an amazing job showing the differences between the sexes. I think that might be one of my favorite things about the series.

I always am trying to learn new ways to be organized in the office, what is your favorite organizational tool?

About my only organizational tool is a Yahoo calendar, loaded with ‘reminders’ of all I have to do, that sends me emails reminding me. I’d be sunk without that.

Also, I write 1000 words a day. I try to never fail with that. It’s surprising how fast a 90,000 book emerges if you stick to it.

I love calenders and reminders too. I use the outlook calender. I have also made the effort to write 1000 words everyday.

What would you like your readers to say about your writing?

That they were entertained. That’s the fundamental goal. Yes, I have a spiritual theme, but if I can’t keep a reader turning the page then they’re not going to get my point.

Mary, your books are very entertaining. You are one of my favorite authors. Your books make me laugh and giggle often when others are looking at me. I've almost decided I can't read them in public.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I think a writing in any stage of writing needs to have their very highest commitment go to their work. Marketing and publicity are part of the deal and important, but if marketing is taking you away from your writing you need to think seriously about your priorities. Write the very best book you know how to write every time. There is no marketing in the world that will sell your books as well.

Where can readers find you on the Web?

Find out more about Mary’s Books at and check out her blogs:;; and

To win a copy of Gingham Mountain. Simply answer the daily question and leave a way to contact you via email. Be sure to disguise your email like this: runninmama{at}sbcglobal{dot}net

QUESTION: Tell us about the most interesting place you have visited.

If you would like additional entries:
  • Follow me or subscribe via email.
  • Join me on Twitter and Tweet about this blog contest (writebyfaith)
  • Blog about this interview and contest.
  • Go visit One of Mary's sites and come back and tell me what you thought was interesting.

This contest is limited to U.S and Canada.


ladystorm said...

While in College I was studying German and I was able to go to Germany for a whole month for summer school with a small group. I had a blast and didn't want to come home. :) It was so neat with all the old churches, etc.

Would love a chance to win this book.


Donna said...

Oh Stormi,

That sounds like a wonderful trip. I never want to come home when I am on a trip. There is something magical about staying somewhere besides home. Everything is so incredibly interesting.

Shoshana said...

I'd have to say Camiguin. It's hot hot and cold springs within miles of each other. Great place to vacation too. It's located in Mindana, Philippines.

unsealmylips at gmail dot com

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, you ladies have been goals. Germany and the Philippines.
I can barely get to the nearest WalMart to buy new printer ink cartridges.
The draw for me in foreign travel is ancient things. I'd love to see pyramids and the Colosium in Rome and Stone Henge. Old castles and Incan ruins. I'd even like to see old American stuff, though it's not nearly as old. But Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the oldest part of Boston.
I'd like to see Carlsbad Cavern again and visit Yellowstone and see Alaska.
I'd really like to see an full antlered elk in the wild, and a moose and a polar bear. Stuff like that.

Mary Connealy said...

I mean BIG goals no BEEN goals.


Renee said...

I haven't been fortunate enough to visit any place outside the U.S. but the most interesting place in the country, for me, is Florida! I went to Florida about 6 years ago to visit a Bible college but I also spent time with family touring spots like Jupiter Island and West Palm Beach...both are really beautiful places! While there I went on a safari at a wildlife park and my car was attacked by an ostrich who must have thought my antenna ball was a snack!Fun stuff :-P HAHAHA!

Well I'd love a chance to win this book since I've read the first 2 and LOVED them!


Mary Connealy said...

Renee, I went to...I think it was Busch Gardens in Florida years ago. We pretty much quit traveling while our children were growing up.
No Money + No Time = No Traveling
There, a math problem for you. :)

But we went to some beautiful garden with -- it seems like there were monkeys running wild? And we rode on a glass bottomed boat and it was all spectacularly beautiful then we went to Disney World and it was fantastic of course but it couldn't compare with that beautiful garden...park...wildlife refuge WHATEVER it was.

KAG said...

There are so many places I absolutely love to visit, how can I limit it to just one?!?

I would have to say the church camp my dad would take us to every summer as a family. I worked there for 10 summers as well - began as kitchen staff (the peons, if you will) and eventually ended up as head cook. Nothing beats the hour drive to camp! Open windows, kids songs blaring from the stereo, the smell of country air (lovingly referred to as "dairy air"), and eventually the sweet smell of grass and wild strawberries.

Ah...August can't come soon enough!


MJ said...

Ridgecreat NC when I was a teen!

MJ said...

I follow.


Mary Connealy said...

Oh, gotta add, that picture of Montana Rose's cover isn't finalized. It's up on so you'd think it would be but I've got another possible book cover in my possession now but IT'S not finalized either, but I think it'll be the new one.
So, if that pretty little lady suddenly switches to a cowboy hat on a signpost. Don't be surprised.

sherrinda said...

Ooo...I want to make a bucket list...someday. I don't know of anyone who has made one, but really, we should all have dreams and goals for life. We probably do, just don't get them written down in an impressive list. ;)

The most interesting place I've ever been to is Mbale, Uganda. Way in a little grass hut on manure floors. They had stringed instuments and shakers made of license plates and rocks. And boy, they could dance! I'm rythmically challenged, but had some fun rockin' it with the sweet people there.

Thanks for a great interview! (No need to enter me...books are on their way!)


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Sherrinda. What a bunch of world travellers. I'm humbled.
My family went fishing at a lake in Minnesota. Same lake, Same cabin. I had a lot of kids prone to car sickness. It was as far as we could go and remain sane.
I'm from Nebraska so it was a six hour drive. Or eight. Or ten. Depending on how many kids got carsick.....shudder

Carole said...

I have always loved early American history, so the summer my daughter and I spent a week on Cape Cod will always be one of my favorites. So much interesting history was found in the whaling museums, Plymouth Plantation, and lighthouses.

By the way, my daughter is now a missionary in Germany, so my first trip to visit her will definitely top Cape Cod!

Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy of Gingham Mountain.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

sherrinda said...

Bleh...carsickness and traveling...not a pleasant journey, I'm sure! Too bad they didn't have those little motion sickness patches that they do now. Of course, you could be like the one woman I knew who would line up her 6 kids before church and give them something like benydril or paragoric so they'd be still and quiet in church! (this was 40 years ago...couldn't get by with that today!)

Carole said...

I just went to Mary's website and was glad I did! I discovered that her anthology of three cozy mysteries is coming out this June. My love for cozy mysteries started with Miss Marple a long time ago, and I'm glad to see them in the Christian market.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Anonymous said...
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Lorraine said...

One of the most interesting places I've ever visited is the Denver Zoo. I never realized there were so many different animal species.

robynl said...

the most interesting place I've visited is Victoria, B.C., Canada.
We girls took our Mom on a trip there when she learned she was dying from cancer. We saw the ocean, big, big ships, beaches, castles, went sea shell picking, took a carriage ride through old town(?) and enjoyed ourselves immensley.

robynl said...


February 2007

International Readers Choice Contest Finalist
Long Historical Fiction Category

Upon visiting Mary's website I discovered the above. Congrats Mary.

yourstrulee (at) sasktel (dot) net

Anonymous said...

I loved New Orleans, with the cemeteries and voodoo shops and so forth.

Mary Connealy said...

I did a little traveling BC (that's Before Children!) ancient history. I went to New York City on a college Model United Nations trip. Very cool.

Orlando twice. Once in the winter, once in July--I don't recommend this. You could bake chicken on the sidewalk in Orlando in July.

New Orleans to watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers play in the Something or Other Bowl. I spent New Years Eve on Bourbon Street. Insane party.

We went to Texas on our honeymoon with one goal in mind. Drive south until we get warm.
We gave up at Galveston and just turned around, shivering and came home.

San Diego...which was a long drive south (from where I live in Nebraska) then west along the southern edge of the state. Carlsbad Cavern. The SanDiego Zoo. Sea World...that morning in Sea World remains possible the most pleasant of my life. Not sure why it was just perfect weather (in January) the trained whales and dolphins. I ate the best donut of my life. Wonderful.
Oh, I was six months pregnant. Got home, had the baby (now 30 years old) and pretty much never went anywhere again except fishing in Minnesota, which was fun but not exactly breaking new ground. So maybe San Diego seemed so fantastic because it was just so badly downhill from there Vacation-wise. :)

Mary Connealy said...

thanks for going to my website, ladies. I ought to go there and see what it says. :)

Katie said...

Hmm...the most interesting place I've been...Roan Mountain, Tennessee. It is SOOO beautiful! The view from the cabin we stayed in is breath-takingly gorgeous!



Katie said...

I am a follower of your blog as well!



Anonymous said...

The drive we took through B.C. Canada was so incredibly beautiful and the people were so sweet and fun.

I would love a chance to win this book. Thank-you for setting this up.

Gayla Collins

Julieanne Miller said...

The most interesting place I've ever visited was Japan - a 10-day, all expenses paid, trip with a group of teachers from my state. We ate things that I never even knew were edible. Wonderful, amazing trip to get a glimpse of the culture and beautiful people.

Would love to win this book! It's been fun reading your take on it.


flchen1 said...

The most interesting place so far? Parts of China--our family was able to take a trip together to sightsee and to visit some of the places where our parents grew up. It's a huge country with so many people--so many things to see and explore and get to know. We spent two weeks there and only touched the tippy-tip-top of the iceberg!

And what I enjoy most about Mary's blog is learning a bit about her family and her littlest cutie pie :)

Thanks for the contest!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Anita Yancey said...

The most interesting place I have visited is Stuttgart Germany. I actually lived there for three years on the Army base Robinson Barracks. It was quite interesting getting to know the area and the people. While I was there, I worked with a lot of people from different countries. The one thing I didn't like is they drive to fast there.


Cheryl said...

I think the most interesting place I have ever visited would have to be Cancun, Mexico. We went there a few years ago on a family vacation and it was wonderful. We visited several Mayan ruins which we were able to see and picture how they lived. It was very interesting. I would love a chance to win this book. Please enter me in the contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Jeannie Campbell said...

i went up to New Brunswick to the Bay of Fundy and these "flowerpot rocks" there on the coast. the sea literally has eaten away at the coast, making these flower pot looking things. at low-tide, you can walk out under them on the ocean floor (they're huge) and at high-tide, the water is incredibly a matter of hours. it was simply amazing to see. check it out here:

anyway...that was probably top 5 of the most interesting places i've been.

Kaye said...

The most interesting place I've been in northern Italy, we took a small boat out to an island to see a grotto made from shells that took the owner 14 years to construct. I am also a follower


Martha A. said...

The most interesting place I visited, was probably Bolivia, South America. I was 17 and spent almost 3 weeks there. We stayed in a house with a thatched roof, with big spiders on the walls that came out at night. I actually walked through the woods (jungle) a couple of times and later found out that it was probably pretty dangerous!!
We also spent some time in the city walking around and learning alot! It was a great memory! I would love to visit again!
I also follow you.....martha(at)lclink(dot)com

quelleheure4 said...

I was able to go to Paris in high school and it was the experience of a lifetime!