Today I'm doing an interview with Mary Connealy, the Author of Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon, and Gingham Mountain.

Welcome Mary and thank ya for Joinin Me today!

Hi, Rae, thanks for having me on.

What is your inspiration for your Books?
Rae, I wasn’t that aware of it when I first wrote Petticoat Ranch but, after it was done, I realized I got a lot of it from my husband. He’s from a family of seven sons and now we have four daughters. And having grown up without women…except for his mom of course…he has strange reactions to the girls. He just never learned to enjoy making girls cry or scream, like a lot of men who, when they were boys, tormented their sisters. Petticoat Ranch was a man thrust into an all-girl world.
So, I decided I needed to write the flip side of that, a woman in an all-male world. Calico Canyon became my husband story when he was a boy. All those out-of-control boys…my mother-in-law, who is one of my favorite people on the planet…can tell little boy stories all day long.
So, to be fair, I have my own family—my brothers and sisters—in mind for Gingham Mountain. Gingham Mountain is Hannah’s story. I got Hannah in a lot of trouble as a secondary character in Calico Canyon. Now I’ve got to get her out of it. The fundamental story is inspired by my own family. I was the third of eight kids. We grew up in a tiny old farmhouse, three bedrooms-well, eventually four when my brother moved into this tiny wreck of an attic room. We didn’t have material things but we had lots of love and plenty of fun. That’s how I KNOW Grant could have shoe-horned all those kids into that little house, because we did it.

What's your favorite part about writing a book?
I love writing.
I don’t even like to break it down into pieces.
I love story, possibly most of all. A story in my head I want to tell. But finding the right characters is such a fundamental part of that story that I’m not sure you can separate the two. And historical research…well, I say I hate it…but I hate it because it sucks me in. I’ll find out an hour has gone by while I try to figure out if there was a train coming into El Paso in 1883…and I got off on some sidetrack and am now reading about The Younger Brothers or studying if a puma, mountain lion and wildcat are all the same animal. Or did laudanum come in a bottle sold widely or did you have to be a doctor. Or were there colleges who would admit women and what paperwork did you need to be a pastor, legally able to perform a wedding.
So, I love research but I know it’s a time sink.
I love revisions. I always feel like the book gets soooooo much better during revisions. I just love every part of writing.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? What got you started?
I wrote my first book when I was about twelve. I’m not saying it was long, nor good, but even back then I liked expressing myself through the written word. My children’s baby books are full of writing, almost more than pictures. I started writing as an adult about the time my baby, the fourth of my four daughters, went to kindergarten. Then, my first book released (PAY ATTENTION TO THESE DATES) in February, the year my baby would graduate from high school. So that’s how many years I wrote with no success. Very tough business.

What was the road to getting published like? Any Advice for amateur authors?
My main advice sounds trite really but the bottom line is write. Write and keep writing. Finish a book, start the next, send the books in to publishers and agents, enter contests, read great books you love, and through it all, keep writing. I had twenty finished books on my computer when I finally sold. I did get better. I learned. I studied. I took online classes, attended writer’s conferences, listened to the critiques of my work when I’d enter a contest and take those comments, however painful, to heart and try, try, try to improve. But keep writing. If you learn a new skill you’ve got to apply it to really get it.


Who are some of your favorite Authors to read? And Favorite Books?
This is a mean question and you should be ashamed of yourself for asking it, Rae. I am a book junkie. Seriously, if books were whiskey, my family would be holding an intervention. I am on two blogs with multiple authors and I love all their work. I don’t think I’m going to answer this one just because the list is so long it’s crazy.
Ummmmm….favorite book of all time……To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Most powerful emotional experience with a book….A Lantern in her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Most fun I’ve ever had reading a book…Matchmakers by Jude Deveraux. It’s an odd, very short book, book two in her novel, The Invitation…which had three novellas in it. Just the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read. I think I particularly like it because the heroine is an author.

Do you have a favorite Time Period/Place to write in, and why?
I am loving writing about the American west. There is just something about a cowboy saying, “I reckon…” that I love. But I’ve written contemporary too. I have a book coming in June called Nosy in Nebraska which is a collection of three cozy mysteries. I had so much fun writing that book, just wonderful.

How have your personal faith and beliefs influenced your story?
I love having a faith thread in my books. I think it gives a book a foundation that no other type of books have and it matches so well with the west and the cowboys and their rough but unshakable moral code.
And I hear people say writing Christian fiction is limiting because of the rules of no bad language and no graphic love scenes but I feel just exactly the opposite. I feel like secular fiction is limiting…it is to me. Because I am NOT going to write bad language or graphic love scenes and in secular fiction you almost have to. So I can find no one to publish my books in that world. Thank God for Christian fiction.

What is your Life's Verse, and how do you apply that in your life?
My favorite verse is Isaiah 40:31. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
One thing I explore in Gingham Mountain is my own version of ‘why do bad things happen to good people.’ My direction is homeless children. Grant, the hero of Gingham Mountain has a heart for this children until it makes him almost desperate to help them. He lays away nights agonizing over the thought of children hungry and cold and dying and turning to thieving and whatever else they have to do to survive. Why would God let that happen? How does he reconcile that with a loving God.
It’s what I think of as a deep truth, or maybe a hard truth, that people—innocent people, suffer in this mean old world. I try and explain, to my limited ability, why I think that is.

What's your next Book called and about?
The next book is Nosy in Nebraska, it’s a riot. I just had way too much fun writing it.
Then after that, I am settling in to write three books a year for Barbour all historical western romantic comedies. The next one of those comes out in July and is called Montana Rose, book one of a new series called Montana Marriages, I think it’s the funniest book yet.

Who is your favorite character and why?
Right now I’m completely in love with Grant. He’s my most well-rounded hero, which of course…who wants a well-rounded hero. We need trouble, conflict, angst. And Grant has that, but he’s got such a great, soft heart. I adore him.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
The thing that comes to mind is how much I love that there is Christian fiction in the world today. It’s the fastest growing genre, did you know that? Any book you love, check in your local Christian book store and you’ll find a Christian version of it. If you like romantic suspense, we’ve got it. If you loved Bridget Jones Diary, but regretted the sinful attitudes, there’s a Christian version of it.
Cop drama, sweet romance, serial killers, romantic comedy, issue driven serious literature, chick lit. We’ve got it all in Christian fiction so go hunt up whatever you love in your nearest Christian bookstore.

Thanks Again for Joinin me here today! I enjoyed having you! And Again Congratulations on the release of Gingham Mountain!

Thanks for having me, Rae.

If any of your blog readers have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them.
1 Response
  1. Julie Says:

    This was a great interview! I really enjoyed getting to know Mary better. I also have a husband who is one of seven. Now I really can't wait to read your books!! I have Gingham Mountain, but have this thing about reading books in order. So, I am waiting til i can get the first 2.

    Thanks Rae!


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