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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Interview with Mary Connealy (CALICO CANYON) and Giveaway

I’m so happy to have Mary Connealy at the Café today. At the end of the interview you can leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her latest book. Now, to tell you about the book . . . here’s Mary.

Welcome, Mary! And congratulations on your latest book in the Lassoed in Texas series, Calico Canyon. I laughed my way through this one and am delighted to have you here at Carla’s Writing Café. In the words of Joan Rivers, let’s talk.

Where did you get the idea for this series?
Calico Canyon came to me as I was writing Petticoat Ranch. That book was full of a clueless man trying to deal with a bunch of woman. It seemed only fair to tell the flip side of that story, a clueless woman trying to deal with a bunch of men. Then in book three, I had to mix things up. Find a family with boys and girls.

You are gaining quite a reputation for writing hilarious historical romance. Did you start out to write humorous stories?
I didn’t exactly make a decision, Carla. It’s more like, I’m writing along and an opportunity comes for one of my characters to speak and I just always go for the sassy line. I can’t resist. :)

Your method certainly works. Where do your ideas come from? Personal experience, divine intervention, or outer space?
There are echoes of personal experience in these books. I’ve got four daughters, like Petticoat Ranch. My husband’s from a family of all sons, like Calico Canyon. My own childhood was a family of eight, both boys and girls, in a tiny, ramshackle house, Gingham Mountain is a fit for that.
In my cozy mysteries series, my heroine in Of Mice and Murder is scared to death of mice…like me.
But beyond those passing similarities, I just go nuts.

How long have you been writing?
I started seriously trying to write a book the year my youngest daughter when to kindergarten. My first book released in February and she graduated from high school in May. So it was a LONG, LONG TIME.

During that time I know you won a few contests. Has that helped you on your road to publication?
I really believe in writer’s contests. They’re great for the critique you get, win or lose. They’re a great way to get your work in front of editors and agents who might otherwise not accept your submission. They’re great practice taking rejection … lots of that in the publishing world, and they give you a big dose of deadlines and following rules. These are all good things.
Everyone’s got contest horror stories of a judge who is just particularly cruel or where one judge said, “I hate your hero.” And another says, “I hate everything in this book except your hero.” So they aren’t perfect. But I think, big picture, they’re worth it.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from contests?
I’ve just learned so much. When I started writing I had no idea about setting a scene, Point of View, passive voice, showing instead of telling, back story dump. Most non-writers have never heard of this stuff. At first when I’d get a critique back and there’d be some dashed of note saying, POV error…I didn’t even know what that mean. But I learned. You HAVE to learn. I feel like I have always told a good story. But telling it skillfully was something I had to learn.

What is you writing process like? Are you a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants writer?
I can do both. I honestly prefer seat-of-the pants, but I think that’s mainly because plotting out a book is a lot of work. Even with sotp, I still have a fair idea of beginning, middle, end and what story I want to tell.

How do you develop characters? Charts? Interviews? Or do you just start writing?
I just start writing. I get to know my characters as I write, then have to go back and revise the book once I figure out who these folks are.

As the mom of four boys, I identified with the antics of this gang of characters. Where did you come up with all their pranks?
FOUR BOYS!!!!!!!!???????????????
Carla, you are SUPERWOMAN.
My mother-in-law has seven sons, she can tell little boy stories forever.

Back to writing, what is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
The best writing is re-writing.

The worst?
Well, I had a bad agent for a year, that really tripped me up for a while. I’d say, trying to be object, that slowed me down getting published by three years.

Coffee? Tea? Sparkling mineral water? Or . . .
Diet Coke.

I wish you the very best with this fun book. What other book projects are you working on? Any exciting news you’d like to share?
I’ve got a lot coming
Of Mice and Murder, a cozy mystery, coming in November
A three book Heartsong series
Buffalo Gal - October
Clueless Cowboy - November
Bossy Bridegroom – December

Book #3 Lassoed in Texas series
Gingham Mountain – February

Another cozy in February, Pride and Pestilence
Then one in April The Miceman Cometh

Then the cozies get re-released as an anthology in June called Nosy in Nebraska.

That wears me out, but I am thrilled for you. It’s your turn. Any closing thoughts?
I’ve gone on long enough I can’t imagine anyone wants to read more!!!
If you want to hear more about me…first consult your psychologist…then, if he can’t talk any sense into you, you can find me at:

Thank you, Mary, for being my guest here at the café. You’re welcome to stop by anytime.

Now for you, dear readers, the opportunity to win your own copy of Calico Canyon. Leave a comment here with your contact information (required) to be entered in a drawing. Deadline: This Friday, August 22. Noon. Good luck and comment away.

Giveaway limited to US and Canadian readers only.


Erica Vetsch said...

Mary, I always love reading interviews with you. Can't wait to see you at the conference next month.

Carla, you don't have to enter me for the contest, as I already have a copy of Calico Canyon on my "TO KEEP FOREVER" shelf. :)

Unknown said...

Great interview. I love Mary. I've been to her sites a couple of times. Congratulations to you.

Denice Stewart said...

Great interview! I loved Petticoat Ranch and can't wait to read Calico Canyon. Sounds like I'll have plenty of books from Mary to read in the future. Yay!


Becky C. said...

Would love to read this book!

Please enter me in the contest.

Becky C.

cathikin said...

Mary comes up with some of the best titles! They definitely get my attention even without knowing what the books are about. But I hope to eventually read all of them. Good interview.
chassan2 at hotmail dot com

windycindy said...

Hi, I always enjoy her interviews! I have two sons and that is all I can handle! My aunt had five. Please enter me in your delightful book drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Erica. I'll be seeing you in September at the aCFW Conference. That's only about a month away now!

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Erica. I'll be seeing you in September at the aCFW Conference. That's only about a month away now!

Mary Connealy said...

D. C. I didn't mention that after book #3 in this series comes out, Gingham Mountain, another three book series starts.

More cowboys, more humor. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Becky. Good luck in the drawing.

And Cathi, I love the titles, too, and the covers. Barbour is responsible for that. Great company.
I came up with Petticoat Ranch but the other two titles were sort of brainstormed by my editors and me. Trying to come up with a nice match for Petticoat Ranch.

Cindi, two boys? FIVE BOYS? I'll be you and especially your aunt have your hands full. I've got friends with all boys and they say they're easier than girls.

Not nearly as much crying!!! :)

Jo said...

What a great interview and it sounds like lots of great interesting stuff coming out. Please enter me in the drawing.


Pamela J said...

If I counted through the number of books coming out next, including the ones you have listed in the comments, there are TEN books in the making??? WOW!! I think the characters and stories would all be a jumble in my feeble head. I'm thankful it's you and not me: at least I can sit down and read them ONE AT A TIME. Please enter me in the drawing. I have Petticoat Rance and would love to read them together. Thanks so much.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

carla stewart said...

What a great response from Mary's fans! And, Mary, thank you for stopping by to add to the discussion. I'm with Pam--how do you keep it all straight in your head? I'll add my congrats to the mix.

Vickie McDonough said...

Hey Carla,

Great interview. I've got four boys too.

Love your books, Mary!

Lindsey said...

I still haven't read Calico Canyon - I can't believe it! ;-) Please enter me and thanks for the giveaway and the interview!


Myra Johnson said...

I've already read Calico Canyon and loved it, so don't enter me in the drawing. However, razzing Mary in one of her interviews is just too much fun to pass up! Believe me, everyone, she is just as hilarious in real life--and a super friend!

I raised two daughters, and one of them is now mom to three boys, ages 13, 10, and 8. I don't know how she does it.

SmilingSally said...

Oh, I think that Calico Canyon would be such a fun read. Please enter me!

luv2read said...

Enter me in the drawing for the book. With four girls to take care I think I'll be able to relate. spowell01(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Patty said...

Mary sounds like a kick. I bet she's a fun friend to be with. I would love to win Calico Canyon. It sounds as funny as Mary and I could always use a little laughter.


Becky C. said...

This sounds like a fun book.

Please enter me in the contest.

Becky C.

Stormi said...

Great Interview, would love to get a copy of this book. Thanks.

ladystorm282001 at yahoo dot com

Ann Shorey said...

Mary, I loved your interview responses. If you book is as humorous as you are it should be a great read.

Had to smile at your mother-in-law having seven boys. Mine has TEN! (Poor woman.)

Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

ann shorey at msn dot com

Carolynn said...

I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, thanks for the chance to win!

Cheryl said...

I would love to win this book. I have been wanting to read it for awhile now. Please enter me in the contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Mary Connealy said...

Hi everyone. Slow checking in today.

Keeping it all straight in my mind may be beyond me.

I'm doing revisions on a cozy mystery right now. So it's a little tricky to jump back into the cowboy stuff, I love it though, love the different rhythm of the historical language, then the contemporary.

Still, I got pulled pretty deeply into the cozy. Then I needed to get a proposal ready for the next three book series AFTER the three book series following Lassoed in Texas (The Lassoed series contains Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain)

So I need to shift gears in a major way. But I find that really entertaining so I'm thrilled to do it.

And in the end, they're all romantic comedies so not really all THAT different.

cheryl c said...

I absolutely loved Petticoat Ranch, and I always enjoy reading your blogs and interviews. I love your sense of humor! You had wonderful characters in Petticoat Ranch. I look forward to Calico Canyon so I can revisit old characters and meet new ones. Please enter me in the drawing.


Patti Shene said...

Hi! Great interview! I remember at ACFW in Nashville, I think it was, Mary, when you won the contract with Heartsong and I congratulated you. I remember you saying, "I'm scared to death. The book isn't even written yet!" Look how far you've come! Please enter me in the contest.


Mary Connealy said...

Patti, you were there? You remember this?

I was there, but it's all kind of a blur.

I wasn't drooling was I???

Pictures I saw later made me look like I'd been hit by a semi and dragged for a half mile.

Definitely shocked. Deeply, widely, hysterically excited and scared and crazed.

I think.

Since I don't remember much of it, I'm not sure. :)

Anonymous said...

really great interview. i enjoy mary's books. please enter me in the draw. thanks,
sarahwoll at hotmail dot com