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?
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.
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 . . .
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.
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