Sunday, February 04, 2007

I've Been Waiting Anxiously to Run This Interview - Mary Connealy

I want you to meet a very special friend. I've known Mary online a long time. I was even privileged to help her get a manuscript ready for submission. Now she's sold several books. Way to go, Mary.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I don’t think much. Instead I write my characters to be how I wish I was. Fearless, sassy, saying out loud all the things I keep inside. That works in books, but mostly is messes up a real life.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Hmmmm….quirky? Me? My idea of life on the edge is taking an hour off for lunch. I feel like a madwoman, so daring, sometimes I even…brace yourself…drive to a town with a mini-mart that sells sub sandwiches. Okay, calm down. Sorry if I’ve shocked you.

Good grief. I’ve got nothing. I’m going to go do something quirky if I can think of anything, then I’ll finish this question. Okay, I’m back. I tied my shoelaces together (after I took them off) and threw them up until they snagged an electric wire. I’m now barefoot. At work. I hope you’re happy.

Mary, you are so funny! When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I wrote my first book at age twelve. Long lost (no doubt for the best.) But I’ve always loved writing. Always. You should see my daughters’ baby books. I wrote all over them. I always thought the words were more important than locks of hair and pictures.

I'm sure they love them. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I read widely and in all genres. I think every genre can be well done. Ummm…I haven’t really read too many vampire books. Did you know there are lots of vampire books out there? So, I don’t read EVERYTHING.

I'm an eclectic reader, too, but I'll pass on the vampire books as well. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have around fifteen unpublished novels on my computer. A lot of them are earlier work and need a lot of attention but I still love those stories. For a while I just entertained myself by trying my hand at everything. Jumping from genre to genre. Historical, contemporary, sweet romances, police drama, action/adventure, gothic. I’ve got a book about a demon-possessed serial killer that is one of my most spiritual books, but it’s too bloody. I’ve got to tone it down. It’s also very funny. I can’t seem to write anything without comedy. Despite saying I write everything, I don’t see any vampire books in my future.

I'm thankful for that, I think. I don't want to have to read one just because you wrote it. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I live a very quiet life, actually. I work as a GED Instructor. I’m in one small room all day, five days a week. My lunch is, more often than not, a peanut butter sandwich, an apple and a can of Diet Coke in my car listening to KLOVE or Rush Limbaugh depending on my mood. I’m usually home with my husband in the evening, and occasionally my 17-year-old daughter gives us a break and stays home with us. I read and write for hobbies. Watch some TV, but I don’t care about much of it. I’m also really good at crossword puzzles and I’m hooked on Sudoku. That’s it, my run, run, run life. Now I’m wondering how I keep my sanity with my dull life. I like it this way, though. In my experience, excitement is usually bad. Something’s on fire. Someone got hurt. Spare me from excitement.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

That’s actually tricky. I have a huge family. Between Ivan and me we have one hundred people in our immediate families. That’s brothers and sisters, their spouses and children. All the names are taken! So I can’t name a villain after one of my nephews, now can I? I’m also aware of how a name sounds.

Clay, the hero in Petticoat Ranch, sounded strong to me. But is Clay strong? Or is it Play Dough? Sophie the heroine had an old sound to it and strong and wise and pretty. Beth, the daughter who loved animals, sounded gentle. Judd the villain sounded coarse and tough. But maybe I just thought that after I made them be that way.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

If you knew my four daughters you would never ask that. They are my life’s work and they are wonderful. I’m not sure if I can take all the credit for that, but I’m sure I’d get the blame if they were messed up, so I’m going to go ahead and take the credit.

Wow, your husband had to live with five females. James and I only have daughters, and I've told him that I believe there is a special place in heaven for men who live with only women in the house. If you were an animal, Mary, which one would you be, and why?

Funny question, Lena. (insert a two hour long pause here while I think) I’d be a deer. Not because I am fleet of foot and graceful. Because I startle easily and I’m the type to just stand there, frozen, while headlights are bearing down on me. But give that deer a typewriter and…okay, I’ve taken this analogy as far as I can.

Funny answer, Mary. So, what is your favorite food?

This one isn’t even nice. I didn’t get into this shape by being all that picky. My favorite food in the world? I love this apricot torte from the Lithuanian Bakery in Omaha, Nebraska. It is the best food in the world. But I can be very content with many, many, many different foods.

Sounds like I would enjoy that torte, too. I love anything apricot. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I think my … disconnectedness. Is that a word? I live in rural Nebraska. If the world were flat, the edge would be about a half mile over the hill from my place. I did most of my learning alone. For the first five years I wrote alone. No writer’s how-to books, a few very old and dusty college creative writing courses. No critique groups, or writers groups or on-line groups. So I had to learn it all by trial and error. Heavy on the error. Then I started to get connected, mainly through the internet and found out I still had a long way to go.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Petticoat Ranch is what happens when a man with six brothers—like my husband Ivan, has a wife and four daughters.

Ivan spends a lot of time flinching over the talk in our household. I’ve seen him watch us in horror as we discuss the ins and outs of control top panty hose. He goes nuts when one daughter or another goes on some drastic diet when she’s so slim and beautiful. He can’t stand it when the girls cry over nasty boyfriends. For a while he’d give the girls money whenever they’d cry. He used to just pull out his billfold and hand them a twenty.

I love that, Mary.

I told him that was a bad precedent to set, but he would just do ANYTHING to get them to stop. So I thought, what if it was even worse? Ivan at least got to start with one wife, then one baby daughter. He at least had a mother and classmates and girl cousins. What if Clay, a mountain man, raised by his father, surrounded by other mountain men, grew up in a remote corner of the Rockies and had hardly seen a woman. Then in one short shocking day, he ends up married to a widow and her four daughters. What would that disruption in his universe be like?

Throw in a heroine with a very dim view of men because her first husband was worthless. Sophie’s been taking care of herself in a hard land for a long time. Then watch the culture shock. Petticoat Ranch is a (keep track of the genres now) historical, inspirational, romantic comedy, action novel.

When the genre is almost as long as the book, you know there’s going to be a lot going on. My main goal was to make it fun. My prayer was always to have my work be worthy of God. I hope that I’ve accomplished both in Petticoat Ranch.

Your genre sounds almost like the one I made up for spoof at the Barbour dinner at conference last year.

Mary, thanks for taking this time and letting us have a glimpse inside your life. I look forward to many more wonderful books from you.

Readers, be sure to leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a free copy of Petticoat Ranch. If you want to see a slide show about this book, go to and do a search for Petticoat Ranch. Or do a search for Mary Connealy.


Sharon Hinck said...

Hi, Mary!
I'm looking forward to hanging out with you this coming weekend! There is a huge stack of your books at the local Christian bookstore!!!

Rhonda said...

Hey Mary!!

I am so glad to see your books selling. I've always thought you had talent. Being in a crit group with you was awesome! Glad I got to know you. Rhonda

Mary Connealy said...

Really, Sharon? Huge? I had my first booksigning in a Family Christian Book yesterday and there were NO BOOKS. Not sure what happened but the book store guy phoned me and I'd told him I had author's copies so he asked me to bring them. So how come they didn't come to him?
Anyway, I'm looking forward to next weekend too. This is such a learning process, I'm barely keeping up.

The Write Life said...

Hi, Mary! I've not been able to find your book locally yet. We don't live near any Christian bookstores, though, so I have to rely on Walmart and Books-a-Million! Sounds like a fun story, though.
Paige Dooly

Christy Barritt said...

Great interview, Mary!

Petticoat Ranch is wonderful! I just love it. I'm telling all of my friends about it! Definitely a must read!

Love ya!

Lynette Sowell said...

What a fun interview, Lena and Mary! Your message made me come and read, Lena. A writer's isolation can be a very BAD thing. I'm so grateful for technology that helps link us together! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, a laugh out loud interview and I sooooo want to know more about the apricot torte... Send me a sample, we'll see if we can break down the recipe using my super duper secret recipe decoder, aka my stomach...

Lena, great questions and I bet it was hard to keep from laughing at Mary's somewhat convoluted answers. The whole sneaker thing, tying them together, throwing them. She really did that, you know, just so you wouldn't catch her in a lie. She's such an honest, straightforward woman. An example to us all. I know I'm trying to be a better person just for knowing Mary. (insert large winking emoticon here)

And maybe a few other people.

Great job and Petticoat Ranch is a wonderful first book. You go, girl!


Jennifer Y. said...

Great interview! This book sounds great!

ScrollSquirrel said...

GREAT interview ladies! SO FUN! Mary, you are one of the funniest women I have had the privilege of knowing.


Love, Cheryl

Rachel Hauck said...

Great interview, Mary!


Jess said...

What a fun interview, Mary and Lena. Can't wait to read Petticoat Ranch!

Sheryl said...

What a great interview Mary & Lena!

And Mary, I agree with you 100% ... excitement usually means bad things are happening (in the case of South Florida, that would normally be a hurricane :-)). I'm all for a peaceful, quiet life :-)

Thanks for making me smile today, and I can't wait to read Petticoat Ranch!

Mary Connealy said...

Just an aside here.
Nothin' say "Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?" like a washed up, eighties rock star wearin' a bonnet."

Camy Tang said...

Great interview! Thanks, Mary and Lena!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Mary,
I'm ordering a copy of Petticoat Ranch tomorrow. Can't wait to read about Clay and his new family. Sounds like a hoot . . . just like you! Congrats on your debut novel!
Debby Giusti

Melanie Dickerson said...

I'm only about 50 pages into your book, Mary, but it is great! I found it at my Barnes and Noble, with NO other new writers around, just the Karen Kingsburys and Lori Wicks, so I guess they knew it was destined for greatness. I can't wait to read the rest of it! Thanks, Lena, for interviewing this fun, nice, crazy lady!
Love you both,

Cherie said...

Great interview! Petticoat Ranch sounds wonderful!

Cherie Japp

lori chally said...

Already ordered it from Amazon. Can't wait for it to get here!

Mary Connealy said...

You guys are all so nice. I'm writing another book in this series, still uncontracted but who knows?????
Petticoat Ranch is first, then next comes Cowlick Canyon, about a prissy woman dropped into an all boy family, then the one I'm working on now, Rocking Chair Range with a really large family, both boys and girls, all orphans.
I like writing so much more than doing promotion things, although the blog interviews are great because I get to TYPE the answers.
But it seems like it's time to promote the book and the writing gets pushed to the back burner. But today was a good writing day.

Missy T said...

Hyserically funny, Mary! :)

And I'm thrilled I'll be able to read your book this week. :)

Thanks, Lena! I loved your questions. :)

Missy T

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

My goodness, you-all are having way too much fun over here. I just had to drop by and see what is going on.

I received your book today, Mary. I'll have it read in time for the book club discussion

marylin said...

Haha! You are one funny woman I wish I had that humor too. I'm sure you're book is a fun read. Perhaps that's what I need these days...

maywrinkler at yahoo dot com

Ruth E. said...

Mary - you are hilarious! I can't wait to read your book!

Shauna said...

Oh this book sounds TOO hilarious! I'm definately going to be looking for this one!

alexis said...

Another great interview - I esp love the part about the deer. I can't wait to read the sequals!!!

Kathleen Morphy said...

Ooh! I want to read this one! It sounds hilarious. I love the idea of the macho man mercilessly flung into "womanland." 'Cant't wait to see if it's as funny as it sounds! I hope I win the drawing!!!

anicz said...

Great interview...this book sounds like a must read! Please enter me in the contest too!

malechronicle [at]

sheina said...

Eclectic interview! LOL.. I wish your books make it to bestseller!

Love and prayers,
sheina (xypher27 at yahoo dot com)

franz said...

"Words were more important than locks of hair and pictures." - Mary Connealy

Looks like a great writing quote right? Someday, it will...

franciz678 @

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary, great interview! Just have a couple of questions..

1. If not a writer, what would you be doing?
2. Is there anything you wouldn't write?
3. What kinds of books do you like to read?

leannesse@yahoo DOt com

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, diane. An interview within an interview. SWEET!
I am a GED Instructor in my real life...I mean is writing real??? I ask you!
So that's what I'd be doing. That's what I AM doing.
I've written about twenty books and they're all over the map. I've written more historicals, police drama's cozy mysteries, sweet inspies, thrillers, a gothic, just about everything there is.
I've written books that were more for the secular market but they'd never fly because the language is to clean and no bedroom scenes. I'm just not going to write that.
I read everything. I read widely and in all genres. No where is more exciting writing going on though, than in Christian fiction. I love being part of it.

KimW said...

Enjoyed reading all the answers to the interview questions. Petticoat Ranch sounds great! I'd love to read the story. Please enter me in the drawing.

Deborah said...

well after seeing all the good things about this book, i want to read it. please enter me!

Carole said...

I enjoyed the interview, Lena and Mary! I also share your opinion of vampire books.

Mary, I've been reading and enjoying your posts over in Cozy Armchair Group. Congratulations on being published. I love all the genres you mentioned - historical, inspirational, romantic commedy, action - glad they're all in Petticoat Ranch! I hope it does very well.


Linda Swenson said...

Come on Mary, you can't be denying you liked The Historian. Face it you will even read vampires ;) Hope you had a great trip to Minniapolis. I finished Petticoat Ranch, and I guess I did read it when it was Make Room for God's Wrath. It has had quite an evolution since then. It was way fun to read. Great job.

Mary Connealy said...

Oops, I forgot about The Historian. That IS a vampire book isn't it. Spooky, too.

Patricia W. said...

And I thought a writer had to pick one genre, at least one (maybe two) per book. Four? Five? I lost count. But Petticoat Ranch sounds like a fun read.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Mary, I'm reading Petticoat Ranch right now. It's interferring with other things I should be doing. Wonderful book! This is so different from the book I helped you with. You've really grown as an author. I'm sure we'll be seeing lots more from you.