Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sharlene Maclaren - Through Every Storm

I'm going to introduce you to Sharlene today, and we'll learn some interesting things about her. I do recommend that you also go to her website:

Sharlene, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

That is an interesting question and one I’ve needed to ponder. I think there is probably more of me in my characters than I realize, particularly when it comes to my values and the way I view life. I always want to portray Christ as being the answer—not that we can tie up all of life’s difficulties into a neat little bow and be done with them—but that we can know with all certainty that no matter what struggles we may have to experience, God is there in our midst, lending strength, peace, and comfort. Romans 8:28 is my life’s verse, and it’s proof that no matter what we face, God has our best interest in mind. All He asks is that we trust Him. I try to weave this truth into all my stories and my characters’ lives.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t know about quirky—absent-minded maybe. One story comes to mind immediately, so I’ll go with that one! Several years ago, I was hurriedly preparing the evening meal, hurrying because we were expecting guests. I had just peeled a dozen potatoes, several carrots, and a couple of large onions for my good-sized beef roast. Upon finishing, I swept the potato peelings, carrot shavings and onionskins into an empty Wheaties box that had been sitting there since breakfast. When done, I shoved the box aside. Later, I went about cleaning up my cluttered kitchen—emptying the dishwasher, stashing away a week’s worth of mail and a couple of old newspapers. It was a mad rush because I still had to vacuum and dust! (You know the routine we ladies get into before company arrives.) Well, in my rush, I grabbed the Wheaties box and – you guessed it – put it up in the cupboard. It was, after all, where I always stored the cereal. About a week later, my husband went to the kitchen for his favorite evening snack, a bowl of Wheaties. I will never forget that howling sound, as I was relaxing in the living room with a cup of tea and my Better Homes and Gardens magazine. “Honey!” he wailed. “What is this gross crap I just poured into my bowl?” And believe me, it was gross. Not to mention smelly.

I'm sure it was. I've not done anything like that, but I have put some strange things into the refrigerator that didn't go there, because I was plotting a book in my head. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I have always been quite the storyteller, so my friends tell me. As a kid, I weaved many a tale around a cozy campfire, taking special delight in scaring my listeners with surprise endings. I was also known for inventing a few whoppers, like the time I convinced my best friend I’d spotted a big black bear in the woods out behind our house. Of course, I didn’t intend for her to pass on my “news”, but she did, and before I had a chance to blink, the entire neighborhood wanted details. Oh, it was a tangled web I’d woven, but that’s another story entirely. Back to the question… I didn’t actually take novel writing seriously until the summer of 2000. As a mom who’d thrown her life into raising her two daughters, I wasn’t taking the “Empty Nest” too well, and so I pleaded with God to give me a new purpose. And He did! One summer day I sat down at the computer to see if I could get past page one of a story that had been stirring around in my brain. The rest is history. My passion was born that day. In three short weeks, I completed a 90,000-word manuscript. (My husband kept me watered and fed, bless his heart.) Incidentally, I have never written that fast or furiously since…and I don’t intend to try.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I enjoy a wide variety of genres, anything from autobiographies, to mysteries, to inspirational studies, to romance. Of course, romance is my favored writing genre, so it’s also what I enjoy reading most. But I think it’s important for writers to drench themselves in all kinds of styles and genres. It’s how we learn. Right now, I’m doing a Beth Moore Bible study (very challenging) and a small-group study on the Book of Matthew (very intense). I’m also reading Coming Home by David Lewis, husband to Beverly. It’s about family issues, past hurts, relationships gone sour—and God’s sustaining grace and healing power. Of course, there is a thread of romance woven throughout the story, which keeps me turning pages!

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Oh, I probably have four or five completed manuscripts waiting for a home, and a hundred or so stories stirring around up there in my head. (tee-hee) I’m currently working on a three-part historical series. I’ve signed contracts for the first two in the series with an option on the third.

That's wonderful! How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

You know what? I’m retired, so it’s wonderful. I gave 31 years to the wonderful profession of teaching and loved almost every minute of it. Although my writing keeps me busy, as do the two weekly Bible studies I’m involved in, and a host of other volunteer-type activities, I am at a point in my life where I can go at my own pace. Obviously, some days are zanier than others, but for the most part, I’m living a slower lifestyle than when I was working full-time. Praise the Lord!

How do you choose your characters’ names?

A lot depends on the period in which I’m writing. Through Every Storm, which is set for release in January ’07, is contemporary. My Little Hickman Creek Series (three-book set) takes place in Kentucky in the late 1800s. You have to do a bit of research to determine popular names of that era. One of my favorite websites belongs to Sandra Petit, On it, she has a name generator. I have no idea how many names are in that generator, but I’ve never run across the same one twice. I always go into that site when I’m searching for names for my characters.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

You ask tough questions! I know what the pat answer might be—meeting and marrying my wonderful husband and still going all ga-ga over him after 31 years. Or maybe it’s giving birth to two of the most beautiful girls that ever lived, then watching them grow to be women of God and, best, marrying men of God. Or might it be that I chose a career (education) that allowed me the opportunity to invest in the lives of hundreds of kids, then have them visit me years later to say those incredibly rewarding words, “You were my favorite teacher.” And then I can’t forget that wonderful feeling of elation when you first lay eyes on a hot-off-the-press book and it has your very own name on it!

Yes, these are the pat answers, but now that I think about it, they’re also my greatest accomplishments.

That moment you hold your new book in your hands is priceless, and I feel it with every one. Right next to that is seeing it on the shelves of a bookstore or Walmart. Now for some fun. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Whew! Finally, a not-so-deep question! Ha-ha. Well, it certainly wouldn’t be a mouse, since, of all God’s creatures, I hate those things the most! I don’t even like the fact that way back when some computer guru decided to call that little gizmo we shove around with our hand a mouse. What’s wrong with “kitty” or “puppy”? The nerve! Anyway, I’d probably be a dog. I cannot live without a dog! Dakota, my 100# collie lies at my feet while I type away. He’s my bud.

What is your favorite food?

CHOCOLATE! That qualifies, right? In fact, in the typing of that word just now I started thinking about whether or not I have any more chocolate chips up in my cupboard.

Chocolate is a writer's or a girl's comfort friend. I love dark chocolate best.

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

I’m so humbled to think this book is going to print. Of all the books I’ve written, it’s one of my favorites. Its premise is sad, a young couple (Jeff and Maddie Bowman) losing their only child to a tragic crib accident. But the outcome is a good one, finding Christ in the middle of their turmoil. While they suffered greatly for their loss, including the near crumbling of their marriage, one little boy (Maddie’s seven-year-old cousin) with a heartful of faith helped them see that there is life after tragedy.

The story, while rather gloomy in concept, carries a hopeful tint and, of course, Timmy, the young boy who comes to live with Jeff and Maddie on a temporary basis, adds buoyancy and bits of humor and life to the mix. In essence, he teaches them to smile again.

Although I’ve never experienced a loss of this magnitude, I have tasted grief, and I know how hard it is to struggle through the emotions day in and day out. I hope this story will inspire my readers to trust Christ through the good times as well as the bad, knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

To find out more about the book, go to Sharlene's web site. Thank you, Sharlene, for spending this time with us.

Remember, readers, leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Through Every Storm.

Teresa Slack, You Are a Winner!

. . .of cyndy Salzmann's book, Dying to Decorate.

Just click on the e-mail link under my picture and send me your mailing address.

Readers, there's still time to leave a comment on Wanda Brunstetter's interview for a chance to win a copy of A Merry Heart. Someone will be a winner next week. It might as well be you.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Merry Heart by Wanda E. Brunstetter

I've known Wanda online and at ACFW conferences for several years. We are both published by the same publisher, too. You're going to love getting to know her.

You received wonderful recognition last year. Tell us about it.

My novel, The Storekeeper’s Daughter, won the 2006 Christian Retailer’s Choice award in the women’s fiction category. The announcement was made during the International Christian Retailer’s Show in Denver on Monday, July 10, 2006.

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

Some of my characters have had various aspects of my personality, but I’ve also based many of my characters on other people I know or have met.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I learned ventriloquism when my husband and I first became involved in a puppet ministry over twenty years ago. I bought a book on the subject, practiced every day in front of a mirror, and six months later I was talking for two.

My daughters and I started the puppet ministry in the church we attended when they were teenagers. I wrote the scripts. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I wrote a poem to go with a picture of a moth I had drawn in the second grade. My teacher was more impressed with the poem than the picture, and from that moment on I began writing poems and short stories.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I enjoy reading historical novels, as well as mystery, and suspense, and I always enjoy a bit of romance.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have written several romance novels for Heartsong Presents, as well as some novellas that have been included in collections with other authors. More recently I began writing women’s fiction novels, and I’ve also written an Amish devotional, entitled The Simple Life. This spring, I will have an Amish cookbook published, as well as a series of children’s books with Amish characters that will come out in July.

I can hardly wait to get the cookbook. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I try to keep my focus on God, asking Him daily through prayer and my devotional reading to guide me and give me wisdom. I try to make some time to spend with my grandchildren every week, and I find that a simple thing like sitting on our patio glider, watching the birds and listening to the trickle of our backyard pond, helps me relax. I also enjoy riding on our son’s boat, which I do as often as possible during the summer months.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I keep a notebook full of names I’ve heard, or sometimes I use names from someone I know personally.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of beside your family?

Having my books being on the CBA bestseller’s list, because I know this is a sign that the books are being read and someone out there might have read something that could help them through a difficult time.

I'm sure you've received, as I have, letters from readers telling you how one of your books changed their lives. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I have never had a desire to be an animal, but I suppose if I had to choose, it would be miniature poodle dog, because they are so cute and lovable.

What is your favorite food?

I like many foods, and I’m not sure I have a favorite, but a couple of things I really enjoy eating are crab, prime rib, and Southern fried chicken.

Wanda, you're making me hungry. Is it time for dinner yet? What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

A Merry Heart is a revised/expanded version of my first novel, which was originally published with Heartsong Presents. It was later put into a collection with three of my other Amish novels, and that book was entitled Lancaster Brides. The book has since gone out of print, so my publisher asked me to revise and expand by 20,000 words, each of those four book, which were released as separate full-length women’s fiction novels in a series entitled The Brides of Lancaster County. A Merry Heart is about Miriam Stoltzfus, an Amish schoolteacher who was jilted by her first boyfriend and who is now struggling with a bitter spirit. Amos Hilty, a widowed Amish man, wants to court Miriam, but she’s certain he only wants a mother for his daughter and a wife for convenience sake. Miriam’s heart warms to a more interesting friendship with Nick McCormick, an English newspaper reporter, as he’s easy to talk to and makes her smile. Miriam knows she needs to let go of her bitter spirit and surrender her will to God, but can she do that within her own community, or will Miriam leave the Amish faith and find what she longs for in the outside world?

Wanda, thank you for spending this time with us. We'll be on the lookout for your books. I've seen them all over the place, even in Walmart.

Readers, be sure to leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win an autographed copy of A Merry Heart. There's still time to leave a comment on Cyndy Salzmann's interview for a chance to win Dying to Decorate.

Mary (Marylin) You Are a Winner

You've won a copy of Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy. be sure to e-mail me your mailing address so we can get the book out to you.

Wow, Mary Connealy, this is the most comments we've had on any of my interviews. By the way, I just finished reading Petticoat Ranch, and it is wonderful.

For those who didn't win it, go out and buy a copy. You won't want to miss it.

By the way, I've just joined Come over and check out my profile:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cyndy Salzmann - Dying to Decorate

Cyndy is another of my online friends. She's written other things besides fiction, but today, we're featuring a mystery novel. If you want to find out about her other published works, go to . She has lots of help for those of us who are domestically challenged, to use her words.

Cyndy, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Okay – I’ll 'fess up. Liz, the main narrator in my Friday Afternoon Club mystery series, is pretty much me. In fact, the idea for the series came from my own group of friends that has been meeting on Friday afternoons for the last 15 years. And yes – we call ourselves the Friday Afternoon Club, too.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Frankly… I couldn’t think of answer to your question, Lena. That was until I asked my husband. His response was, “Where would you like me to begin?” Here are a few examples off the top of his head.

Since my real name is Cynthia, I rotated the way I spelled my nickname (Cindy, Cindi, Cyndi, Syndy. Sindy, Cindee, Cyndy, etc. ) depending on my mood. My publisher insisted I make a decision before my first book came out. Now it’s Cyndy. So boring…

When my husband admitted he didn’t like that his birthday was so close to Christmas, I convinced him to start celebrating it in June instead of January. His mom was NOT impressed with this idea when I told her about his “new birthday.”

I make a BIG deal out of celebrating Flag Day each year. It’s not that I’m overly patriotic or like red, white and blue. It’s just fun to celebrate a holiday that most people forget.

Okay… I guess I do have a quirky side. ; )

Yes, you do, and I like you even more for it. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

My first book was nonfiction – written in 1964 to celebrate the Beatles arriving in the U.S. It was cleverly titled The Beatles Book and bound with rubber cement. The description and illustration of Ringo Starr is particularly insightful. I still have the book.

You must have been just a baby then. :-) Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Maybe this explains my quirky personality. I enjoy reading humor – laugh-out-loud fiction that makes strangers stare at you – and really scary suspense. John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas is the reason I started writing fiction. I still laugh when I think about that “Free Frosty” picket line.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

People always ask me how I do all that I do. Here’s what I tell them...

Let go of perfectionism and focus on what you CAN get done – not what you CAN'T. For example, I wrote my first book while waiting for my daughter at soccer practice instead of driving back and forth. It may have not been the ideal “writing space” but it worked.

Give yourself permission to do the best you can within your personal limits. When I get behind on laundry, I take great encouragement from Genesis 2:20. "They were naked and not ashamed."

It is also very important for me to observe the Sabbath. As a Type A personality, this one was tough for me. But I force myself to take Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset as my Sabbath and always find that it restores and prepares me for the week ahead. I've also found that giving this time to God in obedience brings a spiritual blessing that I find words inadequate to describe. : )

All very good advice. How do you choose your characters’ names?

So far, I’ve named “good” characters after my friends and family. I know this is not very creative but it makes them feel special – I think. The “bad” characters are a bit more interesting. My husband warns people not to cross me or my “evil twin” may write them into a story. Heh. Heh.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My marriage. John and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year and I just adore him. He can be a curmudgeon at times – but I know he will always be there for me. And he is my cheerleader and unfailing supporter. I still marvel at being so blessed!

I know what you mean. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I would like to be my dog. We have a Westie, Daisy, and she is so adorable – and adored. We all fight over who gets to pet her, sit by her and sleep with her. Plus, whenever she is out – people stop to pet her and tell her how cute she is. And she’s never had to use a smidgen of age-defying cream, shave her legs or pluck a hair from her chin. : )

What is your favorite food?

That’s easy. Dark chocolate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a bag of Hershey’s Kisses is calling my name…

Welcome back, Cyndy. Thanks for bringing one for me. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Dying to Decorate is the first book in my Friday Afternoon Club mystery series – which is part of Howard Books’ Motherhood Club line. It’s a lighthearted mystery with a mom lit feel – and since I’m also a cookbook author – I included 45 of my favorite recipes that go along with the story. A reader wrote me recently that her husband said my Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pot Roast was the best thing she had cooked in 20 years of marriage. As I mentioned, the series is based on my own group of friends. We have no agenda for our get-togethers. No crafts. No book club. Just a time to relax and recharge with women who get me – and don’t care if I’ve shave my legs. : )

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I started writing nonfiction – home management books that offer “encouragement to the domestically challenged.” Three have been published by Horizon Books: Making Your Home a Haven (2001), The Occasional Cook (2002) and Beyond Groundhogs and Gobblers (2004).

The second book in my Friday Afternoon Club mystery series, Crime & Clutter, is scheduled to be released by Howard Books in April, 2007. And I’m just finishing up the third book, The Killer Karpool.

Not sure if you call it lucky or unlucky but, so far, I haven’t written any books that weren’t published.

Good for you, Cyndy. I do have an unpublished manuscript in the file cabinet. Thank you for spending this time with us today.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Dying to Decorate, and go by Cyndy's web site for more information on her other books.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jackie C., You Are a Winner

. . .of Violette Between by Alison Strobel Morrow. Contact me with your mailing address, so I can get your book sent to you.

Remember, Readers, you could be the next winner--if you leave a comment on an interview.

There's still time to leave a comment on Mary Connealy's interview for a chance to win a copy of Petticoat Ranch.

If you want to be sure you don't miss any of the posts about the winners, subscribe to Feedblitz in the column on the right. You will receive notice of each of the posts on this blog. There's also a link to Signed By the Author where you can order signed copies of my books and those of several other authors.

There's even a writing tip of the day in that column.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Six Weird Things About me - More or Less

Rachel Hauck tagged Kristy, then Kristy tagged me--telling us to blog about six weird things about ourselves. I could write a book. How do I choose only six?

Of course to authors, some of these things aren't weird.

1. There are always people living their lives in my mind. Sometimes, I really get immersed in what they're doing.

2. Until I was a senior in high school, I was painfully shy. (Don't laugh. It's true.)

3. I hated blind dates. I had one when I was in college that was a real clunker. Then I met my husband on a blind date. We were married three months and three days later. (Don't laugh. We've been married over 42 years.

4. I didn't know that the highlands in Guatemala are cool, even in the middle of summer. I'll bet you didn't know that either. I thought that since Guatemala is in Central America and closer to the equator, the whole country would be hot in the summer.

5. I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Don't knock it until you try it. I put peanut butter on both pieces of bread, slice the banana and place the slices on one side, then squish it all together.

6. I'm going to be a great grandmother this summer. That isn't weird. I just thought you'd like to know.

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.

Cherie - You Are a Winner

You won a copy of Legend of the White Wolf by Max Elliot Anderson. Please e-mail me your snail mail address, so we can get the book out to you.

Readers, there's still time to leave a comment on Alison Strobel Morrow's interview for a chance to win Violette Between.