Mary is here to promote her second book in the Lasooed in Texas series.
I wrote for a long time before I got published, Lena. I wrote in many genres and had a lot of fun doing it. Petticoat Ranch is just the one that finally hit. So I’m thrilled to keep writing in that genre. I really love the voice of westerns. I love having my hero kick the dust and adjust his Stetson and say, “I reckon.”
But Barbour, bless them, wants the historical romantic comedy series, but they’ve also let me write for their cozy mystery line and Heartsong Presents, which I’m doing a contemporary three book series for. So I’m getting to write in those different styles and I love it.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The day my first daughter was born. I’ve got four daughters and having each one of them come into my life was such a miracle. The only difference between the first and the others is the newness of it. I remember vividly just being almost stunned by the force of my love for that little baby. There was a fierceness to it that seemed deeper than my mind, it went all the way to my instincts. I had loved my baby from the moment I knew she was on the way, but being struck by the visceral knowledge that I had someone in my life that I would gladly fight and die for made the joy of having her all the more powerful.
How has being published changed your life?
It’s changed it in a lot of ways, but most remarkable I suppose is how my life has really continued on unchanged.
The changes…I’m busier on weekends because of promotion events, book signings for example. My writing is different emotionally for me. There’s a different kind of fun in it, knowing it’s going somewhere specific. I travel more, though not much more, I’ve never traveled much.
I do find people asking me for advice and quoting me, which amuses me. I always thinking, ‘Honey, if you’re coming to me for advice, you’re in a lot of trouble.’
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Julie Lessman’s A Passion Most Pure, which I loved. I really think this is going to be a classic. It’s so smart and it’s challenging and emotionally so engrossing and satisfying. I love the way Julie Lessman’s mind works.
I’m in the middle of Glory Be by Jon and Janet Benrey, it’s a lot of fun.
I loved Sushi for One by Camy Tang. I am amazed at how much she made me care about those characters. That’s a real gift. And now I’ve finished Only Uni, another great read.
I thought Missy Tippens’ Her Unlikely Family was so fresh and funny and sweet and charming, absolutely excellent. And Cheryl Wyatt’s sweet, heartwarming A Soldier’s Promise makes me want more from her.
What is your current work in progress?
I’m finished with the third book in the Lassoed in Texas series. That series includes Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and now Gingham Mountain. I’m on book three of a new three book series Barbour has contracted. The working title is Wildflower Bride about a woman who was raised in an Indian tribe until her village was massacred by white men. She is spared because she is white and she has terrible feelings toward the white men. We can’t use the term ‘rage issues’ in a historical, but the woman has those in spades. :-)
The hero is a quiet man who has a deep faith but his peaceful ways and soft, loving heart aren’t a good match for the untamed west. He’s trying to convince her all white men aren’t like the ones she hates. She has to teach him he can be a Christian and still be really tough. He has to teach her that loving others isn’t a suggestion, it’s a commandment.
I’m having a lot of fun with this one. She is so sassy, he is so perplexed by her defiance and so drawn to her courage.
What would be your dream vacation?
I think any vacation where I didn’t have to feel like I was being irresponsible would be nice. I’ve got a full time job and the books and I always feel a little itchy when I’m away from those things. Like, I should be working!
My husband’s mom lives in far south Texas right on the Mexican border, in a retirement community. We went to see her right after Christmas this year and were gone for…eight days at least. It was the longest vacation I’ve had since my honeymoon thirty-one years ago. It was great.
We went to the ocean and Mexico and ate great food and soaked in my mother-in-law’s pool. We even played shuffleboard. You know, I could really see myself being retired. :-) I know, little early in life for that for me, but what’s bad is two of my daughters were able to come along, one mid-twenties, one 18. And THEY wanted to retire. Not that’s pretty scary
I think a dream vacation might be spending some real time in the Rocky Mountains. Rent a cabin and just soak in the beauty. I don’t know how long I’d be able to soak…maybe a month…maybe only a couple of hours. Heaven knows I’ve never gotten a chance to try it. But I’d like to see. Maybe sit in the middle of all that beauty with a laptop and write.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Well, Texas was easy. In fact setting your book in Texas is so easy that it’s like a whirlpool that you need to fight or it’ll just suck you in. So I was writing a historical western…Texas…of course.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Who would I really love to talk to? I’m having trouble with this one. I’ve got authors dashing through my head but the real problem is being afraid that I’d find out they were just human. Or maybe not even very nice. I’d hate to find that out.
Okay, I’m stumped. Francine Rivers was the keynote speaker at the first writer’s conference I attended and I loved her. I wouldn’t mind spending some time with her.
I’ve always wanted to meet Wanda Brunsetter.
I’d love to see how Rene Gutteridge’s mind works, and Angela Hunt. I love their work and think they’ve just got a creative knack that is rare.
Right now I’m so lonely for my pals on my blog http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/ that I could cry. I hope to see them in Minneapolis in September at the ACFW conference but they won’t all be there.
I’ve always wanted to meet Julie Garwood.
I think Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney are extraordinary women. I’d love to spend an evening with them just to see how you survive the white hot pressure they’ve lived with all these years.
Oh what the heck, Lena. How about I get to spend the evening with you? We’d have a great time.
Yes, we would, Mary, and I will be in Minneapolis. I'm really proud of all you've accomplished since I was able to help you a little way back there. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Well, hobbies, huh? My family boats on the Missouri River in the summer. I love going to Omaha and going out with my children or some of my husband’s or my brother’s and sisters. Great company, great restaurants.
I’m like a crossword puzzle Savant. No kidding, I’m pretty good. Sudoku puzzles too, but I’m not so great at them.
Mostly I read books. I know, you said not to include that one. So I won’t.
I just found a computer Sudoku game, and I've become pretty good at playing it. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I love to write. I really see no obstacles to it. The hardest part is probably marketing, but I’m trying to be very brave and do personal appearances when asked. I’d always rather be behind my computer typing, though.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write. Study and learn and read great books, find out what you love to read, then write what you love, use what you’ve learned. You can’t improve, no matter how much you study writing, unless you put it to the test, try to remember everything you’ve learned then apply it to a book. You should be churning out pages, don’t just write one book and stop until it sells, keep writing, writing, writing.
I like contests, and conferences and think they’re a great route to publication, but fundamentally you need to write.
Calico Canyon is the flip side of Petticoat Ranch. Petticoat Ranch was a man who’d never been around women who is dropped into an all-girl world. Calico Canyon is a woman who’s never been around men (and when she was around a man, she hated him) who finds herself married to a widower with five sons.
Prissy Miss Calhoun, the school marm from Petticoat Ranch and Daniel Reeves with his five unruly boys star in Calico Canyon. She kicks his boys out of school. He gets her fired. A completely innocent compromising situation sees them married the next day.
Five little boys are horrified.
Daniel is a trapped rat.
Grace is stuck in her worst nightmare.
And then things get really bad.
Calico Canyon has suspense but it’s more of a flat out comedy than Petticoat Ranch. I hope people enjoy it.
My copy just came. I can hardly wait to read it. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Well, I’m all over, probably too much all over. Besides my website and my blog, I’m also involved in the Seekerville blog, about writing contests, and the Petticoats and Pistols blog, which I love and am honored to be involved with, about historical westerns.
Thank you for spending this time with us, Mary. It was fun.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Calico Canyon, then hurry over to check out her web sites.