What I see is a career, Lena. It’s as if God granted me the deepest desire of my heart. I hope and pray I can keep writing books that are each better than the last. I want to improve and I want to keep writing until I can have a "body of work." Isn’t that a nice term?
Yes. Now, Mary, tell us a little about your family.
Yes. Now, Mary, tell us a little about your family.
Okay, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my brothers and sisters instead of my own husband and children, because Gingham Mountain was inspired by my family growing up.
I’m from a family of eight kids. Boys and girls both. In Petticoat Ranch it was an all-girl family with one man and in Calico Canyon it’s an all-boy family, but now we’re mixing things up a little and the kids are all crammed together in age…which we were, although the Gingham Mountain family was orphans. The eight of us in my family were born in eleven years, so my mom was a busy, busy woman.
Now we’re all grown up with families of our own, but when we were little, living in a small country farm house, with precious little money, we must have been such a rabble. But my parents had this wonderful gift for making us all feel like we were a blessing. My mom acted like she was so lucky to have each and every one of us.
What a nice lady, huh? She still is a sweetheart.
She sounds like a treasure. Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I’d say no. I read like always. I may read a bit more critically but if I’m editing a book while I’m reading that’s a bad, bad sign. I like to get lost in a book and mostly I can.
What are you working on right now?
Gingham Mountain is the last of the Lassoed in Texas series and next up is a new series we’re calling Married in Montana. It’s got the same suspenseful, romantic comedy with cowboys as this series and it was really fun to write. The books are all finished so I’m not really working on them now. My current work is on a series based on Sophie McClellen’s daughters all grown up. I am having WAY too much fun with these tough Texas females.
What outside interests do you have?
I’m a crossword puzzle savant and I like Sudoku puzzles and I read and write. I also like to spend time with my adult children. I’m a grandma!!!!!
I love being a grandma and a great grandma. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I need cowboys. You know, you can be a cowboy almost anywhere. So the location isn’t a big factor. I’m from Nebraska and Nebraska is a good setting for cowboys. I ought to write about Nebraska cowboys next.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Tough question. Thomas Edison, maybe? I like how that man’s mind works. I’ve heard George Washington had a quality about him that inspired utter respect. I’d like to see if that’s true.
Here are some others who popped into my head…which is why I’ve been thinking about this question for far too long.
Gutenberg (they guy with the printing press, not the guy from Three Men and a Baby)
Adolph Hitler (I want ten minutes alone with him and a big, big stick)
Okay that’s enough.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
How important getting connected is. Meeting people, attending conferences, connecting online.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
The Lord has his hands full teaching me anything. I have a very seesaw personality, up and down, one day far too self-righteous, the next day feeling like I’m steeped in sin. I suppose the second is more true than the first.
Here’s one thing I have recently begun to believe. Of course the Bible has us learn in new ways all the time so my truth right now is what I need to learn and it may not be what’s necessary for someone else.
BUT, with that disclaimer fully spoken….
I’ve been reading the Bible with a different focus lately. Read it with it fully in mind that God is far more interested in our souls than in our bodies. I try to explore that in Gingham Mountain, why God allows children to live on the streets, cold and hungry. I think it’s a deep and difficult truth that God sees our souls as this bright, shining part of us, this seed of eternity within us, and is focused on that far and above our bodies.
So many of the stories you read, if you understand that Jesus is intently interested in the state of your soul, the stories read differently. God knows what’s in your heart and His work in our lives is focused on what’s in our heart. So two people can do almost the exact same thing but one is condemned and another lauded. It’s because God sees the truth of what is in your heart.
This is at the heart of Martha and Mary. It’s also right there when Jesus heals the man lowed on the pallet from the ceiling. It’s also there when He tells Peter, Get Thee Behind me Satan.
I think the Bible reads in a different, richer way if we keep this in mind. And I think we cope better with the bad things in our lives, illness, death, financial hardships, etc. if we know God is always working toward refining our souls, and He isn’t all that interested in the rest of us. They loom very small in His considerations.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Study then write to exercise what you’re studied
Allow yourself to be critiqued, then write what you’re learned from that critique.
Mary, tell us about the featured book.
A rancher runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he’s made slave labor out of eight orphaned children.
Grant Cooper crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is being cranky just like all the others, except she isn't really bad to his children…it's Grant she can't stand.
And none of that would be so bad if Grant didn’t catch himself kissing Hannah every chance he got.
I can hardly wait for my copy to get here. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I am too much all over, Lena.
Petticoats and Pistols: http://petticoatsandpistols.com/
Mary, thank you for spending this time with us. It's always a pleasure.
Readers, you can order Gingham Mountain using this link:
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