Welcome back, Mary. What genre(s) do you write and why?
This book is so fun because it’s a little departure from what I normally write. I write Romantic comedy with cowboys. Historical western romance. The change for this novella collection, The Cowboys of Summer is, it’s contemporary. It was so much fun to let my characters have cars and cell phones!
I love the cover. If you were to choose one superpower, what would it be?
Do you remember on the old Bewitched TV series, Samantha could speed herself up and clean her mess house in fast motion in like ten seconds? I’d like to do that. But I suppose if I did have that superpower I’d never use it for that. I’d probably just read and write faster. But does your brain speed up? Would I get ideas at superspeed?
So many conflicts!
Do you ever get stuck when you’re writing a book? What do you do to get unstuck?
My method for when I don’t know where to go next is to just power through. I want to get the book down and then fix it. Once I accept I just can’t get it right the first time, I can go on. I skim through a scene. I’m not sure that’s the same exactly as being stuck, but honestly, I just don’t get stuck. I’ve never had what I’d call writer’s block. There are those who might say I’ve written things that SHOULD be blocked, but too bad. I kept writing.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
This is hard,
I LOVE WRITING. I love that blank page when I’m starting a new book. I love the
original creation. I love revisions. I love the editorial process and the help
I get from my publisher to make the book better. I think it just took me so
long to get published that I still delight in the fact it ever happened. And
that’s true right now as my 56th book comes out. Can you believe
that? Dr. Tess and the Cowboy, my novella in this collection is my
55th book! 32 full length books and the rest novellas. (ps I’m counting them
whether I should or not!!!)
I was contracted by a different publisher earlier in the year. They wanted a list of my books. I’d lost the list I’d made a few years ago when my computer died, so I gave up. I went through and compiled a new list. I had 45 books. The one I’m writing now on that contract is number 46. Amazing, isn’t it? If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
It’s finally nice weather after the longest, coldest, gloomiest winter ever. I’d grill. My Cowboy, which is what I call my husband on Facebook, is a good hand on the grill. I think he can’t help but think of all the cows that have kicked him when he’s grilling. It’s seasoning. So I’d grill you a steak, bake a sweet potato. We’re big gardeners so I’d serve whatever is fresh from the garden, tomatoes, sweet corn, potatoes. Have you ever had baby potatoes just dug up from the ground? Have you ever eaten a green bean right off the bush and into the pot to boil? We’re almost vegetarians in the summer. We eat steak of course, because YUM! But we eat less of it because we’re trying to gobble down all the fresh veggies.
Oh, yes, I love eating vegetables right out of the garden. I even like to pick the very small green beans and eat them raw. Yum. My husband doesn’t like them though, so I would just pick a few, wipe the dirt off, and eat them right there in the garden. What is your typical day like?
My typical day is me, sitting in front of the computer, at home, typing, checking emails, whatever I want, all at home. I write 1000 words a day, but that is sometimes first thing in the morning, sometimes late at night, whenever I want. My Cowboy comes in after morning chores and we have a cup of coffee together. It’s almost a date! Beyond that, dinner at noon, supper at six. My Cowboy cooks as often (or maybe more often) than I do.
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict, or emotions? Why?
None of it is hard. It’s all a joy. I am most conscious, I think, of emotion. Because making the reader FEEL is the bedrock of great writing, and I do that by making my characters feel. So that has to be on the page.
How likely are the people you meet going to end up in your next book?
Sometimes shades of them might show up but mostly people are too sensible, too sane, to make good book characters. People are usually making decent decisions and trying to reduce the drama in their lives. Unlike my characters who are always making things worse for themselves!
Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.
Joe Holt. I really love this guy. A college professor who loves dinosaurs, finds a rhino skull on his property and wants to set a big old chunk of his small ranch aside as an archeological dig. “Hi, Joe, I’m taking your ranch.”
Can love be far behind? He’s home from serving in the military. Settled and happy helping his not-old-but-slowing-down-a-little parents on the ranch. If she takes this land they don’t have enough left to support them all. So her exciting find…and it is exciting…will destroy his chance to come home and ranch. And he likes what she’s found and agrees it’s important. But what about him?
Please give us the text on the first page of your first chapter.
“Get off of my land.”
Tessa Rhoades leapt up, whirled, the sandy ground under her feet caved. She slid backward, ash, sand and dirt crumbling and flying around her. She landed hard on her back at the bottom of a ravine.
Blinking, the gritty air salting her eyes, she felt a hard thunk on her belly drew her. She looked into blank eye sockets. Blank for a few million years.
“I’ve got a rhino skull on my stomach.” The awe echoed in her voice, her mind, her heart.
“Who are you?”
That took her eyes off the skull but only barely.
A man stood on the top of the gully, and was that a rifle in his hand?
The rhino skull? An armed gunman?
She’d only started work this morning. If she lived, it could be the most interesting job of her life.
More ash. This time in her mouth. Interesting quality, as fine and soft as baby powder. She’d just made a paleontological discovery that might make her famous. If she lived.
“I’m not going to shoot you.” The man started down the side of the gully.
“No!” Tess leapt to her feet, rhino skull firmly but gently clutched in her hands. “Don’t step on the—”
He was down.
“—wall of the gully.” Tess thought she saw a leg bone between his feet.
Her heart was pounding now with excitement. And he didn’t have a rifle. It was a rake. With a price tag attached.
She knew who it was. “Mr. Holt,” Tess Rhoades extended her hand (rhino skull carefully balanced in the other hand) and tried to talk and breathe at the same time. “Home from town I see.”
“Get off of my land.”
“Yes, well,” no, she wasn’t going to say, ‘it’s my land now, loser, this rhino right here says so.’ Instead, she said, “Let’s go talk to your dad. He knows I’m here. I have his permission.”
She lifted the skull. Shook her head as it gave her a bony grin. Two bones, if the one between his feet was real. Two bones and she’d been looking two minutes.
She didn’t have time to go talk to Vince Holt again. “Better yet, you go talk to your father. I’m busy.” She turned back to the five-foot-wide vein of ash. It was an ash sandwich between sand on the bottom and sandstone on the top. That sandstone had sealed it and kept it all from eroding. Until now. Until it had eroded in a gully washing flood.
And this powdery ash had washed up downstream on the banks of the
along with a few bones. Dismal River
She’d traced it back to here.
“You’re coming. I’m not leaving you out here alone.” His hand clamped on her bi-cep.
Every paleontologically-trained bone in her body got shoved aside and she almost bashed him in the head with the rhino skull.
But in the end scientific love for a precious artifact proved stronger than rage.
“You’re Mr. Holt, Joe Holt? Your father said you lived here with him.” She took a step down the center of the gully.
He took a step toward climbing the side of the gully.
“Stop!” She threw herself in his path and plowed her shoulder into his belly. He was a lot taller than she was, but he’d seemed so much shorter once he wasn’t twenty feet overhead on the top of the ravine. A good solid shoulder hit.
It didn’t move him an inch.
“You’ve wandered away from an attendant, haven’t you?”
She detected his sarcasm and, although by most metrics she was a genius, she didn’t have to tap into her classy IQ.
He had more to say of course. “Let’s get someone out here who will help you find your way home.”
“Don’t you know a rhino skull when you see one?” She shook (gently) the head, only inches from his eyeballs.
“That’s it.” He tugged a phone out of a holster on his belt. She noticed he had a big folded knife in a pouch, a screw driver in one loop, a hammer in another and a pair of plyers also handy.
Batman wasn’t this well-equipped. Although Batman probably wouldn’t have had a lame flip-phone.
“I’m going to tell the sheriff to bring a net.”
As if she was the crazy one in this little couple.
Tell us about your next book and when is it being published?
My next book (keeping in mind I’ve had three books come out in ONE MONTH) is The Reluctant Warrior, book #2 in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. It releases in October. Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to
has gone as expected. He's come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek
revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped
by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but
beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.
When danger descends on the cabin where they're huddled,
is injured trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He
soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for
him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to
help him win back their affection--and in the process he might just win her
heart as well.
When danger descends on the cabin where they're huddled,
Where can my readers find you online.
And I’m on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryconnealy
And Twitter: http://twitter.com/maryconnealy
Thank you, Mary, for sharing this new collection, containing your novella, with us. I’m eager to read it.
Readers, here’s a link to the ebook.Cowboys of Summer
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