Friday, November 07, 2008

Guest Blogger, Mary Connealy

A little OTWP trivia. Who was the first author interviewed at OTWP? Mary Connealy! I went back and read that interview which you can find HERE. Man, I threw the kitchen sink at her! Asked everything under the sun, and she was so gracious in her replies.

This time the interview will be shorter, but I know Mary will be every bit as gracious. Thank you, Mary, for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit still for another OTWP interview.

Today we’re talking about Golden Days, 2008 Short Historical Category winner of the ACFW Book of the Year Contest. I snatched up this book at the epic Mall of America book-signing and got it inscribed by Mary.

Mary, you mentioned in that first interview that you wrote for ten years before being offered a contract for Golden Days. That’s a lesson in perseverance. How many novels did you write before that wonderful day in 2005 when Tracie Peterson called your name?

Hi, Erica, thanks for having me on your blog. I had twenty books—that’s twenty finished full length novels on my computer when I sold my first book. I’ve since sold seven of them and nine more unwritten novels, all to Barbour Publishing.

How did the story come about? And what roles did fellow Alaska Brides authors Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo play in the process?

I was so, so, so blessed to have a great visit with Cathy Marie Hake after I won the Genesis Contest at ACFW, with Petticoat Ranch. She asked me to send her the first few chapters of my winning book. I obeyed her and she said she thought I was ‘ready’. YAY! No publisher had yet seen that light, but Cathy suggested pitching a three book series, with her, Kathleen Y’Barbo and me each writing one book. Tracie Peterson was the acquiring editor for HP at the time and she let me come along with the other two very established authors.
Golden Days is now available in the book Alaska Brides which is in bookstores, a three book anthology including Cathy Marie Hake’s book Golden Dawn and Kathleen Y’Barbo’s book Golden Twilight.

Amaruq is such an appealing character. Sturdy and steady, but vulnerable. Did you develop her character as you wrote, or did she spring to life fully formed in your mind?

I did a lot of brainstorming with Cathy and Kathleen before Amaruq (Amy) emerged. I wanted her to be native to that wild, harsh Alaska land but to be hiding her heritage to fit in, because she is sent away from Alaska when her mother dies. Now she’s back home and she finds herself well qualified to protect and provide for herself.

Where did you discover the nuggets of historical setting and fact, particularly the Tlingit terms and customs that flavor the book?
I did so much research for this book, Erica. The landscape, the plants and animals that would support human life and what their different uses are. And the Tlingit culture. Even the names I chose for my characters. I wanted them to be authentic. It was a lot of fun. Research can be tricky. It can be so interesting and compelling that you get sucked into it and lose writing time. But I loved trying to get that culture right.

Initial creation or editing phase? Which do you prefer?

I love both. I love writing along making up my story, but I know editing makes a good book better, and I want that improvement. I learned a saying that I always remember. ‘The best writing is re-writing’. I sincerely believe editing always strengthens a book.

What’s next for you?

Right now is a really hectic time. I’ve got a three book Heartsong Presents Series coming right now, book #1 was last month Buffalo Gal. Book #2 is this month, Clueless Cowboy and book #3 is December The Bossy Bridegroom.

And, in the midst of this is a three book Heartsong Presents Mysteries series. Book #1 of that is this month “Of Mice and Murder.” Books #2 and #3 will be out soon. Pride and Pestilence and The Miceman Cometh. They’re really fun, kind of whacky murder mysteries. In February book #3 in the Lassoed in Texas series comes out, Gingham Mountain. It finished the story started in Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon.

As you can see, Mary is one very busy writer! I have read Mary's first three books, and have loved every one of them. I know this trend will continue. You can visit Mary at and at where she's usually causing a ruckus. Her website can be found here:

Mary will be stopping in from time to time through out the day to answer questions and respond to comments. Drop her a line.
Thank you, Mary, for guesting on OTWP.


  1. Hi, Erica.
    Thanks for having me on.

    You're doing Nano, huh? I never have. I don't need yet another goal. I write about 20,000 words a month and need to be writing about double that...or rather WISH I could get up to writing that. But that's pressure I put on myself. No nano required. :)

  2. Mary!

    Nano is really fun this year. And I've found that all that pre-plotting work is paying big dividends so far. I employed the plot-board method talked about on Seekerville awhile back, and presto!

    Today I'm hoping to get near 25K words on the project so I'll be all ready to cruise at tomorrow's local group writing marathon.

    20K words a month, month in and month wonder you have a zillion books coming out. I'm in awe!

  3. Mary, you wear me out! Thanks for the link to Erica's blog. It's a great site, Erica!

    Mary, how do you find your Heartsong books if you don't belong to the bookclub?

  4. They actually can be found, Audra. The Heartsong Presents Mysteries are almost impossible to find until a couple of months after they'd released from that book club. But the Heartsong Presents novels are available.

    Okay...pause while Mary attempts to create a lovely, live link. Or LLL as we know it in the business.

    Buffalo Gal

    Clueless Cowboy

    Let's see if this works. :)

  5. THE LINKS WORK!!!!!!!

    A pause here while I quietly weep in amazement at myself.

    Okay, back to work.
    The HMPs are showing up on Amazon about six months after they releases AND they will be available, all three of them, in a collection called Nosy in Nebraska, releasing next June.

    Nosy in Nebraska
    It's available to order but it won't come for a LONG, LONG TIME!!!

  6. Mary, you are Superwoman in my book. I'm just in awe of how you have so many releases coming and that you are still sane (I use that term loosely). How do you juggle so many things at once?
    Thanks, Erica for another great interview. Me thinks you are vying for the Superwoman title with your NaNo word count.

  7. Superwoman?

    Was there a superwoman?

    Let's go with Wonder Woman...I like that better.
    And Seriously Carla. Is my output the sign of superpower???? or the sign of the disturbed and obsessed mind of a troubled loner.

    One man's over achiever is another's Rain Man, you know???

  8. Hey gals! What anothe enlightening interview. Mary, you're such a font of information, and writing talent. I don't see how you get it all done.

    Do you pre-plot a lot, or just have an idea and run with it?

  9. Hey, Pammy, girl. Nice to see you.
    well, not SEE........ moving on.

    I do both. I prefer to NOT plot but I think that might be because I'm lazy.

    I've had to do some plotting like the chapter by chapter synopsis for HP and I find it really helpful and have had pretty good luck sticking to my synopsis... BUT when I can duck it, I prefer to just jump right in with an idea.

    Way easier. :)

  10. Erica, you brave, brave soul.

    Your reward is in heaven, darling. God has a special place for people who invite Mary back a second time.

    However, it is a very SMALL place.


    Erica, great site! I brought some white chocolate/macadamia nut cookies over to celebrate Mary's visit and a carafe of fresh coffee to chase the chill of all this Alaska talk.

    Here, somebody pass the plate. I'm busy pestering Mary off-line to make fun of her quietly.


  11. You do amazing things with this Live Link stuff, Mary. Gotta start practicing.

    Thanks for the cookie and coffee, Ruthy. Sorry can't stick around longer, so I'll take mine to go.

    Thanks Erica!

  12. Yum, yum, yum, Ruthy! De-lish! Thanks for stopping by!

    I'm not sure who was the braver of the two. Mary showed considerable courage in submitting to a second interview by me. That first one was a MONSTER! LOL

  13. Yay, we have cyber food at Erica's place now. Yummeeee

    I used to by plastic food for my children. Plastic hamburgers and frenchfries. Plast pancakes. You know, the usual stuff.

    I drew the line at making them eat it.

    My sister bought her kids some plastic cookies and the little mohsters used a real cookie sheet and put them in the over. they were too little to turn the oven on, but my sister switched it on to preheat it and YUM baked plastic.

    It stunk so bad they practically had to MOVE.

  14. Hey Erica and Mare, great interview!! I will attest that Golden Days is wonderful (uh, not to mention Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon!!). I still haven't been able to get to Buffalo Gal, but it's burning a hole at the top of my TBR pile, with several "promised" reads ahead of it, unfortunately. Sigh. But I agree with you, Erica -- Mary is the type of author you want to make sure you have all of her books!