Ah, yes... the final most entertaining book of 2007 according to me! Let me remind everyone once again that these were listed in no particular order - if a book made it in my Top 7 then it is equally loved with the other 6 books. Each book is special in its own way. Now on to why "Petticoat Ranch" is special!
Sophie Edwards is doing just fine, until a strange-yet oddly familiar-man rides into her life, insisting on rescuing her and her four daughters. Can she find a way to love a headstrong mountain man? When Clay McClellan discovers his brother has been murdered, he's bent on finding the killers and seeing them properly hung. But first his Christian duty demands that he marry his sister-in-law. After all, Sophie needs someone to protect her - right? Faith and love help unruly wed newlyweds find common ground and a chance at love on the Texas frontier.Readers, for a real treat leave a comment here and have a chance to win a copy of "Petticoat Ranch" - for a good, fun read - this book will NOT disappoint!
Now I have to say this description doesn't hardly do this book any justice at all! Mary has developed some wonderfully delightful characters that are frought with the most unlikely and incredibly fun (for the reader!) scenarios you could imagine. You will step back into the old West and will not be able to believe that Mary didn't grow up back then (but you'll have to trust me that she's much too young to have experienced any of this first hand)! Now let's meet Mary Connealy...
1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"
Resist? Why would God have invented sugar and made it taste so good if he wanted us to resist it? You know I didn’t get into the shape I’m in by being all that picky. Dessert? What’s the best? Hmmmmmmmm…I make this hot fudge pudding cake that is beyond amazing. I have a carrot cake recipe that, if used correctly, could take me all the way to the governor’s mansion---I’d give them a taste then say, vote for me and I’ll give you MORE CAKE. I’d win. My mother-in-law makes an apple pie that just makes me tear up it’s so perfect and beautiful. Okay, enough about dessert before I have to leave work and go eat.
2) Mary, did this series arise from your Nebraska background (cause you know everybody in Nebraska is a cowboy :-) or did the origins of this series have different roots? Everybody in Nebraska is a cowboy? Okay, let’s go ahead and assume that’s true. The roots of this story are…well, I really wrote it very much seat-of-the-pants, not much planning. I started with two thoughts in my head. Vigilantes and A Man Who’s Never Been Around Women.
The book started out pretty serious, with the vigilantes. I wanted to deal with a gang of vigilantes who start out doing the right thing, or rather, taking the law into their own hands for semi-honorable reasons, but in the end just turn into thugs who start hurting anyone they want. But by the time I’d finished all the revisions, the vigilantes ‘motivations’ had pretty much faded to backstory and they had become evil. And the main story was The Man Who’s Never Been Around Women…that is my husband’s story. My husband, Ivan, is from a family of seven sons. Now we have four daughters. Sometimes, watching Ivan react to the girls, doing the very normal things the girls do, is hilarious. I think, if you’ve got sisters, boys learn to entertain themselves by making their sisters scream and cry. After that it doesn’t bother them all that much. But that’s something you have to learn when you’re young or you never learn it. Ivan is terrified of tears and he can’t understand why everything makes them giggle or they have to talk through every detail of every event of their lives. They just shock him. One time, during an extensive discussion of control top panty hose, Ivan shook his head and said, “This is a conversation we never had at home.”
I used Ivan’s efforts to figure out women as background material for Clay, the hero in Petticoat Ranch. At least Ivan had a mother, girl cousins and classmates. Then we dated and married, then added the daughters one at a time.
Clay came from an all male world, first in the Rocky Mountains, then in the war. He was dropped into his all-girl family with absolutely no preparation. Believing it is his Christian duty to protect and care for these women, he marries Sophie about four hours after he regains consciousness in her care.
And then the shocks start coming. The giggling, the hair pulling, the tears. He handles it as badly as possible all while being charmed and drawn to his wife and daughters. The man is wildly conflicted and the comedy of his confusion just floods the entire book.
Throw in a gang of outlaws who want to steal Sophie’s ranch and far flung characters who think they need to check on Sophie and Clay, and you’ve got a suspenseful, inspirational, historical-western, romantic comedy.
3) A women and her daughters surviving in that time and place would have been difficult - do you ever feel like you were born in the wrong time period - like you should have been on Petticoat Ranch?
Oh, absolutely not. People ask me if I’m Sophie. The truth is Sophie is who I’d like to be. I am a complete wimp. The whining if my air conditioner goes out in my car is pathetic.
I firmly believe that if I had come west in a covered wagon, I’d have fallen off at the first river ford and drowned, even in like…a two foot deep creek. I’m a farm wife. I actually know how to kill and gut a chicken, Janna. Trust me, you want to live in an age where they come on Styrofoam platters in the grocery store. I definitely love living in this modern time.
4) Oh, oh - I know how to "dress" chickens too (my grandparents have a farm in Seward, NE) This book was funny and enjoyable with twists and turns all the way through - do you have any books written prior to this one that were stepping stones for the wonderful writing style you have now?
I’m writing eleven books for Barbour in the next few years, all in this long, romantic-comedy historical-western style. When I got my first book published I had about twenty books on my computer. And that’s twenty full length novels. I had plays and children’s books and two YA series started. I seem to just be a write-a-holic. So I was learning all that time I guess, because I finally got it right. Since my first book was contracted, Golden Days, from Heartsong Presents, including the long historicals, I’ve sold eighteen books to Barbour, God bless them. They’ll be releasing through 2011.
In my ten unpublished years I wrote sweet romances-both historical and contemporary, police dramas, thrillers, prairie romances, and a gothic romance. I just wrote to entertain myself—whatever appealed to me. I figured that, as long as no one was going to publish them anyway, I might as well be having fun.
5) When does the next in the series, Calico Canyon, come out?
Calico Canyon is coming in August of this year. It’s the flip side of Petticoat Ranch.
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.
6) How many more books will we see in this series?
Petticoat Ranch in now a three book series. Petticoat Ranch is in bookstores now. Calico Canyon is releasing in August and Gingham Mountain is coming in February 2008.
7) What other projects are you working on that we can look forward to?
Besides the Petticoat Ranch series and eight more long historicals from Barbour, I’ve got a three book Heartsong Presents series set in and around a buffalo ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Book #1, Buffalo Gal comes out next October. A vegetarian and a cattle rancher go to war and fall in love.
I’ve got a three book Heartsong Mystery series. Heartsong Mysteries is a new line of cozy mysteries from Barbour. The first of those books comes out September. It’s a Christmas story called Of Mice…and Murder. Writing these books was a riot. Barbour wants my long books to be all historical romantic comedies. But they’re giving me a lot of freedom in these shorter books. Writing the cozies—they’re supposed to be whacky and full of quirky characters. I had so much fun with Of Mice…and Murder. It’s set in small town Melnick, Nebraska, the home of the world’s largest field mouse. I got the idea from Algona, Iowa, the home of the World’s Largest Cheeto.
I’m not kidding, Google it.
Small towns are always looking for a claim to fame and sometimes they don’t have much. If some young man raised his pet mouse to an unusually huge size and the Guinness Book of World Records got hold of it, well, is that’s all you’ve got you go for it. Ask Algona.
In Of Mice…and Murder: Carrie hates mice and loves the big city. So why is she living in a huge mouse infested house in her dinky hometown? The dead guy in her pantry closet is the most interesting thing that's happened since she came home. Of course the carpenter who’s helping her trap her mice and solve the crime is pretty interesting, too.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Mary! I can't wait to read some of your upcoming books - who knew you could be so prolific! How can readers find you on the web?
I’ve got a ridiculous number of websites and blogs, Janna. I didn’t plan it, it just kinda happened.
Mary Connealy http://www.maryconnealy.com/
Real Life Petticoat Ranch http://www.mconnealy.blogspot.com/
Petticoats and Pistols http://www.petticoatsandpistols.com/
The Seekers http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/
There, that’ll get you started.
Thanks for letting me be part of your blog, Janna and thank you so much for you kind words about Petticoat Ranch. And God bless ANYONE who managed to stick with this interview all the way to the end. Like many writers…I love to write(Hello, master of the Obvious) so I tend to go on and on.