If you haven’t read a Mary Connealy cowboy romance you’re missing out. In years past I read the books not knowing the author. Now I just love to crawl in bed with my kindle, saddle up and have fun with Mary’s characters. I smile, laugh out loud and sometimes cry. Each book is a great adventure. Check her blog for actual photos of a sod houses with horses on the roof and more…. You won’t want to miss her workshop.
Kat: Tell us about you and your family:
Mary: I live on a farm/ranch in northeast Nebraska. My husband and I are high school sweethearts who just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. And we live ten miles from where I grew up and three miles from where he did.
We live in the bluffs along the Missouri River and we run cattle on the land too steep to grow crops and farm the land that’s nice enough to lay flat instead of stand on end. I call my husband My Cowboy on Facebook but it’s more correct to call him a cattleman, as we don’t
have those cool horses, chaps, lassoes and such that cowboys in the western part of the states have. But he needed a fun nickname so I came up with My Cowboy
We have four grown daughters. Two married, a third engaged with a June wedding coming up. I have three beautiful grandchildren with one daughter and a second is expecting her first child in August.
Kat: How many books have you published?
Mary: You know, I’m sort of losing count. Seriously. I’ve done some Indy pubbed books and quite a few novellas lately, in addition to my traditionally published books. The count is getting away from me. I think my 38th and 39thbooks are the two indy pubbed novellas coming in April which will make my June release my 40th book.
I could be off a few. I think I’ve published maybe…13 novellas in the last three years. It’s gotten way out of hand!
Kat: When did you decide to write and why did you choose cowboy romance?
Mary: I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published and on that day when I got my first contract, I have 20 finished books on my computer. Those books were mostly all romance and all Christian, but beyond that…I wrote everything and anything that appealed to me. Contemporary sweet, contemporary police procedurals, romantic suspense, even a gothic. And
I wrote historical westerns.
After I received my first contract I sold (not counting the very first one) I sold seven books before I had to write one. And since then of those twenty books I’ve sold 14, I think. Some I’ve cut to novella length. So I didn’t really ‘choose’ the cowboy romances but I think I found my voice in them, which is why they sold.
Kat: Did you have anything embarrassing or humorous happen to you while writing a book, meeting an editor or agent?
Mary: I remember one of the most fun times I ever had with an agent. The American Christian Fiction Writers conference has, as part of the conference fee, a meeting with an agent and a meeting with an editor. You’re guaranteed two. So my second conference I already had an agent. (I’m on my third and have finally got a really good one!) But my agent wasn’t at conference—I’d just barely signed with that one shortly before conference, and I’d yet to sell a book.
So I got to choose an agent and I had all these books to sell and no real idea how to proceed. I’d made up FOUR versions of a book list. One targeting Love Inspired Harlequin, One targeting Barbour Heartsong, (where I made me first sale too, that year at conference.) One listing all my historicals and one listing the romantic suspense. And I had a meeting with an editor and wasn’t sure just how to proceed.
So I went to the agent appointment and I sat down with this extremely nice lady that I still know, and said, “Wendy (Lawton) I already have an agent but he’s not here and I get an appointment and you’re the lucky girl. I need advice.” Then I dragged out all my one sheets and said, “Who do I talk to. What do I show? Is this a testimony to hard work and commitment or is it a towering symbol of failure.”
Well, we just started talking and I think she was sort of relieved to NOT have someone pitching to her for one precious 15 minute spell and she gave me lots of advice and we talked our heads off the whole time. It was great fun.
Kat: I know you are working on a new series this summer. How and why did you choose to write 12 bride stories and how do you develop such different characters for each book?
Mary: I’ve written one book in the 12 Brides of Christmas series and one book in the 12 Brides
of Summer series. So there are 12 authors working together. These are some of the 13 novellas I’ve written in the last few years.
When I was writing for Barbour Publishing they had me writing four full length books (90-100,000 words) a year. I could keep up with that pace mainly because I had so many books already written. But it was starting to scare me. Then I got a good agent and a great offer from Bethany House but they only wanted two books a year.
I think a comfortable pace is probably three books. So now I’ve got all this time on my hands and I worry that I’ll accidentally make a friend or get a hobby and mess up my whole life. So the novellas are filling in the holes in my spare time and writing some of them for Barbour Publishing is fun because I love those folks and I don’t forget that they gave me my first chance.
Kat: Do you have a special program that helps track the color of the eyes and hair?
Mary: I make notes at the top of the manuscript with details like that. ages, eye color, names and jobs of minor characters (those are the hardest to keep track of). By the time I’m done with a book I might have several pages worth of notes.
I’ve tried creating spread sheets but then I make a change in the book and forget to update the spread sheet and then I don’t know which is right or if I changed it in the book or not, so that’s confusing.
Kat: Do you have a special prayer request?
Mary: For my family and my presentation. Kat: If you want to know more about Mary and her books, check out her website.
Interview by Lionhearted Kat, one of the Wordsowers Leadership Team.