Friday, July 10, 2009

Christy Award Finalist Interview & Giveaway

When I was at the Christian Book Expo in March, I happened upon a flurry of hugs and congratulations being bestowed upon author Mary Connealy. She had just received news that Calico Canyon had been nominated for a Christy Award in the category Historical Romance. I was tickled pink to hear that because I adore both her books and Mary herself.

I have literally laughed out loud at some of the antics in her trilogy which began with Petticoat Ranch, continued with Calico Canyon, and concluded with the release of Gingham Mountain. And Mary is as much fun as her books! It took me about 60 seconds to pretend I was her BFF feel like I had known her forever. After we compared notes on shoe woes, aching feet, and other mundane miscellany, I asked her a few questions about her writing:

How do you come up with your stories?

I think of Petticoat Ranch as my husband and my children. We have 4 daughters and my husband is from a family of 7 sons. And the way he reacts to the girls – there’s comedy in that. They just talk, talk, talk, all the time and he says “Why won't they stop talking? Make them stop talking!” And I tell him "They're girls! They don't stop talking!" And he never grew up tormenting a sister, and so some things, like when I humiliated my sister in front of her boyfriend, just aren't funny to him. So it's fun to watch the girls with their dad. He absolutely adores them and is kind of at a loss at the same time. But that's the story of Petticoat Ranch - this mountain man who gets dropped into this all-girl family.

Now a lot of Calico Canyon is my husband’s family. My husband's mom is one of my favorite people in the whole world. She had 7 sons and oh, my! She can tell stories that can curl your hair – I mean, near-death experiences almost daily with these 7 little boys. She is just a great, tough, sweet woman. I think she had 3 or 4 kids before they had electricity. My husband's the baby of that family. So I thought, we did the whole girl thing; now let's drop some poor woman into this family of all boys.

Then I thought: well, let’s mix it up a little and we'll just see if I can do it. I've been going so far overstating all the girl things and all the boy things; let's find a little balance. And Gingham Mountain, that’s my family. My mom had 8 kids in 11 years - 5 daughters and 3 sons - and we lived in a house, until my 6th little brother was born, with 2 bedrooms; then they built on and we had 3 bedrooms. So in Gingham Mountain, all those people crammed in this little house – that was us. I know people can live all crowded together and that’s just the way it was. You didn’t have your own bedroom – but I had my own drawer!

How do you come up with these hilarious conversations?

I don’t know; it’s not very normal, is it?! I'll tell you something: when I have a busy scene with lots of dialogue and motion and comedy, those are a tremendous amount of work. I almost dread them because it's hard. You write it and then fix it and fix it and fix it. It's tricky, because usually they’re misunderstanding each other, but the reader has to understand that they’re misunderstanding each other. So it's very complex, and action scenes are the same way. They're very hard work.

What’s coming up next?

A new 3 book series, called Montana Marriages, and it's more of the same: cowboys and comedy. I’m really having a lot of fun! It’s coming out in July. Another 3 books will follow that with the daughters of Petticoat Ranch grown up. And I also have a Christmas book, Cowboy Christmas, coming out.

Listening to this interview just made me smile all over again. Mary is a bundle of fun and as dear as they come! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for her Saturday night. Be sure to stop by her blog to learn more about her and her books. Tell her I sent you!

I have TWO autographed copies of Calico Canyon to give away as well as an autographed copy of Gingham Mountain. To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me how many of the nominated books you have read (even if it's zero! That still counts!). Comments must be received by 9:00 p.m. CDT Saturday night (7/11). Continental US Residents only please.

Happy Reading!


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Mel said...

oh oh i am first!!!!!

Cathy said...

I have not read any of the nominated books, although I have read other books by some of the authors! I would love to win one of the books you're giving away. Thanks for the opportunity!

Katherine said...

please enter me for this book..they both look great!


Renee G said...

I haven't read any of these yet. But I would love to read all of them.


Carole said...

I always try to read the award finalists, but I'm a couple of years behind! However, I've read two from 2009: Finding Stefanie and Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. Excellent books!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

windycindy said...

What a delightful book giveaway drawing! Out of the 27 or so Award Finalists, I have read 10 of the books thus far. I enjoyed all 10 of them. Please enter my name in your
drawing. Many thanks, Cindi