Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Mocha with Mary Connealy - Plus Giveaway!

UPDATE Tuesday 5/8/12 9:39 pm WINNER!

My apologies! I had it in my head that tonight was the drawing, not Sunday. Some of you may have been checking back and wondering if I ever follow up on giveaways! Please forgive me! Here is the winner:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2012-05-09 02:31:00 UTC

Congratulations to Marissa! Email me your address, Marissa, and I'll send the book your way. Thanks to all of you for making this such a fun time and a special thanks to Mary Connealy!

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 Tiny House Overflowing with Kids. . .and Love!
by Mary Connealy

I grew up in a two bedroom farmhouse with seven brothers and sisters (later on, after the sixth child was born, we did add on and have three bedrooms—yippee!). For a while I slept on a couch in a room we called 'the middle room'. So maybe it had four bedrooms, but my room was a thoroughfare, which may explain my insomnia. I stayed up late as a child. I remember listening to Johnny Carson in the living room when my dad would stay up to watch the monologue.

My dad was a dairy farmer. My mom was a stay-at-home mom who later went to work when my youngest brother was about four.

Simply put, we were poor. Dirt poor. But maybe poor isn't the right word. We had no money. Zero money. But we were never hungry. We weren't stuffed, exactly, but not hungry, either. Mom and Grandma (who lived two miles away) both gardened. We had chickens and milk cows. So we didn't go without food. We wore hand-me-downs and the neighbors gave us old clothes. My grandma always had us over for a delicious Sunday dinner, the old-fashioned kind of meal with roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy and plenty of everything. But Grandma was working on the farm, too; she was kind of the boss of the operation.

We were born, eight kids, in eleven years and we lived across the road from a family of seven, four of whom were close in age to us. We practically lived in each other's houses. We all went to a one-room country schoolhouse. I started first grade with four kids, by the time I graduated from eight grade and got to go to town school for high school, I was alone in my grade.

We played outside, winter and summer. Where are you going to play inside in a house that tiny? Climbing haystacks and running through the woods, swinging on a rope in the hay mow, riding horses. We had one horse, our neighbors had two.

My family had one bike for eight kids. I always had a roommate (except for those blissful years in the 'middle room'). At one point there were four girls in one small bedroom. But it didn't matter because we weren't ever in there except to sleep.

No air conditioning. Come to think, very little heat. We had two oil-burning stoves for the whole house. We had a bathroom in our basement, a cold, rodent-infested basement. EEK!

Our bathtub was a tin tub mom would haul in from the small entry room every Saturday night.

You know, we weren't that different from a lot of people, honestly. We had a neighbor that still had an outhouse until about the time I was full grown.

I remember my dad coming home from an auction once with four beds. That must've been when we added on. He'd bought four beds for five dollars. Five dollars TOTAL, not five dollars each.

I give you this background because there was nothing about our growing-up years that was 'enriched' in the way people think of it today. No passes to the Children's Museum. No children's theater. No travel.

No Sesame Street. But my parents were special people. Different people in some really wonderful and hard to describe ways.

My dad read to us, doing all the voices in funny kids' books. He made us help around the farm, including milking cows. There's a hard way to make a living, let me tell you!

We went to the library constantly and checked out stacks of books. Reading was a fundamental part of our lives. Church was every Sunday, no exceptions.

My parents were mild-mannered, though mom could scold, for a fact. But they were mostly so kind to us. They had a knack for acting like they were so lucky to have us. Can you image what a rabble we were? All those kids in that tiny house with no money? But I remember Mom smiling at me one time and saying, "The man who marries you is going to be so lucky."

But one thing my parents have that was different, besides their faith and kindness was their education. They'd met at college and married. I think my family grew up with this sort of … mythology about education. Dad went to college only because he unexpectedly got a scholarship. He was planning to stay home and farm. When the scholarship money wasn't enough, instead of going home, he enlisted in ROTC. And during his college years he met my mom.

They both really believed in education. They never asked us IF we were going to college, they asked us WHERE we were going to college.

So out of this tiny house, overflowing with eight children, came my family of whom I am very proud.

Between us we have eight Bachelor's degrees. Five Masters Degrees. One doctoral degree, two Divinity degrees and one published author—me.

I have this image that makes me smile of all these educated people just roaring out of this little, run-down farmhouse.

All this amounts to is little glimpse into the fires that forged me. Education, books, enforced togetherness, kindness, love and faith.

I tried to raise my own kids the same way. And I try to catch those things in my books.

My most recent release, In Too Deep, began in book one of the Kincaid Brides Series—Out of Control—with two women and two babies in a run-down farm house. Of course heroes came along and with them comes love and BIGGER HOUSES. So despite my contentment with my roots, I admit it would've been nice not to share a room with three other sisters.

But when I write about crowded homes with few luxuries, I think I can bring some honestly to the story.

In Too Deep
Ethan Kincaid, the shallow charmer, agrees to a marriage of convenience with the same casual disregard he gives every decision.

Audra Gilliland, the fragile, young mother of two, accepts his proposal because she wants to stop being a burden to her newly married step-daughter.

Ethan doesn't expect Audra to touch him deeply and when she begins to is terrified of the pain he's felt before when his weakness nearly killed his little brother. Audra has been cared for all her life by one man or another and they've done a poor job of it. Now she's going to stand up for herself and make her own decisions and her new husband had better agree to let her, or get out of her way.

Can Ethan face the demons of his own failure? Can Audra stand on her own two feet? And can God give them courage to risk true love?

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner, and a Rita and Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. She is the author of bestselling Kincaid Brides Series: Out of Control, In Too Deep, Over the Edge, Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, Montana Marriages Trilogy and Sophie's Daughters Trilogy. She also wrote Ten Plagues—a romantic thriller, and The Historical Society Murders—three cozy mysteries, under the name Mary Nealy.
Mary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters and two spectacular grandchildren.

Thanks so much, Mary! I loved hearing about your growing-up years!

I reviewed In Too Deep in February; you can read that review here.

I'm giving away a copy of this book to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Sunday (5/6/12) and I will randomly draw a winner. US Residents only please.


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karenk said...

great posting :)

i, too, love mary's novels. thanks for the chance to read 'in too deep'

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Linda. (I always want to call you MOCHA for some reason. Like that's your first name!)
Thanks for having me on.
While I was reading about myself I had this flash of memory of one meal, hot dogs and I was in the kitchen with some part of the hoard of my family, I was getting a bit older no idea how old, and my little brother came in and said, "Can I have another hot dog?"
And we all just were so RUDE to him. Told him he was making a pig of himself and stop trying to have more than his share.
After he'd had ONE hot dog?
I feel guilty about that. He just ASKED for heaven's sake.
Being a little brother can be tough. I think I'll go phone him and be nice to him for a few minutes, but I doubt it's worth trying to explain WHY.
The guilt of being an abusive big sister!!!!!!!!!!

Carolyn Boyles said...

I'm reading Deep Trouble right now and am enjoying it immensely. I've always thought authors portray people in historicals too formally and it's nice to see a novel with people who are believeable. It's a great story-romance, history, suspense, adventure, mystery all wrapped up into one package. The dialogue is sidesplittingly (is that a word?) funny in places. I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

authorboyles at swbell.net

Mary Connealy said...

Thanks, Carolyn. I've always thought that changing your life to be a Christian doesn't really change YOU. Not your personality or your gifts or your intelligence, it just changes how you use them.
So if you're bossy, like Rafe and Julia are in book one of this series, Out of Control, well, they get all their act together and find a deeper peace with God, but you know what? They're both still bossy.
In Too Deep, Ethan and Audra are easy going people. When Audra finds her courage (wow, that sounds like the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz!) and Ethan finds enough confidence to be the head of his house and the boss on his own ranch, he's still a pretty easy going guy.
You have the same gifts, you just use them for God.
So my characters change their focus but not who they are. Does that make sense?

Pam K. said...

I really enjoyed this interview with Mary about her family background. This line sums it up so wonderfully:
"Education, books, enforced togetherness, kindness, love and faith." Since they had food and shelter, what more really was needed? Her parents sound like wonderful people who knew what was really of value and passed that on to their children.
Mary's books are delightful to read; I'd love to win a copy of In Too Deep. Thanks for the chance!

regencygirl01 said...

I loved In Too Deep, can't wait for Seth's story though. he just brings a smile to your face. And the guy on the cover is perfect

Amber said...

I love all of Marys books and would love the chance to read this one as well !!Thanks for a great post I really enjoyed reading it

Sharyn Kopf said...

I read Out of Control while on vacation a month ago and really enjoyed it ... but I knew I would. Especially enjoyed the geological/Noah's flood aspect of the story.

That said, I would love to read the sequel!

Lane Hill House said...

"I have this image that makes me smile of all these educated people just roaring out of this little, run-down farmhouse."

I love this!! I have fond memories, mostly, of our experience in the three years before the drought moved us away, in our farmhouse with electricity, a pump outside, an outhouse, and tub on the back porch when I was in fourth-sixth grades.

I would like to have this sequel to Out of Control! Thank you for adding me in for the drawing.


Glenda Parker Fiction Writer said...

I can really identify with your back ground. I had a little tiny house in Berwyn, Ne, population 100. I think they counted a few dogs in there. I raised three kids in that house. We had an outhouse and took baths in a metal tub. Good old days. I would love a chance to win your book. God bless you both!

Glenda Parker

joye said...

Enjoyed reading about your up bringing. Mine was somewhat like yours-I lived on a ranch in Colorado and went to a one room school for the first 3 grades. We were without a lot of things too since any monies went back into the running of the ranch. I never knew I grew up poor until someone in my class said I was- I just thought that was the way everyone lived. When I look back now, I realize what a wonderful experience it was for me.
Your book sounds really good..

Lisa said...

I love Mary Connealy's books! I'm reading Out of Control now and I'm really enjoying it. She makes me laugh out loud, something I haven't done while reading in a long time!

Anonymous said...

I've never read any of Mary's books, but I've heard raving reviews about all of them! I can't wait to read this one!



Janice said...

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your background. I use to visit with cousins that had a larger family than we had and I felt the closeness of everyone being squeezed in small spaces together. It was rather fun and cozy and when I would go home I would momentarily feel lonesome in the room I had to myself! I am glad to hear how your family valued education. All your readers certainly benefit from that! Blessings, Janice jsmithg(at)hotmail(dot)com

Denise Jordan said...

This book sounds like a good one. I haven't read any of these books yet. I would like to be entered in the drawing for her book!


traveler said...

What a wonderful interview which shows the importance of family, love, education and the values. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

Thank you for this insightful and beautiful interview. Old fashioned principles and theimportance of education, books, learning and hard work as well as the meaningful daily interaction is what matters. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Merry said...

How wonderful to grow up with parents who really loved and enjoyed their children. I love Mary's books, so I have to toss my name in the hat for the drawing. Thanks!
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

Mary Connealy said...

Glenda, you lived in Nebraska? I looked up Berway, that is a long, long way out, girl. About the dead center of the state.
I like to think of Nebraska as where all the normal people live. Everyone else is a variation on us.

Mary Connealy said...

joye, you saying, 'you never knew you were poor'. That was how it was for us. (although my folks probably knew!)
Everyone around us had big families, small houses...well, not everyone, but so many that we just didn't get too worked up about what we didn't have. We climbed trees and played baseball in the front yard...with eight kids and my dad we had a baseball team but I was always a little afraid my folks would want two teams, for someone to play against, you know!

Mary Connealy said...

And my mom's main discipline boiled down to, "Go outside."
I did that with my own kids. "Go outside." That was the solution to "I'm bored!"

WinterRose said...

I didn't grow up on a farm but I too grew up "poor". Didn't really realize that back then though. I'm the oldest of 4 kids and we spent the majority of our childhoods outside as well. Back then it was safe to roam around the town, leave your front door unlocked , and play outside until the street lights came on. I have always loved to read. At least as far back as I am able to remember I read everything I could get my hands on. Books, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes...didn't matter as long as it had words on it LOL.

Bookishqueen said...

I can't wait to read this book, I have read all over her other books(that I know of) and this is the next one to read. I'm sure that it will be just as good as the others.

Mary Connealy said...

Louise reading what you wrote about playing outside, not having to be afraid. Come home when the street lights come on. It almost makes me weepy. That seems like a time that is just gone and that's a tragedy.

Teri said...

Mary, I loved reading your story and getting to know you. Although as you said, you were poor, it sounds like you came from a terrific family, and what great memories. Your parents sound like wonderful people, and I'm sure your experiences have give you some great ideas - from personal experience - fro your books.


Ginger Solomon said...

Love, love, love Mary Connealy and now I know why. I think I might make my seven children read your post, m'lady, so they are more thankful. :)

I can't wait to read In Too Deep.

Thanks for the sneak peak into your life, Mary.


Mary Connealy said...

Today is my mom's 84th Birthday. She is possibly the sweetest person on the earth. My dad's been gone for ten years now. Great people, great parents, but in such a quiet and humble way it's hard for anyone outside their family to recognize the greatness.

Mary Cline said...

winning one of Mary's books would make my day! Week! Month.

Jo said...

I have a few of Mary's books and have enjoyed them. Would love to read this one now.


Melody Durant said...

Mary travels with me through her books to Mexico & Nicaragua in our mission adventures. She continues on with other English reading folks in those countries, I wonder where she ends up?