Today is a special treat!
If you’ve been following me for even just a short while you’ve heard me mention one of my new favorite authors, that would be Mary Connealy. She won me over with Petticoat Ranch (February 1, 2007) and then kept me as a fan for life with Calico Canyon (July 1, 2008). I cannot wait to get my hands on her story Golden Days, lately re-released (August 1, 2008) in an anthology from Alaska Brides Heartsong Presents with stories from fellow authors Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo. On Sunday, June 22nd, I shared my review of Petticoat Ranch, as well as a blurb for Mary and Calico Canyon and a preview of the first chapter, click here to go back and see it if you missed it before. Wednesday, June 25th, I shared my review of Calico Canyon, also click here, to go back to see it. So, aside with all previous mentions of this fabulous book, now I bring you a fabulous Q&A with Mary (AND A GIVEAWAY!!!!!)!
Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutches of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R’s – widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair – two people who couldn’t dislike each other more – an avalanche isn’t the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?
(Note: Normally, I’d write my initials and the author initials before the specific statements, but it’s hard to decifer between MC and MC… so, I’ll be using CB for CherryBlossomMJ, my alter-ego.)
CB: Upon writing Petticoat Ranch, Lassoed in Texas #1, did you know that you would continue the story of Grace Calhoun?
MC: Not at the beginning. IN fact, Petticoat Ranch was finished before I had the idea to make it a series by telling the flip side of Petticoat Ranch, a woman in an all male world. That seemed only fair.
So how do I come up with a woman who hasn’t been around men? I had to come up with the whole backstory, invent Grace, then invent the all boy family of the Reeves, then weave it into Petticoat Ranch. That all came after Petticoat Ranch was completely done. But the Hannah part of Calico Canyon was included in Calico Canyon from the beginning with an eye toward telling Hannah’s story.
CB: I’m so excited to read more about Hannah’s story that I can hardly stand it, I’m not sure I can be patient about this one. I’m just too eager! *Sigh*
Sophie, Grace, Tillie, and Hannah are such strong examples of women in difficult situations. What strong women do you know that have influenced you to date?
MC: Well, I do know some strong women of course, lots of ’em, but I honestly don’t think of Sophie, Gracie, etc. as real people, instead I think of them as being how I WISH I was. I’m a really quiet person and I spend most of my time being the calm one, keeping peace in my home. My characters tend to be mouthy and say all the things I wish I could say.
Although, honestly, it’s probably best I don’t.
CB: *snicker* I know what you mean! Although for me it is so difficult not to think of characters in a book as not being real people, it’s almost like I’m reading someone’s letters I’m so drawn into their lives.
Well let me as you, this book, both books actually, capture so many real issues and do it in a wonderful fashion and light. In brief, there is the concept of slavery, and child abuse, and death, and love, and do not forget the idea of multiples (twins, triplets, etc)! How were you able to twist and turn and put all of these large issues in such a book?
MC: You know, when you say this I think yikes, there really is some heavy stuff in here. I didn’t exactly think of the book as tackling serious subjects, I just wanted my characters to be put into tight situations and the times lent them selves to these you mentioned. Slavery and the scars left by it were easy. And I found the Orphan Trains fascinating, they really piqued my interest. I read a book about young girls pressed into work at a carpet mill and it seemed like they’d have to come from troubled homes, at least poverty stricken if not orphaned, or they’d have never gone into those places. So the choices for orphaned children were orphanages, the street or forced work. Not any of them great choices.
I do think there were a lot of good hearted people trying to make an orphanage a decent place to the extend possible. But if you’ll look closely, the main references to the Orphan Trains are that children ‘vanish’. They’re sent away and never seen again. These are child-ish fears from young ones who don’t understand what’s really happening. So their fears drove them more than reality.
CB: I have never read much about Orphan Trains, but now I’m intrigued and think I should. My main exposure to orphans in history are probably through the story of Rose Hill and of course Anne of Green Gables. Now, I have something else to put on my research list. Oh, what strong people these times must have made…
What is your favorite verse of which emphasizes the virtue of strength?
MC: I’ve just finished a three book series for Heartsong Presents and each book begins with a verse about strength.
The one that came to mind when you asked is this:
Colossians 1:11 – We want you to be very strong, in keeping with His glorious power. We want you to be patient. Never give up. Be joyful.
This is the life verse claimed by my heroine who has a deep seated need to be a doormat and, not surprisingly, has married a tyrant. They both become Christians and are trying, trying, trying to have a healthier relationship. I had a lot of fun with this.
Here’s a bit about sweet, maternal Hannah, who is afraid of everything, but can’t turn her back on a child in need. A rancher runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he’s made slave labor out of eight orphaned children. Grant Cooper crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright’s cruel father. Grant’s family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she’s so pretty and she isn’t really bad to his children, it’s Grant she can’t stand.
CB: Oooh, I look forward to reading that series! And you already know how excited I am about Gingham Mountain, but now even more so with that little piece! Oh, I will have to go find some other great books to read to pass the time before they all come out. Who are your favorite fiction authors? (Secular and Christian)
MC: Well, the ladies I’m on Seekerville with are my favorites right now. http://seekerville.blogspot.com/
Missy Tippens and
And the rest of the Seekers are wonderful authors, too. Their day is coming.
CB: I just love Julie Lessman’s A Passion Most Pure (January 1, 2008 Revell), she’s a favorite of mine as well, I reviewed her debut novel here, and cannot wait for the sequel A Passion Redeemed (September 1, 2008 Revell)!! The others I have not yet read, but definitely are being put on my TBR list now. *sigh* I’m such a book-a-holic…
What is the book that you read when you realized that you just loved books?
MC: Hard to say this, I’m a life long compulsive reader. I think I was a writer from a very young age, too. I’ve always been very entertained by my made up stories.
CB: If the market were to stay strong and you could continue the Lassoed in Texas books for as long as you desired, how many books would there be and how many stories would we learn to love?
MC: I’m right now beginning a series that’s going to feature Sophie’s daughters. Now, I could do that for all of the Reeves boys too, couldn’t I? So I could write for a really long time.
CB: What is your favorite scene from Calico Canyon, Lassoed in Texas #2?
MC: I love the scene where they get married, pure mayhem. That’s what I like to write best, mayhem.
CB: I was completely and literally laughing out loud at that time. I received some pretty quizzical looks from my hubby then too. *giggles* Where can readers find you on the web? In real life?
And now, *drum roll* you all have the chance (US and Canada Only please) have a chance to enter to win a copy of this wonderful book Calico Canyon!! Leave a comment on this post telling why you would like to read the book and state how you are thinking that Mary just might make it on to your favorite author lists. I will pick a winner on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 and contact the winner via e-mail to get their info. Please leave your information as such to avoid spammers cherryblossommj (at) gmail [dot] com. Good luck to all!!!
God Bless your day!
Petticoat Ranch; Calico Canyon–July ’08
Of Mice…and Murder–September ’08
FOUR FREE BOOKS at Heartsong Mysteries http://www.heartsongmysteries.com/