Guess who is here today?
Well, if you didn’t guess from the blog post title, I’ll tell you: MARY CONNEALY!!! Are you clapping like I am?
I had the ultimate privilege of meeting Mary (and later, her cowboy!) at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat in August, and she is super sweet and also hilarious.
Mary Connealy Mary Connealy is the bestselling author of romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner and a Rita and Christy and IRCC Award Finalist.
She is the author of several bestselling series and novella collections, including The Cimarron Legacy Series, The Kincaid Brides Series, the Trouble in Texas series, and With This Ring. Under the pen name Mary Nealy, she also wrote Ten Plagues–a romantic thriller, and The Historical Society Murders–three cozy mysteries.
Mary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters and a small bevy of spectacular grandchildren.
Her newest book, Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, is a novella collection written with authors Julie Lessman, Ruth Logan Herne, and Anna Schmidt.
“A Cowboy For Christmas” (Ruth Logan Herne) – They’ve weathered a lot worse than winter. For widow June Harper, another cold front is about to hit. Most call him Hugh. She’d call him Scrooge, except as the man ensures her needs are met, June can’t help but wonder how to meet the needs of his heart.
“Longhorn Christmas” (Mary Connealy) – Netty Lewis can take care of herself, has for a while now. Some hired help over the holidays doesn’t change that. And even if Roy does take care of her, that doesn’t mean he cares for her or that he’ll stay past Christmas.
“Last Chance Christmas” (Julie Lessman) – Pastor Colton McCabe is having the opposite problem. He’s not sure he’ll make it through the holidays with his new housekeeper. Grace can’t seem to do anything right but love. Perhaps being a homekeeper will earn her a permanent residence in his heart.
“Connie’s Christmas Prayer” (Anna Schmidt) – And no one longs for a home more than Connie Lancaster. She’s determined to return to St. Louis, and no cowboy can change her mind. But if Isaac can change her heart, maybe Connie will see the homecoming she’s been waiting for isn’t to a place but a person.
Yaaaaay!!! I’m so honored to be chatting with you today, Mary! I start all of my guests out with a fast four:
Mary: Apples, they are easier to eat.
Mary: I HATE WINTER. On the hottest, sweatiest, windless, bug crawling, 100 humidity in early August…..I still hate winter.
Carrie: but… but … pretty SNOW… and CHRISTMAS … and HOT CHOCOLATE.
Mary: We have cats. Our dog died a while ago and we decided not to get a new one because we’re gone enough we wouldn’t take good care of it. The cats are all wild, they live in our barn or around the edges of our lawn…out in the tall grass. Whether I prefer them on not … I just can’t say. I honestly prefer cows.
Carrie: Your cow stories on Facebook make me laugh! As long as I don’t have to get up close to the actual cows…
Mary: Both, sort of. I drink one cup of coffee a day unless I am with someone else. I enjoy that cup but I would never make myself a cup of coffee. I drink tea and like it enough to actually make it myself. Earl Grey is my favorite but I love many flavors. I may drink TWO cups of that a day, in the cold weather.
Carrie: You party animal, you! A whole TWO cups of tea 😉
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Mary: I do have a superpower, Carrie. I am HUMAN XANAX. I am the oil you pour on troubled waters. I am the eye of the hurricane. I have extremely emotional people in my family, children, husband, many….I’m the one who ‘handles’ all the angst and calms everyone down.
And then I go write books where I kill people, I’m sure there’s no connection.
Carrie: Hahahahahahaha! I literally laughed out loud just now. Zuzu is my witness.
Books are kind-of a big deal around here. So the next few questions are all about the books.
Who is your favorite book character from childhood?
Mary: The Black Stallion…can I pick a horse?
Carrie: I suppoooooose so 😉
Which books are “on your nightstand”?
Mary: A Lantern in her Hand and To Kill a Mockingbird. I’d have picked Atticus Finch as my favorite character but I don’t think I read that book when I was a child. It came later.
Carrie: Ok, I had to go look up A Lantern in Her Hand and now I’m adding that to my TBR list!!!
Tell me some good books you’ve read recently.
Mary: I’m a big detective, thriller type reader. I’m reading right now, the latest Michael Connelly book about Harry Bosch…titled The Wrong Side of Goodbye. I’m on the waiting list for Lee Child’s newly released Jack Reacher book, Night School. And David Baldacci has a book due in maybe a week. November is fantastic.
Carrie: I really need to read your cozy mysteries, by the way. Because I too love a good mystery 😀 And I’ve been meaning to read the Jack Reacher series for a while now. Must get to that eventually.
If you knew you were only going to be allowed FIVE books for the rest of your life, besides the Bible, which five would make the cut?
Mary: THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. I WOULD NOT ALLOW THAT! Yikes, Carrie, this is a cruel question and you should be ashamed of yourself. I’d guess it should be LONG and a complex book right? I’ll take the first two books in Francine River’s Mark of the Lion Trilogy. Um…Louis L’Amour, How the West was Won. This is terrible. Can I have Jesus Calling for a devotion? That’s four. (you can’t tell it but I have been sitting here staring at the computer screen for five minutes) I’ll take To Kill a Mockingbird I guess. A Lantern in her Hand makes me cry. I might not like that after a while.
Carrie: LOL! I do always get grumpy authors after that question. But it’s so fun to see what y’all end up saying haha!
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Mary: Always to find my own books. I have several bookstores I haunt when I get free. I look for my own books, then take them up to the Customer Service Desk and ask if they’d let me sign them. I know the ones that will or won’t so I don’t ask anymore where they don’t like it.
Carrie: Why would anyone not want you to sign the books? As a customer, I love opening the book to find an author has autographed it!
Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Mary: I write in mainly two places. At my desktop in a room we call The Computer Room, which is only a little enclosed porch that’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. And on my laptop which I hold on my lap in the living room, so I can ‘spend time’ with My Cowboy husband. Since he’s usually asleep in the evening, he’s no trouble. I occasionally take the laptop away and write somewhere but not often. I like sitting in the library and writing. I love to be surrounded by books. I’m very low maintenance as a writer and can write anywhere and tune out the whole world to an extent that is probably NOT GOOD!
Carrie: Low-maintenance is good though! (And you and your Cowboy are so cute together!)
Your novella in Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is “Longhorn Christmas”, a humorous but meaningful story about a wandering cowboy who stops to help a single mom and her young son and gets uh… roped in … to staying longer. Of the three characters – Netty, Jeremiah, and Roy – who did you most relate to?
Mary: I feel like Netty was the most fun. Her life became so much better when Roy came to stay. But Roy was the one who had the farthest to go. As a wandering man he had to realize he wasn’t on a lifetime journey to see over the next horizon. He was just a man searching for home. I suppose I’m more Netty, but I could love Roy and that’s what being a hero is all about.
Carrie: I adored all three characters … as well as that first line!
What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?
Mary: On Thanksgiving day, while we are cleaning up after the meal in the kitchen, I and my four daughters (or however many of them I can gather, this year one of them is in PARIS. Try and compete with that?!) But while we clear away Thanksgiving dinner we always drag out the old Mannheim Steamroller Celebration album and listen to it. It kicks off the Christmas season. That music, especially Deck the Halls, just puts me in the holiday mood.
Carrie: Oh that does sound delightful!
What do you most want readers to take away from “Longhorn Christmas”?
Mary: I have spent a lot of time studying the Christmas Story because I wrote Sunday School Christmas Program plays for my small church for years. So taking those nativity characters on a journey and trying to reflect that same journey in Roy’s character, was what I wanted to accomplish. All the Christmas characters coming from far and wide, end up in this stable, kneeling by a baby in a manger. And in Longhorn Christmas, Roy the wanderer, who likes to see new places and walk on over the next horizon, discovers that he hasn’t been wandering, he’s been searching. He finally finds home and his journey is complete.
Carrie: It’s such a sweet story because of that perspective…
Again, Mary, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 I just love you! Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Mary: I’ve got book #2 in the Cimarron Legacy Series releasing in February. Long Time Gone.
Connealy Combines Western Action and Charming Historical Romance
The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.
With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?
What about you? How do YOU feel about cows? Or any of Mary’s other answers? Isn’t she fun? 🙂