Monday, September 8, 2008

New Contest: Head 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out!

We've got an extra special treat for you this week, with our special guest judge Mary Connealy. We're giving away an autographed copy of her book Calico Canyon and a DVD of a western movie - details are below!

Calico Canyon was one of the most entertaining books I've read all year. Truly delightful, fun, energetic, and dare I even say SEXY? Yes, it's a Christian book, and it's a wholesome Christian book, but it was filled with love, romance, conflict, fun, laughter, tears, and MUCH MORE. I haven't laughed this much while reading in a long time - and I cannot wait for the next one! (Coming in February! Wooo-hooo!) Calico Canyon is a book I highly recommend - I think you'd love it!

First, a bit about Mary:

Mary Connealy wrote her first book—a romance novel—when she was about twelve. She shudders to think what a twelve year old could know about romance.

Since then she has gone on to bigger things. Her debut trade novel, Petticoat Ranch, released from Barbour Publishing in February of 2007 to a welcome audience. At the same time, Heartsongs Presents released her novel, Golden Days. Calico Canyon, the sequel to Petticoat Ranch, released in July 2008.

In addition to Calico Canyon, Mary has or will be releasing four new additional titles in 2008, including three books in the South Dakota Weddings series from Heartsongs Presents. Her novel, Golden Days, is being repackaged as part of the Alaska Brides anthology with Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo, scheduled to also release from Heartsongs. Her first cozy mystery, Of Mice…and Murder, releases in September from Heartsongs Presents Mysteries. Barbour plans to release her next trade novel, Gingham Mountain, in February 2009.

When she’s not writing books, Mary is an avid blogger. She writes regularly for multiple blogs including the well-known Petticoats & Pistols, dedicated to western fiction. Mary’s blog posts have been picked up by both Reuters and the Chicago Sun-Times.

By day, Mary is a GED instructor and by night, an author. To keep it straight in her head whether she’s teaching or writing, she likes to wear a little crown and a Wonder Women cape while she types.

Mary lives with her husband on a Nebraska farm and has four mostly grown daughters.

Q & A with Mary:

Mary, you have literally created your own genre—Western historical inspirational romantic comedies. Where did you come up with this?

You know, when Petticoat Ranch was finished, they tell you to do market research before you pitch your book to an editor. To me (and I know there’s more to it than this) market research pretty much boils down to, “I believe the people who loved FILL IN THE BLANK WITH SIMILAR BOOK will also love Petticoat Ranch.”

So I went looking for a book like Petticoat Ranch. Nuthin’! So I guess I invented my own genre, but it didn’t start out that way, I just had a story I wanted to tell, with vigilantes and a he said/she said attitude and cowboys and cowgirls who couldn’t quit sassing each other.


This summer Calico Canyon, the sequel to Petticoat Ranch, released to rave reviews. You based that story on your husband’s family. How close does the book resemble his upbringing?

Well, my mother-in-law, who raised seven boys, claims hers were a lot better behaved than the Reeves boys. I’d say that would have to be true because I did my best to make the Reeves boys pure savages. But the wrestling, the motion, the rudeness, especially if, as in the case of the Reeves, they don’t have a woman trying to civilize them…I see a lot of that in little boys.

What are some of your favorite scenes from Calico Canyon?

The wedding scene, I love.

The scene when the McClellen girls show their toughness and exact revenge is so fun. The scene where Daniel asks Grace if she’s carrying his child. My husband said it was embarrassing! Well, that’s what I was going for.

My favorite moment, and it’s a small one but for some reason I just love it, is when Grace holds one of her unruly sons on her lap, the two of them are in big, big trouble and she says to John, “I used to be brave.”

You have 11 books under contract with Barbour. Tell us what we have to look forward to over the next several months.

Beginning in 2009 I’ll have three books a year coming from Barbour for three years. Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon kicked things off, but next year we’re getting into a rhythm. February is Gingham Mountain, book three in the Lassoed in Texas series. It’s Hannah’s story.

Next comes Montana Rose, the first of a new series we’re calling Montana Marriages. Then we step out of the series for one book for Cowboy Christmas, a stand alone book about…guess what? A cowboy finding love at Christmas. Then there will be two more books in the Montana Marriages series: The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride.

Also I’ve got a three book series releasing this fall in the Heartsong Presents line. Buffalo Gal, The Clueless Cowboy and The Bossy Bridegroom. And a three book cozy mystery series from the Heartsong Presents Mysteries line: Of Mice…and Murder, Pride and Pestilence, and The Miceman Cometh.

You can get details at www.maryconnealy.com but historical or contemporary, long or short, mystery or straight romance, they are all romantic comedies.


Now about the contest:


With the big ACFW conference coming up next week, many writers are all abuzz about their PITCH or OPENING HOOK.


Since Mary's a western writer, this week, we're looking for WESTERN or COWBOY pitches or hooks.


Submit your own pitch or hook of 25 words or less to me at tracyruckman[at]gmail.com by Friday, midnight, for your chance to win an autographed copy of Calico Canyon AND a DVD of the western movie Last Stand at Sabre River starring Tom Selleck. You may submit up to two entries per person. I'll post the entries as they arrive, then Mary will judge them, and we'll announce a winner over the weekend. So enter soon for your chance to win this fun prize!

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