Monday, July 6, 2009

Montana Rose-Take a Chance

Take a chance and get a chance to win MONTANA ROSE.
Make sure and leave a comment to get your name in the drawing and an email address so we can contact you.

Montana Rose is Cassie's story. The heroine. I have a tendency - or maybe I should say I used to - to write heroines so strong, so kick butt, that it's just over the top. I think that's fun. It's what I like to read.

I've said many times (Ruthy might say - ad nauseum) that I had twenty finished books on my computer when I sold my first book. I think I've learned more variety in characters now, but early on, I was all about hard as nails, self-sufficient females. I realized that about myself. I realized I was getting stale creating the same heroine over and over again. When I finished whatever alpha female came before Cassie, I had this idea for Montana Rose.

It was inspired by Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly. Just the basic foundation of the story. A widowed, pregnant woman, forced into a marriage to a stranger simply to survive.

The similarities to Love Comes Softly need to be pointed out because if I didn't, YOU'D NEVER GUESS. Me being me, I immediately took an alarming turn into mayhem and romantic comedy.

But much of my comedy as coming from the sass of the heroine. To most of us when we're called up on to respond to any situation, I think, well maybe not MOST of us, but anyway, we tend to be non-confrontational. Peace makers. Problem solvers. That's me anyway. But in my books, I like to have a heroine who refuses to back down. Who says out loud the outrageous things we often think but don't say.

This is a tough heroine and this is the root of a lot of comedy. But I knew I was getting stale, so I deliberately set out to write a different kind of heroine. A wimp. A woman people pushed around. A polite, sweet, scared woman who kept every conflicted idea trapped inside.

I just wanted to take a chance, see if I could do it. Learn a new skill. Stop myself from falling into a rut. The trouble was, after I'd written the first part of the book, with sweet little Cassie pretty much just doing whatever she was told, I didn't like her. She was boring.

So she presented me with a great test of my abilities. I had to learn how to show the turmoil inside of Cassie, while presenting this polished, agreeable exterior. In the earlier versions I have her be almost a split personality. I let Ruthy read it and I can't remember the exact words but they were something along the lines of...Do you really want Sybil with fifteen your heroine? Cassie is a lunatic.
So I had my hands full creating Cassie, giving her a backstory that explained her weakness. And, me being me, I couldn't leave her weak. I had to toughen her up in the end. I ended up loving her.

And if you aren't real interesting in reading a book about a wimp, check out a secondary character in Montana Rose, Belle Tanner. She’s a sub-character in this book but stars in her own book The Husband Tree, book two in the Montana Marriages series, coming in January.

Belle makes Sophie McClellen from Petticoat Ranch, look like a daisy-chain making, scatter-brained airhead. The title of that book, The Husband Tree, well, the Husband Tree is the tree under which she buries her husbands when they die. We start Belle’s book with her kicking herself for not bothering to mark the former husbands’ graves because she doesn’t want to dig up one of the worthless bums while she’s planting the new one. Because that would make her start a new hole and she has chores to do.
I just couldn’t sustain the wimpy heroine thing for two whole books.

And then in Montana Marriages book three, Wildflower Bride, this heroine, Abby, has never met a man she didn’t pull a knife on.

The point of this lesson is that I want you to check your work. I want you to challenge yourself. I want you to take a chance. Dare yourself to write against the type you're most comfortable with. I'd be interested to hear if you think you've gotten stale, if you've got a 'type' that you create and why do you think you do that? And what are you going to do to shake things up?


  1. Interesting post...even if Blogger did decide NOT to put it up. Grr.

    It is hard to write someone whose philosophical views on life and values are different from your own.

    Are you giving away a copy of the wimp's book btw?

    I stayed up way too late to watch the Ciaran Hinds version of Persuasion last night and came away really wondering how I could make my characters immortal like Jane Austen does. Can I write characters that will last in the reader's mind.

    That is not unlike your post. You really have to dig deep and go outside yourself.

    Okay, sorry, pulling a Ruthy with this diatribe.

    Pass the Lamars and the java.

  2. I cant wait to read Montana Rose but the Husband tree really sounds interesting.
    I enjoyed the blog today.I loved the lassoed in Texas series and saw differences in all the heroines in those books.

  3. Hi Mary,

    I haven't written enough romance books to know if I'm in a rut with my herione's. I have stretched myself in other writing areas though, trying non-fiction verses fiction and that took me out of my comfort zone but gave me a feeling of accomplishment when I finished the piece.


  4. So far my heroines are all as different as night and day. But I've only written four. :-)

    I don't mind reading about a wimp, as long as she's heroic when it counts. Your book sounds hilarious!

  5. Hey Mare, great post ... and on the right day too ... :)

    So far, I don't think any of my heroines are too much alike, but I've only written four and I based each of them on a facet of my own personality. So either I better be Sybil with endless personnas or I'm real trouble here ... :)

    And, Mare, God bless you in The Christy Award contest this week, girl -- I'm pulling for you!!


  6. Yes, it's Montana Rose.

    I'm wondering if we should stop calling her 'the wimp'. Of course I started it. :)

    I think I'm better at creating characters than I was once but Montana Rose was written quite a while ago, it was a book that helped push me to be more creative with characters.
    If you're seeing differences now that's great.

  7. LEAVE

    To be including in the drawing for a signed copy of Montana Rose.

  8. Mary, I love your heroines--sweet, but sassy. They're a lot like you, aren't they?

    My heroines are similar to Julie's. I use some aspect of my personality in my heroine. But when some contest judge says she might be a tad unsympathetic, I start to wonder if I'm really unsympathetic. Of course the judge must not understand her! So no matter what personality type, I try to make my heroine very virtuous in the beginning of the story. (Isn't writing fun?)

  9. Good Luck with the Christy Awards, Mary. My copy of Montana Rose should be arriving this week and I'm SOOO excited.
    Stretchng oneself when writing characters is a good reminder. It's hard too. I've really learned alot from interviewing my characters out loud to see if they answer questions differently...hmmm, so I DO talk to imaginary friends. No wonder my kids get a kick out of it.

  10. I love to hear how others stretch themselves personally or professionally. It is inspiring and helps to let go of some of my fear to step out in faith. :)Montana Rose is on the top of my wish list right now, but I have to say The Husband Tree is soooo intriguing! Can't wait to get my hands on that one!


  11. Leaving e-mail addy now while I am thinking of it: APSchrock(at)aol(dot)com.

    This is a very thought-provokign question. Are they all kind of alike? Different time periods, different jobs (farmer, artist, riding instructor, college drop-out) and appearances, but, underneath ...?

    My heroines are not always just alike, the heroes are all a lot like DH.

    Some have blue eyes and blond hair, others are dark like him; all tall (I think they about have to be, don't they?)take charge in an easy-going way.

    H'mm ....

  12. This was true of me, Mary, only the opposite way. All my heroines were sweet. They were tough and did what needed to be done, but they were sweet and noble and at the top of their priority list was to do what was right. So I decided to make my next heroine (in my 4th book) a sassy, sometimes rude, aggressively-ambitious girl determined to get what she wants. At first I was afraid I wouldn't like her, but as it turned out, she wasn't so different from me after all (no, really) and she was so much fun to mess with!!! Oh, my, I had so much fun writing that book. I just hope everyone else thinks it's as fun as I do.

    And I can't wait to read this book, Mary, since I love all your books.

  13. I'm looking forward to reading Montana Rose! Please enter me for a chance to win!


  14. Since I've never written a book before I can't say I've had the problem of characters going stale! I can't imagine any of your characters being stale! All of your books so far have made me laugh like no way am I ever bored with your ladies! I'd love to read Montana Rose and appreciate the chance to win!


  15. Actually making my hero in Montana Rose a red head, an Irish man and a really wise, sweet hearted man, though very strong and a successful rancher, was against type too.

    So I was just goin' nuts with this book. It was a really good experience. I think I've gotten much better at making characters three dimensional and this book helped me stretch.

  16. Dear Mary, I definitely want entered! Your books are on my wishlist, but it'd be so fun to win one from you.

    Ayrian Stone

    You said you have your characters do things and say things that we often won't. I agree it adds a lot of spice, if it fits the character's personality and background. The heroine I'm developing right now is the opposite of me in every way--a fighter. So many scenes I've had to rewrite two or three times to get her response just right. After all, what is realistic for her worldview and personality?

    You're absolutely right--exploring new personalities makes us dig deeper into our creativity and our understanding of human nature. God's nature too! Just how would He help this person grow? I love this aspect of writing because it sends us back to the heart of God for each unique individual.

  17. LOL, The Husband Tree? What an hilarious premise for a story.

    Can't wait to read Montana Rose...and everything else you write. :)

    I'm reading Of Mice and Murder right now. Hee hee hee.

  18. Ayrian, what I remember about starting Montana Rose, was the fear. I really didn't want to write a vulnerable character who let everyone push her around.

    I was seriously afraid to try it, it was so new.

    I entered it in the Genesis Contest (back then the Noble Theme contest) sponsored by ACFW and Tracie Peterson was one of the finalist judges, Montana Rose came in third, Petticoat Ranch won.
    We got a chance to talk about Montana Rose and she was so great, really gave me terrific, USEFUL wise advice. She saw some real weaknesses in Cassie and helped me get a good handle on how to bring her more to life.

    And, since this was in the context of it placing third in that contest, she was really encouraging about the book being good. Which made her advice all the more solid.
    She gave me great research tips and she'd just set a book in the general area where Montana Rose was located, so she knew a few mistakes I'd made about setting.

    It was fantastic.

  19. I'm so excited about your characters! I will definitely look for these books! They don't sound like the Grace Livingston Hill type of Christians, for sure! More like the warty, "real" kind that I am and meet every day. Except Belle. I'm kinda scared of her. Is she killing these husbands??
    Mary, I'm curious: are you like either of your characters? You must identify with the kick-butt characters. You say you are non-confrontational and a peace-making problem-solver. That is me, as well. I think that's why I'm having so much fun with my character. I get to slip inside her skin and find out what it would be like to get even. Is that why you enjoy creating kick-butt characters? You get to slip inside their skin and kick butt for a change?
    I've created a character who is bitter and loves to play tricks on her unsaved husband, who loves playing tricks on her! Problem is, I'm afraid Heartsong Presents won't like such a character. I'm having great fun writing the book, though.
    In the first two books I wrote, my heroines were sweeties that may have been admirable but more than likely were plain old wooden. For this one, I decided to have some fun, and I'm so glad I did. The hard part is imagining how her husband will respond and making it all believable. We'll see if any of the publishers enjoy what I've done!
    Tina, like you, I love Jane Austen's work. Have you seen the BBC's version of Sense and Sensibility? Saw it last night--it was great! I wonder who Jane Austen identified with….
    Please include me in the drawing. I'm at

  20. Hi! I LOVE your books Mary. I have also read the entire Love Comes Softly series, and am now even more excited to read your new book.
    Please enter me for the contest!
    booklovercb at yahoo dot com
    P.S. When is the contest over, and the winner picked out?

  21. A chance to win a book by Mary Connealy! Wow. I'm in! :)


    Your characters sound like so much fun. (And if they are anything like your previous books I know I'm in for a treat!)

    I've only completed two books, the first one, a historical romance called Rocky Mountain Oasis, is coming out mid-august. One thing I did to help myself create a different heroine in my second book was to make Nicki in book 2 a different nationality from Brooke in book 1. That helped a little, but still I struggle with showing their internal emotions with actions that are different from each other. (Biting their lips when they are nervous or thinking etc.) All these things have to consciously be different... and for me that is and will continue to be, a challenge. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  22. Most of my heroines have been quiet but strong. They can stand on their own two feet, but they don't roar. Maybe I'll change that in a future book.

  23. Perhaps it would be better to say she has "quiet strength". I range between the two extremes in my personal life - the I-am-woman-hear-my-roar and the wanting to hide behind my husband cuz I'm being chicken. I enjoyed the Love Comes Softly series and I would really enjoy a chance to win your book - you are going to autograph it aren't you?

    The one line from your post that stuck with me is that you had 20 books on your hard-drive before you sold one.

    Your determination is inspiring. Thank you.

  24. Claire, good for you for taking a chance.
    Belle isn't killing her husbands. Here's a line from Belle about her most recently deceased husband Anthony that explains.

    >>>Anthony had insisted they name the baby Caterina of all outlandish names. To keep him happy they’d tried to call the tyke Caterina, or more often The Baby, when Anthony was within earshot. She and the girls had privately named the child Betsy and since Anthony had been gone more than home, that was pretty much all the time.

    Figuring Anthony wasn’t long for the world, considering the foolish way he conducted his life, they bided their time, watched their tongues and, now that the man had faced his inevitable death, they were free to call Betsy by her real name all the time.

  25. Here's another line from Belle that pretty much sums up her attitude.

    She said a quick prayer for Anthony, reflecting silently as she spoke that knowing Anthony as she did, it was doubtful there were enough prayers in the world to save his warped soul. Never had it been necessary for God to perform a greater miracle and Belle asked for just that, though she didn’t hold out much hope.

  26. What have we learned today?

    Russo is into philosphy and men from Regency England.

    More than one Seeker-follower has a fetish/wishes/obsessions with reading about trees and dead husbands.

    Julie is a Sybil (not to be confused with a gerbil).

    Ann is married to the ultimate romance hero.

    Melanie secretly wishes to be rude.

    Claire will actually admit she's read a Grace Livingston Hill book.

    And Lynette actually enjoys wasting time thinking.

    What I want to know is where's Ruthy and the morning munchies?

    ~Gina who has no flaws herself therefore has no weakenesses to tap into and give to her heroines

    Mary likes to YELL AT US.

  27. And just because this blog is about Montana Rose, I'll put up the a few lines of Cassie's first meeting with Belle Tanner, these are two VERY different women.
    “This is Cassie Dawson. She and Red got married today.”
    Belle’s eyes slid between Red and Cassie, and Cassie had the strangest urge to throw herself into Belle’s arms. She had no idea why. The woman was a bit older than her, but not that much, still the woman had the look of a mother, a warrior mother.

    “Today?” Belle asked Muriel, but her eyes stayed on Cassie, flickering to her obviously round stomach again.

    “Her husband died, just yesterday. Lester Griffin?”

    Belle snorted and Cassie caught way too much meaning from that sound. Here was another person who thought ill of Griff.

    Red shifted a bit closer to Cassie as if she needed protection. But there was no danger to Cassie from this woman.

    Belle walked straight for Cassie then, spurs ringing, Muriel gave way like dust in the wind and Cassie had a shocking urge to smile. Red held his ground but Belle ignored him and spoke past his shoulder straight to Cassie.

    “Was this your choosing? This marriage?”

    Cassie was speechless. Her choosing? What did that have to do with anything? “Wh…what do you mean?”

    “Belle, it’s done.” Red leaned as if to block Belle from Cassie, but she glared at him so hard he straightened, shifting so they stood in a circle in the hallway of the store.

    This woman had made a man move aside with a single look. Cassie’s heart started pounding. She’d never heard of a woman who could do that.

    Over the course of the book, Cassie learns a lot from Belle, but Belle learns a few things from Cassie too.

  28. I love the image for "The Husband Tree"! It's great and that hat puts a good touch on it as well. I cannot wait for it!!

  29. OH, and I definitely see the "calmness" of Cassie, but she grows and I'm sure in the other books where she'll make a scene or two she'll have grown even more so.

  30. Oh, and about what you said of Red. He was different from other heros that I have read of yours. And quite truthfully he was my favorite so far. He has more personality than the men of Lassoed in Texas. I definitely could feel for him some times when I was laughing aloud at what he thought versus what Cassie thought about a situation. Definitely like Red, *ahem* Fitzgerald. Can I name a future son Fitzgerald? What would I call him Frtiz? Hm...

  31. Oops, that was suppose to be Fritz*.

  32. Okay, imagination is sufficiently sparked with regards to Montana Rose. I can't help but like Belle.
    I had the entire Grace Livingston Hill, that was a long time ago. Julie, I wonder if you'd make Grace Livingston Hill blush? ;-)

  33. Hey Mary,

    I think I tend to write women like myself, or some with a bit of myself. Ya know a strength, a weakness. I'm a klutz and I can be emotional. Not alot (HA)But I can do a lot of things some women won't tackle. Power tools, fixing cars. Building houses.

    My strongest female character was a Missionary woman trying to get seven children and herself off the Island of Papua New Guinea. The woman I've always wanted to be. Of course, being a mama bear at the time brought out more of her Strength and daring. But I think I did well to show her weakness and fear too. Here's an excerpt.

    Pulling her legs to her chest, she laid her head against her bony knees and tried to rest.

    It was a hard chore on the best of days. But now, with the rain falling steadily overhead, it was nearly impossible. The rain had been welcome in the beginning, a respite from the heat. But three days of torrential winds and pelting rain had diminished that notion.

    She was drenched, pert near soaked to the bones, and the water lapped against her ankles in an unsettling manner.

    How long would the rain last this time? How long would she be here? How long had she been here already?

    Four weeks? Was that four? No, she was certain it was closer to five. The way the days ran together, she couldn’t quite remember. Crammed as she was in her little three-by-five-cubicle, having undergone torture, who could blame her for her lapse? Besides, the length of her interment wasn’t so important, other things weighed far more heavily on her mind.

    Frankly, Justine was surprised she’d made it this long. Drenched as she was, she could have contracted pneumonia and died. And who knew what bacteria she swam swimming in, now that her small can–her toilet facilities–had overflowed its rim.

    Sitting in the water was giving her a horrible rash, or actually, making the rash worse. She itched profusely, from jungle rot and mite bites, and had lost several pounds.

    The Japanese had beaten her, and starved her, and she was still alive.

    Still alive. But there were times, God help her, when they pulled her from the box and took her in for interrogation, she wished for mind and body numbing death.

  34. Hi Mary:

    I just love to read authors who are always growing and challenging themselves. This involves risks but I find it very rewarding reading. In addition to changing character traits, as you mention, there are many other ways to expand the envelope of one’s writing.
    Here are a few that I watch for when I am reading an author’s first few books as they are released.

    1. simple to more complex POVs
    2. facing more difficult topics which take a greater skill to pull off
    3. having a larger cast of characters
    4. having harder to solve conflicts which take a greater level of author maturity to satisfactory resolve
    5. developing a credible subplot – even in a shorter work (harder to do)
    6. writing a story that requires special knowledge -- as in a NASCAR romance
    7. writing exotic locations which require enhanced descriptive writing skills
    8. writing difficult themes like ‘runaway bride’ and ‘mail order bride’ which are hard to make credible in today’s world
    9. jumping to a longer format line which requires an addition 20,000 to 40,000 words and then making the best use of the longer format – not just the same story only longer.
    10. jumping to a higher level of sensuality: tender to warm to hot
    11. challenge convention: e.g. ‘edgy’ Christian fiction
    12. writing a modern version of favorite tale, e.g. ‘Beauty and the Beast’
    13. outrageous theme reversal, e.g. ‘runaway divorcee’, ‘mail-order husband’, ‘divorce of convenience’
    14. having natural events closely mirror character developments e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes at every stage of the book not just at the end for the climax
    15. making book more psychological or philosophical requiring advanced skills, understanding, and maturity
    16. having a second set of meaning to your character names and place names which will provide an additional level of reading enjoyment to those in the know (and be totally unnoticed by everyone else).
    17. deliberately violating a writing rule and make it work, e.g. not having a black moment
    18. having a wacky character or element and making it work, e.g. the talking dog in “War and Peace.”
    19. introducing cameo parts for famous historical figures which requires research beyond the plot, e.g. while in a café in Paris mentioning that Ben Franklin is having dinner with David Hume if the time period is right for your story.
    20. making each book more a book only you could have written – a kind of signature-originality development

    Watching new authors grow in ability is a great enjoyment. I am always interested in a first book and those that follow.


  35. One other big change in Montana Rose was no children. Cassie has a baby by the end, but I really depended on children to lend chaos and humor to my books.

    So that took a leap of faith, too.

  36. I've enjoyed your unique characters and your amazing humor in each book. I look forward to Montana Rose and the other books in the series, they all sound terrific.

  37. My e-mail, please enter me!!!!

    jessica_nelson7590 at yahoo (dot) com

  38. Mary, the premise of the Husband Tree just cracked me up. I have got to find that book. I looked all over for Montana Rose. I found Gingham Mountain, but am still looking. I love your humor and characters so it will be fun to see what you did here.

    Hey, I noticed no snacks yet. Did you writers all fill up on the Fourth? I have some crunchy refreshing watermelon to share. It is the seedless kind and sweet and yummy. Since I'm traveling in the lovely state of Washington, I have a basket of fresh cherries as well. I love the Rainier cherries. So help yourself.

  39. Carmen, I'll check in about 9 p.m. and choose a winner.

  40. Tina, I'd love to read more of that story. Wow, intense. You're tackling a tough subject, good for you.

    I think of my heroines as being the way I WISH I was.

    Although honestly, in this chaotic, noisy, conflicted world, it's probably best NOT to be confrontational and always say out loud what you're thinking.

    If everyone did that, who be left to calm everyone down?

  41. This whole series sounds so fabulous!

    Would love to win Montana Rose :)

    chrismae (at) gmail (dot) com

  42. Once again we've learned something from the wisewomen of Seekerville. And from other groupies, I mean followers. Vince, I love the idea of Divorce of Convenience, Mail Order Husband. Way to mix it up.
    Tina, I just watched that Ciaran Hinds version of Persuasion myself a couple weeks back. (I know they stayed truer to the book but I missed my Rupert Penry Jones.)

    My heroines tend to be smart alecks and sarcastic. I suppose I could try something different next time.

    Mary, I want the book but I already won Calico Canyon and I'm excusing myself! Thanks so much for waking up my sleepy brain. Great idea to stretch the gray matter (or grey matter if you're of the continental mind) every once in awhile.

  43. Thanks Mary,

    I'd love for more people to read the story, too. But I'd let you look to see what you thought.

    Anyhow, you said...

    I think of my heroines as being the way I WISH I was.

    Although honestly, in this chaotic, noisy, conflicted world, it's probably best NOT to be confrontational and always say out loud what you're thinking.

    That is so true. Maybe I am a stronger character than I want to admit I just want to be tactful, and peaceable so as not to get my block knocked off.

    And what you said about stepping out of the comfort mode of having children in the story.

    I've got some stories I'm doing that on, but you're right, the child can be the comic relief and it can be tougher not to add them.

    Of course I've killed off a couple of kids in my stories too. For the extra emotional pull.

  44. Vince, you are stressing me out. One more thing to scare me out of selling. I am going to print it out due to guilt and put it next to the other hundred things I need to remember.

    But no pressure, right?

    Do you ever just READ a book?

  45. Gina

    1. Where have you been.

    2. Let's not get into the no flaw thing again, shall we.

  46. Vince,
    Been reading your post. Find it very interesting.

    16. having a second set of meaning to your character names and place names which will provide an additional level of reading enjoyment to those in the know (and be totally unnoticed by everyone else).

    I did this in a story called Then Came Grace.

    Each name stands for a part of the struggle that mankind goes through.
    And the God that takes them through it.

    ie. Adam is the main character
    Grace was the wife he lost
    Faith and Hope are daughters
    and more.

    I thought it was kind of a novel idea, but some people don't get it. Others sound like they think it's kind of hokey.

  47. Mary,

    Cannot WAIT to read Montana Rose, girl OR The Husband Tree ... as much as I already love your books, you are one of those writers who just seems to get even better with each and every one!!

    Gina ... uh, I'm no Sybil, I suppose, but I'm no stranger to mood swings, either, so that really helps with the various characters ... :)

    Pepper ... I used to read Grace Livingston Hill (a long time ago) and I actually think she might like my style of romance today ... but then again, maybe not ... ;-)


  48. Mary, It's fun to push ourselves by trying something new. I know I'll love the interaction between Cassie and Belle. Watching your heroine come into her own will be great fun!

    My hero in the book I'm revising isn't Mr. Nice Guy. At least in the beginning. I have to make sure readers understand why he behaves as he does or they won't like him. A fine line for a writer to walk.


  49. Julie, I have one word for you: DENIAL.

    Russo, I have two answer for you:

    1) Revising my medieval so I can send it to the editor who requested it.

    2) You are jealous I'm without flaws. I still love you anyway.

  50. Umm, Pepper, I feel obligated to confess I've read a GLH book or five. Of course, I'm sure I was in kindergarten at the time and was under the belief that when you kissed a boy, you had to marry him.

    Yes, back in my heydays, I was a naive child.

    Is Ruthy the only one who knows how to cook cyber food?

  51. Mary, you've had me thinking about this all day.

    One thing I love about your characters and that I try to incorporate into my own is that their greatest weakness often becomes their greatest strength, and their greatest strength often becomes their greatest weakness. Real people are like that, and it translates well into fiction, I think.

    Like when steadfastness and reliability become hard-headedness and stubborness. Or when peace-keeping becomes being a doormat.

    What do you think?

    oh, and ducky1969 at hotmail dot com :D

  52. Oh, how do you get sooo lucky with the covers? This is the first time I've seen the cover for The Husband Tree and it's beautiful! All of yours are!


  53. Hi Mary,

    I'm not an author, but I LOVE to read ~ especially Romance. All of your books are great, so I can hardly wait to read your newest series.

    Thank you,
    Lori S.


  54. Mary, what a great post to challenge ourselves with. Never hurts to go down a different path with our H/H and see what happens. And I love your story about Tracie Peterson. Some great feedback and encouragement from a seasoned writer/contest judge can go a long way. :-)

    Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon made me laugh out loud -- would love to win Montana Rose (leigh [at] leighdelozier [dot] com, but am looking forward to it whether I score a freebie or get to go shopping.

    Gina! I wondered where you were. Good to have your perfectness back to help compensate for a smidgen of our many flaws. :-)

    Not sure what y'all had for supper, but I brought some hot apple cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. Help yourself!

  55. Your characters are always such a hoot, Mary. They're all different, but all show a thread of common gumption. That's how I know I'm reading a Mary Connealy original!

    All my characters start out the same -- blah. Then layers start to rise, depending on the situation they're in. The hundredth draft (or maybe it just feels like the 100th), I think I finally have the characters where I want 'em.

    Gotta love the process : )

    Good, good thought-provoking post, Mary!

  56. Several of you have mentioned covers. I love this series, with the hats. Wildflower Bride ia a white woman found in need as a child by an Indian tribe and raised by them.
    When her village is massacred by evil white men she is left alive because she is white.
    She LOATHES all white men because of this. Her village is gone and she belongs no where in the Indian world, and then along comes a hero.

    He's like no one she's ever met, and the hero has a rescue fantasy he can't seem to control, though he recognizes it as slightly insane.
    He's eager to save poor Glowing Sun, if he can just keep her from stabbing him to death.

    Talk about your wild women!!!
    I' hoping for a Stetson with some kind of Native American flourish for that one.
    The covers were boots for the Lassoed in Texas series.

    I wonder what we'll do next?

    Spurs? Long horns? Six Shooters? Chaps?

    We'll think of something. :)

  57. I just read your Nozy in Nebraska series and couldn't put them down! A few years ago I fell in love with Janet Evanovich but her writing is quite crass. I tried, but could never quite find a Christian writer who made me laugh as much as she does - until you!

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud! My husband thinks I'm looney now, and I love it!

    Please enter me to win -

  58. I had a wonderful, searing comment ready earlier and then a sweet mother came to pick up her darlings, Dave used my computer for something related to Major League Baseball (the only site besides our bank account that he can find) and the Internet shut down.

    Gone was my pithy comment, the humor, the pathos, the understanding litany of events.


    So it's just me, too late for humor, too old to opine at length.


    Great post. I love moving out of the box. Trying new archtypes so we don't moulder.

    And I love using words like moulder.


  59. Oh my goodness, Mary. What goes on inside your head? I LOVE it...pass some of the wildness toward the Eastern Tennessee part of the world, will ya?

  60. Mary,

    Thanks for another great post that made me think.

    The few lead characters I've written have tended to be similar and I've already realized that needs to change.

    I have been able to experiment some with secondary characters. However, to keep it simple, I tend to pattern them off of people I know.

    I did recently create a totally fictional secondary character. He's an attorney who has trouble expressing his feelings so he lapses into legal talk.

    Would love to win the book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  61. Janette Oke's books are wonderful. "But much of my comedy as coming from the sass of the heroine"... I love some comedy where befitting so this sounds like a great read b/c of the 2 reasons above. Please include me.


  62. From all that I've read, this sounds like one great funny novel. Humor in a novel endears it to the reader's heart. Helps to remember the storyline. Please enter me. Thanks.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  63. Hi Tina & Tina:

    I never just read a book – except for me it is just reading a book.

    Years ago, when I was 17, I read a book called “How To Read a Book” which teaches how to read a book critically and on many different levels. I have never been the same. By reading a book on several levels, the reader’s chance of enhancing the reading experience (and of gaining greater enjoyment from the experienced) is greatly increased. It also gives the reader a chance to have a pseudo dialog with great minds from the past. I can highly recommend “How to Read a Book” as a way to leverage your lifetime reading enjoyment.

    Tina R., I sure don’t want to add pressure. I wanted to lessen pressure by showing how many different paths there are to professional growth. There is joy in the process of creative growth; however, you do not have to grow if the first product is excellent. I love Betty Neels and yet she essentially wrote the same book over and over again --130 times and her fans still love her. I’ve read about 100 of her books and I have all of them except the rare one which I wish Harlequin would reissue as an eBook.

    Tina P. I do love it when there is a second meaning to what the author is doing, as you did in your story. The readers who get it can become very loyal fans while the people who don’t get it, still get a good read. What I would avoid doing, however, is telling anyone about the duel meanings who didn’t first mention it to you. No one wants to admit they didn’t get something. Just let the illuminati enjoy their pleasures in secret. (LOL)



  64. I have always enjoyed reading about heroines who are strong and self-sufficient. Please enter me in the drawing!

  65. Hi Mary. I loved this blog entry.

    I'm not sure why, but variety seems to be the spice of my writing life. I have ideas that fall into the romance and historical biography genres, but right now I'm focused on writing Christian allegorical fantasy. Each book of my trilogy is a romance and a Romance. I base the world in which my epic tale unfolds on twelfth-century Europe and include two distinct people groups, or nationalities (one Celtic, one Germanic). Of the three books, I have heroines from each of the separate nationalities and one halfbreed daughter. This helps bring in different customs and mindsets. Also, they come from different classes withing the cultures. That helps bring variety too.

    Please enter me in the drawing for one of your books. My email address:


  66. Mary says of Belle: This woman had made a man move aside with a single look.

    And you say she didn't kill all her husbands?


    PS. Btw, what's hogwash?

  67. Well, I was curious, so I looked up the origin of hogwash:

    From Kevin Cook:

    What is the origin of hogwash? We are trying to settle a dispute among co-workers.

    Ah, here we are again, mediators in workplace disputes. We should start a human resources business! As for hogwash, it is simply wash for the pigs. Wash in this sense is "swill", or "liquid or partly liquid food refuse from the kitchen". It's basically a bucketful of kitchen scraps and leftovers, and when given to the pigs that many country families raised once upon a time, it came to be known as hogwash. Eventually, hogwash came to apply to anything that was worthless, then worthless or bad writings, and now it seems to have taken on the meaning of "untruths". The word is first recorded with the literal sense in about 1440 (when it was spelled hoggyswasch - what a great word!), and the figurative meaning is first seen in the written record in 1712.

  68. Recognizing that one is in love with a certain kind of character, means one is paying attention.Staying true to oneself is important, yet we all need to grow...Never be so blinded by the love of our heroine, that we fail to see it's no longer working. Thanks for a great post.