http://www.maryconnealy.com/ to find out what new book she has coming out about every 2-3 months. Seriously, she's had a new book come out that often AND kept them consistently entertaining.
So what's up next from this marathon writer? Well, THIS MONTH her novel Doctors in Petticoats comes out, followed by Wrangler in Petticoats and Sharpshooter in Petticoats. I can't wait to get my hands on them. To be honest my two favorite books of Mary's are still Petticoat Ranch and Montana Rose, but if you pick up ANY of them, you're in for an knee-slapping, Stetson-toppin', rip-roarin' adventure :-)
Today, Mary is giving away her new book - Doctor in Petticoats for one lucky commenter!!
So, Mary let me pick her brain a bit about her writing process and her characters.
Thanks so much, Mary.
1. You had quite a few finished novels on your computer before you ever became a published author. In fact, I've heard you recommend that to unpublished authors often. "FINISH a book" I think is how you put it once ;-) (kind of separates the serious from the not-so-serious writers). How many books did you have on your computer when you were first published and how many of those original stories have gone on to become published books?
2. Okay Mary, you know I'm one of your top fans. I try to sniff out Connealy Classics long before they are supposed to be taking up shelf-space. How much of your personality comes out in your writing? Do you think you're as funny off the page as you are on the page? (From what I know about you, I'd say YES!), but I'd love your opinion :-)
Off ‘stage’ I am a troubled loner with no people skills. You don’t think I wrote all those books and still had time to talk to people, do you??? I’ve learned to try and fake having a personality. My main goal is to be myself. . .only better. . .and cool. . .and younger. . and prettier. . and thinner.
I don’t do story boards. I sometimes have a famous person in mind, though not usually. I think it’s just part of creating a character. Honestly I’m so interested in creating CHARACTER that I often don’t spend all that much time creating looks. Does that make sense? I’ll be writing along, sometimes fifty pages into a book and realize I never gave the heroine an eye color. But I gave her a personality. I’m trying to be more disciplined about that because it can be a problem. How many times have I realized I don’t know my hero’s eye color and then I’ll have to do a FIND on the words, Blue, Brown, Hazel, Green. . .hunting through my manuscript to see if I DID give him an eye color and forgot, or just didn’t give him one.
Myra Johnson has an excel spread sheet chart I try to use. In the book I’m writing now I’m really trying to do more with eye color and hair color. The hero’s eyes are cool blue like the sky barely showing through a heavy fog. The hero is a very controlled man. So the cool is what I’m going for. His brother, a lunatic, has eyes I describe as Wild Blue. He smiled and his wild blue eyes snapped with excitement.
I make tons of revisions as I go along. I start the book and write my minimum daily allowance of words. Usually 1000. Day #2, I reread those 1000 words and do a LOT of revision, then write more. . .if I revise enough to reach my 1000 word goal sometimes I only do revisions. Day 3, I start at the beginning and re read and revise my now 2000 words. I do this until it starts to get long and going all the way back is a huge burden, and also I start to be satisfied with the beginning. Though I’ll often go back again and again to it as I write more and discover characters and think of something bigger and more explosive to begin the book. I play with first lines a lot and am rarely satisfied with them because they are sooooooooo important.
5. When writing a series like the Montana Marriages, how do you keep all of the stories and characters straight as the cast grows? By the time we get to Wildflower Bride, there are lots of adults and kids to keep track of and you do it well. Is that a complex process?
Wait’ll you read Doctor in Petticoats, girl. That is the beginning of another three book series that weaves the Lassoed in Texas series and the Montana Marriage series together. I did a TON of work to get that all straight.
6. For those of us in the 'learning' phases of writing, what are some helpful tips for developing memorable characters?
To create a memorable character you need to think in terms of creating them right to the bone. I mean their dialogue, sure, but their thoughts, their internal musings. The word choices they make inside their heads.
Here’s a really BAD example. some guy is trying to flirt with her and says, “Hey, baby, I can tell you’re trying to make an good impression on me.”
If your heroine is a carpenter she might say, “If I want to make an impression on you, I’ll use a hammer.”
If your heroine is a cook, she might say, “If I want to make an impression on you, I’ll use a cast iron skillet.”
Like I said, dumb examples. My hero in my current book thinks, I’m tired of the cowhands extolling the virtues of his perfect big brother.
Or something like that.
Get the thoughts right, the voices right, set the scene, the clothes, the eyes support the thoughts and the voices. (PS I always get fearful when I give advice. I usually lead people terribly astray)
7. What do YOU like about your own characters?
What do I like about my own character? Yeesh. I like that I’m content to be at home. I enjoy writing. I entertain the heck out of myself when I’m writing. I am mostly dissatisfied with myself in the details and pretty content in the big picture. Does that make sense? I should eat right, exercise more, keep my house cleaner, write more thank you notes. I’d change so much about myself. But those are details, the big picture, I’m honest, have a solid faith in God, a good work ethic, I’m am a faithful wife, have an easy going personality, which means I take abuse well (four teenagers and ten years of rejections from editors and agents. I had a lot of practice)
8. If you could be any of your heroines, who would you want to be...and why? ;-) (don't you just LOVE questions like that)
I think the closest to my heart is either a compilation of the three heroines in the Nosy in Nebraska three in one collection. The mouse fearing Carrie, the shy bookish, Bonnie and the klutz Maddy. Or maybe the heroine in Clueless Cowboy. She’s a ranch girl, lifelong country dweller. I could really write her story with some honesty. As for who I’d want to be? I love writing strong, strong heroines, Belle, Sophie, Glowing Sun/Abby, but really being ‘in your face’ isn’t a great way to conduct your life. So I think those heroines are who I wish I could be, but never will be. And that’s probably for the best. Someone’s gotta remain calm and restore the peace. (That’s a reference to the four teenagers again)
Thanks so much for being with us today, Mary.
Other places you can find Mary tossing out some words of wisdom and sharing her hilarious sarcasm are:
Petticoats and Pistols
or her website.