The Write Editor

Editor's Spotlight

by Michelle Sutton

Mary Connealy

I first met Mary Connealy at the ACFW conference in Nashville in September 2005. We were working at the registration table together and having a grand time visiting while we helped people check in. Jim Peterson approached Mary and said he was very interested in her writing. At the time he was the editor for Heartsong Presents. Well, Mary was excited, and so was I (for her) and we became friends after that. Mary also wrote book reviews for several sites, including At Home with Christian Fiction. I also wrote book reviews for sites so Mary and I would talk on occasion about different books we had read and what we thought of them. We had many great discussions. When Mary’s first full-length novel released, Petticoat Ranch, I read the book and I enjoyed it immensely. Since that time Mary has written several more books in the series as well as other stories for Heartsong Presents. She is a gifted author with a hilarious sense of humor. Here are more words from Mary Connealy herself...

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. When I received my first contract, I had twenty finished books on my computer. I had just enough encouragement through those ten long years to keep me going.

I was a stay-at-home mom when I started writing, but during those years my children grew up and I got a job. I’ve worked forty hours a week, teaching GED, for the last five years.

Somewhere in about the third year of my writing, I sent a proposal to Silhouette Romance, and they requested a full manuscript. From the time I sent the proposal until their ultimate rejection, one year had passed. So I started to see just how slow the publishing world is. I sent that book in as a result of placing third in a writer’s contest, and I learned a lot from the critiques.

I began entering several writing contests and did well enough to make it as a finalist. Eventually, I expected to final in any contest

I entered. The two years before I got published, I was a finalist in eleven contests with five different books. And all the while I entered contests, I kept writing.

I discovered ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and submitted my manuscript Petticoat Ranch in their unpublished contest. I was a double finalist in 2004, another book of mine, Montana Rose, was in the running, too. (Montana Rose releases in July 2009).

I won the Noble Theme contest and received several requests from editors for my manuscript. Cathy Marie Hake asked me to send her my first three chapters.

After reading my work, Cathy thought I was “ready.” By this time, I had so many rejections I had a hide like a rhino, so submitting work didn’t even faze me. Okay, well, maybe I crawled under my computer desk and sucked my thumb for a day or two every time I got one, but other than that I was fine.

Just before the next year’s conference, Cathy Marie Hake told me she wanted to pitch my name to Heartsong Presents to write a book as part of a three-book series set in historical Alaska.

Mountain RoseEvery year at the conference the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I knew I had a chance. The Heartsong editor, Tracie Peterson, announced someone else’s name, so okay, I’ve been rejected before. I kind of expected it. And then she said, “And this year we’re giving two contracts to first-time authors. We’re offering a contract to Mary Connealy.” It was a wonderful, thrilling, shocking moment. I had to go up and receive the contract in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, marvelous moment in my life!