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Ranch in their unpublished contest.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