What book should you read next? What words should you write next? Whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, you need look no further for ideas and pointers to help you make up your mind. You might even get your next book for free--and signed by the author!

Sometimes I even give away my own novels. My Inspirational romances and devotionals are pictured below and are detailed on my Books page. You can always count on a trace of humor in my novels and nonfiction. Whether you're a teen or a woman mature in years, I think these stories will ring true.

Read on, and discover some of today's most appealing Christian novelists, their latest books, and their words of wisdom and imagination. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mary Connealy and Free Books!

PhotobucketA Colorado rancher must face the greatest failure of his life to be with a woman who loves a dangerous cavern—more than she loves him.

Before we visit with today's author, I want to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Bonnie Leon's novel, Wings of Promise, is:

mnjesusfreak@ . . .

Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address, and we'll get your book to you right away. I encourage readers to keep commenting and/or subscribe at right (above my list of books) in order to participate in future book give-aways!

Now let's revisit with novelist Mary Connealy, author of Out of Control (Bethany House, August 2011).

PhotobucketMary Connealy, author of "romantic comedy with cowboys," is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Winner, a Rita Award finalist and an IRCC Award finalist. She is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night and so she can remember what she's doing, she likes to wear a little crown and a Wonder Woman cape while she types.

Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.

--I’m third in a family of eight children. We grew up in a tiny, ramshackle, two bedroom farm house with no money but a wonderful Christian family that believed in education.

--Out of that group there are eight bachelor’s degrees, five master’s degrees, two pastors, a surgeon and one published author, me.

--My husband and I, just counting immediate family, have over one hundred brothers, sisters, sister & brother’s in-law, nieces, nephew and their spouses and children. Try having a small wedding with this crowd!

--I have eaten a peanut butter sandwich for lunch nearly everyday for six years and I just hit a wall. I almost barfed the last time I ate one…about two weeks ago. Now I have no idea what to take to lunch.

--I have just enough computer skills to be truly dangerous to myself and others. I have a tendency to give advice about things I have no idea how to do myself—and I’d like to apologize right now to all the people I’ve lead astray.

Considering that the average number of workdays in a year is 260, that means you ate around 1,560 peanut butter sandwiches before hitting that wall. I'm surprised you didn't stick to it.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Out of Control.

PhotobucketJulia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father’s homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe—until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to climb her way out.

Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family’s cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch—and Rafe’s controlling ways—as soon as they were able. He’s haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn’t expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels—or to be forced to kiss her!

Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he’s ever known. But how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he have to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust, or the love that could heal his heart?

What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about him?

Rafe is so take charge that he’s alienated almost everyone he knows. And he’s lonely and trying to change. But still, people don’t always do things right and he can’t stand quietly while they mess up. Watching him struggle to give control of his life to God … especially with Julia nagging him to do that and hurry up so she can run things, is pretty funny.

Control freaks might not be all that much fun in real life, but they do make fun characters.

Most novels feature a villain, whether in the form of a person or as an entity or psychological fear. Who or what would you say is your novel’s villain?

My villain is in many ways the cavern that’s at the heart of the story. It is both beautiful and deadly. I tried to capture the lure and the terror I felt after a long ago visit to Carlsbad Cavern.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?

I just finished reading Pam Hillman’s Stealing Jake and I loved it. It’s only available as an ebook from Tyndale. I bought a Kindle just so I could read Pam’s book.

Wow, that's quite a compliment! What are you working on now?

I’m just finished with book #2 in the Kincaid Brides series and on to book #3. In Too Deep, book # two is Ethan’s story, the second brother. It’s coming in February. I love these three titles, Out of Control, In Too Deep and Over the Edge.

Yes, those are fun titles! Where else can readers find you online?

My Website
My Blog
Petticoats & Pistols

The book is available at fine book stores and online via the following buttons:

209113: Out of Control, Kincaid Brides Series #1

Finally, what question would you like to ask my readers?

I was inspired to write Out of Control after a long ago visit to Carlsbad Cavern. That place captured my imagination like no where I’ve ever been. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been emotionally or mentally transported by a beautiful place or a frightening place? That was the fascination to me of Carlsbad Cavern. The beautiful of it is so tempting. And I could imagine being in there, with only lantern light. The cliffs, the floors that looked like they’d broke like glass. The darkness and the staggering beauty that would lure you on to see more. Tell me about a beautiful place or event.

Thank you, Mary, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Mary has offered to give a signed copy of her book to the winner of our drawing on Thursday, September 1. To enter, leave a comment below in answer to Mary's question, above. "Please enter me" won't get you entered. Leave your email address, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.

Be sure to check out my interview with Michelle Sutton, below. Leave an appropriate comment at the bottom of the post to enter the drawing for a signed copy of her book.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants. See full disclaimer HERE.


Rebecca said...

I have been mentally transported to Robber's Cave. I have fond family memories of that place. It is a beautiful place. It really inspires me.

Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This looks like a great book. Thanks again.


lgm52 said...

My husband and I love to rent a cabin in the Smoky Mtns. It is so peaceful and relaxing, it's like a different world. One doesn't always have cell phone reception (not a bad thing), and you can just do what you want. Of course there are all the modern amenities: cable/satellite tv, telehpone, hot tub, jacuzzi, etc, but it's so nice just to sit on the deck in a rocker, no tv, no phone, etc. The mountains are beautiful and the people are so nice Just thinking about it makes me yearn to go there.

Patty Wysong said...

LoL--loved the five things.

A place that captured my imagination...
22 years ago we moved here to southern Illinois and I heard many stories of how it was HERE, on our land, when Pappy lived here. We own what was once his orchard and there's a graveyard in the corner. Across from the orchard was the one-room school house Granpa attended and across the creek was Pappy's blacksmith shop. I spent hours thinking about (dreaming and plotting) characters that could've been here in the days of my husband's great-grandfather.

And best yet, I still live here. When I visit the graveyard (it's where our hotdog roasting pit is) I'm swept back to those stories I wrote and entertained myself with. There were two of them--stories within the same family, just different generations. Historical and contemporary. Sigh. Maybe someday...

by Pegg Thomas said...

Mackinaw Island is a place I would love to use as a setting for a story. The movie "Somewhere In Time" was filmed there. Absolutely gorgeous setting with oodles of atmosphere. Love it!
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

Jackie S. said...

A short trail behind our house leads to a pond and area where my husband used to hunt/camp. I enjoyed camping there, too. Never dreamed we would buy adjoining land and build a home here, but we did 3 yrs. ago!
I really want to read Mary's newest; love her books. Please enter me. Thanks.

Mary Connealy said...

rebecca!!?? Do you mean Robber's Cave in NEBRASKA? We used to have a Robber's Cave but it collapsed. No lie. I remember going there as a child and just LOVING IT. Chilling, scary, fun.
For some reason I was thinking of it this other day, wondering how my adult self would view that cave now. So I googled it. and IT'S GONE!!! It collapsed and then was dangerous so they filled it in and now a courthouse or something is sitting on top of it.
I HATE that. Maybe there are Robber's Caves all over the place. Why not, huh?

Mary Connealy said...

lgm52, this is my dream. I sit in a beautiful spot in the mountains and just soak in nature. I have this vision of myself sitting on a porch, looking out over sweeping vistas.

I've never gotten a chance to do it. Who knows? Maybe I'd be bored in three hours and want to go, but I'd just like the chance to FINE OUT!!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Patti, aside from the disturbing image of you roasting a hot dog over Grandpa's grave, that is a wonderful story.

We live in the house my husband's grandfather built almost 100 years ago.

And there was an older house on this site before. I don't think great grandpa (or maybe great, great grandpa?) homesteaded this land but it's been in the family for about 150 years.

btw, that 100 year old farmhouse? Pretty much a tiny, rodent infested, decaying mess. And honestly, in that last sentence? I think I oversold the charm honestly, it's way dopier than that. Let's just say Grandpa was not one for frivolously enclosing the outdoors when it could be avoided. I scoot between the bed and the dresser every night and snag my clothes on the protruding knob on a drawer. But I'm used to scooting. The house ain't getting any bigger.

Mary Connealy said...

Pegg is that the island where there aren't any cars? I've heard of that and wanted to see it!!!

Wow, I want to see everything. I can barely get to town to buy milk!!!

Mary Connealy said...

And btw, re-reading that lovely peanut butter sandwich story has made me nauseous. I may need to go away from my computer for a time.

Mary Connealy said...

Jackie, that's so cool. You all do the coolest things.

I'm so depressed a stinkin' peanut butter sandwich is starting to sound good. A grim moment indeed.

Patty Wysong said...

Mary, Mary. Neither Pappy nor Granpa are buried there. And the hot dog area is BESIDE the graveyard, which is really old. The last burial was 100 years ago, or so.

And my husband's grandparents (great grands? Can't remember) on the other side of the family homesteaded in Nebraska. =]

Little Lady said...

Ooh!! I haven't read a Mary Connealy book in ages! A place or event, hm? Let me think. When I was very young my friends had this pine forest behind their yard, and I remember walking through it and being absolutely terrified (every time! lol). There is nothing spookier or more quiet than a pine forest. There are no rustling leaves, and you can barely hear others moving in it because of the needles! Creeps me out just thinking of it! :) Count me in on the drawing! :D Sounds like a fantastic book!

Micah W

Cindy Regnier said...

The most beautiful place I've ever seen that captures my attention and won't let go, is the Kansas Flint Hills. I can remember sitting on the red wooden plank bridge at my Grandpa's farm and watching the creek run by underneath. I loved "Out of Control," Mary and can't wait until February to find out what happens to Ethan (and hopefully Audra??) Still - I'll leave the caves for Julia, Rafe, and you of course. They are gorgeous but a little too claustrophobic for me. I'll sit on Grandpa's bridge and enjoy the wide open spaces, throw in a peanut butter sandwich and a Mary Conneally book and I am perfectly happy! please count me in the drawing. My copy is electronic so I'd love a signed "real" book.

Mary Connealy said...

Ahem, Patty, I stand corrected!!!

Grandpa is NOT the base for your firepit. Phew!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Little Lady, have you been back there as an adult? I wonder how spooky it really is? It's probably a five row windbreak planted by the government.

Maybe not, but it's so wonderful how children can find an adventure in everyday things.

Mary Connealy said...

Cindy, I was with you right up to the sandwich.

Tuna maybe? Please, try something else. Run out to Subway, even yes, from all the way out on the bridge in the Flint Hills.

Isn't there a book called The Flint Hills Foal? I remember the title but little else. I think I read it as a child.

wfnren said...

My husband and I took a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, such a beautiful place and so peaceful, I remember it like it was yesterday but it was about 15 years ago.


Cindy W. said...

I'm a transplanted Native Southern Californian who use to love to go to Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland. Knott's Berry Farm has an old ghost town that was (a long time ago)the only part of the park. In those days it was free to go inside. They had (hope they still do) a wagon train placed in a circle and during the evenings people would get inside the wagons and the park would get a large campfire going in the center and they would tell stories and sing. I use to imagine I was in the Old West, stopped along the trail for the night. It was wonderful! Then in the old days of Disneyland I loved going on the Mark Twain Paddle Wheeler boat and imagine I had stepped back into time. Unfortunately, the progress of time and innovation have changed things. But I still have the memories!

I would love to be entered to win a signed copy of Mary's book. Thank you for the chance.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Jamie Adams said...

Please enter me in the drawing for a signed copy of Mary's new book. The kids bought me the Montana Marriages Trilogy for Mother's Day. It was the first time I read a book by Mary and love her writing!

We live in the Ozarks where caves are plentiful and have explored dozens of caves. Sounds like a great idea for a book :)


Little Lady said...

haha, Yes Mary, I have been back since, and to my sincere sadness...they were very short pine trees...and not half as scary as I had fancied them to be(ok, not scary at all). But I still remember feeling like I was Anne of Green Gables in that scene where Diana falls in the old well! spooky!

GShaw said...

I love all of Mary's books. I am constantly reading excerpts from them to my husband. Mostly the hilarious parts.
The place I can think of that was so beautiful to me: Yosemite. We loved every part of it. Wonderful memories.
My email: ggshaw61[at]gmail[dot]com

dancealert said...

My hubby Tom took me to Vegas, I got to go in a helicopter over the Hoover Dam down into the Grand Canyon and we landed there got on a pontoon boat and had champagne lunches while we road down the Colarado River in the Grand Canyon!
I need to go and look at those pictures again!! You just reminded me.

I would love to read your book I love western style books!

Brenda from Michigan
dancealert at aol dot com

Jamie Adams said...

oops I forgot my email addy:

adamsfammys at yahoo dot com

Mary Connealy said...

Every one of you has such great adventures. I'm crazed with jealousy, sooooo unattractive, I know.
The wagon train, I would love to have just a bit of that experience, Cindy W. My imagination could fill in all the gaps.
The paddle wheeler, too. Yeesh, I have GOT to get out from behind my computer!

Mary Connealy said...

Jamie, did you get to go in the caves? Were they somewhere you traveled to or in your OWN BACK YARD. (cue the spooky music) I love it.

Mary Connealy said...

Yosemite! I need to make a list. And the whole helicopter Hoover Dam thing, love it. I really might do all of these. I need a bucket list, that's the ticket!!!

Trish Perry said...

I actually forgot about my lovely Yosemite memories until you mentioned the place, GShaw! I was a wee one when my family stayed there one week. My most vivid memory is of the spring water--it was actually sweet, it was so fresh.

But my more recent beautiful place is Venice, Italy. I know, we're all about Americana on this post, but Venice blew me away. So like another era! And you haven't lived until you've had a Venetian peanut butter sandwich.

Jamie Adams said...

We toured several caves in MO and AR so our two boys could earn badges. One of my favorites was Meramec Cavern where Jesse James and his men use to hide out. The entrance is big enough for several horse riders to enter at once and there are hidden passages.

I can't recall the name offhand but one cave we toured was by train(think little kiddie ride) Somewhere in MO is a cave that you take a boat ride through. Last summer we hit Carlsbad on our way back from the Grand Canyon.

Now you've got me started LOL We would love to own property with a cave on it. We talk about searching around our two acres but it's not likely :)

Mary Connealy said...

Venetian peanut butter. I'd probably order it. I'd point to the menu and say, "I'll have the sandwich di burro di arachidi."
And it'd be a peanut butter sandwich.


You have an unexpected cruel streak Trish.

Mary Connealy said...

Any stalagtites and stalagmites in your caves, Jamie?

I need adventure.

Good luck with that.

Jamie Adams said...

and bats. Heard dozens of tour guides when touring caves and they all love to point out that bat guano was used in mascara until the 80's.

Renee said...

Hi Mary and Trish! (waves) Mary, I love your books, and look forward to reading more! Trish, I now know about you because of Mary's post about this interview, so I can't wait to read your books now :)
One of my favorite places to go in my hometown, Colorado Springs, is Gleneyrie Castle. It was a private residence once upon a time, and now is a museum/tea house/retreat as well as housing the Navigators/Navpress. It truly is a castle, with beautiful grounds and winding pathways that lead to majestic views of Pikes Peak or to hidden waterfalls, with deer sightings and sweet bird songs to tease your senses. I, of course, love to imagine being the princess of the castle, with my knight in shining armor (or a dusty Stetson) riding up to rescue me from a fate worse than death-whether it be a dragon, evil villain or, gasp, a shortage of coffee! Horrors! :) Thanks for the fun interview, I don't know how you ate that many PB sandwiches Mary, but I am impressed by your consistency :) Blessings to you both!

Amber said...

Hello Mary and Trish , Good Morning and God Bless you both , Thank you for the Chance to win your book ,
Theres a place in Alabama called High Falls park that is located in Geraldine, AL, my family and I found this place by accident of sorts a few years ago when we lived in Al and I can say is WOW it is amazing , With a natural 35 foot water fall a bridge that goes out across the water and the beauty of God as far as the eye can see , What s not to be captavaited and amazed by , And aside from the Beauty that was all around us we got to swim in the water walk across the bridge and last but not least we got to share in the opportunity, to make family memories with the kids that will live on for years in our hearts and in our minds , There are just some places that we come across in life that are so subtle and beautiful , that we know there is no way that they can be man made and that the beauty and blessings from them can come from none other then God above , places where memories are made , stories written and the chance to just step back and take in the beauty of life all around you , I hope you both have a wonderful weekend , Thank you Mary for a great question !! Blessings to you both ! godlovinmomandwife(at)yahoo(dot)com

Mary Connealy said...

A castle...I've heard of this place but now I need to go there. I truly am making a list, ladies.
And that waterfall in Alabama. I've never heard of it. Now I want to see it.
It might inspire a story.

We go to a place called Fergus Falls, a larger town near the small town in MN where we go fishing every summer. But no falls. I've asked. There aren't any falls in Fergus Falls. So why the name? Did a guy named Fergus...fall down there?????
I could figure it out, but I've never cared enough to try. And maybe there are falls somewhere, but there sure isn't much talk about it.

margharring said...

Hi Trish & Mary! Mary I love your books!
I'd love to be entered in the contest.
A place that inspires me and stirs my imagination is a particular trail my family & I like to hike on.
We have lived in the south for the past 8 years. There is so much History we love to explore. This particular trail runs through a pass where a civil war battle took place. As we walk my Imagination runs wild, wondering where the soldiers were, how they lived and what they were feeling. Then to look up and see the towering trees, it's amazing!
Blessings, Margaret

Myra Johnson said...

Step away from the peanut butter, Mary! Maybe pack a bottled smoothie instead? Are those any good? (We blend our own.)

We visited Carlsbad back in 1994, and you're right--fascinating!!! Afterward, we went up to the place where people watch the bats fly out at dusk. That was incredible!!!

Another awe-inspiring attraction is Niagara Falls. Take the boat ride that goes under the falls, and also do the walk that goes behind them. So much power! And it never stops! I want to know where all that water comes from!

Trish Perry said...

Wow, Renee, I Google Imaged Gleneyrie Castle! How beautiful! I'm amazed that site is here in America. I'd love to check it out.

And now Mary has to write a book set in Fergus Falls so we can learn why it isn't called Fergus Fell.

Marg, I do the same thing about the Civil War sites. Just this weekend I drove through Manassas, much of which is ugly, ugly strip malls now, and I thought about how it must have been in the 1860s. So much history hidden under our daily lives!

Patsy said...

I would say in the Smoky Mountains looking down at the valley. There was something about the valley that pulled me. Like I just could imagine what was below and what was happening. What were the people doing - would they be friendly or dangerous? How did they get there? Wow, you could let your imagnation run wild - maybe even write a book on it!

I have read some of Mary's books and love them. Looking forward to reading this one too!


Abby said...

I absolutely love the Smokey Mountains. Just the name gives me this gorgeous visual, and actually being in them is even better.

Mary Connealy said...

My daughter lived near Pittsburgh for a year and everyone who visited her got taken to this overlook in Pittsburgh from Mount Washington. It is said to be the SECOND most beautiful view in America. I never got to see it but I talked to others who did and it truly is spectacular.

Here's a fun fact. If you declare yourself to be the BEST something, the FIRST something, the LARGEST,or Oldest or anything-est something, you'll get an argument.

HEY best view in America? HAH! What about The Grand Canyon? What about Carlsbad Cavern? What about looking out of the Empire State Building...blah, blah, blah.

HOWEVER, if you declare yourself to be the SECOND best whatever, no one argues, safe in the assumption that THEY are first so sure, who cares who's second.

Save this tip if needed and apply to any situation.

Trish Perry said...

What, and miss out on arguing? That's no fun!

Esther Wysong said...

Ooh, one place I love being is Garden of the Gods. It's a place somewhere here in IL that has a bunch of rocks and boulders and stuff to climb on. It's really pretty in the fall, and the sunsets are gorgeous. We go there sometimes with the youth group. We used to go every year, but the past two years we haven't. Maybe we'll get to go this year! :)

I would soo love to win Out of Control. I've been drooling over it when we go by the book section at Walmart when we're grocery shopping...you can ask mom about that!

Esther Wysong said...

Started going through the comments again and realized I forgot my email addy. Yikes! Here it is:

Faith4u7 at gmail dot com

Sandy said...

We just drove through the mountains of West Virginia and the hills of Southern Ohio and it reminded me of a book I'd read set in the 1760s. I tried to imagine walking everywhere in those mountains and having to shoot my meat. Yeah, I'd be starving! I just tried to imagine how everything was hundreds of years ago and how life was back then.

sagens at verizon dot net



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