Monday, July 20, 2009

Guest Blogger: Mary Connealy on Heroines

Red Dawson's got himself a wife he's sure God never intended. And when he informs Cassie she has to do some work around the ranch he's surprised she immediately tries to help with everything. Too bad she's a walking disaster. His ranch may not survive her efforts to pitch in. And Red may not survive a neighboring rancher's obsession with Cassie.

Montana Rose was actually inspired by Janette Oke's beautiful classic novel Love Comes Softly. Of course, I'm not Janette Oke (unfortunately for me) and my novel has taken an alarming turn to romantic comedy, suspense, and chaos. I think of it as Love Comes...Hardly. Or maybe, considering all Red goes through, Love Comes Unfortunately.

Writing Montana Rose was all about Cassie. I have a habit in my books to write a heroine so strong she's almost a superwoman. I was trying to keep fresh, to stretch myself, so I deliberately set out to make Cassie very weak, vulnerable, obedient. I just wanted to see if it could do it.

Trouble is, I didn't like her. I like superwomen. So I had my hands full creating her character, giving her a back story 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, came from well, the Husband Tree — or the tree under which Belle Tanner 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 humor in Montana Rose was all about Cassie trying to be obedient to her new husband and her new husband not really wanting her to be. He doesn't know what orders to give. He wants her to think for herself. She learns how to eventually, but not until she's almost destroyed Red's ranch guessing what he wants her to do.

I'm finishing up this Montana Marriage series. Book #2 is The Husband Tree, coming in January 2010 and Wildflower Bride, coming in May 2010.

I also have a Christmas romance coming in September 2009 called Cowboy Christmas. It isn't part of a series, but I think it's a lot of fun too.


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, I've changed my mind. Cassie isn't a wimp at all. She's tough where it counts in her heart and soul.

But then I suspect I knew that even when I was creating her to be a wimp, huh? :)

JenT said...

I love the covers of the books.
I can't wait to read 2 and 3.

Erica Vetsch said...

I can't wait to read these books. Cassie sounds like a great heroine, one who discovers her strength and in the discovery becomes stronger still.

Kara S said...

I finished reading Montana Rose today! Loved it! Cassie is definitely a fun character to watch develop, but I confess that my favorite was Red. :)

Renee said...

OOOhhh I know what I'm getting for my b-day in September...COWBOY CHRISTMAS!!! All the books look great!

Aaron McCarver said...

I don't think Cassie is a wimp either. I think she is what she was raised and trained to be. And as a guy, I won't go any further into that! When I create my main characters, and even most of my secondary characters, I just can't make them do stupid things. For the good or bad, I want my characters to have brains and use them. (Maybe this is because we write what we want to be?) Anyway, Mary's characters are definitely one of her many strengths as a writer. And if you like "Montana Rose," boy do you have a ride coming with "The Husband Tree!" Just finished the edit and it is great! Oh, and "Cowboy Christmas" will help tide you over as you wait. It is vintage Mary for the holidays!

Beth Goddard said...

Oh shoot! i just turned in a proposal this weekend with a heroine named Cassie Rose. ROFL. Oh well, I'd better catch up on my reading, huh. Love the characters.

Mary Connealy said...

I got to see the cover for Wildflower Bride at ICRS. I'd never seen it before. The book was a mock-up, look inside the cover and you find---WHITE CHRISTMAS PIE by Wanda Brunstetter.

No we didn't sell any, it was just to entice people. I got a picture of my standing in front of all six books, the Lassoed in Texas series and the Montana Marriages series.

Cowboy Christmas was there, too.

Very, very sweet.

Mary Connealy said...

Oh, and Aaron is the BEST editor in the whole entire world and I trust him utterly and implicitly.

Therefore, any mistakes you see in my books are ALL HIS FAULT.


G.R.I.T.S. said...

I can't wait to get ahold of these books!!!!! I hope there part of my Birthday Presents in September!!!!!

Myra Johnson said...

Just started reading Montana Rose last night and am already enthralled--but what did I expect from a Mary Connealy book! You sure know how to write those rough-and-tumble, larger-than-life Western characters!

Aaron McCarver said...

OK, Mary, I'll take the blame. :) It's worth it to get to read your books early! Seriously, thanks for the wonderful compliment! Hey, I just thought of something, does this mean I get credit for the good stuff, too? :)

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Mary,
I'm so excited for you! Wow, three books coming out and I can't wait to read each and every one. I've been tempted to purchase Montana Rose everytime I go by it in the store, because my copy is LATE in arriving for review. It's like waiting for Christmas...or Christmas Pie :-)

The logical conclusion to this delimma was purchasing Nosy in Nebraska - what fun!

Aaron is absolutely right! (The fact that he has a sense of humor is a plus too ;-)You're characters are what make your books memorable. Fleshing them out has to be a fun (though intense) job.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

loved the book, mary...had a great response to my blog give away of it last week, too! i had the same thought about belle making cassie look WAY weak...cause she's so manly--er--tough. :) anxious to read that one, as well!

Edna said...

I would like anything like Jannette Oke's books, I have all the old ones and ever the one but I don't like it, The Centerial's wife. I like the ones she based in Canada. So I am sure I would love these book also, I like almost eveything that Mary Connealy writes.


Mary Connealy said...

A warning Edna. One of th ereasons I tell people Montana Rose was inspired by Love Comes Softly is because if I didn't tell you, you'd NEVER GUESS!

NancyMehl said...

Great column, Mary. Love the descriptions of your books and really like the covers.

Blessings on all your books, gal!