Mary is also the author of the Lassoed in Texas series and a cozy mystery collection, Nosy in Nebraska. Mary is a Christy Award finalist.
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Petticoats & Pistols
When did you decide to be a writer?
I wrote my first book when I was twelve. I have no idea what happened to it and that’s probably for the best for everyone. I starting writing my first book as an adult the year my baby went to Kindergarten. So I’ll pick that as my ‘deciding’ date.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
Well, honestly I think I still listen to suggestions and critiques. I do trust myself as a writer, as far as my story goes, but I am always interested in how a book strikes someone else. I was very blessed to have a fantastic critique group I met through ACFW, the American Christian Fiction Writers. So their opinion was valuable to me.
Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
I’m very disciplined. It’s the only area of my life where I’ve shown one speck of self-discipline as a matter of fact. (we can talk for a while about dieting at this point if you want to!)
I write 1000 words a day, often more but never less. I’ve just come off a week traveling with a book signing tour and I didn’t get much writing done and I’ve very aware of that and it chafes. But I’m home now and back to work.
What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
I’m pretty good about deadlines. I’ve been fortunate to not be pressed by them. I just turned in a book that has a deadline of January 1st, 2011. I do have galleys to edit right now due the end of the week so there are always those. My relaxing activities are crossword puzzles and reading books. Yes, I know, I noticed, all sedentary. Like it would kill me to take a walk once in a while. I’m going to start. I promise. Maybe tomorrow.
What is your favorite novel and what made it special?
My absolute favorite novel of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. That is so obvious that I shouldn’t even write it. But what I love about it is the mix of humor and drama. Such a terribly, bitterly ugly subject seen through the eyes of a child who doesn’t really understand one bit what’s going on. But we get it. I think it’s brilliant.
How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
I thinking reading great books is a better way to learn writing that most ‘How To’ writing books. Mostly I read for fun, but if I want to do a fire in one of my books, I’ve got a stack (a BIG stack) of books and I’ll think through them until I remember a fire, then I’ll drag that book out. Study the words an author used for hot and smoke and burn. It makes for a really powerful thesaurus.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
My latest release is The Husband Tree. Belle Tanner buries her third worthless husband and makes a vow over his shallow grave. She’s learned her lesson. No more men.
Silas Harden just lost his second ranch because of a woman. The first deserted him when times got tough. Now he’s had to quit the whole state of New Mexico to avoid a trumped-up shotgun wedding and the noose of matrimony. He’s learned his lesson. No more women.
Belle needs hired hands to move a cattle herd late in the season and there’s no one around but seemingly aimless Silas. She hires him reluctantly.
Silas signed on, glad for the work, though worried about a woman doing such a thing as hiring drovers, only to find out he’s the lone man going with five woman, including a baby still in diapers. After the cattle drive is over, he might as well shoot himself to speed up the process of being embarrassed to death.
Where did you get your inspiration for The Husband Tree?
You know when I look at the final product, the finished book, a lot of times I just wonder what in the world I was thinking when I started it. I love really strong women. I love a woman who doesn’t NEED a man but chooses to join her life with a man out of respect and love rather than necessity. The four daughters, well, I have four daughters so that’s almost too easy. The rest is rooted in comedy and conflict. A woman who just says whatever is on her mind and everyone can accept it and go along or get run over. Then bring in a man strong enough to handle that.
Which character is most like you?
I don’t see any of them being like me. In fact, I think my really mouthy strong characters are how I WISH I was, because I’m crazy non-confrontational and I’m the peacemaker in my family and I’m someone who watches her mouth about anything that people could take exception to. And for the most part, I think being the voice of reason is a pretty good thing. Nothing like Belle Tanner. But all that sass and in-your-face attitude makes for a pretty stressful life outside fiction.
Who is your favorite character and why?
Definitely Belle. I just love her. In fact she may be my favorite character of all time. I just had a blast making her as strong and mouthy as possible, without one speck of concern how anyone else feels about her opinions. Then in comes Silas. A man who could take it, handle Belle and love her, not in spite of her strength but because of it.
Did you know how The Husband Tree would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
I start a book with no end in mind besides ‘happily ever after’. I’m very seat of the pants. I keep trying to learn to plot and plan, and I can do it, but sometimes I get a better idea while I writing along and I abandon my plot without a backward glance when that happens.
What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
I hope they had fun. If they learn something, too, that’s fantastic, but fundamentally, I hope they had a good time going along on the cattle drive with Belle and Silas. I also hope they got to liking Wade Sawyer a little better because that very troubled soul from Montana Rose is the hero of book through of the Montana Marriages series, Wildflower Bride.
What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
I do as much as I can and then let it go. I always think the very best thing I can do to market a book is to write the very best book I know how to write. That’s my very most important job. Beyond that I like doing this blog interviews. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s all done with WRITING. I can handle that. I do book signings and they’re fun but usually, because I live far from everyone, they’re long drives. I’ve gotten to really know a few of the area book store owners though and they’re great people. I try and stay in contact with the area newspapers and I can make my way into them sometimes.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
Next up is Wildflower Bride, coming in May, Wade Sawyer finally gets his happy ending.
A white woman, raised by the Indians has yet to meet a white man she doesn't pull her knife on. . .including Wade Sawyer, who is determined to marry her.
She doesn't really need saving, but Wade doesn't let that stop him. And she hasn't actually cut him yet so he thinks she'd coming around.
Wade's been trying to rescue women who are doing fine on their own since Cassie Dawson didn't need saving in Montana Rose. Now he's picked the toughest woman he's ever met to protect.
Glowing Sun might end up marrying him out of pure respect for his persistence. . .she can’t get rid of him anyway.
And while Glowing Sun is trying to adjust to a different world, Cassie Dawson is taking lessons on how to be tough from Belle Tanner.
Red may not survive.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Thanks for having me on, Lisa. If anyone would like to be kept up to date on my releases they can sign up for my newsletter here: My Newsletter
And I’ll make you a promise—Not only will I NOT sell your information, I probably won’t even get my act together enough to actually send you a newsletter, so it’s not like signing up will flood your inbox.