Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas – Mary Connealy

Captain's Log, Supplemental

Continuing the 12 Authors of Christmas, here’s historical romance author Mary Connealy!

View the tour, including Rachel Hauck and Tricia Goyer’s authors, here.

About Mary:

Mary Connealy is an author, a journalist and a teacher. She has written books for three different divisions of Barbour Publishing; Petticoat Ranch, the first of a three book series of historical western, suspenseful, romantic comedies, for Barbour Trade Fiction, and Golden Days with Heartsong Presents. I’ll also be writing a three book series of contemporary, romantic comedy, cozy mysteries for Heartsong Presents Mysteries.

You can find out more about Mary through her website. And the blogs she plays around on are: & &

Mary’s dream is to tell love stories that make people laugh while drawing them closer to God. She lives on a farm in Nebraska with her husband, and has four grown daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. Shelly is married to Aaron and Joslyn is married to Matt so her family finally has some boys!

Writing is great but her family is her true life’s work.

Tell us about your first Christmas memory.

I remember these tiny dolls my mom would give to us. Like three inches tall. We were really poor when we were little. Eight kids in an old country farm house and I remember my mom saying (no idea how old I was) that “We try to spend three dollars on each of you.” And I loved it. I adored those tiny dolls and there was just such delight. We didn’t get much, although both of my grandma’s would send gifts, too. So there were several gifts for each of us.

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

My family lived a long, long way from my mom’s mother. A three hour drive. That was forever back then and we made the trip about once a year. Of course who could blame my parents for dreading loading us up in a car, plenty of car sickness among the children, too. Me included. What a nightmare. So we almost never had Christmas with Mom’s extended family. And my dad was an only child and his mom lived right near us. So Christmas was my ever increasing number of brothers and sisters (I was third from oldest) and mom and dad and Grandma, and we’d have a big Christmas dinner at my grandma’s house. That was plenty of people

When do you put up your tree? Describe the decorating at your house.

I’m a slow starter about the tree. There really isn’t a good place for it, so furniture has to be shoved aside and nothing really fits, plus when the kids were young I had to tie the tree to a nail or two in the wall or it would always come tipping over. I still haven’t put up my tree this year. I have GOT to get on with it.
I do love scented candles, though and keep them burning a lot. And this year I have a wreath up on my back door. This is the country, everyone comes and goes through the back door. It’s beautiful.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? (Feel free here to talk about choirs or other musical things you participate in during Christmas.)

This is so easy. It’s Manheim Steamroller’s Fresh Aire Christmas. It starts out with “Deck The Halls” and that’s just Christmas to me, that perfect instrumental music. I’m also a big Trans-Siberian Orchestra fan. All my girls have those albums, too. That’s one thing that’s been a real tradition. On the weekend after Thanksgiving, the girls all start saying, “Let’s have some Manheim.”

Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

Well, it was nuts as you might imagine. We made a game out of seeing how early we could get up and trying to sneak past Mom and Dad so they wouldn’t make us go back to bed. I’m talking really early, like 3 a.m. Who ever woke up first would start nudging each other, then we’d sneak past the parents and just LEAP on the tree. It was so wonderful, that mountain of presents. Of course with eight kids it WAS a mountain even if it didn’t add up to a lot for each of us. Mom and Dad would come out when the riot started. We’d have this little middle of the night chaos, then we’d go back to bed after a couple of hours and my poor father would go milk the cows. They never really fussed though and never demanded we CUT IT OUT!!!!

Tell us about your Christmas setting--do you have a white Christmas?

Yikes, Nebraska. We have so many white Christmases that, trust me, the thrill is gone.

It’s Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

Well, for years and years Christmas Eve was with my husband’s parents. He’s one of seven brothers and there are 25 grand children there. What a mob. Oyster soup and chili, everyone brought munchies and candy and cookies. And everyone had their specialties and we looked forward to them. It was really wonderful. My husband’s mom, one of the nicest ladies on the planet—she’s about my best friend in the world, now spends Christmas in Texas. I really miss that fun.
Now on Christmas Eve we have my daughters and their husbands. Just that small gathering. We have hors d’oeurves (man that’s a hard word to spell-seriously it took about ten tries before I could spell it well enough to find it online) lovely things like rumaki and crab puffs, egg rolls and shrimp cocktail, exotic cheese and fussy crackers. It’s fun to see what all we can come up with. Then we play a board game of some kind (Catch Phrase is the best) or watch a Christmas movie together, I always vote for While You Were Sleeping.

My four daughters draw names and they exchange gifts but the rest of the presents wait until morning.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

I am a very cynical shopper. Somewhere in the…oh…fifteenth year…of the girls always returning everything I’d buy for them…I quit trying. So I go into their favorite store and think, “I need to spend X number of dollars.” I’d find a clerk, point to something on the wall and say, “How much is that? Good, I want it in a size whatever. And can you make sure I get a receipt?”

It was, in effect, a box-sized gift certificate to The Buckle or American Eagle.

Once I removed the emotional component to Christmas it became very easy. I’d do all my shopping in one fairly short day.

This year I’ve done a bit of online shopping but I hate the shipping charges. Except this year the shipping is less than driving to the city (an hour drive for me). So I don’t even care much about that.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

It’s about the humility of Jesus birth. It’s about how he came here, so lowly, taking every burden any human had to bear on himself. I’ve written many Christmas plays because I wrote them for my church and directed the Sunday School Christmas Program and I tried to focus on the normal people who responded to the call of the angels, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men. Each one of them took a leap of faith to believe the unbelievable, to respond to an undeniable call.

It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

Christmas Day is my family and it’s very traditional food-wise. Turkey or Ham. Corn casserole and fresh buns, pie, salad, cookies and candy. Very delicious and we always eat way too much. I’ve got one sister who always wants to try something different, which is kind of fun if we get the traditional stuff, too. So we’ve had goat and goose and duck for holiday meals. Bald eagle, too…no wait, maybe not. Ignore that.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

Too hard to explain why it’s my favorite. It’s a record player my husband gave to me about the third year we’d been dating (we were high school sweethearts). It wasn’t the present exactly, it was the way he surprised me with the perfect gift at the perfect time. But I don’t want to go into details.

What are your plans for this season?

My brother is coming home from New York. He’s got six kids and they’re getting grown up. Two out of high school. He’s never been home for Christmas with his kids. He comes in the summer because that’s when they’re free, out of school, plus it’s warm here then. But, because it’s very possible he’ll never get all six kids in that van with him and his wife again, he’s coming home. It will be a very special Christmas.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

I think I’ve covered all the bases and written long enough. Congratulations to anyone who stuck with this until the end. God Bless You All and have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Happy New Year.

Camy here: Thanks for sharing, Mary!

Folks, Mary’s one of the funniest people I know. She has a column on the ACFW ezine (she posts every other other month, I think), and her novel Petticoat Ranch is hilarious! If you like a good dose of humor with your historical romances, Mary’s the girl for you.


  1. Thanks Mary, i have to say your going into what you eat at christmas and the Bald eagle no wait maybe not had me laughing (Aussies do eat there Coat of Arms!)
    I did love reading your interview and i am now going to look for your book it really does look like a great read.
    Thanks again for sharing. this is something i have loved reading all december. And had got me wanting to make gingerbread and i dont even like gingerbread or have a proper recipe yet.

  2. Hi, ausjenny. I was told today to buy the ingredients to make gingerbread men this weekend. My daughter is hungry for them. Keep in mind; she's 28, married, owns her own home AND can cook circles around me.
    But this afternoon at my house she's got free time. And gingerbread men do sound good.
    I hope you enjoy Petticoat Ranch. I've sent today working on details for the third book in the series and that's been really fun.
    Thanks for posting my walk down memory lane, Camy.

  3. Mary -- Eight kids??? How come I don't remember this -- surely you told me! That must be why we get along so well -- large-family syndrome (I'm one of 13). And oh my, goat, goose and duck for Christmas? I think I'll stick with ham, thank you very much. And as a travel writer, I have become most proficient at spelling "hors d'oeuvres" -- can do it in my sleep, if I have to! And finally, move over, Connealy because I want to watch "Sleepless in Seattle" with you -- one of my favorite movies EVEN THOUGH they don't even kiss!! Great interview, Camy & Mary.


  4. Hey Mary maybe i can come to your house and learn to make gingerbread.
    I htink i now have the recipe!
    I will be looking for your books in the new year. not sure my credit card would like another hammering this week but books are 25% off if i buy over $200! only i got over $100 this past week.