Friday, June 27, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Mary Connealy

As promised, Mary Connealy dropped in for a spell. In one of her creative offerings she gives us a sneak peek at a scene from Calico Canyon. One name is changed for protection (or creative license). Go to Wednesday's review if you want to read her first chapter...

Without further ado, here ya go pardners. Thanks, Mary.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Ma Ingalls from the Little House books. It seemed like she did the work of a team of oxen while everyone else got to star in the books. I really live a quiet life. :)

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

I’d like to ask Thomas Jefferson what he thinks of what America has become, so much fear and cowardice, so much desire to be taken care of and have all of life’s bumps and bruises taken away by a nanny state government, in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

I daydream the next scene every night when I’m in bed. I write from beginning to end of the book with very little detailed plotting but a good idea of the story I want to tell. I write 1000 words a day five days a week or more…less isn’t allowed.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

I’d have Atticus Finch get his client off somehow in To Kill a Mockingbird. I think that could have happened and there’d still have been a great story.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Red is good. Black on a bad day. I think I’d like to be pink…sparkly pink (do they have crayons with sparkles because they should).

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

Purple cow. A practical animal with some flash. Like a giraffe and an iguana aren’t unusual enough without the weird color.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

My favorite line in any book is from To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m not sure I should even say what it is, I’ll abbreviate the questionable language…and I can’t quote it exactly.

Atticus had a client executed and he’d felt so bad that he quit representing criminals at trial, but (and here’s the line to the best of my memory) ‘Atticus couldn’t persuade his client that ‘the SOB had it coming to him’ was a good enough defense in a murder trial.’

My next favorite exchange is the chapter ending hook in a Julie Garwood novel.

A Scottish Laird marries an English Maiden at the king’s command. Neither of them is happy about it. The end of one chapter has the hero saying to his friend,

‘Don’t worry, she’ll settle in.”

Chapter Eight

She started four wars the first week.

That’s the kind of humor and surprise that makes a person read the next chapter to see what is going to happen, just for the fun of that hook. And if you can get a reader to look forward to starting the next chapter, they’re hooked.

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

It would have to be a romantic comedy because I can’t seem to write anything else. I think the historical western is my most natural voice, although I’ve got a series of cozy mysteries coming out that are so fun I’d like to write more of those. I guess I’ll stick with the genre Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon are in. I’ve got a lot of that style coming from Barbour and I’d like them to be best sellers.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Cowboys. 1880. Once cars come into it, it changes for me, the feeling that brings. Nothing at all wrong with it, I just don’t long for that style. I’m right where I want to be.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

I’ve got some books written that are contemporary romantic-comedy suspense and I’d like to get them published someday. But I’m very happy with westerns.

What makes you feel alive?

Contemporary Christian Music that really touches me and turns a car ride into worship My children at home, a great book.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

I love humor. That’s what I want in any part of life. When a book surprises me into tears I love that. Usually self-sacrifice – especially a woman for her children – gets me. But I don’t like a book that sets itself up to be a tear-jerker from the beginning. I don’t like to cry when I read.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

The Colorado Rockies. I’d just like to go out into the mountains, rent a cabin and sit and look around at natural beauty. I’ve see the Rockies twice but I want more time.

Favorite season and why?

Summer. My kids come home a lot and we go boating on the Missouri River and it’s wonderful. Great setting. My kids are such fun people.

Favorite book setting and why?

I read contemporary, suspenseful romantic comedy mostly but historical is okay, too if it’s suspenseful romantic comedy. If they’re sassing each other and falling in love while they’re running for their lives, then I’m happy.

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

I’d love to fly. How cool would that be.

Favorite chore –

I love to cook and I don’t do it much anymore because the kids are grown and my husband and I need to eat low-fat, low-cal, light meals. But I love cooking, especially baking, but a whole meal is great, really tender roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. Cream Puffs or Apple Crisp or Lemon Meringue Pie. You can see I don’t need to eat like that much.

Anything you'd do but don't because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

I used to want to do all of those things (well, not running with scissors, that just irresponsible) But sky diving, I really wanted to do that when I was a kid. No more. I knew someone who’s chute didn’t open right. He survived but yikes! Nope, no high risk terror for me. I’ll just read about it instead.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

I don’t mind slang but I think everyone ought to have good command of the English language that they can go to in a pinch.

Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….

Suspense – lots of yanking and swooping.

Thriller – a kiss in the dark that moves you when it shouldn’t

Romance – sweet, slow, you both see it coming and don’t even think of stopping it…even though you should.

Historical – Common sense says he’s the husband and he has his rights. But you never expected to enjoy ‘his rights’ so much.

Unidentifiable antique, the scent of pipe tobacco and the drizzle of rain – make a scene.

Gina sat upright from where she lounged on the sofa, reading. Her book hit the floor and skidded across the golden oak. “Who’s there?”

She hadn’t heard a thing, but that scent, she’d smelled it before. Michael.

He stepped into her den—his den—drawing on his pipe. He’d always fit the perfect style of the college profession, tweed sports coat with leather elbow patches, short styled hair, that blasted smelly pipe.

“Hi, Gina. I’m back. I put the milk in the fridge.”

“What? What milk?”

“The milk you sent me out in the rain for. Why aren’t you cooking? I thought it was an emergency.”

Gina rose slowly to her feet, staring at him, half expecting him to vanish, or grow fangs and attack. What else did dead people, walking around, do? “Michael—”

“What honey?” His smile seemed confused but it was him.

All the love and hate Gina had tried to bury came roaring back. “Where have you been?”

His smile faded and his eyes narrowed. “At the store, like I just said.”

Shaking her head, Gina felt her field of vision narrow and wondered if she was going to faint. She tried to back away but the ancient couch Michael had chosen stopped her.

“What’s the matter?” He came closer. Gina knew, if he touched her, she’d start screaming.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Why are you looking at me that way?”

“B—because,” her voice broke and she wasn’t sure she could go on, but she had to. What was going on? Clearing her throat she said, “Because you went out for milk two years ago and you never came back.”

At that second, Liam began crying, up from his nap.

Michael’s eyes sharpened and focused on Gina’s stomach. He dropped his pipe and something else, something fragile and glass which smashed into so many pieces Gina couldn’t tell what it was. Micheal was in her face in two long strides. Laying his hand on her flat stomach he said, “You were eight months pregnant when I left…fifteen minutes ago!”

Pick one of the "story starters" below and give us a sample of your voice.

A crack broke the stillness as Terri tugged on the frozen door.

“I can’t be out here alone with you wearing a nightgown.” Terri clutched the blankets until her fingers hurt, thinking of the scandal of it all. She hurried to the frozen door and tugged. “It’s not proper.”

Daniel’s fair skin turned an alarming shade of pink as he stared at her. “I’ll bet it wasn’t proper of us to sleep together either.”

Terri turned back to Daniel just as a crack broke the stillness from outside and the door swung open.

“It most certainly was not.” The deep voice from behind hit them at the same instant the cold did.

They all turned to face Parson Roscoe.

The boys wheeled fully around. Daniel sat up. Terri clutched the blankets to her chest and looked into the startled eyes of the kindly parson and, just behind him, his gentle-hearted wife, Isabelle.

“Parson, it’s not what it looks like,” Terri said.

“Oh thank heavens,” Mrs. Roscoe said. “Because it looks like you and Daniel spent the night together in this cave.”

“Then it is exactly what it looks like,” John said into a silence more frozen than Terri had been last night.

“Well yes,” Daniel said. “We did spend the night together, but—”

“Daniel,” Terri gasped in horror.

Daniel looked away from the parson, his skin now fully flaming red. “Well, we did. Do you want me to add lying to the parson in on top of having you in bed. . I mean, sleeping together. . .I mean having you here without your clothes. . .I mean. . .” Daniel lapsed into silence.

“Pa brung her home to be our ma, but he tried her out for the night and he decided to return her,” Mark said.

Parson Roscoe stepped fully into the cave. “Both of you stand side by side before me immediately.”

Daniel turned and stood straight as a soldier a single, lithe movement.

“In front of the children, Terri? I’m shocked.” Mrs. Roscoe came in and shut the door behind her. The plump woman clutched her hands together in front of her chest as if desperate to get away and spend an hour in prayer just to wash the shock out of her mind.

Terri backed away until she was side by side with Daniel, fumbling with the blankets. There were too many of them to hold. She tried to drop a few of them and managed to drop them all. She caught at them and almost fell forward trying to keep herself covered.

Daniel caught her before she pitched over on top of him.

Every bone in Terri’s body hurt. Every breath cut across her chest like a knife. Her arms and legs were so stiff she wanted to cry out with pain.

“We saw the broken window in your room.” The parson produced his Bible from his coat pocket.

Terri remembered now. She’d fallen out of her window. No, she’d jumped out of her window.

“The whole town is up in arms about what happened to you, Terri.” Mrs. Roscoe crossed the room, all three steps wide, and rested her hand on Terri’s shoulder. “Search parties have been out all night.”

“Someone mentioned Daniel being in town yesterday afternoon.” The parson took up the story. “We offered to ride out and see if he knew of your whereabouts. Now I see you must have. . .uh. . settled your differences and. . .uh. . .decided to. . .”

Terri could see the parson striving to be diplomatic when faced with the very worst possible sort of evidence of immoral behavior between two adults.

“Plan an elopement.” Mrs. Roscoe’s kind eyes found Terri and the intertwined hands begged Terri to go along with this wild stab at respectability.

“No, no, oh, no,” Daniel said. “We didn’t plan no elopement. I don’t want to marry the schoolmarm. Sure, we slept together. That doesn’t mean—”

“What’s ’lopement, Pa. Is that like an antelope?” John asked. “Are we gonna eat venison ’stead of dumb old steak all the time?”

“No, it’s like an envelope, stupid,” Abe sneered. “The parson wants to know if we’ve got any letters to mail.”

“We don’t rightly know how to fetch a letter around, Parson,” Ike said. “We haven’t had much schoolin’.”

“And what we’ve had isn’t much better ’n nothin’,” Mark added, “ ’cuz Miss Calhoun was a mighty poor excuse for a schoolmarm.”

Terri turned on Mark. “I was not a poor excuse for a schoolmarm, you little—”

“Do not tell me, Daniel Reeves,”—the parson stopped Terri from grabbing Mark by stepping past the boys and the table until he stood toe-to-toe with Daniel—“that you expect to keep this young lady, a respectable woman from this town and a member of my flock, out at your home overnight and not do the right thing.”

“Right thing?” Terri forgot about Mark as she saw Daniel’s Adam’s apple bob up and down as he gulped.

Terri waited for the floor to swallow her up. If God really loved her, He’d just strike her dead right this minute. Then she thought of Parrish. If he found her married, would that negate any legal claim he had on her as her adoptive father?

Terri looked from Daniel Reeves and his multitude of sons to her future if Parrish caught up with her, something it now seemed inevitable he’d do.

Daniel or Parrish or death. Those were her only choices.

“Terri!” Parson Roscoe’s voice interrupted her panic.

“I’m thinking!” Weighing her options carefully, she prayed, C’mon, God. Death. I’m ready.