Another Lassoed in Texas book by Mary Connealy: Calico Canyon

Calico CanyonMary Connealy

Calico Canyon, Lassoed in Texas, Book 2

Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutches of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R’s – widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair – two people who couldn’t dislike each other more – an avalanche isn’t the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?

Don’t be afraid to strive and sweat and pray and fail and strive and pray some more for the desires of your heart. Because my books are proof that dreams can come true. That with God all things are possible.  Mary Connealy


I’m going back to ACFW, the place where I believe I found the combination of contests, critiques, community and connections to get published.

I started entering contests almost as soon as I got my first book finished and I credit contests with leading me to publication. It was the Noble Theme Contest sponsored by ACFW that was a huge piece of the puzzle I was trying to assemble.There are a countless number of writer’s contests, did you know that? I did well, placed third in the first contest I entered. I was encouraged and I kept doing better as the years went by. The contests are critiqued by the judges and I learned a lot from those critiques. Also if you are a finalist, you get judged again. This time, by editors and agents. So this is a chance to get your work in front of people who might buy your book or sign you as a client. There came a time when I expected to final in any contest I entered. If you Google Mary Connealy Contest Diva, there’s a website with a list of people who’ve won a lot of contests, and I’m on it. I kept track for the last two or three years before I got a contract, and I’d finalled in eleven contests with five different books. I entered my manuscript Petticoat Ranch in ACFW’s Noble Theme contest in 2004. I was a double finalist, another book of mine, China Doll-now sold and re-titled Montana Rose, was in the running, too. When I heard I was a finalist, I decided to attend the 2004 conference. A member of my online critique group said I could room with her. I had never been on a plane before and I had never gone on vacation without my husband, Ivan, before. I don’t know if you can imagine the guts it took for me to go. Ivan was great about it when I told him I wanted to go, spend all that money on my writing. When you think about it. Me, saying to Ivan, “Honey, I want to fly to Denver and spend three days in a hotel with someone I met on the internet…” Well, he was a pretty good sport about it.
Well, I won The Noble Theme contest and also placed third. I got a lot of requests at the conference to send in my book. I also got a really simple request from Cathy Marie Hake, an author I didn’t know. She asked me to send her my first three chapters. She just wanted to see how I wrote.

I also had an agent looking at my work before this conference. He hadn’t offered to represent me, but he had expressed interest. When I emailed him to tell him I’d won the contest and  received about fifteen requests from agents and editors for maybe five different books, he offered me a contract. So, I got an agent, which is almost as hard as getting a book sold.

Cathy Marie Hake also kept in touch. She said she thought I was “ready.” No editor had yet seen that light, but Cathy’s encouragement kept me hoping. Plus, by this time, I had about twelve books written and I’d had so many rejections I had a hide like a rhino, so submitting work didn’t even faze me. (In the interest of full disclosure I believe I stole the “hide like a rhino” line from Janet Dean, although it could be another Seeker. We’re all tough…most of the time) Okay, well maybe I crawled under my computer desk and sucked my thumb for a day or two every time I got another rejection but other than that I was fine. Just before the next year’s conference, Cathy Marie Hake told me she wanted to pitch my name to write a book as part of a three book series set in historical Alaska. I worked on a proposal and talked on the phone with Cathy a lot before the 2005 conference. Every year at the conference the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I knew there was a chance it could be me. The Heartsong editor said someone else’s name and there’s only one, so okay, I’ve been rejected before. I kind of expect it. And then she said, “And this year we’re giving two contracts to first time authors. We’re offering a contract to Mary Connealy.” I get chills saying that! It was a wonderful, thrilling shocking moment. I had to go up and get the contract, in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, great moment in my life. And it happened as a direct result of contests, critiques, community, connections …well, ten years of hard work helped of course..and I gained those through ACFW.

Just a note. Some of these covers aren’t finalized so there may be some changes but this is close to the final look they’ll have.
Also from Mary: I’m just thrilled to have signed an exclusive contract with Barbour Publishing. I will be writing eighteen books for Barbour over the next four years.


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