Write What You Know

nosy-nebraska-sm1I’m a writer of Western Romance. But I’ve been moonlighting.

I wrote three cozy mysteries for my publisher and they’re being released in June, titled Nosy in Nebraska. For these three books I plunged head first into ‘Write What You Know’.

Book #1 Of Mice. . .and Murder has a heroine terrified of mice.

Book #2 Pride and Pestilence has a heroine who is a shy, insomniac insomnia2bookworm.

Book #3 The Miceman Cometh has a heroine who is a complete klutz.


Okay that’s allllllllll me.

I am terrified of mice.


Just because I’m bringing this misunderstood phobia out of the shadows, does not mean I should be mocked.


Some may read Of Mice…and Murder and see the humor, mystery and drama. But for those of us who are musophobes (look it up, I can’t do EVERYTHING for you) this is an intense, life and death struggle.


You know, I decided at a very young age (too young to be deciding anything) while pondering eternal things like heaven and … well…NOT heaven—to avoid a four letter word.


I gave considerable thought to whether instead of eternal darkness, or a lake of fire, I might possibly end up in a room full of mice.


God knows each of us. God knows what our definition of—NOT heaven—might be.


The worst of that youthful pondering was the horrifying thought that maybe, since we’re talking having eternity to adjust, I might actually get so I didn’t mind being in a room full of mice.


  That is–to me–doubly horrifying.


But I’ve made my peace with God and accepted Jesus as my personal savior, mice being the least of that decision, so I don’t dwell on—NOT heaven—that much anymore.


In Of Mice…and Murder my heroine Carrie is afraid of mice. Nothing else. She’s a very brave woman in nearly all other ways…except mice…….



In book two of the Maxie Mouse Mystery Series, Pride and Pestilence, my heroine is a shy insomniac bookworm. Hello, borrowing from my life again!


And in book three, The Miceman Cometh, the heroine is a klutz. Ask someone who watched painfully as I tried to do a cartwheel in elementary school. Klutz is a kind word to use.


Yes, I am a shy, insomniac bookworm, musophobe, klutz. My life shy-girlbetween the pages of a book. And yes, when I meet people they inevitably say, “You’re not shy.”


But my shyness is all internal. I know how to behave myself in public, but inside I’m a squirming, twitching, overly sensitive, lunatic. All my reactions are–Go home, go pull the covers over my head, better yet, GO WRITE. Have both sides of the conversation myself. Create COOL tough, bold women. Exactly NOT like me.


Or read books with those same cool, tough, bold women. Now THAT’S living. Or maybe pretend living, but if I pretend well enough, who’s gonna complain???


And it’s all set in small town Nebraska. THAT is the world I know.


So get a peek of Mary “the Lunatic” Connealy within the pages of the Maxie Mouse Mysteries, and a really nice, if somewhat wacky, look at life in a small Nebraska town. I did fully and utterly depart from reality in one area. All my heroines are young, slender and CUTE. I’m sorry, it’s fiction, for some things, the truth is just not gonna fly.


Share your phobias with me. Your quirks. Nail biters? Knuckle crackers? Any insomniacs out there? I’m the worst but maybe we’ve got some competitors.  

Taking a break from cowboys for one book.

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

30 thoughts on “Write What You Know”

  1. Hi Mary, you always make me laugh outloud. Since it’s midnight right now, I gotta do it quietly. I so admire you. I can’t imagine writing a mystery; my mind just doesn’t work.

    As for phobias, the comment window would go on forever if I listed them all, so I will confess only to one. I am terrified of going down escalators unless I’m standing behind someone. If I’m not with anybody, I lurk nearby until I can follow some poor unsuspecting person, all the while hoping I don’t come across as a stalker or some other sort of weirdo.

    So there you have it. Congrats on Maxie!

  2. Grasshoppers! I hate grasshoppers! It goes back to third grade when a bug about 3 inches long escaped from a mayonnaise jar and terrified the entire classroom. Picture a big, brown locust hopping from table to table. Eeeek!

    Your mystery sounds delightful, by the way. I love all three titles!

  3. Hi Mary,

    Hate to admit it, but I’m book 2 and 3. My hubby is book 1. LOL I’m the one who has to deal with any mice. This is why we have so many cats. They are inside and outside. The guys he works with will find a mouse on the job site and play jokes on him. Now, they know better. He’ll take someones head if a mouse was to get on him. On to my phobias, he has to deal with all of the spiders. Have a great day.

  4. I think I am abit of all three books. I hate mice. I cannot even look or touch them dead or alive. I have had sleeping problems for the last three years, I get only a couple of hours of sleep a night and I can be a bit of a klutz. But that is only because I am at the moment I am having eye problems and tend to drop or knock things over because I cannot see the surface they should be on clearly. SO I have to read these books for sure.

  5. Tanya, writing a mystery, especially a cozy mystery was hard. I loved it. It’s a really different style for me. Although, yes I write historical western romances, but to me my style is really romantic comedy. That’s what everything I write ends up being.
    So I dont’ think this is much of a departure.

    Writing a mystery is the most complex, hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not like suspense. I do that naturally. A mystery needs clues. It needs red herrings. It needs a list of suspects. Then, in the end, you have to tie up all those threads. You have to have a big confrontation to reveal the killer!

    You have to be subtle, not give the villain away. It was hard. I had to go back over and over, lighten the hints, add red herrings, I’d find a clue I’d left behind then never explained.

    Luckily Barbour had someone really top notch editing. She’d say, “Remember those fingerprints in the dust in chapter three…you never explained those.”

    She caught a lot of stuff and really helped me.

  6. Plus Barbour had an expert (well she worked in a police station) who went over it and she’d email me and say, “The town cop would never let the heroine look at this report.” “This is a violation of the search and seizure laws.”
    She was also a great resource when I had questions. She could answer poison questions and collecting evidence questions. It helped a LOT.

  7. You know, bugs don’t bother me at all. I can smash a spider with my bare hands and not flinch. Isn’t that weird that we pick one thing and let it make us nuts? I blame my mother. Surely it’s all passed down through the generations…or through childhood traumas.

  8. Your husband is afraid of mice? Mine doesn’t bat an EYE. But he doesn’t like snakes. I wouldn’t say he’s out-of-control scared they just make him seriously unhappy.
    I saw him stomp on a mouse once, that ran too close, while he was talking to someone (this was out in the barn) then he just stood on it and finished his talk before he reached down with his plyers (he always carries plyers, the modern ranchers holster and six gun), crushed the little monster-in case the boot wasn’t enough–then pick it up with the plyers and tossed it out.
    His mom, when she finds a mouse in a trap, releases the trap from the dead mouse and picks the horrid creature up by the tail and carries it outside.
    SHE TOUCHES IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Kathleen, what do you think started the sleeping problems? I’ve been an insomniac all my life. I remember lying awake late, late at night as a really young child.
    I know a thousand tricks for getting to sleep…none of which work, but they keep you busy while you’re lying awake.

  10. Good morning, Mary! NOZY IN NEBRASKA–how very clever and fun. These are contemporaries, right? Well, obviously. I’m just so glad all your hard work and dedication over the years are finally landing on the book shelf. Yay!

    My fears? Spiders and snakes. Bugs and worms. Really, anything that crawls. –shudder–

    Thankfully, I’m married to a man who is literally fearless. Fearless, fearless. He’ll catch anything. Touch and kill ANYTHING.

    But dog vomit? Forget it. He’s reduced to a blubbering, retching fool that is um, hilarious.

  11. And I forgot to mention my sympathies on your insomnia. I sleep like a rock every night, but I have a 20 year-old who is showing signs of insomnia. I really feel for her–and all the insomniacs out there.

  12. Well, Pam, thank heavens he isn’t perfect. How hard would THAT be to live with?

    And as for insomnia, the weird part of it is, everyone sort of blames the insomniac, everyone gives you advice on how to fix yourself, as if you’re broken.

    I’ve finally just gotten used to the idea that I need six hours of sleep and I can function well on four. It’s just WHO I AM.

    If there’s something big the next day I can lay awake for hours fretting over it. I don’t anymore though. I get up and read or write. That’s how I keep coming up with books, I suppose. 🙂

    I’ve done most of the really BIG things in my life on four hours of sleep.

  13. Oh Mary,
    Welcome to the insomniac club. Your words are so well-spoken on that subject. “They” say we need at least 7 hours of sleep to live a long life. I get 4 or 5 tops and I function okay. But I wasn’t always like this…it’s crept up on me through the years!

    I consider myself a rational, sane normal person. At least I always had. One day, a mouse scurried through my kitchen and I was the cliche, JUMP ON THE CHAIR AND SCREAM WOMAN. I mean it. Scared the stuffing out of me. A harmless little mouse. Well it hid under my couch in the family room and with my heart beating fast, I called my hubby home from work. I couldn’t deal with it. Every time it scurried from place to place, I would freak out.

    Finally, my hubby found it. It was really small and harmless. And I’m still to this day confounded as to why I was so scared of it. 🙂

    Good luck with your mysteries. I give you credit – they are hard to write and I’m sure yours sparkle with humor and freshness. Enjoy!!

  14. Charlene you are so right about the weird ness of the fear of mice.
    I KNOW they can’t hurt me. When one isn’t around I give myself pep talks. What’s the worst that can happen? It won’t hurt you honey. (My mil says that, bless her fearless heart) That’s all exactly perfectly right. I KNOW THAT!

    But when one jumps out.
    I just make this weird eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee noise that I can never make at any other time. (I’ve tried) and I’m on a chair or outside or in another room instantly with only the slightest memory of that awful shrieking noise and how I got there.
    Weird. It’s a disability. I should qualify for a handicapped parking stick.

    And as for sleep. Have you heard the latest garbage about people who don’t sleep eight hours? Heart disease and overweight.
    I’ve heard both of those lately. That made me so nervous–to think my sleeplessness was hurting my heart and making me gain weight–that NOW when I can’t sleep I eat high fat, high salt snacks to calm my nerves.

  15. My hubby is this big strong fireman who can rescue anything from anything. So why does he run screaming from a poop diaper? He’s seen bodies decapitated in a car accident.

    Our late kitty loved bringing in live prey. Lizards, mice. You should have seen our six-foot-five college-age son jump on the coffee table out of harm’s way.

    Oops…don’t get the wrong idea. My guys are totally he-men.

    I myself am not afraid of spiders. I absolutely hear your romantic comedy voice, Mary!

    hugs to all out there

  16. I don’t think you get to claim ‘fear of poopy diapers’ as a phobia. He’s just ducking the job.

    My sister lived in a small village in Africa for a year, working for a group translating the Bible into their native language. It was a really fascinating experience and I ought to write about that some time.

    (yes, this has something to do with mice, hang on)

    The group, Wycliff, was trying really valiently to treat these small language groups who had never written down their language, with respect.
    So, they’d send a team to the village. That team would learn to speak that language, then they’d write down that language–invent the written language. (have you ever heard some of those African languages with a lot of clicks? Very, very hard to write down)
    Then they’d teach the natives to read their own language. Then they’d start translating a Bible, with all of those difficult concepts, into that native language. It is a process that takes around 25 years and they’re doing it all over the globe.
    This group does so much more than translate Bibles. It preserves dying cultures and languages. It is a huge education effort. Wycliff believes (I’m paraphrasing and no doubt not sayign it well) but they believe that to simply go in and teach the native people to speak English or whatever is demeaning to those people and does harm to them.
    They think (again, my words) some of the struggle with alcoholism and other social ills in countries where a new power has swept away the tribal culture, can be prevented if they come to those language groups in a more respectful way.
    Here, read their words, not mine.
    My point (I TOLD YOU I had one)
    is that my sister lived in this very small, primative village. Grass huts. No electricity or indoor plumbing. Subsistance farming, which means they grew food and animals to feed themselves and that took all their energy every day.

    So, they had a cat. The reason I pointed all that out before is because my sister got to see this cat in a very natural state. The cat had a litter of kittens and as soon as the kittens were old enough, the mama cat started bringing in dead mice. She’d teach her babies to play with the mouse corpse, bat it around, bite it.
    Then she started bringing in wounded by not dead mice. She’d let the kittens play with that and kill it.
    It was really fascinating to think a mama cat could choose how badly to hurt the mouse. And it’s a strange look at the inner workings of nature to see that cat, in effect, torture that mouse as a teaching tool for her kittens.
    The mice were increasingly healthy and by the time the kittens were getting good at catching the mice, the mama cat was bringing in almost completely healthy mice and letting them loose in the house. They’d run all over and the kittens would chase them.

    Did I mention that my sister is terrified of mice?

    Anyway, it was NOT her finest hour before those kittens went outside and began hunting with their mother and quit bringing home trophies.

  17. Your books sound delightful, Mary. As as biology major and volunteer zoo docent, critters, including mice, snakes and bugs, don’t bother me a bit. But anything that involves my being upside down freaks me out (causing occasional problems for me in yoga class). Is there a name for that kind of phobia??
    Thanks for a great blog and a big smile! 🙂

  18. Really, upside down? Wow, Elizabeth, I can completely see that in a book.

    Let’s see

    hangophobia (no that’s probably the fear of being lynched-yeeesh, everyone has THAT!)

    You’re very brave, Elizabeth. I had another sister (I swear this isn’t as long as my Wycliff sister story-also different sister) who worked for a herpatologist in college. That’s a snake guy. Well, my sister got completely comfortable with snakes AND, she had to feed them, LIVE MICE. So she got good at handling live mice, too. (there were tongs, thank the Good LORD)

    I, on the other hand, avoided my sister like the plague during that phase of her life. But I did take a very sick and visceral pleasure in thinking of the mice dying horribly.

    All part of the phobia, folks. NOT MY FAULT!

  19. I hate the idea of falling… and I have this weird finger flicking thing I do when I sit at my computer… I do not know why I do it, but it really annoys my sister!

  20. This story is telling of my feelings: a mouse was
    seen in one of the rooms at Mother’s house. Honey
    was searching to see if he could find it. The mouse ran across the floor and I smacked it with the broom I was holding. Again, and again, and again, and again, until Honey said “It’s dead.” He took the broom, swept the mouse into a sack, and took it out.

    Another time, early in our marriage, I insisted on
    moving because there was a mouse in our rental house. Honey just got boxes and we started packing!

    Pat Cochran

  21. Fun post! I have a phobia about my food not touching. If it belongs together, like sauerkraut and wieners, it’s okay, but never, never should anything on my plate touch; particularly, bread. Yikes! Plus, I eat one thing at a time, generally. Unless, again they belong together. To make bad matters worse, years ago a friend brought to my attention that I not only eat only one thing at a time, but I eat them alphabetically. Yep, weird but true…and I think I’m totally normal! Mary, thanks for sharing your fears, and I look forward to your new cozy. What a great project. Phyliss

  22. I can handle mice, snakes, just about anything, but not SPIDERS! I’ve tried. When I was in the Peace Corps, I had to sort of call a truce, they were way to big to smash. In three years I only killed one – it was blocking my door, front legs raised, fangs bared and wouldn’t let me out of my room. The mosquito net was more for keeping spiders out than anything else as far as I was concerned. Woke up one night when something bumped me in the head – it was a mouse or small rat that had managed to get under the net. Woke up one morning to see a hand sized spider on the wall right in front of my face – thankfully on the other side of the net.
    I’m not an insomniac. There are times when it is hard to get to sleep, but most nights I’ve stayed up so late reading that I just crash. Books and reading really are my downfall. My oldest daughter gave me a BOOKAHOLIC sign for my birthday a few years ago. My poor husband keeps building new bookcases, but unless he adds more rooms it won’t help.
    Your new books sound like fun. I look forward to reading them.

  23. Mary, You just plain tickle my funnybone. Can hardly wait for this newest book.
    I hate snakes. I quit breathing when I see a snake. I hate snakes…oh I said that, well it bears repeating…I hate snakes.

    One time while sharing my sister’s living room with my daughters and other realative…we are a big family…I awoke to find the lights still on and everyone sleeping. My daughter had fallen asleep while reading with the book covering most of her face. All I could see was her eyes. The title of the book…Insomnia by Steven King.

  24. I’m not exactly afraid of mice and snakes. I just don’t want to touch them or have them touch me. We had a dog, Duke, when we worked a hog confinement. He would leave dead rats on our doorstep. Isn’t that sweet? A cat we had in one of our barns would kill and eat mice until he was full and then would just play with them for fun.

    I only become an insomniac when stewing about something. Like a trip. I just as well get in the car, get going and sleep when I get there.

    Can’t wait to get your new Nebraska mysteries and am still waiting for Gingham Ranch to get to the Abbey.

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