Can You Hear Country in My Voice?

LONG TIME GONE — Book #2 of the Cimarrron Legacy Series, releases in under two weeks1!!


Mary Connealy

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published.

At the end of those ten years, on that fateful day when I earned my first contract, I had twenty finished books on my computer.


And those books were NOT all romantic comedy with cowboys. Among those twenty books were almost all genres….within of course the genre of romance.

Sweet contemporary romances, police dramas, gothic, mysteries, sci-fi. Yep, I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I was trying seriously to get published all those years, but for good or ill, I wasn’t one of those people who wrote one book then started POLISHING for seven years.

Instead, I’d finish a book, and start another one. That’s not to say I never edited and revised. I did and did and did. I wrote stand alone books. I’d see ways to connect them and rewrite them into series. I’d change dates and names and places to move a book set in 1880 in Montana, so it’d be in 1865 Texas to match up with another books.

I had one three book series I wrote in three lengths. 45,000 words long, 55,000 words long and 90,000 words long, so they were ready to pitch to three different publishers with different word requirements.

I say all this because for some reason…for WHATEVER reason, when one of my books finally hit…it was a historical romance.

And then the publisher said, “So what else have you got like this?”

Eleven published books later, I finally had to start writing new books.

Now why, oh why, did that historical romance sell? A style I call ‘Romantic Comedy with Cowboys’.

I think maybe it’s because I know the lingo. I think I bring some authenticity to the western voice. Being from Nebraska … well, it ain’t Texas but it’s cowboy country, I promise you that.

And my husband is a Nebraska cattleman. We have what they call a cow/calf herd. 120 cows. (this is NOT a big operation by Nebraska standards, but it keeps us busy!)

Every one of those 120 cows has a baby every February and March (a few early ones, a few late) and for the last few years I’ve been chronicle-ing the arrival of those babies on Facebook.

Now, I think baby calves are wonderful. So cute, so lively when they’re so brand new. Angus calves are what we have mostly and they arrive this beautiful, shining black. Watching them stand, learn to nurse, run to their mamas when they get startled by My Cowboy or me driving in on our daily calf check. They’re just adorable.

But what amazes me about my calf pictures on Facebook is the response. I am surprised by how many people find what is every day to us, unusual, fascinating, even miraculous.

A baby calf being born.

So posting these pictures has helped me realize just how special our lives are, what a precious opportunity I’ve been given to be a Nebraska cattleman’s wife.

And I think now, maybe the reason my books finally sold, after all those years and all that work, is that I found my voice. I found a subject, westerns, cowboys, cattle, rural life, that I could portray with authenticity.

One of the bits of writing wisdom we hear of all the time is ‘Write what you know.’

Long Time Gone (Book #2 Cimarron Legacy Series)

Well, I suppose that’s what I’ve done. I’ve found a twist on my life, added considerably more gunfire, of course! (thank heavens) and made a career out of it.

I invite you all to join me on my Spring Parade of Calves (which is usually getting over by the time it’s spring) on Facebook.

And check out my new book, Long Time Gone. A book genre, romantic comedy with cowboys, I finally had to knowledge to write.


Tell me a story about an animal you’ve known. Or about what you know. If you were going to ‘write what you know’ what would that be? Commenters will get their name in the drawing for a copy of Long Time Gone.

Website | + posts

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

47 thoughts on “Can You Hear Country in My Voice?”

  1. I love your calf and cow pictures! It’s neat to get a glimpse into a real farm life. Or do you call it ranch life? Anyway, keep ’em coming 😉 Your books resonate with me because of the obsession I had with my dad’s Louis L’Amour collection in high school… but yours are even more perfect for me with the extra dose of humor and romance! Looking forward to reading your latest!

  2. Mary- I love your article, it really hit home. I’m a lover of books and all of you authors are exceptional ladies. I can understand where writing what you know and love is so important. If you have passion for a topic, subject, or a special time period, it will shine through in your books. If I were to write what I know, well I’m a Texas girl who moved to Kansas to raise pigs. Coming from a rodeo. Background and raised on a farm, I could write about that, but since I spent 20 years in Kansas raising pigs, I would love to write that story. No, it’s not glamorous, but it has been funny, comical, and backbreaking. Pigs are so smart and I have more funny tales about my experience with them that I could write about “the life of a piggy”!! I just downloaded one of your books (The Boden Birthright) and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. You have a great & wonderful writing day!!!

    • Tonya, we had pigs when I was a kid. I grew up on a really old-fashioned farm. A few milk cows, a few pigs, a flock of chickens, a Welch pony. Too many cats and dogs. Eight kids. A very regular old farm life.
      And those pigs, I’m telling you they are SMART. No one can work with them and not know that.

      • Mary- what a fascinating story you growing up on a small farm just like me. Yes I agree pigs are very SMART. Sometimes a little too smart they get out Witt you. I wouldn’t trade my 20 years of raising pigs for nothing it was a true joy.

  3. Mary, I am one of the people that love your calf photos on FB!
    I knew a cow/bull named Cow (I got to witness his birth too) a long time ago. He was being hand raised by a neighbor for 4-H. Every day the neighbor boy, Jay, would train Cow to do tricks. He worked for hours upon hours. By the end of summer that animal would come when called by name, do circles, back up, go forward, and even knock on the door. He let Jay ride him too. When it came time for the fair, most cows get auctioned off, but Blue Ribbon winning Cow did not get sold for meat, Jay was in tears at the thought. The man that bought him, gave him back to Jay with the understanding he was never to be meat. He was castrated and became a family pet. Every morning he would go from his cow-house in the backyard to the back door and ring the cowbell that was hung on the door. Jay was not an ordinary kid. He was what we now call a high functioning autistic child. He didn’t have many friends, I was glad to be in his little circle, but Cow was his best friend.

    • Andrea, think of it. Jay had what we now would call a service animal. AND his parents and that bidder were smart enough to know that, even before we had words for such things. Even training that cow was a part of the autism I’d guess, the hours and hours of work were that boy’s acting out of his difficulty connecting to the world.
      I love this story. Now THAT’S a story someone should write.

  4. I have never read one of your stories but I am adding to the top of my list. I am not a ranching person but I have had pets. I had a dog once. We were her third owner because she was too much for everyone one else. She would run by stop, return, and eat everything off your plate before you knew what was happening. We worked on that until she would at least wait until your back was turned. She was so loving though.

    • Debra, when I was a kid we had dogs everywhere, including inside. As an adult we’ve had two dogs in all my 40 years of marriage. One, a border collie, the other an Australian Shepherd. They were decent cattle dogs but we never really trained them to do that, there is very precise training and a well-trained cattle dog can almost do the work of another man when herding.

      They were more just pets here. My Cowboy took them along with him places, to check the cattle, but mostly the kids just played with them.

  5. I am amazed with the number of finished books you had written before even being published. I always enjoy seeing your calf pictures. I am mostly about cats. I have three that I call me kids. They keep me entertained, give me love and worry me just like real children do.

    • Janine just once in a while, I’ll be asked to send a ‘pet’ picture for some blog post or something my publisher is featuring maybe. And I’ll say, “Can I send a calf?”

      It’s really all I’ve got. The last time our dog died, we didn’t replace him. We’re gone a little too much to treat a dog as well as we’d like, not gone A LOT but sometimes for several days.

      They usually let me send the calf picture.

  6. I love pics of newborn calves. My Dad raised Brown Swiss cattle and I loved watching them calve(not the actual process).

  7. So thankful you found your western voice, Mary. Love your romantic comedy with cowboys. It is just so YOU. You always crack me up, and there nothing more fun than a book (or friend) that makes you laugh.

  8. What I know is the small community I currently work in. There is an old building here that was called the County Home which was basically for mentally handicapped people. It has a basement/lower level with what looks like a jail cell and handcuff chains on the walls. I love suspense so my story would at least partially take place in that building.

    • HANDCUFF CHAINS ON THE WALL NAOMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Yikes. I’m writing a story in my head right now. Only in mine skeletal hands and arms are still in those cuffs!!!

  9. I love my dog Sam, aka Samwise Gamgee. I also had a cat once named Pyewacket, named after the witch’s cat in Bell, Book and Candle, the Jimmy Stewart/Kim Novak movie. He was a cool cat.
    If I wrote a book, which I couldn’t cause I have no talent, it would be about how much I love books.
    Love your cowboy life!

  10. Your life is special and I enjoy following your Facebook feed. Especially when you are doting on your husband and his caring heart towards your herd.

    My animal story…

    We moved to Arkansas four years ago and found a little 10 acre plot of land near Little Rock AFB. We call it our farm because we had 2 sheep and then we got brave an raised a pig. For 13 years we also had a tortoise, but he passed away leaving us with just our rescue dog and a small flock of (27) hens that I name after book characters.
    Turbo was pretty awesome because when we bought him from the pet store in Wasilla, AK he was the size of a box turtle so we kept him in a gift wrap storage tote. In time, we upgraded to a 150 gal. horse trough. The move to the farm was great for him because he spent his last 4 years roaming 3 fenced acre as a free-range tortoise. 🙂
    With each military move I would take Turbo into the children’s school to meet their classmates. He provided a great icebreaker and gave everyone a good reason to talk to “the new kids.”
    In addition to elementary schools, he also visited assisted living centers, preschools, and was even a guest at the local library’s story time. Young or old, everyone loved Turbo.

    Congratulations on your new book!


  11. I don’t have much experience with beef, but I know dairy! Dad is still milking 30 cows, same as when he took over for Grandpa. Naughty Bessie lives on in infamy for taking a particular dislike for my older brother and attempting to grind him into the dirt when he was four. Mom saw what was happening, and, roughly 7-8 months pregnant with my little brother, went running out to go mama-bear on the cow, and in the process of rescuing James, got picked up and thrown onto the cow’s back and taken on a wild ride around the cowyard. But it gave James time to get back to the safe side of the fence, and when Mom got off she didn’t go into labor, so all ended well. Even for the evil Holstein, because naturally she was one of the best milkers in the barn, and great milkers don’t come around so often that you can be picky about temperament.

  12. I’m so glad you found your niche because so many of us enjoy your stories. I’ve thought about asking the Kincaids over for dinner a number of times. They’re my kind of family! LOL
    I had the joy of growing up on a small farm and when a calf or foal was due we were allowed to spend the night in the barn to await the arrival. My brothers named the bull calves and colts and I got to name the heifers and fillies, thus we had a beautiful Jersey cow named Rosie!
    If I ever wrote about anything, it would be the misadventures of life because I sure have had a lot of them!

    • Writing about misadventures at least makes them have SOME use, Rosie. They’re usually not that much fun!
      How great to spend the night in the barn. We never did that. Wow. Our barn is pretty ratty. No way I’m sleeping out there!

  13. Hi Mary! Majorly glad you found your writing voice and I get to enjoy it.

    As to writing what I know, that’s what I’m doing. Same general area but 100+ years earlier. I’ve done enough research to know I’m really, really glad I didn’t live in this area in the late 1800s.

    A friend told me some wonderful stories about a hen of hers that have inspired a ‘secondary character’ in a story. I was temped to write a sequel just about the hen 🙂

    Thanks for sharing,
    Nancy C

      • Yep, doing Speedbo. I thought I would do a final edit on the story that includes the hen, but another WIP lured me in. Hey, that rhymes!

        Nancy C

  14. I got to spend a day and night on a beef cattle ranch going around early morning to see what calves survived the night and pick up the one’s that didn’t and if the cattle were ok. Was an eye opener for me as I learned what it takes to run a cattle ranch and were beef come from. This was in the middle 1980’s. This was in northern minnesota.

    • Wow Kim that sounds sort of hard. Especially if you weren’t used to it. Did something HAPPEN? That caused so much death? OR did you find many that had died?
      I know with bigger herd, that are spread over huge grasslands you can’t begin to tend each birth. And in some ways that’s healthier, harsh but healthier. No calf survives if anything is wrong with it, even the way it’s mama gave birth. Or if the calf is too slow standing up and can’t figure out to nurse.
      That means weaknesses are stopped in their tracks.
      Makes for a tougher breed.
      But we can’t bring ourselves to do that. We intervene and help mama and baby if possible.

      • It was winter so the cold got to some of the calves, was something that they experienced every year. They had a large herd so we rode on the back of a flat bed trailer. Over time they learned to keep mom’s and babies closer to the barn since minnesota’s winter can me very harsh on animals as well as people.

  15. I had a parrot named Oscar that was given to me as a gift… he was my best friend growing up… he would guard my room from others, play games with me, and gave me kisses. Years later I found out he was a she when he laid an egg…

  16. What a wonderful behind-the-books post, Mary! And I also love your baby calves on FaceBook. My three Labradors, who now all live with God, left behind so much I could say about each of them, but it would hurt too bad. So I will tell you about Cheyenne, a paint-Saddlebred cross at the horse rescue where I volunteer. He has healed so much from hideous abuse, and has finally regained his trust in humans. Well, I trust him right back. He “talks” to me, really. I ask him things, look into those glorious brown eyes, and see myself. And he answers back–with a nod, or a slow-shutting of his lids, or taking a step back. Animals mean more to me than most people, that’s for sure. Congratulations on your successful writing career.

  17. As a farm kid then a 4H parent I’ve got to be a part of many a story. It’s time to head to church, my husband knocks on the bedroom window, motioning for me to hurry. I run outside, pantyhose, suit and all to find out I’m going to have to pull a lamb, cause I have the skinnier arm to fit in the mommas canal. Needless to say, that pastors family was a few minutes late for church!

  18. As a kid on a Minnesota farm, my brothers took care of the milking and calfs. I, as the only girl, had the pigs. Cute as baby calves are, nothing is as cute as a baby pig. One time when we lost a mom, I kept the baby pig in a doghouse with a fence, took him on walks with a dog collar and a leash. He was my pet.
    One time we kept a baby calf, that had lost its mom, in the aisleway of the pig barn. Came out one morning and the baby calf was on its knees nursing on the sow along with the baby piglets.
    Farms are never dull.

    • Linda I GASPED ALOUD. NO WAY! The calf sucking the big?
      This might need a phone call to a university or something, a REALITY SHOW!

      I get it, it’s too late now.

  19. For me it would be cats. So many stories. In hindsight I now know it had to do partly with my childhood. I’ve always loved animals. I had a cat once upon a time which was amazing enough since I never thought my parents would agree to letting me have a pet. He was a wild barn cat. Unfortunately he was taken from me 5 yrs. later (I was told he ran away) but my grandmother who lived with us didn’t want him there and had my other grandparents take him away. They were bringing him back to the farm and he got out of their car. I didn’t hear the real story until many, many years later. Also, that he was hit by a car and died. Very sad story. But before I knew this though I had a mama cat and 3 kittens show up on my back porch one winter. So now for more than 30 years I’ve been caring for ferals/strays. I’ve had many and love them all. I cared for one that was only 4 weeks old and had been covered in motor oil. He turned out to be my biggest, alpha male. I’d like to think somehow my first cat brought them to me to care for.

  20. Hi Miss Mary! Well, we have had quite a few animals over the years…..from dogs to horses to pigs, cows, goats, and now, along with the goats, show steers have come into play. Talk about petted and pampered…these guys are! I love animals and love that my children and grand children love them as well. I think it is good for children to learn responsibilities that go along with taking care of animals.

  21. I grew up on a mixed farm. We had approx 40 beef cows and 4,500 chickens. I spent many an hour in the chicken barn, gathering eggs and then cleaning them to ship them to the hatchery. My sisters and I listened to a lot of cassettes while cleaning eggs. It would get pretty warm in the barn in the summer time and the dust from the straw would fill the air, making it difficult to breathe. Sometimes, when we’d find soft shelled eggs or eggs that we couldn’t ship we’d chuck them at each other….We also had farm dogs and barn cats. Our dogs were almost always Collies. One year my brother found two baby raccoons and we fed and played with them all summer until they escaped their pen. Ah, the memories of growing up in the country with 6 siblings….always someone to play with.

  22. I am a dog person. We do have our share of chickens. I believe we have 40 of them now. Nothing like a fresh egg. I did grow up in the country so I spent a lot of time around animals even farm animals.

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