Casper, Wyoming…not as big as I thought

Research is tricky.

I once set a book such that it passed through Fort Laramie, Wyoming and the research I did sort of contradicted itself. I wrote it up best I could

Finally, when the book was done and I turned it into my editor, her comment was, “Did you know they moved Fort Laramie three times? And none of those are by Laramie, Wyoming.”

No, I didn’t know that. Yes, I’ll revise.

I once set a book in Fort Union, New Mexico. The only think I needed was…what fort is close to my story because I needed my characters to go to a fort. They stayed a day. No big deal.

So a fort is a fort is a fort right? They entered the stockade gates and searched for the commander.

Except Fort Union had no stockade. In fact, in 1878, the time of my book, it was barely a fort. It was a storage place for supplies. The west was settled for the most part. There were mostly warehouses and very few soldiers. Yes, I’ll revise.

So in my most recent book, Braced for Love–and all my books–I create a fictional town, in this case Bear Claw Pass, Wyoming, and set it near a real town, in this case Casper, Wyoming. It’s the CAPITOL. Sure Wyoming was still a territory, still it stands to reason that the future capitol of a state would have SOMETHING going on. (Mary responding to one of the comments below. This is WRONG. Casper is NOT the capitol of Wyoming. Duh! Thank you for the correction. But it is typical of my error. Even when I KNOW the right thing sometimes the wrong thing makes it into print!)


The key research line I found was about Fort Casper…and this sentence. The town of Casper itself was founded well after the fort had been closed. Instead of this bustling western town I found a quiet little place with the potential for growth because railroad tracks were coming through.

Research will trip you up if you make assumptions and I sometimes do make assumptions and they make it into print, then I just have to hope readers make assumptions along the lines I did and don’t notice, or they are forgiving.


So my next series is going to be set somewhere I’ve never written about before, California, near Sacramento and Yosemite, about twenty years after the Gold Rush. You know what? Big cowboy area. I’m having fun researching it and getting off onto side tracks. And learning, learning, learning. Especially I have a woman inventor and as much as we look at that time as being primitive, the industrial revolution was ON. New stuff coming as fast as they old patents aged out. I read once, there were over 100,000 patents taken out just for automobiles.

Guns…the history of guns is the history of America. The fortune that could be made by improving on the design. Every tiny step of progress could make a man a millionaire.

All this industry was built on inventions from before, and others would build on what was new. It’s fascinating reading. The four-stroke cycle engine isn’t invented yet in my books but it is THEORIZED. You get that. A man theorized it would work and it was wild. Explosions, inside a steel box, pushing pistons up and down. It took fifteen years before someone made this theory work.

Anyway, I’m kicking off what I hope is a journey of discovery for my inventor, genius heroine and her very confused cowboy hero who thinks his ranch is the best run place in America (not that he’s ever travelled). She wants to improve it by making explosions inside a metal container? It sounds dangerous and honestly, ridiculous. And she may be smart but it all sounds stupid to him. But he is fond of his pretty, energetic little wife so okay, go on and invent things, just be careful.

Hot and cold running water? Um…turns out that’s nice.

Irrigation on his ranchland? He liked that idea. 

I’m enjoying myself in that series, trying to write my way around the whole Casper, Wyoming debacle in my current Brothers in Arms series, and generally loving exploring history.



A special treat for Petticoats and Pistols readers.

Hearts Entwined ON SALE NOW. FOR $1.99

Hearts Entwined, a novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Melissa Jagears and Mary Connealy.

Click to Buy

Hearts Entwined


Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Love Knot,” Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister’s arrival by train.

Mary Connealy’s “The Tangled Ties That Bind” offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede.

Regina Jennings offers “Bound and Determined,” where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels?

And Melissa Jagears’ “Tied and True” entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory.

Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Book Decor

Okay, I’m a book freak. I know it. Writing them. Reading them. And decorating with them.

This lamp is made of actual old books. Our local library used old books they no longer shelve, and makes them into lamps and sells them to raise money for the library. This one is a little bit sideways thanks to my 2-year-old granddaughter who KNOCKED IT OVER. This is why we can’t have nice things!!!

My faux old book tissue holder. I just saw it and loved it and there was no stopping me! It’s on the end table right next to my recliner and I used it every day!

This is a Christmas tree ornament. But I can’t even think of putting it away eleven months of the year. So it hangs form my bookshelf with my own books on it!

My daughter gave this to me for Christmas one year.

And the next year she gave me this Christmas ornament, also used to decorate my shelf of books.

Now I should start on my WESTERN decor. Maybe for another blog.

How about you? Do you surround yourself with books…that are just books? Or do you take it farther and decorate with them?

Mary Connealy has THREE WINNERS!!!

The winner of an audio version of Braced for Love is


The winner of an ebook version of Braced for Love is

Ginny Perkins

The winner of a print version of Braced for Love is

Deb Volkman

Deb, I’ve emailed you using the email address attached to your comment on our blog. It’s bounced twice now. Please contact me at and I’ll connect with you to arrange to send your book.

I will contact each of you and

get you your book in the correct format!


Mary Connealy, author of romantic comedies with cowboys

Audio books?

Does anyone ‘read’ audio books?

I’ve been walking on my new treadmill daily and because I’m half mad during it with boredom I’ve been listening to one of my books (the only one I could lay my hands on) as an audio book. The Accidental Guardian.

So I’ve never listened to many audio books before. Even less my own. Twice before I’ve put an audio book on and listened. Once on a drive to Minneapolis. The book lasted all the way up and all the way back.

Is that right? I mean it wouldn’t have taken me that long to read it. I question whether it took me that long to WRITE it!

And then a few years back I had a detached retina.  I’m sure I whined about it here at the time….BECAUSE I WHINED ABOUT IT EVERYWHERE. I had to (after surgery) lay FACE DOWN FOR TEN DAYS!!!) A very weird experience.

I had My Cowboy go to the local library, where, when I get my usual free copy of each and every one of my books in audio form…I donate them.

He brought home the whole Wild Women series. I got each of them listened to…one per day (three books). So that kept the madness at bay for three of the ten days.

My children introduced me to podcasts, well anyway, I digress…

So I’m been listening to The Accidental Guardian on audio book and I’m wondering if anyone likes them because, for the first time EVER, part of getting an audio book is I get a couple of free downloads.

Does this mean I don’t get an actual physical disk packet? I have no idea. Hmmmm Sorry about that library.

Anyway, I’m giving one away today. Would anyone like an audio book? All I’ve got is some code thing.

Whoever wins, I’ll send you the instructions to collect your audio copy of Braced for Love. And hope you can figure out how in the world to make them work. There are instructions…I’ll send those along with your code.

Shaking my head. Together we WILL succeed, I vow it!!!

In the comment section, tell me yes or no, do you listen to audio books…I’ll throw in a regular print copy and an ebook, too, just so whichever is your favorite, there’s something for everyone.

Three winners, three formats.

Hey, it’s almost my birthday. I’m feeling like giving presents is right!

Reviews are coming in for Braced for Love.

Don’t Blink–A Bookish Blog

Fueled by Faith and Caffeine

Read Eat Repeat

Braced for Love

Buy at Baker Book House

Buy on Amazon

Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life.

But danger seems to track Kevin along the way, and he wonders if his half brother, Wyatt, is behind the attacks. Finally arriving at the ranch, everyone is at each other’s throats and the only one willing to stand in between is Winona Hawkins, a nearby schoolmarm.

Despite being a long-time friend to Wyatt, Winona can’t help but be drawn to the earnest, kind Kevin–and that puts her in the cross hairs of somebody’s dangerous plot. Will they all be able to put aside their differences long enough to keep anyone from getting truly hurt?

Two Week Countdown to Braced for Love

First off….

I got a cover I can share for book #3 in the Brothers in Arms series

I love all these covers but it seems like each time I like the next one, the newest one, best. And that’s been true for three books now. 


Brothers in Arms

Braced for Love

Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life.

But danger seems to track Kevin along the way, and he wonders if his half brother, Wyatt, is behind the attacks. Finally arriving at the ranch, everyone is at each other’s throats and the only one willing to stand in between is Winona Hawkins, a nearby schoolmarm.

Despite being a long-time friend to Wyatt, Winona can’t help but be drawn to the earnest, kind Kevin–and that puts her in the cross hairs of somebody’s dangerous plot. Will they all be able to put aside their differences long enough to keep anyone from getting truly hurt?

Buy on Amazon

Buy at Baker Book House

A Man with a Past

Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.

Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future. 

Coming in July

Buy on Amazon

Buy at Baker Book House

Love on the Range

Wyatt Hunt is temporarily bedridden and completely miserable. Somehow Molly Garner’s limited skills have made her the most qualified in their circle to care for Wyatt. But by the time he’s healed, she’s fed up with him and the whole ungrateful family. For even worse than his grumpiness were the few unguarded moments when he pulled at her heartstrings, and she has long determined to never marry.

Molly gets a job as the housekeeper at Oliver Hawkins’s ranch. But really she’s with the Pinkertons, spying to find out if Hawkins has abused women and if he’s guilty of murder.

Wyatt refuses to let her risk it alone, convincing Hawkins that he’s abandoning his own ranch, angered by his two brothers’ coming to claim a big chunk of it.

But when another Pinkerton agent gets shot, they realize Hawkins isn’t the only danger. The Hunt brothers will have to band together to face all the troubles of life and love that suddenly surround them.

Coming in October

Buy on Amazon

Buy at Baker Book House

To celebrate the coming release I’m giving away a signed copy of Braced for Love. Leave a comment about…how about the WEATHER. Am I the only one who’s half mad from this horrible frozen wasteland? Covid could be part of the culprit, but I’m about ready to just jump on a plane and fly south until it’s warm. It sounds like I might have to head for oh…………Equador…I checked. It’s 74, not even really HOT at the equator. This whole global warming thing can’t come to soon for me. Grrrrr…

Tell me how you’re getting through this winter. Better yet, tell me how I can get through this winter!!!


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Coming in March…Braced for Love

I will tell a little story that serves as the background of my upcoming three book series Brothers in Arms

I’m from a town that shall remain nameless, but it is old. It’s claim to fame (one of the few) is that it is old.

An old town.

So the man who founded the trading post and thus started the settlement, was a scoundrel.

He was married back east, had children, and at some point, he ran off, headed west, abandoned his wife and children to explore the frontier.

It got him as far as my hometown.

Where he married, had children and ran off. No mention of his wife back east.

He went to Colorado and (do we really need a drumroll?) he helped found a town, got married, had children and…his story is lost from then on.

But I’m assuming he ran off and who knows how many families he scattered across the west.

So my series is inspired by the scoundrel but of course I make it much worse when, if you really look at what my town’s founder did, it’s honestly hard to be much worse. Still, my scoundrel managed it.

Three families, each with one son. Each abandoned…except…his last wife was the owner of a large ranch. He first husband died and she inherited his ranch. Her father neighbored with her and after she because a young widow, she moved home to her father and the two of them, with her daughter, ran the ranches as one.

Then along comes the scoundrel. He has to be a charming rogue doesn’t he? To convince these women to marry him?

So then he runs off, but once in a while he wanders through. He has a son now with this third wife who has learned what a useless man she married. Then his third wife dies.

And suddenly, he is the sole owner of a huge ranch. And when he dies (this all happens before the book begins of course) instead of dividing it as his wife had laid out, between her daughter and her son…our scoundrel leaves it in three pieces to his three sons. None of these three men knew about each other.

And here come the heirs. And they all thought Pa was dead, only his final family knew when he really died. Two men who thought their father had been dead for around twenty years, are furious to find out what a horrible man he was. The brother and sister who own the ranch, their grandfather and mother’s ranches, are furious that the will reveals the cheating and lying. And they expect the very worst of the newcomers.

And then someone tries to kill one of them. Then another. Then a third.

They suspect each other. Distrust each other. And have to stick together to survive. It won’t be easy.,

Book one is Braced for Love, releasing March 2, 2021. More details about that next time.

Coming in July book #2 of the Brothers in Arms series is A Man with a Past.

And this year (and next) my publisher Bethany House Publishing is releasing three books from me. The whole series coming out in a single year!!!

Book #3 is Love on the Range. Coming in November.

Come along for a ride rooted in a true story…and then of course, taken into fiction without a qualm.

Mary Connealy


New Years Eve Tradition…and My Clever Mom

I’m talking today about my family’s New Years Eve traditions.

This is my family growing up, not my children and husband today.

I’m from a family of eight kids. Eight kids in a three bedroom farmhouse that was so old, before my mom and dad moved in, they were using it to store ears of corn. When Mom and Dad got married, there on the land my grandpa owned was this little old house.

Three rooms TOTAL. They did a bunch of fixing and turned it into (drumroll) a four room house.

Now, people didn’t always live in the mini-mansions they all do today, so it wasn’t that uncommon. But it was pretty squashed.

Mom and Dad slept on a fold out couch and the kids, which just kept popping up every year or two, slept in this cracker box upstairs, one room with a roof that slanted. When my SIXTH sibling was born, a brother, Mom and Dad added onto the house by…buying another house, hauling it in and setting it down by the current house. Now the house had THREE bedrooms.

But, I now slept on Mom and Dad’s fold out couch (which I did  not fold out). You can count that as a fourth bedroom, but it really wasn’t one.

All this to say, we were pretty poor and I was raised without much fancy stuff. And I really didn’t notice…much.

In the context of being poor, every New Years Eve, Mom would make this feast for us that was kind of expensive.

She’d get the pan out she used for deep frying, she had a wire basket to sink down into the hot oil, and she’d fry shrimp and chicken, French fries and onion rings.

It was DELICIOUS. My dad especially liked it which is why she probably did it.  But except for the shrimp, which she bought breaded, it was all made from scratch.

She’d peel and ‘french fry’ the potatoes. She’d dip pieces of chicken in a thin batter, and she’d make these onion rings that, every once in a while, I can find in a restaurant that is seriously trying to make delicious food. The onion rings would go in a thin batter, then she’d drop them in the hot oil and they’d kind of be all stuck together.

We’d just surround the poor woman and she couldn’t turn out that wonderful once-a-year food fast enough.

I’m fond of saying, I never knew there was such a thing as a cookie that wasn’t warm.

Same for shrimp and onion rings, deep fried chicken and French fries. We always ate this food as fast as she could cook it.

I found out much later that part of this annual deep-fried feast was Mom and Dad trying to come up with a way to keep us all home (as we got old enough to have driver’s licenses) She worried about wild behavior (for us) and drunk drivers on the road with us.

In fact we didn’t start the tradition until I was a little older, so there’s some truth to it.

I always have loved fried shrimp (honestly, I like every kind of shrimp!), and once in a while I get those really great batter-dipped onion rings like Mom used to make.

And they remind me of a simple time in a three-bedroom farmhouse with a herd of kids all surrounding a very special and clever Mom.


To celebrate the new year.


I am giving away an ebook.

I have new release that has been released before…in a novella collection.

So it may be one you’ve read before.

Dr. Tess and the Cowboy

An archeologist discovers dinosaur bones and wants to preserve an important site.

Her dream come true may destroy his ranch.

Or it may lead them to true love.


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A little slice of life

It’s been a weird month.

I’m a little scattered so instead of a thoughtful, cowboy centered, post with humor and heart.

I’m just going to list my odd December life.

My 92 year old mother, before she got locked down last March, with 10 of her 28 great-grandchildren…and three of her 29 grandchildren.

My mom had Covid-19. She was asymptomatic but she was isolated in her room at the nursing home she lives in and it was terrible for her.

She’s well now and back with her roommate. The nursing home was hit hard enough they are slow opening things up again. But as of yesterday, lunch is in the dining room instead of Mom being served a meal alone in her room. They have activities and a regular afternoon coffeetime all in the dining room and that’s going again.

I hope she gets some energy back. I’ve been going to see her, through her window, talking on her phone or FaceTime, she has an iPad but can’t use it, but the staff helps her answer and gets it situated, and it’s usually at least a little successful.

It’s cold here now in Nebraska so the window visits aren’t able to be very LONG these days. I went to see her yesterday and stood in 23 degrees for a while. Considering people go to Nebraska Cornhusker football games (in better years–Covid’s put the kibosh on that this year) and sit for three plus hours in this weather, I’m a major wimp if I can’t stand outside my mom’s window for a while.

A saying in Nebraska…there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.

I saw an eagle yesterday. I live in a place where you can stop in the road, sit there for many minutes, and snap pictures of eagles and no one comes along. 

So the upside of country life…seeing eagles and stopping in the road, is also the downside of country life, if you need help on the road, because you’re alone, no one is there to help. But if someone DOES come along, you will always know them and they will always help you.

Also, I did Nano in November. A large part of my December weirdness, because I wrote a LOT, pretty successful for me. I’m a dependable 1000 words a day person, but for Nano, National Novel Writing Month, I hit about 40,000 words and only now do I realize it was so “Full Steam Ahead” that I didn’t do the revising-as-I-write thing I usually do. So I am REVISING all these 40,000 words and I’m finding ridiculous mistakes and so MANY of them. Yeesh. Example:

He was sure they were sisters. And well-off gentile sisters.
Another one that drove me nuts and I KNOW BETTER:
I named a character Cap. He was a former captain in the army, served in the Civil War.
Okay, dates were failing me. He can’t have served in the civil war, he’d be too old for my purposes.
Frontier forts? Nope. Okay, forget Cap.
So I changed his name to Zane.
And I did a find and replace for Cap to Zane.
To my surprise (duh) I changed every Cap in the book to Zane including the letters ‘cap’ tucked into the middle of longer words.
In my revisions I’ve now found esZaneed, and just now Zaneable
escaped, capable? It turns out I have three sisters…runaway brides and they did a LOT of escaping………….


Also at times, disguised as servants my heroines wore mob caps. or should I say Zanes….shaking my head. So many typos–beyond the Zane nonsense. So much annoying madness, it slowed me down fixing it until I’m not sure Nano even sped my writing up.

What else? My Christmas gifts are wrapped, my tree is up. Very minimal decorating this year, and that’s from a woman who does minimal every year, so that’s saying something. But no one is coming here. Unless the UPS man peeks through the window in the front door…which would be creepy…and yet…at least someone would see my tree!

And that include me…the tree lights show through the window but only I turn them on. So yesterday I turned them on and left the house (the eagle viewing) and thought,..when I come home, I’ll see my own lights.

Except I was home and inside and after about an HOUR I realized I forgot to look at the lights when I drove in…which probably means they aren’t real noticable, right?

So looking forward to a probably very quiet Christmas. And hopefully a huge improvement in 2021. 

And a new series begins in March.


Thanksgiving Idea of my very own

Today is going to be short


But VERY sweet.

It’s pie.

In the last 18 months we’ve found out my husband has celiac disease. So NO GLUTEN. It’s been a shocking change in lifestyle. He’s been heroic about it. But then I think his belly hurt BAD.

So now we’re a gluten free household (Okay, I occasionally sneak a slice of bread)

And I am the official pie maker in my family.

Well, guess what I found out. The crust in pie (that gluteny little devil) is not an essential part of the pie!

So here is the pecan pie recipe I’ve used for years for my family and it is COMPLETELY UNCHANGED.

Except I poured it into a well-buttered baking dish (I chose a casserole dish rather than a pie pan) without any crust.

It was delicious.

We had no complaints and no problem devouring the whole thing.

Give it a try if you’re trying to be gluten free.

Pecan Pie

This is the easiest pie ever.

In mixing bowl combine:

3 eggs

2/3 C. sugar

½ t. salt

1/3 C. butter (melted)

1 C. corn syrup


Mix all ingredients together just until they are blended, add:

1 C. pecan pieces

mix slightly. Pour into unbaked crust. Cover pie with sheet of aluminum foil, just lay it over the top don’t crimp the edges. Bake at 350 for 40 or 50 minutes, uncovering for the last 10 or 15 minutes. Pie is done when knife comes out clean. I like to over bake it. The pie gets a carmelly…delicious texture that only comes with time.

The pie will have a beautiful domed shape when its done, then you’ll take it our and it will fall. That’s normal.

To bake this pie with the crust…add crust. 🙂 For best results, add the crust UNDER the filling.

I made a lemon meringue pie this way and a pumpkin. You won’t even miss that crust.