A New Year: A New Series Begins

I am SO CLOSE to having a cover for book #3! In fact, I’ve seen it. But I don’t have permission to use it yet! Boo!

Book #1 Forged in Love is coming in February. Late in the month. 

The backdrop of the Wyoming Sunrise series is that Wyoming was the first state in the Union to give women the right to vote. They also gave women and people of color, that is to say Native Americans the right to vote.

Black people–no scratch that–black MEN–had already been given suffrage. Suffrage is a lot more than voting. It’s about property rights, inheritance rights, the right to run for office, serve on a jury, lots of stuff. I wrote more about that HERE. 

Okay, after typing this long, I’ve decided I will share the third cover KEEPING IN MIND that it might change.

No, darn it, I’d better not. TEMPTATION IS GNAWING AT ME!

I decided to be a good girl. Grrrrrr……..

My next post will be AFTER permission so hang in there.

Forged in Love is about a woman blacksmith who has a band of vicious stagecoach robbers trying to kill her.

To find out about blacksmiths, especially historical blacksmiths, I spent a day at a nearby Living History Museum set in a restored frontier fort, Fort Atkinson.

I will tell you this…as a person who sometimes needs odd, tiny details for the setting of my books, and a person who is a natural prairie dog who prefers to spend her time in her own hole…occasionally popping my head up, then ducking away when someone comes too close…I know that talking to experts on specific details in a book is just always fun. They LOVE it.

Really? You want to know more about historical laundry?

Yes, please, tell me more about bluing. And did they have to build their own washboards?

Tears of Joy ensue from said living history reenactor. Followed by allllllllllllllllllllllll they know.

Interspersed with me saying, repeat that again? Slow down. I’m trying to get this all down.

More tears of Joy!

It’s fun.

I guess not that many people have follow up questions to the historical blacksmith ‘cuz I talked to him FOREVER and he was just great. I’ve had similar experiences with Lewis and Clark reenactors, gunsmiths, tinsmiths, a cooper (wooden buckets, butter churns, washtubs, etc), a farrier (horse shoeing and blacksmithing are NOT the same job)…there are others. I talked to a guy in charge of a Western Trails museum about the Oregon Trail. A Trails and Rails museum about railroads. And the thing is, the questions are small. Weird little details I didn’t know. 

I—a person who spends a LOT of time in historical reading and research, had weird little questions. And these experts LOVE ANSWERING THEM. 

It’s a symbiotic relationship. 

And yet Mary the prairie dog, drags her heels about doing these things. Why????

Anyway, Blacksmithing. My heroine is a woman blacksmith. Trained at her widowed father’s knee. Her father the town blacksmith/cooper/farrier/wheelwright–it’s a small town. Many people did things for themselves, they didn’t take their horse to the farrier, they shoed their own horse. There wasn’t enough work to keep a lot of people busy.

So she’s learned all these skills from a father who didn’t think it was right, at the same time he needed the help and she insisted, and he didn’t like her being home alone….and now he’s dead.

The whole town is conflicted. A woman shouldn’t be a blacksmith. On the other hand, can you fix my wheel? I need nails. My hinge broke.

So necessity gives Mariah a rather begrudging acceptance. And in the meantime she’s falling in love with the guy running the town diner, who was trained as a chef in New York City and now slings the very BEST hash in the west. Everyone thinks he’s weird for calling Beef Stew, Beef Bourguignon (man, try spelling THAT word three times fast). I’m trying to play against type. Blacksmith heroine, cook hero. But honestly in the west a lot of diners were run by men. Still, it was fun.

And also, in the stagecoach holdup that killed her father and brother, she survived, left for dead by a gang of outlaws that don’t leave witnesses and now someone’s trying to kill her.

And somehow Clint, who’s loved her from afar for a long time, and was working up the nerve to approach her very tough and intimidating father to ask if he can court her (or ask her if he could ever find her alone…he was going to do it!!!) finds himself in the kill zone between the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen and a gang of cutthroats.

And so the fun begins. Forged in Love. Coming in February.


Something to be Thankful For

I’m part of a Black Friday in October Sale!

Friday October 21-through-28

I put my book, Thankful for the Cowboy on sale a few days early so you can get a copy for 99 cents right now.

I also realized I’d never made this novella into a print book. So if anyone prefers print, go grab a copy, it’s on sale, too, the lowest price Kindle would allow.


Tom MacKinnon rides up driving a wagon with a second wagon trailing him. He and his sister builds windmills.

They’ll ask for very little money and, in exchange Lauren Drummond, newly widowed mother of four nearly grown sons, will help them learn to survive in the Sandhills of Nebraska. What to grow, what to hunt, how to build a sod house.

Tom’s windmills will save her ranch during a terrible drought.

Lauren needs three windmills before the oncoming winter freezes her few remaining, extremely shallow, ponds, or her growing herd of cattle is going to die of thirst.

She eagerly agrees to teach him the ways of the Sandhills. She’s not ready to think of another man. But Tom changes her mind. His little sister and one of her sons find love together before Tom and Lauren do.

Click to buy on Amazon

I get a special day!!! YAY!

To celebrate, I’m keeping this really short and giving away a signed copy of my soon to be released novel

A Model of Devotion.

And I’ve got a recipe.

The fastest, easiest recipe I know.

For ingredients. it’s a crock pot recipe so when I say fast, I mean how much time to you spend preparing it.

It’s gotta cook for a while.

Crock Pot Shredded Barbeque Chicken

One bag boneless, skinless chicken breasts--poured, frozen into a crockpot

One can pineapple chunks drained–poured on top of the chicken breasts

One chopped onion…chopping the onion is the only thing that takes any time.

One bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce…poured over everything.

That’s it. Cook for a bunch of hours, like…five. i usually start on high then turn it down.

Then shred the breasts with two forks, serve with the pineapple and onion and barbeque sauce all mixed together serve on a bun.

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of A Model of Devotion.


She’s finally claimed her independence . . . how far will she go to keep it?

A brilliant engineer, Jilly Stiles has been educated since childhood to help run her father’s lumber dynasty. With the company safe from her stepfather after the marriages of her two sisters, Jilly can now focus on her dream of building a mountaintop railroad–and never marry.

Nick Ryder came into Jilly’s life when he saved her mother from her no-good stepfather, and he’s prepared to protect Jilly from anything that threatens to harm her–as long as he keeps his heart from getting involved.

But when a cruel and powerful man goes to dangerous lengths to make Jilly his own, she must make a decision between her safety and her hard-won independence.

Why Cowboys?

I have a lot of people ask me if I’m ever going to write books about anything other than cowboys.

I have written other things. So never say never. But mostly no. I’m good with the Stetsons and lariats.

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. And, at the end of that ten years, I had twenty finished books on my computer.

Lots of stuff there. Mostly romance, but contemporary, suspense, mysteries. And westerns. The westerns were what finally sold.

I have to ask why.

My best response to why is, maybe I just found a genre that matched my voice. I’ve lived in rural Nebraska all my life. Born and raised. Married a Nebraska cattleman. I suppose I just brought some authenticity to the books because I know what horses and cows…..and cowboys, would say and do.

Or at least what SOME of them would do. ONE of them would do. Maybe this is at the root of the old saying, “Write what you know.”

Let’s just go with that, okay? Because I write all over the map. (the cowboy map) Have all sorts of professions and settings. Mysteries and danger.

I pretty much have to research all of that.

My next release, coming in October, A Model of Devotion, the heroine is a civic engineer. Before that was an actual term. She built bridges and trestles. And blasts holes in mountains. She smoothed the dirt on the way. Calculated the power of a train engine and the slope…up and down….the engine could manage. She knows surveying..

If you’ve ever driven through a hole blasted in a mountain, did you know that they started on opposite ends of the mountain and blasted toward each other? They calculated it and surveyed it and they’d meet in the middle exactly as planned. It’s all very science-y and math-y. Very intelligent stuff

Well, my heroine can do that.

Of course I CAN’T DO THAT. Write what you know? HAH!

So research. And what I can’t figure out, I skip, hopefully quietly so no one notices. And of course, when there’s trouble, she’s very good at handling it herself. And what it’s more than she can handle…there’s a cowboy

A Model of Devotion

She’s finally claimed her independence . . . how far will she go to keep it?

A brilliant engineer, Jilly Stiles has been educated since childhood to help run her father’s lumber dynasty. With the company safe from her stepfather after the marriages of her two sisters, Jilly can now focus on her dream of building a mountaintop railroad–and never marry.

Nick Ryder came into Jilly’s life when he saved her mother from her no-good stepfather, and he’s prepared to protect Jilly from anything that threatens to harm her–as long as he keeps his heart from getting involved.

But when a cruel and powerful man goes to dangerous lengths to make Jilly his own, she must make a decision between her safety and her hard-won independence.



Insane Asylums in History

Okay, kinda creepy title for my post this week!

I’m right now reading a book called

The Woman they Could Not Silence.

I’m nowhere near done so who knows how it’ll all come out…but…

Right now the heroine (it’s non-fiction, but she’s a true hero!) is locked up in an insane asylum…at a time in history when tyrannical husbands could put troublesome wives in an asylum.

Elizabeth Packard has been declared insane…for (mainly) thinking. And daring to have her ideas about right and wrong diverge from her husband’s views

So much is fascinating about this book…and it’s not just for fun, it’s RESEARCH. I am formulating a plan for my next series and I might have my heroine be an escapee from an insane asylum. Or maybe I’ll have her realize she’s going to be committed and she’s on the run? Not settled yet.

In this book, by Kate Moore, I found a chart showing the supposed causes of insanity in 1858-ish. The Civil War is getting ready to explode around Elizabeth Packard as she’s being locked up. Among the reasons for insanity??? :

Domestic trouble

Religious Excitement

Business Anxieties

Death of Friend

Hard Study

Change of Life


And way down the list is Reading Novels.

Yes, dear Petticoats & Pistols readers, you could be locked up for reading novels.

Another weird thing is … the word Uterus, in ancient Greek, is hysteria. That word, Hysteria was used all the time to declare woman insane.

Other weird, disgusting, fascinating things about this book. Elizabeth’s husband , Theophilis was a pastor. I can’t remember what denomination right now, but they had a NEW DOCTRINE and an OLD DOCTRINE.

So, her husband was a pastor in a church with the New Doctrine. This is all in Illinois. So a northern state as the Civil War is still ahead. A really wealthy man with a lot of investments in businesses profiting from Slavery, didn’t like that churches were becoming increasingly abolitionist. So he went around and offered to build new churches for congregations that would remain pro-slavery. The New Doctrine in Theophilis’ church was abolitionist, quietly, without explaining how they were paying for it, Theophilis changed to the Old Doctrine and took the money.,

Elizabeth was appalled and after working hard to change her husband’s mind, and the minds of his supporters in his church, she quit. She became a Methodist.

That was part of what tipped her husband in the direction of committing her. Only a crazy woman would disagree with her husband about religion after all.

There are just so many weird, fascinating bits and pieces in this book. The man, Dr McFarland, who ran the asylum, encouraged and listened and debated congenially with Elizabeth, all while writing up notes saying she was obviously, deeply insane.

He told her she could send and receive letters but never mailed the ones she wrote and confiscated and destroyed the ones she received. His treatment of her was fine to her face until she got angry that there was no sign of ever being released. At that point he through her into a ward with dangerous inmates and stripping away even the minimal comforts she had, including a private room and freedom to walk around the grounds.

Elizabeth started a Bible study with fellow inmates that she found a great comfort. Intelligent women without a sign of insanity. One of the nurses told her in confidence, “You’ve got to quit having these Bible studies, you will never be released if you continue.”

Elizabeth found women in that asylum who were also parked there by abusive husbands, women she found decent and sensible and all around sane.

And, because her husband had threatened to lock her in an asylum, she had consulted a lawyer who assured her she couldn’t be locked up without a jury trial declaring her insane. The lawyer lied to her. He was a supporter of her husband. But to Elizabeth, he assured her she couldn’t just be locked up. But all the laws he told her about…didn’t apply to wives. There were new laws in place to protect people from being locked away by cruel relatives, but those laws didn’t apply to WIVES!

Wives could be locked up on the word of the husbands and two witnesses. In this case, men in their church who were offended by Elizabeth changing churches and having views other than their own.

I’m going to stop now, before I write the whole book but it’s fascinating. I’m trying NOT to just read it as a good book, but rather read it for research. So I’m making notes and marking pages. Slow going but I love it.

In a modern day and age when there is such a struggle with finding care for people with mental illness, this has nothing to do with it. In fact, among her extensive writings, Elizabeth came to the conclusion, “I fully believe it was the doctor’s purpose to make a maniac of me by the skillful use of the Asylum tortures.”

One of her fellow patients told her: “Insane Asylum. A place where insanity is made.”

Coming soon, (maybe) in a book I plan to write…with lots of cowboys and comedy of course…that could tricky!

In the meantime, my current release is called

The Element of Love


The Element of Love–a Giveaway!!!

The Element of Love

Coming March 1

Click to Pre-order

Click to Enter the Goodreads Giveaway

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing here


Another gully ahead and Laura felt like she was flying through midair. No ground beneath her for a hundred feet down. Then she swooped around a mountainside and splashed herself as the barrel careened from one side of the flume to another.

And that’s when the rain began falling. Sprinkling at first but they’d planned to stay as dry as possible and she’d forgotten.

Her movements cautious to keep from tipping, Laura got out the oil cloth packed in her satchel. She wrapped it around herself. She kept her arms out, but her satchel, the lantern, the money, all were protected. She couldn’t wrap it around her shoulders, even if they ended up soaked, because this ride would most likely end with her taking a swim. She’d need her arms free.

            Then the curve went away from the mountain, then veered back and for a sickening second she saw she’d be slammed right into the face of a cliff. And then she saw the hole. The tunnel.

            She blasted into the dark.

            The roar of the water and the echo of this tight tunnel made her dizzy. All she knew was noise and motion, no vision. Blindness while the world exploded around her.

            She couldn’t breathe. A scream built in her chest. She fought a violent urge to throw herself out of her barrel, to make contact with something that wasn’t moving, wasn’t roaring. It was irrational and she knew it.

Coming in July — Click to Pre-order

But still, every second she endured was a battle.

Fighting it, she remembered the need for quiet. She had to be quiet. But surely they were far enough from anyone that a single scream, which pushed to tear free from her throat, wouldn’t be noticed. She swallowed it down. Clutched the sides of the barrel, fought the dizzying fear she’d tip over, or be crushed by the dark and speed and roar.

            Then out.

            Flying. Gasping for breath, she went into a sudden descent that was almost a straight drop. And the sky had opened up while she’d been in the tunnel. Rain poured down and hit like needles. She lifted the oil cloth up to cover her face so she could breathe and had to keep her head ducked low because her hands were busy clinging to the barrel.

          The flume gradually leveled a bit to a less terrifying fall. The flume carried logs for nine miles. She knew that. She had to ride nine miles from the mountaintop to the river below. Nine miles and there was no way to figure time because there was no way to figure speed. She’d heard once it took the logs an hour to get from top to bottom. Another time she’d heard half that.

            It all depended on the force of the water. Had they opened it full blast? She wasn’t sure. It was science, force times distance times descent patterns. She should be able to do the math in her head while she careened downward but she was missing key numbers.

Coming in October —- Available for Pre-order Soon

            Mathematical calculations were more Jilly’s thing. In fact, Laura wouldn’t be surprised if Jilly was keeping herself calm by counting in prime numbers or doing calculus problems. Laura did science—her favorite was chemistry. And she’d love like mad to use her smuggled chemicals to blow this flume into a million pieces.

            She couldn’t blow it up. She couldn’t do the mathematical calculations. So, she played guessing games about what would happen when the men discovered the flume running. She ripped around a curve in the flume again, clinging to the barrel sides.

The men, think of the men.

They’d be coming to work in the morning, early, their day started at sunrise. Or the day after if the thunderstorm held on. No one logged mountaintop woodlands if there was lightning. Whenever they came back to work, their men would see the flume open.

            Would they wonder if it hadn’t been turned off at the end of the last shift? She knew one thing, they wouldn’t report it to Edgar. His punishment was always as rapid as the blade of a guillotine. His wrath would fall on the neck of whoever reported it. And they’d be fired.

            No, Edgar would never hear about it. And all of the hard-working lumberjacks were loyal to the Stiles family and held Edgar Beaumont in contempt. So between fear of Edgar’s wrath and disgust with the man, even if he tore the mountain apart looking for runaway daughters, which he just might do, he’d never hear about a flume found running overnight or any suspicions about the mad decision to use that flume to escape.

By the time he quit looking close to home, they would be miles away, and putting more space between them with every minute they were free.

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.


p style=”text-align: center;”>http:www.maryconnealy.com

Her Secret Song coming October 6th!!!




Her Secret Song 

(Brides of Hope Mountain Book #3)

The gunfighter and the recluse…what could go wrong?


Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel. 

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring. 

Publishers Weekly Review of Her Secret Song HERE!


Coming October 6th! The action packed finale to the Brides of Hope Mountain series!


Read an excerpt HERE

Buy Her Secret Song HERE

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for the FIRST EVER IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE GIVEAWAY OF HER SECRET SONG!!!

Mary Connealy


Right now on sale!


in all ebook formats

The Accidental Guardian


19th century email…the Homing Pigeon

When I’m writing, I often find myself with a problem that stumps me.

This time it was communication. But SECRET communication. Sure by the time I’m setting my books there was a telegraph. But I needed two men to communicate with each other and no one knows there’s a connection.

.……………Mary Connealy’s Website……………..

I got some good suggestions. Did you know native Americans communicated with arrows? The tribe might be spread over a great expanse, but they’d stay close enough for an arrow to reach. One man would an arrow a great distance and when it reached it’s goal, those waiting them would know it was a signal for whatever had been agreed upon, then that group would send an arrow to the next group.

One can only wonder is anyone got an arrow in their backsides but it seemed to work.

Of course there were smoke signals.

And there were runners. 

None of these things worked for me.

Click for Woman of Sunlight

And then my fevered brain came up with homing pigeons.

And then the research began.

I found out there were already homing pigeons 1000 years before Christ.

I found out homing pigeons were used a lot in war. And were in fact called War Pigeons.

And I found out the birds could fly as far as 600 miles at a speed of 100 miles per hour. Six hours to reach 600 miles. Of course these were records, but I didn’t need my pigeons to go 600 miles. I needed more like twenty. No problem.

But how did the pigeons figure it out? How did they designate ‘home.’ Could ‘home’ be changed? Could the birds go back and forth? Did that mean they have two ‘homes.’

Oh, it was confusing, but also fascinating. ‘Home’ can be split. Like ‘home’ can be two places, the place they eat and the place they sleep. So that explains why they’d go back and forth. But more simply,, I figured out that the pigeons could send a message for two men to meet. Then they could exchange their pigeons.

Well, it was fun. And fascinating. It reminded me of the stories you hear of a dog finding his way home over hundreds of miles and even years. But these birds are born with this inbred instinct to go home. No matter where you take them, they will fly back home.



Next Generation Cowgirl!-AND A FREE BOOK!!!









Just so you all know there are always new generations coming up that like all things western!

Case in point, my granddaughter. This is cut from a video–which I could NOT get to load on here, and in it she says, among other things YEEHAW. 

I’ve watched it about fifty times already. She’s 19 months old and talking up a storm.

Now that I’ve given you all a free books.

And let you see my beautiful granddaughter (as if that isn’t enough!!!)


I had an outing this week, not so usual anymore. I went to Fort Randall in Pickstown, South Dakota.

Some of these old forts are preserved, some are all new and reconstructed.

This one is largely gone.

Almost all that’s there are these sign posts telling about what was located at each spot.

The signs covered all the main points about the fort. What women’s roles were.

Some were officer’s wifes. Some were employed there. The picture within my picture shows a snapshot of life for women at the fort.

How they got supplies…which, being right along the Missouri River, well duh, send supplies up the river. Except the Missouri River, that far north, was unnavigate-able during parts of the years.  And the river was very broad and shallow, often with sandbars just barely under the surface, easy for ships to run aground.

We walked a half mile circuit around the edge of the parade grounds and saw signs like this. And there was foundation stone left here and there, or depressions in the earth.

Funny to think how close the soldiers lived to the commanders and yet they lived very differently. The commander, and the lower ranked officers, in much nicer digs than the rank and file.

They needed medical care and not just for injuries in battle. The lost a large group of soldiers the first year to scurvy. Meanwhile the native people around them, mainly the Sioux Indians, found, with no scientific or medical help, a well rounded diet on land the soldiers were surrounded by.

I hope you can enlarge these pictures to see them well. Read them. When I go to a museum, I want to READ. I want to see what it’s all about, set it in history. That’s what I love. So signs about the bakery, the doctor, what the soldiers did for fun, how they lived, are perfect for me. Maybe better than the buildings. I found it solemn and fascinating and a little big spooky.

Being blessed with a vivid imagination, I can see the soldiers marching around. Feel them overheated in the summer and freezing in the winter. Wonder how women coped with all the hard work they had to do…and do it all wearing a skirt.

It was a wonderful, if madly hot, day.

The only building still standing was a church


My day at Fort Randall. Do you go to museums? I actually love them, though it seems like I do most of my research online these days.

I came away with story ideas, but also I felt like everything I learned and saw and imagined helps ground my stories in how things really were back then. And hopefully that brings my work authenticity rooted in solid research.

Tell me about your favorite museum. And go grab a free book!