Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Barbour and Heartsong Author Mary Connealy

You know… you write this whole book. Long, wow those babies are long.

Thousands and thousands of pages. Complex plotting. Sagging middles. Up the stakes. Make every scene count.

These are all things we are told to do with a lot of enthusiasm.

Then, the book is done. TADA. I want to show it to an editor, how do I do that? Tell me what the book is about in one sentence.


It is incredibly hard. I can't summarize this thing in ten pages, how am I supposed to summarize it in one sentence.

Okay, you can have thirty words. So, maybe two sentences, but it's not a good idea.

One sentence.

Let us all pause for a moment while I wipe the tears from my eyes, quiet my pitiful sobs, and tell you what I've learned about one sentence pitches.

No names. Don't tell me the hero/heroine's names. Tell me what they are and how they feel.

A feisty lady rancher
A mountain man who's never been around women.

That's what my characters are in Petticoat Ranch. A mountain man who's never been around women finds himself married to a feisty lady rancher with four daughters. A suspenseful romantic comedy about a mountain man trapped in a pretty, sweet smelling, confusing all-girl world.

That's two sentences and 36 words. Petticoat Ranch is ninety-thousand words long. Now is that fair? Huh?

Tell who they are (teacher, rancher, parson) and how they feel (cranky, clueless, feisty) then give the BIG picture. The HUGE picture. Marriage of convenience, forced marriage, if they're at each other's throats over an inheritance or custody of a child or the best tomato in the grocery store (okay, you might have trouble sustaining that for 90,000 words, but you get the idea).

Calico Canyon
A school marm gets her five most unruly students kicked out of school. Their oaf of a father gets her fired. A completely innocent compromising situation forces them to marry the next day. No two people could be more unhappily married.

Drat! That's 38 words. I'm failing miserably here.

Cowboy ChristmasA distrustful cowboy must protect a beautiful songstress on the run. She isn't being honest, because the truth might cost her heroic cowboy his life.

Whoa, twenty-five words. How cool is that?

Montana Rose
Left pregnant in the unforgiving west, an overly obedient widow must learn to trust her new husband and herself.

Because I think it's funny, I like to add to this—but it brings it up to 40 words: Montana Rose was actually inspired by Janette Oke's beautiful classic novel Love Comes Softly. Except with romantic comedy, mayhem and gunfire.

And lastly, you must catch a mood. Is it suspenseful? Your sentence had better be suspenseful. Is it a romance, get that word love in there, or marriage, or something. If it's comedy, try, try, try in thirty words, to be funny. Now is that too much to ask of a single sentence?

I kinda think so. But too bad for me.

Now for you all: Name that one sentence pitch.

1) A police chief tries to protect beachgoers from a great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by councilmen who wants the profit from summer tourists.

2) Scientists create an amusement park of cloned dinosaurs. Sabotage sets the dinosaurs loose, and the island becomes a deadly trap.

3) Two members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ill-fated maiden voyage of the ship (why is this easier with other people's work?)

4) Snakes on a Plane (okay the title is the whole blurb)

5) Three Men and a Baby (this one too, now THAT is succinct)

Okay, name those plots (except for Snakes on a Plane and Three Men and a Baby, that's just too easy!) Or give me your own one sentence about your book or a book you love. It's HARD I'm telling you, when it's your own work. What they are, how they feel the BIG picture.

Someone pitch To Kill a Mockingbird to me. Gone with the Wind. Harry Potter. Let's see whatcha got.


MARY CONNEALY is the author of the Lassoed in Texas Series: Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. She has recently signed an exclusive contract to write for Barbour Publishing for the next three years. And yes, the ink was dry on that contract before she let them see her whacky cozy mysteries. Of Mice. . .and Murder is the first in a three-book Heartsong Presents Mystery series about romance, murder, comedy and really big mice in small town Nebraska. Pride and Pestilence is book #2 and The Miceman Cometh is book #3. Mary's dream is to tell love stories that make people laugh. She lives on a farm in Nebraska with her husband, Ivan. She is the mother of four beautiful daughters.

You can get to know Mary by visiting her blog, Twitter, Seekerville, Petticoats and Pistols, Shoutlife, and Facebook.

Mary's newest release, Cowboy Christmas, can be purchased at Amazon, Borders, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Christian Books, or IndieBound.

Get ready for a fun and suspenseful Christmastime romance. Trouble follows singer Annette Talbot to Wyoming-and rancher Elijah Walker finds himself directly in its path. Though still wounded by the betrayal of his ex-fiancie, Elijah finds himself attracted to the secretive singer. When it appears Annie is a threat to his mother's life, Elijah must decide if Annie's deep faith and love of God is genuine or if it's all just a ruse. He decides to trust her-until he discovers she's a wanted woman. As Christmas draws near, will Elijah respond to God's gentle persuasion to find the truth before he loses Annie forever?

"Connealy's new series showcases her usual wit and charm, with a budding romance at the center of the story. The characters are easy to like, even those who are plotting their own agenda." —Romantic Times Book Review

If you'd like to win a copy of one of Mary's books, please leave an e-mail address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). We'll pick a winner at random on October 15th. Remember, all comments left today will also be entered in our grand prize drawing on November 1st.


  1. Mary, thanks so much for visiting us. I loved reading your ptich sentences. I'm sorry I haven't read your books before, but based on those blurbs I just read, I have some shopping to do.

    I'm too tired to come up with a pitch right now, cuz I've been up since 3:30 am, worked half a day, then drove 5 hours to a conference in Oregon, and now it's almost 11 pm. However: Jaws, Jurassic Park, and Titanic.

  2. A distinguished and respected lawyer takes on the case of a lifetime, a controversial move which may exact a high price for his family and his career.

    A self-indulgent, unscrupulous legendary Southern beauty stops at nothing to gain what she wants, even if it means losing the one man who can claim her soul.

    A youth discovers that he is no mere boy, but indeed a powerful wizard, and begins a magical journey of forging frienships and battling evil.

    Please enter my name for a chance to win Cowboy Christmas.
    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  3. Virginia, I just threw out my attempt to 'one line' those movies.
    Thanks for leaving your email address, now I know where to go for help! (and yes, so you can be in the drawing too.)

    Hey Mary!
    Thanks for guesting today in Inktropolis. I'm embarrassed by our lack of food (hey, someone make some biscuits and coffee will ya?) but please know how excited we are about your visit. Really!

  4. I agree, great job Virginia, can't compete with that.

    Thanks Mary.


  5. Sorry I'm late but I did pick up pain au chocolat from the French patisserie. I've also got hot coffee and scones with some of Susanne's mock Devonshire cream. YUM!

    Can anyone guess mine?

    A ghostly hound haunts the grounds of an English manor house, but the world's first consulting detective is on the case.

    A minor nobleman fights against the tyranny of the king's power hungry brother by stealing from the rich, in order to feed the poor.

    Against the backdrop of the Nazi's invasion of Austria, a young nun finds new love and purpose when she is pressed into service as a nanny for a widower's many children.

    Anyone? Anyone?

  6. Ooh, Mary, what great pitches! Talk about new ideas for Christmas gifts!

    Eight-year-old Scout Finch wilts under steamy summer heat in Maycomb, Alabama. Then a black man is arrested for the rape of a white woman, and Scout's father decides to defend the accused. As the curtains of innocence are pulled back from deceptive Southern windows, Scout is thrust onto the dangerous stage of class and racial struggles--and the ordeal of standing for what is right.

    Don't miss this classic coming-of-age Depression-era novel, required reading in schools throught the WORLD!

    Don't put my name in the drawing--I will gladly buy a couple of these books!


  7. Lisa,

    The Hound of Baskerville

    Robin Hood

    The Sound of Music

    I'm not a writer, just a reader

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Hmm... Jaws, Jurassic Park, and the Titanic.
    I'm not very good with making up stuff, but here's giving it a try:

    A girl under the sea desires legs so she can meet a man living by the shore.

    A deer goes on a never forgotten journey.

    Haha... these are just goofy.
    Let me try again:

    A musical about a recently widowed woman that accepts a job from the King as a governess for his children. But when in foreign territory things get shaky between the King and her.

    When the kids are gone the toys come out to play, but some just can't seem to get along.

    Okay I don't know, but in Lisa Karon Richardson's comment before me I know that the last one is The Sound of Music.

    Please include me in the giveaway. Thanks.

  10. Suzie, I give you full credit. Those are excellent excuses, seriously.

    Virginia I liked all of them but I feel like To Kill a Mockingbird could have said more...oh, wait, you've only got 30 words. That's a really complex story, deadly serious, wacky comedy, race, incest, murder, weird neighbors, runaway kids, and Scout dressed up like a giant pork chop.


  11. This is cheating because I hunted around for summaries.
    A lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice

    Still doesn't catch the comedy.

    A southern lawyer defends a black man against rape charges in the segregated South while his unruly children use endless antics to draw out a reclusive neighbor.

    HAH! I counted. 27 words. I wrote the second one myself...mostly :)

  12. Dina, if you can't challenge Virginia, see if you can come up with a summary of a favorite book or movie of you own. Get it in before Virginia gets a chance. :)

    Lisa, excuse me? Pain au chocolat from the French patisserie

    I got just a little bit fatter just reading that. And is 'pain' one of those FRENCH words that's really pronounced 'Onght' or something. You know how they skip most letters outright and swallow the rest of them.
    Or is it really about PAIN?

  13. A deer goes on a never forgotten journey? My only deer references are Bambi and Santa Claus.

    The other one I get.

    How about:
    A lovesick mermaid sells her soul for a girl suit, which she wears to win the heart of a sea-faring prince.

  14. Yay, Sue! You got 'em all. And we love readers around here! Don't forget to leave you e-mail addy so we can enter you in our drawing.

    Adge you got The Sound of Music right too. Good work! Now I'm going to take my shot at your teasers:
    The Little Mermaid
    The King and I
    Toy Story

  15. Here are blurbs for book #2 and #3 in the Montana Marriages series. (Montana Rose is bk #1)

    The Husband Tree
    A cynical cowboy has to convince the toughest cowgirl you’ll ever meet he should join her family. . .and then convince himself.

    Wildflower Bride
    My wildflower bride has never met a man she didn’t pull a knife on. Including the man who’s determined to marry her.

  16. Yep 'pain' is one of those crazy frenchy french words. It's pronounced 'pan' (means bread) But in this case bread is a light buttery sort of croissant wrapped around strips of dark chocolate. Panera has a poor imitation, but no one can get the pastry just right like the French.

    And yes, you might want to forego the cream in your coffee if you indulge in more than one!

  17. Mary, you have such a way with one-sentences.

    I finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird last Saturday. Took me two weeks to read it 'cuase I only read a chapter or two at night before going to bed. On Sunday night, I felt like a loved one had died because my time with Scout, Jem, and Dill was over.

    Great summations, ladies, of the book, but I have to say focusing on Atticus isn't the real story.

    I like how Patti called it a "coming of age" story. Still...

    In the movie Hook, Peter tells his son Jack, "Why won't you stop acting like a child?" Jack responds with, "But I am a child."

    Mockingbird shares how three kids remove their childhood rose-colored glasses. They learn the difference between perception and reality in regards to more than just racial prejudice. They learned to see bravery in the least likely people.

    LOL. Sadly, those don't make compelling one-sentence summaries.

  18. Ohhh fun! I know the answers!
    1. Jaws
    2. Jurassic Park
    3. Titanic!

    It is impossible to pitch GWTW in 30 I can see how hard it is to pitch your am I glad I don't have to do that! I can't even keep my Twitter status under 150 characters!

    xoxo~ Renee

  19. Just read a great lecture by Christy award winning author Steven James last week. He says, "A story says something that takes every word to say and can't be told another way."

    That's why it's so hard to capture truly great books like To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Sorry to be a wimp, Mary. I was still half asleep, so just applauding someone else's attempt seemed like a good plan. Okay, here's one.

    A young puritan woman, wild and free at heart, struggles with a forbidden passion.


  20. Okay, obviously still half asleep. I didn't read a lecture. I heard a lecture. Duh.

  21. Yeah, Lisa Karon Richardson, you got them all right. It took me a while to even come up with anything because I wasn't sure what people were familiar with watching.

  22. The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Robin Hood
    The Sound of Music

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  23. Hey Mary,
    Thanks so much for joining us. You have a great sense of humor and I enjoyed meeting you in Denver. I love those one sentence descriptions and they are difficult to come up with. See if you guys can figure out this one.

    A new bride is haunted by the memory of her husband's first wife.:)

  24. Thanks for joining us, Mary! You are so much fun. And what a timely post for me. I am working on writing a one-sentence summary doo-dad right now! (If I call it a "doo-dad," it doesn't scare me as much. And I do get scared of them. Shudder.) Anyhoo, I took notes, Mary. Thank you.

    Jill, I can't guess soon as someone else gets it, I'm going to smack my forehead and say Ohhh. I need some coffee, stat.

    Ok, here's my attempt:

    Armed with wit and a whip, a professor's race for treasure takes on danger of Biblical proportions.

    Lisa, I've got the Devonshire cream! Pass me a scone. Mmm.

  25. 1. A babbling male college student thinks he knows where an old woman, who knocks his clock off, should live as she ages.
    2. A canoodled angel tries to convince a man of his worth.
    3. A fancy spoiled woman who doesn't know who she wants until it's too late.
    4. A young girl caught up in whimsical reading finds there's more to life than books.

  26. I'll play and add my pitch:

    A high school librarian with her newspaper editor husband and their two teenagers move to the small town of Perfect, KY which doesn't quite live up to its name. Can they trust God and one another when a twenty-year-old secret is revealed?

    42 words. Can anyone help me reduce it? A word-reducing diet is harder than a calorie reduction diet! LOL and please put me in the drawing for one of Mary's books. I have a bookmark that my daughter got me that says "I love books. They have no calories!" crmcc at setel dot com

  27. Mary, I agree with Susanne. This is a fun post. I've been reading all the comments during my breaks today. Jill, I can't figure yours out, either.

    I've never read Hound of the Baskerville's, but it certainly sounds intriguing. Did I read that right? A ghost dog? I need to check this out.

  28. A high school librarian with her newspaper editor husband and their two teenagers move to the small town of Perfect, KY which doesn't quite live up to its name. Can they trust God and one another when a twenty-year-old secret is revealed?

    I'll try this, Rose. Keep in mind I don't know your book. So I might be making stuff up!

    A secretive librarian moves home with her family only to find 20-year-old secrets waiting to tear her life apart.

    A fussy librarian
    A gentle-hearted librarian
    An uptight, overly proper librarian

    A wild child reforms to become an overly proper wife, mother and librarian. Youthful indiscretions pop up that could destroy her carefully rebuilt life.

  29. try this one:

    When an asteroid the size of Texas is headed for Earth the world's best deep core drilling team is sent in space to nuke the rock from the inside

  30. Great post. I love your books. I have read most of them.


  31. Carmen's ??

    One of yours sounds like It's a Wonderful Life, another sounds like Gone with the Wind. Or I just have GWTW on the brain.

    Mary, look at all the fun you bring with you. Thanks!

    Someone is going to get a really great book in the mail!

  32. Thanks for the help, mary!

    Fourth of July?

  33. I hit send too soon--Independence Day?

  34. Dina's is...the Scarlet Letter?

    Jill's (I didn't read the comments past Jills, trying to play fair here, people!) is Rebecca. Ah, I dearly love that spooky book.

  35. You guys want a fun fact about Indian Jones?
    the first three movies...all of them...the day was saved by a miracle. A Godly miracle, although the second one might've been some strange version of God.

    They opened the Ark and it melted the bad guys.
    The got the three stones together and it...melted the bad guys. (okay the stones got hot and burned the guys hand and he fell to his death...still the stones miraculously got hot, right?

    The third one, they tried to step out of that cave with the Holy Grail, or the cup, and the earth opened up and swallowed the bad guys. :) Theme there...

    Fourth movie...aliens saved the day. No wonder it wasn't as good. The lost that whole miracle finish angle.

  36. Hey Mary,
    You are right!For those of you who haven't read Rebecca or seen the old movie, you've got a treat in store. I just know that someday they'll do a remake of the movie and I like to try and figure out who the stars would be today.:)

  37. LOL! How fun, Mary! I'm terrible with the one-sentence summaries, but love reading everyone else's!


  38. I'm late to the party but it looks like it was a fun day!

    Mary, you explain things in such a good, sensible way and have fun while doing it. Atta girl! :)

  39. Armageddon (sp?)

    Don't know your first one, but...
    I think I recognized It's a Wonderful Life
    And maybe Gone with the Wind
    Was that last one Anne of Green Gables?

    Dina your blurb would fit Siri Mitchell's, Love's Pursuit too. I never drew that connection before!

  40. Mary,
    Thanks for visiting us! Your post was tremendously helpful. I despise summarizing. Maybe some of the ladies who posted here today would be interested in some freelance blurbing??? Is blurbing a word? : )
    Night all, it's obviously past my bedtime.

  41. Blurbing is now officially a word, Niki. I believe this is the first sighting of the use in North America. So you all were here at it's birth.

    We need to erect a monument to Blurbing.

  42. Yay! Mary is a linguist, not a grammarian. I'm in good company.


  43. It's a Wonderful Life, Gone With the Wind, and Anne of Green Gable is correct. There's still one to guess.

  44. A woman learns her whole life has been a lie and now must unravel the mystery of her past.

  45. 1)Jaws
    2)Jurassic Park

    A teenage girl movs to rainy Washington state from sunny Arizona, where she discovers and falls in love with a boy with a dangerous secret: He's a vampire.

    A child genius is determined to restore his family's fortune at any chance. The chance emerges in the form of a fiesty female fairy.

  46. I love Mary's books and have Montanta Rose, it is so good. Maybe I can win one of her others.




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