Color Me Angry with Mary Connealy

Okay, so last Thursday I focused on the ‘show’ not ‘tell’ of anger in writing. I used an example of Francine Rivers and Steven James. Today I want to pull in an example from one of my all-time favorite authors, Mary Connealy.

Mary uses a fine mixture of physical description, internal monologue, and dialogue to bring about the ‘sense’  of anger in her character. To give you a good picture of it, here is a hilarious first scene from her newest release, Doctor in Petticoats.

Beth surged to her feet. “We need help over here!”

The man didn’t even look up. He stared as if asleep with his eyes open.

Well, Beth wasn’t one to let a good temper tantrum go to waste and seriously, this afternoon had worn her out right to her last bit of restraint. . . and beyond.
Who better to punish?

She looked down at the stage driver and Mrs. Armitage, struggling to hold the injured man in place. “I’m going to get us some help.”

The stage driver looked with distaste at the other passenger. “Good luck.”

Beth whirled and used the hundred foot downhill march to get her knees to stop shaking. Not because she was afraid of this man. She still had her gun, but because the afternoon had just been more than too much.
She stomped to the man’s side and, carefully considering her approach—or maybe not so carefully—she grabbed the man’s filthy, flattened black Stetson off his head and swatted him with it.

“Hey!” He turned as if surprised to see her.
“I didn’t exactly sneak up on you, now did I?” She waled on him again.

He shielded his face. His once-white shirt tore up one side at his sudden movement. “Will you stop that?”
The sound of the ripping fabric—good grief it looked like silk—gave Beth a sense of doing the Lord’s work. She wondered how long he’d been wearing it. The cloth must be rotten to tear so easily.
“Do I have your attention, you miserable worm?” Beth threw the hat at his head.
He held his arms over his face, the bedraggled white sleeves rolled up nearly to his elbows, and glared through his wrists at her. His eyes narrowed.
It occurred to Beth that the man might be dangerous. Well, she could be dangerous, too. If he was, she’d make him sorry he showed that side of himself.
Doing her very best to set his skin on fire with her eyes, she leaned down, hoping to find a balance where she could rage at him without Mrs. Armitage hearing her. The poor woman had been through enough.

“You get up off the ground and help us, you worthless skunk.”
And wasn’t skunk just exactly the right word for the filthy pig?
“Get away from me.” The wormy, skunky pig’s eyes flashed like he had rabies.

Gritting her teeth so she could look fierce and still breathe through her mouth, she leaned closer. “You stand up right now.”
She hissed at him like a rattle snake, so she had a few animal attributes of her own. “I need help. I don’t care how drunk you are, how lazy you are or how stupid you are. Right now I need some muscle, and I know you’ve got it. Get on your feet and get over there and help us, or so help me I will rip your arm off and beat you to death with the bloody stump.”
The man’s eyes seemed to clear. Maybe she’d pierced the alcoholic fog. “I’m not drunk.”
Interesting that he hadn’t protested being called stupid or worthless or a skunk. . . what else had she called him? She’d lost track of her insults somewhere along the line.
“Oh, puh-leeze, you expect me to believe you’re this worthless without the help of whiskey?” Beth jammed her fists on her hips and straightened away from him. She had to get some air. “If that’s true then I might as well shoot you here and now. Do the whole world a favor.”

Isn’t it hilarious? Of course, the dialogue gives the anger away pretty clearly, but I think Mary’s best talent is getting inside her characters’ heads. She’s brilliant at it. And Beth’s character just makes it all the more fun.

And check out all those ‘action’ words. Plus her sentences are shorter – which can be used to express anger, fear, or excitement in writing.

If you’ve not read a Connealy Classic, start today. Montana Rose is my favorite from the ‘Marriages’ series, and Petticoat Ranch is another wonderful place to start.

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy

Yep, it’s another fabulous book by Mary Connealy. That woman can write books faster than Scarlet O’Hara can get into trouble…or maybe I ought to say, faster than Belle Tanner can fire a Winchester. Because when it comes to Mary’s books, it’s about cowboys, tough-as-nails women, romance, and loads of humor.

And I’m NOT talkin’ sugar-sweet romance either. I’m talkin’ the kind of romance where you’re not sure whether the two are going to kill each other or kiss each other. It’s that simple – and that funny.

Mary’s ramped up the adventure to full-throttle with her newest novel, Doctor in Petticoats. This book takes one of the daughters from her first book, Petticoat Ranch, and allows us to follow, no wait, we’re kind of dragged along on a fast-paced journey. From the first scene which ends in a stage-coach accident to the final scene in a fort prison, and all the near-death experiences in between, it’s nonstop action with a few kisses smashed in between.

One thing I appreciate most about Mary’s books (besides the humor) is how deep into the character point of view she gets. She’s brilliant at writing deep point of view, and allowing the reader to ‘feel’ and ‘experience’ the book. Fabulous. It’s why I keep coming back for more 🙂


About the book:

When an unlikely pair have an electrifying connection, sparks are bound to fly.

All Beth McClellan wants to do is get home for her sister’s wedding. After spending four years out East training to be a nurse (with a physician as her mentor), she’s ready to put her hard-earned skills to practice. Unfortunately, no one will believe she’s the doctor, and the one guy who IS a doctor, doesn’t have the spine enough to use his gifts…unless she’s right beside him.

Alex Buchanan’s past as an army physician, and now deserter, leaves him frozen with the memories of the atrocities he saw on the frontier. Determined to leave his skills and memories as far in the past as possible, he hides within his own depression, but Beth McClellan won’t let him stay there. The bossy blond nearly drags him from his stupor and forces him to be the man he really is.

Now if they can just survive a bounty hunter and death sentence, all should be fine. Right?

You’ll just have to get the book. Buy it, borrow it, visit a library. It’s worth the effort to read the newest Connealy Classic.

And you won’t have to wait long for the next one. Wrangler in Petticoats comes out in October. Woohooo! Go Mary – the more the merrier.

To learn more about Mary’s books, visit her website at

Sizzling First Encounters with Aspiring Author Sherrinda Ketchersid


Okay – so I love to brag. Lots. Especially about my favorite people – and it just so happens that one of those favorite people is my guest today.

We’re kindred spirits.

In lots of ways.

Both pastor’s wives, both moms of multiple kids, both somewhat smiley, and –low and behold- we both like to write.

 Aspiring to inspire together 🙂

 It’s no wonder that we’ve become critique partners along this journey.

Sherrinda started writing only two years ago and has already garnered an award – Finalist in the Touched By Love contest in May of this year. Now she’s waiting to hear the results, but either way, she’s a winner.

You can learn more about Sherrinda by visiting her terrific blog at

So Sherrinda, what do you think makes a great first encounter?

I think what makes a great first encounter is an instant awareness, maybe even attraction, yet knowing you cannot act on or further the connection with one another. It’s that tension of want-yet-can’t-have. I believe arguing and finding fault in the other as a way of coping with the “want” is another great way to bring the tension to the forefront. I know my characters argue a lot due to suppressed desire for one another (and when I say desire, I don’t necessarily mean what you think I mean).

 And exactly what is it that you think I think you mean? LOL.

Alright, I think you have an excerpt from your novel –  If My Heart Could Speak.

Set up:

Disguised as a boy, Jocelyn fled the convent holding her prisoner and found safe passage home squiring for the knight Malcolm who was on his way there for a tournament. He found out her ruse when she was wounded in a fight, but has agreed to keep her as squire—because he is a chivalrous knight. He does insist she take a bath, because he doesn’t want a scruffy squire shaming him at the tournament. This scene is his first encounter with Jocelyn looking like a woman and not a dirty boy.

“Are you bathed and presentable?”

Malcolm’s deep voice penetrated the silent darkness, sending a pleasant shiver through her. She gathered the cloak about her and found her voice. “Aye.”

She felt vulnerable, but garnered her courage as he came into view carrying a large bundle of wood.

He stopped midstride. His gaze found hers and pierced through her like sunlight spilling through dark clouds. She gripped the cloak tighter as he set the wood down at his feet and came to stand before her.

Jocelyn couldn’t find any coherent thoughts to string together to make speech. Malcolm stood in silence, eyes still on hers, gray on blue. 

Without breaking the stare, he reached out a finger and caught a droplet of water at the tip of one of the curls resting against her cheek. Her heart stuttered to a stop.

“By the saints, how could I have mistaken you for a lad?” he murmured.

His gaze moved over her face and lingered on her lips. Heat bloomed on her cheeks and her breath caught as his face inched toward hers. Faith, was he going to kiss her?

She wrestled with the desire to feel his lips on hers and the complete impropriety of such an action. She should push him away, and yet her eyes closed on their own accord.

She prayed for strength, her lips moving in silent supplication.

The sound of air sucked in over teeth jostled her back to reality. She opened her eyes to see Malcolm shake his head and back away from her. It was with a mixture of regret and relief that she squared her shoulders and smiled up at him.

He merely crossed his arms over his broad chest and lifted the corner of his mouth. “You clean up fairly well, for a girl on the run. ‘Tis possible you won’t shame me, little man.”

Woohoo! Sherrinda, that was beautiful. Oh my, what’s going to happen with the two of them? Sigh. I wanted to yell “Kiss de girl.” 😉

Thanks for showcasing your talent today. I’m so tickled to have two (possibly three) more aspiring authors willing to share their first encounters for next week. Prepare to see their work on Monday, Wednesday (and hopefully Friday).

Tomorrow, I hope to post my review of Mary Connealy’s newest novel, Doctor in Petticoats. Stop by to learn about it.