Monday, February 27, 2017

What a Difference a Decade Makes by Mary Manners

Being published has definitely made my life much busier and fuller, and I always try to remember my roots when frustration strikes. It took me decades to get published, and I am so thrilled that my dream has come true. Here’s a little glimpse into the journey…
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, the second of five children, and I began writing at birth. (*smile) No, really, my earliest memories are of writing (or "scribbling" as it was in the beginning). I knew I wanted to write from a very early age. It has always been a passion of mine—like breathing. I was one of those kids who squealed with excitement over pads of paper and pencils in my Christmas stocking. I used to ‘write’ stories in my head as a teenager, while I delivered newspapers in the predawn hours along the streets of Chicago. Even now, I love to get up super-early when the rest of the world is sleeping. My best writing is done then, and by eight o’clock when everyone is just beginning to wake, I feel like I still have a full day ahead of me—and I do.               
Most of my earliest childhood memories are centered on writing (or "pretending" to write). I attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and received a teaching degree in Special Education, then moved to East Tennessee where I spent thirty years as a middle school teacher and then as an intermediate school administrator. (What fertile ground for story ideas)!

A decade ago I had the opportunity to attend my first RWA conference. I was unpublished and starry-eyed over meeting all of the "famous authors" there. It was an incredible opportunity to make connections and learn more about the craft. When I returned home I was so fired up that I wrote with new-found energy, submitting my work to every contest I could find. Just a few weeks before I got "the call" my daughter said—out of the blue as we were driving home from school one afternoon—“Mama, I know you’re gonna get published soon.” Wow, that just warmed me from my heart to my toes!
This July I will attend my second RWA conference as a retired-from-my-day-job, full-time published author. It is my hope that I can pass on a bit of my knowledge and experience to unpublished writers setting out on their journey. I have been richly blessed. What a difference a decade makes!
Recreational Therapist Ava Kennedy is in charge of Valentine’s Day festivities for shut-in patients at Honeysuckle Cove Children’s Hospital. When a winter storm threatens to derail planned events and steal the children’s joy, Ava calls on longtime friend and firefighter Nick Jones for rescue. The two have been close, platonic friends since kindergarten, but Ava soon finds her heart whirling like the drifting snowflakes outside her office window.

Nick Jones is skilled at extinguishing fires, so he doesn’t count on kindling a flame with lifelong friend Ava Kennedy. But he’s got a sweet spot for kids and women…especially when one particular woman—Ava—possesses a soft heart and laughter that draws like an electron magnet. Despite Nick’s valiant efforts to resist, he finds himself caught up in the attraction.

Will these friends’ new feelings weather the shifting tempest…or is this simply a passing storm?

Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons and a daughter, as well as three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning with students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these enriching and challenging experiences led to adventures that bring laughs and insight to her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee.
Connect with Mary at her website: “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.