Monday, August 28, 2017

Staying Focused by Mary Manners

Staying Focused

by Mary Manners

I began my writing journey when I was a very young child, not even yet old enough to form real written words. My earliest memory is a vision of me standing beside the dryer in the basement of my Chicago home, scribbling lines across a piece of paper to 'tell my story'. I still remember the warmth of summer sun through the window, the scent of laundry soap and slow hum of the machine's motor as it tumbled a load of clothes. 'Writing' brought such joy and I was eager to share.
It's hard to believe that was half-a-century ago. Before TV remotes, cable television, the Internet, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, and laptops with pop-up ads. Before distractions. My family of seven had not yet even ventured into the world of call waiting. I don't know about you, but that was an easier, simpler time in my writing world. A trip to the store for a new notebook brought a trill of excitement. Crisply-sharpened pencils made my nerve endings hum and my heart soar. Free time was spent writing, not trolling social media for the latest news and the best meat loaf recipe.

Staying focused on the art of writing is a lot harder in today's world. Time-suckers that were once non-existent are now everyday stumbling blocks. It's easy to get swept into the tide. So I tackle the ever-present pull with a time management strategy that begins each day with a list of goals. These range from simple (reply to emails) to complex (proof a book, write five-thousand words). I chunk my goals and put social media and other distractions off limits until that chunk is checked off the list. Not a complicated strategy, but it works. I stay focused on what's most important--getting words on the page. Pursuing my dream. Writing. 
Claire McLaughlin, weary of running a corporate rat-race, dreams of pursuing her passion to bake sweet confections. So when former college roommate Lila Brooks asks for her help with catering services at Diamond Knot Dreams Bridal Boutique, Claire grabs the invitation with both hands.

Ryan Kendrick has returned home to Clover Cove to raise his step-brother following the death of their grandmother. Hired to renovate the Town Square, he rents office space on the second floor of Diamond Knot Dreams and soon succumbs to talented Claire McLaughlin’s sweet confections—as well as the blue-eyed beauty herself.

As their romance blooms, so do the shenanigans of Diamond Knot Dreams' meddling spirit, Ellie. Will her antics help to draw Claire and Ryan closer together, or bring the blossoming romance to a grinding halt?
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher and intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning. While growing up in Chicago, Mary worked her way to college through a variety of odd jobs including paper girl, hot dog vendor, grocery store cashier, lifeguard, swim instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that bring a touch of humor to her stories.
Mary’s writing has earned her multiple awards including a two-time Inspirational Reader’s Choice award, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, the Aspen Gold, the Heart of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.
Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee. She recently conquered her fear of heights (sort of) by completing the Gate River Run over downtown Jacksonville’s bridges last spring.
Connect with Mary at her website:


  1. Love this post, Mary! Yes, focus is key!

  2. "Before TV remotes, cable television, the Internet, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, and laptops with pop-up ads."

    Can you imagine, if someone told us then that all of this was to come. We would have been mystified.

    But now we can be paralyzed by all these distractions, like the tablet I am typing on right now...


  3. I agree - there are so many more distractions to navigate than what we had years ago. I'm gearing up to finish writing a book. Although I'm indie publishing, I still have deadlines to meet for my editor, proofreader, and cover designer. It's going to be a very tight schedule, so FOCUS and avoiding distractions is going to be extremely important the next two months.

  4. Mary, focus is my word. I struggle not to be tempted to go in a million different directions. When that happens nothing gets accomplished.

    Thanks for the insightful post.


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