Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Meet Mary Manners

If you're a fan of novellas, Mary Manners has a treat for you this week. She's giving away e-copies of not one but three of her novellas. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

About Mary Manners

Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing 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 teaching math and English to students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as a student 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 experiences led to adventures that may be found between the pages of her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs—she’s completed three marathons—ocean sunsets and flavored coffee.

Find out more about Mary on her website: “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Welcome to the Diamond Mine, Mary! We're thrilled you could join us this week and share a little more about yourself with us and our readers. 

I’m from the Nashville area and have visited the Smokey Mountains a few times over the years. It’s a place filled with God’s beauty. What’s your favorite thing about living there year-round? Do you dread or look forward to tourist season?

Before recently retiring to North Florida, I lived at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains for 35 years and loved every moment of the beauty. When I moved there from Chicago more than three decades ago to begin my teaching career, there was only one stoplight on the twenty-five minute drive between my home and the school. Of course, this has changed over the years, but the beauty of the mountains remains just as majestic as ever. Nothing compares to the Smokies, and people flock there to share in the wonder. I never minded tourist season, as the height of it occurred while I was off from teaching for the summer.

You taught algebra and reading. In my experience, writers aren’t usually math-oriented. Why the variety in subject matter?

I chose to teach math because I wanted the kids who were not very good at it, who actually despised it, to learn to love it. I taught in ways that brought an understanding of the concepts. Although I am a writer, I am actually quite organized in my thinking. This crosses over to teaching math quite well.

How do you balance writing during the school year when you’re busy teaching, grading papers, and preparing tests?

I used to say that the day I signed a writing contract would be the last day I taught. But when my first contract came nearly eight years ago, I could not bear to walk away from the students. So I learned to balance by waking up very, very early in the morning and putting in several hours of writing before heading to school. I wrote at night and on weekends and holidays. I wrote while I waited at my daughter’s band practice, and in the car while my husband drove. I wrote on summer vacation. I learned to adapt. When you love writing as much as I do, you find a way.

Last June I retired from teaching (the last three years I was an intermediate school principal) to full-time writing. I love the freedom to immerse myself in writing every day, as well as the time to network with readers and fellow authors. It is a dream come true for me.

Since you used to teach middle school-aged students, have you ever considered writing YA fiction?

Yes, I have! One of my books, Wisdom Tree, was actually written when I was in middle school. It was the first full-length book I wrote. The first draft was from Corey’s—the middle-school-aged brother’s—point of view. Over the years, through editing, that changed to what Wisdom Tree is today. But that book remains the story of my heart, and it was my first book to make the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores across the country.

Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have any necessities you require with you?

I have an office, but I often wander to other parts of the house to do my writing. As I pen this response, I am seated at the kitchen counter. I don’t really have any necessities, but I love to write with a breeze and sunshine filtering through the windows. A cup of flavored coffee is really nice, too! I don’t write to music—I like the sounds of nature and nothing more. My brain is already too busy with my story characters ‘speaking’ to me!

What would you like readers to come away with when they read your books?
I would like for my readers to come away from my books with a sense of renewed hope that the world is a good place to be. I’d like them to feel warmed by faith, friends, and a touch of romance.

You have several books and novellas published. Which do you recommend to someone who has not read anything by you before?

For a quick taste of my work, I recommend one of my shorter Christmas stories, such as Angel Song. For a series, I think my Sweet Treats Bakery Series is a good place to start. For a longer book, I recommend Wisdom Tree.

Sidenote, here, I love reading Mary's Christmas stories! They're all short and sweet!

Tell our readers a little about your newest series.

My Honeysuckle Cove series is a 12-book collection of shorter-length stories that will release one per month throughout 2017. Honeysuckle was chosen for its meaning…Bond of Love/I Love You. I feel that honeysuckle is a symbol of God’s grace—always present, unfailingly strong, and eternally loving. Honeysuckle Cove is a tight-knit community of imperfect believers and though generally lighthearted, each story relates a real-world message of grace. The stories are all set in Honeysuckle Cove, a fictional town in the Southeast. Portions of the town, especially the property upon which Honeysuckle Cove Inn is seated, meanders along the shores of Wanderlust Lake. Honeysuckle Cove Inn, a historical gathering place, is the anchoring point of the stories. Readers are sure to fall in love all over again, every month of the year!

Thank you for taking some time with us this week, Mary. It's been a pleasure having you!

More details about a couple of the Honeysuckle Cove books:

Honeysuckle Cove Inn has been in the Brennan family for three generations. When Maggie Brennan’s parents retire, they call her home to Honeysuckle Cove and hand over the reins of the historical inn. If Maggie successfully maintains the business over the course of a year, the inn is hers forever. Maggie considers the timing perfect, with one exception—she finds her path entangled once again with that of Dylan O’Connor.

Dylan has made a name for himself as the go-to guy when it comes to renovations and repairs in Honeysuckle Cove, and he’s waited nearly a decade for high school sweetheart Maggie Brennan to return home. But his handyman skills will be put to the test when it comes to rebuilding the bridge between Maggie’s heart and his, and designing a future…together.

Beyond the Storm

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?

And now for the giveaway!! Mary is graciously offering one of our readers e-copies of the first 3 books in her Honeysuckle Cove series. The two above, and her March release, Honeysuckle Cove Secrets. Simply let us know how to reach you (email) in the comments below in case you win. Five people must comment in order for contest to be valid. 


Mary said...

Thank you so much for hosting me. What a blessing!

Mary said...

Thank you so much for hosting me. What a blessing!

deana dick said...

Thank you for a nice interview. Would love the chance to read her books.

Mary said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Deana. Good luck in the drawing!

Shelby Maxwell said...

As a fellow Smoky Mountain girl, math lover, and self-taught/still-learning "writer", this post was more inspiring than you can imagine!

Mary said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Shelby. It is great to meet you. Hood luck in the drawing!

Renette steele said...

So fun learning more about you. My hubby used to tell our kids Math is just like English.
(Subject, verb, ect) Used to drive them crazy, but they all wound up good at math.

I love so many of your fine stories and these look to be wonderful as well. Would love to add them to my collection.

May GOD continue to bless you and your pen.

Love and Hugs

Mary said...

Thank you so much, Renette. I loved teaching. So gratifying to see kids love to learn. Thanks for the good wishes. Hugs!