Seymour’s Mary Manners is a prolific Christian romance author

Inspired to write
Apr. 20, 2014 @ 11:51 PM

Mary Manners has come out with 31 books.

In four years.

How does she account for her productivity?

“I’m just good at time management,” she said.

The Seymour-based author writes inspirational romance books. “It comes under the heading of Christian fiction,” she said.

Her latest book, “Daffodils & Danger,” is the first in a series called “Wildflowers & Wishes,” about four siblings.

In “Daffodils & Danger,” the oldest sibling, a high-powered businessman in New York City, returns to East Tennessee after his father dies. He helps with the family business, a nursery that is floundering.

“Out of guilt, he comes home,” Manners said. “He realizes his family needs him.”

He gets reacquainted with a woman he knew growing up. “They become close again,” Manners said. “He realizes family is important, and home is more important than making money.”

“Daffodils & Danger” begins with a quotation from Scripture, Proverbs 3:26: “The Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from the snare.”

“All my books are based on a Bible verse that goes along with the theme of the story,” Manners said. “The books are romantic, but they also tell a hopeful story.”

Even so, Manners noted, her characters struggle. “When you think about some Christian fiction, it’s about perfect people who never have a doubt, never question,” she said. “My characters do doubt. They question.”

Her characters deal with real issues, she said. “By seeking guidance from God, and trying to find patience, and support from other people.”

There are no sex scenes in Manners books, and there is no bad language. “It’s more sensual romance,” she said.

Manners has been writing “my entire life,” she said. Her professional career took off four years ago, when she got a publishing contract with Pelican Book Group, a Christian imprint.

She writes a mix of novels and novellas. Her novellas, which are about 100 pages long, come out as ebooks, and the longer works are published in print editions.

Her writing has won numerous awards, including several honors from the inspirational chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Manners is vice principal at Seymour Intermediate School. She has worked in Sevier County schools for 27 years.

She maintains a disciplined writing schedule. “I get up very early in the morning, 3 or 4 o’clock,” she said. She writes over weekends, and on vacation days. “And a lot in the summertime.”

Where does Manners get her story ideas? “When you’re a teacher and you deal with people all day, you’re never at a loss for ideas,” she said. “They just come.”

She also credits her lawnmower. “A lot of ideas come to me when I’m in my yard, by myself,” she said. “My editor tells me to keep mowing, and never retire that mower.”

Manners loves working with kids. “It’s been a blessing,” she said. “But I’m really looking forward to being a full-time writer. It seems like a possibility.”

Her husband, Tim, recently retired from banking. Her daughter, Danni, is 20. When Manners was first trying to get started as a professional writer, Danni was about 12.

“She’d say, ‘Mom, I know one day you’re going to get published,’” Manners recalled. “She’s sweet. She’s been with me the whole journey.”

A native of Elmwood Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, Manners went to college at the University of Illinois. She also trained at the University of Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial University and Tusculum College.

She recalls her childhood teachers fondly.

“One of my books, I dedicated to them,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

Mary Manners will sign books at the King Family Library from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22.

kburns@themountainpress.com