I’d like to welcome our guest author — Mary Manners
Marathons, Manuscripts and Mothers
What do the three M’s…Marathons, Manuscripts and Mothers have in common? Well, as a former marathon runner, I’m convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the countless hours of running and training during my marathon days prepared me for the other two.
Marathon running is a solitary endeavor that requires 100% dedication, commitment, follow-through and sacrifice. You have to run when you don’t feel like it…when your legs ache and your heart feels like it will leap right out of your chest, when the weather is hot, humid, cold, rainy or just plain dismal. You run in the light, in the dark, and when a strong north wind tries to sweep you right off the path. You keep your focus, and stay true to the goal. There’s no turning back…only looking forward.
The same can be said of writing. It’s a mostly-solitary endeavor that requires 100% dedication, commitment, follow-through and sacrifice. After all, what reader would enjoy a book that has no ending…no plot, direction, or character arc? What publisher would pay for such a book? So you write even when you don’t feel like it…when your friends are going to the movies or out to dinner, when you’d rather read than plot, when warm rays of sunshine beckon from your office window and your heart longs to run and play. You write early in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping and late at night when the rest of the world is sleeping. You write when the refrigerator beckons you to have just one more snack. And when writer’s block strikes you push through it instead of pushing away from the desk, no matter how painful.
Being a mother…often it’s a solitary endeavor that requires 100% dedication, commitment, follow-through and sacrifice. Saying no to a child has never made any mother popular. You overlook your own needs to care for your child. You mother early in the morning, late at night, and every hour in between. You stay strong when the storms of terrible two’s and the teenage years rage, when you see your life flash before your eyes while teaching your teen to drive or your toddler throws a tantrum in the grocery store check-out line. Along the way, you enjoy and savor rays of sunshine that peak through the chaos. You mother when you’d rather take a warm bubble bath or curl up with a book instead of cooking dinner or playing the hundredth hand of Old Maid or Go Fish.
My life’s journey has been a blend of the three M’s. My daughter will enter college this month. We’re in a period of countless changes. The child I once drove to basketball practice and choir rehearsal now chauffeurs me. I have learned, depending on the day (sometimes even the hour), that I know nothing…and everything. Recently, a college friend of mine sent a photo that was snapped our sophomore year (1982). Looking at the photo, I thought my daughter was staring back at me. Was I ever that young, thin and…unwrinkled? My daughter took one glance and gasped, “Mama, is that really you?” as if I could have never—possibly—been that smiling young woman in the picture. And, after a good laugh, I thought about the passage of time and how happy and truly blessed I am to have experienced the three M’s…Marathons, Manuscripts and, most especially—Motherhood.
Jack Seaton moves mountains, literally, as he develops commercial property along the West Coast. But not a day goes by that he doesn’t think of Misty Larsen and the carefree love they once shared. He thought they’d end up married, but his job—and five thousand miles—got in the way. He’s sure she’s moved on and found a new man to love…Until he unexpectedly receives a letter Misty wrote the day he left Mill’s Landing nearly six years ago. Jack is shocked to learn Misty was pregnant with his child—a child that must be in kindergarten by now.
Misty Larsen is determined to give her daughter a good life. She’s put a business-management degree to use by spearheading an online Web-design agency. Misty’s hectic schedule gives her little time to reminisce about Jack Seaton, the man who stole her heart. But when Jack storms Misty’s doorstep one thunder-filled afternoon, clutching her letter in his hand, the past bubbles up and spills over to merge their lives once again.
Soda spewed from Jack’s mouth and backwashed to his nose, setting his sinuses on fire. He coughed, sputtered, and waited for the rush of optic stars to clear. Maybe he’d read wrong. Maybe he was hallucinating—the stress was finally getting to him. Or maybe Mike was in the wings, pranking him.
Mike liked a good joke as much as the next guy…but not like this. Uh uh. Jack found the words once more.
You’re going to be a daddy…
His fingers gripped the letter like a vice. Suddenly the room sweltered, despite a nip of early-spring breeze that whispered through the open window above the sink. He struggled to breathe as he continued to scan the print.
I know this is a huge shock…something neither one of us expected. But it’s a blessing, too. I know you love me, and I love you, Jack—so much that sometimes I wake up just aching inside with the thought of you. We’ve been together our whole lives, and I’ve missed you this week. It’s made me realize what’s most important.
You asked me to marry you, and my answer is yes. I want to be your wife, Jack. I hope you still feel the same.
No matter what I said about never leaving Mill’s Landing, about not moving to California, this changes everything. It’s not just about me anymore—or you. I’m sure now that my place, and our child’s place, is with you—forever and wherever that may be.
Let’s talk this out. Please, before you leave. We have to make this right for the baby—for us.
Meet me at the Landing, beneath the willows, at six. I’ll be waiting for you.
I love you, Jack.
The room began to sway, and the letter slipped from Jack’s fingers as he grabbed the edge of the table to steady himself. Suddenly, he’d tumbled from a cliff, strapped into a construction truck. The truck spun and crashed along rocks to a bottomless crevasse. His gut clenched, and the sandwich threatened to come back up, bringing the soda with it. Jack stumbled to the sink, the room listing. Chills crawled across his skin, and sweat dampened the small of his back.
You’re going to be a daddy…
The words echoed like a tsunami through his head. Jack thought of the date on Misty’s letter. Almost seven years ago…
No, I am a daddy. Unless something happened after I left. Unless…
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they’ve rescued from local animal shelters…Lucky and Gus.
Mary’s debut novel, Mended Heart, was nominated Best Inspirational Romance 2010, and was finalist for the Bookseller’s Best Award and her follow-up, Tender Mercies, was awarded an outstanding 4 ½ star rating from The Romantic Times Book Reviews and was also a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Buried Treasures, her third novel, was named Book of the Year by The Wordsmith Journal. Light the Fire, her fourth novel, took top honors for the 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.
Thanks Mary for joining us today. We wish you much success with your writing.