Hello, my name is Bonnie Manning, and I use the pen name, Tekoa Manning. Tekoa is the Hebrew word for trumpet. I write both fiction and non-fiction, and I am also an active blogger at tekoamanning.com.
My fictional works are Polishing Jade, a historical novel set in Mississippi in the 1960s. If you enjoyed The Help, by Kathryn Stockett’s, you’d probably adore Jade. Jade Gentry is a young girl whose past will not control her future even if it cost her everything. Gripping and suspenseful, Jade will leave you sighing when she sighs, running when she runs and celebrating when she is triumphant! Meet an odd cast of characters, including kindly Miss Ellen, a superstitious woman who plants corn in front of her living room window, Renée a peculiar woman who instinctively knows the deeply hidden secrets of Jade, and a school teacher who begins the process of Polishing Jade.
My most popular novel is Walter the Homeless Man. Most readers share a connection to each character and even Walter’s homing Pidgeon who follows him throughout his journey. Walter is a man who has suffered great loss and is running from the pain. At night he sleeps under the stars, but during the day he breaks into a young widow’s home for shelter and changes not just her life but every life he touches.
Walter is a captivating story about loss, integrity, forgiveness, and redemption.
Walter is a book filled with cliffhangers that will leave the reader turning pages and on the edge of their seat.
My non-fictional works were birthed out of pain and redemption. After discovering that there were over 40,000 Christian denominations, I wanted to learn how this evolved over time, and how there could be such great division when all shared the same Book. I had to travel back in time and uncover the Greek, Hebrew, and history of the faith. On this journey, I began to see contradictions in the teachings I had been taught all of my life. Had I been fed traditions of men instead of the truth? My constant thorough searching soon uncovered verses I had never heard taught from the pulpit. Soon my small concordance fell apart at the seams. However, revelation began pouring forth, and the Hebrew behind the message began to illuminate the truth. In my Doctrines of Demon series, I examine topics that have divided the body of believers for some time now and how they originated. My next release, part three of the series, will look at heaven and hell, the grave and the resurrection of the dead, uncovering more doctrines of men that have crept in over time.
My devotional called Thirsting for Water is a perfect book for any local congregations to use for book clubs or healing. The intimate short lessons are refreshing for the soul like a cool drink of water in the desert. Blow a Trumpet in Tekoa is a book that showcases Jesus/Yeshua, Messiah, in all the feasts listed throughout the Bible. It also has a prophetic feel to it and reveals many layers from the book of Revelations about the days leading up to the Messiah’s return. Once I uncovered the hidden meat behind these feasts, my life was changed. Celebrating them has brought much joy to my family and me.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I began writing poetry as a young girl. One poetry assignment in elementary school was to write about spring. At the tender age of 12, I was accused of plagiarism. The teacher thought it was a poem taken from Emily Dickinson. Although they could not locate the author of the poem, as I indeed had written it, the principal and teacher held a meeting in the office with my mother and me. I did not know who Emily Dickinson was at the time, nor did I understand what Plagiarism was. All I knew was that I had done something wrong, and so I quit writing. Flash forward to the age of 30, I was a High School dropout, a single mother of three and was entering college for the first time. It was there that I met a great mentor and friend to this day, my English professor who told me I had a gift to write. She encouraged me to enter a poetry contest, and I won. Later, I began writing the novel Polishing Jade in a spiral notebook in and around the period of 1998-2000.
How do you deal with creative block?
When I have a creative block, I read tantalizing tales and Young Adult novels such as Anne of Green Gables or The Big Friendly Giant. Other times I paint. I am a lover of both watercolors and acrylics.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Other authors inspire me and peculiar people I meet walking through life.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
One of my biggest mistakes is laying a book down too long. Once I start a novel and jump to other projects like non-fiction or blogging, it’s hard to pick up the unfinished work and relearn the characters voices. It’s like taking an item out of the attic; you have to dust it off and polish it.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Many times I ask others for their input on a title, but titles and blurbs can be the hardest part besides editing. Luckily, for me, my husband creates my book covers, and we sit down together and go through photos. It took us a couple of days to find a red headed green eyed gal for Jade who looked innocent enough to capture her pain and power, but we love the photo we found as well as the voice for Jade’s audio version by Felisha Caldiera.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I haven’t experienced much of that. The worst review I have gotten was from people in other countries who purchased Polishing Jade thinking it was a book about the actual jade stones and how to buff them. But I am sure with more success comes more critique. When you’re a writer, you have to have thick skin and be vulnerable, especially when you are a woman writing faith-based teaching books.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I think I have improved in the area of waiting before releasing something that isn’t polished enough. I have taken on using readers with careful eyes and ones not afraid to tell me when something doesn’t sound right.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
I’m always surprised when writing fiction because I never know what my characters will do. I just start writing, and their voices come to life.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I’ve not met many people who have read Walter the Homeless Man or Polishing Jade without laughing and crying during the experience. Even Scott Pollak, the man who did the audio voice for Walter had to edit the last chapter due to chocking up. I want my readers to feel all the emotions I have felt in my lifetime of tragedy, trauma, triumph, love and loss and the wonder each new day holds.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I can’t say I have any creative tricks, but I do notice idiosyncrasies in others and incorporate them into my characters. There are certain times ideas for fiction pop in my head. I am looking forward to releasing my next work so I can get back to fiction writing.
What are your plans for future books?
I’m close to finishing a YA novel and a memoir about my personal journey of homelessness due to a neurological illness and how I overcame multiple trials and found my voice as an author.
I also plan on doing sequels to my two fictional works. Polishing Jade will follow up with Excavating Emerald and Digging for Ruby. Jade will more than likely have a cameo in the sequels, but they will be about new women with new issues to overcome. I hope to do the same with Walter the Homeless Man and have started a new sequel called Elder the Rich Man, to be followed up with Titus the Last Man. The second one will have a time warp, and the last man will literally be the last man on earth. I’m looking forward to birthing these novels.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I love Pajamas and would live in them if possible. My husband and I have an Airedale Terrier puppy named Jedi. He follows me around everywhere, staying close while I write. I am the mother of three sons and a grandson named Emmitt who may just inspire me to write children’s books. I love red wine and chocolate, the ocean, painting, poetry, crime shows, and children’s movies. I’m married to a retired Chief of police and hope to write some murder mysteries eventually.
But the most peculiar thing my readers would learn about me is that I have a dream group on Facebook where I help people unravel their riddles in the night through both symbols and idioms.
I hope readers will check out my book page on Amazon and read some of the free chapters on kindle or listen to the audio versions.