Your voice and your message are important. Share your message with an open heart and passion.

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Carla Marie Manly.

As a psychologist, author, and advocate based in California, Dr. Manly is passionate about helping others create the lives of their dreams. Dr. Manly believes there’s no topic too big or small to address head-on. From offering guidance for relationships, sexuality, work, and communication issues to providing tools for healing stress, anxiety, and depression, Dr. Manly finds it a pleasure to offer insights on even the most challenging topics.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path? 

As I child, I knew that I wanted to be a psychologist. The image of Lucy from Charlie Brown stuck with me; she offered help for 5-cents. I loved that idea…being in a space to help others.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? 

I’ve had so many interesting stories. In volunteering as a therapist for veterans (one of my passions), I worked with a young veteran who was suffering from TBI, anger management issues, and grief. He worked so hard on himself and his life; he wanted to recover and to become a kind, caring man who could be a good partner to his girlfriend. He stuck with the work and ultimately did incredible healing work. He’s now married, has moved to another area, and is the father of a lovely child. During our recent fires in northern California, he reached out to see if he could drive up to help ME or the community. Amazing!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? 

One of my funniest mistakes was forgetting how important it is to be myself. I tried on the “role” of being a staid, rather emotionless clinician. It didn’t work, as I am a warm and open soul. I quickly learning — with humor — that it was best just to be myself. My genuine spirit is one of my greatest assets.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? 

I’ve just finished my second book — a follow-up to Joy from Fear that is focused on the aging process — and I’m so excited about it. I feel a third book blossoming already. There’s so much healing and sharing to be done through books!

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? 

One of my greatest assets is my combination of dedication and passion. The habit I’ve formed that takes advantage of these qualities is to set aside other tasks and focus on writing when I feel the creative energy (or a deadline) arise. When I let my creative juices flow, magic happens.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book? 

One of the most interesting stories I shared was my own personal encounter with true, deep forgiveness. My experience of deep forgiveness entirely changed my perception of and relationship with fear. It’s so fascinating to me how forgiveness is healing and necessary — yet so misunderstood.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book? 

I want readers to NEVER give up hope. I want readers to know that they each have the power to create the lives of their dreams. I want readers to know that FEAR is their FRIEND.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was the ups and downs of life, family, and business that kept taking me away from writing. Finally, enough space was created that I was able to really sit down to refine and channel my energy. Yet, in the end, it was the experiences that happened during this “waiting period” that allowed me to add so much more depth and passion to the book. I’d tell aspiring writers this: Use your life experiences to feed your writing. When you write from your own life — your heart and soul — readers will feel your passion.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from?

I love the classics for their depth and staying power. From Tolstoy’s Anna Kareninato Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, there is so much to be felt and learned from great literature. Of course, Rumi’s work feeds the soul.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world? 

I believe that my open, genuine style allows readers to feel connected with me. This is essential; I want readers to know that I “get” them because I AM connected to them.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Your voice and your message are important. Share your message with an open heart and passion.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. 

  1. I wish I knew how much time it would take; writing does not finish when your last chapter is done! 
  2. I wish I knew that all I needed to do was put forth my best effort and persevere.
  3. I wish I’d known to write from my heart rather than writing as an academic.
  4. I wish I knew that there was so much support available from other authors.
  5. 5. I wish I knew to write only about that which I know; leave the other “stuff” to those who specialize in those areas!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? 

My movement: Care for yourself and your world as you would a newborn child. With this attitude of love and purity, we can do no harm.

How can our readers follow you on social media?







Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!


  • Sara Connell

    Bestselling Author & Writing Coach

    Sara Connell is an author and writing coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared in Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View and Katie Couric. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tri-Quarterly, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, IO Literary Journal, and Psychobabble. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year.