Monday, May 13, 2019

Do You Need a Literary Agent for Your Self-Published Book?

Self-published authors who want wider distribution for their book turn to literary agents for help. Literary agents are a great resource for connecting traditional book publishers to new authors.

Since literary agents know exactly what they are looking for in a manuscript, they will pass on representing authors with unpolished, incomplete, and lackluster manuscripts. 

If you have self-published your book and want to be represented by a literary agent, here are 10 things to do before submitting your manuscript:

1. Make sure you complete your manuscript. Agents will not help you finish your work.

2. Make sure your manuscript has gone through multiple edits.

3. Know your genre. Identify the category of your manuscript. Specific agents accept manuscripts from specific genres. 

4. Choose the agent best suited for your manuscript. Do not send a romantic novel to an agent who only accepts science fiction. 

5. Read a literary agency’s submission requirements thoroughly. Most agencies will not consider manuscripts from authors who do not follow the rules. 

6. Write an engaging query letter that makes the agent want to read your manuscript. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

It's Time To Write A New Story!

Note: This blog post appears in The April 2019 issue of The MANA Sunset Newsletter for Writers as a "Letter from the Editor" by Holly Taylor, the newsletter's editor. Read the entire newsletter HERE for newly released poetry and prose, and the latest info on

I will keep it short as this has been a longer newsletter! If you’re like me, you have noticed the days are getting longer. The sun is getting hotter. Daisies and daffodils are growing in abundance everywhere in Oregon, where I live. 

I imagine Michigan in spring--my family members wearing shorts and sunglasses and cooking on the grill each Sunday after church. 

We are all moving into the next season, wrapping up the term in school, and making plans for summer. I ask you to make some time for yourself in these days to pick up a new and exciting book or to start a story you have been aching to tell. Try and run with the stories that make you feel the most excitement and anticipation because you’re going to transfer that energy into the words in a way that is specific and real. 

Consider telling a story in a very intimate way, to a loved one, who you may be with now or whom you miss very much. Even though it might feel weird to imagine others (even family members or teachers!) reading work that is so close to you, always remember that as a writer you get to choose what percentage of actual lived experience to include. 

Plus it’s no one’s business to judge. You are the driver who is driving the reader wherever you want to take them. If they came along for the ride, they always have the option of getting off the ride. But you don’t want them to! You want them to stay and enjoy themselves. 

Try writing a story in the second person to a former version of yourself. Above all, I repeat: follow your excitement. Of course, you can never truly know where it might lead you. But if you endeavor to tell stories to others, remember that your audience wants to feel what you felt. A story that gets your blood pumping will do the same for your readers. Enjoy the ride that is writing down stories and as always, 

Happy Writing! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Excerpt from "Building a Good Driver" by Leonard Hunter

Author Leonard Hunter has written a manual for driving instructors and for parents of teenage drivers. Mr. Hunter's book not only deals with the "how-to" of teaching teens to drive. But, the manual also focuses on the physical skills involved in operating a vehicle. 

Go HERE to read a Question-and-Answer post with Leonard Hunter.  

Read an Excerpt below from Chapter 2 of Building a Good Driver by Leonard Hunter. 

Chapter 2 - First Things First (Inside the Student’s Head)

A. What State of Mind is the Student In?

What state of mind is the student in? Calm and confident, or the other extreme- nervous with anxiety? Whatever the state of mind is, you must evaluate and adapt your communication system to guide them to something towards normal. Usually, a friendly direct tone with an explanation of the reason why will accomplish this.  However, you may fluctuate from this pattern as more rapport is developed.

B. What State of Mind Should the Student Be In?

What state of mind should the student be in?  Being calm, alert and ready for instruction is the ideal state of mind for a student.  However, you will need to prepare yourself for the less than ideal state of mind student.  I recommend questions about favorite sports teams or subjects. Ask about what you believe the student knows about, with open-ended questions, so you can evaluate the student’s state of mind.  If there is any question of the state of mind proceed cautiously.

C. How to Get the Student in the Right State of Mind

How to get the student in the right state of mind.  Try to greet all students with a smile, because smiles are known to disarm people. You want to set a positive tone for your relationship with the student. Make statements from the start like “A safe driver is a good driver”, and ask students how they feel about the idea. Be an example by exhibiting good communication and courteous manners to students and parents. Make sure driving safety is the standard in your vehicle.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Q&A With Leonard Hunter, Author of "Building a Good Driver"

Leonard Hunter (MANA) welcomes Leonard Hunter to the MANA Family of Authors. Mr. Hunter is the author of Building a Good Driver, a manual that covers everything that drivers of all ages need to know before they get behind the steering wheel. 

Mr. Hunter has 20 years of successful experience teaching Driver Education to teens and adults. He has been certified by the state of Michigan as a Driver Education Instructor. Mr. Hunter is noted for his calm, effective, precise driving instructions.

MANA: Tell us about Building a Good Driver. What is this book about?
Leonard Hunter (LH): Building a Good Driver is a teaching guide for a driving instructor or parent who is responsible for teaching a new driver the physical skills of driving a vehicle.
MANA: What inspired you to write your book?
LH: The comments from my three daughters who pointed out that their driving instructors did not provide the detailed sequence of instruction that I provided.  Also, reviewing my training as well as other Driver Ed teachers, I realized that Driver Ed instructors are trained in the laws of the road, but not on guidelines of the physical skills in operating the vehicle.

MANA: You write about the mental state of mind of the driver. Tell us why the mental state of mind is important for the student? 
LH: The mental state is important because you want to eliminate distractions and focus on the learning process.

MANA: As a driving instructor, how do you combat fear in a student who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle for the first time ever?
LH: You combat fear of new drivers by putting them in a safe environment where errors can be made without harm to the student or vehicle (such as using a large parking lot and/or low traffic roads). A confident instructional tone is helpful.

MANA: Other than potentially being afraid to drive an actual car, what are some of the common problems that you have found beginning drivers to have (not familiar with the vehicle’s dashboard? “flooring the gas pedal”?)
LH: Beginning drivers often have to overcome the fear of other vehicles coming close to them on two-lane highways, steering, (and) staying in their lane on turns and curves. Controlling and learning how to gently accelerate or gently brake with the heel of the foot on the vehicle floor. Also, there is the overall confidence level of a new driver which can be too high or too low. The responsibility of the instructor is to moderate the highly confident driver and to encourage and build up the timid driver.

Monday, April 1, 2019

MANA Celebrates National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world. Established in 1996, the American Academy of American Poets (AAAP) bring public awareness to the art of poetry.

The Academy was inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month in February and Women's History Month in March.

The goal of National Poetry Month is to:

• highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing  
  achievement of American poets;
• encouraging the reading of poetry;
• help teachers in bringing poetry into their classroom;
• encourage increased publication and distribution 
  of poetry books; and 
• encourage support for poets and poetry. (MANA) supports the efforts of the AAAP. We help poets and writers of prose self-publish and market their works. In celebration of National Poetry Month, we will introduce you to poetry written by MANA authors. If you love poetry, then we hope you enjoy the presentations we have for you on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter) and blog posts. 

The poems we have selected to feature are from the books below. To preview the books and to find out more information, click on the title of the book which will take you to the book's webpage: 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Writing Prompt Ideas for Spring

Holly Taylor
Editor's Note: Now that Spring is here, Holly Taylor, editor of the MANA Sunset Newsletter, reminds us to tend to our writing just as carefully as we tend to our plans for Spring cleaning. With that in mind, we are posting two of Holly's articles that first appeared in the February 2018 and April 2018 issues of the MANA Sunset Newsletter for writers. Check out other issues of the newsletter on the website. 

I’ve compiled a list of topics to write about this spring for those of you who need some inspiration. Sometimes the hardest thing is sitting down and parceling out the time to write. Once you do that, this list of possible topics can help you get the creative juices flowing: 

1. A first love (aww) 

I currently teach a writing course for undergraduates, and I'm always in awe of how freely and openly they enjoy writing epic love stories. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising to me. Despite how chaotic the world can seem, how very different people seem from each other, I believe one of our greatest, shared traits as humans is our ability to love each other. 

This, perhaps, is why love is a topic returned to again and again in literature. Not only is love abundant, in my opinion, it's also able to manifest in many ways; which is yet another reason why the topic is often written about. I encourage you to write about love this season. Write a poem to a love of yours. Write a note about your desires. Or construct a love letter to the person you haven't met yet, who you dream of. 

2. An impossible living situation (roommates from hell, a bedroom with a leaking ceiling, etc.) 

3. Your earliest memory of pain (ick) 

4. A secret desire 

5. A secret fear 

I hope these writing prompt ideas spur some awesome writing for you! Once you write for about 10 minutes about one of these, it might be wise to set aside the writing and then return to it at a later date to fill in the details and revise. Best wishes and as always 

Happy Writing!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Reintroducing Bare Essential Bits—The Audio Series

In 2017, DR C introduced a weekly audio series titled, Bare Essentials Bits: All You Wanted to Ask About a Grammatical/Writing Tidbit but Were Too Embarrassed To Ask!

Each 5-minute audio addresses a spelling challenge or grammatical issue that stumps or confuses writers, such as knowing when to use then or than or their, there, or they'reThe series also explored punctuation marks, apostrophes, and commas.

Because of the solid response we received from listeners, we decided to repost the audio series. While you will hear MANA's DR C announce specific dates from August to October 2017, the grammar tips remain relevant.

If you still have questions about grammar or punctuation after listening to any of the episodes, feel free to email DR C at Put on the subject line: "Bare Essentials Bits—Got a Question." Thank you! 

Now, enjoy the Bare Essentials Bits audio series! 

Audio Series

1. What's the difference between "affect" vs. "effect" and how are they used? Click on the player below to find the answer on the  August 10, 2017 episode.

Want more "bits" about grammar? Then check out the book, Bare Essentials Bits—The Book: Providing the Puzzle Pieces of Good Grammar, Precise Punctuation, and Accurate Word Choice on MANA's website by clicking HERE: 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Black History Month Tribute: MANA's Owner Dr. Fairy C. Hayes-Scott Reflects On Dr. Martin Luther King

This post was originally published in the February 2018 issue of The MANA Sunset Newsletter. Click HERE to view the newsletter. 

Dr, Fairy C. Hayes-Scott
On Sunday, June 23, 1963, my mother and I were a part of a march of over 200,000 in Detroit, MI (some want to say much less; however, I was there. I know it was probably even larger). 

The enthusiasm and spirit of love were infectious. And when my mother and I entered Cobo Hall, I felt so very important to be part of this Detroit March to Freedom. 

Yes, there were some important people in the community who made speeches. However, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the speaker we came to hear.  

In Cobo Hall, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first presented his famous “I Have A Dream Speech.” Many years later I learned that Detroit was where he tested his speech. 

Oh my, hearing this man use metaphors, similes, and allusions with such skill was something I shall never forget. However, most importantly, I heard a man preach love and urged us to make a concentrated mission to improve the world in which we lived.