Carol Brennan King  Dec. 16, 2020

In response to our discussion a week ago about meditation, I am posting the url from the short class I am taking on Meditation and Writing. My professor says it is fine to pass on the url.

Not a good day for writing on the deck. December 17, 2020

Resources: Meditation Practice Session Number 1 Pranayama by Nadia Colburn Ph. D. Dr. Colburn was the teacher I studied with this fall. This link takes you to the introduction to a free E-course and challenge for writers and non-writers. You can can sign up here:

OR you can go to this site to see what Day 1 looks like.

Creative Writing

According to Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, here are the specific rules to formatting a manuscript before shipping your work off to potential agents and publishers. NOTE: Follow these rules, as they fit, for articles you submit to publishers, editors, or contests unless different specifications are given.


 Use a 1″ margin on all sides

 Use a title page, set up the same as the title page in your submission package

 Don’t number the title page. Begin numbering with the first page of the text of the book, (or article) usually the introduction, prologue, or chapter one.

 Use a header on each page, including your name, the title of your novel in all caps, and the page number.

 Start each new chapter on its own page, one-third of the way down the page.

 The chapter number and chapter title should be in all caps, separated by two hyphens:


 Begin the body of the chapter four to six lines below the chapter title.

 Indent fives spaces for each new paragraph. Don’t tab.

 Double-space the entire text.

 Use a standard font, 12-point type. Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier is fine.

 Use 20-lb. bond paper for your submission

It’s important to note that guidelines may vary a little based on who you talk to or what you read, but by following the ones stated above, you will ensure sure that your manuscript looks clean, is easy to read and won’t get rejected because of sloppy formatting.


Memoir Class

Note: today we continued our discussion about what it takes to get a memoir published.

  1. Premise: you must be able to give the premise or the two-sentence description of what the book is about in such a way that the person who reads or hears that premise says, “Wow, I want to read that book! That is an amazing story.”
  2. Agents, editors look for the kind of story that makes them want to turn the page. Is there enough tension or interest in your story that the reader does not want to put it down.
  3. Common mistakes in queries:
    • assuming the readers have a background knowledge of the writer (you). Unless you are big in the national news, and maybe not even then, most people who might pick up your book know nothing of your background.
    • assuming the reader wants to hear everything that happened to you. The reality is they only want to know the big bits, the kind of challenges and journey through them that they can relate to in some way.
    • neglecting to have a story arc. A memoir must follow the story arc a novel would. It begins with a character in a scene where we learn about the character. Fairly soon we see the character – you – begin facing challenges. The book concludes with a resolution of sorts as we learn how the writer met the challenges and how that journey changed them and what they learned.
    • remember: you cannot expect an agent or editor to be interested in your book if it is just like a pile of other books. It must have a new angle or different premise, something that makes an avid reader want to read it.
    • don’t tell the agent or editor you are submitting to that everyone who has read your work loves it. They will assume all of those readers are your friends and relatives who cannot give an unbiased response.
    • Bottom Line: The excellence of your writing, including in this query letter, and ability to tell a story is what matters.
  4. In a memoir, think of yourself as the writer of an action movie. The story, as it unfolds on the page or on the screen, must keep the reader’s attention.
  5. Remember, a memoir is non-fiction. That means it all happened the way you wrote it. You can recapture conversation to the best of your ability, but you may not create new conversation or incidents that did not happen.
  6. You may leave out events that are not of interest, nor influence the story you are telling, but you may not add events to “spice” it up.
  7. How do you determine if your memoir is a viable candidate for traditional publication or better suited to self-publication?
    • Can you do a quick, one-line elevator pitch describing the point, or theme, or topic of your memoir?
    • Can you articulate what angle your memoir takes with this topic? Remember, a memoir is a slice of your life, and this slice must have universal appeal (or appeal to a big chunk of the universe). Is your book a story of transformation, a cautionary story, inspirational, or coming of age?
    • If the reader does not know you, would they care about this book?
    • How different is your story from the memoirs already on the shelf, and is that difference enough to warrant the expense of bringing another book on the topic to the shelf?
    • This is not to discourage you but to help you determine whether you want to begin with a traditional publisher or consider self-publishing

8. We have talked about writing a proposal for an agent, editor, or publisher, and about the research necessary to plead a case for your book.

You must find three competitive titles published within the last three years and tell how you are both similar and different.

I suggest that you do some research even now to see what is already on the shelves of a bookstore or library where your book would fit. This exercise will be of great help, not only in deciding whether to self-publish or aim for traditional publishing. It also will help you decide whether you might need to make some changes or additions to the story you have been writing.

P.S. Enjoy your break and keep writing. We will meet again February 3 if not before.

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