Matt Bayan Book Promotions!

Initiating our new plan to promote our HSW writers’ books when they are released or are on a special promotion, here are two of Matthew Bayan’s books on a special promotion. Each Kindle eBook will be FREE for a few days, so grab a copy for yourself, read it, and review. Or pass this information along to someone you think would enjoy reading the books.

Don’t have a Kindle? You can download a program for your reader from Amazon.


Get the thriller that bestseller, Michael Grumley, called “A Shocker.”

Free promo starts tomorrow

Thursday 4/15 and runs through Saturday April 17.

(Click on the book cover to go to the Amazon link.)




THE FIRECRACKER KINGThe Firecracker King by [Matthew Bayan]

“The summer of 65 was hot…and deadly.”

Free promo from Sunday 4/18 to Tuesday 4/20

(Click on the book cover to go to the Amazon link.)







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HSW April 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday April 10 at 10 am via Zoom. 


Come join our Zoom meeting when we welcome Janice Hermsen from LaRue Press as our guest. Janice has been in the publishing business for most of her life and broadcasts her “What’s the Story?” radio program where she interviews authors and other creatives. Bring your questions about independent publishing as Janice joins us to talk about the industry and what’s new and exciting.
 Along with that, Rene will do a short presentation on how to use Draft2Digital to publish your indie book to multiple platforms through one channel for free. She’ll go over how to enter your book, format it, then select distribution. 


Shameless Self-Promotion
Writing Contest Update
Janice Hermsen on Publishing
Draft2Digital Demo
First Pages

See you on the second Saturday of the month! Zoom information will be sent out on the Thursday before the meeting. 

From the President – Matt Bayan


When I’ve worked on new writers’ manuscripts, I’ve often asked them what they would consider “success.” The spectrum of answers is wide. Some say immediately that they want a bestseller. Others say they just want to get published. Some say they want something their families will remember them by and would be happy self-publishing a memoir and posting it on Kindle for free.

It’s interesting that most of the answers revolve in some way around publishing. From Big Four (yes, Simon & Schuster has been bought) to freebie Kindle.

How do you view writing success? What path do you need to take to achieve that success? What tools do you need? What allies?

Answering these questions requires an understanding of agents, small-house publishers vs. the Big Four, your platform, your writing skills and deficiencies, editors, marketing… The list seems endless.

The April meeting will focus on publishing. We’ll get a personal viewpoint from a local publisher, as well as discuss some of the issues I listed above.

So, please join us for a wide-ranging discussion and how you can write your way to what you consider your personal success.

We’ll also offer you the opportunity to write an op-ed for The Washington Post.

Coming in May… 

The Compass of Character: Creating Complex Character Motivations

Mark your calendar and set your reminders for this meeting as David Corbett joins us via Zoom.

The central question for any character—what does she want—needs to be realistically complex to create a truly memorable depiction. 

In this workshop, award-winning author David Corbett (The Art of Character, The Compass of Character) will guide participants in an examination of the four key counteracting forces tugging the character’s willfulness in different directions: Lack, Yearning, Resistance, and Desire. This understanding will inform the uneasy truce the character has established between pursuing the promise of life and protecting herself from the pain of life at the story’s outset, and how the misfortune or opportunity that launches the action destabilizes that equilibrium, creating the character’s internal struggle.

Our May 8, 2021 meeting will be taken up mostly by our workshop on character. Seven years ago we had David here in person for a weekend workshop, and he got rave reviews from our members. Don’t miss this.

Membership Renewals

Just a reminder that if you haven’t renewed your membership in HSW, you are overdue. Don’t miss out on any member opportunities and benefits by letting your membership expire. As you know, your membership dues help to make it possible to have great speakers like David Corbett for our meetings as well as provide for the expenses associated with the organization itself, such as our PO Box, Zoom, and meeting room expenses when we get back to them as well as bringing in paid guests.

Please renew today!

2021 Contest is Coming!

Yes, we will have a three-pronged writing contest in 2021. We are planning to launch it May 1st to run through September 30th. We will present the categories and guidelines at the next meeting. We are also looking for a theme for the short story contest with an eye to doing a compilation book from the entries.

In addition, we are planning an additional contest that deals with an aspect of marketing more than the craft of writing. Rene will tell you more about that at the meeting. 

Boomer Writing Contest

Thought this one might interest a few of you to give it a try. For those who aren’t sure, Boomers were born between 1946 and 1954.

Stories Through The Ages Baby Boomers Plus 2021:

We are very excited to be in the fifth year of this contest. Submissions are open. The deadline for the 2021 publication is June 15, 2021. Tell us about an experience growing up as a Baby Boomer, or use your experience gained becoming a Baby Boomer and tell us a story. The entry may be fiction or nonfiction.

New for 2021, we have changed the eligibility requirements to include authors born 1966 or earlier. While technically not Baby Boomers we feel people in this age range possess the experience we are looking for.

The word count for the contest is 900 – 4000 words. The entry fee is $25 for one story and $20 per story when submitting multiple stories

 A minimum of the top fifteen finalists will be published in the 2021 edition of the book.

• 1st place winner will receive $500.00
• 2nd place $200.00
• 3rd place $100.00.

New Book Release!

High Sierra Writers has quite a few published writers in the group. We have a page featuring the various books grouped by author under genre. These are under HSW Writers link. As our authors release new books, we’ll feature them here . 

Book CoverEven though this compilation of interviews was released earlier this year, we missed posting it here. Ken Beaton is one of three contributing authors to Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to War. This collection of interviews with World War II survivors covers the war years with their memories of the events. The book is raising money for Honor Flight and has thus far made over $9,000 for the charity. It is available at Sundance Books, Purple Avocado, and on Amazon in both eBook and print. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited. Check it out and help a good cause.

If you have a book release coming up next month, please send me the information, including the book link, cover, and your blurb if you would like it mentioned and/or posted to the web site.

Advertising Tip

At the last meeting, Matt mentioned a web site to try for advertising your book at a reasonable price. The Fussy Librarian boasts a newsletter distribution of 118,000 to 470,000 readers, depending on if it’s a bargain or free book promotion. The prices for advertising in this newsletter are very reasonable, ranging from $11 to $21 for bargain-priced books and $12 to $72 for free books. 

To take a look for yourself and see what an ad would cost for your book, visit The Fussy Librarian at:


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HSW March 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday March 13 at 10 am via Zoom. 


Shameless Self-promotion
2021 Writing Contest
First Pages
Increasing Pace


How to develop a page-turner? It’s not all about having a fast-moving plot. A lot can be accomplished with the structure of sentences and paragraphs.

We’ll workshop the mechanics of how to increase pace. Bring pages that you’d like to improve.

Writing Contest Discussion

We are looking at the categories for the 2021 writing contest and would like to get feedback from everyone on what they’d like to see.  (See article below.)

First Pages

Matt will be doing First Pages at this meeting.  If you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it by Friday, March 12 to  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the genre. 

Link information for the Zoom meeting will be sent in a blast to members, but will also be posted on the High Sierra Writers website and on our Facebook page on the Thursday before the meeting.

From the President:


It’s inevitable that at some point in writing a novel, the author feels like a scene or a chapter is laying there like a dead fish and stinking up the room. What to do?

Pace is frequently the culprit. We want to write a page turner. “What am I doing wrong?” we say.

Let’s assume that the information revealed in the scene is important, but it just doesn’t seem to flow. How to add zip to the writing?

The simplest way to fix a flabby scene is to break long sentences into short sentences. In doing this it might also be possible to drop phrases that are not needed between staccato sentences. By bringing the POV closer to the character, we can also raise a sense of tension which helps move a scene along.

Example 1:

He never took shortcuts at night, having a great fear of confrontation that probably stemmed from being mugged in high school. He stood at the entrance of the alley that he had passed a million times. He wanted to walk past it, but taking the shortcut would shave five minutes off his trip home and he really needed to get home.


He stood at the entrance to the dark alley. His heart boomed in his ears.

He never considered taking this shortcut before. Too dangerous. But tonight…

He had to get home.

He gritted his teeth. Took a deep breath. Stepped into the darkness.

The above example does two things that can step up pace. First, short sentences. Second, frequent paragraphing. When readers see white space around paragraphs, they read at a faster pace. Short sentences and short paragraphs accelerate that process.

Another technique for speeding up a scene is to add dialogue. Particularly dialogue with conflict. It’s possible to get rid of a lot of explanation and description by letting characters speak.

Example 2:

John was upset with Claire as he walked into the kitchen. Once again she had forgotten to pick up the kids from school. This seemed to happen with more frequency lately. John wondered if she had been drinking again even after she had promised him over and over that she would stop. He wondered if AA was just an excuse she used to get out of the house, get away from his accusations. What did she really do there? Did she actually go or did she wander the streets? He realized he really didn’t know his wife anymore.


“Dammit, Claire, you forgot the kids again. The school called me at work to pick them up.” John dropped his briefcase on the kitchen floor.

“I… I was cooking.”

“Cooking what? A rum cake? Did you just skip the cake?”

“That’s not fair. I’ve been going to AA.”

“Do you actually walk through the door?”

“I go. I have a sponsor.”

“I’m beginning to think your sponsor is the bartender down at Bailey’s.”

She looks down. Wipes her hands with a dish towel.

John says, “I don’t know you anymore.”

The above example is 98 words. The alternative is 91. Which one has a faster pace?

Another way to move things along is to skip. Think of watching a movie. Directors jump out of a scene into another scene and the audience has no problem with the shift. In movies this is called jump-cutting. Try it for increasing pace.

It’s not necessary to show every detail, particularly regarding time.  

Example 3:

Jane’s father handed her the keys. Her eyes flew wide. “Oh, Daddy, this is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

“Just make sure you drive carefully. Or I take the keys back.”

“No problem,” she said.

She hurried upstairs and changed out of her school clothes, put on jeans and a pink T-shirt. She combed her hair quickly and dabbed perfume on her neck. She ran down the stairs and out to the driveway. Realizing she forgot her purse, she ran back into the kitchen. Will I never get out of here, she thought.

Finally she got out to the driveway.

There it is. My ticket to freedom.

Where should I go first? Who should I see?

Yada yada.

Alternative 3:

Jane’s father handed her the keys. Her eyes flew wide. “Oh, Daddy, this is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

She mashed down the clutch, upshifted, then popped it. The Mustang threw her back against the seat.

Giddy at her new freedom, she tried to think of who to take for a ride.

By putting space between these paragraphs, we get a jump cut to eliminate all the business needed to get out of the house. This could also be done by starting a new chapter.

Corbett Rescheduled

At our February meeting, we had planned to have best-selling author David Corbett join us to discuss how to create compelling characters. Due to a miscommunication, Corbett was not available for the meeting, so we have now rescheduled and confirmed this presentation to the May 8th meeting. Mark your calendars now. You don’t want to miss this meeting.

HSW Writing Contest Logo

2021 Writing Contest

While Rene and Troy are planning the 2021 contest, they could use some input from all of you.

With last year’s contest, we learned that more members entered the First Chapter and Flash Fiction categories than the Short Story one. So, we are thinking of replacing that category with a different one., but we need help deciding which one.

We can do Children’s Books, Poetry, Essay, Movie or TV Scripts or narrow down more on a specific genre, such as Thriller Chapter, Romance Chapter, or Fantasy Chapter. Or, we could include one that is more geared to getting an agent, such as a query letter for your book with a brief synopsis, a 1000 word synopsis, or writing 150 word advertising hooks (minimum of three in an entry for the same book.)

With that in mind, let’s take about fifteen minutes at the next meeting to get some feedback. Alternately, you can email your thoughts on it to

Adventure Writers’ Competition

Do you have an adventure novel almost ready to publish or even one you’ve published since January? Here’s a chance to win some cash and recognition for that book — the annual Adventure Writers’ Competition

Bobby Devin sent this information about the event:

The Clive Cussler Family has funded this for 
– a $1000. first, place prize, and 
– two runners-up  prizes of $500.
All winners will have an introduction to Braveship Books Publishing.

The entry fee is $35. Contest entries must be in by April 30th. For all details, rules, and how to enter, go to:


New Book Release!

High Sierra Writers has many published writers in the group. We have a page featuring the various books grouped by author under genre. These are under HSW Writers link. As our authors release new books, we’ll feature them here.

Releasing in March, L.F. Falconer (Leanna) is releasing a new suspense and horror short story collection, Beyond the Veil. Leanna has had several short stories accepted by various magazines and has won quite a few awards for her work. Of this new collection, Falconer says:

“Like a portal to a world of otherness, a short story beckons. A hired killer speaks with the dead. A charnel isle holds an ancient secret. A gold miner’s daughter attempts to fulfill a family promise. Venture inside the pages of these stories and more with a look Beyond the Veil.

Please support your fellow HSW members by reading and providing an honest review their books. If you have a book ready to release this month or next month, send the a short blurb, sales link, and the cover image to to be included in the newsletter. Rene will also list them on the High Sierra Writers webpage under HSW Authors.


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HSW February 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday February 13 at 10 am via Zoom. 

Our next HSW meeting will be a Zoom meeting due to the restrictions on meeting in large groups. The code for the meeting will be sent to all members in a news blast by the Thursday before the meeting.

If you have not used Zoom before, it is easy. Just click on the link that we will send and post and it will take you to the web site where you can download the application. You do not need to be on video. We hope to see  you at this meeting.

Details on joining the Zoom meeting will be mailed the Thursday prior to the meeting (Feb. 11). This will include the link to the meeting and the passcode. The information will also be posted on the HSW website and on the Facebook page.

Our program for the meeting will be Creating Compelling Characters. The agenda will include any announcements, shameless self-promotion, and First Pages.

First Pages

Matt will be doing First Pages at this meeting.  If you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it by Friday February 12th to  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the genre. 

From the President


Every novel, at its core, is about characters. No plot exists without characters. So, to write a compelling novel, we need compelling characters. How do we create them?
In our February 13 meeting, we’ll explore character “ghosts,” what characters want and what are they willing to do to achieve their wants.
Our guest will be David Corbettt, author of two definitive works on this topic: The Art of Character and the recently released The Compass of Character. David is a bestselling novelist of such classics as The Devil’s Redhead and Done For A Dime. A frequent presenter at the annual Mystery Writers Conference, David has a unique way of getting at the core of our subject this month.


Looking for Contest Committee  Members

We are planning a writing contest for 2021, but the contest committee could use another volunteer or two to help organize and execute the tasks associated with it. We are also looking for anyone who might have experience in grant writing. We hope to get an art grant or two to help finance the contest and possibly some craft speakers. If you are interested, please contact Rene at (


Do you have a finished manuscript which needs just one more round of critiques before being sent off to the agent? Then contact me, Linda Enos, at asap! Two other members are ready and willing to participate in a finished manuscript group. 

 As a reminder, in a FM group, you take a month to read/critique a story, sharing your comments and suggestions at the end. Each story gets one month. 

If you have any questions, let me know! Linda

New Book Release!

High Sierra Writers has quite a few published writers in the group. We have a page featuring the various books grouped by author under genre. These are under HSW Writers link. As our authors release new books, we’ll feature them here . 

This month, Jacci Turner’s new young adult book releases on February 14th. Click on the image to go to the Amazon page. This book will be available on Kindle Unlimited, Kindle, and in paperback.

Mayten, a tree singer, must use her unfinished training to face betrayal, fear, and a deadly foe. Is she a match for the ancient evil attacking her trees or will the entire kingdom fall to ruin?

Please support our High Sierra writers by reading and giving an honest review of their books or stories on the platform where you downloaded or purchased it. Your reviews help bring the the book to the attention other readers and helps the author to gain more visibility on the sales platform.

If you have a book that has just released or will be releasing in February or March, please send an email to Rene with details to be featured in the March newsletter. 

New Series Listings on Amazon

By Rene Averett

This should interest those who have published series books or are planning to publish them. This past month (or at least, it appears to have started in January), Amazon is now offering a series listing option for your books. It’s free and setting it up is easy. 

To begin, you go to your KDP dashboard, find the first book of your series, then where it says Promote and Advertise, click on the button with three dots next to it. Under the drop down, choose add to series.

A pop-up will allow you to Create series or Select series to add to an existing one. To start, choose Create series.

The next pop-up asks How is this title related to the series? If it is book in the main content, which is a primary title in the series, choose Main Content. For prequels, related short stories or novellas, choose Related content.

If you choose Main Content, the next pop-up allows you to enter a series description. If you choose Related Content, it has a selection book for Box Set, novella, prequel, short story or other. If you choose boxed set, it will then go to additional options to set up the grouping. I think this may be a way to offer your books in a set at a discount over single pricing, but I haven’t followed it all the way through.

Once you select content, the series is set up. Then, go to the next book and add it to series and repeat until it is fully set up.

You can also set the order of your books so readers know the sequence for them. 

This goes through an approval process, then the listing goes live. When you go to a book, it will show your book listing, then below it it displays the entire series. Click on the series display trio and it goes to the series listing with your newly written blurb.

This is a great addition to the listings. In my mind I can envision some lowly intern at a publishing house trying to get all their series authors set up on this new feature. Heaven help the one working on J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series (55 and counting).


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HSW January 2021 Newsletter

Next High Sierra Writers Meeting is January 9, 2021 at 10 am

We will be meeting via Zoom.

Details on joining the Zoom meeting will be mailed the Thursday prior to the meeting (Jan. 7). This will include the link to the meeting and the passcode. The information will also be posted on the HSW website and on the Facebook page.

We had planned to discuss the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing at the December meeting, but we got into a different discussion about membership. Rather than rescheduling that pros and cons discussion for the January meeting, we’ll have a couple of speakers.

Paula Riley has a couple of news articles to share with the group that might prove interesting. The Author’s Guild’s recent newsletter included updates about “Hot Markets and Empty Book Shops” and two lawsuits against book pirates that she will talk about. She has also been involved in a negotiation with a publisher, and she’d like to share that experience.

We also have Kitty Turner from Daily House Media, a new member of our group, who is doing a presentation on Self-Publishing as Your First Choice.

Jeff will be filling in got Linda to speak about Critique Groups. If you’re looking for a critique group and want to know more, here’s your opportunity to ask. 

These topics are relevant and beneficial to all of us, so plan to join our Zoom meeting on January 9th at 10 am.


Happy New Year to all our members
(and non-members)


I’m not big on New Year resolutions, but one little trick that I’ve used for a long time, New Year or not, is this: I resolve to do something to further my writing career at least once a week.
It’s a pretty easy standard to meet. Write just a page or a paragraph. Edit a chapter I’ve already written. Send out one query. Read a novel in my genre. Do background research for a setting or character.
The point is to make it a low bar to reach. Because if you sit down to write, you’ll probably write more than one paragraph. By having a low bar, you trick yourself into getting in the mood. Someone once asked me, “Isn’t writing a book a monumental task?” My answer was, “Yes, but I trick myself into thinking I only have to write one page.” Then I write another.



It is not easy getting speakers. However, lately, with Zoom we don’t have to worry about the logistics and expense of getting someone here. A small plus.

We need your input. What kind of speakers do you want? Publishers? Editors? Successful authors? Off-beat stuff like the body language lady?

And what are the hot topics you’d like to have covered?

We’ve done many dozens of topics over the past ten years and I tend to shy away from repeating topics because I think members will get bored. But I’m rethinking this. Review never hurt anyone. And a topic we covered five years ago will be fresh to members who joined since then.

Please send your thoughts to

And a reminder: send First Pages. In the past few months we only had one or two submissions. Send a Word or PDF page to by the Friday night before the meeting.

‘Nuff said.

Happy 2021! (Can I get an “amen” from the crowd?)
Linda Enos (who writes as Lynda Bailey) here who’s also the HSW Critique Group Wrangler. At the start of a new year, HSW usually focuses on critique groups, explaining what they are and their function – which is what this article will (hopefully) do – as well as trying to get new folks into said groups.
To start, a critique group is a bunch of writers getting together to read/critique each other’s work. Critique groups can be for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Currently we have five active fiction groups in HSW and several have openings … but more about that in a minute.
Before joining a critique group, it’s good to know the ground rules. HSW has a list of guidelines, which you can access here:  
If I had to say what the one “Golden rule” is for the person giving the critique it would be: Don’t Make It Personal. Don’t try to change someone else’s work into something you’d read or write. Give helpful comments but understand this baby doesn’t belong to you. While we all have triggers in writing which make us flippin’ crazy (mine are repeated words and the overuse of the word “that”), the person doing the writing does not have to conform to our likes or dislikes … no matter how much we may want them to.
And the one “Golden Rule” for the person receiving the critique would be: Don’t Take It Personally. Don’t take offense if someone is critical of your work. Though it’s hard to hear our babies aren’t perfect, you need to understand the people in the group are simply trying to be helpful. But remember … at the end of the day, it’s your story. Use the comments which make the most sense for your plot and/or characters and leave the rest.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 High Sierra Writers Contest. We had thirty-two entries over three categories, which is a good showing for this past year. Here are the winners and the honorable mentions.

Flash Fiction
1st Place to Russell Jones for Blood and Snow
2nd place to Laura LeBlanc for Toast
3rd place to Tim Post for Valentyna
Honorable Mention to Rene Averett for Are You Familiar?

Short Story
1st Place to Sue Trollip for A Box of Dreams
2nd Place to Tim Post for Four Score and Seven Years Old
3rd Place to Russell Jones for The Clever Fox
No Honorable Mention

First Chapter
1st Place to Clare Frank for Burnt
2nd Place to Danielle Gardner for Heart of the Rose
3rd Place to Mike Croghan for Seven Generations: An African American Epic
Honorable Mention to Rene Averett, Escape to Green Leaf Junction

Top three winners in each category were awarded a cash prize and a certificate. Honorary mentions were each awarded a certificate.

The winning entries in Flash Fiction and 1st Chapter are now published on the High Sierra Writers web site for one month. Stop by and read them here before the end of January.

The Contest Committee plans at least one, maybe two contests for 2021. We are looking for anyone interested in helping with the contest. We also need someone who has any experience with grant writing to help us locate and apply for grants to fund the contests and guest speakers. If you are interested and willing to help out, please contact us at

Membership Renewals Are Due

It’s time to renew your membership for 2021.
If you haven’t already sent in your renewal, please do so now. You can pay via the website using PayPal or send a check to the mail box at High Sierra Writers,  PO Box 12241 Reno, NV 89510

If you are uncertain if you’ve renewed for 2021, contact Rene at


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HSW December 2020 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday, December 12 at 10 am via Zoom. 

As is becoming the norm, our December meeting will be via Zoom. We appreciate everyone who is logging on and joining in. You don’t have to be on camera to be part of the meeting. Contact information for the meeting will be sent by Thursday, December 10th. 

We have a few topics for the next meeting, such as what’s next after writing your NaNoWriMo novel, or any novel for that matter. Let’s talk about everything that has to be done before that novel is ready to publish or be sent to an agent. Then let’s talk about publishing options. Bring any questions you have about the process, whether it is Big Five– oops, now Four–publishing or do it yourself. 

We’ll also talk about our critique groups and how they are working for you. As you can see from these topics, Matt and Rene are going to be looking for participation from all of you. 

We’ll also announce the winner of the HSW Writing Contest for 2020. Overall, the contest committee is pleased with the number of entries and plan to do a 2021 contest as well.


Agenda for the December Meeting:

  1.  Announcements and Shameless Self-Promotion
  2. Winners of the Writing Contest Announcement
  3. Discuss Post-NaNo Activities
  4. Discussion of Traditional Publishing Versus Self-Publishing
  5. Status of Critique Groups
  6. First Pages



Matt will be doing First Pages at this meeting.  If you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it to Matt by Friday October 9th at  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the genre. 


This month we’ll be discussing several topics about getting from A to Z.

Since we’re just coming off NANO, some of you may have very raw finished or close to finished first drafts. What now? If this is your first book, the road ahead may seem daunting. Well, it is. Even if it’s your third book.

Think of it as a sculptor. You just bought a five-ton slab of marble and had it delivered to your studio. You stare at it for a while and ask yourself if you just made a big mistake.

The reality is that a first draft is total crap. Doesn’t matter who you are. It’s no better than a five-ton slab of marble. The hard work is beating the thing into shape.

This will take proofreading, rewrites, and/or feedback from a critique group or trusted beta readers. If you think on your third draft, you’re finished, think again. Just look at some of the crap that’s on Amazon, flooding the market and making it ever more difficult to breakthrough. Most of those books are second or third drafts.

 “I need to get it out there.” That phrase, that desire will enter your mind at some point. Resist it. If later you’re going to spend time and money marketing your book or querying agents, give yourself the best chance of success by at least having a quality product.


As we come to the end of the year, it means your membership is expiring unless you’ve already renewed it. In case you’re not sure, here’s your name and expiration date:
If you’re due to renew, you can do it online using PayPal. You don’t need to have an account and you can use your credit card. HSW PayPal Link  If you prefer to pay by check, you can mail it to High Sierra Writers PO Box 12241 Reno, NV 89510. Please let Rene know so she can follow up. 


If you’re planning to self-publish a book over the holidays, you might not be aware that some companies have holiday hours. Thanks to Draft2Digital, Rene had a list of them this morning:
Amazon Support will be closed on December 25 and January 1. To ensure against potential delays in file review and other processing, submit your books prior to December 11. Preorders scheduled during these periods will go live as expected, provided final manuscripts are in and approved before the cutoff date of December 11. 
Apple’s publishing systems will experience delays from mid-December through early January. To help you in planning release dates around this period you may use the following schedule:
  • Release dates from December 18 have a delivery deadline of Friday, December 4.
  • Release dates from December 25 have a delivery deadline of Friday, December 11.
All submissions must be submitted prior to midnight (PST) on the dates above.

Due to the high volume of deliveries and updates they receive during this time of year, Apple does not recommend making changes between December 20 and December 27.

B&N will be closed December 25 and January 1 with limited support in between. No files will process and there will be no direct support on days when closed. Also during this time you may experience review slowdowns, and slowdowns following those dates as B&N deals with backlog. However, automated delivery will continue 24/7 through the holiday period.

Kobo offices will be closed December 25 and January 1. Additionally, they will have limited support from December 20 thru January 6. Metadata and digital files will be loaded 24/7 over the holidays however there will be a lot of data flowing through their system which may cause updates to take longer.

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HSW November 2020 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday, November 14, at 10 am via Zoom. 

Our next HSW meeting will continue with a Zoom meeting due to the restrictions on meeting in large groups. The code for the meeting will be sent to all members in a news blast a few days before the meeting and will be posted on the HSW web site and our Facebook page. 

If you have not used Zoom before, it is easy. Just click on the link that we will send and post and it will take you to the web site where you can download the application. You do not need to be on video.  We hope to see you there.

Program: Why Do I Write – A Discussion with Jacci Turner

Why Do I write? This is the fundamental question every author must answer. Is it to entertain, encourage, instruct, or something else?

Come prepared to write. We will be creating a tagline, writing a blog about what motivates us, and reading to each other. Knowing your why creates your author voice, which should be noticeable in all your writing. And, it’ll be fun.

Using Kindle Create to Format Your Print Novel – Rene Averett

Third time’s a charm. This was held over from the past two meetings, and we’ll do our best to get to it this month. Rene will walk you through the features of Amazon’s formatting program. The program will help you do the layout for your print book as well as your e-book. 

First Pages – Matt Bayan

Matt will be doing First Pages at this meeting, so if you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it to Matt by Friday, November 13, to  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the title and genre if you wish.


SHOW vs TELL – How Much Detail is Enough?

I want to talk about a coincidence that brought into focus an issue near and dear: showing vs. telling and how much detail is enough.

I read two books published in the past few years: Camino Island by John Grisham and A Legacy of Spies by John LeCarre’. The subject matter couldn’t be farther apart. The former is about the theft of valuable literary manuscripts, and the latter is a spy novel.

I hated Camino Island and loved A Legacy of Spies. Why? The coincidence I mentioned is that both books have a substantial amount of telling. Why does one work and the other doesn’t? Le Carre’ provides detail that at first seems unconnected. Imagine a bowl of alphabet soup with letters randomly appearing. But at some point, the letters begin to form into important information.

With the Grisham book, we look at the same bowl of alphabet soup and realize we’re just looking at soup. Even when he appears to be showing, such as in dialogue, Grisham’s characters are still telling. And telling.

Apart from a lackluster plot, Camino Island has unimportant characters of which we learn too much. We get page after page of meaningless dialogue or summary or description. I got the sense that Grisham had a 50-page story, but he needed 300 pages, so he backed up the dump truck and dropped a lot of fill dirt.

The contrast with Le Carre’ is that each piece of dialogue, each back story, slowly weaves into a tighter and tighter net, and seemingly unrelated information begins to form a picture.

As an editor, I try to get my clients to avoid too much detail. But in these two contrasting books, we see Le Carre’ push beyond the limits of what I would normally feel comfortable with, yet he pulls it off with skill. Why? Because his details have meaning. Grisham, on the other hand, needs to get taken to the woodshed by his editor.

The lesson here is to make sure every detail drives toward a plot point. Details that do this will eventually satisfy the reader. Details that don’t will only aggravate. The former have purpose; the latter are bloat.

HSW Writing Contest

As of midnight yesterday, the HSW Writing Contest for 2020 has closed for entries. We received a great response of first chapters and flash fiction stories, with a smaller amount of short stories. Thank you to everyone who submitted entries. The stories will now be prepared and sent to the judges for evaluation. The winners will be announced at the December HSW meeting. 

Our judges for this contest are all published writers. Ellen Hopkins is an best-selling author of young adult and adult fiction. She also published 20 non-fiction books for children. Her most recent book is People Kill People. Jenny Mackay writes educational books and has recently completed her master’s degree in creative writing. Suzanne Morgan Williams writes both fiction and non-fiction books for middle-grade children as well as writing historical books. She has won many awards for her writing.

Thank you to everyone for contributing and good luck to all.

November is NaNoWriMo 

For anyone who doesn’t already know, NaNaWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a world-wide effort to encourage creatives to write 50,000 words on a novel during the month. If you break it down that is 1667 words a day if you write every day. To spur writers on, writing groups are formed locally where the participants can get encouragement, challenges, and other support throughout the month.

Normally, Reno’s group has write-ins once or twice a week at various coffee shops or libraries. With Covid restrictions, this is not happening this year. We do have a Facebook page where Rene Averett hangs out and runs several sprints each day to challenge others to write for an hour at a time. This year, we will try a virtual write-in each week using Facebook’s group meeting feature. That will be on Wednesday nights from 7 pm to 10 pm. 

For more information or to join the Facebook group, go to:


High Sierra Writers has quite a few published writers in the group. We have a page featuring the various books grouped by author under genre. These are under HSW Writers link. As our authors release new books, we’ll feature them here each month. We have three members published in the last few months to check out. 

 Bill Kuechler published his most recent novel, Lethal Angel, at the end of September. From Bill’s cover blurb, “The Angel lurks on suicide blogs, recruiting destitute, elderly Americans for suicide bombings. The only person who suspects a pattern behind the seemingly random tragedies is Kern Hendley, a savant-smart Medicare computer-fraud analyst with the Secret Service.” That should hook you into this book. Check it out at

In August, Kelli Heitstumanko Tomko published the third in her Johnny Lister mystery series. The Incident at Grove, Idaho takes Idaho State Police investigator Johnny Lister on a quest to learn what happened to a mother and her children. She soon believes the missing people are the victims of foul play. “But the investigation takes a shocking turn Johnny never saw coming. As she finds herself locked in a complex cross-jurisdiction case, Johnny must learn who in her little town has secrets they would kill to protect.” Want o read it? Go to her Amazon link.

Once again, Leanna Falconer had a short story finish in the top 10 of a short story competition. The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition selected her story, Best Kept Secret among the top stories received and included it in their just released anthology, which is on sale now at Amazon. 
     From the book description: “This year’s participants were given two choices: the opening and closing lines of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, or Beloved by Toni Morrison. 34 STORIES contains the Huxley finalists; 124 BELOVED contains the Morrison finalists–but both anthologies have been bundled together into this single omnibus collection called 34 STORIES / 124 BELOVED.”  The challenge was to craft a story using the same opening and closing lines. Leanna entered the Morrison competition.

Support your fellow High Sierra Writers. Read and review their books and recommend to others when you can. 

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October 2020 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting

Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 10 a.m. 

Since large gatherings of more than 6 people do not appear to be feasible in the foreseeable future, we will continue to meet via Zoom. Details will be sent out before the meeting and will be posted to the web site and on Facebook.

The program includes the continuation of How to Upload a Book to Amazon and set up the rest of the options. We apologize for the abrupt interruption to this at the last meeting. Matt’s entire computer system crashed and he needed to reboot the router. Since he is the host, Zoom closed the meeting shortly after he left.

Want to know more about Kindle Create? We will also look at this Amazon provided program and how to use it to format a novel or any book with photos or illustrations. Since Rene has used it to format her cookbooks, she can show you the good points about it.

We may have a guest speaker, but we don’t have details at this time. 

First Pages

Matt will be doing first pages, so if you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it to Matt by Friday October 9 at  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the genre.


15 Days Left!

We are coming down to the wire to get your contest entry or entries submitted. The deadline for receiving the entry forms and submissions is October 15th. You may email these to Full details are on the website. Please remember to use a cover sheet with the name of the submission and your name on it along with your email address. Do NOT include your name on the story or chapter pages, just the title and word count.

Winners in each category will be announced and prizes awarded in December. 

We do have three judges lined up, all writers. More details will be revealed at the next meeting. 

If you have any questions or have problems submitting your entry, contact Rene at

Revised By-Laws Passed

At the September meeting, the attending members voted to accept the revised By-laws, which removed unnecessary wording and simplified them. They are posted on the website for your reference. 

Useful Links Page

If you missed the presentation on ISBN numbers, the slide show and Rene’s notes are on the website in the Useful Links section. You will find other links to handouts and articles at the same place.


High Sierra Writers has quite a few published writers in the group. We have a page featuring the various books grouped by author under genre. These are under HSW Writers link. As our authors release new books, we’ll feature them here each month. This time, our featured writer is L.F. Falconer. She doesn’t have a book out, but has two short stories published in two magazines.

Check out her story, “Lucien Greyshire and the Ghost from Applebee’s” in Weirdbook Magazine #43 (Wildside Press) published on September 3rd. The link is to the magazine on Amazon. It is available in Kindle and paperback.

Her 2nd story was published September 16 in Shallow Waters Vol 6: A Flash Fiction Anthology (Crystal Lake Publishing). That one is called “Neighborhood Watch.” The issue is not yet available on Amazon, but they do carry the anthologies from this publisher.

Please support our High Sierra writers by reading and giving an honest review of their books on the platform where you downloaded or purchased it. Your reviews help bring the attention of the book to other readers and helps the author to gain more visibility on the sales platform. We’re all here to help each other, aren’t we?

Membership Renewals and New Memberships

If your membership has been expired since the beginning of the year, your membership renewal is still $25 for 2020, but if you renew in November or December, we will throw in those two months and renew you for all of 2021. 

If you are a new member joining in October, your membership will be valid through December, 2021. 

To renew via PayPal, go to this link.  To mail, send to HSW, PO Box 12241, Reno, NV, 89510. Please let Rene or Matt know if you send it to the mailbox. Thanks!


By Rene Averett

Now and then, HSW members will ask about websites, how to set them up, and what should be included on one. Keep in mind that even if you are writing as a hobby, your website represents you and your business. Yes, I said business. Whether it’s a hobby or what you hope to turn into a full-time income, the moment you put a book out for sale, it becomes a business. So, your website needs to look professional, not stuffy, but something that includes all the information that a reader, a reviewer, an agent, or a publisher wants to know about you.

A recent article from Book Bub discussed the five key elements that need to be on your website. Each of these is important and should be kept current. Your website is part of your brand as an author, so pay attention to it.

The five crucial elements you should have are:
1) A page with your books listed on it. If you have one or more series books, group them together. When someone reads a book and likes it, they will often go to the writer’s webpage to see what else they have written or if there are more books in the series. Make sure you have purchase links to your books.

2) Your author biography, written in the third person. Many authors have a short and a long version. This makes it easy for a reviewer or an agent to pull the author’s bio when they need it. Keep it up to date. 

3) Author Headshot. This should be a professionally-taken, high quality photograph that a reviewer or a book publisher can use to promote your book. I see many author photos that are casual photos, taken outside or in a comfortable setting. With high quality cameras, you can often get a good shot with a friend who has a steady hand taking the picture. Again, change it now and then. How many times have you seen a photo of an author from when they were thirty and they’re now seventy?

4)  A way for readers to get updates. Provide a mailing list or some kind of notification. At the very least, have a way for them to subscribe to your page. This is a plug-in you can used on your Word Press site. If you want to be able to send them a regular newsletter or let them know via email that you are releasing a new book, then you need to set up a mailing list.

To read the whole article and see examples, you can go here.

5) A way to send an email to you or your publisher. Fans want to communicate with their favorite authors, but other sometimes want to contact you for business reasons. If you want all that to go through your publisher, then you need a contact email or snail mail address for them to do that. If your prefer your fan communication to be through social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, then let them know how to reach you. 

If you a not yet a published author or are just starting your first book, it’s not too soon to begin building your website. You need to begin building a mailing list as soon as you can, so that you’ll have people interested in your book before you’re ready to release it. 

The easiest way to set a website up is using Word Press. The majority of author websites are on some version of this program. For a small fee, the Word Press site will host your website on their server. If you have another server you can use, then you can download the program to it. Many templates designed for this program help you to set up your page. If you aren’t comfortable with using computers, you can hire someone to design it and set up so it is easy for you to maintain.

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HSW Contest Deadline Extended


With a promotional opportunity set for October 12, the Contest Committee voted to extend the deadline for the contest entries to October 31st at midnight. This provides the opportunity to anyone who hasn’t heard about the contest or who is running late on their entry to submit it. 

So, if you are running a little behind on getting your entry polished, you have an additional two weeks to get it done. Entries should be sent via email no later than midnight on October 31st. If you are mailing the entry, please contact Rene at for instructions on mailing either your entry or your entry fee. We have an issue with the post office box, and it is currently suspended. 

Troy Becker announced our three judges at the last HSW meeting. They are writers Ellen Hopkins, Jenny MacKay, and Suzanne Morgan Williams. None of our judges are HSW members.

Please refer to the Contest Information on the HSW website for any other details regarding submissions. 

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September 2020 Newsletter


Saturday September 12 at 10 am via Zoom. 

Our next HSW meeting will be another Zoom meeting due to the restrictions on meeting in large groups. The code for the meeting will be sent to all members in a news blast a few days before the meeting and will be posted on the HSW web site and our Facebook page. 

If you have not used Zoom before, it is easy. Just click on the link that we will send and post, and it will take you to the web site where you can download the application. You do not need to be on video. We hope to see more of you this next meeting.

We will be voting on the revised By-Laws for our organization at the September meeting. You may read these on the HSW web site at:

Our program for the meeting will be on How to Upload a Book to Amazon. We’ve done this one before, but we have quite a few people who either don’t know how to do it or would like to run through it again.  We didn’t get to the presentation on ISBNs at the last meeting, so Rene will cover it at this meeting.

We will also be doing First Pages so if you have a first page you would like feedback on, please send it to Matt by Friday September 11 at  For easy reading, please use 12 point Times New Roman and double space.  Do not include your name on the page, but indicate the genre.

Hope to see you there!



Last month in part 1, the focus was on the inciting incident that kicks off a novel or movie and how not to clutter it with a prologue or some other “telling.” In part 2, we look at another potentially dangerous form of telling: the Flashback.

I know some agents and editors who are death on flashbacks. But I think their reason is that flashbacks are generally handled poorly. Used sparingly, a flashback can be an effective tool for illuminating a character’s motivation, weakness, strength, etc.

But how to do that? Unless it’s a very small piece of information, avoid having one character “telling” about something that happened off-stage. The simplest way is to start a new chapter and stay in immediate scene. Show the information as it happens, make your plot point, then jet back to the present.

Always ask if the information in the flashback is SO important that it can’t be avoided, or presented some other way.

Movies tend to be a bit more flashbacky than books, largely because, as a visual medium, all parts of a movie involve “showing.”

Photo from GladiatorA good example of a flashback is in the movie Gladiator. The Russell Crowe character, Maximus, thinks back to memories of his family, now dead. We get the sense that he’s done all he can in his life and wants to join them. In this case, the short visual clips of an idyllic time offer the audience a sense of the loss he has suffered, while also explaining his state of mind near the end of the film.

So, make a flashback relevant, keep it short, and keep it in immediate scene and you can avoid running afoul of antsy readers and even antsier agents.

Need a Critique Group?

Linda Enos is the Critique Group Wrangler, and she would be happy to help you find or start a group. For any writer, the feedback you can get from a group of your peers is valuable. They help you find problems in your story, plot holes, bad phrasing, and much more. So, if you want to bring up the level of your writing, contact Linda at

Do You Know Your Adjective Word Order?

Have you ever read a line with three or more adjectives describing a noun and thought that it just didn’t sound right? For instance, if you read, “the yellow, limping, big dog”, would it bother you? Our internal logic expects this to read “the big, limping, yellow dog.” You may wonder why that should be. 

Somewhere along the lines of developing language, a word order for adjectives evolved, possibly based on the way the brain processes words. No one knows exactly how it came about, but generally all linguists agree a specific order for adjectives exist. The cool thing is that instinctively, we use these rules and normally, recognize an anomaly when these words are in the wrong order.

That doesn’t mean we don’t write them wrong every now and then, but most times you will catch them when you read your work back, or someone in your critique group might notice them. Or, if you have Grammarly, it will note them and suggest a change.

The order for using adjectives is a determiner, such as thea, or an is first, followed by opinion (unusual, lovely, ugly), size (giant, enormous, tiny), physical quality (thick, heavy, rough), shape (oblong, triangular, square), age (young, ancient, old), color (blue, reddish, gray), origin (French, Turkish, Danish), material (metal, wood, plastic), type (general-purpose, needle-nose, U-shaped), purpose (cleaning, hammering, cooking), and finally the noun all these words describe. 

For the long list of these alone, a writer would be wise to not string more than three adjectives to describe a noun. 

Note also, that all the adjectives are separated by commas. If the word is describing the noun, you separate the  words from each other. If the word is acting on the word next to it and the two together describe the noun, you don’t separate it with a comma. Usually, words acting together are hyphenated, such as reddish-brown or bread-like. 

To help you check the adjective word order, here’s a handy chart you can save to your computer for reference. You can learn more about this subject from this article.

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