HSW September 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday October 9th at 10 am at Scheels

Google Meet will also be used for those who can’t attend in person.

Program is not set yet, but Matt is working on it. Once we have a confirmation, we will post it on our website and Facebook.

We will use Google Meet again and get it set up correctly this time so that those who are watching from home can see the computer slides or pages and we can see the people at home. We apologize for the setup last time. We had a miscommunication. I will be sending the join code out before the meeting and it will be on the website and Facebook.

First Pages: We will be doing First Pages at this meeting, so if you have the first page of a manuscript you would like critiqued, send it to mattbayan@aol.com by 7 pm on Friday, Oct. 8. Please make sure it is  12 point Times New Roman and double-spaced on an 8×10 -inch page. Include the name of work and the genre. Do not include your name.


From the President: Matt Bayan

IMMEDIATE SCENE

I think it would be helpful to contrast two key elements of a story: setting and immediate scene. Immediate scene is writing that occurs in the moment. It’s a close POV where the reader is experiencing what is happening as it happens. 

Dialogue is usually immediate scene, unless the dialogue is recounting something that occurred off-stage, out of the sight of the reader. Usually something in the past.
Traditionally, stories started out with a description of setting. In both movies and books this was called “exposition.” However, in recent years, exposition has shrunk more and more. We have shorter attention spans. We want things to get moving. We don’t want a long explanation of background.

That’s why “immediate scene” has become more important to readers and moviegoers. Audiences want to get right into the story, be immersed in it. The challenge for writers is to plunge in, yet introduce the details of setting without bogging down the scene.

Think of TV shows such as, Law and Order, CSI, Gray’s Anatomy. The show usually starts with some kind of emergency or a murder. The audience doesn’t know the context at the start. The pieces start to get revealed as the show progresses.

How do James Bond movies start? With an action scene. In Casino Royale, the first ten minutes–the teaser–involves Bond chasing some operative in the most spectacular footrace I have ever seen. It looks like they’re in the tropics, but we don’t know where. We don’t know who the guy is who’s running from Bond. We don’t know why Bond is chasing him. This is a far cry from Dickens who would have given the dates of birth of pursued and pursuer, walked us through their grammar school days, and given the shoe size of everyone in the scene.

I’m NOT saying to start a novel with an action scene. I’m saying to get the reader into what’s happening right away. Forget prologues, world-building, data dumps, and a lot of description right up front. Work the setting and world-building into the story in pieces as you stay in immediate scene as much as possible.

The teaser that launches immediate scene is now expected by audiences. When we send queries to agents, they expect immediate scene too. The slow burn is something bestselling authors can afford because they’ve already captured an audience who is more willing to give them some leeway. But if you’re starting out, immediate scene is your best friend.

Matt



November’s Program Will Appeal to Your Artistic Side

Do you want to add more interest and color to your blog posts and newsletters? Want to get your book cover front and center to draw attention to it? 

For our November program, we will have Kathleen Sweeney from Book Brush on Google Meet to show us how to use Book Brush to improve your marketing. The program works for designing graphics, like the one I posted at the top of this article, and other elements to take your marketing up a notch.  At the training, Kathleen will be focusing on two areas of their training.

  1. Professional Looking Images- We want to highlight how to use Book Brush to produce images that look professional. 
  2. Unique Images – We know the Templates and Instant Mockups that Book Brush has can lead to several authors having similar looking images. It doesn’t have to be this way! Kathleen will help you discover how to use the Templates and Instant Mockups as a starting point for you to customize and make unique and amazing looking images!

She’ll also tell your more about Book Brush and answer questions. Join us at our November meeting to learn about  this.


Matt came up with an idea to help our authors reach potential readers within our own group. The idea is to get a free published book from up to 20 High Sierra Writers. While you may not read all the books offered, we’re asking you to review the ones you do read on Amazon and/or Good Reads or wherever you usually buy books. 

To make this easy, we will put all the books, listed by genre, on a flash drive with a short description. All books will be in pdf format. If you want to read it on a Kindle, you can use the Send to Kindle app on your computer to convert it to mobi format. 

Here are the guidelines to follow for submitting a book and getting a book flash drive.

  • All books on this drive should be published. They are copyrighted books. 
  • Submit only 1 book only per person. If you have a series, make it your first book. 
  • State genre, keywords, and a short book blurb when submitting to make it easier for readers to choose your book to read.
  • Submit the book cover image and the book via PDF. If you can’t convert it, contact Rene.
  • If you take a book drive, review any of the books you read from it. The author is giving you a free book, please be kind enough to write at least a short review on Amazon. 
  • Do not copy or share the book drive with others. This is for High Sierra Writers only. You may copy the books to your own computer, flash drive, or tablet.
  • Return the flash drive at the next meeting after you receive it. That way, we can give it to more members who wish to read.
  • To participate as an author, please submit your published book as stated above by November 1, 2021. Send them to RPAverett@gmail.com or mattbayan@aol.com

Authors: If you are willing to bring in a few print copies for those who abhor digital books, it would be appreciated. Make sure it is the same as the one on the book flash drive.

Questions? Please email either Rene or Matt.


An Update on Kindle Vella

By Rene Averett

It’s ironic this program is called Kindle Vella since it isn’t, at this time, available to Kindle’s readers. This may be one of the several issues in the newest reading platform from Amazon KDP. 

The episodic stories published on Vella are available on readers and phones that support iOS or a computer going directly to the link. For phones and tablets that support iOS, you can download the Kindle iOS app. 

Since the program is still in the beta stage, it lacks other features, which could make it better for the authors and readers. Finding stories can be difficult if you’re looking for a specific book or author since it doesn’t have a search option within the Vella section. If you know the name of the story and the author, you might be able to find it on the Amazon search in Kindle. I’ve had mixed results with this.

If you locate a story you want to follow, you can click the follow button. But, it seems to be hit or miss if you’ll get a notice when a new episode is uploaded. Some readers report getting notified on their phones or tablets, but not always. If you are using a computer to read, you don’t get anything. 

Right now, Vella is only available in the United States. British and Canadian authors are anxious to give it a try, but I think when the beta period ends, they will have better results than the U.S. Guinea pigs.

(This is a long article, so if you want to read more, please go to my blog at this link.)

To my knowledge, three High Sierra Writers are publishing on Kindle, Kitty Turner, Russell Jones, and me (under Lillian I. Wolfe). We could sure use your help to get more traction on the system, so if you would go to Vella and read, then give a thumbs up, it would be appreciated.  If any other HSW authors are on Kindle, please let me know. I am adding a page to the website with the stories and links to Vella to make it easier to locate the stories. 

Here are the stories and links:

Kitty Turner 
Financial Freedom Through Writing
https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/product/B092XTJJYW

Rene (Lillian Wolfe)
Cynara’s Destiny
https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/product/B093BJMBJ4

Russell D. Jones
Call of the Void
https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09BW2ZCPX

To find the Vella stories from your computer or tablet, go to this link:
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GR2L4AHPMQ44HNQ7

Oh, did I mention you get 200 free tokens to read a few episodes after the first three free ones?


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 . 

Please support our authors by reading and reviewing their books.

On Oct. 11, Gavin Black’s novel, Crop Burner: The Tale Of Fearn & The Deamhon, will be released on Amazon. This is an imaginative fantasy novel. Here’s a shortened description from the Amazon page.

Despite his humble farming roots, Fearn displays incredible powers. Blessed by Dainua to harness the strength of every soul surrounding him, he’s known as an Asinta. But Fearn finds he is distrusted by the superstitious villagers, even his own father. Only his mentor believes in him. 
 When wickedness arrives, Fearn discovers the cost of love and loyalty, and of hate and betrayal. In venturing to save his land, he runs the risk of losing himself as deamhons play for keeps.

The book is available now for preorder at this link

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HSW August 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday September 11th at 10 am – IN PERSON!

Our meetings are returning to Scheels beginning in September and barring any unforeseen orders to the contrary. Masks are required and the seating should give us adequate space to spread out socially. We will still  have an online  meeting, but we will not be using ZOOM. Scheels is set up for Google Meets, so we’ll use that program for the meeting. Instructions for getting into the meeting are in Matt’s President’s Letter. 

For our program this month, we’re doing a workshop on Blurb Writing.  This seems to be one of the most difficult things most writers encounter. We’re all struggling to craft the right short elevator pitch and/or the longer back blurb for your book. What sells the book? How do you make it snappy to catch the reader’s attention? 

For this workshop, we’re asking any of you who have a book blurb written that you’re willing to use as an example to submit it to RPAverett@gmail.com by Thursday, September 9th so we can project it for everyone to see. As a group, we’ll see if we can improve your blurb. If you’re reluctant to submit ahead of time, bring your blurb to the meeting. We’ll critique as many as we have time to do.

Here’s something to think about. The elevator pitch and blurb are the core of your novel. You don’t have to have a completed book to write one. 

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  Sept.10 to MattBayan@aol.com  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

Welcome back to the real world!
Our September 11 meeting will take place at Scheels the normal time from 10 AM to Noon. I will be there and I hope you will be too. Scheels requires us to wear masks, but so does Costco. We rented two of the meeting rooms, so there should be plenty of space to spread out.
 
If you’ve been panicked by all the news hype about Covid breakouts and variants, etc., you can join the meeting through Google Meet. No, we can’t use Zoom. Scheels has a conference capability through Google Meet only.
 
Here’s the simplest way to join the meeting no matter what hardware you are using:
 
Go to Google.com (from any browser) and click on the menu of Google services.
Click on the icon for Google Meet. You’ll see a box: ENTER A CODE OR LINK.
Paste or enter this link in the box: https://meet.google.com/xwg-oarw-mfb?hs=224 
On the right of the box, click JOIN.
You will enter Google Meet. On the right, click on ASK TO JOIN.
On the lower left, make sure your audio and video is on. The default is MUTE, so you need to activate audio and video.
For those with an Apple phone, our understanding is that if you go through Google.com, you should be able to enter.
 
Please do a dry run anytime between now and the meeting to be sure you’ll be able to connect. You’ll get to the meeting screen, but you’ll get a message: YOU CAN’T JOIN THIS CALL. That’s because nobody is in the room to let you in. If you succeed in getting this far, you should have no trouble entering on the day of the meeting.
 
PLAN B:
You can also join by phone (audio only)
(US) +1 828-539-0381 (PIN: 438524734)
 
See you soon,
Matt


Author Branding Replay

Kitty Turner did a terrific presentation on Author Branding at our August meeting. We did record it and Kitty has graciously uploaded it to her YouTube channel. This is an unlisted setting, so only those who have the link below can find it. So, if you missed it or just want to re-watch, go to the link.

https://youtu.be/4SJ97uQlTL8
You can see Kitty’s other videos on her channel at YouTube:  

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk_LdyFsKTTn4Ht_DCMKEdg

Or her Podcast at: 
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-witch/id1578935519


Looking for Critique Partners?

One of the benefits of being an HSW member is to utilize our critique groups. If we don’t have one with an opening that fits your genre, Lynda Bailey (Linda Enos), our Critique Wrangler, will do her best to find one for you or locate other members with the same genre. So, send a note to Linda at:
  lynda.r.bailey@gmail.com!
 

And, if you need a Finish Group – a set of critique partners for a completed book – let Lynda know. These usually consist of 4 people, who all have a completed book. You read  and critique one book a month.



The 2021 Writing Contest deadline is coming up quickly. We initially stated October 15th as the deadline, but we’re extending it to the end of October to give everyone a little more time to polish your work.

If you’ve completed your entry or entries, you can submit them anytime now. In fact, you can bring your entry to our meeting at Scheels in September or in October. Be sure to put your story and your entry form in an envelope or on a flash drive or CD if you’re handing it to either Rene or Troy at the meeting.  You may pay your entry fee(s) for the category at the meeting via check or send it through PayPal.

Or you may enter by emailing your entry to RPAverett@gmail.com with a subject line of Contest Entry. Payment buttons are on the website at
http://highsierrawriters.org/2020-writing-contest/2021-writing-contest-payments/ 

As if this writing, we are still working on the judges for the contest. 


New Book Release!

High Sierra Writers has several published writers in the group. Our HSW Authors page features 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, Mark Bacon has a book releasing on September 30th. The book is on pre-order now at Amazon.  
https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Ride-Deception-Nostalgia-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B098G9CKJK/

Book Cover Dark Ride DeceptionIs Tom Wyrick Dead? The computer genius is missing. So are his priceless tech secrets. Time for Lyle to go undercover again.

Tom Wyrick’s mind-bending technology will rocket Nostalgia City theme park decades ahead of the competition. His billion-dollar, breathtaking discovery is the Perception Deception Effect. But the computer genius is missing. So are his secrets. Is he dead? On the run? 

Find out in Mark Bacon’s newest book in the Nostalgia City Mystery series.

Please support our authors by reading and reviewing their books.

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HSW July 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday July 10th  at 10 am via Zoom. 

No word yet on whether we can resume in person meetings at Scheels, so as of this writing, we are doing a Zoom meeting for July. Even if we do go back to in-person, we will continue to do Zoom meetings for those who live out of the area and those who are not ready to socialize in a group. 

Our guest for the July meeting is Anne Hawley from Pages and Platforms, the same folks who came down for a full-day workshop two years ago on The Story Grid. This time Anne will be talking about editing your own novel and other related things. She’s a great speaker and you’re going to learn a lot, so don’t miss this meeting.

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, July 9 to MattBayan@aol.com  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. 


GUEST SPEAKER FOR JULY

Here’s a shorter version of the article from last month about Ann Hawley’s presentation.

Pages & Platforms presents: “Can You Edit Your Own Novel?”


Join certified developmental editor Anne Hawley of Pages & Platforms for a one-hour presentation about editing your own book. This presentation explores the levels of editing, and focuses on understanding and solving the most common problems authors have in developing and structurally editing their own work.Anne_Elizabeth Hawley

Anne will cover:

  • The three most common structural problems she finds in her clients’ work: Story Type confusion, pacing problems, and manuscript length.
  • The 7 Story Types that are essential for editing your book;
  • Scene analysis techniques to help you find where your story isn’t working and where you can cut;
  • Tips and tricks for calculating the right length for your story.

Anne will also provide a downloadable packet for everyone who attends the meeting. 

 Anne Hawley is a developmental editor certified in the Story Grid method. She specializes in literary historical fiction, action stories in fantasy and science fiction settings, and indie screenplays.  She is the author of the historical love story Restraint, and the forthcoming The Footman. Anne lives in Portland, Oregon.



 
Are you a mystery writer looking for a critique group? Linda has a critique group looking for mystery writers. So if you’d like to see if you can join in, then Contact Linda, your Critique Group Wrangler, to join this one or another Reno-based group this year!   lynda.r.bailey@gmail.com
 
Do we have any poets in the group who’d like to form a critique group? Recently, a couple of people have inquired about poets. So, if you write poetry and would like to connect with other poets, please let Linda know and let Rene know since she gets inquiries as well. RPAverett@gmail.com

 


Eastern Sierra Book Festival 

 
If you’re looking for a live event to sell print copies of your book, here’s a great deal for you from the Eastern Sierra Book Festival at Mammoth Lakes, California. They will introduce you to their audience and sell your book. 

You set the price, and 60% of the retail price goes back to you. The other 40% will benefit the Southern Mono Historical Society. Unsold copies are returned to you.

The date of the festival is Sunday, July 18, 2021 at the beautiful Hayden Cabin in Mammoth Lakes. It looks like a great program with speakers throughout the day and ending with an authors’ variety show where you can pitch your book, introduce yourself, or perform if you prefer. 

To find out more information or to register as an author, go their website. 
Eastern Sierra Book Festival


A Word of Warning
Paula Riley sent this article from the Authors’ Guild to  alert everyone to a scam in case you’re tempted.

Authors Beware of the Silver Ink Literary Agency Scam 

It has come to our attention that a scam outfit by the name of “Silver Ink Literary” agency is emailing authors to solicit book proposals for publication with major publishers. The scammers are using the Authors Guild’s logo on their letterhead, as well as the logos of leading publishers, to solicit the “book proposals” and charging authors up to $6,000. The letter also claims that the Authors Guild is chairing a “task group” that oversees the editorial and publishing process.
 
This is a scam. We strongly advise you not to correspond with the sender. We are in the process of taking legal action against the scammers. 
 
If you or someone you know have received this email, please contact us immediately at staff@authorsguild.org.

Hyphens and Dashes

Ever wonder when you should use a hyphen versus a dash? Do you know the difference between an en dash and an em dash? Why do they call them that anyway?

In this article from Pro Writing Aid, you can get the answers to those questions and more. 

Click this link to go to the article.

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HSW May 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday May 8th at 10 am via Zoom. 

Guest Speaker is David Corbett!

 

The Compass of Character: Creating Complex Character Motivations

Photo of David CorbettThe 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.


From the President:

FOUR QUESTIONS AN AGENT MIGHT ASK DURING YOUR PITCH SESSION

 
Are you working on anything else?
This is one of the standard questions at a pitch session. The agent wants to know if you’re a one-trick-pony or someone she can rely on to crank out at least one book per year. The first time I was asked this question, I didn’t have an elevator pitch ready for my work in progress. I fumbled through a description. I later wished I’d just said that I’m not working on anything else.
However, at a writer’s conference a couple years later, I pitched a mystery. When the agent asked me what else I was working on, I changed gears and gave a quick blurb on a thriller. She requested both manuscripts.
 
Who are your favorite authors?
The agent wants to see if you’re a reader. Most writers are voracious readers. How else can you learn how a story is put together? It also shows that you’re up on the marketplace.
If you write in a particular genre, the agent wants to see that you know the genre and aren’t writing something that’s already been done. Imagine telling the agent you’re writing a book about a boy enrolled in a school for wizards and being unaware of Harry Potter.
It’s effective if you can name older and newer titles, showing your reading has breadth.
 
What kind of writer are you?
There’s no set answer to this. You can take the conversation in any direction. Here’s a time when you can show your understanding of the writing process and discuss elements such as character-driven vs. plot-driven stories.
Ask yourself why you write in a certain genre? Whether you’re in front of an agent or not, this is a topic you should consider. Why do you write? This can also open up areas for discussion with the agent.
 
Where did your story come from?
Here’s another open-ended question which you can take in many different directions. The agent wants to see what drives you. Is the story based on a personal issue? Some crisis you’ve experienced?
I once had a book review in which the reviewer said that one of my novels was “coming-of-age noir. Not for children.” I had never thought of exactly that description and when I read it, I instantly thought that the review captured something deep down in me that I wasn’t aware of even as I wrote the book. Yes, the main character is a teen, but I hadn’t realized how film noir had influenced me to make a story with far greater adult ramifications.
It’s this kind of understanding about the basis of your novel that the agent wants to hear about.
 
www.matthewbayan.com


Coming In June

Guest Speaker TIM MALEENY

TIM MALEENY is author of the award-winning Cape Weathers series of mysteries and the bestselling comedic thriller JUMP, which The Boston Globe called “hilarious” and Publishers Weekly described as “a perfectly blended cocktail of escapism.” His short fiction appears in several major anthologies and has won the prestigious Macavity Award for best story of the year. Booklist says, “The Cape Weathers mysteries are smart, snappily written, energetic mysteries starring an engaging hero.”

The second son of an organic chemist and a registered nurse, Tim grew up in New Jersey surrounded by his parents’ books, shelves crowded with pulp adventures and paperback mysteries from the thirties and forties. He started writing crime fiction when he moved to San Francisco near Chinatown, a city with a great noir tradition and a neighborhood that inspired many of his early stories.

Tim currently lives at an undisclosed location in New York City with his remarkable wife, Kathryn, and their two kickass daughters, Clare and Helen. When he’s not procrastinating by doing excessive research on exotic poisons, famous art heists or deadly sea creatures, Tim is working on his next novel, a screenplay, and a book for young readers.

Find out “What’s so funny about murder and mayhem?” in an article written by Tim for CrimeReads about the art of blending crime and humor here.

Listen to Tim discuss his irreverent writing style with Authors On The Air host Pam Stack here.

Listen to a podcast of Tim discussing his early writing here.

Tim is published by Poisoned Pen Press.
 
We’ll talk about the publishing landscape and how Tim broke into the world of mystery novels. Tim is really skilled at working humor into tense situations but still maintaining the drive of the narrative.
 
Matt will interview him for the first section then open to members’ questions.

Visit Tim’s web site.


2021 Writing Contest Begins May 5, 2021

This year’s contest features three categories.

SHORT STORY (2,000 to 3500 words) – For the 2021 contest, all short stories should adhere with the theme of “The West.” This is a general theme and can apply to any genre so long as it is set in the West somewhere and at any time. The idea is to possibly produce a book of short stories by High Sierra Writers to sell. (Writer’s permission will be needed, but publication is not mandatory nor guaranteed.) More details will be in the guidelines.

FLASH FICTION (up to 500 words) – Flash fiction often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution.

CHILDREN’S STORY (1000 to 2000 words) – Stories in this category should apply to children between 6 and 10 years old. Consider the guidelines of Children’s Highlights magazine in your submission. 

Entry fees will be $10 for Children’s Story (non-HSW members are $15), $15 for Flash Fiction and Children’s Story (non-HSW members are $20) for each story submitted. You may submit up to 2 in each category.

Prizes are $100 1st, $50 2nd, and 1 year membership for 3rd ($25 value) for Short Story and Children’s Story; $50 1st place and $25 2nd place. 

Entries must be in by October 15, 2021.

Guidelines and other details will be on the website by May 15th. 


CRITIQUE GROUPS

Looking for a group of writers to read and critique your work? Willing to reciprocate? Then we might have a group for you.

Please check out our Critique Groups page for more information. You must be a paid member to utilize this benefit.

Contact Linda, your Critique Group Wrangler, to join a Reno-based group this year! lynda.r.bailey@gmail.com. 


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.

In April, Maria Palace published her paranormal suspense novel, Chapter Thirteen. It is available on Amazon at this link.

Chapter Thirteen is a paranormal suspense/thriller about an old woman who will do everything in her power to reclaim the life that was taken from her and the young journalist who holds the key to her success or failure.

Maria was the HSW novel contest winner in 2019 with this book. While she didn’t ultimately publish with the company who agreed to read the book for the contest, she did land a publisher and it is now out! Please check out her book, read if it sounds like your cup of tea, and review. Support your co-writers. 

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HSW June 2021 Newsletter


 

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday June 12 at 10 am via Zoom. 

Yes, we are still doing Zoom Meetings. We’re hoping to be able to resume in person meetings soon, but we are waiting for the good word from Scheels. However, we will continue to use Zoom for those who aren’t able to make it to Sparks for the meetings. We understand Scheels has a very good setup for web meetings, so we’re looking forward to it. 

Our guest for the June meeting is author Tim Maleeny. In an interview format, Matt will discuss the publishing landscape and how Tim broke into the world of mystery novels. Tim is skilled at working humor into tense situations while maintaining the drive of the narrative. TIM MALEENY is author of the award-winning Cape Weathers series of mysteries and the bestselling comedic thriller JUMP. Mark your calendar now so you don’t miss this meeting.

Rene will also do a short presentation about Kindle Vella, the new format from Amazon KDP. Set to go live in July, this new option for getting your work to readers gives writers an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new delivery format using episodic writing. Rene will go into a little more detail and show you how to set up your book on Vella.

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, June 11 to MattBayan@aol.com  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.


GUEST SPEAKER FOR JULY

Looking ahead, our planned speaker for the meeting on July 10 is Anne Hawley from Pages and Platforms. You may remember Anne from the The Story Grid presentation she and Rachelle Ramirez did two years ago. This time Anne will cover an editorial topic:

Pages & Platforms presents: “Can You Edit Your Own Novel?”

Anne_Elizabeth HawleyJoin certified developmental editor Anne Hawley of Pages & Platforms for a one-hour presentation about editing your own book. This presentation explores the levels of editing, and focuses on understanding and solving the most common problems authors have in developing and structurally editing their own work.
Anne will cover:

  • The three most common structural problems she finds in her clients’ work: Story Type confusion, pacing problems, and manuscript length.
  • The 7 Story Types that are essential for editing your book;
  • Scene analysis techniques to help you find where your story isn’t working and where you can cut;
  • Tips and tricks for calculating the right length for your story.

Anne will also provide a downloadable packet that includes:

  • The Pages & Platforms Guide to the Story Types
  • The Scene Structure cheat sheet
  • The S.H.E.G. (Super Hardcore Editing Group) Manifesto, for establishing your own editing group
  • A suggested reading list

Anne Hawley is a developmental editor certified in the Story Grid method. She specializes in literary historical fiction, action stories in fantasy and science fiction settings, and indie screenplays. With her Pages & Platforms colleagues Rachelle Ramirez and Sue Campbell, she has developed the Story Path course, which provides clear, practical steps to help authors develop, write, edit and market their stories. 
Anne is the author of the historical love story Restraint, and the forthcoming The Footman. She lives in Portland, Oregon.


The rules for the 2021 Writing Contest are now posted on the HSW website. At this time, the PayPal links to pay for the entries are not yet posted. We need to create two new buttons for this year’s competition and I hope those will be done soon.

The PDF packet of the forms is also not done yet. I expect to have them up in the next couple of weeks, so you will be able to download the rules and the entry form. 

Meanwhile, we have a great article in this issue from Leanna Falconer on the fundamental elements of a short story. Keep reading below.


Can You Make Money as an Author?

A burning question for many writers is if it’s a profession that will pay off. In this article by Jane Friedman, writer and publishing guru, she talks about how much authors make and encourages them to talk frankly about the reality of it.Read her whole article here for an eye-opener:


 

7 Fundamentals of Short Story Writing

(Leanna Falconer has published short stories and novels under L.F. Falconer. Her short stories have appeared in several genre magazines, and she has published two collections, Beyond the Veil: 13 Tales on the Dark Side and Through a Broken Window: Ten Dark Tales of the Strange and Deranged  in addition to her novels. Visit her author page on Amazon here.)

By Leanna Falconer

I’m going to keep pretending to know what I’m doing until I actually do. When it comes to writing, that’s my guiding philosophy, so when I was asked if I might share some insights into writing the short story, I was left a bit flummoxed and hardly knew where to begin. Sure, I’ve sold a few stories, but do I really know what I’m doing?

 Are there any real secrets to mastering the short story form aside from having a love for them in the first place? For the majority of us, they were what we cut our teeth on: Bedtime stories, fables, myths, folklore, legends, campfire and fairy tales. And there are as many different types of short stories out there as there are novels. The long and the short form of writing share a lot in common. Neither one is superior to the other. They both have their strengths and their weaknesses. Whether you favor one form over the other, mastering the art of the short story can only enhance the mastery of writing the novel.

The short story can often be more powerful than the novel—it is the “impact” of the single bullet rather than the entire, extended battle. A novel is a roller coaster. A short story is a zipline. The novel is swimming the English Channel. The short story is a quick dip in the pool. But don’t confuse the word short with simple, for it can be argued that the shorter the story, the more difficult it can be to write. But hopefully, I can pass along a few tips I’ve learned over the years to make it a little easier.

A short story is written with a controlled state of mind. There is no room for indulgence, no excess. There is only room for story at a steady pace, saying only what’s necessary. As Chekhov stated: “The art of writing is the art of abbreviation.” The short story is a prime example of this.

Ed. Note: Since this is a long article, the rest is on the HSW website. Click here to continue reading.


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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.

THE TAKER by [MATTHEW BAYAN]THE TAKER

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL WRITERS!

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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. 

Agenda

Business
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

PUBLISHING

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.
Matt
www.matthewbayan.com


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! 
highsierrawriters.org/dues_payments/


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.
Also:

• 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:

https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/


 

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HSW March 2021 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday March 13 at 10 am via Zoom. 

Agenda

Announcements
Shameless Self-promotion
2021 Writing Contest
First Pages
Increasing Pace
 

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 MattBayan@aol.com  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:

PACING

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.

Alternative:

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.

Alternative:

“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 board@highsierrawriters.org


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 RPAverett@gmail.com 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 MattBayan@aol.com  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

COMPELLING CHARACTERS

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.

Matt


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 RPAverett@gmail.com (mailto:RPAverett@gmail.com)



ATTENTION PLEASE!

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 lynda.r.bailey@gmail.com 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.


FROM THE PRESIDENT

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

RESOLUTIONS?

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.

 

GUEST SPEAKERS

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 board@highsierrawriters.org

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 mattbayan@aol.com 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: http://highsierrawriters.org/critique-groups/general-critique-group-guidelines/  
 
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 board@highsierrawriters.org


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 RPAverett@gmail.com

 

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