June 2017 Newsletter

From the President

Happy June! I can’t attend the June meeting, but I’d like to share recent experiences that relate to this month’s topic.

Kindle Scout

You can go to their website for all the details, but essentially this is Amazon’s toe in the water to see if they can bypass agents and publishers and buy content directly from writers. It’s an experiment in crowd-sourcing. People vote on whether a book should be published. If published, the author gets a $1500 advance, 50% commission, and most importantly, Amazon’s marketing muscle.

So, here’s what I experienced. I filled out a questionnaire, then uploaded a complete manuscript titled, TIME JUMPER, along with a complete cover. It took Kindle a couple days to decide that the book was acceptable to put on their site.

How they screen manuscripts is the first mystery in a series of mysteries. I seriously doubt they read the submissions. I suspect they run the manuscript through software to check for profanity because one of the items in the questionnaire was whether the book was acceptable to younger readers.

30-Day Campaign

Then the book started a 30-day campaign where it was featured on the Kindle Scout website. Here’s where a well-written blurb is important because that’s what appears along with the cover of the book and a short tag-line. People who visit the page can hit a button to “nominate” the book for publication.

Kindle provides daily reports showing how many people visit the book’s page and where they come from (Facebook, websites, etc.). One drawback is that you have to wait until the next day to see the previous day’s results. The data is general and really doesn’t give much in the way of knowing what your efforts are yielding.

The site is broken into major categories: romance, mystery, fantasy, etc. Each day, two or three books are added in each category. You get a good pop in visitors on the first and second day because the listings are chronological. When someone looks at the postings, they automatically see today’s releases first. Each day, your posting drops further down and requires more digging to be seen by visitors.

The book gets another big pop on the last couple days because it’s featured in the category, “Ending Soon.” The rest of the time, the writer is responsible for using social networking to drive readers to the book’s page. Each hour, the books getting the most traffic appear in the category, “Hot and Trending.

It’s essential to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to get traffic to a book.

How Are Books Chosen?

How does Kindle choose what books to publish? More mystery. I researched other writers who have and have not been published by Kindle Scout. One fellow’s book stayed in Hot and Trending every single day, in all days well over 12 hours, and in many days for 24 hours. His book was not selected.

My own perusal of other entries showed a wide variation of quality. My guess is that crowd-sourcing winnows down to the most popular entries, then somebody actually reads the entries.

What were my results? Kindle did not select TIME JUMPER. I posted numerous times to social media. (I have over 1,934 Twitter followers and over 600 friends on Facebook.) Did I see any correlation between postings and results? Only once. My biggest day followed a massive Facebook and Twitter campaign. I also paid for Google AdWords and I paid for Facebook boosts of postings. Other days, I saw no correlation between my efforts and the limited result information Kindle provided. Being in the category of Ending Soon seemed to show better results than almost anything else.

After the campaign, I immediately loaded TIME JUMPER to Amazon as a Kindle book and a paperback. I notified Kindle Scout and they sent out an email to all the people who nominated my book. This free marketing is a very beneficial feature of participating in Kindle Scout. For the next couple weeks, TIME JUMPER sold well on Amazon.

 Is This Worthwhile?

It doesn’t cost anything to participate. If you have a good online social presence, take a shot. But don’t invest a lot of money in marketing because even if you get traffic to your book, the selection process after that point is a mystery. I’ll discuss this further at the July meeting and answer your questions.
Have a great June meeting,



High Sierra Writers is proud to announce the 2017 writing contest. Our chosen format this year is Short Story.  After much consideration, we thought this would allow more members to participate.

You may submit a maximum of 2 entries and the cost is $10.00 per entry. HSW is providing $100 seed money to start the pot, and ALL entry monies collected will be added to the pot. So, the more entries, the larger the pot will grow!

There will only be one winner and that winner will receive the entire cash pot!

June Meeting Program


A killer blurb convinces readers to buy your book, editors to read your book, and agents to buy into you.

Please join Donna Stegman for a discussion, workshop and Q&A on Blurbs and Social Media. This is an expanded version of the regular monthly blurb session.

Saturday, June 10th at 10 A.M. at the South Valleys Library
15650 Wedge Pkwy Reno, NV 89511

Donna will give tips and do a Q&A on how to condense your manuscript into a powerful blurb for your book cover and query letter. She will also give you examples to condense into blurbs. And be forewarned; we will have a pop quiz at the end with the winner receiving a prize!

Come prepared with your own blurb to work on in breakout groups.


The last half hour of our June meeting, will be dedicated to the importance of Social Media. It’s a new world for publishing and, like it or not, you just got promoted to head publicist. Let’s learn the trade with tips and a flowchart.

Donna will provide a handout and do a Q&A session, so come with your questions.

Elections are Coming!!

Mark your calendar…July 1st is the beginning of election season for HSW board members. If you want to serve, or have any questions about the process, please email HSW secretary, Linda Enos at enoslinda@sbcglobal.net.

Critique Group Happenings

No matter what genre you write in, or where in the process of writing/editing you are, you need your work critiqued!  And we’ve got just the thing you need – critique groups!  Whether you’re looking to join or start a new group, give Critique Group Wrangler Nicole a shout and get plugged in. New groups, both on-going and finished novel groups are starting regularly.

On Saturday, July 8th, HSW will host a potluck luncheon in lieu of a regular meeting. The time and place are the same, so no need to stress about going anywhere different.

  • If your last name starts with A-L, please bring a salad of your choosing – remember a serving utensil.
  • If your last name starts with M-Z, please bring a dessert of your choosing – remember a serving utensil.

HSW will provide:  deli sandwiches, plates, cups, eating utensils, ice and garage bags for cleanup.

Also bring your own beverage to drink – NO alcohol.

Please RSVP to secretary, Linda Enos enoslinda@sbcglobal.net, no later than June 30th. You can also contact Linda with any questions.

 Oh…and the HSW may even entertain you with a game or two… 😉

A Few Conventions and Conferences For 2017

Some are smaller, more intimate affairs, offering up workshops with opportunity for some face time. Some are huge cons that allow you to see the publishing world roll out all their tricks.
But if you’re a serious writer, I recommend you attend at least one for perspective on the business end of writing.

In no specific order-
BOUCHER CON– World Mystery Convention Oct 12-15th, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario
This is HUGE and has everything any mystery/thriller writer could ever ask for. * This convention moves around every year, I believe it’s scheduled to be in Sacramento Ca. in 2020.

DRAGON CON– Multi Genre Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Convention Sep 1-4th, 2017- Atlanta Ga.
This con is massive, too. Only Comic-Con can beats its numbers. Don’t forget your costume for the parade.

RWA CONFERENCE– July 26-29th, 2017 – Orlando Fl.
Romance Writers of America is the Holy Grail for romance and HEA writers. This con moves also; in 2020, it’s scheduled for San Francisco.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WRITERS’ CON– Sep 22-24th, 2017 – Irvine Ca.
This is more a workshop/educational conference, but agents abound. A great place for one-on-one advice.

Next HSW Meeting is Saturday, June 10, 2017 at the South Valley Library.
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HSW 2017 Writers Contest Poker Pot Style-Winner Takes All

High Sierra Writers is proud to announce, the 2017 writing contest. Our chosen format this year is Short Story.  After much consideration, we thought this would allow more members to participate.

You may submit a maximum of 2 entries and the cost is $10.00 per entry. HSW is providing $100 seed money to start the pot, and ALL entry monies collected will be added to the pot. So, the more entries, the larger the pot will grow!

The Rules-

  1. Your story must be 3,000-4,000 words. (Not one word under 3,000, not one word over 4,000)
  2. All work must be original, no fan fiction.
  3. This contest is only open to paid members.
  4. Entries must be turned in at the November 11th
  5. A winner will be announced, and money awarded, at the December meeting.
  6. Your story must contain-
  7. A romantic element
  8. A fight scene
  9. A plot twist
  10. And my favorite, the 1st sentence of your story must be dialogue.
  11. Your story must have a cover page with-Name, title, genre and contact info.

There will only be one winner and that winner will receive the entire cash pot!

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HSW May Newsletter

From the HSW President 

Howdy, Members,

This month’s focus will be on Dialogue: what’s good and what’s bad. We’ll have hands-on working sessions followed by analysis of the dialogue we write in the sessions. Since our recent survey showed your #1 interest is craft, we’ll be focusing more on that this month and in the future. You’ll have more breakout sessions to develop skills in the areas we discuss each month.

At May’s meeting, we’ll also have a regular First Pages session, so bring in your first pages.

If anyone has blurbs, bring those in as well. Donna will have time to provide feedback.

See you there,

Election Time is Coming!!


On July 1st, the Election Committee will receive written requests for nominations for board positions. Any member can serve on the board, so if you’re interested, or if you have any questions about the process, please contact our secretary, Linda Enos…enoslinda@sbcglobal.net.

New and Improved HSW Contest for 2017!!


Unlike the past contests, this one will have a cash prize! It’s also a short story contest. Donna Stegman will have a handout at the May meeting with all the exciting details.

 Good news for those waiting in the wings to jump into a critique group – there’s more of you now! Which means we’re DANGEROUSLY (oh, no, an evil adverb!) close to having enough to start another group or two. Specifically, if I had, say, one more person with a full novel, ready for a finish group, we could do that right away! Let me know if you’d like to join this group – you just read a novel a month, critique, move on to someone else’s novel. It’s that easy. Still working on your masterpiece? Great! Join one of our weekly or monthly groups and get that puppy moving along and polished! I have a few different genre writers hoping to step in to such a group, but we need a few more to make them happen. So shoot me an email at cgwrangler@highsierrawriters.org, or come see me, Nicole, at our next meeting, and let’s get you set up!

Upcoming Monthly Meeting Topics

June 10th – Donna Stegman will lead an in-depth mini-workshop on writing blurbs.
July 8th  – or thereabout – The board is considering hosting a potluck picnic at a city park in lieu of a monthly meeting. Please contact Linda Enos (if you haven’t already) about your thoughts/opinions on this topic…enoslinda@sbcglobal.net. More details to follow!
August 12th – TBA

Next Meeting – Saturday, May 13 at 10:00 am – South Valleys Library on Wedge Parkway

Say What?

“If we pull our characters up from inside of us instead of approaching them from the outside, writing dialogue becomes an organic process.” Gloria Kempton, Dialogue, ©2004Well-written dialogue is often the key to a great story. It can engage the reader, reveal conflict, and move your story forward, or perhaps move it in a different direction. Here are a few tips for building a good conversation between your characters:

  1. Get out of the way and let your characters talk. Try jotting down the conversation – just the talking part – as quickly as it comes into your head. Don’t edit it too much at this point.
  2. Add the setup and setting. Where’s this conversation taking place? What are your characters doing during it? Concentrate on hands and props; on your characters’ facial expressions and body language; use movements and actions to begin showing the emotion.
  3. Check your dialogue tags. Don’t use tags like *said* and *asked* unless it’s absolutely necessary. Show who’s talking through the use of movement/ action or a character’s introspection.
  4. Check for continuity. Read through your dialogue – out loud – to catch any discrepancies. Do you have them picking up something but not putting it back down? Did they sit or stand – twice?
  5. Last but not least, punch up the emotion. Make sure to clarify your character’s motivations and reactions. Why did he say that and how did it make her feel? Some introspection is good (and necessary) but avoid telling the reader how your characters feel.

Terry McLaughlin, Layering in Dialogue, Emerald City Writers’ Conference. ©2006

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