February 2020 Newsletter



Next HSW Meeting is Saturday, February 8, 2020, at Scheels at Legends in Sparks.

The meeting begins at 10 am, followed by the Group Critique Session with Linda Enos. 

We will discuss the plans for the coming year, including upcoming workshops, presentations, and the 2020 writing contest. 


Matt will be doing first pages at the meeting. To submit the first page of your writing project, print it out double spaced in at least 12-point type. Do not put your name on it, but please include the name and genre of the project.

From the HSW President 

At last month’s meeting, the members in attendance showed a great deal of enthusiasm for an idea offered by Linda Enos. So, starting with the February meeting we will have two critique groups meeting after the official meeting.

The group led by Linda will require prior submission of materials to Linda and discussion will be limited to those who submit. For details on how this will work and submission guidelines, contact Linda directly at linda.r.enos@gmail.com.

 The second group will be a drop-in group for which no prior submission will be required. Just bring 5-7 pages. Any genre. Either you or another member will read the materials out loud and then the group will provide feedback. This will be similar to the format for First Pages.

 Both groups are open to members only, so if you haven’t paid your 2020 dues, hop to it.

See you there,

Looking for a Critique Group?

At the last meeting, several critique group leaders spoke about each group’s approach to giving and receiving critiques. A few provide their emails if they were open to accepting additional members in the group. 

If you are seeking a group, contact Linda Enos at  linda.r.enos@gmail.com

Writing Contest 2020

The Board discussed options at the last Board meeting and is planning a competition for this year. We will be looking at forming a committee to come up with rules and judging plan.

We’ll be talking more about this at the next meeting. If you are interested in being on the committee and can’t come to the meeting, please advise Rene at RPAverett@gmail.com

Time to Renew Your Membership

As previously announced, if you are a member and wish to continue as a member, please show your commitment and renew your membership now.

With workshops, craft speakers, and more coming up this year, your membership is worth more than the $25 renewal fee. If you wish to participate in critique groups, the writing contests, or have your published book listed on the HSW web site, you must be a member. After March, the newsletter will be emailed only to current members, although it will still be available on the website a few days after it is emailed. 

Thank you to everyone who has already renewed. This has been a member-services message from the Treasurer.

Seeking Short Story Writers

Rene Averett is working to assemble a group that is interested in improving short story writing skills. The group would meet once a month with the aim of learning more about crafting the short story and critiquing each other’s work. If you are interested, please contact Rene at RPAverett@gmail.com.

Writing Fight Scenes

A physical fight scene is used frequently in many novels, but it’s something most writers don’t have any real experience with unless they’ve actually gotten into physical fights. Then it can be tricky to describe the scene, add in the emotions, and sometimes dialog to make that scene sound real.

For me, I’ve learned some of the mechanics of the fighting from watching YouTube videos of the various art forms and noted body placement. But I can’t actually go inside the fighters’ heads, yet as a writer, I need to know the physical feel of the scene and what emotions might be going through their mind. Any professional fight is probably focused on the business of fighting – what your opponent is doing and is likely to do next while the emotion in it is more contained. For a character that is not as focused and thrown into a fight, emotions should come into play. 

Points in an article from the Writer’s Edit website hit on these five tips:

  1. Ensure your fight advances plot and character development. You don’t want a fight just to add some excitement to the book, but it needs to contribute to moving your story forward, building tension, and showing more about the characters.
  2. Don’t over-describe.  Your scene is about the physical fight and the emotions, so don’t worry about detailed descriptions of the setting or how the characters look. Your writing should be action-based.
  3. Infuse the fight scene with emotion. The key to your audience’s connection to the character is through the emotions of the scene, what they are thinking and feeling.
  4. Keep things realistic. If it’s too much out of the character’s training or background, then the fight is too hard for the reader to believe. Ask yourself if your character could really do this.
  5. Use writing style to enhance the fight. How the sentences break down on the page can lend to how the reader reacts to the scene. Short pointed sentences with action verbs provide the feel of the encounter. Look for places where a paragraph break impacts the tension of the scene and use them to heighten the effect.

If you would like to read the full article with more good information on these points, you can find it at:


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January 2020 Newletter

Next Meeting

Our first meeting of 2020 will be

January 11 at Scheels at Legends. Meeting will start at 10 a.m. and last until around noon.

Program: Linda Enos will be presenting her new plans for  the Critique Groups. Read her article below for more of what she has in mind.

FIRST PAGES: Matt is back from his holiday vacation and will be doing First Pages at this meeting. Please bring in your first page, double spaced in 12 point type. It helps to identify genre, but do not put your name on the page. 

From the President

 The holidays are over. Let’s get back to work.Fingers flying over the keyboard will soon burn enough calories to get rid of that extra five pounds that Santa delivered. (OK, I have nothing to back that up, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? One can dream.)

Over several years, January has become our month for planning what guests we’ll have in the coming year and the month in which we evaluate our critique groups.

This year we’re going to shake things up. We’re revamping our critique groups and introducing something which I think you’ll really like. Every time we’ve surveyed the members, the number one area you’ve asked for help has been in craft. If you want more hands-on help with your writing, we’ve figured out a way to deliver. See Linda Enos’ article on a new group and come to the January meeting to find out more.

We’ll also have First Pages, so bring in that all-important start to your manuscript and get detailed feedback.

Happy New Year,


And the Big Reveal is …
A New Critique Group

 By Linda Enos

 Yes, a new critique group, led by me, is the BIG REVEAL. (Hope y’all aren’t too disappointed…J)

 Some specifics about the group are listed below. If you’re interested in participating, please take a moment to read. There will be an extensive discussion of this group at the January meeting, as well as a signup sheet. Also, at the Jan meeting, we’ll go over the proper etiquette for giving/receiving critiques. Additionally, leaders from current groups will be there to answer any questions you may have.

 Before getting to information about the new group, here’s a bit of background for the reasoning behind establishing it:

When speaking to current (and past) group leaders, their concerns for bringing in “new” people could usually be put into two buckets:

Bucket #1 – they (new people) don’t have strong writing skills.

Bucket #2 – they (new people) don’t know how to give/receive critiques.  

With luck, these concerns will be addressed with this new group.

 Other issues newly formed groups have encountered include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. People not knowing each other and thus have a harder time communicating.
  2. People not understanding how to give/receive critiques.

Again, hopefully this group will alleviate these problems.

 Basics of How It Will Work

 This group will be led by moi, Linda Enos. You can email me at linda.r.enos@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

  1. You must be an HSW member to participate in this group.
  2. This group will meet monthly after the regular HSW meeting on the second Saturday of the month, starting in February. If there is an all-day presentation set for the regular meeting day, an alternate weekend day will be designated for the group. The meeting(s) will still be held at Scheels.
  3. This will be a “homework” group so pages must be submitted in advance. Only the first five submissions sent to me will be accepted. The next five will be addressed the next month.
  4. Details about submissions and where to send them will be discussed at the HSW meeting in January. Information covering critiquing will also be discussed.

After the meeting, full details about the process will be published on the HSW web site, www.highsierrawriters.org

It’s a New Year – Time to Renew!

That’s right. As we move into a new year and a new decade, it’s time to recommit to your goals as a writer. If HSW is helping you and you feel it’s valuable, then become a member by renewing your membership or joining the group. We believe that if you’ve come to three meetings and you think it’s giving your value, inspiration, insight, and help, then $25 is a small price to pay to be a part of the group and enjoy the benefits.

To everyone who has already renewed, thank you! To everyone else, it’s time to get on board.

We have several speakers and workshops lined up for 2020. Your membership gives you first access to these, Some are free, while others have a fee attached and the member fee is always lower than the one for people who are not members. 

Other events,  writing competitions, and our critique groups are member benefits. Renew or join now to get the full benefit of membership. Go to http://highsierrawriters.org/dues_payments/ to pay with PayPal or you can mail a check, payable to High Sierra Writers, to the HSW mailbox at:

High Sierra Writers
PO Box 12241
Reno, NV 89510

You can also give a check or cash to Rene at the next HSW meeting. 


Some might say it’s as long as it needs to be. But that might not always be true. Is it one scene? Two scenes? More than that.  

The reality is that chapters vary quite a bit depending on genre, content, and writer’s preference. Some writers make every chapter around 2500 words, some go for 3700 to 4500, while I’ve seen some as short as 1250 or less. Sometimes, you have a good instinct at where to end your chapter, even if it is in the middle of a scene. Other times, the defining point may not be as clear, and your chapter continues when it should have stopped. 

The key part is to make sure your chapter has one or more beginnings, middles, and ends, just like the scene does. And a hook… You want something at the end of every chapter to pull the reader to the next one. 

I just happened to run across this article from Book Baby, talking about chapters. If you want a little more insight about them, go to this link. http://preview.alturl.com/hgyd3

Plotting Group Resumes on January 31st

After taking the holiday off, we will fire up the plot assistance think tank again on January 31st at the IHOP on South Virginia in the Win-Co shopping center. We’ll start at 6:30 pm and go to about 9 pm. If you have some writing problem of any sort that you want to talk through with other HSW writers, then bring your problem and join us. If you just want to offer suggestions, then come along also. Even if we don’t have any troubleshooting to do, we can usually find something to discuss. If nothing else, have a piece of pie and coffee. Look for Rene, who is usually in the back room on the right hand side as you come in.


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December 2019 Newsletter

High Sierra Writers will meet Saturday
December 14, 2019 at 10 am
at Scheels at Legends Meeting Rooms.

Program: Panel on Editing Your Manuscript – Tips on things you can do to edit your work before anyone else reads it.

  * * * * *

Looking Ahead…

January 11th Meeting is All About Critique Groups

In January, the new critique group wrangler, Linda Enos, will be talking about her plan for the critique groups – what they are, how they work, and how you can get into one.

From the President Matt Bayan

So, you finished NANO. Now what? Bask in your sense of accomplishment if you wrote 50K words. Even if you only wrote 10K. Bask anyway.

Then get your ass back in front of your keyboard. That first draft was the easy part. You now have two large tasks. First, go through the manuscript. and pay attention only to your plot and character development. Don’t stop for spelling corrections. You need to see if your story works. Rewrite. Revise. Rethink. Then crank out a second draft. And a third. As many as it takes for you to feel comfortable that the story and characters make sense.

The second big task is to go through and look at detail. Root out passive verbs. Correct spelling. Shake mediocre sentences by the neck and make them more effective. Convert telling to showing.

If you feel fairly comfortable about the state of your manuscript, now you need to run it through a critique group. This is free and provides feedback from actual readers. The group members will usually find the plot holes that you didn’t notice. They’ll identify the vague parts where you need better writing.

After they slice and dice you, go back to your keyboard and do a re-write.

Rinse and repeat.

Go through another critique group? Yes, or trusted beta readers.

When you’ve done all you think you can do, then look for an editor to give it the finishing touches.

Short-cut this process at your peril.

And Happy belated Thanksgiving to all.


The Next Step is Editing

Don’t send your manuscript off to an editor or an agent as soon as it’s done. You need to take a few editing steps of your own before passing it on to anyone else. 

Anytime you finish a first draft of your manuscript, whether it is a NaNoWriMo novel or otherwise, you need to do some editing on it before it’s ready for anyone else to read, let alone be sent to an editor or an agent. Your work is judged by the first read when someone else sees it, so you want it to be as clean and well-crafted as you can get it before it goes out. But how do you do that?

At our next meeting, we’re doing a panel discussion of what steps you can take to get your novel ready for other readers. What tools can you use? How can you build more tension? Linda Enos and Rene Averett will be directing the panel, giving tips and suggestions to help you do the best job you can.

But they need some help from each of you. Bring in your method for editing that first draft, what things you look for, and how you approach it. Also bring in any paragraphs or lines in your own work that you think need to be rewritten or punched up to make them more effective. We’re going to rewrite a few of them.

Keeping Up Your Membership in HSW

At the November meeting, Matt laid down the law when it comes to joining HSW. His view is that if you’ve attended three meetings, which are free and open to the public, and haven’t joined, then why haven’t you joined to help support the organization and the programs we can bring to you each year? We figure if you keep coming back, you must be getting something you can use from attending, so go ahead and put out that $25 to be an official member.

So what does membership do for you? First, as a member of HSW, you are eligible to be in one of the critique groups we have running, which is a member-only benefit. You also get a member rate on any workshops that we charge for, usually at least $10 less than the general public. We bring in speakers throughout the year and sometimes they are a free to members, but a fee to the general public. You also can add High Sierra Writers Member to your resume and bios when submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher. While it may not sound like a lot, membership in a writing organization shows a commitment to your craft

Sometimes, as happened recently at the Reno Pop Culture Convention, your membership can mean a bonus admission to an event. In this case, HSW members got in free for the meeting and the whole day on Saturday.

In short, membership gives you many benefits as well as supporting a creative organization that will support your efforts to write. Isn’t it a value at $25 a year? So start 2020 off as a member. You can join from our website at http://highsierrawriters.org/dues_payments/

Great Programs Coming Up in 2020!

As we’re looking ahead to 2020, we have some great programs planned to bring in guests to help you with your writing, plotting, and editing. Among them are:
  • Alexanne Stone, who will delve into more details about using body language to give more life to your characters;
  • Anne Hawley and Rochelle Ramirez, certified Story Grid editors, will return with more information on making your plots stronger and your stories tighter,
  • In the fall, New York Times Bestseller Cherry Adair with her popular Plot By Color Workshop, a two-day event that will not only help you with plotting but with all other aspects of writing.

 We will be filling in the calendar with more programs as we can plan them. Nicole made a list of the topics suggested at the November HSW meeting, so we will be looking at those in our planning.

Some of the workshops will have a fee attached as HSW will need to pay the presenters, but HSW members will get a discounted rate. So, there are three good reasons above to be a High Sierra Writers member.


You can renew online at the HSW website. We use PayPal and you can pay by credit card without having a PayPal account. The link from HSW’s site, at the bottom of the previous column, will take you directly to the payment page. Or bring a check or money order to the meeting and give it to Rene.

Recap of the Reno Pop Culture Convention

For three days, the RPCC took over the convention center to bring the Reno area a comic con experience that’s a little different from the last one that came here. Among other things, the RPCC really wanted to feature local writers and set a whole programming track on writing. Some of the panels even gave attendees college credits for attending.

            A writers’ booth from two Denver writers, who came to Reno to show
           the locals how to set up a successful booth. It helps that they are both
           best-selling romance authors.

Several HSW members were on various panels. Matt Bayan did about three a day over the three days. Linda Enos (Lynda Bailey), Teri Green (Elise Manion), Rene Averett (Lillian I. Wolfe), and Jacci Turner also participated on several panels. Some were attended better than others, but all of them were interesting and talked about the real issues we face as writers.

With so many writers with tables in the dealers’ room, located in Artists’ Valley, it was a great opportunity to talk to potential readers and to also network with other writers in the area. Reno has a lot of writers. These panels and the attention to writers is a part of the concept of the RPCC to encourage young people to the arts and particularly to writing.

At the same time, many other panels covered comics, movies, television, and several actors and other creatives also made appearances. If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, this was the place to be.

If the RPCC decides to return to Reno next year, High Sierra Writers will looking at ways to get more involved and get interested people to our meetings. Among other things, we will be considering a dealer room table or two to hand out information and provide a base for any of our members to take turns selling books. We’ll talk about it more when we have more information in the next few months.

Building an Author Website

One of the suggestions during last month’s meeting was more information on how to build an author web site. For many people, it’s easier to have someone build the web site for you, but for those who want or need to do it themselves, several helpful articles and videos on YouTube will talk you through the process. Almost all of them use WordPress to power their sites as it’s the easiest one to work with and customize.

Donna Stegman suggested https://www.studiopress.com/ as one that the industry recommends to their authors. You can go directly to WordPress.com to get themes and to pay a small fee for the server to run your web site. If you need to rent space on a server, it will cost some money for it and for your domain name, if you don’t already have one. On the plus side, they will help you if you have problems with your site.  Check around for web server services or …

Go here to see the top 10 server sites and links to them.

For how-to videos, check out these:
The Creative Penn – How to Build You Own Author Website in 30 Minutes
Derek Murphy – How to Make an Author Website for Yourself
Vivian Reis – How to Create an Author Website


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November 2019 Newsletter


… on Saturday, November 9th at 10 am. If you did not contact Rene to request admission, you are now responsible for getting your own ticket into the event.  (See Matt’s letter for more details.)

Rene sent a confirmation email back to each person who emailed her to get on the list. If you sent an email and did NOT get a confirmation, please contact Rene immediately to confirm she got the email. 

Our guest for this meeting, Alexanne Stone is scheduled to speak at 11 am, but do get there early to get a good seat. Alexanne is an expert at interpreting body language and will give us a preview of what understanding body language can add to our quiver of writing arrows. If everyone is interested, we will schedule her for a workshop with the group in our 2020 plan.

In addition to our meeting, you will find many other reasons to attend. Unlike most other media conventions, the RPCC is presenting a whole track of writing programs to encourage writers and provide information. Several of the HSW members are on panels (see schedule below) and book signing opportunities are included. If you’re just interested in the guests, actors from various television shows, including Star Trek, Arrow, Firefly, Star Wars, Stranger Things, and Torchwood, are appearing for photo opportunities and panels.

If you like comics, they have panels on those and some of the artists. Voice actors for animated films, such as the Disney films are also doing panels. They will have a dealer room with all kinds of media-related items from comic books to cosplay items to jewelry and sci-fi weaponry. A few HSW members will be selling books and autographing them in Author Alley and you can also check out Artist Alley to see some beautiful fantasy and science fiction art. Costumes are welcomed if you feel so inclined. Bring the kids, they get in free with you, and have a great time.

One note, get your tickets in advance from RenoPopCultureCon.com. You order online and redeem at the door. They are not selling tickets at the event. If you’re undecided until the last minute, you can purchase them via your phone on the internet from the parking lot.

From the HSW President Matt Bayan

Our focus for November is Reno Pop Culture Con. We were invited to participate because much of the focus of the event focuses on authors and writing. Guests at the Con will include TV and movie personalities, bestselling authors, sci-fi, and the usual stuff you would expect from something similar to Comic Con.

Here’s a chance to meet other local writers. Since we’re having our monthly High Sierra Writers meeting at the Con (and we’re on the conference program schedule), we might pick up some new members.

Since this is a regular meeting for us please bring First Pages. Show off your material to what should be a wider audience than just our members.

Also, our members will be participating in and leading numerous writing panels over the three-day event. See the separate listing below.

Our paid members, who notified us by October 31st, will have a free badge for all events on Saturday, November 9, the date of our monthly meeting. To get your badge, meet me at the main entrance of the Convention Center at 9:30 AM. I’ll hand out the admission tickets until 9:45 AM. (Our meeting starts at the regular time: 10 AM in Room A11/A10). If you arrive after 9:45, you’ll have to pay the day rate to get in, or go home. Sorry, but if you snooze, you lose.

This could be an annual event if this first Con is successful. Authors Alley gives local authors the chance to showcase their work; the panels offer interaction with successful writers; plus all kinds of entertainment are offered. So, invite friends and have a great time. RenoPopCultureCon.com

Scheduled Writing-related Panels for RPCC

Most panels have five to six panelists. I’ve listed all the panels and where HSW members are on a panel, I’ve listed who. For those who don’t know, Lindy Bailey is Linda Enos, Elise Manion is Teri Green, and Lillian Wolfe is Rene Averett.


Noon  – Local Authors Round Table – includes Jacci Turner
1 pm  – Got Plot – Lynda Bailey, Nicole Frens, Matt Bayan
1:30  – World Building a “Serious” Story
2 pm  – The L and S Words in Genre Fiction – Lynda Bailey & Elise Manion
4 pm  – Self Publishing Your Novel – Matt Bayan & Lillian Wolfe
5 pm  – NaNoWriMo – Jennifer Baumer, Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko, Lillian Wolfe

10 am – High Sierra Writers Meeting with Alexanne Stone speaking at 11 am. Matt Bayan
Noon  – The Only Game In Town – Alternative Publishing – Lynda Bailey
1 pm  – Vampires, Ghosts, and Witches – Matt Bayan
2 pm  – Building a Better (Super) Hero – Lynda Bailey & Matt Bayan
3 pm  – Fight Like a Girl: Female Protagonists
5 pm  – Can We Write and Read Books that Speak to Teens? Jacci Turner
6 pm  – Is There a Sci-Fi-Book in Your Future? Matt Bayan

10 am – How to Design the Perfect Murder – Lynda Bailey, Matt Bayan, Elise Manion
11:30 – Sci-Fi & Fantasy Every Age Group Will Enjoy
Noon  – Authors Critique Group Round Table – Lynda Bailey, Jacci Turner, Lillian Wolfe
1 pm  – Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Romance – Building Worlds and Relationships
2 pm  – Synopsis Writing – Lynda Bailey
3 pm  – Writing & Reading Eye-Roll-Proof Books for Kids & Teens – Matt Bayan
3:30  – Romance is on the Rise – Lynda Bailey, Elise Manion, Lillian Wolfe

HSW Novel Contest Winner! 

Congratulations to Maria Palace, who won the HSW novel contest, giving her the prize of getting her novel seen by an acquiring editor at one of the major publishers. It’s a terrific opportunity and we wish her all the best in getting an acceptance from it. I asked Maria how she felt about it and what she hoped to see. Here’s her reply:

 As you can imagine, it was a thrill to hear my name announced as winner of the HSW 2019 Manuscript Contest.

My novel, Chapter Thirteen, has been a labor of love for the past two years.  It is a romantic thriller with an unnerving mystical twist. I was first inspired when I visited the Winchester mansion in San Jose, California. Its mysterious appeal coupled with my conflicted religious upbringing allowed for the story to fall into place.

I am exceedingly hopeful that my win will lead me to a publication deal, as my love for writing is unquenchable, and I have the incredible members of the High Sierra Writers to thank for continuing to teach and inspire me to never give up

Many thanks to Donna Stegman for setting up this unique winner’s prize and adjudicating the first round. 

NaNoWriMo is Here!

As of 12:00 am on November 1st, NaNo for 2019 kicked off. The first online write-in was scheduled for midnight, so those NaNos who wanted to leap right in, they’re probably at least 2000 words into the process, if not more, by the time you read this. But those 50k words are a long game, so it’s a task of writing everyday. If you’re part of the group, you know this already, but to the new people and those of you who may want to try it, the key is to keep writing. You only answer to yourself when it comes to getting the words down. 

If you want to join in at any point during the month, you can register your project at the NaNo web site: www.nanowrimo.org and get started. If you need encouragement, you can join the community for Reno and you can also join our Facebook groups. Sprints and write-ins are posted at both locations so you can get as involved as your choose.

Plotting Group Meeting

Due to NaNoWriMo and other busy activities in November and December, the plotting group meeting will not happen either of those months. We will resume in January.



We will be back at Scheels for the December meeting on the 14th at 10 am. 

Since some of us may have a freshly minted rough draft of a novel after NaNo, the tentative program for this meeting will discuss how to go about editing your first draft. Writing the book is just the first step and no matter how good you may think it is, a lot of work remains to make it ready to submit to even your beta readers. (And maybe even your critique group.)

Join us to learn what you need to do to get your draft reader-ready.

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October 2019 Newsletter

High Sierra Writers Meeting

Saturday, October 12 at 10 am

at Scheels at Legends 1200 Scheels Drive, Sparks, NV 89434.

We will be discussing NaNoWriMo, what it is, how to join in, and why you should do it? Rene Averett and Jennifer Baumer will cover the background and the basics, then Matt will follow up with a discussion of the potential pitfalls and how to jump over them. 

Workshops and Speakers:

We will discuss potential programs and workshops for 2020, including the opportunity for a 2-day Master Class with NY Times bestseller Cherry Adair. We will be looking for your input and opinions, so please come to the meeting. See articles below for more on both the NaNo program and Cherry Adair.

First Pages

Bring in the first page of your story or novel! It’s the most important page in your manuscript, so let’s talk about how to get it right. Completely anonymous. Turn in your first page to Matt Bayan at the start of the meeting. Don’t put your name on the page, but please show the title and genre of the work. Print on letter paper, 1-inch margins, preferably 12 point in Times New Roman or Arial (14 pt would help Matt maintain his eyesight).


What is NaNoWriMo?

Sounds strange, but is it contagious? 

Well, it can be if you get hooked on the idea of speed writing. NaNoWriMo is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month, which is November. Rene Averett and Jennifer Baumer are the Reno area Municipal Liaisons. Their task is to find interested writers, who are willing to take on the task of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, and encouraging them by participating in writing sessions all month long. 

At the October meeting, Rene and Jennifer will be at the meeting to tell you more about NaNo, the goals, and how you can successfully win this challenge. For the curious, that’s 1,667 words a day average. So, if you’d like to write a novel in a month, or at least, get a good start on a novel, then come to  the next meeting to learn more and discover the magical world of community writing. 

Warning: It can be addictive and change the way you attack your writing.

So, that’s NANO? What do I do now?

After Rene and Jennifer’s presentation on the basics of NANO and how to get started, Matt Bayan will spend some time in workshop style to discuss with our members how to deal with the pitfalls that will emerge. This will also deal with writing issues faced in a non-NANO existence. 

  • What’s writer’s block – or am I just lazy?
  • How do I create believable characters in a month?
  • How do I energize my dialogue
  • My plot sucks. 
  • Why am I doing this?I don’t have enough time!!

Cherry Adair’s Master Class

By Rene Averett

How would you like to learn the basics of character development, action scenes, dialog, plotting, and self-editing from a multi-New-York-Times-bestselling author of over 35 books? Author Cherry Adair can bring her excellent Plotting By Color Master Class to Reno through the High Sierra Writers if we would like her to do so. You can learn her method of plotting and pick her brain on all the elements to write your best novel. 

I took this class at the Book Lovers Convention in Reno in 2018, and boy, did I learn a lot that I thought I already knew. In this two-day workshop, Cherry will give you tips for creating memorable characters and how to write from their strengths and weaknesses. She’ll help you construct a scene and look at the elements of each scene using the three-act plotting method. She can also show you how to adapt it to series books. I am still working to apply everything I learned to my writing. I want to take it again. Although Cherry is considered a romance writer, she actually writes romantic suspense as well as thrillers, mysteries, and paranormal, but her class is geared to any fiction genre.At our next HSW meeting on October 12th, we will be discussing bringing this workshop here and getting opinions from our members. If you would like to see a beneficial Master Class that will give you a blueprint to plotting and writing your best novel, then join us at our meeting to learn more and/or express your opinion. The decision to schedule her will be based on your input, so plan on being at the October meeting.


About Cherry Adair

Born in Cape Town, South Africa. Cherry is the best-selling author of numerous romantic suspense, paranormal, mystery, and thriller novels. She moved to San Francisco and became an interior designer. She is an avid reader, so soon the stories building in her head led her to write. She had written 17 books before publishing her first through Harlequin in 1994 and sold all of those books to them.

Cherry’s most popular series is the long-running T-FLAC novels that involve operatives working in the fictional anti-terrorist force bearing the moniker with 19 books and counting. She also has three spin-off series from T-FLAC and the Cutter Cay series, plus single novels. She has won and been nominated for numerous awards including the Golden Quill for Best Mainstream Single Title. 

Popular at conventions and conferences, Cherry loves sharing her knowledge and does so with her delightfully wicked sense of humor.

From the HSW President 


Guess what? We’ve been invited to a big event. Our November meeting, 11/9/19, lands right in the middle of the Reno Pop Culture Con. This event is like Comic-Con, but they don’t use a similar name because they’d get sued. It runs from Friday 11/8 to Sunday 11/10. This event has been very successful over the past few years in Denver, and they are expanding to Reno for the first time.

The event is held by a non-profit group that promotes literacy and the process of WRITING. The workshops and events revolve around the craft of writing. They’ve asked us to have our monthly meeting at the event and to participate in panels.



The Changing of the Wranglers

Nicole Frens has stepped down as the Critique Group Wrangler and will be replaced by Linda Enos starting immediately.

Linda has some exciting ideas for building on the great work Nicole has done over the past several years, which she’ll reveal at the January meeting.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, or if you wish to join a group, feel free to contact Linda at enoslinda@sbcglobal.net.

Calendar of Upcoming Events

October 12 –  HSW Meeting at Scheels @ 10 am
November 01 – NaNoWriMo Starts – Begin writing
November 8-10 – Reno Pop Culture Convention at Convention Center
November 9 – HSW Meeting at Pop Culture Convention – details to be announced. Check WEB site.
November 16 – NaNoWriMo – Write-In – location and time to be announced.
November 30 – Last writing day of NaNoWriMo
December 14 – HSW Meeting at Scheels @ 10 am 

Looking Ahead – November Program Speaker


by Matt Bayan
We have an opportunity to book a leading expert in the interpretation of body language. “What good is that to a writer,” you might ask. That’s what I asked when first presented with the idea.

Then I thought about it. How does a reader get an understanding of a character’s thoughts, his mood, whether she is nervous, whether he feels guilty? How would skill at body language help a detective interviewing a suspect, a wife who suspects her husband of cheating, a job interviewer?

In dialogue, think of the little tics and actions that characters do and which we want the reader to see. He looked into the distance and pulled on his left earlobe. 

Body language is showing, not telling. Body language is visual. Body language allows writers to engage the reader with an image rather than a passive-verb description.

She was nervous becomes She hid her hands under the table so they wouldn’t see the sweat which seemed to pour from them like a faucet.

We’ve scheduled Alexanne Stone, an expert at interpreting body language, for an hour at our November meeting to give a preview of what understanding body language can add to our quiver of writing arrows. We need to gauge your feedback to see if it would be worthwhile to book her for a workshop in the spring of 2020. So, please attend the November meeting to catch her presentation and Q & A. I’ve met with her and I think this will be very interesting.


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September 2019 Newsletter

Got Plot?

You just got the best idea ever for the next great, American novel… but what do you do now? How do you take that kernel of a concept from inspiration to completion?

Join HSW members, Nicole Frens and Linda Enos, for an interactive discussion about the one thing every story needs – plot. Be ready to share your favorite plotting techniques.

Not a plotter? No problem! The methods highlighted by Nicole and Linda can also be used when you hit the “mushy middle” or worse…the dreaded writer’s block.

Next High Sierra Writers Meeting
September 14, 2019 at 10 am at Scheels at Legends in Sparks

It’s All About the Plot

Please come join us as Nicole and Linda conduct a lively discussion about plotting methods and how to make them work for you, even if you don’t like to plot. They’ll be looking for participation from you so come prepared with questions and your own tips.


We will also be doing FIRST PAGES at this meeting, so if you want to participate, please bring in the first page of your manuscript, double-spaced, 12 point type. Include the title, if you wish, and genre. Do not include your name. Matt will read the first page for critique from the group.

From the President

As we get into Autumn, we’re at the end of a two-year cycle at which point we need to have elections. We also need members to step up and assist with a number of functions without which we cease to exist.

First, if you’ve been coming to monthly meetings for more than a few months, it suggests you are getting something out of the meetings. I’m known for my bluntness, so here it is: Stop freeloading and pay the membership fee. Do you think Scheels gives us the meeting room for free?

Do you think speakers are all volunteers? Some are, but if they come from out of town, we’re paying them something. Sometimes it’s a couple hundred; sometimes it’s a thousand or more.

Second, all of our officers are unpaid. Many of them have been in their positions for a long time. We have unfilled positions for Education, Membership, and Communications. A couple people for each activity would go a long way to relieve the pressure on the folks who have been wearing two, three, even four hats to keep this organization running.

Third, you don’t have to run for an elected position. If you just chip in a little help, it would be greatly appreciated. Have an idea for a speaker? Someone you met at a conference? Send the info to board@highsierrawriters.org  Better yet, do a little legwork and find out if the person has given presentations, in what topic areas, and would they be interested in appearing before our group?

Can you do a presentation to the group on some writing-related topic?

This is just scratching the surface. It would be a great help if you offered even a little help in some area in which you’re interested.

‘Nuff said,

Election Time!

Here’s the HSW Board slate for the 2020-2022 term:

President – Matt Bayan

Secretary – Nicole Frens

Treasurer/Membership and Communication  – Rene Averett

Education  – TBA

Voting (voice vote) will take place at the October meeting. Any questions or concerns, contact Linda Enos – enoslinda@sbcglobal.net.

“Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth.”  ― Khaled Hosseini

Membership Reminder

If you are new to High Sierra Writers and wish to join, you can do it at half price for the next two months. After that, the full membership will carry you through to December 2020. That’s the special for new members only. 

If you are an HSW member and haven’t renewed for 2019, you still owe the full amount to be counted as a paid member. Not sure if you paid or not? Contact Rene at ruamor@sbcglobal.net to find out. She can check the membership records and let you know. 

Renew online at the HSW website using PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to use your credit card to pay. 

Exciting opportunity available!  

If you’ve ever thought, “Golly, I wish I had some control over what speakers we have, or what topics are covered at our meetings,” or maybe if you’ve said to yourself, “Wowzers, would I ever be delighted if I could give more of myself to the High Sierra Writers!”  

Well, you’re in luck!  We are looking to fill an Education position, which is KEY to what we offer as a group to our community of aspiring and working writers.  The best part is – it’s not really that hard!  We have a list of past speakers who could be contacted, plus, it’s your free pass to contact your favorite author or business owner on behalf of HSW to ask them to possibly come speak to us. No more feeling funny about expressing your love of their work, now you can contact them for Official Business. So easy!  

 We’ve been without our education position filled for a few years now, and we’re ready to have one again. And we think it should be you! Yes – you! All you need to do to volunteer is contact Matt (MattBayan@aol.com), Nicole (NicoleFrens@gmail.com), or Rene (ruamor@sbcglobal.net) and give us the good news (or ask questions). 

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August 2019 Newsletter

Contest Submissions are Due at the August 10th Meeting!

Is your contest entry ready to go? Have you double-checked to be sure you have all the requires pieces as stated in the Contest Rules. I recently clarified these a little, so check the website to make sure you have yours done correctly. Look for More Details mid-way down the page.
Contest Rules 

Is Your Book Ready for Prime Time?

Your completed story has worked its way through a critique group (maybe even more than once), yet how can you make sure the book of your heart is ready for prime time? Hiring an editor to put on the finishing touches is one option. And if you can’t afford an editor, what do you do then?

Please join some of our HSW established authors as they share their “self-editing” tricks and tips. They’ll also talk about their “pet peeves” when it comes to reading for pleasure…something every author should be aware of in order to avoid those pitfalls.


Bring in the first page of your story or novel! It’s the most important page in your manuscript, so let’s talk about how to get it right. Completely anonymous. Turn in your first page to Matt Bayan at the start of the meeting. Don’t put your name on the page, but please show the title and genre of the work. Print on letter paper, 1-inch margins, preferably 12 point in Times New Roman or Arial (14 pt would help Matt maintain his eyesight).

August HSW Meeting

The next meeting will be August 10th at Scheels at Legends 1200 Scheels Drive in Sparks beginning at 10 am. 

Our meeting will delve into the editing process and what you, as a writer, can do to self-edit your manuscript. You don’t want to miss this one if you want to know the tips that can make your book a winner.

From the HSW President – Matt Bayan

Today, Linda Enos and I were discussing the recent disaster in my life. No, nobody died, though I don’t preclude the possibility that someone could die in the near future. By my hand.

My wife and I moved into a new house two months ago. Within three days, the sewer line backed up due to a contractor plumbing error and flooded the entire first floor. They call it gray water, which is less dangerous than black water, though the distinction escapes me. Bottom line, our house became a petri dish for E coli.

For two months they’ve ripped out flooring and walls and disinfected. Lab tests. We can’t live in the house for at least another month. But I had already moved my office into the second-floor loft.

Circle back to Linda Enos. “Matt, are you still able to write?”


“How are you able to do that?”

Because HSW meetings have sometimes taken on the discussion of finding the time to write, Linda suggested I explain how I’ve been able to continue in the midst of chaos.

Answer? At first, I didn’t have one. I had to think about it.

Answer? Habit and compartmentalization.

I got my first laptop in 1995. Suddenly, sitting in an airport, or taking a long flight, or getting bored at some conference was no longer wasted time. I could write on my laptop! Yes, at first, I got distracted by violent turbulence and imminent plane crashes, by people blathering about problems fertilizing their lawns. Then over time I developed an ability to compartmentalize my writing. I no longer heard squalling babies. I learned to ignore distractions and to focus on my work.

No, I don’t write every day. I don’t write at a certain time of day. But I think about stories and characters whenever I have dead time. Mowing the lawn, driving to the store. Standing in line at the bank I might hear a woman use an interesting turn of phrase. I think about how I might work that into dialogue. Which character might say that?

The habit part? If I’m not doing something that requires my full attention, my habit is to observe the world around me or daydream. I’m doing this constantly. I know this is my staging area in the writing process. When my staging area has enough to use, I turn on computer, enter mental compartment, write.

You might develop different habits. Whatever works. But habit combined with compartmentalization can dramatically increase your output.

Even in chaos.

Even in a petri dish.

Online Writing Classes


Linda Enos (w/a Lynda Bailey) here. Hope everyone’s enjoying all our lovely hot August days and nights. (Can I get an “ugh” from the crowd?)

I’ve put together a short list of websites where you can learn new things about writing – because there’s always something new to learn, right? – or where you can polish up areas of your storytelling which need a good buffing. I provided the links, a brief commentary, and the price factor.

  • Creative Writing Now

The site covers everything from fiction writing to poetry to memoir. They also have classes which deal with specific topics such as dialogue and characterization. There’s no charge, so make of that what you will. (As my mama used to say, you get what you pay for.)

  • WriterUniv.com

I’ve taken many of these classes because they’re mostly focused on romance. However, they also provide classes on writing the dreaded synopsis and/or query letter. The bummer is the instructors are also full-time authors, so the class you just hafta have might only be offered once/twice a year. But they also have a (free) blog where you can glean vital information. The cost is incredibly reasonable…approximately $35-$50 for a month-long class.

  • Book Fox

This site showcases the “16 Best Online Writing Classes.” Everything from screen writing (with Aaron Sorkin, no less!) to writing a children’s book in two weeks to a “Master Class” with the likes of James Patterson, David Mamet and Judy Blume. Some of the classes use downloaded books, others use videos while some use both. The cost depends on what you want to do…you can pay a $15/month for a subscription (billed annually so it’d be a $180 bite) or you can buy the course outright. Prices will vary.

  • Writer’s Digest University

This site breaks down their online workshops by forum, goal and element so you can decide what you want to tackle first. They also have workshops on marketing and building your platform. Unfortunately, these guys are asking for big bucks…at least to me it’s big bucks. The classes can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to five or six hundred. Also, not all the classes have an actual instructor, which means you won’t get feedback on the assignments, so check carefully if feedback is important to you. I wasn’t able to discern the length of these classes without actually registering. (Also, there may be some overlap between Writer’s Digest and Book Fox.)

  • Writers.com

This is the last site I’ll talk about. When you click on the “course schedule” there’s a plethora of classes to choose from – Hero’s Journey for Storytellers, First Fifty Pages of Your Novel, Starting to Write, and everything in between. The cost is kinda hefty, but what I appreciated most is you see the cost, the course length and the instructor all in one glance.
That’s all for today. I hope you found at least some of this information helpful. Until next time…

Barnes & Noble Critique Sessions with Matt Bayan

Matt hosts a critique session at Barnes and Noble on Wednesday nights IF he has at least three people who want to do it.

Here’s how it works. If you have a few pages you want feedback on from other writers, contact Matt before Wednesday  to let him know. If Matt has at least three people for the session, he will email all participants after noon (12:00 pm) on Wednesday to let them know the session is on. If you do NOT receive an email confirming it from Matt, then there will be no session. 

This is important because he will not be there unless he has confirmed.

Matt’s email is MattBayan@aol.com

Plotting Think Tank Group Meeting

The next meeting is August 30th, at 6:30 pm at the IHOP in the Win-Co Shopping Center at 9786 S. Virginia Street. Exit the freeway at South Meadows and go west. The shopping center is on the right hand corner of S. Virginia at the light.

The plan is for HSW members to drop in to get help with plot challenges in your work or any other writing roadblocks that present themselves. The idea is to use the synergy of the group to help generate ideas to solve the problems..

Bring any questions or challenges you have and also be ready to help others. Food and drink are available at IHOP. They are gracious enough to let us use their meeting space, so let’s order something. 


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July 2019 Newsletter


Saturday, July 13 at 10 A.M. 
At Scheels at Legends, 1200 Scheels Drive, Sparks, NV

Book Blurbs and Query Letters

Is your book blurb effective?
Will your query letter intrigue a potential agent or publisher? 

Good blurbs and query letters are essential in getting the attention of potential readers, agents, and publishers. 

You also need them if you’re entering the writing contest coming up in August, so our focus for the July meeting is to work on these important, but not as simple as you think, elements. We’re going to spend time at the July meeting working on these two important components of the entry.

Along with the book cover, your back cover blurb (or the one that is featured on Amazon) is your introduction to potential readers. Between the two, they have to be eye-catching and offer the reader a hook into buying your book. Or, at least, opening it to the first page. 

As for the query letter, that needs to have the right tone and make an agent or publisher want to read your pages and, ideally, the whole book. The blurb is part of the query letter, but so is your greeting, how you present yourself, and the professional image you present.

Whether you’re submitting for the contest or not, you still need to sharpen these skills. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Working in groups, we will try to help each other write the perfect blurb for your book or book idea.

The meeting will include:


Bring in the first page of your story or novel! It’s the most important page in your manuscript, so let’s talk about how to get it right. Completely anonymous. Turn in your first page to Matt Bayan at the start of the meeting. Don’t put your name on the page, but please show the title and genre of the work. Print on letter paper, 1-inch margins, preferably 12 point in Times New Roman or Arial (14 pt would help Matt maintain his eyesight).

From the HSW President

Last week I had an editing client call me in a panic. Why? Because he “lost” his manuscript.

“What do you mean, you lost it?” I asked.
Lady jumping on computer.
“My computer. The hard drive crashed. I can’t get to anything.”

“You don’t have a back-up system?”


Then he said, “I know I should, but I never set something like that up.”

Now, frankly, I wanted to say to him that his dumb ass deserved having to re-type the manuscript from his hard copy. If he had one. Instead, I told him I would email him the last copy he sent to me.

His response? “But I’ve made changes since I sent you that version.”

I said, “Well, you can either make those same changes from my version or you can start from scratch. Which do you think will be less work?”

Then I said, “Wait a minute. You sent the manuscript to me as an email attachment. You should still have that in your sent emails.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said.

Which got me to thinking. First, you’re playing with fire if you haven’t set up a back-up protocol on your computer. For myself, every file I have ever created exists not only on a primary external drive, but is backed up every day to two (yes, two) other external drives plus to a secure back-up provider in the cloud. My computer can crash or my house can burn down, and I will be able to recover all my data.

Now, you may not be as finicky as me about my data, so at least invest $20 in a flash drive and every time you finish a writing session, save a copy to the flash drive and keep it away from the computer. If you have a fireproof file cabinet or safe, keep it there.

Plan B? Email each version of your manuscript to yourself. Every time you finish a writing session.

You’ll save yourself a very painful experience because of this immutable fact: Eventually every hard drive dies. Don’t let your hard work die with it.


I have to add a comment here.When you are writing, back up frequently. Even though WORD has a timed backup, it isn’t saving it to a file you can easily recover if the computer crashes. I know several writers who lost chapters because they didn’t have a saved copy and the computer crashed. — Rene


Novel Contest Entries Due Next Month

We’ve mentioned it numerous times over the past year, and it’s now almost upon us. You have about one month to get your submission ready. All the rules and instructions are posted on the High Sierra Writers web site at http://highsierrawriters.org/2018-2019-novel-writing-contest/


Please read these through and follow the instructions. Do not call or email Donna Stegman to ask for details about the process. They are posted. We will go through them at the July meeting. If you have any questions, we will answer them there.

Plotting Think Tank Meetings

We held the first  meeting of this group that HSW members can drop in on to get help with plot challenges in your work or any other writing roadblocks that present themselves. Using the synergy of the group, the idea is to help generate ideas to solve the problems.

When she spoke to us a couple of years ago, Heather Petty advised us to get our protagonist up a tree then set the tree on fire, but how does the hero get out of the burning tree? That’s where you might need some ideas to find a clever and unique way to do it. Answers aren’t guaranteed, but the group is likely to generate possibilities that might trigger a better idea for you.

Meetings will be the last Friday evening of the month at the International House of Pancakes, 9786 S Virginia Street in the Win-Co shopping center. It starts at 6:30 pm and runs until about 8:30 or so. Bring any questions or challenges you have and also be ready to help others.

Food and dink are available at IHOP. They graciously offered their meeting space at the back on the right side.

Hope to see you on July 26th at 6:30 pm.


As we’ve reached the half-way point of the year, we are dropping the price for New Memberships to $12.50 from now until October. After that, the new membership will be $25, but will be for the remainder of 2019 and 2020. 
We have quite a few active members who have not renewed for 2019. The reduced rate does not apply to renewals. Please pay the annual fee. Remember your membership gains you the benefits of reduced fees for guest speakers, participation in critique groups, plotting group, and entry in the contest. If you are not a paid member, you will not be eligible to enter the contest next month. If you are not certain of your status, contact Rene at ruamor@sbcglobal.net to inquire.
Our membership fee helps us to bring in speakers and to pay for the use of the meeting room and our post office box as well as a few miscellaneous bills, such as supplies. 


Due to a mix-up at the post office, we now have a new box. Please send any snail mail payments or correspondence to our new address: 

High Sierra Writers
PO Box 12241 
Reno, NV 89510


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June 2019 Newsletter

Featured Speaker for June is Mignon Fogarty!

At the June 8th High Sierra Writers Meeting, our featured guest will be Mignon Fogarty, also known as Grammar Girl. But Mignon is also aces with using social media. Starting with a podcast from her closet, she built up her brand to a national level and a book deal. She also happens to be an expert in using social media. So, at our next meeting, she will talk about how she did it and offer some tips during the public meeting from 10 am to noon.

Then, after the lunch break in the paid workshop, she will delve into the details of how to make Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter build our book sales or business. She’ll teach us the tricks to get people to follow to you and respond to your posts. Bring your computer and make sure you have an active account at at least a couple of social media sites to get the most out of this workshop.

Don’t forget to bring your POWER cords and/or backup battery. You don’t want to run out of juice in the middle of this!

The meeting is Saturday, June 8th at Scheels at Legends in Sparks in the meeting room on the second floor. It begins at 10 am for the public session. We break at noon for lunch for one hour, then back for the afternoon session at 1 pm. A coffee shop  is located downstairs at Scheels or you can go to several restaurants and fast food places in the area.

We still have openings for the afternoon workshop. It is $30 for members and $50 for non-members (includes an HSW membership). SIgn up at our website using PayPal or pay at the meeting via cash or check. 

From the HSW President 


Last month, we had an interesting workshop on Story Grid. The emphasis was on structuring scenes to create an engaging experience that hooks the reader. The attendees got copies of the Story Grid book, which I’m sure we’re all still digesting.

The presenters mentioned style but didn’t focus on it because the session was about scene structure. But we shouldn’t forget style in search of the perfect structure.

Spelling and grammar are basics. If you can’t be at least semi-proficient in them, well, need I say more? Beyond that we get into how sentences and paragraphs convey information. That’s where style comes in.

We can say, “Little Ellie wore a yellow dress,” or “Little Ellie’s new dress made her look like a dandelion against the backdrop of the freshly mown lawn.” The first is a blunt statement of fact; the second uses a simile to create an image. Depending on the situation, either might work.

Eliminating passive verbs, creating images instead of detailed descriptions, writing distinctive dialogue, etc. – we’ve had presentations and workshops on many style-related topics.

Being a great storyteller is about the what. Let’s not forget the how of the process. 


Plotting Woes?

Whether you find that you need a little push organizing your story thoughts, or could use some more ideas for conflict, help is on the way!  We’ll be offering an on-going monthly plotting session for all who need, or want to, help  

The idea is that when you need assistance (or want to offer up your ideas to others), we’ll gather together and see what we can do to infuse each other with ideas. Maybe someone else has THE idea that you need, or will just say something to spark your interest and set you off in a new direction, hopefully everyone will come away with something useful.

But first things first – we’d like to take a quick poll to find out when is the ideal time to meet up. So if you think you’ll be using this group in the future/now, send a quick email to Nicole at NicoleFrens@gmail.com with your druthers, and we’ll get it set up asap!  Feel free  to be more specific, or at least give me your A, B, C, and/or D response: 

     A. Week nights 
     B. Weekend day
     C. Weekend evening
     D. Post HSW meeting

Critique Groups / Editing Groups

After our last workshop speakers, I’ve had many requests to form editing groups similar to Anne and Rachelle’s, where the focus is on story structure mostly, and discerning whether a scene or chapter works (does it have the needed elements of beginning hook, middle build, ending payoff for instance). Of course to put such groups together, each member would need to be have a similar take on what they’re looking for, but with a little reading, perhaps, that’s easily done!  

Meanwhile, I’ve also had some recent requests from some to join ‘regular’ critique groups. I’ll be honest in saying that I don’t know anymore about whether I think critique groups need to be single genre-focused, or if a wide range of genres in one group is ok. I think it depends on the tolerance of the group. 

Which leaves us with this: Let Nicole know if you’d like to be added to the online list of people looking for a group – editing or critique, and if you’re open to multiple genres, or want to narrow your group down. Also, please look at the existing list of ‘lookers’ and contact anyone you think might be a good fit and start the conversation with them.   Our new meeting facility (Scheels) has a very lovely cafe that would be ideal for potential groups to meet together for a few minutes after a HSW meeting.

What a delight to meet Anne-Elizabeth Hawley and Rachelle Ramirez at the Story Grid workshop last month, then to go chat and exchange stories over drinks afterward.
Here’s a photo of Anne from up close and personal as we enjoyed some appetizers at BJ’s in Sparks. Workshop materials have been emailed to all afternoon participants, so if you didn’t get yours, let us know. They might have gotten a wrong email address, although be sure to check your spam folders. Sometimes they take an alternate route.

June  HSW Meeting
Saturday June 8th -10 am to noon
Scheels at Legends in Sparks!

For those who didn’t come last month, the meeting rooms are upstairs on the left as you enter the building from the south parking lot. Take the escalator to the second floor and go left, follow the signs toward the restrooms, and the meeting rooms are through the secure door (which is open)  next to them.

Program includes our guest speaker: Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl and First Pages with Matt Bayan. If you have the first page of your novel that you would like the group to critique, bring it printed, double-spaced in 12 point type on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Do not put your name on it although you may include the title and genre. These are meant to be anonymous.

Program for the July 13th 2019 meeting will be announced as soon as it is set. 

2019 Writing Contest Update!

Not trying to alarm you, but… You now have 70 days until your contest submission is due to be turned in at the August 10th meeting! 

You must submit pages – in this order—Cover sheet with name and title. Query letter (including word count and genre), 3-paragraph blurb, and the first four pages of your manuscript. Pages are to be stapled, not paper clipped, together.

In case you need them again, the rules are on the HSW website. Click here.


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May 2019 Newsletter

May Meeting

Our May 11th Meeting will feature two Story Grid Editors in the free, open to the public portion of the meeting giving a presentation on the what the Story Grid is and how it can help improve your writing. We will also have First Pages.

New location is Scheels at Legends in Sparks, 1200 Scheels Drive. Parking is free at the south end of Legends facing the entrance. The meeting room is upstairs on the east side when you enter from the south parking lot. We will post signs to show the way.

The regular meeting will be from 10 am to noon, then a break for lunch (lots of places to eat from the cafe downstairs to restaurants and fast food in the area).  In the afternoon, the paid workshop will delve into the nitty-gritty of the Story Grid.See you there!


Last Ten Days to Sign Up for the Story Grid!

Story Grid book coverCalling all authors!  

This is your last chance to sign up for the information-packed, action item-filled Story Grid workshop coming up May 11th (our next meeting date). The Story Grid editors will present to all during the last hour of our regular meeting, and then spend the afternoon dissecting two of our submitted scenes, showing us how to use the Story Grid methods for teasing out IF the scene/story is working, and if not, how to fix it.  

For only $20 (member price, $30 for non members), you’ll get an afternoon of learning with them, and a copy of the Story Grid book by Shawn Coyne ($28 on Amazon) – but hurry, only a few copies are still left!   Sign up via PayPal (no account needed) by going to the HSW website.

Remember that this will be held at Scheels, and if you have any questions, contact Nicole at Nicole@Frens.Land  We also have a chance to mingle with the editors after the workshop over snacks (or dinner) at a location TBD!

Social Media Workshop Rescheduled to June

We have now confirmed Mignon Fogarty for the June 8th meeting that we had to reschedule from April due to a combination of factors. So next month, Mignon will be at Scheels to show us how to use social media to grow our business.

As before, you should bring your laptop, tablet, or whatever you use to post to social media sites so she can give you help with creating posts that are effective. Also bring a spare battery if you have one as we’re not sure how many power plugs might be available. 

If you have not registered for Mignon’s workshop (another morning free, afternoon paid), you can still sign up at our website. It is $30 for members and $50 for non-members, which includes an HSW membership.)


From the President:

Specificity Challenge 

I’ve talked about specificity and how to use it to create an image. Rather than spoon- feed a reader, focusing on one specific quality of a character or setting allows the reader to get more engaged in the writing by filling in the blanks.

Here’s an example:

  1. She was very attractive in her sexy dress. (Ugh)
  2. Her little black dress set off her body perfectly. (Better)
  3. The way she was poured into that little black dress, she could give the Pope a stroke. (More better)

Is #3 good enough or can you jump to a higher level? Try it. Find a vague description in your manuscript and make it more specific.


Novel Contest Deadline is Closing In

If your book is chosen, you get the fantastic opportunity to jump the slush pile and get your query and pages in front of a Big 5 Acquiring Editor. 

How is your novel for the contest coming? Will you be ready to submit it in a little over three months? It is due at the August 10th meeting. 

Check the guidelines on our website to make sure your submission is presented correctly as outlined in the first step. In case you can’t get to the website, here they are.

You must submit pages in this order:

  • Cover sheet with name and title. 
  • Query letter (including word count and genre), 
  • 3-paragraph blurb 
  • First four pages of your manuscript 
  • Pages are to be stapled, not paper clipped, together.

If you are in a critique finish group, get your book wrapped up before the end of June to allow for time for any revisions and polishing you need to make. Use your critique partners to help you with your blurb and your query letter. 

Don’t miss this chance!

About the Query Letter

As if it isn’t hard enough to just sit down and write a novel, edit it, revise it, and pour your heart into it, you now have to write a query letter to a potential agent or editor convincing them to give your book a shot. Like the blurb, this may seem more challenging than writing the book.

Here’s a quick rundown of what the query letter should look like from Writer’s Digest (paraphrased).

If you are emailing, be sure you use a professional email address. Don’t send one from crazybunny@yahoo.com or something like that. Use one that sounds professional and probably includes your name.

Keep it to one page. Agents and editors look for compelling information in concise paragraphs.

Format it to industry standards. For our contest, use white paper, black print, and 12 point Times New Roman type with standard margins. 

Include the date, the editor’s/agent’s name and title, and your name and contact information (address, phone, fax, and e-mail).

Check the agency’s submission guidelines. You can find these on line. Be sure you are submitting to someone who handles your genre.

Make sure everything is spelled correctly, including the agent’s name and agency.

For lots more information on the query letter and an example, see the whole article. https://www.writersdigestshop.com/query-letter

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