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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April 2019 Newsletter

April Meeting Saturday April 13th

Join Grammar Girl for a Workshop on Social Media!

Our April meeting will feature Mignon Fogarty who will talk during the free public session about social media. The paid afternoon session will go into more specifics as Mignon shows us how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to grow our business and make more sales. If you have not yet signed up for the afternoon session, it is $30 for members and $50 for non-members. The non-member price includes a High Sierra Writers membership, so if you want to sign up for the Story Grid Workshop or any other one we present, you get the members price along with the rest of the benefits of HSW membership.

The morning session will also include First Pages and a short presentation by Matt Bayan about editing tips. For those in the editing process, this will help you to tighten your work and improve your phrasing.

The Meeting begins at 10 am at the South Valleys Public Library, 15650 Wedge Parkway in South Reno. 

To sign up for the workshop, go to:

Remember, we cannot accept any payments for workshops or dues renewals at the library due to library policies. So, please sign up in advance. It also helps our presenter to determine how many copies of handout materials to print.





You’ve spent hours on the chapter. Your time is valuable. Ergo, the words you’ve written are also valuable. You expect to see them again in your finished manuscript. You set down your pen or close your computer with a sense of satisfaction over a day well spent.

Not so fast.

Most of my editing clients are verbal-retentive. They cling to their words. I’ve had writers fight me over a comma. I’ve had writers stalk out of the room, fuming, because I cut out some bloated description. It usually goes like this:

“These are my words, my ideas.”

“Yes, they are. But why are you writing them? To put in a locked cabinet and hoard like Silas Marner or to have people read them?”

“To have people read them.”

“Then to do that you have to write in a way that holds the reader’s interest. You’re not doing that.”

“That’s your opinion.”

“Yes, it is. But you’re paying me for that opinion. And I’m telling you, you have to be willing to kill your babies. Your words are not sacrosanct. Some of them need to get tossed.”

At this point, they either calm down or we part ways.

Each time you sit down to write, try to inure yourself to the idea that the words you are writing may not be permanent. They may get red-lined. Be ready to drown them, incinerate them, and throttle them in their cradles. Their bodies will form the bridge that will eventually get you to a finished manuscript that’s reader-ready.

Matt Bayan

Does Your Story Work?

Story Grid Workshop on Saturday May 11. Register soon!

Join us for an all day workshop May 11th with certified SG editors as they teach us what the SG method is, and how to use it from our first idea to final draft to make a story that truly works.  We all know that writing a novel goes far beyond that first draft, requiring the hard and often confusing work of editing and rewriting. The Story Grid is a way to for that work to make sense, and in the end will leave you with a solid story that others will want to read!

Two lucky HSW members will have their  scene (3000 words or less)  evaluated through the Story Grid lens during the workshop. If you’d like to have your scene considered, send it (Word or pdf format) to NicoleFrens@gmail.com no later than April 23rd. 

The workshop will start with a hour during our general meeting, then, after a BYO lunch, continue with the scene analysis and more, including how to make Super Hardcore Editing Groups of our own!  Spaces are filling up fast, so go to http://highsierrawriters.org/workshop-payments/ to sign up now! It’s only $20 for paid members and $30 for all others. The first 35 to sign up will receive a free copy of the Story Grid book.  For questions, contact Nicole at NicoleFrens@gmail.com

The August 10 deadline is coming up in a few months. 

We are now a little over four months away from the end of the contest entry period. What stage is your novel in? You should be through the draft and possibly the first edit by now. Have you sent it to beta readers or gotten involved in a finish critique group to get feedback and help to improve your novel? Time is flying by, and you need to make sure you have a completed, clean book before you submit it. This needs to be 100% complete by the August meeting even though you are only submitting the first four pages for the contest.

How about your query letter and blurb? Have you started working on those yet? They are due at the same time as the four pages. 

As a reminder, this contest is for novels only. They must not have been previously published, and the minimum length of the finished manuscript is 70,000 words for adult fiction; 65,000 for YA, and a maximum length of 100,000 words.

All the rules and format information are available on the web site at http://highsierrawriters.org/2018-2019-novel-writing-contest/

This is a great opportunity, so if you’re aiming to get it done, then make sure you’re on schedule to make the deadline.

Dues and Workshop Payments on PayPal

A reminder that you can now pay your annual dues renewals and workshop payments using PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account, simply use your credit card to pay. Your transaction is safe through PayPal’s secure server. Go here to pay dues if you haven’t renewed for 2019 yet.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it, and the writing will be just as it should be.” 

― Mark Twain

Book Blurb Writing

One of the more challenging things for me to write is a book blurb. Sometimes it feels like the whole novel is easier to do than to write these three short paragraphs that will hook the reader into buying your book. Just recently, I’ve been struggling with this. As usual, I turn to the internet for the latest tips on how to do this. I also run my potential blurbs by my regular critique group. If you have a willing group, this is a great resource to fine-tuning or reworking your blurb. If you have a reader group, share your blurbs with them and see which one they like the best.

What exactly is a book blurb and what should it do?

The sole purpose of a blurb is to convince your readers they want to read your book. It’s a short description of your characters and your story. On a paperback book, it’s the teaser on the back page. When publishing an e-book, it’s the description that will be displayed with the book cover.

According to editor Rebecca Heyman in a Reedsy article, “The opening of your blurb has to be incredibly precise and dynamic.”

A blurb shouldn’t tell backstory or any world setting. What it should do is focus on these things:

1) Main character(s) – the characters define the story and are the emotional hook to it. In the first paragraph, you need to introduce the characters by telling the reader what they want.

2) Primary conflict — the conflict drives the story, so it needs to be something readers will get pulled into with your characters.

3) Establish the stakes– you must have consequences. Without them, your story will lack drama, so there has to be a price for failure.

4) Show readers why this book is one they want to read. If you do everything right, your blurb will let the readers know this is the kind of book they love.

You have three short paragraphs to sell your potential readers, so the words need to be precise and efficient and end with a hook. Check out best-selling books in your genre to see how the blurbs are written. If it’s a series book, look at the first one of the series rather than the subsequent novels.

To read the entire Reedsy article, click here.

Another good article is from Kindlepreneur. You can read it here.


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March 2019 Newsletter

Next Meeting…


All elements of writing – characters, settings, conflicts, dialogue, etc. – need contrast to hold a reader’s attention. Slow vs. fast, bright vs. dark, loud vs. quiet. In each element of writing, we need to make choices that illuminate the external from the internal. 

Join us for a presentation/discussion on how to use contrast and pacing to up your game and make your story more interesting and provocative.

The Meeting is at the South Valleys Library, 15650 Wedge Pkwy, Reno, NV 89511, on March 9th at 10 am.

From the HSW President 

In our March meeting, we’ll tackle a topic we’ve never approached before: Pacing. We’ll take that idea and apply it to various writing elements, expanding beyond the concept of time to look at how contrast is essential in every facet of writing.

Next month our guest is Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, who in a few short years took an esoteric little podcast to the heights of the NYT bestseller list. She’s going to show us how she used and uses social media to carve out her ever-expanding niche in the publishing world.

We’ll also have First Pages this month, so drag in the beginnings of those novels you started as New Year’s resolutions.


April Meeting –

Making Your Social Media Work for You

As previously announced, Mignon Fogerty, aka Grammar Girl, will be presenting a class on how to use social media to grow your business. We asked last month and are asking again: How do you use these to grow your readership? How can you turn your handful of followers into people who want to read your books?

On April 13th, Mignon will present an all-day workshop on social media. So, bring your laptops and power cords and be prepared to harness the power of these often-times elusive platforms. 
The morning session (FREE and open to the public) will consist of an hour-long, introductory presentation by Mignon. In the afternoon, she’ll help us navigate through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc so we can better utilize those mediums for promoting/marketing our books.
Please note!!! The afternoon session is not for beginners! You need to have at least a semblance of a social media presence in order to make the most of Mignon’s presentation.
Cost for the afternoon session is $30 for HSW members; $50 for non-members. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Enos at enoslinda@sbcglobal.net.

To register for the workshop, please go to this page at the High Sierra Writers website. The payment button links to PayPal for processing. You do not need a PayPal account to register if you use your credit card.

May Meeting Information

Looking ahead, we have another exciting workshop coming up in May. 

Would you like to know how to edit your manuscript to a professional level before self-publishing or submitting to an agent?  Do you wish you had a clear understanding of how to tell whether your story works, and what to do if it doesn’t?  Or are you planning to hire an editor, but could use a leg up to get the best bang for your buck by sending them the best draft you can?  

Join us for our May 11th meeting when Story Grid Certified Editors Anne Hawley and Rachelle Ramirez will join us for our regular meeting and an extended workshop to teach us about the Story Grid editing method, based on Shawn Coyne’s powerful book on how to level up your craft and write a story that really works! 

During the regular meeting, the editors will share with us what the Story Grid method is all about, explain the different levels of editing, and give us the Five Commandments of Story. 

After lunch, in the paid session, we’ll have a short break for lunch (BYO), then dive deeper as they dissect two of our scenes and take it through a Story Grid examination.   They’ll leave us with information about Story Grid editing services, and how to build our own Super Hardcore Editing Groups. 

The first 35 paid participants will also leave with a hard copy of the Story Grid ($28 on Amazon)!

For current HSW members, the afternoon workshop is $20, and non-members are $30.  We will begin taking registrations in April. A news blast will be sent to current HSW members when registration is opened.

Two scenes will be chosen by the presenters to use in the analysis session. Interested HSW members (only) may submit a scene to be considered to Nicole@Frens.Land 

TMCC Writers’ Conference

Coming up on April 13 at the college’s Dandini campus. The event begins at 9:40 am and runs until about 4:15 pm. With several guest speakers, including our own Jacci Turner, the topics will cover crafting a page turner, building memorable characters, developing your brand, and more. Participants also have the opportunity to connect with agents for a small fee.

Regrettably, this conference overlaps with the HSW’s April meeting and presentation by Mignon Fogerty.

For more information, go to TMCC’sconference page.

Tips for Using a Writers’ Conference

When you attend a writers’ conference, you’re going to learn a lot, but one of the most important benefits is often overlooked or not followed up on promptly. Networking. Conferences are a great opportunity to meet other writers, publishers, and agents and connect with them to begin building a relationship that may benefit you down the line. Make these contacts a priority.

Here’s a little Do and Don’t list that conveniently landed in my email inbox as I started to write this. Agent Irene Goodman covers a good list of things to do and not do in this article.

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February 2019 Newsletter

February Meeting Information

Failure: The Road To Success
One of our successfully published member-authors, Jacci Turner, will entertain us with the embarrassing mistakes she made in her writing career with the hope that you will avoid them. What NOT to do is as important (sometimes more important) than what TO do.

Critique Group Update
Not in a critique group? Why not? Our Critique Group Wrangler, Nicole Frens, will give us an update on what groups are available and lead a discussion on what new groups members want, what problems groups might be having, and other group-related issues. Afraid to give another writer a critique? We’ll discuss how to do it without causing World War III.

Character Development
What’s a character arc? No, it’s not a boat or something Indiana Jones hunts for. Jacci Turner will lead a discussion on how to get your main characters from Chapter 1 to THE END. Oh, and to have readers interested in how they get there.

Egregious Errors
Matt Bayan will share with us some of the worst errors he’s seen as an editor. And ask your suggestions on how to fix them. Fun and informative.

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).

The meeting will be Saturday February 9, 2019 at the South Valleys Library, 15650 Wedge Parkway and begins at 10 am. The doors also open at 10 am.

From the HSW President Matt Bayan

Lately, in my professional editing career, I’ve been seeing some shocking examples showing that a growing number of writers:

  1. Can’t spell
  2. Don’t understand dialogue
  3. Don’t understand grammar
  4. And worst of all, don’t seem to care.

Has texting destroyed the English language? Has self-publishing made writers think that any old garbage is acceptable?

The idea that they deserve fat stacks of money for their meager efforts infuriates me.
So, at the February meeting, join me in my orgy of dishing some of the worst examples I’ve seen lately. (No, none of the examples will come from our members.)



Coming for April Meeting

How to Make Social Media Work for You

So, you have a Facebook author page, Twitter, and Instagram accounts set up and have a small following on them, but you’re not sure what to post to really get them to work for you. How do you use these to grow your readership? How can you turn your handful of followers into people who want to read your books?
Luckily, we have an expert who has done that and can give us the skinny on how to make it all work better for you. 
On April 13th, Mignon Fogerty, aka Grammar Girl, will present an all-day workshop on social media. So, bring your laptops and power cords and be prepared to harness the power of these often-times elusive platforms.  
The morning session (FREE and open to the public) will consist of an hour-long, introductory presentation by Mignon. In the afternoon, she’ll help us navigate through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc so we can better utilize those mediums for promoting/marketing our books.
Please note!!! The afternoon session is not for beginners! You need to have at least a semblance of a social media presence in order to make the most of Mignon’s presentation.

Cost for the afternoon session is $30 for HSW members; $50 for non-members. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Enos atenoslinda@sbcglobal.net. 

To register and pay for the workshop, go to: http://highsierrawriters.org/workshop-payments/

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 best websites for writers multiple times. She is also an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame.


Bookmark Mignon’s Q&D Tips page athttps://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl 

On March 9th, please join HSW members, Linda Enos (writing as Lynda Bailey) and Teri Green (writing as Elise Manion) at the GSR for the 7th annual Diva’s Day Out. 

Come and enjoy on-site shopping, entertainment, giveaways and much more. The event runs until 4 pm. 

 And don’t forget to stop by Linda and Teri’s booth, Reno Romance Authors, to say hi!

HSW Author Page

Do you have a book published? 

Would you like to have it displayed on the HSW website on our Authors Page? If so, please send a thumbnail of your book cover, genre, and the link address where people can learn more or buy it, to Rene at ruamor@sbcglobal.net To view the Book Page, go to:

2019 Novel Writing Contest

Plan to enter this chance of a lifetime contest?

You now have six months until your completed and edited novel, blurb, and query letter are due at the August 10th HSW meeting.  For all details about the contest, please refer to the contest page at 


To renew or join High Sierra Writers, please click on the button below to go to the payment page at the website to see your options. We can accept payments by PayPal or by check. You do not need to be registered on PayPal in order to use your credit card to pay. We can no longer accept checks at the library. Membership is $25 for the year.



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January 2019 Newsletter


Plot-driven? Character driven? Sounds like “what came first the chicken or the egg?”

Matt Bayan, HSW president, will unravel the connections between plot and character and offer tips on how to get from Page One to The End.


Last month we did a live demonstration on how to load a book and cover to Amazon’s KDP site. But other platforms exist: Apple, Google, Barnes & Noble. Instead of uploading a book to each of these platforms, our Communications Guru, Rene Averett, will show how to load a book to all of these platforms at the same time. Live demo. (We are getting SO techie.) Presenter: Rene Averett  website: http://pynhavyn.com/writers/


For those of you who are querying, right now is a good time. Agents have returned from holiday vacations, and with the new year, they have acquisition targets that they need to achieve for the new year. In our January meeting,  We have a contact who will be discussing the expected genres that will be hot in the coming year. 


Donna Stegman will also explain the rules and deadlines of this unique contest. The winner of this contest will get an opportunity to to skip the agent, skip the slush pile, and capture the eyeballs of an editor who can actually buy your work. Don’t miss Donna’s presentation unless you have no interest of leapfrogging to the front of the line.


Last month, we ran out of time and didn’t get to some of the submissions. If you’re one of the writers who didn’t get feedback, please bring in your work again and make sure to tell Matt your status. Your pages will go first.

For those not familiar with this feature, you may submit the first page of your book anonymously to be critiqued by the group. Please submit double-spaced, 12-point print with the genre at the top of the page.

January 2019 Meeting

The first meeting of 2019 will be Saturday, January 12 at the South Valleys Library, 15650 Wedge Pkwy in south Reno. The library opens at 10 am and the meeting will start as soon as we get the room set up and run until around noon to 12:30 pm. 

From the HSW President Matt Bayan

climbing mountainOne of the most difficult factors in writing a novel is developing a plot. Some writers outline. Others just start writing and let twists and turns lead to a resolution. That’s a matter of taste. But at its core, a plot is a story which must revolve around characters. The plot becomes the result of choices that main characters make on their mental or physical journey from one state of being to another. The change in the main character – either for better or worse – is the force that drives the plot. Characters, particularly the main character, are inextricably woven together with the obstacles of success and failure that occur in the plot. The choice of “character-driven vs. plot-driven” is largely a false choice.

At our January meeting, we’ll unravel the links between character and plot and help to simplify the process of constructing a novel.

Bring in your questions, whether you’re far along in your manuscript or starting a new project.

Matt Bayan

Novel Writing Contest

We’ve talked about it at our meetings and the full information is on the web site, but if you aren’t into the editing process of your novel entry, you’d better get crackin’. Need I remind you that the full novel will need to be completed, edited, and ready to go by the August 2019 meeting (Saturday August 10, 2019)?

Also, you need to be working on those blurbs for it. Try to come up with at least three or more for your novel. Try these out with fellow-writers to see reactions and learn which ones work better than others. Use your critique partners to help you tweak them. As defined in the rules, they must be three paragraphs long, no more. 

You will also need your query letter for the editor who, if you are selected the winner, will be reading it. So the query also needs to be polished to be submitted with the entry in August.

Here’s the exact requirements for your entry as presented on the web site from Donna’s handout:

 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.

A reminder of the length requirements — minimum for adult fiction is 70,000; young adult is 65,000 and the maximum for both is 100,000.

For all the rules and requirements, please go to this link at our web site.

Happy 2019! 
Will this be your breakthrough year? 

Who knows when luck will strike? But in the meantime, High Sierra Writers will continue to help you improve your writing, strengthen your stories, and give you tips and help to get it to the market whether by traditional or independent publishing. 

Like all non-profit organizations, HSW does need a little operating money to help cover the costs of the speakers, contests, and meeting space. Our $25 annual membership fee covers these costs and in return, you get tips, workshops, successful speakers like Michael C. Grumley and Mignon Fogerty, critique groups, and more. Our aim is to help every writer achieve their goals. 

So, please renew your membership in HSW if you haven’t already done so. It’s easy. Just go to the link below and click on the Buy Now button that will take you to PayPal to securely pay via credit card.

If you don’t have a credit card, you can still send a check or money order to us by mail. Make the check payable to High Sierra Writers and send it to:
High Sierra Writers

PO Box 7825 
Reno, NV 89510

Let’s make 2019 our best year yet!

Increase your Income Streams Easily

Self-published authors, do you want to earn more with your books than just what you’re getting from Amazon? While Amazon has the lion’s share of the market, many more distributors and readers are in the fray than Kindle reaches.

At the January HSW  meeting, Rene Averett will provide a quick overview of one of the alternate publishing sites to Amazon. Draft2Digital is an easy to use publishing application that can get your self-published book to multiple other markets, such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others.

Rene will give you the pros and cons of using other markets than Amazon and will go through a demonstration of how to upload and price your books for Draft2Digital and explain the various features of this program.

If you’ve thought about taking your market wider, then you should be at this meeting to learn more about this tool.

Coming in April!  Mignon Fogerty

Mark your calendars for this workshop with Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogerty. She will be the featured presenter at the April 13 meeting and extended paid session to talk about how to have success using your social media outlets. More details and workshop registrations will be coming next month.


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