March 2018 Newsletter

From the HSW President Matt 

Barnes & Noble Critique Group

At our last monthly meeting, a number of our members expressed interest in the critique group I host at Barnes & Noble. So, here’s how you can participate.

This is a drop-in group which means anybody can attend and you don’t have to submit or read material ahead of time. You read your sample writing to a small group and get immediate feedback. If you don’t have a strong voice or are daunted by reading aloud, someone else will read your material. Then you’ll get feedback. You’re also expected to give feedback to other readings. Here are the rules:

1.    Expect to present 4-5 pages. If not many are presenting material, you might get to read more.

2.    Meetings are 7 PM to 9 PM Wednesdays, but only if I confirm it.

3.    No later than noon on Wednesday (preferably earlier in the week), email me to confirm that you will attend the  I’ll respond no later than Wednesday afternoon to either confirm that a meeting will take place or will NOT take place.

4.    The minimum number of participants for a meeting is 3. If we don’t have 3, no meeting.

5.    I might be traveling or have some other conflict that makes it impossible to notify you that a meeting will NOT occur, so if you don’t hear from me via email by Wednesday 4 PM, the default is NO MEETING. In other words, a meeting will only occur if you get email confirmation.

March Meeting Information


By majority request at the last meeting, we’ll workshop these topics. Part of writing queries is also understanding what goes on at the other end of your communication with the agent. We’ll discuss that and how you can use the information to increase your query responses.

We’ll also critique and rewrite actual queries. If you want feedback, please bring your hard copy query so we can scan it and throw it up on the big screen.

Same with your blurbs. Bring hard copies.

We’ll show how the query letter and the blurb interact.

Part of the presentation will be to look at online resources that are crucial for query success.

The marketing discussion will cover a wide range of options you may have overlooked in working to promote your work.


If you’d like to participate in this month’s first pages critique with Matt,  please bring in your book’s first page. Please print the page in at least 12 point font and double spaced. Indicate the genre at the top of the page. If you have more than one manuscript, feel free to bring in more than one sample.

The next meeting is March 10, 2018 at 10 a.m. at the South Valley Library, 15650 Wedge Pkwy Reno, NV 89511

About those renewals…

We’re still accepting them. If you have not yet renewed your HSW membership, please do it now while you’re thinking about it. The cost is only $25 for the year and you will receive all the benefits of being a member, such as free or reduced-cost classes and workshops, critique groups, and more. So, please make that check out to High Sierra Writers and put it in the mail to:

High Sierra Writers
PO Box 7825
Reno, NV 89510

Or, you can hand the money to Jay, our treasurer, at the next meeting in March.

Have you finished your novel and are ready for the next level of help and advice?   We’re hoping to starting a new Jump Start/beta read group. If you think you’re ready, contact Nicole and take the next step to becoming a best-selling author!  And for all you memoir writers, we’re dangerously close to having a new critique group for you, too!  Contact Nicole today to put your name on either list and we’ll get things rolling for you!  If you have any other critique group hopes and dreams, same thing-contact Nicole!

Upcoming Events to Consider

TMCC Writers Conference Saturday, April 21st
Details and Registration at the TMCC website

Romance Times Convention at the Peppermill Reno May 15 to May 20
workshops and author galore. Check it out if you are interested in going as a reader or a writer.

5 Tips for Receiving Critique

Last month, I gave you 5 tips for giving critiques, so this month, let’s look at the other side of the exchange. How you receive critique about your work is also important. You’ve given someone your hard work to read and comment on, and you’re hoping for the best results back. First off, be clear about the kind of critique you are seeking: look for all typos and line edits, vs. story flow, vs. dialog, etc.  Often, your reader will note potential problems and places where the story is unclear. Be prepared to handle it.

1. Thank the person for the critique. Always thank the person for taking the time to read and comment on your work. Whether they do it as a courtesy or in exchange for your critique on their work in progress, the reader still took the time and energy to read and make notes.

2. Listen without interrupting. Pay attention to what your reader has to say. Don’t start questioning them if you disagree. Hear them out. You asked for feedback so here it is. The person may help you find places where your writing isn’t as clear as it could be or maybe there’s a question about the plot or the flow that you, as the writer, didn’t spot.

3. Don’t get defensive. But ask your questions after the critique. Make notes while you’re listening, then ask the questions once the person is done. Your questions should be to clarify any comments that you didn’t understand and want more insight about. Don’t get into an argument. Try to remain open to the suggestions.

4. Get multiple readers for more feedback. Note the places where more than a couple of people had problems with the story. If several people stumble over a section or don’t understand what you’re trying to say, then it probably should be revised. Whether the person is doing a critique or is a beta reader, the input you get is valuable.

5. Make the changes you agree with. Unless the changes are coming from your editor (that you will probably give more weight to your decisions), you choose the changes you wish to make. Look at the comments you get as suggestions to improve your work, but ultimately, it’s your book and you can do whatever you want with it.

Remember that critiquing is a skill for both parties. As people are less experienced, the critique may not be as valuable, but as they gain expertise, they can provide very good input to improve your writing.

Rene Averett

Newsletter layout and editing by Rene Averett. Images used are from Graphics Factory or Stencil and are used with permission.