February 2018 Newsletter

From the President:


“My mystery/thriller, JUMPING JACK, will be as big as any John Grisham. You’ll make a lot of money with my book.” Agents love queries that start this way.

My mother loved it. Check.

I worked hard for over four months to write it. Check.

This is my THIRD (!) draft. It’s ready. Check.

Yes, writers write these things. In our monthly meetings, we’ve talked a lot about how to write queries, but this topic can never be discussed too much.

It’s great to be enthusiastic about one’s work, but it’s impossible to predict how a book will sell. Making claims about sales only shows a lack of experience and professionalism. Giving a list of readers who “loved” the work is not impressive unless a reader is a bestselling author or some other famous person.

Stick to basics.
Paragraph 1: Why are you contacting the agent? Did you meet at a conference? Did you see in the agent’s blog or web page that he or she is looking for new works in your genre?

Paragraph 2: Brief back-of-the-cover synopsis of the manuscript. End with a hook; don’t tell the ending: Will Charlotte overcome her fears and do the right thing?

Paragraph 3: Brief bio. Give your writing credentials, but don’t exaggerate. You don’t need to have been published. If you write your employer’s monthly newsletter, mention it. In fiction, definitely tell if you have experience in some area that supports the genre and story. For example, if your book is a crime thriller, it’s helpful and appropriate to mention you were a police officer, or prosecutor, or private investigator.

The only other thing you can do is adhere to each agent’s requirements. Some want 10 pages included in the body of your email. Some want a 1-page synopsis; others want a 2-page synopsis. Some only want the query letter. Follow instructions and make sure you spell the agent’s name correctly. That’s all you can do.

Send and relax.

Matt Bayan

Next HSW Meeting

Join us at the February HSW Meeting on Saturday, 02-10-18, when best-selling author, Terri Farley will be our guest. Terri will be presenting an interactive workshop to help you build your character. For this meeting, she suggests you bring a photo, printout from the internet, or illustration that resembles your character. We hope to see you there and ready to begin building an unforgettable character.

    When: Saturday- February 10, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Where: South Valley Library on Wedge Parkway –
yellow building next to the ball park

Time to Pay Your Dues

That’s right! It’s time to pay the annual dues for HSW membership. If you have already paid, thank you. For the rest, you can pay Jay with a check made out to High Sierra Writers or cash at the next meeting or you can mail it to High Sierra Writers, PO Box 7825 Reno, NV 89510.

Critique Groups

If anyone is looking for a critique group to join or to start, please contact Nicole at the next meeting or email her at Nicole@Frens.land
She will help you get started or try to match you up with an existing critique group that may have an opening. 

TMCC Writers Conference

TMCC is hosting its annual Writers’ Conference on Saturday, April 21 at the college campus in the Sierra Building. The program includes authors and agents covering various topics plus three agents will be available for one on one ten-minute meetings for an additional fee. The agents this year are Jennifer March Soloway, Laurie McLean, and Sheree Bykofsky.

The fee for the conference is $149. For more information and to sign up, go to TMCC’s website at http://alturl.com/dr6tv

In addition, Sheree Bykofsky, an East Coast agent, will be presenting a class on Friday, April 20 for $39 titled “Grab an Agent’s Attention” on writing query letters. You can sign up at the same page as the conference.

Hometown Reads

A fairly new community organization, the goal of Hometown Reads is to help local authors connect with readers in their hometown through what they describe as a Read Local movement. The site listings are free to authors who sign up and list their books. The authors are then grouped by city so local readers, who can also join the community, can find local authors. They are also encouraging book stores to use the site as a resource for contacting authors for live events.

Several HSW members are already signed up on the site and Reno is a listed city. It takes 10 authors for the city to be listed, so we are there already. If you have a book published, check it out and get your listing up. It is free so you have nothing to lose and maybe new readers to gain. The web site is:

5 Tips to Giving Critique

Many web sites offer advice for both giving and receiving critiques. The reality is that it varies depending on the type of critique and if you are covering a whole piece of writing versus a few pages or a chapter. If you’re in a critique group, how you handle it may vary based on the preference of the members of the group. These five tips pretty much apply to any situation.

1. Be courteous and start with a positive remark. Address the strengths of the writing and plotting. Look for those things the writer has done well.

2. Be objective and make suggestions.  Keep in mind that every writer is different and writers have their own style of writing. Don’t try to make them write to your style, but give them valid feedback when something doesn’t read smoothly or is unclear.

3. Critique the writing, not the writer. Don’t make this personal. Express how you feel about the writing and why something about it bothers you or feels awkward. Keep in mind the writer’s experience level and be kind.

4. Suggest solutions. Don’t be hesitant to point out problems in the piece and suggest ways to correct them, but don’t rewrite them. If the writer is to benefit from the critique, he must do the work to change it.

5. Invite questions. Don’t get defensive if the writer questions your feedback, but point out your reasoning why you felt the writing was weak in that area and remind them it is your opinion and they can accept or reject it.

In some critique groups, writers are expected to listen to the entire critique from all members before asking any questions. In others, the writer can jump in with a question at any time or after each person finishes his/her critique. It’s up to each group how this works.


Administrator for account
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