November 2017 Newsletter

From the President


So you’ve done your research, created a list (or a spreadsheet if you’re a paragon of efficiency and organization) of agents you want to query, and think you have everything you need. Your query letter looks great; your pitch is enticing and you’re confident. Use this checklist before you hit send.
__ My manuscript is complete (and edited, and proofread).
__ I’ve done my best to come up with a great opening line.
__ I’ve described the plot in a clear and concise way.
__ I’ve included the genre and word count of my manuscript (or projected word count for a nonfiction title with a proposal) in my query.
__ This agent represents that genre.
__ I want to work with this agent because something in her bio or credentials (or blog post or interview) resonates with me.
__ If I’ve met the agent at a conference, I’ve included the conference name in the email subject line (and somewhere in the query itself).
__ I have checked this agent’s submission guidelines.
__ I have included all the materials that this agent requires.
__ The materials are included in the desired format, i.e. in the body, not attached (if that’s what the submission guidelines call for.)
__ I greet the agent by name, not as a generic Dear Agent.
__ I’ve checked that the agent I’m addressing is the same one I’m emailing.
__ I’ve spelled the agent’s name correctly.
__ If unsure of the agent’s gender, I’ve used the agent’s full name or first name.
__ I’ve spelled the agency’s name right and named the correct one (if I’m mentioning it).
__ I’ve included my contact information.
__ My subject line includes the working title of the book.
__ My query can be read without a magnifying glass.
__ My formatting is consistent throughout the query.
__My email address shows my name—not my spouse’s, or mine and my spouse’s, or a random string of letters and numbers, or a quirky nickname, or my main character’s name.

-Matt Bayan


If you are entering a short story in the “Poker Pot” competition, your submission(s) and $10 entry fee per story are due at the November meeting. You will need to pay your fee and get a receipt from our treasurer, Jay Leavitt, then hand the submission to Linda Enos (Bailey). She is the contest coordinator.


Linda will tear off the cover page, then give the stories to Donna and Matt. This will ensure completely blind and unbiased evaluation of the entries. Be sure to include all the required information—name, title, genre, and contact – on the cover page.

IMPORTANT: The story title, genre, and page number must be in the header of each page of the story. All pages must be stapled together in correct sequence with the cover page on top. Do NOT include your name or contact information on the story pages. If any story pages have your name and/or contact information, the submission will be disqualified.

Election Results for HSW Board 2018

The slate was unanimously passed by voice vote at the October meeting…plus two emailed “yay” votes.

Matt Bayan – President
Nicole Frens – Secretary
Jay Leavitt – Treasurer
Donna Stegman – Director of Communication
Rene Averett – Director of Membership
A HUGE thank-you to our incoming board!

From the Treasurer

Jay will be taking the story fees, $10 per story, two-story maximum per writer, at the November meeting. He will also begin taking membership renewals, $25, for 2018 at this meeting. He reminds everyone that HSW has already contributed $100 to the pot so the winner is guaranteed to get at least $110 dollars. Winner will be announced at the December meeting.

Jay also needs any outstanding reimbursement requests with a receipt in order to close out the December and 2017 books at the end of the year.

Planning for Success

Last month, Gina Decker presented a program on planning to achieve your goals. It was suggested that those who want to do it can plan and bring their goal-setting to discuss with other members. Gina will be at the meeting to answer any questions or help clarify the use.

For those who don’t recall the technique or weren’t there, Gina suggested a sheet of paper folded in half lengthwise, then folded into thirds to make six boxes when unfolded. Label each box as Goals: Educational, Big Projects, Personal and the bottom first two are things that might distract from the goals: Organizations and Work, then add in Helpers to get you to your goals. Under those headers, you then list what you plan to achieve in 2018 and the things that will help and distract you from your goals.


Next Meeting is November 18, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the South Valleys Library on Wedge Parkway. We will have first pages and blurbs.

7 Tips to Break Writer’s Block

From the experiences of Rene Averett

As I’m starting my 4th year of NaNoWriMo, I’m planning to complete the first draft of my next novel. I have “won” every year so far and have every expectation of completing 50,000 words plus quite a few more in November. Even while doing NaNo, writer’s block can set in. I have a few techniques I use to get past them so I will share my top 7 tips for anyone else to try.

1. Change writing mediums: If you’ve been typing on a keyboard, try writing with paper and pen. I find that it triggers my mind into using my creative side and words tend to flow more easily as my mind shifts modes. After a page or so of writing longhand, I can usually get back into the flow of the story and to the computer.

2. Move around: Get up, take a walk, or do something physical for about 15 minutes. Your brain may just need a break. Put on some music and dance or exercise.

3. Refresh and ask questions: Get a cup of coffee or a glass of water and allow your mind to think about the scene. Ask yourself questions about it. Maybe you haven’t planned it well enough. Ask the basic reporter’s questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? If you can answer them, then you might trigger the next part of your story or you can write a character back-story scene that gets you going again.

4. Take time for play: Play a game or do something creative, such as sketching, drawing, or cooking. Once again, this provides a break and allows your brain to work on the next part of your book.

5. Skip over the scene and go to one that is clearer in your mind: This works well if you’re a plotter. Often when plotting, you add scenes that you’re looking forward to writing while others are part of the necessary lead-up to that great scene. If the lead-up isn’t coming together, jump to the scene you’re really wanting to write. This often sorts out the troublesome scene in the process.

6. Turn off your inner editor. Easier said than done, but seriously, editing uses a different part of the brain and stifles creativity. Let your creative side go and just write.

7. Dream on it: If you’re having trouble with a scene, think about it before you go to sleep. Your brain will work on it while you’re sleeping and you’ll probably have the solution in the morning.

Hope these tips help you if you find yourself staring at the same line of your computer screen for a long time.

Newsletter layout and editing by Rene Averett. Incidental images from Graphics Factory are used with permission.
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