September 2017 Newsletter

From the HSW President

There’s no THERE there. How to engage readers with active verbs.

Whenever you see “there” you usually have a passive verb, except when “there” is a place, as in “over there.” Word search for “there” and you can cut a lot of passive verbs and make your writing more engaging for readers.

Example 1: There are storm clouds on the horizon.

This sentence doesn’t convey much.

Example 2: Storm clouds loom on the horizon.

Better? Sense of foreboding?

Example 3: Black storm clouds boil over the horizon.

Compare Example 3 to Example 1.

Which is stronger? Why? Which is active rather than passive? Which one is easier for a reader to visualize?

‘Nuff said.


September Meeting Reminder

At our September meeting, we will have two speakers, Harlequin authors Anna J. Steward and Melinda Curtis, who will be presenting an all day workshop on Building Your Characters from the Ground Up. The morning session, beginning at 10 a.m. with Anna is free. We’ll break from noon to 1:30, then the afternoon session with Melinda will be $10 for HSW members and $15 for non-members. Feel free to invite others to join us for this exciting session.

The meeting is Saturday, September 9th at the South Valleys Library on Wedge Parkway. The meeting will begin as soon as possible after the library opens at 10 a.m.

As authors, we know writing is hard. Real hard. Brutal even. It’s beyond tough to get the story points right, create compelling characters and avoid the dreaded “mushy middle.” But as the saying goes, if writing was easy, everybody would do it.

Still, it’s in our nature as humans to try to find ways to turn what’s difficult into something less so. In short, we’re looking for a Golden Ticket – a way to make the arduous task of writing easy. That’s why we buy books on characterizations and attend workshops on plotting. But news flash…such a golden ticket doesn’t exist. Why? Because, as with so many things in writing, an author’s process is subjective.

That’s right. Subjective. The concept we all love to hate. A writing method which works for Author A, probably won’t work for Author B. Or for you. Does this mean you should stop trying to better your craft? Absolutely not!! It just means you can’t take everything that anyone says as gospel. You need to glean the tidbits which work for you because – and here’s the kicker –you have a writing process too. One unique to you, and you alone. So read those books and attend those workshops on writing, but remember…there’s no golden ticket. Just a lot of hard work.

Lynda Bailey

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which is November. The objective of the event is for participants to write a 50,000-word novel during the month in order to encourage writers to focus on writing. It is an attainable goal and the organization provides many motivators to help writers achieve it.

To assist on the local level, the national organization appoints a volunteer Municipal Liaison (ML) for each region or city who helps to organize writing events and provide general encouragement throughout the month. This year, our region has two ML’s handling the tasks, Rene Averett and Jennifer Baumer, listed as Lily Wolfe and Jenna Stone on the regional page. Since they both live in Reno, they will be looking for people in Carson, Minden, Fallon, and Tahoe to assist with physical write-ins.

If you are interested, you are invited to join the NaNo Reno Facebook page. Go to  You can also contact Rene at for more information. For more about the program, visit

Agent Jen Hunt with HSW President Matt Bayan at the July HSW meeting. Jen talked about submitting to an agent and things to avoid saying in your query letters.

Reno Comic Con Booth Opportunity

The Reno Sands Comic Con is returning on September 23rd & 24th.  It is not on a par with the bigger Comic Cons, but it is more affordable for vendors. Along with another Reno writer, Rene Averett will have a booth under Pynhavyn Press in the Dealer’s Room.  If you are a science fiction or fantasy writer, this is a good opportunity to get your book on display and possibly sell a few copies. The booths run $110 for the weekend. For more information, go to

Critique Group Happenings

Critique Group Wrangler Nicole is now putting together groups for writers of non-fiction, short stories, and  novels. If you’d like to start or join one of these groups, contact her today!

Short Story Reminder

Don’t forget the Short Story Contest entry deadline is coming up in two months. If you haven’t written it yet, stop procrastinating and do it! Write in September. Edit and polish in October. Submit in November. Did we mention you could win a CASH prize plus bragging rights?

Editing Lingo 101

 Bringing in the Experts

If you’re publishing your work in the traditional fashion, or if you’re an indie author, you’ll need to understand the world of editing. I’ve had many questions at our meetings on editing and in what order it needs to be done.  Today, I’m introducing a Development Editor.

Developmental Editing
The first stage after you write a book is developmental editing. Better yet, have this person in place as you write.

What Do They Do?
A developmental editor’s job is to pick apart all the pieces of your manuscript and help you put them back together better and stronger.

A great developmental editor is more of a guide than a collaborator, although you’ll need someone that you get along well with and who can nudge you in the right ways. This editor should always specialize in your genre.

Basically, you want someone who can point out the flaws in your writing, as well as the things you’re doing well, and help you figure out ways to fix the things that aren’t working and amp up the things that are.
Developmental edits focus on the big picture: does your book make sense? Is it missing anything? Does it contain too much?

In fiction, that means looking for plot holes, undeveloped characters, weird pacing, strange jumps in point of view, characters who appear and disappear out of nowhere, inconsistencies, and so on.

What Don’t They Do?
In a lot of cases, developmental editors don’t provide copyedits or proofreading. They’re just there to help you whip the structure and function of your book into shape, going over matters of plot, pacing, characterization, and more.

Granted, some aspects of mechanical writing will come into play—if you struggle with certain grammatical rules or spelling issues, that will get addressed—but developmental editors mostly focus on the big picture.

When you’re hiring a developmental editor, be sure that you’re both clear on what exact services the editor provides and how many rounds of revision you’re going to get.

This will be a lengthy relationship, treat picking a developmental editor like picking out a roommate. You’re going to love them, hate them, cry to them, and they’ll see you at your worst, and at your best.

Donna Stegman
Continuity Editor (we’ll get to my specialty next month)

Layouts and edits for the HSW Newsletter are done by Rene Averett. All written content is the property of the authors and HSW. Graphics licensed from Graphics Factory or are public domain.
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