December 2019 Newsletter

High Sierra Writers will meet Saturday
December 14, 2019 at 10 am
at Scheels at Legends Meeting Rooms.

Program: Panel on Editing Your Manuscript – Tips on things you can do to edit your work before anyone else reads it.

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Looking Ahead…

January 11th Meeting is All About Critique Groups

In January, the new critique group wrangler, Linda Enos, will be talking about her plan for the critique groups – what they are, how they work, and how you can get into one.

From the President Matt Bayan

So, you finished NANO. Now what? Bask in your sense of accomplishment if you wrote 50K words. Even if you only wrote 10K. Bask anyway.

Then get your ass back in front of your keyboard. That first draft was the easy part. You now have two large tasks. First, go through the manuscript. and pay attention only to your plot and character development. Don’t stop for spelling corrections. You need to see if your story works. Rewrite. Revise. Rethink. Then crank out a second draft. And a third. As many as it takes for you to feel comfortable that the story and characters make sense.

The second big task is to go through and look at detail. Root out passive verbs. Correct spelling. Shake mediocre sentences by the neck and make them more effective. Convert telling to showing.

If you feel fairly comfortable about the state of your manuscript, now you need to run it through a critique group. This is free and provides feedback from actual readers. The group members will usually find the plot holes that you didn’t notice. They’ll identify the vague parts where you need better writing.

After they slice and dice you, go back to your keyboard and do a re-write.

Rinse and repeat.

Go through another critique group? Yes, or trusted beta readers.

When you’ve done all you think you can do, then look for an editor to give it the finishing touches.

Short-cut this process at your peril.

And Happy belated Thanksgiving to all.


The Next Step is Editing

Don’t send your manuscript off to an editor or an agent as soon as it’s done. You need to take a few editing steps of your own before passing it on to anyone else. 

Anytime you finish a first draft of your manuscript, whether it is a NaNoWriMo novel or otherwise, you need to do some editing on it before it’s ready for anyone else to read, let alone be sent to an editor or an agent. Your work is judged by the first read when someone else sees it, so you want it to be as clean and well-crafted as you can get it before it goes out. But how do you do that?

At our next meeting, we’re doing a panel discussion of what steps you can take to get your novel ready for other readers. What tools can you use? How can you build more tension? Linda Enos and Rene Averett will be directing the panel, giving tips and suggestions to help you do the best job you can.

But they need some help from each of you. Bring in your method for editing that first draft, what things you look for, and how you approach it. Also bring in any paragraphs or lines in your own work that you think need to be rewritten or punched up to make them more effective. We’re going to rewrite a few of them.

Keeping Up Your Membership in HSW

At the November meeting, Matt laid down the law when it comes to joining HSW. His view is that if you’ve attended three meetings, which are free and open to the public, and haven’t joined, then why haven’t you joined to help support the organization and the programs we can bring to you each year? We figure if you keep coming back, you must be getting something you can use from attending, so go ahead and put out that $25 to be an official member.

So what does membership do for you? First, as a member of HSW, you are eligible to be in one of the critique groups we have running, which is a member-only benefit. You also get a member rate on any workshops that we charge for, usually at least $10 less than the general public. We bring in speakers throughout the year and sometimes they are a free to members, but a fee to the general public. You also can add High Sierra Writers Member to your resume and bios when submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher. While it may not sound like a lot, membership in a writing organization shows a commitment to your craft

Sometimes, as happened recently at the Reno Pop Culture Convention, your membership can mean a bonus admission to an event. In this case, HSW members got in free for the meeting and the whole day on Saturday.

In short, membership gives you many benefits as well as supporting a creative organization that will support your efforts to write. Isn’t it a value at $25 a year? So start 2020 off as a member. You can join from our website at

Great Programs Coming Up in 2020!

As we’re looking ahead to 2020, we have some great programs planned to bring in guests to help you with your writing, plotting, and editing. Among them are:
  • Alexanne Stone, who will delve into more details about using body language to give more life to your characters;
  • Anne Hawley and Rochelle Ramirez, certified Story Grid editors, will return with more information on making your plots stronger and your stories tighter,
  • In the fall, New York Times Bestseller Cherry Adair with her popular Plot By Color Workshop, a two-day event that will not only help you with plotting but with all other aspects of writing.

 We will be filling in the calendar with more programs as we can plan them. Nicole made a list of the topics suggested at the November HSW meeting, so we will be looking at those in our planning.

Some of the workshops will have a fee attached as HSW will need to pay the presenters, but HSW members will get a discounted rate. So, there are three good reasons above to be a High Sierra Writers member.


You can renew online at the HSW website. We use PayPal and you can pay by credit card without having a PayPal account. The link from HSW’s site, at the bottom of the previous column, will take you directly to the payment page. Or bring a check or money order to the meeting and give it to Rene.

Recap of the Reno Pop Culture Convention

For three days, the RPCC took over the convention center to bring the Reno area a comic con experience that’s a little different from the last one that came here. Among other things, the RPCC really wanted to feature local writers and set a whole programming track on writing. Some of the panels even gave attendees college credits for attending.

            A writers’ booth from two Denver writers, who came to Reno to show
           the locals how to set up a successful booth. It helps that they are both
           best-selling romance authors.

Several HSW members were on various panels. Matt Bayan did about three a day over the three days. Linda Enos (Lynda Bailey), Teri Green (Elise Manion), Rene Averett (Lillian I. Wolfe), and Jacci Turner also participated on several panels. Some were attended better than others, but all of them were interesting and talked about the real issues we face as writers.

With so many writers with tables in the dealers’ room, located in Artists’ Valley, it was a great opportunity to talk to potential readers and to also network with other writers in the area. Reno has a lot of writers. These panels and the attention to writers is a part of the concept of the RPCC to encourage young people to the arts and particularly to writing.

At the same time, many other panels covered comics, movies, television, and several actors and other creatives also made appearances. If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, this was the place to be.

If the RPCC decides to return to Reno next year, High Sierra Writers will looking at ways to get more involved and get interested people to our meetings. Among other things, we will be considering a dealer room table or two to hand out information and provide a base for any of our members to take turns selling books. We’ll talk about it more when we have more information in the next few months.

Building an Author Website

One of the suggestions during last month’s meeting was more information on how to build an author web site. For many people, it’s easier to have someone build the web site for you, but for those who want or need to do it themselves, several helpful articles and videos on YouTube will talk you through the process. Almost all of them use WordPress to power their sites as it’s the easiest one to work with and customize.

Donna Stegman suggested as one that the industry recommends to their authors. You can go directly to to get themes and to pay a small fee for the server to run your web site. If you need to rent space on a server, it will cost some money for it and for your domain name, if you don’t already have one. On the plus side, they will help you if you have problems with your site.  Check around for web server services or …

Go here to see the top 10 server sites and links to them.

For how-to videos, check out these:
The Creative Penn – How to Build You Own Author Website in 30 Minutes
Derek Murphy – How to Make an Author Website for Yourself
Vivian Reis – How to Create an Author Website



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