HSW June 2022 Newsletter

Next HSW Meeting 

Saturday June 11 at 10 am
Live at Scheels & Online via Google Meet 

Our guest for this meeting will be David Michael Slater. His new book, The Vanishing, will be published in September, but it’s already stirring up some unusual interest. The blurb for the presale on Amazon reads: To save her best friend from the horrors of Nazi Germany, an invisible girl must embark on an utterly unforgettable journey of redemption and revenge. The Vanishing is fierce and loving, devastating and compelling, a breathtaking blend of history, fiction, and magical realism.

That’s enough to grab attention but the numerous pre-reviews are compelling as well. I am ready to read this book! David will be talking about the story, what inspired it, and how it grew beyond what he expected. He’ll answer questions and maybe read a little bit of it. 

David Michael Slater is an acclaimed author of books for children, teens, and adults. David was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He teaches middle school in Reno, Nevada, where he lives with his wife and son. 

We thought we had the problems with the online connection resolved but last month threw a new one our way. We hope to have a smoother set up for June. 

FIRST PAGES: Matt will be doing First Pages at the meeting if we have submissions.  If you’d like to submit the first page of your book, please send it to Matt by Friday, June 10th. Follow these guidelines. Do not put your name on the page, do include the title and genre. Use 12-point Times New Roman or an equivalent font and double space.

From the President:


In Marketing 101 the first thing they teach is that marketing involves two forces: push and pull. Most of us understand the push part. It involves advertising, social media, and other channels to get your name and your book in front of eyeballs. Push marketing gets confused with sales, since the two are integrally linked.

 But the “pull” part? This is the part that often gets overlooked. It’s not about selling. It’s about pulling information from a variety of sources. It’s an activity that should precede writing a manuscript.

Think of it as a survey. You want to know about your prospective readers. If you could send them a survey, you might ask what genres they like to read, who are their favorite authors, how much time do they spend reading per week, etc. Out of a thousand surveys, you might find that ten percent rate your genre as the one they like most. Let’s say it’s mysteries. You also find that half of the ten percent like police procedurals.

You’ve segmented the market. You can dig deeper, but just these two data points give you some idea of your potential readership. If you were planning a novel about a goat-herder in the Carpathian Mountains who doesn’t like people and wants to find out who’s been cutting his trees, you now know your audience is going to be pretty meager. You might still write the book, but market research is foreshadowing low revenue.

Segmenting the market also means looking at other factors. Where do people buy books? Today most books are sold online. But millions of books are published every year. Even if a small niche market exists, it can still sell a lot of books. An example would be the PX stores on military bases. If you have a book with a military twist, a paperback version could sell better to a military audience than the average novel. Why a paperback? Because troops go on maneuvers or deployments where they may not have internet access. They can buy a paperback, throw it into a duffel bag, and read it no matter where they are sent.

Just this small example of employing pull marketing shows the path that can then inform your book’s topic matter as well as how and where to later focus your push marketing.

By brainstorming about marketing early in your writing project, you can focus on a mix of factors that could lead to better success than writing something and then wondering what to do with it.


Learn to Write a Novel

Jacci Turner is presenting another class on how to write a novel Full details are in the graphic below. If you have friends who want to learn how to do it or if you need a refresher, here’s a great opportunity to learn for free.

Need a Critique Group?

Interested in joining a critique group? If so, contact Linda Enos. Right now, she’s got folks looking for other non-fiction writers as well as those of us who’ve finished their manuscripts.

Are you interested in flash fiction? We have a member who wants to start a flash fiction critique group and is looking for like-minded people. If you’re interested in it or learning to write super-short fiction, please contact Linda. 

For queries about anything critique group related, contact Linda at Lynda.r.bailey@gmail.com.

Results of Our Poll

Sadly, we didn’t have many responses, but of the ones who did, here’s what we learned.

The top six program interest subjects are Marketing, Character Development, Writing Craft, Social Media Platform, Blurb Writing, and Plotting.

Writing Contest categories are First Chapter, Short Story, and Flash Fiction.

We had a few suggestions that we’d like to explore at a future meeting to see how everyone feels about them.

Darcie Chan’s Query Letter

Bestselling Novelist Darcie Chan was our guest at May’s meeting via Google Meet. Unfortunately, we encountered a technical problem we couldn’t resolve and she couldn’t hear us. So we resorted to typing all our questions in the chat and she graciously answered them. Rene recorded the chat and she is working on editing it. When it is completed, she’ll make sure Darcie is okay with posting it, then put it on the High Sierra Writers You Tube Channel. One of the questions asked was about her successful query letter to gain an agent. She offered to share her letter with us, so here it is:

[This is the letter that ultimately worked for me, after countless revisions, helpful suggestions from many people…near the end, after all the revisions, this was generating about a 30-40-percent rate of requests for fulls/partials:]

Dear _____:

I am seeking literary representation for my novel, THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE, a story of uncommon generosity set in a small New England town.

Disfigured by the blow of an abusive husband, and suffering her entire life with severe social anxiety disorder, the widow Mary McAllister spends almost sixty years secluded in a white marble mansion overlooking the town of Mill River, Vermont. Her links to the outside world are few: the mail, the media, an elderly priest with a guilty habit of pilfering spoons, and a bedroom window with a view of the town below.

Most longtime residents of Mill River consider the house and its occupant peculiar, though insignificant, fixtures. An arsonist, a covetous nurse, and a village idiot are among the few who have ever seen Mary. Newcomers to Mill River–a police officer and his daughter and a new fourth grade teacher–are also curious about the reclusive old woman. Although most of the townspeople have never met Mary and never will, she knows them very well. In trying to provide her a sense of community, Father O’Brien tells Mary about the other people in Mill River–the people she cannot bear to meet. Over the years, Mary comes to care deeply for her neighbors and takes it upon herself to help them in times of need. With Father O’Brien’s assistance, she becomes a secret benefactor. Only after Mary’s death does the priest reveal her generosity.

THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE is my first novel. I am an attorney with the Office of the Legislative Counsel, United States Senate, where I have primary responsibility for drafting environmental and natural resource legislation. I have an undergraduate degree in English from Indiana University.

I believe that my novel would appeal to women of all ages who enjoy the emotional pull typical of women’s fiction but prefer a suspenseful, less formulaic plot. I would be delighted if you would consider THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE for representation. A synopsis and sample chapters, as well as the completed manuscript (approximately 98,000 words), are available at your request.

Thank you for your attention to my letter. I look forward to hearing from you.



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