July 2019 Newsletter


Saturday, July 13 at 10 A.M. 
At Scheels at Legends, 1200 Scheels Drive, Sparks, NV

Book Blurbs and Query Letters

Is your book blurb effective?
Will your query letter intrigue a potential agent or publisher? 

Good blurbs and query letters are essential in getting the attention of potential readers, agents, and publishers. 

You also need them if you’re entering the writing contest coming up in August, so our focus for the July meeting is to work on these important, but not as simple as you think, elements. We’re going to spend time at the July meeting working on these two important components of the entry.

Along with the book cover, your back cover blurb (or the one that is featured on Amazon) is your introduction to potential readers. Between the two, they have to be eye-catching and offer the reader a hook into buying your book. Or, at least, opening it to the first page. 

As for the query letter, that needs to have the right tone and make an agent or publisher want to read your pages and, ideally, the whole book. The blurb is part of the query letter, but so is your greeting, how you present yourself, and the professional image you present.

Whether you’re submitting for the contest or not, you still need to sharpen these skills. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Working in groups, we will try to help each other write the perfect blurb for your book or book idea.

The meeting will include:


Bring in the first page of your story or novel! It’s the most important page in your manuscript, so let’s talk about how to get it right. Completely anonymous. Turn in your first page to Matt Bayan at the start of the meeting. Don’t put your name on the page, but please show the title and genre of the work. Print on letter paper, 1-inch margins, preferably 12 point in Times New Roman or Arial (14 pt would help Matt maintain his eyesight).

From the HSW President

Last week I had an editing client call me in a panic. Why? Because he “lost” his manuscript.

“What do you mean, you lost it?” I asked.
Lady jumping on computer.
“My computer. The hard drive crashed. I can’t get to anything.”

“You don’t have a back-up system?”


Then he said, “I know I should, but I never set something like that up.”

Now, frankly, I wanted to say to him that his dumb ass deserved having to re-type the manuscript from his hard copy. If he had one. Instead, I told him I would email him the last copy he sent to me.

His response? “But I’ve made changes since I sent you that version.”

I said, “Well, you can either make those same changes from my version or you can start from scratch. Which do you think will be less work?”

Then I said, “Wait a minute. You sent the manuscript to me as an email attachment. You should still have that in your sent emails.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said.

Which got me to thinking. First, you’re playing with fire if you haven’t set up a back-up protocol on your computer. For myself, every file I have ever created exists not only on a primary external drive, but is backed up every day to two (yes, two) other external drives plus to a secure back-up provider in the cloud. My computer can crash or my house can burn down, and I will be able to recover all my data.

Now, you may not be as finicky as me about my data, so at least invest $20 in a flash drive and every time you finish a writing session, save a copy to the flash drive and keep it away from the computer. If you have a fireproof file cabinet or safe, keep it there.

Plan B? Email each version of your manuscript to yourself. Every time you finish a writing session.

You’ll save yourself a very painful experience because of this immutable fact: Eventually every hard drive dies. Don’t let your hard work die with it.


I have to add a comment here.When you are writing, back up frequently. Even though WORD has a timed backup, it isn’t saving it to a file you can easily recover if the computer crashes. I know several writers who lost chapters because they didn’t have a saved copy and the computer crashed. — Rene


Novel Contest Entries Due Next Month

We’ve mentioned it numerous times over the past year, and it’s now almost upon us. You have about one month to get your submission ready. All the rules and instructions are posted on the High Sierra Writers web site at http://highsierrawriters.org/2018-2019-novel-writing-contest/


Please read these through and follow the instructions. Do not call or email Donna Stegman to ask for details about the process. They are posted. We will go through them at the July meeting. If you have any questions, we will answer them there.

Plotting Think Tank Meetings

We held the first  meeting of this group that HSW members can drop in on to get help with plot challenges in your work or any other writing roadblocks that present themselves. Using the synergy of the group, the idea is to help generate ideas to solve the problems.

When she spoke to us a couple of years ago, Heather Petty advised us to get our protagonist up a tree then set the tree on fire, but how does the hero get out of the burning tree? That’s where you might need some ideas to find a clever and unique way to do it. Answers aren’t guaranteed, but the group is likely to generate possibilities that might trigger a better idea for you.

Meetings will be the last Friday evening of the month at the International House of Pancakes, 9786 S Virginia Street in the Win-Co shopping center. It starts at 6:30 pm and runs until about 8:30 or so. Bring any questions or challenges you have and also be ready to help others.

Food and dink are available at IHOP. They graciously offered their meeting space at the back on the right side.

Hope to see you on July 26th at 6:30 pm.


As we’ve reached the half-way point of the year, we are dropping the price for New Memberships to $12.50 from now until October. After that, the new membership will be $25, but will be for the remainder of 2019 and 2020. 
We have quite a few active members who have not renewed for 2019. The reduced rate does not apply to renewals. Please pay the annual fee. Remember your membership gains you the benefits of reduced fees for guest speakers, participation in critique groups, plotting group, and entry in the contest. If you are not a paid member, you will not be eligible to enter the contest next month. If you are not certain of your status, contact Rene at ruamor@sbcglobal.net to inquire.
Our membership fee helps us to bring in speakers and to pay for the use of the meeting room and our post office box as well as a few miscellaneous bills, such as supplies. 


Due to a mix-up at the post office, we now have a new box. Please send any snail mail payments or correspondence to our new address: 

High Sierra Writers
PO Box 12241 
Reno, NV 89510



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.