May 2019 Newsletter

May Meeting

Our May 11th Meeting will feature two Story Grid Editors in the free, open to the public portion of the meeting giving a presentation on the what the Story Grid is and how it can help improve your writing. We will also have First Pages.

New location is Scheels at Legends in Sparks, 1200 Scheels Drive. Parking is free at the south end of Legends facing the entrance. The meeting room is upstairs on the east side when you enter from the south parking lot. We will post signs to show the way.

The regular meeting will be from 10 am to noon, then a break for lunch (lots of places to eat from the cafe downstairs to restaurants and fast food in the area).  In the afternoon, the paid workshop will delve into the nitty-gritty of the Story Grid.See you there!


Last Ten Days to Sign Up for the Story Grid!

Story Grid book coverCalling all authors!  

This is your last chance to sign up for the information-packed, action item-filled Story Grid workshop coming up May 11th (our next meeting date). The Story Grid editors will present to all during the last hour of our regular meeting, and then spend the afternoon dissecting two of our submitted scenes, showing us how to use the Story Grid methods for teasing out IF the scene/story is working, and if not, how to fix it.  

For only $20 (member price, $30 for non members), you’ll get an afternoon of learning with them, and a copy of the Story Grid book by Shawn Coyne ($28 on Amazon) – but hurry, only a few copies are still left!   Sign up via PayPal (no account needed) by going to the HSW website.

Remember that this will be held at Scheels, and if you have any questions, contact Nicole at Nicole@Frens.Land  We also have a chance to mingle with the editors after the workshop over snacks (or dinner) at a location TBD!

Social Media Workshop Rescheduled to June

We have now confirmed Mignon Fogarty for the June 8th meeting that we had to reschedule from April due to a combination of factors. So next month, Mignon will be at Scheels to show us how to use social media to grow our business.

As before, you should bring your laptop, tablet, or whatever you use to post to social media sites so she can give you help with creating posts that are effective. Also bring a spare battery if you have one as we’re not sure how many power plugs might be available. 

If you have not registered for Mignon’s workshop (another morning free, afternoon paid), you can still sign up at our website. It is $30 for members and $50 for non-members, which includes an HSW membership.)


From the President:

Specificity Challenge 

I’ve talked about specificity and how to use it to create an image. Rather than spoon- feed a reader, focusing on one specific quality of a character or setting allows the reader to get more engaged in the writing by filling in the blanks.

Here’s an example:

  1. She was very attractive in her sexy dress. (Ugh)
  2. Her little black dress set off her body perfectly. (Better)
  3. The way she was poured into that little black dress, she could give the Pope a stroke. (More better)

Is #3 good enough or can you jump to a higher level? Try it. Find a vague description in your manuscript and make it more specific.


Novel Contest Deadline is Closing In

If your book is chosen, you get the fantastic opportunity to jump the slush pile and get your query and pages in front of a Big 5 Acquiring Editor. 

How is your novel for the contest coming? Will you be ready to submit it in a little over three months? It is due at the August 10th meeting. 

Check the guidelines on our website to make sure your submission is presented correctly as outlined in the first step. In case you can’t get to the website, here they are.

You must submit pages in this order:

  • Cover sheet with name and title. 
  • Query letter (including word count and genre), 
  • 3-paragraph blurb 
  • First four pages of your manuscript 
  • Pages are to be stapled, not paper clipped, together.

If you are in a critique finish group, get your book wrapped up before the end of June to allow for time for any revisions and polishing you need to make. Use your critique partners to help you with your blurb and your query letter. 

Don’t miss this chance!

About the Query Letter

As if it isn’t hard enough to just sit down and write a novel, edit it, revise it, and pour your heart into it, you now have to write a query letter to a potential agent or editor convincing them to give your book a shot. Like the blurb, this may seem more challenging than writing the book.

Here’s a quick rundown of what the query letter should look like from Writer’s Digest (paraphrased).

If you are emailing, be sure you use a professional email address. Don’t send one from or something like that. Use one that sounds professional and probably includes your name.

Keep it to one page. Agents and editors look for compelling information in concise paragraphs.

Format it to industry standards. For our contest, use white paper, black print, and 12 point Times New Roman type with standard margins. 

Include the date, the editor’s/agent’s name and title, and your name and contact information (address, phone, fax, and e-mail).

Check the agency’s submission guidelines. You can find these on line. Be sure you are submitting to someone who handles your genre.

Make sure everything is spelled correctly, including the agent’s name and agency.

For lots more information on the query letter and an example, see the whole article.


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