MWA Newsletter Spring 2017 Print

Editor's Note

By Barbara Morrison

As we emerge from winter hibernation, some of us find it useful to evaluate our progress against all those goals we set back in January. How are you doing? Is there anything that MWA can do to help you achieve your writing goals? Let us know! You can contact any member of the board via http://marylandwriters.org/board.php or email info@marylandwriters.org.

For the newsletter, members are encouraged to submit announcements of awards or publication, questions for our writers’ advice column, and articles for possible inclusion. Articles may include interviews with writers or guest speakers, book reviews, how-to advice, member profiles, and member surveys, among other subjects of interest to writers. This is a good way to build publishing credentials.

Send your submissions to newsletter@marylandwriters.org. Submissions must be emailed; no hard copies will be accepted. Please include a brief bio (75 words maxumum).

Happy writing! Please let us know what else you might like to see in this, your newsletter.

 

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MWA Conference

The Writing Roller Coaster

Those who attended the 2017 Maryland Writers Association conference experienced a day of education, food, and coffee (of course). Thank you for giving us the ability to host this event for you. 

Deaver.jpg
Jeffrey Deaver and
Teen Club Members

The day began with a keynote breakfast featuring Maria V. Snyder. Snyder’s speech detailed the ups and downs of her career. She spoke of her career change from meteorologist to writer and how the roller coaster will rise and fall; there are twists and turns, but it is always moving. Your writing career is much like a roller coaster. 

At the conclusion of breakfast we dove into three hours of workshops. In Pitch Perfect with editor Austin Camacho we learned to pitch our books to agents and editors.  At the agent and editor panels attendees received answers and information that only the industry pros can provide. Jenny Yacovissi, president of the Annapolis chapter, led an informative workshop on taking aspects from real life and translating them into the fictional world you’re creating, while MWA president Eileen McIntire took us on a journey of the importance of critique groups.

The keynote lunch featured Jeffery Deaver. While the food was delicious, Deaver’s humor stole the show.  He based his speech on a book he’s writing about writing, saying “I think rejection and criticism is very important, it can give us feedback.” It’s important to remember that even bestselling authors are rejected, sometimes by agents and other times by their readers.

Gilstrap Workshop
John Gilstrap's
Workshop

After lunch we attended more workshops and panels. The Query and First Page panels were given rave reviews, and we fully anticipate returning them in 2018. John Gilstrap, a keynote for next year (spoiler!) did a two-hour workshop on thriller writing.

In the end, all of the workshops were well attended and well presented. The agents and editors were fun and helpful, sharing their fountain of knowledge with anyone willing to learn. 

Thank you to all of the volunteers who made this happen! From board members to seventeen-year-old Anthony assisting with table tents, the volunteers are the reason MWA was able to host this event. If you moderated a workshop or kept time for a pitch session, thank you. 

If you’re interested in helping with the 2018 conference, we are looking for volunteers to fill these positions: bookstore/author signing, moderators, vendors, donations, registration. Contact conference@marylandwriters.org for more information.

 

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MWA Annual Book Awards

2017 MWA Book Award Winners Announced

This year’s book awards contest was conducted differently than in the past. This year, MWA members could submit their recently published books in four different genres: mystery/thriller, literary/mainstream, historical and science fiction/fantasy. MWA members were the judges, but no one could judge books in a genre to which they submitted an entry.

This year’s winners were:

Historical - Provenance. Donna Drew Sawyer.

Mystery / Thriller - Auburn Ride. David Stever.

Science Fiction / Fantasy / Speculative Fiction - The Enchanted Dagger. Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Literary / Mainstream - A Hundred Veils. Rea Keech.

Watch for announcements about next year's Book Awards coming in May.

 

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MWA News and Updates

Craft & Community: The Value of Joining a Critique Group

by Angela H. Dale

Critique groups can help you improve your writing by offering peer feedback on all aspects of the craft, from language to plot to character development, all in an environment of encouragement and empathy. Critique groups not only provide a fresh perspective from others who are working toward the same goals, but also offer a friendly forum for discussing, and surviving, the ups and downs of the publishing industry.

As a new service, MWA has established a database for those who would like to start or join a new critique group. Members can submit contact information, genre interest, and venue preference (online or face-to-face), and indicate if they are willing to be a new group leader. This information will then be distributed at several points throughout the year to interested writers to help them connect with each other. 

If you are interested in joining or creating a critique group, go to http://marylandwriters.org/Critique_Groups to learn more about existing MWA-sponsored critique groups (or to have your group listed), or to submit your information to the database.

Coming soon: Critique Group Resource Page. If you are aware of useful online resources on how to start or run a critique group, how to provide a thoughtful critique – or receive one --, technical options for online groups, etc., please email your suggestions to critiquegroups@marylandwriters.org for consideration.

 

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Chapter News

Annapolis

The Annapolis chapter meets on the third Wednesday of every month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in Room 205 of the Maryland Hall, located at 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. For all the latest news and information about the Annapolis chapter, visit our website at https://annapolismwa.wordpress.com/ or contact us at mwaa@marylandwriters.org.

Our program for the upcoming quarter:

  • April 19th: Is YA Your Genre? Noted DC author Caroline Bock discusses what it takes to write successfully for a growing audience of increasingly discerning and sophisticated YA readers.  
  • May 17th: Open Mic Night: always a big hit with authors and audiences alike, this is the chance for members to read from in-progress and published material. Start practicing now!
  • June 21st: Be a Social Media Superstar!: Speaker and author Amy Mascott shares tips and tricks for building and getting the most out of your author’s platform, and how to use social media to the very best advantage. 

 

Baltimore

MWAB continues to have exciting monthly sessions. In the January meeting: ‘Poetry Gymnasium’, we discussed Poetic Forms. In February members participated actively on writing the eye/ear grabbing ‘First Page’. In April we will have a presentation on “Designing Book Covers”

We meet at the Cockeysville Recreation Center across from the Cockeysville Library on the last Thursday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m. The Cockeysville Recreation Center is located at 9836 Greenside Drive, Cockeysville, MD 21030. Directions: From the Baltimore Beltway I695, take I83 North to Padonia Rd or take York Road North. Take the Padonia Road exit or turn right E Padonia Rd. Turn left onto Greenside Dr. 9836 is on the left, across the street from the Cockeysville Library. For more information or to be added to the mailing list, contact Dr. Tapendu Basu, tkbasu@verizon.net.

 

Carroll County

The Carroll County chapter meets the second Saturday of the month, ten months of the year, at 1:00 p.m. in the large meeting room of the Finksburg Library 2265 Old Westminster Pike, Finksburg, MD 21048.

Our upcoming speakers are the following:

  • April 8: Children's Author, Sue Reifsnider will present: Write What Ya Know.
  • May 13: Author Tom Glenn will discuss fiction craftsmanship.
  • June 17: Publishing industry insider Julie Castillo presents: So You Want to Write a Book?

 

Charles County

The Charles County chapter meets the third Wednesday of every month on the La Plata campus of the College of Southern Maryland (BI Building, Room 214, 7-8:30 pm).

We have speakers every other month, so we will not have a speaker in May. 

  • April 19: Award-winning poet Christopher Ankey will discuss his collection, Hearsay, and the ins-and-outs of working with a small publisher.
  • June 21: Creative Writing Professor John Kulikowski will discuss the craft of short story writing.

 

Howard County

The Howard County Chapter has lots going on this spring. Join us on the third Thursday of every month at 7:00 PM at the Owen Brown Community Center, 6800 Cradlerock Way. Columbia, MD 21045 (except November and December). All MWA members are invited to join us!

  • April 20, 2017: How to Make Editors Want Your Book: A Look from Both Sides of the Slush Pile. Come learn what works and what doesn't from Toby Devens. We’ll discuss all kinds of editing tips and explore the editing process from delicate pruning to slash-and-burn. 
  • May, 18 2017: Need a laugh? We have just the thing. Help us create a wacky story in this adult Mad Libs workshop.  
  • June 16, 2017: HoCo will hold its annual elections followed by a poetry and short works open mic. Night. Come read or sit back and enjoy listening.

For those of you who missed our Act It Out workshop in February, here are some pictures.

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Lower Eastern Shore

The Lower Eastern Shore chapter meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m. at Salt Water Media in downtown Berlin, Maryland. We don’t have speakers or topics. We just get together and hang out—a cheese and crackers and wine sort of thing in which we talk to each other about what’s going on and let the conversations just meander where they will. Often, one or two members will offer up a reading of whatever they’re working on. Informal and casual and light and relaxed: after all, that’s how life at the beach works.

Updates from the Lower Eastern Shore Chapter: 

  • We sponsored the Salisbury Poetry Week which will run March 31 to April 6. It will feature poet James Arthur whose works have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Poetry magazines. There will be a series of workshops for kids. It’s an incredible opportunity for kids on the shore. More info / events can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/easternshorevoices/
  • The “So, What’s Your Story?” podcast has new episodes coming out with folks like Nancy Sakaduski of Cat and Mouse Press, Emily Rich of the Delmarva Review, and Michael O’Leary who played Dr. Rick Bauer on the CBS drama “The Guiding Light.” More info and previous episodes can be found at www.sowhatsyourstorypodcast.com 
  • Various members of our chapter will be involved in the big book event in Salisbury, Maryland on May 20th. Member Andrew Heller will be helping with a kid’s theater program. (I’ll have more info on this soon - we’re still getting details on it.)
  • Stephanie Fowler, president of the chapter, was named as a judge for this year’s Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story contest … folks can check out submission info here: http://catandmousepress.com/contest/

 

Montgomery County

The Montgomery County chapter alternates meetings between the first Wednesday evening or Saturday morning of the month at the Mid-County Community Rec Center on Queensguard Road, Silver Spring. Please see https://mwamontgomery.com/ for specific times and dates.

  • May 13: Judy Kelly speaks on the Importance of Dialog.
  • June 7: Panel Discussion – Paths to Publishing.
  • July 15: Jenny Yakovissi – Publishing & Publicity.

 

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Member News

Barbara Shamp’s new novel, Third Haven, just won a Delaware Press Association award - 1st place for fiction.

Ben Beck reported that National Geographic carried an article related to his book, Animal Tool Behavior. The online version was released March 2nd.

Diana McDonough released her new book, Stuck in the Onesies.

Stephanie Fowler’s article “Life With Louise: A Kidney Transplant (Love) Story” was recently featured on the Medium homepage.

Frank S. Joseph’s novel-in-progress To Do Justice is a winner in the Scintillating Starts contest (www.writeradvice.com). To Do Justice is the third, final instalment of his “Chicago Trilogy.” The first book, To Love Mercy, was published in 2006 (Mid Atlantic Highlands). The second instalment, To Walk  Humbly, is as yet unpublished.

Carlee and Howard Hallman have published Moving On: Prayers for Relocating to a Retirement Community. They have also placed the prayers on the web at prayersformovingon.org where they can be viewed free of charge. Carlee is also the author of Abide with Me: Prayers for Life’s Eventide, published in 2006 by Abingdon Press.

C.M. Mayo has recently published Catamaran (her translation of a short story by mexican writer Rose Mary Salum) and Tiferet (an excerpt from her book about the secret book by the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution). This year she had the honor of being elected to the Texas Institute of Letters. She continues working on a book tentatively entitled World Waiting for a Dream: A Turn in Far West Texas, and hosting podcasts apropos of that work in her "Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project" (20 of a projected 24 posts so far). Listen in for free anytime at her webpage www.cmmayo.com

The Naval Institute Press published Tom Glenn’s novel, Last of the Annamese, on March 15, 2017. The story is set during the fall of Saigon, which Glenn lived through, escaping under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city. Annamese is Glenn’s fourth novel. He also has 17 short stories in print and is currently pitching a fifth novel to publishers.

Join Charles Heller for the launch of his third book, Ready, Fire, Aim! An Immigrant’s Tales of Entrepreneurial Terror, on Saturday, June 10, 2:00 pm, at the Annapolis Bookstore, Maryland Avenue, Annapolis.

Meg Eden’s debut novel Post-High School Reality Quest will be released June 13, 2017 by California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Books. "This may be one of the most wildly original YA entries for 2017,” says Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch, coming May 2017 from Harlequin Teen. For more information, see www.megedenbooks.com.

Shirley Brewer’s Bistro in Another Realm, her first full-length poetry collection, will be released in July 2017 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. It is available now for preorder at an almost 40% discount at http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/. A former MWA board member and longtime MWA volunteer, Shirley is also the author of two chapbooks: After Words from Apprentice House and A Little Breast Music from Passager Books. For more information, see http://apoeticlicense.com/.

 

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Teen Writing Club Program

MWA’s Teen Writing Club Program continues to prosper and expand. We recently opened a club in Annapolis and another is set to begin on Jan. 11 in Catonsville, marking a much-needed return to Baltimore County. That will bring our total to 13 clubs, serving more than 100 teens aged 11-17.

All of the clubs operate in partnership with a local library. MWA provides a volunteer leader, while the library provides space and logistical support. Most clubs meet twice a month, although some meet weekly and others meet once a month. The format is largely up to the leader, but the aim is to foster a constructive environment in which teens interested in creative writing can share their work and get peer feedback and support. In addition to critiques of work brought to club meetings, meetings include writing exercises and prompts, conversations about the writing process, and an occasional visit from a guest author. The clubs have also joined together to publish two anthologies of teen works (Emerging Voices, Vols. 1 and 2). https://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Voices-Poetry-Prose-Maryland/dp/1530756669/

Club leaders often find they learn as much from the teens as the other way around, and there is nothing more rewarding than watching these young writers grow. Many have been in the program for three or four years. "The time spent with them is a rewarding break from my own work,” says Christy Lyons, leader of the Germantown club, now in its third year. “Often I leave the meeting refreshed and inspired by their creativity and their eagerness to play with different ideas, words, and styles,"

In addition to the clubs in Annapolis, Catonsville, and Germantown, we have clubs in Silver Spring, White Oak, Burtonsville, Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Odenton, Potomac, and Kensington.

If you’re interested in volunteering, know some teen writers who may be interested, or just want more information, you can contact the program by email at teenwriters@marylandwriters.org.

 

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Announcements

Gilstrap Workshop
Dr. Tapendu Basu presents MWA President
Eileen McIntire with a generous donation
from Anirban Basu, CEO of Sage Policy
Group, to fund the print edition of the
January 2017 issue of Pen in Hand

Pen in Hand

Pen in Hand is MWA’s biannual literary magazine. Members are welcome to submit poetry, short stories, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and artwork. All submissions are subject to the editor's discretion (i.e., not all submissions will be published). Submissions must be emailed; no hard copies will be accepted. Please include a brief bio (75 words maxumum).

All photos must be formatted as follows: jpeg or png, max. 300 dpi, black and white. Photos may be resized for publication at the editor's discretion. Title, medium, date, and artist name must be included in all submissions. Please include a brief artist bio (75 words maxumum) and an artist statement describing the work (500 words maximum).

The print edition of the January issue of Pen in Hand is available  on Amazon and other online bookstores. The retail price is $7; MWA President Eileen McIntire suggests chapters use it for prizes and to sell at MWA events for $5. Contact peninhand@marylandwriters.org or your chapter officers for copies to use at MWA events. https://www.amazon.com/Pen-Hand-Literary-Maryland-Association/dp/0961451998/

 

Workshops 

Dale Lehman has been running monthly creative writing workshops at the Essex Branch of the Baltimore County Library, 1110 Eastern Blvd, since November of last year. Dates for the next few workshops are April 3, 2017, May 8, and June 12, 2017. All workshops are  6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Programs are not set for these workshops yet. For information or to submit suggestions, please contact Dale at dale.lehman@onevoicepress.com

One Day Only Workshop, Saturday 22 April, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., The Writer's Center, Bethesda MD. C.M. Mayo will be offering a one day only workshop for both beginning and advanced writers on the Literary Travel Memoir. More about that workshop at https://www.writer.org/online-workshops?&nccsm=21&__nccspID=5479

10 Easy Steps to Build Your Platform, Saturday 29 April, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Hoffberger Hall, Room 134, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Baltimore, MD 21204. In this workshop, small business owner and award-winning writer Barbara Morrison will explain how your platform helps you promote your work, and she will provide ten easy steps for building or improving your platform. Register at http://www.bcartsguild.org/news/register-for-classes/

Exploring Boundaries: The Intersection of Memoir and Poetry, Sunday 30 April, 2 – 5 p.m., Columbia, MD. Join memoirists and poets Ann Bracken and Barbara Morrison for this unique workshop. In addition to writing exercises and discussions that explore memoir writing and the place of poetry in exploring the past, we will look together at your work and the revision process. Bring your work and join us for an engaging afternoon of writing. For more information: http://bmorrison.com/events.

 

Readings

Ann Bracken and Barbara Morrison will be reading Saturday, May 13 at 2 p.m. at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Roland Park Branch, 5108 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210. They will share poems that give voice to people who are often silenced. Whether it’s children with special needs, young mothers on welfare, teachers under stress, or children pushed aside in a family, both Bracken and Morrison give voice to the vulnerable. Join us for an engaging and provocative afternoon of poetry. Free.

 

Contests 

The popular Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest is now accepting submissions. The contest, now in its fifth year, invites writers to submit short (500-3,500 word) “beach reads,” the kinds of stories people enjoy reading while on vacation. Each story must incorporate the year’s theme and have a connection to Rehoboth Beach (the writer does not have to live in Rehoboth). This year’s theme is “Beach Life.” Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach is the sponsor for the contest, which offers a $500 cash prize for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place. The top 20-25 stories chosen by a panel of judges will be included in the book Beach Life, which will be published by Cat & Mouse Press by the end of the year. Contest guidelines and entry information are available at www.catandmousepress.com. The contest deadline is July 1. 

Baltimore Science Fiction Society's Amateur Writing Contest is open for entries. The contest is open to residents of Maryland ages 18 and older who do not yet have a professional writing credit to a speculative fiction market. Current students at Maryland colleges and universities aged 18 or above also may enter. There are cash prizes and perks for winners. The contest is free to enter. The deadline for entries for this year's contest is June 16, 2017. Winners will be announced at Capclave 2017. Each entry should be an original short story that includes some speculative element. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, weird, cyberpunk, steampunk, and your fabulous uncategorizable imaginative fictions are all welcome. Further details and instructions for entering can be found at http://www.bsfs.org/bsfsssc.htm. We're looking forward to reading your story!

 

MWA Novel Exchange

So, after months of painstaking work, you’ve finished your novel. It’s been reviewed in 25-page installments by your critique group and you’ve revised and polished and revised again. Now you need a fresh set of eyes, a savvy reader who will look at the novel as a whole and give you constructive feedback.

That’s where the Novel Exchange comes in. It’s a virtual critique group that functions as a matchmaking service, helping you find a suitable reader for your manuscript. And you’ll do the same for them. 

It’s a bit more complicated than that, of course, but you can get all the details by writing to Mark Willen at mark.willen@verizon.net.

 

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Writer's Toolbox

What Makes a Character Memorable? 

by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

When you think about the books you’ve loved over the years, what is it that you remember most? Setting, tone, plot, and themes all contribute to making a novel stand out, but I find that characters stick with the reader longest. In a good book, characters come to life for us. 

What are the traits that make a character memorable for you? Do you want your characters perfect or flawed? Larger-than-life or Everyman? Exotic or familiar? Let’s explore the five traits that make characters memorable.

1. Characters You Love—or Love to Hate: Mysterious, scary, heroic, fascinating, aggravating, evil, charming, sexy: no matter the character you’re looking for, the best ones get a visceral reaction from their audience. It doesn’t even matter whether it’s “I loved her!” or “Oh, I hated her!” In Gone, Girl, author Gillian Flynn went for and achieved the “love to hate” reaction in her readers, who responded with enthusiastic loathing. The worst thing you can ever say about a character is not that you hated him but that you found him uninteresting.

2. Characters You Can Relate To: When a character is familiar to you, especially when she reminds you of a person you already know and love, you’re primed to find that character memorable. Some of the most memorable are the ones who remind us of ourselves. Many women identified with the hilariously flawed heroine of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. As a kid, I loved Jo in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women because she so reminded me of me, or at least the “me” I wanted to be.

3. Characters You’d Like to Know: Often a favorite character is one you wish you knew in real life. As I got to know the characters in my novel Up the Hill to Home, I wanted to spend time with Charley Beck, a funny, easy-going guy who takes life as it comes. It’s also not uncommon to fall a bit in love with that one character you find oh so appealing. Edward Rochester, the mysterious and distant hero of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, was the first character I ever remember swooning over.

4. Characters who are larger than life, perfect, or ideal: For many readers, good fiction means a character who’s bigger or better than the people they actually know. Often, these are the characters we find in genre fiction like romance (Rhett Butler), spy (James Bond, Jason Bourne), and sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian lit (pick one). Of course, a “perfect” character can have flaws—often exactly the flaws that make him even more attractive.

5. Characters who are completely believable: The books I most love feature fully realized, three-dimensional, believable people. This is the trait I strive to achieve when I write. For me, Atticus Finch, hero of Harper Lee’s timeless To Kill a Mockingbird, hits all five of the best character traits: we’re viscerally drawn to him, he’s someone we’d like to know, he’s the best version of the person we’d all like to be, he is heroic in the best sense of an everyday person who stands up and does the unpopular right thing, and yet he is still completely believable.

Jennifer Bort Yacovissi’s debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, tells the story of four generations of a family in Washington, DC, between the Civil War and the Great Depression. Jenny is a member of PEN/America and the National Book Critics’ Circle, and reviews regularly for both the Independent and the Historical Novels Review of the Historical Novel Society. She is serving as chair of the 2017 and 2018 Books Alive! Washington Writers Conference, and is president of the Annapolis chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

 

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Help! Advice for Writers

By Wendy Sand Eckel

Q. Everyone tells me I should join a critique group in order to become a better writer. I'm a bit of an introvert and don't take criticism very well. Is a critique group necessary for finishing my novel and getting published?

A. At some point in the writing process it is time to launch your baby out into the world. Feedback from professionals is an inevitable part of the process. Every agent and editor will do at least one full edit of your work before publication. Critique groups are a great start to becoming comfortable with the revision process and getting your book in the best shape possible.

There are other advantages to joining a critique group. Reading aloud gives you a new perspective on your writing. And although you say you don’t take criticism well, remember, critique groups are about giving praise as well as constructive criticism. Also, writing is a solitary endeavor. Connecting with other writers gets you out into the world. And the best thing? Knowing you are due to read at your next meeting is the perfect incentive to write.

When joining or forming a group, there are a few key components for the experience to be successful and sustainable. First and foremost, there must be an atmosphere of safety. It’s good to come up with a format of how to critique others. A formula such as: praise-constructive feedback-praise, is always good. Guidelines on number of pages and the amount of time each reader is allotted are also helpful. And finally, it’s very important that all members are committed to attend regularly. If someone is erratic in attendance, he/she will incessantly need to be ‘caught up’ on the writing projects.

Groups can consist of a variety of genres or focus on one. I like some diversity in the genre and  writing style. In addition to my mystery series, projects in my critique group include a biography, YA novel, memoir, thriller, and a poetry anthology. If you are in a multi-genre group, remember to keep the nuances of each genre in mind when listening to your fellow group members.

If you are still worried about dipping a toe into the critique group pool, there are a lot of helpful online groups. But it will never replace the friendship, confidence-building, and camaraderie of a face-to-face group. And remember, joining a critique group won’t only make you a better writer, it can give you skills that can make you an even better person.

Good luck and happy writing!

Send your questions to newsletter@marylandwriters.org.

Wendy Sand Eckel is a clinical social worker turned writer. She is the author of Murder at Barclay Meadow, Minotaur Books, 2015 and Death at the Day Lily Café, Minotaur Books, July, 2016, the award-winning Rosalie Hart mystery series set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Death at the Day Lily Café was recently chosen as best cozy mystery of 2016 by Suspense Magazine. Her literary novel, Three Skips of a Stone, won the Maryland Writers’ Association 2016 best novel contest and is currently represented by Ken Atchity of Atchity Entertainment. Eckel is a trained life coach who loves encouraging and supporting her fellow author and aspiring writers. 

Editor’s Note: See our article in this newsletter on MWA’s new and improved critique group services.



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Why Do We Write?

Why I Write

by Janet M. Ruck

I write to get closer to my wild, especially when tame threatens to overtake me. 

When I sit down to write, it’s like meeting myself for the first time. Especially when I take risks with my writing, it’s like, whoa, where have you been all my life? 

When I write, I find myself to be charming, witty and irreverent, qualities that I love. I used to think I needed to look for them in a mate. When I started writing, I found them in myself!

I write to remind myself that my thoughts can stay with me, not just flit away to the next task.

I write to connect with that faraway voice that has always guided, prodded and cajoled me, even and especially when I pretend not to hear it.

I write to fill my head with heart-shaped thoughts when the world is angular and pointy and hurtful.

Each time I write I feel fearless. 

I write to find my awesome self, which is a lifelong process (the writing, as well as the awesomeness).

As a career coach, I advise people to find work they love to be successful, happy and awesome. 

I am merely practicing what I preach.

Janet Ruck is a career coach, trainer and writer. A lifelong journaler, she enjoys laughing and injects humor into situations where possible (and appropriate). Her philosophy is embodied in the quote by late humorist Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’” 


Editor's Note: Take a few minutes, contemplate and if you’re so inclined, write a few sentences that explain why you write. Send your brief essay to the MWA Newsletter, signed or unsigned, and we’ll publish selected results in upcoming issues. It will give us a better understanding of why we do what we do. Join us why don’t you?
Send your essay to: newsletter@marylandwriters.org

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