By Barbara Morrison, editor
Joy, health, love and peace!
I often think of that traditional new year’s wish. It seems to incorporate everything we could wish for ourselves and others. As you open your fresh, new calendars and set goals for 2018, remember that MWA is here to support you.
Let us help you promote your work! Send news of your awards, publication, or upcoming author events (readings, workshops, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is one of your goals to put more effort into submitting your work? Send it to us! We’d love to see your articles for possible inclusion: things like interviews with writers or guest speakers, reviews of writing craft books, how-to advice, member profiles, member surveys, and other subjects of interest to writers. We’re also looking for your questions for our writers’ advice column or an entry for our Why I Write column.
Send your submissions to email@example.com. 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.
By Eileen Haavik McIntire
The beginning of a new year divides the past from the future. It’s a time to reflect and evaluate, to move forward with the positive and discard the negative, to reshape our future. So it might be a good time to consider a few recent obituaries of lives lived passionately and well that can provide inspiration and possibilities for us writers.
Mystery writer Sue Grafton, best-selling crime novelist, died Dec. 28 at age 77 in Santa Barbara, CA. She wrote the popular “alphabet” mysteries featuring Southern California detective Kinsey Millhone. She published the first of her Milhone mysteries, “A Is for Alibi” in 1982. She reached the 25th letter of the alphabet with her final book, “Y Is for Yesterday,” published in August. As reported in the Washington Post obituary, Ms. Grafton once said, “My goal in life is to write one perfect mystery.”
Moving on to a life of courage, there is Jeannie de Clarens, née Rousseau, a WW2 spy who died in August, 2017. She was 20 when World War II broke out. In 1941, she worked in a position that gave her access to tremendous amounts of intelligence about the German military. Then she happened to meet Georges Lamarque, an old acquaintance who was building an intelligence gathering network within the Resistance. She agreed to supply him with the German intelligence she was collecting. Their collaboration led to the British learning of the German secret weapons program behind the V1 and V2 missiles. When the report reached Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister decided that the site where these superweapons were being developed must be attacked “on the heaviest possible scale.” The attack succeeded in delaying progress on the bombs by several weeks.
Ben Barres, a transgender neurobiologist, died Dec. 27 at his home in Palo Alto, CA. He made groundbreaking discoveries regarding the structure and function of the brain and also, as a transgender man, became an outspoken opponent of gender bias in science.
Rose Marie, wisecracking wit on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” died Dec. 28 at her home near Los Angeles. She was a child star in the 30s and performed throughout her life. At 94, she began using social media, and her Twitter feed attracted more than 100,000 followers. Here’s the line from the Washington Post obituary that made me sit up: “My father worked as an arsonist for al Capone,” she told People magazine in 2016. “He used to burn down your warehouse if things weren’t going the right way, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was a child star and to me Al was my ‘Uncle Al.’”
Success, Courage, Persistence, and Humor—You can find them all in the obituaries.
From Brain to Bookshelf
The 2018 Maryland Writers’ Conference, From Brain to Bookshelf, is shaping up to be a great event!
New to 2018 is the conference website! Make your way to MarylandWritersConference.com to find all conference related information
On Friday, March 23rd Hollywood expert storyteller, Michael Hauge, will present a full day workshop on Story Mastery, a workshop for novelists and screen writers alike.
Running parallel to the full day workshop are two half day workshops. The Maryland poet laureate, Stanley Plumly, will present a three hour workshop on Friday morning “Writing Better Poems.” Friday afternoon Barbara Morrison will present a four hour “Sharing our Stories” workshop, teaching attendees to use the techniques from fiction in their memoir and other nonfiction works.
Friday night, bring us the best of your worst for a purple prose dinner! Share a 3-5 minute purple prose piece with the audience.
On Saturday, Michael Hauge and NYT bestseller John Gilstrap will both present keynote speeches. In between the speeches you can fill your day with workshops, panels and agent/editor pitches.
Stay for the end of the event to help MWA celebrate our 30 year anniversary.
Register today at MarylandWritersConference.com!
MWA Annual Book Awards
The 2018 MWA Novel Contest is closed for submissions. This year’s entries look interesting and span literary, historical, mystery, and sci-fi genres.
MWA members get to read and rate the novels, which are offered at a reduced price. It takes a village and we need every member’s help! Scoring period is OCTOBER 1, 2017 – FEBRUARY 28, 2018. Awards will be announced at the MWA conference, March 24, 2018.
The February deadline for the 2018 MWA Novel Contest is fast approaching, so please log in to marylandwriters.org and get reading.
The Annapolis chapter meets on the third Wednesday of every month from 7:00 – 8:30 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our program for the upcoming quarter:
- January 17th: Jeanne Addams will present “A Body Disposal Primer for Writers”.
- February 21st: Ally E. Machate will present “Ghostwriting: Secret and Not-So-Secret Collaborations
- March 21st: Barbara Morrison will present a workshop on Creative Nonfiction.
MWAB continues to have exciting monthly sessions. 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 on 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, email@example.com.
- January 25th: Jeanne Addams will present “A Body Disposal Primer for Writers”.
- February 22nd: Anne M. Higgins will present a poetry writing workshop
- March 29th: Ken Brown will present “The Dynamics Of Spoken Word Poetry”.
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:
- January 13th: MWA member Mary Stojak will talk about the do's and don'ts of query letters
- February 10th: Romance writing with author Dani Pettrey
- March 10th: The Oblate's Confession author William Peak will discuss historical fiction
The Charles County chapter meets the third Wednesday of every month, 7-8:30 p.m.. We are currently negotiating a new meeting place. Please check the chapter website for updated meeting location, mwacharles.wordpress.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- January 17th - "Fireside Chat" - We will meet and share works-in-progress, help each other with sticky problems, etc. Also a writing exercise is planned.
- February 21st - James Burd Brewster, author of the Glad To Do It! series of picture books and president of J2B Publishing, will present “Writing and Publishing Children’s Picture books”.
- March 21st - "Fireside Chat"
The Howard County Chapter meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at The Owen Brown Community Center, 6800 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD 21045 (except November and December). All MWA members are invited to join us!
- January 18th: Tiffany Carter will show you how to nail down the basics and create a social media strategy that will work even while you sleep.
- February 15th: Eileen McIntire will discuss the ‘ins and outs’ and ‘pros and cons’ of self-publishing.
- March 15th: Jenny Yacovissi will consider establishing publishing objectives, the pros and cons of small press publishing and getting prepared for your first release.
You can contact us at: email@example.com and please feel free to join us.
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.
Lower Eastern Shore Chapter President Stephanie Fowler was invited to be part of Medium.com's pilot audio program. The longform nonfiction website sough her permission to have a professional voice actor record her essay "No Accident" for their premium subscribers. Here's a link to the story.
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.
- January 13th: Author Panel: Tips on Marketing and Indie vs Traditional Publishing.
- February: No meeting.
- March: TBD.
Mark Willen is pleased to report that the second novel in his Jonas Hawke series, Hawke’s Return, was published in September. It deals with the timely topic of sexual harassment. In this fictional story, a teenager accuses a key official of a local charity of blackmailing her for sex—and then abruptly disappears—turning a mystery into a crisis and raising concerns about the girl’s safety, the charity’s survival, and the career and reputation of a man who says he is innocent. It’s up to Hawke to sort through the conflicting, unverifiable accounts—no easy task even for the man known as the sage of Beacon Junction, Vermont.
The third novel in the series, tentatively titled Hawke’s Last Case, is due out in September. All are from Pen-L Publishing and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. For more information, visit markwillen.com.
Terri Simon announces the publication of her first chapbook Ghosts of My Own Choosing by Flutter Press. The chapbook is available through the publisher’s website flutterpress2009.blogspot.com and on Amazon.
Terri has degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and Virginia Tech and works in IT. She lives in Laurel, Maryland with her husband and dogs. Her interests include fountain pens, hand drums, spirituality, and gaming. In addition to her chapbook Ghosts of My Own Choosing, her work has appeared in a number of online magazines, and several anthologies.
Cory Schulman announces the publication of The World of Comics, a coming-of-age novel about a comic book collector whose passion for collecting becomes an obsession that threatens his way of life. It is available through his company bestsellerpublications.com or the Curious Iguana bookstore in Frederick, MD.
Judy Kelly announces the publication of her novel Blessings and Curses, coming in February 2018 from Black Rose Writing. Olivia Douglas is undecided about becoming a priest even after she has completed seminary. In order to help her find out whether or not she is led to the priesthood, her parish priest gives her an assignment – to pray with in inmate on death row, a relationship that leads her to a dangerous discovery from her past. http://www.blackrosewriting.com
Judy’s writing credentials include: a published novel, That Ever Died So Young, a finalist in the Somerset Literary and Contemporary Fiction Award 2014; “The Weekend,” a short story, published in an anthology; “The Nun,” a short story, published in an anthology. She has taught writing to high school teachers through the continuing education and certification program at George Mason University through AWP. She currently teaches a Fiction Writing Workshop at Frederick Community College and is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College Germantown where she teaches speech, reading and English.
Teen Writing Club Program
MWA’s Teen Writers’ Club program won a $500 grant from the Constellation Corporation under its Community Champions Program. It’s the second year in a row that the Teen Writers program has been recognized by Constellation. The funds will be used for scholarships so that teens can attend the MWA conference in March and to support program growth.
We are set to open at least one new club in Harford County in March. It will meet at the Bel Air branch of the library. We’re hoping to start a second in Harford shortly after that.
The teen clubs have also published their third annual anthology of writing by members of the teen clubs throughout the states. Emerging Voices, Vol. 3, is available at cost through Amazon.
The teen writing program is always looking to expand. If you’d like to volunteer as leader, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll provide you with details.
Pen in Hand
Pen in Hand is the official literary journal of the Maryland Writers’ Association, edited by Dr. Tapendu Basu. It is published biannually in January and July and distributed online through Star Chapter. Printed copies are also made available. Members are asked to submit poetry, short stories, flash fiction, memoir, nonfiction (including erudite reflection on current events), and artwork. Send submissions to email@example.com. The deadline for the next issue is June 30, 2018.
All submissions are subject to the editor's discretion (i.e., not all submissions will be published). He will edit, organize and prepare the content and arrange for a cover design. Submissions must be emailed; no hard copies will be accepted. Please include a brief bio (75 words maximum). 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 maximum) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or your chapter officers for copies to use at MWA events. Pen in Hand, January 2017, Pen in Hand, July 2017
Workshops Led by MWA Members
One-Day Publishing Workshop
Led by Neal P. Gillan
Saturday 3 February 2018, 10 am-3pm
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Neal P. Gillen will present a one-day workshop on publishing updating the latest developments in the independent publishing world. The presentation reviews the world of independent publishing, examines and compares the leading digital or Print on Demand (POD) publishers, reveals the costs and benefits to writers in the printing packages offered, recommends how to select a publisher, and warns writers to stay away from the costly and unproven marketing packages – some costing upwards of $14,000. The workshop participants would learn how to publish their novel, poetry, family history, cook, photography, how-to, or nonfiction book by a reputable POD publisher and have it listed on Amazon at minimal cost.
Neal P. Gillen is the author of How To Publish Now.
Writing Retreats Led by MWA Members
Time to Write Writers’ Retreat
Led by Barbara Morrison
Friday 21 September to Sunday 23 September 2018
Pinewoods Camp, Inc.
80 Cornish Field Road
Plymouth, MA 02360
$110 tuition, room and board inclusive ($90 early-bird pricing good until 28 Febrauary 2018)
Join us for a weekend of writing in the woods. You’ll have opportunities to critique each other’s work using guidelines that inspire constructive and positive suggestions. Evenings might include readings and games in front of the fire. Most of all, you will have plenty of time to write. Pinewoods is a rustic camp located in a beautiful 25-acre pine and beech forest between Long Pond and Round Pond in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There are lots of trails for walking, two ponds for swimming, and the whisper of pine trees to inspire you. For more information see: http://www.bmorrison.com/events/
Barbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is the author of a memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother, and two poetry collections, Terrarium and Here at Least. Barbara's award-winning work has been published in anthologies and magazines. She provides editing services and conducts writing workshops.
Readings and Signings by MWA Members
At 7:00 p.m. on 9 January, the writer and “Vietnam ‘67” contributor Tom Glenn will give a presentation on the fall of Saigon, which he experienced firsthand as an intelligence officer, at the Howard County Central Library in Columbia, MD.
On Saturday, 13 January, between 1 and 4 pm, Tom Glenn will be joining other authors to celebrate during the Howard County Author Festival. It will be at the Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, Maryland. He’ll be displaying and autographing his books and talking to all who stop by his table. Hope you can make it.
Ann Bracken is one of the featured authors for the Howard County Author’s Festival at the Miller Library on Jan. 13th, 2018, from 1-4 pm. Authors will speak about their work and share readings as well as chat with visitors about the writing process and all things literary. Books will be available for purchase and signing. http://hclibrary.org/classes-events/meet-the-author/
On Saturday, 20 January 2018, join Tom Glenn at the 2018 Day of Knowledge, a gathering of authors and readers. He and other authors will be selling and signing books from 10 am to 3 pm. The Day of Knowledge is happening at Millers United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at 4224 Millers Station Road Manchester, MD 21102. For more information, call 410-239-8935 or 410-374-5353.
On Thursday, 22 March, between 9 am and 2 pm, James Burd Brewster, author of the Glad To Do It! series of picture books, will read his stories to classes at Dynard Elementary School as part of World Wonders Day, 23510 Bushwood Rd., Chaptico, MD 20621. For more information, contact Alexandra Tyson, email@example.com.
The So What's Your Story Podcast, produce in Berlin, is always open to having guests. Our show airs weekly on the local NPR affiliate (WSDL) and is available on iTunes and Sticher Radio. Reach out to Tony@RussoDigital.com if you're interested in being on the show. Subscribe and learn more at http://www.sowhatsyourstorypodcast.com/.
MWA Novel Exchange
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a Poet Laureate?
By Eileen Haavik McIntire
Maryland’s Poet Laureate Stanley Plumly will present a half-day intensive poetry workshop at the Maryland Writers’ Association conference March 23-24, 2018, in Baltimore at the BWI Marriott. What exactly is a Poet Laureate and what does he or she do?
As of 2017, poets laureate are appointed in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Although terms vary in length from state to state, the appointment is for one or two years in most states.
In Maryland, the Poet Laureate position was formally established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1959 and authorizes the governor to appoint a citizen of the state as Poet Laureate of Maryland. Past Poet Laureates include (in order of service): Maria B. Coker, Vincent Godfrey Burns, Lucille Clifton, Reed Whittemore, Linda Pastan, Roland Flint, Michael Collier, and Michael Glaser.
The position is an honorary one in which the individual selected will serve at the discretion of the governor for up to a four-year term renewable by the governor’s consent. The Poet Laureate provides public readings for the citizens of Maryland, ensuring that people in all geographic regions of the state have access to at least one reading during the term of service. An honorary position, the Poet Laureate does not receive compensation, but limited reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of duties is available.
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—usually called the United States Poet Laureate—serves as the official poet of the United States. The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry is appointed annually by the Librarian of the United States Congress, serves from October to May, and seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The position is administered by the Center for the Book.
Currently, the laureate receives a $35,000 annual stipend. The Library keeps to a minimum the specific duties in order to afford incumbents maximum freedom to work on their own projects while at the Library. The laureate gives an annual lecture and reading of his or her poetry and usually introduces poets in the Library's poetry series, the oldest in the Washington area and among the oldest in the United States. This annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, and occasional dramatic performances began in the 1940s. Collectively the Laureates have brought more than 2,000 poets and authors to the Library to read for the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature.
The current Poet Laureate is Tracy K. Smith, an American poet and educator who was born April 16, 1972, in Falmouth, MA, and raised in Fairfield, CA. She has published three collections of poetry, winning the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 volume Life on Mars.
Smith received her A.B. from Harvard University, graduating in 1994. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 1997. From 1997 to 1999, she was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University.
The ninth Poet Laureate of Maryland, Stanley Plumly, was appointed on October 1, 2009. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including Old Heart, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Most recently, Mr. Plumly has authored Posthumous Keats, a “personal biography” of the English poet, John Keats, which has received widespread critical acclaim by reviewers for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, among others, and his poems, essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in many of the country’s best periodicals and newspapers.
He has received numerous awards including eight Pushcart Prizes, the Paterson Poetry Prize (2007), an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2002), and a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (2001).
Help! Advice for Writers
By Wendy Sand Eckel
Question: I am trying to finish my book but I can’t seem to force myself to sit down and write. I am the worst procrastinator on the planet. There is always something more important to do. Any suggestions?
Please know you share this problem with just about every writer I know. Writing brings both joy and immense frustration. But there is help.
The best technique to help with time management I’ve come across is known as the the Pomodoro Technique. It was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The basic technique is to work in intervals. Cirillo suggested working for 25 minute sessions, separated by short breaks, usually five minutes. The name pomodoro comes from the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used to time each work session.
For me, a 30 - 40 minute work session is ideal. I take the next 15 minutes to make phone calls, send emails, check my social media, and make a cup of coffee. Then I’m refreshed and ready to go another round. Sometimes I take the first five minutes to read what I wrote the session before. That reminds me that I really can write and just maybe, my project is worthwhile.
You can adapt this technique to fit your needs. If the idea of a timer doesn’t work for you, try writing until your Fitbit tells you to get moving. Another idea is setting a word count goal instead of a specific time. For example, I won’t stop writing until I’ve written 5,000 words. And, if you only have fifteen minutes, instead of saying it’s not enough time to write, try editing your last chapter, plotting the next, or interviewing one of your characters.
Remember to allow yourself to write badly. Writing a full-length book is all about forward progress. Every session moves you closer to ‘the end.’
I hope this method can provide you with the external discipline we often need. You won’t believe how quickly your word count will explode.
Good luck and happy writing!
Send your questions to email@example.com.
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: I use Pomodoro as well. An added benefit is that it reminds me to get up and move around. Here’s a link for an online tool: http://tomato-timer.com/.