April 2018 Print

Editor's Note

By Barbara Morrison, editor

From daffodils and forsythia to the green mist on bare tree branches, spring is unfolding all around us, bringing new life to our woods and gardens. It’s a perfect time to reinvigorate your writing! What are your goals for this month? For this year? Remember that MWA is here to support you. Is there something more we can do to help?

Let us help you promote your work! Send news of your awards, publication, or upcoming author events (readings, workshops, etc.) to

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

While you’re at it, don’t forget to submit your poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to Pen in Hand!

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

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President's Report

By Eileen Haavik McIntire

The best ever—that’s what I heard about MWA’s Annual Conference, “From Brain to Bookshelf 2018.” I was there and I agree. I took Michael Hauge’s all-day workshop on Friday and picked up gold nuggets on writing about relationships. Hauge had stiff competition from Stanley Plumly, Maryland’s Poet Laureate, and MWA’s popular workshop leader Barbara Morrison. Friday ended with the Purple Prose Dinner, a warm and friendly bonding of writers laughing over the readings of atrocious paragraphs.

All day Saturday was filled with workshops, pitch appointments, editorial critiques, and an inspiring keynote address at breakfast from John Gilstrap as well as a luncheon keynote address by Michael Hauge. 

Jess Williams, Conference Chair, and the Board are already deep into planning next year’s conference. We need your ideas and suggestions. On the table are many questions. Should the conference be one, two or three days? What kind of workshops would be most helpful? Who should our keynote speakers be? Should we have an evening reception or dinner? What do you think? Let us know.

Congratulations to the winners of MWA’s Novel Contest, who were announced at the conference keynote luncheon!

All members are invited to meetings of the Board of Directors and, of course, to the meetings of any chapter. Be sure to attend the annual meeting in June. Date and time to be announced.


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MWA Conference

From Brain to Bookshelf

By Jess Williams

The 2018 MWA Conference welcomed guest keynotes Michael Hauge and John Gilstrap with great success and praise. 

Michael Hauge
Michael Hauge

On March 23rd, Michael Hauge presented an all day workshop on Story Mastery, where he pushed our writers to be and do more in their writing.  

John Gilstrap
John Gilstrap

But the conference didn’t only offer workshops for fiction and screenwriters. The Maryland Poet Laureate, Stanley Plumly presented a half-day workshop on Writing Better Poems to a sold-out group. Afterwards, MWA’s own Barbara Morrison presented a workshop on Sharing Our Stories, guiding attendees in scene and story structure for the most important thing they have—their own story. 

The Friday night dinner brought laughter and bonding to the group as attendees shared their purple prose. We heard awful writing from a NYT Bestseller and men telling tales of their bra straps. The intimacy of the dinner kept us close, the laughter brought us together. 

But we didn’t stop there. On day two, March 24th, we offered two dozen workshops and panels, covering topics in genre, craft and career. Never pitched to an agent before?  There was a workshop for that. Unsure about self-publishing? Covered it. Want to ask an agent or editor a question No problem!  

Between the workshops were two amazing keynotes. John Gilstrap began our day with laughter through his encouraging and witty address. Michael Hauge continued the inspiration and reminded us not to give up. 

We hope you will join us in 2019 and bring forward your ideas to share with other writers!

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MWA Annual Book Awards

The 2018 MWA Novel Contest

We are excited to announce the winners of the 2018 MWA Novel Contest. Thanks to all who participated as novelists and readers. I believe the contest was a smashing success.

  • Historical: Lewis McIntyre for The Eagle and the Dragon
  • Mainstream/Literary:  Mark Willen for Hawke’s Return
  • Mystery/Thriller: Frank Hopkins for Abandoned Homes: Vietnam Revenge Murders
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: M. J. Patrick for The House on Moss Swamp Road

Information on the 2019 MWA 30th anniversary writing contest will be forthcoming. Look for it!


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MWA News and Updates

MWA 30th Anniversary Notable Maryland Author 

Celebrating 30 years encouraging Maryland writers, poets, playwrights, and authors. One year of fun through writing and playing with words; Mar 2018 - Feb 2019

Tom Clancy is the MWA Notable Maryland Author for April. Click here to learn more about Tom Clancy and to respond to the Fun With Words writers’ prompt.


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Chapter News


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 or contact us at

Our program for the upcoming quarter:

  • April 18th: Internationally acclaimed DC-based author and popular writing instructor Barbara Esstman will discuss the critical elements of character development.
  • May 16th: Two of MWA’s board members and mystery writers, Eileen McIntire and Millie Mack, join forces to unravel the secrets of writing great mysteries.
  • June 20th: Be sure to join us for our annual chapter elections, and to participate in our most popular event every year, Open Mic night! Bring your best five minutes of writing to read to a supportive crowd.



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,

  • April 26th: Ally Machate will present “Forming and Using a Book Marketing Street Team”.
  • May 31st: Critique Session
  • March 29th: TBD


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:

  • May 12th: Speaker Michael Downs will present “History and its Mysteries: How Fiction’s Imagination Works with History’s Facts”
  • June 9th:  RESCHEDULED Author Dani Pettrey will present a crash course in "Writing a Romance Novel—Relationship 101" 


Charles County

The Charles County chapter normally meets the third Wednesday of every month, 7-8:30 pm, but check the dates below for changes during this quarter. We are currently negotiating a new meeting place. Please check the chapter website for updated meeting location,, or email

  • April 17th: "Fireside Chat" - We will meet and share works-in-progress, offer critiques and help, and, of course, write
  • May 17th: Edna Troiano will introduce us to the mysteries of writing essays.
  • June 13th: Award-winning romance writer Delancey Stewart will talk with us about writing romance novels.


Howard County

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!

Join Howard County Chapter in our new and improved larger room as we expand into our new space, enlarge our membership and sharpen our writing and publication skills through our membership in the Maryland Writers Association!

  • April 19th: Flo McCahon will present “From Poe to Present Day – the History of Mystery.” Flo promises to keep our mystery lovers on the edges of their seats as she explains the evolution of the mystery genre from Poe to the hard boiled detectives of the modern day. Flo explains how the mystery genre developed some very specific rules which are still followed today. 
  • May 17th: Rich Madzel will present “The Writing, Rehearsing, Reading and Critiquing of a 10-Minute Play.” Rich will have us up and moving, acting and playing as we learn about the stage productions from the inside out. 
  • June 21st: Join us as we engage in two joint ventures with HopeWorks, Howard County’s Domestic Violence Center. We will offer members an opportunity to participate in personally prepared and shared poems and readings as well as a powerful experiential and dramatic production directed by the talented producer-director Vanita Leatherwood.

You can contact us at: 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'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.


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 for specific times and dates.

  • April 11th: Gail Barrett, award-winning author of fifteen romantic suspense novels, will present “Point of View”, 7-9 pm.
  • May19th: Judy Kelly will present “Using Tools of Story Telling”, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. She will discuss how you can use empathy, conflict, tension and suspense to give more depth and meaning to your characters and your story.
  • June13th: Julie Wakeman-Linn will present “Story Structure”, 7-9 pm. She will discuss the Importance of story structure and the steps to plotting out a story.

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Member News

Three MWA members placed in the Baltimore County Dept. of Aging 2017 Silver Pen Essay Contest. Charlotte Eliopoulos won second place and Frances Altman, Dick Ellwood, and Barbara Mischke were finalists, all in the Essay Category.


Lynne Spigelmire Viti won Honorable Mention in the WOMR Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest for her poem "Rene and Marcella" (Marge Piercy judging). She can also be heard on the Poetry Sunday broadcast on local segment of Weekend Edition, February 24, 2018, on WCAI Woods Hole, NPR Affiliate, "The Summer People in Winter”.

Lynne announces the publication of her second chapbook The Glamorganshire Bible from Finishing Line Press. It focuses on women in Cumberland,  Maryland in the early 20th century, and their daughters in Baltimore. Born and raised in Baltimore, Lynne teaches at Wellesley College. She is also the author of the chapbook Baltimore Girls, published by Finishing Line Press in 2017.  She blogs at


Ann Bracken published three poems in Fledgling Rag: “Real for Real,” “Nathaniel Breaks It Down for You,” and “Between Here and Hope.”


MWA Howard County Chapter Vice President Rissa Miller will have an original play professionally produced in April by Annapolis-based Building Better People Productions. Miller's one-act is part of a collection of updated versions of favorite children's stories, told with kinder, more compassionate twists. Two other local playwrights, Lynne Childress and Ricardo Rivera, also penned one-acts for the production.

Performances are Friday, April 20, 10:30 am, and Saturdays, April 21 and 28, 10:30 am and 1pm at the Annapolis Friends Meeting House, 351 Dubois Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401. Online tickets available at Tickets are also available at the door. More information: or call (443)906-0099.


Frances Altman introduced her latest book Reggie the Goat at the March Author's Day at Perry Hall Library. It is a reprint of her first book by the same name that she published fifty years ago.  Her fondest memory about it is fishing a library worn/stamped copy out of a huge sale pile at Books a Million fifteen years ago. The publisher folded and some warehouse must have had a giant leftover bin. Frances is shown to the right with Dick Ellwood at the Perry Hall event.


Gina Strauss announces the publication of Letters to My Teenage Daughter: We've Got You in January 2018. This collection of letters and quotes was composed for a young girl on her thirteenth birthday. Each one, written by a diverse group of women, contains insights and advice on what it means to be a woman in the world today. It is available from Gina’s website, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.


Tamar Anolic announces the publication of Triumph of a Tsar, a work of alternate historical fiction in which the Russian Revolution of 1917 is averted, and the hemophiliac Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, comes to the throne. It is available from Amazon.


R.J. Hinkemeyer announces the publication of Shadows on the Soul: A Maryland Mystery, in which an aging priest hears a woman's disturbing confession. Hours later, a man and his wife are dead. The police investigate it as a homicide and target a suspect, but the priest knows otherwise. Or does he? Hinkemeyer is also the author of the Minnesota Mystery series. Visit his author page at


Jonathan Riffe announces the publication of his true-crime biography, Thomas Sweatt: Inside the Mind of D.C.’s Most Notorious Arsonist. For 25 years, the serial arsonist Thomas Sweatt terrorized neighborhoods throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. When at last he was arrested in 2005, he confessed to over 340 arson-set fires that claimed the lives of 4 people.

Jonathan Riffe has been involved in the fire service since 1996 and is a firefighter with the Annapolis Fire Department. He is a past Lieutenant with the Washington DC Fire Department. For three years, Jonathan wrote and talked regularly to Mr. Sweatt. Jonathan lives in Maryland with his wife Carrie. His passions include fishing, crabbing and traveling. The book is available from Mascot Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.


Dale E. Lehman announces the publication of his third Howard County Mystery, Ice on the Bay. The print edition is available from Serpent Cliff. The Kindle edition is available from Amazon


Michael Tims announces the publication of The Acoustic Property of Ancient People. These poems move from the tactile particularity of individual memory to the more ephemeral region of collective consciousness, poems filled with intelligence, heart, and deep love. The book is available from Finishing Line Press


Andrew McDowell announces the publication of  his YA fantasy novel, Mystical Greenwood. The first book in the One with Nature trilogy, it tells the tale of a young boy whose life changes when he meets a gryphon and a mysterious healer, and discovers a deep, sacred magic within every greenwood he travels through. Mystical Greenwood is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The cover art is also available on Deviant Art.

Andrew has wanted to be a writer ever since he was a teenager. He has also had poetry published in Pen in Hand, and he won 2nd place in the creative nonfiction category of the MWA’s 2014-15 literary contest. Visit to learn more about him and his work.


Debbi Mack re-released her first Sam McRae mystery novel, Identity Crisis, under her Renegade Press imprint. The book was originally self-published in July 2009 and made the New York Times ebook bestseller list in March and April 2011. The book has been optioned by a Maryland producer to be adapted for the screen. Debbi plans to bring all four books in the Sam McRae mystery series back into print over the course of this year and next.

Debbi also hosts a podcast called the Crime Cafe, where she interviews crime, suspense, and thriller authors twice a month. The podcast can be found on YouTube, iTunes, and Stitcher. Check out Debbi's website for the subscribe links, Crime Cafe publications, and merchandise.


 Daniel Oliver announces the publication of The Long Road by Black Rose Writing. Hank Galloway is a dreamer. When he looks up at the night sky, he longs to be the person who sends spaceships out into the great unknown. A position at NASA has always been his dream, and he is well on his way to achieving that goal when he suffers a mental breakdownIn the middle of a grueling academic semester.

Daniel Oliver has bachelor's degrees in both Spanish and Physician Assistant Studies. In writing his debut novel, The Long Road, he drew inspiration from his experience as a Physician Assistant in a psychiatry ward and his own struggles with mental illness and hospitalizations. Oliver is a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, where he enjoys the single life-and the oysters. 


Lisa V. Proulx is a lifelong resident of Maryland. Her bestselling book, Weedmonkey, is the true story of her mother's childhood growing up in the coal mining camps of Appalachia during the Depression as the daughter of the town prostitute. Her mother began writing the book when Lisa was a child, and on her deathbed, asked Lisa to finish writing it for her. It has been ranked in the Top 100 books on Amazon in Memoirs and Women's Bios for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Weedmonkey won an honorable mention in the Reader's Favorite Book Awards in November 2017 and First Place in the Golden Book Awards Reader's Choice.

Lisa is the author of 12 books, an inspirational speaker, and indie author coach who created Indie Author Promotions to help indies find their way in the wacky world of writing. You can learn more about Lisa on her website


Philip Padgett announces the publication of Advocating Overlord: The D-Day Strategy and the Atomic Bomb in May by Potomac Books. This is the story of creating a viable plan for D-Day and winning the 1943 decision to go with that strategy for liberating Europe.  The Allies’ contentious strategy discussion grew ever closer to a separate negotiation on letting British scientists back into development of the atomic bomb, closed to them since 1942.  In August 1943, the two issues intersected leading to a secret quid pro quo: Churchill’s reluctant acceptance of the Overlord strategy in return for resumed joint cooperation on the bomb. For more information, see 


Ann Quinn announces the publication ofFinal Deployment, a poetry chapbook by MWA Teen Writer’s Club leader Ann Quinn, from Finishing Line Press. The child of a Naval Aviator during the Vietnam War faces the death of her own mother in this elegiac collection of poems of nature, war, death and transfiguration.

Ann Quinn lives in Catonsville, Maryland, with her husband and two children. She teaches clarinet and writing and plays clarinet with the Columbia Orchestra. She won first prize in the 2015 Bethesda Literary Festival Poetry Contest, judged by Stanley Plumly, and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poems have appeared in Potomac Review, Little Patuxent Review, Beechwood Review, Haibun Today and Snapdragon Journal.


Carlee Hallman, who lives in a retirement community in Gaithersburg, has published a new edition of her book Abide with Me: Prayers for Life’s Eventide. It is a collection of more than 100 brief prayers along with reference to scripture and hymns. It is available from Samples prayers are shown on the web at To go with this book Rev. Carlee posts a daily prayer at

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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 and we’ll provide you with details.

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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 peninhand@marylandwriters.orgThe deadline for the next issue is June 15, 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 or your chapter officers for copies to use at MWA events. Pen in Hand, January 2017Pen in Hand, July 2017


Workshops Led by MWA Members

Workshops for Teens

Led by Faye McCray

Boundless Writers: Teen Storytellers

Ages: 12-17

When: Saturdays March 24,  April 7, April 21, May 5 10:00am-12:00pm (Recurring)

Price: $40 per session

Where: Root Studio 9140 Guilford Road Suite D Columbia, MD 21046

Come explore, discuss and engage in the craft of writing! There are no lectures, no exams, no grades, and most importantly, no limits! The participants come as they are and are encouraged to let their imagination run free.

Writer's Club and Page Drop

Ages: 21+

When: Sundays April 15,  May 6 10:00am-12:00pm (Recurring)

Price: $35 per session

Where: Root Studio 9140 Guilford Road Suite D Columbia, MD 21046

Bring your laptop or notebook and favorite writing pen and join other writers for two hours of silence and solidarity in open studio space.

Writing club will also feature a page drop, participation is optional. Bring copies of up to 5 pages of your writing you would like feedback on. Writers who participate in the page drop will choose a minimum of two projects to review and pencil in suggested edits and feedback directly on your pages.

Junior Storytelling Workshop

Ages: 8-11

When: Wednesdays April 25 and May 2 from 4:30pm-6:30pm

Price: Prices vary for members and non-members (check the website for details)

Where: Columbia Art Center 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045

Does your child love to write? This workshop is all about encouraging a love of creative writing! Writers will learn the basic elements of drafting an engaging story using exercises in creating plot, developing characters and drafting realistic dialogue.  Writers will flex their writing muscle by using storytelling prompts and learn how to articulate and use constructive critique by sharing their writing with their peers.  Bring your imaginations and a pen!

Teen Storytelling Workshop

Ages: 12-17

When: Wednesdays May 16 and May 23 from 4:30pm-6:30pm

Price: Prices vary for members and non-members (check the website for details)

Where: Columbia Art Center 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045

Does your teen have a story to tell? This workshop follows the traditional workshop format in preparation for college-level creative writing. Writers will discuss the craft of writing by reading and critiquing contemporary stories.  Writers will use creative prompts to explore the elements of effective storytelling, submit original creative work to their peers to critique, and learn how to create a portfolio of creative work.

For more information: Contact Faye McCray at

Faye McCray is an author, poet and essayist whose essays on love, life, and parenting have been featured in a number of popular publications including My Brown Baby, For Harriet, AfroPunk, Black Girl Nerds, and Madame Noire. Her work will also be featured in the Summer 2018 issue of Little Patuxent Review. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Weemagine, a website devoted to celebrating and inspiring creativity in children and young adults. Her latest work, I am loved! is a collection of positive affirmations for kids. Faye teaches writing workshops for kids and teens at the Root Studio, the Columbia Art Center and the Howard County Library System. When Faye isn’t writing, she is leading a covert double life as an attorney and married mother of three young sons.


Creative Writing Workshop

Baltimore county author Dale E. Lehman is leads a monthly creative writing workshop at the Essex branch of the Baltimore County Library, generally the second Monday of the month from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (subject to facility availability). Upcoming dates for this event are: April 9, May 14 (upstairs in the youth area), and June 11. 

Most workshops feature writing prompts and general discussion, with opportunities to share work and receive feedback. We try to make it hands-on and tailored to the needs of participants. For more information, contact Dale Lehman.


Washington Writers Conference

Are you on a writing high after MWA’s annual writers’ conference in March, and want to keep those creative juices flowing? Or maybe you (say it ain’t so!) missed MWA’s conference and need a double shot of writing inspiration? Or perhaps you’ve put the finishing touches on that manuscript and you’re ready to pitch it to the agent of your dreams? Consider signing up for the Washington Writers Conference, being held May 4th & 5th at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in College Park. Some of the highlights of the conference include: 

  • A Friday night reception and Learn to Pitch panel
  • Agent pitch sessions throughout the day Saturday
  • Every registrant has the opportunity to pitch three agents
  • Exceptional panel sessions with nationally known authors
  • Keynote from legendary journalist and author Bob Schieffer

To find all the details and to register, visit


Exploring Boundaries: The Intersection of Poetry and Memoir

Led by Ann Bracken

June 26th, 6:30-8:30PM.

Howard County Library, East Columbia Branch.

Have you considered writing a memoir but are wondering where to begin? Join memoirist and poet Ann Bracken for a workshop that will give you a head-start on some vital and universal themes in memoir. Ann will lead participants though a series of both prose and poetry writing exercises and discussions that explore the many reasons for writing a memoir, the crafting of scenes, and the place of poetry as a vehicle for capturing concise impressions of past. Bring your questions and ideas and join in for an engaging evening of writing.


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:

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 16 April, 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 Miller Branch Library,  9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042.

Gina Strauss will be signing her new book Letters to My Teenage Daughter: We’ve Got You on Sunday, April 15th from 1-3 pm at The Red Canoe in Baltimore and on Sunday, April 22nd from 1-3 pm at Full Heart Solutions in Bel Air.

On 26 April, 5:30-7:30 pm, James Burd Brewster, retired Coast Guard officer, author of the successful Glad To Do It! series of picture books (, and president of J2B Publishing ( is the featured speaker for the monthly meeting of the Charles County Young Professionals Group at the Charleston Senior Community Center, 45 St. Patrick’s Drive, Waldorf, MD.  His presentation, “With the US Coast Guard in the Arctic” will describe the role of the USCG in the Arctic and Antarctic and his experiences while on a Polar Icebreaker as a Coast Guard officer. For more information, contact Emily N. Stampfly at

Lisa V. Proulx, author of the award-winning memoir Weedmonkey, will be the featured speaker of Meet the Author on Tuesday, April 17 at 7:00 pm at the Washington County Library, Hagerstown, and will be signing copies of Weedmonkey at her third book signing with Nora Roberts at Turn the Page Bookstore, Boonsboro, on September 15. She will also be presenting her 30-minute speech/program, Unemployed to Bestseller, this June at the Dublin Writer's Conference in Dublin, Ireland. 

Judy Colbert will be talking about and signing copies of her latest book 100 Things to Do in Baltimore Before You Die on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 10 am - 6 pm at the Liberty Senior Center’s 2nd Annual Book Club Extravaganza, Liberty Senior Center, 3525 Resource Drive, Randallstown, MD 21133. Judy Colbert is an award-winning Maryland author and photographer who specializes in travel and personality profiles. She’s hoping to finish her first novel, a caper, this year when her dream is to see it made into a blockbuster movie. For more information: 410.887.4728.

Phillip Padgett will give a talk on his book Advocating Overlord: The D-Day Strategy and the Atomic Bomb at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Saturday, May 19.



The Carroll County chapter of MWA will be hosting a Flash Fiction contest for Carroll County writers this Spring. $100 prize. For more info contact


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



Gaithersburg Creative Writers

By Kenneth D. Weiss

Writers groups make writers great. There are at least four along the I-270 corridor: Creative Flow, Germantown Writers Guild, I Can’t Remember the Word Creative Writers, and Gaithersburg Creative Writers.

The last of these is a critique group. A general rule for such groups is to sandwich each suggestion between positive comments – a ratio of 1 to 2, but here there is a slight variation. The ratio is heavier on suggestions – about 9 to 1. There is too little time to be too nice, they say. Two members, both named Larry, normally lead the charge. Most writers understand and emerge with thicker skin as well as stronger skills.

Gaithersburg Creative Writers was formed in 2016 using but is now a Yahoo group and also has a website. It was organized by Ken Weiss, who planned to become a travel, food and fiction writer but quickly turned to penning – actually, keyboarding – non-fiction and poetry. A second organizer is Mario Salazar, who writes for Communities Digital News and is moving forward with a novel.

Meetings are in the evenings the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The location jumps between the Stone House Grill, for members who like their food and drink, and the Gaithersburg library for those who prefer tranquility. At each meeting, four to six members read from their work and invite comments. Those who plan to read take printed copies, so the others can follow along and note suggestions.

The Gaithersburg Creative Writers group is versatile, welcoming everyone, from beginners to accomplished authors of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.


Blog Looking for Maryland Writer

Annette Snyder is in her 8th season of running her 50 Authors from 50 States blog based from Nebraska. Each year she invites up to three people to participate for each state each week in the Main Post. Currently she is looking for a writing professional to fill Maryland's spot in May. Each participant provides a 250-500 word post with pictures and links of their choice and each is expected to offer a prize. Annette will award one Grand Prize each month to a randomly chosen participant from the state with the most comments for the month. She charges participants a small fee ($5) to cover the monthly Grand Prize. Check out her blog and if interested, email her for details at

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Writer's Toolbox

Finding Your Stumbles

By Barbara Pengelly

Looking at my bio, you won’t see any works published. But that applies only to creative writing. In a past career as Communications Director for a Pennsylvania Software Company, my job was to write, edit, condense, or review all the articles for seven different marketing newsletters. 

I could not have done this successfully without a small recorder. If there were any doubts about the article, I would read it into this little machine and listen to the playback—sometimes several times. 

Yes, you can actually hear where something isn’t working, or what I call the “stumbles”. Areas where you should revise your writing or punctuation will show up loud and clear. And you’ll also recognize areas where you’ve gotten too wordy. Finally, question yourself. Are you willing to play this recording for another’s ears? If you have even the slightest hesitation, rework.

Try it! 

Barbara Pengelly has had three very different careers—first, as an artist selling in Mid-Atlantic venues, then as Communications Director for a Software Company and finally as a Forensic Document Specialist. Now retired, she refuses to act her age. Although yet unpublished in fiction, she has been busy creating short stories used for local Reader’s Theatre shows and is working on a novel. Barbara lives in Washington County with her black cat, Stella.

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Help! Advice for Writers

By Wendy Sand Eckel

One of the most frequent questions I hear from writers is this: How do I find an agent? I attended the agent panel session at the 2018 MWA conference and here’s what the four talented agents in that session had to say.

1. Finish your book. Then make it the best you possibly can. Use a beta reader, hire an editor, join a critique group, edit, edit, edit.

2. Learn how to write a query, which is a one-page letter to get an agent interested in your manuscript. A basic query should begin with a log line/hook, followed by a paragraph summarizing your book, including genre, title, and word count. Next is a short bio with your writing credentials, awards, etc. Stick to your writing experience only. Don’t tell them you love to knit unless your book is a guide to knitting. The agents on this panel said if there is no author bio, they will not respond to the query!

3. Learn how to write a synopsis. A synopsis shows what happens in the story, the conflicts, who changes, and it must reveal the ending. There are some wonderful resources on the Internet about how to write a query letter and/or a synopsis.

4. Do your research on your target agent. There are a variety sources that list agents in print and online, such as Writers’ Market and agent query. Look for agents who are interested in your genre. According to this panel, if an author sends a query for a genre that particular agent doesn’t represent, they will stop reading the query and move on to the next one. And, as much as we would like it to be the case, these agents are highly unlikely to pass your query on to another agent in their agency.

5. Get it right. Before querying, research that agent’s specific submission guidelines and follow them to a tee. The information in the guides may not be current. Go to the agent’s/agency’s website to ensure you have the most updated version of that agent’s submission guidelines.

6. Is the agent you are interested in currently accepting queries? Several of the agents at the MWA conference were closed to query letters, but were accepting submissions from authors they met at the conference. All were in agreement that attending an agent pitch session at a writers’ conference is an excellent way to find an agent.

7. Spell the agent’s name correctly or it won’t get read. They were unanimous about this one.

8. Don’t be ‘overly familiar’ in your query. They were adamant about this as well.

9. This surprised me, but the agents said it is okay to follow up with an email a few months after a submission to ensure it was received. Keep your inquiry brief and to the point. And whatever you do, stick to emails. If the agent wants to have a phone conversation with you, he/she will arrange one.

10. Let the query showcase your writing ability. Put as much time into crafting the query as you would a chapter in your book. One agent said she receives 500 - 700 query letters a week. Make sure yours will stand out and not end up in the slush pile.

Good luck and happy writing!

Send your questions to

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. 

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Why Do We Write?

Why I Write

By Nelson E. Brown

In 2013, during my freshman year, weighing 236lbs, I carried around a lot of low self-esteem, depression, and loneliness. The thought of committing suicide in the middle of freshman year and suffering from this food addiction all my life took its toll on me in middle school and in my transition to high school. I used food to suppress the feelings of self-hatred and became very self-conscious about how others perceived me. I constantly received sly remarks from strangers, which is a part of the reason why I refused to join clubs, volunteer, or play any sports. While in high school, I made a transition by dieting and exercising. After my sophomore year, I lost 70lbs and no longer felt fearful of rejection from my peers. I participated as a member of the Green Club, Robotics Club, and Cross-Country team during my junior year at school after I spent one summer volunteering at my local senior center as a receptionist. In my last year of high school, I volunteered as a student aide in the school’s library for the librarian and for the autistic children in the school’s CALS program in their art class. My confidence gradually grew, but I’m out to discover young people like me who still feel underrepresented and underrated.

Although female beauty standards are made very clear and expressed through all types of media, and even though society addresses those standards publicly, we don't typically address the male perception or the beauty standards males are put up against. Males don't typically talk about weaknesses or problems they face because they see it as a sign of weakness. As an activist, philanthropist, and humanitarian, I want to defeat stereotypes and double standards of society related to the price of beauty is for everyone. I am now speaking out about these controversial topics from a males' perspective through my own experience. I am currently in the process of publishing my debut book in my book series, entitled The Beauty In Us and have started writing the second book.

With my book series, I hope to inspire children, teens, and young adults with my story. In the midst of losing all the weight, I developed a passion for writing poems and songs and for visual art. The topics I write about and illustrate pertain to many personal struggles I had and still have in regards to beauty, body image, self-acceptance, and colorism. As I share my story with children, teens, and young adults, I want them to know that they do not have to be perfect in any shape or form, and that they can overcome their struggles or fears and embrace their insecurities without being perfect in a world filled with naysayers, drugs, alcohol, and misleading social media.


Nelson E. Brown is an engineering student at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville, Maryland, where he serves as one of the writers, artists, and editors for the school’s literary magazine. In addition to being a part-time student, he works at the Maryland Department of the Environment as an office clerk, with plans of becoming an Environmental Engineer after finishing school. Outside of work and school, he is a member of the Male Chorus, Trustee Board, Benevolence Ministry, and Scholarship Committee at Collective Christian Ministries, in Randallstown, Maryland. 


Editor’s Note: Take a few minutes, contemplate, and if you’re so inclined, write a few sentences or paragraphs that describe why you write. Send your brief essay to, signed or unsigned, and we’ll publish selected results in upcoming issues.

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