MWA Newsletter Summer 2018 Print

Editor's Note

By Barbara Morrison, editor

I’ve been reading Life Work, by poet Donald Hall who died this week at 89. Asked by novelist Gurcharan Dar what contentment is, Hall answers, "Contentment is work so engrossing that you do not know that you are working." It is Dar who comes up with a term for this state of mind: absorbedness. 

Like Hall, I treasure this state of mind. I love being immersed in my story. I’ll procrastinate like crazy to avoid starting, but once I’m in, I’m really in. How about you? Whether you are just beginning your journey as a writer or well down the path, 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

Once you surface from your absorbedness, send us your nonfiction work! 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

Many writers, often working in a vacuum, turn to family and friends for feedback. They want to support our efforts and don’t want to hurt our feelings, so their comments will be kind. We know this and wish we could believe them, but what else can we do?

MWA’s critique groups offer an excellent way to present your work to other writers like you, all wanting honest feedback. I belonged to the White Oak Writers (WOW) in Silver Spring and a group in Columbia for years. Their members gave me excellent criticism and suggestions all along the way of producing my first three novels. I’ll never forget when one member yelled at me, “These are nothing but talking heads!” He was referring to my dialogue, and he was right.

The critique groups taught me to avoid point-of-view shifts, talking heads, adverbs, and fancy attributions. “She said” and “He said” are just fine, thank you. They caught all those mistakes in continuity, where a character drinks tea in one paragraph and coffee in the next. They pointed out their puzzlement over a character named Shirl in one section and Tammy Lou in the next. They groaned over the sequences that didn’t make sense; the characters who didn’t ring true; the plot points that went awry. 

I am grateful for their help. 

Sometimes their critiques were harsh, if not brutal;  sometimes they reflected lack of experience and depth; sometimes there was a pull toward the predictable, calling it “more believable,” rather than the unexpected I preferred.  Sometimes a group member might be overbearing or pushy or biased. I bore up. I needed every one of them to develop my writing so I could present it with confidence.

One caution: Listen but use your own judgement. Realize that your work will never align with everyone’s taste, interests, and understanding, and it will never be absolutely perfect.

I give a sincere and heartfelt thank you to every member of my critique groups, and I recommend them to you. 


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MWA Conference


Brain to Bookshelf 2019  
Annual Writers Conference 

March 29-31, 2019

BWI Airport Marriott 
1743 West Nursery Road
Linthicum, Maryland 21090

Mark Your Calendar and Save the Date!


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MWA Annual Book Awards

Maryland Writers’ Association Annual Writing Contest

It’s our 30th Anniversary and MWA is celebrating! We want to hear from YOU about Maryland. The 30 winning submissions will be collected into an anthology titled 30 Ways to Love Maryland.

Submissions must fit the theme, 30 Ways to Love Maryland, and may be fiction or nonfiction. Submissions open July 1. Deadline for submissions is midnight, Oct. 31, 2018.

For rules and guidelines, go to the MWA Contest Page on our website.


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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:

  • July 18th: Award-winning author Barbara Morrison explores the concepts behind creative nonfiction, a genre that includes memoir and literary journalism.
  • August 15th: Julie Wakeman-Linn, frequent instructor at The Writer’s Center and for many years editor in chief of the Potomac Review, will lead a generative workshop, “Write Off the Map."
  • Tuesday, September 18th: Wilnona Marie and Jade Dee, the globe-trotting front women of the And I Thought Ladies (And I Thought Divorce Was Bad, And I Thought Being Grown-up Was Easy) discuss writing for a social cause. Please note the change in normal meeting day; it’s the day before we would normally meet.

Annual Elections

Congratulations to the new board of the Annapolis chapter! The officers were voted in unanimously at the chapter meeting on June 20, 2018. They are:

  • President: Victoria Clarkson
  • Secretary: Marie McCarren
  • Treasurer: Linda Wood
  • Program Director: Starsha Sewell



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,

  • July 26th: TBD
  • August 30th: TBD
  • September 27th: 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:

  • July: No meeting
  • August 18th: Children's author Stephanie Guzman will present “Ever wonder how to publish a children’s book?”  Go on a journey with Stephanie Guzman as she shares her experience in the self publishing world and how she went about publishing her three children's books. 
  • September 8th: Are you a writer, or do you want to be? Do you like to write novels and/or short stories? Writing can be a lonely profession when taken on by yourself, but there's a group for that! Come to the CCCMWA open house. 


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

  • July 26th: TBD
  • August 30th: TBD
  • September 27th: TBD


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!

  • July 19th: TBD 
  • August 16th: TBD 
  • September 20th: TBD

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.

  • July 14th: Award-winning memoirist Barbara Morrison will present “Sharing Our Stories”, a memoir workshop. 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.
  • August 1st: TBD
  • September 2nd: TBD

Elections for the Montgomery Chapter Board

It is time to elect officers for your Montgomery County Chapter. 

  • Chapter President: Judy Kelly
  • Chapter Vice President: vacant
  • Secretary: David Nilsen
  • Treasurer: Joe Demasco
  • Program Chair: Sharon Campbell
  • Membership Chair: Suzanne Tobin    

If you would like to run for any of the above positions, please send your name to so that you can be added to the ballot. We will vote at our July meeting.          


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MWA News and Updates

MWA Annual Meeting and Election Results

MWA’s annual meeting was held on Saturday, June 23, at the East Columbia Branch Library, Columbia, MD.  It opened with an annual report by Eileen McIntire, President. The current chairs then gave brief reports on what’s to come in the next year. 

Following the reports,  elections for the Board were held with the following results.

Executive Committee 

  • President -  Eileen Haavik McIntire
  • Vice-president – Amy Kaplan
  • Secretary – Patti Ross
  • Treasurer – Mark Willen


  • Development and Long Range Planning Chair – Jess Williams
  • Conference Chair – Judy Kelly
  • Publications Chair – Barbara Morrison 
  • Program Chair – Katherine Melvin  
  • Membership Chair  - Flo McCahon 
  • Communications Chair– Jim Brewster
  • Members at Large: Open – to be appointed

Winners of the 2018 MWA Novel Contest then read from their winning works:

  • Mark Willen for Hawke's Return, Mainstream / Literary 
  • Frank E Hopkins for Abandoned Homes: Vietnam Revenge Murders, Mystery / Thriller 
  • M. J. Patrick for The House on Moss Swamp Road, Science Fiction / Fantasy / Speculative Fiction

Lewis F. McIntyre also won for Historical Fiction, but could not be present.

The meeting concluded with refreshments around a cake celebrating MWA’s 30th year.


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Member News

Frances Altman announces that her 2017 book Escape to Freedom is an award winner in the 2018 National Federation of Press Women annual contest in the YA Fiction category.


Barbara Mujica announces these two new publications:

"The Chaplain," Consequence Magazine: An International Literary Magazine Focusing on the Culture of War. Tenth Anniversary Issue. Vol. 10. Spring 2018. 239-253.

Hermana Teresa: La mujer que llegó a ser Santa Teresa de Jesús (Novela). Santiago de Chile: Cuarto Propio, 2017. 


Janis Wilson, a member of the Baltimore chapter, recently appeared as a commentator on the true crime show Snapped; Killer Couples on the Oxygen network.  The program involved charges against a young Philadelphia singer, Vernell Jones, and her record producer boyfriend, Kenneth Burno. Miss Jones came to be called “The Black Widow Killer” because she lured former lovers to their death.  Wilson, a retired trial lawyer and former newspaper reporter, is the author of Goulston Street, a mystery involving the investigation of the Jack the Ripper crimes.  She is currently at work on a second Lady Sarah Grey mystery.


Eileen Haavik McIntire announces the launch of The Two-Sided Set-Up, a suspense novel, on 15 September 2018. Melanie Fletcher flits from one bad relationship to the next. Then she meets the man of her dreams and marries him. It takes only a few months for Melanie to realize he's an abuser and a criminal. She heads for Virginia to confront the demon who set her up for bad choices: her abusive drunk of a dad. Now he will set her up for the fight of her life. Advance review copies are available. Contact her at


Lauren Burke Meyer has written her first children’s book, Charlie STEPs UP to Lacrosse, which will come complete with a lacrosse playbook of lessons, as well as inspirational songs. Read about her first fundraiser event to self-publish the motivational story and the STEP UP Lacrosse Charity that book sales will support in the Severna Park Voice’s article. Her goal is to encourage tax deductible donations for her publishing costs. Donations can be made by mailing a check payable to “STEP UP Lacrosse Charity” to 609 Captain John Brice Way, Annapolis, MD 21401 or donating on Go Fund Me.

For over eight years, Lauren Burke Meyer has thrived working in fast-paced fields including marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media, all of which have involved a heavy focus in writing, her greatest passion. She has been published in Jack & Jill magazineThe Gunpowder Review, and The Capital, where her weekly Green Hornets youth sports column appeared from 2011-2012. Additionally, she has ghostwritten for numerous clients and colleagues over the years for various blogs and magazines. She is the founder of the blog, Lauren’s Law. Lauren has a bachelor’s degree in Communications and an English minor from The Pennsylvania State University and is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been a member of the Maryland Writers Association’s Annapolis Chapter since 2010, and she was their Publicity Chair from 2011–2012.


Jade Dee announces the publication of the Miss Fit Guides Cocktails Soirees & the LBD on 30 June 2018, a literary off-beat life guide sewn together by the common thread of cocktail recipes. This is her tenth book since 2017. Jade has been interviewed on the sample chapters podcast, hosted a webinar, and has been invited to speak at UK Indie Literary Festival in Bradford, England. Jade is a finalist for poet of the year and will attend the Indie Author Legacy Awards (IALA) June 23rd. 

Jade writes with the And I Thought Ladies (AITL) and other co-authors. She writes for Choices Magazine in Las Vegas. She stars in Just Writin Life, a docu-series that follows her celebrity writing life.


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Teen Writing Club Program

Changing of the Guards at Teen Writing Club Program!

MWA’s Teen Writing Club program has a new coordinator. Christy Lyons (left) is taking over/took over on July 1, succeeding Mark Willen, who ran the program for the past five years. Christy, a freelance author and textbook writer, will continue as facilitator of the Germanton Teen Club, which she has led for the past four years. She has also edited two of the teen club anthologies and served as an MWA Board member-at-large.

Before departing, Willen announced the appointment of several new club leaders, all in Montgomery County:

Henry N. Caballero (right), a teacher since 1995, will take over the Gaithersburg club from Lucinda Marshall and Peggy Ruppel, who created the group four years ago. Henry, a native of the Texas Gulf Coast, is a teacher and writer whose works have been published in English and Spanish. He currently is on the faculty in the academic ESL program of Montgomery College. He is also an avid trumpet player.

The Silver Spring Teen Writing Club will also have a new leader. Ginny Hillhouse (left), a journalist with 25 years’ experience with newspapers in the Northeast, is taking over in September from Steve Berer, who opened the club two years ago.

Shelby Settles Harper (right) is joining the program to open a new teen club at the Chevy Chase library in Montgomery County. Shelby, a citizen of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, is an attorney who has represented Indian tribes, individual Indians, women’s rights issues, and other progressive causes She is also an award-winning fiction author whose work has appeared in Gargoyle Magazine, aaduna, Defying Gravity: An Anthology of Washington, DC Area Women, Divergent Voices Literary Magazine, and So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art. Shelby serves on the National Council for the Smithsonian Museum of American Indian. 

And Carolee Noury, a former vice president of MWA, is moving from the Kensington Park teen club to take over the Olney club from Shadia Garrison, who has been a club leader for the past four years. Carolee is one of the original members and supporters of the teen club leaders’ group and was editor of the first teen anthology in 2015. 

MWA’s Teen Club program now includes 11 clubs in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Montgomery counties, serving over 100 aspiring writers. The program, one of MWA’s most important and successful outreach efforts, is always looking to expand. Anyone interested in helping can contact Christy at


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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 December 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.

Workshops Led by MWA Members

Five-Day Memoir Workshop

Led by Barbara Morrison

Traditions Week 3
8-13 July 2017, 9-10:15 am
Common Ground on the Hill
McDaniel College
Westminster, MD 21157

In this workshop, appropriate for both novice and experienced writers, we’ll tell ours in memoirs we compose and then share. After looking at different kinds of memoirs, we’ll discuss how to get started and then transform our experiences into stories that will touch others. Bring to the workshop whatever materials you’ll need to begin writing. For more information see:

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 

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.


The Maryland Writes! Contest

The Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Writers' Association and Montgomery Magazine have teamed up again for the Third Annual Montgomery Writes!—a contest for residents of Montgomery Count accepting fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry.

The winner of each genre will receive $250.00 and the work published in an issue of Montgomery Magazine. Two runners-up for each category will receive $100 each and their work published on our website.

Entries will be accepted between April 1 and Aug 15, 2018.

Winners will be announced in November with publication to follow. One winner and one runner-up will be chosen from each category. Entry to the contest is free.

Contest Rules:

  • Contestants must be Montgomery County residents.
  • Entries must be no longer than 2,000 words.
  • Categories are fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.
  • Up to 3 poems may be submitted per entry but may not run longer than 2,000 words combined.
  • Each person may submit two entries.
  • Entries should be previously unpublished.
  • Entries may be excerpted from a longer work as long as the piece stands on its own.
  • There is no entry fee.

Submission Guidelines:

Please read these guidelines carefully. Entries that do not follow these guidelines will not be considered.

  • Submit your work as an attachment via email to Judy Kelly at
  • Include the words “Writing Contest” and the genre of your piece in the subject line.
  • In the body of the email, include your name, address, and phone number, the title of the work, the category, and the word count.
  • Up to two entries may be submitted per person.
  • Entries should be in Microsoft Word, double-spaced, using a 12-point standard font (Times New Roman, or Courier).
  • Include the title of your work on each page of the document. We use blind judging, so please do not include your name in the document.
  • Eligibility and Rights: Contestants must be Montgomery County residents. Please include your current address in your email submission.

Note: We have judges for our Maryland Writes! Contest, but we are in need of one more poetry reader and a creative nonfiction reader. If you would like to judge poetry or creative non-fiction in our Maryland Writes! contest, please send your resume to

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


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Help! Advice for Writers

By Wendy Sand Eckel

Question: I am writing a novel and occasionally italicize a character’s thoughts. I’ve been told it’s a red flag for editors. Is this format acceptable?

I want to applaud you for using internal dialogue in your novel. Internal dialogue is one of the best techniques we writers have in our tool kits.

There are three acceptable styles to format a character’s thoughts as dialogue:

Sarah watched as the chef tossed yet another one of her attempts at eggs Benedict into the trash.

The next sentence, revealing Sarah’s thoughts, can be written three ways:

I really hate that man, she thought.

I really hate that man.

I really hate that man.

Despite all three being acceptable formatting, 49 times out of 50, when I am conducting a beta read, I suggest taking out the italics and using a different approach to writing inner dialogue.

Why? Italics and tags, such as ‘she thought,’ can take you out of the story. Reading italics is a lot like an exclamation mark. It can seem as if the author is shouting. And instead of showing, italics read as if the author has stepped out of the narrative in order to tell you something he or she wasn’t quite sure how to write. I believe it is far more effective for inner dialogue to be woven seamlessly into the rest of the novel without disrupting the story.

Inner dialogue is vital because learning what your POV character is thinking creates an intimacy with your reader. You are letting your reader in on secrets no one else in the story knows. Inner dialogue allows your reader to feel more connected to the character, and as a result, more immersed in the novel.

With inner dialogue you can:

Reveal a character’s feelings and internal reactions to a scene.

Show hidden motivations and thoughts the character doesn’t feel safe to disclose in external dialogue.

Share what is deep in their heart such as despair, a past trauma, or intense love.

A character’s inconsistencies or internal struggles. (Remember, a character should be growing, changing, or sometimes, regressing.)

Move the plot forward and/or dramatically change it wth just a few words (see example three below.)

Reveal a character’s opinions and prejudices and also their sense of humor

Give your POV character a chance to pause and reflect, especially in a tense scene.

Let’s rewrite the above scene a few different ways, starting after the eggs go in the trash.

Sarah crossed her arms, trying to rein in her anger. Chef didn’t treat anyone else this way. Why her? She glanced over at Zach, her fellow intern, worried he had seen the egg dump. She really liked this guy. Smoothing the hem of her jacket with her palms, she crossed the room and stood next to Zach. “Looks like our dear chef has forgotten his medication yet again this morning.”

Tears immediately formed in Sarah’s eyes. Clenching her fists, she willed herself not to cry. Working for this man had stirred up all the horrible memories of her belittling father she had tried hard to suppress. She glanced around at her coworkers. They all seemed nonplussed. Was she the only one feeling abused by this man? She brushed her hair back from her face. I must do better. I can’t lose this job.

Sarah’s eyes narrowed. So that’s how we’re going to play this? Well, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. She picked up a small paring knife, gave it a few swipes on the sharpener, and dropped it into the pocket of her chef’s jacket.

Internal dialogue has taken the original scene into three very different directions. All move the story forward and give you insight into Sarah.

Try going back to the sections of your novel where you have used italics and do a rewrite. Enhance the writing with the thoughts and feelings of your POV character, and maybe add some scents, lighting, and scenery, all through your character’s internal dialogue.

Disclaimer: The one genre where italicized thoughts often work well is thrillers, particularly when you are in the POV of the antagonist. That being said, it is worth trying to write without them in any genre, giving you a better chance to gain the trust and loyalty of your reader.

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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