December 4, 2015

Letter from the Editor

Dear Fellow Writers and Artists,

I am so excited to have the opportunity to introduce myself to you!  I have a Bachelor of Art in Photography from the University of Delaware, and I am a current graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Lesley University (fiction). I am a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBI), and the Maryland Writer’s Association. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to serve as editor for Pen in Hand.

The mission of the Maryland Writer’s Association (MWA) is to provide support for emerging and established writers in all genres and disciplines. With that focus,  Pen in Hand will be morphing, transitioning from a newsletter to a premiere literary and art journal devoted to the craft, art, and business of writing.  The primary purpose of Pen in Hand is to provide members and contest winners of the MWA a publishing platform. Artists who are members of the MWA are also welcome to submit black and white photographs to showcase their visual work. Pen in Hand will be published quarterly, and to maximize opportunities for publishing, there may even be special runs and mini-publications sprinkled throughout the year!


The Deadline for Submission is  firm, as follows:

Time: 11:59 p.m.


November 15:     January Edition

February 15:        April Edition

April 15:               July Edition

July 15:                 October Edition

Be sure to check the MWA website, MWA Announcements, MWA Twitter, and MWA Facebook for Calls for Submissions. With that being said, I would like to Announce a Call for Submissions!

Pen in Hand will issue its revised edition in the form a mini-publication in January!

Submission for January 2016 Mini -Edition:

Call for Flash Fiction, Micro-Poetry, and Postcard Art

Theme: New Year’s Resolutions

Submission Deadline: December 15, 2015

Submission Format:

Fiction/Non-Fiction:  500-700 words

Poetry: 25-150 Words, Prose

Art: 3×5 Black and White Photography

Please read the Pen in Hand Submission Guidelines before submitting!

I look forward to reading your work and viewing your photographs. I wish you and your families a very safe and Happy Holidays!


Kirsten O’Neill

Don’t forget that 2015 -2016 MWA Literary Contest is OPEN! The Contest is open to members and non-members, both in Maryland and out-of-state. Visit the MWA website for contest rules and guidelines.

The MWA Literary CONTEST DEADLINE: February 1, 2016 





February 3, 2015

February 2015 talk to the Annapolis MWA – Fraser Smith

Annapolis Chapter of the MWA

Award-winning local area journalist and radio news host Fraser Smith will speak to the Annapolis chapter of the MWA on February 18th, 2015. The title of his talk is “Keep Typing!” and he will speak about the ultimate value of keeping at it. As Fraser says: “We’re all better than we think we are in our dark moments. You have to write and re-write and re-write.”

The meeting is open to the public and free to MWA members and first-time guests. All others may pay $5.00. Annual dues to MWA are $40.00 and include other benefits on top of monthly attendance. The Annapolis MWA chapter typically meets the third Wednesday of every month in room 205 at Maryland Hall. Maryland Hall is located at 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. However, for October, we meet in room 307. For more information visit:

Fraser Smith has been in the news…

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February 3, 2015

MWA Carroll County Chapter Meeting

February 07, 2015
1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
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Finksburg Branch Library
2265 Old Westminster Pike
Finksburg, MD 21048

Author & Editor Ally Machate coming to Finksburg Library

You’ve experienced the satisfaction of producing a quality piece of writing, but now what? Find out who really decides what gets published, how to approach them without getting the proverbial door slammed in your face, and what these gatekeepers expect from you! Includes tips that will make your pitches, queries, and proposals more effective!

Ally E. Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge of the publishing industry and wealth of experience to help others reach their publishing goals. Since 1999, she has assisted, guided, and supported up-and-coming authors on their publishing journey. Grab Ally’s free gifts and learn more at and

January 21, 2015

MWA St. Mary’s County Chapter Meeting

January 27, 2015
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
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Lexington Park Library, Meeting Room A
21677 FDR Blvd.
Lexington Park, MD 20653

MWA St. Mary’s Chapter Critique Group back by popular demand!

Tuesday, January 27, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.@ the Lexington Park Library

Bring up to 5 pages of original work, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman

January 13, 2015

MWA Montgomery County Chapter February Meeting

February 11, 2015
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Mid-County Community Recreation Center
2004 Queensguard Road
Silver Spring, MD 20906

 “I think this one is doing Kickstarter right…” Neil Gaiman

February Chapter Meeting with Michael C. Dougherty:
Crowdfunding: What it is and how to use it to bankroll your next writing project

Are you looking to finance your writing project with someone else’s money? As writers, we drain our personal funds to attend literary conferences, print manuscript copies and books, pay for editing, and survive while we wait for that avalanche of acceptance letters and royalty checks.  Crowdfunding changes how creative people launch ideas, raise funds, and find supporters (and fans!!!). This new and exciting way to raise funds over the Internet is making its way into the writing community. Can you afford to miss this presentation?

At the February meeting of the Montgomery County Chapter, Michael C. Dougherty presents “Crowdfunding: What it is and how to use it.” Michael will share with us:

– An introduction to crowdfunding

– The differences between the Kickstarter and Indiegogo platforms

– How to set up a crowdfunding campaign

– How to choose rewards/perks

– How to market a campaign

– How to go from launch to a successful campaign in 30 days

Michael will devote the second half of his presentation to Q&A. So please come prepared to take full advantage of this awesome opportunity to consult with a crowdfunding specialist. If you have or are thinking about starting a campaign for your book or book idea, bring your questions and campaign plans, and Michael will review them to show us how we, too, might enjoy crowdfunding success.

About the Speaker

Michael C. Dougherty is an author and filmmaker who has run three successful crowdfunding campaigns that have exceeded his goals. He is also a crowdfunding consultant, helping others reach or exceed their campaign targets. He has launched a popular blog and podcast about crowdfunding called “Your Crowdfunding Sucks,” which you can find at his website,

Location: Mid-County Community Recreation Center / 2004 Queensguard Road / Silver Spring MD 20906

Directions: ICC Exit 182 Layhill Rd (at Exit, turn Right/South) to (Left) Queensguard and Immediate Right into parking lot

Norbeck Rd N/W or Connecticut Ave N/W to (Right) Bel Pre Rd to (Right) Layhill to (Left) Queensguard and Immediate Right into Parking lot

January 13, 2015

MWA Howard County Chapter Meeting

January 15, 2015
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
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Owen Brown Community Center

6800 Cradle Rock Way
Columbia, MD 21045-4809

Wondering how your marketing efforts are working out? Nothing happens on the web that isn’t recorded somewhere. Angela Render will tell you what marketing metrics are available, and where to find them.  She’ll also give you tips on which tidbits of data are important, how to read them, how to compile them, and what they can tell you about your web marketing efforts.

Angela Render has over a decade of experience in design, programming, Internet marketing, SEO/social networking, cyber security, research and optimization,and integrated cyber development for small businesses. She applies he rtechnical foundation to maximize her ethical research techniques and online analytical processing, then shapes her findings into a creative strategic business plan. She is adept at shaping big-picture goals into actionable steps.She’s also an author with several books either in print or production as well as articles published in various magazines and ezines. You can learn more about her here:

Meeting Time and Location:
Thursday, October 16, 2014
7:00 – 9:00
Owen Brown Community Center
6800 Cradlerock Way
Columbia, MD 21045

HoCo continues to collect new or gently-used books for HopeWorks.(The Howard County Domestic Violence Center.)  All genres and age groups are needed, but due to the nature of their services, they request that the books contain no mention of violence against women or children.

For more information visit the Howard County Chapter website.


December 15, 2014

MWA Montgomery County Chapter Meeting: January 3rd, 2015

January 03, 2015
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
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Mid-County Community Recreation Center
2004 Queensguard Road
Silver Spring, MD 20906

Promoting Your Work with a Hefty Dose of Humor

To grow as a writer, it is important to repeatedly push your work out into the world. Yet, the more efforts you make to get your work published, the more chances you take at rejection. How do you stay positive in the face of all that negativity? Blogger and multi-book author Kat Spitzer has a few words of advice for you.

Blogging maven Kat Spitzer will discuss:

– Tips and tricks for promoting your work—the emphasis will be on nonfiction, but her humor-based strategies may also be used for fiction

– How to push through negativity and self-doubt

At the January meeting, Kat will present “Promoting Your Work with a Hefty Dose of Humor,” offering tips and tricks for promoting your work and growing a (primarily nonfiction) portfolio while keeping a sense of humor. Kat started her writing career with small unpaid articles, and grew from there to publishing larger features, a newspaper column, various blogs, her own daily blog, and now multiple books. Her blog and books are humorous and upbeat, and that’s been her approach to writing in general. You may experience lots of rejections in this business that threaten your belief in yourself as a writer. Kat will discuss how to push through negativity and self-doubt and prevail, even if it’s one little step at a time.
About the Speaker
Kat Spitzer is the author of The Happy Hypochondriac and the newly released The Happy Hypochondriac Survives World Travel. She also writes the humor blog by the same name, which you can find at her website, She contributes nonfiction freelance pieces to magazines and blogs and spent two years writing a weekly sports column for The Capital Gazette. While the Happy  Hypochondriac series of books is published by Apprentice House, she is also self-publishing a compilation of Happy Hypochondriac “Musings” books of her most popular blog posts. The first of these, Musings on Family Life, was released this summer. She is now working on a novel. Kat has a law degree, runs a small business, and is the mother of two and wife of one. The word “hypochondriac” appears on all of her medical records.


November 20, 2014

Cozy Up, We’ll Bring the Reading to You

It’s okay if you want to hole yourself up with some hot chocolate and a warm blanket. We’ll bring the reading to you. Here’s a reading from WYPR‘s The Signal by Susan Muaddi Darraj, one of the judges we’re lucky to have for the 2014 Literary Contest. When you’re done, get your own submissions in to us. Read our guidelines here.

November 14, 2014

Critique Session Set for November 25

Critique Session Set for November 25.

via Critique Session Set for November 25.

November 14, 2014

November 2014 speaker at the Annapolis MWA – Harrison Demchick

November 2014 speaker at the Annapolis MWA – Harrison Demchick.

via November 2014 speaker at the Annapolis MWA – Harrison Demchick.