Archive for December, 2008

December 15, 2008

MWA Chapters Need Your Help!

Want to find other writers in your neck of the woods? Looking for colleagues with whom you can discuss everything from plotting to publishing? Have a desire to share your writing with the public? Would you like to have famous writers and editors come hang out with you and share their secrets and behind-the-scenes stories?

Why not start an MWA chapter? Or work with fellow MWA members in your area to get one going?

Chapters bring local communities of writers together through regular meetings, programs, and events of interest — while in turn benefitting from the resources of the well-established statewide parent organization. Those benefits includes things like seed money and speaker stipends, a bank account for chapter funds, chapter website hosting and maintenance, regular announcement placements in MWA publications and e-mails, and access to statewide press releases.

Once chartered, chapters are run by elected officers who provide a venue and programming for local monthly meetings. Chapters, like the parent organization, are encouraged to run their own programs of guest speakers on topics of interest to local writers in the area.

If you’d like help establishing a thriving local community of writers in your area, please e-mail Vice-President Gary Lester.

Here’s the latest chapter news:

Annapolis Chapter

There is growing interest in rekindling the Annapolis-area community of MWA members around a new Annapolis chapter. If you are interested in helping make this happen, please e-mail MWA Vice-President Gary Lester for more information.

Frederick Chapter

The newly-launched Frederick Chapter meets monthly at the beautiful and recently-renovated C. Burr Artz Library, 110 East Patrick Street, adjacent to Frederick’s riverfront walk. E-mail chapter president Linda Alexander for more information.

Baltimore Chapter

www.mwabaltimore.org

The first MWA chapter to launch, the Baltimore Chapter meets on the fourth Mondays of every month except December, at 7pm. Locations vary around Baltimore City and the Greater Baltimore area. The chapter is co-sponsored by the CityLit Project and the Write Here, Write Now workshops at the Creative Alliance. E-mail chapter president Paul Lagasse for more information, or visit the chapter website for the latest news and sign up to receive e-mail news and updates.

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December 7, 2008

Live-Blogging from the Art Market!

We’re inaugurating the MWA’s blog by live-blogging from the Annapolis Art Alliance’s Art Market at the brand-new Westin Hotel, where MWA has a table featuring members and their books.

We’ll be here all day Sunday, December 7, covering the festivities, talking with MWA members and visitors, and generally having a good time. If you’re planning on being in downtown Annapolis today to partake of the Holiday on West Street festivities, why not drop by and say hi?

# # # 

We’re located by the front door of the Westin’s spacious lobby — which is great for walk-ins, as the vibrant red Baltimore Chapter banner really grabs people’s eyes! However, whenever the big glass doors open to let someone through with a big load of luggage — and let in some of the c-c-cold and windy outdoors air — then I’m glad I decided to wear long underwear… 😀

annap-111:00 — People are starting to trickle in — Gary Lester, our stalwart VP, Pat Valdata, who was a guest speaker at the 2008 MWA Annual Conference, and Sally Whitney, our trustworthy treasurer have arrived. Mare Cromwell, long-time member, arrived a little while ago too.

12:00 — The festival has started with some sales already! So we’re off to a good start, our spirits buoyed. (And by the way, yes we fixed the banner.)

1:30 — Don’t mistake Gary Lester’s cell phone ringtone for Austin Powers’s car phone — “It’s Derek Flint’s, and Austin Powers stole it from him,” Gary says. “Derek Flint is my hero.” Yet Gary’s new book, Ursula the Yellow, isn’t about a super-suave secret agent. Rather, it’s a fantasy novel about a young woman who is trying to be accepted into a predominantly male world and has to prove herself by risking her life.

annap-2The cover is distinctive. “In her test, Ursula has to prove that she works well with all the elements,” says Gary.a lifelong fantasy and science fiction. “The cover depicts her calling forth fire.”

Gary’s book debuted at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival, the culmination of four years of writing, editing, “There were brick walls along the pathway,” he says. “It took me about ten months to write.” It won the 2003 MWA novel contest in the Fantasy category, the deadline for which encouraged him to hurry up and finish the book.

“I already have the next three books in the series all mapped out,” Gary says. We’re looking forward to them. Check out the details at the book’s page on the Grey Rock Publishing website.

1:30 — Lunch was a delicious pizza from Carpaccio’s across the street. The sausage and pepperoni slathered in dripping cheese should insulate us from the cold and hold us until closing — or until we hit Morton’s Steakhouse across the lobby . . .

3:00 — At this event we’re getting a sneak preview of Pat Valdata’s second novel, The Other Sister, which is hot off the press. The official debut is this coming Friday at a special event at the American Hungarian Foundation. What’s the book about? “That’s on the video,” Pat says.

Pat Valdata“The most fun for me was researching for it,” says Pat, “and the best part was ads in old newspapers.” She spent countless hours perusing the microfilmed newspapers in the University of Delaware library. The book covers three generations of sisters from 1904 to 1956. “What were people wearing? What were the baseball teams?”

Pat’s first novel, Crosswinds, was followed by a poetry collection, Looking for Bivalve. Her thesis advisor was Mark Doty, who won this year’s National Book Award. Find out more about Pat’s books at her website

4:30 — Before the pizza arrived, Mare Cromwell kept us going with a huge bag of Trader Joe’s dried apricots. “Because they are so yummy and there’s no sulfur to give that metallic taste,” she said. “And here’s the clincher: they keep you regular.”

annap-4Her first book, If I Gave You God’s Phone Number, is “composed of interviews with very different people, and each person was asked the question, “if I gave you God’s phone number, what would you do with it?’,” Mare explained. “It’s very different from other books that have ‘God’ in the title.” She confessed that she secretly hopes that someday someone will so misinterpret her book that they will want to have a book burning. “I’d bring the cider,” she said.

Mare started with people close by, then started to reach out to others, like an Afghan Sufi mystic in Philadelphia she met through a friend. She even talked to a person on Maryland’s death row. “There was an article in the Sun about the death row population and how they have access to computers to research their cases,” she said. “I contacted the writer and he encouraged me to contact one of the inmates in the article.”

She’s working — “intensively,” she says — on her next book, a spiritual memoir about working with her Cherokee medicine woman teacher. “I know that by the end of this winter I should have a manuscript ready to go off to an editor,” she says. You can find out more about Mare and her books, and read her blog, at her website.

annap-55:00 — In the afternoon, Louise Harris came by (too late for pizza). Her novel The 1776 Scroll is about “a 19 year old witch who is kidnapped over a magic scroll,” she says. “She’s the only one who can unlock the magic, and along the way she finds true love.” It’s set in modern times, but to divulge more will give away too much of the plot, she says.

Louise is a freelance writer and editor who hangs out with engineers because of her background in environmental reporting. She recalls how once she attended a conference with German engineers. “It was about 3:45,” she says, “and the speaker stood up and said, let’s hurry up and finish this so we can go get the beer.”

Sorry, Sally Whitney — I ran out of time to profile you! But we had fun talking, and thank you for handling all the finances!

And finally, what do you do with an empty pizza box in a hotel with no trash cans? Why, you draw attention to yourself by walking into the men’s room with it, of course:

annap-62

Cheers,

Paul Lagasse, MWA Webmaster