Archive for June, 2013

June 30, 2013

MWA’s New Website is Packed with Useful Features for Members and Non-Members Alike

website-grabAfter nearly six months of work by the MWA’s web team, the organization’s new website soft-launched on Thursday. A complete top-to-bottom revamp, the new MWA website offers a lot of exciting features that will benefit members and chapters alike. The web team says that there are even more features that will be rolled out gradually in the coming months.

On the site, you’ll find many new and familiar tools and resources, including:

  • An online store
  • A calendar of upcoming meetings and events
  • Faster and easier secure online payments for memberships and store purchases
  • Links to our chapters throughout the state
  • Information about critique groups
  • The latest news on the 2014 Maryland Writers’ Conference

In addition, the site features a brand-new Member Area where members can:

  • Renew their memberships
  • Edit and update their member profiles
  • Find and connect with other MWA members by name, genre or discipline, services offered, and business name
  • Respond to surveys that will help MWA fine-tune its program offerings
  • Post and respond to exclusive members-only classified ads for products and services
  • Find exclusive members-only downloads include newsletter back issues, pamphlets, brochures, and information about MWA
  • Identify prospects for memberships or sponsorships
  • View their order histories from the online store

“We’re especially pleased with the Member Area,” says MWA President Paul Lagasse. “Members can use the networking tools to find other writers who share their interests.” Members will have the option to display websites, mailing addresses, writing interests, skills, and other information in their member profiles.

Current and recently-lapsed members received an e-mail on Saturday with instructions for logging into the site’s Member Area. If you didn’t receive the e-mail and you believe you are a paid-up member, please contact MWA’s Membership Chair Bryan England at

The site, developed and hosted by the association management services firm Star Chapter, also “bakes in” many powerful administrative tools that will enable MWA officers to more effectively manage the organization from top to bottom. The state board and chapters will be able to use the site’s control panel to track membership applications and renewals in realtime, sign people up as members or add them to the mailing list from the field, manage state and chapter event registrations, conduct membership surveys and mass mailings, identify and contact fundraising prospects, and much more.

“We get all of this for less than we were paying for fewer services before,” says Carolee Noury, MWA vice president and acting treasurer. “In other words, we’re getting much more for much less, which allows us to be better stewards of the MWA’s financial and volunteer resources.”

The new site will be managed by a team of two MWA members with a lot of web experience between them. Howard County Chapter president Glen Spangler will serve as the site’s Content Manager; Jeff Wiegand, Senior Developer at, will be the site’s Technical Manager.

If you haven’t already checked out the new site, please kick the tires and let us know what you think. And if you spot any glitches or quirks, let us know that too!

June 22, 2013

MWA is Looking for a Volunteer Webmaster

MWA is preparing to launch a new state website, and the new site is in need of a webmaster. Our current webmaster, Carl Rauscher, will be stepping down after more than two years on the job. Thank you for all your hard work keeping the old site running, Carl!

Our fresh new website will serve as a hub for improved communications between and among the state and chapters, members, and the communities we serve. It’s going to do a lot of amazing things, and it needs an amazing webmaster to help us realize the new site’s full potential.

We’re looking for someone who is independent, responsible, reliable, proactive, and possessed of a problem-solving, troubleshooting mindset. The webmaster will be expected to:

  • Write clean copy and require minimal editorial supervision
  • Proactively request information for website updates from MWA chapters and members and from the communities we serve
  • Respond to website-related requests from the board, members, and others in a timely fashion
  • Report to the MWA President and Vice President as an appointed member of the state board

The ideal candidate will have extensive experience maintaining content on either an organizational website (business or nonprofit) or a large or complex personal website. Experience with a website CMS such as WordPress is required; StarChapter, Joomla, or Drupal experience would float your name to the top of the list. Communications, web writing, marketing, and/or journalism experience and/or degrees would be plusses too.

The anticipated time commitment would be between 8-10 hours per month, with spikes around special events such as the Maryland Writers’ Conference, biennial board elections, etc. The work can be done from home. High-speed internet access is required.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, then please contact MWA president Paul Lagasse at for more information or to apply.

And please feel free to share this announcement!

June 17, 2013

Larry Matthews asks, “Biography: Fact or Fiction?” at the July Montgomery Chapter Meeting

What are the differences – and the similarities – between what we call “creative nonfiction” and a fictionalized account of real people or events? When the subject is the extraordinary life of an author’s own father, how does the author decide which approach to take? Find out when veteran broadcast journalist, novelist, and podcaster Larry Matthews talks about “Biography: Fact or Fiction?” at the July meeting of the Maryland Writers’ Association Montgomery Chapter, on Wednesday, July 10th at 7:00PM, at Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee Street, in Rockville.

In his latest book, Take a Rifle from a Dead Man, Matthews shares a fictionalized version of his father’s life. In his youth, Larry’s father sought to escape the Great Depression by leaving home and riding freight trains across the country. He then joined the military and took part in every major post-World War I U.S. military conflict of the 20th century. He fought in two of the century’s most vicious battles. He was a Cold War spy.

Matthews’ father led an extraordinary and difficult life. So why did he choose to fictionalize such a dramatic story? What are the benefits and risks in writing a novel based on real events rather than a straight nonfiction account? Larry will discuss his reasons for deciding to write this account of his father’s life in the form of “a novel based on real events.”

The room assignment for the meeting is to be announced. UPDATE: The meeting will take place in the CC Campus Center (Workforce Development & Continuing Education) building, labeled as “CC” on the campus map. This building is right next to the Physical Education Building where meetings have been held in the past. It will be on the right of the PE building when you face it from Parking Lot 4. Guests are asked to please park in student parking as designated by the white lines.

About the speaker:

Larry Matthews is a former broadcast journalist whose investigative reporting earned him a George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting, a duPont-Columbia Citation, and many other national and regional awards. His memoir, I Used To Be In Radio, has been praised as “a funny and moving page-turner” and “a must-read in journalism schools, especially for those who aspire to be investigative reporters.” Matthews is also the author of the Dave Haggard thrillers Butterfly Knife and Brass Knuckles. Take a Rifle from a Dead Man is Larry’s seventh published book.

For directions or to learn more about the MWA Montgomery Chapter, visit

June 15, 2013

It’s Membership Renewal Time!


A big little membership reminder:

The MWA yearly membership renewal date is fast approaching. Members are asked to renew their memberships by June 30 to enjoy another year of MWA benefits!


Remember, a mere $40 gets you:

  • Free entry to over 75 different chapter meetings throughout the year
  • Access to MWA-sponsored critique groups in various genres and locales across the state
  • A subscription to the MWA newsletter, Pen in Hand (which will soon become a members-only publication)
  • Discounted admission to the annual Maryland Writers’ Conference
  • The opportunity to rub shoulders with a group of writers spanning every genre and experience level
  • . . . and much more!

Of course, if your membership is already paid/renewed through June 30th, 2014, WE THANK YOU!

To renew your membership, go to our online application and renewal form. If you prefer to pay by check, use our printable form.

If you are not sure of your membership expiration date, please contact me at

Always remember: Don’t Fight It — Write It!

Bryan England
Membership Chairperson
Maryland Writers’ Association


MWA is a non-profit association dedicated to the art, business, and craft of writing.
Information can be found at

June 11, 2013

A Look at Alexander Chee’s “100 Things About a Novel,” Part One

by Carolee Noury

Cover of Edinburgh by Alexander CheeAlexander Chee, as he says on his blog, Koreanish, is a writer and a professor of writing fiction and nonfiction. In 2002 he published Edinburgh, a beautifully written novel about the grisly aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse.

I think the Washington Post Book World review describes it best:

​A coming-of-age novel in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks ​Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death. . . . A lovely, nuanced, never predictable ​portrait of a creative soul in the throes of becoming.

When I read Edinburgh, I fell head over heels for Chee’s ability to take intricate concepts and capture them in a few evocative words. As soon as I put the book down, I scoured the web for anything I could find about him. I had the delightful experience of discovering his blog post (originally four separate entries) “100 Things About a Novel.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it, talked about it, or found it entering my thoughts while writing.

Here I post a few of my favorites to expand on, and to which I invite you to react and respond:

5. It begins for me usually with the implications of a situation. A person who is like this in a place that is like this, an integer set into the heart of an equation and new values, everywhere.

Yes, it does start this way, doesn’t it? Some tiny fragment of an idea that before you know it grows until it towers over every other, demanding to be written first. How romantic and exciting it is to fall in love with this new story. I delight in the imagery of this being a challenging math problem with “new values” springing up everywhere. (Aren’t those the best days to be a writer?)

Fingerprint8. It is like having imaginary friends that are the length of city blocks. The pages you write are like fingerprinting them, done to prove to strangers they exist.

This one always makes me smile. That huge (invisible) friend that is so present to you and that no one can see. Yet. The reason you simply must write.

That image of writing being fingerprints — a result of our need to prove the existence of these incredible beings. (I mean, they’re the length of a city blocks. How selfish it would be to keep that to yourself!)

9. Reading a novel successfully is then the miracle of being shown such a fingerprint and being able to guess the face, the way she walks, the times she fell in love incorrectly or to bad result, etc.

And this is truly our job when it comes down to the essence, isn’t it? We work as detectives — collecting clues and piecing them together in our “notebooks.” And one day, if all goes well, we’ll get to present this case to our jury and they, too, will get to meet this friend, no longer imaginary.

We all know how lonely it can be to be a writer. Sometimes it feels magical and other days monotonous. For me, this post is a balm for both the good and the bad days- a place I can go where the things I know are described with vivid clarity. A place I can go to remember why I’m doing this. (I’m collecting evidence!)

And now it’s your turn. What do you think? Do they work for you? What are your favorites from the list and why?

June 7, 2013

MWA’s Baltimore Chapter Needs Volunteers to Stand as Officers

Calling all Baltimore-area MWA members! Volunteers are needed to serve as officers for the Baltimore chapter in the 2013-14 membership year. Please read the appeal below from Neal Patterson, Secretary of the Baltimore chapter.



I’m making this direct appeal to those MWA members who have been regular attendees of the Baltimore Chapter meetings over the past year.

For various reasons both personal and professional, Fernando, Shirley, and Neal (our current president, vice president & secretary, respectively) have decided to step down as officers of the Baltimore Chapter at the end of the month. Fortunately, our treasurer and long-time MWA member, Gary Lester, has agreed to run for treasurer again.

As you can see, this year’s election is critical because three posts are becoming vacant simultaneously. The Baltimore Chapter needs to find candidates for at least President and Secretary to stand for election by our next chapter meeting on June 24. Otherwise, the Baltimore Chapter would technically be in violation of its charter and the state board would be within its rights to revoke its charter and disband the chapter. Of course, we hope it doesn’t come to that, but the chapter needs leadership to survive. So, for those who enjoy our monthly meetings and want the Baltimore Chapter to continue, it is vital that anyone who can run for office should step forward now.

Although officers must invest a few hours time each month in planning and organizing the monthly meetings, the experience would be enriching and valuable to your career as a writer. Also, Gary’s veteran guidance should make the process relatively painless.

If you would be interested in keeping the Baltimore Chapter going and helping to guide it over the next year, please contact us at Elections are currently scheduled for our chapter meeting on Monday, June 24th at 7p. m. at Ukazoo Books in Towson.

Thanks for your support.
Neal Patterson
Secretary, MWAB

June 3, 2013

Submissions Now Being Accepted for Pen in Hand’s Summer 2013 Issue

Submissions are now open for the Summer 2013 issue of Pen in Hand, the MWA’s quarterly membership newsletter. The issue will be appearing in July 2013.

Pen in Hand publishes:

  • Tips and techniques on the art, craft, and business of writing and publishing
  • How-to advice for writers
  • News items and features on upcoming events of interest to MWA members and friends (please keep the publication date of the issue in mind when submitting dated items!)
  • Interviews with noteworthy people such as MWA meeting guest speakers
  • Short-short stories and poetry

Word count ceiling: 300-400 words for features, stories, and poetry; 100 words for news items and announcements.

Payment: Your story in print. Pen in Hand acquires no rights beyond first publication.

Submission deadline: Friday, June 28, 2013. The newsletter can fill up quickly — especially the fiction, poetry, and memoir section — so don’t wait too long before submitting!

Pen in Hand reserves the right to edit for length, grammar, and spelling as appropriate. Publication will depend on factors such as timeliness, relevance, professionalism, and available space.

Submission Requirements:

  • You must be a current MWA member to be considered for publication.
  • Maryland-based literary journals, publishers, reading series, and writers’ associations are welcome to submit announcements such as calls for submissions and upcoming events.
  • Submissions should be in unformatted text and included in the body of an email message. No attachments, please.
  • Please include a brief bio.
  • If line art or halftones will accompany your submission, please specify that in your e-mail and the editor will provide formatting guidelines.
  • include “PIH” in the e-mail subject line and send to Paul Lagasse at Questions and queries are encouraged.

Please note: submissions that don’t follow these guidelines will not be considered!

Looking forward to seeing your submissions!