Frederick County now has its own chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA), just chartered in January. A voluntary nonprofit with 10 chapters, the MWA supports “the art, business and craft of writing in all its forms,” and welcomes writers of all levels—aspiring, emerging and established—and all genres and disciplines to share information, networking and publishing resources, and camaraderie.
“Currently, the Frederick chapter has about 21 members,” said Kari Martindale of Urbana, who serves as vice president. “We’ve also had a couple of dozen prospective members attend meetings.”
Martindale characterized the Frederick members as mostly writers, “but we also have editors, teachers and bloggers. We have members who are traditionally published, self-published and pre-published. All genres are represented, but members have shown the most interest in short stories and essays, sci-fi, nonfiction, poetry and historical fiction.”
The chapter members do have similar interests, Martindale added, including sharing their work and critiquing, hearing from speakers and presenters as well as learning about “the query/submissions process, how to promote their work and the different writing processes that folks use.”
Both Martindale, a children’s picture book author, and chapter treasurer Jeff Reynolds, who writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, were MWA members prior to the establishment of the Frederick chapter, but geography limited their participation.
Martindale had taken “advantage of benefits like networking and volunteering at the Baltimore Book Festival,” and Reynolds “had attended a handful of meetings in some of the other counties (and) … often wondered why Frederick County didn’t have its own chapter.”
Reynolds joined MWA after attending a writers’ conference in St. Louis. “It was wonderful to be surrounded by a community of folks who share a love of and passion for writing,” he recalled. “When we returned home, I looked into the MWA and registered as a member. I’ve found that there’s no greater resource that a state writers association can provide than an opportunity to meet other writers and find support among your peers.”
An MWA mailing alerted Reynolds to a meeting “arranged to gauge interest in launching a Frederick chapter,” he said. “The MWA had apparently received enough queries about opening a chapter here that they decided to test interest.”
MWA Communications Chairman Jim Brewster said interest in a Frederick chapter was recognized during the MWA 30th anniversary year project he coordinated about notable writers who lived in Maryland. “We got a big response from Frederick, and were able to identify people who like to write and would be interested in a local group,” he said.
Among the requirements for starting a new chapter, Brewster said, are a minimum of 10 dues-paying members, four of whom would be willing to step up as officers.
About 20 to 25 people attended the meeting, Reynolds said. He volunteered to be a Frederick board member because “I wanted to make sure the group got off the ground.”
For Martindale, so far, “The biggest benefit has been in finding my tribe and networking outside of my genre. It’s pretty cool to be involved in building the Frederick chapter from the ground up!” she said. She has “begun reaching out to the community to develop programming—speakers, workshops, partnerships and outreach.”
The programming will include “giving our members time speaking in front of the group, so they can improve public speaking skills and begin to develop relevant presentations they can use in the future,” Martindale said. “Jeff and I are hoping that these speaking opportunities will make members stronger presenters, as speaking gigs have become of increasing importance to writers; and so that members are exploring their own experiences and improving upon their own processes as they research their presentations.”
The Frederick County chapter meets on the third Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. at the Urbana Regional Library, 9020 Amelung St., Frederick. Martindale also plans to establish an MWA Teen Writing Club in Frederick. For information, visit