The Frederick Chapter of Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) celebrated its first year as an official chapter on Jan. 26. The chapter began with 12 members and has grown to approximately 78 members. Meetings are held on the third Saturday of each month at Urbana Regional Library.
MWA, which was founded in 1989, welcomes writers in every genre and at every stage of their careers, from pre-published to traditionally and independently published. Some MWA members have been published for decades, while others are just starting out.
Chapter Secretary Nora Azzi enjoys “fellowship with other writers who understand my struggles.” She particularly appreciated January’s presentation, “Plotting for Pantzers,” by author Jeanne Adams.
On Feb. 15, Jeff Reynolds will be discussing traditional storytelling in “Cabin Fever Reliever,” inspired by “a mid-winter event held in different parts of the country, where a local community comes together to sing, share stories, do skits, etc. I went to a few in Maine as a young adult, (and they) were always fun.” Reynolds took on the position of treasurer when MWA Frederick was formed. His story “Rabbit” was published in Daily Science Fiction in November 2019, qualifying him for membership in Science Fiction Writers of America; a second story is expected to be published this spring.
MWA Frederick members are looking forward to upcoming presentations such as “From Shy to Sold: Querying, Proposing, and Getting Your Book Published” by visiting author Ally Machate on April 18 and “Polishing Your Manuscript” by Linda Rondeau on June 20.
Rondeau, vice president of the chapter, has been writing for almost 20 years but said, “I still have much to learn. I learn from helping new authors.” In the past year, Rondeau was promoted from a general editor (at Elk Lake Publishing) to senior acquisitions editor. “The responsibility for supervising other editors and determining the fate of submissions has proven to be a challenge. As I work with aspiring authors in groups such as MWA, I am sensitive to the hard work and hope (that) authors put into their manuscripts.”
In its first year, the chapter hosted a mix of speakers and events. Author Lakita Wilson visited to talk about the role of social media. At one presentation, members learned about giving and receiving critique and dealing with rejections; at another, they learned about self-publishing. During a website share meeting, members gave one another feedback on their author websites and internet presence.
Alanna Cohen has been attending meetings since the chapter formed. “I never realized there were so many writers in our community, and feeling a part of a community of writers has been energizing. … Through the conversations I’ve had through members of the MWA meetings, I’ve learned a lot about the process of publishing, querying and promoting your work.” Cohen recently won a Twitter contest to have the first few pages of her book read.
Chapter member and local beat poet Rod Deacey presented a poetry workshop in July; his accomplishments over the year include being awarded the 2019 Carl R. Butler Individual Artist Grant Award for Literature from the Frederick Arts Council, and independently publishing “neo-beatery ballads: New Beat Poetry.”
Members of MWA Frederick are working on a wide range of projects. Author Burton Clark helped to start the Frederick chapter. His first book, “I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying: The American Fire Culture” was published in 2016 (Premium Press America), but he is especially proud to be in the process of publishing his great-grandmother’s poetry.
The chapter will have a booth at the Frederick Festival of the Arts on June 5 to 7, when members will hold signings, readings, workshops and other activities. The chapter hosted an open mic night at Sky Stage in 2019 and plans to do so again in 2020.
In February, the chapter will be announcing a writing contest for Frederick County high school students. MWA members with experience in publishing, teaching and evaluation will be judging, and the prizes for the top three submissions will be a $50 award for the top submission overall, and $25 each for the top submissions in the three genres of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
MWA Frederick will not meet in March.
For more, visit www.marylandwriters.org.