Friday, October 14, 2011

MWA and U

mwa_logoIf you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re a mystery writer or mystery fan/reader (or criminal, I suppose, looking for hints about how to beat the law). That’s why I think you should consider joining Mystery Writers of America (unless you’re a criminal—then change your ways and contribute positively to society!). Disclaimer: I am a proud member of MWA and I’m the treasurer of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter. However, the opinions I’m expressing here are my own, unofficial and slightly biased, ones.

MWA offers many valuable benefits and services to members, as well as to the public at large (and you don’t have to be a published author to join!)—newsletters, discounts, a listserv, the Edgar awards, anthologies, scholarship programs, and others. But I’d like to highlight two important aspects of being in MWA: the networking and the education.

Our local chapter has monthly dinner meetings, and because of our D.C. location, we get a wide range of terrific speakers. We’ve had an ex-spy, an FBI hostage negotiator, and museum director (and a wealth of great writers, too). During our last meeting, we learned about stalking, which was fascinating, in a totally creepy way (Did you know that about 2% of stalking cases end in murder or attempted murder? And that, in Virginia, stalking is only a misdemeanor?).

In addition to hearing great speakers, these meetings are excellent places to network. You can connect with potential research sources, find other writers for critique groups, or discover which mystery/writing conferences are worth attending. You can also learn about agents, publishers, and other arcane workings of the publishing biz (if your stomach is strong enough).

On a national level, MWA has recently (within the past year or so) begun offering what it calls MWA University, in different locations throughout the country. It’s “a full-day, low-cost writing seminar designed to teach participants the essential skills needed to write a novel, from the idea stage to the final editing. The focus is on the craft of writing, and the college-level courses are taught by published writers and experienced teachers.”

I had the great pleasure of attending the pilot seminar last summer, and it was fantastic. I recommend it to any writer, at any level.

If you don’t already belong to MWA, what are you waiting for?




Darrell James said...

Also a proud member and Board member of the SoCal Chapter. And don't forget some pretty "rockin'' social events!

Vicki Doudera said...

I belong to the New England Chapter which meets in Boston. Don't get down from Maine to very many meetings, but that will change (all too soon) when our last kiddo leaves the nest.

BTW she turns 17 on Sunday! Cannot believe that my "baby" is now an accomplished and lovely young woman. I'm gonna need those MWA meetings...

Robin Allen said...

I'm a member of my local Sisters in Crime (they allow men, too--not that I'm a man, but I'm just sayin'), but haven't joined MWA yet. I'll rectify that this week.

I'm always entertained by our SinC speakers. We've had a guy who makes a pretty strong case that fire investigation is a science, not an art, a Texas Ranger, a postal inspector, a crime scene investigator, and a crime scene analyst.

Kathleen Ernst said...

I'm a member of both Sinc & MWA. Our midwest MWA chapter is geographically huge, so I'm luck if I make one meeting a year. But it's worth it!

Beth Groundwater said...

I'm a board member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter, which rocks! We're putting Sherlock Holmes on trial for our December meeting, and the October meeting had 2 PhD forensic psychologists as speakers.

PS. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, too, and the Guppies on-line chapter.