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A COZY KLATCH: INSIDE THE UPCOMING BONES & SCONES READING

bonesscones2One of the many challenges for public libraries today is attracting community interest. Building engagement with local communities through fun, educational, and relevant programs that bring people together at no cost to the public is a tall order. As an employee of two public libraries in New Jersey, I talk with library staff about this issue quite often. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, I always advocate for the representation of mystery and crime fiction authors in public libraries.

Last year while talking with Madison Public Library adult services librarian Cassidy Charles (she buys all the mysteries, by the way) about the difficulty of developing fresh program ideas, MWA naturally came up while discussing mystery-related programming. MWA's free library panels are always successful and engage the audience with fun and relevant topics. But, Cassidy had already facilitated a few author panels that year and was looking to create something a bit more interactive.

"Bob mentioned the Noir at the Bar series that MWA had been involved with and I thought that was great," Cassidy said. "Now if we could take that idea and adapt it for the library setting and a library collection we could have something."

Cozy mysteries are very popular at the Madison Public Library, and we realized that there wasn't anything like Noir at the Bar for the cozy genre. While noir readings fit the bar setting, cozies were a different matter. Traditional mysteries lend themselves better to a quieter, more relaxed setting. What better place than a public library? Instead of serving scotch on the rocks, tea and scones could be on the menu. Because, let's face it, free food always draws a crowd.

Cassidy brought in a local writers group and gauged their interest in participating alongside published authors from MWA. The purpose of this would be to draw in aspiring writers and give them an outlet to present their work to an audience while networking with professionals in the industry. Cozy authors liked the idea because the event gave them a new way to showcase their upcoming works and connect with readers. Within a few weeks Bones & Scones was born. After working out details with then-MWA-NY president Richie Narvaez, we were able to secure for active member authors to read and the event was set.

Despite the beautiful weather on that October Saturday afternoon last year, the first Bones & Scones had a terrific turnout, and the crowd enjoyed the event so much that they stayed for an impromptu Q & A afterward. Readers included Susan Breen, Peggy Ehrhart, Carole Bugge (aka C.E. Lawrence), and Mary McHugh (pictured, clockwise).

Two women from the local writers' group read following the MWA readers, and one of them joined MWA following the program. "Initially we only had one local reader signed-up," said Cassidy, "but after hearing the MWA authors speak, another local reader felt the event atmosphere was welcoming and a good environment to share in."

In hopes of repeating last year's success, the second annual Bones & Scones is scheduled for October 8, 2 p.m., at the Madison NJ Public Library. The MWA lineup will include: Peggy Ehrhart, Susan Breen, Tim Hall, and C.E. Lawrence. Once again we’ve opened the event to local writers to follow the main program with a Q & A (time permitting). And, of course, FREE tea and scones.

Robert J. Daniher

Robert J. Daniher lives in New Jersey where he works as an IT Support Technician for Madison Public Library and Library of The Chathams. He has been a member of MWA since 2009 and assists the MWA-NY Library Committee with planning author events at North Jersey libraries. His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for the Mysterious Photograph Contest and in the annual Deadly Ink Short Story Collections of 2007 and 2008.

GENREPALOOZA: MINGLING WITH HWA AND RWA

Three copyIt was mysterious! It was horrific! It was . . . romantic!

Members of the Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter, the Horror Writers Association, and the Romance Writers of America-New York City met and mingled over cocktails (and in air conditioning, on an extremely muggy summer night) at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan on August 11. MWA-NY’s Laura K.Curtis, HWA’s James Chambers, and RWA-NYC’s Kate McMurray each spoke briefly to the crowd.

IMG_4173 copyThis event was sponsored by MWA-NY, HWA, and RWA-NYC. Future genre-writer gatherings are planned, with, we hope, members of the Science Fiction Writers of America!

To see a full album of photographs, visit our Facebook page here.

Photographs by Jonathan Sharpe.

BURSTEIN/MWA-NY SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE EXTENDED

writingThe deadline for the inaugural Leon B. Burstein Scholarship has been extended. Aspiring mystery writers can now submit their applications until Friday, September 23. You can download the application by clicking here.

The scholarship, named for avid mystery fan Leon B. Burstein, supports mystery writing by providing financial assistance to writers who want to take a specific class, attend a conference, or research a particular subject for a mystery work in progress. MWA members and non-members may both apply, provided they do not meet the criteria for active membership. Please tell your writer friends who might be interested!

To apply, you'll need to include a writing sample as well as a brief personal statement, including how the scholarship will help you to achieve your goals and how you will use the funds (i.e., the specific class, conference, or other research activity, including travel). The writing sample should be an excerpt from a work-in-progress, fiction or nonfiction, book, short story, play or screenplay, adult, YA, or juvenile; but it must be related to mystery writing.

Scholarships will range between $500 and $1,000, depending on the scope of the submission. Two scholarships will be given in 2016. Winners will be announced on November 2, 2016.

The Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing

When I first became serious about writing mysteries, I considered going to a writer's conference in Chicago. My problem was simple... the cost. When I added up the cost of the conference registration, the hotel and airfare, I struggled to justify the expenditure. Then one of my friends offered a bit of advice. If you want to be a real writer, you have to start going to the places that the real writers go.

I was fortunate to get such good advice. I learned important lessons about the craft and the business of writing. And it was at that conference in 2005 that I met the acquisitions editor who would offer me the publishing contract that qualified me for Active membership status in MWA.

If an aspiring writer asks me for advice, I often recommend that they go to a writer's conference or workshop. And they often tell me that they don't have the money. So I was especially pleased last year, when the Board asked me to work on a project that could help address the problem. If you attended Revels in December, you heard the announcement. As a result of a generous donation from one of our members, we have created the Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing. We have now posted the scholarship FAQS and application on our website. You will find them at the Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing.

The scholarship will make it possible for aspiring mystery writers (whether or not they are members of MWA) located in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia to seek financial support "to take a specific class, attend a conference, or to do specific research as demonstrably necessary to a mystery work they are creating."

If you are an aspiring mystery writer, I hope you’ll apply. If you teach aspiring writers, or know aspiring writers, I hope you’ll share the information.

I’ve learned a couple of things in my time as a blogger. The first is that people are more likely to read a blog if it has pictures.

 

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"If you want to be a real writer, you have to start going to the places that the real writers go."

The other thing I’ve learned is, sometimes people don’t bother following links. So, I’ve copied and pasted the FAQS here.

1. What is the purpose of the Burstein Scholarship? The purpose of the scholarship is to inspire aspiring mystery writers by offering financial support to writers who want to take a specific class, attend a conference, or to do specific research as demonstrably necessary to a mystery work they are creating.

2. Who is eligible to apply?

An applicant may be, but is not required to be a member of MWA. Associate and affiliate members of MWA are eligible to apply. Active members are ineligible. Non-members are eligible to apply as long as they don’t meet the criteria for active membership. (For a definition of active, affiliate, and associate memberships, see http://mysterywriters.org/how-to-become-a-member-of-mwa/.)

To be eligible to apply, an applicant must live in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia.

3. How many scholarships will be awarded?

In 2016, two scholarships will be awarded.

4. How much is the scholarship?

Scholarships will be awarded in the range of $500 - $1,000, depending on the scope of the submission.

5. What are the application requirements?

Applicants will submit a completed application and a writing sample. The application may be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

The application includes identifying information necessary to confirm eligibility and a brief personal statement including a rationale as to how the scholarship will help the applicant to achieve his/her writing goals. The applicant must identify on the application how the funds will be used and an estimated budget (i.e., the specific class, conference, or other research activity, including travel).

The writing sample should be an excerpt from a work-in-progress. It may be fiction or nonfiction, book, short story, play or screenplay, adult, YA, or juvenile, but must be related to mystery writing.

6. How will applications be judged?

A panel of judges, selected from among the active members of the New York chapter will consider both the quality of the writing sample and the proposed use of the award in the selection of the scholarship winners.

7. What are the time frames for the scholarship?

The application submission period will open on May 4, 2016, and will close on August 3, 2016. Scholarship winners will be announced November 2, 2016.

8. How will the chapter promote the scholarship?

The scholarship announcement and application will be found on the chapter website. The chapter will post announcements on The Noose and other chapter communications in print and online. Information about the scholarship will be distributed by chapter members to area writing programs. The scholarship will also be promoted at the monthly Write-Ins.

9. Who is Leon B. Burstein?

Leon B. Burstein was born in the Bronx in 1915, lived his adult life in California until his death in 1991, and always loved a good mystery. The Leon B. Burstein/MWANY Scholarship for Mystery Writing was launched in 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

10. If I get the scholarship, what do I have to do?

Recipients agree to acknowledge the Leon B. Burstein/MWANY Scholarship for Mystery Writing in anything they publish as a result of the award. They also agree to write a brief description of whatever they did with the funds provided to them.

11. Where do I find an application?

You can download the application here: http://www.mwany.org/burstein/bursteinapplication2016.doc.zip

 

Jeff Markowitz

www.jeffmarkowitz.com

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