Our Flash Fiction Winner: Hailey Ardell!

June 8th, 2015

Congrats to Hailey Ardell, the winner of the Mystery Writers of America Flash Fiction Contest at this weekend’s Printers Row Lit Fest! The contest was judged by Sara Paretsky and Clare O’Donohue, Chicago mystery authors.

Here’s Hailey’s great story. We loved it!!

Trial and Error

by Hailey Ardell

No, no. Let me start over.

Your honor, I know that this trial “doesn’t have all day”, but trust me, this is pertinent information.

I had known Mary for twenty-five years. She was my next-door neighbor after I moved to the suburbs. I had moved from the city, but Mary was born and raised in this small town. She always had big dreams, wanted to see the world, but boy oh boy, Chicago ain’t ready for that blonde.

Yeah, we dated for a while. I broke it off. She hadn’t yet shown any signs of mental illness. No, that wasn’t it. We had just grown apart. She was still that sweet gal that had a big heart and bigger ambitions. She was taking classes at the local university and had lots of friends there. She was so social, so happy. I guess that’s why it’s so surprising where she is now.

Eventually, I moved back to the city. She called me once or twice. We were still on good terms. She wanted to travel to see me in person at my apartment, but I kept her at arms-length. Even then, she had started showing signs. She wasn’t quite right in her head. I could tell from our conversations. Sometimes she got crankier and more short-tempered, but then just like that, she would be chatting just like normal, just like she used to.

I had just gotten home from work when I got the call. I remember that I almost fainted when Mary’s mother phoned me, telling me… telling me the awful news. Who would have thought that Mary, sweet Mary, would have shot herself? I don’t think that anyone saw it coming, but it was definitely suicide.

I know that Mary’s father couldn’t have killed her. I know I said earlier that no one saw it coming. Maybe that’s not accurate. She was suffering mentally. No, I know it was her father’s gun. I know his fingerprints were on it. Look, it wasn’t him, just trust me. How do I know? Well, I wasn’t there to see it happen. Of course not. How would that even be possible? I’m not a liar. I’m not a liar! Mary’s father is just as innocent as I am.

Wait, hang on. Can I please start over? I’m afraid I wasn’t being quite clear. I apologize, I don’t know what got into me. I certainly wasn’t implying that I killed her. No, no, no, that would be impossible, I was at work.

Don’t be silly.

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MWA Midwest’s Printers Row Schedule

May 28th, 2015

Printers Row time once again, and MWA Midwest will have plenty of expertise on the ground. Come to hear how other writers work, think—and kill!


Saturday, June 6, 10:00 a.m.
“The Characters You Love to Hate:  Writing the Anti-Hero”
Jones College Prep #5010
Michael Major, Kristi Belcamino, Lynne Raimondo, Shane Gericke, Moderated by Lori Rader-Day

Saturday, June 6, 11:00 a.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“Sex Kills: Writing a Sex Scene”
Clare O’Donohue and Tim Chapman

Saturday, June 6, 1:00 p.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“Law & Order”
Lynne Raimondo and Adam Henkels

Saturday, June 6, 2:15 p.m.
Kick-Ass Women: Breaking the Deadly Glass Ceiling
Jones College Prep #5010
Libby Fischer Hellmann, Jessie Chandler, Susanna Calkins, Raymond Benson, Moderated by Jeffrey Marks

Saturday, June 6, 3 p.m.
Flash Fiction Contest
Center Stage
Judged by Sara Paretsky and Clare O’Donohue, Moderated by Lori Rader-Day

Saturday, June 6, 3 p.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“Going Dark: Writing Serial Killers”
J. Michael Major, M.E. May, and Cynthia Pelayo

Saturday, June 6, 4:30 p.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“A Writer’s Work Ethic”
Matthew Clemens and Raymond Benson

Sunday, June 7, 11 a.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“Chicago Mystery Writers in Conversation”
Julie Hyzy and Sam Reaves

Sunday, June 7, 12 p.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“History’s Mysteries”
Robert Goldsborough and Frances McNamara

Sunday, June 7, 1 p.m.
Writers for Hire: Writing a Series That Wasn’t Your Idea
Jones College Prep #5030
Robert Goldsborough, Julie Hyzy, Michael Black, Moderated by Jamie Freveletti

Sunday, June 7, 1 p.m.
MWA tent mini-panel
“Midwest Murders”
Patricia Skalka, Sue Myers and Gunter Kaesdorf


SAT 10 – 11:30:  Jeanne Meeks, Suzanne Rorhus, Frances McNamara, Lee Williams, Jack Fredrickson, Kate Collins, Raymond Benson

SAT 11:30 – 1:  Susan Froetschel, Patricia Skalka, Tim Chapman, Gail Lukasik, Bryon Quertermous, Gunter Kaesdorf, Matthew Clemens

SAT 1 – 2:30: Lynne Raimondo, J. Michael Major, Robert Goldsborough, Kate Collins, Jeffrey Marks, Jessie Chandler, Kristi Belcamino

SAT 2:30 – 4: Michael Black, Lou Macaluso, Matthew Clemens, Heather E. Ash, Brian Pinkerton, Gail Lukasik

SAT 4 – 5:30: Raymond Benson, Susanna Calkins, Molly MacRae, D.M. Pirrone, Brian Pinkerton, C.L. Shore, Kym Brunner

SUN 10 – 11:30:  Sue Myers, Molly MacRae, Kristi Belcamino, Jeanne Meeks, Helen Osterman, Lydia Ponczak, Susan Froetschel

SUN 11:30 – 1: M.E. May, Lori Rader-Day, Susanna Calkins, Sue Myers, Jeffrey Marks, Gunter Kaesdorf, Sam Reaves

SUN 1 – 2:30: Sam Reaves, Helen Osterman, Lydia Ponczak, Patricia Skalka, D.M. Pirrone, Jessie Chandler, Lynne Raimondo

SUN 2:30 – 4:  Michael Black, Julie Hyzy, Lou Macaluso, Robert Goldsborough, Frances McNamara, Lee Williams, Kym Brunner

SUN 4 – 5:30: Bryon Quertermous, Jack Fredrickson, Heather E. Ash, Lori Rader-Day, C.L. Shore, Kate Hannigan

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Sign up for MWA mentorship

April 8th, 2015

The Hugh Holton Mentor Program is now open for submissions!

Starting April 1 until August 1 2015, you can submit 50 pages of your manuscript to be critiqued by a published member of MWA Midwest.

The cost to members is just $25, non-members pay only $50. You will receive your critique within 60 days of submitting your manuscript so you can get started quickly on re-writes or submitting to publishers.

The best member-submitted manuscript will be awarded a $500 prize. The best non-member-submitted manuscript will receive a one-year paid membership in MWA. The winners will be announced at the Midwest Holiday Party on December 13.

To submit your manuscript, it’s important that you follow these instructions:

APRIL 1- AUGUST 1, you can submit up to 50 pages of manuscript electronically. Send your manuscript to mwamidwest@gmail.com.

You can pay either by check/MO to: MWA Midwest, PO Box 8082, Evanston, IL 60204 or by PAYPAL (you will need to sign up at least briefly) to use a credit card. Use the “send money” function to send the payment to mwamidwest@gmail.com.


Include title page with:
Title of work
Author’s name and email address.
Indicate membership status (member or non-member of MWA).
(Optional) Indicate subgenre. Some of our mentors have indicated a preference to works such as PI, Police, Dark (Noir), Cozy, Amateur Sleuth, Romance, Historical, Humorous, Suspense. If you think your work falls into any of those categories, you can indicate that. If not, or you’re not sure, don’t worry about it. We’ll make a good mentee/mentor match.
Use Times New Roman 12 point and double space in a Word format.

Thanks for participating!

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MWA Midwest hosts one-day mystery-writing course MWA University

July 21st, 2014

Mystery Writers of America University (MWA-U) is 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.

Register NOW for MWA University – Chicago

MWA University in Chicago will take place in downtown Chicago.

Date: Saturday, September 13, 2014

What: An entire day of top-notch classes. Novice or pro, you will benefit from hearing the experts discuss their strategies for all facets of writing and publishing.

Click here for all the details: http://mysterywriters.org/mwa-university/mwa-u-chicago/

You can register by credit card in the MWA Store, both member and non-member rates: http://mysterywriters.org/store/

If you’re thinking about joining MWA, join now to get the member discount on MWA University!

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MWA Midwest at Printers Row, June 7 & 8

May 26th, 2014

MWA Midwest will be hosting the MWA tent at Printers Row again this year. Come check out the in-tent activities, author interviews and signings, and contests at the corner of Dearborn and Harrison near the Blake Hotel. Check out these MWA Midwest-led events, too:

Saturday, June 7
10 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
MWA Panel: Violence: How to Write It—and How Far Is Too Far? with Jamie Freveletti, Michael A. Black, Michael Harvey, M.E. May, J. Michael Major, Grace Place 2nd Floor

12:00 p.m.- 12:45 p.m.
Flash Fiction Contest with  “30” Twist, presented by Mystery Writers of America with judges Barbara D’Amato and Sara Paretsky, Center Stage Tent

2 p.m.-2:45 p.m.
MWA Panel: Historical Thrillers & Mysteries, The Attraction, the Research, and the Execution with Libby Fischer Hellmann, Tasha Alexander, Sara Paretsky, Robert Goldsborough, Raymond Benson, Harold Washington Library Center Multipurpose Room

Sunday, June 8
10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
MWA Panel: Light Cozies to Dark Thrillers, Writing Along the Continuum with Clare O’Donohue, Jack Frederickson, Shane Gericke, Susanna Calkins, Julie Hyzy

3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m.
MWA Panel: Rules of Writing Mysteries & When to Break Them with Reed Farrel Coleman, Ted Hertel, Lynne Raimondo, Lori Rader-Day

Tickets are required for many events. See the full schedule for information and more panels by MWA members: http://apps.chicagotribune.com/printersrow/

To help out at the MWA Tent:
• We need your help at the MWA Tent! Email Heather Ash at writermath (at) gmail (dot) com to schedule an hour or two.

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Enter the Hugh Holton Mentor Program

May 23rd, 2014

Don’t forget the MWA Midwest group is now running our Hugh Holton Mentor Program. Turn in 50 pages of an unpublished mystery manuscript and a fee ($50 for nonmembers, $25 for members) and get a critique from a published author!

Added incentive: The top manuscript from member entries wins $500, and the top entry from nonmembers wins a membership to MWA! Email mwamidwest (at) gmail (dot) com for more information.

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Join us for Happy (Half) Hour at Malice!

April 29th, 2014

MWA Midwest Members: Going to Malice Domestic this weekend?

If you’re attending Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, this weekend, join MWA Midwest for a Happy (Half) Hour! First drink for MWA Midwest members is on us!

Concours Lounge, lobby of the Hyatt Regency Bethesda
7400 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda
Look for Clare O’Donohue and Lori Rader-Day for your drink ticket!

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March chapter meeting to feature former public defender

March 5th, 2014

Our March 16 meeting at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore (1 p.m., 7419 Madison St, Forest Park, IL) will feature Julius Kole, a Buffalo Grove attorney who spent two years as a Cook County Public Defender. Kole is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the John Marshall Law School. During his tenure as a Cook County Public Defender for the Juvenile Court, Kole represented young offenders and parents charged with abuse and neglect. He also has experience defending adult misdemeanors and adult felonies and DUIs. Kole now owns his own practice.

Come with questions about about domestic abuse in the courts, and juvenile court.

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Chapter meeting Sunday features psychic Karen Jacobson

February 4th, 2014

Looking for a little magic for your next mystery? Psychic Karen Jacobson will share stories from her work and tips on how to incorporate mystics, tarot readers, or psychics into your stories at this Sunday’s MWA Midwest chapter meeting. We meet at NOON at Love Is Murder (The Hotel Intercontinental, Rosemont, 5300 River Road).

Rev. Karen L. Jacobson has been a Pathways Minister since 1995. She has a BA in Psychology and an Associates of Applied Business Principals.

You don’t need to be registered for the conference to attend the meeting. We have a premonition we’ll see you there.

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MWA Midwest presents Writers Track at Love Is Murder

January 21st, 2014

At the mystery and romance writers conference Love Is Murder, February 7-9, Mystery Writers of America-Midwest Chapter offers The Writer’s Track,  a nuts and bolts approach to the most important and perplexing questions of a writer’s career. From writing great dialogue and character, to the realities of the best seller list, and all the myths and mistakes writers make, MWA Midwest will give you the scoop from people who’ve been on the scene.

Writer’s Track is Friday, February 7, from Noon-4pm


From Conferee to Author: What I’ve Learned in 27 Years, with Matthew Clemens

All the things you wish someone talked about at conferences, but seldom do…from starting out to what happens if you sell your novel. This is the talk to learn the insider tips, the mistakes, and the realities of starting life as a writer, given by a long-successful practitioner of the craft.

Matthew Clemens is a long-time co-conspirator with Max Allan Collins. The pair has collaborated on more than twenty novels, several comic books, four graphic novels, a computer game, and a dozen mystery jigsaw puzzles. Their latest thriller Supreme Justice, will be out in 2014.


Creating Memorable Characters, with Luisa Buehler

Every author wants well-drawn characters and every reader wants memorable characters. This workshop will discuss the melding of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of character development.

Luisa Buehler writes the Grace Marsden Mystery Series. Reviewers call her style “a cold case sizzle.” The stories follow the cold trail of bygone crimes, blending traditional whodunit with hints of romance and the supernatural. The series won The Readers Choice Award for best traditional amateur sleuth. The seventh in the series, The Reenactor: A Staged Death, debuted at Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Literary Festival. Luisa lives in Lisle, IL with husband Gerry, son Christopher, and the family cat Martin Marmalade.


An Actor’s View on Dialogue, with Diane Piron-Gelman

“Speak the Speech, I Pray You” A wordsmith’s skills are often the same, whether the words are written or spoken. Author, actor, and audiobook narrator Diane Piron-Gelman brings an actor’s perspective to the part of storytelling that’s most like the stage: the fine art of dialogue.

Diane Piron-Gelman, writing as D.M. Pirrone, is the author of No Less In Blood (Five Star/Cengage, 2011) and A Judgment in Ashes (forthcoming in 2014 from Allium Press of Chicago). In addition to her work as an author, editor (Word Nerd, Inc.) and audiobook narrator, Diane has been active in Chicago’s theatre scene since 1985, and often draws on her acting experience when writing. She is a long-time member of MWA Midwest and Sisters in Crime, and currently serves as chapter president of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland.


Stages of a Writer’s Career with Julie Hyzy, Clare O’Donohue, and Lori Rader-Day

On the cusp of publishing a first novel… in the mid-list doldrums… sitting pretty on the bestseller’s list. These are three crucial stages in a writer’s life, where making the right choices can lead to a more satisfying and successful, career. And making the wrong ones can send a writer off track. Three writers—each representing one of these stages—will have a round-table discussion on the best and worst, the “wow” and the “what now?” of the writing life.

A relentless snoop and mystery seeker since childhood, Julie Hyzy gets to play detective by writing amateur sleuth adventures. She’s thrilled to have won the Anthony, Barry, Lovey, and Derringer Awards, and still can’t believe that she has “New York Times Bestselling Author” across the front of her books. Julie writes the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime, the most recent of which, Home of the Braised, came out January 7.

Clare O’Donohue is the author of seven novels in two mystery series, The Someday Quilts Mysteries and The Kate Conway Mysteries. She is also a TV producer of documentary and true crime, and has lived and worked in New York, London, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. She is the current president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, and when she’s not in a hotel, airport, or shooting location, she lives near Chicago.

Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery The Black Hour (Seventh Street Books, 2014). Born and raised in central Indiana, she now lives in Chicago with her husband and dog. Her fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Time Out Chicago, and others. She is the current vice president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, and is the editor of the group’s newsletter.

REGISTER for Love Is Murder here.

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