Mystery Writers of America Southwest Chapter



Frequently Asked Questions for current members and those considering joining MWA/SW

1. What is Mystery Writers of America, Southwest Chapter?
We are one of 11 chapters of a large national organization, Mystery Writers of America. MWA is the pre-eminent organization for professional writers in the mystery/suspense field. Our National headquarters is in New York, our website there is The SW chapter includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas with regular meetings in Houston and Dallas. We call ourselves MWA/SW for short. We presently have close to 200 members.

2. What's MWA's reason for being?
To use the official language from our bylaws... Mystery Writers of America Inc. is a nonprofit professional organization of mystery and crime writers in all categories: fiction, including adult novels, short stories, and YA and juvenile fiction; screenplays, staged plays, radio plays, and TV; and nonfiction, including fact crime and critical/biographical work. Our membership also includes editors, publishers, and other professionals in the mystery field. Our mandate is

  • To promote and protect the interest and welfare of mystery writers.
  • To advance the esteem and literary recognition of the genre.
  • To monitor tax and other legislation affecting writers.
  • To circulate important information and to provide opportunities for stimulating association with other professionals in the field.

In the SW Chapter, we do all that, and have fun at the same time.

3. How do I join MWA/SW?
You first join MWA at the National level; information is available at You then are assigned to a chapter based on your location. Dues are $115/year. All membership applications are processed by National.

4. What programs do you offer to MWA/SW members?
We offer a number of ways for you to meet other writers, get valuable information, and develop your writing career. Our programs include:

  • a monthly newsletter, The Sleuth Sayer, with articles on forensics, writing tips, conference information, interviews, reports on the publishing business, and more
  • a private online forum where you can connect and discuss writing/publishing issues with other MWA/SW members
  • regular meetings in Houston and Dallas
  • speakers on publishing, promotion, forensics, and other topics of interest
  • a mentorship program to provide useful, member-to-member critiques

As well, National offers additional benefits, such as a national newsletter, web site, the annual Edgar awards and symposia, health insurance, and other business benefits for writers.

5. I'm a published mystery author. Is MWA/SW for me?
Yes. We offer Active membership to those who are professionally published and who have received payment for their work. Our programs are designed to help professional writers write better, understand the publishing business better, manage writing careers more effectively, and network with other writers.

6. I'm an unpublished mystery writer. Is MWA/SW for me?
Yes. We offer Affiliate membership to those who are not yet published. Many of our programs and information aimed at professional writers are also of great benefit to unpublished writers.

7. I'm published in another field but want to write in mystery fiction. Is MWA/SW for me?
Yes. We welcome writers of other genres as well. We also offer Associate membership to booksellers, agents, editors, and others working in the profession.

8. Who is currently on the Board of Directors for the chapter?

  • President: Deborah Crombie
  • Vice President: Greg Herren
  • Secretary: Julia Thomas
  • Treasurer: Laura Elvebak
  • Directors at Large:
    Texas: Janis Patterson
    Arkansas: Radine Trees Nehring
    Louisiana: Ann Conti Morcos
  • Program Chair: Karen Marlow
9. How can I contact MWA/SW by phone?
Through our 24-hour voice mail: 713.797.8464. You can leave messages or enter a call-back number. You can also hear recorded information about the next Houston meeting at this number.

10. Is there a chapter website?

11. Are there other online resources for MWA/SW members?
Yes, there is a private online forum for members to discuss writing and publishing topics. For details on how to join, click here. Please note, this is a benefit of membership and is only open to members.

12. What is the chapter's email address?

13. How can I contact the National offices of MWA?
Mystery Writers of America
1140 Broadway, Suite 1507
New York, NY 10001
phone: 212.888.8171
fax: 212.888.8107
email: mwa (at)
Web site:

14. How often does the chapter meet?
Houston: Meets the third Saturday of the month, except July, August and December, for a luncheon at Blue Onyx Bistro, 4720 Richmond Ave. Meeting time is noon-2 PM.

Dallas: First Saturday of each month (except January) at the Olive Garden, 4240 Belt Line, Addison, TX, 75001. Meeting time is 10 AM-noon, followed by lunch.

15. Does MWA/SW charge for meetings?
Houston: Lunch is off the menu with separate checks

Dallas: $10 door fee, or $5 if you are staying for lunch.

16. Who can vote and hold office?
Members whose membership category is Active—generally, those whose work has been professionally published or produced, and who have received payment for it.

17. How can I change my membership status?
Send information regarding your eligibility to the National office. We cannot simply change your status at the chapter level; new Active members must be approved by a vote of the National Board. You are not eligible for Active status if you are self-published.

18. How can I get a discount rate for Publishers' Weekly magazine?
You can receive a one-year subscription to the publishing world's foremost trade magazine, Publishers' Weekly, for $119 (a discount of $70). The rate is good for one year only. The easiest way to obtain the discount is to subscribe by phone or fax. Call 800.278.2991. Use code DMW00.

19. Where can I find information about other membership benefits, such as car rental discounts?
Most information about benefits is available in the National newsletter, The Third Degree, and with the packets you receive from National when you join or renew. Contact the National office.

20. Can you help me if I'm frustrated with the National office?
Our National office staff is usually friendly, efficient, and helpful, but as with any organization, sometimes problems occur. Many times we can help you if you are having difficulty obtaining information or having other problems with the National office. Contact us by any of the methods mentioned above. Complaints or questions can be addressed to Margery Flax at mwa (at) or the ombudsman address at service (at)

21. How can I help MWA/SW keep going strong?
Volunteer time. Ask other writers to join MWA. Write a newsletter article. Tell a librarian or bookstore owner about our website and encourage them to order members' books. Link your website to ours. Promote MWA when you speak in public, especially at writing conferences and seminars. Attend meetings and special events. Post industry news to our online forum. Suggest a speaker, a program, let us know what you like and what you don't like.


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