SEMWA Southeast Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America
SEMWA is the Southeast Regional Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (MWA), the premier organization for mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction. We are dedicated to furthering MWA’s dual mission of promoting recognition and appreciation for the genre and of educating writers about all aspects of the publishing industry, including legislation, industry practices, and the craft of writing.
Our membership covers six states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee), which makes chapter-wide in-person meetings challenging. Instead, we offer group discussions and networking through our social media accounts. We also are a Killer Nashville International Writers’ conference sponsor. In addition to the benefits that come with MWA membership, SEMWA members receive:
- A subscription to our quarterly newsletter, The Scarlet Letter
- Reduced-price registration for selected MWA-sponsored events
- Reduced-price registration to SEMWA sponsored workshops, retreats, and Skill Builds
- Access to the members-only section of our website
The members-only section includes resource pages and forums, where members can share advice, announce their successes, arrange informal meetings, exchange excerpts for critique, and cultivate online friendships. SEMWA membership is included at no additional charge when you join MWA.
SEMWA Chapter President
On the Benefits of Killer Nashville
“Learning should continue throughout our lifespan. The converse of this is also true. Without new input/growth, one’s mindset becomes less flexible, more rigid in how it approaches problem-solving. This rigidity impacts creativity. Attending author workshops and mystery conferences such as Killer Nashville allows you to hear how others approach story crafting. It allows you the opportunity to see through their eyes.”
“You’re working on your new mystery. Inevitably, there’s a crime and often a body, and your sleuth has to figure out whodunit. You may have TV knowledge of weaponry and forensics, but there’s nothing like hearing how professional crime fighters approach a crime scene. At writer meetings and mystery conferences like Killer Nashville, these criminalists share techniques and use examples from real cases, and they will answer questions about their expertise.”
“Conferences offer great opportunities to meet agents, editors, and famous authors. At a one-hundred person conference a few years back, I once had to fight off a super fan-girl moment when Janet Evanovich sat down next to me for breakfast. My good luck continued at an early Killer Nashville, when I wasn’t paying attention to anything except finding a seat for dinner. Imagine my surprise when my dinner companion, a kindly gentleman, turned out to be Dr. Bill Bass of the Body Farm fame. I will never forget those magical meals.”
“It’s so easy to become isolated in our writing mode at home or at the coffee shop. Writing a book and getting it contracted merely opens a new door for us to walk through. Today authors can be pubbed by a big house, a medium-sized house, a small press, indie press, or any combination of those. Marketing encompasses websites, newsletters, signings, blog tours, social media, and industry trends. Mystery conferences like Killer Nashville give mystery authors a window of opportunity to catch the pulse of the mystery marketplace.”
“Early on, my goal at conferences was to be a complete sponge. I vowed to take it all in, to attend at least one (sometimes two!) offerings in each timeslot. By the end of each day, my brain felt like it would explode. I still love attending mystery writing conferences like Killer Nashville, but these days I do it on my own terms. I take mini-breaks, and at KN, there are fun extras like the crime scene for attendees to solve. Allow time for fun on your conference schedule.”
“In the old days, research meant going to the library. Then the internet came along, and suddenly people are posting YouTube videos about how-to everything. Plus, there are books written by experts on nearly every subject. Coming from the world of newspaper reporting, I find there’s nothing like an in-person research experience. Many top writers are feted at mystery conferences like Killer Nashville, and they often speak of their experience and lessons learned. You can still trek to the library and click on internet sites, but listening to writing and subject matter experts can be very rewarding”
“Mystery writing conferences like Killer Nashville offer critiques from established authors, agents, or editors. If you’ve been wondering how to break through to the next level, getting a professional evaluation of your mystery may yield just the information you need. This in-depth analysis considers story quality, writing craft, and genre-suitability.”
“Is your muse fickle: one day she needs a bag of color-sorted M&Ms and the next she needs three hours at the coffee shop to find her groove? A lower calorie way to get your muse supercharged is to hang out in the company of writers at mystery conferences like Killer Nashville. I’ve found having so much creativity around me is contagious.”
Tips & Tricks
“‘I won’t know anybody …. I hate driving … I can’t leave my dog …’ These may seem like good excuses to stay home, but mystery conferences like Killer Nashville are full of introverts just like you. They recognize the intrinsic value of these events in terms of personal and professional development. It is rare these days to write a book, send it off, and never venture out in the world. Invest in yourself—and your future as a mystery author.
Bring the Right Attire
Stressed over what to wear to Killer Nashville? First off, wear comfortable shoes. Guys tend to wear jeans or khakis, and black is often their shirt color choice. Guys often add a blazer for panel appearances. Ladies tend to wear daytime casual attire, whether slacks or dresses. If you sign up for the Saturday night banquet, dress is slightly more upscale. Though some will wear cocktail attire, most dress as they would for a work presentation or in wedding attire. For cold-natured people, pack a light sweater or wrap because the air conditioning cools the rooms nicely.
Speaking as someone who spends most days sitting at a computer, I find it is important to pace myself at conferences. If I feel information overload coming on, I take breaks. If my energy starts to lag, I refuel. If I feel the need to write, I find a quiet place to jot down my thoughts. The Killer Nashville format lends itself to easy in-and-outs of sessions and to meet-ups with others. My conference goal is to listen to biofeedback so that I can maximize educational input and professional networking.
Introvert’s Survival Guide
Mystery writers come in all shapes and sizes. We might be doctors, lawyers, judges, cops, scientists, teachers, professors, homemakers, pool guys, and more. Some of us are a little extroverted, but there are a large chunk who are introverts, like me, and maybe like you. When I first started coming to Killer Nashville, I tried to meet a few people each day and I volunteered to help at registration and tent card delivery. Step outside your comfort zone for a few days at a writing conference – you’ll be glad you did!