An upside to the pandemic has to be “teleconferencing.” In April, our chapter joined the Zoom Revolution and in the last forty days, we’ve conducted three virtual events. Here is a quick synopsis of each.

April Meeting: The Business of Writing: from Writer to Indie Publisher.


Leah Cutter

Mystery writer Leah Cutter discussed her journey from writer to publisher. Along with her husband, Blaze Ward, she is the owner of Knotted Road Press.

Leah’s outstanding presentation is based on the couple’s experiences in self-publishing. Having devoured books focused on starting a business, she realized that many were not oriented to the creative artist community. Thus, a series of Business for Breakfast books have been launched. The collection of fourteen works provides writers explanations and checklists to help those on a self-publishing journey. Each book is purposely focused on one topic, has short chapters, and sometimes salty language.

Leah’s current endeavor is MCM – Mysteries, Crime, and Mayhem, which launches in August 2020. The quarterly publication is based on a theme. The first being Private Investigators. The following themes are Thieves, BOLO – Be On the Look Out, and Sins of Our Fathers. The magazine includes fiction and nonfiction articles written by a syndicate of writers Leah has established.

Throughout the talk, Leah offered many ideas regarding techniques for covers, on-line services such as Draft2Digital, Bookbundle, Vellum, etc. With this advice, writers can navigate this profitable path if done correctly. Her timely discussion on the value of advertisements in today’s pandemic environment indicates how well tuned she and Blaze are to the continual changes undergoing the publishing world.


To learn more, check Leah’s blog at or visit their publication website

Should you wish to see Leah’s energetic presentation, send a request for it to Our only request is that it not be shared with non-members as this is a benefit to belonging to the organization.

April Virtual Social

The chapter hosted a Zoom gathering on April 29th. Here members within our region signed on and shared what they’re reading, exchange ideas, and a couple of brags. For example, short story writer Robert Lopresti held up the May-June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine which has his latest Shanks short story – Shanks Saves the World. It’s his 31st story in the magazine. While this gathering wasn’t recorded, there are plans to continue this effort in the future. Watch for invites via email.


May Meeting: The Distance Discipline: A System for Editing and Revision for Your Fiction Manuscript

Chapter Secretary David Schlosser presented the program. It is a must see for anyone finishing their novel and starting the editing/revision process. Based on his editorial experiences of over a thousand works, his methodology offers a clear path for authors tackling this effort.

Per David, key to the revision effort is being brutally honest which is achieved by distancing oneself from the finished product. Taking time away from the novel and then coming back to it gives one a fresh view of the work.

Once “The End” is written on the draft, put it away. But, don’t stop working. During this break, focus on character consistency. David provides techniques to achieve this effort.

Next comes the first pass in the revision process. This one focuses on character, plot, conflict, intensity, and mood. Using scene sheets, one can determine what needs to be done. More importantly, he suggests that you start at the end of the book and work backwards to the beginning. Once completed, set it aside to allow your mind to refresh.

Additional reviews focus on word and verb choice. Next comes sentence structures. And the final review, the polishing one is verbal. David insists that a manuscript is not complete until the author hears it read aloud. One is surprised how much the ear catches that the eye misses.

Should you wish to see David’s editing and revision system, send a request for it to We only ask that you do not share it with non-Mystery Writers of America members as this is a benefit to belonging to the organization.

Presentation Handouts.

Both Leah and David provided resource documents or handouts related to their talks. Should you wish to have one, make a request to In the Subject line state REQUEST FOR HANDOUT and name the individual you want.

About The Author

Larry Keeton is the VP of the Northwest Chapter of MWA.