CWA 2013 Book of the Year Contest 

The Chicago Writers Association proudly announces its 3rd Annual CWA Book of the Year Award contest!

The contest is open to all books published (Date of First Publication) from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. We will be awarding books in the categories of Traditionally Published and Non-Traditionally Published (self-published and POD-published) for Fiction and Non-Fiction. Four (4) awards in total will be awarded at a ceremony in January 2014. 


The contest is open to CWA member authors and to non-member authors residing in the 9-county Chicagoland and metropolitan region.

Deadline for book entries: Friday, July 20, 2013

Member entry fee: $15
Non-member entry fee: $25

Please mail your book entry to: Chicago Writers Association, P.O. Box 6505, Evanston, IL 60204
Along with your entry, please include a check or money order made payable to Chicago Writers Association.


Payments can also be made payable online through PayPal:

Author Options

                                       Make sure your book gets the attention it deserves!


2nd Annual Writers Block Party


CWA @ Printers Row Lit Fest

The Chicago Writers Association returns to the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest for the 7th consecutive year on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9. Thirty-four CWA authors will be selling and signing their books under the CWA tent (map and precise location coming soon) during the two-day festival. 

CWA will be under Tent H - the Chicago Books United Tent - sharing space with local publishers Allium Press, Chicago Review Press, Dream of Things, History Press and Where to Bike Chicago. 

The Midwest's largest free outdoor literary event, covering five Chicago city blocks (on Dearborn, from Congress to Polk), is expected to draw more than 125,000 book lovers. 

The CWA authors signing schedule: 



Lisa Riebe

Karen Doornebos

Libby Fischer Hellmann

Samantha Kitchel



Kim Strickland

Candace Thompson

Janet Cole

Rick Kaempfer and John Landecker



Deanna Frances

Brenton Harper-Murray

Toneal Jackson

David Berner



Yorli Huff

Stacey Cox

Patricia King

Eden Newman

JoAnn Fastoff





Victoria Noe

Michael Matula

Richard Reeder

Ted Iverson



Dan Burns

Evangeline Lacey

Michael Weeks

Sue Rovens



E.C. Diskin

Scott Kenemore

Genevieve Davis

Julie Sekmistrz

Sierra Kay



William Hazelgrove

Blake Hausladen

Mary Ellen Geist

David Himmel

Dominique Wilkins


A Review and A Preview

By Meagan Bowdy

“This is pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Patricia Ann McNair beamed at a crowd tucked into every nook and cranny of the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square on January 19, 2013. Summing up the evening succinctly and eloquently, McNair acknowledged her personal supporters and fellow award winners at the Chicago Writer’s Association Book of the Year Awards held nearly two months ago. 

In January, the CWA awarded Patricia Ann McNair, Renee James, Kelly Farley, and Richard Lindberg their Book of the Year awards in a comfortable ceremony at Lincoln Square’s local bookstore, The Book Cellar. Each of the winning authors were awarded a glass trophy celebrating their authorial accomplishment and then given time to read excerpts from their winning books to an audience paying rapt attention. The large gathering to support Chicago’s own creative talent was a proud moment for the 2nd annual Book of the Year Awards, and for the Chicago Writer’s Association. Randy Richardson, president of CWA, presented the awards and served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. In case you missed it, here are some snapshots from the evening

In continuing with the CWA’s goal to further the artistic pursuit of Chicagoland writers and allow aspiring writers insight into the professional community, the CWA is sponsoring The Road to Published: Authors Tell Their Stories, a free panel discussion on Saturday, April 20, 2-4:30 p.m., at the Beverly Library, 1962 W. 95th St., Chicago. The panel will bring back some authors from this year’s Book of the Year Awards and add some fresh faces to shed some light on their personal roads to publication and experiences along the way. Renee James, the winner of the CWA Book of the Year for Nontraditionally Published Fiction, will speak about the hybrid publishing method she used to put her creative work in the field after many years of traditionally publishing in journalism and trade magazine fields. Fellow Book of the Year winners Farley and McNair will also speak about their traditional and nontraditional experiences. 

The panel, to be moderated by Richardson, will also feature Samantha Hoffman, A.D. Moore, James Finn Garner, Libby Fischer Hellman, and Gracie Hill, whose paths to publication diverge in fashion but unite in a common goal of making their creative endeavors available to the masses. 

Samantha HoffmanTo give a small taste of some of the exciting stories that will be shared on the panel, the CWA caught up with Samantha Hoffman to ask a little about their publishing experience.

Samantha Hoffman’s novel, What More Could You Wish For, was initially self-published. Hoffman worked on her novel for eight years, all the while querying agents, attempting to drum up interest in her story. “I got lots of form letter rejections,” Hoffman recounts, “But I also got a few personal notes with positive comments and suggestions…I took the positive comments to heart and continued the revising process until, finally, I knew I had to be finished once and for all.” Having already attempted contact with several agents to no avail, and wanting to publish while the novel was still hot in hand and mind, Hoffman elected to self publish. “I promoted it all over social media, had some book signings, sent copies to everyone who might have a connection.” For Hoffman, one of those connections turned out to be fruitful. “One of my friends works for St. Martin’s Press and it turned out she loved my book. She sent it to the president/publisher of the company who also loved it. So, I soon got a call and a book deal from an editor at St. Martin’s Press. It was unbelievable.” 

“My advice to all writers is to keep writing. Don’t let rejections get in your way. Everyone gets rejected. If you decide to self-publish, make sure your book is the very best it can be, and then, after you’re sure that it is, hire a professional editor.” 

Hoffman’s pick-up by a major publishing house is unexpected for many who pursue self-publishing, but her perseverance and passion is far from foreign to any writer, and her advice to aspiring artists rings true. “My advice to all writers is to keep writing. Don’t let rejections get in your way. Everyone gets rejected. If you decide to self-publish, make sure your book is the very best it can be, and then, after you’re sure that it is, hire a professional editor.” Hoffman’s insistence on a professional editor comes from the knowledge that authors are often too close to their own work to properly edit it, and relying on a professional is the best way to ensure a publishable product. “Finally,” she mentors, “don’t give up. If you believe in your work, you’ll get there.” Hoffman’s book, What More Could You Wish For, is available through St. Martin’s Press. 

Look forward to some author snapshots of our other panelists in the weeks leading up to the event, and make sure to support your local bookseller with trips to the Book Cellar, and our fellow authors by remembering our Book of the Year winners, The Temple of Air, Whiskey Breakfast, Grieving Dads, and Coming Out Can Be Murder.


Get your book reviewed!

Calling All CWA Published Authors! 

Have you published a book recently? Would you like to get a conscientious book review from one of your fellow CWA members? If so, the Windy City Reviews book review service is for you! 

Windy City Reviews is a free benefit of your CWA membership—provided for the members, by the members. Many of your fellow authors have taken advantage of this valuable service and have used their reviews to help promote their books. Will you be our next reviewed author? 

Check out the Windy City Reviews site at There you will find completed reviews, biographies of our reviewers, and submission guidelines. Sign up to get your book reviewed today! 

Also, we’re looking for additional volunteer book reviewers. No experience is required—just a love of reading and the desire to help a fellow author. Training and guidance will be provided. If you are interested, please contact me at your earliest convenience. 


Dan Burns

Windy City Reviews

Chicago Writers Association