ANWA Some Of The Members In The “Mormon Mafia”—the First Co Ed Chapter Of The American Night Writers Association. (L R) Jess Gulbrandsen, Britney Gulbrandsen, Kari Pike, Brad McBride, P.J. Switzer, Kevin Johnson, Tyson Abaroa. Photo By Cindy R. Williams

Largest Women’s LDS Writers Organization Opens Doors to Men

Some of the members in the “Mormon Mafia”—the first co-ed chapter of the American Night Writers Association. (L-R) Jess Gulbrandsen, Britney Gulbrandsen, Kari Pike, Brad McBride, P.J. Switzer, Kevin Johnson, Tyson Abaroa. Photo by Cindy R. Williams

Some of the members in the “Mormon Mafia”—the first co-ed chapter of the American Night Writers Association. (L-R) Jess Gulbrandsen, Britney Gulbrandsen, Kari Pike, Brad McBride, P.J. Switzer, Kevin Johnson, Tyson Abaroa. Photo by Cindy R. Williams

After thirty years of existing as a women’s only LDS writers group, American Night Writers Association, known as ANWA, has changed its by-laws by a majority vote to include male LDS writers.

The Executive Presidency of ANWA, along with the Board of Directors, saw the need to open the organization to LDS men. Deb Eaton, one of three ANWA Presidents, says, “ANWA provides writing education and mentors, as well as networking with others in the business. As leadership of ANWA, we were often asked by LDS men if they could join ANWA. We felt with the diminishing values around us, men need a safe haven for writing support also. It was time to break down those barriers and share these wonderful opportunities with male writers.”

The announcement was made recently at the Annual ANWA Writers Conference to around 175 writers, authors, agents, editors and publishers. Brad McBride, an attendee at the conference, ran to the podium immediately after the announcement and handed some money to President Eaton. He was a dollar short and turned to the large audience in the ballroom, asking if anyone would float him a dollar. Another of the three ANWA Presidents came forward, handed him a dollar and curtsied, welcoming him, as the first man ever, into the prestigious writing organization. It was a humorous and dramatic moment of great change in ANWA.

McBride says, “I joined ANWA so I can mooch wisdom from other more experienced writers. At the monthly meetings, you read dialog out loud. You see if it flows.” McBride is now a member of the first ANWA Coed Chapter known as the “Mormon Mafia.”

“I like to create, share and vent. I write for my wife and kids and like the idea of leaving a part of my brain behind for my posterity. ANWA provides a safe, kind and productive atmosphere to produce and improve,” says McBride.

Kevin Johnson, another new member of ANWA, says, “Having an LDS environment was also something that appealed to me, as it makes a more comfortable setting. . . . ANWA is a great chance to meet other people who are going through similar experiences as we all try to improve our writing together.”

ANWA was founded by Marsha Ward in 1986. Ward was part of several writing and critique groups, but was uncomfortable with some of the unsavory writing to which she was subjected. Through inspiration, she came up with the idea to begin her own LDS women’s writing group where she could find a safe place to learn and grow as a writer. The first meetings were held with six of her writing friends in the basement of the Mesa Library. ANWA currently has 338 members, of which 11 are men.

Britney Gulbrandsen, Membership Director of ANWA, says, “We expect to see a lot of growth over the next year as more male LDS writers learn about our organization and the addition of men. ANWA has influenced my writing for the better and I believe it will now help many men expand their knowledge on the craft of writing and advance their writing careers.”

ANWA has members throughout the United States and hosts monthly meetings for chapters divided by location. There are also ANWA online chapters. These meetings consist of a lesson on writing, a thought, and time for writers to read some of their current WIP—work in progress—to the group for feedback.

For more information or to join ANWA, go to ANWA-LDS.org, or Google “American Night Writers Association.”

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