Mark Willen

Writing Your Novel!

Mark begins with a lecture on January 20, 2015.  He will conduct four consecutive classes beginning on February 10. at Clubhouse 1.

Most everyone, at one time or another, thinks that they have an idea for a novel that will rival Moby Dick or Gone with the Wind. However, getting from the great idea to the actual writing of a successful novel can be overwhelming unless one has an experienced teacher to guide the creative process.  The latest Community on Lifelong Learning (CLL) is designed to do just that – provide guidance and inspiration so that those with an interest in writing will be able to take the first, and biggest, steps in writing THEIR novel. 
The lecture and then the class will be taught by Silver Spring resident Mark Willen, a published novelist and journalist. In order to introduce himself and the course, Mark will present a free lecture, “How I Became a Debut Novelist at 67,”on January 20, 2015 in the Potomac Room (Clubhouse 1). The lecture will provide some writing guidance and also introduce the overall content of the course so that people will be able to decide if it is for them. The actual course will start on February 10th in four sessions. 
The lecture is for anyone who has thought about writing a novel (be it mystery, science fiction, romance, or high literature) and is ready to give it a try, as well as for those who may already have a novel in progress. The subsequent course will help participants decide what they want to say, how they want to say it, and how they can devise a realistic plan to complete and distribute a novel. The course, “So you want to write a novel,” will read and constructively critique submissions from students.
Mark has had extensive writing experience. He spent most of his career as a reporter, editor, blogger, and producer.  He reported for the Voice of America, for whom he traveled the world. He later worked for National Public Radio as an editor and producer on All Things Considered, and then spent 10 years at Congressional Quarterly in a variety of editing roles culminating in managing editor of their weekly magazine. He also worked for Bloomberg News and Kiplinger, before retiring in 2010. Throughout Mark’s journalism career he harbored an interest in fiction and after several false starts he went back to school in 2008, earning a Master’s degree in creative writing from John Hopkins University in 2010. His short stories have been published in various journals including Corner Club Press, The Boiler Review, and The Rusty Nail, and his first novel, Hawke’s Point, was released this past July by Pen-L Publishing, a small press in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 
Mark also has a longstanding interest in ethics. He taught journalism ethics in a Masters of Journalism program at American University and he hosts a blog on everyday ethics at Mark’s novel combines his interest in ethics and writing  The protagonist is a 73-year-old retired lawyer who has reached a point in his life when he is thinking back on what he’s accomplished and the mistakes he’s made, with an eye toward deciding what the next chapter in his life will look like. When it turns out the medical device manufacturer in his small home town is making a stent that may be doing more harm than good, he gets a second chance to do the right thing. It’s only one of several professional and personal ethical issues that confront the characters in the novel. A recent review of Hawke’s Point can be found at  Readers can also find out more about Mark at
Anyone with questions can call Mark at 301 587-2712 or e-mail at