New York, NY – Mystery Writers of America announces the recipients of the 2012 Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship for Mystery Writing: Martha Ragland of Portland, OR, and Shizuka Otake of Jackson Heights, NY. Each will use her $500 scholarship award to offset tuition for advanced classes to further develop her writing skills.

The talent demonstrated by Ms. Ragland and Ms. Otake in the first 3 chapters of their mystery novels-in-progress received the highest scores from this year’s panel of judges. Dead Stop is a humorous mystery by Martha Ragland, who describes herself as a late bloomer. It stars a wannabe sleuth, widow Maud Scrumble, retired race car driver on the downside of 70 who craves excitement. With her souped-up red Jaguar and a mail-order private detection curse, Maud knows just enough to be dangerous – to the consternation of the police. Investigating a local murder she draws the killer into a high-speed chase on a treacherous road that she knows better than her own rhubarb patch, proving there’s no age limit on curiosity and courage.

The purpose of this annual scholarship competition is to nurture talent in mystery writing. Each candidate qualifies by submitting a mystery-writing sample in the form of the first three chapters of a novel or nonfiction, or three short stories or a script. Candidates also provide details about the educational programs they will attend, 2 letters of recommendation, and an essay explaining their interest in mystery writing. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. No fee is required; neither is membership in Mystery Writers of America.

Applicants are judged by a committee of MWA members, each a published author in the field of crime. This year’s judges are: Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author of 5 White House Chef Mysteries and 3 Manor House Mysteries, most recently Affairs of Steak and Grace Among Thieves; Randy Rawls, author of 8 mysteries in 3 series, with Hot Rocks due this fall from Midnight Ink featuring South Florida P.I. Beth Bowman; Aileen G. Baron, archaeologist and author of The Gold of Thrace, an international hunt for antiquities thieves, and The Scorpion’s Bite, 3rd in the Lily Sampson archaeological mysteries; and Rita Lakin, TV writer and author of Getting Old Can Kill You, 7th in the Gladdy Gold series featuring zany  geriatric crime-solvers. The scholarship program chair is editor Chris Roerden, author of the Agatha Award-winning Don’t Murder Your Mystery and its all-genre edition, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission.

Details and official application form for 2013 are posted by July 4, 2012, on the website of mystery Writers of America, For frequently asked questions and tips for applying, email Entries must be postmarked by February 28, 2013.