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Save the Golden Heart!!!

During our rather rollicking interview yesterday, 2018 Golden Heart Finalists D. Murphy Ryan and Eileen Emerson and I got into a conversation about the Golden Heart. That discussion got so long, I decided to split it into a separate post for today, which would help us get a larger discussion going about the future of the contest.

We’re very concerned by a June announcement by the RWA Board that they’re considering discontinuing the Golden Heart. The Board cited the following reasons for possibly ending the contest:

  • A steep decline in entries starting in 2013, with only 424 distinct individuals entering in 2018, which they say is only 5% of total RWA membership. (Though it should certainly be noted that published authors are ineligible to enter, and many newer members aren’t able to enter because they haven’t completed a manuscript yet. What would the percentage be of unpublished members, or PRO members? Presumably significantly higher than 5%.)
  • The fact that the contest no longer creates profit for RWA (in 2018, the cost, including the awards ceremony, is said to be $17,747 more than came in in entry fees).
  • A lack of members volunteering to judge (only 350 last year, which created logistical difficulties in getting all entries judged. Before 2012, an average of more than 800 judges volunteered each year. C’mon, volunteers!!)
  • As the Board sees it, the idea that “the benefits of the contest are limited to those who final—typically 40-45 individuals.”

Eileen, Dawn, and I all want to start by saying how much we both like and respect our Board, and how grateful we are for their service. We all believe deeply that the Board members are motivated by genuine concern for the good of RWA members, and that they are trying to responsibly and thoughtfully address real problems that have arisen with the Golden Heart.

Today, though, we want to bring up some considerations that weren’t reflected in the Board’s June announcement, and propose some alternative solutions, as well as give our readers a forum to express their thoughts.

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Elizabeth Chatsworth!

Today we’re welcoming Elizabeth Chatsworth, another of the amazing Persisters, the 2018 class of Golden Heart Finalists. Her manuscript THE BRASS QUEEN (fabulous title!!) is nominated for Best Mainstream Fiction.

Elizabeth Chatsworth was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. After earning a Masters in Business Management, she left a career in corporate marketing to become a voice actor. She emigrated to the U.S., where she (barely) survived intensive comedy training with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. In 2010, she joined SAG-AFTRA as a professional actor. Her voice acting encompasses corporate training, advertisements, medical videos, and computer games. If there’s an elf, a witch, or an aristocrat in a video game, it might be her! 

Elizabeth lives in Connecticut with her husband and Yorkshire terrier, Boo. Elizabeth and Boo (a Pet Partners therapy dog) visit hospitals, colleges, and retirement homes to share Yorkie snuggles. Elizabeth also donates her vocal skills to record audio books for the blind and dyslexic at Learning Ally, and for fun practices archery, kung fu, and horseback riding (but never at the same time).

She describes THE BRASS QUEEN as “a science fiction rom-com set in an alternate Victorian world” and says its “cross-genre fun will appeal to fans who enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, historical and paranormal romance, alternate history, and/or steampunk.

Here’s a blurb:

In 1897, fiery English aristocrat Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogues. Selling illegal firearms under her alias, the “Brass Queen,” has kept her baronial estate’s coffers full, but due to an archaic law, she will lose her ancestral home if she fails to marry within three days. Torn between high society and the underworld, Constance throws herself a lavish coming out ball to attract a noble spouse.

Her party is gatecrashed by US spy, JF Trusdale. Tall, dark, and almost handsome, Trusdale is shadowing a shady scientist. Doctor Creswick has developed an invisibility serum that could change the international spy game forever.

Trusdale is blindsided, and Constance mortified when an airship crashes through the ceiling and kidnaps Creswick.  Constance knows a liar when she sees one. Trusdale knows a fraud when he meets one. Yet, the two join forces to save the scientist.

As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don’t, the world they know will literally disappear before their eyes.

This just sounds incredibly fun!! I love the idea of steampunk with a sense of humor, and the threat of the world literally disappearing is so clever! I wish I had THE BRASS QUEEN to read at the beach this summer!

Folks, Elizabeth and I are sitting down here in my parlor to take tea, with a lovely steam-powered fan (made of peacock feathers!) to keep us cool! Please join us!

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Welcome, Elizabeth! Wow, what an interesting background you have! You grew up in Yorkshire, lived in New York, and now are in Connecticut, with a little kung fu and improv comedy thrown in! (Though I think your life won’t really be complete until you combine the archery and the horseback riding!! At least once!! And post a video on YouTube!! Bonus points if you do it with your Yorkshire Terrier on your lap!) With all those influences, I’m not surprised you’re going the highly inventive steampunk route. How did growing up where you did tie in to writing this novel?

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner, whose manuscript THE ART OF THE SCANDAL is nominated for Best Historical Romance.

Suzanne grew up in Oregon (Go Ducks!) but has found herself living in Jacksonville with three too-energetic boys, an equally too-energetic husband, and a lot of mosquitoes. She’s a lawyer by training (Dad’s fault), a lover of books by raising (thanks, Dad!), and will argue to the death that a Bloody Mary is a legitimate vegetable (sorry, Mom). 

This is Suzanne’s second Golden Heart final. Her previous historical romance, THE LOST CHORD, finaled in 2017. 

Here’s a blurb for THE ART OF THE SCANDAL:

The art is fake. The love is real. The risk is ruin.

Jilted by her fiancé, abandoned by her father, and scorned by her friends, Lady Lydia Pierrepoint and her pregnant, 15 year-old sister will be homeless by midnight unless she can charm the deed of her family’s home out of the mysterious South African who won the estate in a poker game. 

Grieving over the death of his Jewish father and English mother, Simon has no time for gallantry. He’s out to reclaim his mother’s name from the aristocracy who humiliated her. With an art collection worth millions and the National Gallery begging for a donation, revenge is within reach. 

But when Lydia points out that Simon’s treasure trove includes at least one forgery, they strike a deal. She’ll ferret out the fakes, and if the debut of his collection goes smoothly, she’ll win back her home. If she fails, she will take the blame and go to jail.  

Together, Lydia and Simon will feign an engagement, delve into the world of art forgery, and navigate the narrow-minded prejudices of London society to discover that love is forged, never faked.

Wow! That sounds rich and complex! And a half-Jewish South African art collector—a fresh take on a historical hero. Very exciting!

Okay, folks, come grab a lounge chair under our gazebo (no mosquitos here on the virtual lawn!) and enjoy a tropical drink with Suzanne and I as we chat about what drives her stories and why places matter so much.

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Welcome back to the Rubies, Suzanne!! Thanks for being with us today, and congrats on finaling in historical for the second year in a row!!

Hi, Elisa! I want to say hello and thank you the Ruby Slipper Sisterhood for inviting me onto this blog. The Golden Heart creates such a strong community of writers in what is oftentimes a lonely world. Real truth, I used to write in my youngest son’s closet (mostly b/c he wouldn’t fall asleep unless someone was in the room). With the Golden Heart sisterhood there is leadership and mentorship and camaraderie and wisdom galore and in those moments when the rejection emails pile in, I find myself wandering over to your blog and finding courage and inspiration. Also, Elisa, you always make me sound like I’m actually an interesting person. Appreciate that!

You started writing IN A CLOSET. You are already an interesting person. (And I wish I’d thought of that technique with my own little guy who wouldn’t fall asleep alone….I just sat there in the dark wishing I was writing.) So, to do that, you must have felt a powerful need to write. Why romance? Do you have a core story that drives you?

My novels tend to start with a break-up. My heroine loses her sense of place. She’s betrayed or jilted by someone she loves and she sets out to reclaim her old self. She doesn’t want to change, she wants to be the person she was before she was betrayed. In comes the hero, a fellow who straddles identities, who shrugs off labels and fights not to belong to any place or anyone. 

The heroine and hero push each other further and further out of each other’s comfort zones—the heroine is going to learn, through a lot of trial and error, humiliation, pain and vulnerability, that her true self cannot fit in the tight boundaries she’s let society, family, and obligation draw for her. The hero is going to learn that boundaries are not a prison, that even if he picks a side or a person, he is who he is—he is strong, he is true. 

The true sense of place for both is not defined by geography or family, or social standing, but by the love the hero and heroine build together. Their place in the world is side-by-side.  

Ah—reclaiming the essential self, which can mean reclaiming a place. Liberation by coming (or creating a) home. What about you personally? What is your sense of place? Or experience of dislocation, as the case may be?

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, a world full of hippies and centuries-old pine trees. My high school history teacher lived on a pot farm. My favorite English teacher was a former spy. Another teacher camped out in Canada for a few years because he was dodging the draft. Our postman had a Ph.D. in Philosophy. I spent summers in the mountains, wearing sweaters and mittens.  

Okay, wow! I can see you come by rich and complex narratives naturally. What a point of origin!! But you don’t live there now. What happened?

I “adulted” in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has its own distinct culture, but to me, it was always like Portland’s snotty, stock-grant rich sister. There are still mountains and cold rain. I was still close to home.

And then one day my husband said, “Let’s have an adventure.” And we took our three boys and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, which is geographically, atmospherically (is that the word for the weather?) and culturally the total opposite of Portland. The pine trees are so skinny, they’re like toothpicks. The ocean is warm. The sun is…out.

The other day, someone said, “Rainy season has started. Summer’s here.” And I experienced that weird jolt of realizing I am in a strange place. It’s culture shock. It’s being in one’s own skin, but the skin is experiencing a sensory world it is not in tune with. 

I hear you on that! I grew on the East Coast and live near San Francisco now. I love the area, but I’m still baffled by the bone dry summers, since summer is “meant” to be deep lush Pennsylvania green. (My husband, who grew up in L.A. and who lived with me for awhile in Ohio, freaked out when it rained there in July…he’d wonder why winter was starting.) And I spent years feeling like I was flipping upside down whenever I tried to navigate along the California coast, since the ocean was on the “wrong” side. It’s definitely a visceral thing. A sensory world problem, as you say.

I’m starting to think my sense of place is simultaneously liking and disliking the place I currently am. So much so, that I recently joined the world of Instagram! Where I tell the story of my own sense of displacement. I try to be generous with Jacksonville because it has been great for my family, but no picture can capture the humidity. 

Oy…I will never miss humidity! And I’ll have to check out your Instagram!! It does sound like an adventure you’re having! But back to the question of your inspirations for writing. What’s your all-time favorite romance?

I am going to be a total nerd and say my parents. My parents met during the Vietnam War. My mother, who is Vietnamese, was a translator for the U.S. Army. My Irish-American father was an officer. At heart (and later by profession) my mother is an accountant, no nonsense, all logic. Her favorite love story, I kid you not, is Moneyball! At heart my father was (he passed a few years ago) Irish—you know, romantic, sentimental, a lover of poetry and rhyme. My mother is a vegetarian, my father smoked and ate red meat. To relax, my mother plays with a calculator. My father would fish. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they managed to get along so well and be so in love, when they were so different. But to the day my father died, my parents held hands.  

Aww!! I love it!!! That’s a fabulous inspiration for so many stories! And I can see why Portland, with all its contradictions, would appeal to the two of them. (And adds another interesting layer to the fact that you wrote a hero who’s Jewish/English/South African. So much more interesting than yet another “to the manor born” lord!) So, any other creative outlets in your life besides writing?

I stress bake. Which seems to have backfired on me since anytime my kids want a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, they do their best to drive me insane. With three boys who refuse to wear shoes even when the alligators are out, I promise you, something’s always in the oven.

LOL! (Though I’ve got to tell you—the phrase “when the alligators are out” guarantees I will never, never be moving to Florida.) I admire your adventurous spirit! So, what question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

Where do you go or where do you feel most in your skin?

 

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Connect with Suzanne Turner on social media:

twitter @suziluvvturner

instagram @notajaxgirl

website www.suzannemturner.com 

 

Where are they now? – GH classes of 2005 & 2007

Welcome to the next installment of our The Golden Heart Finalists: Where are they now? series. Today, the Rubies are hosting Golden Heart finalists from 2005 and 2007.

Since the 2005 finalists were heading to Reno for the RWA Nationals, we chose to be “The Wild Cards.” The 2007 finalists met in Dallas–but, of course, with ‘007 as our year, we were the “Bond Girls.”

Thirteen finalists checked in with us today and volunteered to tell us what’s been happening with their writing careers since. If there are other 2005 or 2007 finalists who would like to share your updates today, please join us in the comments!

Check in from RWA 2017 Orlando

Welcome from RWA Nationals Conference in hot, sunny, hot Orlando, FL.  Here are some images to enjoy from Wednesday, the “pre-conference” day.

Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

I attended the Day of YA, hosted by YA-RWA. Our keynote speaker was Jennifer L. Armentrout, who gave a lovely, moving, personal talk on how each author should define success her own way and celebrate each milestone along our writer’s journey. She encouraged us not to get so mired in the trappings of the publishing biz that we lose our love of writing.

 

 

Damon Suede

 

Damon Suede presented a master class on “Star Turns: making protagonists shine.” It was one of the best writing craft classes that I have ever taken. In only 2 hours, he had me excited about new ideas to try for character development. I skipped the rest of the afternoon (mostly) to return to my hotel room and apply some of his techniques. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Damon, do it!

 

 

Goody Room at RWA in Orlando

Goody Room

 

RWA has two rooms for picking up Stuff We All Get. The Swag Room requires a ticket for a one-time walk-through. It has the serious swag, like books and water bottles. The Goody Room is open and has bookmarks, booklets, chocolate kisses, etc.

 

 

 

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day

 

Sabrina Jeffries and I are holding our awards for Booksellers Best, sponsored by Greater Detroit RWA. When she accepted her award, Sabrina told us that this book, The Study of Seduction, was the first time she’d based a hero on her husband.  It’s her “love letter to him.”

 

 

 

Rubies’ Reunion

 

And, as always, the Rubies had their annual reunion at the conference. Eight years later, we’re still going strong!  I’ll close with a shot of everyone at the reunion. (Click the image to see all of us.)

Are you attending RWA 2017? Leave a comment and tell us about the highlights or most memorable aspects of your conference so far. 

 

 

 

Stretch Your Wings: Top Ten Tips for Introverts at Conferences

Before I began attending writers’ conferences, I thought of myself as an extrovert.

Dressed for battle in gray wool and white silk, I fearlessly strode into my first conference ready to conquer the romance-writing world. I’d thought of writing as a profession, and by that time, I was awfully good at being professional. I was ready to kick ass and take names on my way to the top.

But instead of businesspeople giving each other firm handshakes and exchanging business cards, I saw women running into each others’ arms and huddling in tight little groups, dishing gossip and reminiscing like long-lost friends.

Which they were, of course. They weren’t competitors. They weren’t colleagues.

They were friends.

Panic tightened my throat as my stomach lurched. I realized my error, for this wasn’t a work conference.

This was high school!

Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Susannah Erwin!!

**Today is Memorial Day. May we all take some time today to remember the many Americans who’ve sacrificed their lives in service to our country.**


 

The Rubies have a busy week ahead—we’re welcoming not one, but THREE Rebelle guests. Today we’re featuring 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Susannah Erwin, whose manuscript JOB OPENING: BILLIONAIRE’S WIFE is nominated for Best Contemporary Romance!

An eager lover of storytelling in any and all forms, Susannah Erwin has a bachelor’s degree in film and an MBA in entertainment management. Her employers included major Hollywood studios. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a very spoiled cat. Her novel Job Opening: Billionaire’s Wife is a 2017 Golden Heart® nominee for Contemporary Romance: Short. Susannah’s chapter “Grounded” won the fourth round of the 2015 Avon FanLit competition and can be found in the novella A Duke to Remember. Her short story “The Santa Shack Up” is available in the anthology Holiday Ever After, published by LARA RWA.

Here’s a blurb for JOB OPENING: BILLIONAIRE’S WIFE:

He’s about to make his riskiest business acquisition yet: a wife.

Business is a game Luke Dallas plays to win. When the acquisition of his tech company hits a snag, jeopardizing his employees’ futures, Luke will do anything to move the deal forward – including getting married. When he bumps into Danica Novak, an executive recruiter in urgent need of a job, he thinks he’s found the perfect solution. She’ll recruit a wife for him. After all, marriage is just like business: a negotiation between two parties who have a mutual investment in a future outcome.

Danica believes Luke has taken momentary leave of his senses, but her brother’s medical bills make the money he offers very attractive.  Almost as attractive as he is, if it weren’t for the Mr. Roboto reputation he seems to have fully earned. She’ll find him three candidates, earn her bonus, and start her own search firm.

Neither of them added love into their calculations.

Sounds like a delightful book!! Seriously, there should be more job openings like that.

Susannah’s going to answer some interview questions today, and since hers is a billionaire story, why don’t we all settle into chaise lounges by the infinity pool while the cabana boys serve us mai tais. (Oh, is that the sound of a helicopter coming in to the private landing pad? Must be George Clooney coming to join us, as he often does. Leave him a chair, ladies, and get out the tanning oil.)

No Contest: How to Save RWA’s Writing Contest Circuit

Ten years ago, every romance writer I knew entered writing contests. It was the way you lowered your wheels to the ground, tested out the road, and saw how far you could go.

There was a typical pattern:

  1. You’d polish three-chapters-and-a-synopsis and toss it into a couple of local chapter contests to see if it floated or sank. This was a decent way to judge your commercial appeal and get feedback (taken with a grain of salt). Finaling regularly meant you could achieve a certain venerability on the contest circuit (like our own Kelly Fitzpatrick, for example!).
  2. Once you owned the local circuit, you’d aim for a highly competitive contest with an associated multi-day conference, like the Golden Leaf, or with a glamorous awards ceremony at RWA Nationals, like the Daphne and the Royal Ascot. Attending one of these conferences or ceremonies as a finalist was a huge networking opportunity! (Still is, honestly). 
  3. You’d shoot for the Golden Heart. Entering was expensive, but the rewards were automatic: agents would actually call you to see if you needed representation, you could attend terrifying swanky parties with Rita finalists and industry pros at Nationals. Best of all, you could count on a solid six months of glory within the romance-writing community. 

There used to be online leaderboards showing who’d earned the most finals and wins that year. Remember those? Heady days, my friends. Heady days!

Now? Just try to find a contest leaderboard. 

Go ahead; look. I tried, I failed, and frankly, I doubt any exist, because I don’t think enough people care about contests these days to keep track of who’s finaling.

Don’t be a Lone Wolf…

Or “why writers need other writers”

When I first started writing a book, I did it for fun. Most people thought I was crazy because most people think writing is work…not fun. But on those hazy, can’t-exactly-remember-because-I-was-a-tired-mama afternoons, I would put down the infant, drag out an ancient laptop and enter a fantasy world where characters did amusing things and drank lots of tea. Three years later after I typed the end, I realized I didn’t know what to do next.

I took to the internet and found…RWA.

I was titillated at the thought of belonging to an organization of writers, specifically romance writers. It was beyond comprehension that I could join and be part of something like RWA. After a few months, I researched chapters and found that the NOLA STARS chapter was IN MY TOWN! The rest is history…

So why am I telling you this? Because I kinda have a bug up my butt here lately about the attitude toward RWA specifically, and it bugs me that the perception is there’s enough information online that writers don’t need other writers. It bugs me that people say, “I get nothing out of RWA” which is something I’ve heard all too often this past month. It irritates me that people say this, yet they put forth ZERO effort to make our local chapter (or national association) better in any way. They want ROI without investment (other than dues).

Maybe I’m stepping on toes. And if so, I apologize. But I find a great deal of value in belonging to RWA. I’m a romance writer. It’s an organization for romance writers. It costs around $8 a month. They don’t ensure I’m successful but they provide many of the tools I need to grow and be successful. RWA isn’t a magic pill, but it brought me here. To this blog. With these incredible women. And that, for me, is enough for me to shell out my annual dues.

<stepping off soap box>

But this isn’t about RWA, it’s about not going it alone. And why you shouldn’t go it alone as a writer.

Over the years, I’ve learned that writing is a solitary profession. Only I can create my story. I must sit and pound out words that form sentences that form pages that make a book. It’s on me. But at the same time, I NEED other writers.

Why? Why do I need other writers?

Because this industry is tough as….well, you fill in that blank. And other writers give me something that no one else in my world can. They give me understanding, an ear, advice, a kick in the pants, a shoulder to cry on, and they do that because they understand. Because they are me. Since I joined my local chapter, I’ve had enormous support. Three ladies met with me every week to critique, give advice, eat chips and salsa. At conferences, I met my critique partner and other writers who did things like introduce me to their agent, editor or ask me to write a book with them. I’ve met friends and business associates who have helped my career whether it was to give me a word of encouragement, share a post or buy my book (and love it). I have installed around me mentors, critique partners, brainstorming buddies and true friends who know my struggle. They give me validation and knock me down a peg or two when I get too big for my britches. In other words, they complete me as a writer.

Okay, so maybe you don’t belong to RWA. You belong to another writing group. Cool. Maybe you don’t belong to a writing group but you have a critique group. Or maybe you have writer friends who meet you at a chalet in the mountains to do a writing retreat.

Good.

Because that’s good for you. You need to belong to something and you need to give something back. It’s like a balance thing in the universe. You give. You get. Universal truth, or at least I think it is.  SO this post isn’t a how-to, it’s a should-do. If you don’t belong to a writing group or partnership, do something about that. RWA has resources and so do other writing groups. Get out there and be part of something. Judge contests, sign up to volunteer, make a lunch date with other writers. Don’t be a lone wolf. Because lone wolves are lonely. And probably hungry (since wolves hunt in packs). And probably have short life spans (I’m only guessing because I’m not a scientist).

So here we go, right here on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood you can be part of something. I mean, we’re writers and this is a platform, so let’s use it. What’s been bugging you? Are you having trouble with your WIP? Need some brainstorming help? Title suggestions?

Lay it on us…

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist McCall Hoyle!

Today we’re welcoming one of the YA Mermaids, McCall Hoyle, who won a Golden Heart® two years ago, and whose manuscript THE OTHER CHEEK is a 2016 nominee in the Young Adult Romance category.

mccallMcCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. Her first novel, THE THING WITH FEATHERS, won the YA category in 2014. It releases in September 2017 from Blink/HarperCollins. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.

Here’s a blurb for THE OTHER CHEEK:

Seventeen-year-old Hartley Downs used to be pretty. She used to know where she belonged—at the top of the honor roll, at the top of the homecoming court podium, at the top of the cheerleading pyramid. When a grizzly bear attacks her on a camping trip out west, she loses more than her looks. She loses her identity.

A year later, all she wants is her old face back. But that’s going to be a challenge. The reconstructive surgery comes with risks, and her father has enrolled her in a confidence-building-summer camp. Chase Simpson, her team captain, is a fierce competitor and refuses to let Hartley fade into the forest.

In order to survive this summer-camp-from-hell and convince her father she’s capable of making her own decisions, Hartley must learn to take risks, trust others, and tap into her own inner strength. Only then will she have a chance at facing the world with both cheeks forward.

Oh, fabulous!! What a great issue for your book to focus on—especially in this media-driven, appearance-obsessed age! This could be an important book for a lot of young people.

Speaking of experiences that help us find our inner strength, McCall’s here with us today to share her take on why RWA is so empowering for writers.

Readers, grab yourself some s’mores and gather round the campfire…no grizzly bears nearby, I promise!

Take it away, McCall!

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WHY I INVITE RANDOM STRANGERS TO GRW AND RWA®:

Well, in all honesty, I don’t invite just any random stranger. I invite the ones who voice even the tiniest interest in writing—in any genre. I’ve invited book sellers, librarians, friends of my nineteen-year-old daughter who are avid readers, and maybe my drycleaner.

Why?

2015 M &M

GRW Peeps–Brenda Davis, Sia Huff, Tami Brothers, Tammy Schubert, and McCall

I guess I need to return the favor, spread the love that was shared with me. I first heard of RWA® in Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE. I don’t have the book handy, but if I remember correctly, she suggests anyone with an interest in writing join RWA® for the plethora of resources the organization provides. I would take her advice one step farther and suggest anyone interested in writing seek out a local chapter and move heaven and earth to attend regular meetings. If that absolutely won’t work, find an online chapter.

When an acquaintance, Sia Huff, who is now a dear friend, invited me to attend a GRW meeting years ago, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t join right away. I didn’t feel like a real writer at the time, but that’s a story for another day.

Since that first meeting I’ve learned a lot about myself, about other writers, and about RWA®. I’ll try to distill what I’ve learned here:

  1. McCall and Amy DeLuca

    McCall and Amy DeLuca

     Writers need writing resources to perfect their crafts. We need materials and access to other writers. We’re responsible for our own educations. We can’t do this without lessons, texts, and teachers. RWA® and GRW have provided me with opportunities to learn under greats such as Michael Hauge, Margie Lawson, Laura Baker, and Robin Perini. I met my beautiful and all-around wonderful critique partner, Amy DeLuca, at my first Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolia Conference. I’ve had the opportunity to learn alongside her and many others because of the connections I’ve made at RWA.

2. Writers need wise business counsel. We need information and materials about querying, about agents and editors, about self-publishing, and yuck—taxes. The vast majority of what I’ve learned about the business of writing, I’ve learned from articles in RWA®’s ROMANCE WRITERS REPORT, from conferences, and from other writers I’ve met through RWA® and GRW. 

The 2014 Dreamweavers

The 2014 Dreamweavers

3. Writers need emotional support. We tend to feel things strongly—the highs and lows. I could fill pages with people who have encouraged and mentored me along the way. I’ve got a fairly decent list of people who’ve given me a swift kick in the behind when I needed it too. Of course, there’s my critique partner Amy who is also one of my 2014 Golden Heart® Dreamweaver Sisters. The Dreamweavers are my go-to for pretty much everything writing or mental health related. There are my new 2016 Golden Heart® Mermaid Sisters. We’re currently bonding over dress and pin selections and food and travel plans. But then there are so many people who had no connection to me at all but helped anyway. Like Maureen Hardegree who critiqued for me early on at the GRW Gin Ellis Workshop. Like Sally Kilpatrick who answers random email questions despite her hectic writing and family life. Like her critique partner Tanya Michaels who answers questions and shares cabs with people like me who couldn’t find their way around rural Georgia much less New York City. Like Missy Tippens who welcomed me at her table of published authors when I showed up at a meeting and had nowhere to sit. I also run into her every year in the airport on my way to Nationals. She and her family are always warm and welcome faces. Did I mention I kind of have a phobia about traveling alone? Truly, I could go on and on. These women are all multi-published authors who helped me when I was clueless. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that these women are not the exception when it comes to our great organization. They are the norm.

And that’s why I invite random strangers who show an interest in writing, no matter how small, to visit and join GRW and RWA®.

Do you have a local chapter? Which one? What’s your favorite thing about your chapter?

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Where to find McCall on social media:

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Twitter   @McCallHoyle

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The Latest Comments

  • Laurie Kellogg: What a wonderful post, Beth. I hope your book helps to educate the public on the challenges of Autism.
  • Kate Parker: Lovely post, Beth. And yes, romance writers are very supportive, even of mystery writers!
  • Elizabeth Langston: So many people could be thanked, but it’s nice to get an opportunity to give a special word...
  • Julia Day: Yes, and you’ve been great and supportive, too. I can thank you enough!
  • Bev Pettersen: This is a lovely post, Beth. From the very beginning, I was astonished and grateful at how generous...

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