Member of RWA since:
Are you published in romantic fiction:
Year first published:
Other genres or forms published in (please specify):
How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in:
List Most Recent Publishers with whom you have published, including "self":
Soul Mate Publishing, LLC and Self Published
List any RWA Chapter of which you are a member:
Florida Romance Writers (FRW); Contemporary Romance Writers (CRW)
Other Writers' Organizations of which you are a member (please specify):
Florida Writers Association
Have you ever worked for a publishing house or literary agency in a capacity other than as an author? Have you ever owned a literary agency or a publishing house that has published works of fiction other than your own?
Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author?
Do you currently own a literary agency or a publishing company that produces works of fiction other than your own? Do you own or operate or provided services for authors such as editing, cover design, marketing, etc.
What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA in 2010 after completing my first manuscript, but before it was published a year later. As a new author hoping to publish my first book, I needed the guidance, training, and support of an organization. I didn't know when I began writing that such an organization existed, but when I discovered RWA and learned that the upcoming meeting was only two hours from my home, I knew I had to join and take advantage of all that it offered. It was the best decision I made for my writing career, and I've made so many wonderful friends, and learned, and continue to learn, so much about the craft and the business of writing since that time.
Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
Two reasons: 1. I want to give back to the organization that has given so much to me. 2. I want to help shape it for current and future romance writers.
Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions:
My small community does not have a local RWA chapter, so I cannot claim any experience as a local chapter member or officer, however, I have been active in the online communities and chapters, including PRO and PAN. I have also volunteered in a variety of capacities at annual RWA conferences. After gaining experience in the publishing industry, I believe I now have something to offer to RWA, the board, and the romance writing community.
Based on your review of the strategic plan, what relevant experience/skills/abilities do you have that would be a benefit to the organization and further RWA’s strategic plan?
I am a lawyer by training and served for many years in the general counsel's office at a large research university. I believe my analytical skills and critical thinking as a lawyer are perfectly suited to the implementation of the RWA strategic plan. In my previous role as associate university counsel, I participated in strategic planning for university boards and committees and served on various university task forces.
In my current employment capacity, I serve as a full time Vice Chair for two of the university's Institutional Review Boards (IRB), which review human subjects research conducted by the university, and in that capacity have run board meetings, drafted board policies and procedures, and assisted in investigations of non-compliance. I also serve on the IRB Executive Committee, whose responsibility it is to develop and implement board policies, and to address issues involving the complex world of human subjects research.
I also have several years of experience serving on various other boards and committees. I currently serve as an executive director for the non-profit foundation my husband and I created in 2003, and organized and ran board meetings for many years. As executive director, I also serve on the foundation's strategic planning committee, participating in the drafting and implementation of our sequential five-year plans. Lastly, I have served for the last few years on the steering committee of a program at a local college that honors women for their philanthropy and community service.
All of the above experience gives me a variety of perspectives in the non-profit sector. Moreover, being a hybrid author, I bring experience in both the small publishing and indie publishing worlds.
What issues do you feel are important for the board to address in the next two years and why?
Two issues are uppermost in my mind, one, diversity and inclusivity, not only in ethnicity, race or sexual orientation, but in career tracks; and two, the RITAs. The two are not mutually exclusive.
With regard to diversity, what can RWA do to not only increase the diversity of membership, but the diversity of the romance genre? What can RWA do to assist diverse authors in reaching their goals? How can RWA break some of the industry barriers for these writers? I don't have the answers, but I have some ideas. One suggestion is a mentor program, where successful authors of color, indie authors, or LGBTQ authors could mentor those authors new in their careers.
As for the RITAs, I know many authors who do not enter the contest because they feel they have no hope of making it to the finals, much less winning, either because they are authors of color, or are not traditionally-published. Inclusivity is vital to the relevance of the RITAs to the industry as a whole. Many of the authors who win each year are my favorite authors, and their books deserve the recognition. The question is how do we broaden that recognition so that more diverse, and up and coming authors are given the same opportunities? Again, I certainly don't have the answers, but I'd like to tackle the problem.
With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
While many authors are traditionally-published, many, like me have chosen either the hybrid route or the indie route. I want to ensure that RWA is inclusive of the different tracks authors may take in their careers, and that RWA continues to provide, or even increases, the resources these authors need to be successful in an ever-changing industry. This could include such things as featuring an Indie Track for the annual conference workshops.
RWA is a large organization, and based on my 18-plus years of experience at a large research university, steering such organizations in a different direction is often difficult, and requires both a top-down and bottom-up approach. With the speed at which the industry is changing, RWA needs to be more nimble in response to these changes, which I see this is one of the items on the 2018–2021 strategic plan.
In addition to PRO and PAN, and local and genre chapters, I would suggest the creation of an Indie chapter or online community where those just dipping their toes in the indie pool can learn from those with years of experience. I would suggest the same for other interest areas including LGBTQ and authors of color, not as a means to isolate members of those groups, but rather as a platform for members of those groups to learn and share their experiences, while also remaining involved with the larger communities.