Candidate Q&A

2017–18 RWA Board of Directors Candidates

Learn more about the candidates for the 2017-18 Board of Directors by clicking on a name below.

 

President-Elect

Secretary

PAN Advisor

 


President Elect

HelenKay Dimon

HelenKay Dimon

HelenKay Dimon is a former trial attorney turned full-time romance author. She has sold over fifty novels and novellas to numerous publishers, including Avon, Penguin Random House, Kensington and Harlequin. Her nationally best-selling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and twice been excerpted in Cosmo. HelenKay served in numerous Board positions in her local RWA Chapter (San Diego), including President and Vice President of Programs. She was named the RWA Mentor of the Year in 2010 and is currently a Director-at-Large on the RWA Board.

 

Member of RWA since: March 1997

What year were you first published in romantic fiction? 2006

PAN? Yes

Honor Roll? No

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning in 2017? 2015, 11; 2016, 4; 2017, 6

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Avon, Kensington, Penguin Random House (Loveswept and Heat), Harlequin (Intrigue and Desire), Carina Press, Riptide, self-publishing (short stories only).

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Avon, Kensington, Penguin Random House (Loveswept and Heat), Harlequin (Intrigue and Desire), Carina Press, Riptide, self-publishing (short stories only).

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: RWASD (San Diego RWA).

Other writers organizations (please specify): Thriller Writers of America.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of President-Elect?
The answer to why I’m running is easy: because I love this organization and want it to thrive and change and be open and welcoming to all who write romance and work in the industry. RWA may not be perfect - no organization that answers to 10,000 people is - but it does many things well. In terms of advocacy, education and networking, RWA continues to be a leader. RWA is constantly trying to improve its outreach and inclusiveness. I know from being on the Board how hard the staff and Board work to keep the organization on track, fix past mistakes and look to the future. We have made a lot of progress and moved RWA to keep up with a changing industry. I am dedicated to continuing that work while preserving and improving the things we already do so well.

What chapters and/or other organizations have you served as President or in a leadership capacity?
RWASD as President and as Vice President of Programs.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA years ago when I was writing as a hobby. The more I wrote, the more intrigued I became. Joining provided me with needed information about the industry and craft. The idea of meeting fellow writers and being a part of a community really appealed to me. While I no longer need basic craft information, I continue to learn new things all the time. I have found a group of people - many of whom are now friends - who inspire and push me.

When I moved to San Diego ten years ago I didn't know anyone except my husband. Attending a local chapter meeting opened up a new world for me. People were welcoming and helpful. I had a place to go with people who were on the same path I was. That support system was a huge comfort and continues to be.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
RWA Director At Large for four years. RWA Board advisor to the Ethics Committee. 2010 PRO Mentor of the Year. Leadership Development Committee Chair and Vice Chair (consecutive years).  RWASD Chapter President, RWASD Vice President of Programs for three years. I have served on various RWA committees to assist in the overhaul of governance documents including the Bylaws and the Ethics Code.

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 have been on the RWA Board for four years. That service has provided valuable experience and a knowledge of the history of what Board decisions have been made and why. Board members are called on to multitask by discussing and thinking about current RWA issues and a future plan for RWA improvements, all while attending meetings, working on RWA committees and handling emergencies. That work requires balance, critical thinking and a willingness to listen to differing opinions to decide what is best for RWA, as a whole. I’ve been working on all of those skills while on the Board.

What issues do you feel are important for the RWA Board to address in the next two years and why?
One of the most pressing issues facing RWA is relevance. The organization has approximately 10,000 members at different points in their writing careers and in the industry. RWA has had some difficulty over the years being responsive as the publishing market changed. There is a new openness to digital-first publishing and self-publishing/indie publishing and programs have been implemented to advocate for authors from marginalized groups, but as new doors have opened RWA's resources have been pulled in many directions. For RWA and its members to continue to thrive, RWA has to figure out better ways to keep traditionally published and Honor Roll members interested and engaged. RWA also needs to offer our self-published/indie authors benefits beyond an opportunity to enter the RITA contest. At the same time, RWA needs to meet the needs of its unpublished writers.

These obligations extend beyond conference programming and RWA University classes, which are important. RWA needs a range of outreach to authors at all stages of their careers, as well as a continued push to support authors from marginalized groups. RWA has always been a leader in author advocacy and that traditional must continue. But better technology, including a website that can get information to members easier and faster, open dialogue with publishers and a re-energized focus on exemplary and high-level programming will assist RWA and its members into the future.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
RWA needs a wider range of programming and opportunities for members at all stages of their careers. We do a very good job for our unpublished members in offering beneficial craft programming both at the national and chapter levels. We need to provide equal focus to our published members in terms of programming, access to information and access to each other. This is difficult because these published members are all at different levels of their careers and on very different career paths. What will engage and be relevant to a newly published author won’t be relevant to the member on Honor Roll who has already sold 100,000 copies of one book or to the long-time member who hits bestseller lists with each new hardcover romance.

We need to recognize that this range of talent, skill and experience is RWA’s strength. Then we need to be clear that these stages exist and target programming and resources at each level. Providing forums for discussions relevant to these individual stages would be a start, as would offering member benefits specific to these stages. There already is an acknowledgement that advance-level programming is needed to keep both the members and RWA fresh and relevant, and RWA is moving in that direction. Making that a top priority is essential. 

 

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Secretary

Renee Ryan

Renee Ryan

Two-time winner of the published Daphne Award, Renee Ryan left her job teaching high school to pursue her dream of writing romance fiction. She credits her ongoing publishing success to her longtime membership in RWA. With over twenty books published, and more scheduled for 2018, she's written in several subgenres including historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. A former chapter president and an active volunteer at the local and national level, Renee currently serves as Secretary for the RWA National Board of Directors and was the recipient of the 2014 RWA Service Award.

 

Member of RWA since: 1998.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2001.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): N/A.

If you are published, how many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning in 2017? 4 titles in 2015, 2 titles in 2016 and 2 titles in 2017.

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Dorchester, Harlequin Love Inspired, Harlequin Love Inspired Historical, Amazon's Waterfall Press.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: FHL, FCRW.

Other writers organizations (please specify): NINC.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA back in 1998 after receiving rejections from nearly every traditional publishing house in New York. I knew something had to change if I wanted to realize my life-long dream of publication. After only one meeting with a local RWA chapter in Iowa, I was immediately impressed with the level of knowledge and encouragement the group provided for its members. Since that first RWA meeting, I continue to meet new friends, as well as gain additional support and knowledge concerning current publishing trends. I consider RWA one of the most valuable tools in my writing arsenal. I wouldn't have an ongoing writing career without my membership in the organization.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Secretary?
I have served on the national Board of Directors for three years, first as a Director-at-Large, then as Secretary. With nearly two years under my belt as Secretary, I feel as though I have a good understanding of the job duties and unique responsibilities. In addition, I’m organized, quick to respond, have a strong working knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order and am proficient at meeting tight deadlines. I also work well with the RWA Staff and my fellow Board members. I would consider it an honor to serve another two years as the association’s Secretary.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I've lived in several different cities and have been a member of local chapters across the country.  I've served on the board of most of these chapters, holding the position of president, vice-president of membership, secretary and newsletter editor. I have coordinated contests and organized full-day retreats, as well as put together mini-conferences. I have spoken at countless regional meetings and conferences, and given over ten different workshops at the RWA Annual Conference. On the national level, I have served as Workshop Asst. Chair, Workshop Chair, and Pan Retreat Chair. I have also sat on several national committees, including taking on the role of Chair for the Ethics Committee. I was a Director-at-Large for one year for the National Board of Directors before taking on my current role as Secretary.

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?
As a former educator who taught a diverse group of students in several different subjects, I believe I have the ability to take into account the needs of all our members, not just one sub-group or the squeakiest wheel. Having taught high school Economics and American Government, I know how to keep my personal opinions out of my decisions. I also know how to consider both sides of an argument and have been open-minded enough to change my vote when presented with a well-articulated, thoughtful argument from the other side. Finally, I'm skilled at getting to the heart of the matter and finding common ground where everyone can agree.

Based on your review of the strategic plan, what issues do you feel are important for the RWA Board to address in the next two years and why?
I have written in several romance subgenres and have published with several traditional publishing houses, some of which are no longer in business. I know what it means to be “orphaned” after a line closes and the need for reinvention as a result. In the current publishing climate, RWA’s role in helping authors find success is more important than ever. We, as an organization, must be willing to shift with the times and help our members do the same. What worked yesterday may not work today. I want to play a role in helping RWA become “the source” for romance authors wishing to take their careers to the next level.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
I would like to see RWA continue to enhance the image of romance fiction both inside and outside the industry. I would also like to see RWA play a key role in assisting our members in navigating unexpected changes in the industry, whether that means helping authors find new readers, explore the possibility of reinvention or taking a necessary career pivot. I would especially like to see RWA address the needs and concerns of our midlist and emerging authors, while still providing relevant information and education for our Honor Roll members.

 

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Director-at-Large

Anna Alexander

Anna Alexander

Award-winning author Anna Alexander is the author of the Heroes of Saturn and the Sprawling A Ranch series. With Hugh Jackman’s abs and Christopher Reeve’s blue eyes as inspiration, she loves spinning tales of superheroes finding love. Anna also loves to give back and has served on the board for the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America as chapter president and on the committee for the Emerald City Writers Conference. Most recently she has served as the Leadership Chair for RWA and organizes the Seattle UnCon.

 

Member of RWA since: 2009.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2012.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Romance only.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? Five, two, and three.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Ellora's Cave; self-published.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: Greater Seattle RWA, Evergreen RWA, former member of FF&P.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
When I discovered RWA was an organization, I was beyond thrilled to locate a resource to help me on my journey to publication. I continue to be a member and serve on committees because I find value in working with other RWA members and learning from their experiences. In this age where information is readily available through other resources, I like knowing RWA is a starting point for information and that there is a community of people who have been or will be where I am at in my career and are willing to share their experiences.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
There is a need and I have a skill. As a member of both large, small, and online chapters, I know that no two chapters are the same, nor are their needs the same. I want to use my experience as a member, a former chapter president, and conference organizer to assist RWA in becoming a stronger advocate and community for romance authors.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I’ve served on the board of the Greater Seattle RWA in several positions, including chapter president. I’ve also served on the committee for the Emerald City Writers Conference in many capacities and organize their Passport to Romance event. I’ve served on the Leadership Committee and was the most current chair.

The most important contribution I’ve made was while serving as chapter president. Our local chapter serves members in several states and two other countries. We also have members at several stages in their writing careers. By utilizing the talents in our local board and chapter members, we provided programing and opportunities for authors local and distant. I also established a program to provide online content to members unable to attend the monthly meetings, and while on the board created a monthly newsletter celebrating our member’s achievements. Seeing other members’ successes was a great motivator to the entire chapter to meet their goals.

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?
Over the last several years I have served on chapter boards, been traditionally and self-published, taught workshops on craft and the business of writing, and organized author events, including the Seattle UnCon. In my day job, I’ve worked with the public as a city employee and in the hotel industry. In those environments I’ve had to learn how to work with people with different backgrounds, experiences, and requirements, and learn how to project manage and work with volunteers. While as chapter president, I have gotten to learn more about the chapters throughout the nation and hear what they find important and the challenges they are facing. This knowledge is invaluable in creating a stronger community.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
The most important issue I feel the organization is facing is how to keep chapters viable. The strength of RWA relies on the strength of the chapters and our local chapters are dying. The dynamic of a local chapter cannot be duplicated on a national level, and at times your chapter mates are the driving force in helping you attain your goals. Local chapters are a necessity. The board must make sure the local chapters are receiving the tools they need to be successful while maintaining the directive of being a career-focused community.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
This is a question I have been asked often and at times I ask myself. RWA cannot be all things to all people. As a published author, you are your own business, and not every writer wants or has the skills to be a business owner. And that is okay. The reason RWA has been successful in helping to produce so many business savvy authors is due to their inclusivity. We need to embrace that core belief while at the same time acknowledging that not every member will become a published author but will still have a home at RWA.

Education will keep RWA relevant. Whether that’s being a source of who the current industry professionals are, who is trustworthy or perhaps who to stay away from, or providing opportunities for networking and workshops on all aspects of the publishing industry, education is key. RWA cannot dictate to a publisher how they can run their business, but by educating our members, those publishers or companies will need work harder at treating their content providers fairly or suffer with a lack of quality books or lack of authors resulting in a diminished business. Can education be gleaned outside of the organization? Absolutely. That is why RWA must focus its strength on becoming the quality source for information and opportunities.

 

 

Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is the author of the Cainsville modern gothic series and Rockton romantic thrillers. Past works include the Otherworld urban fantasy series, the Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising paranormal romance YA trilogies, the Age of Legends YA trilogy, and the Nadia Stafford trilogy. Armstrong lives in Ontario, Canada, with her family.

 

Member of RWA since? 2005.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

If yes, year first published? 2001.

Are you a member of PAN? Yes.

Are you a member of Honor Roll? I’m not on it, but I qualify on all counts: NYT, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, # copies sold, etc.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): urban fantasy, mystery, young adult & middle grade.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 3/3/3 full-length titles.

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): PRH, Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Subterranean Press, Orca, self.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Toronto chapter.

Other writers organizations (please specify): NinC, MWA, HWA, SFWA (I write cross-genre…it fits everywhere!).

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I attended a meeting of the Toronto chapter and was blown away. It was exactly the mix of craft, business and support that I’d been looking for and wasn’t finding elsewhere. It is still—by far—the organization that I find the most useful in my career.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Director-at-Large?
I've toyed with the idea for years, but I've always hesitated because I'm a cross-genre writer. I don't clearly fit into RWA (or any other genre organization!) I've tried to do what I can for my local chapter, but I'd like to contribute more, so I decided to take the plunge and run for DAL.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I've been the PAN liaison for the Toronto chapter. This was at a time when the requirements for PAN were more restrictive and excluded most self-published authors. I made it my goal to include all authors while working within RWA's policies. The result was an in-chapter PUB designation for all published authors, who were then included in a published author loop and our published author events. With changes to PAN, this is no longer necessary, but at the time, I wanted to be sure we were being as inclusive as possible and sharing industry and publishing information with all authors.

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 believe that it’s primarily my breadth of experience that would help me in this position. The strategic plan recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the business. We have so many avenues to explore in this ever-changing market. I write in multiple genres, for multiple age groups (adult/YA/MG), in multiple formats (novel, novella, short story, graphic novel, app.) I have experience with four of the “big five” as well as smaller presses and self-publishing. I’ve co-written novels, written as part of two collaborative series and contributed to a collaborative novel. At the heart of all this is my passion for storytelling. That doesn’t change across genre, age group or format.

The strategic plan emphasizes the writing community, and I strongly believe that we work better together, boosting one another up whenever we can. Readers rarely stick to one author, and if one of us succeeds, it boosts all authors in that genre, by bringing new readers to it. In pursuing that cooperative goal, I’ve co-organized and edited several short story anthologies, co-organized two large cross-publisher author tours, co-organized writing retreats and co-organized a reader con. These experiences have helped boost the organizational skills that I developed in project management (as a former programmer), as well as my skills for negotiation and conflict resolution. As part of a leadership group, I’m reliable, steady and determined, able to see all sides and push for a reasoned solution.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
The current strategic plan shows a commitment to staying relevant—to recognizing that the industry is changing and to RWA’s commitment itself to understanding those changes and helping authors navigate them. I believe this is vital. The challenge is in ensuring every romance author can look at RWA and say, “I belong here.” It is identifying the commonalities and focusing on those, while also providing resources to deal with the concerns of all segments within the population. That is a huge challenge. But I believe RWA is comprised of a spectrum of writers, rather than disparate subpopulations. My own career trajectory will not exactly match anyone else’s, yet I can find areas of common ground and shared experience with any romance writer. 

I appreciate the board’s commitment to diversity, and this would be an issue I would like to ensure is pursued. We want everyone to feel welcome in RWA, and we want all voices to be heard.

I’d also like to see attention paid to self-care—the recognition both of mental health issues and the need for authors to tend to their personal well-being in addition to that of their career. We have undertaken a job that can be extremely isolated and stressful, and I’d like to see more recognition of this, giving authors the resources they need and the ability to say “I’m struggling” without fear of judgement.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Again, I’d say to focus on the commonalities. I meet both traditional and independent authors who feel RWA is “not for them.” This organization—and others—is being pulled in so many directions. We need to have the resources for people pursuing a specific branch or subgenre of romance publishing, but also a general focus on those aspects we can all relate to: writing craft, career management, self-care, etc. There will always be issues within RWA that don’t apply to some writers, but romance writers should feel that the majority does apply to them. That’s where we see the focus on commonalties, which I believe RWA has been doing, and I’d like to see it continue in that direction.

 

 

Jamie Beck

Jamie Beck

National best-selling author Jamie Beck's realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than one million copies. She's a 2017 Booksellers Best Award finalist whose work has also been a 2016 Woman's World Book Club pick and hit Heavy.com's "Top Romance Novels of 2015" list. Critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work "smart," "uplifting," and "entertaining." In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

 

Member of RWA since: November 2007.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2014.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? Yes.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015: 3 full-length novels; 2016: 3 full-length novels; 2017: 2 full length novels and one novella.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Montlake Romance.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: CTRWA

Other writers organizations (please specify): NINC (application in review).

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I discovered RWA after I wrote my first manuscript. Once I joined, I learned about everything that was wrong with that book, but I was already hooked, so I wrote another, and another. Each one improved thanks to local and national workshops, and the support and guidance of fellow members. I truly owe my career to RWA and CTRWA. I continue to rely upon the network of writing friends I’ve made through these groups, all of whom help me navigate this industry.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I was approached by a long-standing RWA volunteer (and author I admire) to consider running. I agreed because I care about the organization and its future, and I welcome an opportunity to give something back to the community that has helped me. I’d also like to examine new ways the association could help all authors have a chance to succeed and be discovered.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I served as the CTRWA Treasurer in 2015 and 2016, and am currently the chapter’s critique group leader. I’ve also been a designated mentor in my chapter. I’ve presented workshops at the local chapter level, and been a contest judge at local and national levels. In addition to those formal activities, I’m always willing to sit with anyone who wants my help or advice!

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?
Prior to becoming a writer, I was a lawyer and I have an MBA, so I think I’m able to look at strategic, brand, and business matters with an educated eye, and to understand the fiduciary and other duties of board membership. As a writer with seven published books and counting, I also understand the challenges faced in today’s marketplace. I have an established network (agent, editors, author friends) to draw upon for trend spotting and big-picture ideas. And as someone who has served on a local board, I also have a little experience with the kinds of membership issues that crop up, and how those need to be handled (with care).

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
I think RWA already does an excellent job of providing resources for new writers (both in terms of education and networking). Where I think it could focus additional attention is on the published/multipublished author who is struggling with mid-career needs and questions. Additionally, these issues require continued support: Diversity (because equal opportunity should be a given). Discoverability (because this is becoming increasingly difficult in a glutted marketplace). “Quality of Life” (because the pressure to produce more product more quickly is all-consuming in our genre, unlike other commercial fiction genres). Retention of seasoned authors (because these are our teachers and mentors, and we need them to stay involved and provide the insight that comes with experience). Quality (because it directly affects public and industry perception of this genre).

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
With respect to keeping RWA relevant, I think we need to first assess what the members’ needs are.

From my perspective, the self-publishing boom has really affected the organization. Now a great number of members no longer need or want access to agents and editors, and they also aren’t as interested in contests and pitch sessions and imprint spotlights. These authors (as well as traditionally published authors) are increasingly more likely to considering spending their time and money at RT and other reader-oriented events.

That said, RWA is still very relevant for unpublished writers who want a traditional publishing contract.

In either case, once you get beyond the basics (learning craft and getting published), the biggest, most consistent complaint I hear among published authors of all types boils down to finding readers. I think this is an area where RWA can try to be more helpful to its membership.

Maybe it can create some reader outreach programs or opportunities (beyond the Literacy Signing). One simple thought would involve tweaking RWA’s site and social media platforms to entice readers to visit in order to learn about new authors, new releases, etc. Why not add a “For Readers” tab on the website’s menu bar that offers a drop-down list breaking authors out by subgenre (instead of simply listing published authors alphabetically as it does now)? That way readers could quickly discover new authors in their preferred subgenre. Maybe it could also create a menu item for “Author Events” by area/state and members could upload their upcoming signings, readings, etc., on that page. These are certainly not big fixes, but they are two simple examples of how the organization could help its members with discoverability.

In terms of providing content that keeps the more seasoned and highly successful authors engaged, that is harder to answer. One idea would be to continue to pull in outside experts (both online and at the national conference) from places like NetGalley, BookBub, PW, Nielsen and maybe even folks from the Hallmark channel, etc., who could talk about (a) how to best use their platforms, (b) industry trends, and (c) catching the interest of TV and film producers. Has the organization polled its most seasoned authors and asked what they want or need? As with most issues, there isn’t an easy solution, but identifying the needs are usually the best place to start.

 

 

Betty Bolte

Betty Bolte

Language and writing are my first loves. I have written in a variety of genres and been published since 1995, so have witnessed how the industry has changed. I earned an MA in English (2008). I worked as a tech writer (freelance and/or employed) and part of an integration team for NASA, the U.S. Army, corporations, small businesses, and individuals, jobs requiring tact and diplomacy as well as a business sense. I¹ve also served on a variety of charity committees where really tough decisions had to be made regarding the level of financial commitment needed versus requested.

 

Member of RWA since: 2004.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2014.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Nonfiction Young Adult Books; Nonfiction Adult Books; Short Historical Fiction for Young Adults; Short Story; Essay; Newspaper Articles; Newspaper Column; Magazine Articles.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015 – 1; 2016 – 1; 2017 - 4.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):  Self; ePublishing Works; Liquid Silver Books.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Heart of Dixie (Alabama); Southern Magic (Alabama); Music City Romance Writers (Tennessee); Romantic Women’s Fiction (Online).

Other writers organizations (please specify): Authors Guild; Historical Novel Society; Women’s Fiction 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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
At my first chapter meeting, as a visitor, I realized how little I knew and understood about writing professionally. I joined to learn more about writing fiction as well as to understand the ins and outs of the world of publishing fiction. It’s very different from writing nonfiction books and articles and requires a different view of readers. I understand that difference now as a result of being a member of RWA. I stay a member for the friends I’ve made, networking, education, industry insights, and so much more.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
After receiving so much from this organization in terms of education, exposure to industry professionals, and networking/friendships, I feel the need to give something back. I started with my local chapters, serving on the board of Heart of Dixie, volunteering in some capacity for each of my other chapters, and participating in online forums and discussions. I want to help other soon-to-be-published authors attain their goals and have the support of this organization to achieve their dreams. To do that, I want to be a part of the board to help guide the organization and membership through the ever-changing waters of the publishing industry.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
Currently serving as Membership Chair for the Heart of Dixie chapter and previously served as Secretary (2013-2016) and prior to that as Membership Chair (2011-2012). This included updating the chapter by-laws and P&PM several times to match/comply with national requirements, and thus enabling my own deeper understanding of those governance documents. I also occasionally initiate member gatherings before and/or after the chapter meeting to help foster relationships within the chapter. I was honored to receive the 2017 Mentor of the Year Award in June.

Worked on the HOD Romance Readers Luncheon committee several years, including handling the facilities liaison role for two years.

Asked by the HOD president to lead a committee to align recognition of published chapter members with the RWA mission statement. The ensuing discussions and development of both a survey and a recommendation to the board, and the membership, proved enlightening as to how people view the same situation from very different perspectives.

Served on the 2014 PRO Steering Committee, and as Assistant Chair of the committee in 2015.

Served on the Romantic Women’s Fiction chapter’s social event planning committee (2015-2016).

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?
My strengths lie in my diplomatic skills, process analysis and improvement, and ability to tailor communications to the target audience. Each of these skills and abilities would enhance efforts in the strategic plan toward furthering networking opportunities, building different ways to strengthen the sense of community within the romance genre, and open avenues of dialogue regarding identifying gaps in the educational offerings of the organization.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
Networking and Community needs to continue to be developed in conjunction with Inclusivity to ensure all members feel welcome and included without exception. Clear and open communication lines are also important tools for dissemination of information and opportunities within the organization so there is a free exchange of opinion and information to keep the membership of the organization as a whole informed.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Writers today have more ways of accessing information and education regarding the publishing industry than ever before. Therefore, keeping RWA relevant means providing services and opportunities to members not readily available to nonmembers. It may mean hosting regional meetings or mini-conferences to enable more of the membership to gather for networking and professional exchanges. Or perhaps quarterly online informational exchanges, a virtual roundtable discussion, or virtual “hot sheet” updates on the industry. The exact ways would depend on the needs of the membership and should evolve over time along with the industry.

 

 

Jennifer Bray-Weber

Jennifer Bray-Weber

Award-winning author Jennifer Bray-Weber is a proud native Texan. She is a married domestic goddess/beach bum with two beautiful daughters. The type to take on dares, she has been able to express her creative thinking through countless questionable, often hilarious, life experiences. She writes historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance and has nine published books.

Her interests include writing, reading, traveling (what she likes to call "research"), horseback riding, scrapbooking, shopping, rocking out to music, and relaxing at the beach.

 

Member of RWA since: 2008.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2011.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2 (3 if including a title in a multi-author box set).

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Carina Press; independently published.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Hearts Through History; Northwest Houston RWA.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author?  No.

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. Yes.

If yes, please explain: I freelance edit.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I had taken the advice of a college professor and wrote a book. That book had been promptly rejected by publishers. I soon learned of RWA after seeing the name mentioned in the acknowledgments of a Janet Evanovich book I just finished reading. Since I had no previous instruction on what to do, joining an organization which its sole purpose is to educate and guide me into a career seemed like a no-brainer. I continue to be a member because I continue to learn. Plus I value the networking I receive with professional like-minded authors in an often misunderstood occupation.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I enjoy leadership positions and I am fulfilled by having a part in the accomplishments of an organization meant to help its members succeed.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I had been a chapter president for my local chapter, Northwest Houston RWA, for three years 2010 through 2012.  I have been the chapter president of the online chapter Hearts Through History from 2014 to present. Having this leadership position with both a land and an online chapter has brought me some unique challenges that I faced head on. I did not just delegate or oversee but actively pursued ways to build and strengthen the chapters while giving the memberships valuable tools to enhance their development. With the help of equally passionate team members, the strategic plans we laid out were achieved sooner than expected and with enthusiasm. Other committees I have served on at the chapter level include bylaws, policy and procedure, secretary, contest coordinating, website, membership, and chapter advisor. I have also served on RWA’s Chapter Recognition Committee.

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?
Aside from being in the trenches at the chapter level continuously since 2009, I have served on the board for a non-profit little league football and drill team organization for three years. I was the director for the twelve drill teams, organizing, developing, fostering, and leading teams from varying demographics and diversity with an eye on inclusiveness and fairness. With this experience and having been a hybrid author since 2012, I believe I am capable aiding RWA’s board in fulfilling its goals.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
All points in the strategic plan are equally significant. Under member value, the gaps need to be filled for those who have reached career goals and no longer see the relevance of RWA, those who are struggling to meet personal developments, and everyone in between. Inclusivity is extremely important, as well. We must strive to meet the needs of everyone. As stated in RWA’s operating values, RWA belongs to its members. Members paying dues should have equal rights and access to education, networking, and advocacy opportunities. None of this is possible, however, if there is not adequate governance and national-to-chapter relations. I believe RWA has made great strides in the last couple of years addressing the needs of its members, and by tackling issues and implementing recommendations, I have no doubt the future boards will continue doing the same. I am especially interested in RWA’s possible future goals of increasing the organization’s image and credibility with the public and better define the professional standards of romance writers.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
RWA is a living entity which will continually need to adapt. But it is a big organization which makes it harder for it to catch up to and/or stay with the vastly changing publishing industry. To remain relevant to today’s romance authors, we will need to reach out to the members, harvesting, developing, and supporting fresh ideas and programs not only in career enhancement opportunities but also in bringing members and industry publishing and marketing professionals closer together.

 

 

Ruth Casie

Ruth Casie

Ruth is on her third career. Previously a speech-therapist and international bank product/ marketing manager, her favorite job is writing time-travel romance. She is a USA Today best-selling author of time-travel romances about strong women and the men who deserve them. Though new to romance, Ruth jumped in with both feet. Her RWA credentials include: past president and past conference chair of NJRWA, past treasurer of RWA-NYC, and National Conference Workshop Committee Chair. When not writing, wait—she’s always writing. She and awesome husband are empty nesters live in Teaneck, New Jersey, where she transformed her daughter’s bedroom into her executive office.

 

Member of RWA since: 2009.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2011.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015, 3; 2016, 3; 2017, 2.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Carina Press, Harlequin (DTC), Timeless Scribes Publishing (Self-Pub).

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: NJRWA, RWA-NYC, WRW, FFP, HVRWA, HHRW, CHRW.

Other writers organizations (please specify): Liberty States Fiction Writers.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author?  No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
Networking and career information.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I had a wonderful experience as 2017 Workshop Chair and found a wonderful working team I want to be a part of.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
2017 Workshop Chair. This is by far my most far reaching contribution. It was awesome. I have also been president and conference chair of NJRW. Those experiences paved the way for me to be active as the national conference workshop chair.

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 strong team player who thinks outside the box to develop and move concepts/ideas into actionable items. I respect and honor the past while looking to the future in order to keep the organization ahead of the curve.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
1. Help members with discoverability (on-going forever) - to help members sell more books
2. Look for ways to make our national contests meaningful and prestigious - to benefit the contestants as well as publicize RWA
3. Create workshops that are only available through National (chapters can't afford) - make our conference the go-to conference that is the envy of all other conferences
4. Game the romance market - figure out where it's going next so we can prepare through training and workshops to give our members a leg up.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Issue 1: Keeping on top of industry developments will continue to be a challenge.
Action 1a: Looking outside the romance world for state-of-the-art information and providers
Action 1b: Keep close to industry shakers and makers
Action 1c: Be open to change and help those who aren't along the continuum
Issue 2: Evaluate the changing market and develop actionable items for our members at all levels
Action 2a: Develop programs and activities that lead the members to their desirable results (discoverabilty and books sales) at all writing levels
Action 2b: Provide opportunities for members to participate at a National level for their growth and the National Board's incite into leadership potential.

 

 

Gail Chianese

Gail Chianese

Since 2010, when Gail joined one of RWA’s largest chapters, Connecticut RWA, she’s served as Conference Chair (twice), Member-at-Large, Vice President, two terms as President, and Past President Advisor. She’s also served on the By-Laws committee for LIRW because she fully believes in giving back. If she won the lottery she’d quit her day job as a manager and publications editor for an academic repository and write full-time. Gail’s contemporary romances are published with Kensington. She’s been a Navy wife for more years than she can count on her fingers and toes and lives in Connecticut.

 

Member of RWA since: 2010.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2015.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Just romance.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015?  2016?  Planning for 2017? 2015: 2; 2016: 2; Planning for 2017: 3.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):  Kensington/Lyrical; self.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: Connecticut RWA; Long Island Romance Writers.

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? Yes.

If yes, please explain: For non-fiction.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author?
I work for Elsevier, which publishes academic and scientific works. My title is Associate Publications Editor, however I do not “acquire” manuscripts in any way.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined to learn about the world of publishing and writing, to further my education, skills, craft and to network with the people who understood my goals. I continue to be a member for the same reason; always striving to do better.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
Without RWA I wouldn’t be published, I wouldn’t have a clue about how the publishing world works, nor would I have had the chance to learn the knowledge I needed to get to where I am today or where I want to be tomorrow. I believe in RWA, it’s mission, its value and desire to promote and protect its members. This is an ever-changing world that we live in. We need RWA and leaders that will step up and champion for our members, and I will do that. I want to do that. I believe I have the experience and skills needed to assist in the continuation of the boards goals and will do everything I can to accomplish this by working with other board members, the RWA staff and industry members.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
Since joining seven years ago I have served: Two terms as President of CTRWA, one term as Vice President, Member-at-Large, two years as Conference Chair, two terms as Past President Advisor, and multiple years as Contest Category Coordinator. In addition I served on the LIRW By-Laws committee. On the National level, I’ve volunteered for Ad-Hoc committees, and been called upon at least once. I've also served as a workshop moderator and literary author attendant for six out of seven national conferences I’ve attended. My most important contribution outside of my time as chapter president where we saw a fifty-percent membership growth is being a general member who supports my fellow writers by recommending their books, showing up at signings, and encouraging new authors to follow their dream and join RWA.

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?
Over the years I’ve worked in many different positions from retail to cocktail waitress to travel agent to debt collector to the job I’ve held for the past seventeen years as team manger for an academic repository. I’ve also spent 27+ years as a Navy wife. If there’s one thing I’m good at its handling change. Combine all that with my experience serving my local chapter as president where I mentored future board members, motivated chapter members to get involved and lead by example I believe I have to skills needed to help RWA in their goal of leadership/board development. Also as a “newer” member who went from general member to PRO to PAN in a short amount of time, I can bring a fresh perspective to member needs (education, networking, etc.) that we are trying to achieve in bringing value to members at all career stages.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
We need to continue to adapt, and quickly, to the every-changing world of publishing. There is no one right path to publishing; digital is here to stay, as is indie publishing and both are viable options and just as valid as traditional publishing. We need to update our practices to reflect the current world and not dig our toes in so we can flow with the changes (ie: the RITA accepting digital copies - think of the time and money we’d save!) We also need to continue our efforts to recognize and serve all members. We need to continue to focus on educating and guiding new writers, as well as supporting our long-standing, well-established members. I think this year’s national conference is a great start with the changes that have been made; now to see how they work out and how we can continue to improve on them. I believe RWA strives to help its members in so many areas including exposure to reader. While not everything works “ Reader Engagement ” I don’t think we should stop trying to come up with ideas, especially with the continually shrinking shelf space in physical bookstores. And we need to keep advocating for our members, for equal treatments, for respect, for opportunities to succeed.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
This is probably one of our biggest challenges. RWA is a large organization and trying to keep all of its members happy is a tremendous job. It takes time to gather information, to make informed choices, and then to implement those changes. Except, we don’t have time on our side anymore. Publishing is changing at the speed of lightning and we must streamline our process so we can remain nimble. At the same time, we need to keep our focus on our members, developing programming that fits the aspiring writer to those who have “been there, done that.” We must continue to offer guidance and education that covers all paths and media options: traditional, indie, hybrid, print, digital, audio, graphic novels, movies and scriptwriting. We must work together to promote and support each other, continuously educating readers what romance is really about. And we must continue to communicate with each other, with the board, the RWA staff as to our needs and wants, sharing information, and asking questions.

 

 

Laura Drake

Laura Drake

2014 RITA award winner for Best First Book, Laura Drake is a conventional and independently published author of Contemporary Romance and Women's Fiction. Laura has been an RWA member since 2007, President of the former RWA-WF Chapter and multiple-term Treasurer of her home Chapter, OCCRWA. She is a current member of RWA’s Budget Task Force and Finance committees.

In 2014, realized her dream of becoming a Texan and gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She is a wife, grandmother and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

 

Member of RWA since: 11/7/03.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2013.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Women's Fiction.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015, 1; 2016, 2; 2017, 1 (novella).

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Hachette (Grand Central), Harlequin (Superomance), and self-published.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Was a member of OCCRWA until moving to Texas (no chapters within 400 miles of my home). Former member of RWA-WF.

Other writers organizations (please specify): Women's Fiction Writers Association, Western Writers of America.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
Education, networking and camaraderie. Same reasons now, except I also want to give back to the community that has given me so much.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
To give back to RWA. Also, to understand the workings of the Board and Governance of RWA, with the intention of running for the Treasurer position in 2018.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
President, RWA-WF, Treasurer (multiple times) OCCRWA, I still help PROs in OCCRWA in an unofficial mentoring role. I have just been assigned to the Budget Task Force and Finance committees, where I hope my business background as a CFO will be a help to the board.

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?
As a 25-year career Chief Financial Officer, I helped business owners make good business decisions based on sound financial information. I understand business, and its rapidly changing landscape. Also, as a member who has gotten so much from my RWA membership, it's important to me that the organization stays relevant and essential to members, no matter where they are on the publishing spectrum. As a RITA winner, it's important to me to expand the knowledge and prestige of the award to the public, and romance readers specifically.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
To remain relevant to writers in this lightning-shift industry. To remain fiscally responsible, and to add value to our members, whether they are self-published or traditional, beginners or NYT.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
 I believe RWA is relevant. It always has been. I think our job is to educate and inform members and potential members as to how.

 

 

Avery Flynn

Avery Flynn

USA Today best-selling author Avery Flynn has published more than 20 romance novels. She has held committee and/or board leadership positions with the Washington Romance Writers chapter (WRW) and the Kiss of Death chapter (KOD). In addition, she volunteers with RWA, WRW, KOD, the Virginia Romance Writers chapter and the Maryland Romance Writers chapter. Also, she teaches writing workshops on topics from world building and voice to marketing and professional jealousy. Avery believes in happily ever afters, strong heroines, the power of coffee, and that romance is a genre for everyone.

 

Member of RWA since: 2010.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2011.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015: Nine titles (3 were re-releases) 2016: Five titles 2017: Six titles.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Self, Entangled Publishing.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: Kiss of Death, Washington Romance Writers, Maryland Romance Writers, Virginia Romance Writers.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA because I wanted to be a professional romance writer. I continue to be a member because of the benefits of membership.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
Because I believe in RWA's mission to promote and enhance the romance genre.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I was a part of the PAN workshop committee offering ideas and providing feedback. I am heading up the group of members who create romance novel positive social media posts that members can use. I'm so glad the board agreed to do the social media sharables when I brought it up and hope that it's a valuable way for members to promote the romance genre.

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 strong and vocal advocate for the romance genre in all of its many subgenres. I love how responsive the Board has been and really do feel that this improved communication is the key to making RWA a stronger organization and its members involved and engaged in a positive way. I have a background in communications and journalism. I spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter before going on to work with associations, helping them with their communications efforts. I've owned my own freelancing/communications company for more than a decade. I'm happy to bring any and all of the skills I've developed as a journalist, writer, and business owner to RWA.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
I think the Board has made great strides to help published members find valuable educational and networking opportunities no matter their level of experience/accomplishments. It's very important that we continue to do that. Also, the Board has made progress in diversity within romance novels and the romance community. I'd like to see that continue. However, one area that I think RWA can improve upon is its outreach to the smaller chapters and the publishing and reading communities as a whole. I know RWA has made inroads on both of these matters, but I think there is more work to be done.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
We need to continue to embrace all of the benefits of technology with webinars, video chats with an author mentor, the RWR needs to be turned into a blog rather than a digital PDF, outreach to small chapters needs to improve, RWA needs to continue to be the voice of romance and advocate of romance authors.

 

 

Shana Gray

Shana Gray

An RWA member since 2000, and active volunteer, Shana served three terms as President Passionate Ink, cofounded and was first VP Gothic Romance Writers, a Toronto Romance Writer member and past newsletter editor. During her tenure as president she sought new ways to engage members, helping them further their publishing goals through drop-in chats and pitch sessions. She’s served on several Boards outside the writing community holding Chair and Co-Chair positions. A hybrid author, published internationally with Eternal Romance/Hachette also published with Harlequin, Loveswept RH. A single mom of two twenty-something sons, Shana works full time and lives outside Toronto.

 

Member of RWA since? 2000.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

If yes, year first published? 2010.

Are you a member of PAN? Yes.

Are you a member of Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): traditional and self-published.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015, 5; 2016, 8; 2017, 17, in foreign languages including two locations as a seven-part serial.

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):
Harlequin – Blaze, Headline Eternal – Hachette (UK), Editoria Gutenberg (Brazil), City Editions (France), Titania (Spain), Mira Taschenbuch (Germany), Cora Verlag (Germany), Harper Collins (Holland), and self-published.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Toronto Romance Writers.

Other writers organizations (please specify): No.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
A friend, GH/RITA finalist and GH winner, told me about RWA back in 1999. I joined wanting the connection to other romance authors. RWA is important to me in so many ways, from the learning aspect as a new writer through to my current more educated knowledge – but there is always more to learn! I love the friendships I’ve developed, attending the conference, the chapters and the sharing of information I have found over the years. There are so many great reasons to be an RWA member and the connecting of like minds from around the world is fantastic.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Director-at-Large?
I would like to give back to RWA and the membership. As a volunteer in this position it will give me the opportunity to do this and moving from a chapter role to a National one is my goal.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
In 2002-03 I was a cofounder of Gothic Romance Writers and their first VP, I was Toronto Romance Writers newsletter editor for almost three years (2001-2004). I served two years as President of Passionate Ink and was appointed for a third term as president – during my time as president PI I set up drop in chats so members could connect with other authors and editors to ask questions, as well as established and ran the monthly pitches I dubbed Prep Your Pitch. I was also asked to run the pitches for Toronto Romance Writers in 2015.

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 have served on a number of non-profit boards, including being chairperson of a conservation authority, and as a board member of our local United Way for two years. In that role I was responsible for one of the larger fundraising events where I had to bring together the three streams of EMS personnel into a cohesive unit in order to accomplish the final task. It was a success. I’ve worked in both the public and private sector and recognize the needs for both. I believe I have the skills to balance, communicate and question in order to achieve RWA goals and also recognize the tough situations that could lay ahead. Also, I work in the policing environment and the requirement for confidentiality is key, which I would also bring to this role as a director at large.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
The industry is rapidly changing and we are all feeling the pressures of it. The core values of RWA go back a long time and leaning on the core mission with the vision for evolving in this dynamic industry and to advocate the interests of career-focused romance writers is key.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Everyone is having to think on the fly and adapt to the rapidly changing industry. I’ve appreciated the communication RWA has made with the members on important issues that have developed over the past number of years. RWA being accessible, responsive and communicative is valuable for everyone involved. The future strategic issues identified in the framework and working to achieve them are significant for members and keeping RWA relevant. By continuing to look to the future, and navigate the constant industry shifts will benefit RWA and its members. It was good to hear members speak at the AGM.

 

 

Cindy Holby

Cindy Holby

With fifteen years in the business and close to a million copies of her books sold internationally, award-winning Honor Roll author Cindy Holby doesn’t let genre define her writing. She is published in historical, sci-fi, paranormal, dystopian, fantasy, and young adult. She is a hybrid author that has worked with New York publishers, small press and is Indie published. Her RWA service includes coordinating more contests than she can recall for several different chapters of RWA and serving on the Golden Heart task force committee. She also speaks at local schools and conventions about the writing process.

 

Member of RWA since: 2002.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2002.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? Yes.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? None in 2015-16. Two planned in 2017.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Dorchester, Berkley, SMP, Burroughs, and self.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: HCRW, CTRWA, CRW, YARWA.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined because I had no knowledge of the business side of writing after selling off the slush pile. I continue to be a member because of the camaraderie between authors, the networking made available to authors and the continuing education in an ever changing market.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I've been in publishing for over fifteen years and feel that I have a lot of experience on both sides of the fence. I've worked with a number of editors and agents and have journeyed through a lot of highs and lows. I feel that I have a lot to offer RWA.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
RWA service includes serving as contest coordinator for more contests that I can recall, the latest being the Athena, the unpublished contest for YARWA. I am currently serving on the Golden Heart Committee to seek ways to help Golden Heart finalists get publishing contracts. I have judged the Rita's since joining. Non RWA service includes PTA president for three terms, Little League Secretary, Booster Club Officer, Boy Scout PopCorn Chair, PTA fundraising Chair. I currently serve as the Director Of Fundraising for Stokes County Humane Society. I have volunteered at our local animal shelter and helped with rescue in hoarding cases. I have also served as a mentor through my RWA chapters and a local writers chapter. I've given more talks and workshops about writing at conferences and locally than I can list here efficiently.

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 think before I act. I take time to absorb information. I am well organized. I have served in more leadership roles than I can list here. I have experienced rejection and accolades. I can related to the frustration of a mid-list author. I am great at public speaking. I am open to opinions and am well liked and respected in the publishing world.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
The issue that I feel most strongly about is the relationship between publisher and authors. The publisher needs to treat authors as something more than a disposable asset. Publishers need to take the time to build the writers career, working as a partner with them and sharing all aspects of the book's journey instead of expecting them to shoulder the entire load of publicity and then blaming the author when sales are not quite up to par.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Trends and challenges happen so fast in this ever changing world that its hard for anyone to stay relevant. I feel that if we encourage the publishers to look at authors as partners instead of employees that we would all do better in this highly competitive world.

 

 

Silver James

Silver James

A PAN member of RWA, Silver James is a true hybrid author of over 30 books—published by a small press, self-published, and traditionally published with Harlequin. She is a member and former president of both OKRWA and Kiss of Death chapters. She received the 2016 RWA Service Award and continues to volunteer. Silver served as Regional Director for an international professional organization and has broad experience working to build consensus within diverse groups. She also has experience coordinating conferences, developing budgets, in public affairs, and training derived from her careers in the legal system, fire service, and law enforcement.

 

Member of RWA since? 5/9/2008.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

If yes, year first published? 2010.

Are you a member of PAN? Yes.

Are you a member of Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Technical writing/magazine articles.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015: 6, 2016: 6, 2017: 9.

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):
Wild Rose Press, self-published (Silver James Books), Harlequin.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: OKRWA, RWA Kiss of Death.

Other writers organizations (please specify): NINC, International Thriller Writers.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA because it was, and is, the premier organization for romance writers. I wanted to learn more about the craft of writing, to network with other romance writers and professionals within the industry, and to gain knowledge about publishing. I remain a member because RWA continues to be an advocate and voice for romance writers as well as a tremendous source of information and proponent of shared goals.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Director-at-Large?
Publishing continuously evolves and romance is often on the leading edge. I want our genre to remain cutting edge in the industry. As a hybrid author, I understand the various paths to publication and can identify with other members, regardless of which path they are on. There are many voices within RWA and sometimes, the quiet ones get lost. I want to be an advocate for all voices so that they know they've been heard and that their concerns will be addressed. It’s important to an organization that all members receive equal access and consideration.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions. 
I have been both President-elect and President of OKRWA and RWA Kiss of Death chapters. I’ve judged the Golden Heart, RITAs, and various chapter contests as well as chairing OKRWA’s National Readers Choice Awards for seven years. I have served as a volunteer at the National conference every year, starting in 2010, working in registration, as a panel moderator, panel presenter, literacy signing assistant, and general “what can I do to help” person. It was my honor to receive the 2016 RWA Service Award, an accolade I never expected. Volunteers are the lifeblood of an organization such as RWA. I firmly believe in giving back to a community that has nurtured me as a writer and was instrumental in my career. I can’t point to just one or two contributions as being most important. To me, it’s the "giving back" that’s important.

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've had a wide variety of careers in my lifetime, several requiring high degrees of confidentiality, ethics, leadership, negotiating skills, and dedication. I've been Marshal of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, the chief bailiff in a District Court, a ranking officer in a fire department with duties ranging from the annual budget process, training, incident command, and public affairs, and a crime analyst and technical investigator in a metropolitan police department which required analytical and investigation skills. It is important for a national board to be responsive and sensitive to the general membership. I am a consensus builder and have utilized that ability in professional and trade organizations. I’ve been trained to analyze all facets of a situation before reacting, and to follow up with a thoughtfully planned response.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
The issues of membership recruitment and retention and chapter viability are two large concerns. Total membership numbers have decreased. Chapters have folded. The strategic plan calls for study of both of these situations. It is important to determine why members are not renewing and explore ways to reach out to former members and prospective members with the idea of joining up. The issues with chapter leadership constraints is currently under board discussion and I hope those discussions and creation of solutions continue. The strategic plan calls for more communication at all levels of the organization. It’s important for all sides to be able to voice their views, for those views to be given equal consideration, and then decisions made based upon the good of the membership.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
RWA's role as an advocate of the genre within the publishing industry and as a functionary for networking (author-to-author and author-to-industry professional) is important. This is something the organization should continue to emphasize and publicize. Communication between members, and between the national board and chapter leaders should be streamlined. If it’s not being done, I’d like to utilize an “exit survey” when a member doesn’t renew to determine why they are leaving the organization. Facts and research will dictate possible steps for outreach and retention of members, and to address their concerns. 

 

 

Shirley Jump

Shirley Jump

I am first and foremost a storyteller with a wide background in visual and written communication. I’m a self-published romance novelist and own a successful photography business, which gives me a unique perspective of the industry from different sides. Both in my photography and my work as a writer, I strive to elevate the romance genre and educate those who don’t understand it, identify ways to help my fellow writers in whatever way I’m able, and actively listen to all voices as I work toward bettering myself.

 

Member of RWA since: 1998.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2003.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

If not yet published, are you a member of PRO? N/A.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Young Adult, Women’s Fiction.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 6. 2016? 5. Planning for 2017? 6.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):
Grand Central, Harlequin Special Edition, self.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: TARA (Tampa Area Romance Authors).

Other writers organizations (please specify):

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? Yes.

If yes, please explain:
I work as a freelance content editor for a company publishing Christian-themed nonfiction and children’s fiction.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author?
Yes—freelance, per project as above.

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. No.

If yes, please explain:

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
Many years ago, I met a romance author at a booksigning and told her I dreamed of writing romance. She immediately invited me to go with her to the New England Chapter meeting, and from that moment forward, I felt welcomed and included. I love the warmth of RWA, the opportunities for education, networking and the amazing friends I have made through this organization. Being a member of the board has given me an opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me so, so much.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I served four years as PAN Advisor and loved being part of the board. It has been a rewarding experience, helping to shape the organization and offering a voice for our published authors. I want to continue to do that by becoming a director-at-large and getting even more involved on a national level. My four years of experience has given me tremendous insight into how the organization works and how to affect change for our membership.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I have served on a national level as the PAN Advisor for two terms. During that time, I have expanded the PAN Retreat at the national conference, added master level craft classes, created a book of tips for chapter PAN liaisons and partnered with PAN liaisons to increase PAN involvement. Previously, I was president of the Northeast Indiana chapter for seven years, and helped quadruple membership in that chapter.

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 have an extensive background in marketing and publicity, working for major corporations and ad agencies, which gives me experience in strengthening RWA’s brand and working with the office and the board to expand awareness of RWA’s programs, awards and mission. I have published 68 books as a hybrid author, giving me a perspective from both sides of the publishing fence. My four years of board service means I am well-versed in the strategic plan and will be ready to go forward from day one.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
For the past four years, the Board has worked hard to encourage diversity, fight for author rights, expand education and networking opportunities, and increase visibility of the romance genre. Our members want to see a positive return on the investment of their annual dues, and I am committed to continuing to increase that in the next two years.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Communication. That’s the key to everything. We communicate with our members, they communicate with us, and we can then deliver the programs and services they need in order to compete in today’s marketplace. As PAN Advisor, I’ve tried to be accessible to members because I truly want to hear from them about their needs and challenges, so that we can affect change at the national level that provides benefits to all.

 

 

Maggie Marr

Maggie Marr

Maggie Marr is a USA Today best-selling author and attorney. She got her start in Hollywood pushing the mail cart and became a film and subsidiary rights agent. She writes smart, sexy, romance with strong women and the men who love them. She is a member of the Orange County Chapter (OCC) and the Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) RWA chapters. In 2014, Maggie served as Vice President of LARA and as President in 2015 and 2016. She is currently the Volunteer Coordinator for LARA. Maggie is the recipient of the 2017 RWA PRO Mentor of the Year Award.

 

Member of RWA since: 2008.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2007.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015: 7; 2016: 4; 2017: 5.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): self.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA); Orange County Chapter (OCC).

Other writers organizations (please specify): Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).

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? Yes.

If yes, please explain:
I have a boutique legal practice and in the past I’ve drafted a template contract for a small publishing house. I do not own nor have I ever owned any publishing house or literary agency nor have I ever been a salaried employee of any publishing house or literary agency. I was an agent at ICM in film and Television for directors and screenplay writers prior to being published. I also sold subsidiary rights for books to film and TV. 

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author?
I handle film and TV rights for a publisher.

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. Yes.

If yes, please explain:
I provide legal services for authors.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA to meet authors and to better understand the publishing industry. I am still a member because I love RWA! I love my local chapters! I enjoy my colleagues, they are brilliant and funny and they inspire me. I learn something new at every chapter meeting and Nationals. RWA is the very best professional organization and I feel lucky to be a part of our community.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I want to take what I’ve learned as an author and as a chapter member and bring that to the Board of Directors. I want to be of service to this organization that has done so much for me personally and for my career.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
Director of Programming, Vice President, and President of LARA. I believe my most important contribution has been starting new programs at LARA while I was President. We began the Published Author Chat which is a ‘think tank’ experience that is open to any member who has published any type of writing. This is an hour long meeting before every-other LARA meeting where members can bring ideas, questions, concerns that are about the business of publishing and discuss them with their colleagues. The meeting is very informal. I’m also very proud of our LARA write-in which meets the hour before every-other meeting. We gather as authors to write for an hour prior to our meeting. This helps all of us maintain the ‘habit’ or writing and to collect our words. Lunch After LARA is an informal event that happens after the meetings where any LARA member can go to lunch. This allows us to process and talk about what we learned at the meeting and to further our relationships as professional authors. Finally, LARA has participated in the Los Angeles Festival of Books the last three years. This is the biggest book festival in the US and prior to our participation, romance was not represented with a booth at the festival. Our sister chapters OCC, San Diego, and EVA have joined LARA at the LA Festival of Books. We have a brilliant booth that has our published authors volunteering and signing as well as our soon-to-be published authors reaching out to the public discussing Romance. There are so many Romance lovers and the LA Festival of Books is a great way to spread the word about our genre and RWA.

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?
Publishing continues to grow and change at a rapid pace and our organization while remaining steadfast to our mission of advancing the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers must continue to grow and evolve with the publishing industry. I’m excited to see new distributors coming on line for our books both in print and in film and TV. I see our books as these remarkable pieces of intellectual property that we create and there are so many opportunities for authors with regards to all the rights that come from our works be it print, traditional publication, paperback, hardback, e-book, indie, film, TV, podcasts, audiobooks. Romance publishing continues to grow and evolve with new points of contact with our readers. RWA must continue to grow and evolve as well. I bring with me knowledge of the entertainment industry as well as being a career-focused romance writer. I want to incorporate everything I’ve learned from my chapter mates and as an author and help to address all the changes that continue in publishing and in romance. 

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
Piracy. We must address piracy. Right now, fighting piracy feels like playing a game of whack-a-mole. We must help our distributors continue their fight against this thievery of our work. I believe we need to continue our outreach to new authors and to authors that may have published for years and still haven’t yet found RWA. Also, as opportunities for authors grow we must help to answer questions with regards to new outlets for their work. All while maintaining our mission of helping every author reach their dream of publication.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Staying relevant is a combination of acknowledging our strong organization and the foundational principals that continue to guide RWA while always keeping an eye toward the future of publishing and what authors need to continue to grow. We have to maintain our reputation as a smart organization that addresses the needs of our membership while continuing to be a touchstone for authors who bravely venture into new worlds where their books are concerned. We must support and enhance our craft while growing our business acumen. To do this RWA must listen to our multifaceted membership and continue to strive to meet their needs by providing smart answers to our members very smart questions. We must continue to provide innovative programming at Nationals all the while providing those amazing craft workshops that help each of us continue to hone our story-telling skills. It’s a delicate balance that RWA must strike as our industry continues to grow and change, but one that makes us strong, bold, informed, and a place that is home for the very best authors in the world.

 

 

Adrienne Mishel

Adrienne Mishel

A member of RWA since 2010, Adrienne Mishel is completing her service as RWA Chapter Advisor. She has served as Chapter President for her local chapter and has held various positions within CIMRWA and FF&P Special Interest online chapters. She has also served on several national committees and task forces.

A PRO member and avid reader, Adrienne turned her love for things that go bump in the night into steamy paranormal romance novels. She’s working hard to get “the call” and is currently querying.

Adrienne lives in North Carolina with her husband, kid number three, and two 100-pound lap dogs.

 

Member of RWA since? 2010.

Are you published in romantic fiction? No.

If yes, year first published?

Are you a member of PAN? No.

Are you a member of Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): N/A.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? N/A.

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): N/A.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Carolina Romance Writers, Washington Romance Writers, Cultural, Inter-Racial and Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of RWA, and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA.

Other writers organizations (please specify): N/A.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
In June of 2010, I shared my love of writing with another romance writer and she recommended that I check out RWA’s local chapter in Charlotte, NC. I was hooked after the first meeting and I joined RWA as soon as I got home. Ever since that day RWA and its members continue to inspire me to be the best writer that I can be. RWA has provided opportunities for education and networking that I would never have access to on my own. Now, seven years later, I’m the person recommending RWA to anyone who is interested in mastering their writing skills.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Director-at-Large?
After serving two years on the National Board as Chapter Advisor, it was no surprise that my excitement for supporting chapters and chapter leaders would expand to supporting all members of RWA. I believe my experiences at the local and National level have prepared me for this next step. Being a member of the national board requires that an individual be thoughtful in their actions, listen as well as speak to the issues and empathize with all members of our organization regardless of their career level. I am honored to have served with such a dynamic group as an Advisor, and hope that I am provided the opportunity to bring my skills as a leader to the position of Director-at-Large.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I have served on various boards, committees and task forces at the local chapter and national committee/board level since 2013. From 2014 to 2015, I served as Chapter President for my local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. I’m also a member of two online chapters, Cultural, Inter-Racial and Multicultural (CIMRWA) and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FF&P) Special Interest Chapters of RWA serving as the Director of Communications and the PRISM Published Author Contest Chair, respectively. In 2015, I began my service as Chapter Advisor for the 2015-2017 cycle. I feel my most important contribution has been providing a voice for chapter leaders at the national level. I have been able to leverage my experience with local and online chapter governance and as well as provide the unpublished author perspective with board discussions.

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?
If given the chance to serve as a Director-At-Large, I will leverage my professional training as an IT project manager to assist the board with meeting the outlined objectives within the Strategic Plan. I will continue to encourage deliberate and focused discussions with the goal of forward movement for the organization and our members.

I also believe I’m a prime example of RWA’s strive toward inclusivity as an unpublished author and a member of a marginalized group. I would like to continue to provide my perspectives from both areas as the board moves forward in their efforts.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
RWA must continue to provide member value. This is one of the top priorities of the 2016 Strategic Plan and many of the changes that have occurred over the last several years have been made with that goal in mind. The publishing industry is changing as fast as an author can release a book. RWA must continue to think “outside of the box” to keep pace with the changes by providing timely education and advocacy for our members.

RWA must also strengthen the National/Chapter relationship. In some cases, chapters are the entry point for membership into our organization. But many chapters are struggling to stay active. This year the board established two task forces to review the challenges facing chapters and develop recommendations for improvements. This is a great first step and I hope I can assist with continued forward movement as a Director-at-Large.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
The challenges that face romance authors today are staggering. From the abrupt closure of publishing houses to the dismantling of long running publishing lines, to blatant piracy of books, many authors must now reinvent themselves and re-engineer their engagement with the publishing industry. RWA must continue to be the “go-to” resource to provide members with education about their options for moving forward. Continued expansion of career relevant programming and educational opportunities at conference and within RWA University will ensure that our members have the tools and support for continued advancement.

 

 

Priscilla Oliveras

Priscilla Oliveras

Currently National PRO Advisor, Priscilla Oliveras is a Kensington author and four-time Golden Heart® finalist writing contemporary romance with a Latino flavor. A longtime RWA member who’s been raising kids, homeschooling, earning multiple degrees, honing her craft and serving in numerous positions on the chapter and national levels, Priscilla believes she can identify well with RWA’s unpublished and newly published members, while also learning from and listening to our multipublished authors whose needs can be different—all with the goal of helping the RWA Board make sound decisions and take action benefiting the organization and our members has a whole.

 

Member of RWA since: 1992.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes (I think by the time voting happens, my debut book will be released—September 26).

Year first published? 2017.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 1 title in 2017.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):
Kensington Publishing, Zebra Shout line.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: First Coast Romance Writers, Contemporary Romance Writers, The Golden Network, Washington Romance Writers.

Other writers organizations (please specify): Latinx in Publishing.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I learned about RWA from my first romance writing how-to book over twenty years ago. I was a young married college student and military spouse who had to take a semester off from school after a military move and the birth of my oldest daughter. An avid romance reader, I decided to take a stab as writing a novel, but quickly learned that I had much to learn about the craft.

Joining RWA was one of the best decision I’ve ever made. Over the years, I’ve grown both professionally and personally thanks to the education, industry insights and support RWA as an organization offers, and most importantly, thanks to the friends and mentors RWA has brought into my life.
I have remained a member because, despite industry and organization changes, one constant has remained: the relationships, the camaraderie and willingness to help one another I’ve witnessed and participated in as an active RWA member. That, to me, is priceless.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
After numerous years of service on the chapter level, I’ve served as RWA’s National PRO Advisor for the past two years. This opportunity allowed me a non-voting seat at the board table during which I’ve gained invaluable insight into the responsibilities and behind the scenes work our Directors-at-Large and Executive board undertake to keep RWA moving in a positive direction. At this time, I sincerely believe I am ready to step into a Director position, confident in my ability to listen to our members’ needs and various perspectives, make sound, fiscally responsible decisions, and shoulder the necessary duties and tasks to put those decisions in action.

RWA and my fellow members have given me so much over the years, I sincerely consider it an honor to serve in any capacity.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions:
My RWA service has included: current RWA National PRO Advisor, Chapter President, Vice President, Secretary, Membership Chair, Education/Program Chair, contest category coordinator, contest judge (chapter and national level), Golden Network retreat committee member and national conference volunteer.

Honestly, every volunteer opportunity has allowed me to learn about our organization, my fellow members and myself. Whether I am helping an entire Community of Practice like PRO, a chapter, a smaller group of members or an individual one-on-one, I’ve always striven to do what I can to make a positive difference.  From chairing the PRO Steering Committee and organizing the National PRO Retreat, to working on rewriting chapter by-laws and policies & procedures manuals, to welcoming new members and presenting at chapter and national events, my goal has always been to offer any information, personal experience, time and knowledge that would benefit others, just as others have done for me along the way.

The variety of roles I’ve held in our organization on both the chapter and national level have given me a well-rounded leadership experience that I am certain will be an asset as a Director-at-Large.

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?
As a long-time PRO member, new PAN member, multiple Golden Heart finalist, officer/volunteer at the chapter level and after two years as a national board advisor, I’ve learned the value of working with others and listening to different perspectives to achieve organizational goals and member needs. This experience will translate well as I move to serving as a Director-at-Large, working to help meet the strategic goals that speak to building a sense of community and strengthening national-chapter relations.

My master’s in public administration with a leadership and non-profits focus and my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction will translate well to the objectives dealing with communication between the national and chapter levels as well as educating and informing our members in both craft and business areas, all while keeping in mind the value and importance of inclusion for all romance writers.

Over the course of my years as an RWA member, I’ve seen numerous changes in our industry and our organization. But I have come to understand the importance of finding positive ways to blend the old and the new and of using teamwork to promote a smooth transition during periods of transformation.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
Member Outreach and Chapter Resources. The industry has changed drastically in recent years and thus in many ways our member needs have as well. It’s understandable that changes and decisions put into action in an organization the size of RWA often take some time. Yet, in my two years as the PRO Advisor I’ve been privileged to be part of a board that has listened to our members and worked hard to bring positive change. At the same time, I recognize there is still much we can do in areas such as strengthening national and chapter relationships, providing more resources to better assist chapters and their members, increasing outreach for both current and new members, ensuring all individuals feel welcome and embraced by the RWA community, and increasing return on investment (ROI) for current members to add more value to their membership.

As a Director, I see these areas as key to helping our organization remain strong while striving to assist members at all stages of their writing career.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
The Board is tasked with the fiscal responsibility of making decisions that align with the organization’s official purpose. In order to better “advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers,” I believe we need to listen to members’ input and be a strong voice advocating for our genre and our members within the publishing industry as a whole.

Whether we are providing helpful information for situations such as unfair practices when publishers close their doors, advocating for fair treatment and inclusion for all writers, providing opportunities for education and networking for members at various stages of their career, banding with other writers’ organizations to advocate against unjust changes such as with the NYT bestsellers lists, RWA offers many intangibles to our members.

I believe we should continue working with publishers and industry professionals, ensuring our members’ voices are heard at the table where decisions are made and/or changed. Within our organization we should continue devising ways to better provide our members with opportunities for more insight and education in craft and business, at both the chapter and national levels. Yes, the changes in publishing avenues have led to changes in member needs, but one constant among our members is the desire to have a successful writing career. The goal of our organization and its board is to do what we can to help our members achieve that success.

 

 

Jamie K. Schmidt

Jamie K Schmidt

USA Today best-selling author Jamie K. Schmidt writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached number sixty-five on USA Today, number two on Barnes & Noble, and number nine on Amazon and iBooks. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists, and the first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today best-seller list for the first time and was number one on Amazon’s Romantic Erotica category. Partnered with NYT best-selling author and former porn actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, Spice, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.

 

Member of RWA since: 2011.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2014.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015: 9;  2016: 8;   2017: 6.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):
Random House, Entangled, Evernight, Skyhorse (Under Jamie K. Schmidt), Riverdale Avenue Books, Loose-Id (Under pen name Lissa Trevor) and self published.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: CTRWA.

Other writers organizations (please specify): NINC.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I wanted to be published by a big six (at the time) publisher and I thought that joining the RWA would help me do that. It did. I continue to be a member to help mentor up and coming authors and because of the networking opportunities.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I wanted to get involved in the organization on the board level to experience a broader community and service.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I'm passionate, a hard worker, a good listener and I have a "get it done" personality.

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 have good people skills and I would be comfortable moderating discussions and drawing up action steps on how to accomplish the goals in the strategic plans.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
Member retention of PAN authors because I know a lot have left to go to NINC because they don't feel that there is a lot to offer them at their current level. Also inclusivity and diversity is important in RWA as a lot of the publishers are only paying it lip service.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
End the stigma of self publishing and open a better track towards mentoring and accepting that as a viable publishing opportunity, with an emphasis on professionalism. Allow ebooks to be entered in the RITAs.

 

 

Colleen Thompson

Colleen Thompson

Colleen Thompson began her career teaching language arts and earned a masters in school administration before leaving education to write romance. The author of 28 romantic suspense and historical romance novels and novellas from Montlake, Harlequin, Dorchester, and Kensington, Colleen is a two-time RITA finalist, National Readers Choice Award winner, Daphne and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice finalist whose books have appeared on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookscan best-seller lists. A member of RWA since 1997, Colleen is a frequent speaker on the craft of writing who has previously served on the boards of West Houston and Northwest Houston RWA.

 

Member of RWA since: 1997.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 1999.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 1; 1; N/A.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Montlake; Harlequin; Dorchester; Kensington; Self.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: West Houston RWA; Northwest Houston RWA; Houston Bay Area RWA.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
After meeting members of RWA at multigenre conferences, I was so impressed by their knowledge, business savvy, and willingness to share information that I found myself drawn into a growing love for romance fiction. I joined soon after and have never looked back. From the valuable workshops, conferences, and other networking opportunities offered by local chapters to those at the national level, RWA has been there when I've needed it, throughout the ups and downs of my career.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
For the past twenty years, I've made wonderful friends and have gained so much knowledge that has enabled me to grow in my craft and career because of the educational and networking resources made available through RWA. Over time, I've see incredible changes in the industry, from genres cycling in and out of fashion to content delivery systems shifting radically, and I like to believe that this perspective—plus a recognition that RWA, like its members, must continually adapt to face the future—puts me in an ideal place to help a group I respect and value grow and flourish. 

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
During my years in RWA, I have served on the boards of two of my local chapters, West Houston and Northwest Houston RWA in the capacity of Vice President in Charge of Programming, largely because of my interest and background in education. I have also served nationally on the committee for RWA University, in addition to teaching there and speaking on the craft and psychology of writing for publication at the national conference and to a number of local chapters. Currently, I serve as the PAN Liaison for the West Houston chapter.

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'm particularly interested in the idea of pinpointing  and gathering new data and strategies that both emerging and established authors need to succeed in a rapidly changing marketplace and in finding ways to disseminate that information to RWA's membership as quickly and efficiently as possible. As someone with training and experience listening to and helping to foster consensus among individuals with differing perspectives and priorities, I hope to be part of a team focused on building bridges between the organization's past and the goals important in moving its membership forward.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
With the pressures of the marketplace and competition threatening to splinter us into smaller and smaller groups, I feel it's important for all of those writing under the romance umbrella to realize how much stronger we are working together than allowing business competition to divide and conquer. Together, we can build on RWA's powerful legacy, improving the image of romance authors as professionals, sharing, rather than hoarding, resources and information, and emphasizing a commitment to the development of quality entertainment with great craft fundamentals that will leave our readers coming back for more.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
We need to ask ourselves often, what are we doing as an organization, not only for the brand new writer, but for the early-to-mid-career author hungry to advance, the author who's suffered a tough career set-back, the one about to give up, and the established bestseller. Unless we're looking out for each of these members, giving her real value for her time and dollar, she's either going to look elsewhere or she's going to simply vanish. And without the perspective of each facet of out membership, from the brightest-eyed first-time conference dreamer to the been-there, done-that veteran who's willing to share what she's learned that helped her get through publishing's rough patches, we'll all be poorer for the loss. Finding more ways to increase dialogue among those at various stages of their careers, along with building camaraderie among one's closest peers, will continue to keep members coming back—and RWA continue to grow and evolve with their changing needs—for years to come.

 

 

Barbara Wallace

Barbara Wallace

Award-winning author Barbara Wallace joined RWA in 1995 and spent fourteen years as an unpublished member before selling her first recognized novel to Harlequin in 2009. Since then, she has published eighteen-plus novels with both print and electronic publishers. A staunch believer in volunteerism, she’s served the New England chapter in several capacities including Vice President, PAN Liaison (two terms), Newsletter Editor and Conference Committee Member. She’s served on the RWA Board of Directors from 2015–2017.

 

Member of RWA since: 1995.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2010.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify):  Romantic Mystery to be self-published in September 2017.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? Two; Three; One.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate):  Harlequin Romance (2010 – Present), Entangled Publishing (2012-2014), Self (2017).

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Kiss of Death, CTRWA, NEC/RWA.

Other writers organizations (please specify): Sisters in Crime.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
When I joined RWA, it was because I wanted to learn how to become a published romance author. Today, almost a quarter of a century later, I remain a member, because I’m still learning. Through RWA, I’ve learned way more than how to get published. I’ve learned craft, professionalism and leadership. The organization has also given me some of the best friends I will ever have. Basically, RWA is the lifeline I didn’t know I needed.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
When I was elected to my first term as Director at Large, it took me a good year before I found my footing. I’m running again because there is so much I want to accomplish. Specifically, I want to be a voice for other romance authors like me who are neither newbies nor bestsellers. We “mid-list” authors represent the backbone of our organization, and we face some of the biggest challenges within the publishing industry.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I am very proud of all my service, both at the chapter level and at the national level. Since joining, I’ve served at the local level in a variety of capacities, including 3 stints on the NEC/RWA board, a term as the NEC/RWA newsletter editor and over a half dozen years on the NEC/RWA Conference Committee. I’m proud to have been a part of all that our chapter has achieved over the years.

However, if I were to highlight just one achievement, I would have to point to my work with this year’s board as we worked to maintain RWA relevance to romance writers of all levels and backgrounds in an industry that’s changing practically every day. I’m proud of the fact our board has been willing to try new ideas, like moving to the electronic RITA and switching up the conference schedule. I like to think that my biggest contribution to these changes was my ability to appreciate all sides of every argument and treat them with respect while debating the issues.

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?
One of the primary goals in RWA’s strategic plan is to provide value to our membership, something that’s no longer simple in today’s industry. What used to be a singular path to success is now one of many paths. As a result, a benefit that may be of value to one member may not be value to another. Having a marketing background, I bring to the table an ability to define those paths, and thus help maintain a slate of benefits that provides value to everyone in RWA regardless of where they are in their career.

My biggest strength, however, is that I understand what a lot of our members are going through right now. I struggled to be published. I’ve suffered through publisher and market changes. I struggle now to master the new world of self-publishing. Because my journey is similar to so many of our members I can speak to the issues facing them in a way other authors may not.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
First and foremost – we must continue to assist members as they navigate this new publishing order. Members who have built successful traditionally published careers are finding themselves in transition, forced to rethink how they approach their careers. Other members have chosen to indie publish, but are struggling to gain a foothold in the market. In short, while a lot of our members are doing financially well, others are seeing shrinking and non-existent incomes. While RWA can’t provide a magical solution to the problem, our organization can do a better job of providing the business and marketing education they need to survive. I’d like to see us look at how we deliver this information as well so that it is accessible in a variety of ways.

Second – While RWA has always strived to be as inclusive as possible. Over the past few years, however, more and more cracks have appeared among our membership. Our diverse members feel disenfranchised. There is a gap between marketing-oriented authors and those who are focused on craft. And, indie authors still feel segregated from traditionally published. It’s vital that RWA continue to work at uniting our various factions to create one, strong, influential organization.

Finally, at the RWA Conference, Data Guy reported that there were 37,000 romance authors listed online. RWA has 10,000. This means that there are thousands of romance authors who aren’t taking advantage of our great benefits and services. We need better outreach programming so we can bring these authors into our organization.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
It is vital that RWA continue evolving along with the marketplace. For too long, we’ve relied on the same programming and benefits. The sad truth is that we are no longer the sole source of information on Romance Writing. Much of the information we provide members can also be found on the Internet. We can’t compete with the Internet as far as the amount of content, but we can improve how we deliver content to our members. We can also improve the kind of information we provide. For example, we can do a better mix of marketing and business information along with craft.

In addition, one of RWA’s strengths has always been our influence within the publishing industry. RWA, as an organization, garners tremendous respect. While we obviously can’t influence things like market price, we can still, as an organization, speak for authors’ rights and push for positive industry change. Emphasizing that we are The Voice for romance authors cannot help but add to our relevance.

 

 

Beth Yarnall

Beth Yarnall

USA Today bestselling author, Daphne winner, and Rita® finalist, Beth Yarnall, writes mysteries and romantic suspense. She was honored to serve as chapter president of EVA/RWA for two years and one year as program director for OCC/RWA. Beth also served on the California Dreamin’ Writers conference committee and helped plan two successful conferences.

Beth lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their rescue dogs.

 

Member of RWA since: 2008.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2012.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): cozy mystery, nonfiction books on writing.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015, 4; 2016, 4; 2017, 3.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Self; Penguin Random House; Samhain; Entangled ; Crimson Romance.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: OCC/RWA; East Valley Authors RWA.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined to learn more about the craft of writing and how to get published. I stay for the fellowship, education, conferences, chapter affiliation, to stay on top of the business of being an author, and to be a part of a group of individuals who love romance.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Board of Directors?
I feel as though I'm in a place in my personal life and career where I can contribute to the goals of RWA and its membership and to be a positive public representative of RWA's members and what the genre offers.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I was president of the East Valley Authors (EVA) chapter of RWA for two and a half years and helped to reboot and grow the chapter from 10 members to over 30. I'm proud that EVA continues to thrive and grow.

I was the co-coordinator for programs at the Orange County chapter of RWA for one year, planning the programs schedule for that year and the following year.

I ran the Book in a Year program at EVA for the years I was president and then brought the program to OCC/RWA and ran it for past three years, encouraging members to finish a book in order to achieve PRO and PAN statuses. I'm a published author because of  the Book in a Year program and have tried to pay it forward to my fellow authors. 

I was on the California Dreamin' conference committee for two conferences and I am the found of Lady Jane's Salon Orange County which met one a month at the Ripped Bodice romance book store in Los Angeles.

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?
Having worked on chapter boards and committees I'm familiar with the challenges RWA faces as it moves forward to not only grow its membership but to be a positive influence in the publishing industry as a whole.

Inclusivity has been a passion of mine and I've been a strong supporter of #OwnVoices and #WeNeedDiverseRomance by highlighting authors and books on social media and in my author newsletter.

Whenever possible I've reached out to other author organizations to give workshops on writing and to promote the romance genre.

I love working with unpublished authors and ran the Book in a Year program at EVA and  OCC to help and encourage unpublished and published authors reach their publishing goals.

Lady Jane's Salon is a great public outreach program that brought the romance genre to new readers and gave authors a venue in which to share their stories. I'm looking forward to bringing the skills I learned running the salons to the membership of RWA.

I've helped to plan and run local conferences so I know what goes into making a conference successful and using the conference to not only promote the romance genre as a whole and support my fellow authors, but to also grow membership of the local chapters and national organization.

As a hybrid author I know the challenges and benefits of both traditional and self publishing. I'm particularly interested in how RWA can be an advocate for its members with publishers and agents and ensure authors receive fair terms in publishing contracts as well as monitoring the cottage industries that have sprung up from the self publishing boom.

What issues do you feel are important for the Board of Directors to address in the next two years and why?
With the recent shuttering of imprints that promoted #OwnVoices and diverse romance the challenge is greater than ever to deliver those stories to hungry readers.

There is no doubt the industry is changing at a rapid pace and I think one of the greatest challenge RWA faces is to stay relevant to authors who have felt left out in the past or who don't see the value of RWA membership. We've got to find a way to reach out to and include those authors.

The board has made a noticeable effort to make the national conference in San Diego more inclusive by closed captioning workshops, speeches, and the awards show, offering attendees restroom options, and by selecting wonderful keynote speakers who represent the diversity of RWA members. I'd like to see the new board continue and expand those efforts.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Video has become a vital promotional tool in today's viral world. I'd like to see RWA go back to live-streaming the awards shows, which highlight the very best of the romance genre and to use the video as a promotional tool in ongoing public outreach online, at book expos, and in social media.

In the past year or so I've noticed how much more RWA has been communicating with it's members regarding important issues that affect authors' careers. If possible, I'd like to see RWA be more of an advocate for authors when it comes to unfair contract terms and predatory independent contractors by creating a space where members can get the warning they need to avoid unfortunate and damaging business interactions.

Private groups have sprung up on social media where authors have created spaces to educate themselves and others. There are private groups where very savvy and experienced authors learn from other authors who are at their publishing level. There are also groups where experienced authors help new and developing authors learn about the industry. I'd love to see such online spaces within RWA. As they are now, the PAN and PRO loops do not fill those needs in a way that they could or should.

RWA has supported literacy programs for many years. As an inclusive organization that celebrates the diversity of the romance genre and its authors I'd like to see RWA support organizations such as the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and We Need Diverse Books in addition to continuing its support of local literacy programs.

 

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PAN Advisor

Donna Alward

Donna Alward

Donna Alward is an award-winning author of over 40 romances. She lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, nearly grown daughters, a senior dog, and two crazy cats. She writes for St. Martin’s Press and self publishes, was a 2012 RITA finalist, and is the current PAN Steering Committee Chair.

 

Member of RWA since: 2007.

Year first published in romantic fiction? 2006.

When did you became a PAN member? 2007.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): N/A.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planned for 2017? 2015: 5; 2016: 3; 2017: 5.

Please list publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): St. Martin's Press; Harlequin; Entangled; Samhain; Self.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: New Jersey Romance Writers; Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada; Contemporary Romance Writers.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. Yes.

If yes, please explain:
I occasionally freelance as a developmental editor and coach through The Red Pen Coach (www.theredpencoach.com).

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA shortly after I published, looking to connect with other romance writers and industry professionals, and wished I could have done it earlier! But being a member is about so much more than on-the-surface networking. It's about advocacy for our genre and education in an industry that changes rapidly. Perhaps the most important thing RWA has given me is my tribe. It's where I go when I'm looking for someone who understands—this can be a solitary business. And it's where I go when I have questions and need answers or resources. There's no question that my involvement in RWA has made me a better writer and a better businessperson.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of PAN Advisor?
One of the things I believe strongly in is the value of service, so giving back to the organization that has given me so much is important to me. Several years ago I decided to start volunteering at the national conference, and I loved it! That led to me looking to serve on a committee, and I joined the PAN Steering Committee. It was fun and eye-opening to see what goes into planning and executing the PAN Retreat each year. I served as Assistant Chair and then this year I became Chair.

I've learned so much about the needs of different members within PAN. An organization is only as healthy as its members, and I'd like to work with the Board of Directors and PAN members to make our PAN community of practice healthy and, ultimately, profitable for all members, whether they've published their first book or their hundredth.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions. Include your experience in planning retreats.
At the chapter level, I've served as Vice President, PAN Liaison, and Newsletter Editor. Nationally, I've served as a volunteer at conference (particularly with the literacy signings) and as Chair of the PAN Steering Committee. As VP of my local chapter, I worked with the executive to book our programming, as well as bringing in outside speakers. This was taken to a much bigger scale on the PAN Steering Committee. It's not just about booking speakers, but about assessing the needs and wants of the membership and then providing a program that meets those needs—within a budget! It's a team effort all the way through. The committee members put in hours of work narrowing down a program and then working  at the conference, and the RWA staff is amazing at pulling it all together. I bring enthusiasm and some strong organizational skills to the table.

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?
The RWA Operating Values in the Strategic Plan are my values, too. I'm passionate about the value of what we do and wholeheartedly believe our strength is in our members—after all, our board is made up of membership volunteers. I've sat on other boards before, and I've learned a valuable skill of listening, assessing, then articulating a position.

I'm a big-time critical thinker (thanks, Liberal Arts degree!), and try to see all sides of an argument, while keeping the big picture in mind. I also like to see possibilities rather than roadblocks. Addressing the issues of the day while staying true to the vision of the organization is essential.

One of the Strategic Plan objectives is to develop an enhanced sense of community, and this is something I'm good at! I've even built my brand around it—come in and make yourself at home, where you can come as you are and be accepted. Fostering a sense of community can be our organization's biggest strength, because a positive community member shares ideas, resources, and data.

What issues do you feel are important for the PAN Liaison to address for their community members in the next two years and why?
There's a wide spectrum of authors within the PAN community, which provides a challenge as published authors at different levels have unique needs. In particular, though, I think new and midlist authors are struggling. Publishers are closing lines or closing, period. It's harder and harder to make a living as an indie author, and we have career authors who after several years in the business have seen their income drop significantly. As a community I'd like to see us be more active in sharing resources and knowledge.

Working with the chapters (and with the Chapter Advisor) to invigorate their PAN membership is also important. Published authors are generally great at giving back, but we need to make sure their needs are being met at the national and chapter level as well.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
We must listen to our members, so we can identify where gaps exist and take action to try to fill those needs. It's impossible to please everyone, but ensuring everyone feels heard is so important.

At the same time, we need to keep not only current, but a little ahead of the curve with industry changes and new technologies. That might mean adjusting how we mine data and the methods we use to disseminate information to our members. Romance authors are innovators, and our organization should be as well.

 

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PRO Advisor

Denny Bryce

Denny Bryce

Denny is two-time Golden Heart® finalist and winner in 2014. A RWA PRO since 2013, she writes historical fiction and romantic suspense. She also is a contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog.

Denny is a member of RWA chapters WRW, MRW, and STARS and special-interest chapters KOD and CIMRA. She has served most recently as co-chair of the 2017 MRW online auction, chair of the MRW stage at the 2016 Baltimore Book Festival and judge coordinator for WRW’s 2016 Marlene contest.

Denny also ran her own event marketing firm, managing conferences, retreats, and other special events.

 

Member of RWA since: 2006.

Are you published in romantic fiction? No.

Year first published? I am pre-published.

When did you became a PRO member? 2013.

How many manuscripts of more than 20,000 words have you completed? (Six – 6).

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): In 2004, I participated in an anthology created by Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction writers. My short story of 11,000 words, The World She Wants (sci-fi) was included.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Washington Romance Writers (WRW), Maryland Romance Writers (WRW), Space Coast Authors of Romance, The Golden Network (TGN), Cultural, Interracial and Multicultural Chapter (CIMRA), Kiss of Death, and Contemporary Romance Writers.

Other writers organizations (please specify): Sisters in Crime (SIC), Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), Historical Novel Society (HNS).

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member? 
My friend Regency author Alicia Rasley (I met via fan fiction) suggested I consider writing ‘original’ fiction. I attended my first RWA conference in Atlanta in 2006 at her insistence.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of PRO Advisor?
As a long-time RWA member, I have seen numerous changes in how the organization has responded to the various issues facing the publishing industry and romance writers. With the growth of digital press and indie publishing, I see the RWA PRO membership as a stepping stone within a stepping stone—by this I mean that there are different “levels” of PRO members, from a “newbie” who has just finished their first 20,000 words to the ‘seasoned’ PRO who has either indie published or is seeking traditional publishing and/or a literary agent. Or has their first traditional contract but has not achieved PAN status, and is wondering what’s next in terms of marketing, editor/agent relations, etc.

As PRO Liaison, I would identify ways for RWA to provide more specific services to these various groups within the PRO umbrella, while attracting more members in general. Also, I’d work to continue to expand upon the success of the PRO Retreat at the national conference with some pre-event communication—maybe creation and distribution of a quarterly PRO newsletter or podcast.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions. Please list your experiences in planning retreats:
1. Currently, I am co-chair of the Maryland Romance Writers (MRW) Online Auction, which has the goal of raising more than $4,000 to support MRW programs and special activities.

2. In 2016, I served as chair of the MRW Baltimore Book Festival. In this capacity, I worked directly with the organizers of the Baltimore Book Festival (attended by more than 100,000 annually) to implement the MRW Romance Stage, one of the most popular features of the BBF. This role included contacting and securing more than 50 authors and developing, scheduling, and confirming participation for more than three days of programming.

3. For the past five years, I have served as Washington Romance Writers (WRW) judge coordinator, with the job of promoting and soliciting judges for its annual MARLENE contest.

4. I was chair of programming for WRW from two years. During that time, I arranged the participation of special guest instructors including WRW members to share their expertise via workshops at monthly meetings. I also organized two (2) two-day special events; one featured author Cherry Adair and the other Entangled’s Liz Pelletier and Candy Havens.

5. I have owned and operated a marketing and public relations firm for 25 years. We specialized in event marketing including budget management, event creation and implementation and all aspects of conference programming for up to 4,000 attendees. This included board meetings, sit-down meal functions, black-tie events, special group activities including retreats. I have also worked extensively with a variety of keynote speakers, handling scheduling and communications.

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?
My 25-year experience in marketing and public relations would be valuable in a several areas of the board’s strategic plan. I am skilled in analyzing marketing data and using it as a foundation for the creation of programs, marketing, and communications. I have an intense interest in keeping up with the latest technologies (some might call me geek-girl).

I also am extremely interested in building upon the board’s commitment to inclusivity. During my marketing career, I have worked with various corporations to expand their advertising and public relations campaigns to reach/impact diverse markets. Although, my customers were McDonald’s, Disney, and the Brookfield Zoo, inclusion meant aggressively pursuing the participation of diverse groups. I would welcome the opportunity to provide whatever input I can to the board’s goals in this area.

What issues do you feel are important for the PRO Advisor to address for their community members in the next two years and why?
I’d like to develop and implement programming that will support a PRO member’s quest to achieve whatever their next level might be in publishing. What this means is building upon existing programs, but having more information in hand about the sub-groups within the PRO umbrella. How many of the PROs have been members for more than three years? How many are traditionally published but shy of achieving PAN status? How many have agents? How many are interested in an indie-focused career, versus hybrid, or traditional?

I believe that this kind of data would differentiate the members and help the PRO liaison better support existing programs while developing new programs that will serve the “niche” PRO as well as the overall PRO membership.

Furthermore, I’d like to explore creating a program for PROs like a PITCH WARS, with mentoring a major component of the program. If such a program for PROs was developed, of course in line with 501C6 guidelines, I’d love to involve RITA® and Golden Heart® finalists—and make it exclusive to PRO members and somehow tie-in the GH contest (a passion of mine is to see the GH contest broaden its appeal—and entries).

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
Here are a few ways I think that RWA will remain relevant:

  1. Continue listening to your membership and being responsive to issues.
  2. Challenge the publishing industry more directly when it makes changes or decisions that impact RWA members negatively.
  3. Continue to communicate and support members with programming especially that which reinforces RWAs commitment to inclusion.
  4. Broaden the visibility of the RITA® Award so that recognition outside of the RWA community can contribute to sales (books and/or film rights and contract clauses). 

 

 

J. Keely Thrall

J. Keely Thrall

J. Keely Thrall is a proud member of the Stays Up Too Late Society of Book Addicts. When she’s not reading, she’s busy scribbling her own tales, hopeful that soon, she’ll be the one keeping readers up for just one more chapter. She’s served in many positions at the chapter level, including as president of the Washington Romance Writers and The Golden Network, and in 2017, she was a member of the PRO Retreat Steering Committee. Keely was a Golden Heart finalist in 2010 and is the 2017 recipient of the Emily Contest’s Best of the Best award.

 

Member of RWA since: 2000.

Are you published in romantic fiction? No.

When did you became a PRO member? 2014.

How many manuscripts of more than 20,000 words have you completed? 4.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): N/A.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: Washington Romance Writers; The Golden Network; Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I joined RWA in 2000 because I had no idea how to pursue my dream of writing romance and the annual conference was coming to my city. Seemed like a perfect opportunity to do hands on research. I continue to be a member because the people of the organization keep being the right teachers at the right time for each stage of my career development. I am constantly blown away RWA’s commitment to nurturing and growing the talents and careers of its membership.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of PRO Advisor?
A long time ago, my grandmother introduced me to the saying, “Each one, teach one.” Ever since, I’ve been a big believer in giving back and paying forward. The mentors I’ve been fortunate enough to work with during my years in RWA have all been volunteers with a remarkable dedication to helping others achieve their goals. With their example leading the way, I feel the PRO Liaison position is one in which I can continue fostering that same peer-to-peer learning so essential to our organization.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions. Please list your experiences in planning retreats.
In my local chapter (WRW), I’ve served as our contest chair, program chair, vice-president, and president. I spearheaded the migration of our contest from paper to electronic entries. As program chair, I led a team that planned and executed a robust year of courses for the chapter, including a two-day master class with Eloisa James. As president, I signed WRW on as a test chapter for migrating to the then new myRWA site, working with the national office to assess needs and work through system bugs.

As the two-term president of The Golden Network, I led the chapter through a significant bylaws revision, and with my board and a team of volunteers planned the TGN annual meeting and retreat both years.

In 2017, I served as a member of the PRO Retreat Steering Committee, helping PRO Liaison Priscilla Oliveras to design the content, theme, and flow of this year’s retreat at the national conference, invite speakers, and solicit raffle donations from RWA members.

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?
My primary experience and skill set lie in community building and leadership development. My personal focus as a chapter leader has always been threefold: How do we onboard new members into the ethos of the chapter and RWA, how do we retain veterans who may feel the organization is no longer relevant to their needs, and who are our next leaders? Leadership development is crucial to a healthy organization. In WRW, I try to meet all the new members who come to meetings. I remain active and deliberate in funneling “new talent” to the board and in talking to members about the benefits that come from volunteering at both the local and national levels. I’ve also been instrumental in the development of smaller groups within the chapter that gather outside of the regular program schedule for writing, networking, and state of the industry discussions.

What issues do you feel are important for the PRO Advisor to address for their community members in the next two years and why?
With the ease of self-publishing well established, making the transition from PRO to Provisional-PAN essentially takes a few simple clicks of the mouse. So what’s the argument for joining and participating in the PRO community? I feel it essential for the PRO Liaison to open and continue a dialogue about professionalism in terms of craft development and business management. Writing “The End”on the page is a great milestone, but what does it really mean for the writer (and manuscript) to be publication-ready?

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
RWA remains relevant when it serves its membership. For that reason, I support ongoing efforts to identify “where the gaps and opportunities are to better serve members at all career stages.” (from the RWA Strategic Framework and 2016 Plan Priorities). Our industry is in a constant state of flux and that isn’t going away any time soon. As our members and organization lean into the challenges, change-management becomes ever more important. That means increased communication between leadership and membership, transparency in decision-making, and a commitment to trying new things to see what might work better. While I’m not a fan of change for change’s sake, I think it crucial that we embrace present realities and work together to help shape the future.

 

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Chapter Advisor

JoMarie DeGioia

JoMarie DeGioia

JoMarie DeGioia is a best-selling author of historical and contemporary romance, and the author of historical erotic romance under the name Josie Dennis. A hybrid author, she’s published over thirty-six romances. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, where she’s served on several committees and as Conference Workshop Chair for the RWA National Conference. She is currently the President of Space Coast Authors of Romance. She gets lost in DIY projects around the house and works out plot ideas during long runs. She divides her time between Central Florida and New England.

 

Member of RWA since: 2000.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2000.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Young Adult Fantasy/Adventure.

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015: 6; 2016: 7; 2017: 6.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Lachesis Publishing, Inc., Siren-Bookstrand Inc., and self-published.

Please list any RWA chapter affiliations: Space Coast Authors of Romance.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
I sold my first book in 2000, and foolishly thought I had to wait for that milestone to join. Big mistake! I missed out on a lot of information that could have helped me in those early days when I'd first begun writing for publication three years earlier.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Chapter Advisor?
I've enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of serving my chapter as VP and President. I look to RWA for information and update my chapter members in person at our business meetings and on our loop. I've seen how helpful it is to have a person in place to be a liaison between members at the chapter level and the RWA National Board, Staff and Advisors. I'd love the opportunity to serve all chapter members and assist them in gaining information or assistance whatever the concern.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
I served as Asst. Conference Chair and Conference Chair at two RWA National Conferences. I served on the PRO Committee in its very beginnings. I've received two chapter service awards for my work as Vice President and Director at Large for Indiana Romance Writers. I've served in several capacities for my current chapter, Space Coast Authors of Romance, most recently and currently as President.

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?
An important part of RWA’s Strategic Plan is the National-Chapter Partnership. RWA and its chapters are partners in fulfilling the mission of RWA, addressing industry issues, and advancing both the industry and the genre through promotion of consistent standards of professionalism. As Chapter Advisor, I would serve as the link between members on the chapter level and the National Board, Staff and other advisors. This would promote that sense of community required for networking and even mentoring. RWA is dedicated to being a value to members at all career stages.

As a hybrid author, I have experience in many different publishing processes. I am an excellent communicator, and can break down information on the National level and disseminate to members of our Chapters. I would foster a sense of community among our members, and aid in networking and mentoring across the career spectrum. Through the forums, in-person meetings and other modes of communication, I would make certain that no one feels left out or passed over. Our strength is our membership, and the support and encouragement we gain from this community of writers!

What issues do you feel are important for the Chapter Liaison to address in the next two years and why?
The publishing landscape is shifting and changing. RWA’s membership is growing, and with more members comes more a changing demographic as well. Chapter members will have questions to answer and issues to address, and it’s very important to be as current as possible on industry information. Staying in close communication and being available to chapter members will be the key to seeing that members at all career levels feel included in our community.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
RWA must continue to fulfill its mission statement, to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre. I’m confident that staying up-to-date on the industry and keeping communication open between the National organization and chapter members will keep RWA the valuable organization is has become to members on the national and chapter level. Again, our strength is in our membership!

 

 

Mellanie Szereto

Mellanie Szereto

Mellanie Szereto has been a member of RWA since 2009 and is the author of nearly twenty-five romances, both traditionally and self-published. In addition to various committee responsibilities, she has five years of board service as president, vice president, and director-at-large in Indiana RWA. She currently is in her second term as chapter president, serves on RWA’s Chapter Leadership Development Ad Hoc Committee, and maintains the chapter website. She received the IRWA Chapter Service Award in 2013 and was a 2016 recipient of the RWA Service Award. Mellanie is a PAN member of IRWA, Contemporary Romance Writers, and FF&P chapters.

 

Member of RWA since: 2009.

Are you published in romantic fiction? Yes.

Year first published? 2011.

PAN? Yes.

Honor Roll? No.

Other genres or forms published in (please specify): Reference/Non-Fiction (writing handbooks).

How many titles of romantic fiction did you release in 2015? 2016? Planning for 2017? 2015, 2; 2016, 1; 2017, 3 published and 2 more planned releases.

Please list most recent publishers with whom you have published (include self, if appropriate): Siren-BookStrand and self-published.

Please list any RWA Chapter Affiliations: Indiana RWA, Contemporary Romance Writers, and FF&P Romance Writers.

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? No.

Are you currently employed by a publisher or literary agency in a capacity other than published author? No.

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. No.

What prompted you to join RWA, and why do you continue to be a member?
After reading many romances, I began writing my own stories and discovered RWA through an author bio in a romance novel. The opportunity to connect with other writers and learn about craft and publishing was exactly what I was looking for. I joined RWA and my local chapter, as well as online chapters for my genres. I’ve continued to be an active member because of the education, support, and friendships I gained through the organization. RWA and its chapters continue to provide the support I need as my writing career progresses and grows. I also enjoy helping new members find their way as they begin their writing journeys.

Why have you chosen to run for the position of Chapter Advisor?
Chapters are vital for RWA’s strength. Good leadership helps chapters remain viable so they can offer members the benefits they seem to value most. I want to help other leaders streamline the day-to-day running of their chapters to make leadership easier and less time-consuming, allowing them to focus more energy on writing and publishing. By creating guidelines, timelines, and templates with the Chapter Leadership Resources Development Committee, I’ve been part of making leadership more manageable and leadership transitions smoother. I’d like to continue that work as Chapter Advisor.

Please list your RWA service, citing what you feel are your most important contributions.
2009-10 IRWA Website Committee Chair; 2010 Member of the IRWA Conference Committee; 2010-2013 IRWA PRO Liaison; 2010-2013 RWA Golden Heart Contest Judge; 2010-present RWA Conference Volunteer; 2010-present IRWA IGO Contest Judge; 2011-2013 IRWA Push-to-PRO Coordinator; 2012 IRWA Director-at-large (1 term); 2012 Member of the IRWA IGO Contest Revisions Committee; 2012 IRWA Website Committee Chair (switch to myRWA); 2012-present IRWA Webmistress; 2014-2015 IRWA Vice President (2 terms); 2015 IRWA Policies & Procedures Manual Revisions Committee Chair; 2015 Member of the IRWA Conference Committee; 2015-present IRWA PAN Liaison; 2015-present RWA RITA Contest Judge; 2016 Panelist for the Chapter Leadership Breakfast panel discussion; 2016-2017 IRWA President (2 terms); 2016-present Member of the RWA Chapter Leadership Development Ad-hoc Committee.

My chapter board service, Policy & Procedures Manual knowledge, PRO and PAN Liaison terms, and myRWA website experience gives me a well-rounded leadership background to step into the Chapter Advisor position.

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?
In addition to five years as a chapter leader in three different positions, I have a strong financial background as a bookkeeper. My familiarity with many areas of leadership, including website administration on myRWA, has helped me answer questions and provide guidance to newer leaders on the Chapter Leadership forum.

I’ve created and updated documents, guidelines, and templates for my chapter board to help less experienced leaders step into their positions more easily. Several of these documents, guidelines, and templates have been used to create resources for other chapter leaders by the Chapter Leadership Resources Development Ad-Hoc Committee and are now available for use. Our goal has been to standardize how chapters function and maintain records. My current service on the committee would facilitate an easy transition to the committee chair position held by the Chapter Advisor.

I was a panelist at the 2016 Chapter Leadership Breakfast and have attended all leadership events at the national conferences while serving as a chapter board member. This has allowed me to keep current with policies and procedures, and develop a good working relationship with the RWA staff, numerous RWA board members, and other chapter leaders.

I received the IRWA Chapter Service Award in 2013 and was a recipient of the RWA Service Award in 2016.

What issues do you feel are important for the Chapter Liaison to address in the next two years and why?
The Chapter Advisor needs to continue work with the Chapter Leadership Resources Development Ad-Hoc Committee creating guidelines, templates, and useful resources for chapter leaders. By implementing more standardized procedures, leaders will be better prepared to lead, have more time to focus on writing, and be able to step into new roles with smoother transitions.

Helping chapters become more financially stable is important to the survival of their local and online communities. By working together, the Chapter Advisor and chapter leaders can find ways to live within budgets and raise funds without compromising their non-profit status. Strong chapters attract members, which increases income and creates a bigger pool of future leaders and volunteers.

While communication between chapter leaders, the RWA staff, and the Chapter Advisor is easily accessible, the Chapter Leadership forum is most active when problems arise. Some of these issues could be resolved sooner with monthly discussion topics or Q&A sessions. This would also encourage leaders to share ideas and talk more openly about potential and ongoing problems.

With the varying challenges romance authors face in this industry today, what suggestions do you have for keeping RWA relevant?
RWA can remain relevant by providing members with the advocacy, support, and education that make romance authors the most savvy in the publishing world. Our organization needs to continue its work in the areas of creating and maintaining a supportive community that celebrates diversity in its membership and the romance genre, sharing information on current market and publishing trends, recognizing the achievements for all levels of members, and helping educate new writers to promote a positive image for romance and romance authors
Support for local and online chapters is vital. Although RWA membership offers many benefits, chapters are a key part of what draws writers to join and become active participants in the romance community. A strong support system for chapter leaders and volunteers can help chapters thrive and allow time for writing, the main focus of every member.

RWA needs to continue to grow its presence with readers and librarians at events like BookCon, Book Expo America, the ALA Conference, and the Literacy Autographing. By working with bookstores and online retailers, the organization can make the RITA Award more recognizable and prestigious to those outside the writing community. These things, in turn, will benefit the RWA and its members as well as attract new members.

 

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