This blog is for my writer friends. I went back and forth for two weeks about whether to publish this blog. I could leave quietly, and that would be that … but change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I don’t know if my exit survey will be taken seriously or even understood. Maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough. So I’m posting this blog. I care about RWA and the organization and people who have championed romance for so many years. I just don’t have the energy to try and fix what is so seriously broken. Maybe others will. My prayers go out to them.
In 2003, I joined RWA after I wrote two manuscripts and had an agent … but I hadn’t sold. I’d been seriously writing for a year and my goal was to make a career as a published author. I wanted to quit my job in the Legislature and write full time. A friend of mine was a member of the Sacramento Valley Rose chapter of RWA and said I could come as a guest to see if I would enjoy it, too.
My first meeting had a panel of authors, including Brenda Novak who has since become a good friend, who talked about writing for both Harlequin (shorter romances) and bigger, single title books for either Harlequin or another publisher. I found that there was a wealth of information among these talented women, but better, someone else told me about the Kiss of Death on-line chapter for romantic suspense writers. To belong to either group, I had to first join RWA … so I did.
Within that first year of membership, I absorbed everything I could from KOD and my local chapter. I made friends, some of whom I consider my best author friends. I also wrote three more books. After a chapter meeting at the end of 2003 with a guest agent, I realized that the agent I was currently with wasn’t the right agent for me — I promptly terminated the agreement, finished my fifth manuscript, learned how to craft a good query letter and synopsis (through an online class taught by Laurie Campbell), and ended up finding a top agent who sold my fifth manuscript within days of submitting.
I firmly believe that with or without RWA, I would have been published. I had made the commitment to myself — this was my goal, it had been my dream since I was a child, that had been waylaid by marriage, family and career. However, I know that because of the people I met and information I learned through those first early years of RWA, that I sold faster — only two years after I made my personal commitment to finish a book and seek publication. Through RWA I met some of my favorite people today, found a critique group, and through them learned how to be a better writer. I took many online classes — most through the Kiss of Death chapter — to learn how to write stronger characters, craft better sentences, create more emotion, and increase the suspense. I wasn’t a bad writer, but these classes helped me improve my weak areas and make my strong areas stronger.
Yesterday, I let my membership to RWA lapse — 14 years after I first joined. I wasn’t going to blog about this — about the why — but my mother convinced me that I needed to share my story, and my frustrations. Perhaps because my mother is as upset as I am — I usually bring her to the RWA conferences with me because she loves reading romances and she loves meeting her favorite authors. But she, too, understands why RWA no longer is what it once was, and why it no longer fits my needs … and hasn’t for a long time.