Why I’m Running for the RWA National Board

 IMG_4764 smallSo, the ballots have gone out for elections for the RWA Board of Directors.

And I’m running for one of the Director at Large positions.

Surprise!

Yeah, it probably seems out of the blue to some of you (hi Mom!), but it’s something I’ve been pondering for a long time. Really, I’ve had in mind that I would do this someday since I joined RWA lo these six years ago. Back then I’d been working as a nonfiction writer for a long time and knew those circles well. I’d been part of a crit group that did mainly literary fiction and creative nonfiction, was on my state’s Arts Council roster and participated in book festivals, etc. However, as I branched into fiction and tried to shop my (what turned out to be) fantasy romance novel, I discovered I knew very little about the romance genres and had no connections in that community. And shopping my novel turned out to be much harder than I’d thought. I clearly needed help.

True Confession: I joined RWA entirely for mercenary purposes to begin with. I became a member, immediately applied for PRO status so I could have higher priority in picking appointments to meet with editors and agents at the 2008 National Conference. I’d been on a day job trip in Ohio, flew from there to San Francisco, wandered the conference all day Thursday, pitched on Friday and flew home that afternoon. I knew no one, talked to only a few people (I scorned my First Timer ribbon, alas) and didn’t expect much more than my very targeted goals.

Except I was totally blown away.

Every panel, workshop and speaker luncheon I attended was amazing. The people I did talk to were lovely. I saw Nora Roberts in the bar and rode in an elevator with Linda Howard. For the first time, I saw Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips give their Secrets of the Bestselling Sisterhood. (Something I try to see every year.) I couldn’t believe these mega-selling authors were mixing in with a wannabe like me. More, the friendships astounded me. The lit fiction world tends to be fraught with competition and cold shoulders rule. I loved seeing these authors who’d been friends for 20 or 30 years, telling their stories with affection. After my successful pitches (I thought then – believing having requested pages meant I was in), I sat at the bar and had a celebratory glass of champagne – by myself – looked around at all the hugs, laughter and intense conversations and thought, “I want to be part of this.”

I mean, some random woman took a picture of my shoes! I had clearly found my tribe.

I haven’t missed a National Conference since.

Even then, listening to the luncheon speakers – Victoria Alexander and Connie Brockway that year – I was moved, inspired and knew that I wanted to come back for this conference every year that I could. I’d been on Boards before – sorority, Zonta, Association for Women in Science – and I believe in giving back to the organizations I belong to in that way. All along I figured one day I’d put my time in on the RWA Board.

And now feels like the right time.

My day job is less demanding. My fiction-writing career more steady. There are good incumbents for me to learn from and several people I admire and respect encouraged me to run.

Most important to me, the last year has seen several of my friends – stellar writers and amazing women – waver in their commitment to RWA. A lot of it comes from miscommunication and misunderstanding. Other pieces from policies that have led to them feeling alienated. Though it happened sooner than I thought, I realized that I needed to step up to do what I could to help preserve this organization that has meant so much to me.

So, that’s the long version of the short blurbs I put on the RWA Election ballot.

I’m happy to answer questions!

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