Dear WisWRA Friends,
We’re now in the thick of the holiday season, with all its celebrations, including the WisRWA area group holiday gatherings scheduled in the next weeks. This also happens to be a time of year when many of us assess where we’ve been and where we want to go. So it is with WisRWA itself.
Since we’re in our membership renewal season, we can take a look at what we’ve been up to and make some goals for our next year. In addition to expanding our membership over the past year, the WisRWA board and the organization’s many volunteers have been taking care of some basics, while also planning exciting new programs and spreading the word about WisRWA.
If you haven’t already done so, take a look at our beautiful new website, www.wisrwa.org. In addition to being the face of WisRWA for visitors to the site, the site is designed to provide members with:
For the first time, WisRWA’s website has a “Members Only” section, and we’re just beginning to develop its potential. But, for example, if your area has had a great program with valuable handouts, then why not post them so all of us can benefit?
The idea for a members’ knowledge bank goes back a few years, but we finally have the first version of “Who Should I Ask?” posted in our Members Only section. A benefit of membership, “Who Should I Ask?” allows an easy way for WisRWA members to be resources for each other—our first line of research. But it’s only a start. Take a look at the directory and feel free to email me (email@example.com) with questions about contributing to this section and helping us expand it.
WisRWA has also been a prominent presence at various events for authors and the writing community in Wisconsin. In November alone, WisRWA members from all over the state created and served on five panels at the NEW Book Festival at UW Waukesha. We fulfilled our purpose of promoting our romance genre, along with WisRWA. The Green Bay Area Group members served as panelists and while also spreading the word about WisRWA at an all day reader-author event at the Kress Library in DePere.
In the coming year, we’ll continue looking for opportunities to promote WisRWA, the romance genre, and all our authors/members at writing-related events across the state. I think of us as a kind of traveling WisRWA road show. We can’t predict the results of our efforts every time, of course. Still, there’s something wonderfully uplifting about being part of this romance writing community and proudly representing our genre at various gatherings. (And it’s a great way to spend time with our writing pals!)
Continuing WisRWA’s outreach goes hand in hand with our plans to create special programs designed to lure us out to area groups other than our own. I’d like to see 2016 become known as the “year of the caravan,” the year we made a point of traveling to other areas groups to take advantage of enriching programs. Let’s use our membership in this great organization for the simple pleasure of being in each other’s company and learning from each other.
So, watch our website and social media for information about outreach opportunities and programs designed to help us develop our craft and promote our genre.
Meanwhile, thanks for continuing to be a member of this dynamic organization. Your board is working hard, and we need the help and support of every member. As for me, being WisRWA’s president continues to be one of the great privileges of my life.
The WisRWA 2016 Fabulous Five contest is in need of your help! Please consider volunteering your time to serve as a category coordinator. At this time we only have 2 coordinators out of 8 needed. If we do not have the help needed, we will not be able to have the contest go forward. If you are unsure if you would be a good fit, please reach out to the category coordinator, Molly Maka, with any questions you may have.
Below, please find the duties of a contest coordinator:
Fab Five Category Coordinator Duties
Each Fab Five Category Coordinator receives ten to thirty-five contest entries by email, checks them for proper format, logs them in, and later performs various sorts and summaries before whisking them off initially to the first round judges and later the final round judges.
During the entry submission period (January and February), only an hour or so of time would be required each week for handling incoming entries. A flurry of entries always comes in over the last couple days, just before the contest submission deadline, and a few extra hours are required at that time for handling them. After that, look for about five or six hours preparing and submitting batches to the first round judges. March is spent looking for returned, graded entries from those judges and filing them. That doesn’t typically take a lot of time. Finally, four or five hours are needed in early April, ranking entries and forwarding the top five to the final round judge. After that, in May, expect a few hours as final judges’ ranked entries are returned.
The Fab Five category coordinator role best suits a person who is comfortable with a computer, is organized, pays good attention to detail, and is good at meeting deadlines. A coordinator must also be responsive to email questions. The overall contest coordinator will set up an email loop for category coordinators. This will be used for sharing helpful hints on how to handle the job, and also to help coordinators when issues arise. The contest coordinator will also send detailed instructions to all category coordinators for handling each phase of the contest. Additionally, everything is logged and kept online through a shared Google drive account.
Serving as category coordinator presents an opportunity to meet and network with other writers. Also, you will have access to critiques of all entries in your category. By reviewing these, you might pick up tips that may be useful in honing your craft. Finally, you will work directly with the final round judges – one editor and one literary agent – and they will know you on the day you send queries out for your own novel.
When volunteering to serve as category coordinator, please be aware that if you decide to enter Fab Five, you cannot be a category coordinator in the category you intend to enter.
If interested or if you have questions, please contact Molly Maka (Fab Five Contest Coordinator) at FabFiveContest@gmail.com.
Thank you for your consideration!
Written by Tina Susedik.
I’ve been to quite a few book signings over the years, not to mention conventions. This past weekend, on November 6th & 7th, I participated in the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books (SEW) in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Fellow author and friend, Beth M. James and I met in Eau Claire, transferred all my goodies to her vehicle, and headed south on I-94.
With all the gabbing we did, the three and a half hour trip went fast, and before we knew it, we were winding our way around the streets of Waukesha trying to get to our hotel. We could see it, but our directions were rather funky so we had to use our “expert” navigational skills.
That evening there was a reception at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha for authors and presenters for the next day’s event. There, Beth and I came across P.J. Fiala and Val Carizio. Neither of us had spent time visiting with them, and found them to both be delightful women. Patti’s knowledge of marketing was invaluable to us. Val’s stories had us in stitches.
Dasha Kelly, Friday night’s keynote speaker, followed the reception. Her speech was humorous as well as enlightening. She read from some of her works and talked about working with young people. I believe it inspired all of us authors to write and help others to write.
After the speaker, we met Val and Patti again, spending several hours talking, eating, and having a few drinks. Saturday dawned bright and early. Since my panel as at 9:00, I had to be at the university at 7:30. People were scurrying around getting ready for the event. WisRWA authors had our own room where all our panels were held for day. Beth and I put up our new signs and set out brochures, pens, and pads of paper for those interested in our group.
The tables set aside for WisRWA authors were way – and I mean way, way, way – down a hallway. Originally my table was the last in a long row of tables. When I came back from my panel, my wonderful friends and fellow WisRWA authors had rearranged our area so we were next to and across from each other. It made for a much more cozy setting for us. We were able to talk with each other easier, too.
The schedule had each of us at our signing tables for a half an hour after our panels, but after Virginia McCullough talked with the organizer, we were able to keep our tables up all day. It was so much fun meeting and visiting with new authors and those interested in our books.
At the end of the day, we all felt we represented WisRWA well. I know I talked with several authors who’d never heard of us and took our brochures to join our group.
All-in-all, I thought this was a wonderful day. Getting together with WisRWA members is always fun. We have a great, supportive group. I heard over and over how we are not in competition with one another, but need to support each other. And it’s true. Thank you SEW and WisRWA for a day I’ll never forget.
In the spirit of taking advantage of every opportunity to promote WisRWA, a few members from the Greater Green Bay Area Group took part in the Reader & Author Fair 2015, held Nov. 14. Sponsored by the Kress Family Branch of the Brown County Library, this afternoon-long event drew well over 100 people, who attended panels and browsed the numerous displays from authors, publishers, writing organizations, and companies that provide author services. Well-known novelist, St. Norbert graduate, and Madison resident, Erin Celello (Miracle Beach & Learning to Stay) gave a keynote address. It immediately struck me that this was an all-Wisconsin event, and drew participants primarily from our Northeast Wisconsin region.
Val Clarizio, Patti Fiala, and I displayed our WisRWA “stuff” and chatted (pretty much nonstop) with attendees, while also having a chance to sell our books. For me, the best part of these events always involves “talking shop” with people who are either writing, or yearn to, or sometimes have partially completed manuscripts and want to know what to do next. We each answered dozens of questions focused on everything from the many faces and nuances of today’s romance market, RWA/WisRWA, our publishing methods, and even inquiries driven by curiosity about the ups and downs of the “writer’s life.” (Many WisRWA members addressed the same kind of issues at last week’s SEW Book Festival held at UW Waukesha. We had a terrific lineup of panelists at that event, too.)
WisRWA was well represented by others in our GB area, too, and showed our broad reach. Mary Ann Rivers and Ruthie Knox had a table featuring their publishing house, Brain Mill Press, and were insightful members of the publishing panel; Mary Grace Murphy displayed her culinary mysteries with the Wisconsin Writers Association and Nancy Sweetland had a table with her books with the Green Bay Writers Guild. TitleTown Publishing and other companies offering publishing services drew considerable interest, too. The afternoon ended with a poetry reading by members of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.
Our Green Bay members also had a chance to meet Nicolette Pierce, a WisRWA member who lives in the Milwaukee area. And thank you, Nicolette for posting photos on your blog: http://www.happilyeverafterthoughts.com/2015/11/authors-authors-authors.html
I’m aware that WisRWA members often participate in various community events, and frankly, we sometimes debate their value for both WisRWA itself and individual authors. Yes, it’s true, we know what it’s like to have only a trickle of people at various author events, and to put it mildly, book signings don’t always attract the crowds we hope for! But, that said, I consider representing WisRWA—standing in for all of you—as the best part of being the current president of the organization. We never know what will happen after a conversation, however brief, about romance writing and the value of advocacy organizations for romance authors. We can’t predict what will come of a seed we plant.
Going forward, I encourage all the area groups to keep looking for opportunities to showcase WisRWA and all our wonderful authors. And remember, you don’t stand alone—our leadership is behind you. I sure wasn’t alone yesterday, not with Val, GGBA’s co-contact, and Patti, WisRWA’s VP of Communication, for good company.
So, thanks Patti, for alerting us to this opportunity, and WisRWA also thanks the Kress Library, first for hosting this kind of event, and second, for including us. It was great fun.
Linda Olson’s An Improper Pursuit, finished third in the 2015 Put Your Heart in a Book Contest, Historical Category.
We’ve just learned that our member, Helen Johannes’s book, THE LORD OF DRUEMARWIN is the winner of the Pages From the Heart published author FFPT contest in the Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel Division.
Congratulations Helen, we’re proud of you.
Work published by Wisconsin writers in 2015 is eligible in seven categories, including book-length fiction, nonfiction and poetry; short fiction and nonfiction; a set of five poems including at least two published in the contest year; and children’s literature. (Outdoor writing may now be submitted to the long or short non-fiction category).
First-place winners will receive $500 and a week-long writers’ residency at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts in Mineral Point. Honorable mentions will receive $50.
Entries for this year’s Wisconsin Writers Awards must be postmarked no later thanFebruary 1, 2016. Authors who enter must be current Wisconsin residents. The entry fee is $25. Membership in CWW is not required, but members are entitled to one free entry. Out-of-state judges will make the selections. Awards will be presented in a banquet in May 2016.
Nominations are also open for CWW’s Major Achievement Award, of $1000, honoring the work of a Wisconsin writer who deserves special recognition for literary merit. No entry fee is required for the submission of nominating letters, also due by February 1, 2016(postmark deadline).
CWW also sponsors an Essay Award for Young Writers (1500 word maximum) for Wisconsin high school students; there is no entry fee, and the award is $250 this year for the winning student. Members of the board will judge. Entries for the student essay contest must be postmarked no later than February 1, 2016.
Specific guidelines, entry forms, and important additional information for each award category are available on the awards section of the website, www.wiswriters.org/
CWW is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of published Wisconsin writers and encouraging an appreciation of Wisconsin writing.
Hello my name is Patti (PJ) Fiala and I’d like to welcome you to our brand new website and blog.
Let me begin by explaining why we added a blog to our brand new website. As our members had new releases, sales and cover reveals, that information wasn’t always sent out to members timely. There are a couple of reasons for this, 1) if a newsletter had just gone out, another one would not go out for another month or so. That left the information sitting in Que waiting for the next newsletter. That’s not fair to our members; and 2) I was hesitant to barrage our members with constant emails and newsletters, so again, some news would sit until the next newsletter. Enter, our WisRWA Blog.
This blog will be active. As members send information to me for addition to the newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org), it will be added to this blog. Monthly, currently on the 3rd of every month, all new information from the previous month will be compiled and sent in the form of a newsletter. Members should check our new blog often and see what the latest news is and who has a new release, or other news. We will still utilize the Facebook pages, but this is an added way for us to keep in touch with each other. Occasionally, we may ask for guest bloggers to write a post, tell us a story or share one of their blog posts by allowing us to reblog it here.
Another bonus to this blog, is that we will also be publishing it to the general public. By publishing our information and asking people who love romance and specifically, books by our members, to sign up for our newsletters, we are adding another avenue for us all to reach new readers. So, please share this blog on any and all social media sites you are on and in your own newsletters as we launch our shiny new website and blog.
Thank you for your continued sharing and support of WisRWA and its members. Your participation is immeasurable.