WisRWA Calendar

Oct 06
2018
WisRWA 2018 Fall Workshop
Mark your calendars for the 2018 Fall Workshop on October 5-6, 2018 at the Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort, Rothschild, WI. Registration is now OPEN! For more information, click the Events tab and choose Workshop.
Apr 05
2019
WisRWA 2019 Write Touch Conference
Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners. More details to follow!

Meeting Times

Jun 09
2018
Wausau
10-12 at the Wausau Downtown Branch of the Marathon County Library (Upstairs Meeting Room)

Creating Great Characters

Join Kathryn Springer as she speaks about creating great characters in our books.
Jun 16
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Café 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

Dialogue

Writing natural sounded dialogue can be hard! Bring in some examples of good and bad dialogue and we'll discuss what works, what doesn't, and how to master writing dialogue.
Jun 16
2018
Milwaukee
11-2 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wauwatosa

Advanced Techniques to Create Stories that Resonate, and World Building

Multi-award winning author Bradley P. Beaulieu will share his techniques for how to create a story that resonates with readers. He will also share his tips and tricks for world building. A light luncheon will be served. RSVP Requested! Please email info@wisrwa.org.
Jul 11
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay

GGBA Has Talent

Bring the first page of your work in progress and join us as our narrator reads each page aloud and the group gives feedback to the anonymous author!
Jul 14
2018
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Café 1120 122nd Street, Chippewa Falls

It's All About BalanceWe all struggle with finding the time, and often the motivation, to write with all the other things that go on in our lives. Some of us have other jobs on top of our home and family obligations. Children, spouses, parents get sick or injured and need our time and attention. Committees, volunteer work, church, school, so many things can leave us drained at the end of the day. Then there are the discouraging, often depressing, things we hear about in our daily news reports. And don't forget such nonsense as #cockygate and bookstuffers! Come discuss with us how you manage to find the time and motivation to write while being pulled in so many directions.
Jul 21
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wauwatosa

Time for a Write-In!

We're getting together to WRITE! Bring your Work In Progress and join us your fellow authors as we get some writing accomplished.

WisRWA Newsletter



Oh, Pioneers!

Photograph of Eleanor Hibbert

Eleanor Hibbert

For three years, I had the privilege of working at the public library in the small mid-coast town of Rockland, Maine. I won’t say exactly how long ago it was, but I was young and the classic oak card catalogue and a date stamp machine were not. Over the years, I met many dozens of women who read books by authors on a long list of pioneers; writers who paved the way for all of us in the broad romance genre. My coworkers and I created waiting lists for these authors’ new releases, and in some cases we bought more than one copy, a big deal for an underfunded small town library.

Remember Eleanor Hibbert? Me, neither. But I do remember Victoria Holt, a pioneer in gothic and suspense romance (The Shivering Sands, India Fan); Philippa Carr, author of historical romances (Daughters of England, a 20-book series); and Jean Plaidy, who also wrote historicals. These books were perpetually checked out or on reserve, and some of the shut-in readers would ask me to pick out anything by Holt, Carr, or Plaidy. Another British author, Catherine Cookson (The Lady on my Left, The Bonny Dawn) wrote over 100 books. I recall dragging out glue and tape in our “book ER” as we tried to hold her books together just a little longer. (Cookson suffered a genetic bleeding disorder and other illnesses, which caused great hardship in her life, recounted in a memoir found after her death, Before I Go.)

We also had long waiting lists for books by a Mainer, Elizabeth Ogilvie (The Tide Trilogy), who wrote 40 books for adults and young readers. She lived On Gay’s Island and rarely came to the mainland, but when she agreed to give a talk at the library, her fans showed up in droves. No one could draw a crowd like Ogilvie.

Who can forget Phyllis Whitney (Spindrift, Amethyst Dreams)? In her104 years she wrote 70 books for adults and young people. She was labeled the Queen of American Gothic, but she described her work as “romantic novels of suspense.” Now a subgenre all its own. Born in Japan to American parents, this trailblazer had a penchant for exotic locations. She also wrote A Guide to Writing Fiction—I read this long ago and loved it.

In the 1990s, when I lived in Asheville, North Carolina, I was driving to a speakers’ conference in Florida, but ended up seeing a highway exit sign for St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Hmm…it sounded vaguely familiar. Curious, I went to have a look and soon realized I was visiting the adopted home of the wildly popular author, Eugenia Price (St. Simon’s Trilogy), and many other books based on historical figures in the region. I ended up visiting the lovely churchyard where she’s buried, now a regular stop for tourists-fans. In a case of serendipity, that day I learned about an annual writers’ conference held on St. Simon’s Island and attended every year thereafter until I moved to Wisconsin in 2001. I later set Island Healing on a fictional version of that island.

When these pioneers began writing, they faced real barriers for women trying to break into the fiction market (let alone garner any respect). Somehow, they took what was a narrow path to success and independence and bulldozed it to make room for all of us. Today, romance, in all its variations, remains the top-selling fiction genre. So, thanks Victoria/Jean/Philippa, Catherine, Elizabeth, Phyllis, and Eugenia…and so many others!

An active member of WisRWA since 2001, Virginia McCullough lives in Green Bay and writes romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line and award-winning women’s fiction. LOVE, UNEXPECTED, Book 3 of HER Two Moon Bay series, is due out in May. Virginia also writes and edits nonfiction and is a writing coach. Please note: this blog post has been adapted from a post on Heartwarming authors blog, 10-2017.)


4 Responses to “Oh, Pioneers!”

  1. Great recollections–and such an engaging way of sharing them with us. I love the passion that flows from your words, even after all these (undisclosed) years!

  2. Michele Wilder says:

    Loved this, Virginia! I’m originally from Bangor, Maine and would check out books from the Bangor Public Library by Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt during those sticky summers when I was in high school. I loved them! I found a book by Holt at a thrift shop not long ago and had to buy it. Thanks for the memories. ; )

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