During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring Wisconsin-based authors and members of Romance Writers of America (RWA). As an advance introduction to the organization and its authors, Renaissance conducted a series of 8 interviews. This final interview is with Molly Maka, Vice President of Communications on the WisRWA Board of Directors.
Author of World War II Romance and a 1940’s Girl at Heart
Molly Maka is an author of World War II romantic fiction actively seeking publication. When she isn’t writing about happily ever afters on the battlefield, she can be found going on adventures with her husband and young son, sharing her love of vintage clothing and traditional wet sets, time traveling through historical reenactments, thanking any veteran she comes across (especially of the Greatest Generation variety), and singing in the stratosphere. She also proudly serves as a volunteer and Bombshell with the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. She serves as WisRWA’s Vice President of Communications.
RTW: What is WisRWA and when was it established?
MOLLY: WisRWA or Wisconsin Romance Writers of America is the state charter for the national organization Romance Writers of America founded in 1982. The mission of WisRWA is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to help writers become published and establish careers in their writing field, and to provide continuing support for writers.
Whether a beginning writer, or a seasoned, award-winning author, WisRWA supports writers through every stage of their careers. We hold monthly meetings with professional development workshops on writing craft and publishing (traditional and indie) in four areas across the state – Chippewa Falls, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Wausau. The groups offer encouragement, industry and marketing information, and educational and critique opportunities.
Every year WisRWA hosts either an annual conference or intensive workshop where writers can learn, network, and meet with editors and agents. We also hold two writing contests each year, one for published and one for unpublished writers.
RTW: What does WisRWA do for local writers?
MOLLY: Some of the many benefits include:
RTW: Can anyone join?
MOLLY: WisRWA membership is open to any RWA® member in good standing and costs only $25 per year. You must be a member of the national organization to join, but writers of all genres are welcome and can benefit from what WisRWA has to offer.
RTW: If a person just wants to see what it’s all about can she/he come to a meeting and check it out?
MOLLY: If you are curious about whether WisRWA is right for you, we welcome you to attend one of our meetings as our guest. Guests are welcome to attend two meetings before being asked to join. Please check out the calendar on our website for more information.
Photo Credit: Darlene Martin
WisRWA’s Chapter Service Award is all about VOLUNTEERISM. It’s about serving the organization and its members as chapter leaders, such as serving on the WisRWA Board or as an Area Contact. The award is also about serving in the trenches and volunteering in many different capacities over the time of active membership in WisRWA.
WisRWA remains healthy and strong as a helpful, mentoring professional organization for novice writers as well as published ones because members step up to fill a need when necessary. We have so many ways to serve and each position, small in its scope or large and demanding in its tasks, provides those members who accept the challenge so much more than they give. For example, name recognition, getting to know much better other WisRWA members, learning exactly what it takes to keep this organization efficient and useful to writers from novice to best seller.
One of the best methods for honing our skills as writers is to interact with other writers. Writing can be very isolating which is why having an opportunity to expand our frame of reference and meet others writers by offering a helping hand where we can provides so much for so little.
The two recipients for the Chapter Service Awards given at the October 8th Fall Writers’ Workshop exemplify all the above characteristics. As past recipients of this award, committee members found making a choice as to which nominee was most deserving of this award very difficult. We were thankful that past practice has, on occasion, awarded two nominees. That was our choice. Both women are continuing to serve WisRWA and its members in the coming year and exemplify what makes WisRWA strong.
The 2015 WisRWA’s Chapter Service Award are Kristin Bayer and Molly Maka.
In 2010, Kristin Bayer joined WisRWA and immediately volunteered when asked to help in various ways. Most significantly was 2013 when she assumed the presidency of WisRWA on short notice because of an unexpected vacancy. She served ably in that position–traveling around the state to visit and get to know members along with mentoring board members, sub-committee members, and general members with questions.
She stayed active on the board as past president giving her expertise to new members. More recently when the chapter had another unexpected vacancy on the board, she stepped forward to handle social media pages and news blasts, the WisRWA website and other communication issues. WisRWA is better for its members because of Kristen’s volunteer character trait.
In the words of her nominators, “she’s effectively filled gaps wherever she’s seen them with her incredible spirit of service.” And, “through her faithful leadership, Kristin has seen WisRWA through uncertain times and made the organization thrive.”
Molly Maka has volunteered to help at every conference during her ten-year membership, given workshops on historical reenacting and historical costuming, attends meetings regularly, hosts events in her home, and is a “constant cheerleader for the success of our membership.”
Molly has done a fantastic job as the contest coordinator for the WisRWA Fab 5 contest. She has worked diligently to ensure the contest had the judges it needed (both preliminary and final) to be a success. Her experience as a contest judge, then a category coordinator, helped her gain the expertise to do so.
Recently Molly stepped up to help with WisRWA’s social media and outreach – taking over for a member who abruptly resigned. Molly jumped right in, stepping up to do what she could to strengthen connections within the WisRWA community, as well as build the chapter’s presence on-line. In the past month she once again volunteered and accepted a position on the WisRWA board.
WisRWA member Molly Maka, self-proclaimed 1940s girl, writer of historical romance, and a veteran of historical reenactment, will be presenting her secrets to the Milwaukee area on Saturday, June 18.
As a ten-year veteran of historical reenacting of various time periods, Molly brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her presentation on how historical reenacting can enhance your writing. She will demonstrate how, through reenacting, you too can create identifiable and relatable characters based in a historical context, and establish and capture the nuances of the time period of your characters’ worlds. And she’ll explain how getting involved in historical reenacting can help you get in touch with the past.
We caught up with Molly before she started pin curling her hair for the next Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to ask her a few questions leading up to her presentation.
Molly: Believe it or not I always had a penchant for dressing historically. I remember one year I asked my grandmother if she had any of her 1940s clothes because I wanted to be a 40s girl for Halloween. That might have been the first time. Another year I dressed as a colonial girl off to a ball. When I saw the gorgeous Elizabethan court dresses at the Bristol Renaissance Faire the summer after I graduated high school, I knew I had to get involved. In 2006, my dream was realized when I joined the cast of the Guilde of St. George. From there I learned about other time periods people could reenact and my involvement in different eras sort of evolved from there.
Molly: I have several that I tend to favor. Let me put it back to you: Which one do you all think is my favorite and why? Go ahead and answer in the comments. I’ll give a prize on Saturday to a randomly selected commenter. And, of course, I’ll reveal the answer.
Molly: That’s tough because, even if I don’t plan to write about something, I still look for opportunities to try new things in a historical context, if only for the experience of trying it out. You never know when you can use something. My biggest bucket list item right now is to learn how to drive a World War II-era Army jeep. And I’ve had plenty of interesting adventures I’m still planning to write about. I’ll be talking about some of the best ones on Saturday.
Molly: Right now I would have to say it’s a toss-up between my post war aluminum and lucite box purse and an adorable vintage navy blue dress with navy and red polka dot accents. It fits like it was made for me. Who knows, I might just have both of them with me on Saturday.
Molly: Absolutely. I’ve got some great stories. Of course, you’ll just have to wait until Saturday to hear them.
Many thanks to Molly for sharing a little bit about herself and her passion. We’re so looking forward to her presentation: The Historical Reenactor Who Writes: How Touching the Past Can Enhance Your Story. Please join us in Mayfair Mall Community Room (Lower Level) on Saturday, June 18th at 9 AM. We hope to see you there!
Photo Credit: Claire Noonan Photography