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: https://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.

Virginia