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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Benefits of a Local Chapter ~ by Augustina Van Hoven

Having an active local RWA chapter is an invaluable asset for any writer.
I belong to the Inland Empire Chapter of Romance Writers of America or IECRWA.  We are a small group with members from Spokane, Washington and northern Idaho.  Our membership runs the gambit from new writers working on their first novel to multi published veterans and one USA Today best seller. 

Our group is very supportive of its members.  Through their helpful writer’s activities and personal encouragement, many of our members have reached their personal goals of being published.

For me the help begins with the group’s program committee.  The committee makes sure that each monthly meeting includes mini workshops taught by experts from the community or one of our own talented members.  A forensic expert of the local state crime lab instructed us on how the world of forensic science really works as opposed to what we see on CSI.  An advertising specialist explained the mysteries of social media and how to use it to your best advantage.  Our more experienced members have taught us how to do layering, snappy dialogue, and how to put sizzle in your special scenes. 

We have done a series of “write ins” at one of the areas libraries to help increase our word counts and give an extra boost to those who have deadlines.  We schedule a private room at the library for a four-hour time block and set up camp.  Each member writes for forty-five minutes then we take a fifteen-minute break.  At the end of the session we post the total word count of the participants on the chapter loop.  15,000 to 20,000 words per write in are not unusual.

My personal favorite group activity is the '100 words per day challenge'.  Each member writes a minimum of 100 words each day on their current project.  At the end of the day those who worked on their manuscript post on the chapter loop that they completed 100 words that day.  This gives us accountability to the group and helps build the habit of writing every day.  I have personally written one hundred words or more for eighty-three days straight.
Additional goals are handled at the meetings in the form of a goal pot.  Each member who wants to participate puts one dollar into the pot and a note of what they plan to achieve by the next meeting.  Each meeting we check the goals and see who has achieved them.  The names of those who met their goals are placed in a hat and one name is pulled out.  That person wins the pot. 

We have done other special events such as writer’s retreats at a local ski resort, during the off season, of course, and we are putting together a writers conference for March 7th of 2015, hoping to attract new romance writers for our club and work with other writing groups in our area.

         All of this has helped me grow as a writer.  I can honestly say that without my chapter’s help and support, my first novel would still be an interesting idea instead of a completed manuscript.
BIO:  Augustina has a background in politics and works as an accountant.  She
writes paranormal romance in her evening hours.  Her first novel 'The Kiss
of a Rose' is currently looking for a home.

Augustina Van Hoven ~ Proving that Love is Strange



Debra Elise said...

Augustina, love this post. We are a great chapter and you are definitely one of my inspirations!

Cathryn Cade said...


You are indeed an inspiration, working full-time, writing with dedication, and serving your chapter.

Writing can be a lonely business. We need strong support. Not everyone gets that at home or the day job, so it's crucial to belong to groups with other slightly nutty people like us!

Also, networking can bring us some amazing opportunities. We are a community, and what goes around may come back around ten-fold.

Cathryn Cade

Asa Maria Bradley said...

Great post, Tina!

Angela Adams said...

Great post, Augustina. I belong to two online RWA chapters -- and although some of us have never seen each other -- thanks to the internet, phones, and social media, the support and friendship is there as if we all lived in the same college dorm.

Thanks for the post.

Diane Burton said...

My chapter (Mid-Michigan RWA) has a monthly incentive like yours. I do like the 100 words/day challenge. Congrats on 83 days straight.