Q and A with CRWA President Casey Clipper!
We, as contemporary romance writers, are so lucky to have such an active, vibrant chapter, designed just for us, with so many resources and so much encouragement available to help guide us through our careers.
The chapter wouldn’t be what it is today without our wonderful, hard-working, dedicated board members.
With their first-terms about to draw to a close, we thought we’d invite each board members to come and chat with us about what it’s been like serving on a large chapter board and what they’ve learned in the past year.
Next up is our chapter president, Casey Clipper.
A. What initially drew me to writing was a romance series that I had read. When I finished the last novel of the series, I thought to myself, “I would have totally written that differently.” So I sat down and wrote my series.
Not necessarily rewriting the same series, but I guess more or less fan fiction. That series will never see the light of day, since it was the very first thing I wrote on a novel scale. Writing that series then became an escape for me.
It was an escape from a bad marriage, then the passing away of my mother. I created characters with worlds I would have loved to be a part of, in a way, that is. Lol. I mean, do I really want to be part of the mob’s world?
Q. What appeals to you most about the contemporary romance genre?
A. I don’t like doing research. I could never write historical and totally appreciate those who do. I can’t see myself trying to connect to a YA level by doing that type of research or even marketing. I have zero interest in writing erotic or BDSM, even though those happen to be my top faves to read. I just leave that to my writing friends to tackle. I love contemporary because it’s what I know. I will do research in the form of suspense, like with my detective series. Legal information I love to absorb to help make that series more believable. So for me, it’s the perfect genre.
Q. Why, in your opinion, is it important for contemporary romance writers to have their own chapter?
A. First, too many RWA members don’t have access to a local chapter. They don’t have a chapter within drivable distance. So for those members, an online chapter is what works for them. Second, many of us have tight schedules, so attending local chapter meetings becomes a day-long affair and that just isn’t doable either. I mean, my local chapter meetings are on Saturdays. I work Monday through Friday at a full-time job with odd hours. Weekends are when I get most of my book work done.
When I go to my local meeting, which is about 45 minutes away, it takes up most of my Saturday. That’s too much. Again, online chapters are the answer to this. As far as contemporary romance, the subgenre is massive and having a chapter focused on the subgenre and the massive number of tropes is necessary.
Just like the chapters that focus on historical and paranormal and YA, the contemporary chapter focuses on marketing and promoting for the subgenre, research for contemporary tropes, craft, and so much more.
Q. What does your position as the president involve? What are some of your main roles? What challenges have you faced? What have you enjoyed most?
A. The president’s role is to basically represent the chapter and to oversee chapter functions, finances, etc. My duties include scheduling board meetings, creating agendas, make sure all chapter documents for RWA are completed and signed, and much more that I can’t possibly list here. But my most important role, I feel, is to listen to chapter members and their needs and bring those suggestions to the board.
The largest challenge we faced, as a board, was saving the chapter when we first took our offices. I’ve never spoken of what happened but the board had to tackle a few cases of a code of ethics violation that almost destroyed the chapter. Each board member spent the better portion of our first year in our term getting the chapter back on track. It was a long road and each board member deserves recognition for the long hours they put into making certain the chapter did not fold. They’ve done an excellent job to have the chapter recover and now begin to thrive. Now, the chapter board can focus on more items that benefit members since we’ve gotten all business under control.
I can certainly say I’ve enjoyed working with Mel, Katie, Kat, Louise, and Joanna, as well as our superb chairs, and getting to know these women. Becoming friends with these women and getting to know how thoughtful, intelligent, and funny they are has been by far a huge personal benefit of serving on this board. Also, connecting with so many of our chapter members both online and in person at nationals has been a huge perk. There’s nothing like bonding with your writing tribe, right?
Q. What are your goals for the chapter? What would you like to see happen over the next year?
A. The goals I find are now to add to our fundraising to be able to bring in special presenters for our members only workshops. The Stiletto Contest brings in a small amount of money but not the funds we’d like to have to be able to bring in big-name presenters. We’d like the Stiletto Contest to be bigger than ever in 2019. I’d like to see more chair positions added to the board to help give the chapter members the most out of their membership. And I’d like to see membership involvement increase. Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen involvement and participation significantly increase and that’s been fantastic, but we’re not where we want to be and that is extremely important for the vitality of the CRW chapter.
I’d also like to see the chapter become a larger voice within RWA itself. I’ve started by submitting a proposal for RWA19 to have a chapter tradeshow type event, where conference attendees can browse the numerous chapters available to them. We’ll see if RWA is on board with this idea, as it’s not the first time I’ve tossed it out there to them. But I think that CRW can be a strong voice within RWA itself and would love to see us grow to the point where our chapter is turned to for sound advice, opinions, and member involvement/participation.
And eventually, if it’s ever able to be done down the road, I’d love to see the CRW chapter have their own mini-conference like other chapters do. Like the NEORWA and New Jersey chapters, I think a CRW chapter conference could be a great opportunity for us.
Q. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the newer members of the chapter?
A. Jump in and participate in the chapter, especially in the Facebook group where we’re extremely active. The MyRWA forums aren’t too active but RWA is about to change its website, hopefully creating a better sense of usefulness. Toss out ideas, ask questions, make comments, we need to hear from everyone. Whether it’s a comment on a Marketing Monday post or asking a question about the upcoming board elections, we’d love to hear from everyone.
Also, make the most of the freebies the CRW chapter offers. Not all chapters offer free members-only workshops, or the ability to take workshops for free if you’re willing to moderate, or have a year-end celebration of finishing that manuscript with the ability to possibly get your RWA or CRW membership paid for. Take advantage of these opportunities because if we find that chapter members aren’t participating, we reevaluate them and decide whether to keep the program or cut it and try to come up with something different.
Every year we celebrate members, outside of the board, who contribute to the chapter, by awarding Chapter Service Awards that come with a certificate and a pin to add to your lanyards. We’d love to add your name to the nomination list.
Also, happy writing!
Q. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
A. I’d just like to say thank for allowing me to serve as your chapter president for the past two years. It’s been an honor and I hope to continue to serve the chapter and all of you well for a final term. Thank you to the members who’ve volunteered their time, whether it’s any form of helping with the Stiletto Contest, or offering to chair a position, or just adding to the Facebook group. I appreciate your willingness to keep this chapter valuable. This chapter has so much potential to continue to grow and become something special within RWA and for our membership. I look forward to the future of the Contemporary Romance Writers.
Thank you so much Casey, for all you do for the chapter, and for stopping by the blog!
Contemporary romantic suspense author Casey Clipper is from Pittsburgh, PA. She is a lover of sports, is slightly addicted to chocolate, and has a minor obsession with penguins. Casey serves as president of the Contemporary Romance Writers of America and has served as vice president of the Three Rivers Romance Writers. She is also an active member of the North Eastern Ohio Romance Writers. She’s taught Self-Publishing 101 for the Westmoreland County Community College Continuing Education Department as well as online workshops for numerous RWA chapters. Casey is the winner of the 2015 JABBIC HBARWA Readers’ Choice Short Contemporary Romance.