NaNoWriMo Word War!

~ By Melanie Greene 

Who's up for a writing challenge? 

Those familiar with writing know it can be a solitary occupation, even with the friendship and resources of a great group like Contemporary Romance RWA.

Those familiar with NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month -- know it can be an overwhelming pursuit to generate 50,000 new words in a one-month period. 

Fortunately, the pursuit of those 50,000 words can be made more fun, and less solitary, by engaging in the community of others working towards the same goal.

This year, Contemporary Romance RWA is joining in the RWA Word War, an informal competition wherein RWA chapters pit their average word counts against those of other chapters. It's a friendly rivalry (so friendly, you can represent as many of your chapters as you like – give everyone credit for your words!) designed to encourage NaNoWriMo participants, to cheer on all those fast typists, and to maintain a sense of community during the often-isolating task of immersive writing.

Each week, I as team lead will send our word counts (gathered from the NaNoWriMo site) to the organizer, who will post the individual and chapter frontrunners in the closed Word Wars Facebook group. The Facebook group will also be a spot where people can cheer each other on, find word sprint buddies, share resources and prompts, or just growl about how hard this whole thing is! It’s a tighter and more easily navigable community than the NaNoWriMo boards, and participants get a chance to get to know writers from throughout RWA. (It’s not required that anyone join the group, or participate in it.) If you’re a member of our Word War team and are not yet a part of the group, send me a message (see below) so I can sort it out for you.

Not sure you’re up for writing 50,000 words in one month? Don’t worry – neither am I! It is a daunting undertaking for many of us, but part of the fun of Word War is the motivation to write as much as possible in 30 days, however much ‘possible’ turns out to be. Per the organizer, last November the 289 Word War participants (from 21 RWA chapters across North America) wrote 9,732,788 words! It’s great fun to know that 37588 of those words were mine. And even though I didn’t end up with a Winner’s Badge, I did end up with a novella I love. 

This year, I hope to finish another novella and get back to work on a novel, so when November 30, 2017 rolls around, I can schedule publication dates for the next two titles in my Roll of the Dice series. And that’s a goal that will leave me feeling like a winner, no matter how short of 50,000 words I end up. Word War participants learn to celebrate each success, even the ones not on the official metric. Won’t you join us? Message me on FB or email if you are ready to accept the Word War challenge!

Melanie Greene lives in a little cottage in a giant city, with her husband and kids and cat and dog and all the people inhabiting her imagination. Find out more about her contemporary romances, including her Roll of the Dice series, at

Chapter Service Opportunities – A Message From President Casey Clipper

Casey ClipperDear Chapter Members,

RWA chapters are the heart and soul of the Romance Writers of America, in my opinion. They’re the backbone of the organization. They’re where authors and writers dig into the trenches of their work. They’re the place where members get to mingle with each other and get that much needed and craved interaction with our tribe. And there are so many chapters to choose from within RWA.

Contemporary, suspense, YA, paranormal, erotic, historical, local and national chapters all make up a wide variety for members to join. And with each chapter comes its own set of perks. Not every chapter is the same. Not every chapter offers the same benefits. Which is great because a writer and author can get the most out of their RWA membership with these different chapters.

But chapters cannot survive without volunteers. Whether it’s an executive board position or a non-voting board position, every chapter needs your help to thrive and survive. Smaller chapters may only need executive board positions while the larger chapters need various positions to help it with all the events they have for members.

The Contemporary Romance Writers chapter had been in limbo for a few years but luckily with the new board in place, and bringing things under control, we’re looking to expand our non-voting board personnel and we need your help. Our executive board has done a fantastic job turning the chapter around in such a short period of time and I cannot say enough about their hard work. Each one of these ladies should be commended and I ask you, when you see them or have any interaction with them online, to thank them for their hard work.

But, like you, the executive board members are also writers and have lives outside of writing that need our attention. With all that we’d love to offer the chapter, we need your help to not only give these items the proper, full attention they deserve but we also need to know when to say when, as board members who have personal lives. The following are non-voting board positions that we’re looking to fill for the 2018 year. Each one of these positions is a 1 year term.

  • PRO Liaison
  • PAN Liaison
  • Stiletto Contest Committee Chair
  • Stiletto Party Chair
  • Critique Group Chair
  • CRW MyRWA Forum Chair (new)
  • CRW Writing Retreat Chair (new)
  • CRW Website Mistress/Master (new)

Some of these positions we’re looking for are new in order to help create new opportunities for all CRW members. Some of these positions aren’t new but haven’t been filled or utilized in years. We’re looking to change that so we can make each area of the chapter thrive to its fullest extent. But we cannot do it without your help.

We had excellent volunteers for the Stiletto Contest this year and each volunteer, because of their service, was nominated for the CRW Chapter Service Award by the CRW Board of Directors. This is also something new to the chapter that we’re excited to implement. Chapter volunteers should be recognized for giving their time. And we hope to be able to nominate you next year for your service.

What’s involved in chairing a non-voting board position? Well, you won’t have to attend the executive board meetings that are held quarterly. We will ask you to attend at least 2 board meetings to keep the board up-to-date on the status of events with your position. What’s convenient is the meetings are held online, so you don’t even have to leave your living room. Yay! Some of these positions aren’t even year round positions. Some are simply about relaying important information to the CRW chapter members. 

If you might be interested in chairing one of the positions above, please feel free to email me at

We’re looking to really expand the Contemporary Romance Writers chapter and hope that you’ll help us in the endeavor to make this chapter one of the best in the RWA.

Casey Clipper


Bringing Back The Stiletto Contest

Dear Chapter Members,

One of the major items that had been discussed last year, when the board was getting ready to transition into the 2017 year, was bringing back the Stiletto Contest. A contest that had been well known among RWA members as one of the best among RWA chapters to enter. But how did we, as a new board, bring back a contest that had essentially been abandoned and make it great and a sought after

A contest that had been well known among RWA members as one of the best among RWA chapters to enter. But how did we, as a new board, bring back a contest that had essentially been abandoned and make it great and a sought after contest, again?  It begins with a list of to-do items.

1. Pulling together a great committee.

It’s not easy for chapters to get volunteers, especially online chapters like the Contemporary Romance Writers. But we put the call out and sure enough, we got a great group of members who not only gave great input but have stepped up to contribute to make this contest great again.

2. Improving the judge’s score sheet.

Luckily, writers and authors save everything. And I mean everything, right? We tend to not delete anything on our laptops. One of the committee members had saved the Stiletto Contest score sheet from the last year it had been held and the committee agreed that it needed an overhaul. Entrants enter contests for reasons. Maybe it’s to nab an award-winning author tag or to get their manuscript in front of a specific judge or to get feedback from judges on their manuscripts. Whatever the case, a good score sheet is vital and the Stiletto’s now has more in-depth questions to help writers get better feedback for their entries.

3. Final Round Judges.

This could have been a daunting task. Finding final round judges for the unpublished division was something that we wanted to be sure we got right. Thankfully, even though the Stiletto hadn’t been around in a few years, editors and agents jumped at the opportunity to judge the unpublished final round. Yay, CRW! We still got it! ;-)

4. Categories.

Another discussion in the committee was categories. Naturally, we chose only contemporary romance, because, well, we’re a contemporary romance chapter. Leaving paranormal, fantasy, historical, etc to the chapters that focus on those genres was a bit of a no-brainer for us. But, choosing the subgenres within contemporary romance was a further discussion. There were reasons for the categories chosen and reasons for categories not picked, but mainly it came down to max number of categories and leaving some to chapters that focus specifically on those subgenres, like YA and erotic.

We also wanted to include published authors as a new part of the Stiletto. Many of our members are published and self-published authors and we wanted to give them the opportunity to enter the contest. So we unanimously decided on two divisions−published and unpublished−to give every CRW member, and author and writer outside of CRW, an opportunity to enter a contest.

We are also one of the few chapters that has given published authors an entry choice of either ebooks or paperbacks. Many traditionally published authors don’t have access to their ebooks or maybe an author isn’t comfortable handing off their ebook. The committee came together and agreed that having both options available would be best. We’re truly happy with this decision that includes every author’s publishing route.

5. Category Coordinators.

Recruiting category leaders was not an easy task by any means. No one wants to volunteer time that they don’t have. But once again, the women who have agreed to be categories coordinators have been fantastic. And I can’t thank them enough for stepping up for the chapter.

6. Last but not least - Entrants!

We need your entries! The Stiletto Contest cannot run without entries. So if you’ve been on the fence, enter your novel or manuscript. If you’re a member, a published ebook entry or an unpublished manuscript is only $15! That is the lowest price of any chapter contest. How could you possibly beat that for the possibility of becoming an award-winning author or getting your manuscript in front of some of the best editors and agents in the industry?

I’ve severely paraphrased the process of bringing back the Stiletto Contest. It has been a great undertaking by all involved, from the committee to the category coordinators to the board. Every member who has played a part has been significant in bringing this contest back. And for that, the Contemporary Romance Writers board cannot thank you enough. We’re thrilled to have the contest back and better than ever!

Now, get those entries in before the submission date ends on Friday, April 7th.

Casey Clipper


Contemporary Romance Writers

Meet Our New Secretary, Katina Drennan!

katina1A huge congratulations and thanks to our new board! 🙂

Next up in our introductions, we've have our new secretary, Katina Drennan.

Welcome, Katina!

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What drew you to writing?

A. I’ve always loved to read, so writing and language have always come easy to me. My first story idea came full blown after seeing a piece of jewelry in a magazine. At the time I had no idea what was proper or right, I just told the story the best way I knew how. I got a lot of interest in that story, but no sale. Years of study and commitment have helped me put method to my madness. That story remains one of those I plan to revisit with the unique perspective only writers get to indulge: If I knew then what I know now.

Q. Why is contemporary romance important to you?

A. I just really love the time we live in.  How lucky are we to have all the modern conveniences, fast cars, airplanes, cell phones, and a romantic and sexual freedom. Even when I straddle into the past, it always seems to be a time travel, with one foot firmly in the contemporary world.

Q. How has the chapter helped you with your writing career?

A. I am inspired by the many successful authors in our chapter, many of whom have contributed their time and energy to present classes and share experiences. Writing is such a solitary venture, it’s important to establish relationships with other authors as a reality check, if nothing else!

Q. What does your position involve? What are some of your main roles?

A. As secretary, I record and post meeting minutes to our RWA archives and help to welcome new members to the group, and I have a vote on matters of importance to keeping the chapter strong and vital .  This year, we have stepped up to help our members keep their memberships up to date by reminding them their membership is about to expire. This is really important, especially if a member is interested in holding office at some future date. RWA is working on a system to notify members about Chapter memberships coming up for renewal.  Until then, I am doing what I can to give members a heads up before their membership expires.

Q. What are your goals for the chapter? What would you like to see happen over the next year?

A. I would like to do what I can to get more engagement in the group. A member doesn’t have to serve on the board to volunteer to keep the chapter vital and engaging. I love the idea of revitalizing our crit group and making the Stiletto Contest the GOTO contest among the chapters!

img_2025Q. Other than the fact that you’re a writer, what else would you like us to know about you?

A. I try to balance my time in the chair in front of the computer with getting myself outdoors.  I am a rabid bicyclist and my husband and I try to get two or three bicycle adventures in a year.  Our next trip will be to the big island of Hawaii, where we’ll ride the entire perimeter and visit the volcanoes. Last October, we rode from Seattle to Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood. My other great love is cooking and I try to incorporate that into my stories when I can.

Thank you, Katina, for all of your hard work and dedication to the chapter! 

Meet Our New VP of Communications, Louise Knott Ahern!

louiseA huge congratulations and thanks to our new board! :-) Over the next few weeks, we'll be introducing each new board member. Next up, come meet our new VP of Communications, Louise Knott Ahern (w/a Lyssa Kay Adams)!.

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What drew you to writing?

A. I've always been a writer. My family tells me I would carry around a notebook and a pencil before I could even read, so I was born with the writing bug. I spent the first 20 years of my professional career as a reporter and editor before finally realizing my lifelong dream of publishing my first novel, Seventh Inning Heat, in March 2016. I can't imagine NOT being a writer. In fact, if I go more than two days without writing, I get cranky.

Q. Why is contemporary romance important to you?

A. I read and enjoy almost all genres of romance, but I write contemporary because it's the genre where I feel I can tell the kinds of stories I write best -- stories of real women facing real-life obstacles in a modern setting. I want readers to see themselves in the small details of my books, whether it's through the tough-as-nails struggles of women in male-dominated fields or the eye-rolling nuisances of dealing with the pressures of being social-media perfect or even just the daily joys of motherhood.

Q. How has the chapter helped you with your writing career?

A. Primarily through the friendships and relationships I've made through the chapter! This chapter is full of wickedly talented writers who I learn from every day. Chapter events are also a huge benefit, such as the webinar last year featuring K.M. Weiland and the Novelicious retreat at the last RWA National conference. I can't imagine trying to navigate a romance writing career without being part of RWA or this chapter.

Q. What does your position involve? What are some of your main roles?

A. As VP Communications, I'm the go-to person for the chapter's Facebook group, website, Yahoo group (which was what we used before creating the Facebook group) and other chapter communications. If you need any help accessing any of our various groups, you can ask me! I also monitor the chapter's main email account: 

Q. What are your goals for the chapter? What would you like to see happen over the next year?

A. I was so glad to see us switch to a Facebook group last year, and I'd love to see us continue to make use of that social media platform to build our community and nurture relationships. Primarily, though, I want to make sure every member feels they are always aware of the goings-on of the chapter!

Q. Other than the fact that you’re a writer, what else would you like us to know about you?

A. I live in Michigan and never complain about winter. I actually love snow. Love, love, love snow. I'm a happy little penguin when it snows. But the real light of my life is my family-- my 11-year-old daughter and my husband of 16 years. We are an unconventional family, and if we ever had a family photo shoot, it would have to feature my husband yelling at someone on the phone (he's a sports editor), my daughter grumbling about changing her lucky basketball socks, and me with a disgusted look on my face as I cleaned out whatever rotten vegetables have turned to goo in the fridge. We also have a pesky Maltese who buries things all over the house. I once found a donut in my underwear drawer, and just last weekend, my daughter yelled down from her room, "Mom, there's a pancake under my pillow." Yes, he will end up in a book someday!

Thank you, Louise, for all of your hard work and dedication to the chapter! 

Meet Our New VP of Programs, Melanie Greene!

MelGreene 2A huge congratulations and thanks to our new board! :-) Over the next few weeks, we'll be introducing each new board member. Next up, come meet our new VP of Programs, Melanie Greene.

Oh, and, guess what?

Today is her birthday!

Welcome, Melanie! And happy birthday!

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What drew you to writing?

A. Because my 5th grade teacher told me I was her only student allowed to start a sentence with ‘because,’ I decided to be a writer when I grew up.

Q. Why is contemporary romance important to you?

A. I love using the best age-old story – the journey to love – to explore the world we live in. It’s great fun to create a heightened reality that feels ready to step off the page and into our lives.

Q. How has the chapter helped you with your writing career?

A. In addition to the networking with so many talented and charming fellow novelists, I’ve benefited from many just-what-I-need-right-now CR-RWA workshops over the years.

Q. What does your position involve? What are some of your main roles?

A. As VP of Programs, I will be ensuring our members, and the wider community, are aware of the many exciting workshops we are offering in 2017. I'll facilitate workshop signups and attendance. I'll also be lining up 2018 workshops, helping to plan our National Conference event, and working with the Stiletto Committee.

Q. What are your goals for the chapter? What would you like to see happen over the next year?

A. I’m excited about the workshop presenters and their offerings for 2017, and want to see our members taking full advantage of their expertise. I’m always interested to hear what other topics our members would like to see offered, so reach out to me – - with your workshop wish list!

Q. Other than the fact that you’re a writer, what else would you like us to know about you?

A. I’m a total night owl. If your in-box chimes at 2 a.m., it’s probably me. Sorry in advance! 

Thanks for all you do for the chapter, Melanie! :-) Enjoy your birthday! 


Melanie Greene is a native Houstonian, a life-long writer, an avid reader of every kind of fiction, though mostly of romance. 

Melanie's greatest pleasure is in creating characters who feel like friends, then giving them challenges to overcome on the way to Happily Ever After. 

She shares her life with her own hometown hunk of a husband and children so amazing they defy superlatives.

Meet Our President, Casey Clipper!

caseyA huge congratulations and thanks to our new board! :-) Over the next few weeks, we'll be introducing each new board member. First up, come meet our new president, Casey Clipper. Welcome, Casey!

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What drew you to writing?

A. I can’t say for sure what drew me to writing. I’ve always been a reader. My mother helped encourage that love for reading and as a teen, even though I came from a family with 4 girls, without much money, my mom would make sure I had a book to read. I vividly remember the Sweet Valley High book series littered over my bedroom. But when I actually started writing was a few years ago, when I read a popular novel and thought that I would have written it much differently. So essentially, I wrote my version of fan fiction. Of course, that first penned manuscript is so badly written it will never see the light of day.

Q. Why is contemporary romance important to you?

A. Contemporary is what I connect with best. It’s what I read. Whether it’s suspense, erotica, or new adult, it’s the genre that I enjoy the most and I can easily get into when writing. I could never be a good researched when it comes to a genre like historical or even be that inventive when it comes to making up worlds like fantasy or paranormal. Contemporary just plain works for me.

Q. How has the chapter helped you with your writing career?

A. The Contemporary Romance Writers and the RWA in general has taught me not only about the romance genre itself and vastly improved my writing through workshops, but also about the professionalism and industry connections. I truly believe that RWA and its chapters are invaluable in that manner. I’m a self-published author and I read a lot. There is a significant difference in RWA authors/writers than non-members. You can tell from Facebook posts and from reading novels of authors who haven’t been given professional advice and training.

But more than anything, the connections I’ve made through RWA and the CRW and other chapters are invaluable. I’ve made such good writing friends, who understand this world I have created for myself. They “get” me and I get them. So many kindred spirits that I now know are out there, when previously, I thought I had been all alone.

Q. What does your position involve? What are some of your main roles?

A. Lol! I have no idea. Kidding. As president of the chapter, essentially I oversee everything. So the president has her hands dipped into all the roles, as oversight of the chapter and to make sure everything is running smoothly and as should be. She calls all board meetings and schedules the general membership meeting. The president can also hold the vote that might break a tie on the board regarding policies and procedures. The president has to make sure that any new policies and procedures voted by the national board is put into place by the chapter, documented, and voted on by chapter members. The president of a chapter also represents the chapter at nationals. There is actually a lot of little, but big things, the president is responsible for that aren’t nearly as visible as some of the other board positions when it comes to the running of a chapter.

Q. What are your goals for the chapter? What would you like to see happen over the next year?

A. One of my main goals is to open up the board meetings to all members. I’d like the board meetings to be open to all CRW members so each member can see what’s happening behind the scenes. Currently, this is not in place and I’m not a fan of that. I truly feel that this is important. That all members should be given access to what the board, that they voted in, is doing for the chapter that they have paid to be a part of. So, I’m in communications with RWA to utilize one of their meeting forums to be able to open up our board meetings for members to watch in on, since we meet online.

Another item is to bring back the Stiletto contest. Right now, I’ve been spearheading the Stiletto committee and they’ve been doing a fantastic job with suggestions and their vast knowledge of contests. The Stiletto used to be one of those contests that authors would love to win and I want to bring that back to the chapter. We’ve been discussing new categories and I think this committee will definitely bring something different and valuable to the Stiletto, once again, making the contest thrive.

Also, the party at nationals I’d like to see become the party that it was well known for in years past. So, this is one of the first items on the agenda I’ll be bringing up to the new board, since it takes months to plan.

But the main agenda I have is getting the chapter back on track where members benefit from having a Contemporary Romance Writers membership. I don’t want any member to feel that they got nothing from their membership dues. I understand that every dime in today’s world counts and there are so many chapters to choose to join. I want all members to feel that they’ve chosen correctly with joining CRW.

Q. Other than the fact that you’re a writer, what else would you like us to know about you? A. I do work full time as a secretary for an outpatient physical therapy office in Pittsburgh, PA. I changed jobs for the first time in 13 years this past May and man, did it rock my world, especially my writing. I went from a mom-and-pop business that was dying to one of the busiest corporate companies in Western PA. Talk about a shock to the system and the writing mojo. It took months to get back into the writing groove.

I’m married with two boys, one 24 and one 16, and a cat named Bob, who is the king of our castle. So, I’m surrounded by men. I am the oldest of four sisters, all crazy Irish women, who give their poor father headaches daily, still. Lol. And I have a slight obsession with penguins. Well, maybe not so slight. ;-)

Thank you, Casey, for all of your hard work and dedication to the chapter! 

Blogging in 2016! Sign up now.

Hello CRWA Members, Can you believe it’s already December? We hope you’ve had a great year of writing! As the new year approaches, we would love to fill up our blog calendar. All chapter members are welcome to blog. Below is a list of suggested topics by month, but if you’ve got your own idea, that’s great too. You can find more information here. PANorama posts will appear on the last Sunday of each month, and are a chance for our chapter PAN members (PAN stands for Published Authors Network, a professional designation within RWA open to members who reach a certain level of sales) to visit the blog to share some of their wisdom and expertise. If you’re a PAN Member, please consider volunteering. If you have any questions, please be in touch! Please put CRWA Blog 2016 in the subject line of your email. Thanks! Melissa (aka Melina) melissadespina @ January 
  • Goal Setting for the new year
  • Self-Editing Tips/Techniques/Methods That Work
  • PANorama - Goal and Motivation
  • Important Characteristics of Your Heroine
  • Valentine’s Day & The Importance of Love
  • PANorama - Voice
  • Writing a Hero to Fall In Love With
  • Giving and Receiving Critiques
  • PANorama — Strong Secondary Characters Who Don’t Steal Your Story
  • Building Strong Internal and External Conflict in Contemporary Romance
  • Character Arc - How to Make Your Characters Grow
  • PANorama — Writing a Series
  • Villains We Love/Despicable Characters
  • Common Contemporary Vocations (Writing the doctor/nurse, military, business mogul / secretary, cowboy, etc.)
  • PANorama - Comedy and Humor
  • Building Strong Internal and External Conflict in Contemporary Romance
  • Types of Conflict in Contemporary Romance Today
  • PANorama - Character Flaws
  • 4th of July - The American Heroes - Writing military/rescue heroes or heroines
  • Conference Tips
  • PANorama - Relationships with Editors and Publishers
  • Research, History, Fact-Finding Missions
  • Including Travel in your Writing
  • PANorama - Story Structure
  • Balancing Your Writing Life / Day Job Life / Family Life
  • Writing Process - Are You a Plotter or Pantser?
  • PANorama - Antogonists. . . Why we need them
  • Preparing for & Surviving NaNoWriMo
  • Halloween - Incorporating Paranormal Elements in Contemporary Romance
  • PANorama - Writing Your Protagonist’s Best Friend
  • Share Your Successful Query Letters
  • Surviving NaNoWriMo / “Don’t Look Down” Drafts
  • PANorama - Writing is Hard. Why Do We Do It?
  • Writing for the Holidays
  • Looking Back at Your Year of Writing

Taking Over Nationals — Stories from Chapter Members!

The chapter was well represented at the RWA National Conference in New York City!

Congratulations to Sonali Dev on her RITA nomination (Best First Book, A Bollywood Affair), to Abigail Owen, our Chapter VP of Communications, on her Prism Award (Andromeda's Fall, Shadowcat Nation #1, RWA Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Chapter, 1st Place in Dark Paranormal) and to Caro Carson on her RITA win (Contemporary Romance: Short, The Bachelor Doctor's Bride)! Here are some highlights from our members. If you've got your own stories to share, please leave them in the comments. Enjoy!  
Pen Name Problems ~ Sophia Henry I admit, it's taken me awhile to get used to my pen name, because I joined RWA and my local chapter under my real name first, and changed to a pen name when my publisher asked me. But I was awesome at RWA. I remembered to introduce myself as Sophia and everything. Until a late night dinner after the Rita/Golden Heart Awards... A group of friends and I walked over to Junior's across the street from the hotel, and I put my name on the list "Sophia - Party of 9." We waited and waited. After about thirty minutes, I heard the host call, "Jane (My real name) - party of 9!" Ok, so Jane is not my real name - but you guys aren't gonna trick me this time. Anyway, when I heard my name party of 9, I gathered my troops and we marched back to "our" table. Within seconds of sitting down, the real "Jane" comes to our table saying, "This is not your table. I'm Jane. I'm Jane, party of 9."at Juniors And the embarrassing realization of what I did clicked. I did not put our reservation under my real name, Jane. I put it under Sophia. So we gathered our stuff and trudged back to the front to wait. Needless to say, my friends were laughing at me, I was laughing at me, Jane was laughing at me (thankfully--since I really wasn't trying to steal her table.) When we got to the front, I had to explain the story to PJ Ausdenmore from The Romance Dish blog, who had been sitting waiting for a table through this entire debacle.A lady from Mississippi, who watched the entire thing go down, even asked to take a picture with me as the person who got kicked out of her table! And I did. Funny publicity is good publicity. We all shared laughs and "Sophia, Party of 9" was called a few minutes later. Pen Names. Gotta love 'em!! From Karen Ellard Chadwell via Facebook: "Just met a new friend and probably the only person who got kicked out of a table here. --with Sophia Henry at Junior's Restaurant and Cheesecake."
~ PJ Sharon As far as workshops, my favorite was Investigations 101 with Margaret Taylor, a veteran in law enforcement who was very knowledgeable, and hysterically funny. I learned a little about a lot of things, most of which is how Hollywood gets it wrong! Never put DNA evidence in a plastic bag. Apparently this degrades the sample and can lead to mold. A paper bag would be used instead. She also talked about surveillance, undercover operations, and setting up the bad guys. She touched on use of informants, and the difference between a CI-Confidential Informant (usually mercenary and “disposable”) and a CRI-Confidential Reliable Informant (someone who is protected by police and whose info can usually get a warrant served faster). All very interesting.
~ Win Day 11755908_10207070739304270_5856735121064330653_nHad a terrific time at the conference! Missed the meetup -- actually, I was in the bar but got into a conversation with some other folks and never made it back into the corner where the group was supposed to gather. Favourite workshops: "You Think You're Funny" by Tracy Brogan & Kristen Higgins; "How Not To End A Series" by Jaci Burton, Marie Force, Jill Shalvis, and Shannon Stacey; and the "Spotlight on Entangled". Two successful pitches: agent Linda Scalissi of 3 Seas Literary Agency wants to see 3 chapters and a synopsis, and editor Stacy Abrams of Entangled wants to see the full manuscript. Whoohoo! Oh, and gave my card to about a dozen writers who need help with their websites. All in all, a successful conference!
~ Casey Clipper I also took MA Taylor's workshop, along with Liliana Hart & Scott Silverii, & Lt. Jamie Prosser, all three were fantastic research workshops on police procedures. There was, of course, the fantastic self-publishing advice given by Bella Andre & Barbara Freethy, who also had a great keynote speech. Their fantastic advice: quit panicking. And they're right. There's this panic mode right now in the industry that's unwarranted. It hadn't occurred to me until they pinpointed it. I even find myself in a "panic" type state at times about SP my work. It was great to hear someone say, "Calm down." and put it all in sane perspective. The elevator system was something that took me a day to grasp. (For some reason you can't get on or off the 9th floor by elevator.) The big "oops" of the workshops was Michael Hauge's was put into a small conference room, and it was packed, so if you didn't get in early, you didn't get in at all and it wasn't recorded so you were left out in the cold. Myself and one of my roommates ended up in the elevator with actor Michael Emmerson. Yep, totally had a freak-out moment. Apparently, I'm not one of those cool people when they run into a Hollywood actor. Aaannnnd am too much of a chicken to say hi to him. Nope, just waited to have a meltdown when we exited the elevator. I loved that the awards ceremony was live streamed. I asked on my author page who watched it and was surprised to find a handful of fans did and loved it. They were shocked over the grandeur of the ceremony, having no clue such a thing existed in the romance book world. This small post doesn't come close to all the events that took place.

~ Samanthya Wyatt

I found some great workshops, but several of the ones I wanted were already full. Sitting on the floor, standing room only, or could not even get in the door.

Learned some great tips on all sorts of material. Hated I missed Jude Deveraux's workshop !!!! Keynote speakers were great. I too took the workshop with  Bella Andre & Barbara Freethy. Write more books and don't worry too much about marketing. People don't believe the grandeur of the ceremony, when I mention it is just like the "Grammys". Met a lot of authors I've only chatted on line with. Wonderful to put a face with a name. Time's Square was - different. Every dress up character available for a picture "I work for money!"  HA. I told my friend when she went to take her photo with the statue of liberty guy, it's not free. It will cost you.! Loved walking the streets and seeing the sights. Broadway theaters, lots of shops, lots of eating places. Fun. Private taxi drivers were a hoot! Starbucks made a mint off of the authors!  Chuckles. And I stayed wired, but crashed in bed each night when my head hit the pillow. Missed the literacy signing cause RWA didn't notify me in time to order my books for the signing. Would have loved to do that. [gallery ids="6124,6123,6122,6121,6120"]
~ Deborah Blake [gallery ids="6051,6052,6053,6054"]

~ Callie Amo

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A Message from Chapter President, Alana Albertson

ab_28 - abnHi!!! I’m thrilled to be the newly elected president of RWA Contemporary Writers Chapter. In many ways, this is like coming home to me. A quick introduction. My name is Alana Albertson, I’m a best-selling author of New Adult Romantic suspense. I also write young adult romance and contemporary romance. I live in sunny San Diego, with my husband and two little boys. Before becoming a full time author, I ran a test-preparation college admissions counseling business. I was also a professional ballroom dancer. In my free time, I rescue shelter dogs. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without RWA, and more importantly, the earlier incarnation of this chapter, Chick Lit Writers. I joined in 2007, was runner up in the Stiletto contest in 2008, and was President of the chapter 2009-2010. But the interest in Chick Lit was waning, and out chapter struggled to stay relevant, despite the passion of our members. I had proposed changing our chapter to contemporary romance several times throughout my presidency but it was never approved. Writing is a solitary profession. We need a place to come together, share our joys and our disappointments, and bond over craft and concepts. RWA’s small chapters provide the support that authors need to succeed. I have big plans for our chapter—including expanding the Stiletto contest to include published authors, reestablishing our mentorship program, and throwing the best party at Nationals. I can’t wait to get to know all of you!! Happy Writing. Alana Alana Albertson is the author of the best-selling New Adult Romantic Suspense novel, Invincible (The Trident Code Book 1). She is the president of RWA Contemporary Romance Chapter (in its previous incarnation as the Chick Lit Chapter).  When she’s not running after her two young sons, she can be found binge watching Homeland and House Hunters with her husband. Keep up with her at