Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wordcraft -- Romance is in the air, on the page

Dropping in on last weekend’s RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention reminded me that maybe I’ve been shortchanging writers (and readers) of romantic fiction on these posts. This year’s convention in Dallas hosted nearly a thousand authors, and several thousands of readers and fans. Avid fans filled the author signings to near gridlock.

And while recent polls have found that nearly a quarter of Americans never read a book (not even on the internet or in audio form), and that more than half of us read no more than five books annually (including those never-readers), the majority of people who read romance chug through at least one book a month, per readership statistics posted by Romance Writers of America. It’s not unheard of for avid romance readers to read several books a week. For authors, truly there’s gold to be mined in writing for such generous readers.

If there’s a downside to such a market, it’s that feeding it means writing as generously as its readers read. Romance writers I’ve talked to think nothing of publishing several books a year. Say half a dozen books a year at approximately 60,000 words and you’ve got yourself a fulltime writing fix. Fortunately, there are support groups for that.

North Texas boasts three not for profit chapters of romance writers: Dallas Area Romance Writers (DARA) meeting monthly in Richardson, North Texas Romance Writers of America based in Colleyville, and Yellow Rose Romance Writers in Grapevine. All chapters require co-membership in the national Romance Writers of America (RWA). All provide monthly meetings and newsletters to educate their members on the craft and business of romance writing.

Dallas Area Romance Authors, or DARA (Chapter 56 of RWA) meets the fourth Saturday of each month (that’s this Saturday, May 23) in the Richardson Civic Center, 411 W. Arapaho Road. Meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Parks Room. This Saturday, two editors from Harlequin visit via Skype for a submission blitz. DARA dues are $45 annually. For information, see DARA.

North Texas Romance Writers (Chapter 33 of RWA) meets the third Saturday of each month at La Hacienda Ranch Restaurant, 5250 Highway 121, in Colleyville, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Lunch optional.) Not sure it’s for you? Visit twice before you need to make a decision to join. Annual dues are $30, prorated for mid-year joiners.

Yellow Rose Romance Writers (chapter 188 of RWA) meet the second Saturday of each month at the City of Grapevine, Merlot Room, 4500 Merlot Avenue, from 10 a.m. – noon, with optional lunch afterward at the Cotton Patch Café. Annual membership dues are $25. Guests are welcome to visit three times before joining.

Although the chapters and parent organization Romance Writers of America are non-profit organizations, dues are not deductible as charitable contributions, but may be deductible as business expenses.

Besides these RWA-associated chapters, there’s also Plano-based popular literature organization Fresh Fiction, with reviews and events designed to connect readers and writers. Although Fresh Fiction doesn’t limit itself to romance books, it is heavily oriented to romance, with annual events “Boas and Tiaras” (June) and “Readers ‘n’ ritas” (November) that are magnets for romance readers and authors. And for would-be writers looking for professional connections, the November 2015 “Readers ‘n’ ritas” will include guest Candace Havens, an editor for the romance imprint Entangled.

Oh, and that RT book fair whose appearance opened this discussion? Visit RT Book Reviews to subscribe to its hundreds of reviews in each monthly issue, or try a sample copy for free.

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