When and how did the Alaska Chapter of Romance Writers of America (AKRWA) form here in Alaska? Tell us about your current membership.
The Alaskan chapter formed in 1990. We’re a little group with diverse backgrounds and interests. We have 21 registered members currently, and are always open for more. Our Alaskan members come from Homer, Dillingham, Anchorage, Chugiak, and some from the Mat-Su Valley. We’re pretty much everywhere.
How do you define romance writing? What all might be included under the category?
I think romance is a story that involves love interest as part of the plot. Easy. Succinct. And it’s crossing all genres anymore. The definition given on the RWA website states that two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.
There are so many sub-genres involved under the umbrella of romance. There’s contemporary (including chick-lit), historical, paranormal, fantasy/science fiction, young adult, gay/lesbian, and erotica. And these all have sub-sub categories.
What kinds of activities does AKRWA provide for its members to develop their writing skills?
The Alaska chapter is a great resource for anyone contemplating the world of writing and getting published. We have such a diverse, informed, educated, and experienced pantheon of literary-minded members that it's amazing. There's no way to quantify the synergy that comes from being around like-minded individuals bursting with creative fervor. We also have a retreat every fall that takes us out of our real lives so we can be focused on writing 24/7 if we want.
To be a member of the Alaska Romance Writers Association, you first need to be a member of the Romance Writers of America. There are more than 10,000 members. RWA is a great resource in the ever-changing world of publishing, and offers chapters to join with members of like interests. A lot of the chapters sponsor contests, offer critique partnering, and the RWA holds an annual conference that attracts more than 2,000 attendees.
I joined the local chapter the moment I heard of it, and I'm immensely grateful that I did. We're always welcoming new members.
According to the Business of Consumer Book Publishing in 2011, the largest share of the US consumer market in 2010 was romance fiction. Tell us about some of the Alaska Chapter's recent publishing successes.
Of the 21 members, we're closing in on a 50 percent published rate, and I'm not including the amazing world that's opening in self-publishing.
Boone Brux of Anchorage published Shield of Fire with Entangled Publishing. Jennifer Bernard fron Homer is presently with William Morrow AVON books. She writes contemporary romance, including a series called the "Bachelor Firemen" novels, and was featured in an Anchorage Daily News story recently. Tielle St. Clare has published more than 35 books and stories. Her latest is part of the Wolf's Heritage series. Former AKRWA president Lizbeth Selvig, who now lives in Minnesota, saw her first book come out in March with HarperCollins. George Guthridge from Dillingham had published more than 70 short stories and five novelists, and been a finalist for the Hugo Award, before gaining finalist status in the Romance Writer Award chapter contests. Maxine Mansfield is another of our debut authors, whose first book in a series of five came out this month through Wild Rose Press. Morgan Quinn O'Reilly of Anchorage has several titles available through Lyrical Press and others.
And there's me, Jackie Ivie. I'm with Kensington Publishing and write Highland historical romances. My next is due out in September an titled A Perfect Knight for Love. I'm currently up for Best Historical Romance 2012, and the best anthology in the 2012 Booksellers Best Awards.
The Alaska Chapter of Romance Writers of America meets at Title Wave Books, 1360 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Anchorage, on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 PM. Interested persons can attend three meetings before deciding whether or not to join.