Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW) is my local chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and these writers help other writers. Romance writers not part of the local chapter help other writers when they present a writing topic after the business meeting concludes. Members help each other, critiquing pieces to make them stronger. It’s easier to edit another writer’s work than it is to edit my own, and I’ve been an editor (and copy editor and proofreader). After online writer friends critiqued my romance “Stolen Heart, Stolen Will, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference,” I honed it and began shopping it around. An earlier draft took first in my heat in Round 2 of the 2016 New York City Midnight Short Story Challenge, and showed me that though I’d never considered writing romance, I should step out of my comfort zone. That story is why I’ve checked out COFW.
I’d heard about COFW from writer friend Karin Shah. She hooked me on her Chimera Chronicles, which follow the Mara brothers, separated when they were young, and knowing little to nothing about each other based on their age at separation. They can change forms into dragon and lion—but even in their human form, they pack a mean punch. The clock ticks, for they will go feral if they don’t find their mate in time.
A week ago, COFW hosted “Market Day,” where six local authors presented their experiences within publishing—whether self published, small-press published, NYT Bestsellers (now that is an accolade), agent-represented, sans agent, and any other combination. As our moderator said, dozens of the COFW members could have sat on the panel, given how many are published.
During their stories we laughed, commiserated, and cheered. Karen Harper spoke about her new South Shore trilogy and the marketing strategy—the publisher held the first two back so that the books could be released every other month. Good for readers, not so good for the writer who has to wait for that finished copy. After jumping on-line to read more about the books, I know what’s going on my birthday list!
Karin Shah shared her story of slow progress breaking into print, then success thanks to a friendship. Her beta readers in COFW loved Blood and Kisses, but publishers rejected her. Then, her friend and editor, Deborah Gilbert, decided to launch her own press, Soul Mate Publishing, and snapped up Shah’s book.
In the audience, we nodded. The barrage of rejection letters, whether from book publishers or agents or journal editors, is the “trial by fire” that comes when we think our stories and books are “done” well enough and we send them into the world. In reality, we’d work on them forever, but at some point we have to cut the piece loose and see if it resonates with an agent or publisher.
Thanks to all of these writers who presented during Market Day, with additional thanks to COFW, from whom I’ve copied these descriptions:
- Becky Barker: “award winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense who has published works with multiple publishers (Harlequin, Kensington, Samhain, Dell and more) as well as Indie publishing her own work.”
- Robin Gianna: “author of category romances for Harlequin’s Medical line.”
- Karen Harper: “NYT and USA Today Best-selling author of historical fiction and contemporary romance. Karen has been traditionally published with Harlequin and other publishers for over 30 years.”
- Susan Gee Heino: “award winning author of witty historical romances, both traditionally published with Berkley Publishing and Indie-Published too.”
- Donna MacMeans: “award winning author of historical romances, as well as suspense. Donna is traditionally published with Berkley, e-pubbed with Samhain and has self-published too.”
- Karin Shah: “author of paranormal romances for e-publishers, Samhain and Soul Mate Publishing.”
Learn about Writing at Monthly COFW Meetings
If you’re a writer local to central Ohio, come to a COFW meeting and see if they’re a fit. The first hour is business, and the next two hours are a program. I may only be testing my wings in romance, but the first two programs have been beneficial. In fact, they’d be beneficial regardless of what I’m writing. Upcoming presenters sound fabulous. Take a look at February’s Meeting or March’s special day-long event in German Village ($10 for non-COFW members).
Once you’ve come out to a meeting or two, be brave and talk with members, and see whether this may be a writing “tribe” that works for you. Each author I’ve spoken with has made me feel right at home. Being an introvert, I cherish that. Sure, I know we have writing in common, but I also have to feel like I have something in common with the writers as people. November, the first meeting I attended, one of the members wore the skull scarf she had crocheted. I loved it!
This January meeting, when I started to join into a conversation about membership recruitment (me being a prospective member and all), others spoke at the same time. I fell silent. During the next lull, an author behind me, Robin Gianna, encouraged me to speak.
I added another mark in the “pro” column for joining COFW. When I left at the conclusion of the program, another writer asked, “will we see you again?” That led to a side-conversation, and we chatted about what we’re working on. Yep, I’ve joined as an “Associate Member,” hefty fee for RWA and all.
Come check out COFW at their next meeting, Saturday, February 18th, in Hilliard, Ohio. The topic is “Simplify and Thrive: Declutter your Career,” where author Donna Alward will present how you market yourself as an author while still finding time to write your books. Given that I’m struggling with that balance across my Facebook page, this author page, and twitter (@SEHBicycle), I’ll be learning from her—and there’s even more once you become published, like book tours and giveaways and Facebook parties.
There you go, writers, helping writers. Thank you, Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW), for the impact you’ve had on the Ohio writing landscape since 1987.
How has someone helped you? If you’re a writer, have you found a like-minded tribe to support you, push you, cheer for you? I’d love to hear your stories.