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Thread: To Join or Not to Join?

  1. #26
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    See? Jersey's got it's good points!

    I love the NJRW conference (unfortunately, I won't be going this year... but I WILL be there next year!)

    RWA's not all bad - and a lot of their bad points are, as you can see, dependent on perspective. But they aren't perfect, either. So, no one can say with 100% accuracy that yes, you should join or no, you should run like mad in the opposite direction. Some writers make it because of RWA, some don't and some have gone on to being NYT Bestsellers without RWA.
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  2. #27
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aglaia View Post
    Maybe this is a stupid question *blushes* but does one have to be a national member to attend? I got from the registration fees that you don't have to be a chapter member, but wasn't sure about national.

    If not, I might save my 100 bucks and beg for some early Christmas money to try to attend the conference. I can always join later...
    AFAIK, all are welcome to the NJRW conference. I don't think you need to be an RWA member.
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  3. #28
    Dreamer of dreams, teller of tales Absolute Sage Susan Gable's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    But they aren't perfect, either.
    Hell, no. They sure aren't.


    So, no one can say with 100% accuracy that yes, you should join or no, you should run like mad in the opposite direction. Some writers make it because of RWA, some don't and some have gone on to being NYT Bestsellers without RWA.
    Well said!

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  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    See? Jersey's got it's good points!

    I love the NJRW conference (unfortunately, I won't be going this year... but I WILL be there next year!)

    RWA's not all bad - and a lot of their bad points are, as you can see, dependent on perspective. But they aren't perfect, either. So, no one can say with 100% accuracy that yes, you should join or no, you should run like mad in the opposite direction. Some writers make it because of RWA, some don't and some have gone on to being NYT Bestsellers without RWA.

    I'm no longer a member, for reasons I won't bore you with, but used to go to the New Jersey and Harper's Ferry conferences. They were great!

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josie View Post
    Okay. Why does PAN have that $1,000 criterion as a measurement?
    The basic problem is -- RWA is not a published-writers-only organization or one where unpublished writers are non-voting 'associate' members. The determination of who can belong to PAN takes place within a membership where the huge majority are not eligible for PAN.

    Thus, much controversy in-house.

    The most recent PAN criterion -- this $1000 minimum -- is RWA making a distinction between commercial publication and what is, (however non-vanity and personally fulfilling it may be,) essentially non-commercial publication.


    Imposing a $1000 minimum, RWA sets entry standards equivalent to those of other writers organizations. Consider SFWA, MWA, NINC or AG -- just chosing at random. Their eligibility standards include lists of approved publishers and minimum advances of $1000 or $2000.

    Folks who think RWA-PAN should have lower standards than other writers organizations just puzzle me.
    Last edited by job; 08-21-2008 at 11:46 AM.

  6. #31
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aglaia View Post
    but does one have to be a national member to attend?
    I'm pretty sure you do have to be an RWA National member. The website will have an e-mail address for questions. You can check. Registration closes in early September, I think.

    I haven't gone to that one, but I know folks who have. NJ is one of the great regional conferences, with a huge contingent of agents and publishers every year.
    Last edited by job; 08-21-2008 at 11:48 AM.

  7. #32
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    In my experience, many RWA chapter conferences offer a discount on membership for chapter members, and sometimes a lower discount if an RWA member and then a higher price for those who aren't members of either group.

    It should all be in their advertising. I've always heard many many good things about the NJRW conferences and chapter, so I'm sure it would be worth it to go if you're interested.
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  8. #33
    practical experience, FTW Aglaia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by job View Post
    I'm pretty sure you do have to be an RWA National member. The website will have an e-mail address for questions. You can check. Registration closes in early September, I think.
    I noticed that yesterday and emailed, and you don't have to be a member, though as DeleyanLee noted, the price is higher. I'm registering today. Hooray, my first conference!

    Thanks again to all for the help. As I suspected, y'all are a font of information!

  9. #34
    practical experience, FTW Josie's Avatar
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    Well, I like RWA National and agree some things are better than others.

    I need a challenge so a bar of $1000 is a good thing.

    Years ago I was unemployed and things were bad around here. I happened to be on a separate small writers forum. Some of the women were members of RWA and kindly offered me letters of reference to apply for RWA membership at a discount. I got it.

    So I don't feel I should complain. Every club or organization has it's faults. It is run by human beings after all. I just want to look for the good things.

    Hopefully I won't get whacked across the head one day

    Cheers, Josie

  10. #35
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by job View Post
    The most recent PAN criterion -- this $1000 minimum -- is RWA making a distinction between commercial publication and what is, (however non-vanity and personally fulfilling it may be,) essentially non-commercial publication.
    But this distinction can suggest that small and e press pubs are vanity. See?


    Imposing a $1000 minimum, RWA sets entry standards equivalent to those of other writers organizations. Consider SFWA, MWA, NINC or AG -- just chosing at random. Their eligibility standards include lists of approved publishers and minimum advances of $1000 or $2000.

    Folks who think RWA-PAN should have lower standards than other writers organizations just puzzle me.
    It isn't lowering the standards. It's that it seemed like RWA changed them just as more epubs were attaining the ones already in place.

    See, look at it from this POV - RWA says if you're on their list of recognized publishers, you're PAN-eligible.

    Then Ellora's Cave earns recognition

    Then Triskelion earns recognition

    Loose-Id earns it

    Samhain earns it

    4 e-pubs earn recognition (which included selling x amount of books and not charging authors fees of any kind. The fee thing is what makes a vanity pub a vanity, whether it's upfront or backdoor.) They attain those original standards - which were good enough for a long time.

    And then, after years of RWA's list, they decide they need to revise it. It's kind of suspicious, isn't it?

    Soooo.... as I said, if I signed my contract on July 1, 2007, RWA considered me published and PAN-eligible.

    But if I signed it after - whoops... sorry... you aren't published enough.

    It isn't a matter of lowering standards. It looked very much like a way for RWA to make sure epub authors are not seen as equal to print pubbed authors. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised, if the time comes that epubs do offer advances in the thousands or epubbed authors reach that magical $1000 status, RWA decides their standards need to be revised again. Maybe that's cynical, but that's how it came across to me. And if you remember, at the time, RWA did a whole lot of backpedaling on what their new standards meant because epubs and epubbed authors called them on it.
    Last edited by Jersey Chick; 08-21-2008 at 10:17 PM.
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  11. #36
    She of Many Names Irysangel's Avatar
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    I joined RWA in January so I could get the discount for National. It made sense because Fee + National Discount = Same Price for Non-RWA Members.

    I haven't attended any of the meetings, not signed up for PAN or PRO (though I could) and I'm not in any chapters.

    That being said, I went to conference and had an absolute blast. Everyone was super nice and friendly and encouraged me to join my local chapter. I probably will, once I get off my lazy butt.

    So I'm not really getting anything out of my RWA membership (other than a free magazine every month) but when I was waiting to fly out to RWA, groups of women showed up for the flight, obviously all friends. They were all RWA members, and all passed out promo materials, chatted shop, and one was going to introduce her friend to her agent when she got to conference.

    That's what you get out of RWA - networking! People that talk shop! People you actually know when you go to conference! Because to be honest, you can find better information online than you could at Nationals (or probably even your local chapter). But the networking was priceless.
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  12. #37
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    I keep promising myself that someday, I will get to National. I'll have to wait until it comes back this way, though. I simply couldn't afford airfare, hotel, conference fee - not to mention I had no where to drop my kids for the time I'd be gone.
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  13. #38
    Dreamer of dreams, teller of tales Absolute Sage Susan Gable's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    I keep promising myself that someday, I will get to National. I'll have to wait until it comes back this way, though. I simply couldn't afford airfare, hotel, conference fee - not to mention I had no where to drop my kids for the time I'd be gone.
    It's in Washington DC next year.

    It's in NYC in 2011.

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  14. #39
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    It might have to wait until NYC. The youngest chick will be almost 6 by then...
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  15. #40
    She of Many Names Irysangel's Avatar
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    You know, I wasn't sure if I would get anything out of National. I already have a contract, and I had (at the time) an agent.

    But it was awesome and I made a ton of contacts. You really can't go wrong with going to National, IMO. It's just so beneficial to meet people if nothing else.
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  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    But this distinction can suggest that small and e press pubs are vanity. See?.
    Actually, I'd trust RWA members to know the difference. And the entry rules for PAN can't be predicated upon the possibility that somebody might fail to recognize this distinction.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    It isn't lowering the standards. It's that it seemed like RWA changed them just as more epubs were attaining the ones already in place.

    My own take on this is that RWA, faced with new technology and new business models, took a fair long while to think and argue and dither and disagree and seek consensus and test the winds before coming up with final guidelines.

    PAN eligibility is now ...

    "Any General or Honorary member who has earned at least $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published romance novel or novella published by a non-subsidy, non-vanity publisher may join PAN as a full member ..."


    This marks out a division between commercial and non-commercial publication, but does not discriminate between forms of publishing. E-publication, small press, POD, Kindle, huge New York print runs, or some model of publication as yet undreamed of, all operate under the same $$$ requirement.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    And then, after years of RWA's list, they decide they need to revise it. It's kind of suspicious, isn't it?
    Only my opinion here ...
    My guess is that at least some RWA members came to believe e-publication was easier to attain than print publication. It was thought that new writers who sought print publication were being unfairly discriminated against.

    The $1000 floor seemed an equitable way to level the playing field.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    Soooo.... as I said, if I signed my contract on July 1, 2007, RWA considered me published and PAN-eligible.
    But if I signed it after - whoops... sorry... you aren't published enough.

    It's unfortunate that any change in the rules may exclude folks who would formerly have been eligible. I mean -- heck -- what bad luck.
    Sometimes rules should be changed.
    But still ... heck.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    It isn't a matter of lowering standards. It looked very much like a way for RWA to make sure epub authors are not seen as equal to print pubbed authors.
    Again ... this is only my own take on this --
    but I'd think setting a single, simple, monetary standard for entry into PAN would establish the equality of PAN members, e-pub and print.

    Anyone in PAN will be assumed to have 'earned her way in'.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised, if the time comes that epubs do offer advances in the thousands or epubbed authors reach that magical $1000 status, RWA decides their standards need to be revised again.
    I'd expect the $1000 amount will rise with inflation.

    And I'd expect the RWA-PAN standards to change with new technology and remain roughly in line with other writers organizations.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    ... if you remember, at the time, RWA did a whole lot of backpedaling on what their new standards meant because epubs and epubbed authors called them on it.
    As something of an RWA veteran, I am almost certain backpeddling, dithering, confusion, self-contradiction and general running-about-like-chickens-without-heads will remain standard operating procedure in all phases of RWA.
    Last edited by job; 08-22-2008 at 03:45 AM.

  17. #42
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aglaia View Post
    I noticed that yesterday and emailed, and you don't have to be a member, though as DeleyanLee noted, the price is higher. I'm registering today. Hooray, my first conference!
    I'm glad I was wrong about needing to join RWA. So cool.

    I hope you enjoy NJRW. I don't exactly wish I were going -- not so soon after National -- but it does sound like fun.

  18. #43
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by job View Post
    Actually, I'd trust RWA members to know the difference. And the entry rules for PAN can't be predicated upon the possibility that somebody might fail to recognize this distinction.
    I trust that they do as well, but that really isn't the point. The point is whether or not their words were intentionally or unintentionally misleading. Did they backpedal because they really didn't mean the changes to come across as they did, or did they do it because they hadn't counted on anyone calling them out?

    I know some of it had to do with the Trisk mess - but one can't help but wonder if there wasn't a hint of "Oh, good - now we have a legitimate reason.

    My own take on this is that RWA, faced with new technology and new business models, took a fair long while to think and argue and dither and disagree and seek consensus and test the winds before coming up with final guidelines.
    Maybe, maybe not. Only those in the know can say yea or nay.

    PAN eligibility is now ...

    "Any General or Honorary member who has earned at least $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published romance novel or novella published by a non-subsidy, non-vanity publisher may join PAN as a full member ..."


    This marks out a division between commercial and non-commercial publication, but does not discriminate between forms of publishing. E-publication, small press, POD, Kindle, huge New York print runs, or some model of publication as yet undreamed of, all operate under the same $$$ requirement.
    Of course not - could you imagine the uproar if it did? But take a look at the epubs who had RWA Approved Recognition - the advances are small, if any. So RWA already knows the chances are small that those authors will qualify on that.

    Okay, now, see how many epub books make it onto store shelves? Not many. Okay - RWA knows there is one outlet where author sales are most likely not going to compete with, say, an Avon author.

    So, when you take it apart, it does look a little like RWA used Trisk as an excuse to make it more difficult - but not impossible, because that would be too easily determined - for epubs.

    Only my opinion here ...
    My guess is that at least some RWA members came to believe e-publication was easier to attain than print publication. It was thought that new writers who sought print publication were being unfairly discriminated against.
    And depending on the epublisher, they were absolutely correct. But, the ones who were already okay in RWA's eyes? What happened to make RWA suddnenly question them?

    The $1000 floor seemed an equitable way to level the playing field.
    Sure - if all epub offered advances and had bookstore placement, it would be level. But when those avenues are not necessarily so (though a few epubs are attaining store placement now, so that's likely to change in a relatively short time)

    Entry to PAN no longer depends upon,
    'Can you get published by a company that also publishes commercial books?'
    but
    'Can you, yourself, get published with a book that makes money?'
    I get what RWA claims was the reasoning behind the change - and I don't doubt that it's part of it. However, I still doubt very much that it's the only reason as well.

    It's unfortunate that any change in the rules may exclude folks who would formerly have been eligible.
    Still ... sometimes rules should be changed.
    Yes, they should. But for the right reason and not necessarily to keep the "unfavorables" out - which is kind of how epublishing is seen.

    Again ... this is only my own take on this --
    but I'd think setting a single, simple, monetary standard for entry into PAN would establish the equality of PAN members, e-pub and print.

    Anyone in PAN will be assumed to have 'earned her way in'.
    Wasn't that already the assumption, though?

    I'd expect the $1000 amount will rise with inflation.
    Probably

    And I'd expect the RWA-PAN standards to change with new technology and remain roughly in line with other writers organizations.


    As something of an RWA veteran, I am almost certain backpeddling, dithering, confusion, self-contradiction and general running-about-like-chickens-without-heads will remain standard operating procedure in all phases of RWA.
    I'd be surprised if it didn't. I've been a member for a long time as well.

    Anyway, this is all stuff for another thread. But for anyone who is up in the air about whether or not to join, it's important that they know that the organization that they support might not entirely support them back. That's all. Hey, I'm still a member, even though I have my reservations about their motives...
    Last edited by Jersey Chick; 08-22-2008 at 04:01 AM.
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  19. #44
    ... Sakamonda's Avatar
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    I'm an RWA member (and a PAN member of RWA based on my advances paid by legit book publishers) and I have no intention at this point of renewing my dues after this year. I have been thoroughly unimpressed by how the organization treats its published members (the vast majority of RWA members are unpublished and always will be), and after attending only one local chapter meeting I was horrified by how mean, nasty, and condescending the membership was towards new members----even though I was a published author and PAN-eligible from the beginning. My literary agent has also commented how bitchy so much of the membership is when she has attended RWA conferences, so I know it's not just me. I was treated like a leper by my local chapter because I a) write erotica; and b) needed to breastfeed my infant son during a meeting---something which is protected by law in my state. I was pretty much told never to come back to a meeting, and I never have, and never will.

    You don't need RWA to be a successful, published author in this genre. If anything, it won't help you much at all. I have found it's an organization populated by mean, nasty, self-important, UNPUBLISHED authors. Others may have other, better experiences, but I don't personally know anybody who does.

    RWA is also extremely conservative. They are openly hostile to erotica writers as well as writers of gay and lesbian romance, and even tried to pass organizational provisions that defined the romance genre as books with romantic storylines between "ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN." Smacks of the anti-gay-marriage right wing.
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  20. #45
    practical experience, FTW Crinklish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakamonda View Post
    after attending only one local chapter meeting I was horrified by how mean, nasty, and condescending the membership was towards new members....I was treated like a leper by my local chapter...
    RWA is also extremely conservative. They are openly hostile to erotica writers as well as writers of gay and lesbian romance, and even tried to pass organizational provisions that defined the romance genre as books with romantic storylines between "ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN." Smacks of the anti-gay-marriage right wing.
    It sounds a bit like your issues are due more to the qualities of the local chapter you joined, rather than the entire organization. Being nasty to new members certainly doesn't seem like a great strategy for growing one's chapter, but I know many areas have multiple chapters, so perhaps there's another group that would be more welcoming to you.

    On the matter of the one man/one woman hoopla, I seem to recall that although that proposition was placed before the members, it was roundly opposed by the bulk of the group (and led to the most interesting "Letters to the Editor" columns I'd ever seen in RWR!). RWA veterans can correct me if I'm misremembering here.

  21. #46
    ~writes for Him~ Robin Bayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakamonda View Post
    nd never will.

    You don't need RWA to be a successful, published author in this genre. If anything, it won't help you much at all. I have found it's an organization populated by mean, nasty, self-important, UNPUBLISHED authors..


    That's true, and if you are published you are expected to give back--by speaking, advising, critiquing, etc. Which is fine if you have been helped along the way and want to give back to that community, but if they have treated you poorly, why would you?

  22. #47
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakamonda View Post
    RWA is also extremely conservative. They are openly hostile to erotica writers as well as writers of gay and lesbian romance, and even tried to pass organizational provisions that defined the romance genre as books with romantic storylines between "ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN." Smacks of the anti-gay-marriage right wing.
    This is probably OT, but I find this accusation rather offensive. As a member who voted for the Man/Woman definition of Genre Romance, I can tell you that it has nothing to do with my support of gay-marriage/rights and everything to do with what I want to read when I pick up a Genre Romance novel. When I'm in the mood for a homo-erotic/relationship novel, that's what I pick up. They're not interchangeable, nor do I think they should be. It's a distinctly different market without, from limited resources I have, too little cross-over to warrant merging the two.
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  23. #48
    Eternal Lurker smlgr8's Avatar
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    Actually I don't believe RWA uses the "one woman, one man" definition.

    Their definitions of the romance genre are ambiguous and say things such as "the lovers" if you look at their site.

    In addition, having been a member for years I believe they decided they would not use that definition after much member uproar.

    Just noticed Crinklish's post, and yes, that was my understanding as well. That the majority of RWA members did not vote for the one man, one woman definition, and it was quite an uproar
    Last edited by smlgr8; 08-22-2008 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Adding additional info

  24. #49
    Eternal Lurker smlgr8's Avatar
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    I've been a member for I think 13 years and for the most part I've liked the experience. I've been to three national conferences and loved them. Wish they were more affordable.

    I don't belong to local chapters but I do belong to Hearts Through History and Passionate Ink Chapters and find them, for the most part, quite welcoming and supportive.

  25. #50
    ... Sakamonda's Avatar
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    The "one man, one woman" issue is not necessarily a homosexuality issue. Those of us who write erotica/erotic romance often have our main characters having sex with more than one person during the narrative, even if there is a final HEA with the 2 main characters. That's the biggest problem I had with it.

    And gay-themed romance (which has HEAs and all other elements of traditional romance except the main characters being of the same gender) is getting to be a big seller. Why exclude those authors if not because of prejudice. Even tho the membership ended up voting against the "one man, one woman" definition, that doesn't change the fact that a big portion of the RWA bigwigs are openly hostile to certain types of well-published writers.

    Based on some PMs I've gotten I may look into one of the "Published Author Only" chapters. The Chicago North chapter, which treated me so badly, is mostly made up of unpublished writers who seem hostile to new members who are also published right from the get-go. I haven't been to National so I can't comment on how the National convention is, but I do know that when I complained about the nasty treatment I got at Chicago North to National, they pretty much just shrugged and said there was nothing they could do.
    www.jamaicalayne.com, http://jamaicalayne.blogspot.com
    www.ravenousromance.com

    MARKET FOR LOVE now available; Buy it here.

    [Jamaica Layne] has built a multifaceted writing career, in genres ranging from theater to erotic fiction"---Chicago Tribune

    "Layne sucks you in and doesn't let go until the last page."--Love Romance Passion.com

    "Once you read Jamaica Layne, she will be on your auto-buy list."----Dirty Girl Reviews, on MARKET FOR LOVE

    4 Stars!----Romantic Times Magazine

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