So I finally sucked it up and shelled out the cash to join the Romance Writers of America. It's one of the largest and most powerful writers' organizations in the United States, and super-cushy with almost all the major publishing houses. What kept me away from it for awhile was the fact that it's pricey to join ($100!!!!!) and the fact that when you join, you're only joining the National Chapter. You've got to put out more money (though not nearly as much) to join the local chapter or any of the special interest chapters like Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal. Not to mention that I have issues with an organization that sanctions a sub-genre based on race (Arabesque or African-American Romance is considered a sub-genre). But going with the idea that change is more effective from the inside, I've decided to join, because as a member (theoretically) I get a say in their policies, and for the power this organization wields, that's a lot. They also offer numerous networking opportunities for published and unpublished authors, agents and editors, and as networking is invaluable to nearly any career, well on the advice of authors like Sunny I figured I'd give it a shot (even if it is a financially painful shot for this poor grad student; hey its an investment right?).
Investing further in my writing career, I'm going to the Southampton Writers' Conference held at Stony Brook this week. Last night, I got to see one of my favorite authors, E.L. Doctorow speak. Of course I ended up buying another copy of Ragtime for him to sign, and City of God which I haven't read yet. The conference is definitely features authors of a much more highbrow literary persuasion, like Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Billy Collins and Frank McCourt but I hope to be able to pick up some good tips and info to the writing craft. (Plus I'm able to attend because of a student discount which made attending this conference a steal: Thank you anonymous donor who made this possible!)