In early 2002, four romance writers—Jean C. Gordon, Tracey Lyons, Bonnie Hazard, and Karen Larson—met at the East Greenbush Community Library to discuss forming an Albany-area Romance Writers of America chapter. By March, they had filed the necessary paperwork to Romance Writers of America and New York State and formed a chapter board with Tracey as president, Bonnie as vice president, Jean as treasurer, and Karen as secretary. With a first meeting set for April 13, 2002, the Capital Region Romance Writers of America (CR-RWA) was born. The board invited all of the RWA members in the greater Albany area. Ten of the invited writers attending that meeting joined the chapter. Two of these charter members, and one of the founding members, still belong.
A year later, the chapter had grown to 40 members, and over the years, its membership has fluctuated between 25 and 50 members. The chapter was ready to host its first writers’ conference (Friday, June 13-Saturday, June 14, 2003) with multi-published author Jo Ann Ferguson as the Saturday workshop presenter. Other conference presenters in the early years included Maggie Shayne, Anne Stuart, Carla Neggers, Angela Knight, and Annette Blair. The annual conference became the chapter’s current all-day workshop, held on alternating years.
As many chapters did in the early 2000s, CR-RWA had a paper chapter newsletter. With the advent of social media, the newsletter gave way to RWA email listservs, a Facebook chapter page and member group, and Twitter and Instagram chapter accounts.
CR-RWA originally celebrated first-book sales with a cake and had a welcome back meeting in September, since the chapter didn’t meet in July or August. Published authors were acknowledged at the September meeting. These earlier practices have evolved into the chapter’s current member-recognition event in December, where all members are acknowledged and rewarded for their accomplishments during the year.
While the faces and practices have changed over the years, one thing has stayed the same. The dedication of the Capital Region Romance Writers of America’s dedication to our mission to promote excellence in romantic fiction and foster mutual support among members on the road to publication and to careers in romantic fiction.