I'm the membership chair of a RWA Chapter--#207 Passionate Ink.
Passionate Ink began amid some controversy. It's the first RWA chapter devoted to writers of erotic romance. Please note I said "erotic romance," not "erotica" or "porn." There is a very large difference.
In May, 2005, I joined a group of writers looking for a place to discuss erotic romance. After much conversation and thought, we agreed to create a formal organization and to apply for membership as a chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA).
RWA began twenty-five years ago when thirty-seven romance writers, tired of getting "no respect" from their peers, decided to unite. The RWA founders wanted to have a voice in an industry which, up to that point, had largely ignored the romance genre. From that inauspicious beginning, a juggernaut was born.
If you're not a romance writer, it's hard to imagine the size and clout of RWA today. The organization has almost 9,500 members around the world with nearly one in every five a published author. The RWA website reports that 65 million Americans read romances last year and that the genre accounted for 55% of ALL paperbacks published. That's ALL paperbacks published (including non-fiction, mysteries, sci fi, etc.)
One of RWA's goals has been to develop a reputation as an organization of serious professionals. They want to move away from the image of writing "bodice rippers." For this reason, the trend toward erotic romance has been a troubling one for them. Many long-time RWA members see eroromance as inappropriate and as a threat to the new respect the romance industry has earned.
As a writer, I find erotic romance a logical step forward--away from blushing virgins and action that stops at the bedroom door.
Passionate Ink organized in May, 2005 and made application to become a chapter in June, 2005. By that time, we had almost 250 members. The RWA National office was shocked by the large group of women knocking on their door. It took a month but, since we had dotted our i's and crossed our t's, there really was no good reason to deny our application. In July, 2005, we became a chapter.
I'm excited about our prospects. All of the major publishers now have or have planned erotic romance lines. I'm looking forward to the possibilities and potentials out there. I'm happy to be associated with a group of hard-working, hard-playing professionals who really enjoy what they do. It's a nice place to be.