Do All Roads Lead to Kristan Higgins?

Happy Wednesday!  Suze here, shoving V out of the way so I can share a guest with you today.  As part of our continuing theme of finding a writing community, please welcome Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America (CTRWA) Membership Chair/Secretary, Jennifer Iszkiewicz, who writes erotic romance under the name Mara McDaniels.  Here’s what Jennifer has to say:

Jennifer Iszkiewicz writing as Mara McDaniels
Several years ago, there was an article on Kristan Higgins in the Record Journaland my friend and coworker brought the article to work for me.  “I just thought you’d be interested, since I know how badly you want to write,” she said.  “Hooray and thank you!”  I replied.

Admittedly, I didn’t know who Kristan was at the time but the article discussed her trajectory  from copy editor to on-the-rise romance goddess, as well as her participation in a local writing group, the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America – CTRWA.  As it turned out, the group met once a month at the hotel right next door to where I was working!

“This IS serendipitous,” I thought.  “After months, years, of writing with only my closest friends as sounding boards, could this be the group of peers I’ve been looking for?”

It was.  Though walking into that first meeting was bloody nerve-wracking, Kristan, as acting President, and everybody else in the group of about 30, put me at such ease that I knew I was home.    Shirley Webb invited me to sit with her in the restaurant and they all took an interest in what I was doing!  I learned that Shirley wrote Young Adult, while another preferred Paranormal.  The fact that I talked about erotica and didn’t cause anybody to blush like a vestal virgin was very reassuring.

CTRWA took precedence on my calendar and I set off for the meetings, knowing I was going to learn more about writing than my pea-sized brain was equipped to handle but I went anyway!  Through rain, sleet and snow…  Eventually my enthusiasm landed me on the Board of Directors and I’m proud to say I’ve been part of the decision making for a group that has grown to over 100 and is truly committed to seeing its membership succeed in their writing endeavors.  A success for one is lauded by all.

What started out as a reprieve from my solitary writer’s existence means much more, years later.  It allows me to commiserate with fellow writers over the trials and tribulations along the road to publication, while introducing me to cool people from all over the state (and beyond) that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  I have participated in the mentorship program, met Eloisa James, pitched my babies to editors and agents and made great friendships that extend beyond monthly meetings.

If you haven’t found a local writer’s group or started a critique group with a few like-minded people, I encourage you to do so.  Just when you think you’ve hit the wall or may go numb trying to come up with another way to describe (blank) –  think Gene Rayburn from Match Game —

somebody always has a nugget to get you over that hump.  Or, they imbibe you with enough chocolate and/or booze that you forget you had a problem in the first place!   Happy Writing!

Thanks, Jen/Mara! Scribe followers, what other professional organizations do you belong to?  Do they complement your writing? 


21 thoughts on “Do All Roads Lead to Kristan Higgins?”

  1. Yes – all roads do lead to Kristan Higgins! Kristan and all the members of CT RWA are the nicest, most supportive bunch of folks I have ever met. I’m so glad to share their company. Great post Jennifer. Thanks for being our guest today.

  2. Nice to see your smiling face, Jen. We’ve missed you at the meetings. Kristan was also my first encounter with CTRWA and the professionalism and kindness she showed me, made me feel immediately at home. I’m so grateful that she is a part of our group. And I love Shirley Webb. We must get her to do a guest post for us. She has been wonderfully successful in her YA novels and I’m sure she has some golden nuggets for us about her journey. I’ll get on that…

    Thanks for being here Jen/Mara. Can’t wait to see your books on my Nook! Keep writing that steamy stuff we all love to read:-)

    1. PJ, thanks for your support! The fact that you travel so far for a writer’s group and manage your own website and write a blog with a bunch of cool chicks (Scribes, represent!) – oh, and have a life – shows how committed you are to what you’re doing. Plus, you’re always willing to lend an ear. Continued success on HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES and all your future endeavors!

    1. Thanks, Katy! I can’t resist a smiley face and slightly sarcastic sense of humor – you! Fortunately I haven’t smothered you yet…yet 🙂

  3. Great to see you here, Jen. Love the picture of you all bundled up and looking toasty. I totally agree that the charm of this chapter is the generosity and friendliness of members like Kristan and Shirley.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Rhonda, can you tell I’ve been itching for Fall? You are so supportive of all the members and always offering up nuggets – wishing you continued success & national recognition on – tell them you want a full cask next time!

  4. Jen, totally agree with you that joining the chapter, finding other like-minded people has been a blessing. I look forward to our monthly meetings – if though it means getting up at 630 am on a Saturday for me. It doesn’t matter because the rewards is worth every lost moment of sleep. I come away from our meetings feel energized and full of enthusiasm for my writing again. Our chapter members are fantastic! My first encounter with a member was actually with Jessica Andersen at an RT event. She told me about the group and invited me to check them out. I walked in feeling completely unsure and within minutes Shaunee Cole, Karen Pinco and Jennifer Fusco made me feel like I’d belonged forever. And, the welcome just kept coming from everyone else I met and talked with. Kristan & I didn’t meet till RWA in Florida and she pulled me into her circle and made me feel like I belonged. What an amazingly generous group of people we have.

    I highly recommend to any writer out there who is currently going at it on their own to find a writers group in their area and check it out. You’d be amazed at the level of support they’ll provide and the heights they will help you soar to.

    Thanks for sharing your story here.

    1. Thanks for sharing yours, Gail. You’ve become a very important part of the group who goes out of her way to make everybody feel welcome.

  5. Hi Jen/Mara,
    Great to see you here. The first time I went to CTRWA, it happened to be Fiction Fest (2010). I walked in like a wide eyed kid in the big city. Overwhelmed by all the authors who were actually published! WOW. Then I got to know them all, and found them to be a great bunch of helpful, supportive people. Not only do I continue to learn from everyone there, but I also have made a lot of friends. You included. Nice pic, by the way.

    1. Aww, you’re so sweet, Ger! So glad you found your way to Fiction Fest and you’ve jumped into CTRWA with both feet! Can’t wait to read the completed product of your fascinating story and good luck with all your blogging, too! Smooches.

  6. It’s always great to be embraced by fellow writers and the fact that several of you had similar stories – that people made you feel so welcomed and supported in this very competitive community – shows what warm-hearted people writers are! Besides being awesome (obviously), they can tap into the hours of isolation the work requires, while knowing that networking is intrinsic to success. For anybody who hasn’t found a group, they don’t know what they’re missing.

  7. Joining CTRWA has been the best ride into the magical land of writing. Everyone is warm, considerate and supportive. Ditto Jen I “For anybody who hasn’t found a group, they don’t know what they’re missing.”

  8. Okay, like minded is one thing…but seriously? I loved Match Game as a kid. I didn’t usually get the joke, but I loved that Charles Nelson Reilly! “My wife is so bad, (How bad is she?) she’s so bad, that she never has a blank.”

  9. Great Post, Jennifer/Mara! Thanks for being here today, and thanks to everyone who commented. CTRWA is an incredible group of very, very supportive and talented people. Love you all!

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