Many of you know that I belong to Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, my local chapter of the larger trade association for romance writers, Romance Writers of America.
For my third interview here at A Piece of My Mind, I have Nikki Figueiredo, past president of RWAC. Kick back and let's find out what lurks behind the glamour of taking on the lead role for a group of On-Fiyah Creative People Who Cannot be Stopped.
1 – When did you begin writing fiction?
I began writing after I saw Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. I always had stories in my head, but that movie actually made me write them down. I couldn't shake that character. And there were more than a few scenes with a Mr. Darcy doppelganger in them, I'm not afraid to say. And the characters might have had to swim in a lake with their shirts on ... purely coincidence though.
2 – What prompted you to join RWAC?
I love the book The Alchemist and it speaks to me with regards to 'finding your destiny' and how the universe will show you signs when you're ready to see them (I know, putting down the incense now ...). Shortly after I started writing my Mr. Darcy rip-off stories I saw a poster for a presentation on 'How to get your romance novel published', and so I stopped by and was floored by how many other people were there. I signed up for the free visit to the Sunday meeting and was hooked. It was the best decision I ever made!
3 – What made you decide to serve in the executive?
I'm a firm believer in 'you get what you give'. If you give your time the universe will pay you back somehow (okay, I lied earlier when I said the incense was being put away, but really, I mean it this time.)
4 – When was your term as RWAC prez?
I served as President for 2008 and 2009. I'd been on the executive before and I was nervous to take on a role that's so important, but I'm glad I did. I learned so much about the organization!
5 – How did your work as chapter president affect your writing?
That's a good question - how did it affect my writing? When I think about those 2 years I realize I've learned to listen a lot more. I'm a very 'take charge-y' kind of person, but when you're working with so many personalities you tend to listen to what people are saying a lot more. And when you're listening, you're learning .. I think it made me better at observing others. Make no mistake - I'm still 'take charge-y' though (and I want this entire blog post written in Times New Roman 14pt ... kay?)
6 – Were there any major events during your term? How did you approach them?
During my term as presidency there were a couple of significant events:
a) RWA decided to have all chapters rewrite their bylaws to be consistent. This meant every page of legalese had to be reviewed and rewritten. It was tiring, but I certainly learned how my chapter works after that!
b) Our chapter never had a full "Policies and Procedures" manual. We had pieces, but during my last term we made it a mission to complete a full manual - and I have to say it turned out great. It's a valuable tool for new executive members to learn the ropes quickly.
c) The Harlequin decision (participating in self-publshing) happened during my last few months as president. This was a polarizing event for RWA members and I found it tough to know when to put my opinion out there (which was quite different from most) and when to just listen. I put my "Step Aside or I'll Run Over You With My Take Charge-y-ness" t-shirt in the drawer for most of that period ...
7 – How many published authors did our chapter have when you started your term? And how many were there when you finished? Was this expected? A crazy dream?
I think there were only 4 or 5 published authors when I started and by the end there were about 10. I attribute it to my skills as a leader and to the fact that 5 extra people wrote great stories and had the persistence to get themselves published ... but mostly to my skills as a leader. They couldn't have gotten there without those crisp new bylaws!! :)
Seriously though, we have such a close-knit group and so many published authors who are willing to help the unpublished, that the numbers of newly published has grown so quickly these last few years in comparison to our size.
8 – What would you say to RWA members who may have considered serving on their chapters’ executives but haven’t quite made that step yet?
Volunteer! Remember, you get what you give back, and the time it takes to help out your chapter ensures that those resources that lift you up and inspire you to write, stick around. Many people think that if they don't volunteer someone else will, and that's true, but you miss that opportunity to network, to learn and to push yourself.
9 – How did you find RWA National and their executive? Were they easy to interact with?
I primarily dealt with RWA through a chapter liaison who was so terrific and informed that I have nothing but great things to say about the experience. As well, we were all connected through a messaging board and all that experience out there was humbling. There are so many authors out there who are savvy about the business of writing - so it was great to be a part of it prior to being published (which I will be someday, so save this interview because it will be worth muchos deneiro down the road!)
10 – Would you ever consider running for a spot on the RWA National executive?
I would consider a spot on National once I was published. Right now I have to concentrate on my writing, and I'm still learning the business piece ... but once I have some taste of success (and, as I've stated before, it's going to happen for me!) I would definitely like to learn even more about RWA and keep giving back to the organization since it's helped me so much already.
11 – With your perspective from seeing our chapter from where it was when you joined, to where we’re at now, where do you imagine RWAC will be ten years from now?
I see RWAC growing and growing. This year the executive is dabbling in online workshops and bringing in some great presenters, which not only helps our members, but helps us get our name out there more. I see our chapter having more recognition out there in RWA Land. I see our authors becoming super-successful and really branching out to mega-authordom. I see new members filling up the seats trying to 'rub the magic lantern' that is RWAC. I see me looking even more goddess-like than I do now (I am wiping the Doritos crumbs from my sweatpants as I type this, but normally I am truly spectacular).
I am absolutely convinced the next 10 years are going to be incredible for our members!
12 – Where do you see your writing career ten years from now?
I see me being published with a few romantic comedies and branching out to try new writing adventures. Maybe a screenplay. Maybe a non-fiction book. But mostly I see myself still trying to learn something new 10 years from now ... and the Doritos will probably also be a fixture .. some habits are hard to break.
13 – What role do sexy boots play in successful presidencies?
Sexy boots are my signature item! I think they've made me very successful in all aspects of life! Now if only my sweater vests would catch on!!
Nikki, thanks so much for dropping in here at A Piece of My Mind.
Julia - this was so much fun. Great questions! I wish I could have mentioned Russian movies more though !
Sheila says This is great! Very enjoyable. I loved The Alchemist too lol not that that matters but it was an awesome book!
Journeywoman says Great list. Very informative!
Brenda ND says Thank you Nikki, we need more volunteers like you and thanks Julia for featuring Nikki.