- The History of Northwest Houston RWA© Chapter #27
“The Original Chapter”
Our first Northwest Houston Chapter meeting took place at the Cypress Creek Library with our chapter member, Rita Clay Estrada, as the first speaker. Pam Zolman was elected first chapter advisor. Nita Craft, one of those original members, says she still remembers the air of excitement and discovery surrounding everyone there.
Those first meetings frequently ran well after the library’s nine p.m. closing. Moving the meetings to the parking lot proved unacceptable so Nita secured a room in the Wimbledon Racquet Club where the chapter met for two years. Meeting locations have changed as the chapter membership grew. Currently, we meet at the Cypress Creek Community Christian Center directly across the street from where that first meeting took place.
By 1983 members drafted the first chapter by-laws and, in 1985, Nita Craft filed all the paperwork for incorporation in the state of Texas as our registered agent. Northwest Houston Chapter became chapter #27 of what was a growing RWA organization.
NWHRWA’s first chapter conference was held in 1983 with Dwight Swain, author of “Techniques of a Selling Writer,” as guest speaker. The Lone Star Writers Conference became an annual event during which the chapter contest winners are announced. The Lone Star Writer’s Conference draws top-name speakers from published authors, major publishing houses, and top literary agents. Because it is an open conference, we draw attendeesâ€”published, unpublished, and wannabeesâ€”from all writing genres.
The chapter contest was originally structured to help get our members prepare their manuscripts for the national level Golden Heart contest. The first Lone Star Writing Competition was held in March of 1983. Being one of the few chapter contests in RWA at the time, our first contest coordinator Mica Kelch/Stone had a busy job. In honor of Mica’s hard work in establishing our contest, all 1st Place category winners receive the Mica Award.
For several years the Mica award was a certificate, then in 2003 we began awarding Mica fountain pens handcrafted from Texas mesquite trees. Beginning in 2006, the Mica Award will be a silver pin crafted in the shape of our original chapter logoâ€”a Lone Star outline with a fountain penâ€”designed by chapter member Jamie Bevans in 2003.
Now in its fourteenth year, the Lone Star Writing Competition serves as the primary source of chapter funding. Many consider the Lone Star contest one of the top RWA chapter contests because both published and unpublished can enter, which provides the entrants with an environment like publishing’s real world. The contest is also well known for providing constructive feedback from trained and published judges.
The chapter newsletter, The Lone Star Galley, began in the eighties. Ruth Kenjura is our current editor preceded by Nita Craft, Leah Fortney, Roxanne Chapman, and Francyne Anderson. Each month the newsletter is filled with chapter news, industry news, member book reviews, and informative craft articles. Distribution became electronic in 2004 although members can request to have printed copies mailed.
In May 2001, a NWHRWA Yahoo Group was set up to provide members with a communication network. Sales and rejections, book signings, contest finals and wins, and other industry news are quickly transmitted using our loop. Our group can offer immediate support for one another as well as technical and research assistance. All members have access to the email loop, but can chose not to belong.
In 2002, Colleen Thompson created our NWHRWA chapter website and served as our web mistress until Kim Ungar took over in 2005. A new website updated with more features is anticipated to be on-line by May 2006. Jamie Bevans will be the new web mistress.
In 2003/2004, a committee to updated and revised the original chapter by-laws written back in 1983. The final revisions received RWA approval and became effective in February, 2004. In 2006, a committee began the yearly review and update of the by-laws. Their recommendations will be review by the board and then voted on by the chapter members.
The first NWHRWA Policy and Procedure manual was created in 2004 and, after board approval, became effective January 1, 2005. Revises and updates are on-going.
In 2002 our first chapter service award was presented to JoAnn Banker for her work as a contest chair person. The award went to Ruth Kenjura in 2003 for her work as Chapter President for two years. There was no member service award given in 2004. In 2005, Judythe Hixson received the award for her service as chapter president.
In 2004 the chapter STAR Awards program began. Designed to promote and encourage writing careers in the romance genre, all chapter members earn points using a credit chart for activities done during the year to advance their romance writing careers. First place winner in 2004 was Christie Craig; 2nd Place went to Chuck Emerson, and third to Judythe Hixson. In 2005, the winners were John Folsom, Rhonda Acy, and Judythe Hixson. In addition, the chapter offers an incentive award for members to enter the RWA Rita and Golden Heart Contest each year.
No one person or board achieves the history and success of an organization like NWHRWA. Countless individuals have given untold hours to this chapter over the last twenty-six years. To all of those who have served, we say thank you. We appreciate your toils.
A special thank you to all those who have lead Northwest Houston Lone Star chapter as advisors/chapter president since its creation.
Today NWHRWA members continue to exhibit the enthusiasm of those original members. The excitement grows every year as more and more of our members become published, final and win in chapter contests and the Golden Heart and Rita, and receive top awards and recognitions for their published work.
Over the years, our membership has included best-sellers Christina Dodd, Ginna Gray, Alison Kent, Sharon Sala, and of course, Rita Clay Estrada. Our current membership includes seventeen authors published by RWA recognized publishers and several members published by other publishing media and/or e-publishers.
Besides our wealth of published members, RWA PRO members comprise about fifteen percent of our membership. But you’ll find no one is ever too busy to help and encourage a beginning writer and one another.
The vision began twenty-six years ago by those Houston romance writers continues to expand and NW Houston RWA Chapter #27, the Lone Star chapter, invites you to join us on the journey.
This history has been complied primarily from the memories of original/long time chapter members because, through the years, many of our chapter records have been misplaced. My personal thanks to all those who responded to my queries. If there are errors or omissions, please contact me email@example.com or one of our current chapter board members. We’ll welcome the corrections/updates.