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Romance Novel, by Alain Stanke. Photo by Robin Zebrowski, used under Creative Commons license.

Local group helps aspiring romance writers find their happily-ever-after

By Jennifer Carole Lewis on March 31, 2016

The Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association (ORWA) has been finding happily ever afters in Ottawa for over thirty years. It was founded by a small group of romance writers who met monthly to offer support, information and encouragement to each other. Twenty years ago, the group became an official affiliate of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and since then has been offering monthly workshops and support to writers from Ottawa and the surrounding area, including members from Kingston and Montreal.

I joined ORWA four years ago, with my first completed manuscript in hand and enough butterflies in my stomach that I half-expected to take flight. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be snubbed as an ill-prepared newbie? Would I face disdain or scorn?

Instead, I found myself welcomed. The President of the Board took time during a break to come and speak to me. She asked what I wrote and then introduced me to some other ORWA members who also focused on paranormal romance. The head of the critique group came and offered to hook me up with a critique partner and to go over the first few chapters of my manuscript. At the end of the meeting, there was a brief round table where everyone shared what they had done in the last month in terms of writing (meeting goals, rejections, contracts, etc.). I shared that I had just finished my first manuscript and received a round of encouraging applause. After the meeting, I was invited to join the group for nibbles and drinks at a nearby restaurant and spent the next two hours listening to tips and suggestions. I went home in a daze, realizing I had just spent time with authors who were on the New York Times bestseller list.

Since then, I’ve found a number of supportive friends and mentors through ORWA who have celebrated my successes and comforted me in my setbacks. I’ve learned more than I would have believed about the craft of writing and the fine arts of promotion and publication. And I’ve become the one who greets people at the meetings and introduces them to the various ORWA members.

Whenever I hear people scoff at romance and romance writers, I can only shake my head. The ladies of ORWA are some of the most caring and generous people I know. Perhaps it’s not possible to write about a world where love will always triumph without some of that hope translating into real life. They are also some very gifted writers who work hard at making sure each word and each story is the best it can possibly be.

This weekend on April 3rd at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, room 1A, ORWA is hosting Laura Byrne Paquet’s workshop: Edit Like a Pro. She’s going to share the techniques which professional editors use increase realism in novels as well as ways for an author to catch the most common errors. The workshop runs from 2 to 4 and the guest fee is $20. Guests are encouraged to contact the registrar at registrar@ottawaromancewriters.com to reserve a seat.

You can learn more about ORWA on their website, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.