Chapter Spotlight: Coeur du Bois Chapter
by Kathleen Watson, Romance Writers of America
The Coeur du Bois Chapter of RWA, known as CBC, was established in 1991. The chapter was co-founded by Robin Lee Hatcher, RWA’s President from 1992 to 1994, and has members who’ve been with the chapter since the early days. They meet monthly in Boise, Idaho, for workshops, to share romance business updates, and member news.
The small, but mighty, group is one that focuses on inclusivity, with authors publishing and writing in multiple genres and multiple heat levels: contemporary, western, Regency romance, time travel, science fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, crime and thriller, and women’s fiction and paranormal women’s fiction.
The chapter’s published authors—traditional, hybrid, and indie—are generous with their time, supporting chapter mates with training, coaching, and mentoring. The chapter provides ongoing support, instruction, and social and networking opportunities for its member writers.
Over the years, CBC has hosted prolific producer/director Ridley Scott and writers like Jennifer Crusie, Catherine Coulter, Anne Stuart, Rachel Gibson, and Laura Lee Guhrke. They’ve presented well-received conferences for their writing community and readers.
The popular members-only summer retreat near scenic lakes and mountains is a decades-old tradition. Authors immerse themselves in three days of brainstorming, writing sprints, walks, conversations, and communal cooking. A time for productivity and renewal, the retreat offers members a getaway from the normal pressures of everyday living.
When the pandemic shut down in-person gatherings, CBC pivoted to Zoom (like many) to continue meeting monthly. As a positive boost, Zoom made it possible to bring in fantastic authors, including Skye MacKinnon and Abigail K. Perry, and share their presentations and workshops with other writers and writing communities in Idaho and beyond. Embracing new methods to reach more people has been rewarding and inclusive.
For a relatively small city in a relatively low-population state (under two million), Idaho has a lot of writing groups. Idaho Writers Guild, Idaho Sisters in Crime, The Cabin, and our own Coeur du Bois are just a few of the groups. Partnerships across groups gives them an active, thriving author community. For example, in 2021, CBC and the Idaho Writers Guild co-hosted the “Story Mastery” master class with Michael Hauge.
Programs are a mix of craft and the business of writing. Authors have learned how to tame their dragon and what historical clothing makes the character, how to create ads on Amazon and promos in Book Brush, plot with Plottr and Scrivener, and create captivating, flawed characters. A chapter mate affectionately known as the Queen of Advertising has helped many create their first Facebook and Amazon ads.
2023 has already been a fantastic year. CBC will host a three-day retreat in June, a one-day mini-retreat in July, a program with Andrea Pearson in May and one with Charlie Holmberg in September. The Board recently engaged in a two-day strategic planning session, and part of the outcomes included planning a chapter anthology (look for the first one in summer 2023)!
The monthly member newsletter includes articles by members, area writing events, and member book releases. The chapter maintains a public-facing website at www.cbcrwa.com and a public Facebook page, Coeur du Bois Facebook, where they share information about Zoom and in-person workshops.