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On a cool spring day in April 2006, five writers from Arkansas who were members of the national Romance Writers of America association met, fell in love and formed the Arkansas chapter of RWA, the Diamond State Romance Authors. Like any relationship, it took commitment, work and faith to grow, but, within the first few years, DSRA was boasting 24 members, many of whom were already published novelists in the romance genre.
Ten years later, DSRA is going strong with 24 members, 20 of whom are published and half of those best-selling romance authors.
“We had five charter members in 2006,” said Cynthia D’Alba, former president of DSRA and New York Times and USA Today best-selling author who resides in Hot Springs. “We knew we couldn’t be the only ones who not only liked to read but also write romance. We were scattered all over the state so we decided to meet once a month in Little Rock, and we’ve been going ever since.”
D’Alba is right when she says this handful of ladies weren’t the only ones reading and writing romance. According to Romance Writers of America, a nonprofit trade association for career-focused romance writers, it has more than 10,200 members from over 35 countries. What’s more, RWA’s research concludes that the estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013 was $1.08 billion.
“What many people think of romance is really much larger than that,” said Margaret Ethridge, president of DSRA for 2015-2016. “Romance has a 13 percent unit share of the adult fiction market, and the average age of the romance book buyer is 30 to 54 years old. In fact, a lot of people think only women read romance when the Nielsen Books & Consumer Tracker notes it at 16 percent male.”
Author Maggie Wells
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Arkansas authors and members of DSRA will sign books, meet with readers and revel with fans at a book signing from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hastings at 1421 Military Rd. in Benton, Arkansas on Saturday, June 18, 2016.
Arkansas romance authors who will be signing books include Jen Crane, Cheryl Harper, Maggie Wells, Parker Kincade and D.T. Dyllin from Little Rock and Brinda Berry from Searcy. Other writers and authors in attendance include Holly Goslin, KD Reep, Kathy Bates and Martin Regner, among others.
From USA Today and Amazon best-selling authors to the newly-published, this book signing will give readers and fans of the romance genre an opportunity to celebrate the incredible writing talent in Arkansas. DSRA is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and promotes excellence in romantic fiction and advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, dissemination of information, professional education, publications and other appropriate activities, and providing continuing support for writers within the romance publishing industry.
“Romance isn’t ripped bodices and Fabio covers. Those are outdated stereotypes,” Ethridge said. “If you want a well-crafted book with compelling characters, give romance a try. You’ll be surprised – and may even fall in love.”
For more information, visit their website at Diamond State Authors.
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