by Paula Gail Benson
When I first became serious about writing, a friend took me to a meeting of the Lowcountry Romance Writers (LRWA), a chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), based in Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, LRWA was the one venue close to where I lived that consistently provided good information about the craft and business of writing. Although I didn’t write romance, I joined both the chapter and the national organization and I benefited a great deal from the programs and fellowship at LRWA.
By the beginning of last year, I had more options. I didn’t have to make the two hour drive to Charleston because I was actively involved in the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime that provides monthly programs and meets in the city where I live. In addition, I belonged to the Guppies, the online chapter of Sisters in Crime, and several other organizations that gave me the opportunity to learn about writing craft and business. I considered the matter carefully before renewing my membership with LRWA and RWA. Finally, I decided to give it one more year, even if I couldn’t make the meetings held in Charleston.
I’m so very glad that I did. LRWA decided to publish an anthology this year and allowed any of its members to participate. I had fifteen published short stories, mostly mysteries, but the first had hinted at a love story. Could I write another one?
The requirements were that the story had to be a romance taking place in Charleston, S.C., during the winter holidays. Any time period. 7,500 words (although that got extended later).
I faced two initial challenges: (1) could I write a credible romance, and (2) could I write a 7,500 word story (most of mine are in the 3,500 word range)?
Through the great process set up by LRWA, I found I was able to do both. In addition, I had the opportunity to network with some wonderful writers who became beta readers, editors, and marketing directors. Romance writers have developed an incredible ability to reach their audiences. From the experience of working on this anthology, I’ve learned so much and made many valued friendships.
My story is a time travel tale about two English graduate students, both unlucky in their first relationships, finding love with each other when transported back to a Charleston where the literary figures they have been studying lived. I was amazed to discover how many famous persons happened to be in Charleston the day before Thanksgiving 1936. I hope you might read my story to learn about those connections!
In addition, the anthology features stories about ghosts, pirates, magic, new loves meeting, old loves reuniting, families working out how to spend the holiday together, and people who thought love couldn’t possibly be in their lives encountering it. Here’s a list of the other authors, among whom I’m very proud to be included: Amy Quinton, Angela Mizell, Carla Susan Smith, Casey Porter, Elaine Reed, Gracey Evans, Jen Davis, Jessie Vaughn, Michele Sims, Rebecca A. Owens, Robin Hillyer Miles, Savannah J. Frierson, and Zuzana Juhasova.
Are you looking for a great holiday gift or a virtual trip to Charleston? You can’t go wrong with Love in the Lowcountry. Here’s the link on Amazon.