Today I’d like to introduce Amy Impellizzeri, my friend (she drove more than two hours with her three kids to come to my book launch in Philadelphia), and the president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).
WFWA is an international membership organization, not just a Facebook group (although there is one) or a Twitter feed (there’s one of those too). This is a professional organization that not only offers camaraderie but provides information and education to its members (in addition to an amazing annual retreat), all of whom are writers of women’s fiction, or, are agents, editors, and publishing professionals who work with women’s fiction authors and their books.
The reason I’m featuring WFWA today is because I realized that many writers don’t know about it! Woe is me! Can’t let that be!
Please check out WFWA — there are plenty of links to the organization’s page below. And if you have any questions, just post them in the comments. Or tell us why YOU love WFWA.
Just to clarify (pretend this is the fine print), while I am a member of WFWA, this blog is mine, mine, all mine and not affiliated with the organization. Even as the founder of this blog which is dedicated to women’s fiction and its authors, I am thrilled to be part of (though not in charge of, lol) a professional organization with a complementary mission!
Interview with Amy Impellizzeri, President, Women’s Fiction Writers Association
Amy Sue Nathan: What first drew you to WFWA?
Amy Impellizzeri: Ah, the engagement of the WFWA community is downright infectious. I saw various members of WFWA steering the conversation back to writers of women’s fiction around the online writing world and on social media and on other blogs (including yours!) and I was drawn to the idea of an organization whose members were busy – not just writing – but also supporting other writers of women’s fiction.
Amy Sue Nathan: Before you were a member, did you have any misconceptions about the organization?
Amy Impellizzeri: Well, I’m sure I thought it would be like many other “Facebook” or online communities I had become disenchanted with previously, in that the engagement would be strictly virtual and thus disconnected to a certain extent.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This group is connected and invested in each other. We follow each other’s successes and struggles – personal and professional – and celebrate and empathize with them loudly, as the occasion calls. In September 2015, many of us participated in the first annual WFWA Retreat, and we had to keep reminding each other that it was the first time many of us had actually met in person. This is not your usual “online” community.
Amy Sue Nathan: How does WFWA differ from other writer organizations you know about or are a part of?
Amy Impellizzeri: Honestly, since joining WFWA, I have not really sought out additional writing groups (other than my fierce devotion to my tribe of Tall Poppy Writers!) because WFWA is, to my knowledge, the most vibrant and inclusive community of working writers of women’s fiction supporting other working writers of women’s fiction. You will see no shortage of inspirational memes sprouting out from our corners, but we are also sharing very practical information.
Want to know how to incorporate song lyrics into your novel without breaking the bank? Want to see an actual successful query letter to an agent who is accepting women’s fiction submissions right now? Want to know who loves their editor/publisher/publicist, and who, well … doesn’t? Want someone to hold you to your word count goals this month?
We’re your people.
Amy Sue Nathan: Can you share with us some upcoming members-only workshops for 2016?
Amy Impellizzeri: I am over the moon to announce that literary agent extraordinaire, Don Maass, will kick off the amazing programming we have scheduled this year, presenting a workshop this March called “Five Kinds of Shiny.” Don Maass will be hosting a two week, hands-on workshop focusing on creating a manuscript that not only catches the eyes of agents and editors, but holds them all the way through. This is the workshop that will answer questions including: “What signals “commercial” to industry types?” and “How can you give your project that radiance without compromising its integrity?”
After March, we will continue to hold workshops at least quarterly, including an upcoming workshop that is near and dear to my heart as I take the proverbial red pen to my own current work-in-progress. We will have a special multi-presenter August workshop entitled “Killing our Darlings.” This will provide a practical approach to editing that means all the difference in preparing a commercial manuscript.
I’m also excited to confirm that we are finalizing the details of our annual Pitch session with agents who are looking to grow their women’s fiction catalogue. WFWA is so lucky to have the support of many amazing women’s fiction agents who generously share their insight and dig into participants’ manuscripts with concrete, constructive feedback. I can tell you from personal experience that it is quite impressive to tell potential agents and editors that the work you’ve put into your manuscripts includes personal workshop feedback from top agents in the industry.
Amy Sue Nathan: What’s going to be new with WFWA this coming year?
Amy Impellizzeri: Many might not know that for the last three years, the Founding members worked tirelessly around the clock, seeding the organization with personal resources, in order to create the current infrastructure of the WFWA, including an army of volunteers and a website migration that took place just before handing off the leadership to the current Board.
The new Board is focused on taking all that hard work to the next level and working with this amazing infrastructure to elevate the visibility of WFWA in the industry, and to be the ambassadors for voices of women’s fiction in the market today. In the on-going effort to add to the robustness of the conversation in the community, we want to add more agents, developmental editors, and even small press editors to the membership rolls. My own award-winning publisher, Nancy Cleary of Wyatt-MacKenzie, just joined this month, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Amy Sue Nathan: Tell us a little about the contests!
Amy Impellizzeri: Brand new to WFWA this year is the Shining Star contest, a contest for published authors of women’s fiction. Registration is open through January 31, and each submission will be judged by three readers of Women’s Fiction, and then Final Round submissions will be judged by librarians. There will be two winners announced at the Annual Retreat next fall: including one Debut author.
And of course, unpublished authors will have the chance to enter our annual Rising Star contest when it opens this May. Submissions will be judged in the final round by agents acquiring women’s fiction. Winners of the Rising Star Contest will also be announced at the Annual Retreat next fall in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Amy Sue Nathan: What didn’t I ask that you want everyone to know?
Amy Impellizzeri: Well, this is cheating a little bit, because you did ask about the contests. But what I didn’t tell you is what we have in store for the first ever Shining Star contest winners – two amazing prize packages worth a combined value of over $1650 that we are announcing publicly here for the very first time!
Each of the two Shining Star winners will receive:
-20 hours of Concierge/Personal Assistant Services from award-winning, Author Concierge, Cathy Genna;
-A platform assessment and a $100 gift certificate for website services from Author Branding Essentials; and
-A PR package from Penny Sansevieri:
(The General Winner will win a 1 hour PR consult plus a copy of Penny’s ebook How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload; and the Debut Winner will win a copy of Penny’s video course “How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload” and a copy of her brand new ebook, Red Hot Internet Publicity.)
Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and award-winning author. Amy’s first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) , was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner (Romance) and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. A favorite with bloggers and book clubs, Lemongrass Hope was named the #1 reviewed book in 2014 by blogger, The Literary Connoisseur, and topped several bloggers’ “Best of” Lists in 2015.
Amy is also the author of the non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), and numerous essays and articles that have appeared in online and print journals including: The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, and more.
Amy is a Tall Poppy Writer and President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and one energetic weimaraner, where she is currently hard at work on her next novel, Secrets of Worry Dolls.