FCRW has Rita® winners, Golden Heart® finalists, and many more award winning writers – both published and unpublished.
A summary of the history of First Coast Romance Writers appears below.
First Coast Romance Writers – (formerly Chapter #108 of RWA)
In February of 1992, Anne Marie Duquette was planning a move to Jacksonville. She called RWA to ask for the contact information for the Jacksonville RWA chapter. She was horrified to discover that there was no chapter in the area, so she reached out to contact other RWA members to see if there was interest in starting a chapter. One of those RWA members was Marge Smith w/a Elizabeth Sinclair. As a result of Anne Marie and Marge’s efforts, First Coast Romance Writers became RWA chapter #108 on September 12, 1992.
When FCRW was born, the average new house was $123,000, gas was $1.05 a gallon, the average new car was $17,000 and hurricane Andrew hit South Florida. Popular movies included Lethal Weapon 3, A few Good Men and Basic Instinct. Matlock, Married with Children and Law & Order were popular TV shows.
1992 RITA winners included Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Night Shift by Nora Roberts, and Candle in the Window – Christina Dodd’s first published book.
When the chapter began, there were 18 members, dues were $15, RWA dues were $55.
Many FCRW authors sold their first books after FCRW began.
Our membership is diverse and runs the gamut from historical to contemporary, paranormal to romantic suspense, inspirational to erotica. We have fiction writers and non-fiction writers, series writers and single title writers.
We are lawyers, business owners, homemakers, mothers, computer programmers, therapists, bookkeepers, editors, website designers, human resource managers, and full time authors!
We live in Jacksonville, Saint Augustine, Middleburg, Amelia Island, Gainesville, Wellborn, Las Vegas, San Diego, Yulee, Fernandina, Orange Park, the beaches, High Springs, Niceville, Tallahassee, Brandon, Live Oak, Maryland, Savannah, Darien and Georgia.
Our membership includes RITA winners, Maggie winners, Daphne du Maurier winners, Golden Heart Finalists, Beacon winners, and NERFA winners!
FCRW contests have evolved over the years. Early contests included Beauty meets the Beast; Spice, Sizzle and Steam; The Love; The Victoria Award Contest; The Dreaded Synopsis; The Beacon for Published Authors and The Beacon for Unpublished Authors.
Our meeting places have been as diverse as our membership, including Florida Community College of Jacksonville, The Grande Boulevard Mall, Regency Mall, Bombay Bicycle Club, TGI Fridays, Ramada Inn, HOPS restaurant, the Marriott and now the West Regional Branch Library on Chaffee Road.
The Southern Lights Conference started as an all day workshop. It evolved into a prestigious conference and came full circle, alternated every other year with a mini-conference (an all day workshop). FCRW no longer conducts the Southern Lights Conference.
First Coast Romance Writers, FCRW, would like to thank Romance Writers of America, RWA, for their part in the creation of our organization back in 1994. RWA has helped so many romance authors learn their craft and prosper over the decades. The time has come for FCRW to step out as an independent non-profit organization. But, we shall always honor our beginnings. We welcome and support writers of all genres and all forms of diversity.
FCRW has benefitted from the leadership of many talented Presidents, listed below:
Anne Marie Duquette (1992)
Marge Smith (1993, 1994, 2004)
Pat Worley (1995)
Sandra Shannon (1996)
Gene Garret (1997)
Peg Kirch (1998)
Laura Barone (1999, 2000)
Heather Waters (2001)
Amy Stokes (2002)
Trish Eachus (2003)
Terri Ridgell (2005, 2006)
Merrillee Whren & Sandra Madden (2007, 2008)
Alyssa Day & Anita Tooke (2009)
Maria Connor (2010)
Charlie Allden (2011)
Abigail Sharpe (2012-13)
Priscilla Oliveras (2014-15)
Charlee Allden (2015)
Madeline Martin (2016)
Jan Jackson (2017)
Christy Thomas (2018)
Melody Johnson (2019)
Leah Miles (2020)