(Image by All-Free-Downloads.com)
On Sunday, December 8, 2013, I remember sitting at my dining room table and staring at my computer monitor…surfing thru my Twitter feed.
After having finished reading a book that had been tagged on Twitter as “#GreatRead!” and being sorely disappointed and wanting to then tag a more truthful review – “#WorstReadEver” (as it was poorly written, in need of a professional edit and proof and so much more), the wheels of my brain began to spin rapidly.
“I’m going to create a forum where I can post honest reviews of the books that I’ve read,” I said, half out loud.
After creating the forum and giving more thought to how I could make an even greater contribution to the literary world by posting honest reviews of books, I decided that it would be a great idea to offer more under the umbrella of what I had initially planned; more in the sense of creating a community of readers and writers who could also offer and benefit from honest book reviews.
There were a handful of authors on Twitter who I had developed a special rapport with, and the first one that I reached out to was Bruce A. Borders. Bruce and I had been supporting one another for quite some time and I had read one of his books and knew that he was a good writer, and also a strong reviewer.
“I’m going to form a book club under the umbrella of Rave Reviews By Nonnie Jules. A forum where authors will come together to support one another, and also a place where readers can expect that the reviews of books will be honest. I’d like you to join me and serve as my VP.”
“Sounds like a great idea. I’m all in,” Bruce said. “Just let me know when you’re ready to start.”
After the site was fully established with the book club and all that it would offer, I reached out to a few more that I had been reciprocating support with, and, who I also knew would be assets to the club. The late, Kathryn C. Treat was next on my list and she would serve as our first Membership Director up until two months prior to her death.
In the first month of formation, we added over 300 members to our roster. By month 5, we had over 600 members. Membership at that time was really inexpensive: it was FREE.
Since one of the asks of the club was that members #Follow one another on Twitter, we soon came to realize that many were joining us simply to grow their Twitter following. It soon became abundantly clear that they had no desire or intentions to support their fellow members; they merely wanted to #follow so that they in turn would be #followed.
In our 6th month, we instituted a $25 annual membership fee, which in my eyes was still FREE, especially when you think about all that the club offers. The advent of the fee was our way of keeping the riff raff off our roster as we sought to add more of those who were serious about what we were working towards.
I had a TEAM of 7 at the time, and sadly, now I can’t even remember everyone’s name as they weren’t on our roster long (for their own personal reasons)…although we continued to support them off the roster.
Contrary to popular belief, Beem Weeks and Marlena Smith (Marlena Hand at that time) were not original TEAM members of the club. I noticed Beem, as he was one of the few supporting other authors on Twitter just as much as I was. I knew that he would be a great asset to the club and he has never proven me wrong. (After the 7 TEAM members, Beem was the 2nd member on our roster in January of 2014.)
Marlena was also a great supporter of others, and there was something about her persona on Twitter that made me KNOW she would be the best Secretary ever – and for all these years, she has been. When I asked her to join and serve, she stood back and watched for a couple of days before she said “YES!” (This will surprise many of you, but Marlena was the 174th member on our roster in January of 2014. And, that was before January 14, 2014! The club was a little over one month old!) So, as you can see, our membership was growing by leaps and bounds – when it was FREE.
Although Shirley Harris-Slaughter was among my core group of those I reciprocated support with on Twitter, she didn’t come aboard immediately. Her name was added to our roster shortly after Beem joined, and she has never wavered in her support of RRBC.
Fast forward 5 years and many changes to the faces on my TEAM. We have had some awesome authors to serve on the RRBC board. There are some who hold Lifetime Memberships, who have given and who continually give of their time to serve the community of RRBC, who I’m sure will be around until the very end. Some faces joined our TEAM much later, yet have proven to be committed to serving the RRBC community and our agendas of support. They’re so awesome, I often wonder how I ever got on without them (Wendy Scott, Jan Sikes, Michelle Abbott, Eric Halpenny, and Mary Adler to name a few).
Although some of the names on our roster have changed over the course of these 5 years, the goals and mission which I established on day one, have not. We are a community of support. We are committed to being recognized as an establishment of Indie authors, who take very seriously the business of writing and publishing great works. We believe in lifting as we climb and we stand by the policy that “honesty” in book reviews, is always the road to travel. We strive daily to ensure that we put forth our best and most professional “author” face ever, so that we are one day placed in the history books alongside other literary greats. And, with the inception of RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), we aim to be the very best.
Other long-timers also remain on our roster. Members like: Bette A. Stevens, Karen Ingalls, Kim Taylor, Peggy Hattendorf, Ernestine Rose, Bill Ward, Nicholas Rossis, John Howell, Larry Hyatt, Robin Leigh Morgan, Karl Morgan, Carol Marrs-Phipps, Micki Peluso, Marcha Fox, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Rhani D’Chae, Yvette Calleiro and so many more, are all part of this amazing family that we’ve created online. This list is too extensive to go on, but, these are some of the early joiners. I appreciate each and every one of them for their staying power and loyalty to RRBC.
As with any organization, we have lost members over the years, but, I never concern myself with those who have moved on. We accept that not everyone understands or subscribes to the theory of commitment and dedication. If everyone did, that wouldn’t be real life, now would it? My attention and focus is always reserved for those who remain.
For those members who have left our roster for things out of their control, (i.e. LIFE, etc.) we wish them all the best and we always welcome those members back into the fold, if and when they decide to return. Many who have left our roster, later realize the importance of RRBC to the literary world and do return, by the way.
And, for every member who we have lifted, promoted and given name recognition to, yet in the end, moved on to try and compete with RRBC, as opposed to remaining and offering the same support to others, they’ve only made room for those who were actually designed to be here; and, for that, I am grateful.
Until there is no more breath left in my body, RRBC/RWISA will continue to thrive and grow into the powerhouse it was destined to be, and, it will continue on as the most supportive arena for serious writers that it has grown into and that it is known for.
We don’t believe in looking back or dwelling on the past here at RRBC. Our success lies before us…in the minutes, days, weeks, months and many years to come. We know that as long as we remember that it’s not about self, but more about community that helps us succeed, we’ll do just fine.
I will end here by saying, “Here’s to another very successful 5 years, RRBC/RWISA!”