After moving to Richmond, Phil Hilliker was in need of a writing critique group. Now he not only shares his work with four other authors, he has joined James River Writers as the new Membership Coordinator.

Phil_smA freelance illustrator and a work-at-home dad, Phil has created illustrations for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror role-playing games, as well as middle-grade fiction. Phil and his wife moved from Tuscon for her new position as a biology professor at University of Richmond, and Phil has also been working on stories of his own.

“I’m writing picture books and middle-grade sci-fi and fantasy,” says Phil. “But I was ready to meet and share my work with other writers. I had been in Richmond for eight or nine months before I realized nearly all the people who were the most supportive of my desire to be a writer belonged to James River Writers.”

And so he joined as a member and began taking advantage of the JRW Writing Shows and events.

“While other writing organizations focus primarily on helping authors get published, JRW is different. It has such a great sense of community, and they help writers look at every aspect of a writer’s life–editing, craft, and even work-life balance.”

When JRW received a grant to fund a membership position, Phil quickly applied for the job. As a former gallery curator and public health systems database manager, Phil found his skills uniquely suited to this current role.

“It combines all the jobs I’ve done before, plus my writing life. Now I can share my JRW experience with others.”

As part of the 11-hour per week position, Phil Hilliker’s tasks are three-fold. The first is to establish a sustainable renewal system so members know when their annual membership is due. The second is to expand membership into more communities and to other demographics. The last is to help the JRW membership committee build an expanded membership benefits package, despite the fact that it’s already a good value at only $35 a year.

“It was amazing to me that you could have such a rich group of writers, supporting each other and teaching each other for so little each year. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it and to share my excitement with others.”

Interview by Karen A. Chase.

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