One of James River Writers’ busier volunteer members, Jennifer Drummond, took some time to ask other active members about their volunteer and reading/writing experiences. Here are their responses.
When did you become a volunteer at JRW and how many hours per week or month will you be volunteering?
Janet Woolridge: I am a new volunteer! I just took over co-editing GYWO from you! I am also doing the Literary Events Calendar since Cathy (Allen) moved on, too. I think Sheila said the time estimate was about 20 hrs. a month.
Cathy Short: I recently became a volunteer and will be working as a greeter at the Writing Shows.
Kellie Larsen Murphy: I just recently became a volunteer in the last several weeks. My volunteering assignments currently are to recap the next Writing Show and do some editing/proofreading when necessary. I would say it’s only about 5-10 hours per month.
Erin Cundiff: I attended my first JRW conference in 2005 and began volunteering by collecting items for the totebags for the 2006 conference. In January 2007, I was hired as a staff member of JRW serving as bookkeeper and conference registrar, assisting Anne Westrick with various JRW tasks and managing the ever-growing spreadsheet of JRW members. As bookkeeper from 2007-2013, I had the privilege of working with and learning from writers serving as treasurer on JRW’s board, including Phaedra Hise, Gigi Amateau, Shawna Christos, and Lee Gimpel.
What motivated you to volunteer for JRW, and what do you think you will gain from this experience?
Erin: The first time someone mentioned JRW to me, I knew I wanted to be involved. As so many writers do, I knew I wanted to write from a very young age. I am an avid reader and was frequently the last one awake in my house as a child, furtively reading or writing with a flashlight under the covers. In 2005, I was a new mom with a one-year-old boy and had just quit teaching, so volunteering for JRW seemed the perfect fit.
Throughout my years working and volunteering for JRW, I have gained way more than the hours I have put in. I have been motivated and inspired to work on my own writing.
Kellie: I was motivated to volunteer because I’ve witnessed what a great organization JRW is firsthand. I’ve attended two of the conferences and regularly follow the newsletter and events. Volunteering with JRW is also a way to become more involved in the local writing community.
Cathy: I love being around a dynamic group of writers.
What other pursuits keep you busy and inspired?
Janet: I have been blogging on and off for years as I read and write, practice and learn (at “Writer’s Flow” which is primarily on tumblr now). I am a voracious reader and do an occasional book review on another blog. I also work with my children’s school, volunteering in classes and with the PTA. And, I am a Brownie leader. I am involved with some other activist groups, as well.
Kellie: I try to stay busy with writing fiction but am often distracted by the activities of my four kids. I also spend a great deal of time volunteering and chairing events at their schools. I do have many writing friends I’ve met through my blog and other social media and I’m often inspired by them. Up until this last year, I was also doing some local freelance writing but have cut back to increase the time I can spend on my novels.
What books are on your nightstand?
Cathy: Right now historical fiction is on my night stand…Pompeii by Robert Harris, Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel.
Erin: Currently obsessed with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; just finished Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman–I love historical fiction and middle grade fiction. And lots of dog books because we recently adopted a 14-month-old lab/beagle mix named Coco.
Janet: Sadly, the ones on my nightstand are being ignored. The books in the pile beside the bed are more likely to be current reads, and include My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan, and The Future of Freedom by Fareed Zakaria. Also finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on the Kindle last night.
What writing projects are in the works for you right now?
Erin: I’m working on a historical fiction novel that centers around a woman’s experience marching with the British Army as it constructed Braddock’s Road on the way to what would become the Battle of the Monongahela near present-day Pittsburgh during the French and Indian War.
Janet: I am busy writing a contemporary YA novel. There’s another one waiting in a virtual drawer until I am ready to revise it. I also am in the submission process with a few picture book manuscripts. I also write poetry.
Cathy: I have sketched out an idea for a historical fiction mystery set in Japan and have almost completed the first chapter.
Kellie: I am currently editing my second novel, Stay of Execution. It is the second in a series of psychological suspense novels featuring Detective Michael Cancini. I also have two other works in the pipeline and hope to dive into them when SOE is with my editor.
What do you think will be the best part about volunteering at JRW?
Kellie: The best part of volunteering will be meeting all the wonderful local writers in central Virginia. While I love the virtual writing community, I am excited to be a contributor to JRW.
Janet: So far, it has been conversing and working, even if only virtually, with other writers. It gives me a little more confidence on this path I am taking. I think it will help me focus on being a writer, and seeing other member’s successes is inspiring. Also, I am really looking forward to the conference. I have always thought the staff and volunteers were having the most fun, and now I will be part of that.