weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Las Vegas Romance Writers bond over love of love stories

When you visit Las Vegas Romance Writers’ website, it’s hard to miss the giant banner: “Romance is Hotter in Vegas.”

The 37-member group — which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year — helps writers working on a romance novel or other genres of fiction, whether they’re just starting out or have already been published.

The chapter meets monthly at Windmill Library in southwest Las Vegas and is affiliated with Romance Writers of America, a nonprofit based in Houston. The national organization has more than 100 chapters and 9,000 members, according to its website.

Romance novels accounted for 23 percent of the U.S. fiction market in 2016, according to Romance Writers of America.

There’s a variety of subgenres: contemporary, erotic, historical, paranormal, romance with religious or spiritual elements, romantic suspense and young adult, according to the nonprofit’s website.

“Really, romance is really anything where you have two main characters who fall in love and find their happily ever after, however it works for them,” said Elizabeth Spaur, chapter president of Las Vegas Romance Writers.

Another important distinction: “This genre is all about the happy ending,” said Spaur, who lives in southeast Las Vegas. “It’s the contract we make with our readers.”

At Las Vegas Romance Writers’ monthly meetings, a guest speaker typically provides insights on topics such as book publishing and marketing.

Sometimes, meetings include “plot parties” where members talk about issues they encounter during the writing process, Spaur said, such as writer’s block or “a plot hole they can’t dig themselves out of.”

The chapter also has small writing-critique groups.

Meet three of the group’s members:

Margo Hendricks — pen name Elysabeth Grace

Summerlin resident Margo Hendricks, who writes using the pen name Elysabeth Grace, has two romance book series. She’s retired from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she was a literature professor whose area of expertise was William Shakespeare’s work.

Hendricks moved to Las Vegas in 2013 and joined Las Vegas Romance Writers a couple of years ago.

“I always wanted to write romance novels,” she said. After retiring nine years ago, she pursued that interest full time.

During the writing process, “I tend to be solitary and I tend to be an over-reviser,” said Hendricks, who’s vice president of Las Vegas Romance Writers. A critique group, she said, allowed her to grow as a writer.

Hendricks is working on two series of romance novels, both self-published, meaning the author publishes the book on their own without using a traditional publisher. She’s also writing an academic book slated to come out next year about “traditional publishing as it’s related to authors of color,” she said.

As for romance writing, her historical paranormal series — “Daughters of Saria” — is set in the 16th century. The first book is “Fate’s Match.”

“I just loved writing it because it forced me to think outside the historical box,” Hendricks said.

She also has a contemporary black romance series, “Midsummer Sisters,” in which all of the protagonists are black women. The first book in the series is “Your Heart Only.”

Hendricks said she wants people to “rethink assumptions about what black romance looks like.”

Elizabeth Spaur

Spaur read her first romance novel from her mother’s library when she was 12 years old at the encouragement of an older cousin.

Spaur said she long has wanted to be a writer, but it didn’t happen for years. She joined Romance Writers of America while living on the East Coast but wasn’t an active member.

After Spaur and her husband moved to Las Vegas, she joined the local chapter in 2004.

Spaur plans by late September to finish the sixth book in her contemporary romance series, “Gridiron Knights.” The self-published series is set in a small South Carolina town and is centered on a college football program.

Her seventh book, which she hopes to finish in late October or early November, will essentially be a prequel to the series.

Kristina Mull — pen name Kay Phoenix

Mull starting writing romance novels about 10 years ago, after her son was born. It wasn’t a genre she planned to delve into.

She took creative writing workshops through the Gotham Writers Workshop — which is based in New York City and has online classes — and she kept getting comments from instructors that her stories tended toward the romance genre.

“I had never thought of that,” she said. She then took a class about romance writing.

Mull wrote a novel called “Steele and Stone,” published by The Wild Rose Press, and has contributed to self-published anthologies.

Now, she has several projects underway. The one she’s focusing on is a contemporary paranormal romance that will be part of a series. She said she has a publisher who’s interested and plans to resubmit her novel with edits within a couple of weeks.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

If you go

What: Las Vegas Romance Writers meetings

When: 10:15 a.m.-noon the third Saturday of each month

Where: Windmill Library, 7060 W. Windmill Lane

More information: lvrwa.org

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.