Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Julie Rowe

Online Writing Classes – A win-win for writers!
By Julie Rowe

It seems there’s been a baby boom in online classes. Where just a few years ago, there was only one or two RWA chapters offering classes (KOD & Outreach International were among the first), there are now at least twenty chapters offering online classes and workshops. And that number is growing. Also growing are the ranks of private workshop providers, usually writers who’ve gone into business recruiting, hosting and moderating online writing workshops.

As the owner/moderator of the Announce Online Classes loop, I’ve been promoting classes from RWA chapters and other reputable groups, for over four years now. When I started in January of 2006, I was posting maybe 20 class listings for any given month. Now, I’m posting anywhere from 40 to 75 classes every month. That’s a lot of different classes to choose from…every month!

For the writer interested in learning from successful authors in every genre of romance and experts in a variety of fields, from psychologists to ex-FBI agents, the selection of online classes couldn’t be better. Fees range from free (for chapter members) to $55, and every number in between. Which, when you consider some “professional” university-type writing courses cost into the hundreds of dollars, is an incredible deal.

I’ve personally taken as many as three courses at once, and while it was a bit of a juggle to keep up, all three were workshops offering unique information from authors and teachers I respect. I felt the lectures, interaction and general availability of the instructor was worth its weight in gold.

There’s great value in the flexibility of online classes, too. Most classes are taught over an email loop, where everyone sees every email sent to the loop, so students learn from each other as well as the instructor. Your instructor might be in New Zealand, with students in Canada, Europe, Japan and the USA, and everyone is able to participate equally. But, if you just don’t have time to participate, you don’t have to. You simply archive all the emails and read them at your leisure at a future date that’s more convenient for you.

It’s this kind of interaction that’s the true advantage of online classes. Anyone with a computer and internet access can take an online class taught by expert, best-selling authors and no one has to leave their house to do it.

Workshop providers, instructors and RWA chapters are also becoming more and more creative with the types of classes they’re offering. Topics like conflict and plot are being taught from unique angles and targeting specific genres. Writing related classes, on topics like couples therapy and how a real special forces soldier is trained, are cropping up in droves…and they’re proving to be very popular.

Here’s a sample of some of the sixty one classes that were offered in July and August:

- Dialog That Dazzles with Lori Wilde.
- His Personality Ladder with Laurie Schnebly Campbell.
- Riveting Revisions – The Key To Getting Published with Lynne Marshall.
- Help I’ve Lost My Muse with Lois Winston.
- How to Write Romantic Suspense with Instructors Heather Graham and Leslie Wainger.
- Craft Your Fiction Query Package with CJ Lyons.

To help prospective students make decisions about which classes to take, I’ve begun creating surveys for workshop participants to fill out to share their experience. These surveys will also be used by instructors and workshop providers to help them build better workshops and learning environments.

The low monetary and time cost in online workshops, make them a total win!

A double Golden Heart finalist in 2006, Julie Rowe has been writing medically inclined romances for over ten years. She's also a published freelancer with articles appearing in The Romance Writer's Report, Canadian Living, Today's Parent, Reader's Digest (Canada) and other magazines. All writers are welcome to join her email loop Announce Online Classes ( You can contact Julie through her website


Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Julie, wow, I'm amazed at the jump in classes since you started your loop...and it's SUCH a great service!

Anytime somebody mentions wanting to develop a class, I send them right over to AnnounceOnlineWritingClasses at yahoogroups, because there's no better archive of past and present topics.

I just can't figure out how you manage to DO that every month, along with work and family and taking classes and giving workshops and -- oh, yes -- writing!

Karyn Good said...

Hello Julie and warm welcome to The Prairies.

I never taken an online writing class but it's something I'm very interested in doing. I think the specific nature of each class is appealing, especially the classes centering around law enforcement issues. And the prices are certainly reasonable. Having said that I've never really had a place to start from and it sounds like Announce Online Writing Classes is the exact thing I've been looking for to get me started.

Thanks for being with us today.

Anne Germaine said...

Hi Julie, Welcome to The Prairies.

Wow, what great information! Like Karyn I have never taken an online writing class--I had no idea there were so many course options.

I have taken university classes on creative writing and always feel like I have to defend the entire Romance genre.

There are so many benefits of learning from and with people who understand (and appreciate) Romance.

Thanks for for taking the time to be here with us today.

Anne Germaine said...

Has anyone ever taken a class on Announce Online Writing Classes (ok, this is weird, my question mark isn't working!)

Julie Rowe said...

Thanks, Laurie! Some days I don't get much sleep, but it's all worth it. :-)

Julie Rowe said...

Thanks for the warm welcome, Karyn and Anne!

Anne, the Announce Online Writing Classes loop doesn't host classes, it just provides info on the various classes that are availible through RWA chatpers, private businesses hosting classes and even individual writer/instructors.

I just did a rough calculation and I estimate I've posted over 2200 individual workshop announcements. Now, some of these classes have been taught several times, but despite that, the number is still mind-boggling. :-)

Anne Germaine said...

Great-thanks for the clarification Julie!

carrie said...

Julie!!!! I loooove your list! Your emails stay in my inbox longer than anyone

and i loooove online classes (hi Laurie!! - one of the best instructors around btw) i have learned SO much that I never would have had a chance to otherwise....the interactivity helps so much...i highly recommend Julie's much to choose from!

thanks for all of your hard work Julie!

Julie Rowe said...

Thanks, Carrie!

I'm so glad you find the list helpful. I started it because I found it frustrating to discover a great class...that ended two weeks ago. I love learning and taking classes, plus it's so cool to learn something from a favorite author. :-)

Susan said...

Online classes are such a wonderful opportunity for writers.

The workshops I give are based upon experiences I've had in my (over) 25 years as a writer. I don't have to leave my home to teach, attendees don't have to leave their homes to attend.

And they're usually inexpensive.

I wish they'd been available when I was just starting out...but even now I take advantage!

susan meier

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you've started to do surveys. I can't be the only one who's taken a class only to end up disappointed. Thank you so much for doing them.

Kimberly Llewellyn said...

The Announce Online Classes loop has streamlined the class-taking process. No matter where a writer is in her career, there's most likely a targeted class just for her. I've enjoyed an online class before; it has prepared me to give them now, too! The biggest dilemma for the writer? How to choose!

Cassandra said...

Hi Julie,

I'm so pleased to have an opportunity to thank you for the announcement loop.

I'm not able now to travel to conferences or attend face-to-face classes, making online the only resource available to me.

I welcome your monthly announcements of all that's available. You make it so easy to pick and choose.

I'd love to take several classes each month, but for now, limit myself to one a quarter, so it's always hard to choose.

I've had a generally positive experience with the classes, and look forward to taking more.

Thank you again for all the help you provide to fellow writers.


Julie Rowe said...

Thanks for stopping in Susan!

You're the perfect example of a successful writer who chooses to give back to the writing community by teaching others what you know. To have someone like yourself providing feedback and encouragement to a beginning writer is priceless.

Susan is, in fact, teaching an online workshop on plotting called "Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere" in October (

Julie Rowe said...

Anonymous 7:48, your concern about quality is widespread. And it's not just prospective students who are eager to have workshop survey information. Workshop coordinators are just as interested. They want to hire the best instructors with outstanding classes, and instructors want to know how to improve their classes.

Thank you for your support!

Julie Rowe said...

Hi Kimberly, deciding which classes to take can be difficult. But, it's a problem I'm happy to have. Not only have I learned an amazing amount of information, but I've made some wonderful friends from my fellow students and developed long-lasting writing relationships with many instructors.

More power to you!

Julie Rowe said...

Thank you so much for stopping in Cassandra!

I'm so glad online classes are able to meet your needs. In this economy, there are a lot of people in the same position as yourself - unable to travel to conferences and live workshops.

I think this is one of the greatest strengths in online education: accessibility.

Thanks again!

Susan said...


I also meant to thank you for your announcements! It's great to have a source for all the workshops available.

I also wanted to say to anon who's been disappointed in workshops ... there are lots of reasons you can be disappointed. Including the fact that the workshop simply might not have been "for" you.

Sometimes we underestimate ourselves and take workshops containing information we already know.

Sometimes we simply don't click with the presenter's style.

But don't give up on online workshops! They are a valuable tool! Even if you only learn one thing from a workshop it's worth it!

So thanks to Julie for providing the wonderful service of letting us know the workshops that are available each month so we can choose!