Here's my Broad Universe story.
I've mentioned the wonderful Broad Universe multiple times on this blog. In a nutshell, we're an international, feminist, non-profit (501(c)3) organization dedicated to promoting, honoring, and celebrating women who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
I got involved through a colleague I met at Dragon*Con sometime in 2003 or after 2004, Katherine Mankiller, who introduced me to the group sometime in either 2005 or 2006. Finding their goals in line with mine, and having then-recently re-discovered my feminist passion thanks to another brief, but powerful, friendship (she moved; we lost contact), I joined right away.
About that time I was also "discovering" fandom and convention-ness. I'd been going to Dragon*Con since 2002, but despite being a total, bona fide, D&D-and-Magic-the-Gathering playing, Wizards-of-the-Coast-when-it-was-TSR reading, faery-seeking, science-loving, comics-collecting, honors-course-taking geek girl, I somehow totally missed the convention and fan culture. Being a member of Broad Universe introduced me to how many local conventions there were to me!
Nancy Jane Moore was in charge of readings at the time, and readings were really only just the Rapid Fire Readings held at a few conventions. (A Rapid Fire Reading is where BU convinces a convention to give us some panel time, and we squeeze as many readers as possible into that panel time, which gives many women a chance to read who wouldn't otherwise be on programming, and also increases our audience ratio because each reader brings a few people; the audience gets a great variety of fast-moving entertainment.) Between Nancy Jane and president, Phoebe Wray, and a few others I got invited to run the Rapid Fire Reading at Readercon. (I might have read in an RFR before then, but I'm not entirely sure of that.) I had plenty of help and coaching, and it was, indeed, an excellent RFR -as most are, particularly at Readercon, where a lot of Broads and friends convene.
Shortly after that, I got introduced to the idea of the Mailing Party, where our discussion list celebrates and pushes members to submit their work - as magazines and publications have often said they don't publish as many women as men because they don't receive as many submissions from women as men. So, we submit! Being a submission slacker, myself, I embraced the idea and was easily convinced I should "throw" a mailing party.
After some time of organizing more mailing parties and more readings around the New England Area - and even Balticon and a Worldcon! - Phoebe asked me if I was interested in joining the Motherboard as the new readings person, since Nancy Jane's term was up and she was ready to step down. I was floored, honored, and humbled to be asked. It took me a day to consider, but I said "yes!"
And then I really started to party. >:)
I had ideas, I was self-employed so my time was flexible, I was doing what I loved (and still am), and I still am a truly insane over-achiever. I always have been.
I started making lists of conventions people brought up and pushing members who were attending to create Broad events, like more Rapid Fire Readings. Our then-treasurer, Grace O'Malley, pointed out that only a small percentage of our members attended conventions, so we needed to do more things to serve those who didn't attend conventions. We came up with the idea for podcasts, and I flew with that (and as much as I love doing them, I'm happy to hand over the reins for 2012 to the most excellent Justine Graykin and Tracy S. Morris, who, among several supporters, gave me the help I needed to accomplish something I knew nothing about.) Readings got expanded to readings and events - at conventions and at local venues… and well, things continue to happen with more and more awesome volunteers stepping up to continue the group's growth.
Phoebe Wray, after 7 years of being a phenomenal president, was ready to step down and put her efforts into other places for the organization. She announced this over a year ago just to the Motherboard, and we were at a loss, because, really, there is no one like Phoebe with her energy, kindness, wisdom, and just stunning presence.
Earlier this spring, in a tiny and terrified voice, I chatted with Morven Westfield, who, other than Phoebe, had been on the board longer than I, and then to Phoebe, that maybe, if they thought I could handle it and if they thought it would be a good idea or if they thought I was totally crazy, unprepared, or whatnot… what did they think if, maybe, I stepped up to the role?
Both Morven and Phoebe thought it was a good idea, and that I was ready, and that they thought I was a good choice.
I started making plans… we would need a new Readings & Events coordinator, and I really couldn't expect anyone to be as masochistic as I was in regards to all my side projects, so I started working on my delegation and volunteer-requesting skills, and then, in May, still in a tiny and terrified voice, I asked the rest of the board what they thought about me stepping up to the position. Upon the rest of the board's approval, I moved forward with working on more transitions and planning.
Finally, this past Wednesday night, we had The Vote and Changes Happened.
Phoebe could step down and free up some time and energy to spend on the wonderful pet projects she had going on the side. I am in the process of freeing up my pet projects (though, more are on the horizon), and am stepping up… not entirely cured of feeling tiny and a little terrified, but getting better. On top of that, we have another strong and fabulous member and volunteer, Kimberly Long-Ewing, who is taking over the Readings & Events coordinator - now with an excellent assistant, April Grey!
On my to-do list is to make a formal press release about these changes, but I wanted to get down a little of the personal side for the blog. Broad Universe has been, and continues to be, one of the best resources I could imagine that has helped me achieve my own dream of being a writer. I have at least two short stories being published in 2012, possibly more, I've finished three novels, submitted more writing, built more confidence than I could have imagined, and met some of the most wonderful people who have become friends and colleagues - because I'm part of the organization.
That feeling of being tiny and terrified comes from a deep hope that I can return even a part of what everyone in Broad Universe has given to me, so far.
Not just because I'm president now, but because I believe in what Broad Universe does, I want to finish up this post with an invitation to my readers who aren't yet members… Even if you're not writers, even if you write outside of the science fiction, fantasy or horror genres, consider joining because in being a member, you're helping some amazing people achieve their dreams. And if you are a writer, genre or otherwise, I believe you'll be surprised at how Broad Universe can help you.