The 2018 Board

Joanna Shupe Thumnail

Joanna Shupe

Award-winning author Joanna Shupe has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. In 2013 she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.


Shelly Chalmers Thumbnail

Shelly Chalmers
Vice President, Growth


Shelly Chalmers’ favorite first book was Cinderella, so once she could form letters, naturally she turned to romance where everyone “loved” each other—though mostly because she didn’t yet know how to spell “like.” In 2008 she joined RWA® to meet other romance writers because she had no local chapter, but instead found her tribe. She was thrilled to be a 2014 Golden Heart® finalist in the paranormal category and continues to write romances that all include a touch of magic, a sense of humor, and a dab of geek. She makes her home in Western Canada where when not writing, she DIYs everything, hunts teapots and unusual treasure, and wrangles a husband, two daughters, and two nutty cats.


Melonie Johnson
Vice President, Programs

Award-winning author Melonie Johnson is a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist whose books are fun, flirty, and a wee bit dirty. Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years and now devotes her time to writing and moonlighting as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin. She’s a Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb.

Melonie is currently the Social Media Chair and advisor to the board for Chicago-North RWA, having completed her second term as Chapter President.


Gail Hart

Before becoming a writer, Gail Hart spent a few years as an Air Force JAG, then settled in as a lawyer and manager for the US government. Despite what opposing counsel sometimes said about her briefs, she didn’t write any fiction until later in her career. She must have been destined to be a romance writer, though, because even the law review article she wrote had “sex” in the title. She spent most of her life on the east coast but now lives in San Antonio, where she doesn’t miss the cold.

Gail was the treasurer of San Antonio Romance Authors for three years.


Jessica Ruddick


Jessica Ruddick writes young adult, new adult, and contemporary romance fiction. She is also published in romantic suspense under Jessica Linden. She lives in Virginia with her college-sweetheart husband, two rambunctious sons, and two rowdy but lovable rescue dogs. Since her house is overflowing with testosterone, it’s a good thing she has a healthy appreciation for Marvel movies, Nerf guns, and football.

Jessica served as the secretary for YARWA for two years.


Liz Bemis

Liz Bemis-Hittinger is a six-time Golden Heart® finalist, and 2012 Golden Heart® Winner. She is the creative director of Spark Creative Partners, an Ad Agency for Authors. She has worked in the design and technology fields for more than two decades with clients in a wide range of industries, including publishing, restaurants, non-profit, small business, corporate, military/government and educational institutions. Her consulting and corporate work includes acclaimed site design and comprehensive eCommerce site development. Additionally, she has implemented Ad Agency-led international marketing campaigns and managed application development for the US Air Force. Liz’s first book will be out in early 2015.


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