The Clouds Are Parting for RWA

Most writers are aware that Romance Writers of America tripped over their own diversity goals in December and got a serious rug burn. That burn showed the board the error of their ways and allowed them to straighten the goals a bit and crank back the actions they took against a perfectly wonderful author. Read all about it if you are not up to date.

I’m not saying the storm is over, but the board president and executive director of trade organizations have resigned. The position of board president is usually voted on by the membership, so RWA said they will not immediately replace him. Lots and lots of discussions, mainly on Twitter and the Published Author Network, continue to check out the remains of this event, so as to improve future issues.

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For me, this means I am going to renew my membership and hold tight. I believe that changes can be better made from inside rather than outside. I expect to be possibly more active in my local chapter than I have been before. I’m not a minority or a marginalized person unless you count elderly women as a thing. RWA and especially my San Diego chapter have been places I could go and fit in. I would hate to see the group totally disappear.

However, I want to talk about one thing that came up in one of the on-line discussions, saying that someone was accused of “playing the race card.” That is such a demeaning phrase and so counterproductive. If you look at the history of Western Civilization, you will see that Caucasians have played the race card regularly. The Southern United States used a race card to determine an applicant’s race before hiring or enrolling. Don’t think for one moment that any of us are not guilty of some use of this card. Let’s drop them in the shredder right now, shall we?

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There’s still a lot to learn about the ethics board and the vote to penalize one author. Like why someone had to use a falsehood, saying the ethics board had a huge caseload and that’s why they rushed this one case through. Someone who was on the board for the last year said they had two cases to review at the most. What a coincidence if a load of complaints dropped in near the end of the year.

Almost every publisher of Romance Novels has stated they can no longer continue to publish authors associated with RWA due to the diversity issue. Thus a lot of authors have renounced their membership and involvement with the organization. Authors make little enough from the really difficult work of writing as it is. And these same publishers and agents have withdrawn their participation in the July annual conference to be held in San Francisco. Will they still be able to move forward with the event?

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Stating that no one’s submitted novels could have gotten fair judgment, RWA has canceled the RITA contest for 2020. This all trickles down to hurt the small, self-published authors. A friend of mine had submitted two of his romances to the contest. And I had hoped to make it to the San Francisco conference myself. The cancellations hurt but the center of the storm is much more important than these side effects. In the months to come, I am expecting to see a stronger, better organization than the one that has been.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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