Elizabeth: Diversity and the Historical

A while back I wrote a series of posts about diversity romance writing/ publishing which included a discussion about the recent decrease in the number of books published by diverse writers (aka PoC); recommendations for some diverse authors to consider when looking for that next book to read; a perspective about diversity in romance from a diverse reader;  and finally, some things to keep in mind when creating diverse characters in your writing.

I didn’t think I had anything else to say on the topic, but then there was the recent RWA Conference, where diversity and inclusion were in the spotlight – from Suzanne Brockman’s Lifetime Achievement Award speech to Kristan Higgins call-out on the lack of diverse finalists in the RITA awards, to an “invitation only” Diversity Summit where “high level publishing professionals, key contacts at major retailers, and members of the RWA staff and Board” talked about . . . well, something.

All of that got me to thinking, as did Nancy’s insightful More Thoughts on Diversity post earlier this week, and Justine’s blog-post comment below. Continue reading

Nancy: More Thoughts on Diversity

Unless you’ve been living under a rock AND falling behind on your 8LW reading, you’ve heard about Suzanne Brockmann’s stirring acceptance speech for her Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 RWA national conference. On Thursday, our own Kay summarized the speech and Brockmann’s career. This launched a discussion about writing diverse characters and including diverse experiences in romance fiction.

One of our Eight Ladies, Justine, disclosed in the comments her own trepidation about writing diverse characters in a meaningful, inclusive, and non-appropriating way. This sums up a lot the discussions the Eight Ladies have had on this blog and outside of it. And Justine threw in a twist – how do we respectfully and conscientiously diversify our historical romances? As I said in a reply to Justine’s comment, I have no answers or advice, just some thoughts and more questions of my own.

How bad would it be to write an historical world where women, and people of color, and characters with non-straight sexual orientations, and those with neurodiversities, and those with disabilities, are treated equally? Continue reading

Kay: Suzanne Brockmann at RWA 2018

Suzanne Brockmann

I was unable to attend the Romance Writers of America national conference this year, an event I haven’t missed in years. And it sounds like I missed a great speech.

Suzanne Brockmann received the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor she richly deserves. She’s written 57 novels, 14 short stories, and three screenplays. She edits a romance line called Suzanne Brockmann Presents. She co-wrote and directed an off-Broadway play and has produced four indie movies.

In romance publishing, Brockmann is well-known for her LGBTQ activism (her son is gay) and her stories about Navy SEALs. In her acceptance speech, she talked about her publishing career, as writers do in this circumstance. Continue reading

Elizabeth: A Diverse Reader’s Perspective

These last few Wednesdays I’ve been running a series talking about diversity in romance writing/publishing.  In the Diversity Spotlight post I noted that, despite a focus on increasing diversity in romance fiction in recent years, the number of books published by diverse writers (aka PoC) has actually decreased.  In the Diversity Reading List post I suggested some authors and books to consider when looking for that next book to read, both to broaden your diverse reading horizons and to support diverse authors.

This week we’re looking at things from a reader’s perspective.  My friend Beverly (who just happens to be my boss) is a huge romance fan.  As a diverse individual herself, I thought it would be interesting to get her perspective on diversity in romance writing today.

So, without further ado, let’s get started. Continue reading

Jilly: Did You Watch the Royal Wedding? Why?

I’m writing this post on Saturday morning. I plan to be finished around 11.30am UK time. Then I’ll grab a cup of coffee, fire up the BBC’s live streaming and watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry and become Duchess of Sussex.

According to the BBC television commentators, the global audience for Harry and Meghan’s happy day may be more than a billion people.

A billion? Why? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Diversity Reading List

Last week I started a series of posts about diversity in romance writing/publishing (if you missed it, you can read it here).  In that post I noted that, despite a focus on increasing diversity in romance fiction in recent years, the number of books published by diverse writers (aka PoC) has actually decreased.  The decrease seems to be driven, in part, because traditional publishers don’t think they can sell books by diverse authors and/or they don’t think there is an audience for those stories.

Since it has been noted that those in the traditional publishing industry continue to be predominately white, I’m not surprised that they may face some challenges when trying to sell books by diverse authors, but since a whopping 60% of the Top 10 Bestsellers at The Ripped Bodice bookstore in 2017 were written by PoC, the lack of an audience is hardly likely to be one of those challenges.

As you may have seen if you have been following politics much at all during the past few years, driving change can take consistent and persistent effort.  Perhaps if the issue is raised again and again and again, the needle will begin to move. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Spotlight on Diversity

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month in the United States – commemorating both Japanese immigration and the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad – as well as Jewish American Heritage month – recognizing diverse Jewish contributions to American culture.  The month also includes the celebration of Cinco de Mayo – though I’m guessing a fair number of folks are a little hazy about what they’re actually celebrating there – and even a World Day for Cultural Diversity.    All of which made me think that maybe this would be a good time to talk a little about diversity in romance writing/publishing.

First, let’s start with some numbers.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that, according to recent demographics posted over on the Romance Writers of America website, 82% of romance readers are female, or that 73% are white/Caucasian, but it may be more surprising to realize that 27% of readers are people of color (PoC).

Think about the books you’ve read recently.  Were 27% of the characters PoC?  How about the authors?  What about the individuals featured on the book covers? Continue reading