Elizabeth: Can RWA be Saved?

When I was growing up one of the women’s magazines my mother got each month had a “can this marriage be saved?” column.  I don’t remember the specific issues that brought each of the couples to such a turning point, but I do remember that the answer to the question was always, “yes it can be saved.”  Probably not a surprise; happy endings mean happy readers who are likely to keep buying magazines.  What I also remember (vaguely) is that saving the marriage more often than not meant that the woman made changes to be more appealing or more attractive or more accommodating.  Or, heaven forbid, not so sensitive.

Sounds a lot like some of the posts I’ve been reading in the RWA forums.

As we’ve been talking about on the blog recently, the RWA is at a crucial turning point after its spectacular implosion at the end of year.  (See last week’s post for details.)  The majority of the board has resigned, sponsors have withdrawn, and contests have been cancelled.  There is an independent audit in progress, trust in the organization has taken a tremendous hit, and it’s hard to see a clear path forward.

Things have definitely reached the “can this organization be saved?” stage. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Stacy McKitrick

Biting The Curse, FINAL front coverToday we’re talking with Stacy McKitrick, an author friend of mine who writes paranormal romance. I just finished reading her newest book, Biting the Curse and this is what I said in my review:

There are four things you can always count on finding inside the covers of her books:
1) Vampires or ghosts. In this case, it’s vampires.
2) A mystery–Why do heroine Janie’s significant others always seem to meet with unfortunate (and lethal) accidents?
3) A great romance between likable characters who earn their eventual happiness.
4) At least one or two laugh-out-loud funny moments. 

The thing I love best about the humor is that it’s not a clumsy add-on, but built deep into the way the characters behave–not just to make the joke, but because that’s who they are.

I actually stopped reading and texted her after I read one particularly hilarious scene. I’m eagerly awaiting her next book, which features Perry, who is probably her funniest character, at least among her vampires.

Let’s find out more! Continue reading

Jilly: Sunday Short Story–Early Resolution

It’s been an…interesting…start to 2020. I spent most of my time this week on a couple of real life challenges, with periodic breaks to catch up with RWA’s implosion. All of which left me feeling grumpy and sad, with zero new words on the page.

So in an attempt to cheer up my Girls and gain a bit of creative momentum, here’s a 500-word story inspired by Elizabeth’s Friday Writing Sprints, in which a character makes an unusual resolution, and featuring the prompt words courage, anchovies, beard, canvas, heaven, honest, hideaway, diva, guru, harlot, fool, garden, pearl, crimson, blossom and smile.

Here goes!

Early Resolution

It must have been the anchovies.

The last Katie could remember, she’d been in a blossom-festooned canvas marquee in a walled garden in a smart part of London. Crimson-robed staff had served exquisite bite-sized nibbles as the Guru spoke passionately of courage, and love, and the path to heaven.

She’d felt a little light-headed. One of the assistants had helped her outside into the fresh air. And now here she was in some mystery hideaway, sprawled on a gold upholstered sofa wearing nothing but a crimson thong and her faux pearl earrings.

At least now she knew what had happened to her sister. Lucy was a gullible idealist, but she was an honest fool, unlike these charlatans.

Were there hidden cameras in this place? Scanners? It seemed all too likely. Katie raked her hands through her hair and dragged them over her face, running her fingers carefully over her earrings. So far, so good.

Voices outside, low but getting louder. Male. At least two.

Decision time.

Continue reading

Michaeline: Thinking About Safe, Inclusive Spaces

Hands from various backgrounds putting together a jigsaw heart

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been thinking about making safe, inclusive spaces for everyone. I’m still in the theoretical stage, and I’m not sure if it’s even possible (or desirable) to have a space that’s 100 percent comfortable. A good discussion group does need some friction and I believe a little awkwardness is a good thing. But it’s not good when some people feel awkward or unseen repeatedly, while other people feel very comfortable most of the time. There’s got to be a balance, and there’s got to be a moderate road where everyone feels safe and like there can be a friendly resolution to arguments and discussions. Like we could all get pizza* afterwards, despite our differences in outlook and opinion.

First, what is the problem? Racism has been a huge topic in Romancelandia over the past few weeks with the blow-up in the RWA stemming from systemic racism and (I think) money struggles. But it’s not just about race – as romance writers, we’re very aware of the prejudice against and for gender as well. There’s sexuality (LGBT, polyamory, asexual) inclusion or exclusion. There are body issues, such as able-ism and weight-ists. And then there’s a wide range of issues involving the way the brain works, such as depression, bi-polarism, autism and even simpler things such as extroversion and introversion.

One of the things I came to realize over the past few weeks is that most of us want to be known as nice, and “good” girls or boys or people. We want to swim along in society, helping out others, or at least not hurting people, and not getting hurt. “You’re X-ist!” can be a real slam to one’s self-image – maybe not equal to the first slam of “You’re Other!” that the accuser may have originally felt, but still hurtful.

But saying, “this book is a fucking racist mess” is NOT the same as saying “you are a fucking racist mess.”

I know, I know. Book babies feel like children, and casting shade on one’s books can be very hurtful. But, it’s important to both frame things as “this action is X-ist” and also take the criticism as a critique about an action or behavior, and not as a personal judgement on one’s humanity.

Now, of course, if a pattern starts to manifest of X-ist actions and behaviors, people will probably be thinking, “Oh, Mx. X is an X-ist.” And they might be right. So, maybe the first step is Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!  I’d like to say I had an extremely productive week, getting lots of writing done and tasks completed.

Sadly, that would be a  work of fiction.  In reality, I spent far too much time this week falling down the rabbit-hole that is Twitter following the RWA implosion.

On the plus side, I’ve been exposed to a whole new set of writers and learned a lot.  On the day job front, this week been a combination of wrapping up 2019 end-of-year stuff and doing 2020 planning.  We always say we’re going to get the planning all taken care of in November so we can hit the new year running, but it never, ever happens that way.

One bit of 2020 planning that I did manage to take care of this week was getting my calendar set.  I’ve scheduled regular days off each month and blocked off specific writing times.  I’ve also blocked Friday afternoons off for “quiet time” so I can get things done without interruptions – all part of my less stressful / more productive 2020 plan.  We’ll have to wait and see how that all works out.

I’m thinking this Friday’s quiet time will be a the perfect time to give today’s writing prompt and/or random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: I Blame Jennifer Crusie

For the last couple of decades, I’ve traveled during the holidays, enduring the long lines at the airport, the crowds, and the bad tempers that the season seems to bring out in revelers. This year I stayed home. I went to a small dinner party, I had a couple of people over, and on New Year’s Eve, I stayed home and watched most of Good Omens with David Tennent. I thought I’d probably get the new year off to a good start if I had good omens.

Alas for my other activity, reading. I spend two weeks reading. A lot.

No good omens there.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Goodbye 2019 and RWA?

With the champagne all drunk, the countdown completed, and kisses exchanged, the book has officially closed on 2019.  It was very good year for several of the writers here on the blog who successfully launched books into the hands of eager readers; it was not, however, such a good year for Romance Writers of America.

As Jeanne mentioned in her post yesterday, the implosion of RWA started on Christmas Eve when details about the RWA’s handling of ethics complaints against popular author Courtney Millan were made public.   Following what happened next has been like watching an accident on the side of the road – horrifying, but hard to look away from.

While media coverage has focused on Milan’s comments about the racist elements of a specific book, the chain of events initially began months before with a series of tweets highlighting concerns about the biases of a specific acquisitions editor at a publishing company.  Many twitter followers appear to have weighed in on the subject, sharing their views, and at some point, both the publisher (who hired the acquisitions editor) and the author of the book that was called out filed ethics complaints with RWA.

What ensued was a series of events that I doubt even the most creative fiction writer could have come up with:   Shadow ethics committee.  Re-written policies.  Resignation.  Censure.  Backpedaling.  Mass resignations.  Uproar.  Chapter statements.  Petitions.  Cancellation of the RITAs.  And thousands and thousands of tweets.  If someone was intentionally trying to destroy the organization, I don’t think they could have done a better job.  And RWA has seemed intent on fanning the flames. Continue reading