Last week the list of finalists came out for this year’s Romance Writers of America RITA and Golden Heart contests. There was much happiness by those who saw their names on the lists, but there was also an obvious, elephant-in-the-room issue out there that couldn’t be ignored.
For all of the talk and focus in recent years on diversity, there was a distinct lack of it represented on the lists of finalists.
The topic of diversity was front and center at last year’s RWA conference, with a number of the RITA and Golden Heart award winners specifically commenting on the lack of diverse-author representation in their categories. That same conference also included a Diversity Summit attended industry professionals, RWA staff/Board members, members of RWA’s Diversity Committee, and other leaders within the organization who represent marginalized populations. According to the RWA website, the purpose was to “share ideas, identify roadblocks, and reaffirm a commitment to fostering a romance genre that represents the wide array of authors and readers that love it.”
And yet . . . it doesn’t feel like much progress has been made yet. Continue reading
I had a different topic that I was going to post on today, but then I saw the latest survey results from the Ripped Bodice bookstore on the state of diversity in romance publishing and I got derailed.
For the past several years there has been an increased emphasis on diversity in romance fiction at writing conferences, on writing blogs (we had a series of posts on it last year), and in the mainstream media. The issue was even brought front and center by several of the awardees at the most recent RWA conference I attended. Continue reading
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
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
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
This is a poster for Black Panther. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, the publisher, Marvel Studios, or the graphic artist. Its use in this post qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United States.
I did my part to help Marvel Studio’s Black Panther pass the $1 billion mark at the global box office by heading to an afternoon showing last Friday with a group of my co-workers. The movie, coupled with a relaxing lunch, was a bit of a reward for recent months of hard work at the Day Job. Suffice to say, it was an entertaining reward and it didn’t take any arm twisting to convince us to agree to a few hours away from the office.
Although I don’t go to the movies very often – I think Frozen was the last thing I saw on the big screen – my boss had seen the movie the week before and liked it so much she wanted us to have a chance to enjoy it too.
The co-writer and director of the movie, Ryan Coogler, is originally from Oakland, and it was kind of fun to pick out familiar landmarks in the movie scenes that were shot in the Oakland area. While I couldn’t quite see my own office building, I did catch a glimpse of glowing-top of the local Tribune building a few blocks away.
The movie itself was visually stunning with its bustling cities, vast open country, and the futuristic Wakanda. It included a lot of strong-willed, kick-ass women, a number of technologically Bond-esque moments, and some eerie parallels to current world politics and social issues.
Also, it was fun. Continue reading