As we talked about here and here, the Romance Writers of America trade organization had an implosion at the end of 2019 and its 2020 has thus far been no better. The last of the remaining Board members resigned on February 12th and the organization is currently on life-support, being kept alive through the efforts of the Leslie Scantlebury, the interim Executive Director (who seems to be doing a bang-up job).
A few days ago, the independent auditors, who were hired to investigate specific issues within the organization, released theirreport(accessible to RWA members only). The results were not good – citing missteps, flaws in understanding, and gaps between policy/procedures and actions. The report should not be a surprise to anyone who has been following along since December. There were numerous recommendations regarding what RWA could do next, including the excerpted bit below which seemed to say that “there wouldn’t have been such a problem if people had just kept things secret.”
The publicity surrounding the handling of the ethics complaints against Ms. Milan has harmed the organization, created concerns among Ethics Committee members and candidates about participating in the process, and magnified the negative attention and reputational harm experienced by Ms. Tisdale and Ms. Davis.
I’m hoping that wasn’t really the intention of that bit, but I’ve read a lot of posts and comments by others who had that same interpretation.
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 postfor 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 The majority of the board has resigned, sponsors have withdrawn, and contests have been cancelled.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 →
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 postyesterday, 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 →
Will you have a moment to spare on Wednesday? I know that’s three days away, and I expect you have a million things to do between now and then, but I have a favor to ask. If you remember, and if you’re willing, when Wednesday comes around please drop by the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog and say hi to me over there. I have a guest post and I’d really like to avoid looking like Jilly No-Mates 😉 .
The Rubies are the RWA Golden Heart Class of 2009. They’ve been writing, publishing, and blogging for the last decade and they’re still going strong. They have an annual contest, a winter writing festival, and every summer they schedule a series of guest posts for the current Golden Heart finalists. This year’s GH selection has been great fun (see below), and there are more posts to come over the next three weeks.
On Wednesday I’ll be talking about my GH finalling story The Transformation of Alexis Doe and the prequel I’m planning to publish first—The Seeds of Power, otherwise known as Christal’s book. I think I’m the only fantasy writer among the paranormal finalists, so my blurbs sound quite out there compared to the others. I’m more than a bit nervous.
To whet your appetite, here are the interesting and varied guest bloggers so far, and thumbnail descriptions of their stories based on their posts: Continue reading →
The annual email reminding me to renew my RWA membership arrived sometime in March and I promptly forgot all about it. RWA is persistent, however, so a reminder arrived in the beginning of April, and then the next week, and again the next week. The last reminder listed all the benefits I’d be losing out on if I neglected to renew.
RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.
As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading the blog recently, several of the 8Ladies buffed and polished up manuscripts and entered them in this year’s RWA Golden Heart Contest. It’s the last year of the contest, which may been just the extra motivation they needed to get those words flowing and stories finished. Best of luck to all who entered the contest.
I have been a Golden Heart contest judge since my earliest days in RWA. In addition to supporting the organization, contest judging can be a learning experience for the contest judge as well as the entrant. I have often found that mistakes I don’t see in my own writing, or concepts that just don’t make sense in my own head, can be startlingly clear when reading someone else’s entry. Plus, you get the chance to read some really good stories that you might otherwise never have seen. Continue reading →
“The more we stur a tourde, the wours it will stynke.” So said J. Heywood in the 1546 Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue. How true is that? I have muddied around with the first several chapters of my book for MONTHS now, but as the Golden Heart deadline approached on Friday, I found myself having to follow the equally proverbial “fish or cut bait.”
In other words, I had to make whatever changes I could get done before the deadline, then send it off on its merry way. (I have few hopes of finaling, but I thought because it’s the last time RWA will hold the Golden Heart–the “Academy Awards” of romance writing for unpublished authors–I should give it a go.)
When I finished my submission, and in conjunction with my Word Of The Year (which is DEADLINES), I told my husband that I was not going to touch those first five chapters again. And he made me sign THIS:
So it’s moving forward, starting with Chapter 6 and going until it’s done and I turn it in to my editor.
Do you put a stake in the ground when it comes to your MS? Do you only allow a certain number of revisions to a given chapter?
Today marks a red letter day for us: not only is our blog celebrating five years of existence, but one of our Ladies is publishing her first book today. Jeanne Oates Estridge started The Demon Always Wins in May 2012 in response to the popular Twilight series.
I got to read an early version of it in the McDaniel course for romance writing during the 2012 school year, but lots of people have seen the book in progress. Jeanne mentions her long-time critique group, as well as a group of writers known as The Cool Kids that she met at the Midwest Writers Workshop, members of a one-day workshop in Indianapolis with Lucrecia Guerrero, several of the Eight Ladies and a handful of beta readers. Whew! It takes a village, doesn’t it?
The book was a finalist in all of the five contests Jeanne entered it in, and won the 2015 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award in the paranormal romance category with an earlier incarnation called Demons Don’t. The sequel, The Demon’s in the Details, was also a finalist in the 2018 paranormal romance category of the Golden Heart. Another version of The Demon Always Wins won first place in the paranormal/SF/fantasy category of the 2015 Diamonds in the Desert contest under the name of Demon’s Wager.
Having read the latest version, I can tell you the book has evolved from good to great over the years – the words are different, but they stay true to the underlying story. But enough from me. Let’s ask Jeanne a few questions!
RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.
One of the clearest memories I have about the very first RWA conference I went to was the Golden Heart award ceremony. I hadn’t known what the contest was all about before I attended the conference, but afterwards, entering the contest (and winning, of course!) went on the writing project plan, somewhere between “finish the manuscript” and “find an agent” – and seemed a sure stepping-stone to “see my book on the shelf at the local bookstore.”
The woman I sat next to in several workshop sessions, as well as at the awards dinner, turned out to be the winner in one of the contemporary categories. When she accepted her award, she confidentially ended her thanks with, “all you agents out there, have I got a book for you.” I was sure that, had I remembered her name, I’d have found her book out in the bookstore in short-order after her win.
What are your go-to references for improving your chosen skill–creative, mechanical, sporting, whatever’s important to you?
I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t spend any more money on writing craft—no books, workshops, courses or conferences—unless I come across something exceptional. It’s not that my writing is so good I don’t need it, but that I already have a great collection of resources at my fingertips and I’ve only scratched the surface of most of them.
Even if I write for another 20 years (and I intend to), I bet I could find the answers to 99.9% of my craft problems on my current bookshelf or the internet. My challenge is to digest all that great advice, evaluate it, select the bits that I need most in order to power up my strengths, bolster my weaknesses, and widen my skill-set, and apply those lessons until they become second nature.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in this post that I was surprised to discover how much I’ve absorbed about the process of self-publishing. I’ve also learned that some craft resources hit the spot for me, while other famous names slide through my brain and out again, leaving no trace. I had fun choosing my favorite indie publishing resources, so I decided to play the same game with the writing craft references. I found it surprisingly easy to pick the ones I believe will support my writing journey all the way to the pearly gates.
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