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  The majority of the board has resigned, sponsors have withdrawn, and contests have been cancelled.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

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