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The Breakdown of RWA – December 2019

In case you haven’t been on Twitter…

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has been in the news and Twitter crossfire over the last week. Far more eloquent writers than me have addressed the issues and I’ve linked to some of more concise posts that I’ve read. I’m not a member of RWA but I did attend their NYC literacy signings in 2015 and 2019 and was excited to attend 2019’s blogger day. I’ve also attended my local chapter, NJRW’s book-signings. I watched in delight at the diversity celebrated at 2019’s RITAs. And I had hope for the future. I was chosen to be a judge for the first round of 2020 RITA awards and was pleased that one of the requirements was to attend a Judge Development training. However, the training failed to address the serious biases of previous RITAs and last week, the deep rot of RWA was brought into the glaring light.

I feel that I can no longer give my time to an organization with such problems and thus withdrew from RITA judging. I also signed the letters to RWA put together by Romance Sparks Joy, both the review and reader letters.

No author should be penalized for calling out racism. It’s very clear that the rot of racism in RWA is bone-deep and will need extreme work to excise if the organization is to survive. It’s also clear that RWA is failing to protect its most vulnerable authors, from ignoring ethics complaints to not supporting the authors being taken advantage of by Dreamspinner Press. As a reader and reviewer, RWA did not play a big role in my romance activity but I know that is not true for many authors. There is a need for an organization to support romance authors but it needs to proactively support its diverse authors and it’s very clear that RWA fails to do so.

Please see below for summaries of what occurred and author responses.

I particularly recommend Claire Ryan’s summary:

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