Updated as of 1.15.20 4:00pm EST – jump to latest: More information has come to light about the audit of RWA’s actions, which is being run by Carol Ritter.
New post: Where Does RWA Go From Here?
One of the reasons I believed in RWA was because I saw how hard my friend, Courtney Milan, worked to push the organization’s inclusiveness. Today, the day before Christmas Eve, RWA notified her they’d agreed with ethics complaints filed against her for calling out racism.
— Alyssa!!! Cole (@AlyssaColeLit) December 24, 2019
Disclaimer, first and foremost : I live at 341’ elevation above sea level. Currently I am with my family, at 8000’+ elevation, and I do indeed miss all that lovely oxygen. So please forgive any missing words or slight incoherence over here.
Earlier tonight Alyssa Cole posted that the Romance Writers of America received an ethics complaint against Courtney Milan.
You can see the documents here, here and here:
- The formal complaint from Suzan Tisdale
- Part II of complaint
- Formal complaint from Kathryn Lynn Davis
- RWA’s Ethics Committee Report
- Result of RWA Board’s vote on the report
RWA has “moved to accept the findings of the Ethics Committee” and has recommended as penalty that Milan be suspended from RWA for a year, and be banned from holding any leadership positions on the national or chapter level.
I have the same internal crushed feeling as I did when JK Rowling tweeted something terribly transphobic and broke the hearts of so many people.
I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America for years. Too many to count because altitude. And over the past few years I’ve been trying to highlight the work the RWA leadership has done to change the organization so that marginalized writers would feel more welcome, more confident, and safer for everyone who wanted to belong. I wanted all these changes.
I wanted to highlight what I thought were signs of positive change and indications that the organization and those leading it were trying to correct many, many years of problems.
I volunteered to be a judge for the RITAs, and I encouraged others to do the same, because in order to perpetuate change you have to show up and push it forward, right. Several SBTB reviewers were planning to judge the RITAs as well. Last week I watched a (really good) webinar that was mandatory for all RITA judges presented by Sunny Lee-Goodman, about recognizing internal bias.
Then tonight I learn that RWA has decided that Courtney Milan’s calling out racism is a problem that should lead to suspension. Not suspension of the racist members of the PAN (Published Author Network) who regularly post harmful shit. Not suspension of hostile members of the organization who make keynote speakers feel unwelcome and unsafe. The people who point out the problem are still, apparently, the problem.
Is there a bigger word than crushed? There probably is. I need more O2.
I’m posting this to say two things. No, three.
One: This decision is heinously wrong. Deeply awful, horrifying, and mind-numbingly bad on every level. It’s a slap and a 180-degree contradiction of every other effort made to make RWA more inclusive. The message seems to be, Confront your own bias. Recognize where you are wrong. But don’t call racism “racism” or point out anyone else’s bias, or you’ll be removed.
Two: You know how when a publisher or a company does something really, really awful, and you want to yell about it? I mean, I want to yell about this right now, loudly and I’m surrounded by trees and snow. I get it. But the thing is, whether it’s a publishing house deciding that a contract with a white supremacist is a good idea, or a writer’s organization deciding that white supremacy is the right decision ethically, when there’s yelling at an organization or company on Twitter, it’s usually directed at a publicist. No one with decision making power reads the Twitter feed. Twitter is powerful – I cited it here! But Twitter isn’t enough.
Twitter is wonderful for learning about situations, and for connecting with people who feel the same way I do (to wit: fucking furious). But for pushing back against bullshit, head to the email. And this is egregiously bad.
I have so much wanted to support the changes that RWA seemed to be making. Sunny Lee-Goodman is an incredible teacher, and I’m deeply grateful that I was able to learn from her both in an interview and in a webinar. I remember thinking after it was done that I was glad my dues were going toward her consulting fees.
I am not so pleased about where else my dues are going, or my energy in judging and reading and supporting and even writing all these words right now. I’m deeply, painfully upset by the decision of the Ethics Committee, and the decision to ban and suspend Courtney Milan. I keep thinking I must be missing something because this decision makes no sense. It hurts.
And my reaction is 1/8000th of the pain of others who are harmed and threatened by this decision. This is wrong, and RWA will be hearing from me. If you’re upset (and, like me, thinking this was at first hallucination because what the fuck) I hope that they will hear from you, too.
Update, 12.24.19, 5:46pm MST
First, my apologies for the site slowness today. I think I’ve identified the culprit but I’m doing what I can to keep things smooth. I’m really sorry for the lag.
Second, in an attempt to put the toothpaste back into the tube, Romance Writers of America has apparently rescinded their vote to accept the Ethics Committee report and the penalties against Courtney Milan, pending legal opinion:
At a meeting today that identified a gap between policy and process, RWA’s Board of Directors rescinded its vote accepting the findings of the Ethics Committee report and the consequent penalties against Courtney Milan pending a legal opinion. 1/2
— RWA (@romancewriters) December 25, 2019
They also reiterated its “support for diversity, inclusivity and equity and its commitment to provide an open environment for all members.”
Absent from that statement: any apology or demonstration of awareness as to just how large a dumpster fire has been burning since last night.
I don’t think move helps restore trust in the leadership of RWA at present. I am guessing the hemorrhage of members and RITA judges will continue, judging by the commentary on Twitter. It certainly doesn’t restore any of my trust or belief in the organization and its current board.
And now I have that some fine vintage Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams in my head.
Update 12.26.19, 8:50am MST:
RWA board members Seressia Glass, Tracey Livesay, Pintip Dunn, Priscilla Oliveras, Farrah Rochon, Erica Ridley, and Denny S. Bryce collectively resigned:
Today, I — along w/ multiple former board members — resigned from our positions because we no longer trust or have confidence in RWA’s leadership. 1/3
@DrenzPen @tlivesay @pintipdunn @prisoliveras @farrahrochon @EricaRidley @DennySBryce
— Seressia Glass, #NewAttitude2020 (@seressia) December 26, 2019
That’s either exactly half or more than half the board (again, altitude math is not always accurate). Meanwhile, many writers are sharing their letters of resignation on Twitter, on their websites, and on Facebook, citing this incident and their lack of confidence in the organization.
I’m really not sure how RWA can recover from this.
Update 12.26.19, 7:45pm MST:
The presidents, incoming and outgoing, of 27 RWA chapters, wrote a letter to the board asking for the resignation of RWA President Carolyn Jewel, President-Elect Damon Suede, and executive director Carol Ritter. That letter was shared as well.
RWA president Carolyn Jewel has resigned, and current president Damon Suede has released a statement that is a lot of words though I’m not sure what good they do:
A message to RWA Members: https://t.co/eLvS2r3VAr
— RWA (@romancewriters) December 27, 2019
You can read the full statement on Google Docs. There’s an acknowledgement of lost trust (yeah, no kidding there) but no indication of what will be done to address what happened. There’s also a statement on the complaint against Courtney Milan that says a lot of nothing. It also creates further confusion given the statements from former RWA Ethics Committee members Ruby Lang, Rachel Grant, and Kwana Jackson, who say they never heard the complaint:
I am a former member of the first committee (I resigned yesterday) and can verify. They formed a new committee without telling us about the complaint. Most of us found out on Monday evening. But RWA called this a unanimous decision and said standard procedure was followed. https://t.co/EmgjUplGiw
— Ruby Lang (@RubeLang) December 25, 2019
So if a separate Ethics Committee or sub-committee was formed and the full original Ethics Committee was never consulted, that appears to be a procedure designed to bypass the full Ethics Committee – which seems very strange. Also the repeated use of the word “ethics” in this discussion is approaching Alanis-Morissette-levels of “irony.”
ETA 12.29.19, 1:05pm EST
First, a HEA for me and near-sea-level oxygen levels. Coming home does mean that I can’t read updates and news and lean on the idea that some of this mishegas is a hallucination.
Damon Suede has posted a lengthy letter on RWA forums for chapter leadership but of course it’s been shared widely. You can read the full text at Claire Ryan’s site, as well as a very well annotated chronology of this entire mess. Claire is half of the duo who kept after Cristiane Serruya’s plagiarism scandal and invented software to combat piracy; you can hear an interview with her in podcast Episode 345. Readers Fighting Plagiarism: An Interview with Kristy Caffeinated Fae and Claire Ryan.
I missed the absolute joy of updating some news due to travel home, but I can’t not add this: Chuck Tingle weighed in, saying that Damon Suede is lying about knowing him:
dont know much but i guess romance writers kicked out lady because she asked them to do better at proving love? but it has brought to my attention that there is scoundrel name of damons that likes attention and is saying he knows chuck for attention. i do not know him he is lying https://t.co/up8iJDDLhV
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) December 28, 2019
As I said on Twitter, reading this was like the moment Blues Traveler weighed in on The Handbook for Mortals scandal chronicled at Pajiba two years ago.
Laurel Cremant started a petition to recall Suede from the RWA presidency, and has indicated that the petition has reached the needed number of signatures. It will remain open until midnight tonight, 29 December 2019. (NB: I have signed it, and am carefully weighing the renewal of my RWA membership, which expires in a few days, in the event that my vote or presence as a full member is needed or useful.)
Today, Nora Roberts posted her take on the situation, mostly focusing on her own history with RWA, and why she’s no longer a member.
Twitter, message boards, and the cesspool of horror that is Facebook continue to bubble with discussion, but one point I want to make sure to mention: the problem isn’t Damon Suede alone. Yes, he should absolutely step down from the presidency, and the fact that he has not is deplorably bad. And yes, as HelenKay Dimon has stated, there should be a full audit of WTF Happened and How that allowed this tornado of terrible to reach F5 levels of horror.
But the problem isn’t one person, or one person’s actions.
RWA and its membership has a problem with White supremacist actions and behavior to say the least, and blaming the recent events on one person (who for the love of missing socks needs to step down already) occludes the larger issue. This week’s revelations are a piece of a longstanding pattern of behavior directed at marginalized authors and voices in the romance community. Removing one person doesn’t solve that. Heck, removing two people doesn’t solve that.
I certainly do not have the answers nor do I have concrete suggestions as to how to go from here. There are so many possible options, and so many groups banding together to chronicle and organize. Which brings me to the other troubling issue behind the ongoing revelations of unfairness and deceit: RWA as an organization also has decades of standing and influence, coupled with resources and a deep understanding of and connection with other writing organizations, publishing houses, retailers, and other influential parties in the industry. It’s hard to rebuild that, to say the least.
And it’s deeply depressing to think of how much that has been built is so easily destroyed. Progress, especially recent progress, is so fragile, and “tradition,” especially racist, White supremacist, kyriarchical tradition, seems nearly fireproof.
ETA 3:12pm EST:
I received the following email from Laurel Cremant, regarding the petition:
Thank you for completing the request for a petition to recall Damon Suede from their board position of president of RWA.
Today we learned that there are efforts coordinated by RWA to ultimately invalidate and reject the petition that all of us signed calling for the recall of Damon Suede. While we are not surprised that our current national leadership has resulted to these actions, we are executing due diligence to ensure our voices are heard.
In an effort to ensure that the final submission of the petition is in compliance with all RWA policies and procedures, please complete the following form here or click this link: https://forms.gle/irpWJef1MK2gtrEc8
I’ve asked for clarification as to what efforts are being made to invalidate, but in the event that you signed the petition, the updated links are above.
ETA 12.30.19, 4:05pm EST
A letter has gone out, and if you thought the embers had died down to a manageable smolder, well, they brought more gas. Honestly, it’s like the entirety of the RWA leadership have forgotten just how many attorneys write romance. There’s a scene in the Disney animated Robin Hood where Little John finds himself in the position of asking, “Who’s driving this flying umbrella?” This is exactly how I feel right now.
A letter signed “RWA Board and Staff,” which I find really disingenuous as a signature, went out to RWA membership this afternoon. The full text can be found here on Google Docs, though the copy is suffering from significant traffic at the moment.
Two key points in this letter that make my head hurt:
While the Ethics panel unanimously recommended a series of sanctions against Ms. Milan, the Board chose to reduce these to a one-year suspension and a permanent ban on leadership positions in RWA. After this private information was made public on December 23, it led to an intense backlash online – including the spreading of false information, threats, and personal information. The Board then held an emergency executive session, rescinding the remaining sanctions. That is where things stand and where they will remain unless a future Board decides to revisit the issues. Several Board members have subsequently resigned for a variety of reasons.
This seems to contradict earlier information: from the original documents, the RWA board didn’t “reduce” the sanctions; the recommended sanctions were identical to those that were approved. Those recommendations were present in the documents released 24 December from the November “Ethics Committee” report.
Secondly, this paragraph at the end:
Our members have strong opinions, which we applaud. But when expressed inappropriately, and in some cases far worse, by our organizational leadership – past and present – these can result in personal and financial harm to members. Other members have inappropriately shared personal and/or private information which has legal consequences and has resulted in members feeling threatened, exposed, and unsafe. This is unacceptable behavior. As writers we know more than most, words have consequences.
OH, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE.
With every ounce of maturity I have in my possession, I have refrained from posting gifs to this update. I realize many of you are reading this to get a concise version of what is happening, but look, I can only take so much before Beavis emerges. This entire email is offensive, ridiculous, and embarrassing in the number of words it uses to say absolutely nothing.
“Don’t express your outrage inappropriately or with accurate representation of your rage.” “Be civil” is not the response I expected. Perhaps I should have. But the lack of clarity in that paragraph alone coupled with the high level of nonspecific threat makes me furious and exhausted.
“Our members have strong opinions, which we applaud. But when expressed inappropriately, and in some cases far worse, by our organizational leadership – past and present – these can result in personal and financial harm to members.”
Wow this should worry everyone. pic.twitter.com/Y9jei30jgf
— Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai) December 30, 2019
As NK Jemsin said,
So, 30s of scanning: they're trying to keep this a "civility" argument instead of a "procedural" one; also implying that CM is ungrateful bc she *could've* gotten worse sanctions; and throwing a bone (dropping the matter) in hopes the membership will stop howling for blood.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) December 30, 2019
All of which makes sense, if the goal is to reinforce the power dynamics of white privilege. Civility above all, even justice; one set of rules for some people and another for others is okay; and always slap at the uppity PoC even if you're going down.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) December 30, 2019
Repeating my earlier position, current president Damon Suede needs to resign; I’ve signed both petitions (and double checked my membership number!) to that effect.
This letter also states that a new board is being nominated, one of “strong, diverse candidates” (and then promises an audit and review of what happened, though the letter sent today attempts a recap of exactly that). I don’t trust the current leadership to appoint anyone, or do anything. Especially now. After that letter was sent to all RWA members, I don’t trust them to send email.
I’m sure there will be more. So stay tuned, I guess?
ETA 12.31.19, 11:59am EST
CIMRWA, the Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural Chapter of Romance Writers of America, has submitted the petition for the recall of RWA President Damon Suede:
UPDATE: Today we mailed @romancewriters the petition package for the recall of Damon Suede. We were able to collect 1092 signatures. ~400 more than necessary to reach or 10% of voting membership goal. A copy of the letter can be viewed here:
— CIMRWA (@CIMRWA) December 31, 2019
You can read the full petition online. It’s impressive and very thorough, and in addition to recalling Suede requests that Carol Ritter recuse herself as membership has requested her resignation as well:
Due to Mr. Suede’s failure to honor the many requests for his resignation, we instituted our rights as members and issued a Recall Petition as allowed to members via section 10.3. of the organization bylaws.
Furthermore, we would hope that Carol Ritter, the Executive Director, recuse herself from this Recall process as she presents a conflict of interest since the current RWA membership has requested her resignation.
No response from RWA has been released as of yet.
Former Board Advisors Maria Powers (PRO), Mellanie Szereto (Chapter), and Barbara Wallace (PAN) will now move into vacant Director-at-Large positions. We thank them for their previous service to their constituencies and welcome them in their new roles as voting Board members. We also welcome new Board member Eliana West, filling a vacant Director-at-Large seat. All four will serve the remainder of the 2019-2020 term, which ends on August 31.
ETA 1.2.2020, 9:20 am EST:
Happy new year. The dumpster fire continues. Damon Suede has not stepped down as of yet, there has not been a response to the recall petition which should be arriving soon if it hasn’t yet, and the board is being repopulated with appointed individuals.
“Blithe” doesn’t begin to cover it all.
Press coverage continues as well: Mikki Kendall (whom you may know as @Karnythia on Twitter) has written about the ongoing RWA ridiculousness: The Romance Writers of America racism row matters because the gatekeepers are watching.
…you can find writers from communities that have traditionally been marginalized advocating for access, opportunity and better work in any genre — I’ve done my share of that work in science fiction and comics — but you can also find readers doing the same. (In fact, perhaps especially in genre fiction, writers are the most voracious readers, and voracious readers sometimes become writers.)
But whenever the topic of more inclusion in an industry comes up, it feels like there’s always someone insisting that diversity means lowering standards — or that calls for inclusion are bullying, which is essentially what Milan was accused of when she pointed out the racism of Davis’ portrayals of Chinese women….
This is about writing, but it is also about our culture and whether we want the people who have traditionally influenced it to continue to do so without engaging with the consequences their work might visit on other communities. Everybody wants a little romance; what most people of color who read about it don’t want is romance novels written by white authors filled with stereotypes about people of color. If the RWA isn’t looking out for its non-white (non-straight, non-cisgender) readers’ interests, then it’s not helping any of its authors — and it’s not spending its members’ money particularly wisely.
Resentfully I had to renew my RWA membership this week so as to preserve my vote. I am hoping I can do more with it than I can at present.
I am looking forward to updating this post with news of audit, resignation, investigation, and formation of an entirely new board.
ETA 1.3.20, 11:30am EST:
Well, it’s not the update I wanted, but I can’t say that I’m mad about this one, either.
Dr. Chuck Tingle has released a new no-sex Tingler.
From the cover copy:
Gorblin Crimble is an aspiring romance author with a brand new novel that could be his first breakthrough hit. Of course, Gorblin is going to need some help getting his work out there, and starts by seeking likeminded creatives.
After attending a local writer’s group, Gorblin makes a new friend, Amber, who points him towards Romance Wranglers Of America. It sounds like this community is exactly the helpful, loving, supportive group that Gorblin is looking for, but when him and Amber arrive at the Romance Wranglers Of America headquarters, they quickly realize something is wrong. This once loving group has been taken over by a dark and mysterious force; lead by a man named Demon and his chanting coven of board members in jet-black robes.
Something horrible from the depths of the cosmic Void has taken hold, but is it too late to prove that romance is about love, not hate?
This important no-sex tale is 4,300 words of reasonable writers looking for a kind and supportive romance community that respects its members and treats them fairly.
I do like that last part. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Tingle, he was a guest on what is still the most popular episode of the podcast, Episode 206. Proving Love: An Interview with Dr. Chuck Tingle.
“Their leadership is from the depths of the cosmic void” is an assemblage of letters I am going to treasure for a very long time.
I keep hoping I’ll get to update with news of resignations but not yet.
The Nancy Yost Literary Agency has shared a copy of the letter they sent to RWA:
Romance Writers of America’s recent actions have made it impossible for us, as author advocates, to continue our support of RWA or its national events.
A national organization should strive to support its members equally. We’ve given great thought to our responsibilities and we feel that adding our voice to the call for positive change amplifies the message.
Therefore we’re withdrawing our membership as an agency and requesting a refund of dues.
First, the story was on NPR’s Weekend Edition, “Racism and Scandal in the Romance Writing Industry,” featuring Leila Fadel, and Karen Grigsby Bates from NPR’s Code Swiich. Both sound and transcript are available at NPR.org:
FADEL: So is there a sense that the RWA is going to make changes as a result of this? Or are they doubling down?
BATES: I think the RWA isn’t sure what it wants to do yet. You know, they’re still dealing with the vertigo of how did this happen and what can we do to fix it? And so they have announced that they are going to have a investigation by an independent party to look at how this was done.
They have proclaimed their feelings – that they value the membership, that diversity is important to them and that they want to fix this. But things are changing quickly. And if they don’t adjust to change and format themselves so that the people that they want to reach, that they need to reach feel included and welcome, they will find that they have a much smaller organization, if they have an organization at all.
And then, there’s that Guardian article. Hoo, boy.
Again I have that feeling of “I should have expected this but I didn’t and so I am surprised,” which maybe has a name but I don’t know if I ever knew it. Either way, I’m surprised, and I probably shouldn’t be, that Kathryn Lynn Davis is calling herself a victim in a recent Guardian article by Lois Beckett, “White romance novelist in racism row says she was used: Kathryn Lynn Davis says in Guardian interview trade association ‘encouraged’ her to file a complaint against Courtney Milan.”
Now the novelist, Kathryn Lynn Davis, says that her original complaint about the professional harm she suffered was not accurate.
In an interview with the Guardian, Davis said she was “encouraged” by the administration of Romance Writers of America (RWA), a trade association for romance writers, to file a formal complaint against Milan, an influential former board member and diversity advocate. She now feels she had been “used” to secure a political outcome that she had never intended.
“They encouraged us. They wanted us very badly to file these complaints,” Davis said….
The allegation that Milan’s tweets had resulted in Davis’ loss of a three-book contract was shared widely, including in an email sent Monday to the RWA’s entire membership, explaining why the group’s board had originally decided to censure Milan.
On Thursday, Davis, 64, clarified her discussions with the publisher, which she has declined to name. She told the Guardian that after the allegations in her original complaint to RWA were quoted in news reports, “the publisher in question is very upset”.
Davis clarified that she did not have and lose a written book contract, but that a publisher had delayed further discussion of a potential contract in the wake of the controversy.
In the complaint, Davis also seemed to imply that the publisher told her they were afraid of being publicly linked with Milan, but in fact the publisher “never said anything” to that effect, Davis said.
So the items specified in the original ethics complaint, and cited in the ridiculous email to RWA membership, are untrue?
Am I reading that correctly?!
Agreeing to file a complaint against a woman of color for saying something you wrote was racist, lying and saying her tweets cost you a pub deal, then changing the book because it WAS racist, then acting like you are a victim: pic.twitter.com/daNijBuwie
— Alyssa!!! Cole (@AlyssaColeLit) January 4, 2020
There’s an acronym coined by Jennifer J. Freyd in “Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory” (1997) in the journal Feminism & Psychology: DARVO, which stands for, “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” Certainly that seems to apply here.
Also seems like it’s DATSUB time, too: “Deflect Attention and Throw Someone Under the Bus.”
We’re going to need an entire fleet of buses by the end of this week, I think. This entire thing is ghastly and staggering: you have to try to fuck up this badly. It’s not just Damon Suede, either. As HelenKay Dimon has pointed out, the spiraling is yet another example of breach of fiduciary duty. And as Madge Miller has pointed out, it’s a failure of managing a crisis in epic proportion:
One of my areas of expertise is crisis communications. I’ve been watching this since the start and wow, just wow. Every choice so far exactly in the wrong direction a perfect storm of awful. Suspect the lawyers brought in are now hiring a crisis comms firm for them.
— Madge Miller (@madge707) January 4, 2020
Now I’m wondering where and by whom the first lawsuits will be filed. That’s not fun speculation at all.
1.6.20 4:15pm EST:
HOW is this still getting worse. How.
A few links of much applause:
- Lynn Spencer from AAR has been compiling all the RWA chapter statements from across the US and Canada in one Google:Doc location. If you’d like to see what your local chapter may have said, it should be there.
- Tessa Dare attempted to counter the misinformation allegedly being spread in RWA loops and forums with an itemized list of facts, not rumors, and summarizing events since December 23.
- IASPR, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, has announced that future conferences will be conducted without RWA support. Drawing from the call to action from Romance Sparks Joy, IASPR states, “In keeping with that letter’s call for a “boycott of any events sponsored by or affiliated with the national chapter of RWA,” and in order to forestall any use of our conference to whitewash problems with diversity and inclusion at RWA itself, we will budget for, plan, and, if necessary, hold our 2020 conference this summer without using the financial support that RWA has provided for it. We will reallocate resources and seek out other funding in order to minimize the impact of this decision on travel support for graduate students, untenured faculty, and independent scholars.”The 2020 IASPR Conference will be held at La Universidad de Las Palmas, Canarias, Spain.
And then there’s the latest RWR cover, which added fuel to the ongoing dumpster fire. Shared on Twitter by Madelina Rivera, it highlights some truly terrible choices on several levels.
This issue attempts to highlight the new RWA mentorship program, but instead highlights…everything that’s been exploding since December 23.
The cover will be changed in the digital edition, per Erin Fry’s apology, which was posted to the PAN (Published Author Network) loop and then shared widely.
And, in one last item today, the petition to recall Damon Suede has arrived at RWA headquarters as of 11:34am, January 6. RWA has two weeks to validate and respond.
I don’t know how this situation keeps growing worse but it does. It’s egregious. And we are running out of gifs of dumpsters.
8:05pm: …and the RITAs have been cancelled.
Update to Selected Judges on the Status of the 2020 RITA Contest:
Due to recent events in RWA, many in the romance community have lost faith in RWA’s ability to administer the 2020 RITA contest fairly, causing numerous judges and entrants to cancel their participation. The contest will not reflect the breadth and diversity of 2019 romance novels/novellas and thus will not be able to fulfill its purpose of recognizing excellence in the genre. For this reason, the Board has voted to cancel the contest for the current year. The plan is for next year’s contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances.
While we understand this will be disappointing news for some, we also understand that other members will support taking this step. Recent RWA Boards have worked hard to make changes to the current contest, striving to make it more diverse and inclusive, relieve judging burdens, and bring in outside voices, but those changes had to be voted on and implemented in a narrow window of time each year.
By not holding a contest in 2020, we will be able to move away from making piecemeal changes. Instead, we will have the opportunity to take a proper amount of time to build an awards program and process – whether it’s a revamped RITA contest or something entirely new – that celebrates and elevates the best in our genre. We plan on engaging a consultant who specializes in awards programs and a DEI consultant, as well as soliciting member input.
Members who entered the 2020 contest will be refunded their full entry fee by January 22, 2020. We extend our deep appreciation to the judges who volunteered their time this year.
Will there be an RWA to administer a RITA awards for 2019 and 2020? No flipping idea.
Update, 1.8.20 10:15am EST: Oh, here we go.
HarperCollins Publishers are withdrawing from RWA national conference.
Via Anna Zabo on Twitter, Harlequin has sent email messages out to its authors that they are withdrawing from RWA National Conference:
Email from Harlequin to its authors saying that they're pulling out of RWA Nationals.
I am just….
I mean, good, but also sitting here with my jaw open.
— Anna Zabo (@amergina) January 8, 2020
Romance Sparks Joy posted a copy of the letter from Harlequin CEO Craig Swinwood to the RWA Board of Directors and Executive Director Carol Ritter, that says in part,
…we at Harlequin believe it is important that all authors feel included, respected and heard. Recently reported actions by the RWA leadership have therefore led us to decide not to sponsor or attend the RWA 2020 national conference. We will reevaluate our participation in 2021 as the organization works with its members to address concerns that have been raised.
Meanwhile, Avon Books, also part of Harper Collins as is Harlequin, tweeted that they are also not going to sponsor nor be present at RWA Nationals 2020 in San Francisco:
— avonbooks (@avonbooks) January 8, 2020
— avonbooks (@avonbooks) January 8, 2020
The Beverly Jenkins Diverse Voices scholarship funded the attendance of an OwnVoices author to the RWA National Conference:
The sponsorship, named after author Beverly Jenkins, a romance trailblazer and one of the most active supporters for diverse authors, includes registration fee, travel and lodging (up to $2,500). The winner also receives a one-on-one meeting with a member of the Avon Books editorial team and an invitation to several exclusive Avon events during the annual conference. The opportunity to enter the Beverly Jenkins Diverse Voices Sponsorship was made available to current members of the RWA who entered the Golden Heart or RITA® Award Contests and were verified by the RWA as meeting RWA’s definition of being from a diverse background. The active fostering of diverse voices in Romance is the current top priority for the genre, and Avon Books has made an initial commitment to support this sponsorship for five years, from 2019 through 2023.
Beverly Jenkins said in a statement that was also tweeted:
I applaud Avon for its advocacy and support of inclusion and #ownvoices.
To quote Librarian SuperWendy, This is a Big Fucking Deal:
A couple of things: remember that Harpercollins bought Harlequin back in 2014. Also, for those of you that have never been to an RWA conference, both Harlequin and Avon tend to have a BIG presence. In short, it's gonna hurt.
— SuperWendy (@SuperWendy) January 8, 2020
Avon sponsors several major events at RWA, the type where the line to get in starts forming two hours in advance, reaches multiple times around itself, and usually includes wine, food, and massive amounts of signed books and nifty swag from authors. RWA Avon signings have been held as early as 8:30am, and the line formed to get in.
HarperCollins is also a major sponsor of the conference itself. Per this screenshot from the 2019 RWA National Conference page web cache, Sylvia Day, Avon, and Harlequin are listed as platinum-level sponsors.
Please note: if this is your screenshot, please let me know so I can cite you! I couldn’t find an origin for this image.
Per AmyJo Cousins, Fresh Fiction has already announced they will not be renewing at the Bronze level. ReadBliss is an initiative of Harlequin as well, so that’s a third sponsorship asset that will be missing in 2020.
No word from Amazon, ACX, or Montlake whether they plan to withdraw as sponsors, or attend RWA Nationals.
It also seems that it is only a matter of time before similar announcements come from Penguin RandomHouse, Grand Central/Hachette, Kensington, Sourcebooks, and other publishers.
Platinum level sponsorship is likely many, many thousands of dollars, possibly around $30,000 or more.
And given how much of the conference was tied to Avon – the conference-wide wifi was sponsored by Avon for the past few years, the keycards sometimes featured Avon books – to say nothing of the events hosted by both publishers, including the monumental Harlequin party, which was like a massive private prom for their authors, this is a major blow to the conference itself.
Without those events to look forward to, and the professional opportunities afforded by the presence of editors and executives, potential attendees have even more reason to ask what the expense of attending RWA Nationals offers them?
For that matter, what does RWA offer anyone at this time? So many of the people working to improve RWA and make it more welcoming, more inclusive, more aware of its own limitations, have bailed because since 23 December 2019, their work has been largely destroyed, and the organization isn’t taking responsibility for any of their decisions.
The conference was a one-stop location for professional advancement, learning opportunities, and community connection.
The organization offered access to editors, agents, and a pool of professional knowledge from other writers.
How many of those assets remain? Very few.
All of the people who have left RWA brought more to RWA than RWA can bring to them at present. They were more of an asset to the organization, while the organization itself more often brought them harm.
Now RWA continues to harm itself professionally.
It’s awful to watch, and it’s been going on for more than two weeks. I still have no idea who is driving this flying umbrella, if anyone is, but the carnage grows more painful. Soon we’ll have a shortage on coffin nails, as they’re being used this week.
Two last links that I don’t want to get lost in the coverage:
Linda Holmes, author of Evvie Drake Starts Over and host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, tweeted sage and appreciated words of advice to any journalist attempting to cover this story:
I want to give a little bit of advice to anybody trying to cover the increasingly wild story of the leadership collapse at the Romance Writers Association. I offer it as a journalist, novelist, reader, and casual acquaintance of quite a few romance writers.
— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) January 8, 2020
And Annalee, @LeeFlower on Twitter wrote a fantastic thread about calling-in versus calling-out when someone says or does something offensive:
Noodling more about this thread and I'm gonna jump off it to talk more about calling out and calling in, because folks misunderstand calling in as a concept. https://t.co/fWrhKn9RHl
— Annalee (@LeeFlower) January 7, 2020
Beverly Jenkins has shared with me the individuals responsible for Avon withdrawing from RWA Nationals:
Pam [Jaffee] and my editor Erika [Tsang] were the ones who took the ball and ran with it.
In a corporation the size of Harper there were many hoops to jump through, but they did it.
Thanks to Liate Stehlik and Brian Murray for supporting them in their quest.
So proud of everyone involved.
Brian Murray is President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers, and Liate Stehlik is President and Publisher of the Morrow Group, “overseeing the publishing operations for William Morrow, Avon, Dey Street and Harper Voyager.”
Update, 1:25pm EST:
Entangled Publishing has also withdrawn from participation in RWA Nationals in 2020:
— Entangled Publishing (@entangledpub) January 8, 2020
Their letter reads,
As an author advocate, RWA needs to represent all authors within its organization equally and fairly. Recent actions call into question the inclusivity of your organization.
Until the organization upholds its responsibility to represent all members in a fair manner, our publishing house cannot endorse RWA nor participate in any of the organization’s national events.
Anyone keeping a betting pool as to who will be next?
Update, 2:41pm EST:
RWA secretary Donna Alward has resigned her position, per a post on her Facebook page:
It is with a very heavy heart that I announce that I resigned my position on the RWA Board of Directors earlier this morning.
It has been one of the hardest decisions of my life. I won’t be crossposting or answering questions right now. Just know that I have always tried to follow my heart and do the right thing.
Key part of her letter:
My role in life is often the one of fixer, peacemaker, and caregiver. Members put RWA in my care and I have always done what I thought was right to move the organization forward and advocate for our members. I find myself now unable to fulfill that task. In short, my duty of obedience and my duty of loyalty are at odds, and when I can no longer keep my fiduciary duty, it’s time for me to resign.
Different people on Twitter are also reporting that RWA board member Renee Ryan has also resigned,
but I don’t have definitive links on that one.
Got links! RWA updated their site today that “Secretary Donna Alward and Director at Large Barbara Wallace resigned from the RWA Board of Directors effective January 8, 2020,” and “Director at Large Renee Ryan resigned from the RWA Board of Directors, effective as of 6 a.m. on January 8, 2020.”
And in more news, earlier today, 21 former RWA Board Members and three past Presidents of RWA sent a letter to Carol Ritter, Executive Director, and the remaining members of the RWA Board including Damon Suede calling into question his eligibility to serve as president based on the current bylaws of the organization.
That letter is reproduced in full here, along with attachments.
January 8, 2020
Dear RWA Staff and RWA Board of Directors—
We are writing to you about the issue of Damon Suede’s qualifications to be president of RWA. It has come to our attention, and to the attention of many RWA members, that he does not meet the requirements to hold the office.
The Bylaws state:
11.2.1. President-Elect. Candidates for President-Elect must: (1) have been General members for a minimum of five consecutive years immediately preceding filing for office; (2) be the author or co-author of at least five published romance novels as defined in RWA policy; (3) have published or contracted to publish at least one romance novel, as defined in RWA policy, within the two years immediately preceding filing for office; and (4) must have completed one full year of Board service but cannot have more than six years of accumulated Board and Advisor service.
Romance novel is defined in the Policy Manual as an “eligible novel,” which is defined as:
1.25. “Eligible Novel” means a work of Romance Fiction of more than 40,000 words (as determined by computer word count) that is or has been commercially available.
1.46. “Romance Novel” means any Eligible Novel.
Mr. Suede’s website lists his romance novels. They are:
Hot Head, Released June 2011
Bad Idea, Released October 2013?
Pent Up, Released November 2015
Lickety Split, Published March 2017
The word counts provided here are the same as those set out on Mr. Suede’s website. None of the other books listed on his website meets the 40,000-word threshold to be considered a romance novel under policy. A screenshot of the website is attached for your review.
At the time of the election, Mr. Suede failed to meet two of the specific qualifications needed to be president-elect then president. He has four romance novels instead of the five required under subsection (2). Also, he did not release a book within two years of filing for office as required by subsection (3).
HelenKay Dimon, one of the undersigned, was president at the time Carol Ritter, the then Deputy Executive Director, discovered this defect and has some personal information about this issue. Ms. Ritter realized the qualification issue and got in touch with Mr. Suede. He said he had a book coming out in January 2020 and that he would move up the release date to meet the qualifications. His election bio referred to this book as his 2019 release. That appeared to resolve the issue but it turns out that it did not because the book needed for Mr. Suede to qualify to run—the one he showed as his 2019 release on the election materials—was never released. A copy of that page is attached for your review.
Amazon shows an upcoming release by Mr. Suede, Prince Charmless, but the release date is listed as January 2021. Mr. Suede’s husband spent time on Twitter saying Mr. Suede did not have a recent Dreamspinner release and would not have one coming out in the near future. The Twitter screenshots are attached for your review.
Mr. Suede clearly did not resolve the qualification issue as he promised Ms. Ritter he would do. This is not a mistake that can be fixed retroactively. Further, Section 22.505 of the Texas Business Organizations Code suggests it would take a membership vote to ratify and accept a defective corporate act such as this.
While there may be a push to ignore or downplay the recall vote and the fiduciary duty violations, RWA cannot ignore this qualification failure. Damon Suede has no choice but to step down and we ask that he do so on or before the end of business Thursday, January 9, 2020.
Former Presidents of the Board of Directors of Romance Writers of America:
Leslie Kelly (2016-2017)
Dee Davis (2017-2018)
HelenKay Dimon (2018-2019)
Former Members of the Board of Directors of Romance Writers of America:
Carol Prescott (1999-2002) Janelle Denison, (2011-2014)
(2002-2004) Pamela Moran, (2012-2014)
Stephanie Feagan (2005-2010) Barbara Dunlop (2012-2014)
Julie Hurwitz(2005-2011) Victoria Alexander, (2013-2015)
Trish Milburn, (2007-2012) Alyssa Day, (2013-2017)
Lorraine Heath, (2007-2013) Julie Kenner, (2013-2017
Jeanne Adams, (2010-2014) Tessa Dare, (2014-2018)
Cynthia D’Alba (2010-2012) Jamie Beck, (2017-2019)
(2014-2016) Avery Flynn, (2017-2018)
Karin Tabke, (2011-2013) Tessa Dare, (2014-2018)
Julie London (2011-2013) Kelley Armstrong, (2017-2019)
Tracy Garrett (2011-2013)
- List of Damon Suede titles in screenshot, including Lickity Split, Pent Up, Bad Idea, Horn Gate (png)
- Second list of Damon Suede titles in screenshot, including Grown Men, “Seedy Business,” and Hot Head (png)
- Image of Suede’s President-Elect bio indicating one title to be released in 2019
- Image of conversation on Twitter dated December 25, 2019, between Zoe York and Geoff Symon, Suede’s husband, wherein Symon states “Damon Suede has NO book coming out in January. That book does not even exist.”
- Image of addition Twitter conversation between York and Symon, wherein Symon states the book is “not even fully written.”
ETA 5:15pm EST:
Berkley Publishing will not be attending RWA Nationals:
Per twitter reports from a few Sourcebooks authors, Sourcebooks has told its authors via email that they will not be attending RWA national either:
Sourcebooks pulled out of RWA, too.
— Katee Robert – Hook and Tink coming 2/24! (@katee_robert) January 8, 2020
No official statement yet. Stand by.
Update 7:49pm EST:
Via Twitter, Kensington CEO Steven Zacharius has announced they will not participate in RWA Nationals, either:
A statement from Kensington CEO, Steven Zacharius. pic.twitter.com/jzUUS76cZN
— Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks) January 9, 2020
The letter reads,
We are extremely distressed by the recent events concerning RWA and the magnitude of the problems that persist in the organization. Kensington continues to be a leading advocate for increased diversity and inclusion in publishing. As an industry, it is clear that we have a great deal of work to do. We are committed to supporting our authors, however, we cannot support RWA or the national conference until you are fulfilling your mission to your members.
At this point, the remaining 2019 sponsors are Amazon and its subsidiaries, Sylvia Day, and Kathryn LeVeque.
Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette have yet to make any statements regarding RWA National that I’m aware of – but if you have info, by all means, email me.
This post is now over 7300 words long. How is this still going on. How.
First, Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press has announced via statement on Twitter that they will not participate in RWA Nationals this year:
The image reads:
St. Martin’s Publishing Group believes in being a champion for our authors and in the very necessary work to make publishing more diverse and inclusive. Therefore, in light of recent developments, St. Martin’s Press will not be participating in the RWA national conference through attendance or through promotional opportunities.
I imagine that it’s hardly difficult to look at this situation and say, “Yeah, let’s not spend thousands of dollars on that.” As a business, I made that exact same decision. Nope.
Meanwhile, a number of folks including Angela James, Melissa Blue, and Courtney Milan have highlighted how much budget that frees up from each house that bows out, and how that fundage could be used to make those diverse and inclusive changes.
Elysabeth Grace offered a very sharp examination of RWA as a community and organization “colonized by whyte romance:”
RWA is a site that has came to be colonized by whyte romance. And, in typical whyte settler fashion, these colonizers would rather destroy than lose privileges, control, & financial benefits than acknowledge their racist actions.
— Elysabeth Grace (@Elysabethgrace) January 9, 2020
And finally, Claire Ryan, who maintains a chronology of RWA’s meltdown, noticed that the book data for the title that was never published was edited yesterday.
Okay for anyone following the #RWAShitShow, and Damon Suede’s mystery book called Stud Planet, I got something interesting for you.
Just a bit of theorycrafting.
— Claire Ryan (@aetherlev) January 9, 2020
Updated 1.9.20, 11:25am EST
UPDATE IT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED:
Damon Suede and Carol Ritter have resigned!
We know that this is just a start to a longer process of reform for RWA, and that process is going to require new leadership, which is why the Board is announcing some leadership changes, including the departure of RWA President Damon Suede.
Damon has offered his resignation, effective immediately, and the Board has accepted it. Damon, who has served on the RWA Board of Directors since 2015, as President-Elect from September 2019 through late December 2019, and then as President for the past two weeks, has been a passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion issues for his entire life. We thank Damon for his service and wish him all the best in the future.
The Board of Directors has made a decision to not immediately fill the office of President while the Board – working transparently with its membership – determines an appropriate recruitment and selection process.
The Board also has accepted the resignation of RWA Executive Director Carol Ritter, who has decided to step down from the role she assumed in November. Carol, who has been a steady senior member of RWA management for well over a decade, has offered to stay on over the coming months to support a smooth transition to new staff leadership; the Board has accepted this offer. Carol has been instrumental in keeping the operations of RWA running and we are deeply grateful to her for the commitment and leadership she has brought to our association. The Board will appoint an interim Executive Director upon Carol’s departure and will form a search committee to identify Carol’s permanent replacement.
They commit to hiring a law firm to audit the ethics matter (not a full audit, I’d like to note), and bringing on (another) DEI consultant and some other steps that I’m not sure I buy at all.
This particular statement was rather galling to me:
The events of the past two weeks have been the most painful and tumultuous in the history of Romance Writers of America (RWA).
YOU MADE THIS MESS. They were painful and tumultuous because of actions YOU MADE. Argh. Now I’m yelling at a website.
OK, so a number of things strike me as unsatisfying regarding this statement, not the least of which is the complete absence of actual apology. This statement is, to quote Linda Holmes, onomatopology: it sounds like an apology but it is not one.
I've read the statement from RWA a few times now. "That's on us" does not mean we are sorry, or we apologize. And praising Damon and Carol without mentioning the board members that left before them is gas-lighting us about what happened in the last two weeks.
— Farah Heron (@FarahHeron) January 9, 2020
The remaining board – which is largely people that Damon Suede appointed – are not going to fill the office of the President, and will work “transparently with membership” to determine “an appropriate recruitment and selection process?”
Nah. Clean house, everyone out, start over with a new board.
Carol Ritter has offered to stay to support transition, and the Board has accepted? The Board will appoint an interim director upon Carol’s departure, but no timeline has been specified beyond “over the coming months?”
Again, this is not ideal. Clean house, everyone out, start over with a new board, and a new executive director. I’ve worked under transitional non profit executive leadership. It’s a whole field.
This part in particular:
We know we have a lot more work to do to restore the trust we have lost – and we are going to do whatever it takes to get there so that we can focus on the mission of this organization: to promote the professional and common business interests of romance writers. Our goal is to ensure the successful future of this association so it can be an even stronger, better and more inclusive professional home and advocate for romance authors.
We may not always get it right, but we will do our best, we will be honest and transparent, we will own our mistakes, and we will listen to our community. We hope you will join us – collaboratively and productively – in rebuilding an RWA that serves its diverse and talented members well into the future. We believe this community is worth saving.
What’s with the future tense in that past paragraph? You will own mistakes? What about owning the ones that were already made and making amends?
A representative of the RWA told PW that, in spite of the turmoil, “our 2020 conference is moving forward as scheduled, and we believe it will be a critical moment for our members to come together to discuss the important issues around diversity, equity and inclusion that have surfaced in recent weeks,” noting that while the organization is “disappointed to lose some sponsors and participants for this year,” it hopes “to regain their support in the months and years ahead.”
The representative added: “While these are not new issues for our community, we are at an inflection point and are committed to providing a transparent forum for our members and our partners to confront these issues so we can move forward as a stronger, more diverse organization. We held a town hall to hear from our members at last year’s conference and plan to expand on that dialogue this year with additional programming as we work to build RWA into a stronger, more inclusive organization for all our members.”
We’re gonna talk about DEI some more? Just saying the words “diversity, equality, and inclusion” doesn’t mean that they’re in practice, just like saying there was an “ethics committee” did not mean that sub-committee was allegedly formed with anything resembling “ethics.”
Based on what should I personally trust that this is a conversation that can be handled appropriately?
Let’s take a look at reactions elsewhere.
To that end, here are a few excellent points:
HOORAY! So that likely means that the resignations were to pre-empt the recall election – which, well done. I can’t send enough thanks to C. Chilove, the President of CIMRWA, Laurel Cremant, President-Elect, and Diana Neal, Treasurer.
She Read He Said examined that remaining board:
Board as of 1/9:
1.Nan Dixon, Treasurer
2.Hanna Rhys Barnes, Director
3. Kate McMurray, Director appointed by H. Dimon
4. Maria Powers, Director appointed by Damon Suede
5. Mellanie Szereto, Director appointed by Damon Suede
6. Eliana West, Director appointed by Damon Suede
— She Read He Said (@SheRead_HeSaid) January 9, 2020
Yeah, clean house.
Former board member Seressia Glass agrees:
I think the next step to show RWA's commitment to turning things around is a special election to elect an entirely new board.
Putting money where your mouth is, so to speak.
— Seressia Glass, #NewAttitude2020 (@seressia) January 9, 2020
Because the house still isn't clean. The system that caused this is still there. It needs to be completely swept and the equivalent of a hazmat team needs to get all the rot out.
— Seressia Glass, #NewAttitude2020 (@seressia) January 9, 2020
Courtney Milan has stated that she’ll be writing a letter to request a waiver of confidentiality of executive sessions so we may learn exactly what happened, and people like the board members who resigned and have not been allowed to speak can finally do so.
It’s not over yet, but this is still a major, major victory and the work of a lot of people to move through processes that were difficult to say the least, and managed during a holiday week.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading romance, it’s what an earnest and sincere apology looks like. A really moving grovel is a staple of the genre.
This didn’t even come close.
— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) January 9, 2020
Update, 1/10/20, 4:00pm
New post: Where Does RWA Go From Here?
Update: 1.12.20 11:15am
It appears that the audit of RWA’s actions is being run in part by Carol Ritter, former Executive Director/sort of:
There've been a lot of questions about the Pillsbury audit of RWA, and a clarifying email was posted to the DEI forum. Screenshot is below, transcript to follow. pic.twitter.com/2Mz1QDvqSK
— Cate Eland (@RomancingNope) January 12, 2020
From the transcript:
In terms of the scope of our representation of RWA, we answer to the RWA Board and RWA’s Executive Director.
In terms of how this sort of thing works, the firm has to answer to the board of the non-profit, and the executive director. That is, to my understanding, how this has to be. (And if I’m incorrect, please let me know!)
The problem is that the organizational leadership isn’t fully trusted by the members, and has not demonstrated trustworthiness over the past two weeks and longer.
As evidenced by the reaction to this information: to wit, “WTF?!”
Update: 1.15.20 4:30pm
Why an update?
Yesterday, January 14th, RWA sent out another message from the Remains of the Board that repeated a lot of their last announcement, reiterated that they’re continuing without a president (is that even legal according to Texas nonprofit law or the bylaws of the organization? Pfft. At this point, why worry about things like that?) that Carol Ritter has been recused from overseeing the audit (which…why was she doing so in the first place? and that, oh yeah, they want to earn trust back.
And they need people to run for the board.
All of us at RWA recognize that the membership needs to not just have trust in the new leadership but also needs to determine who those leaders are. This August, every Board seat and officer position will be up for election by the membership. One important way to help shape the future of RWA and our community is to run for one of these seats. We need energetic, enthusiastic candidates who represent the diverse voices of our membership, and we encourage all of you to consider running for a leadership position.
Speaking as a person who is an RWA member for the next 353 days, I can say they have negative trust from me. And what can the organization tell prospective board members about the people who put in thousands (literally) of hours of volunteer work only to watch it get destroyed in two and a half weeks? Bring extra energy and enthusiasm?
Courtney Milan posted the text and a transcript of a letter she sent to the RWA, requesting that in exchange for releasing RWA from liability for…pretty much everything they’ve done since this clusterfuck began, she would like them to waive the confidentiality expected of former Board members – who are not able to talk about anything that happened in executive session, which is where a lot of this clusterfuck happened. That waiver would allow them to talk freely about what the heck happened, and create a lot more clarity.
Please take a moment and read the letter. It’s a thing of beauty. RWA has until Friday, 17 January, 2019 to respond.
But in better news: Kelly Faircloth, who is beyond excellent, has written up The Whole Thing for Jezebel. I spoke with her for this article, and I’m absolutely gobsmacked at how fulsome her reporting is in Inside the Spectacular Implosion at Romance Writers of America:
“The issue in RWA is not, per se, that we didn’t have diversity. Because we have diversity. Our issue was inclusion and access,” C. Chilove told me. That has been the case for a very, very long time. The photo testifies to a long history of missed opportunities to do better, in RWA and in the genre more broadly. For a while, it looked like the organization was finally getting it right, after years of chances that were thrown away. Then they blew it all up.